This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Coal shortages. Influenza situation. Food subsides, rationing and prices. Adjustments in salaries of city employees. Relief programs. Opening of NY City Center, with Gertrude Lawrence in play "Susan and God". PAL representatives speak.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71161
Municipal archives id: LT4011
Transcript note: Some audio not available. Missing audio has been noted in transcript.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SUNDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1943
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.
DECEMBER 12, 1943, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
FUEL OIL AND COAL
About a year ago I was appealing to the people of the City of New York every Sunday to conserve fuel oil and to burn coal. In fact, we compelled thousands and thousands of homes and apartment houses and factories to convert from oil to coal. Now I am appealing to conserve coal, because we've hit a shortage on coal that is really critical. And the oil is flowing in. Well, that is to be expected, in a task of this magnitude. Some day we will strike a proper balance between coal and oil and everything will be all right, but I hope the war will be over long before then.
The coal situation this weekend is indeed very bad, and along with it we have this cold spell. Yesterday afternoon the available supply of coal for heating purposes - home coal -was very, very low, with many of the large dealers having their bins empty. Friday night we worked late into the night, seeking to get more coal into New York City, and yesterday we were confronted with another situation - that of a slowdown in the unloading of coal cars over at Jersey City. All afternoon we were making every effort to get the matter adjusted - a dispute between the unloaders of coal and the Jersey Central Railroad. I got in touch with Mayor Frank Hague of Jersey City, who immediately referred the matter to Safety Commissioner Casey, and they are seeking to help there. My labor advisor, Judge Edward Maguire, has been working on it ever since, and Commissioner Salmon, the City Fuel Administrator, has also been working on it.
There are 492 cars of coal over there in Jersey, destined to New York City, that are not unloading, and even at the best, I am informed, they can only unload 147 or 148 cars a day. It would therefore be four days before we could get all of that coal into the city. So you see, the situation is serious, and I want to appeal to all concerned, the Central Railroad of New Jersey as well as the International Longshoremen's Union, to adjust their differences. But let me submit, as we do here in New York very often, if this matter is to be mediated, why not resume work and work overtime, with any adjustment retroactive as of tomorrow morning. That would help a great deal. I communicated with Mr. Joseph P. Ryan, the President of the International Longshoremen's Union, and he has offered every cooperation. In the meantime, the Solid Fuels Administration Order is being issued today reducing consumer's allotment for this year to seven-eighths of what was consumed last year. We can get along with that if we can get seven-eighths of the coal here in New York City that we had last year. Directions have been issued to increase the bituminous allotments of New York City on the basis that a mixture of bituminous and anthracite would help in stretching the shortage of anthracite coal.
FUEL CONSERVATION COURSES
Along that line, I announced last Sunday, courses of instructions given for the conservation of coal. Mr. Novik, is Mr. Novik here? Novik, I want you to be sure and announce today, three or four or five times today and tomorrow, the addresses where these courses are given, so that all consumers of coal may know about it and take advantage of them. These lectures are indeed very useful.
Directions are being issued today to wholesalers who have some extra supply of coal to transfer those supplies to wholesalers who have none. Well, I'm afraid that's rather academic, but, if there are any such cases, of course we'll take advantage of that order.
An extra allotment of six hundred thousand tons of anthracite has been made for the New York area to be available at the rate of a hundred and fifty thousand tons a month, to be screened with bituminous coal to furnish an extra supply. Six hundred thousand tons sounds like a great deal of coal, and it is a great deal of coal, but it is not a percentage of what we use, Not a very great increase, but it will help. I want to express my thanks to Mr. Ickes again for his understanding of our problem here in New York City. In the meantime we will keep you informed through the press and WNYC of available coal. It is just as distressing for me to know that yesterday our Health Department, which has a very excellent service to get coal for families where there is sickness, just couldn't get the coal. But we are doing everything that is seemingly possible.
