America at war! (1941--) -- Part 2


They enjoy poor health

By Florence Fisher Parry

Not long ago, I went to see a woman who was celebrating her 100th birthday. The house was heavy with the hush you feel only when in some temple. Soft padded voices bade me ascend the cushioned stairs. When I was ushered into her presence, I was made to feel that I was approaching a shrine.

She lay in her bed like some exquisite doll. Her hands spread delicately over the fine lace spread. Her face was like the inside of a seashell, iridescent and lovely. Her eyes held the look of a little child’s, and when she spoke, her voice was a pure immature treble.

Her spinster daughter lovingly explained:

Mama has always been delicate. When Papa married her, she was not expected to live long. It was a miracle how she had all her children. We always took care of her from the time we were little. Papa called her his Dresden doll.

I looked at the picture of Papa. He had died many years ago, worn out from anxieties. Most of the children were dead too. Dear fragile Mama had outlived them all.

When I was a young woman, I knew two remarkable men who were pinned down by ailing wives. It is hard to estimate how far these men might have gone if they had been free to follow the direction of their genius. But they had to spend every available moment looking after their wives. They both died very young, at the height of their promise.

Their wives promptly regained their health, have basked in the security and independence their husbands had provided them, and have led busy, useless lives ever since.

Willful ‘invalid’

For years I had a friend who was possessed of extraordinary talent. Her native endowment amounted almost to genius. She could have been a brilliant writer, a peerless actress; her versatility was astounding. But just as she dramatized and heightened everything that touched her, she dramatized her “health” – or rather her lack of it. She was the most interesting self-made invalid I ever knew.

Somehow, she was able to make her ailments fascinating; even doctors fell under the spell of her extraordinary self-diagnoses.

As a matter of fact, her only disability was her inability to utilize her great gifts. She had a generous income and was cursed with the laziness that came from a long line of utterly UNcontributory aristocrats. Her “ailments” were her rationalization of that laziness. She had to find an excuse for making no use of her birthright and talents, and chronic invalidism was the perfect solution.

There was no way to jerk her out of her fond delusion that she was a sick woman.

She indulged, I remember, the daily luxury of an afternoon rest. Never mind how urgent the occasion that might threaten this siesta, she was adamantine, and had that rest, cost what it might to others. One afternoon, after a particularly lazy day, she announced that she was going to rest up.

“FROM WHAT?” I demanded; my patience gone. She burst into laughter and admitted:

I AM a fraud, aren’t I?

But blandly kept on being an invalid until Nature, finally coerced, fell in with her, and now she is indeed a hopeless psychopathic case.

No time for frauds

Now with all due respect to Elizabeth Barrett Browning (whose Sonnets from the Portuguese are lovely songs), I suspect that she has been the prototype of all too many ailing ladies whom the war is just now showing up. There’s simply no place for them in the present desperate day.

And I predict that one of the most salutary improvements that will come out of this war is the weeding out of thousands of Elizabeth Barrett Brownings. Nobody has time to pay any attention to them, and deprived of an audience upon whom to perpetuate their fancied symptoms, they will be forced out of their pretense and become – let us pray – passably normal creatures.

There’s simply no time anymore to be self-centered. There’s scarcely time even to be legitimately sick. We can’t nurse so much as a headache. And the doctors remaining on the home front are suddenly so busy trying to take care of really sick patients, that they haven’t time to spare for the frauds. And this will be a good thing for them, too; for to lose a lot of bedside palaver will be good for their souls. There was too much of this going on before the war anyway.

United Nations delegates end food sessions

Delegates going to Washington for Roosevelt’s congratulations

Dempsey’s wife named as liquor party member

She fell ‘all over the lobby of apartment house,’ divorce court is informed

Strike-control law headed for House and Senate melee

By Thomas L. Stokes, Scripps-Howard staff writer

Observers believe –
U.S. offensive in Pacific due

Fleet’s inactivity is seen as period of preparation

Yank bombers hit Jap base

Tons of explosives rained on Guinea stronghold

‘Fair chance’ seen for survival of actor

London, England (UP) –
British ships and planes searched the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond today for trace of Leslie Howard, stage and screen actor, and 16 other persons who were aboard a British airliner shot down by German aircraft within two hours’ flying time of Britain Tuesday.

A spokesman for the British Overseas Airways Corporation, operators of the Douglas twin-engined airliner, said the 13 passengers, including at least three women and two children, and four crewmen would have a “fair chance” of survival if they were able to make a reasonably good landing in the water.

However, Lisbon reports said rough weather in the Bay of Biscay was hampering the search and presumably increasing the hardships of any survivors.

