Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA1 December 24, 1922
BATTING FOR LLOYD GEORGE
I want to apologize and set the many readers of THE TIMES
straight as to why I am blossoming out as a weekly infliction on you all. It seem THE TIMES
had Lloyd George signed up for a pack of his memoirs.1
Well, after the late election Lloyd couldn’t seem to remember anything, so they sent for me to fill in the space where he would have had his junk.
You see, they wanted me in the first place, but George came along and offered to work cheaper, and also to give his to charity. That benevolence on his part was of course before England gave him his two weeks’ notice.
Now I am also not to be outdone by an ex-Prime Minister donating my receipts from my prolific tongue to a needy charity. The total share of this goes to the civilization of three young heathens, Rogers by name, and part Cherokee Indians by breeding.2
Now, by wasting seven minutes, if you are a good reader—and ten to twelve if you read slow—on me every Sunday, you are really doing a charitable act yourself by preventing these three miniature bandits from growing up in ignorance. So please help a man with not only one little megan, but three little megans.
A great many people may think that this is the first venture of such a
conservative paper as THE TIMES
in using something of a semi-humorous
nature, but that is by no means the case. I am following the Kaiser, who
rewrote his life after it was too late.3
I realize what a tough job I have, succeeding a man who to be funny only had to relate the facts.
Please don’t consider these as my memoirs. I am not passing out of the picture, as men generally are who write those things. I want to warn you of a few pitfalls into which our poorly paid but highly costing politicians are driving us daily.
We pay an awful lot of dough in the course of a year to try to get our
country run in such shape that a certain per cent of our citizens can keep out
of the poorhouse. The shape we are in now, over and above all the taxes we pay, allows us to hang on to about 8 per cent of our gross earnings.
Now, that’s entirely too rich we are getting—too prosperous. So they are talking of lending Europe about a billion and half more. I knew there would be something stirring when Morgan visited Washington last week.4
He goes down once every year and lays out the following year’s program.
Europe owes us now about eleven billions.5
Lending them another billion and a half would make it just even 12.50. You see it is so much easier to figure the interest on 12.50 than on 11. Of course the interest ain’t going to be paid, but it’s got to be figured.
The government could charge it off on their income tax to publicity. I only hope one thing, and that is, if we make the loan, Europe will appreciate this one.
The Allied Debt Conference broke up last week in London.
It’s getting harder every day for nations to pay each other unless one of them has some money.
They called that an Economic Conference, and, as we didn’t attend, it was. Why don’t somebody lend Germany the money so they can pay France what France owes England, so England can pay us the money to lend Germany to pay France?
It only needs somebody to start it. Senator Borah opened up and told the U. S. what he thought of this loan.6
For speaking right out in church he is the Clemenceau of America.7
They are bringing over Ambassador Harvey.8
He don’t know anything about it; over there he has been too busy learning speeches. If they don’t have a concert on the ship coming over, his trip will be spoiled.
I see they have been holding another Peace Conference in some burg called Lausanne.9
They are having those things now just like Chautauquas —
you jump from one to the other.
This one must have been somewhere near Italy, as that is the stopping place of the Ambassador that we sent there. He didn’t go officially, as we don’t belong to the League of Nations. (We only finance it). Well, this fellow Child, as I say, he went as a kind of Uninstructed Delegate.10
He got into the game, but his efforts were more like a cheer leader at a football game. They heard him, but he had no direct effect on the game.
It seems that the Allies (that is those of them that are speaking to each
other) wanted Turkey to promise to protect the minor nations within her
territory. Now this Turkey is a pretty foxy nation; she’s got her mind on
something besides wives and cigarettes.
Turkey says: “We’ll agree to give minor nations the same protection that you all give yours.”
Well, that was not exactly what the Allies wanted, but they took it as a
compromise and hope at some future time to get full protection for them.
1David Lloyd George, prime minister of Great Britain from 1916 to 1922; directed British policies during World War I and in settlement of terms of peace. He resigned as prime minister in October 1922 when his opponents feared he was leading the country into war involving Turkey and Greece. A lawyer, orator, writer, and world traveler, he visited the United States in
2William Vann, Mary Amelia, and James Blake Rogers, the three surviving children of Will and Betty Blake Rogers.
3Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany from 1888 to 1918. After the defeat of Germany in World War I, Kaiser Wilhelm was exiled to Holland, where he wrote his memoirs in 1922.
4John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., chairman of the board of J. P. Morgan & Company, one of the most influential banking firms in the world. The American government had considered lending European countries more money and had asked Morgan for his views.
5The Allied nations owed the United States more than $11.5 billion in obligations incurred during and immediately after World War I. A large portion of the debt was extended by the House of Morgan and its associated firms.
6William Edgar Borah, Republican United States senator from Idaho from 1907 until his death in 1940; chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1925-1933. An isolationist and a leading progressive, he spoke out against the proposition that the United States should lend money to European nations.
7Georges Eugene Benjamin Clemenceau, prime minister of France from 1906 to 1909 and in 1917. A veteran statesman, he was known as a plainspoken politician, having earned the nickname “The Tiger of France.”
8George Brinton McClellan Harvey, American editor and publisher who served as ambassador to Great Britain from 1921 to 1923.
9The Lausanne Conference of 1922-1923 redrew the boundaries of Turkey, restored the sovereignty of that nation over all of its territories, and canceled the reparations levied on Turkey following World War I.
10Richard Washburn Child, United States ambassador to Italy from 1921 to 1924 and an unofficial American representative at the Lausanne Conference.
SETTLING THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD
As I told you last week I am Doubling for Lloyd George.1
To those of my circle of readers who are at a loss to know who he is. I will state that he was at one time connected in some minor capacity with the British Empire, and was Stage Manager for the late war.
But it seems that he really didn't become known in a Newspaper sense until the last few weeks when he proved himself a real Author by receiving advanced Royalty from two different concerns for the same set of Jokes.
You see he signed up with a Pamphlet somewhere in America called the N Y Times
and another in the Provinces somewhere, to write his Memoirs. He was to receive for this outburst on the Corona, 200 thousand Bucks, showing right there that he was no writer or journalist, for they would have written the same thing for that many Marks.
Now England put up a howl and said they didn't want their secrets told at so much a word, that they wanted to use those same secrets in the next war, that they had been good with the exception of 76, for years and there was no reason why Lloyd should reveal them.
Well Mr George (sounds like a first name but its really his last) He has always been obstinate like that he turns everything around, well to quiet the Ku Kluxes of England he said he would give the Dough he was to receive to Charity. That’s the surest fire way out in the world if you ever get caught at anything. Funny our Burglars have never tried that when captured, I guess they would if one was ever captured.
Well in the meantime there was an election, that’s the trouble with a Politician’s life somebody is always interrupting it with an election.
George pulled a Freylinhausen at this gathering of humans over twenty one.2
So a truck backed up to No. 10 Downing Street next day and asked where the remains were to be sent.
Now this fit of generosity with the 200 thou, didn't fit in with a rent payer so Lloyd conceived the Idea why call them Memoirs. I will do like the Movies do when they want to use the same Story. I will change the Title but use the same plot. And I will sell to somebody else, and when I do I will see that no eczema of Charity break out on me again.
Now you see these papers all over the Country had left a nice clean place open and had nothing to put in its place. So this little short foreword above will explain why I was called into the Clinic. They wanted a Man like George that wasn't a writer, but still a man of broad intellect, and refinement, in other words a Gentleman and a Scholar. So naturally their first thought drifted to ME.
Now while George was to cover the question from the inside or intimate angle, I am taking up the banner and discussing the affairs from the downtrodden Tax payers’ angle. Every Sunday (as long as I get paid for it) you will find me in this (the best paper in this community) I bet they don't cut that out. You will find me writing and fighting and giving my last Joke for the Working man, oh yes and Women, Viva a La the Proletariat. Now I know millions of my readers cant understand England’s attitude in not wanting their secrets written. Because its different with us over here. We Have No Secrets.
If any man in coming out of office in this Country can find a Paper foolish enough to pay for what he has learned while he was in our Government why then they deserve to be stuck. No court of law would uphold them in a suit for damages.
For instance just suppose all the Army of Secretaries of State under the Wilson Administration had come out trying to sell their Memoirs.3
they had no Memoirs, they had no time to get any. They couldn't even send
their Laundry out, for they didn't know how long they would be there. Besides I guess Mr. Hughes is about the only one we have had that knew what the word Memoirs means.4
And even if he wrote his they would be so highbrow he would have to serve an interpreter with each edition.
No, that thing Diplomacy that these other Nations dote so on and procure so much on, we don't go in much for that. We train men for everything else. We just wait till we hear of a Conference somewhere, and send a Man or bunch of ’em, whose only bargaining up to then had been with their Grocer, or Local Bootlegger.
We generally try to pick a man socially equipped so that he wont cut himself during the gathering. When we have done that we feel that we have succeed. When it comes to gathering around the old mahogany Tablet where there is not a Dish on the Table, where Nations train em for years to say one thing and mean another, why about all America ever comes out with is the check. To quote a little remark which I made in the Follies, that has been favorably passed on several times Editorially:AMERICA HAS A VERY UNIQUE RECORD. WE NEVER LOST A
WAR OR WON A CONFERENCE IN OUR LIVES.
It’s cheaper for us to fight a Nation than to confer with them.
1For David Lloyd George see Weekly Article (WA) 1: Note (N) 1.
2Joseph Sherman Frelinghuysen, Republican United States senator from New Jersey from 1917 to 1923.
3Thomas Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Five different men served at varying lengths of time as secretary of state in Wilson’s cabinets.
4Charles Evans Hughes, United States secretary of state from 1921 to 1925; former Republican governor of New York and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court; later chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941.
WA3 December 31, 1922
SETTLING THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD
AS THEY SHOULD BE
Everybody is writing something nowadays. It used to be just the Literary or Newspaper men who were supposed to know what they were writing about that did all the writing. But nowadays all a man goes into office for is so he can try to find out something and then write it when he comes out.
Now being in Ziegfeld Follies for almost a solid year in New York has given me an inside track on some of our biggest men in this country who I meet nightly at the stage door.1
So I am breaking out in a rash right here in this paper every Sunday. I will cite an example to prove to you what you are going to get. Last week there was a mess of Governors here from various provinces. And a good friend of mine brought back to the stage and dressing room Gov. Allen of Kansas.2
(Hurry up and print this story or he wont be Governor).
Well, I stood him in the wings and he was supposed to be looking at my act, but he wasn’t. He was a watching what really is the backbone of our show. He anyway heard some of my gags about our government and all who are elected to help miss run it.
So at the finish of my act I dragged him out on the stage and introduced him to the audience. He made a mighty pretty little speech and said he enjoyed Will’s Impertinences, and got a big laugh on that. Said I was the only man in America who was able to tell the truth about our men and affairs.
When he finished I explained to the audience why I was able to tell the truth. It is because I have never mixed up in Politics. So you all are going from time to time to get the real Low Down on some of these Birds who are sending home the Radish Seed.
You know the more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that’s out always looks the best. My only solution would be to keep em both out one term and hire my good friend Henry Ford to run the whole thing and give him a commission on what he saves us.3
Put his factory in with the government and instead of Seeds every spring mail out those Things of his.
Mail Newberry one every morning Special Delivery.4
I tell you Folks, all Politics is Apple Sauce.
The President gave a luncheon for the visiting Governors, where they discussed but didn’t TRY Prohibition.
It was the consensus of opinion of all their speeches that there was a lot of drinking going on and that if it wasn’t stopped by January that they would hold another meeting and try and get rid of some of the stuff.
Senator Curtis proposed a bill this week to stop Bootlegging in the Senate, making it unlawful for any member to be caught selling to another member while on Government property.5
While the bill was being read a government employee fell just outside the Senate door and broke a Bottle of Pre-War Stuff (made just before last week’s Turkish War). Now they are carpeting all the halls with a heavy material so in case of a fall there will be no serious loss.
Well, New Years is here now and I suppose we will have to hear and read all these big men’s New Year greetings, such men as Schwab and Gary and Rockefeller and all of them.6
Saying the same old Apple Sauce. That they are optimistic of the coming year and everybody must put their shoulder to the wheel and produce more and they predict a great year. Say, if we had those Birds’ Dough we could all be just as optimistic as they are. But it’s a good joke and it’s got in the papers every year and I suppose always will.
Now the Ku Klux is coming into New York and kinder got it in for the Jewish People. Now they are wrong: I am against that. If the Jewish People here in New York City hadn’t jumped in and made themselves good fellows and helped us celebrate our Xmas, the thing would have fell flat. They sold us every present.
The Ku Klux couldn’t get much of a footing in New York. If there was some man they wanted to take out and Tar and Feather, they wouldn’t know where he lived. People move so often here their own folks don’t know where they live.
And even if they found out the Elevator man in the Apartment wouldn’t let ’em up.
