Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA134 July 5, 1925
EMBATTLED CHINESE MUST HAVE
STUDIED HISTORY OF IRELAND,
SO ROGERS THINKS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. It’s been quite a week for Wars. China seems to be putting on about the best one. An Irish History in some round-about way must have fallen into the hands of the Chinese, and as they read it they started loading their guns; and as they finished it, they started shooting. You might ask, Who did they shoot? Well, if you get your schooling from an Irish History, you shoot anybody. The theory is (and they are just about right) that everybody that ain’t been shot, should be shot. The motto is, “When in doubt, Shoot.”
Every Nation in the World has always felt privileged to dictate some particular policy to China. They would hold a conference and decide that China should have an “open door,” while they went back home and even plugged up their own key holes.
They all grabbed off territory in China for what they termed as a Coaling Station, or Eastern Naval Base, always claiming that it was necessary for their protection. They gobbled up Hong Kong entirely. A China man himself can’t get into Hong Kong without a passport. But, Oh Boy! What a wail would go up if China decided she needed a Coaling Station or Naval Base to protect her interests at Liverpool.
Now the Chinese have given all this and didn’t say anything about it, but they did think they still owned Canton, which was supposed to be their own. So they went up there and started what they thought was a private war among themselves. But No, all these other Nations must go up and get in it. I even read where a Portuguese Gun Boat fired on a Chinese mob. That was done for an advertisement to let the World know that Portugal had a Gun Boat.
Now what we want to know is, what was half of Portugal’s Navy doing away out in Canton, China? Of course the British were there protecting their interest with a Fleet, as is usual in any private argument held anywhere in the World. They even had two Dreadnaughts covering the Dempsey Carpentier Fight to protect their interests, and are now trying to get a Gun Boat to Dayton, Tenn., to see that British Ancestral Tails are not trampled on.1
If it wasn’t for these big Nations having to cover private disturbances in somebody else’s country, they wouldn’t need any Fleet at all.
Even America is stealing their stuff. You can’t pick up a paper without seeing where the Marines were landed to keep some Nation from shooting each other, and if necessary we shoot them to keep them from shooting each other.
No wonder the Chinese all come to ’Frisco and New York to carry out their Tong Wars. It’s the only place where they can shoot each other in a friendly way without having some Nation join in to protect their interests.
The World is coming to a fine point when lesser Nations have to emigrate to another Country before shooting each other without interference. Instead of Article 10, which seemed to be the Chief drawback in the League of Nations Covenant, let us substitute in its place the following:2
“Any Nation can have as many private Wars as they choose without outside interference, so long as all shooting is confined to the home grounds.”
Now we will go down and see how our Moroccan War is progressing. That War had been kind of a closed corporation for years between the Spanish and the Moroccans. Abd-El-Krim, evidently a hyphenated Moroccan with his band of Riffians (I think that’s Ruffians misspelled), when the novelty of shooting Spaniards began to kind of pall on him, suddenly discovered that North Africa had never produced a Napoleon.3
“So here,” he says, “is where I land at Fez, or St. Helena.” Napoleon always went on the theory that the bigger a Nation you fought against, the easier it was to find, so Ab says:
“These Spaniards are getting so scattering down here that they are hard to find even if you don’t shoot them. I am going to choose France. They are the biggest Nation down here. The bigger the Nation the more of them there is to shoot at. When history is written nobody can ever say that I, old Abd-El-Krim, ever jumped on a weakling. So tomorrow, Ruffians, the Game Law is up on Frenchmen in Morocco. If you hear a man parleyvooing, ‘Wee, Wee,’ don’t wait to see the whites of his eyes.”
Well, the thing has been going on now for weeks, and it looks like old Ab didn’t overmatch himself at that. General De Wett of the Boers kept the British having tea in a different place every afternoon for four years, and then they never got him.4
So it looks like the Frogs will be chasing Ab the
next time you hear from them.
That is about all we’ve got to offer you in Wars this week, with the exception that Al Smith, the Democratic Governor of New York, and his Republican Legislature, have signed Articles of Agreement for a Civil War.5
The Radio is their weapon. Smith wants some more public parks in New York. There is no place to throw Sunday newspapers and eggshells. Smith claims that there are several million people in New York with nowhere to get mosquitos or fleas on them.
The Legislature voted fifteen million dollars for Parks, and the argument seems to be over who will spend it. The Republicans claimed, as they voted the money, that they ought to be allowed to name the men to buy the parks. Smith claims that the Democrats ought to be allowed to help spend the money, not that they want to get any “rake-off” from it, but that he would just like to see before he dies a Democrat with fifteen million dollars.
This old Reliable Illiterate Digest (which is always conservative and for party harmony) suggests the following: That the Republicans be allowed to buy the parks, but any land bought is to be bought from the Democrats. In that way the Republicans will get his usual “rake-off” and the Democrats will get rid of his salt marsh land, and as usual the Public will pay fifteen million dollars and in return get sunburn and poison Ivy.
1William Harrison “Jack” Dempsey, American pugilist who held the world heavyweight title from 1919 to 1926. Georges Carpentier, French boxer who fought in several weight divisions during a lengthy career. He lost a title bout to Dempsey in July 1921. Dayton, Tennessee, was the site of the Scopes “Monkey” Trial in 1925, concerning the teaching of evolution in public schools of the states.
2Article 10 of the League of Nations Covenant guaranteed the territorial integrity and political independence of member states against aggression.
3Abd-el-Krim, North African emir who led the Moroccan Moors in a successful war against the Spanish in 1921-1924. He was defeated, however, by a combined French-Spanish force in 1926 and exiled.
4Christiaan Rudolph De Wet, Boer solider and politician who commanded the Boer forces against the British during the later stages of the Boer War.
5For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1.
WA135 July 12, 1925
CALIFORNIA HAS ITS QUAKES, BUT
FLORIDA BOASTS WILLIAM J. BRYAN
All I know is just what I read in the papers. Of course all the news in the past couple of weeks, especially in all the eastern papers, has been about the Earthquakes in Santa Barbara. At first they reported hundreds killed and thousands wounded. If the world had come to an end it could not possibly have had any more sensational space devoted to it.
On the same day that it happened four people jumped off various bridges here in New York and committed suicide, but as far as the space they got in the papers they might just as well kept on living. Their feat was a total loss so far as publicity was concerned. Had they committed suicide in California there would have been editorials showing you what good climate will drive you to. Statisitics prove that on the day of the ’Quake seventeen people were killed in various parts of this country by drinking wood-alcohol, but they couldn’t even make the front page because something had happened in California. And hadn’t some of their richest men been going there to establish winter homes? And now was their chance to point a moral to them. New York papers even took all daily murder cases off their front pages to show what would happen to you if you went to California. Florida got out extra editions as a warning.
On the Sunday before, at the public beaches back here, there was as many drowned as met death in the ’Quake, but hardly published their names because they wanted to show what had happened in California. Nine lost their lives out there. Why there is that many innocent bystanders shot in one day in New York and Chicago in street fights (to say nothing of the guilty bystanders). One good grade crossing back here considers it a poor Sunday’s work if it can’t account for more than that. But everybody knows that California isn’t going to get any of the best of it from an advertising point of view from the newspapers in any other states. Of course it was mighty nice, the sympathy they showed, but it was kind of like: “I told you it would happend to you if you insisted on going out there.”
If you think California is the only place that is subjected to Earthquakes you ought to read the list of New York houses that have taken out Earthquake insurance. Woolworth is said to have taken out five million dollars worth on an original investment of ten cents and you know that guy is no fool.1
Any man that can take a nickel and run it into a tower that looks down on New York—he’s not paying that insurance premium for nothing.
I’ll give Santa Barbara credit for one thing. They didn’t try to claim it was a fire. They said, “An Earthquake hit us.” And they stuck to it, showing you that even California is getting more honest.
I have read for the last week explanations of scientists as to the cause, no two of them agreeing on the same thing. But I will bet you and I will stake the reputation of the Old Reliable Illiterate Digest on what made it happen. When the truth of the whole thing comes out you will find that Bryan and Florida are at the bottom of it.2
He had it systematically figured out that by making a speech at a certain place that the wave lengths would strike in California and cause an upheaval.
Now this is no exaggeration. Didn’t they have to tear down Madison Square Garden after he got through speaking in it? My statements are not based on science; they are based on facts. No, Sir! He just got his voice focused right and then he opened up. Now you see the results.
You know that History, or the World Almanac, one (I don’t know which) says, “Mohammed moved a mountain.” I don’t know where he moved it to, or what he moved it for, or whether he moved it back or not. That is one thing about History; it never has to explain anything. It just gives you the bare facts. It just says, “So and so happened,” and there is no way of cross-examining them to find out.
For instance, it says: “Nero fiddled while Rome burned.” It don’t tell what tune he fiddled; whether it was by request, or whether they had no other fiddler. He couldn’t have been much, because a good player on that instrument is called “violinist.” A poor player is called a “fiddler,” so evidently Nero had not reached the Virtuoso stage.
But it is different with Bryan. If we can prove that he spoke somewhere on the night previous to the ’Quake we have the absolute proof. We know that it did some damage other than local. But we are fortuate at that. I wouldn’t trade California with its ’Quakes for Florida with Bryan. Earthquakes only come every 19 years, (Frisco’s was in 1906) while Bryan is causing an upheaval of Nature daily.
Why, there is more people eaten up by Alligators in a month in Florida than Earthquakes kill in California in a generation. An Earthquake is an act of Divine Providence, and shows that the Almighty has his eye on that particular state. Some states the Almighty never visits in any form because he doesn’t know that they exist.
There is some honor to be killed by an Earthquake. It is a mode of passing away which your descendants are proud to speak of. It’s not like saying: “My father was bitten by a water-moccasin in the Everglades, or passed away by jumping out of the way of one Ford into the path of another.” There is a certain amount of dignity to be preserved even in death.
Hollywood, 90 miles away, even tried to claim that it felt the shock. That was purely an advertising scheme with them. They hated to hear of something visiting California and not calling on them. If the Devil should appear at Dayton, Tenn. (which no doubt he has too much sense of humor to do) Hollywood would immediately claim, “Well, he’s coming here on his way home.” If a plague struck Scranton, Pa., Hollywood would claim they had a touch of it.
As a matter of fact, the only shake or shivering that Hollywood has felt has been Gilda Gray and Anne Pennington, ex-Follies cohorts of mine.3
Why did Hollywood want to get in on it? Hadn’t Charlie Chaplin just had a baby the day before?4
Surely that is enough publicity for Hollywood. He arrived just in time for the ’Quake. Charlie is tired of promoting Jackie Coogan to wealth and fame.5
He says, “Why not raise your own?”