The plane carried two rubber self-inflating lifeboats capable of carrying all 17 persons and equipped with flares, water, food, compass and paddles.

The BOAC spokesman said:

If the pilot was able and the plane was not shot to pieces, then I am sure the plane would remain afloat long enough for the crew members to launch dinghies.

The dinghies are inflatable by a simply apparatus and it seems reasonable that those not wounded or injured in landing could get into dinghies, but of course this all depends on whether the plane got down safely and that is what we do not know.

The last word received from the plane, on a regular flight from Lisbon to England, was that it was under attack by enemy planes. That was five hours after the plane had left Lisbon and the flight normally requires about seven hours.

The BOAC spokesman said that Royal Air Force pilots and crewmen forced down at sea have frequently survived four to five days in rubber dinghies identical to those with which the missing airliner was equipped. However, the RAF men were more warmly dressed and in better physical condition than the missing passengers.

The spokesman declined to comment on a Radio Berlin report that service between Lisbon and Britain has been suspended because of the attack, the first on a British airliner on this service since it was inaugurated.

There was some speculation that the Germans attacked the plane in the belief that Prime Minister Churchill was aboard. Spanish reports were that Mr. Churchill had arrived in Gibraltar last week from the United States and it was noted that the Gibraltar-Britain air route parallels that between Lisbon and England most of the way.

Stalin’s letter to Roosevelt arrives today

Message borne by Davies may affect progress of whole war
By Merriman Smith, United Press staff writer

In neutral Sweden –
Enemies meet in city streets

U.S. newsmen rubs elbows with Nazis, Japs
By Nat A. Barrows

Japanese dead on Attu 1,791

U.S. ‘now within striking distance of Japan’

Stimson lists 17,083 soldiers as Axis captives

Most of food packages are reaching prisoners in Germany, Italy

Cradle-to-grave security proposed in Senate bill

Employee and employer each would pay 6% on all income up to $3,000 yearly

Tax bill sent to Roosevelt

Pay-go measure gets Senate’s approval

Editorial: Events in New Guinea and Uniontown and Washington

Editorial: Big little battle of Attu

Edson: A new version of Moscow Mission

By Peter Edson


Ferguson: Doing men’s work

By Mrs. Walter Ferguson

After a visit to Fort Oglethorpe, Dick Thornburg wrote:

The Army only has one complaint against the WAACs. It wants more of ‘em. They are taking over more and more of the duties of men, doing more and more men’s work.

And how the men love that. It is to be hoped the training of our enthusiastic WAACs and WAVES will include some research into the psychology of the male animal, who has always been pretty clever at persuading women to work for him.

Releasing soldiers for combat service is of course now a patriotic duty – but Mrs. Oveta Culp Hobby should warn her WAACs about being too generous with their help. Because the more a woman does for a man, the more he expects her to do.

One who has observed this trait over a period of years shudders at the possible consequences of our present situation. You’ve only to glance into the immediate past to get the point.

Long before they were at liberty to go into the business world, women did most of the work at home. Presently they got into the school-teaching profession, where they now do nine-tenths of the labor while men do the bossing. Next, they entered the business offices and gradually took over all the dirty detail jobs, releasing men from the more tiresome and rigorous tasks. The war has sent them into the machine factories and the Army, where we expect to see the same thing happen.

To be sure, this upsetting of routine has given many more women positions of authority, which we pray they may keep after the emergency. Just the same, we must be realistic about the matter.

“Doing men’s work” is a proud phrase. But let’s not forget caution, girls, or we’ll be stuck with something we can’t get out from under.

Ernie Pyle V Norman

Roving Reporter

By Ernie Pyle

Allied HQ, North Africa – (by wireless)
The head man of the photographic section at one of our Flying Fortress airdromes is Sgt. Robert Thompson, of Lansing, Michigan. Thompson has four men in the section with him. They are well organized for future conquests, as one of them speaks Italian and one speaks German.

I am mentioning these boys because they have built themselves a photographic darkroom that is unique in Africa. It is an underground dugout 10 feet deep. Most of it was dug through solid rock, and without any blasting equipment whatever. It took the five boys 10 days to do it.

You go down some steps, turn right along a deep, narrow ditch, and then right again, which brings you completely underground with a three-foot roof of earth and rock over you for bomb protection. They’ve never had a raid at this field, but where they were previously stationed raids were frequent.

