This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
I am an American Day. War in Japan. Meat situation. Why do we have O.P.A.? Livestock Feeders association. Poultry situation. O.P.A. violators. W.P.B. release control on 1200 items. City cancer hospital named for James Ewing. Signing of agreement for tropical disease hospital. Traffic congestion in mid-town Manhattan. All his terminals must be west of 8th Ave. Agreement with Port Authority to establish terminal west of Eighth Ave. Shortage of personnel in hospitals. New wage scale for nurses. Physical therapist scholarships by National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. P.A.L. appeal. Merchant Mine exhibit.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71015
Municipal archives id: LT2532
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, May 20, 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, MAY 20, 1945, BROADCAST OVER WNYC AT 1.00 P.M. FOLLOWS:
Patience and Fortitude.
I AM AN AMERICAN DAY
Today is "I AM AN AMERICAN DAY". This day was established by Congress, authorizing the President of the United States to declare one day in the year as "I AM AN AMERICAN DAY," and this was one of the last proclamations signed by our beloved President, Franklin Roosevelt. Now I will tell you what to do. You had better turn off right now and go to Central Park, because you will find a much better program there than what you will get if you stay at home and listen to me. The ceremonies start at 2:30 sharp at Central Park on the Mall, and it is a very good program. Here are some of the numbers. Jane Froman, who you will remember was in an airplane crash in Portugal on her way with a U. S. O. troupe to entertain the troops, and this is her first public appearance, I believe, since her accident. She will sing the Star Spangled Banner. Regina Resnick, the Brooklyn High School girl, who is now one of the stars of the Metropolitan Opera, is also on the program. Mischa Elman will give a violin solo. Of course, we all know Maestro Mischa, and that in itself is very effective. We will also have Marion Anderson, who, I believe has one of the finest voices God over gave anyone. The main address will be made by our former Governor, Herbert H. Lehman, who, as you know, is Director-General of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. I believe that he will have a very timely and interesting message. Then there will be a Sextette from the Metropolitan Opera House. The pledge of Allegiance will be given by the Honorable Learned Hand of the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. Igor Gorin and a group of Metropolitan and City Center opera stars and massed bands will render the "United Nations on the March." Now, I will tell you what to do. If you are really interested in what I am going to say, you just turn off now, go to Central Park, and drop me a card and if we make a record of this talk today, we will send you a copy if you want it.
Well, the War is not over, is it? Certainly not! The last news from the Pacific, although it shows that we are moving onward, gaining every day, is costing lives, isn't it? Last Friday morning was a rather gloomy breakfast at our house. I suppose it was that way in million of homes throughout the United States when the news of the "Franklin" was released. Just think ”” over 800 of our boys lost on one ship at that time. That in itself should bring home to everyone of us that we still have so much to do. We are still at war and there should be no let-down. We are still at war with a formidable enemy. There is no doubt as to the ultimate and complete and glorious victory over the Japs. Just how long it will take depends upon a good many factors. If Russia declares war against Japan, it would shorten the war and would save many, many lives. The liberty loving people of the world are anxiously awaiting.
Yes, I suppose I should talk about meat. Yes, you know the meat that you did not get this week and that you are not going to get next week. It is not surprising to me and I do not believe that anything that has happened comes as a surprise to anybody who knows anything about meat or the cattle industry. It was to be expected, for the simple reason that the regulations were not realistic and the price at the various levels ignored actual conditions. Now let me repeat again. Why do we have OPA? Why do we have price ceilings and price control? We have food control because the demand for food is greater than the supply. And again let me say, it does not mean that we are producing less. We are producing more, but for the first time in our history, more people are getting enough to eat than ever before. That in and of itself creates such a greater demand that the increased production is not sufficient. Where it is necessary to control the distribution of food, it seems necessary to control the prices. Otherwise, only people who have a great deal of money would be able to buy food hence we have price control. When everything goes smoothly, when there is sufficient food for everybody, then, of course, it works well. But the test of OPA and the test of the War Food Administration is when there is a crisis. If, during a crisis or shortage of any given commodity, there is something resembling a fair and equitable distribution with the control of prices, then it is successful.
But if it breaks down, as it did in a week, then, of course, it is anything but successful. Therefore, again in behalf of the greatest City in the country, seven and a half million people of our own, and a food center of nearly twelve million people, I call upon Washington to be realistic, and to face the situation. It is not enough to give a headline that retail prices are low. You know the mothers of New York cannot feed a headline to their children. We understand that the problem was difficult and novel, but in the face of the experience that we have had and the many mistakes made, we ask that there would be a realistic approach.
