Adventures in Research: Tear Gas and Salesmanship

Posted by ractrose on 4 Oct 2014 in Essays

My Curious Reading

Adventures in Research
Tear Gas and Salesmanship



From the NYT of September 25, 1936. “Tear Gas War on Bootleg Miners.” During this period, the coal mines in Pennsylvania, racked with strikes, had incursions by bootleggers—miners illegally harvesting coal to sell, generating an income they would otherwise have lacked in the midst of the Depression. The mine owners hatched a plan to smoke them out with tear gas. The Senate Lafollette Subcommittee held hearings on Civil Liberties violations. A. S. Ailes, Vice President of the Chemical Co. of Cleveland, testified that he had gassed himself 1000 times, as to indicate the harmless nature of his company’s product. He stated, “I am sorry we have strikes. I am sorry we have Communists in the country.”

Rival chemical firms aggressively promoted their products to corporations as a means of arming themselves pre-emptively. Ignatius H. McCarty, a Chemical Co. salesman had himself appointed as a special officer to the San Francisco police, so that he could demonstrate the use of his company’s gas equipment.

“He said he had demonstrated much of it during the San Francisco waterfront strike, largely to overcome the sales efforts of his competitor representing the Federal Laboratories.”


Tear Gas
Tear Gas and Salesmanship

Theft and Trousers





Congratulations! You’ve found a bonus poem!

Tear Gas and Salesmanshipeasil with painting in progress to illustrate poem the culture

The Culture


We are important

Our three-letter alphabet

Constructs our limited language

The gravitational center

Draws our attention-seeking message

The message is

I am important

Yet you don’t know me


On an oxbow

The current passes

A fallen tree, submerged

At a cross-angle, green murky-brown

Depths, hot from the sun

The surface still, gnats rise

Kingfishers, blackbirds, bank swallows

The river has right-of-way


Its current carved the land

Many more miles long

Than the eye can see

Landholders, granted degrees

On the bank, exchanged in principle

The ornamental alloy



Leaf, sharp, continuing, under-hand

Wheeling gears, dying in prison

The message

Is a low-rate postcard

Issued by the government

One follows, the other is drawn behind


A fuse, a wreck

The weight of gold

The magnitude of moral conduct

Floods the bank and leaves behind

Slippery oil, combustible

Where is your confident belief?

Your commitment and your care?

You have competition

You have been consumed by fire

You have not lived five hundred years

You have not risen from ruin


But you have bought a tract of land

You have enclosed the grounds

Unlawful, inhumane

Spoiling by ineptitude


Every act and every choice

Must be a contest

Nothing you know

Bends to accommodate

Your love is a word

The word is nothing

The word is the deed

And love is nothing



(copyright 2014 Stephanie Foster)


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