Just Above Sunset
August 29, 2004 - Hot on the trail of some old gossip...

Home | Question Time | Something Is Up | Connecting Dots | Stay Away | Overload | Our Man in Paris | WLJ Weekly | Book Wrangler | Cobras | The Edge of the Pacific | The Surreal Beach | On Location | Botanicals | Quotes

A bonus collection of sidebar items to augment this week’s World’s Laziest Journalist column.


By Bob Patterson




Many websites make reference to a story in the July 31, 1941 edition of the New York Herald Tribune.  It’s a bit difficult locating a microfilm copy of that particular publication, but we did manage to trace one down and take a peek.


Various sources give differing versions of the date on which the story ran.  We found it in the July 31, 1941, Late City Edition copy of that publication.  Back then there were various editions and so the differing accounts of what headline actually was may just reflect the fact that the headlines were changed, but (most likely) the story wasn’t.  The Thyssen story was written by M. J. Racusin.  The headline in that late city edition reads:  “Thyssen …Has $3,000,000 Cash in New York Vaults.” 


The story has some information that some folks use to arrive at the conclusion that former US Senator Prescott Bush had ties with Fritz Thyssen, who was instrumental in providing the financial help which subsidized Adolph Hitler’s rise to the office of Germany’s chancellor for life.


The top story of the day was about president Franklin Roosevelt seeking authority to control prices and rents to prevent an inflation “Disaster.”


The Herald Tribune writer speculated (back then, did they permit opinions in new stories?) that the cash in the bank was “a sort of next egg for Herr Thyssen or perhaps for some of his high-placed Nazi friends when the present troublous days are over.”  (Webster’s says troublous means troubled.)  Where did that money go?  Is it still sitting there waiting to be picked up?


A side bar story on the jump page was headlined: “Thyssen’s Role In World Affairs Still a Mystery.”


The main story quotes a fellow named Knight Woolley, who was a real person and fellow member of the Skull and Bones society to which Prescott Bush belonged.


Stalwart Bush followers belittle this particular story.  (You don’t expect his fans to begrudgingly concede any ground do you?)


There are several different business that are mentioned in the story.  “Besides the Union Banking Corporation Mr. Lievense is president of the Holland Americana Trading Corporation, the Domestic Fuel Corporation and the Seamless Steel Equipment Corporation.”


Does this sound familiar?  The story contains this line:  “Mr. Lievense would reveal little of the operations of the corporations beyond saying that they are now under strict supervision of the Treasury Department and that there was very little activity.”  Previously readers had been informed, “the business of the whole group, aside from the bank, hardly approached $1,000,000 annually.”


Readers were informed: “The Union Banking Corporation does no commercial business and its only depositor is the Bank voor Handel en Scheepvaart, which was a Holland based bank that was part of Fritz Thyssen’s ‘empire.’ ”  (Does working for a bank with only one depositor sound “cushy?” It took a board of directors and offices at 39 Broadway to run the bank.)


In the age of audience attention deficit disorder, the minute details of the corporate intricacies would bore most people.  Wouldn’t the conservative talk show hosts be the first to invite careless disregard for such minutia?  Then, they would quickly assert that the full case hadn’t been made. 


In and of itself the article in the New York Herald Tribune is like a tiny piece of a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.  The people who specialize in searching for other relevant tidbits of information say the picture that emerges presents some disturbing possibilities.  The conservative talk show hosts are quick to dismiss such conjecture as baseless.  The large news media organizations (much to the relief of their cost conscious accounting departments) seem to be only too happy to concur and look no further. 


However, those folks who don’t approve of business dealings with the Third Reich, might be interested when the descendants of those past associations start getting quite cozy with a certain Royal family, especially if such innuendo helps sell tickets to their new documentary film.  Apparently even open market capitalists, in the Summer of 1941, before Pearl Harbor happened, considered the Third Reich, “the enemy” because German assets had been seized.


Curiously, the American government agency did cut some folks conducting business for “the enemy” some slack.  The story quotes a letter from William R. White, state superintendent of banks:  “During recent months this department has been obliged to give unusual attention to certain of the banking organizations in this country which have been affected by the freezing orders.  This, however, has not been true in the case of the Union Banking Corporation because of the confidence which the department has in the directors of this institution.”  (At this point, inclusion of the current expression “Sweet!” would be characterized as “editorializing,” so we won’t do it.)




On July 31, 1941, the New York Herald Tribune reported that District Attorney Thomas E. Dewey had announced that he would not run for reelection.