See where there is bills up in Congress now to change the Constitution all around, elect the President in a different way and have Congress meet at a different time. It seems the men who drew up this thing years ago didn’t know much and we are just now getting a bunch of real fellows who can take that old Parchment and fix it up like it should have been all these years. It seems it’s just been luck that’s got us by so far.7
Now when they get the Constitution all fixed up they are going to start in on the 10 Commandments, just as soon as they find somebody in Washington who has read them.
See where they are talking about another Conference over here. The Social Season in Washington must be lagging.
Well I think they ought to have it. Those Conferences don't really do any harm and they give certain Delegates pleasure. Of course nothing they ever pass on is ever carried out (Except in Greece, where they are all carried out). But each Nation gets a certain amount of amusement out of it.
Borah himself admits he don’t know what its for or what they should do.8
But it looks like a good Conference season and there is no reason why we shouldn’t get in on one.
BESIDES, DID YOU EVER REALIZE THIS COUNTRY IS 4 CONFERENCES BEHIND NOW?
Next Sunday I will tell you about Ambassador Harvey.9
I am going down to HEAR him land, and see if he has on his Knee Breeches.
1Ziegfeld Follies, elaborate musical revues originated and produced by American theatrical impresario Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld, Jr. First staged in 1907, they featured a troupe of beautiful chorus girls and many of the leading stage performers of the day. Rogers appeared with the Follies almost annually from 1916 to 1925.
2Henry Justin Allen, Republican governor of Kansas from 1919 to 1923. A newspaper publisher, he later served briefly in the United States Senate.
3Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. Rogers often commented about Ford and his eccentricities.
4Truman Handy Newberry, Republican United States senator from Michigan from 1919 to 1922; railway, steel, and banking magnate from Detroit.
5Charles Curtis, Republican United States senator from Kansas from 1907 to 1913 and 1914 to 1929; vice president of the United States from 1929 to 1933.
6Charles Michael Schwab, American steel magnate who founded Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1904.Elbert Henry Gary, American industrialist who served as chairman of the board of United States Steel Corporation from 1903 until his death in 1927. John Davison Rockefeller, Sr., American oilman who founded Standard Oil Company in 1870, eventually monopolizing the petroleum business. He retired in 1911 and spent much of his later years, until his death in 1937 at age ninety-eight, dispensing philanthropy and playing golf.
7Attempts were made in Congress to provide for the direct election of the president and vice president, thus eliminating the electoral college. There were also members of Congress who wished to change the date that elected federal officials took office from March 4 to a date in January. The latter change was accomplished by the Twentieth Amendment, the so-called “Lame Duck” Amendment ratified in 1933.
8For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6.
9For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
WA4 January 7, 1923
SLIPPING THE LARIAT OVER
Well, old New York has just staggered through a holiday gift of pocket flasks never before equaled in the annals of a law-abiding nation.
The flask has supplanted the necktie as a universal gift, as it is even more
appropriate for the female than the male.
They are making a copper-lined one now at a small extra fee, that will hold wood alcohol, until it can be emptied into the prospective corpse.
On account of New Year’s Eve falling on Sunday night, I will say this in favor of the enforcement officers: they certainly acted in a Christian-like spirit
and stood by and saw that no one started drinking till after 12 o’clock midnight.
They certainly took care of the Sabbath. Why, that one fellow they arrested in
New York only tried to beat the law by 10 minutes, but they wouldn’t let him
get away with it. He tried to plead that his watch was fast. But you can’t fool
Last week the worst storms that were ever experienced at sea were raging. England’s debt canceling delegation was on one boat, and Ambassador Harvey on another.1
But they both finally landed; even nature is against us. Well, you might know how the storm was; for two days the Ambassador couldn’t make a speech.
Doc Coue has landed here too.2
He came to practice Auto Suggestion,
which Mr. Ford originated when he started to build his Synopsis of a Car.3
They say the Doc’s trip here is to be gratis, no money making at all. That feature alone will make him the outstanding novelty of all European visitors.
There is also another Greek Near King too.4
Quota on Greek Kings
must be about used up this month. This one is going right on to Palm Beach.
He was booked there by an opposition hotel for the Season. He is Exhibit A.
American girls have been striving and marrying for years to try to be Queens and Mrs. Leeds came nearer it than any of them.5
She only lost by
They used to only have to promise to support their husbands, but in these
troublesome times they have added “protect” to the wife’s obligations.
Well, I will just tell you how bad this marrying into Royalty has fallen off
lately: some of our girls have just reconciled themselves to marrying Americans.
Things sure were popping down in Washington last week. It’s got so now when Borah gets up they don’t wait to hear what he has to say.6
It’s just like a lion getting out on a circus ground. Everybody hunts a high pole and holds their breath till they hear they got him back in again. Well, when Borah starts, a fire in the capitol building would be a funeral compared to the rush. Why, last week six prohibition senators dropped their flasks when the news spread that he was on his feet.
He certainly deserves a lot of credit. He has taken a show that when opened looked like a complete flop, and has by those monologues that he inserts from time to time built it right into a success. He is the only Senator that a Congressman will walk the length of the building to hear. They have an alarm clock in the Lower House that rings and wakes them up when he goes on.
This time he wanted a conference. They gave him one last year, and sooner or later he will get this one because they have to keep him satisfied; he is the only drawing card they have got. If he ever goes out of there they can sell those Gallery Seats for firewood.
The President wrote a letter and Senator Lodge put on a messenger’s cap and delivered it.7
In this letter he told Borah that why didn’t he ask Hughes for all the news before he went asking for a conference, maybe they had been figuring on one themselves.8
He told Borah that from time to time they heard from Europe in a kind of a postcard way. And also told him that a conference at this time would be liable to give Europe encouragement to think they didn’t owe us anything. You see Europe is awful easy encouraged that way; just a little hint dropped now and again and we may get nothing. They are not sensitive about their debts. If they had paid something every time they discussed ’em we would be even now.
Then he told Borah that while the last conference was a social and artistic success that in a material way about the only thing scrapped so far have been friendships.
Then he said as for land Disarmaments he didn’t believe he would bring that up at all if he was Borah, that a lot of nations over there felt that they should be allowed to get a least about two more wars under their belt with their present armies before letting them go.
You know, it don’t hardly pay to keep a lot of soldiers on salary just for one year. The overhead is too big.
Well, when Borah heard that letter he was the maddest sheep herder that a cowboy ever let live in Idaho. He said, “Why should I go to Hughes for my information? Can’t I read as good as Hughes? Didn’t I hear Clemenceau on a diet of nothing but 14 eggs a meal, and onion soup for breakfast as a chaser, say that they needed us?9
Would a man get up at 4 o’clock and eat that stuff if he wasn’t sincere? Ain’t the farmers clamoring for it, especially the poultry and onion raisers?”
Well, we had quite a few notables in to see our show this week. I have a scout out and he tells me when we have some front page bird out front and I always introduce them to the audience and they stand up and bow. Well, last night we have General Pershing.10
And say, from the reception he got from a packed audience it sounded like the days of 1918. Introduced him as “the man that Congress won’t listen to in regard to preparedness in peacetime yet stake our entire future with in war.” It seems we may have to have two more wars to find out who won the last one. But one thing, if it hadn’t been for him, we would have known who won the last one without any argument.
Well, bless my soul, who should pop in tonight but the Princess Anastsia and her husband, so I had to let my confidential audience in on them, and they were certainly sweet about it and got up and bowed and were very gracious. By the way, ladies, she is very pretty and he seems like a regular guy. You know after all, we can’t help our birth even if we wanted to, and he looks to me like a fellow that didn’t choose it personally. So any little thing that I may have said earlier in this article (as I am writing this page later) we got to give this royalty a chance when they come, as they really are repenting and have suffered greatly.
Don’t miss next week’s mess of news, for Congress and the Senate are all warmed up now and they will do something funny, you see if they don’t.
1For George Harvey see WA 1: N 8.
2Émile Coué, French psychotherapist who introduced a system of optimistic auto-suggestion, “Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”
3For this and all further references to Henry Ford see WA 3:N 3.
4Christopher, prince of Greece and youngest brother of the deposed king of Greece.
5Nancy Stewart Worthington Leeds, wealthy widow of the American tin plate magnate, William B. Leeds. She became Princess Anastasia upon her marriage to Prince Christopher in 1920.
6For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6.
7Henry Cabot Lodge, Republican United States senator from Massachusetts from 1893 until his death in 1924; majority leader of the Senate from 1918 until his death.
8For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4.
9For Georges Clemenceau see WA 1:N 7.
10John Joseph Pershing, United States military hero known as “Black Jack”; commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I.
WA5 January 14, 1923
SLIPPING THE LARIAT OVER
Well, readers, as I sit down to chase this herd of news into one corral, and get it all rounded up and cut out on the typewriter, there ain’t a whole lot of things going on that’s really vital to us. Now, of course, there is a mess of conferences going on, but they are just like the poor and the Democrats, they will always be with us. As I go to press with this one-gland Corona of mine there is just about to be wound up in Paris what is called an Economic Conference which at this early day and date looks like it will be awful lucky if it don’t wind up in an awful nice war.1
England wants to settle one way with Germany and France has a different plan. Now, as Germany owes both of them, there is no reason why each couldn’t settle in their own way. But, no, that’s too easy. Nations don’t do things that way. If they did they would be no diplomats, and diplomats are nothing but high-class lawyers—some ain’t even high-class. You see, the more arguments your country is in the more publicity for the dips.
What is it to England what France makes Germany pay, and what is it to France if England wants to tell Germany, “Kin-folks, we are even.”
Germany made some sort of proposal that there would be no more wars for a century. I don’t know whether they meant for a hundred dollars or a hundred years. Well, anyway, I guess it means years for it was turned down by England and France. You see, they been fighting every 40 years and it’s awful hard to go against custom in those odd countries.
You see, France and England are business nations and they figured up what it would cost to keep an army idle for a hundred years, and that makes the overhead too high.
They wanted Germany to shorten the time and kinder promise them a war earlier.
But Germany couldn’t promise anything earlier. It will take them a hundred years to make enough iron crosses for another war.
Belgium is just hanging around those various Conferences—keeps them broke following them up. Course, they got to go in case any body does get something they want to get their car fare and back out of it.
THE LAUSANNE CONFERENCE
There is another conference at Lausanne—sounds like a song—where they are trying to talk Turkey out of some oil wells, some nations go to war for gold, some nations for territory, some to make the whole world free for Democracy.2
But if you want to make a war with England, you show ’em an oil well.
These Turks had the record for long-distance burning and massacreeing. But last week some Red Cross investigated where the Greeks had been outside the war zone, and found that as burners and pillagers, why, those Greeks made a Turk look like an amateur.
You know, they must be pretty bad when they shot their cabinet. Now, none of us is a-denying that from our own personal experience there has been times when such marksmanship practiced right here at home on some of ours would have been welcome—still it ain’t hardly the humane thing to do.
Well, in addition to having one company of Diplomats at Lausanne and another one in Paris, England still has enough left to send a troop of debt canceling ones over here.
Now, that is where these other nations have got it on us. They can play a half dozen Conferences at once, while with us, if we can find a man to send to one, why, we are lucky, and we always feel uneasy till he gets home.
Ambassador Harvey landed and said, “England will pay.”3
Two days behind him comes the paying teller of the Bank of England and says, “Yes, we will pay, BUT—how much?”4
If these nations had used the money paying their debts that they have spent trying to keep from paying them, the whole world would be about even by now. They always bring a pack of experts and technical men along to advise. I have always noticed that any time a man can’t come and settle with you without bringing his lawyer, why, look out for him. Well, any way, it seems good to have something doing in Washington. Dressmaking was at a standstill.
CUSTOM OF 150 YEARS BROKEN
Al Smith, Democratic Governor of New York broke a custom of 150 years last week when instead of having his message to the legislature written and handed to each of the members, he took no chances on the ones who couldn’t read.5
He went in person and delivered it. Even then some of the Republicans didn’t seem to get it.
He came out for light wines and beer. If they can get beer any lighter than they have it now, I would like to see it.
Al’s a mighty good man and is kinder figuring on the White House in a couple of years. That is, in case they are going to make a change. And aspeaking of Governors, we had my old friend Governor Edwards in to see the show lately.6
I introduced him to the audience, and, say, he sho’ got a big reception. I insisted on his making us a little speech. So he said, “Well, what do you want, Will?”
I said, “Well, if it’s all the same to you, we will take a drink.” Well that got a big laugh from the multitude.
But, say, he just come right back at me and topped it when he said, “All right, come over to Jersey and you can get it.”
He knocked ’em off the seats with that. You know he is quite a fellow; he talks wet and don’t drink himself. He come back in the dressing room to see me and bid me goodby. He is going into the Senate. I always like to shake any friend’s hand when he is going into that body, so in after years I can say, “Well, I knew him when he was straight.”
The Big National Automobile Show was in town last week. All the high priced cars had exhibits in the hotel lobbys. Ford had an exhibit in the Dairy lunches.
