This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
The war in Europe. Appeal to the people to disregard victory rumors. Appeal to guard against premature rowdy V-D celebrations. O.P.A. hearings in which LaGuardia testified. Meat shortages & high prices. O.P.A. mistakes and recommendations. Insurance of licenses to slaughter houses. Continuance of meatless Tuesday & Friday. Clothing drive appeal. Circular from the County Lawyers' Association Legal Aid Society. Loan sharks. Critical shortage of freight cars.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71013
Municipal archives id: LT2528
The original text of the WNYC radio broadcasts are the property of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives. This digital edition is made available for research purposes only. The text may not be duplicated or reproduced without the written permission of the New York City Department of Records/Municipal Archives 31 Chambers Street New York, NY 10007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 1945
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F.H. LA GUARDIA'S SUNDAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF NEW YORK, FROM HIS OFFICE AT CITY HALL, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude.
What a great week we have had - Victories in every theatre of the war, advances on every front. Yes, we are closing in now. And wasn't that great, the Russians entering into Berlin? We knew that we were going to do it - right into Berlin and anyone who had ever been there could not help thinking what Berlin was once. There it stands as a reminder to the Nazis of what they have brought to their own country. And then the joining of the Russian and American forces, cutting Germany right in two - that has great military value. They are in about three pockets now and soon will be in four pockets. In Italy we are advancing into Lombardy and into the Piedmont Districts and approaching the entry into the Brenner Pass, and that will pocket several divisions of Nazi forces.
It is understandable with all these successes, how rumors of a complete collapse and surrender get started. You see, it is like anything else. One says to another, "Well, it looks as if we are going to win very soon now" - and he is an important person. This fellow says to another, "So-and-so tells me that it will be over in a few days." So ””this second important person meets another important person and says: "I just got it right straight that it will be over in a few hours." And then, of course, by the time it gets to the fourth person, it is over. Don't you see - it is all from good sources. But let us not do anything; let us wait until it is really over - Over There. And incidentally, again let me say that when word comes, it will come direct from the command and from there to the highest authority in our country and then it will be announced officially, so you and I will wait for the official announcement. But then, we must not forget that that is but one theatre of the War - the European Theatre. When the surrender does come, it will mean that all warfare in all of Europe will end. But we must remember that we are still fighting the Japs. I can understand how the other boys who are in the Pacific and in the jungles feel when they hear that we are waiting to celebrate, that we are waiting to go out and get "soused" and get "stlnko", because we won a victory. WE WON but it is the boys over there who did the fighting and the boys in the Pacific are still doing the fighting and the dying. So I hope that when we do hear that there is victory in Europe, that the ceremonies - not celebrations - the ceremonies will be appropriate with a wish and a prayer for a speedy success and victory in the Pacific.
An interesting incident happened last night, I was in bed, getting all this news over the radio and one of the statements was that an offer of unconditional surrender had been made with Great Britain and the United States, but that it had been rejected because the offer had not been made to Russia. I was thinking that it was just twenty-seven years and one month ago when just the reverse happened - Russia surrendered to Germany.
Russia was allied with Great Britain, France, and the United States, you will remember, in 1917 and 1914. In 1917 we entered the War and toward the end of 1917 a revolution broke out in Russia and the Kerensky Government was established. Later the Kerensky Government was overthrown and the Soviet Government was established. It was on March 3rd, 1918 that the Bolshevist Government signed a separate treaty of peace with the Germans at Brest-Litovsk and the Russians paid a big price for this peace. By the terms of this peace the Russians lost Poland, that part of Poland that they had and nearly all of the territory bordering on the Baltic Sea. They were also required to surrender a great area of land in the Caucasus Mountains to Turkey and pay a huge war indemnity to Germany. Just see how incidents in history keep repeating themselves. At this time the United States and Great Britain, assuming that that rumor is true, and I have no way of knowing whether it is correct or not, the United States said, "Oh, no, we are fighting this war together." I should think that everybody ought to think about that.
