Imágenes de páginas

to function at the same time. It is hard for the human mind to shuttle back and forth out of the mood of quick and forceful decision into the mood of quiet reflectiveness.

Further, either function, in the quantity of it demanded in the White House, is apt to make exclusive demands on time and vitality. Few men can spend eight hours a day in hard administrative work and have anything left to give to the writing of a thoughtful speech. It was part of Roosevelt's strength that he knew when he had nothing to say, and declined to say anything. He avoided

the practice of having others write speeches or messages for him. Roosevelt said and wrote much, but it was all Roosevelt. Consequently, the public took in the picture of him and had it clear in their minds.

Since his death, the explanation of Roosevelt's exceptional capacity seems gravitating toward the one he had for himself, namely, that he was merely the average man raised to the nth degree. He used to say of himself that there was no one thing which he did better than, or as well as, many other men could; but that he did many things and did them all at his top best. Roosevelt's distinction lay in his energy, his activity, more than in any unique endowment of thought or talent.

The executive job of the President presents itself minute by minute and must be done. Prophecy must await the second turn; and unless a President has the abnormal vigor of Roosevelt, there may be no opportunity for the role of prophet at all. (President Wilson used to manage it, on some occasions, by deliberately letting the executive job "slide" for days or even weeks, while he devoted himself to some important message.)

Everybody appreciates that under Coolidge, the administrative functions of the government are carried out with great competence.. While Coolidge was still Governor of Massachusetts, he gave the country one glimpse of something which, if it is a habitual

characteristic, argues possession of capacity for prophecy of the highest kind. The one episode that brought him national attention, his one assertion of fundamental and important dogma, was a brief phrase on the oc casion when the strike of the Boston police was suppressed, a phrase to the effect that as respects men filling such public offices as policemen, the right to strike disappears before the public good. The way the country responded to that, the fact that a great principle was settled by the mere expression of it on the right occasion-that suggests how important the function of prophet is in this democracy of ours.

If America now had a present-day Jeremiah, he would surely have something to say about that aspect of business which, in Pennsylvania, manifested itself in more than two million dollars in campaign contributions, for the frankly avowed purpose, among others, of retaining the immunity of Pennsylvania manufacturers from taxation on their capital stock. If Christ were here today He might use those Pennsylvania disclosures as the occasion for saying something about moneychangers in the temple.

A nation without prophets is poor. It needs them for the authoritative utterance of its widely held sentiments, faiths, and indignations. A prophet would come nearer than any other agency to showing us what to do about prohibition. A prophet would either talk to us like Jeremiah about our disobedience of law, or else tell us how the law should be changed. When Senator Borah took a clear and strong position in a speech before a Presbyterian gathering at Baltimore recently, he was instantly elevated to the position of a prophet, and the newspaper headlines immediately coupled his name with future occupancy of the White House. Borah does not want to be President, and is unlikely to be made President; but the episode illustrates the people's hunger for a prophet, and their instinctive expectation that the Executive Mansion should house one.

Vultures of Trade

Condensed from The Outlook (August 11, '26)
George Whitten

URING the night, a three-story

D building, with a jobbing firm

downstairs and two tenement floors above, burned to the ground. . . . On an Atlantic City train speeding to the city the next morning were two swarthy-faced gentlemen. They took a taxi to their place of business, which was the jobbing house that had been destroyed by fire. At sight of the ruins, they shrieked in wails of misery. They were ruined! A sympathetic crowd gathered. But in spite of their sorrow, they were brought before the chief detective of the arson squad for questioning.

They were grilled for hours, but their story was without flaw. They had taken a train on Saturday for Atlantic City, and knew nothing of the fire until they returned on Monday morning. No, they had no business trouble; indeed, they had been doing so well that they had just taken in a fresh supply of goods and had been making plans for expanding into a larger business. Their firm, Gross & Levison, had a good rating. Unfortu

nately, their books had been destroyed, like everything else.

Gross and Levison next submitted to severe questioning by the fire insurance adjusters, and then by the fire commissioner; but nothing could be found to lay blame upon them, and they were allowed to go their way exonerated. They filed a voluntary petition in bankruptcy; a receiver was appointed, the insurance collected, and their creditors paid three cents on the dollar. Claims to the amount of $200,000 were filed against them, and it was found that they had recently bought large shipments on 60 and 90 days' credit.

Several dissatisfied creditors, however, took their troubles to the National Association of Credit Men. There wasn't much evidence to go on.

The former tenants of the upper floors were scattered, and were located only with great difficulty; and most of these, when found, were too stupid to give much information. Finally a crippled boy, who had lived in the front apartment just above the store and spent most of his weary hours looking out of the window, was located. Watching the big trucks come up to the store and unload great packing-cases always made a break in the monotony of his life. Questioning developed the fact that for several weeks just before the fire the boy had seen no trucks unloading. Here was the first real evidence. No shipments had come to the store, yet Gross & Levison had placed a number of large orders.