They showed a steam car that would run by building a fire in it out of hay, old shoes and newspapers. Why, the man told me you could get 100 miles out of a Bryan speech.7
The manufacturers say that in 10 years there will be an auto to every man, woman and child in the U. S. They are making preparations to build them. Now all they got to do is control the birth rate.
Well, next week we ought to have some wars to talk on. Turkey has been laying off two weeks now.
1The Inter-Allied Conference on Reparations, which had met at London in December 1922, reconvened at Paris on January 2, 1923. Reparations and claims arising from World War I plagued the European powers—and the United States—throughout the 1920s.
2For the Lausanne Conference see WA 1:N 9.
3For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
4Montagu Collet Norman, governor of the Bank of England from 1920 to 1944. An international financial figure, Norman helped to arrange the funding of the British war debt to the United States in 1922.
5Alfred Emanuel “Al” Smith, Democratic governor of New York from 1919 to 1921 and 1923 to 1929. An Irish Catholic and anti prohibitionist, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1928.
6Edward Irving Edwards, Democratic governor of New Jersey from 1920 to 1923. Elected to the United States Senate in 1922, he served in that body from 1923 to 1929.
7William Jennings Bryan, American politician, orator, and statesman known as “The Great Commoner.” A Democrat and religious fundamentalist, Bryan ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1896, 1904, and 1908.
WA6 January 21, 1923
SETTLING THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD
AS THEY SHOULD BE
Well, this week just passed has been pretty busy in New York. It looked like my home town of Claremore, Oklahoma, on a Saturday afternoon. The Automobile Show was here. I don’t know why they come clear from the Coasts to see the same cars they can see in their local Show Rooms but they did sure come and brought their Wives—well, I won’t say brought. I mean their Wives came with them.
I had a very busy week, me being the gabbiest old thing in New York. I was conscripted to make a speech to the Automobile Chamber of Commerce, which is all the Manufacturers. They are a pretty fine bunch of men. Most of them have had their money now for a few years, and they are getting so they act like they always had it. Golf has supplanted the Carburetor as a national topic.
I often wonder how they distinguished a Gentleman in the old days when there was no Golf.
The Distinguished Lawyer, Mr. Martin Littleton, and I were the annoyers for the evening.1
I was there, not through any entertaining quality I might have, but to offset the glibness and humorous speech of Mr. Littleton. He knew nothing about Automobiles; being a Lawyer he knew very little about anything, so I apologized for him and soon put the members back into a serious and business-like mood.
Mr. Littleton, as you know, specializes in Lunacy Cases. He defended and saved Harry Thaw.2
He also defended Mr. Newberry and made it possible to get him out of the U. S. Senate.3
So you see he works in direct opposites. One Man he got into the insane Asylum, and the other he got out
of one. And personally I think Newberry should be the more Grateful of the two.
Mr. Durant of the Star Car says that in 10 Years every man, woman, and child in the U. S. will own an Automobile, or, rather there will be one per Capita.4
He is laying out his manufacturing schedule along that line. Now
all he has to do is to control the Birth Rate.
As an Exhibition, during the week a Dodge crew assembled an entire Car in 19 Minutes. I didn’t see it. I can imagine what they did the first 3 minutes, but I don’t know what they were doing the other 16.
On the next night I was invited, on account of being a light eater, to speak at the Automobile Accessories Banquet. Littleton wasn’t with me on this. He had gotten a paid job in the meantime keeping some Sane man out of the lower House of Congress.
Now these Accessories are the Bootlegging end of the Industry. They sit back and make all the Parts and the Manufacturers have to go out and sell them.
I launched a Ford for President movement. You see I am figuring on going in the Cabinet, as he will have to be like all of them and pay off his political debts with jobs. You see, all these other Cabinets are picked, not on ability, but what they have done for the Party. Well, we ain’t going to have any party. It’s to be called the “All over the Road Party” with Mr. Ford for leader. Our slogan will be “Come with Ford and you will at least get somewhere.” I will probably have to be Secretary of State, although I don’t think I could stand the round of Conferences. I think Vice President would be about my speed. Of course I do hate to stay hid that long because I like for people to know who I am, but if it looks best for the Party for me to be sacrificed, why, I would do it.
I would love to see Mr. Ford in there, really. I don’t know who started the idea that a President must be a Politician instead of a Business man. A Politician can’t run any other kind of business. So there is no reason why he can run the U. S. That’s the biggest single business in the World. I just would love to see Mr. Ford, when Congress pulled one of those long stalls of theirs, going around and lifting up the hood and seeing what is the matter.
Well, that’s all for Automobiles and Politics but what of some of the affairs of the world. The big news of the week was President Harding ordering our boys back.5
Senator Jim Reed reminded the President and Congress that they were still over there.6
I tell you it’s lucky some time to have a fellow around that keeps his eyes open for little things like that.
I doubt if they will come home without being conscripted, at least not if they have heard from home lately.
I would hate to be the man to hand one of those real Soldiers his first glass of Near Beer, after 4 years of German brew, when they land here.
Of course we must get ’em home. That’s no place for a Soldier and a war coming on. I wish they had let these boys have stayed there and Refereed the next war. Then at the end say who is the winner and just what does he win.
I tell you wars will never be a Success until you do have a Referee, and until they announce before they start just what it’s for.
I see where they are talking of bringing home these Unofficial Representatives we have had strewn around at these various Conferences.
We are the originators of the unofficial Representatives. It’s like a man going to a Dinner when he was not invited. Now he may have come unofficially, but still he eats just as much as if he had been invited.
Col. House was the originator of this form of entertainment.7
Well, France has gone into Germany. She said, “I am going to get in there some way, if I have to have Peace to do it.”
That’s another case of that Unofficial business. France says it ain’t war officially but they are like the uninvited Guest. They are in there eating, ain’t they?
Nations never seem to get much nourishment out of these Unofficial invasions. If memory don’t fail me I think we made a pilgrimage into Mexico unofficially.8
All we got was Sand in our eyes.
Either make it official and go in a shooting, or stay out!
France says Germany was back in their Telephone Pole delivery; also shy some sacks of coal. Now you can’t invade just for lack of Coal. If you could, why, look how long the Republicans let the Coal strike last, last summer before they tried to settle it. And now we have no coal.
Well, can’t the Democrats invade the basin of the Monongahela and take over the west bank of Allegheny and claim that they haven’t been getting the coal that was promised during the last campaign?
I claim they could do it. But the trouble is the Democrats have beat their Guns and Sabers from the last war into Pocket Flasks.
Germany says France sent in some Black troops which they object to. France says they didn’t send in any real colored ones, that these were only a kind of a dark bay.
1Martin Wiley Littleton, American attorney and politician noted for his expertise at criminal law.
2Harry Kendall Thaw, wealthy American playboy who married actress Evelyn Nesbit in 1905. A year later, Thaw shot and killed one of his wife’s former suitors, Stanford White, a prominent New York City architect. Littleton defended Thaw, who was judged criminally insane and institutionalized until 1916.
3Newberry (see WA 3:N 4) was tried and convicted in Michigan courts for corruption in obtaining his senatorial nomination, but the case was dismissed in the United States Supreme Court. He was exonerated by the Senate Committee on Privileges and Elections in 1922 but later in the same year resigned his position.
4William Crapo Durant, American automobile manufacturer who founded General Motors Company in 1908. He lost control of General Motors in 1920 but a year later formed Durant Motors, Incorporated.
5Warren Gamaliel Harding, former Republican senator from Ohio who served as president of the United States from 1921 until his death in 1923. On January 10, 1923, Harding ordered the return of the American forces that had occupied Germany since World War I.
6James Alexander “Jim” Reed, Democratic United States senator from Missouri from 1911 to 1929.
7Edward Mandell House, American politician and diplomat best known as a friend and confidant of President Woodrow Wilson. He served as Wilson’s “unofficial” representative at many diplomatic gatherings.
8President Wilson ordered American troops into Mexico in 1916 in an attempt to end bandit activity along the international border. The American move proved highly unpopular in Mexico.
WA7 January 28, 1923
DOUBLING FOR PRESIDENT HARDING
Well, this last week has been quite a week, oratorically, around New York. The Ohio Society of New York had their annual Bouquet-throwing at the Waldorf. This is the biggest State Society in this city, which is certainly a compliment to New York.
That born New Yorker who lives in Ohio has been trying to get up a Society of New Yorkers out there, but you can’t incorporate with only one Member. I, myself, belong to the Oklahoma Society in New York. We meet every year in a member’s single room at the Mills Hotel—all four of us. Now judge for yourself which is the best State.
Besides, the people from my State don’t have to come to N. Y. to have a big feed. We have a Governor down there that feeds everybody on his inauguration and will do so as long as he is inaugurated.1
He fed Three hundred Thousand at a big three day Barbecue, where they killed hundreds of beef.
Of course, I know you read where lots of them ate too much and got sick. But you must remember that here was a bunch of people who had been living, or rather existing, under a Republican Administration for two years, in a Democratic State. So you can forgive any undue haste in storing away their first real meal.
The Slogan of the Feast was “FEED THE CHILDREN AND THE DEMOCRATS FIRST.” For the Children of today are the Voters of tomorrow.
Of course, I will admit that this generosity on the part of our Governor, was not as liberal as it might look on paper. He cunningly waited until after the Republicans had been in for two years and Cattle were hardly worth killing, so the outlay for foodstuffs was practically Nil, as the Farmers couldn’t sell it anyway.
Being a Dry Governor, and not wanting to handle it himself, he sold the Bootlegging privilege for enough to carry him through any lean years in case the Democrats should run into another lay off.
Of course, everybody brought their own as they always do in States where they vote dry. But an Oklahoman can only carry enough to last him for one day, so they had to erect emergency Stills right on the grounds to take care of extra Prohibitionists.
It was the biggest success ever pulled off in any State, both Beveragelly and Gastronomically.
Now, as I said, I was asked to speak at this Ohio incense burning, they figuring, on account of me not knowing anything about the State, I might accidentally say something good about it.
But in reality I was doubling for President Harding, who they expected to have but couldn’t come, so I was chosen to take his place. I said about what I figured he would have said if he had been there. They sent me a Book of Society and it had the speeches of the last two years in it, including one Mr. Harding made there two years ago. So I told them in case they were disappointed in me substituting for him I would read this previous speech of his. Well, nobody said read it so I guess they were pleased. It don’t take much after all to please an Ohioan.
The Gallerys were packed with Beautifully Gowned Ladies, and what jokes the men missed the Ladies got. I met, by the Way, Mrs. Pomerene and Mrs. Whitelaw Reid who were very gracious and could make even a Cowboy feel at ease.2
Mr. Pomerene, Mr. Gillette, Speaker of the House, Admiral Plunkett, and I were the annoyers of the occasion.3
Mr. Pomerene spoke on Ship Subsidy, which of course we should have. If you don’t think so, just go around the Docks here and see how few American Flags you see on all the Ships that are here. But, of course, Mr. Harding has not been able to put it through. It’s too sensible to ever get by.
Mr. Gillette, Speaker of the House of Representatives, spoke. I thought Upshaw was speaker of the House.4
Upshaw wants Congress to dry up. And Congress wants him to dry up. I told the Ohioans that I was a little disappointed at Mr. Gillette’s speech. I thought he would have something funny to tell, after sitting there day after day listening to Congress. I know I only go there one day a year and sit in the Balcony but I get enough stuff to last me a year.
Now I heard a Mr. Snyder, who is keeper of the Big New York Zoo, make a very funny Speech relating little Anecdotes of the various Animals that he ruled over.5
So I knew, if he would do it, Gillette is the only man in the world that could improve on Snyder’s speech. Unless it might be Mr. Coolidge.6
(Of course that’s a separate and distinct thing that Senate. It’s not fair to compare anything with that.)
Just today as I am writing this (as I have to get it away early as they make up these Sunday Sections, some of them, ahead) the sad death of a fellow Movie Actor is reported. Now I want to say my little of good, for you will no doubt hear people say things who can only see the bad in anything.
Four years ago when I was going to the Coast to make my first pictures, I was booked to stop off for one night in Kansas City and speak at the opening of a New Beautiful Theater. Now there that night was Wallace Reid who had come from the Coast to appear also.7
I met him for the first time. He was one of the most likeable chaps I ever met. He took an unusual interest in me on the way back to California. I am sure I meant nothing to him, still he knew I was new in the Business and he wanted to be of any help to me he could.
Now, mind you, while he was paying me every attention he was the Admiration of everybody. You can’t imagine his popularity. He was a King to a lot of them. On account of being able to do an Act on the Stage I was asked to appear at a great many Benefits in Los Angeles and Adjoining Towns. Now, out of all the Movie people out there, Wallace Reid was the one I met at all of them.