Charlie’s baby and the Earthquake are the only publicity things that Gloria Swanson hasn’t been connected with.6
Gloria gained France’s picture patronage by announcing that she would raise, at the lowest estimate, eight babies from them. She will have to hurry for Charlie is out for French trade, too. So, taken all in all, we know the rest of the world is just jealous of California because IT IS BETTER TO LIVE A YEAR IN CALIFORNIA AND THEN BE KILLED BY AN EARTHQUAKE THAN TO JUST EXIST 90 YEARS IN SOME OTHER STATE.
1Frank Winfield Woolworth, American merchant who opened his first five-and-ten-cent store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1879, later expanding his holdings until Woolworth stores became famous throughout the country. The Woolworth Building, erected in New York City in 1913, was for many years the tallest building in the world.
2For William Jennings Bryan see WA 122: N 1.
3Gilda Gray, Polish-born dancer who became popular in the United States during the 1920s. For Ann Pennington see WA 117: N 14.
4For this and all further references to Charlie Chaplin see WA 117: N 7.
5Jackie Coogan, American actor who began his stage and film career in 1916 at age sixteen months. His first major motion picture role was with Chaplin in TheKid in 1920.
6For Gloria Swanson see WA 117: N 14.
WA136 July 19, 1925
WE MIGHT AS WELL BE MONKEYS
AS LONG AS WE ACT LIKE THEM
Andrew Jackson brought undying fame to the glorious state of Tennessee. He did it by personal bravery and unmatched native intelligence. He reached the White House, the highest prize in the gift of the American people, but it remained for a product of the corn tassels of Nebraska and the under-water Realtor from Florida, to bring a dignified commonwealth onto the comic pages of every periodical in the world.
‘Hickory’ Jackson’s work of a life-time has all been undone by the self-advertisement of William Jennings Bryan.1
It is generally conceded that it was done to advertise Dayton, but why make a monkey out of Tennessee? Tennessee claims they didn’t descend from a monkey, but their actions
in this case prove otherwise. If a man is a gentleman he don’t have to announce it; all he has to do is to act like one and let the world decide. No man should have to prove in court what he is, or what he come from. As far as Scopes teaching children evolution, nobody is going to change the belief of Tennessee children as to their ancestry.2
It is from the action of their
parents that they will form their opinions.
Bryan says he is appearing there for no pay, but you just let every newspaper in the United States decide not to say a word about this trial and Bryan will be back in Florida so quick you will think he has been nominated for something.
Bryan should appear for nothing. He ought to pay Scopes’ fine. It has been almost like a Democratic Convention year for Bryan. It’s the most publicity any politician ever got on an off year. Why, it’s just like Peggy Joyce finding a new millionaire husband.3
If Darwin hadn’t died before Bryan was old enough to maneuver, I would have bet Bryan framed up the theory with Darwin, but as he didn’t he should at least thank him and give him the credit, and when he dies leave all his money to some animal institute.4
Bryan says if he fails in this case that Christianity is through. Why, even when our Savior came down to earth he didn’t make it that assertive.
There is nowhere in the Bible any prediction of what would have happened if he had failed.
You can’t stop a man thinking; neither do I think Bryan could start a serious man thinking. These fellows who honestly believe that their, great, great grandfathers were as proficient with their toes as with their fingers, they have that right just as much as Bryan has the right to seriously believe he is a second Messiah and that Nebraska was the modern Manger.
Now, all joking aside, can you seriously imagine the future of Christianity (which means the whole world) depending upon what Bryan proves at this trial? Darwin started this thing years ago, and Christianity hadn’t done much tottering up to the time Bryan began to have fears for it.
There is a terrible lot of us who don’t think that we come from a monkey, but if there are some people who think that they do, why, it’s not our business to rob them of what little pleasure they may get out of imagining it. Most people are proud of their ancestry and it is a touchy thing for even a Bryan to cast reflections on any man’s forefathers, even if he did arrive here on all fours. What good will it do at this late date to argue over how or who we come from?
Why don’t Bryan and a lot of other people let the world alone? What has been the matter with it up to now? I can show you millions of people that think it is great, and are not worrying even if we arrived here from the tadpole. If the Lord had wanted us to know exactly how, and where, and when we come he would have let us know in the first place. He didn’t leave any room for doubt when he told you how you should act when you got here. His example, and the Commandments are plain enough, so just start from there, never mind going back any farther. If he had wanted Bryan to have all the details he would have told him.
The Lord put all these million of people over the earth. They don’t all agree on how they got here, and ninety per cent don’t care. But he was pretty wise when he did see to it that they all do agree on one thing, (whether Christian, Heathen, or Mohammedan) and that is that the better lives you live the better you will finish.
Now personally, I like Bill, in fact I am very fond of him. He is a nice congenial old gentleman, and I can recall many happy chats with him. But when he says that he will make this his life’s issue and take it up through all the various courts and finally endeavor to get it into the Constitution of the United States and make a political and presidential issue out of it, he is wrong. More wrong than he had ever been before. These other things he was wrong on didn’t do much harm, but now he is going to try and drag something that pertains to the Bible into a political campaign. He can’t even do that. He might make Tennessee the side-show of America, but he can’t make a street carnival of the whole United States.
As for changing the Constitution—that has been done every day. They have juggled it around until it looks like a moving picture of a popular book (it’s so different from the original). But when those old Boys who blue-printed the first Constitution decided that a man can believe what he likes in regard to religion, that’s one line that is going to stay put. If Bryan keeps on agitating after this trial, regardless of the consequences, he will be doubly wrong.
You know, he has a very big following, some real people; honest to goodness folks, that really believe in him, and have confidence in him.
Any of these other issues of his, people could forget or laugh off, but when you get people riled up on a religious question, it is serious, and he would be directly responsible for some very serious consequences and lots of ill feeling, and perhaps bloodshed over something that up to now has never been necessary.
Bryan wasn’t put on earth as a leader; his records show that. He was put on earth as an example. He says this is the beginning of a great religious revival that will start in Dayton, finally embracing the world, and eventually reaching Florida. Bill is wrong again. No great religious revival will ever be started from an argument over where we come from. The religious revival of the future, when it is started, will be people’s fear over where we are going.
Bryan is not going to be able to scare the world into believing that the Lord is going to send anybody to Hell just because they don’t know how, or from whom, they arrived here. I don’t know how I got here, but I will just stay ignorant and take my chances at the end, rather than Bryan’s chances if he willfully stirs up religious hatred among his fellowmen.
1ForWilliam Jennings Bryan seeWA 122: N 1.
2John T. Scopes, a biology teacher from Dayton, Tennessee, whom the state prosecuted in 1925 for teaching the Darwinian theory of evolution in a public school. Bryan, a leading fundamentalist, acted as special prosecutor in the case, known as the Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
3For Peggy Hopkins Joyce seeWA 117: N 14.
4Charles Robert Darwin, famed nineteenth century English naturalist who advanced the theory of evolution
WA137 July 26, 1925
WELL, BETTER BE A MONKEY
THAN A POLITICIAN
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Ye Olde Reliable Illiterate Digest thought we had disposed of Dayton, Tennessee in our last issue, but Bryan and Darrow bobbed up in another tree, so now we will have to go over there and shake ’em out of it.1
If I was in either one of those men's places I wouldn’t spend the best years of my Chautauqua life trying to prove or disprove my ancestry. With the condition the Democratic Party is in at present, instead of trying to prove he didn’t come from a monkey, Bryan had better be spending his time trying to prove he didn’t descend from a Democrat.
Monkeys are better off than Democrats this season, for they are feeding monkeys gratis. Republicans appropriate money in every big city that has a zoo just for their upkeep, but I never heard of them appropriating anything for the upkeep of “ex-Democratic office holders.” If I had the two things hanging over me—simian or political ancestry—I would certainly try and disprove the latter.
And as for Mr. Clarence Darrow, he just don’t naturally believe in anything. If the sun is shining, Darrow will put you up an argument, assisted by expert testimony, to show you that it is raining, and that you are cock-eyed and just can’t see it. If, in your mind, a snake crawls, Darrow will introduce some snakeologist to show you that the snake is in reality skipping hither and thither like a gazelle, and that you don’t know enough to see it. What Darrow should be doing and trying to disprove is that he didn’t come from Chicago.
You hang an ape and a Chicago ancestry over me and you will see me taking it into the Supreme Court to prove that the ape part is O.K. but that the Chicago end of it is base libel.
An ape can go through life and never be murdered or robbed by its own kind, but in Chicago no man had ever been able to live there long enough to die of old age. Pork used to be Chicago’s chief commodity; now automatic pistols and floral offerings are its leading industries.
I started to the trial but I couldn’t find a pair of suspenders, and I knew a man with a belt would be burned at the stake for being a Modernist.
In many ways it was the most unique trial ever held. When they started the case every man in Tennessee would have disclosed the whereabouts of his still to get on the jury. When the twelve were selected they were more envied than Ziegfeld’s front-row girls.2
Then fate arose and slapped a wet dishrag right in their faces, because the minute they were selected they were sent out of the court and weren’t allowed back again until they brought in their verdict (which they had made up before they were sworn in).
Everybody in the world was invited to sit in the courtroom but the jury. Every time a counsel, either for Ape or for Rib, would arise the judge would remark:
“Gentlemen of the Jury, will you please retire, as you wouldn’t know what the learned counsel was saying. I know I won’t know and I doubt if he will himself, so we don’t want to have anyone influenced by anything that is said here at this trial. Also please don’t litter up the lawn outside with your presence.
You will understand, gentlemen of the jury, that the court room is small and on account of having so many photographers and out-of-town newspaper correspondents that it is only just that they be allowed to occupy the space. I know of no better way of demonstrating the hospitality of our commonwealth than by allowing them the privilege of our best seats. You, jury, of course live here, and can come into the court house most any time, so it is only right and in keeping with our boasted hospitality that you render your space to the photographers, because a good picture in the paper means more to our town than the decision, and I hope no one will interfere with a cameraman in his discharge of justice.”
When the jury heard that they were to be barred from the court house they held an indignation meeting and were for resigning, when one of the twelve took a broader view of the case and said, “Well, let’s stick on the jury; we can read it in the newspapers as they print everything that is said in the court room that is fit to print.”
Then part of the jury said: “Yes, that’s fine for you fellows that can read but what about us? Here we are on a jury where we can’t even hear it, see it, or read it.”
So they went to the judge and the city aldermen of Dayton and said to them, “We had to give our seats up in court to the visitors. We can’t read, so how are we to know the things that we are not supposed to hear in the court room?”
Then the fellow from the drug store, “Where the Whole Damn Thing Started” had another bright idea. He says, “When they have a big show up North anywhere they put in a thing where you broadcast it. What’s the matter with that for the boys that can’t read?”
