This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Mock attack on New York City and a mock hearing in Albany in one day. Seems like Democrats and Republicans were quarreling. Personally I don't think there's a fight at all. Reminds me of the days when the Republicans were in power in Albany and Tammany Hall was power in New York City. "They got along beautifully...if you know what I mean." Recommends reading Dennis Lynch's "Boss Tweed." Real estate just couldn't carry anymore, so we need additional revenue. Means higher real estate tax. Concerned for renters. Talks about food. High cost of food. Difficult problem, the magnitude of it. We must be patient and give our government a chance to get things running smoothly. Our country has 130 million people. We have to send food to other countries so they can survive and hold the lines. This is of great benefit to ourselves. Then we must feed the army and navy. Collection, garnering and distribution of food is over-awing process. Prunes and raisins. Coupons and ration points. OPA in Washington and locally in NYC. Meat situation is bad, in rationing condition. Talks about policy of food under rationing. Ceiling prices. They must be enforced. Pork starts in April 1. Consumers, you can cooperate and report when retailers disregard of ceiling prices.
Victory Gardens. Parks Department will test the soil. Vegetable gardening. Air raid siren tests, exhibition baseball between Dodgers-Yankees-Giants; Boston police corruption; Letter from NY Teachers' Association, saluting a school teacher, Millicent Baum on her death. Trained volunteer meat ration to cover 5,000 stores throughout the city.
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For Immediate Release Sunday, March 28, 1943
CITY OF NEW YORK OFFICE OF THE MAYOR
TEXT OF MAYOR F. H. LA GUARDIA'S SUNDAY BROADCAST TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK FROM HIS OFFICE IN CITY HALL, MARCH 28, 1943, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1:00 P.M. FOLLOWS:-
Patience and Fortitude!
I had a very busy week. A rather exciting week. I went through an experience I believe few Mayors ever went through in one day. In one day last week, I had a mock attack on New York City and a mock hearing in Albany. A lot in one day, isn't it?
Well, it would look on the face as if the Democrats and Republicans were fighting up in Albany. Personally, I don't think there was a fight on at all. It brings one back to the days when the Republicans were in power in Albany and the then Tammany Hall was in power in New York City, and they got along beautifully, if you know what I mean.
And after what happened up there I would suggest you go to the library and get Dennis Lynch's book called "Boss Tweed". Perhaps you will be in a better position to understand just why the Legislature was so indifferent to the needs of our City.
REAL ESTATE SITUATION
Talking about the needs of our City, a slip was just given to me by Mr. Lee Thompson Smith - you know, he's the Director of the Bureau of Real Estate of the Board of Estimate. He is now operating no less than $41,997,830 worth of real estate which came into the hands of the City because of the distressed tax conditions. I've been telling the City for the past nine or ten years, and even before then, that real estate just couldn't carry any more and we needed additional revenue. But we didn't get any so it will mean higher real estate taxes. What I'm concerned about are all the people who have to pay rent and when you add twenty points to the real estate, it must reflect in the rent. That is a very tragic situation.
Well, I guess you have to talk about food, you have to eat, you know. I'm not only worried about high rents coming, I'm worried about the high cost of food. But, you know, I'm rather optimistic about that. We're going to come FOOD through that all right. It's such a difficult problem, really, the magnitude of it, and in a country where we have never had any sort of regulation on our every day life, particularly pertaining to food, that it is not an easy problem. We must be patient and give our government a chance to get it going smoothly.
It just isn't fair to hop up, scream and shout and criticize because one little thing is going wrong. Stop to consider that this is a country of a hundred and thirty million people, and then stop to consider the food that we have to send to other countries in order that they may live, in order that they may hold the line. It isn't that we're giving them food without any benefit to ourselves. It is of great benefit to ourselves, and then we must feed the Army and the Navy. Then stop to consider the thousands and tens of thousands and maybe hundreds of thousands of points of processing of food, of the collection and the gathering of this food and then its distribution through wholesalers and jobbers and retailers. I tell you, it's of such magnitude that it is over-awing. We are learning by experience.