Talking about heat and cold weather brings us up to the next question, that of influenza. I have asked Health Commissioner Stebbins to keep in constant touch with the situation, and I'm very happy to inform you that the influenza situation has not reached any alarming point in our city yet. Our reporting system did not indicate any increase in respiratory diseases for the week ending December 4th. Within the last few days - possibly due to publicity - there has been a slight increase in the number of cases reported, but the Commissioner says he is not as yet alarmed. The Commissioner has sent out instructions which will be given all through the day and continued by WNYC, as to what not to do and what to do in case of influenza. The most important thing is, if you feel kind of low and sickish, stay home, avoid crowds, and be very careful not to transmit the infection. For instance, yesterday when I went home I brought a new pipe that a friend of mine had given to me, and I took it into my little boy who is in bed with a cold, I showed him the new pipe, and just as I turned around he had it in his mouth. A few minutes later his sister had it in her mouth, and then I had, so it looks as if we'll all get something from little Eric. So that's something not to do.
All right, now that brings us up to snow. I dread snow. I don't know, I just dread snow, and I pray every night to please keep snow away. We haven't got the equipment and we can't get personnel. Commissioner Carey of the Department of Sanitation appeals to all home owners and stores and property owners to please clear sewer basins, so that we may have access to that. I better read what he says:
"This presents (he is talking about the shortage of personnel and equipment) this presents a serious situation if we should have a severe winter. We must keep the streets of our City open for the delivery of food supplies, war materials, and readily accessible for our Fire equipment. Therefore, I am appealing to the people of this City to volunteer in assisting us to keep open the sewer basins located at every street intersection and also to keep the cross-walks in as good condition as possible for the pedestrians." We are also appealing for volunteers. By that I mean volunteers who would be willing to do a little snow shoveling right in their own block.
PRICE OF MILK
Now, let's get to food. I won't take much time on that today. We want to tell you that we reached the low in milk, on about the 15th of November, and that the supply is increasing ever since. Of course, it is lower than it was a year ago. But this is important. The price of fluid milk was increased, about 1/2 cent a quart, to producers on November first. This increase has been subsidized for November and December. In other words, the government is paying the difference, so that the consumers will not have to pay it, and that amounts to four hundred and sixty thousand dollars a month. Now we only have this month to go and, if the subsidy is discontinued, it will reflect an increase in the price of milk. I shall resist any increase in the price of milk and certainly we cannot pay any more for milk sold at stores.
That goes to show how important the subsidy is and why we are to hope that Congress will do nothing to prohibit subsidies on food. You will remember I appeared before a Senate Committee and told you about the subsidy on flour. Well, the government is now paying 73.6 cents on every barrel of flour, which amounts to $2,400,000 a year for the flour which goes into bread in New York City. If this were discontinued it would reflect from one-fourth to almost one-half cent a pound a loaf in New York City for the baker, which would make it at least one cent a loaf or even more as it is passed on to the consumer. This again indicates the necessity of continuing the subsidy on food if anything like the present cost of living is to be maintained. Otherwise it will go sky high and there is no telling what will happen and it surely will bring inflation.
I've been telling you about the increased cost of eggs, asking you not to buy large Grade A eggs. As I told you several weeks ago, the time has now arrived when the price of eggs will go down. I will not quote large Grade A eggs, because in all likelihood you'll get medium Grade A eggs and pay for large Grade A eggs. So you stick to medium Grade A eggs that are now 61 cents a dozen and large Grade B eggs - they're very good, you know - 60 cents a dozen, and medium Grade B eggs, 55 cents a dozen. So it's 55, 60 and 61cents. If you take your carton along, you insist upon a 2-cent reduction. You know, we had a long controversy about that with OPA and it was finally settled in favor of the consumer, and you may deduct 2 cents if you do not take the new carton. The price of eggs should decrease about a cent a dozen a week, but I will keep you informed.
You know, I kind of express a great deal of joy about oranges being sold by the pound. I asked Mr. Chester Bowles about it last week and I received a telegram, because Mr. Bowles, you will remember, told me that he would order the sale of oranges by the pound, allowing nine or nine-and-a-half cents a pound. He says: "Citrus food order date not definitely decided as yet but expect it will go into effect between Christmas and the first of the year." Hurry up, Chester, you told me two weeks ago it would go into effect at once.
