Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA199 October 3, 1926
WILL ROGERS IS GETTING HOMESICK
FOR SOME OKLAHOMA CULTURE
Well all I know is just what I run into as I am trafficking around over the uncivilized part of the World. I am just dying to get back to mix with some good old Oklahoma Culture. These heathen over here are living in the days of Old Nero, and Peter the Great, and Old Scrooge, and Santza Panza, or whatever
the old fellow’s name was that matched a combat with a windmill. Well, any of those old timers can come to life today and feel right at home with these people over here anywhere. They haven’t even changed their telephone number since Napoleon called up Josephine and told her he wouldn’t be home that year.
Things are kinder dragging along just about like they were when the predominant race was the Gauls or Galls. Well, these Gauls are still here. Every other part of the anatomy might have changed somewhat, but the “Gaul” has stayed intact. In fact it has enlarged if anything. Course they have changed their names from it to others, but the trace of the “Old Gaul” is noticeable.
And to be kinder fair all around, some of them must have been on the Giant ship
Mayflower, for there is slight traces of it bobbing up among the home talent over in Cuckooland. In fact, of all the races of people that have inhabited the
earth, including the Meades and the Persians (that always sounded like a Vaudeville team to me), the Gladiators and the Christians, the Celts and the Normans, and dozens of different races right on down to the Democrats and the Republicans (which is just about the end of all races). Why of all the races that have really left a characteristic trace, why the Gauls take the cake. I know Theater Managers that have paid me the compliment of saying that away back
in the early John Smith and Pocahontas period (the first international complication) that I must have had a “Gaulic” sire. I am proud of the fact, only for one thing, and that is that every Politician is a direct descendant of them, and it is only through that association that I hate to be classed with them. But these People have lived among the old things so much that they are afraid to touch anything that has been made in the last Century for fear they will get fresh paint on their fingers.
But they seem to get along on it, and that is everything. Lord, if we would only let everybody live and act and do as they pleased (I mean of course as long as what they did did not interfere with any one else), why she sure would be a great old World. But every day you meet a Delegation going to some Convention to try and change the way of somebody else’s life. I really believe if they took the badges off everybody and made them belong to nothing but their own homes and people that the world would in a short time change its name from Earth to Heaven.
Mind you, don’t get the idea that everybody over here is slow. Just about the most speed I have seen was in Russia, where you would least expect it. First an old Russian Bolsheviki Boy flew me in there from Berlin faster than I had ever ridden in a Plane before. Then when we landed at the Airdome, why I got my first touch of a Russian Taxicab Driver. It was not the regulation taxi as we know it but a touring car. Now, I didn’t think anything could carry you any faster than that old cloud dodger with that plane, but say, this Boy in this Taxi made him look like he was in low! There is only one thing wilder in an Airoplane, or a car than a Bolshevick, and that is another Bolshevick.
Now Peter the Great layed out the streets in Russia. He put the Stones down and said, “There they are, and I don’t want anybody monkeying with them. When I, PETER THE GREAT, do anything don’t touch it.”
Well if old Peter could come back it sure would do his old rustic heart good to know that they had kept his word. Nobody has ever layed a pick or a spade on to those streets since Peter’s time.
You will be bouncing along fairly well and all at once you drop into a Canyon or rut as they call it, and there you will find the remains of old wheels, and parts of cars, and “Droskys.” Those are those old buggy-looking things they drive in Russia all the time and old Horses’ bones.
But this young Comrade driving this car, you had to give him credit; he did know his Russia. He figured if he took proper run at one of these crevices and got a good takeoff that he could jump and the idea worked. We never in the entire drive in passed a single car or vehicle. He would wait till they went
down in one of these gullys and then we would jump them. We vaulted right over rows and rows of traffic. Now there is not so terrible many automobiles in Russia. But what few there is when you see one coming there is only one of two things to do. One is to make for the Vulgar River, wherever it is. Even if they are singing the boat song, it’s better than being chased by a Communist Taxi. But the surest thing to do is to drop right in your tracks and lay flat on your stomach. If he is a typical Russian driver he will jump you clean.