He was a very good Musician. He could play any Instrument in an Orchestra. He had a very pleasing Stage Personality and could tell Stories well. Now, mind you, lots of these affairs were away at little Towns where it took up your whole evening, so he couldn’t have been so wild for parties always.
Now he falls into bad Company, through being a good fellow. He sinned. He has paid the highest penalty you can pay. He gave his life. He has left a Mother, Wife and Children, one of them an adopted child. Now a Bad fellow don’t adopt children. He don‘t even want Children.
Now don’t you let a living Soul say an unkind word about Wallie Reid. He was just a big overgrown Kid, who never knowingly harmed a living soul. So let God judge him, not us. I’ll bet he will be judged to be away above the average.
1John Callaway “Jack” Walton, Democratic governor of Oklahoma who began his term in 1923 with a gigantic barbecue at the state fair grounds. He was impeached and convicted later that year on eleven counts of high crimes and misdemeanors.
2Mary Helen Bockius Pomerene, wife of Senator Atlee Pomerene of Ohio. Elizabeth Mills Reid, chairwoman of the American Red Cross in London during World War I and wife of Ambassador Whitelaw Reid.
3Atlee Pomerene, Democratic United States senator from Ohio from 1910 to 1923. Frederick Huntington Gillett, Republican United States representative from Massachusetts from 1893 to 1925; speaker of the House from 1919 to 1925; United States senator from 1925 until his death in 1935. Charles Pershall Plunkett, American naval officer who served in both the Spanish-Ameri-
can War and World War I. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1919.
4William David Upshaw, Democratic United States representative from Georgia from 1919 to 1927. An extremely religious man, Upshaw was a strict prohibitionist who split with the Democratic party in 1932 to run for the presidency on the Prohibition ticket.
5Charles Snyder, director of the Bronx Zoological Gardens in New York City.
6John Calvin Coolidge, vice president of the United States from 1921 to 1923. A former Republican senator from Massachusetts, Coolidge succeeded to the presidency in 1923 upon the death of Harding; he served until 1929.
7Wallace Reid, a once-popular American motion picture actor who died in Los Angeles on January 18, 1923, while attempting to recover from drug addiction.
WA8 February 4, 1923
THOUGHTS ON THE RUM FLEET
AND OTHER THINGS
Well, readers, as this heavy editorial goes to press there is quite a bit
of news in the papers.
America has always wanted an adequate coast defense, something that
would really protect our shores. Well, at last we have it; twelve miles off
our eastern shore is a flotilla of ships which we never hoped three years
ago to be able to produce. And, mind you, all this is done without a ship
subsidy. I tell you, it is with a great feeling of security that we here in New
York can go to sleep at night knowing that just a mere twelve miles away
we are being guarded and protected by the entire merchant marine of the
They are so thick that an ocean liner going to Europe has to give two
days’ notice so they can open up and make a path through to let it by. They
have the ships laid out in streets, and named according to the produce sold.
Scotch avenue is really the elite—it’s the Fifth avenue of the Atlantic. Rye
street is more solid and conservative. Gin alley is really the Broadway of
the foam. It’s the night life. To get your motor boat parked on that alley
you have to reserve space days in advance.
It’s worked on the same principal as the cafés on land are worked. On
land you go in and drink till you get full or broke, which ever happens first;
then you go out. Well, out there you tie up your launch beside one of the
more popular wholesailing places, and buy till your launch is full or you are
broke, same as on land.
If you are a kind of adventurous or artistic nature, they have a miniature Greenwich Village, where wood alcohol is sold exclusively. It is put in
copper lined containers, where it is kept till brought ashore and poured into
the prospective corpse.
There has been some talk of hauling dirt and making an island, but they figured that there was enough stuff consumed on the premises so that the empty bottles would eventually form their own island.
At the rate it’s growing at out there, in two years it will be the biggest
wholesailing district in the world. But why shouldn’t it? You often hear it
said that bootlegging is the biggest industry. Well, that is not quite correct,
but prohibition is the biggest—that is, taking both sides, money spent for
and against it, not only the bootlegging and enforcement end of it, but when
you speak of an industry you must consider the by-products. For instance,
there’s the doctors, the undertakers and the coroners. The increase in doctor’s prescription paper will reach an astounding sum.
Figure up the time consumed by the United States Senate and Congress and different state legislatures. Figure it up at their wages and you will see
what a big by-product just speaking about it has been. If all the time had
been used in this country on study that has been used up arguing prohibition, we would be the smartest nation in the world. (Don’t say we are already, ‘cause China is. They never had a shipping board and they never had a dollar-a-year man in a war.)
Also, as I go to press today, Mr. Anderson of the Anti-Saloon League of New York is in court trying to explain where some of this by-product dough went to.1
It seems that mere money has entered into the realm of what was thought to be a work of love. It seems that the fellowman’s interest was to be protected, but at so much a fellow.
Dr. Percy Grant has made the front page again.2
Everything, even in religion, seems to have a trend to the liberal nowadays. Congress wanted a short time ago to rewrite the Constitution. Now Dr. Grant wants to go over the Bible and kinder brighten it up in spots where it appears to him to drag a little. A liberal is a man who wants to use his own ideas on things in preference to generations who, he knows, know more than he does.
Well, Mr. Harvey went back to England to start embarrassing again.3
Some talk of Mr. Hughes resigning a short time ago.4
I don’t know, but I think that Greece shooting their cabinet caused a kinder uneasy feeling among the cabinet workers all over the world.
Mr. Harding has had quite a little sick spell lately from which he is recovering. I sorter think it’s those doctors these presidents have. They are
promoted from a horse-and-buggy trade in the country to an admiral in the
U. S. Navy, or a major general in the U. S. Army so quickly that I really believe they have to give so much time trying to learn to salute and to getting
their uniforms on proper side forward that they haven’t really had time to
devote to our President’s health. So, with our next President, I hereby start
a movement to let his doctor keep his bagged kneed breeches and his ole
slouch hat, and I get you that, without the welfare of the Army or Navy on
his hands, it won’t give him a thing to think about but just what he has always thought about.
I was called on to speak last night at the thirtieth anniversary of the
Empire theater. Mr. Frohman’s theater.5
I don’t know why I should have been there; I had never played in the place. I suppose I had really contributed more to its success by not playing there. We had Mr. Belasco and he is as good an audience as he is a producer.6
The Barrymores and everybody of note in the theater were there, and a lot of critics.7
I was as much in the dark as to why a critic should be at a theater celebration as I was over being there myself. Their contribution to the success of most theaters is in about the same ratio that a fire would be.
I had played in this theater one night at a charity benefit by mistake. I was booked to play an Irish benefit and came from Philadelphia to play it. I had forgotten what theater it was and it was near one that was having a Sunday night benefit for some Hebrew orphan asylum. Now I go in the wrong one, and ask to go on right away so they put me right on. It was then Ireland had just gotten their home rule and was in doubt as to what to do with it. So I had prepared a bunch of Irish gags. I started in on all my Irish stuff, about “Move England away from Ireland to prevent wars, but when you moved them don’t let Ireland know where you were taking them or they (Ireland) would follow them and get ’em.” But nobody seemed interested in Ireland, so I said, after a few looks, this audience ain’t Irish and it dawned on me that I was in the wrong place.
Mind you, I would have played this too, if I had been asked as I had just as many jokes on America trying to get their freedom from the Jews and a lot of good natured kidding with them. So I switched my stuff and got off and never let them know that I knew I was in wrong. You see, I was in doubt. I thought, well, maybe those Irish are smart enough to give this benefit and sell all the seats to the Jews, and it might really be the right one after all. Well, it supplied me an act down at the right one anyway, so you see the only time I was ever able to get into the aristocratic old Empire theater where Miss Maud Adams reigned for years was by accident.8
1William Hamilton Anderson, American temperance leader who headed the powerful Anti-Saloon League of New York from 1914 to 1924.
2Percy Stickney Grant, American Protestant Episcopal clergyman noted for his radical theological beliefs and his frequent doctrinal disputes with the church hierarchy. He left the Episcopal ministry in 1924.
3For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
4For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4.
5Charles Frohman, American theatrical manager known as “the Napoleon of the Drama” for his numerous productions of plays by the leading dramatists of the day. Frohman died in May 1915.
6David Belasco, American playwright, producer and theater owner widely recognized for his success in developing stage talent.
7The Barrymores comprised one of the most famous performing families in American stage and screen history, with Lionel, Ethel, and John attracting considerable fame during the 1920s and 1930s.
8Maude Adams, American actress who made her New York City stage debut in 1888. She is remembered best for her title performance in Peter Pan in 1906-1907.
WA9 February11, 1923
OUR MARGOT KICKS UP SOME DUST
Well, a terrible lot of news has happened since we went to press last week. We have finally developed a Margot Asquith of our own, right in Washington.1
. It took political defeat to do it but it was worth it. Mrs. Miles Poindexter has pulled a Margot and is letting us in on some—well, you wouldn’t call it dirt, it’s really only dust.2
It seems, as a Senator’s wife, she has gotten tired dodging these government cars furnished by the government for the cabinet’s wives. She says if you are the Secretary of the Navy’s wife you can have little boats running around your house, and a band, and life preservers and sea sickness and everything. I suppose if you are Secretary of War’s wife you get a cannon to shoot at sunrise and sunset, and maybe an army mule to mow your lawn. And if you are Postmaster General’s wife you get to read all the postcards and get all your stamps at cost.
But she forgets that for these privileges these Cabinets take a chance. Greece’s Cabinet was shot. Now a Senator was never shot. That has perhaps been an oversight on somebody’s part, but it’s true, nevertheless. And look at the uncertainty of a Cabinet position. Why, look, under the Wilson Administration they didn’t last long enough to give a party.3
But I think, myself, that they ought to let some of these officials’ wives in Washington help run things. I don’t mean their Husbands, as they do that, of course. But let them help with the Government. Why, when I play Washington, every afternoon I am out at some of the Roosevelts or Mrs. Longworth’s and I have heard more real constructive dope on the Government than I heard among the men.4
I don’t think there is a brighter person, man or woman, in this Country than Mrs. Longworth. Mrs. Ned McLean and Mrs. Medill McCormick, who inherits her wonderful cleverness from her father, Mark Hanna, I have heard discuss things, and I wish they would put some of them in there.5
I bet your percentage of bright women in Washington will stack up with the men on political affairs.
Now I understand they are going to exile the Poindexters to Peru, where they are to be ambassadors or something.6
Well, they won’t be lonesome down there in South America. Mr. Hughes comes down every few weeks.7
Still there’s that Cabinet’s Wife again. You can’t go anywhere in the World and escape a Cabinet member and his wife nowadays. We really do need a Margot Asquith, who would give us some real dope on things, and I am sorry Mrs. Poindexter’s career was ripped by this Peruvian escapade.
I met Margot over there, too, and heard her first speech in America where she spoke for an hour on Fox Hunting to a New York City audience. There wasn’t ten people in the Audience who had ever seen a Horse, much less a Fox.
Well, things are kinder settling down in the Episcopal Church here. They were going to let Dr. Percy Grant out, but he was such a big drawing card they couldn’t afford to let him go.8
He is the Valentino of the Clergy.9
Well, everybody is always wondering what will happen to poor Germany since the invasion.10
We have the same thing happen here every day. When a man can’t pay his debts he is thrown out of his home, family and all. It’s called Foreclosure, but nobody ever gets heated up enough to worry what becomes of them.
If you remember, France paid Germany one time and we didn’t worry how they got it. We would be a fine Nation to tell some other Nation how to collect Debts. Why say, France and Germany both have forgotten more about manipulating coin from one pocket to another than we will ever know. We’ve got it now, but I bet you in 15 years they will have it all back and we will be giving them our I.O.U.’s. Ask one of our returned Soldiers if France don’t know how to get the dough. And you never got rich trading with a German, did you? Pitying them, trying to get money from each other, just like pitying a Bootlegger, Poor Fellow. They are not going to war. It ain’t time. They only fight every 40 years. If either of them went into a war they couldn’t deliver the original cast they had before.
Talk about us telling somebody how to collect something; why, just this week, England talked us out of four and a half Billion Principal and a million a year interest. When I say “us,” I mean Us. We, that are living now. The principals don’t have to be paid for 62 years. Now, personally, I can’t work up much enthusiasm about what I am to receive 62 years from now. I would rather say, “Brother, just slip me a Dime now on account.” If you Birds think we made a good deal you go into a Bank and tell them to lend you some money and you will pay it back in 62 years. You go in. I will wait outside and catch you as you come through the swinging door.
It originally was to be paid in 25 years. Not bad, eh, to come over on your own Sea and get your note extended for 37 years. You often hear it said we need Diplomats. We don’t need Diplomats; we need a Keeper or a Warden. Of course, as I am writing this, Congress hasn’t started arguing over it yet. They will talk on it so long it will cost us more than the interest is worth.