I want to say something to the hotels and restaurants about serving butter at lunch time. Now there are a few insanitary places that are still serving butter at lunch time. The decent, reputable places, the sanitary places, the places that want to cooperate with their government, are not serving butter during lunch time and it is manifestly unfair - kind of sneaky, you know - for anyone not to play the game. As I told you before, anyone who would be as sneaky as that, you'll find will do other things that are not clean [AVAILABLE AUDIO ENDS HERE] in the kitchen, and I want to tell these insanitary shops - stop it now! If there is no cooperation, or if there is any lack of cooperation, an order will be issued by OPA on butter that will mean a great deal more. I'm not going to mention any names now, but I do want to say to those who have been sort of not playing the game and sneaking butter out, and even in some instances bragging about it, that the reputable, decent, sanitary hotels and restaurants have complained to me and their complaint is justified, and I will give those reputable decent places full and complete support.
COST OF LIVING ADJUSTMENTS
A great deal of work was put in during the past week in a continued study of cost of living and necessary adjustments in the salaries of city employees. The task is extremely difficult. As I have said so many times, adjustment will have to come within the available appropriations and on savings made since November 15, 1945. My plan is to give each department the utmost latitude.
That would permit absorbing of work due to loss of manpower and saving. It means that employees will have to work more and longer. Three departments have already completed a plan which has received my tentative approval. One department, not under my control, has defiantly refused any consideration of the plan. I'm sorry for the lower-paid employees in that department. All activities in the City Government will not at this time be able to come within the formula. Unless, of course, there is a cheerful willingness to cooperate, there is very little, if anything, that can be done under the existing financial situation of the City. Although as much cannot be done as I would like, the cost is enormous and, therefore, willingness to cooperate cheerfully on the part of all employees in the departments concerned is absolutely necessary. I had a long conference with Comptroller Joe McGoldrick yesterday and there are great mechanical difficulties in the preparation of pay rolls and pay-checks that must be met. With the coming change in the schedules of the Federal withholding tax, over one hundred and twenty thousand payroll items and checks will have to be changed. This, along with any change of living adjustment, will require a great deal of clerical and mechanical work. I am hopeful that any increased pay adjustment will be effective as of January 1st, but it will take from two to eight weeks before necessary mechanical changes in pay-rolls and checks will be possible. The increase, when accepted, will be retroactive.
As I have said before, the Director of the Budget, the Comptroller, the heads of departments and I have all put in long hours, but I'm hopeful that a complete picture for study will be available before the end of the week.
CORRECTION ON COAL ALLOTMENT
I've just been given a memo here of a telephone call that came in. Mr. Demmler, United States Solid Fuel Administrator, just 'phoned in from his home in Philadelphia where he has been listening to this broadcast. Not 150 thousand tons of "anthracite" for "New York," but 150 thousand tons of "bituminous" coal for the "eastern anthracite territory." Yes, Mr. Demmler, I understood that. I think it's my fault. I misstated it, and thank you for the correction.
It was not many days ago that another abusive drive was started against unfortunate unemployables in our city. There are some who would let unemployed people starve. I have repeatedly stated that survey after survey indicates that the large percentage of adults now on our relief rolls are unemployable. One notorious drunk made disparaging statements concerning these unfortunate people, but not one paid any attention to that. The people of this City want to care properly for their unfortunate neighbors, who, through no fault of their own, become destitute and their families in want.
BEDFORD-STUYVESANT RELIEF SURVEY
Another attack was made on the care of unemployed and destitute families in a discussion of conditions in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. This attack has been completely answered by a report of a survey made by the Department of Welfare, and also a recheck of every single, solitary individual case in that section. The suggestion that any group of people of our City should have relief suspended or withheld is repulsive to the wish, the heart and the soul of the people of this City. Those people do not choose to bo on relief. They would gladly change their health and their physical condition for the possibility, the opportunity and the ability to work at gainful employment.