For the past two weeks I have been in touch with all parts of the country, with men who know something about the meat industry, with raisers of live stock, with feeders and with slaughterers. We have met before and we have been in communication before. You will remember that some two years ago, I attended a conference of livestock men and feeders out in Kansas City. I realized then that we had a great deal in common. They produced the cattle that we need and our interests are not conflicting at all, as some people would try to make us believe. These men are pretty realistic and they warned the government then that unless a practical plan me adopted there would be a breakdown in the distribution and that is exactly what has happened. I went along with that plan then. You will remember that they agreed not to interfere with the retail price - in other words, the government would establish a ceiling retail price. That being so, they felt that there was sufficient margin and the situation would take care of itself.
I have selected from the various live stock men, feeders, slaughterers with whom I have been in touch during the past two weeks, representatives from Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wyoming, Indiana, Texas, Michigan, Illinois, and California. Most of these represent associations, so that we have a very good cross section of the entire meat industry. Seven of the fourteen agreed that the shortage was caused by bureaucratic red take and inexperienced administrative authorities. Thirteen definitely agreed that OPA has ignored the effect of pricing on production and marketing. Thirteen also agreed that the basic cause of the shortage is that feed lots are not operating because OPA had deliberately discouraged them. As a result cattle are marketed off the grass, resulting in lower weights and quality. Too many calves were killed last fall. By now they would have weighed twice as much. There is too small a differential in price between grades of cattle. At the very beginning, ten of the fourteen representatives of cattlemen and feeders in the several states predicted that Directive 41 ”” that is the Ten Point Plan, which, if you will remember I told you about a month ago And which went into effect the early part of May ”” would be ineffective, and they were right. Six are insistent that direct or indirect subsidies are not wanted. Six, on the other hand, agreed that the kind of subsidy given has been ineffective. It does not recognize the proper normal price grade relationship, particularly in regard to the feeder. Six recognize that ceilings should be adjusted in order to restore the proper normal price grade relationship, and six are pessimistic for the present. They feel that no matter what happens the situation trill not improve until the fall and that three months after that we will be in another crisis very much as we are at this time.
I have explained before just what a feeder is. I believe it is worth while repeating because it is so important to us. You see a feeder is a sort of manufacturer of meat. He goes out and buys the cattle on the range in the southwest, and far west and brings it into the midwest. He puts these cattle into lots when they are rangy and skinny and starts to feed them. This has been developed with a science so that given the proper feed they know exactly how many pounds of meat can be put, in a given time, on a head of cattle. And this they do. Don't you see that increases the quantity of meat that we got. However, in the last few months, oh, perhaps in the last year, a larger percentage of this rangy, skinny cattle has been going direct from the plains to the slaughter house, and we have been getting less meat, and, of course, the quality is not as good. So the feeder situation is one that we consumers in the City did not fully recognize or understand until the present meat crisis.
I have been working with a great many in the industry ”” slaughterers, middlemen, wholesalers, retailers and the big packers, too, and the chain stores. We are going to study this last Plan which was announced, I think, yesterday by Mr. Vinson. Don't you see, it recognizes that something was wrong and it adds a little more here and a little more there and it keeps on piling up and yet it does not go to the root of the evil. As a retail butcher said the other day ”” he was not an economist you know or a college professor, the kind that we have now trying to tell us what to do about meat -”” that they are giving us half an ounce of blood plasma when we need a pint and they might as well give us the pint all at once.
One of the first things that I recommended and which has been only partially granted, is that the Army ”” and by the Army I mean all Government buying that is for the Army, Navy, Lend Lease - should pay the cost of the meat. Concededly they are not now paying the cost. When we go out and buy a battleship, or an airplane, or a tank, the government pays what it costs with a mark-up, doesn't it? Of course, it does. It could not get it otherwise. Well, they should do the same with meat. Meat should be purchased under all of the requirements. They know the actual cost because it can be figured from the cost of the animal on the hoof and, with a mark-up, they should pay accordingly. That will deduct from the 40% remaining, a great deal of the cost which the consumer must now pay.
Also, the red point ration system must be constantly integrated with the available meat supply. We took that up in Kansas City two years ago. Given a supply of meat the value of the meat should be so regulated that everyone gets his share of meat. That is all that the American people want -to get their just share. And, of course, it must be separated from fats, such as butter, cheese and shortening. It does not belong there at all.