Everything in the darkroom is homemade. Running water comes through some curved piping taken from the hydraulic system of a B-17. On the end of the pipe is a spigot from a wine barrel. All their photographic chemicals are kept in old champagne bottles. Their developing trays are gasoline tins cut in half the long way. Their film-printing box was made from fragmentation bomb cases. Their red safety light is the reflector off a jeep. An electric switch from a bombardier’s control-box lid is cushioned with rubber from the pilot’s seat of a Fortress.

Besides Thompson, the men in this section are Cpl. Bennett Tucker, St. Louis, Pvt. Harold Harrington, Carteret, New Jersey (he’s Irish), Pfc. Otto Zinkgraff, Plymouth, Wisconsin (he’s the German), and Pfc. John Martini, New York (he’s the Italian).

They all live in the same tent, and for such an international hodgepodge you never saw five men prouder of their joint accomplishments.

Another Volkswagen owner

A man I’ve been intending to mention for a long time is Capt. A. D. Howell of Maryville, Tennessee, a suburb of Knoxville. Over here he is known as Dixie Howell, but he was never called that before he got in the Army.

We met way back in January, and every time I’ve run onto him since then something new has happened to him. One time he had been slightly wounded and got a Purple Heart. Another time he’d invented a new way to clean up minefields. Another time he had been decorated for bravery. Another he had been promoted to captain. Another had his thumb bandaged because of a cut from a dive-bombing fragment. And the last time he had just abandoned a captured German Volkswagen because it didn’t have power enough to pull over the mountains.

That last item makes us practically blood brothers since we are both former Volkswagen owners now.

Capt. Howell worked for the Aluminum Company of America before the war. His father-in-law is the regional manager at Alcoa. Young Howell didn’t have to live on grits and sowbelly by any means, but regardless of his nice status in life he volunteered in the Canadian Army long before Pearl Harbor, and went to England more than two years ago. He transferred to the American Army last fall.

He has been constantly at the front. He’s the mine and booby-trap expert with a regiment of fighting Engineers. He probably knows as much about the more fiendish types of German explosives as anyone in North Africa.

Shows Eisenhower sideshow

Howell has a truckful of defanged mines, booby traps, flares, rockets, grenades, scare whistles, and other devices which he uses to teach others how to deal with them. Once I saw him demonstrating his sideshow to Gen. Eisenhower, on one of the general’s visits to the front.

Capt. Howell has a 5-year-old daughter, Madlyn, and a beautiful wife. He hasn’t seen them in two and a half years. He says he’d give anything in the world to see them, yet he doesn’t want to go home till after the next show is over, whatever it is.

He’s had more than his share of narrow escapes. He won his Silver Star by working for an hour, under constant fire, setting his charge on a bridge and blowing up the bridge when the advancing Germans were only 400 yards away.

He’s just one of the thousands over here who have done things you people at home can hardly conceive of, and who are now very tired but still willing to go on and on.

Millett: Shortage of better toys tests child’s imagination

Spoiled boys and girls accustomed to best of everything must learn about sacrifice
By Ruth Millett

A woman who works in the toy department of a gift shop that used to have every kind of expensive and ingenious toy for sale, and now has only the most simply play equipment, says she gets disgusted every day at the attitude of many of the parents who come into her shop.

The ones who get her down think it is just a shame that more toys are not being made, and they usually phrase their attitude like this:

I should think that toys for children would be one of the LAST things we would have to give up.

She says such parents usually have a spoiled Junior by the hand, who turns up his nose at every simply toy offered for sale because since he was three years old he has been playing with complicated electric toys that didn’t take any more brains or imagination on his part than the ability to turn on a switch.

So, the saleswoman doesn’t feel much like crying with Junior’s parents over the sad plight of youngsters forced to play with wooden, instead of metal and electric toys.

This toy shortage, that indulgent parents are so worried about, will probably actually be hood for the kids.

It will teach them to take care of what they have, more than any amount of parental preaching. Junior doesn’t leave his tricycle in the street since he has been convinced that there aren’t anymore where that one came from.

It will also do something else for children. It will force them to use a little more imagination in their play, if they have to get along without a lot of fancy, complicated playthings.

And it will tend to make them share what they have with each other – if every child in the neighborhood doesn’t have duplicate toys. It will, unless Mama says:

Now don’t you let the other children play in your wagon. If they break it, you know I can’t get you another.

No, the kids will get along all right for the duration without a lot of expensive toys. Parents don’t have to worry yet not being able to buy them electric trains as long as they can provide them with milk and oranges and cod liver oil.

Bank attacks expansion of subsidy plan

Charges U.S. seeks control over agriculture, business

Treasury orders inventory of American assets abroad

Action taken to protect interests and combat economic strategy of Axis

Spanish chief shown U.S. might in Africa

Limit of two terms urged by Senator