Well, when I got to the Hotel I got my first touch of Communism. I asked the driver in my best Russian Pantomime what the outlay in the way of tariff would be. He just looked at me, guessed within ten cents of my total amount of money, and names HALF of it. I thought to myself, “Now how did that fellow know just what half I had was?” I had been used all over Europe to polite methods of banditry. But this old boy made me feel like I ought to go back and give everybody that I had dealt with in the rest of Europe some more money.
I never knew how these men at Coney Island can look at you and guess within three pounds of what you weigh. But they do feel of you. But this old Lad didn’t even lay a hand on me. But he sure did divide to a dime just what I had. He just took a short glance, named a figure, and communism was never better illustrated. It was the highest priced auto ride I had ever been associated with. I just felt like he was driving my car away when he left.
Then come the Hotel. That old boy looked at me and guessed. (Well, I wouldn’t be so rash as to call it a guess. It was more of a boni fide statement.)
He was even five cents closer than the taxi guy as to what I had left on my person.
Then in to dinner in the Cafe, and when the waiter handed me his subpoena if he had been my wife he couldn’t have made a more equal division, right to the penny. Well, by then they was getting me down so low that it didn’t make much difference. They had just whittled me to where I was a Communist. That is, I thought I was. But I couldn’t seem to guess what anybody else had. You know that Communism there is more to it evidently than you think. You just try it sometime and see if you can guess half of what anybody has. I was splitting 50-50 on all I had left at every turn. But I was doing some mighty poor mind-reading on my part, for nobody was splitting with me. I had found that this Communism stuff is more for outsiders than anybody else. I didn’t see any of them splitting with each other or anybody else. I tried my best to be a Communist but they wouldn’t let me.
WA200 October 10, 1926
WILL ROGERS. WHEN EUROPE HEARS
OF THAT $42,000 LEFT, OH BOY!
Well, I am back in Cuckooland, I am not going to pull the old gag about “America looks pretty good to me.” It don’t look good it looks “Perfect.” We are better off than any Nation. Why? Why just because we work more. Prosperity
is based on just what you produce and if you don’t produce much you are just out of luck. Course after I get around awhile and see a little more of it I will gradually find room for improvement, there is generally a few flaws I can pick out now and again. But just looking at it fresh like I am now after being used to those others over there, why she looks pretty near good enough to live in. We blew in here the other day on the Leviathan. My wife and the two younger of the brood, Mary and Jim, and “Lord Jock Dewar.”1
“Lord Jock Dewar” is a little white flea hound, one of those new breeds called Sealingham. Lord Dewar over there is the keeper of the “Still” that makes “Dewar’s Scotch Whisky.” Not that I was patronizing his brand, but he is the greatest after-dinner Speaker in England and a very fine old Gentleman, and he breeds all kinds of fine Horses, Chickens and Dogs and he gave the children this thoroughbred Cur. This old Pup has been raised on Scotch and it’s going to be pretty tough to drop down onto drinking moonshine.
We had a marvelous trip over. And the best part about it was the chance we all had on the boat of making the personal acquaintance of a man who has shaped a great many of the destinies that we are today prospering under. I had never met him personally and when I read that he was going to be on the boat I got kinder scared for I had told many a joke about him. In fact in one of the best Comedy Scenes I ever had in the Follies one year I made up and did an impersonation of him, it was a “Burlesque” of the Disarmament Conference in Washington, which he not only presided over but he was the originator of the idea of the whole thing.
Now I bet you there is just lots of folks that have formed the same opinion of Charles Evan Hughes that I had.2
I know lots of them on the boat told
me they had. Everybody conceded his ability. One night at the Ship’s Concert when I was following him on the Program I said, “ I have followed every kind of act in the world in my years of experience on the Stage. But tonight I can claim the distinction of following the brainiest and most intellectual man we
have produced in America in our Generation.”
