The Charlotte News

Wednesday, May 21, 1941


Site Ed. Note: Mr. Bioff of the stagehands' union siphon, the subject of the first piece, had been a frequent target of the column in early 1940 when his pandering past first began to catch up with him. (See "Save Willie!", December 22, 1939, "Chicago, Too", January 13, 1940, "Loud Silence", January 20, 1940, "Inadequate", February 13, 1940, (who says?), "Deduction", March 18, 1940, and "In Silk", April 22, 1940.) The question apparently went to the government: Willie Bioff? and they answered affirmatively.

Whether, incidentally, a young actor who would sit out the war making those military training films or the equivalent, and would later become President, had anything to do with Mr. Bioff, we don't know. Perhaps some enterprising historian will look into that one day.

Question of the day: Who was singing on stage in a 1941 film when the camera pans to the stagehands above on the catwalk? Were they actually responding instead to Mr. Bioff?

Both "Beyond Convoy" and "Double Play" convey the continually darkening world as the days rolled by toward summer, Hitler's favorite time to travel with his army into Blitzes. The one upcoming, however, would not be so successful as had each of the previous three summers.

One gets the feeling in reading this last week's worth of pieces Cash ever wrote that he was in a rush, no doubt a combination of both the worsening scene for England and the busy time in his personal life preparing to depart the following week for Mexico with the myriad of things which were on the agenda in the meantime.

The rest of the page is here.


Willie Wins

Mr. Bioff's Little Hint Is Understood by Government

Mr. Willie Bioff will not have to stand trial at present on charges of cheating the Government out of $85,000 in his income tax returns for 1936 and 1937.

Mr. Bioff is the enterprising fellow who, having been convicted of pandering in Chicago, decided to leave that town and move out to Hollywood. There he soon got himself into a job as head of the stagehands' and technicians' union. He made a nice thing out of it, too, so nice that nobody could get a job as a stagehand without joining Mr. Bioff's union--which cost exactly 3,000 smackers.

Mr. Bioff turns out to have made his dispositions thoughtfully. In a Los Angeles court Monday he won a postponement of his trial until September. And the reason he got it was that his attorney told the court flatly that Willie "was the only suitable and available man to prevent strikes when Hollywood technicians were sent to produce military training films. Breslin (the attorney) said Government officials had agreed it was essential that there be no interruption in the training picture production."

It seems a delicate way of saying that Mr. Bioff was so powerful that he'd wreck the military training picture program if the Government dared to go ahead with his trial, and that the Government was afraid to take up the challenge.

Beyond Convoy

Decision That Now Faces Us Is Far More Serious

As Mr. Clapper points out in his column on this page Monday [sic], convoy has already ceased to be a dominant issue, for convoy is an inadequate response to the crisis which confronts us.

The passage of France into the Axis means that Hitler has made up his mind to shoot for victory in the Atlantic. Dakar is already his and so is the French fleet. Next comes Spain and Portugal, with their bases in the Canaries, Azores, and the Cape Verdes.

It Hitler succeeds in grabbing these positions, it will be quite as serious for us in the Atlantic as it would be in the Pacific if the Axis grabbed Hawaii.

Once he is solidly entrenched in them, he will be closer to South America than we are. His bombers will be in range of our cities. And the odds are that he will be able to cut the supply line from the United States to England.

If he does that, England will fall and the English fleet and full control of the Atlantic will pass into his hands.

Should we, then, seize these positions before Hitler gets to them? It is almost certain that Washington won't. Such a move would inevitably result in a declaration of war from Spain and Portugal and conflict with Axis powers. And the people are simply not ready for that yet.

Throwing Hitler out of these positions once he has got there will be a long and costly operation, if it can be done at all.

At The Bar

A City Father Protests That the Girls Crowd Him Out

Alderman Jim McDermott of Chicago, who is no feminist, has a peeve with the girls. The cuties have been crowding him away from the bar when the time for his before-dinner drink comes around. Says he:

"A man doesn't have a chance to get close to a bar rail in the Loop between five and six o'clock in the evening. The bars are lined with stenographers who ought to be on the way home."

A startling little picture, which we imagine will not stir too much delight in the breasts of prohibitionists. But lest they misunderstand it, we had better perhaps go on with Alderman McDermott's testimony:

"I'm tired of seeing women standing at bars. Before prohibition you never saw a woman even enter a barroom. No, sir. She entered the family entrance, sat at a table in the rear but never went near the bar."

It is, of course, a short history of the plea of the female drinker in America. Before prohibition a stenographer who had taken a drink anywhere would have been cut dead by her friends. But then came prohibition and made drinking smart for both sexes, and in the tight little speakeasy drinking spots of the time, lining up at the bar with the boys became the natural and really sophisticated thing.

Inevitably, the habits thus formed by the Noble Experiment have been carried over into the conditions of repeal.


Double Play

French Stooges Attempt Both To Frighten and Cajole

The characteristic Nazi approach to any problem is to place a pistol against the head of the intended victim and at the same time whisper the most pious moral professions in his ear and cajole him with great promises.

It was so that France was brought to heel. The pistol was the threat of the total destruction of the French people, like the destruction the Poles are now undergoing. The cajolements, aside from promises to the personal ambitions of the Vichy swine, including vague visions of France becoming the chief Nazi stooge in Europe and Africa, in place of Italy. The actual result is that now Hitler has the French navy, manned by hand-picked pro-Nazi French traitors, and that France is at last the complete prisoner of a nation whose plighted word is a guarantee that it is lying in its throat.

The same approach was all in view with regard to America yesterday.

The so-called ambassador of the Nazi stooge regime at Vichy protested with loud moral fervor to Mr. Hull against our seizure of French ships to keep them from being sabotaged after the regular Nazi fashion. Then he went on to ride the high horse about Martinique. France, he swore, would defend her possessions wherever they were--just as though France had any possession in her own sovereign right or anymore existed as a sovereign power.

But at the same moment the regime in Vichy was sedulously circulating rumors in that town to the effect that France might make a deal with us about Martinique provided we agreed to consider French West Africa, Spain and Portugal purely the business of Mr. Hitler and Vichy.

The island of Martinique is currently a critical danger spot for us. Located within easy striking distance of the Panama Canal and our cities, it is of primary importance for the defense of this hemisphere. But at this moment Nazi "technicians" are pouring into the island--and experience has long ago shown that these "technicians" are really Nazi shock troops sent forward to prepare the way for a main Nazi assault.

Perhaps they are only interested at the present in trying to run out the French airplane carrier and cruiser berthed in the island's harbors, plus the hundreds of American fighting planes stalled there as a result of our abortive effort to help France last Summer. More probably, they are interested in something more immediately perilous to us.

Incidentally, our wish-thinkers might ponder the fact that the French navy--which Hitler detached to defend Martinique--is about as powerful as our whole Atlantic fleet. And Hitler can on any evening dispatch a huge air armada from Dakar which will be already established in the island before we know it is there.

Martinique, indeed, cannot be considered apart from French West Africa, the Azores, the Canaries, the Cape Verdes. All these represent terms in a single equation, and that equation adds up to the most deadly peril the United States has ever confronted.

Mr. Hull knew as much yesterday and boldly slashed through the drivel of the Frenchman. But it remains to be seen whether our Government will or can act in time to avert a catastrophe. For obviously, the Nazi approach works with a great many of our people quite as well as it has worked with the peoples of other victim nations.

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