So the judge says, “Well, I can’t give a decision on it today, but if you will file the briefs with me I will take them home and give you an answer on it tomorrow.” And he did approve of it.
So Bryan and Darrow went on the air, where they had both been ever since they graduated, and the jury, instead of having to listen to them in person, could “tune ’em out” whenever they wanted to enjoy themselves.
Mind you, personally, I don’t envy the man that can’t read because he certainly is not missing anything nowadays, and he is forming his own opinion without having someone else form it for him.
I will bet you that the most real, down-to-earth, horse-sense men in America are the ones that can’t read. I’ll bet you they are more right on any question than the so-called smart fellow.
Everybody is talking about what the case has proven. The case has proven beyond a doubt that the jury room of the future must be sacrificed for a photographer’s dark-room, where they can do the developing at once.
Then they will pass the pictures around like they do at a banquet and you order as many as you want. The judge gets ten per cent off for the picture privilege. And in the future you will hear of a case being postponed until Monday “when the photographers will be here.” Unless installing a Radio is made cheaper it will get so that a small town can’t hold a trial.
But, all in all, it has been quite a triumph for William Jennings Bryan. Winning the case meant nothing, but he sold twenty-two Florida under-water lots.
Bryan brought a son to the trial to try and disprove evolution. He claims that if you descend from anything you still do and act as it does, so his son made a long-winded speech to prove that he really was a Bryan.
Coolidge is a better example of evolution than either Bryan or Darrow, for he knows when not to talk, which is the biggest asset the monkey possesses over the human.
Darrow and Malone lost their case when they didn’t make the prosecution prove which is the lower order of animals.3
When the foreman of the jury handed in the verdict Darrow objected to the other eleven jurors being present and hearing it, and he said, “By them hearing the verdict of the foreman it might make them prejudiced against our defendant.” But the judge overruled, as he had overruled everything about Darrow but his “gallouses” and said:
“Mr. Learned Counsel from the North, the court wants to be fair but I don’t think we should deprive these jurymen of hearing this verdict. They have given up their time and seats, and have waited all these days and I think it is no more than fair that they be allowed to come in here the last minute and hear what the foreman has decided. I can cite several instances in Tennessee Jurisprudence where this custom has prevailed. Are the jurymen all here?”
Town Constable—“All but two, Your Honor, and it has been so long since they were here that they have forgotten where the court house is.”
Foreman—“We find the defendant guilty of teaching evolution but we recommend him as a good teacher, for any one who can teach a bunch of sixteen year old boys anything, even if it is evolution, is a good teacher.”
Mr. Dudley Field Malone—“I suggest, that as the case is all over, now is the time to pray.”
Mr. Clarence Darrow—“Pray, hell, now is the time to shout!”
1For William Jennings Bryan see WA 122: N 1; for the Scopes “Monkey” Trial see WA 136: N 2. Clarence Seward Darrow, prominent American defense attorney and civil libertarian whose court cases were invariably headline material. Darrow served as the defense attorney in the Scopes trial.
2For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 117: N 11.
3Dudley Field Malone, American attorney who was associated with Darrow in the Scopes trial. Scopes was convicted in the case. The state supreme court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the statute, and Scope’s sentence was set aside on a technicality.
WA138 August 2, 1925
ROGERS GIVES NEWEST BITS OF
MORAL AND ILLITERATE SCANDAL
Ye Olde Reliable Illiterate Digest this week is getting back to our old Policy of printing, (not as the New York Times advertises) “All the news that’s fit to print” but all the news, for we believe the news that’s NOT fit to print is what makes the newspapers. There is only one Newspaper that is run and still can operate on the NOTHING SENSATIONAL basis, and that is the Christian Science Monitor. It’s sold on the theory that everybody that takes the Monitor takes some other Newspaper. So they get the news even if they don’t get it out of the Monitor.
Mind you don’t gather from these remarks that we are a scandal sheet. There are certain things happening every day that are so bad we won’t print them. But the reason we won’t print them is because they have happened to the same people so much that it is of no news to the Readers any more.
We want Scandal but we want NEW scandal. The familiar faces who have been committing various forms of Moral, Political and Social scandal are out of date with us. For instance, if Peggy Joyce picks up a wayward Millionaire and, explaining coyly that no one has ever really understood her but him, herds him into a Justice of the Peace’s office, why, that’s not news.1
That’s what we in Editorial parlance call the inevitable.
If Charles Dawes, (Vice President) makes a speech ranting at the Senate as Moronville, why that’s no News to the Illiterate Digest.2
But if he should ever make a speech and NOT condemn the Senate, THAT would be News.
Our Paper is not only glad to encourage NEW scandal, but we are in a position to even predict it before it happens. We prophesied some weeks ago that Mr. Coolidge would have a very unsatisfactory vacation. WHY?
Well, because we felt and knew that Mr. Coolidge didn’t know what to do on a vacation. You can’t learn anything the first time, I don’t care how smart you are. It takes years to learn how to vacate properly.
You take a man that don’t ride, Hunt, Fish, Swim, Golf, or play Poker, and you just sit him down for the summer with nothing to do but have his Picture taken it gets pretty monotonous.
And that Yachting Cap! I could just tell by his looks in the Picture that he hated it. It may have fitted perfectly from an inches standpoint but internally I could just tell it never felt right on his head. I know when he got on that cap and those White Breeches, he felt like a Mule pulling a Hearse.
Of course, it pleased Mr. Stearns and that was compensation.3
Through a President having occupied your Summer home don’t hurt the value of it when it’s sale is made. BUT NO MAN SHOULD EVER TAKE A VACATION THAT DON’T WANT ONE.
Our Foreign News department is able to report progress this week. We told you a few issues ago that China couldn’t have a Private Civil War without outside Nations taking a stack of Chips. Well they are going further now. England, America and Japan, are drafting what is practically a new Constitution for China. When they get through with it, they will send China a Bill for it. China is the only Nation in the World that never should have to worry. When anything comes up the other Nations will always tell ’em what to do. China’s own government is as unnecessary as an enforcement Officer.
In the No. 2 war over in Morocco, France has just sent 200,000 more men (in keeping with the Versailles Treaty) for the EXTERMINATION of small Nations. Old Abdul Hel Krim is the Gerald Chapman of Africa.4
The French are hunting Old Abdul with airships. But he can see an airship further than they can see him. Of course the French never thought of that. All he has to do is to hide under a Camel, and they can’t see from the air what Camel he is hiding under. France is really understudying for Spain in this War. Spain was in the original cast.
The Foreign Society News recorded in the Digest this week is the marriage of Major Metcalf and some Curzon Lady.5
This Metcalf was one of the Equerries to the Prince of Wales, and from all my years of kidding fellows in speeches or from the stage this Metcalf is the only one I ever knew of that I thought took any exception to any of the Joshing.
I had a Story I was telling on the stage about the time the Prince visited here, saying that I didn’t have any Long Island Estate to offer him as a domicile, but that I could put a Cot in my dressing Room at the Follies. That used to get a laugh, and I would remark, “Well, that’s no laughing matter. I bet you if the Prince had his own way he would take my offer in preference to theirs.” Then I said, “But I wouldn’t have room for his Equerry. He would have to board his hired help out.”
Well, the Prince heard about this story and when I was making a Speech before him at the big Polo Dinner, why he pulled at my Coat and asked me to tell it, showing he was a pretty good fellow. Well I did. It went over great with the Prince, and all the Equerrys except this Metcalf. I have always felt he didn’t like it much.
I was going right against an unwritten law, and that was that you must never tell a joke about a Little fellow. They can’t stand it. But always tell it on the big fellow. That’s why they are big.
The Prince I afterwards heard, always kidded him about being his hired help. This Metcalf was a kind of a Joke over there with all the Polo Bunch anyway. But he has the last laugh on us all now as this is supposed to be the richest Girl in all England. He will be big enough the next time I run on to him to be kidded. So here’s wishing you good luck, “Fruity.” (That’s what the Prince called him.)
We have had quite a few Prominent Visitors in to Ye Olde Illiterate Follies lately. Mr. Thomas A. Edison was in the other night, to celebrate his birthday.6
He got, when I introduced him, the most wonderful reception ever had in our Theatre. The People stood up and cheered him, and well they should have, especially on Broadway, because you take the lights out of this Town and Claremore, Oklahoma, (the best Town that ever owed a paving Bill) would have it on New York.
He sent me word he enjoyed my Act. HE IS DEAF! So that is kind of a cock-eyed compliment. I was going to ask him some questions, (you know he is always making out questionnaires). Well he is a wonderful old man, and will be remembered as long as a Phonograph squeaks.
1For Peggy Hopkins Joyce see WA 117: N 14.
2For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9.
3For Frank W. Stearns see WA 125: N 7.
4For Abd-el-Krim see WA 134: N 3. Gerald Chapman, American crime figure who was convicted in 1925 for the murder of a Connecticut law officer. Chapman was executed in April 1926. Several persons connected with his prosecution were slain or were threatened with death.
5Edward Dudley Metcalfe, British army officer who as a personal attendant to the Prince of Wales (see WA 123: N 4) accompanied him on a highly publicized vacation trip to the United States and Canada in 1924. In August 1925 Metcalfe married Lady Alexandra Curzon, a daughter of the Marquis Curzon of Kedlesdon.
6Thomas Alva Edison, celebrated American inventor, most famous for the phonograph, electric lamp, and alkaline storage battery.
WA139 August 9, 1925
BRYAN MAY HAVE MISSED
WHITE HOUSE BUT FOUND PLAIN PEOPLE
We have been reading ever since his burial last week many conflicting estimates of the career of the great commoner, W. J. Bryan.1
A great many writers, while giving him a measure of credit, looked on his life on the whole as a failure. What constitutes a life well spent, anyway? Love and admiration from your fellow men is all that any one can ask. When has a man died in this country whose death called forth such world-wide comment? Harding’s death was more of a shock; Wilson’s carried a nation’s sympathy; Roosevelt’s was a greater loss to the country than any.2
All of these, mind you, had been presidents, while Bryan was just a plain citizen, holding no office. Yet this country holds hundreds of thousands of people who feel that they haven’t got a Soul now who will conscientiously fight for them, the plain people. Bryan had no Vice President.
There is a saying, “The World Loves a Winner.” Then how are they to account for Bryan’s 30 years of popularity? He could come out of a Campaign loser and attract more attention than the winner. Some lay it to his Oratory. But you could be the World’s greatest Orator and if you don’t say anything while orating, they are going to walk out on you after a while. They wanted to hear what he said as much as they wanted to hear how he said it.
