From the editorial page of The Independent, Elizabeth City, N.C., Friday, April 1, 1927, W.O. Saunders, editor and publisher.
The Chief Belliaker
The chief belliaker in Elizabeth City is the merchant. Mr. Joe McCabe said recently that we will have do darn many small stores in Elizabeth City presently that no merchant can expect to do business except with his kin folk and dead beats who home he will extend credit. Mr. McCabe said a mouthful.
There are too many small stores in Elizabeth City and credit is too easy. Too many stores make for too keen a competition among tradesmen and in their eagerness to sell goods they are lax in their credit methods. Any bum can come to town, put on a good front, spread his little line of bull on Main Street, and establish charge accounts at almost every store in town within a week or two. Our chief belliakers should take a lesson from the mail order houses—they sell for cash.
That was an awful exposure of the dairy business in Elizabeth City published by this newspaper last week. I’ll agree instantly with everyone who says that such publicity is not good advertising for the town. But in the end it will be good for the town, good for the dairymen themselves, and good for everyone concerned.
Milk is one of the dirtiest of all human foods. It is never free from bacteria and is in fact a fertile breeding ground for all manner of microscopic life. It should never be produced and sold for human consumption except from healthy animals and under the cleanest and most sanitary methods of production and distribution. That not one of the 20 dairies serving Elizabeth City is producing milk that will grade higher than Grade D is a terrible fact that everybody should know about. If the people do not know that such a condition prevails they will never bother themselves to correct it. Only an enlightened public opinion can bring sufficient pressure upon the dairymen generally to make them incur the trouble and expense of producing reasonably clean milk.
Tell your dairyman that you are going to demand Grade A milk. And don’t let him talk you into believing that an inferior grade is just as good. Better milk will cost you more money. In their zeal to produce milk cheaply and satisfy a false economy, our dairymen haven’t acquired the equipment and facilities for producing the best grades of milk. In cleaning up and modernizing their dairies they will have to raise the price of their produce and he who complains against a reasonable advance in the price of milk for the sake of better milk is an enemy of the public good and indifferent to his own physical well being.
As if the sunken road through the marshes east of Elizabeth City were not misery enough, automobile dealers are now using the sides of this road as a dumping ground for old automobile bodies and other junk. It is characteristic of our native lack of aestheticism.
Let us be brutally frank, folks: We are collectively a careless, slovenly, dirty lot. Visitors to our town are instantly impressed by the cleanliness of our streets and tidiness of individual front yards. And then they are distressed by the untidy appearance of our water front and the accumulations of junk and rubbish that we permit on any vacant piece of property.
We are making a bid for tourists; hundreds of Virginia motorists come in and look us over every Sunday. And we present them as large and varied a collection of junk heaps and rubbish in and around our town as will be found in any small town in America, barring coal mining and railroad shop towns.
How different one will find it in the small towns of New England where people have acquired a community pride that makes for community tidiness!
Only recently one of the town’s foremost women was deploring the fact that Elizabeth City is lacking in appreciation of good music. How can we expect an appreciation of harmony in sound from a people who haven’t yet acquired an appreciation of visible harmony?