Then, here is another one. This is not good for me to say, but you know me, when there is something I have to say I am going to say it. I got along all this time without being afraid, so I am going to say it right now. Meat sold in public eating places, such as hotels and restaurants, should be rationed so that when you eat meat there, you will have to give up a certain amount of points. Don't you see how unfair it is under the present system? Here is a family that can afford to go out two or three times a week, they go out two or three times a week and eat meat in a restaurant or hotel, while another family that cannot afford to go out - just cannot get along at all. That is why too much meat is now going to public eating places in our City and we have no record of it. I am, therefore, going to suggest a plan whereby the meat consumed in public eating places will be rationed.
We believe that at this stage and for some time to come, poultry ought to be rationed, and not with meat points. They can use one of the unidentified stamps and allocate that to poultry, so that we can get a better distribution of poultry. And, then, of course, here in New York City I have had splendid cooperation. We have had meatless Tuesdays and Fridays. Now look here, Washington, you told me it was good and you said that you approved of it, and you said that it helped a great deal. Well, it does. Now, Washington, you ought to do the same for the rest of the country. Don't be afraid, you follows are in for three years. What are you afraid of if you are going to do the right thing? I was never afraid. I managed all right. You know it is necessary. Just designate meatless Tuesdays and Fridays for the rest of the country, and also the days that retail and wholesale meat stores can stay open, and that would help a great deal.
I am not going to bore you now with details of our plan because they are rather involved, but I will give them to you after we present them to Washington. Of course, we are going to watch the new Vinson Plan and see how it works, but I do not think that you will need extra toothpicks ”” I do not think that you will got extra meat for some time to come.
The poultry situation is very bad. We are watching all poultry shipments coming into the City. We confiscated 3,500 pounds the other day and watched 12,000 pounds being sold at celling prices. You know, you make some of these fellows sell at ceiling prices and it hurts more than going to jail. That is very good work on the part of the Department of Markets.
Well we have presented a plan and we are asking and pressing the War Food Administration to be realistic in poultry too. There is a range between what the farmers got and the retail ceiling price at which poultry must be sold, but it must be flexible within that range so as to meet local conditions and I hope that Washington will see that in time.
Of course, we are still hindered with the chiselers' law ”” you know the law that compels us to hold Court in every Borough. We are still some 1,620 cases behind because of that and I may have to appoint some extra Magistrates to catch up and we are going to do it. We are not going to give any comfort to violators of the law.
The Sheriff's Office presented facts to the Federal Court on the B. & M. Poultry Co. Inc. and they were fined $2,000. Mr. Sol Blum, not the Congressman mark you, but the manager of the B. & M. Poultry Co. was given six weeks in jail, and Sam Margolis, a salesman, was given four weeks in jail.
I talked to you about clothes, and there were some headlines regarding clothes for a couple of months, but no cheap clothes yet. There ought to be some coming along in a month or two. I was promised these clothes the first of April. Remember last week I told you about men's shirts. Well, it so happens that Jacob Potofsky, the Vice-President of the Amalgamated Clothing Yorkers Union, was here listening to my broadcast and he told me that they were very anxious to manufacture these cheap shirts but that they could not get the textiles. Now, W.P.B. that is up to you to see that they get the textiles. No fooling about this. Do not kid me when I go to Washington and say, "Now, Major, you go back to New York and say that you are going to get shirts at $1.40 and $2."
What are you talking about, I have a shirt on right here which my wife bought the other day. Well, it cost over $5. and it has no stitching down the front when you button it and no stitching in the collar at all. With my salary I can afford it, but look here, there are a lot of people who cannot afford to buy shirts at over $5. and as plain a shirt as the Mayor of the City of New York is willing to wear. So WPB it is up to you to see that these people get the textiles. Will you?
