The Charlotte News

Monday, August 25, 1941


Site Ed. Note: "Mummy, do you think that the war shall end by the 30th of September?"

"Why, no, my dear, I shouldn't think so. Whatever gave you to think it?"

"Well, they say so in the streets. I was hopeful that we might be together again to see the play they are putting on."

"What play would that be?"

"You know, the play from America with Laurence Olivier's wife playing the lady entrepreneur from the American South."

"Oh, that one. No, that isn't a play, dear. It's a film."

"I had thought it a play."

"What gives you cause to wish to see it?"

"Well, I had thought that since Britain had sent over the play with Laura Keene during the Civil War in America, that it was especially symbolic that America would send us a play about the Civil War during our grievance with Germany, and so might give us some good luck, as it no doubt brought the Northern cause in that war."

"I should call it a little more than a grievance, dear. I think it a royal Donnybrook, this one. We shall be lucky to survive, any of us."

"Perhaps, my word was ill-chosen. I just thought it would be nice if father could return by the end of September and we might attend."

"Oh, no, I wouldn't get my hopes up on that one, dear. It is just the intransigence of war in respite giving some the thought of escape. Their wish of an end to it keeps them going, I suppose. But I wouldn't register false hopes. To play the faux-naïf is to maintain an optimism for a certainty, but a false optimism plays havoc with the sensibilities when the bitter reality follows on after it. Your father, I should say, is going to be dropping bombs on Germany for yet awhile before he is able to return to go see plays with us again. But it was kindly of you to think on it."

"Yes, mummy."

"Yet I am not so sure, come to think of it, that we could say properly that Mr. Taylor's play we sent over to America during the Civil War did much in the favor of the Northern cause. You do remember how the play met the end of its run, and by no less than through the action of an accomplished Shakespearian actor, though one who broke his leg trying. It is a prime fact on occasion associated with the play of irony that the mad will take it into reality to spite its literary power for deducing change--just as Hitler appears to do to us daily, some perversion of Merchant of Venice, no doubt, I should think. I would that the fact of the wife of our foremost Shakespearian actor would not the same luck bring to us that we brought to them. It would make divers tragedies among us where a fair unity now prevails."

"Oh, yes. I hadn't thought of that notion of it, dear mummy. Thank you. But wouldn't you say that Hitler is just now rather more playing out scenes in spiteful irony from one of the comedies, perhaps Merry Wives?"

The little story on the page today having to do with the pearl among Norwegian fishwives who refused to lift a finger to stop the zany Nazi soldiers in Bergen headed for the drink in their auto, in combination with that September 30 date of inflated hope for peace in Britain, as well as the heat of cayenne pepper drifting in from somewhere--though you will have to dig a little to find that one--, reminds us that Ferdie Porsche was busy in Germany during these days in the risky business of building the machinery of Panzer divisions.

We also offer that one of the prime methods of strategic air defense over Britain, to trap the Luftwaffe planes during night raids, was a maze of air balloons tethered to the ground by cables into which the planes would become entangled during any attempts at low-level bombing--a kind of aerial Siegfried Line. This one, comprised at the height of their use by 2,300 such small dirigibles, was not the product of some luftmensch; it helped in the preservation of England during the Blitz. That, the RAF, and the blinding searchlights from the ground accompanying anti-aircraft flak made it all nightly the Danse Macabre, on both sides.

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