This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Letters requesting proclamation of a price control week. Need for extension of O.P.A. Meat situation. Part 8 of the proposed plan to control meat production and distribution. Permitting custom slaughtering for groups of retailers or cooperatives. Unrest among fruit and vegetable dealers. Letter from citizen complaining that a dealer refuses to sell to him. Low-priced garments.
La Guardia speaks about "thieving tinhorns." He also speaks of bookmaking, horse racing, dice playing and other forms of gambling. He elaborates about a feud between two groups of tinhorns, divided along religious lines.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71020
Municipal archives id: LT2534
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, JUNE 3, 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, JUNE 3, 1945, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude.
There are many little things that I want to talk over with you today. I do not know how pleasant it is going to be because most of the items concern the association of Chiseler, Gonovim and Imbroglioni. But you know we have to talk about them some time, they get pretty brazen.
During the past few days I have received several letters from well meaning people, asking me to proclaim a Price Control Week. Why? As I have said, the people writing in mean well, but if I did would it not make it appear as if we ignored price control every other day of the week. This is one town where we really go after the chiseler and the black market, so I do not see why we should proclaim a Price Control Week. The purpose of it is to create public sentiment or attract attention to the fact that the Price Control Law expires at the end of June. Of course, that purpose is quite laudable.
I went to Washington and spent two days on price control and other matters. I am reasonably certain that the Price Control Law will be extended for another year. I testified before the Senate Committee, and I want to tell New York City folks that I am quite sure that the entire Now York City delegation in the House will vote in favor of the extension, and I am quite sure that our two Senators will also vote in favor of extending the law. In fact, Senator Wagner presided at the hearing before which I testified.
Some of my critics - - and there are many, you know, especially in the black market and among the tinhorns and some people who scribe for a living say, "Huh, the other day La Guardia was criticizing the OPA now he is asking for an extension of the law." Those are just two different things, of course, as any honest, intelligent person can understand. The law is necessary. I fear that if it were ended suddenly we would have a great deal of confusion and a great deal of high pricing and sky-rocketing in food prices. And I also feel, and I think that I speak with some authority - I have had only forty years of experience in public office - that it is possible to get honest and intelligent people to enforce the law. I never admitted that if a law is difficult of enforcement you cannot got good people. Well, some one is on trial as far as that is concerned.
Now what is La Guardia going to say about meat? Meat, you remember, we used to eat it once and we are going to eat it again soon - I hope. This is interesting. Do you know that for the week ending May 26 we had a rather large supply of beef coming into the City - two million pounds more than the previous week, and I would say about a million pounds above the average. For the week ending May 26, 1945, 13,904,359 pounds of beef arrived in New York City. As I have been telling you for several years, there isn't anyone in this City or in Washington who can tell just how much of that meat remained in New York City or in the Metropolitan Area for civilian consumption. Of course, we will not be able to tell until we get a breakdown. That brings up the other point that you heard or read about the other day and which is part of the recommendations that I made to Mr. Chester Bowles. There will be a curtailment of exports in meat commencing July 1. If any of the meat coming into this area is used for export, it would reflect immediately as an addition for civilian consumption. If the export is only for nine weeks and we have proper control we ought to have some relief. But along with that, it seems to me that now that the war is over in the European Theatre and there is no danger of submarine attacks or no danger of any unforeseen emergency in the battle zone, if for three months the Army would use its current supply without building up reserves, they would encounter no danger, run no risk of being cut off and that would give us a chance to catch up. Of course, the reserves for the Armed Forces in the Pacific must continue to be built. We must not let up on that one moment.
Well, I told you about the plan to bring some order out of the present meat situation and as I said the other night, I doubt very much if anything will be done before Mr. Anderson takes office. He was confirmed by the Senate the other day and I do hope he will assume office right away. That would help a great deal because it takes a little time for the head of a Department as important and as large and as involved as the Department of Agriculture, to get the feel of its activities and get started. If Mr. Anderson would only take office immediately, he ought to be pretty familiar with the situation by July 1st and we ought to get some action.
GROUP SLAUGHTERING RECOMMENDATION
I am now pressing Point 8 of my recommendations. Point 14 has practically been recognized by the allocation of
cattle and live stock and meat in accordance with the supply of the first quarter of 1944. That, in a measure, carries out Point 14 of our recommendations. Point 8, I believe, is very important just now. That would permit group slaughtering or custom slaughtering for groups of retailers or cooperatives. I am pressing that hard now both as to beef as well as poultry. Here is the situation. The margin between the price of the cattle on the hoof or the poultry on the farm and the retail price is, at times, so small that it does not permit the selling at retail without a loss. Therefore, if at any point in the system of distribution, there is a sale above ceiling price then, of course, the sale at ceiling price at the retail point is just impossible. If retail butchers and retail poultry dealers were permitted to group and buy on the farm and do their own slaughtering they could easily sell at retail ceiling prices. Well, you say, why don't they do it? Because OPA will not let them. I just cannot understand why. It is a technical violation of their regulations but it affords the opportunity of absorbing the differential between the original animal alive on the farm or on the plains and the retail price. We are tying to get OPA to see that and I expect to get some help from WFA in the Department of Agriculture in the course of time.