Now there is another thing I want recorded here in my Congressional Record. This bird, Sir Percy Baldwin, made some slighting remarks about our Senate and House of Representatives.11
Now, McKellar and Heflin and I resent that.12
President Harding and I can get vexed at Congress sometimes and say things, but we are all of the same family. We resent any foreigner coming in here and knocking our Representatives. He said if it hadn’t been for Congress having something to do with it he could have settled it with our reparation committee and perhaps got the debt canceled entirely and paid something besides, but that it had got into the hands of Congress. It seemed quite a surprise to him that you all had found it out.
You see it’s just the difference in England of a little matter of 4 or 5 Billion debt. They don’t like to bother the Dukes and Earls with those trifles.
You see, they got the King’s children’s weddings to go to every little while and it takes years to learn where your place is in line. So you can’t expect
them to be troubled with Knick Knacks.
The worst thing was, Sir Percy said our Congress was Rural and Pastoral. Now I can understand Congress not calling him down ’cause they are like me. They didn’t know what this Pastoral Gag meant. But, offhand, if I had to give a meaning to it, I would interpret it, and would say it means HICK.
Now, if Congress won’t defend themselves, I will enter protest. I knock ’em but I like ’em, and understand ’em. I know they go wrong sometimes, but they mean well. They just don’t know.
Sir Percy says all they know is how to raise Hogs and wheat and sell them. He is wrong. They don’t even know how to raise Hogs and wheat. He should be ashamed of himself. If I went somewhere and a man gave me 5 Billion and told me, “You don’t have to pay this for 62 years,” why I would have rushed up and complimented him quick even if I didn’t mean it. Why, I would pretty near kiss Lodge and Volstead for that much.13
1Emma Alice Margaret “Margot” Asquith, English writer and wife of the first earl of Oxford and Asquith. A noted wit and hostess, she wrote her Autobiography in 1922.
2Elizabeth Gale Page Poindexter, wife of former Senator Miles Poindexter. She upset the leading politicos of Washington D. C., with the publication in 1923 of her reflections of Washington society.
3For this and all further references to Woodrow Wilson see WA 2:N 3.
4Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, wife of Congressman Nicholas Longworth, famous Washington hostess, and close friend of Rogers.
5Evalyn Walsh McLean, a mining heiress and Washington society hostess who was the wife of publisher Edward Beale “Ned” McLean. Ruth Hanna McCormick, wife of Chicago publisher Joseph Medill McCormick; Republican United States representative from Illinois from 1929 to 1931. Marcus Alonso “Mark” Hanna, Republican United States senator from Ohio from 1897 to 1904 and influential advisor to President William McKinley.
6Miles Poindexter, who had lost a reelection bid for the Senate, was appointed as ambassador to Peru on February 19, 1923; he served in that post until his resignation in 1928.
7For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4.
8For Percy S. Grant see WA 8:N 2.
9Rudolph Valentino, Italian-born American motion picture star of the 1920s who acquired wide fame as a dashing, daring, and romantic film hero.
10France occupied the Ruhr Valley in Germany in 1923 because of the inability of Germany to meet it reparations obligations.
11Stanley Baldwin, prime minister and first lord of the treasury of Great Britain from 1923 to 1924, 1924 to 1929, and 1935 to 1937. As chancellor of the exchequer from 1922 to 1923 he helped to arrange the funding of the British debt to the United States.
12Kenneth Douglas McKellar, Democratic United States senator from Alabama from 1917 to 1953. James Thomas “Tom” Heflin, Democratic United States senator from Alabama from 1920 to 1931. Both Heflin and McKellar were virulent critics of the British government and its policies.
13For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
WA10 February 18, 1923
SETTLING THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD
IN HIS OWN WAY
Well, they brought our Soldiers back from Germany last week. Would have brought them back sooner but we didn’t have anybody in Washington who knew where they were. We had to leave ’em over there so they could get the Mail that was sent to them during the war. Had to leave ’em overthere anyway; two of them hadn’t married yet.
Savannah certainly give the Boys a great welcome, but imagine how welcome they are going to feel the first payday over here, “before and after taken”—Home.
Since I wrote you all last week, an awful lot has happened at the Studio in Washington, D. C. You know out where they make the Movies, the place we make them is called the Studio. We are a great deal alike in lots of respects. We make what we think will be two kinds of Pictures, Comedy and Drama, or sad ones. Now you take the Capitol at Washington. That’s the biggest Studio in the World. We call ours, Pictures, when they are turned out. They call theirs laws or Bills. It’s all the same thing. We often make what we think is Drama, but when it is shown it is received by the audience as Comedy. So the uncertainty is about equal both places.
The way to judge a good Comedy is by how long it will last and have people talk about it. Now Congress has turned out some that have lived for years and people are still laughing about them; and as for Sad productions, they have turned out some that for sadness make “Over the Hills” look like a roaring farce.1
Girls win a little State Popularity Contest that is conducted by some Newspaper; then they are put into the Movies to entertain 110 million people who they never saw or know anything about. Now that’s the same way with the Capitol Comedy Company of Washington. They win a State Popularity Contest backed by a Newspaper and are sent to Washington to turn out Laws for 110 million people they never saw.
They have what they call Congress, or the Lower House. That compares to what we call the Scenario Department. That’s where somebody gets the idea of what he thinks will make a good Comedy Bill or Law, and they argue around and put it into shape.
Then it is passed along, printed, or shot, or photographed, as we call it, then it reches the Senate or the Cutting and Titling Department. Now in our Movie Studios we have what we call Gag Men whose sole business is to just furnish some little Gag, or Amendment as they call it, which will get a laugh or perhaps change the whole thing around.
Now the Senate has what is considered the best and highest priced Gag Men that can be collected anywhere. Why they put in so many little gags or amendments that the poor Author of the thing don’t know his own story.
They consider if a man can sit there in the Studio in Washington and just put in one funny amendment in each Bill, or production, that will change it from what it originally meant, why, he is considered to have earned his pay. Take for instance the Prohibition Production. That was introduced in the Congress or Scenario Department as a Comedy.
Well, when it come up in the Senate, one of the Gag or Title Men says, “I got an Idea; instead of this just being a joke, and doing away with the Saloons and Bar Rooms, why I will put in a Title here that will do away with everything.” So they sent around to all the Bars in Washington and got a Quorum, and released what was to be a harmless little comedy made over into a Tragedy.
Then they put out a Production called the Non Taxable Bond, or “Let the Little Fellow Pay.” Well it had a certain Vogue for awhile with the Rich. But it flopped terribly in the cheaper priced Houses.
Another one they put out a lot of you will remember, was called the Income of Sur Tax. It was released under the Title of, “Inherit your money and your Sur Tax is Lighter.”
The main character in this one was a working man on salary, with no Capital investment to fall back on, paying more on his income than the fellow who has his original Capital and draws his money just from interest. That Production has been hissed in some of best houses.
They started to put on a Big one that everybody in America was looking forward to and wanted them to produce called, “The Birth of the Bonus,” or, “How Could You Forget so Soon.” But on account of Finances they couldn’t produce that and the “Non Taxable Bond Production” both, so they let the Bonus one go.
They are working on two dandies this week. One is called “Refund, Refund, I am always refunding You.” It’s principally for British Trade.
Then they got a Dandy Comedy; well, it’s really a serial as they put it on every year. Everybody in the whole Studio is interested in it and get a share of it. It’s really their yearly Bonus in addition to their Salary. It’s called “I’ll Get Mine.”
They got some of the funniest Scenes in there where they take 56 million Dollars of the People’s money and they promise to make a lot of Streams wide enough to fish in. Now I saw a Pre Release of it and here are some of the Real Titles: In Virgina, their Gag Senator has thought of a River called the MATTOPONI. In North Carolina, their writer, Overman, thought of a name, the CONTENTNEA CREEK.2
But the funniest Title in the whole Prouction is the CALOOSEHATCHIE, in Florida. It’s located right in the Fairway of a Golf Course and Congress must move it or in two years it will be filled up with Golf Balls.
Then they have a scene applying for funds to dredge TOMBIGBEE CREEK, and the BIG SUNFLOWER, in Mississippi. Well, that’s money well spent to do that, as they may find some of the missing population.
And there’s the CLATSKANIE in Oregon. Now, what I am wondering is how our Navy is to make the Jump from the Harbor of Tombigbee to the Docks in Oregon on the Clatskanie. Of course, that’s a different appropriation, or production, and will be arranged later.
Now I am off my Senators from Oklahoma, especially Robert Owen who is a part Cherokee Indian like myself (and as proud of it as I am).3
Now I got names right there on my farm where I was born that are funny, too, and Owen don’t do a thing to get me a Harbor on the VERDIGRIS river at OOLAGAH in what used to be the District of COOWEESCOOWEE, (before we spoiled the best Territory in the World to make a State).
Right across the river from me lives Jim TICKEATER. Now suppose a foreign fleet should come up there. We can’t ask those Turtles and Water Moccasins to move out without Government sanction. If they haven’t got enough water in there to fill the harbor, (we are only 18 miles from NOWATER, Oklahoma) why, we will have to ask all the Neighbors to drain their Corn Liquor from their stills in there for a couple of days. Then we could float the Leviathan.4
Of course I don’t get anything done for my Harbor because my River really exists.
Now, Folks, why patronize California made Productions? The Capitol Comedy Co, of Washington, D. C. have never had a failure. They are every one, 100 percent funny, or 100 percent sad.
They are making some changes in their cast down there and later I will tell you about that. Also something about the Director.
So long, Folks; I will meet you at the Naval Manoeuvers on CONTENTNEA CREEK next year.
1Over the Hill to the Poor House, heart-rending American motion picture of 1920 depicting motherhood, filial loyalty, and the ungratefulness of children.
2Lee Slater Overman, Democratic United States senator from North Carolina from 1903 until his death in 1930.
3Robert Latham Owen, Democratic United States senator from Oklahoma from 1907 to 1925. Of Cherokee ancestry, Owen initiated and supported Indian legislation in the Senate.
4SS Leviathan, German-built passenger ship that was seized by the American government during World War I and which became one of the premier luxury liners of the 1920s.
WA11 February 25, 1923
SETTLING THE AFFAIRS OF THE WORLD
IN HIS OWN WAY
There used to be some sort of an old saying, I think it was by Henry Cabot Lodge, which run, “An awful lot of water has passed over them Boulders since last I saw you.”1
Well, friends, an awful lot of Snow has rolled
off your Shovels since I communed with you last week. I see where the Weather Bureau predicts more Snow for the Northwest. Good joke on the Weather Bureau. They can’t have any more. They haven’t got any place to put it.
I would love to see this storm and Snow end as quick as anybody, but I would love to see it get cold enough so that these Girls with these Goulashes on would hook up the top two Buckles. They sound like a runaway Mule with Chain Harness on.
The Storm hit everybody, I guess, in this country except the people who ride in the New York City Subways. By the time they find their right trains and get home on them it’s Spring.
See a lot in the Papers about the Four La Montagne Brothers, Society Bootleggers, who were sent up for four months each.2
Now, I knew those Boys. I don’t mean to be Egotistical or high brow when I say that I knew
them, as I was not fortunate enough to know them in a Social way on account of not being able to patronize them. But I was saving up, and if I had had a good season this coming year I was going to buy a Bottle from them. Well, they were Dandy fine Boys, nothing stuck up about them at all, when you consider that they had reached the top in their line, and were purveyors to the richest, and of course prohibition families. They did this in what is already an overcrowded Profession. Still they were just as plain as you or I. They didn’t seem to realize their importance or the envy they had aroused among the great majority of our People.
Just show you that Class will tell. Look on the opposite, or prohibition, side. William Anderson, chief of the Anti-Saloon league, lost his head completely the minute he reached the top of the Prohibitionists.3
He couldn’t stand prosperity. His name was in all the Papers every day and he billed himself like a Circus. He gloried in his position, while these real fellows with 10 times the Class and prestige—you never heard of them at all. Why? Because they were Gentlemen and their dealings had always been with Gentlemen. You see, when it comes to the showdown, Class will tell. He couldn’t even plead guilty.
Look what the Warden said after they had been there a few days, “These are real fellows and I wish we had more like them in here.” Now did you ever hear of a Warden complimenting a Prohibitionist that way and saying, “I wish we had more of them?” No! Nobody ever did.
New Jersey broke a life long precedent last week. She made the front page without a murder. They put on a little religious Tableau similar to the Passion Play over in (I can’t spell that name). Anyway, they put this on in a Church on Sunday, and all were hauled up and fined for immorality and Vice. Now they are changing all Psalm singing in Jersey from Sunday till Monday, and then, I suppose, pay a Theatrical license.
They will be arresting some Preacher next Sunday and claim he was doing a Monologue on the Sabbath. I think this play disturbed the peace of the Detectives who are working on the Hall Murder Clues.4
What’s worrying me is how the Police ever found out where the Church was.