PRUNES AND RAISINS
You remember a few weeks ago, I think it was, I called attention to the fact that I thought the points required for prunes and raisins were very high. Well, they were too high, and this week, I think it was today, we read that OPA has removed raisins and prunes from any point rationing at all. Now that may seem unimportant, but a great many mothers in New York today will be relieved because prunes are very good for children. Now that no points will be required, it's just that much of a relief. A great many people may not think that raisins are important. They are. You remember, I think it was two weeks ago I started to talk about the conservation of food and I suggested saving every scrap of bread and then making bread pudding, and I caught myself when I thought of the point requirements for raisins. Now with that removed, I again urge that you save all the bread. Don't throw any of it away, and then that bread with a little milk, sugar and raisins, makes a very attractive, tempting and nourishing plate for the kiddies and the same is true of raisins and rice pudding. It doesn't require very much and has a great deal of nourishment. I also pointed out some of the proportionate requirements for coupons and ration points in the smaller quantities and larger quantities. Now that has been straightened out, and as we go along, we will learn by experience.
I can assure the people of my City that the OPA in Washington is really trying hard to do a job that is so necessary and yet so difficult, and the local OPA office here in New York City is so cooperative and so wants to help. The relation and the teamwork between the City government and the OPA is such that we'll lick this thing yet, regardless of what some people may be hoping.
Now, the meat situation is bad, and we expected that. When you suddenly go to a rationing condition and the demands made upon the supply of meat, it must be expected that we would hit a point when there would be a great deal of shortage. Well, no sooner discovered than an attempt has been made to remedy and relieve that condition. An amendment to an order has been issued by the Regional OPA and a million two hundred and fifty thousand pounds of extra beef over and above the quota for the City will arrive tomorrow. The OPA will supervise the distribution and has invited New York City to participate in arranging for it, and I have assigned the Department of Markets to sit with the OPA in supervising the proper distribution of this extra allocation of meat through proper retail channels so that every section of the City will benefit by it. Commissioner Woolley has just informed me that he considers this so important that he is going to take the assignment himself.
Now I want to clarify exactly the policy of the City in the supervision of the food under rationing.
CITY FOOD SUPERVISION
First, we will utilize the entire force of the City Government and particularly the Department of Markets, and in the case of perishable foods, the Health Department, in seeing to it that the consumer is protected in being able to buy food at ceiling prices. I've said so many times, there's no use having ceiling prices unless you have enforcement and unless you have enforcement, you won't have ceiling prices and the cost of food will be prohibitive. I'm worried about that. When you stop to consider prices of various commodities and you stop to consider the income of a family getting $1500, $1600 or $1800, it's very difficult to make both ends meet and to provide proper and sufficient nourishment for the children. That's a matter that concerns me a great deal and it concerns OPA, and, therefore, when ceiling prices are established, they must be enforced.
Now pork rationing starts on April 1st. The OPA has provided posters giving the price of the various cuts of pork. I have directed Commissioner Woolley to mobilize all of his force in the Department of Markets to see that these posters are pasted conspicuously in every store selling pork. Stores that have not these posters will be warned and posters provided, and perhaps an inspector will be placed in that store to see that it stays on the wall. Now then, we start with the retailers. Now, consumers, you can cooperate with the City. Where there is a disregard of ceiling prices, inform us at once, inform the Department of Markets or inform City Hall and if you really want to cooperate, stand by until we can get an inspector there and you can give the information right there and then in the presence of the retailer.
Now then, I want to protect the retailer. I know the trouble the retailers are having. I know the trouble the butchers are having, but Mr. Retailers, we'll stand by you and we know how difficult your conditions are, but you must stand by us and where any wholesaler or jobber seeks to get above his ceiling prices from you, Mr. Retailer, you tell us. What'll we do? We'll gather the evidence. We'll present it to OPA and that wholesaler's or jobber's license or permit will be taken away for that particular commodity for which he is overcharging. Don't you see, Retailer, you and I have everything in common, because you and I are interested in consumers. That's our trade. I want to see that they get enough food and are protected in ceiling prices and you want to keep your customers. But if you're overcharged, you can't do that. Then you have to chisel and you get the blame. The consumers don't care for the wholesaler. They're concerned about you. Therefore we form this alliance. The retailers and the consumers and the City Government. We will protect all wholesalers who are on the level and we will go after the wholesalers and jobbers who chisel on ceiling prices and thereby put retailers in a very difficult and uncomfortable position.