Now necessary it is that none of us have our own way at San Francisco or anywhere else in this world if we are to live together in peace and avoid war.
I saw some pictures today of celebrations, so-called celebrations when the news first came out. But it did not look like celebrations to me - it looked like ribald revelry - a lot of drunks. A good American is not going to jet drunk when he hears that the war is over in Europe. There are things to think about, things to do, and do not forget that the war is still on. John Golden, the producer, sends this reminder that, when a hoax of the Nazi surrender,
"It's not a time for booze or bar
This coming V-E Day
Just make a church of where you are
And kneel right down and pray."
Well, for several weeks I have not been able to talk over with you our little household affairs and our little troubles and I guess I had better be getting along right fast. This was a great week for food. This is nothing new to you and to me because just the things that we have been talking about for the past three years are happening. The OPA got a terrible sock in the eye from both the House and the Senate Committees. Just the thing that we were warning about. I hope that something will happen. I attended two hearings and testified twice this week, once before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, and then again two days later before a Special Committee of the House of Representatives investigating meat supplies. Well, it was nothing new to me. I did not have to look up any notes or prepare anything because I just sat down and said, "I told you so." That is all I had to say, and repeat - what I had been testifying for the last two or three years.
It is no surprise that we have a shortage on meat, because as you heard me say so many times, it was bound to happen. You see, what O.P.A. did was to fix a retail price and it looked good - it looked good on paper, see. But you and I cannot eat OPA reports, can we? So they settled the retail price and let it go at that for two years, and retailers just could not buy meat at that price, so they had to charge more. And then along came changed conditions and the packers could not sell without a loss; the big packers could make it up by by-products to a certain extent; the independent packers just could not make it up, so what could they do? They just sold above ceiling prices and it kept on going that way.
Toward the end of December, you will remember, I predicted that we were going to have trouble ”” and we did. A new formula was announced which put a ceiling on cattle on the hoof. Well, that did not work. You will recall I said, "Let's give it a chance and see if it will work." but seemingly it did not work. The whole thing is very simple, my friends. We must fix a retail price; having fixed the retail price, then we must fix the wholesale price, or the slaughterer's price to the retailer; and having fixed that, we must fix the price so that the packer can get the cattle. If there is a differential - and there must be a differential if we are to maintain retail prices in order to avoid inflation - then the differential must be paid by the government at one point and in this way all of the black markets will be eliminated. In addition, it will save millions of dollars in supervision, which does not supervise, and in enforcement, which does not enforce, and will give the retailers a break.
Just to give you an instance of what I mean on these prices, I said to the Senate Committee, "Well, suppose we do pay a penny more a pound at retail, the retailer can give a penny a pound up if he can buy at lawful wholesale prices. That is two pennies. The packer can give a penny up if he knew that he will be paid the difference. There you have three cents. Therefore, the subsidy of the government would not be very much to the cattle men and to the feeders and that is very important" but I will not bore you with it now. Now a great many people said to me, "Well, how can we stand another penny?" I will tell you how. If you are in the market buying steaks like porterhouse, T-bone and club steaks - and I do not believe that anyone in this room can afford to buy them, but I will use that as an example - the ceiling prices are fifty-five cents for "Choice"; fifty-one cents for "Good" and forty-four for "Commercial". Nine chances out of ten, oh, I will go a little better, let me say, maybe ninety-nine chances out of a hundred, you are getting fifty-one cent meat and are paying fifty-five, or you may be getting the forty-four cent meat and paying the fifty-five and like it, too. So, can't you see there is a difference of eleven cents or four cents. Let us come down to us folks, you know, just us folks. Round steak (bone-in) is forty-five cents for "AA"; "A" or Good is forty-two cents; "B" or Commercial is thirty-seven cents. So on the mark up, we pay either eight cents or three cents more a pound. Round steak (boneless) is good steak if you cook it right, cook it so as to make it tender. I will tell you what to do, if you get a round top (boneless), smear it with vinegar or mustard, mustard is a little too expensive now, but take a little vinegar and rub it with your hand and turn it over and rub it again.
