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Letters, Jul. 20, 1931

11 minute read



An Indian woman, grandmother of Vice President Curtis, is a “squaw” (TIME, June 15, p. 13, col. 3). By the same reasoning, if any, aren’t Irishmen “Micks'” and Frenchmen “Frogs”? All these terms spring from tne noble tradition of Anglo-Saxon superiority and are equally worthy of perpetuation. Is TIME deliberately slighting the “Chinks” and the “Wops”?

True, it was an Indian woman who at great peril to herself guided the Lewis & Clark Expedition, giving us the States of Oregon, Washington and Idaho. One of Grant’s most trusted generals in the Civil War was an Indian “buck.” Indians saved the Plymouth and Virginia Colonies from starvation. Indians developed the useful plants—corn, tobacco, potatoes, rubber, chocolate, the best commercial varieties of beans and cotton, to mention only a few—that comprise five-eighths of the agricultural wealth of the world today.

So TIME may be justified in exalting Indian womanhood above all other, in delicately complimenting the nation’s Vice President by calling his grandmother a “squaw.” The “nigger wenches” of America may have no reason to feel hurt that TIME should call them merely “Negro women.” TIME, as usual, is doubtless right: honor where honor is due.


Executive Secretary The Southwest Museum Los Angeles, Calif.

A distinction: “Chink,” “Mick.” “Wop.” “Dago,” “Nigger.” and “wench” are words invented by Anglo-Saxons for derisive application to non-Anglo-Saxons. But Anglo-Saxons learned from Indians to call Indian women “squaws.” Squaw is the Narragansett (and Algonquin) Indian word meaning “a female” just as sannnp means a male Indian, a brave. TIME will continue using “squaw.” with no derision intended or conveyed.—ED.

When Colt Was King


You lack fine discrimination when you say under “In Reno.”‘ June 15, “True to the canons of Wild Bill Hickok and Kit Carson. . . .” Every western writer of “westerns” knows that Hickok was a two-gun law man; one of the genuine gun fighters of the West. That Kit Carson was a “mountain man” of the fur trader period; a time before the gunslinging, gunfighting period when “Colt was King” at Dodge.

William MacLeod Raine’s Famous Sheriffs and Western Outlaws gives you the two-gun period. Leroy Hafen’s Broken Hand, a story of the famous fur trader and Indian agent Fitzpatrick, gives the code of the mountain men.


President The Colorado Authors’ League

Denver, Col.

Hollywood & David


In a recent issue (June 22), you score some obscure current movie, a War picture, because the director featured the wheels of trucks with balloon tires on them—commenting that balloon tires were not in use in 1918. Nevertheless, on the opposite page you give prominent space to a painting, Death of Socrates, in which the painter, David, represents the famous scene against a background of a heavy wall pierced by a round opening. Now I do not believe that arched masonry existed in the Greece of Socrates; that it first appeared in Rome several centuries later.

Hence my question: Why is Artist David, living in France’s great age of classicism, when scholarly achievement was highly regarded, immune from criticism for an anachronism, when some poor Hollywood producer, whom no one expects to know anything, is berated for being a few years off in a matter of balloon tires? R. C. WEINBERG

Eagle Nest, N. Y.

Possibly Artist David painted a round arch because he liked it better. Much more probably he was guilty of a confusion common when scholarly enthusiasm was seldom reinforced by research. An anachronism unmentioned by alert Reader Weinberg: an inkwell with a hinged top. However. Artist David was careful to paint a krater (drinking-bowl) of the right shape, a lamp of the right proportion, a chain with figure-eight links, and a pen & scroll of correct design. He followed convention in putting curly hair on Socrates and all his companions.—ED.

Fireman Father Downey


I was much interested in the June 22 issue with a front-page picture of Morton Downey and the article giving his history. Everything you said about Morton Downey is true and more could be said but why refer to his father as a “day laborer”? It is true that he has an ordinary everyday job as driver of a fire engine in Wallingford. Conn, and that he has brought up a large family on a small income.

There are thousands of people who are interested in Morton Downey’s singing because he gets for it $5.000 a night.

There are thousands of people who love Jim Downey because he gets out of bed summer or winter and drives the town ambulance taking injured and sick people to the hospitals in nearby cities: and he does it for nothing.

Sometime when it comes right I would like to see a two or three line article in your magazine praising Jim Downey for the work he has done for the love of humanity for the last ten years. . . .


New York City

Lead Shot Formula


Re Exeter’s “lead shot” (TIME, June 15, 29) —it was the traditional drink when I went to Exeter. For the benefit of Exonians Harrison. Harding and others of the present-day school, I submit the “formula” for an Exeter “lead shot”:

Chocolate Syrup

Coffee Syrup

Whipped Cream

Malted Milk and

Two big scoops of Chocolate Ice Cream

All these ingredients are churned together like a frappé.

In my day, a classmate made a bet that he could eat (drink) ten “lead shots.” He won his bet, but my modesty prevents me from telling you how he did it.


P. E. A. 1921

Pitchburg, Mass.