Bryan lost. But he never lost his followers. He didn’t win because he didn’t start out with enough followers. But through all his Campaigns he always kept his same bunch. If Bryan had run last year instead of Davis, you would have found the same ones voting for him that you did in ’96.3
Now there must be a reason for this faith in him. Let’s look up his record and see why these folks stayed with him. He started out trying to do something for the Common people. He must have stuck with it for life, for everyone knows that no one ever was able to buy him off, and we can imagine the chances he had to sell out at various times in his career. He fought Special Privilege for 35 years.
When he started in on Prohibition he was the Country’s joke. But before the finish the Nation was laughing with parched lips. He, even today, holds the distinction of being the only Prohibitionist that the people believe practiced it personally.
He was the first to come out for Votes for Women. We all got out our annual jokes on him on that: “Bryan’s off again; he has gone in with the Women now.” He had gone in with them, and when they come out it was from a voting booth, where they had both cast their Ballots.
The direct election of Senators, instead of in a back room, was another of his annual jokes. Direct Primaries is another of his foolhardy moves. Income Tax was another issue of his advocated 20 years before it was adopted. If we had started paying it then, we would have been used to it by now and it wouldn’t seem so hard.
He was for Free Silver. He may have been right on that, as none of us has ever got a hold of enough gold since then to tell whether it’s better or not.
By the way, during his Campaign, was when a lot more Gold was found, which didn’t help his Campaign out any. Neither did the price of wheat being raised on Wall Street last fall help out La Follette’s election.4
But incidentally, you see it’s back cheap again, don’t you? It won’t go up again till the next election.
Roosevelt always had it in for him, and a man to even arouse Roosevelt’s dislike amounted to something. For Teddy was a man that wouldn’t waste even hatred on nothing. He must have dealt him some kind of political misery at some time. Another thing about Bryan, he hated the crooked Bosses of his own Party as bad as the ones of the opposition Party. It seems funny Tammany Hall lauding him now, when they never voted for him in his life. If they had, in ’96, he would have been elected.
He fought Tammany at the Baltimore Convention, and it cost him the nomination. Norman Mack, the Democrat Leader says Bryan would have been the compromise candidate when Champ Clark and Wilson were deadlocked if he hadn’t been so bitter against Tammany.5
He fought against the platform that Parker run on in 1904.6
happened to it. He hated Bosses, Wall Street, Darrow and Darwin, and who knows but what he may be even right about them.7
None of them has ever been canonized by the Pope. Talk about him being wrong, why his record shows he has been right more times than anybody. He was always ahead of his time.
He come in for a lot of criticism about this Scopes trial, and I always felt he was wrong in trying to carry it into laws. He was ridiculed a lot in that trial. But you can’t get far ridiculing a man for upholding the Bible, or even a Dictionary if it’s his sincere belief. Bryan honestly thought his religion was being attacked by these men and he fought back, and he died fighting back. You must never lose sight of the fact it was Bryan’s connection with this case that gave it the world’s attention. If W. J. Bryan had never gone to Dayton or said or written a thing in connection with this case it wouldn’t have attracted any more attention than a murder in Chicago, or a divorce in New York. Darrow would have never gone there if it hadn’t been for Bryan. There wouldn’t have been a Lawyer on the case that had ever practiced outside the Townsite.
Evolution will die a natural death now. Nobody knows where they came from. Everybody looks at their enemies and hopes and prays they didn’t come from the same place.
You must judge a man’s greatness by how much he will be missed. Who will be missed any more in America than Bryan? Those thousands of people who stood along the railroad track for hours just waiting to see his Funeral train whizz by and take off their hats as it did so--they were not curiosity seekers. Oratory didn’t draw them there. You couldn’t have been wrong all this time and fooled these Real people for 30 years. Bryan “Savvied” the plain people, and when you “savvy” them you must be one of them at heart.
I am going to miss him. I guess I have told a thousand so called Jokes about him, some in favor, and most of them against him. Most of them I have repeated to his face. I feel and I hope he knew personally I always admired him.
He was easy to tell a Joke about because every man, Woman and child in your audience knew who you were talking about, and read enough about him to know what you were joking him about. He is the only man in America I can say that much for. Half the World don’t know what our prominent men are doing.
Just think of me writing of Bryan and not writing jokes about him. I bet when St. Peter opens the gate to welcome him, he will ask St. Peter, “Is there any Republicans in there?” Being informed of course in the Negative, he will go in HAPPY.
So here’s good luck to you, W. J. YOU WERE A NOVELTY AMONG POLITICIANS. YOU WERE SINCERE, YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED THE WHITE HOUSE, BUT YOU DIDN’T MISS THE HEARTS OF THE PLAIN PEOPLE.
1Bryan (see WA 122: N 1) died on July 26, 1925, only five days after the close of the Scopes trial (see WA 136: N 2).
2Warren Gamaliel Harding, Republican president of the United States from 1921 until his death in 1923. Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Democratic president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. He died in 1924. Theodore Roosevelt died in 1919.
3For John W. Davis see WA 122: N 2.
4For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., seeWA 127: N 8.
5Norman Edward Mack, newspaperman from Buffalo, New York, and prominent member of the state Democratic party. James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark, Democratic United States representative from Missouri from 1893 to 1895 and 1897 until his death in 1921; speaker of the House from 1911 to 1919. Clark was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912 but was defeated when Bryan turned his support to Wilson.
6Alton Brooks Parker, American attorney, jurist, and Democratic politician. Parker was the unsuccessful presidential candidate of conservative Democrats in 1904.
7For Clarence S. Darrow see WA 137: N 1; for Charles R. Darwin see WA 136: N 4.
WA140 August 16, 1925
WELL, WILL ROGERS HAS TAKEN
TO READING THE PAPERS AGAIN
Well, all I know is what I read in the papers. Been reading a lot in the papers about our fleet that visited Australia and the wonderful reception given our Boys. Since we passed that Japanese Exclusion act there is a bond of sympathy between America and Australia.1
They both figure it’s a good time to stand in with each other. You can talk all you want about a bond of feeling, and “blood thicker than water” and all that, but the thing that really makes any two Nations a little more “sympathetic” toward each other is the fact that they may be able to use each other. Japan turning out Airships over there every minute like Fords don’t set so nice around the adjoining Pacific.
I see where we were brought into closer family connection with Australia by over two hundred of our Sailors marrying while there. That’s one good thing about our boys. If we will tie up their boat long enough for them to see a Girl they will locate a Justice of Peace even if they don’t speak the language.
But this Australian trip was a cinch, Australia has beautiful Girls speaking (approximately) our language (the Australian tongue is a kind of jargon of American and English). Well, these old Boys just got their sewing and patching all done, got all slicked up and just hopped ashore and started right in marrying. But I bet there is going to be the mischief to pay when their American Wives find it out.
This trip was planned with our Pacific fleet to impress Japan with the size of it. That was not necessary. Japan knows more about our war strength now than either of our Secretaries of War or Navy.
New York City has just witnessed the splitting up of Tammany Hall over the selection of Mayor. Lots of people never know the difference between a Republican and a Democrat. Well, I will tell you how to tell the difference. The Democrats are the ones who split. That’s the only way you can tell them from the Republicans. If the Democrats never split in their lives there would be no such thing as a Republican.
Both England’s and America’s Prince of Wales is in South America, England’s to play polo, and America’s (General Pershing) to act as arbitrator.2
There is a fine job to offer a man that we all love like we do Pershing. Arbitrator between two South American Republics.
They are arguing over a boundary line. Pershing went down and saw the piece of land that is in dispute, and he has suggested that if Peru can’t get Chili to take it, and if Chili can’t get Peru to take it that they both try and get Argentine to take it, as Argentine has never seen it.
They are supposed to vote on it, and he was sent down to see that it is a fair election. What would an American know about a fair election? They have had several elections before down there on this same subject, but no one has ever lived long enough to count the votes. And one side would claim that they had run out of ammunition and didn’t have a fair vote.
The idea in one of these elections is to be able to cast your vote before being shot. Any ballot without a bullet hole in it is counted.
That’s a great thing to do with our greatest National Hero, bring him home from one war, reduce him to half salary then bundle him off where he may be shot as an innocent bystander. So we are just as proud of Our Prince in South America as England is of hers. Our Prince may not carry the assorted wardrobe that his English opponent does, but he carries more authority.
If he gets away with this we will make him an umpire when he comes back. We will have him referee the Dawes-Senate boundary question.3
France, I see by a headline, is finally evacuating the Ruhr.4
That may not be as friendly a move toward Germany as it appears at first. They are removing their Soldiers because they need them to fight the Ruffians in Morocco. That war started out as a kind of a rehearsal but it seems it has developed into a pretty fair sized kind of war.
Special Wire leased by the Illiterate Digest from Swampscott says that Mr. Coolidge’s main aim in life is to assist the Railroads. He wants to fix it so they can all combine. It sounds like a pretty good thing, and if it works out with Railroads there is no reason why it shouldn’t be useful in regard to various other commodities.
Why not a combine for the Passengers? Let them pool their interests and let them decide what would be a fair return on their investment of a trip of delays and inconvenience. Automobile Manufacturers should consolidate. Can you imagine Henry Ford consolidating with the Rolls Royce, for the best interest of the Stockholders, Bootleggers consolidating with the Prohibition Agents. But I am late with that suggestion; that has already been done. The real combine should be Democrats and Republicans. Both should combine to stay out of office for the Public Good.
But it must have some Political significance, other wise it wouldn’t have been concocted during vacation time. If it only makes the ’Frisco get back on time the combine will have done a universal service.
I also see by quite a lot of Papers that they just found a Skull in South Africa that is the biggest head they had ever found. The only way I can account for a big head like that is that he must have been a Golf Player who died just after winning his first Tournament. Either that or a heavyweight Champion Prize Fighter that had just been told he didn’t have to fight.
See where we are moving our Dirigible Airships from Lakewood, N. J., out to San Diego, Cal. You know we have TWO of them, the same two we had for years, the Los Angeles, and the Shenandoah. Congress thought by having a pair and keeping them together we might get some results but so far we haven’t. So as we need more as wars come along why we will build them.
We have really never had enough Gas to blow up both of them, so we are sending them to California. One Real Estate Man out there can fill either one of them.
We have had quite a little adopting going on here lately. A man started out to adopt a little girl as a companion for another little Foster Daughter. The advertised age was from 10 to 12 years. Applicants began coming. One tramped in about 19 or 20. He got one flash and raised the age limit.
Since then there has been quite an Epidemic of adoptions. Dorothy Knapp, our Principal Show Girl, has had more offers than this man had in answer to his.5
Our front row was called for the first day.
Too bad that custom don’t prevail among elderly women to adopt promising young men. Maybe they would see me and raise the age limit.