In July of 1941, the comic pages include some features that are now obscure items.  There is some, but not much, information on the Internet about: “Peter Piltdown” by Mal Eaton, “Pa’s son-in-law” by Wellington, “Clarence” by Weare Holbrook and Frank Fogarty, “Betty” by C. A. Voight, and “The Timid Soul” by H. T. Webster. 


One of the strips showed a couple listening to a radio quiz show and knowing the answers, but the guy supposes that if he were to go on the program, the questions would suddenly become tough questions such as “Who was Demetrius Poliorcetes.” [See editor’s footnote]


Can you imagine an episode of “Friends” getting into such esoteric knowledge?




In July of 1941 TV stations WCBW and WNBT didn’t seem to have much to offer, but “Wings over America” from La Guardia sounded interesting.




Lenore Long Bales had her 15 minutes of fame as the “barefoot bride of Kansas” in the summer of 1941.



Editor’s Footnote: Demetrius Poliocetes


297 B.C.  Macedonia's Cassander dies at age 53, and Demetrius Poliocetes returns to Greece with the aim of becoming master of Macedonia and Asia.


295 B.C.  Athens falls to Demetrius after a bitter siege, and its tyrant Lachares is destroyed.


295 B.C.  The Battle of Sentinum west of Anconum ends in defeat for Samnites and Gauls at the hands of Roman legions, who lose nearly 8,000 dead but kill some 25,000 of the enemy and force peace on the Etruscans.


288 B.C.  Demetrius is driven out of Macedonia by Lysimachus and Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, after Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus have formed a coalition to block plans by Demetrius to invade Asia.


285 B.C.  A 300-foot-tall lighthouse on the island of Pharos in Alexandria's harbor serves as a landmark for ships in the eastern Mediterranean. Light from its wood fire, reflected by convex mirrors at its top, can be seen for miles. Built by Sostratus of Cnidus, it is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and will remain an important navigational aid for 1600 years.


285 B.C.  Egypt's Ptolemy Soter abdicates at age 82 after a 38-year reign that has founded a dynasty which will rule until 30 B.C. He is succeeded by his son, 24, who will rule as Ptolemy II Philadelphus until 246 B.C., first with the daughter of Lysimachus as his wife and thereafter (from 276 B.C.) with his own sister as his wife.


285 B.C.  Demetrius Poliocetes is deserted by his troops and surrenders to Seleucus, who will keep him prisoner until his death in 283 B.C.

General Thoughts



Do people pay attention to what they read in the newspapers?  Most folks today, know that, when the American Army liberated the German concentration camps in 1945, the American leaders were shocked by the discovery.  In going through old newspapers sometimes some embarrassing information turns up.


In January of 1939, the New York Times ran a small item that seems to contradict the later shock and surprise.  The item starts out: “Speaking over a national radio hook-up on the occasion of Germany’s annual Police Day, Heinrich Himmler, head of all the German police, declaring that life in a German concentration camp was not too bad” and then went on to relate how the inmates were getting more to eat than unemployed and many of the employed.


It seems the American politicians missed that item.




In this week’s World’s Laziest Journalist column, we mention the art of tracking a trail.  We wonder if the skills of Indian trackers are being handed down from father to son or if it is becoming a lost art.  For instance, a pile of horse manure will retain some of the body heat for up to three days, so one way a scout could tell if a trail was fresh or not was to insert a finger into the evidence and see if the center still contained any warmth.  We wonder if that is the origin of the expression “hot on their trail.”





Looking around for information in old newspapers can bring up some interesting stories that aren’t connected to the subject under discussion.  During WWII, Private Albert J. Bush was arrested for impersonating an officer.  This was reported in New York Times on May 18, 1943 (page 25 column 7).  It might provide some movie scriptwriters with material for a treatment.  Who was this guy?  What kind of desperation spawned his deception?  Did he have an inferiority complex?  What would his mother say to her neighbors?




Have you seen the ad (usually on the evening news) for the one particular brand of beans?  It seems the company owner’s dog is willing to give away the secret recipe for the product.  Shouldn’t folks teach their dog that if you are going to sell out, a shrewd mutt should, at least, get the most money possible?




Why worry about such sordid complicated corporate conjecture when the flashy headlines can be written about the other guy’s Purple Hearts.  Especially when a top Republican says: “he got two in one day.”  The fact that the New York Times lists the days and they are three different days probably won’t be noticed by many voters.





This year’s election process will probably be studied in depth by future historians who will go to great lengths and expense to lean what information was available to the voters at this point in history.  Today, Americans who don’t believe in time travel can find out the exact same information for the price of a daily newspaper if they only make the effort to go buy one and read it.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....