That closes the pores and holds the juice in. It makes it very tasty. We do that very often. Don't you see that there is a difference of between eight to three cents a pound, or from thirty-nine to forty-seven, that is eight to three cents a pound in both qualities. When we get to the stew meat and the soup meats, there, of course, I would not recommend and I certainly would oppose any increase at all because the difference in the price between the grades is very slight and there cannot be very much upgrading.
SLAUGHTER HOUSE LICENSING
Another thing-the way licenses have been issued to slaughter houses is unpardonable. WFA did a very poor job on that end and the experienced permanent men of the Department of Agriculture knew it and kept warning that a very poor job was being done. Now I see that the supervision of the slaughter houses is going to be given to OPA. I predict now that it will not work. That is not a good move. That should be left in the Department of Agriculture and it can be done properly in the Department of Agriculture. So there is one indication that this new plan will not work.
MEATLESS AND CONSERVATION DAYS CONTINUED
I am hopeful that we may get a sensible construction or a sensible system out of all this costly experience that we have had.
Meat is scarce and I want to recommend to all New York to use it as sparingly as possible. To that end I am going to ask the continuance of meatless Tuesdays and Fridays - that is necessary. I want to express my thanks to the hotels and restaurants and all eating places for their splendid cooperation. On Tuesdays and Fridays hotels and restaurants and public eating places may serve poultry, game, liver, sweetbreads, oxtails, and tripe, but no other meat. Counter service shops, hamburger stands, sandwich shops, luncheonettes, and shops specializing in one special single dish are permitted to serve on Tuesdays and Fridays poultry, game, frankfurters, liver, sweetbreads, oxtails, tripe, liverwurst, tongue, blood sausage, souse sausage, and head cheese sausage. On Mondays use your own judgment. Conserve meat wherever you can on Mondays since it is Conservation Day. You should use leftovers. So please do that.
BUTCHER SHOP CLOSINGS
I had asked the retail butcher shops to keep closed on Mondays for a period of ninety days. I think it is working
out well and I ask them again to remain closed on Mondays until further notice or until the situation changes.
NEED FOR SEPARATION OF MEAT & BUTTER COUPONS
Again I recommended to both committees of Congress that we separate the meat from the fat stamps. We ought to have one red stamp for meats only. In this way, it would be easier to control the coupons in the wholesale and public eating place level. Maybe OPA does not want to do that. I know Chester Bowles wants to do it and I know that Dan Woolley would want to do it. Others do not. The enforcement in that level is not good. One high official told me the other day that a very famous place here in New York was asked for its books and that its lawyer said, "My goodness, if you get the books today, you will get us cold." He was asked what he wanted and he said, "Give me two weeks." "All right, I will give you two weeks." He brought the books in in two weeks. That was told to me in the presence of a very high official in Washington.
I think that we ought to separate the fat from the meat coupons. They have increased the coupons on oleomargarine and that makes it very bad, especially with the scarcity of butter. But if we have separation of fats and meat coupons, the housewives could manage more easily.
OPA ENFORCEMENT AND DECENTRALIZATION OF OPA COURTS
Last week, we had 386 violations, resulting in summonses to the Magistrates Court but this is significant; we had 1,066 cases left over from the previous week, making a total of 1,452 cases. All that was due to the help that the black marketeers got from our State Government. You see, these black marketeers, these profiteers in the war, they are very much in character like the tin-horn gambler, and they have the same friends seemingly. So, lo and behold, like a bolt out of the blue sky, an amendment was passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor prohibiting the Magistrates Court from having a centralized city court for deceiving, chiseling, black marketeers. Well, the dishonest purpose stated was that it was for the convenience of the people in the various boroughs and therefore they should have a court in each borough. Of course, you and I know that that is not an honest statement, because, you see, the only ones that are brought to court are the violators of the law. Our inspectors go out and get the cases and bring them to court. We do not need witnesses for that at all. We use our own inspectors in order not to embarrass or inconvenience the consumers. And what does it do? Why, it cuts our capacity in five. You see, we could issue summonses all week and have one or two days in court, then the inspector could attend to all his cases at the same time and have all the records there.