Only recently it was discovered that not very far from here it was customary to buy ninety per cent of the cattle at direct sales and ten per cent by auction. The situation has just reversed itself so that ninety per cent is now auctioned and ten per cent is purchased. But here is the strange part of it at an auction which is public, at which everyone can see and hear, the prices are regularly above ceiling, right under the nose of the OPA. Can you beat that? I cannot understand it. We are looking into it and I am bringing it to the attention of Washington. And there too, if we can provide the wholesale purchase at ceiling price and then the slaughtering by groups, it will help a great deal. I hope to have more details on that situation in a few weeks. I cannot give you all the details now, but as soon as they are completed I will tell you all about it.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
I am so sorry to see that there is unrest among the fruit and vegetable dealers. They are having a tough time. You see, inasmuch as meat is scarce, people are buying more vegetables and more fruit and the wholesalers are taking advantage of the situation. I do not believe the retailers are to blame. Now, look, Retailers, I wish you would take the matter up with commissioner Brundage or come in and see me and tell me your troubles. If you are right we will stand back of you and if you come through on these tie-in sales or any violation of the law on the part of wholesalers we will crack down on them. You know we will. I have been telling you that for several years. Don't get excited, let us talk this over calmly, tell us your troubles and we will be on your side, and I think that we can help you in many ways.
SALES IN PUBLIC MARKETS
An interesting situation happened. A consumer went into one of our public markets and was refused eggs and butter, or rather eggs were offered above ceiling price and butter was refused although the dealer had butter. He asks if it is true that the dealer can choose his customers and refuse to sell. Well, I suppose that an independent dealer might refuse to sell if he does not want to. I do not know of any law that might compel him. But a dealer in a city public market cannot refuse to sell. One of the conditions of giving space in a public market is that he will sell at lawful price, that he will obey all municipal ordinances, State and Federal Laws and that it is a public market. So that if the gentleman who called me will identify the dealer we will see to it that it does not happen again because, you know, in all likelihood that space will be occupied by a dealer who would not refuse to make such a sale.
If Mr. Warren will phone my office tomorrow, Cortland 7-1000, and ask for Mr. Murphy, he will make an appointment with you so that you can identify the dealer who sold you the lamb chops and we will issue a summons. You will have to go to court to testify. It is a flagrant violation of the law and I would be very happy to get your cooperation.
OPA ENFORCEMENT COURTS
You see, the dealers are getting more flagrant and I suppose they feel that because of the law signed by Governor Dewey, which makes our court proceedings so much more difficult, the cases will accumulate and take a long tine to come to trial. Well, I hope to have a change in that system before long. I have an idea which, I think, will permit us to catch up with the cases that we are falling behind on because of having to split our Courts. Conditions are such that we shall soon require protection. So Pete, I am talking to Dr. Peter Amoroso, now - he is our Commissioner of Correction, you know, the principal turnkey of the City - so, Pete, make room will you so that starting around the middle of July you have plenty of room because you will have more guests, I think.
LOW PRICE CLOTHING
I am terribly disturbed about the situation in low-priced garments I am really disturbed about it. There seems to be a resistance on the part of large stores, I do not like it. For instance, you take the Department stores and the large apparel stores, although their business increased for the week of May 27, 1944 over the corresponding week in '43 by 12%, and in '45 over the corresponding week in '44 by 15% - that is an increase of 27%, isn't it, in the two years, and it is not in volume, it is in prices, and consumers just cannot stand it. We just must have more cooperation in getting low priced garments for children, women and men. Some stores have cooperated but I am sorry to say that we had an instance last week that shows anything but the kind of cooperation and public interest that a large store should have. I will have more about that I hope next week.
Many inquiries have been made as to why we do not turn on the light. We also received some letters which would indicate that the writers expect the Mayor to walk the streets with candles in his hand to give more light. Well, I just could not do it. I just could not get enough candles. And that is just our trouble - candle power. Now be patient, will you please the war is not over. The dimout has been on pretty long and it takes time to restore to normal lighting. It will take at least three weeks to got deliveries of the lamps themselves and it will take three additional weeks to make the necessary changes. We have 32,800 temporary switches that we must change and it will take all the way from 60 to 90 days, if everything goes well, before we can get back to our full, normal street lighting. We will have to restore 23,309 lamps to prewar standards; we will have to remove 22,800 temporary switches and we must add 18,500,000 kilowatt hours yearly. This is all going to cost you an additional $525,000. Now, do not blame me. You asked for it and I agree with you. It is going to cost $525,000 more. I have given the orders to start, so just be patient and give us a chance.