INCREASED RELIEF ALLOWANCE
What I want to tell you today is of another survey just completed by the Department of Welfare - a report which I have just received from Commissioner Leo Arnstein. The cost of living hits the family on relief just as much as it does any other family. I agree with Commissioner Arnstein, that even a subsistence level cannot be maintained under the present allowance and existing cost of food and clothing. You will recall that an increase was given on relief allowances last January. Since then, however, conditions have so changed, as revealed in Commissioner Arnstein's report, that another increase is now recommended.
This increase amounts to the annual cost of $3,926,316, of which $1,749,648 is the city's share. The balance is made up by contributions from the Federal and State governments. Large as this increase may seem, it permits only of an increase of $20.97 a year per adult person for food, clothing, personal incidentals, household needs, fuel and heating. Tomorrow I shall approve Commissioner Arnstein's plan, subject to approval by the State Department of Social Welfare. The Commissioner informs me that conferences with the Social Welfare Board in checking the figures would indicate approval.
Statements were also made concerning the Bedford-Stuyvesent section as to what could be done to improve conditions there. Some of these statements were made by politicians who rushed into the subject in the hope of gaining political capital. But as usual, these professional politicians are just about from five to ten years behind this Administration, for in our studies of this section and our plan which has been interrupted by the war, we had a complete program. This program is ready to go as soon as the war ends. Do you know that the postwar program on which we have been working for well over two years, and the Bedford-Stuyvesant program on which we have been working for five years, contemplates public improvements amounting to $22,485,300. We are planning for new schools and playgrounds with each school as follows: P.S. 3, 11, 12, 35, 44, 117, Bedford Health Sub-station, Playground- Lafayette Ave.-east of Reid Ave. -development of addition and land, playground-Hopkinson Ave. and Marion St. development of additions and land, Playground-between Monroe St., Madison St., Ralph Ave and Patchen Ave - two acres, Brower Park development - adding an additional acre, Playground - Park Ave. - between Washington and Hall Streets, Playground - Flushing, Classon and Park Aves., Marcy houses and Playground - $10,000,000 alone, Kingsboro House - addition and playground, $2,100,000, a total of $22,485,300. I think some of the politicians must feel very cheap after all of their sounding off and their attempt to make a political issue out of an unfortunate condition and the misfortune of a large portion of our own people.
SALE OF ARTICLES MADE BY THE BLIND
I told you about going to the AICP last week, Well, this week I went to a store at 608 5th Avenue, now being operated by the New York State Commission for the Blind. They have on sale there, oh, some splendid articles made exclusively by blind people. For a dollar, you get a large assortment of Christmas presents, such as aprons and turkish towels, and bowls, mittens, booties, handkerchiefs, bags, ashtrays and comb canes. For a child's chair, dolls bed, lunch cloths, stuffed animals, rugs, dolls, leather wallets. A very splendid assortment. Inspector Kent, I'm going to give you something afterwards with which you can go down to this store and buy some things for your Christmas planning.
CITY MUSIC CENTER
Last night I did have a grand time. The City Center of Music -and Drama opened with a concert by the Philharmonic Orchestra, and I tell you it was the greatest thrill I've had since I've been Mayor. It certainly makes up for a lot of the headaches and heartaches that one on this job must necessarily suffer. We had a fine beginning, and, this indeed, is a dream come true.
Monday night we start the drama season with Gertrude Lawrence - and there is only one Gertrude Lawrence - in "Susan and God" and we've got a surprise. Now I've just been told not to tell anybody about the surprise, because it's going to be a surprise, so don't any of you tell anybody. But tomorrow night, Noel Coward will be with us and he has promised that he will either sing a song or make a speech, and I think he will make a speech and sing a song. So Noel Coward is going to be with us tomorrow right, with Gertrude Lawrence in a week's season of "Susan and God." Now, please remember, you can get seats today from p PM to 8 PM. Now give me that address right - 131 East 55th Street., isn't that right - oh, West 55th Street, 131 West 55th Street. You see I keep repeating that, making this mistake, so you get it right. 131 West 55th Street.