We had quite a few Notables in to our Show last Week, which I introduced to the audience. We had Stanislavsky, the head and the principal Actor of the Russian Art Players, in to look us over.5
Wanted to learn just how not to act by seeing us. I tried to get him to speak in his native tongue and I would interpret it for him (he speaks no English) as I do that very often when I am introducing some Moving picture Producer who don’t use our Mother Tongue either.
Well, these Russians are having a wonderful season here in New York: even the weather is with them. I doubt if a Russian in the summer time would be as attractive. Nobody in New York knows what they are talking about so it has developed into a fad or game to make your neighbors, sitting around you, think that you know. Nothing, outside of Grand Opera in a Foreign Tongue, has BORED the rich out of more money than these (so called) simple Russian Peasants.
We are a fine Nation to call some other Nation simple. The best acting I saw there was by the audience. When you take three thousand people that act like they like a thing when they don’t know what it’s all about, that’s real acting, on the Audience’s part.
We also had in Morris Gest the Great Theatrical Manager who brought them over.6
He is the first man to discover that the price is the thing. Keith and the Orpheum Circuit had been trying 20 years to get Vaudeville even
up to $1.50.7
Along comes Morris Gest with a Vaudeville troupe from Russia and charges $5.00 and they have been here for two years.
You know there is a great tendency all over the Country now to be High Brow. Everybody is four-flushing and pretending they are not what they really are, especially here in New York. More people should work for their Dinner instead of dressing for it. Half the stiff bosom Shirts worn nowadays, the Laundry is due on them yet.
There are men belonging to swell Golf Clubs today, who, if their Wives ever wanted a Cook, would faint. Their dues are paid before the grocery bill.
We also had Mildred Harris Chaplin, Charlie’s first wife, whom I introduced and, say she is beautiful.8
An awful lot of divorcing going on now in the Movies—geting ready for next Season’s marriages.
I see where my good friend Harold Lloyd got married.9
Now there is
one of the finest Boys you can find in this or any other Business. The income that he makes now is really astounding, yet he is just a plain lovable fellow and I want to join along with the rest of the World in wishing him happiness. And the same goes for Charlie when (I say “when”) he gets married. For he is a Genius, and they don’t raise many of those things any more.
I have often been asked if Charlie Chaplin is funny off the screen. YES! I have never had the pleasure of an intimate acquaintance with him, but enough to have heard him pull some terribly funny stuff along any line you mention, and he is also of a very serious mind and well informed on the deep questions of the World.
Been an awful lot in the papers about some old king in Egypt, Tutankhamen.10
They are digging him out with all his junk with him. Well, the
U. S., not to be outdone by Egypt, opened up one of our Sailor’s graves to see if the Russian Crown Jewels were not buried with him. Even if they had been, what right did they have to dig him up? So you see there is nothing as silly as a Government when they do pull a bone. This fellow was just a Sailor who died in Russian Waters, so they think he has the Crown Jewels.
Suppose if King George lost his Crown they would search Harvey.11
1For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
2The La Montagne brothers—Montaigue, René, William, and Morgan—were New York City liquor dealers who were convicted and jailed for violation of prohibition laws in February 1923. Because of their prominence in the night club world, they received the title of “society bootleggers.”
3For William Anderson see WA 8:N 1.
4The bodies of the Reverend Edward Hall and Mrs. Eleanor Mills were discovered in September 1922 on a lovers lane near New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hall’s widow and her brothers were arrested and brought to trial in one of the most sensational murder cases of the 1920s. A number of persons allegedly had witnessed the killings, but the defendants were acquitted in December 1926 on the failure of the state to prove its case.
5Constantin Sergeivich Stanislavsky, Russian actor and producer who cofounded and directed the Moscow Art Theatre from 1898 to 1938.
6Morris Gest, Russian-born American theatrical producer who introduced the Moscow Art Theatre to American audiences in 1923-1925.
7Benjamin Franklin Keith, American theatrical manager whose Keith and Proctor Amusement Company controlled vaudeville theaters from 1906 until his death in 1914.
8Mildred Harris Chaplin, American motion picture actress who married Charlie Chaplin in 1918 at age eighteen. The couple was divorced in 1920. Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, English silent screen comedian who made his motion picture debut in 1914 in the United States and who achieved worldwide renown for his role as “The Tramp.”
9Harold Lloyd, American motion picture comedian whose financial savvy and popular films made him a multimillionaire by the early 1920s.
10Tutankhamen, ancient Egyptian king whose tomb was discovered in 1922 in the Valley of the Kings along the Nile River.
11George V, king of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1910 until his death in 1936. For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
WA12 March 4, 1923
AND UNRESTRAINED SPEECH
Since I wrote you all last week there has been an awful lot of fashion shows and all their by products held here in New York. All the out of town buyers from all over have been here. So, on behalf of New York City, I had to help welcome them at their various banquets. There was the retail milliners’ big fashion show at the Astor Ball Room, where they showed 500 hats and me. Some of the hats were just as funny looking as I was.
Well, I settled the hat and dress business to the satisfaction of everybody but the milliners. So the next night at the Commodore Hotel I mingled with those princes of Brigans, the Leather and Shoe Men, and in a later article I want to tell all you people just how they operate. For we never paid more for our shoes and were nearer barefooted than we are today, so don’t think that I am bought off this week by those pasteboard highbinders; it’s only that I want to talk to the ladies today.
During this reign of indigestion I was called on to speak at a big banquet at the Waldorf to the Corset Manufacturers. Now that only shows you what a degrading thing this after dinner speaking is. I want to get out of it in a few weeks and back to the movies.
This speaking calls on a fellow to learn something about articles that a self-respecting man has no business knowing about. So that’s why I am going to get away. If a man is called on to tell in a pubic banquet room what he knows about corsets, there is no telling what other ladies’ wearing apparel he might be called on to discuss. So me back to the morals of Hollywood before it’s too late.
I was, at that, mighty glad to appear at a dinner given by an essential industry. Just imagine, if you can, if the flesh of this country were allowed
to wander around promiscuously! Why, there ain’t no telling where it would wind up. There has got to be a gathering or a get-together place for everything in this world, so, when our human bodies get beyond our control, why we have to call on some mechanical force to help assemble them and bring back what might be called the semblance of a human frame.
These corset builders, while they might not do a whole lot to help civilization, are a tremendous aid to the eyesight. They have got what you would call a Herculean Task, as they really have to improve on nature. The same problem confronts them that does the people that run the subways in New York City. They both have to get so many pounds of human flesh into a given radius. The subway does it by having strong men to push and shove until they can just close the door with only the last man’s foot out. But the corset carpenters arrive at the same thing by a series of strings.
They have what is known as the back lace. This is known as a one man corset.
Now the front lace can be operated without a confederate. Judiciously holding your breath with a conservative intake on the diaphram you arrange yourself inside this. Then you tie the strings to the door knob and slowly back away. When your speedometer says you have arrived at exactly 36, why haul in your lines and tie off.
We have also the side lace that is made in case you are very fleshy and need two accomplices to help you congregate yourself. You stand in the middle and they pull from both sides. This acts something in the nature of a vise. This style has been known to operate so successful that the victim’s buttons have popped off their shoes.
Of course, the fear of every fleshy lady is the broken corset string. I sat next to a catastrophe of this nature once. We didn’t know it at first, the deluge seemed so gradual, till finally the gentleman on the opposite side of her and myself were gradually pushed off our chairs. To show you what a wonderful thing this corseting is, that lady had come to the dinner before the broken string episode in a small roadster, she was delivered home in a bus. They have also worked out a second line of control, or a place to park extra string on the back. You can change a string now while you wait, and they have demountable strings.
Now, of course, not as many women wear corsets as used to, but what they have lost in women they have made up with men. When corsets were a dollar a pair they used to be as alike as two Fords. A clerk just looked you over, decided on your circumference and wheel base and handed you out one. They came in long boxes and you were in doubt at first if it was a corset or a casket.
Nowadays with the wraparound and the diaphram-control, and all those things, a corset manufacturer uses more rubber than a tire co. Imagine me being asked to talk at a corset dinner anyway; me, who has been six years with Ziegfeld Follies and not a corset in the show.
Men have gone down in history for shaping the destinies of nations, but I tell you this set of corset architects shape the destinies of women and that is a lot more important than some of the shaping that has been done on a lot of nations that I can name off-hand. Another thing makes me so strong for them, if it wasn’t for the corset ads in magazines men would never look at a magazine.
Now, to jump from corsets to the U. S. Senate is quite a leap, for since Ham Lewis left, there has not been a corset seated there, with the doubtful exception of Mr. Lodge.1
You see we jump directly from a necessity to a luxury.
The reason I want to touch on the Senate today is that, as I am writing this, they are having what is called a filibuster. The name is just as silly as the thing itself. It means that a man can get up and talk for 15 or 20 hours at a time, then be relieved by another, just to keep some bill from coming to a vote, no matter about the merit of this particular bill, whether it’s good or bad.
The whole foundation of our government is based on the majority rule, so they have done their duty when they merely vote against it or for it, whichever they like. There is no other body of lawmakers in the world that has a thing like it. Why, if a distinguished foreigner was to be taken around to see our institutions and was taken into the Senate and not told what institution it was, and heard a man ramble on, talking that had been going for 10 to 12 hours, he would probably say, “You have lovely quarters here for your insane, but have you no warden to look after their health—to see that they don’t talk themselves to death?”
Why, if an inmate did that in an asylum they would put him in solitary confinement. And, mind you, if any demented person spoke that long there would be something in his speech you would remember, for he, at least, had to be smart or he would never have gone crazy. These just mumble away on any subject.
Imagine a ball player standing at bat and not letting the other side play, to keep from having the game called against him; or an actor, the first one in a show, talking all night to keep the rest from going on. You know how long he would last. It’s against all the laws of American sportsmanship, never mind the parliamentary part of it.
One Senator threatened to read the Bible into the record as part of his speech, and I guess he would have done it if somebody in the Capitol had had a Bible. Now that would have been a good thing, for it would have given a lot of them a chance to hear what it says. But, of course, that was even too sensible to go through.
Instead, they just did their own act for 10 to 12 hours each, which they thought would be better than anything they could find in the Bible. To imagine how bad this thing is, did you ever attend a dinner and hear a Senator speak for 50 minutes or an hour? If you have, you remember what that did to you! Well, just imagine the same thing only 12 times worse.
1James Hamilton “Ham” Lewis, Democratic United States senator from Illinois from 1913 to 1919 and 1931 to 1939; well-known for his elegant manners and extravagant dress. For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
WA13 March 11, 1923
WE NEED MORE FRED STONES
Now, I am not going to tell you any jokes today, as jokes are not good for you to read every Sunday. You will have to look to the Washington dispatches from Congress for your Humor this week.
A comedian is not supposed to be serious nor to know much. As long as he is silly enough to get laughs, why, people let it go at that. But I claim you have to have a serious streak in you or you can’t see the funny side in the other fellow. Last Sunday night a young girl who had made a big hit in the Salvation Army preaching on the street in New York decided to go out and give religious lectures on her own.1
So on her first appearance I was asked by her to introduce her. She said she would rather have me than a preacher, or a politician, or any one else. Well, I could understand being picked in preference to a politician, as that is one class us comedians have it on for public respect, but to be chosen in preference to a preacher was something new and novel.
The meeting was held in a theater, as you have to fool some New Yorkers to get them in to hear a sermon. Well, it took no great stretch of imagination to say something good for the Salvation Army, which, by the way, lots of people think was made by the late war. Why, the Salvation Army was just as great 10 years ago as it is today—not so big, but just as great. Ask any down-and-out fellow and he will tell you he knew of the good of the Salvation Army long before he ever heard there was a Kaiser.
Well, it seems like a coincidence that, as I was trying to say something in a serious way for the first time before a New York audience, why away out in Butte, Montana, the best friend I have was going up to a minister with a Bible in his hand and asking him if he didn’t think “The Lord would recognize a comedian.”
JUST A SHORT JUMP
So that is why you will get this story and no jokes today.
Now, a great many people, knowing my regard and friendship for Fred Stone, asked me if I was surprised.2
No, I was not. It was the shortest jump, from his life to a religious one, that any man ever made.
But it was a big thing to do, and I am certainly pleased that he did it, for it will have a tremendous influence for good, not only on the people of our profession but on every one who reads about it. When you consider that the biggest and highest salaried and busiest man we have in our profession can stop and give some of his time to religion, it is a lesson to the rest of us. Now, it has been my good fortune to have been very close friends with Fred for years. I have lived in his home and spend all my spare time there while playing in New York. We rope and ride and play together all the time. He has two wonderful homes on Long Island, one all fixed up like a western ranch with lots of horses and polo field of his own on his place.
Then I am asked why he did this do I suppose. He did it because from childhood he had been raised up by the dearest old mother and father you ever saw. That Christian teaching which she put into his head as a little kid, when he started out doing a tight rope walking act in a little circus, is just coming out. He was brought up to do right and never knew anything else. Just to watch him with his mother and father today you will understand he didn’t have to go far to see a preacher.