We made a survey of Iow price cotton garments and found a scarcity in all five Boroughs, Children and infants do better than adults but there are few pajamas and night gowns, except for the very young. There are very few girls' slips and not many dresses and play suits. In women's garments, there is great scarcity of everything - no slips to speak of, no pajamas, no nightgowns and very few low cost cotton dresses. There is also a great scarcity of cottons and ginghams by the yard. Mothers can help themselves by making clothes for the kiddies, but they just cannot get the materials. In men's garments, the only things easily found are sport shirts, but not at the lowest OPA price that I gave you last week. Some Boroughs seem to have better stock than others. Brooklyn and Staten Island seem worst off. In some sections of both Boroughs there is practically nothing in the shelves in lower priced garments. Bronx stores are particularly short on boys' sport shirts, pants and blouses and there is only a moderate supply of girls' things. In Queens there is a fair amount of women's dresses but a small supply of girls' clothes - both pants and shirts. Here is something unusual, we did find one store where there was a good supply of low-priced cotton garments with distinctive labels, and in some instances garments selling at less than OPA ceiling prices. This is pretty risky but I am going to try it. The report says that in sharp contrast with the other stores, Norton's at 34 West 14 Street is fairly well supplied, in all sizes, and within OPA price range. All bear distinctive labels and in many instances, the sale price is lower than OPA. The merchandise is well made and of fairly good quality. Large reserve stock. I do not know whether I am starting something for Norton's but I hope you have the stuff and that the report is correct. I suppose I will be criticized for plugging this store. Well, maybe so, but I will tell you what I will do. Any store that has a good supply of low priced garments for children or dresses for women and girls within OPA low ceiling prices, I will be glad to mention your store and give the address because there is such need at this time.
WPB RELEASES GAMING MACHINES
Talking about dresses and clothes and household things, the WPB, according to the press, is revoking its control on a long list of civilian products. From the press release which I read, the omnibus order of WPB expunged controls on 1,200 civilian items. But listen to this, get this, will you? I could not believe it was so when I read it. The release itemizes "pin-ball machines, coin-operated amusement devices and the so-called 'one-armed bandits' ”” slot machines for gaming". Those words were quoted right in the New York Times. It is not the Mayor using foul language to describe gamblers ”” it is from the dignified New York Times. Let me repeat it. "'One-armed bandits' - slot machines for gaming." Of course, I exonerate Commander King and the higher officials of WPB. In the midst of 1,200 items, I do not think that they noticed it, but I have always said that there were some crooked little tinhorns around WPB because they always get a break. Mr. Donald Nelson looked into it for me at one time and I think that he did take a couple of then out. But you know anyone who manufactures crooked gambling machines must be crooked, and if they are crooked I bet that they have some in store. Look here, Commissioner Valentine, keep your eyes open nab the first one that comes in and listen, do not have any of our men injure themselves in picking it up. You know, just roll into the station house and mark it for identification. Do not let them get a start.
The week before last I told you about signing a contract with the Memorial Hospital for a City Cancer Hospital. I received several suggestions for the name of this Custodial Cancer Hospital and I think that the suggestion of calling it "The Doctor James Ewing Hospital" is excellent. Dr. Ewing did a great deal in cancer research during our time and I think that that is an appropriate name.
TROPICAL DISEASE HOSPITAL
Last week I signed another agreement for the City with Columbia University and Presbyterian Hospital. Columbia University and the Hospital will give the City the land for a Tropical Disease Hospital and a great Health Research Institute and a Hospital Research Institute. I am telling you all these things because these are the big things that the politicians do not understand, and I am getting the City committed and tied up so that no matter what happens they will have to go through with this progressive program. I am very grateful that we could sign this agreement with the Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University. They will nominate and select the staff for the Tropical Disease Hospital which will be administered and operated by the Department of Hospitals, and also that part of the beds for the Medical Research Institute.
"I AM TELLING YOU NOW"
I will tell you of these things from time to time. I think this will be a good plan, don't you. I am going to dictate memoranda from time to time - let us call them "I am Telling you Now Memoranda" - I will dictate them on the air so that you can hear them now and then and we will make a sound record of them. I will deposit one in the Municipal Reference Library and I will deposit two or three of these records elsewhere and when the time comes, in two, three, four or maybe ten yearn from now, you can just pick them out and say, "La Guardia told you so."
BUS TERMINAL POLICY
Now, for instance today. You know the trouble we have been having with traffic, especially in mid-town Manhattan. A great deal of that trouble in Midtown is caused by buses. Because of this the policy of the City is for all of those bus terminals to be west of Eighth Avenue. (Listen, Morris Novik, make a record, a separate record of this so that we have it.) All bus terminals must be west of Eighth Avenue. In other words, all buses that come in from New Jersey or out of town must deliver and take on their passengers at terminals west of Eighth Avenue. We worked out an agreement with the Port Authority. The Port Authority will construct the terminals, under an arrangement with the City of New York, so that everything will be guided there and no out of town buses will come east of Eighth Avenue. You know, some of these buses have bad habits. You know what I mean. They have always been able to kind of get the right connections -get it - connections, in many cities - many of the big cities. The Greyhound is one of them. You thought I would not mention it. Of course I would. Greyhound always gets everything they want anywhere they go, but not in New York, Greyhound, not while I am Mayor, you won't. So the Greyhound is kind of bucky. We had them going but after I announced that I would not run for Mayor, they backed out and said they wanted to go on 34th Street, north of Pennsylvania Station. You can imagine what these great big Greyhound buses would do up there on 34th Street. So, you watch that when I am not here. You just watch it and do not let them put it over.