The box office is open today from 1 P.M. to 8 P.M. and you can get seats now for "Susan and God" for the entire week. Take advantage of it, so that you'll be able to say and get the thrill that I did, that you attended the first performance of drama in the New York City Center of Art, Music and Drama. I look forward to seeing you there tomorrow night.
NATIONAL WAR FUND
I mustn't forget to say that this is the last week of the National War Fund and you know all about it by this time. Many of you perhaps have just been putting it off and haven't contributed yet, so do so now. The National War Fund takes care of all the relief for countries now occupied by the Nazis, all the reliefs of countries united with us in this war against the Nazis and the Japs, as well as all war activities in connection with the Army and the Navy and the Air Force. Now, you can contribute in your shop, in your plant or the factory where you work or at your office or at your club, lodge or organization, or you can send it to the National War Fund or you can send it to me. If it's just a dollar, won't you do it this last week? Send it here to me, and I'll acknowledge it myself, and then I'll send it to the National War Fund in your name and you'll get an acknowledgement from them, too. Now remember, this is the last week.
BENEFIT PERFORMANCE FOR P.A.L.
Now that the National War Fund is about over, I've got to tell you something that is very near and dear to my heart, and that is the P.A.L. The "PAL" organization of the New York City Juvenile Aid Bureau under the command of Inspector Kent. Now what is the P.A.L.? The P.A.L. is a voluntary organization under the auspices of the Juvenile Aid Bureau, [AVAILABLE AUDIO BEGINS AGAIN HERE] maintaining recreation and social centers in all parts of the City where such facilities and such centers do not otherwise exist. In other words, if a district has all kinds of recreation centers and clubs for children, we don't go there. But we do go everywhere we where there is a need for it. The children come in, as they do in any other center, and there they can play games, there they are trained and there they can spend their out-of-school hours in a wholesome atmosphere under proper supervision.
Now, this thing went very big for a long time, when I had the benefit of help from the WPA. Oh, we had several thousand people from WPA working as recreation directors, athletic instructors in the personnel and maintenance and it was such a help. The P.A.L. really grew to great dimensions. Than, when WPA stopped, of course, we were crippled and crimped, and now we have ten centers operating, but I want to have a great many more. The only way we can have a great many more is to have your continued interest and the support of the people of our City to this very useful, and straight and happy institution, the P.A.L. Now, most of the centers are given to us by generous citizens who permit us the use of the premises, and the City provides the light and heat. I've authorized the employment of recreation directors, one for each center. But that isn't enough. We need so much more, and don't you see, I want the community spirit in it. I want it to be something that all of the people of the City of New York participate in, and contribute to, and that is why I'm making this appeal. Now, you've been called upon so much that we thought we'd give you, say, $3 for every $1. Now that's a good bargain, isn't it? We give you $3. worth of amusement for $1., and that will be Wednesday night, December 15th. That is, next Wednesday, at Madison Square Garden, we're going to have a great show for the benefit of the P.A.L. It's "Stars Shine for Young America." That is, Wednesday, December 15th and every great artist in New York will be there to entertain you and I assure you that if you do not believe that you got $3. worth of amusement for $1., then it's because you got $5. amusement for $1. But, if you're dissatisfied and complain and come and speak to me, I'll give you the opportunity of contributing another $1. You see, that'll make it even. Now remember, Wednesday, December 15th. The tickets are now on sale at Madison Square Garden, or you can go to any police station and buy tickets there, or you can send to this office and buy tickets here, or you can go to WNYC and buy tickets there.
I am rather honored today. Very often we have distinguished guests come here at one o'clock Sundays, but today I have a delegation from the P.A.L. children themselves. I wish you could see them. They're just fine New York City children, of whom we're all so proud. I don't know whether they were bored or interested in the broadcast, but they were very polite, and that's something, isn't it? Now I wonder, children, would any of you like to say something about P.A.L. on the air?
(Shout of "Yes." "Mel" "Me!")