Now, Mr. & Mrs. Consumer, I've got to say something to you, too. Don't take it out on the retailer if he doesn't happen to have all that you want. It is not his fault. Don't abuse the retailer, he has it hard, enough. Cooperate with him. I received a very intelligent letter from a gentlewoman out in Forest Hills.
She writers me and calls my attention to the fact that she's witnessed consumers becoming irritable and abusive with the retailor. Well, that isn't helpful. If the retailer tells you he hasn't a commodity, you may rest assured he hasn't, because he's in business to sell. The consumers should cooperate with them and if we all work together it won't be long before to have all the chiselers out of business and we will have enough food at ceiling prices to go around.
Grover Whalen informs me that the OPA has sent to the Civilian Defense Volunteer Office a last minute and most urgent request to supply ten thousand trained volunteer meat rationing "explainers" to cover five thousand stores in the low and low middle income area throughout the City. The CDVO, that's Mr. Whalen's office, has strained every resource in order to fill this vital community service, even though the time is so very short before meat rationing begins. There have been courses going on to train these "explainers", and let me say to the "explainers", be sure you know all the facts before you try to explain, because you may mislead a great many people. This service will all be provided in the various languages if it is needed but I think the universal language of the mother and housewife will not require many interpreters.
The Park Department is prepared to check victory garden soil conditions and to give prospective gardeners advice on the quality of their soil. No VICTORY GARDENS don't forgot, I've warned everyone that a hope and a wish and a piece of ground and sowing some seeds isn't enough to grew vegetables. It requires a great deal of hard work and sweat and labor and constant attention, in addition to having proper soil.
The advice of the Park Department will not be based on a detailed laboratory analysis but on the judgment of an experienced gardener, after he has examined the soil and the place. He will examine the typo of soil, the subsurface conditions, and recommend fertilizer or other treatment required. Requests for such advice must give the location of the property and the kind of vegetables proposed to be grown and the address of the applicant. The advice of the inspecting gardener will be limited to the suitability of the proposed site for the vegetables which the victory gardener wants to grow. Inspection will be limited to property within the city. As far as is practical, the Department will try to give answers inside of three days from the receipt of application, but in the interest of conservation of gasoline and rubber it may be necessary to delay some replies to enable scheduling and routing of inspections by various districts.
Applications should be made by mail to the Park office in the borough in which the proposed garden site is located. In Manhattan, it's at the Arsenal Building, 64th Street and Fifth Avenue; in Brooklyn, Litchfield Mansion, Prospect Park West and Fifth Street, Prospect Park; Queens, the Overlook, Union Turnpike and Park Lane, Forest Park, Kew Gardens; Bronx, it's Bronx Park East and Birchall Avenue, Bronx Park; in Richmond, Clove Lakes Park. You can get these addresses easily or just write your application to the Park Department, the Arsenal Building, or if you can't remember any address, send it down to City Hall, everything else comes here, and we'll see that it gets to the Borough office in time.
WOMEN NEEDED IN A.R.P.
The Air Warden Service needs women volunteers for duty as air wardens. Now let me tell you about that. Tuesday morning, about 4:29, we got a surprise call. The call was sent in by the United States Army. It was an air raid drill. Seventy-six thousand air wardens responded to the call. A most magnificent showing. I want to express the thanks of the Mayor and of the people of the City of New York to these seventy-six thousand air wardens who responded. Now, why you will say, if you have seventy-six thousand air wardens, why do you need more. Let me tell you why. That emphasized the need of more wardens. Seventy-six thousand responded because the call went in at 4:29 and they were all home and in bed. But if we were attacked in the early part of the evening, a great many would not be at home. They might be at the theatre, visiting friends, maybe working, so that in many sections during working hours and the early hours of the evening we are short. In the daytime we have a large number responding, but not all sections of the City are covered because people are working and they respond to the call but not in their own sections. Therefore, we need women for day time air wardens and we need more men and women for air wardens so as to be sure that we have enough air wardens at all places at all times.