An exhaustive search among railroad records disclosed the fact that all of the $200,000 worth of goods had been reshipped to Houston, Texas. A detective was sent to Houston to locate the goods, and another man set to watch the movements of Gross and Levison.

The two men had gone to Atlantic City for rest and quiet after the fire. Several weeks later they took train for Texas. Under the firm name of Golden & Markowitz they opened a "gents" retail furnishing store in Houston, and announced an opening sale with prices below anything that had been heard of since pre-war days, explaining they were doing this to introduce them. selves.

When the doors were opened and Gross and Levison, or Golden and Markowitz, smilingly welcomed their new customers, three detectives stepped forward and handcuffed the surprised merchants together. Then a squad of police appeared and shooed the astounded crowd back into the streets. That night the local papers

answered the question many had asked, "How can they sell so cheap?”

The men confessed. They had opened the jobbing house, and for nearly two years had carried on a legitimate business. Then, with credit established, they had placed large orders wherever they could and had reshipped the goods to a friend in Texas. The burning of the depleted stock had been a simple matter. A few gallons of oil had been poured over empty boxes in the cellar and a 24-hour candle set burning where the flame would reach some oil-soaked waste. This gave the criminals a chance to establish an alibi.

The National Association of Credit Men has been fighting credit crooks for the past eight years, though little has been heard about it in the public press. Credit crooks are super-criminals who think in hundreds of thousands of dollars and work out their plans as systematically as any wellorganized business.

The case of Gross & Levison is one of the crudest of its kind; most credit frauds are worked out with more finesse. There is the case of Lasky & Cohen. This firm conducted a large hardware business in a Mid-West city, which we will call St. Mark. They had a good rating; but in 1923 they were declared bankrupt. Creditors filed claims aggregating $1,250,000, and they were awarded the pittance of one and a half cents on the dollar.

Suspecting fraud, the creditors placed the case in the hands of the National Association of Credit Men. The receiver gave evasive answers to questions put by the investigators. The referee made a pretense of helping them, but the information he gave proved unreliable and misleading. Even attempts to get information from local railroad officials regarding shipments made to and by the bankrupt firm were fruitless. The detectives were experienced men, and realized that they had a vicious circle in high power working against them.

After several weeks it was found that the bankruptcy officials belonged to a clique of lawyers who made a business of staging bankruptcies that were immensely profitable to them and the bankrupts. Their organization included a number of high city officials, lawyers, business men, gunmen, and pyromaniacs.

The Credit Men determined to round up these criminals. Detectives, with a large bank account at their disposal, opened a store, The Enterprise Hardware Co. They joined a couple of local business clubs, mixed around town, and spent money freely. In a short time they were well known. After several months they made cautious approaches to the heads of the swindling clique and let it be known that they were open to the staging of a profitable bankruptcy. The swindlers welcomed them. Then the usual fraudulent bankruptcy proceedings were staged. First, the pseudo merchants began placing large orders. The names of colleagues in other cities who would receive the stolen goods were confided to the detectives. A set of "phony" books was drawn up by an expert, and a lot of false obligations of indebtedness supplied.

Bankruptcy was declared; a receiver was appointed; the case went before a referee, and a trustee was appointed. The creditors were offered six cents on the dollar, but refused to take it.

"Let them try and get more,” laughed the trustee. Then the crash came. A large squad of Federal detectives swept down on St. Mark, and in two hours 39 gentlemen of high local standing were in jail. The authorities have a beautiful case against a gang of the cleverest crooks that ever perpetrated crime while living among their fellowmen as highly respectable citizens. The case has not yet come up for trial, but when it does the Credit Men believe that the ensuing jail sentences will put teror into the hearts of other swindling organizations.


California's War on Ugliness

Condensed from The Saturday Evening Post (July 10, '26)
Kenneth L. Roberts

S recently as the Spanish-American War there was no control over the use of property in American cities and towns. Any such control would have given rise to squawks of protest and cries of "Un-American!" Not many years later, however, many American cities had accepted city-zoning laws that regulated the height of buildings and the area of the lot covered.

Only a few more years elapsed before towns with intelligent leadership were accepting residential zoning. They were protecting residential districts by excluding industrial plants, stables, garages, warehouses, laundries, and so on; and they were protecting industries by excluding such annoyances as the small-home owner who emits frequent roars of protest and refuses to be taxed for such industrial necessities as wide, heavy-hauling pavements, extra large sewers for industrial waste, high-pressure mains for extra fire protection, and other advantages that more favorably located competing manufacturers obtain without question.