But the crazier a thing is the more Newspaper space it gets in this country. The papers were full of this old Bird and Adopted Daughter. If some kind hearted person had really adopted two Orphan Children on the level, the papers wouldn’t have published it.
Then people wonder what makes crime attractive.
1The Immigration Act of 1924 excluded Japanese immigrants as “aliens ineligible for citizenship.”
2For this and all further references to the Prince of Wales see WA 123: N 4. Pershing (see WA 122: N 5) was sent to South America in 1925 as a plebiscite commissioner in the on-going dispute between Peru and Chile over the nitrate-rich provinces of Tacna and Arica. Pershing was replaced in 1926 by General William Lassiter, but neither commissioner achieved success.
3Dawes (see WA 117: N 9) had encountered considerable opposition to his proposals to change the rules of debate in the Senate.
4France invaded and seized the industrially important Ruhr Valley in 1923, because of Germany’s failure to pay its reparations.
5Dorothy M. Knapp, American vaudeville performer who with her sister, Carol, formed the comedy dancing and singing team of “Ray and Racine.”
WA141 August 23, 1925
JACK DEMPSEY’S SPORTSMANSHIP
IS RATED ZERO BY WILL ROGERS
By the time you see this in print, Gertrude Ederle, the wonderful swimming girl, will either have crossed the English channel or made one of the most heroic attempts ever made to do it.1
Personally, I think she will make it. That means anywhere from 15 to 30 hours in a cold old, treacherous ocean. She has to spend the night swimming and battling with one of the strongest elements of nature—a rush of water. Nobody is paying her anything; nobody is guaranteeing her anything; she is going in there to accomplish what only five men have been able to accomplish and not woman. Now, that is what I call a sport; a sport worthy of the admiration of the entire world. Yet you can’t hardly find her name in the paper. No, the space is all given to “Dempsey wants a million dollars a year to train in, and maybe no decision given at the finish.”2
“Dempsey defies boxing commission.”
“Dempsey says it will take him at least a year to be ready to fight.” “Dempsey has new picture coming out.” Can you imaging these two people as far as sporting is concerned? Why, Ederle would sue the paper if she was ever mentioned on the same page with him in a sporting way. In the first place if you are champion of anything—it means you are champion now, not one or two years from now. If Dempsey can’t lick Wills today he is not champion.3
A Champion is supposed to keep in condition; that is what he is paid for. The most he can fight anybody is 15 rounds, three minutes to the round, with a minute’s rest between each three minutes — 45 minutes is all! And it takes a champion a year to get ready to do that.
Can you imagine this Gertrude Ederle being able to stop every three minutes, sit down in a chair and have somebody to fan her and massage her and get her ready for the next three minutes? No, she has to go in the ocean for 20 or 30 hours, where any time she is resting she is drifting back. Why, with a minute’s rest in every four, she could swim the Atlantic Ocean. Suppose Walter Johnson, after pitching a game saying, “I can’t pitch again for three years; I have to make some Moving Pictures, and go to Europe, and then it will take me at least a year to get myself in condition to pitch against Dazzy Vance.”4
Say, he pitches every fourth day, and has been doing it for 18 years and he expends more physical energy in one game than Dempsey has in the last five years, and as for mental ability in the two lines of work, Johnson uses more brains in pitching to each one of the nine men than Dempsey does in pitching boxing gloves at his one.
They say Tennis when played properly is one of the most strenuous games in the world, yet, Tilden plays two or three times a week.5
He is the greatest outstanding figure Tennis ever produced. When they tell him he has to meet Richards or Johnson or a Frenchman or a Spaniard, he will meet them that day.6
No year to train in for that Bird.
John L. Sullivan when prize fighting had some semblance of sport, went all over this country offering a hundred dollars every night to anyone who would get in the ring with him.7
A football game—they get everything but killed, and sometimes that, yet they play again the next Saturday. Notre Dame one time played Syracuse one Saturday, went down and played the Army on Monday and beat Princeton on the following Saturday, all for their railroad tickets and an upper berth.
Dempsey would refuse to even referee three fights in that space of time.
Suppose Mr. Barrymore would remark: “I will meet this audience but it will take me a year to get in condition to do so. Do you think I could face an audience the shape that I am in?”8
Or take the War, for instance: Can you imagine the boys in the trenches announcing to General Pershing and the general staff:9
“We won’t go over the top again for at least a year; we have been fighting a good deal lately and we are worn out; so give us a year’s time to get in shape and also we have the privilege of picking whom we are to go over the top against.”
For real downright sportsmanship, there was a Foreigner come to our shores last year. That was the Finnish runner, Paavo Nurmi.10
He set a record as a runner which they will be shooting at for the next hundred years. He’s a paper-hanger in his native country and never got over sixty dollars a month. He was the outstanding hero of the world’s Olympic Games last summer in Paris. He drew more people into Madison Square Garden than the Democratic Convention.
He was offered various sums of money to endorse articles, or to write for the newspapers, but he didn’t do it. He was allowed seven dollars a day for expenses and his Railroad fare. He was such a big Bonanza as a drawing card that the Amateur Athletic Association of America had him running every night. One night he run in New York and the next night in Chicago, and the next night back in New York again, and at each of these places he broke a world’s record.
The first night after running in New York he got to the Grand Central Station and his train had left for Chicago. He run and caught it at Albany. Any time he run and didn’t break a world’s record, our Amateur Society over here wanted to have him deported as an undesirable Alien.
Just before one race he ate something and got sick (in fact it was the first time they had ever given him time to eat since he had been here) and he couldn’t finish the race. Why, they like to had him thrown into jail as a traitor. You would of thought he had bought off a Cabinet Officer.
He was scheduled to run in St. Louis, but sent a doctor’s certificate showing he was sick, and the Governor out there ordered out the Militia to bring him there by force. “How dare he get sick; if he wanted to get sick, let him get sick in Finland, where it wouldn’t cost anybody big gate receipts. Doesn’t St. Louis have as much right to get rich out of him as New York?”
So they suspended him and even deprived him of his seven dollars a day. They sent him to the Pacific Coast to give their Athletic Associations out there a chance to get out of debt. But this would make him lose certain time when he couldn’t be running, so they figured out that at each train stop, when the passengers are eating, they would have him run for the local townspeople. They run him in Albuquerque. Then he got to Arizona—there is a lot of Indians there that can run. They have to run; they have had to keep running for years to keep ahead of the white people that was going to take their lands, so they had Nurmi start at the Arizona line and race the Indians in relays clear across the state to save his Railroad fare.
One Pumpkin Seed outfit who knew he would make enough to pay for their year’s pleasure, claimed he asked them for a thousand-dollar fare back to Finland. They couldn’t imagine any place being a thousand dollars’ worth away from there. They called him the Benedict Arnold of Finland.
Why his name will live longer in Finland than some of our Corn Shucking Universities will in America. Can you imagine him sending word to a Committee that it would take him a year to get in condition? He would have been shot and we would have declared war on Finland.
Now what’s harder on a man than a long distance race? He don’t only run against one opponent, but a dozen. They may break Nurmi’s running record, but his record as a man will never be broken; it’s greater than his athletic record, he is the only Foreigner that ever came to these shores that America made money out of, but who didn’t come to make money out of America. His name will be a legend in sports.
It’s all right for a man to get all he can out of anything—more power to him; and we all try to play everything for every dollar it is worth. But we all show our stuff to the highest bidder; we don’t offer any alibi on lack of condition.
As far as fighting a colored man for the championship—what difference does it make who is heavy weight champion? The better element of America is not worrying over who is champion prize fighter. In fact they don’t even know. But if newspapers are going to make heroes out of somebody, make them out of the above mentioned.
How present-day prize fighting ever got mentioned in the category of SPORTS will always remain a mystery to most people.
1Gertrude Caroline Ederle, American swimmer who swam the English Channel in fourteen hours and thirty-one minutes on August 6, 1926, becoming the first woman to accomplish the feat.
2For Jack Dempsey see WA 134: N 1.
3Harry Wills, American boxer who held the Negro heavyweight title from 1919 to1922.Wills challenged Dempsey several times, but Dempsey never fought him.
4For Walter Johnson see WA 133: N 2. Clarence Arthur “Dazzy” Vance, professional baseball pitcher who played for a number of teams, including the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1922 to 1932. Vance who had a lifetime record of 197 wins and 140 losses, was introduced into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
5William Tatem “Bill” Tilden, Jr., American tennis player who reigned as tennis champion of the world from 1920 to 1925.
6Vincent Richards, American tennis star who won many United States tennis titles, both amateur and professional, during his career and who won two gold medals in the Olympic Games of 1924. William M. “Little Bill” Johnston, American tennis great who was the second ranked player in the world from 1920 to 1925.
7John Lawrence Sullivan, American bare-knuckle pugilist who held the world heavyweight title from 1882 to 1892.
8The Barrymores—John, Lionel, and Ethel—comprised one of the most famous and successful acting families in the American theater.
9For John J. “Black Jack” Pershing see WA 122: N 5.
10Paavo Nurmi, Finnish long-distance runner who won gold medals at the Olympic Games of 1920, 1924, and 1928.
WA142 August 30, 1925
WELL, A JAZZ BAND WOULD MAKE
ANY CHANNEL SWIMMER SINK
Well, all I know is what I read in the Papers. We were all greatly disappointed
last week when our plucky young American Girl failed on her first attempt to swim the English Channel.1
Now, I have heard a lot of people say, “What do they want to swim the thing for, anyway? What’s the idea?” Well, I will tell you why. This Girl at some time during her life crossed it on a boat and that’s why she decided that if she ever had to cross again she would prefer swimming it. I know; I crossed it one time. (That’s when I was young and thought it would be smart to say I had been to Europe. Nowadays that fact is concealed by our best people, as it is only the newly rich and the Riff-Raff that go to Europe.)
Well, it has always been the regret of my life that I didn’t try and swim it instead of crossing by boat. I know that I could have fared no worse. When this poor Girl, in swimming the Channel, reached the point where she was practically unconscious, there were strong arms to save her. But in the Boat I was on, when I reached the unconscious stage, everybody else on the boat was in the same state. There was not a strong arm in sight. Nobody was there to pull me in and feed me chocolate.
There was nobody on our boat the day I crossed that was conscious enough to say chocolate. If people’s food consisted of some really solid substance like, maybe Concrete, or bricks, or Iron or Steel, there would be a natural bridge from England to France. But when you consider the voyage, neither country is worth the trip from one to the other.
It has always seemed to me rather a coincidence that everybody attempting this swim has tried to go from France to England. Now there are a lot of different ways of interpreting that. Is the distance shorter from France to England than from England to France? England has always been afraid that it was. Would it be official if you made the swim away from England? It’s kinder a slam against France, people wanting to leave there so bad that they are willing to swim away. Or does the Almighty figure that the reason he don’t allow any of them to make it is because no sane person should be leaving France.