Regarding the letter of Davis P. Harding in the June 29 issue, I can say the following:

Being of the class of 1924 of the Phillips Exeter Academy, I can vouch for TIME and “lead shots,” for while at the Academy I had many a weighty “lead shot” at the soda fountains of Exeter. As far as I remember they are made up of one-quarter glass malted milk, one-quarter glass sweet chocolate syrup, 1 scoop chocolate ice cream, with the remainder of the glass filled with heaviest of cream and the whole mixed to the consistency of marshmallow paste. Price 25¢.


Contoocook, N. H.

Snorkey & Hancock


TIME, June 22 “U. S. v. Capone” and under Education, the item “Sad Story.”

For one who has merely had the benefit of an elementary and grammar school education, kindly ask those of your staff who have majored in History to propound the difference between John Hancock and Alphonse Capone, merely insofar as conspiracy to violate the national (in Capone’s case Prohibition) laws, and not including Capone’s sidelines, for which he was not indicted, are concerned.

To get an idea of what I am driving at see Chapter 6 “Causes of the American Revolution” in Author A. M. Simons’ Social Forces in American History, p. 61 and after.

It appears that when the sovereign government attempted to enforce the laws, Revolution developed, and on p. 72 of chapter 7 “The Revo-lution,” we are led to believe that Hancock. Trumbull (brother Jonathan) and Hamilton were supported by a minority, much as Prohibition is opposed by a minority today.

I am not a Capone sympathizer. I am merely attempting to tie together the “molasses, rum. Negroes” of “Sad Story” under Education, with the Prince of Contraband Traders, who cared little for the forms of law, and trusted to bribery and violence to secure his ends, with our present-day Snorkey & Co.


Flint, Mich.

Suicide de Luxe


The following report may, or may not, be TIME-worthy, but that it is unusual seems apparent.


. . .Yesterday morning while working with some men on the shore of Lake Superior ten miles east of the city of Superior, I saw a motor boat standing about a mile out from shore, proceeding at a fairly good rate of speed in an easterly direction. Suddenly one of the men exclaimed, “That boat’s afire!”

We could see fire and clouds of smoke rolling from the boat which about a minute before had been nicely riding the waves. I immediately jumped into a small row boat and put out for the burning launch as fast as I could go. Imagine my surprise (or possibly you can’t) when on getting within hailing distance of the launch to hear a voice sing out: “What do you want out here, old feller?”

I replied that I had come out to see what was going on. He said, “It’s all right now, it’s all right, go back to shore.”

On coming a little closer I could see that things certainly were not all right. The inside of the bow of the boat was sheathed in flames which were burning all around the gasoline tank. Asked if he did not have a pail, he replied, “Yes, but it’s in there,” pointing to the fire. I told 1 that I had a can and could put the fire out, and when I eased up close to him and attempted to do so, he pulled a gun and ordered me to keep away. I moved about three boat lengths away from him and then we started to talk. I asked him if his motor would run, he said Yes. Then

I asked him why he did not go ashore, and he said the fire would go out itself. When I asked him how the boat got afire, he first said, “It caught from the motor” and then in the same breath he changed this to “To tell the truth 1 set it myself.” I asked him what he was trying to do, if he was trying to drown himself, and he said, “Yes. that is just it.” When I asked him the matter he replied that a fellow had killed two young girls the night before, to both of whom the fellow was married, and that he, himself, was the only person who knew about it, and that “they” were after him. After a little more conversation, I, thinking that if a murder had been committed, he was the murderer, put to shore to telephone the sheriff’s department, believing that the boat would last for another hour or so. I had. however, barely reached shore when the boat sank. Almost immediately we saw the U. S. Coast Guard cutter Crawford approaching the scene of the disaster, which lowered a boat and picked up the floating wreckage, and from the Coast Guard we learned that this man. whose name was Frank (last name unknown) and who was a fisherman, had just run over and drowned two of his fishing companions who were in a row boat.


Wentworth, Wis.

One-Tag Bilbo


Your amusing story of Mrs. Theodore G. Bilbo’s being accosted. “Hey. Bilbo!” in Washington by Chief Guide William C. Hall as carried in June 22 TIME is impossible.

Unless the automobile carrying Mrs. Bilbo was backing toward Guide Hall the hitter had no way of knowing the car was from Mississippi as that State issues but one license tag which is placed on the rear of motor vehicles.

Many Southern States have adopted the one-tag system for one reason or another. One theory is that too many two-car owners bought tags for one car, placing one tag on one car, the other on the other. Another is that one tag costs less than two, which is probably a more likely reason.


Okolona, Miss.


. . . You state that Guide Hall saw a big car with a Mississippi tag rolling toward him. Since the State of Mississippi uses only one license plate, which is in the rear, it is evident that Guide Hall was able to distinguish this car by one of Mississippi’s famed products. “Mississippi Mud.” You neglected to state in your article that Mississippi probably has fewer paved roads than any other State in the Union.

The gasoline tax is quite evident but where are the paved roads?


Atlanta, Ga.

On the front of Mrs. Bilbo’s one tag car, sharp-eyed Guide Hall spied the coat of arms of Mississippi.—ED.

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