January 4, 1915

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

The Capital Journal reports that the Belgian relief fund is growing. It appears that county residents are of the consensus that calories are more important than mastication, apparently rejecting Herbert Fletcher’s theories published in yesterday’s paper.

THE BELGIAN RELIEF FUND IS GROWING
Effort Being Made In Salem to Raise Foodstuffs Succeeding Nicely

Salem people, rallying generously to the call for local benevolence, have demonstrated that they believe in the old slogan of charity beginning at home.

Owing to the present Belgian conditions, however, they are being asked to extend their philanthropy further and are being reminded that they are as much the keepers of their brothers across the sea as they are of those at home. The local committee in charge of this effort are C. P. Bishop, C. S.Hamilton, H. W. Meyers, A. Huckestein and C. L. McNary, and all contributions are to be made through them.

The Belgian relief effort has an Oregon connection. Herbert Hoover was a mining engineer and financier living in London at the outbreak of the war. With the start of the war, thousands of Americans were stranded. Few of those stranded in Europe had the currency needed to return to the United States as their checks and travelers checks would not be honored due to the restrictions on banking transactions.

Hoover helped organize a committee to get “busted Yankees” home. His committee provided loans and cashed checks. His organizational skills were quickly recognized by the American Ambassador and the State Department.

The invasion of Belgium resulted in dramatic food shortages. Belgium, one of the most industrialized countries in Europe grew only about one fourth of the food it needed, and the German occupiers were requisitioning what was grown to feed the occupying army.

In the inexorable logic of war resources entering a war zone would be allocated on the basis of immediate need – of the combatants; non-combatants would not receive resources until the needs of the war machine were satisfied. Under this logic, Britain embargoed all shipments to Europe, assuming that such shipments would end up in German hands.

The solution was for the Commission for the Relief of Belgium (CRB) to supervise the distribution of resources. The CRB was a neutral entity. The imported food was the property of the American ambassador to Belgium, Brand Whitlock. The food and resources belonged to the CRB until the point they were placed on the plate of the person in need.

On the editorial page, “The Right To Spank” appears to suggest that if parents were to raise children with an eye to their marketability or sale, then they might show better judgment in the application of corporeal punishment:

A Cleveland man has been sued for divorce because he spanked his 16-year-old step-daughter. It is contended that a girl of 16, large for her age, is too big to be spanked.

Well, theoretically, a child is spanked for its own good; then surely the guiding and sustaining hand should not be withheld from a spankable girl at 16 any more than the younger one.

It is harder to wean a child from the spanking habit than from its mother’s milk. Once it becomes accustomed to judge right and wrong only with reference to a spanking, that standard must be continued, else the child is left helpless, like a ship without a rudder.

Dog breeders know very well that to cow a puppy is to ruin him. He can never after be fully trusted either in his courage or his gentleness. Dog breeders know this because it is their business. It means dollars and cents to them, and they give it careful thought.

Unfortunately, nobody makes a business of studying children with the same profit-inspired care with which dog breeders study pups.

The dog breeder in a fit of anger may feel tempted to thrash a puppy, but when he reflects that the thrashing would take several dollars off of his value he refrains. Unfortunately most parents do not estimate the value of their children as carefully. The angry impulse has no restraint so far as the child is concerned. Care is usually taken that no scars be inflicted upon the child’s face, but no care is given for the scars laid deep in the little one’s soul.

Possibly, if children were raised for sale, they might be given more sane consideration and spared much injury.

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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