Then he has the most ideal home life. His every thought is for his family. His wife is of the profession and I have often heard my wife say that Mrs. Stone is the most wonderful and devoted mother she ever saw (and women have a way of knowing these things.)3
And three lovely daughters, the oldest, Dorothy, 16, who will be with him in his next show and is as talented as her father and mother.4
are the others. All are being trained for a stage career. So you see he don’t
think so bad of the stage.
FRIEND OF MOST EVERYBODY
He is the best loved actor on the stage today. He plays to the highest type audience of any musical show. He is the only musical comedy comedian that has matinees packed with children, for none of our other musical comedy comedians has ever been able to please the children and the grown ups too. He is as great a pantomimist on the stage as Chaplin is on the screen.5
Now, people must not get the idea that this is a remote case in our business. It is, of course, on account of the prominence of the man that we have heard so much of it, and if he had known that it would be broadcasted in this way it would have been the only thing to make him hesitate. No one can say that Fred Stone was ever a publicity seeker. He is too sincere in all that he does for that. I think if all churches in communities where theatrical people live were canvassed you would find there as many of them in attendance as any other line of people. And when you come to charity and trying to help some one who is in need, you will find them, not only holding their own, but far in the lead of any other class.
This could not have come at a more opportune time, as preachers all over are telling us that there is a gradual weaning away from the church. If this will only make people think just for a little it will have done worlds of good.
I have sometimes wondered if the preachers themselves have not something to do with this. You hear or read a sermon nowadays, and the biggest part of it is taken up by knocking or trying to prove the falseness of some other denomination. They say that the Catholics are damned, that the Jews’ religion is all wrong, or that the Christian Scientists are a fake, or that the Protestants are all out of step.
Now, just suppose, for a change they preach to you about the Lord and not about the other fellow’s church, for every man’s religion is good. There is none of it bad. We are all trying to arrive at the same place according to our own conscience and teachings. It don’t matter which road you take.
MILLIONS OF FRED STONES
Suppose you heard a preacher say: “I don’t care if you join my church or the other fellow’s across the street. I don’t claim mine to be better or worse than any other. But get with somebody and try and do better.” Hunt out and talk about the good that is in the other fellow’s church, not the bad, and you will do away with all this religious hatred you hear so much of nowadays. Then you will not only have one Fred Stone, but millions of them.
Besides, it’s not that we need more people just to join churches. It’s that we need more Fred Stones, either in or out of a church. For this man’s life is an object lesson to every young man or boy starting out on a career in any line of business. Sincerity put him where he is. He never faked. No man his age in America has worked harder and been more conscientious.
Another coincidence that happened during the last week applies directly to this case. I was called on to testify in court if I thought a certain team of popular performers were unique and extraordinary.6
The whole case was based on those two words. Now, those two words mean a terrible lot. They mean you must do something that no one else can do. So, regardless of the popularity of the performers, and with all due regard for all that others can do, I said they were not.
And I claim that the only one I know of in our entire profession who I could rightly claim was unique and extraordinary is this man that went into a store and asked for a Bible. Went out and studied it according to his best knowledge. (Which, by the way, is not so much as book learning goes. As Fred and I have figured up once. He got as far as the fourth reader, while I only reached the third. So that is why I think we always hit it off together so well, neither was liable to use a word which the other couldn’t understand.)
Fred Stone can do more things and do them well than any man in or out of the show business or the movies.
Why can he?
He is 49 years old and has spent 45 years practicing. Now, we have not another man in America that has done that. He started at 4 or 5 years of age and has worked on new stunts every day of his life and still does. He always wanted to have something new for the people every year. We have performers that have specialized on one thing that are great, but not a one that can do the variety of things that he can. And the wonderful part is it is clean, wholesome entertainment that you are glad to have your children see. So the clean does pay after all in any line of business.
He was the originator of the present style of eccentric dancing on the stage. In his dances he dances, not only with his feet, but also his body and face show you what he is trying to convey. The greatest compliment ever heard paid a dancer was said to him by another great dancer.
“Fred Stone can dance in a barrel where you can’t see his feet and still be a great dancer to look at than the rest of them out of one.”
NOTHING PHASES HIM
A corking good all-around acrobat. He practiced for years just to get a perfect one hand stand and never used it—just wanted to learn it. He is one of the best actor ball players. Boxed for years with Corbett, who has always said that Fred could have been champion at his weight.7
Here’s a little tip for you, too. He can lick more men single-handed, if they start something with him, than can any hero in the movies where they are trained to fall.
He took up fancy rope throwing after he was 37 years old, and today there are not a half dozen boys in this country that can do more tricks than he can. He learned in 12 years what it’s taken me 40 to learn. Hired rinks to stay open after their seasons closed and paid instructors for three years to perfect him in fancy ice skating. He learned bareback riding for a circus act, and every kind of wild west trick riding. Bucking horses he learned to ride after he was 43, just when at that age most riders are quitting. He bull dogged a steer at Cheyenne and had never done it before in his life. Now that takes nerve. I wouldn’t jump off a horse on a steer even if he promised to lay down. He is a good polo player; we had a team composed of the late Vernon Castle, who, by the way, was a good horseman and a nervy fellow; Frank Tinney, Fred and myself.8
Well, in our clown games we took it as a joke but Fred took it serious. He wanted to know the thing from every angle.
Now, to me I didn’t care whether I hit the ball or not. I knew it would be laying there when I come back. But not so with Fred.
Well, there was a lot of falls and spills. The audience who watched us play every Sunday got to learn that in a spill if the falling rider hit on his feet it was Fred Stone. If he hit on his head it was me. We would both be equally safe.
He is one of the best shots in the country, has practiced for years with Annie Oakley, the greatest shot this country ever saw.9
He hunted big game with his brother-in-law, Rex Beach, in Alaska.10
Went to Greenland to lassoo, not shoot, polar bears, hunted mountain lions in Arizona, and bears
wherever he could hear of one.
Now that he has taken up religion and the Bible, he won’t have to ask a preacher to advise him long. Preachers will be coming to him for he don’t half do anything. So when he comes back, and Sunday comes, and I go down to rope and ride and play, if he wants to knock off and go to church I don’t think I will mind, and if they will let me in, I may go too.
1Rheba Crawford, American Salvation Army leader who acquired the nickname “The Angel of Broadway” for her evangelistic work in the theater district of New York City. She left the Salvation Army in February 1923 and moved to Florida where she opened a social service home.
2Fred Andrew Stone, American stage and screen actor who created the “Scarecrow” role in the theatrical production of The Wizard of Oz in 1903. Stone was one of Rogers’ closest friends.
3Allene Crater Stone, American actress who married Fred Stone in 1904. Betty Blake Rogers, Arkansas-born wife of Will Rogers. The couple was married on November 25, 1908, at the Blake home in Rogers, Arkansas.
4Dorothy Stone, eldest daughter of Fred and Allene Stone, made her New York City debut in 1923, performing with her father in Stepping Stones. Her sisters, Paula and Carol, also performed in the theater.
5For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8.
6Rogers testified in court for Edward F. Gallagher and Al Shean, American vaudeville comedians who were sued by Lee Shubert of Shubert Theaters for not fulfilling their contract. Schubert contended the pair was “unique and extraordinary” and therefore could not be replaced for the theatrical season.
7James John “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, American boxer who held the world heavyweight crown from 1892 to 1897. He later appeared in motion pictures, on stage, and on radio.
8Vernon Blythe Castle, English dancer who, with his wife, Irene, originated the one-step, turkey trot, and Castle walk. An aviator, Castle was killed in an airplane accident in Texas in 1918. Frank Tinney, American blackface comedian who first attracted attention in the Follies of 1910. He starred in the Follies for many years thereafter.
9Annie Oakley, famous American sharpshooter who appeared in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show from 1885 to 1902.
10Rex Ellingwood Beach, American novelist and miscellaneous writer noted for his rough-hewn portrayals of life in Alaska. Rogers’ first movie, Laughing Bill Hyde, was based on Beach’s novel of the same title.
WA14 March 18, 1923
BANKING AND AFTER DINNER SPEAKING;
TWO NON-ESSENTIAL INDUSTRIES
Well, this has been a kinder quiet week. One night I had to buy my own Dinner. And another night a friend took me out and I didn’t have to make a speech for it. In fact, that was the reason he took me. It was with the understanding I was to keep quiet.
But the Newspaper Women of all the Papers formed a Newspaper Woman’s Club and they give a big Ball at the Ritz Carleton hotel, and had a big show and I was asked to announce the acts. You know what an announcer at a Benefit Show is. Instead of letting the show run along smooth and nice one act after the other, they have somebody come in and help drag the show out. He is kinder like a Train Caller, only worse. I had some jokes about the first three or four acts; then I run out of jokes and from then on I was better.
I was glad they had it at the Ritz as it gave a lot of us a chance to get into that Hotel that would never have gotten in there any other way. My main job was to introduce Gov. Al Smith of New York.1
You see, everybody was there.
You know, Women are doing about all the writing on Newspapers and Magazines now. Of course there are lots of men working on them too, but they mostly just put titles under the pictures. You know, if you are going into the Newspaper business nowadays, don’t get a pen or a typewriter, get a camera. There are thousands that buy a paper for the pictures that don’t know the reading is in there at all.
We had there Women writers that cover everything. It would have been the greatest place in the world for some woman to have shot her Husband. She could have gotten a lot of publicity out of it. There were Women Murder Writers that can tell from the smoke the Caliber Pistol used. Then there were the fashion Editors that could have described her Chemise Frock while she did the shooting. Then the Sob Sister Squad who could have almost made you feel sorry she only had one Husband to shoot. Then we had the Movie Writers who can tell you that Charlie and Pola will be engaged just before each releases a picture, all during the year.2
Then, in case some man should have felt at home and wanted to knock his wife down, why the Heart Interest Writers would have been on the job. So you see us People in public life want to stand in with those Girls as we never know what might happen.
Now, I had read up on this governor’s history, for he is of interest to all the whole country, for if the Democrats decide to enter anybody in the next Presidential election, why, he looks to be the Cat’s Corsets. Personally, I don’t think the Democrats will enter anybody. If they are wise they will let it go by default. There is only one way to get even with Harding now, and that is to leave him in there another term.
Besides, the Democrats come nearer getting what they want when they have a Republican president than they do with one of their own. They wanted this League of Nations thing and couldn’t get it with their own gang. Now it looks like the Republicans are going to give it to them under an assumed name. Of course, it may just be for spite.
Then the Democrats wanted the Farm loans. Well, they got that. They didn’t want the Ship Subsidy, so they didn’t get that. So, personally, I think it has been one of the best Democratic Administrations that the Republicans ever put on.
I can’t see any advantage of having one of your own Party in as President. Take Senator Hiram Johnston of California.3
He is a Republican. (I don’t know what branch of Republicanism he is in, but it’s got something to do with the Party.) Take him, or Borah, (another Republican Subsidiary) or Lafollette, (the Trotsky of Wisconsin).4
Now, do you think it’s any help to those men to have a Republican President? Why, that Airdale, Laddie Boy, will no more let one of them stick his nose inside that White House grounds than Joe Tumulty would have thought of allowing Jim Reed to pass up the same Street that Woodrow Wilson lives on.5
So what’s the use of having your own President? I would rather be able to criticize a man than to have to apologize for him.
Now this Farm Loan Bill is going to be one of the best things to bankrupt the Farmers I know of, outside of running a Thrashing Machine. That used to be the surest indication of becoming poverty stricken.
Well, as I say, that, and borrowing money on what’s called “easy terms,” is a one-way ticket to the Poor House. Show me ten men that mortgage this land to get money and I will have to get a search warrant to find one that gets the land back again. If you think it ain’t a Sucker Game, why is your Banker the richest man in your Town? Why is your Bank the biggest and finest building in your Town? Instead of passing Bills to make borrowing easy, if Congress had passed a Bill that no Person could borrow a cent of Money from any other person, they would have gone down in History as committing the greatest bit of Legislation in the World.
I was raised on a Cattle Ranch and I never saw or heard of a Ranchman going broke. Only the ones who had borrowed money. You can’t break a man that don’t borrow; he may not have anything, but Boy! he can look the World in the face and say, “I don’t owe you Birds a nickel.”
You will say, what will all the Bankers do? I don’t care what they do. Let ’em go to work, if there is any job any of them could earn a living at. Banking and After Dinner Speaking are two of the most Non-essential industries we have in this country. I am ready to reform if they are.
Now, of course, I am not going to put these bankers out of business right away. This article will kinder act as a warning or a 6 months disposession clause, in other words. Of course, the Ali Baba of this gang is J. P.6
Now, I give John credit. It’s no small job, when you have to handle the finances of the world in addition to your own country, to suddenly have me deprive him of his livelihood.