Of course, personally, I have laid her failure to that Jazz Band. You know they had an American Jazz Band playing on the boat that was to accompany her. If I heard a band grinding out, “Don’t Fetch Lulu,” “No Bananas” and “Katinka” I know that I would sink purposely. I think that drowning would be a relief. The reports say that the band got seasick. How could they tell by their playing? How could a Jazz Player play any different if he was seasick? In fact that might possibly improve his playing.
Well, another bit of news that stares Ye Editor of Ye Olde Reliable Illiterate Digest in the face the last few days is the split in the Valentino family.2
That means that they have a Picture coming out soon. Pictures are
always preceeded by a marriage, Divorce, Murder or attempted kidnapping of the Star.
Winifred says she is going to take a “marital vacation.” In other words, this old Sheik stuff is kinder over-rated. A Sheik is all right but when you have one around the house all the time it gets kinder like a Quail a day for 30 days. You simply can’t go that many.
Well, Winifred blew into New York, dressed for the Reporters and broadcasted the following: “Rudy in some respects is an old fashioned man. He thinks a Woman should be domestic. If a Woman wants only home life and a domestic person to putter about the house, then they should get along smoothly, BUT a Woman with an active mind needs a wider outlet for her energy. She needs business or a profession. This is a time of unrest; people are dissatisfied with life; more women are doing things outside the home.
When a Husband and Wife are both the possessors of temperament I think they should have a vacation from each other.”
There you are, happily married women; this just shows you what a lot of saps you are. “A Woman with an active mind needs a wider outlet.” You Women at home haven’t got any more mind than a Billy Goat. If your mind was active you would jump up and take a “marital vacation” from your husband. Put on a Turban and go to France.
“This is the time of unrest.” Didn’t you know it? If you have been satisfied you are old fashioned, or perhaps you haven’t sojourned with a Sheik. “People are dissatisfied with life.” Here a lot of us have just been going along tickled to death with the World, because it is about the best one we could ever hope to live in, till Winifred starts stirring up this unrest. She is the Bolsheviki of the Living Room—an arch Enemy of even the Twin Bed.
“When a Husband and Wife are both the possessors of temperaments.” I’ll tell you about temperament. Temperament is liable to arrive with a little success, especially if you haven’t been used to success. The best cure in the world for temperament is hunger. I have never seen a Poor temperamental person.
Now, I spent several of my happiest years in the Movies, and am to go back after Xmas to make more, and there are some wonderful people in them. But I have often said if the public judges the Movie people by some of the interviews that appear in print they must wonder how they have ever kept out of the Asylum.
If a President of the United States had as silly things written about him as appears in Movie Magazines and write-ups about Movie people, he would be impeached in three months. Now I know that they are not as silly as they are made to appear. They are a lot of down-to-earth regular people. Those who do say these things should have their talks edited before being issued.
The idea that “a Woman couldn’t live happily at home and have an active mind!” The only Nuts I have ever met among the feminine gender has been those female Bugs that thinks the world owes them a career, and the brightest and most active brains have belonged to our everyday Women who you never heard saying very much, but if you talked with them you would soon see they had pretty sound ideas on about everything.
Now the chances are Winifred meant well but she was just sorter upset. Rudy will cause that to a lot of our Women sometime. But they get over it and get back to normal as soon as their careers blow over. Rudy is a nice fellow and I like him personally. But it’s been this silly stuff that has been printed about him (through no fault of his own) that has made it darn tough sledding for even him at times.
Where is my friend Will Hays, anyway?3
I will have to see him and get this thing straightened out. This is supposed to be better Movie Year not “Better Wife Year.”
1For Gertrude Ederle, American swimmer, see WA 141: N 1.
2Rudolph Valentino, Italian-born American motion picture star famous for his romantic roles in such films as Blood and Sand and The Sheik. His actress wife,Winifred Hutnot (Natacha Rambova), left him in 1926 for a trial separation. The couple eventually divorced.
3For Will H. Hays see WA 117: N 3.
WA143 September 6, 1925
WELL, I SEE WHERE THE FORD CHASSIS
IS GOING TO REMAIN THE SAME
All I know is just what I read in the papers. I never thought us folks of this generation would ever live to see another such day as Armistice Day but we have. 9 days ago last Friday at exactly 12 o’clock, the word was flashed over the wire that Ford Cars were to have new Bodies even colored ones. Well, whistles blew, paper was thrown out of windows, newspapers had streaming headlines, “Ford Changes Body,” “At Last it has Come” “Get a dull gray Ford, Same Color as a Rolls Royce.” Papers wrote Editorials about it. It’s the biggest news that’s broke in this Country since Dawes denounced the Senate.1
Saying a Ford is going to change its color or style is almost like saying, “Burbank has invented a different color for grass; from now on it will grow in Lavender and Battleship Gray.”2
It’s the most revolutionary idea that has hit us since Southern Senators first appeared in socks and neckties.
Here is what they are going to do: “The Model T chassis will remain the same.” Now “Chassis” is a word that has added to the cost but not value to our cars. It’s French for “Running Gear.” We had the same thing on wagons for years but didn’t know they were chassises. Well, the Running Gear will be the same. They are going to try and build out around and over it a little more. In other words they are going to try and hide the CHASSIS. It’s been exposed too much. They are not going to change it; they are just going to conceal it. Heretofore wheels have stood out so far from the Ford Body that there has been some misunderstanding by drivers as to whether the front wheels that you saw out to one side belonged to you or to the car you were trying to pass. Now they couldn’t bring the wheels in any closer together, because if they did they would practically have a monocycle, one of these things that runs on one wheel. So they took the only course left open to them; they decided to build out and see if they couldn’t reach the wheels. So they are “Widening and lowering the Fender.”
There is two things on a Ford car that you always bend when you hit anything. One is the Fender and the other is the front Axle. (The axle is not to be changed they figure people are used to bending them now and they don’t want to disappoint them.) But the Fender is to be lowered. It has been discovered that in addition to the good it does (just for bending purposes) that by lowering it, it could be used to intercept some of the mud. Heretofore no mud has ever been able to live long enough to reach from the wheel up to the fender. Then they are going to widen the fender. That’s so you will have twice as much to straighten out. They may possibly put fenders under the car as it has been proven that other cars can run successfully on top of Ford Fenders, so why not fix it so they can run on their own.
“Longer and Lower Bodies; the body will be 7 inches longer, and 4 inches lower from the top of the car to the road.” How is anyone to judge how far the top of the car is from the road? I have seen one hit a rut and bounce and no man living could measure how far it was from the top of the car to the road. Then again lots of times the top of the car is on the road. You have to lift the top off the road. So if I was you and are thinking of buying one, I wouldn’t put too much dependence on these advertisements. We have all seen thousands of Ford cars miles from any road, so how are you going to judge one by a road?
But that lowering the body is a good invention, because lots of people have had their heads bumped by running under other cars, so with 5 inches lower that should give you clearance without even removing your hat. Of course the main thing they are lowering the body for is to lessen the distance of the fall. In other words they have to look after the “Turnover.” Every business has to watch their turnover. A quick turnover is what makes business and no business so relies on the Turnover as the Ford business.
They have the biggest turnover of any business in the world. Every turnover means more parts sold, and with these wider fenders, every turnover means
a new fender.
Now they are “increasing the length, and the width of the body—7 inches longer and 4 inches wider.” You know what those inches will do?
Well they will just increase the capacity of that car 3 adults or 6 children, or one and a half Adults and 9 children or, if you don’t want to haul any more adults, why the new car will carry 12 more children than the old model. And what is more important still, it will carry 8 more (12 Bottle) cases. You have to figure capacity nowadays not so much in flesh or pounds as you do in quarts.
The new model has “4 doors instead of 3.” Their engineers have figured the time it takes to load and unload a car, when families are crawling in from 4 ways at once they figure you can get away one fourth quicker unload one fourth quicker, in fact you don’t really unload, you just open the doors of a Ford and they just kinder burst out.
In case of accident you have one more means of escape with the extra door. In the old model if your corner didn’t have a door, you had to climb over three or four to reach the nearest exit. 3 doors always give you an odd rattle, but 4 doors make an even rattle.
A Ford will seem so big inside, and have so many doors that he will have to have signs in there reading, “In case of accident walk, don’t run, to the nearest Exit. Follow the red light.”
“The Gasoline tank in the FORDER, will be in the same place.” Now get that name “Forder.” That’s the new style car he is making from parts of those Government ships he bought. It is a kinder aquatic machine. It takes to the water and is appropriately called the Forder. What it can’t ford it swims.
“The Gas Tank is in the same place.” Right where everybody has to get out to get Gas in. Then if they put in too much Gas you can’t all get back in again.
“There is a newly designed Tire rack on the back.” There is nothing that adds to the comfort and efficiency of an Automobile as a good Tire rack. I have been in cars that the Tire rack just spoiled my whole trip. “The Steering wheel will be lower.” That is a good improvement.
The steering wheel of a Ford always did come so high that it really interfered with the view. Young Boys or Girls driving them always had to peep out between the spokes of the wheel to see where they were going. A Ford steering wheel always gave one the impression that the driver was carrying it, ready to hand it to some one, rather than he was using it.
“The Radiator Cap will be 5/8ths of an inch higher with no change in the Radiator but on closed cars it will be nickled.” There is where he has disappointed me. The best Ford Joke I ever had in my life was, “If Henry Ford will just make one speech he can be elected. All he has to say is: ‘If I am elected I will change the front on ’em.’”
Now here he has changed everything else but the front, the only thing that really needed changing. I think though, he is leaving that for his crowning achievement. That will be his last and greatest gift to posterity. “A new shaped Radiator on a Ford Car.”
Just think, it won’t seem like the same old highway from now on.
Six inches longer—that means 186 less to the mile. That sounds encouraging, but it is offset by the four inches in width. How many times have you missed one by less than 4 inches? From now on you will hit ’em. Why, it almost seems like changing the Statue of Liberty’s dress from a flowing robe to Plus Fours. (You will have to look that Plus Fours up. I saw it in an English Paper the other day. I don’t know what it means either. I think it means “without a Monocle.”)
Well it does seem good to be writing Ford jokes again. Just like old times! What some of our self styled prominent men do, nobody ever knows or cares, but what Henry Ford does or says is always of interest to everybody. Why? Because he is the greatest man we have in this Country. He has given real enjoyment to more people and work to more people, than any man living.
In five minutes I will be on my way to the Village Post Office to mail this Article, and I will be driving one, and if you read this you will know that the thing ran. But it’s going to take me a long time to get used to riding in a CERISE colored one.