Oh, now, I know that Tokio and Berlin are sort of spoofing our air raid drills and the friends of Berlin and Tokio do not like it. Oh, they think it isn't necessary. Why have air wardens? Why have drills? Well, let me ask those people would they recommend that the United States Army take away the anti-aircraft batteries? Do you know that we have anti-aircraft batteries all over the city and all around the metropolitan area? And do you know that they're on duty twenty-four hours a day and that they practice and drill every day? Do you know we have Defense Squadrons, fighter planes and interceptor planes at various air-fields in and around New York City and that they are on duty twenty-four hours a day and that they constantly drill in order to protect the City? Then how can any fair-minded honest, loyal, patriotic American say that the protective forces, the volunteer forces who must help the people if we are attacked, if the enemy gets through our defenses, that we shouldn't drill, that we shouldn't be prepared? I leave that to you.
GAS INSTRUCTION CIRCULAR
A gas circular of the CDVO has been prepared, warning and giving instructions as to what to do in the case of war gas. Perhaps some of these people have been ridiculing our preparations may have some more reliable information than we have as to what Berlin may do but in the meantime we will continue to prepare our people for any eventuality. The instructions on what to do in event of war gas have been prepared by the CDVO together with the OCD and the United States Army, and those instructions are made available through the courtesy of the savings banks of each borough. Two million, five hundred thousand are ready for distribution.
CDVO PRE-SEASON BALL GAME
Now I've got to tell you something about April 14th. We're going to have baseball day for civilian defense, and what a day it's going to be. Gee, I hope I get to go to it. They drew lots the other day in my BALL GAME
office and the Giants won the playoff. So that means that the Yankees of the American League will play the Dodgers of the National League and the Giants will play the winner of that first game, and both games will take place at the Yankee Stadium on April 14th. General admission is just $1.10 including tax, and every New Yorker who first wants to get a real pre-season baseball thrill and at the same time aid in defraying the necessary small disbursements of the various volunteer protective services of the offices of the CDVO, now is the time to get some tickets.
PARK ATHLETIC COMPETITION
Now here's something interesting. Although the Park Department has conducted various annual competitions in the past, this year with so much interest concentrated on things military we need to give more attention, says Bob Moses, to recreation on a large scale for young civilians as a means for combatting vandalism and juvenile delinquency. The New York Community Trust has generously provided funds for the purchase of three thousand eight hundred and nine prizes to promote interest and competition in spring sports. Oh, it's going to be an interesting program.
The sports in this competition which will be conducted by convenient districts during the months of April, May and June, include basketball, soft ball, baseball, paddle tennis, ping pong, track meets, shuffleboard, handball, boxing, swimming, roller hockey, horse shoe pitching and all sorts of competitive games. Events have been scheduled for ages from twelve to eighteen years. No entry fee is required.
Competition will take place in all parks end playgrounds of the city and prizes will be awarded at district, borough and city finals. So you have a chance to win your local, your borough or city finals, and the grand prize to the individual winners of the city-wide finals of each sport is to be a $25.00 war bond. I asked Bob Moses about this and he assures me that no one will lose their amateur status by winning a war bond. That has been cleared with the AAU so that part of it is all right. Not it starts in April, and boys and girls desiring to enter these tournaments should get in touch with the Playground Director of their neighborhood playground, or write to the Park Director of the borough in which they reside. I've just given you the five offices.
BOSTON GAMBLING SCANDAL
Well, New York City and your Mayor aren't the only place and only person getting too hot for tinhorn gamblers. They had quite a scandal in Boston. The Boston police heed and six other Boston police officials have been indicted under a charge of conspiring to permit gambling. Professional gambling is bad in any city. New York and other cities are going after the tinhorns. Of course, a great many tinhorns have been taking it on the lam since I made it hot for them. I'm sorry for other cities, but we'll keep you informed, other cities, as these tinhorns get away from us and you go after them.
I'm very sorry for the Boston police and I congratulate Governor Saltonstall and Mayor Tobin, in cleaning up their situation. Oh, we've had troubles in our police, too, not very long ago, but fortunately during my time, not a single solitary ranking officer has been involved. I have confidence in the command of the Police Department and its officers. Out of eighteen thousand men it is to be expected that once in a while a few will fall by the wayside.
