Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘World War II

Prescient Arizona Editor Predicted Pearl Harbor . . .

leave a comment »

Editor’s note: This editorial was written by William R. Mathews, who bought the Arizona Daily Star in 1924 and was editor of the newspaper for more than 40 years. He was married to Betty Boyers and died in 1969.

This editorial, predicting that Japan would attack the U.S., possibly at Pearl Harbor, was published in the Star on Nov. 28, 1941, just days before Pearl Harbor was bombed, on Dec. 7, 1941.


Failure of Secretary of State Cordell Hull and the special Japanese emissary, Saburo Kurusu, to find a basis for a peaceful settlement of the differences between the two countries emphasizes once more the apparent irreconcilability of the respective diplomatic policies, and the definite prospect that only with the sword can the differences be settled.

Mr. Hull demands that Japan evacuate French Indo-China and China proper; the Japanese demand that America stay out of that part of Asia, asserting that what goes on in that area is of no more concern to America than South America is to Japan. The Japanese refuse to withdraw. It is probable that any Japanese government that would withdraw from China would be overthrown by the Japanese people. Mr. Hull refuses to modify the American policy. There the matter stands as the economic blockade of Japan pinches tighter and tighter.

Whether American policy is correct or not is now beside the point. The important feature of this affair is that the two policies are manifestly irreconcilable and that unless one or the other gives in war is as certain as the sunrise in the morning. How soon the war breaks out is entirely up to Japan. It is possible that cooler heads in Tokyo will prevent for a while the hot-headed ones from doing anything that might precipitate hostilities. On the other hand as the pinch of the economic blockade grows tighter and tighter the chances are that the feeling this situation generates will precipitate some kind of an incident in Japan and then the war will be on. War may come within a week; it may still be six months off, but hardly more than that.

When war comes with Japan, it will come without warning. The Japanese habitually strike first and then declare war. They did this in the case of Russia when after the failure of the Japanese minister in old St. Petersburg to reach an agreement, the Japanese fleet, without warning, sailed into Port Arthur and sank a part of the Russian fleet. Between that incident and the present situation there is a strong resemblance. America will know that there is war with Japan some fine morning when the people of the country wake up and find that the Japanese have, without warning, seized Guam, surrounded our puny Asiatic fleet or sent submarines into Pearl Harbor and sunk a couple of our battleships. Very definitely Japan will choose her own time.

As matters stand today Japan will probably mark time and go just as far as she can without getting into an additional war. Consequently, since she already has her forces in French Indo-China, she probably can venture to cut the Burma road by a land attack without provoking war with America. With this road cut she will cut the last life line that the Chungking government has and thus weaken China’s ability to resist. Then by waiting for the end of the Russian campaign and the coming attack on Britain she may hope to strike when both America and Britain are desperately engaged in the Atlantic, and our fleet divided between two oceans. And then there will be a real world war on that will require every ounce of American strength to win.

The failure of the Kurusu mission to Washington thus means that war between Japan and America is inevitable. The American people are now in the position where they will soon have to put up or shut up. Since they approve of a policy that calls for war, they must expect to go to war or change that policy.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

December 8, 2016 at 7:52 am

Further Confessions of a Newspaperboy

leave a comment »

V-E Day prepared me for covering such news events as downtown fires, tumultuous strikes, Detroit riots and similar chaos during my later career as a newspaperman. The prime rule is: Keep Moving.


Downtown North Bay became bedlam on Victory in Europe Day. We dodged army tanks, drunken soldiers and whooping civilians as we wiped our eyes of tears induced by the celebratory smoke bombs bursting endlessly all around. It was early afternoon on May 8, 1945  when the bells rang and we scrambled out of school. Someone – I think it was Clare Salidas who lived two houses away – was running and shouting about the war being over and hauling our ass downtown to sell the newspaper Extras that would carry the news.

It was the end of more than five years of headlines scoring the wins and losses of Allied troops (highlighting Canadians) versus Hitler’s hordes overseas. It meant husbands, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, relatives and neighbors no longer would be fed into the war machine.  It meant those in prisoners-of-war camps would be coming home. It meant we would no longer glimpse enemy prisoners of war — their uniform featured a denim jacket/smock with a large bright-red circle on the back — stretching their legs as the trains stopped at the CNR station en-route to camps out in the Prairies. It meant no more rationing. It meant time to party. As the end-of-war news tore through town, soldiers stationed at the local barracks spilled out in tanks and jeeps and, when they ran out of vehicles, ran out themselves. They chewed up the pavement rumbling up and down Main Street. I don’t recall any shots, blank or otherwise, being fired but the town was smothered by the smoke bombs popping everywhere.

All the stores closed. The staff and merchants joined the public party. My indelible first lesson was to keep moving in a crowd because you never know what turns it will take. I don’t recall if the Nugget gave us the papers that day but I had about at least a couple of dozen. I still had most of them when I got home even though I had sold them many times over.

Everyone was either drunk or acted like it. Soldiers, women, old men were all yelling, “Hey, kid, gimme a paper.” They’d flip a quarter or a dollar at me — a couple of different guys each tossed a $5 bill at me — and rarely took a paper. Soldiers and civilians alike tossed bottles of booze and beer at each other to share. Guys were climbing lampposts to try to see over the smoke. Gals were dancing in and around the moving vehicles.

