My Dearest Reggie:
I see that I have once more broken the first rule of home front correspondents. I have worried you. No need for you to worry any longer. Firstly, Wong Lee and I have returned home, and there is no tong war in the offing. It turns out that even east coast "men of respect" have their limits. Our friend was delegated to break the news to his acquaintance that even his closest relatives had no time for malingering. There was a war on, and all he was being asked to do was tour and sing, something which he had taken on as an amazingly lucrative career, and he should get on with it.
Regrettably, men of respect only respect strength. Someone had to be seen to pay for encouraging the young man's selfishness, which is why I arranged an arrest even before D-Day brought this to a head. You will, I am sure, have heard of that. What you may not have heard is that the case is quite thin. The arrested fellow has been an irritation for so many reasons that I do not feel the least guilty about moving forward, even though it is likely that this will degenerate and require even more extreme measures.
Well, that was a terrible attempt to lighten the mood! You may have heard that with school out, "Miss V.C.'s" research trip to Monterrey went ahead. Certain papers were seen that supplement the annals of old Monterrey, and I had an interesting conversation with the young lady on her return. She confirmed in the Santa Clara university library that Maquinna's daughter, Maria Jesus de Nutka, arrived in the old town in 1794, attended school in Santa Clara, married into an old Californian family, and had descendants. The portfolio at Monterrey added information about the "prince of Nootka" who accompanied her, of which of course I need tell you nothing, and led her to a family name (besides, obviously, her own, as she would have to be dense not to see the similarity) --and so, of course, back to the county records and to a reference to that old map in the family papers from the 1871 lawsuit.
"Do we still have it?" She asked. I did not see the point in denying it. It is not outside the realm of possibility that she will still need it. So I produced it from Grandfather's papers, seeing much else that I had forgotten for years, and waxing nostalgic.
"1820 is awfully old for a house in these parts, especially such an Oriental-looking one," she observed from the date on the map. I shrugged. Even in those days there were wealthy sea captains in the Bay, involved in the tallow and coastal fur trades, I pointed out. And Chinese styles were in fashion in those days.
"Why is the name written in Chinese?" She asked. I shrugged again. I pointed out that the building was erected by Chinese artisans, and that this version of the property map had been drawn by one of them. "It means 'Arcadia,'" I said. No point in bringing up the awful Hilton book. Did you know that the Lady wanted to complete the estate with a pagoda on the south ridge? Imagine what our neighbours would think if we completed the bequest!
"Et in Arcadia Ego," "Miss V. C." said. I started, and had difficulty controlling my expression. I had had no intention of feeding that clue to her. But it turns out that she was just quoting some snatch of popular writing. "It's an odd place to find Chinese carpenters," she continued.
There were not many other places to find them around the Pacific in those days, I observed. Arcadia was quite a sight. I am just glad that it was never reported by someone whose reminiscences went into print --at least, not into print in a fashion that the good fathers of the Mission were not as eager to see suppressed as was Grandfather. So many things were lost in the Earthquake....
"Is that why Meares brought Chinese carpenters to Nootka? And no-one ever says what happened to them."
You would be so proud of the artful way that I let my face slip at this point. What can I say? I shall be in Vancouver inspecting the refit, and it is a beautiful summer, I have a line on good tyres, Vancouver Island is beautiful at this time of year. and I can probably find an elder who is willing to lead her down the next step on this little journey of discovery of hers.
The Economist, 1 July 1944
So! Back in the light of day, he has opinions. He notices Mr. Churchill’s speech, which lays out the British planning for postwar housing. Nothing so definitive, ONYC laments, has emerged over here. ONYC, not often an enthusiast for state planning, has developed a taste for it in housing --not surprisingly, because he thinks that Everything is Going Awry.
First, to review the facts from six years ago, he notices that the 1925 construction peak was 937,00 units, never subsequently equalled. A drop in building during the Depression led to a decline in the available housing stock, not made up by a tepid boom in 1935—6. By 1939, 29 million units, almost 29% of the urban housing supply, was below standard. The Federal Housing Administration’s long-term, risk-classified, standardised mortgage has developed and stabilised the mortgage market, and naturally led to more building, with 1940 seeing a rise to two-thirds of the 1925 volume. Up to 80% was single-family residences, and the building tended to move out into the suburbs. (You will recall that our Fort Vancouver development closed in 1940, although construction did not actually begin until after Pearl Harbour.) The peak of 613,000 single family residences built in 1941 is an interesting comparison with the mere 60% of building as single family residences in the 1920s.
Due to various factors, mainly price but also location and the character of the would-be renters (that is code for race, Reggie, if you had not noticed), single family housing remained inaccessible to the bulk of the population earning less than $1500/year. The war years have seen Government-led building, much of it of a temporary nature, even as existing housing stock continues to deteriorate in spite of attempts to liberalise financing –even as control on materials restricts us! Population has continued to shift into the Pacific slope (and the south Atlantic states). For the future, ONYC asks whether low-income housing needs will be better met by private builders or by the state, whether a focus on private home ownership really suits a highly mobile population, and whether investment should follow migration. His concern is that we are getting the balance between ownership and rental wrong. Given his track record, I am tempted to run out and cancel all our apartment building projects right now.
Maybe, maybe not, because things could change. Here the paper takes its characteristic tone. Things might be looking bright for Russia, and this must be wrong. Casting around for evidence (and material to eek out another half-page), the paper moves on to Russia's various pro-birth policies, which suggest that the Russians do not believe the projections, and that this means that they might be wrong. (As a newspaper, the paper also needs to cover the changes in Russia's pro-birth policies, announced this month, so the above is in the way of setting the scene, as well.)
So what are these measures? A modest monthly subsidy for for each child in excess of 3, with the fourth as of the recent announcement earning for the mother 6100 rubles/month, all the way up to 23,000 for the eleventh. Children of large families are furthermore to receive a 50% reduction on kindergarten fees, will receive larger rations, medals, and will be restricted from overnight shifts and given a confinement leave to be increased from 9 to 11 weeks. Even children born out of wedlock are to benefit! Although this is balanced by the removal of the right to press paternity suits. Unregistered marriages are no longer to be recognised, divorces made more difficult to get, as a means of promoting family stability. In all, the paper concludes, the policy is the most radical of its kind in the world, and seems intended to remove all material embarrassment from the parents of children. (This is especially important, the paper notes, when women made up 40% of the industrial work force even before the war.)
Not that I know anything about this.
In other news, open cast coal mining is not working out as well as expected.
Or he would, if he did not keep getting himself lost about two and a half pages and then wandering off to talk to his wife about something.
Various persons authorise Americans to use the new words “airpark” and “flightstop.” Ferry Command uses a temporary spray finish to protect planes on the crossing from seawater corrosion. “Cousin H.C..’s brainstorm to build community airfields for private fliers gets satisfyingly little coverage. Hopefully the lack of attention will permit him to rein himself in and focus on the Hawaii project.
Sideslip's jokes are at least as hilarious. “We never thought the science of aeronautics would change the methods of raising babies, but it has. Friend of ours mentioned taking care of his year-old heart-breaker and we asked (naively it now appears) if he was good at changing three-corned pants. “They’re four-corned pants now,” he replied in a superior tone, “wing area is much greater and boundary layer control is much better.”
Various other boards and staffs exist, and are poised to do a better job than the often improvised arrangements of 1919, when a single man like Hoover might hold the strings of relief.
|Source: I Live in a Frying Pan|