There is only one thing that I love better than telling a Ford joke and that is Ford himself.
1For Charles G. Dawes seeWA 117: N 9.
2Luther Burbank, American horticulturist who first took up market gardening in 1868 and who developed the Burbank potato and new improved varieties of other cultivated plants.
WA144 September 13, 1925
BELGIUM GOT 64 YEARS BUT WHAT
ABOUT THE FARMER AND CATTLEMAN?
Well, all I know is what I read in the Papers. Babe Ruth saved the papers the last couple of weeks from going to press with nothing but ads.1
went out and in again quicker than any Public character we ever had. One day everybody was for shooting him. Now he is just a “big Boy that has never grown up.” A great deal was made in the papers about his crying and repenting. I tell you that was the $5,000 fine that did that. I don’t blame him for trying to cry the Managers out of that fine. I would weep on their necks too. I would kiss John McGraw for $5,000.2
I am glad that fining system is not in vogue on the stage. Should Mr. Ziegfeld fine me for not being in a humorous condition, I would hate to have to go to him and embrace him to get the fine remitted.3
But when all is said and done you let the old Babe start knocking home runs every day, and people will flock in and call him a Hero and the Managers won’t care if he carries a bottle of Gin to the home plate with him, drinks it, and knocks a home run with the empty bottle. A Home Run A Day Will Keep the Scandal Away.
Well, the old Commonwealth of these United States did pretty well financially last month. Belgium come over and made arrangements to settle an old claim that we were just about to charge off as a bad debt on our income tax. I think it is to be paid in 64 years. Not a great deal of nourishment to be derived by us Boys here now from a settlement like that. Of course, in 64 years we will have a half dozen other wars, and the claims on this first one will be outlawed. A Contract drawn now will be as much out of fashion in 64 years as our old original Constitution of these United States is today. They will be using something else for money by then.
Mr. Ford says we will soon have Synthetic Milk, maybe we will have Synthetic money. Synthetic Gin certainly started something in this Country. I got some debts I would kinder like to ease off for 64 years, I would even compromise with my creditors on a 50 years basis. But, mind you, I am not criticizing Andy Mellon for his basis of settlement with Belgium.4
Belgium is just an unfortunate Country geographically. No Country has it in for Belgium personally. They just like to use her grounds to fight on. Why they don’t fight on their own grounds nobody knows. But it just seems that they draw up a contract for a war and the place is always understood. There is just a kinder after thought as they leave each other, “I will meet you in Belgium.” It’s the Gettysburg of Europe. It’s really not a Country, it’s just Military Highway.
If I was the Belgiums I would rent it to ’em and move out till they got through with it, then come back and get it in shape for the next war. They have 33 years to get it in shape for France and Germany to fight. They fight on schedule every 40 years. Then, in between, they can let England and France have it, then Russia and France. It would be no trouble to keep it booked up all the time. They could probably even get the Balkan business. I bet they would like to have new battle ground just for a change. And those Ruffians from Morocco! Maybe France could find them if they contracted to meet them in Belgium.
France’s Debt Co. comes over here next. They have never said anything about paying before. They have waited 7 years to translate their hard luck story into English. Their plea is that the harvest crop of Tourists has not reached the expected yield. The numbers have been beyond expectation but the shakedown per person, has been very low. There have been American Tourists who ventured into Europe this past summer, who really should not have gone beyond Lake Chautauqua. Where Tourists used to carry a letter of Credit when leaving America they are now carrying Lunch Boxes.
Drinks no longer interest an American in Europe; they are too mild. Americans are going there nowadays to look and France can’t figure out any way to keep ’em from looking without paying. So France argues, “If you don’t pay it to us we can’t pay it to you.”
I would suggest that they put in Hot Dog stands. Coney Island got rich off ’em out of the same kind of people. That is France’s only salvation. I would rather own the Hot Dog privilege than to own the Louvre.
When these Foreign Nations get all through promising to settle with us in 60 or 80 years, why maybe the Cattlemen and Farmers of this Country can go to Mr. Mellon and the Secretary of Agriculture and get the same liberal terms to pay for their homesteaded land, and their grazing taxes on Government land. Yes, you let one ask for 64 years time and now he will be escorted to an Asylum by a Federal Officer. Cattlemen made the Country but it takes a Politician to spoil it.
Europe can come here with a high hat and glycerine tears, and tell if its poverty and hard luck (which they themselves were responsible for). And they go home with a 60 year furlough, take their ready cash and build Battleships and Aeroplanes with it.
Let the old Cowman come in and show them his accumulation of a lifetime (which is mortgages) and show ’em the price of Beef on the hoof, and what happens?
Not only what happens, but what DID happen! They raised the tax on him for grazing his herds. That’s the 64 years’ Furlough he got. They said they were Forest Reserve and his Cattle might eat up the trees. Or the widow or mother of a Soldier who lost his life in the same war these Nations are asking mercy about—will they give her 64 years to dig up her little taxes? It’s wonderful to be lenient but let’s get lenient near home.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they liked us, but everybody knows that those countries have no more use for us than Hearst has for Al Smith.5
And speaking of these two gentlemen reminds me of a primary election we are having here in the old Town in a few days to see who runs on the Democratic Ticket for Mayor. Mr. Hearst and Mr. Smith are having the fight, and the two poor Birds who are running, Walker and Hylan are the goats.6
The two men that are fighting are not running, and the two who are running don’t know what it’s all about. They are just going for the ride.
Smith accused Hylan of conspiring with the Klan. If Hylan did do so, that is one thing that a Politician did that you couldn’t say he did for Political purposes—not in New York City.
The Republicans have finally found a fellow to run too. It’s Mr. Waterman, the man that makes our Fountain Pens.7
They say he is a fine man. He may make a good Mayor. But he has a life’s work in front of him if he will only stop those things from leaking. All three Candidates are running on the same platform, “The Five Cent Fare.”
Any man that can save five cents can get nominated. If I was going to run, my platform would be the Subway should pay you to ride on it. I don’t see why they don’t have Al Smith for Mayor. Of course he is Governor but he could hold both jobs. He could run this town in the Evenings. And, come to think of it, that is when it needs running. Everybody is asleep here all day.
1For this and all further references to Babe Ruth seeWA 124: N 10.
2For John J. McGraw see WA 124: N 11.
3For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 117: N 11.
4For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 124: N 5.
5William Randolph Hearst, American editor, publisher, and Democratic political figure. Hearst, who owned a huge newspaper empire, wielded considerable political power. For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1.
6For Jimmy Walker see WA 121: N 6. John F. Hylan, Democratic mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925. Hearst endorsed Hylan in the Democratic mayoral primary of 1925, and Smith supported fellow Tammanyite Walker. Walker won the primary and the general election.
7Frank Dan Waterman, Sr., New York City fountain pen manufacturer, philanthropist, and Republican mayoral candidate in 1925. His uncle invented the first workable fountain pen.
WA145 September 20, 1925
FLASK AND AUTOMATIC PISTOL
STANDARD EQUIPMENT TODAY
Well, all I know is just what fills up the papers, and naturally that ain’t much. The biggest question that is agitating the Public, as I pen these immortal lines, is the following: “Are all escaped Lunatics to be furnished with guns and ammunition?” This gun thing is getting pretty serious here around New York. Everybody that hasn’t got a gun is being shot by somebody.
A Flask and a Gun are now considered standard equipment, and are supposed to accompany every tough kid when he steps into long pants. They pinch a thousand people a day back there for parking 5 minutes too long or for not putting their hand out when they are going to turn, but have yet to ever read where a policeman ever searched a bunch of toughs hanging around a place to see if any of them carried concealed weapons. In fact I don’t know if it is against the law or not. They could start searching everybody and in one day here they would get enough Pistols and Stilettos to dam up the Hudson River.
I was born and raised in the Indian Territory, at Claremore to be exact. (A town that has cured more people than Florida has swindled). Well, that country, along about the time I was a yearling was supposed to have some pretty tough men. Of course, as I grew up and began to be able to uphold law and righteousness, why these men gradually began to thin out and drift on down to Politics, a big part of them becoming Governors. Well, even in those days out there it was against the law to carry guns and every once in awhile the Sheriff would search a fellow to see if he was overdressed, and they fined ’em heavy. Mind you, that was men carrying guns that knew what they were; knew the danger of them, and knew how to use them.
A bad man in those days consisted of a careful, deliberate, cool-headed, steel-nerved individual who was really a protector of women and children, or innocent people. But back here nowadays the so-called bad man is either an escaped Lunatic or a thick-headed Hop fiend or somebody full of terrible liquor. He shoots people just to get his picture in the paper.
Some of our Newspapers, if you take the murders out of them would have nothing left but the title of the paper. To compare one of the numbskull killers now-a-days with a Jess James or a Bob Dalton would almost be sacrilegious. 1
Still these addle brains can go and buy a gun any place they want to.
You know what has been the cause of the big increase in murders? It’s been the manufacture of the automatic pistol. It’s all right to have it invented, but it should never have been allowed outside the Army, and then only in war times.
The Automatic pistol is as much more dangerous and destructive than the old Six-Shooter, as poison gas is over perfume. In the first place there is no skill or nerve required in using it. You just touch a trigger and aim the thing around like you would a sprinkling can or a hose. It is shooting all the time, and the more unsteady the nerve of the holder, why, the better the shooting he can do, because he takes in a bigger radius.
There has never been a case where the attempted killer missed everybody with an automatic pistol; but on the other hand there has been a few cases where just the one originally shot at has been hit. But they always got somebody because they didn’t have presence of mind enough to even stop the thing from shooting. They should advertise those guns—“Killing Made Easy.” You don’t have to have a steady nerve; you don’t have to have good eyesight, no practice needed. Just hold the trigger down and we will guarantee you somebody.
When a man used to have to know something about a gun, and have the nerve to take aim at the party being used as a target, there was at least some skill and dignity connected with the profession. A bad man at least carried the admiration for his cool nerve, if not the respect of other people. But with these City Killers you know they are either Over Educated or Undernourished.
If your boy is overbright and starts reading a lot of books by some old Guy called Nitsky (or some Bolshevik name like that) why, look out for your Boy. He is just one jump from an automatic pistol emporium.
If killers had to learn to shoot before shooting somebody, we absolutely know there wouldn’t be as much killing, because you can look at them and tell they would never have had sense and patience enough to have learned to shoot. You let the Government confiscate and forbid the entire sale of automatics, even to officers, and everybody, because officers kill 10 innocent people to 1 guilty one with those sprinkling cans, and prohibit guns of even the older variety to any but officers, and when you catch a Guy with one send him to Jail, not fine him.