Say they like to tore up the ship with applause, and there was a big sprinkling of Democrats, too. Everybody always admired him and looked up to him in every way but the impression had always been sorter rooted into us that he was a pretty cold-blooded proposition, that he didn’t have much time for any little trifles and as far as a joke or any fun was concerned why we would have felt like a person was taking his life in his hands to pull one on him. Well, all that is Apple Sauce.
If there is a finer fellow to meet and to help you out on anything than Mr. Hughes I never met him. We had just got on the boat when we heard of the terrible Florida Disaster and of course everyone felt very bad about it, and
we commenced to figure out what we could do in our little way to try and do
our bit. We had a very fine bunch of people on, and some very distinguished
men in public life. In addition to Mr. Hughes, was Mr. O’Conner, Chairman of the Shipping Board.3
Mr. Alec Moore who was a very Capable Ambassador
for us in Spain and who is always willing to help out on anything.4
Senator Reed of Pennsylvania, who procured his election before votes got so high
in his state.5
He says he “Hopes they get back reasonable before he comes up for election again.” ‘Then we had Representative Britton of Illinois (another place where you pay for ’em or you don’t get ’em).6
Well, he and Mr. Reed and Representative Aswell of Louisiana who had been over investigating the Cafe conditions in Paris.7
Then Ambassador Phillips of Belgium. (He and I both coming in to report Ambassadorically.) 8
Then Mr. Castle from our State Department, Mr. Scudahy, editor of the Literary Digest, and a host of other notables.9
Well, we had a meeting (looked like a Senatorial Investigation) and there is where I first met Mr. Hughes.
When I was first introduced I didn’t know whether to hold out my hand to shake or to cover up and protect myself. Well, he was so jolly and congenial, and we talked over what we would do. Somebody suggested that the money we collected, we send it direct to Mr. Coolidge as he had made the Appeal to the Country. Well, I told them I would be a little afraid to risk that. So Mr. Hughes seconded my motion, he was also a little leary of Cal. That pleased me to have my judgment vindicated by such a man as Mr. Hughes. We suggested having him in our program as one of the Entertainers. He said: “Well, I have been called everything else in my career but an entertainer, but I will do my best.”
We gave the concert and he was supposed to be the serious end of our program and then I was supposed to come along and blackjack them out of what they had. Well, he got out there and he was making such humorous remarks and such entertaining observations that he almost forgot to mention what the appeal was to be for, but then he switched on them and all I had to do when I went on was to have a bushel basket to put the check in. Mr. Cudhay of the Literary Digest started with $5,000 and Mr. Kenny of Kenny and Co., $5,000 (that’s Kreisler cars that’s all).10
Then any amount gave us Thousands and five hundred check, among them this same Mr. Hughes, who incidentally had to resign from the Cabinet to get out and provide for his future. (We ought to pay our good men more, but that’s a thing I will take up with you later.)
Well, the next night we decided to go down in the second Cabin and we didn’t know if he would go. Why say, he would have done anything for the cause. Down we went and cleaned them, then the next night down in the third. (Now that’s not the third as you might know it. It’s College Professors and Students and people who went over to do something besides drink, and incidentally was the best audience of the whole trip.) Well, our troupe headed by Mr. Hughes went down there. He said he was “going to open at Keith’s Palace the next week, as he was a regular trooper now.” Well, we jigged them altogether out of $34,000 at that time. When a modest, retiring man come up to me and handed me a check, I told him I had nothing to do with the money, to give it to Mr. O’Conner. He said: “No, you take it.”
I looked at it, on some little bank out in Pennsylvania, then I looked at the amount and I thought he had written the numbers wrong. It was for $8,000 which brought our fund to $42,000 and was from Mr. Hershey of Hershey’s chocolates, a man that I suppose had done more for other people than any man in America.11
He has an Orphan’s home of over 200, and has built a model town just for his people. Nobody even knew he was on the boat.
It broke all records for any collection at sea and it was mainly due to the hearty cooperation of Mr. Hughes. Say, if he had been running for President then he would have carried that Boat, Democrats and all. You should know people before you form your opinion of them for keeps, for if ever a man was misunderstood in regard to being a real genuine good fellow it’s this Mr. Hughes. He has a lot of real humor, in fact I think you have to have to hang around with that Gang there in Washington. He told me about Disarmament and what chances it had of success. His wife and Daughter were as pleasant and nice as he was.