RACE TRACKS REOPENING, BOOKMAKING, GAMBLING
Well, you can tell that the race tracks are open again. Yes, cases of relief have already increased. Well, here is a case in which the writer says: "I listen to you all the time on the radio. I am a wife with three children and my husband makes our lives miserable by gambling away his money. It should go for food. He stays away nights and hangs out at a club." Let us see what happened to that club.
The case was dismissed in Night Court. Commissioner Valentine, I am sending this case back to you. The facts are pretty straight here. See that your men get these tinhorns and get them right this tine. Clean this dump out, will you please.
Here is another: "Now they are open and my father does not work any more. He started Tuesday to hang out in the bookies and so far since then there is nothing but fights in our house. Can't you put these damn house wreckers out of business?" I am trying, Sonny. The writer then continues: "It was so nice to come home to a father that was not furious about his horse losses. Now he lets all his steam go off on mother and me. My mother told me that those bookies pay tremendous prices for protection, but I know that you don't care." These bookies are at Rockaway Beach. I sent that to the Police and let us see what happened. On May 29 an arrest was made and the case was adjourned in the Gamblers Court to June 5. All right, Commissioner Bromberger, you had better have somebody from your office there and see just how the testimony is given.
Now, here is a new racket. This one makes me mad. The writer states: "I an the wife of a war worker and wish to report the intolerable conditions in our neighborhood. My son, who has lately been discharged from the Army and who has never before gambled became acquainted with a couple of runners for a bookmakers, who took him to their gambling room and not only induced him to play horses in their place but also took his last money in a crap game. This gambling room is located at 116 Broad Street, New York, and the runners, who my son says, are ex-convicts named 'Brown and Adam" are openly taking bets on nearby corners every afternoon." The address was right. The arrest was made. These two bums were arrested last October. I have the minutes before me. They were discharged by Magistrate Andrews whom, I am sorry to say, I appointed. I read this evidence and I do not see why they were discharged. I think you had better watch this case, too, and clean out these two bums and keep them away.
DISCHARGED VETERANS FLEECED
This is what is starting. The boys are discharged from the service and they have a few months' pay, together with their discharge money. These thieving tinhorns wait for them and get them into a crap game - that is dice, you know, loaded dice, and take bets on horses and do not pay them. That is a pretty low thing. I wonder if it would not be well, if it would not be fine, if we brought those cases where the soldiers are fleeced of their money, to a temporary courtroom, say up there at Park Avenue, where we have all the soldiers coming in.
That would be a good thing, wouldn't it? Perhaps there wouldn't be discharges on technicalities.
READERS' DIGEST ARTICLE "CASE DISMISSED"
Talking about technicalities, I do want to recommend to you an article in the Readers Digest entitled "Case Dismissed." You must read it. I most respectfully and most humbly, if I dare, and I do this really with all due respect, ask the Judges of our Appellate Courts to read that article too - - "Case Dismissed" in the Readers' Digest of June, 1945.
ARRESTS AT RACE TRACK
Well, we got nine bums at the racetrack the other day - just nine bums. There has been a lot of talk as to whether the police were at the race tracks or not. As I stated before we do not tell where we send our police. We send them wherever we think necessary.
DUTY OF RACING ASSOCIATIONS AS TO ENFORCEMENT OF LAW
I want to make it very clear that it is my personal opinion that bookmaking at a racetrack could not possibly exist without the knowledge, if not the consent or collusion or connivance of the Association operating. Yes, that is my personal opinion. These Associations are incorporated under Title I of the Unconsolidated Laws, entitled "Racing" and they are responsible. The same law places the responsibility for enforcing the law against gambling on these corporations. Section 7514 gives these corporations the authority to appoint special policemen from five to any number that is necessary, and states that "it shall be the further duty of said policemen, when appointed to prevent all violations of law with reference to pool-selling, bookmaking and other gambling." The law places the responsibility on these associations, these corporations, operating the races.
As I said, nine were arrested. That isn't all that were there. None of Erickson's or Frank Costello's men were arrested. These were just the small fry. In fact there is a sort of a war going on between two groups of tinhorn, chiseling, thieving bookmakers, who are dividing on religious lines ostensibly. Of course, it is not religion because these men have no religion. They could not have or they would not be in the robbing business, the stealing business, the cheating business, would they? So while we are rid of the races for thirty days - now they are in Nassau County - I expect to hold the Association responsible when they come back because it is my opinion that these bookmakers could not conduct their business there without the knowledge or the consent, or the connivance or collusion of the officials of the Association.
