International: In the U.S. Tradition

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In the U. S. Tradition

Which town will get the county seat? Which city is the biggest, busiest and best? Rich and raucous is the American tradition of debate on such matters. It sounded a little odd last week in the oak-paneled, semi-ecclesiastical room of London's Church House, where world statesmen were considering where the world's capital—the permanent seat of UNO—should be.

American boosters, as stiffly confident as high school valedictorians, trooped one by one to the lectern to air their local prides. First came Atlantic City's A. W. Phillips, in a neat blue suit and rimless glasses. He spoke for only three and a half minutes, since the committee was already well briefed by an elaborate brochure which included a spread of the Atlantic City beauty pageant.

Boston's delegation was headed by Governor Maurice J. Tobin, armored in black coat and striped pants. His colleague, tweedy President Karl T. Compton of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, made the committee sit up by announcing that both A.F. of L. and C.I.O. locals had promised that "there will be no strikes of their members in connection with any work done for the United Nations Organization in the Boston area." Compton also pointed out Boston's library facilities.

This gave Chicago's Barnet Hodes an opening; he claimed that Chicago's libraries had 125,000 more books than Boston's had. Chicago, like the other delegations, had a newsreel to show its beauties. As the commentator said "This is the sort of thing worthy of study in Chicago," the reel stuck, and a bevy of fan dancers on ice skates froze on the screen, grinning toothily at the statesmen.

Philadelphia was touted by Judge L. Stauffer Oliver. Colorado University's whip-smart Robert Stearns cried havoc on his coastal rivals for tidal waves, earthquakes and tornadoes. Tongue in cheek, San Francisco's urbane Mayor Roger Lapham recalled being frozen fast in the harbors of both Boston and Philadelphia in his early yachting days.

The star performer was Paul Bellamy, a bull-necked businessman who represented no city, but the bleak Black Hills of South Dakota, where men are men and steaks are three inches thick. When he described the latter, Yugoslavia's gaunt, grey Stoyan Gavrilovic, the UNO subcommittee chairman, was visibly affected.

Bellamy's best argument had a pessimistic undertone: Boston, Philadelphia and the other coastal cities were within easy reach of atomic bombings. "In the Black Hills there are no military objectives, and the gentlemen who are striving for the peace of the world can live at peace while the atomic bombs are falling."

It was no part of Bellamy's job, or of the booster tradition, to ask what the gentlemen would be doing at that point.