Now that reminds me. About this Florida fund. Due to a lot of people down there that are well off themselves and are able to go out and hire fixed up any damage that was done, why they say the whole thing has been exaggerated. They are so afraid that it will hurt the question of their State and interfere with the Tourist crop that they give the better side of it. But I have talked with people that just today come from there and they say there is very urgent need for all the money they can get. And I don’t think the thing should be allowed to dwindle down and the impression to get out that it wasn’t needed.
It was the poor people that was hit the hardest and they shouldn’t be made to suffer just to try and make the state look like a Calamity couldn’t hit it. Lord, it’s no disgrace to have the elements take a crack at you. A Cyclone is liable to come everywhere. Because one did come that don’t mean that there will be another. There may never be another in that State in our time. A Lot of people down there act like it was a personal disgrace and they want to keep it
quiet. Let people help all they are able to. They might be called on tomorrow
to help out some other part of the Country. That’s what makes this old land great. We cuss each other and we joke each other but you let the old pinch come and every man and his dog is with you.
If the Red Cross say they want 10 million for Florida, let ’em have it. They know more than anyone else what is needed. That’s why we have such implicit confidence in them. Every dollar that goes to Florida helps some poor man and his family. We know the Mayors and the Governors don’t need it but by golly there is people in there that do need it, and it’s no disgrace to Florida to have it given to them.
Florida has a unique hold on everybody because everybody has either kin folks or friends there. It is our last frontier. More poor people than rich went there. They went to try and better their condition and make a stake. They were working people. They were the people that will take a chance, and the people that will take a chance are the best people we have in America today. They got stout hearts. When they loaded all they had in an old Ford car and went to Florida to make a home for their children they were just as game and took just as big a chance as the old Guys in the Covered Wagons did years ago. Help them all you can. Don’t listen to what these rich Guys say. Not only help them but go there and invest. You will make money. Good stuff in Florida will always be good. It’s a marvelous winter state, and a great agricultural State. Everything happens for the best. That slump in prices that come they knew it had to come some time, so let it come and get it over with. Well a few of the grafters survived that then this cyclone come and blew them away.
Now you got nobody there but the people that belongs there. A country has got to be based on settlers and not grafters. Frisco come country has got to be based on settlers and not grafters. Frisco come out of it and looks like a billion dollars, and Santa Barbara is bigger and better than ever, and Florida
will make a bigger and quicker recovery than any of them, for they are used to doing things quick down there anyway. So if the Red Cross says they need something they need it, so give. You are lucky that Hughes and I didn’t get a
crack at you. We would have made you dig up. Just think when Europe hears there was $42,000 that they didn’t get. They will hate us sure enough.
1Lord Dewar (seeWA 195: N 8) gave Rogers’ youngest children, Mary and Jim, a Sealyham dog named Jock.
2For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 156: N 5.
3Thomas Ventry O’Connor, American labor leader and government official who served as chairman of the United States Shipping Board from 1924 to 1933.
4Alexander Pollock Moore, United States ambassador to Spain from 1923 to 1925 and to Peru from 1928 to 1930.
5David Aiken Reed, Republican United States senator from Pennsylvania from 1922 to 1935.
6Frederick Albert Britten, Republican United States representative from Louisiana from 1913 until his death in 1931.
7James Benjamin Aswell, Democratic United States representative from Louisiana from 1913 until his death in 1931.
8William Phillips, United States ambassador to Belgium from 1924 to 1927.
9William Richards Castle, Jr., chief of the Division of Western European Affairs in the United States Department of State from 1921 to 1927.
10Robert Joseph Cuddihy, publisher of the magazine Literary Digest from 1890 to 1937 and head of its parent publishing firm, Funk & Wagnalls, from 1914 to 1948. William F. Kenny, Sr., wealthy New York City building contractor and Democratic party financial supporter.
11Milton Snavely Hershey, American industrialist who established a chocolate manufacturing empire in Pennsylvania. A noted philanthropist, he supported many worthwhile causes.