MIDTOWN TUNNEL REMOTE
Incidentally, talking about mid-town, a great many property owners have asked me about this mid-town tunnel from the 38th Street Tunnel on the east side to 38th Street on the west side. I will be very frank with you. That has been discussed and studied for some time. I have studied plan after plan for the past ten years. That tunnel is not possible today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. No, it is too costly, it involves a great many engineering problems. Just think, we have three layers of subways at one point in mid-town and the run is too short. You dip down so deep that it is very difficult to ramp out. The latest talk is just bunk about putting elevators in mid-town and lifting the cars out on elevators. That is impractical and costly. I do not say that sometime a tunnel may not be built, but do not plan on it for the next 25 or 30 years”” I will be perfectly frank about that.
NURSE SALARY ADJUSTMENT
We have been having a very difficult time in our hospitals, and in all hospitals in the City, in getting or keeping our nursing staffs, and you cannot have a hospital without nurses. The nurses that have been in our City hospitals have rendered great and patriotic service. You must understand that there is no glamor, there is no uniform, there is no drama or excitement in working in a City hospital. I want to express my thanks and gratitude, and that of the people of the City of New York, to the thousands of nurses who have remained on the job. We are so short now that it is really the cause of great anxiety and worry to me and to Dr. Bernecker of the Department of Hospitals. I have taken the matter up with the Commissioner and the Director of the Budget and the minimum pay for nurses without maintenance will be fixed at $1,800. That means that the nurses that are now in the employ of the City, without maintenance, getting less than that, will be brought up to $1800 and that the entrance pay for nurses will be $1800. The minimum salary for head nurse will be $1860; Ward lnstructor $1860 and Chief Nurse $2160. I have also recommended to the Director of the Budget that the salaries of the Assistant Superintendent of Nurses and Superintendent of Nurses be increased $120 above their present rates in order to maintain a proper differential. In addition, the semi-annual increment of $60 effective as of July 1st is to be increased to $120. We are in need of nurses. I hope that this will be a partial recognition of the services rendered by this faithful group and that other nurses will apply for appointment in the City hospitals. We need your services very badly.
PHYSICAL THERAPY SCHOLARSHIPS
Here is an interesting announcement I have been asked to make by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Here is an opportunity to train in order to aid wounded soldiers overcome their handicaps and to teach crippled children to walk again - that is, to become a physical therapist. There are scholarships open which include maintenance, books and nine to twelve months' tuition at such approved institutions as Stanford University, University of Iowa, Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. In order to qualify you must be a graduate of an approved school of physical education or nursing or have completed two years of college, including courses in biology and other basic sciences. Here is a great opportunity if you have the required educational qualifications. After you have the training, you are not bound to accept any specific employment, you are free to practice anywhere you want. If you can qualify and you are interested, you may state the fact that you heard this announcement because I have asked the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis to reserve a certain number of scholarships for those who might hear this appeal so that they will not be left out. So, if you have the qualifications, the address is the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, 120 Broadway, New York 5, N.Y. If you did not get the address write to me and I will forward it on.
Do not forget the PAL. We need dollar memberships and we want 100,000 members. I want to express my thanks to Mr. Wilem J. Klyne, 34-18 Northern Boulevard, Long Island City, who sent me 100 memberships. This PAL is the organization that provides recreation and welfare activities in all sections of the City for the children who are not otherwise provided for. So just send $1 for that.
MERCHANT MARINE EXHIBIT
The Merchant Marine has a Maritime Training Ship called the "Cape Frio" docked at Pier 4, at the foot of Fulton Street, right below the Brooklyn Bridge, in Brooklyn. It is open all day today, tomorrow and Tuesday. You have heard so much about the Merchant Marine, you have heard so much about Liberty Ships, you have heard so much about our transports, so here is an opportunity to see the training and to see a typical ship of our Merchant Marine down at Pier 4.
Well, I am a little over time now. I have to rush to Central Park. Come on, I will meet you at Central Park at the "I AM AN AMERICAN DAY" celebration.
Patience and fortitude.