But now, when we have to hop from Borough to Borough, that just makes it five times more work and reduces our capacity five times. And that is the contribution to our efforts and to our Government's effort, in time of War, to the enforcement of price ceilings and food regulations that is so important to the very life of seven and one-half million people in our City.
I have been asked to again announce that the clothing drive is on - the collection of clothing to send to devastated countries. I do not know exactly what the definition is but let me, as one New Yorker to another, urge you not to give any clothes that you still would not wear yourself. It is very humiliating to receive clothes that are not wearable. So look it over, brush it, clean it up before you put it in the collection. You would not want some one in a far distant country to say, "Look how dirty these people must be" - especially if it is underwear or a washable dress, or anything that is washable. It will not take much of an effort to get it in good condition, and the test is whether you would wear it that way yourself.
I want to remind housewives that their laundry man will be glad to take the clothing contributions. In addition to the laundry wagons there are other collections, but that is one convenient way of disposing of your clothing.
NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS ASSOCIATION QUESTIONNAIRE
We get many inquiries from time to time but here is an interesting one. The New York County Lawyers Association has sent a circular to all heads of Departments, agencies and bureaus of the City government and they ask, very seriously, "Is it the policy of your Department or Agency, in writing or otherwise, with respect to any matter or matters, to state to lay persons that the employment of a lawyer is unnecessary or inadvisable?" Why, my dear County Lawyers, why did you spend the postage to circularize all of the Heads of Departments. I will answer it. The answer is "Yes." I often tell people that a lawyer is not necessary when it is not necessary. For instance, take matters that come before me; I must separately approve franchises and a law or would not help. I know as much about each franchise as any lawyer in town. Or take public hearings on bills that come before me for approval - a lawyer will not help. Or take any matter that I am required to sign - a lawyer will not help. So if you have any matter with the Mayor, you will not need a lawyer at all. Take some of my Departments. For instance, let us take the Department of Licenses. Paul Moss is not here today, he generally is. Well, Paul issues licenses for bowling alleys, billiard rooms - all sorts of licenses. Well, if you are entitled to the license, you will not need a lawyer. If you are not entitled to the license, the lawyer cannot get it for you - not from this Administration. Then there is the Department of Markets. You can get a stand from the Market Department or any of their licenses or a peddler's license if you are entitled to it. If you are not, a lawyer will not get it for you. Oh, yes, the lawyer may go to the courts. They do not care, they will give it to him, they will give anything and then brag about it - but we are doing the best we can in spite of all that. Take the Police Department, if you want a hack license or a cabaret license and you are entitled to it, you will get it; if you are not, the lawyer will not get it for you. Now take Docks - Oh, yes, I can see the itching palms of some politicians now out - the good old days of the docks. Remember when one witness jumped in front of a subway train, remember the scandal, remember when you had to get a political lawyer in order to get a lease on a pier or a wharf? Remember that? It was just before I took office. But you don't now. You do not have to see a lawyer to get anything from the Dock Department. You do not have to see a lawyer to get anything that you are entitled to from any Department in the City.
This all happened, I understand, because of a recent letter written by the Collector of Taxes. It was the case of the Sixth Avenue assessment, where a reduction was made and it was just a matter of mathematical computation. Each one who had paid was entitled to a certain percentage of the reduction. In informing those who had paid, the City Treasurer said that "There will be a notary in attendance for the purpose of taking such affidavits as are required, without cost." We even provided a notary without cost. "It is unnecessary and you are advised against paying retainers or fees of any kind for obtaining refund or transfer." That is the policy and that will continue to be the policy as long as I am Mayor and the good old days will not come back just because this is an odd numbered year. You get what I mean? I think you are a little premature. That is no reflection on the great profession of the Bar, of which I am a member. I am very proud of being a lawyer, but like every other profession, of course, we have those who ”” well, why go into that now.