WA201 October 17, 1926
WILL ROGERS BACK IN U. S.
WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR VOTE
Well, I had no more than landed back in old Cuckooland and gone down and reported to the Big Boss in the Colonial Bungalow in the Dippy District then he rushed me off up into New York State to see what the chances were of being invited to Jim Wadsworth’s after March First in Washington.1
Then he said he wished if I had the time to go on up into Canada and see what kind of a deal I could make in the way of annexation, that Canada was just about on the verge of seeing the advantage of having a working connection with some live growing concern. But I will tell you about the situation in New York State first. Jim Wadsworth has been Senator for a long time and has worked his way up till the Page Boys in the Senate know him by sight, and he is even on two or three little Committees, (not investigating Committees) but real honest to goodness never-hold-a-meeting Committees, Jim is a good man and he is our kind of folks. He owns a big ranch in the Panhandle of Texas, and a farm in the Genessee Valley in New York State. He really makes it pay. Not Gentleman business. So any man that can make a farm pay in these times deserves not only to be a Senator but to be “Sainted.”
Well, Jim has matched himself a tough race. Judge Wagner of New York City, about the best man that the Democrats could beat the portals of the Apartment Houses on the East side and scare out, is running against Jim for the Senate.2
He is a Tammany Man, which is as big an advantage in New York City as it is a handicap out of New York. Well, ordinarily Jim would clean up on him. But Jim said he was “Wet.” Now the old upstate dry Republicans think Jim’s whole career is damned, so they put them up another Republican to run Independent. Well, he is drier than a fancy bathing suit at the beach.
Jim’s one consolation is that this Guy is so dry that he will just about blow away before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This fellow is named Christman.3
He is what you call a “Dog in the Manger Candidate.” He knows he will never get any nearer Washington than the
Sesqui-Centennial in Philadelphia. But he is sure going to stick an oar into
somebody else’s propeller. So that is going to split the Republican upstate vote
so New York looks like they are in for a political World Series.
Now you know how much chance a Tammany man would have in that Senate, with 95 Guys working against him. Say, he might be a Judge in New York but in Washington he would just be a Justice of the Peace. That brings us down to the Governor’s race. Al Smith of course is running again.4
He didn’t want to run again. He had been in there so long that he felt it began to look like it was the only job he could hold. It looked like he wasn’t advancing. In fact if a man holds one job too long he don’t advance; he goes back.
But they finally persuaded Al to take it as it was the best they had to offer him this year. They told him he would struggle along on it for a while longer that along about ’28 they would see if something better show up, for after all being Governor of even New York is better than nothing at all. So the Republicans pulled Ogden Mills out of Congress and sent him into bat against Smith.5
Course they don’t figure he will get a hit, but they figure he might get a sacrifice and advance himself far enough to be put up by his Party for the Senate in ’28.
This fellow Mills is the man I made the Political Speech for that time in New York when I didn’t even know what Party he was running on. He is a mighty nice fellow in spite of his money, and made a good showing in Congress (if such a thing is possible.) This fellow Mills is a good Campaigner, and will make a better showing than lots of people think. Course Smith has got to win by a bigger Majority than he did over Roosevelt two years ago or they will figure that he has lost prestige. So New York’s election this fall is really an elimination contest for the big Sweepstakes. I can’t tell from the platforms any difference in any of the four of them. They all say that Prohibition is the
issue, and they are all on the same side of it, so it’s certainly not an issue with them.
Wagner is for Light Wines.
Wadsworth is for Beer.
Mills is for Light Wines and Beer.
And Smith is for Egg-Nog.
With all this excitement and interest it looks like a great year for the voters.
I think voters will make more this fall than they have ever made on an off presidential year. I haven’t heard quotations, but the fellow that sells his vote cheap this fall in any state is crazy, and as for 1928 I am buying up options on votes for that now.