Then there is Otto Kahn.7
I talked to him at a dinner the other night and he is one of the most pleasant men I ever met. And Charlie Schwab, who
without a doubt has the greatest personality of any man in America.8
Of course Charlie don’t hardly come under the heading of Banker. He only owns just the ones in Pennsylvania. He was so darn nice and congenial. I didn’t have any money with me at the time, but I really felt like borrowing some and handing it to him. And he may have been disappointed that I didn’t.
Then the other night, Barney Baruch was in the Theater with all the War Industries Board.9
They are just sitting around waiting till another war shows up. You remember Barney. He was the Tutankhamen treasure of the
Well, he is another great fellow. So you see it’s not from a personal view that I am abolishing Banks. It’s just that I don’t
think these Boys realize really what a menace they are. As far as being good
fellows, personally, I have heard old timers talk down home in the Indian
Territory and they say the James and Dalton Boys were the most congenial men of their day, too.11
Oh yes, away back yonder I started to say something about Gov. Al Smith. I hope you haven’t forgotten about him by now. You know you can forget a Politician so quick. Well Al Smith is just about the most popular man we have back here. He is the FLASK among Public Men.
In delving into his History I unearthed the following facts, and related them right out loud to an assembled multitude, two of which were sober enough to listen. Al started in as a barefooted Newspaper boy on the East side. (Every prominent man raised in N. Y. always started as a Newsboy.) I know now why so many Country boys never amount to anything; they never have a chance to be a Newsboy.
You see, in those days, there were two professions open to the youth of New York City. One was Newsboy and the other, Bootblack. Al chose the newsboy as there was no work attached to it. Newsboys all turned out to be politicians and the bootblacks all turned out to be bankers. Al left the Newsboy job as they didn’t print pictures in the paper in those days, and there was almost the same percentage of people unable to read printing as there is today.
He next worked for a Fish Market as he discovered that there were 5 fish consumed in New York to every Newspaper. Then some Animal trainer come along and taught N. Y. that they could eat meat. I think it was Armour that sent him here.12
This cannibalism drove Al right into a Clerk’s job in the Juror’s Court. This Fish thing was a side line as he only sold on Fridays.
Then to the State Legislature for 13 straight terms; that’s almost a record. Here on account of his hollering out his Papers on the street, he was made Speaker of the House. There is only one man that ever stayed in Albany 14 terms. He is now on Ward’s Island with the Violent ones. So Al, you see, was a pretty smart duck. He beat it by one term.
Then he was Sheriff of New York, but the crooks got so bad he couldn’t go out at night alone and he couldn’t find a Policeman to go with him. So he happened to think there was nobody Governor and he says, “Well, I will be Gov.” So he was Governor for one term.
Then come the election when the People were sore at Wilson because he was right, so they took it out on Smith.
For the first time in his life he had to come home and go to work. So he appointed himself President of a trucking Company. He operated this trucking company so thorough that at the end of two years he hauled Gov. Miller and all his belongings out and moved his own back in again.13
Now he is spoken of as getting his Truck ready to move overland to Washington. He is not so strong for it himself because of the Ghost of one Jimmy Cox who was making the same identical jump when he busted a tire and went in the ditch.14
There is really only one thing will keep Al out. That is, he is too competent.
Well, Congress finally adjourned. THEY HAD TO! THEY RUN OUT OF LIQUOR.
1For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
2For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8. Pola Negri, glamorous Polish actress who arrived in the United States in 1923 and created a sensation with her fiery performances in such motion pictures as Gypsy Blood and Passion.
3Hiram Warren Johnson, United States senator from California from 1917 until his death in 1945. Johnson belonged to the progressive faction of the Republican party.
4For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6. Robert Marion La Follette, Sr., Republican United States senator from Wisconsin from 1906 until his death in 1925. While governor of Wisconsin from 1900 to 1906, he instituted several progressive reforms in the state. Leon Trotsky, Russian Communist leader and government official who was banished from Russia in 1929 when he fell out of favor with the existing government. He was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940.
5Joseph Patrick Tumelty, American attorney who was Woodrow Wilson’s private secretary from 1910 to 1923.
6For J. P. Morgan, Jr., see WA 1:N 4.
7Otto Hermann Kahn, German-born American banker who was a partner in the powerful banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company from 1897 until his death in 1934.
8For Charles Schwab see WA 3:N 6.
9Bernard Mannes Baruch, American businessman and multimillionaire. A close personal friend of Wilson, Baruch chaired the War Industries Board during World War I. Later, he served Presidents Harding, Roosevelt, and Truman.
10For Tutankhamen see WA 11:N 10.
11Frank and Jesse James, outlaw brothers from Missouri, who operated in the Midwest during the post-Civil War period. Gratton, Robert, and Emmett Dalton, western outlaw brothers who were slain in a raid on Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1892.
12Philip Danforth Armour, American industrialist who developed Armour & Company, meat packers, in 1870 from a pork-packing plant established by his brother, Herman Ossian Armour.
13Nathan Lewis Miller, Republican governor of New York from 1921 to 1923.
14James Middleton Cox, Democratic governor of Ohio from 1913 to 1915 and 1917 to 1921; an unsuccessful candidate for president in 1920.
WA15 March 25, 1923
FRIENDS, POLITICIANS, BOOTLEGGERS
They pinched Washington’s favorite bootlegger last week, and he published all their names.1
That was the most publicity some of them had received all year. This list of names will be used as next season’s social register.
I will say one thing for this captain of our first industry. He had no political affiliations. He had an equal number of Democrats and Republicans
on his list. The only one thing that predominated on his list was the drys.
Well, all our Senators and Congressmen are away from Washington now. This is the season of the year when they do the least damage to their country. They are scattering all over the nation. Some are going to Europe, some even to Turkey. A Senator or a Congressman will go anywhere in the world to keep from going back home and facing his people after that last Congress.
Some are going to England. You see Ambassador Harvey is kinder behind in his speech making so they are going over to help him advise the rest of the world.2
Borah is going to Russia to speak.3
Is there no rest for
that troubled country?
Denby, Secretary of the Navy, went down through the Canal again.4
When it’s an off day and nothing else to do, why, Denby goes through the Canal. That’s the only place our Secretary of the Navy can travel without getting seasick—back and forth through the Canal. I suppose the Secretary of War spends his spare time in a shooting gallery. Congressman Upshaw of Georgia, who gained fame in the closing hours of Congress by not drinking in public, is going out on a Prohibition lecture tour.5
That’s one of the curses of drink, that a man full of liquor will listen to anything. So he is sure of a full house wherever he goes.
You know statistics have proven that listening to prohibition lecturers has driven more people to drink than any other cause. Volstead wanted to go out and talk, but his amendment created such little interest, that the lecture managers decided that he wouldn’t be known by the Chautauqua crowd.6
Dear old Uncle Joe Cannon just hopped out to Danville, got all the Main Street slickers into a poker game, and wound up with a mortgage on their Fords.7
So you see, after all a man does learn something in Washington.
One of our most able Senators was back in my dressing room last night for quite a chat. That was Senator Pat Harrison of Mississippi.8
He has such
a good sense of humor that you would hardly take him for a statesman. His other accomplice, John Sharpe Williams, resigned.9
He was one of the most
picturesque and learned men that body ever housed. I liked what he said when he left and they wanted to give him a big blowout. He said, “No, I just want to put on my hat and go home, get up in the morning and tend to my mint bed, and maybe mix a few juleps now and then.”
I told Senator Harrison how wonderful that was and tried to shame him into resigning. But a politician is just like a pickpocket; it’s almost impossible to get one to reform. I showed Pat that if he stayed East and drank these Lysol cocktails that he was liable to get weaned away from Mississippi, and when he got back a Julep wouldn’t taste good to him, it would be so tame.
Mr. Harding went South for a vacation. But I see where five senators went with him. So that does away with any chance of a rest. If he invited them he certainly was a glutton for punishment. But the chances are they just went anyway.
They are all playing golf. After all, about all that there is to prominent men nowadays is their golf. It has always been a mystery to me how our old time men ever got even as good as they were without golf.
Just imagine if Lincoln had had golf to add to his other accomplishments. There is a boy you would have been proud of.
Well, I see where my old friend Henry Ford give stockholders four million that he was not obligated to do.10
First thing you know that Bird will prove a theory that you can pay the highest wages, gives everybody a square deal and still wind up by being the richest man in the world.
Young John D. pulled off a big deal, too, last week.11
He sent a million dollars worth of tapestries back over to Europe and bought them there. So,you see, we have bootleggers in tapestries the same as in booze. One of these was called the “Chase of the Unicorn” It’s been renamed; it’s now called, “Dodging the Income Tax.” I only cite these two incidents to show you how our two richest men operate yet both arrive at their colossal fortunes.
Just an hour ago I got home from a luncheon, (where I come from we would call it dinner, and, by the way we would have had more to eat, too). This was a meeting of the Child Adoption League, a very fine and worthy charity which is doing real good. Mrs. Charles Dana Gibson, is the main one and she asked me to come and annoy with a speech.12
You know you all have read a lot about Mrs. Charles Dana Gibson, one of the famous Langhorne sister of Virginia, who is a sister to Mrs. Astor, the first woman member of the British Parliament.
When she wrote and asked me to come and I answered that I certainly would as I wanted to see this famous beauty who was the original and the inspiration of the famous Gibson girl. She wrote back a very cute letter, “I am a grandmother now and not beautiful—but I am nice.” Well, say, I want to tell you ladies, she was not overrated one bit. You know they are the ones who entertained Clemenceau when he was here.13
I wanted to meet her and find out if all that onion soup for breakfast junk I had read about was on the level. Because we, over here, had always considered the onion more as an odor than as a breakfast food. Well, she says the soup was really correct, and that he was such a nice old man that he could almost persuade you to eat it with him. Now he might appeal to her but there ain’t no man living so nice that he is going to get me our of bed at 4 o’clock in the morning and get me to inhale a tureen of onion odor.
Mrs. Fiske and Laurette Taylor were there and spoke.14
Mrs. Fiske had adopted a baby. Now that made a hit with me, and when I see her act now she will be twice as good an actress to me as she was before. Mr. Morgenthau spoke.15
He used to be Ambassador to Turkey when the Democrats were speaking to the Turks. Turkey is so busy now with wars they haven’t time to entertain any Ambassador.
I went to this child adoption thing thinking maybe if they run short of children I could palm off a couple of my little roughnecks on some prospective adopter. But a child has to have references so that let mine out.
Then I thought I will adopt one. But I found they look up your Mayflower history, physical, moral, and spiritual, and financial record before they let out a child; so, as my home would not stand too severe a test, I was stuck again. So, the luncheon was a total loss to me, as I could not get rid of or get any more children.
But I did like Mrs. Gibson. She is just like some ranchman’s wife out west. She is so plain and nice that some newly rich woman would consider her ordinary.
Oh, yes, there was a woman convicted here in New York last week for killing a man. These women will learn after a while that you can’t go out and kill a man you are not married to and get away with it.
If you see some man you want to shoot, why, marry him first.
The law only protects a man as far as the altar.
Then it is every devil for himself.
1Joseph E. O’Connor of Washington D. C., was arrested on March 11 for bootlegging liquor. The following day, the Washington Post published a list of O’Connor’s alleged patrons. It included the names of Navy and Army officers as well as minor officials in the State Department.
2For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
3For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6.
4Edwin Denby, United States secretary of the navy from 1921 to 1924. Denby was conducting an inspection tour of the Panama Canal.
5For William D. Upshaw see WA 7:N 4.
6For Andrew J. Volstead see WA 9:N 13.
7Joseph Gurney Cannon, Republican United States representative from Illinois from 1873 to 1891, 1893 to 1913, and 1915 to 1923; speaker of the House from 1903 to 1911. Cannon, known as “Uncle Joe,” declined renomination and retired in 1923 to his home in Danville, Illinois.
8Byron Patton “Pat” Harrison, Democratic United States senator from Mississippi from 1919 until his death in 1941.
9John Sharp Williams, Democratic United States senator from Mississippi from 1911 to 1923.
10John Davidson Rockefeller, Jr., son and namesake of the American oil magnate (see WA 3:N 6). Rockefeller became associated with his father’s business interests in 1897 and later managed the family’s great philanthropic corporations.
11Irene Langhorne Gibson, wife of famed American illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, who created the Gibson Girl using his wife as a model. Mrs. Gibson was one of five Langhorne sisters from Virginia; the others included Nancy, who married Lord William Waldorf Astor of England and who became the first woman to sit in the British House of Commons.
12For Georges Clemenceau see WA 1:N 7.
13Minnie Maddern Fiske, American stage actress who appeared in several notable dramatic productions, including Becky Sharp and Hedda Gabler.
14Laurette Cooney Taylor, American theatrical actress who made her first appearance on the stage as a child in the late 1880s and who starred in such productions as Peg o’ My Heart and The Glass Menagerie.
15Henry Morgenthau, Sr., American diplomat who served as ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916 and to Mexico in 1920.