Baltimore Evening Sun (18 August 1911): 6.
The American language, that fluent and full-bodied tongue:
Him and me used to be friends together. Them what has, gits. Give each man whatever is theirs.
Plans for a mammoth Star-Spangled Banner Exposition in 1914, to cover many acres of ground and to attract millions of visitors to our fair city, are once more on foot, and once more they are receiving the hearty support of those Baltimoreans whose yearning for publicity is uncontaminated by any sense of humor, nor, indeed, by any sense whatever. This scheme was launched two or three years ago, and by June of last year its absurdity had become so obvious that the City Council was attracted to it, and passed a resolution calling upon the then Mayor, a gentleman whose name seems to have been Mahool, to appoint a committee of arrangements. The committee was duly appointed on July 22. It consisted of no less than 109 men—largely professional prominent citizens of the sort who serve incessantly upon public committees and as incessantly accomplish nothing. No doubt it is still in existence, but that it has ever done anything does not appear.
In August of last year the Merchants and Manufacturers’ Association began to take notice of the threatened exposition. In order to sound sentiment, letters were sent out to all the members of of the association. Of the whole number, 89 per cent. did not think enough of the scheme to answer the letters. The rest replied as follows:
Approving the exposition......................... 29
Disapproving the exposition........................ 34
In other words, less than 40 per cent. of 11 per cent. of the members of the association, or say 4½ per cent. of the whole membership, approved the scheme.
The plan at that time was to erect a large group of magnificent exposition buildings at Homewood, and hand them over, after the big show, to the Johns Hopkins University. Now, of course, there will probably be a change in that plan, for the Johns Hopkins cannot be given any aid by an old-fashioned administration on account of its late deviltries in the School Board and its general and notorious antagonism to the plain people. But let no Hopkins man leak tears. The university’s loss, however large, will be purely theoretical. No exposition will be held, either at Homewood or anywhere else, for the sufficient reason that it will be impossible to raise the money. Lord Baltimore’s income, during the next decade, will go into sanitary plumbing; he will have little cash to waste upon idle fripperies.
No doubt the show so grandly launched in 1910 will actually greet us in 1914, as a modest one-week affair, with a turn-out of the militia, an orgy of spellbinding, the unveiling of a few hideous monuments and a copious wearing of badges by prominent citizens. Let us hope so, at any rate. Baltimore is in no condition to monkey with the exposition buzz-saw. If we manage to pay, during the next generation, for the things urgently needed to make this a truly civilized town we shall be doing very well, indeed.
Corrupt politics, during the half century preceding 1899, reduced Baltimore to the hoggish state of a a Chinese village. We paid for streets and sewers, over and over again, but we never got them. Debts piled up without any compensating benefits. Millions of dollars were misspent and stolen. It took the whole four years of the Hayes administration to substitute order for chaos, to prepare the way for civilization. Then, before any actual improvements could be undertaken, came the fire of 1904. Since then we have been going ahead, slowly but surely. The money wasted before 1899 is being paid into the city treasury again, and we are beginning to get something for it. But it will be a long while before we are done paying, and a long while before we have any surplus left for red bunting and military music.
Do expositions pay? Ask any honest St. Louis or Buffalo man, and he will tell you that they do not. St. Louis had one in 1904—and the census returns show that St. Louis increased in population, between 1900 and 1910, by 19.4 per cent., or just twice as much as Baltimore. But if you study the returns you will find that the other Middle Western cities, which had no expositions, increased far more. Thus:
Milwaukee................ 31. Minneapolis................... 48.7
St. Paul..................... 31.7 Kansas City.................... 51.7
The one conspicuous exception is Omaha, which dallied with expositioning in 1898—and increased by but 21 per cent. between 1900 and 1910.
All of this may not prove that expositions are curses, but it does prove that they are not boons. Boston and New York have never gone into the game, and yet both are very likely towns. Philadelphia tried it in 1876—and has kept out very religiously ever since. Chicago, in 1893, got enough to last a century. Buffalo, despite the Pan-American Exposition of 1901, increased less between 1900 and 1910 than any other Lake city, as this table shows:
Buffalo.................. 20.2 Racine................ 30.6
Erie........................ 26.2 Milwaukee......... 31.
Toledo................... 27.8 Cleveland........... 46.2
Chicago................. 28.7 Detroit................ 63.
Thus it appears that expositioning is not a very alluring pastime. But no doubt we shall have to listen to the present planning and tub-thumping for yet a while longer. New committees will be appointed. More resolutions will be passed. Boomers will boom. Flapdoodle will flap. And then, in the end, order will be restored, silence will fall, the curtain will come down—
Slow moving to the prompter’s bell.
A suitable motto for the Old-Fashioned Administration, in bad Latin and worse Italian:
Parole fortissimo; fatti pianissimo.
Which, being clawed into the vulgar tongue, becomes:
Rouse the rabble with constant bawling—but do your real work on gumshoes.
To the long list of zymotic diseases, let the pathologists now add mahonitis, a malady afflicting statesmen who we assaulted by disturbing second thoughts at the very brink of unwisdom. The treatment indicated is retirement to some peaceful dell and the maintenance of aseptic silence.
The conjugation of American irregular verbs (continued):
- Present Past Participle
- Bring Brung Brang
- Bust Bust Busted
- Drown Drownded Drownded
- Find Found Found
- Ride Ridden Rode
- Skin Skan Skan
- Think Thought Thunk
- Throw Thrown (or Throwed throwed)
From the scent of tuberoses and the sound of Chopin’s music, kind fates, deliver us!