EMPLOYMENT OF CHILDREN
Now here is an unusual letter I received from the High School Teachers Association of New York City, They call my attention to children under sixteen years of age, employed during school hours, in violation of the law, because of conditions. Children over sixteen and under eighteen years of age are frequently employed without obtaining employment certificates. Children are employed on part-time employment certificates in occupations not allowed by the law.
The teachers offer their cooperation, and I'm very happy to have this letter. We have been watching it. The matter is entirely under the jurisdiction of the State Labor Department, but we shall cooperate with the State Labor Department in trying to prevent this condition from growing and to curb it. It's quite a disadvantage for a youngster under sixteen years to be employed, and he must not be employed under our law, and also we must regulate and watch very carefully the employment of children over sixteen and under eighteen, and when they are not permitted to be employed, that, too, must be stopped.
I want to thank the High School Teachers Association for their letter and also their very constructive suggestions. I said this was an unusual letter. It is the first letter that I have received during my time as Mayor, nine years, from a teachers' association devoted entirely to the interest of the children.
OFFICIALS IN ARMY
Well, this was a rather active week down at City Hall. The army came very close to City Hall this week. I'm sure you want to hear about it, I had a very pleasant visit from Capt. Joel Ernst, who was formerly in charge of Home Relief in our City. He has an important assignment, but was complaining he wants to got into action. Then Capt. William Ringle, a city magistrate, he has been ordered east from the west and he, too, is raring to go. We received a cable from Joo Lilly. He's at a distant point. You know, he's the President of the Tax Board on military leave, and he sent his wishes. I also got a very interesting letter from Clon Ryan, formerly of this office, who is out on one of the Pacific Islands. He tells of exciting times. We heard from Lt. Col. David Marcus, former Commissioner of Correction. He's in the Pacific. Then we received a letter from entirely the other side of the world, a very active theatre of war, from Corporation Counsel Dill Chanler, who is on military leave, and we got an interesting letter from former Supreme Court Justice Cook, 69 year old retired justice of our Supreme Court, who is in active military service. He is very happy. He says things are too quiet where he's stationed, and this 69 year old soldier is just raring to go where things will become more
The flags were at half mast at City Hall the other day, and we all went to pay tribute to a fine American gentlewoman, Millicent Baum. Oh, she served for over forty-five years in our public schools. She worked her way up from a young teacher to the principalship of one of the most important schools in Manhattan. There are very few today in public life or prominent in professions and business whom Millicent did not know some time during her career as a teacher. I got to know Miss Baum rather well, for her school in the last years was located in East Harlem, the district that I had the honor of representing in Congress. She was more than a teacher. Miss Baum lived with her children. She knew them. She followed up. Miss Baum never had trouble with truancy. She didn't depend on truant officers bringing her children to school. She made the school attractive, the children wanted to go to school when Miss Baum was principal, and she wanted them to go to school. She had an interest in their progress and in their education, and when they graduated from Miss Baum's school, they know how to read and write. That's something, you know, and when she retired, at the ago of seventy, she came down to City Hall to see no and she wanted active work. I asked Miss Baum if she'd like to come down to City Hall and be my Educational Aide and she said yes. I felt it was going to be for a short duration. Of course, she received no salary, she just drew her pension, but she worked and worked so hard, and she knew education.
Oh, and how she could pick a faker from the genuine article, and she was here with us nine years. Cheerful, active, keen, helpful. She lived such a fine and useful life. And you know, it's gratifying for me to say that Millicent Baum was the prototype of the overwhelming majority of the intelligent school teachers that we have in New York City. Some that we never hear about, the majority we never hear about just work hard and are devoted to their work. Yes, Millicent Baum left a fine record - an inspiration to all. She was patient, and because she was patient, she was able to see things through. She was patient and earned eternal peace. Oh, she had fortitude. She was never discouraged. She knew when to fight, how to fight and to fight hard. She had fortitude to go through difficult and hard periods. Oh, she had fortitude many times she had to come into this office to this very desk with a motherly pat on the back and transmit that fortitude to others, and because she had fortitude, she left victorious.