Well, now wait a minute. Say we take one at a time. I wish had enough time, children, to let each one of you tell the audience about your favorite center. On the basis of enthusiasm alone, I'm sure that each one of you would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that your own particular center was the best center of all. In radio,
however, you have to do the best you can with the time at your disposal, so suppose I just pick a few of you at random, and we'll have a little conversation about P.A.L.
How about it, young lady? What's your name? How old are you?
"My name is Paula Spelter, and I am 18 years old."
"Where do you live, Paula?"
"I live at 1087 Carroll Street, Brooklyn."
"And what PAL Center do you go to?"
"I go to Loew Center, and between you and me, Mr. Mayor, it's the best one of all."
"I'll bet they all say that. Tell me how long have you been with PAL?"
"About one year."
"And what do you do around the center? I mean what are your particular interests?"
"I'm a member of the dramatic club and the choral singing group. I also go in for folk dancing and I like to play ping pong and volley ball."
"Well, that ought to keep you pretty busy, and in good physical condition, too."
"It sure does, Mr. Mayor. When I joined the singing group, they complained I did not sing sweetly enough, but they can't complain that I don't sing loud."
"That's good, you'll be a Council woman some day."
"How about you, son? What's your name?"
"My name is William Garrett and I'm 15 years old."
"And what's your P.A.L. center, Bill?"
"The name of it is Holmes Center, and I belong to it for about eight years. It's a swell place, Mayor La Guardia, and I've spent some of the happiest hours of my life in it."
"What's your special interest?"
"I belong to the House Council. I'm interested in shop work and I'm on the basket ball team."
"Well, you certainly look as though your activities agree with you."
"Now, let's hear from another youngster. What's your name, young lady, and how old are you?"
"My name is Marilyn Waldinger and I'm ten years old."
"Well, tell us, Marilyn, about your P.A.L. association and activities."
"I have been a member of Webb Churchill Center for two years, and I'm interested in arts and crafts and I also go in for folk dancing and tap dancing."
"Good, I wish you could do some tap dancing now. Have you received instruction in arts and crafts at the center?"
"Yes, I've been taught basket weaving and leather craft and I'm taking a course now in photography."
"Well, come and take our pictures some time." "As far as you're concerned, then P.A.L. is pretty much OK, right?"
"Absolutely, Mr. Mayor. If it hadn it been for P.A.L, I'd never have learned these interesting hobbies, I'm for P.A.L. first and last and always."
"Righto! How about you, young fellow? What's your name?"
"My name is George Bieber. I'm 16 years old." "You look strong and husky. What do you do at the center?"
"I'm on the boxing team at Flanagan Center and in the spring and summer I play baseball."
"P.A.L. has helped you to develop your abilities along those lines, is that right?"
"Absolutely, Mr. Mayor. If anything ever happens to our P.A.L. center, the kids in our neighborhood wouldn't know what to do with themselves."
"Well, nothing is going to happen to it, if we have our way."
"And now I guess we have time to hear from one more youngster. What is your name, young lady?"
"My name is Corrinne Sophia and I'm 18 years old."
"Corrinne, how long have you been a member of P.A.L.?"
"About two years. My principal interest, Mr. Mayor, is music. My sister and I harmonize swing and sweet tunes."
"What has P.A.L. done for you along these lines?" "Well, I've appeared a number of times on the P.A.L. Radio
"You mean 'Pals of the P.A.L.' on Saturday afternoon?"
"That's right, Mr. Mayor, we broadcast over WNYC every Saturday afternoon at 4:30 P.M."
"Now, let me ask you something. After all, I guess you and I have something in common. Do you think anybody listens to it?"
"I sure do!" "Do they like it?"
"Well, I know one person who thinks I am the best entertainer on the air."
"Who is that?"
"Your best friend, but not your severest critic, is that right?"
"That's right, Mr. Mayor."
Now, does anyone else want to say anything?
VOlCES: "I say let's all give a big cheer for P.A.L., Come on kids, are you ready?"
(SONG - "God Bless America" by the group of children.)
Yes, we'll stand "beside her" and "keep her" even in these trying times we'll do so.
Patience and fortitude.