Without such zoning the owners of residential property on the edges of industrial sections are perpetually letting their property slip into slums in the expectation of selling to a manufacturer, and investors in real estate are constantly suffering from the encroachment of undesirable businesses on a good residential neighborhood, a good apartmenthouse neighborhood or a good business neighborhood.

Charles H. Cheney is a city planner who has written numerous city planning and zoning laws and ordinances adopted in California, Oregon and other states. "So far," says Mr. Cheney, "no aesthetic questions have been involved in the matter of zon

ing. The thing has been purely economic and social. Since we have been forced to live together closely, we cannot have peace and comfort in living unless we can agree to give up some of our looser rights. The future will see the aesthetic values of living-the so-called amenities of life-as fully and carefully safeguarded as the economic and social side of life is being safeguarded in many communities by zoning ordin


"This will be done by group action; communities will get together and agree on a committee of architects, engineers and laymen who shall pass on all plans of new buildings, and say whether they are reasonably decent in design. This, after

all, is not greatly different from the present situation, which requires persons to present their building plans to a committee for judgment as to the safety of the buildings."

It might be remarked in passing that there are a number of determined individuals on the Pacific Coast who declare passionately that one can be conscious of as much ugliness through the ears as through the eyes; that the nerve-shattering roars, explosions and squeals of countless motors that make modern life a ceaseless din are as inexcusable as ugly dwellings, unsightly and over-prominent garages and view-destroying signboards; and that the person who is so careless of the general welfare as to make such noises will be roughly handled in civilized communities in another ten years.

At any rate, the trend toward the safeguarding of the amenities of life has grown so strong in some sections of California as almost to submerge the cupola era and its atrocities. Consider, for example, the range of hills that extends from Hollywood

out past Beverly Hills to the sea. As recently as 1920, when the California revulsion against the cupola era began to gather genuine momentum, the land in these hills was regarded as having little value. Today, the land ranges in price from $5000 to $20,000 an acre. In these hills are 70,000 acres of land. Already the hills are dotted with beautiful homes, constructed by sworn enemies of the cupola era; and persons who know the real-estate situation say that not many more years will elapse before all the hill slopes will be covered with the largest assortment of beautiful homes ever concentrated in a similarly sized stretch of territory. They base their deductions on the fact that the owners of the 70,000 acres of hills have signed a declaration of restrictions, which nobody can build anywhere on the entire 70,000 acres without first submitting his plans to a wellremunerated architects.


board of prominent

On another side of Los Angeles, on a swelling promontory jutting boldly into the Pacific, is the infant resort of Palo Verde. The ever-spreading determination to be free from the cupola era resulted, in Palo Verde, in the most rigid of architectural restrictions under the guidance of Charles H. Cheney, the city planner, and F. L. Olmsted, landscape architect. By their terms every building plan must be submitted to an art jury, which has a $300,000 endowment to make sure that its interest won't slacken. No billboards, advertising signs or for-sale signs are permitted to be erected; all necessary store and business signs must have the approval of the art jury; industries, asylums and nuisance businesses are prohibited; no trees more than 20 feet in height can be cut down without the consent of the park department; home owners are obliged to erect their garages in 10cations that will prove least obtrusive and objectionable to adjoining property owners; and every possible precaution has been taken to pre

serve the views of ocean and mountains, to increase the natural beauty of the land with trees and shrubbery, and to make sure that the home of no resident can ever be damaged by an unsightly or undesirable structure. Nearly every structure that rises in Palo Verde is exactly the type of structure that the Spaniards would have built when they first came to California.

The same insistence on the preservation of beauty, the adoption of suitable architecture and the utter undesirability of persons who are willing to force poorly designed structures on their neighbors has gained an unbreakable foothold along the beautiful hill slopes and valleys in the shadow of Mt. Lowe and Mt. Wilson on the outskirts of Pasadena. Farther to the north, one finds the same thing occurring on the historic Monterey Peninsula. All the loveliness of one of California's loveliest spots has been preserved by rigid restrictions; and all the genius of the mission builders has been perpetuated in homes to which California's leading architects have devoted their talents.

Greatest of all the examples of California's war on the ugliness and stupidity of the cupola era, however, is found in the city of Santa Barbara. The old low-roofed and wide-verandaed adobes, set in riotous masses of flowers, stood in the way of progress. Santa Barbara's business men looked at them indifferently, and slowly the houses vanished. Elaborate structures of nice smooth brick replaced them, or involved wooden structures with Gothic towers and late Etruscan porte-cocheres and medieval doorways and James K. Polk piazzas.

A campaign to save the missions. spread up and down the state. The Community Arts Association came into existence in Santa Barbara, and in 1922, it started its Plans and: Planting Committee, and the work of rescuing Santa Barbara from the engulfing fog of the cupola era was on in earnest.

« AnteriorContinuar »