RETURN OF COMMR. MARSH TO CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION
Well, let us get back to something more pleasant. Commissioner Harry W. Marsh of the Department of Welfare will return to his duties as President of the Municipal Civil Service Commission on June 5th.
APPOINTMENT OF MR. HARRISON AS WELFARE COMMISSIONER
I intend to swear in on that day Mr. Leonard V. Harrison, Director of the Community Service Society, as Commissioner of the Department of Welfare. I will have something to say at that time.
HERMAN POWELL CASE
Last night I was reading pamphlets concerning one Herman Powell of Georgia who is awaiting extradition in New Jersey to be sent back to Georgia. I was startled. I am going to look into that case. I just want to call attention to it. There is a meeting this afternoon at the Golden Gate Ballroom at three P.M. If you are interested in what seems to be a most cruel miscarriage of justice, it might be well to hear what they have to say. In the meantime, I am going to ask for some information.
JACK KAPLAN'S DONATION OF LOLLYPOPS
Thank you, Jack Kaplan, for sending 3,000 lollypops for the kids next Sunday. Repeat it again and I will give you another plug. O.K.? But send the lollypops first.
The response to my appeal for the P.A.L. has been rather good. We have received several dollars for memberships, and a contribution of $50 for fifty memberships, but we do not have quite enough. So, if you want to get into the P.A.L., I will be glad to sign your membership card. Just send a dollar or two dollars, or a hundred dollars, or a thousand dollars, as much as you can, and we will send as many memberships to you.
CAMP ADVERTISING BY SCHOOL TEACHER
Talking about children, here is something I do not like. I have a report from Commissioner Bromberger about a school teacher who advertised a summer camp in the window of a candy store, and gave the address of a public school in Brooklyn and during school hours where full particulars could be obtained. Apparently this teacher was doing business in the school house during school hours. In the first place I do not think much of any one who would advertise a camp in that way and secondly if a teacher is doing business, it seems to me that the teacher has his mind on business and does not have his heart in the school.
Well, you will say what is going to bo done to this teacher. I can tell you -nothing. He will just continue on the payroll until he is 70 years of age. That is what happens to all the teachers that are no good. There is nothing that we can do about it - he just stays on. Who pays? The City pays the money, but the children pay the price. It is very difficult to discharge a teacher for misconduct. Well, this fellow said that he would not do it again, so that is something. That is all I could do about it.
HIGHER EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN
Yes, pretty soon schools will close and colleges will close. A great many families are now discussing whether Annie, Mary or Jane are going to go to college after graduating from high school. Some juniors and sophomores in college received all the college they wanted and there are discussions in many homes whether they should go to work and quit now. It is a hard discussion. Some of these discussions start a year ahead. They have in my home. My girl will not graduate from high school until next year. These discussions are rather important. There are always different viewpoints. It is quite possible that sometimes these discussions may develop into rather acrimonious arguments and create bitterness in the family. That should be avoided. Parents should endeavor to see and get the viewpoints of the child. But children, you too, must get the viewpoint of your parents. I am rather old fashioned as to that, I guess. All this talk, "Oh, you don't understand Mommie, you don't understand Dad. You've got the old-fashioned views." Well, you will have them too, children, some day. Whenever there is a difference of opinion it seems to me that it should always be settled in favor of continuing education. That is the easiest way to settle it, particularly with respect to high school graduates. If it is at all possible, you should continue your studies in college, because we are going, children, into a very competitive era, where more people will have more education and the standards will be much higher and the requirements will be much higher.
As to boys, most of the discussions now are as to what to do with the 17 year old boys, whether or not they should enlist now. Well my advice is to do it. I will tell you why. When you are 18 you are sure to be drafted; if you are 17 now, you will not be called into service until you are 18, and you will have a chance to get additional schooling before you are sent into active service. Then, too, you have a better chance of selecting the kind of service you prefer. And, then, of course, you will be much happier later on. In addition to that, if you have the necessary time in the armed forces, when you come out, you will be eligible for the advantages of the educational provisions of the law, under which you may obtain four years of college at the government's expense. So I would advise families when this natter cones up, to let the boy go.
I want to return to this subject of education for children, it is so important. It seems to me that we must plan a great deal as to what to do with the present generation. The children in the high schools now, the children in college, are going to encounter a difficult period. Things will be all right for a few years following the war, but then no one can tell with any degree of accuracy just what economy we are going into, what national economy or what world economy we will have. Therefore, let us give as many of our children as much education as we possibly can. Yes, there are some parents who will want to treat their grown-up children as if they were still babes in arms. Well, I guess I belong to that group. As long as we think that way, I do not believe we can go wrong.
Patience and fortitude.