I love the fact that my father gave a shout out to his mom, whom he said was responsible for all that was good in him. (Sadly, he used the same line nine months later when she died.) He also sent greetings to Joe Louis, the “uncrowned king,” “the Scottsboro lads with a sincere hope for their ultimate freedom,” and the Communists who took up the Scottsboro Boys cause and saved their lives. There was some reluctance among supporters of the NAACP about whether the Communists efforts on behalf of the Scottsboro Boys would hurt their cause. Ebenezer did not seem to have those concerns. He did give props to the NAACP for its “untiring efforts on behalf of the Negro race.”
Construction of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, located at 112th St. and Amsterdam Ave. and dubbed a house of worship “for all people,” began on Dec. 27, 1892, when the first cornerstone was laid. But it took decades for the church to be completed. My father published this column Feb. 23, 1935, and it would be more than six years before the opening of the full length of the Cathedral. (The opening celebration took place Nov. 30, 1941, and a week later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Construction was halted during World War II and did not resume until the 1970s.)
The grand design inspired this response to those who warned that the Apocalypse was imminent:
“I am far more interested in the present rise in food prices, the prolonged depression, and the likely invasion of Abyssinia by the Italians than in any tornado of fire sweeping these hemispheres and leaving their inhabitants in ashes. Yet there remain a few devout persons who occasionally try to scare my reluctant soul into submission with this bogey, which, they say, will be followed by that great Judgment Day when I will have to account for even taking a lump of sugar when Mother wasn’t looking. When they come around again I will tell them that while they in their puny knowledge look for world destruction, learned theologians are erecting structures of granite to stand forever.”
Ebenezer weighs in on the trial of Bruno Hauptmann, the man sentenced to death in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. My father, having been a court reporter before he was a columnist, was apparently fascinated by the trial. He also had a few things to say about the racial implications of the story. William Allen, the truck driver who found the corpse in the woods, was apparently a “Negro” who got little recognition. He also drew parallels with this case and the trial of the Scottsboro boys. In both cases, suspects were tried in the media, as well as in the courts, but Hauptmann got a fair trial, my dad says, the Scottsboro boys did not. Of course, questions still remain as to whether the Hauptmann was framed, but we get his point.
I like the final item about the white girl who defied her parents by marrying a “mulatto” man. But my favorite is closer to the top when he talks about his hobbies: eating, catching a good show and drinking good gin occasionally.” Hear, hear! I’m headed to a show at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco tonight and am looking forward to a great dinner with friends. And, yes, I’ve been known to enjoy a Bombay martini and a Tanqueray and tonic more than occasionally. Once again, the apple does not fall far from the tree!
With current assaults on the press, including in South Africa, of all places, this column is validation that the fight continues.
I wonder if my father was interested in writing hard-boiled crime fiction. Some of his columns about crime cases suggest that he might have. He ends this column reminding readers that the injustice in the Scottsboro Boys’ case continues.