But I see where a lot of men are advocating letting everybody carry guns with the idea that they will be able to protect themselves. In other words, just make Civil War out of this Crime Wave. When you see a man coming and he looks like he hasn’t got as much as you and might want to rob you, why, just open up on him with your miniature Gatling gun. Wave it around in his general direction, (your eyes can be shut if you prefer) and you will get him, or somebody else. He may start shooting at you thinking you are trying to murder him or rob him, so let every man protect himself— no Policeman necessary—that is the slogan of these people.
Look at the Women Murderers today that in the day of the Six-Shooter was afraid to take a chance on missing their husbands. But with this cute little automatic, which just fits into their handbag—“why you just can’t miss him.” In the old days a woman had to go out and practice shooting for weeks, perhaps months, before she would dare open up on the “Better-half.” But with this marvelous invention, the automatic, the more hysterical she gets and the more he dodges about the more direct hits will be scored. Then comes the pictures in the papers and a wonderful trial and the acquittal, with her parting remark to the newspapers. “The dear men on the Jury were just lovely to me.” If she had been compelled to use the old-time weapon the crime would never have happened, because the present day woman don’t wear enough clothes to conceal a real Six-Gun.
Women used to be the alleged “Weaker Sex” but the automatic and the sentimental
jury have been the equalizer. “Why divorce him when you can shoot him easier and cheaper?”
If you think that being armed protects you, why, how about the amount of Policemen that are shot down here in New York? They are all armed. Yet these Hop Heads shoot ’em and all with automatics, because they wouldn’t have the nerve to do it with anything else. Of course, the surest way out of the whole thing would be to punish them, but, of course, that is out of the question—that’s barbarous, and takes us back, as the hysterics say, to the days before Civilization.
So if it’s a small crime, say robbery or some minor event, we fine them; and if it’s confessed murder, why, it’s Insanity. Alienists are busier and get more than Policemen. We go the theory that if you confess you must be insane. In the old days a man would go to any extremes to keep from getting into a shooting affray when he was under the influence of liquor, because he knew he was at a disadvantage. But now he is drunk or he wouldn’t think of such terrible crimes; and the more drunk or drugged he is, the more people he will hit. So if you are going to do away with Capital punishment and sell guns to everybody, let’s fix it so the party behind the gun will be at least a clear-headed, skilled marksman instead of a drunken amateur. Think of the humiliation of being shot by one of the present-day Bandits!
1Jesse Woodson James, Missouri outlaw of the western frontier during the post Civil War period. Robert Rennick “Bob” Dalton, one of the three western outlaw brothers who were slain in a raid on Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1892.
WA146 September 27, 1925
MITCHELL’S BACK AND COOLIDGE
IS LETTING NATURE TAKE ITS COURSE
Well, all I know is just what people put in the papers. The past week or so was kinder eventful here in the old townsite of New York. They had a primary election, and Mayor Hylan, the present Mayor, was defeated.1
He says he will retire to private life. He retires a poor man which I guess constitutes a record for a New York Tammany Mayor after eight years of opportunity. They were against him this time. Honesty didn’t fit in. The more I see of politics, and so-called organization the more I wonder what in the world any man would ever want to take it up for. Then some people wonder why the best men of a community are not the office holders.
Well, they are trying my old friend Colonel Mitchell.2
He is the man
I wrote you about one time that took me flying around Washington on his last aerial trip before being demoted and sent to exile. I made his last trip with him. His high commission was out at 12 o’clock that night, and he had been ordered to report to some mosquito post in Texas, not Kelly Field mind you, the big one, but some filling station where the government had had an airship stall and was never able to get it out of there so they established what they call a field so they could send him there. They all shook hands and gave a party after he left, saying, “Well, we finally got rid of that Bird. He won’t bother us any more.”
Well, it sorta looked like they had succeeded for we didn’t hear of him for quite a while and it looked like this “banishing to Siberia” thing was really working. But all this time he was trying to find the post where he was supposed to go. The Aviation folks had no charts of it, so Mitchell had to hunt it out himself. When he got there he put some wings on this old Government Barge that had been stalled in a chapparal thicket and he started in flying around.
Now here is where the civilization and progress of the great sovereign state of Texas comes in. The high officials in Washington thought, “Down there where we have sent him he won’t find out what we are NOT doing up here, because he won’t get any papers or mail.”
But there is where Ma Ferguson fooled ’em.3
She had mail delivered into every county in Texas and Corporal Mitchell (who had been Major General) begin to get the papers every two or three months apart. He read in the papers what the Aviation Department of the Army and Navy was doing and he dispatched a messenger out by Pony Express expressing his idea of what was going on. Well, when news of Mitchell reached the outside world it was just like hearing from that guy Amundsen (or whoever it was that went to the North Pole and was lost so long).4
Everybody was glad to hear that Mitchell was alive. They naturally thought the army had executed him. That’s one of the reasons that his message attracted so much attention. They said, “He not only lives but he is still in his right mind. He is telling the aviation of its shortcomings.”
Well, you could have knocked the army aviation over with a feather, not only could, but it had been done in the meantime. They all got together and said, “How did that guy find out we were not doing anything? I thought we had sent him where he was out of reach of our shortcomings. What can we do about it?”
“Well,” said the Secretary of the Navy, “we will send a man down there and see if he said it.”
“Why don’t you wire, Mr. Secretary, and ask him? That would be quicker.” “No,” said the Secretary. “We can’t wire because we don’t know where we sent him. If we did know, we have tried to forget. We can’t reach him by wire. We have to send a messenger inland for days to get to where we sent him.”
“How about an airship? Can’t you send an airship there and catch him?” “No,” replied the secretary. “We can’t catch him in an airship. You forget he knows how to fly.”
“But why do you want to send and ask him if he said it? We know good and well he said it, without having to go and ask him. Besides, if you ask him, he is liable to make it stronger than he did in the first statement.”
“Well, there is one advantage in sending a courier in to see him,” said the secretary. “It will take time, and we need time to decide what to do with him.”
“What to do with him? Why, what is the Military Law? What are we supposed to do with Army Officers who criticise their superior officers?”
“Well, we court-martial them. But this fellow is different from the others. He seems to want us to bring him to court-martial. He may know something and before it’s through it will be us on trial instead of him. This is an unusual case and we have to be careful.”
“Well, what does Mr. Coolidge say about it?”
“What does Mr. Coolidge say about anything? He believes in letting nature take its course.”
“How about appointing a citizens’ jury? Wouldn’t that shift all the blame off the Army and Government and put it onto the tax-payers? He stands for everything else.”
“Yes, that is all right but suppose the jury take Mitchell’s part? Where will he be? They are liable to take the Aviation away from the Army and the Navy and put it into the hands of a separate department. We must never let it get away from us, no matter how bad it gets.”
“But, Mr. Secretary, why has Aviation to be linked up with the Army, any more than leaving the Navy and the Army united under one head? Aviation is no more like the Army, or Navy, than they are like each other.”
“I know it’s not, but the Navy wants to keep theirs, and if they can do it, the Army can do it. They are not going to get away with anything on us. If we get another branch into our service we would just have to have twice that much more to be jealous of. As it is now, we can spend all our time hating the Navy, and they can spend all their time hating us, but you go and bring in Aviation under a different head and it splits our jealousies up till we don’t hardly know who we are jealous over. We won’t get anything done if we got to be jealous of everybody. We won’t have time.”
“Well, I see Mr. Secretary that Mr. Coolidge has appointed a man named Morrow to be Chairman of the Citizens’ Committee.5
I suppose he did that for the same reason that they have a man in Mexico named ‘Manana’ (which means tomorrow). That is about what they do everything by. So now we can have one, ‘Wait till Morrow.’”
Well, that settles the airship problem about as good as it has been settled by even the Government up to now, so we can now take up something else and thrash it out to the disgust of both our readers.
Ah, I have it! The Saklatvala case.”6
Bet a lot of you don’t know what the S_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (I can’t spell it again) case is. The nearest thing we
have had to it in this country is Sal Hepatica. But ours is not a case it is a
remedy, while England’s S_ _ _ _ _ _ _ (there it goes again) is a disease.
This Saka-lava is a member of the House of Parliament in England and he was appointed on a committee to come here to some kind of convention. (Interparliamentary Union). Now you got to find out yourself what that is.
It’s, I think, a kind of Rotary Club of different countries’ Congressmen, where each country picks out the worst they have and they meet, organize, make speeches, have minutes, compliment what they have done and go home. The world don’t know they are holding it, and in a month after it’s over the members who attended have forgotten it, but they will have ’em.
Well, this Saka-Slovakia person is a Communist, a disease that used to be prevalent in Russia, but it almost starved out. They don’t know what to do with him over here, so Mr. Kellogg, our amiable Secretary of State, sends word that they better leave this man at home.7
Of course for Diplomatic reasons he gave the pronunciation of his name as being the reason he would be un-welcome over here.
The man said if he did come he would “not say a thing against us,” but Kellogg is afraid after he saw us he would.
This man is the Eugene V. Debs of Europe.8
So Mr. Kellogg told England, “Wait until we get through with Mitchell. We don’t want anybody else over here telling the truth about us. One at a time is enough.” They say he is a Hindu and Kellogg is afraid he will release a lot of snakes from under an old apron.
We let this Kount Karolyi in here last winter with an official courtplaster over his mouth, and we come to find out afterwards that he didn’t have anything to say anyway.9
So let this Hindu magician come on in. Even if his act is bad, it can’t be worse than some of our home talent members of our parliament. If England can stand him in Parliament, we ought to stand him just during a Convention, unless it’s a Democratic one, where we would have him on our hands for life.
So please reconsider, Mr. Kellogg, We have never seen a Hindu politician. He may be an improvement over these others. He can’t help but be.
1For John F. Hylan see WA 144: N 6.
2Mitchell (see WA 117: N 10) was relieved of active duty on September 21, 1925.
3Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson, Democratic governor of Texas from 1925 to 1927 and 1933 to 1935.
4For Roald Amundsen see WA 127: N 2.
5Dwight Whitney Morrow, American lawyer, banker, diplomat, and Republican politician. In 1925 Morrow, a college classmate of Coolidge, became chairman of a presidential commission to examine national aeronautics and defense. The report of the President’s Aircraft Board in 1926 led to the separation of control of aircraft for national defense from that of aircraft for commercial purposes.
6Shapurji Saklatvala, Indian-born British merchant, lawyer, and politician. A member of the British Communist party, he served in Parliament from 1914 to 1929. Because of his politics, Saklatvala was barred from entering the United States in 1925 to attend an international conference.
7For Frank B. Kellogg see WA 132: N 7.
8Eugene Victor Debs, American labor and socialist leader who organized the Social Democratic party in 1897 and was a candidate for president in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.
9For Mihaly Karolyi see WA 124: N 1