The iconic sailor-kissing-a-girl on the streets of New York on V-J Day some three months later was rather tame compared with what went on during V-E day in downtown North Bay. For example, I saw one couple in kahki and swirling skirt enthusiastically making unabashed love in the front alcove of Fosdick’s Book Store. I don’t recall seeing any pictures of that. To a 10-year-old kid, all this was great fun.

It was well after dark when I dumped my papers and headed home. At the kitchen table, I counted my money. My usual tote was around to 50 cents. My V-E Day income was almost $45, which was more than my father made in a week as an Ontario Northland Railway section hand.

– 30 –


Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Confessions of a Newspaperboy

leave a comment »


As a prologue to some of the memories that follow in what could become a series of flashbacks, my newspaper career began way back during World War II on the streets of North Bay, 220 miles (350 kilometers) north of Toronto.

It was a busy Northern Ontario railroad town just shy of 18,000 people when I became a newspaperboy selling the North Bay Nugget on the street at time when home delivery was not the norm. I was 8 years old.

My education began then, after being a rural rube all my life. We moved into town on New Year’s Day 1943 and I started selling papers in the spring after the snow and ice finally went south. Or maybe they went north. I would run the dozen blocks downtown from St. Rita’s School. Home was on the way so I dropped off my books and picked up 22 cents to buy 11 papers. We bought them still warm off the presses for 2 cents each and sold them for 3 cents. Paydays were great because a lot of buyers would flip us a nickel and let us keep the change. The paperboy price later went up to 3 cents and we sold it for 5 cents. Not as many tips then.

We fought for first place in the line at the press-room doors on Oak Street behind the Nugget that was housed in what was then the St. Regis Hotel at the west end of downtown where Algonquin Street angled off Main Street. When I got my papers, I’d scramble up one side of Main Street. They usually sold within the first two blocks. (I managed to pick up a few steady customers among the merchants.) Then I’d scramble back and buy another 11 and scoot into the pubs at the east end of Main and wrap up my sales day. Why I bought them in elevens, I don’t recall. Maybe that was all I could handle at first, but I began buying two dozen at a time before my three-year stint ended when we moved to the east end of town.

As I hustled around the eight blocks of downtown commerce peddling my papers, I used to see the Nugget’s reporter Ben Ward (he later moved on to a lengthy tenure with Canadian Press) talking with people all over: elected officials outside City Hall (it became a city in 1925), the cop on the corner, owners of the Arcadian Restaurant over a coffee, the postmaster on the steps of the Post Office. THAT’s what I wanted to do when I grew up. As it turned out, I got lucky and did “that” for several decades in such fun towns as Toronto, Sarnia, Kitchener, Windsor, Detroit and San Diego.

What turned me to thinking about those glimmering days was a recent medical visit to check a blockage in my nose. It turned out to be minor but the doctor asked me, “When did you break your nose?” I said I never broke my nose but he said I must have because of my deviated septum and other scarring. The thought clung to my skull for several days until I finally figured out when it must have occurred.

It was the third or fourth day after I became a newspaperboy. While we were horsing around waiting for the presses to rumble and roll, a 13-year-old burly bully named Maurice (Mo-Mo) Bedard walked up to me and said, “Gimme your money.” I was easy pickings because I was a slight kid, but I said no, not just because it was my money but because my mother would slap me silly if I lost my dough. So he grabbed my shirt, punched me in face and took 22 cents out of my pocket.

I recall bawling (don’t know if it was from pain or the loss of the money) but I couldn’t have been injured all that much because the nose didn’t bleed all that badly. I know that because there wasn’t much blood on my clothing — I threw away the hankie I used to soak up most of any mess and the rest didn’t show much because I was wearing a red-checkered flannel shirt — and nothing was said about my appearance when I got home. But that’s the only time my nose was ever smashed.

Billy Larochelle, who was a little guy like me but a heckuva lot more wiry and quicker and athletic and tougher and had a gravel voice that scared people, gave me enough money to buy my papers that day. I went back for a second and third batch so I could pay him back and still have enough money to show my mother when I got home.

The episode has an epilogue that bolstered my standing among my paperboy peers. A couple of weeks later, Mo-Mo, who didn’t sell papers but just hung around to steal money from kids, aimed  his eyes at me again and started making his approach. I happened to have a packet of matches on me (we used to share cigarets while waiting for our papers) and the only thing I could think of was to light a match and throw it at him. As it turned out, the entire packet erupted into flames so I tossed it at him.

The gods were on my side because that fiery package flipped neatly into his shirt pocket. He began hopping around and flailing and slapping at it and cursing and swearing and had to rip off chunks of his shirt, all of which made him look like an idiot in front of the 25 or so kids waiting for papers.

He never bothered me again. Nor did anyone else because the word spread not to screw around with that Scaglione kid because “He’s crazy.”

— Cecil Scaglione

Written by Cecil Scaglione

January 20, 2015 at 9:40 am