LEGAL AID SOCIETY
Talking about labors, I want to tell you something about the Legal Aid Society. There is one contribution that lawyers make to the community, and I want to recommend support of the Legal Aid Society which provides legal aid to people who are in need of legal aid and who cannot afford to retain a lawyer. For instance, if a thieving, tin horn gambler has robbed you of money and you lost less than $300, the Legal Aid will be glad to help you recover it. Or if a usurer has charged exorbitant usurious interest rates and your claim is under $500, the Legal Aid will help you. I am very happy to get this assurance and I am going to put the Legal Aid on my approved list so that they will receive a little help from the Mayor's Welfare Fund, because of the fine service that they are rendering.
Talking about usurious rates of interest, you know, exorbitant, unconscionable rates of interest, you will find ads in our reputable papers, oh yes, they will take anything, you will find those ads every morning, charging 17, 18, 24% up to 30% interest. It is unconscionable, but it is lawful - Yes, under the Laws of the State of Now York it is lawful and the papers have a right to take these ads. That is why I cannot got a campaign going against this thing and, of course, I cannot get anything from the Legislature - not from this State Government - not one bill moved. Yet if a certain person just lifted a finger, it would have moved. But it did not. It is not in keeping with our times to have these unconscionable rates of interest. It is the worst kind of larceny that still exists from the old days. Did you read Ed Sullivan's column this morning. He was talking about usurers in the Jap prison camps and they were Americans, the same sort of Americans that charge 24% and they call them the "White Japs." That is a good name. I think I will adopt it. So let us do something about the "White Japs."
Incidentally, I want to say to the distressed mother I believe we have just put a stop to that usurer who is charging 30% and who is working in one of the printing rooms of one of our morning papers. We received fine cooperation but if he continues, please let me know. Mac, you know who I mean; I mean you, Mac. So you got off this time but don't try it again, you hear me, you big bum-charging 30% to people who work along side of you, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
McCOMBS AVENUE INCIDENT
As to that McCombs Avenue incident, little girl, let me know if the situation has cleared up because I know how hard that is.
FREIGHT CAR SHORTAGE
Here is something I want to talk about. It is very important and is a very critical situation. It concerns the shortage of freight cars. Perhaps this may sound a little remote to you and to me, but we are concerned. There are over one thousand grain elevators in the West, filled to capacity, which are closed for lack of freight cars. That grain should be in cars in passage to the East and to other parts of the country. It should be here for loading on ships going to Europe. One of the chief reasons for this shortage of empty cars is the fact that we have in the Metropolitan area, now get this, more than forty thousand freight cars awaiting unloading. There are all sorts of reasons given for this. One is, the bad weather upstate last winter. Well, that might have started a bottleneck. The other is the flood and then there is the shortage of labor. Then they explain that the railroads do not have enough freight cars. Well, they cannot get freight cars. But there is no use passing the buck. We have to do something about it and we can do something about it right here in New York - forty thousand cars have to help by getting a quick "turn around" of the cars here, and therefore every railroad employee, every shipper, receiver and trucker should pitch in and help. One trouble is that the warehouses in New York and consignees of the freight will not receive freight from three o'clock on Friday afternoon until Monday morning. Now, that is just unpardonable. I call upon and strongly recommend to everyone involved in this operation that they make Friday and Saturday a full day for the delivery and acceptance of freight. If it is necessary to call a conference here in the office, I will be glad to do so if there is anyway that I can help - this is so important. Only recently, I understand that deliveries to the markets have closed on Saturdays. That is important for anything that comes in a freight car. These things are of great interest, particularly now. Remember we are going to have a shortage of feed long after the fighting ends in Europe. I will tell you more about that next week. In the meantime, patience and fortitude.