Well, I got everything straightened out in that State, including their two principal towns of Binghampton and Buffalo and then I come on up here to Canada to see for the Boss if this country was worth taking over. England has kinder lost her hold on them and they are getting out doing a little thing of their own. They had an election lately and the Conservatives, or the Crown Part was swamped under by the Liberals, so as I was in England at the time I read a lot of very pessimistic tales of what was happening in Canada. They claimed that on account of them living so near to us that they were soaking up a lot of our meanness. They were afraid that on account of so much American Capital being invested in here that Canada was gradually getting weaned away from them.
You see the last Governor General made a decision up here just before election that changed the whole complexion of things, and that got them pretty badly riled up.6
They believed that a Governor General’s place was in a dress suit in a Drawing Room, and not issuing any orders to anybody but the social Secretary. It was all right for him to tell the Butler what to do, but when it come to telling Parliament what to do he was all out of order. They feel that a Governor General sent over by England occupies about the same position up here that King George does in England.7
That is he is all right to lead the parades, live in the Castle, name mentioned first in Prayer and Song. But any time he steps out of his Character and starts doing any heavy thinking for himself he is diplomatically requested to get right back on his Throne and be normal again.
So now they are having a conference in London to decide whether he has any authority outside of who shall attend the receptions. In other words his qualifications as a Governor General should come from a study of Emily Post and not from Disraeli, or Blackstone.8
The only problems he is allowed to discuss are the problems of the Links, and not the problems of Government. Now from what I can see there don’t seem to be any demand up here to join in and
be murdered and be run over with us. They strike me as being an entirely too sane a nation to fit in with our scheme of things down home. Why you can still buy a drink without having to take a whole case, and can believe in Evolution. You can do both of these things and not be considered an Atheist up here.
They have the queerest ideas of what is right and wrong that way. Now I have no idea but what we could take them over and make a paying proposition out of them, for the country now is supplying about everything we use in the way of raw materials. But I hate to interrupt a friendship that has been going on now pretty steady since the battle of Lake Erie. You see they don’t owe us and they still think we are pretty good neighbors, so if we can just keep from annexing them and keep from loaning them anything in the way of a government debt, why we ought to be friends for years to come.
Canada is principally an Agricultural country and we raise more now than the farmers down home can sell for enough to put in the next year’s crop. About the only thing I can think of we could use it for would be a skating rink in the winter and we got such a poor class of Skaters that we couldn’t hardly afford to maintain it just for that. Unless we could trade in Wisconsin on it some way I can’t see any reason for annexing it. So I have advised against it.
There is only one advantage that it would be to us and that is it would give us a more direct line to the North Pole and that should be considered, for I think the North Pole is the next coming country. California and Florida have come into their own, but the next big boom is the Pole. I think my decision will suit President Coolidge for he has just about all he can handle down there now
without annexing 8 million more farmers. What we need is some good country to annex us.
1James Wolcott Wadsworth, Jr., Republican United States senator from New York from 1915 to 1927.
2Robert Ferdinand Wagner, New York City attorney, judge, and Democratic politician. Wagner defeated Wadsworth in 1926 and served as United States senator from New York from 1927 to 1949.
3Franklin W. Christman, New York political figure; unsuccessful Prohibition party candidate for the United States Senate in 1920.
4For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1.
5Ogden Livingston Mills, Republican United States representative from New York from 1921 to 1927. Mills was defeated by Governor Smith in the gubernatorial election in New York in 1926.
6Julian Hedworth George Byng, British soldier and government official who served as governor general of Canada from 1921 to 1926.
7For George V see WA 194: N 1.
8Emily Price Post, American writer and columnist famous for her advice on manners and social etiquette; author of the bestseller Etiquette (1922). Benjamin Disraeli, nineteenth century English political leader and author; prime minister of Great Britain in 1868 and from 1874 to 1880. William Blackstone, eighteenth century English jurist who authored Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769), the best known history of the doctrines of English law.
WA202 October 24, 1926
WILL ROGERS FINDS McCORMACK
AND TALLEY REGULAR FOLKS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I see as I tramp the width and breadth of this great commonwealth. After looking over Canada last week and reporting to you in regard to taking it under the Auspices of the United States, of course as I told you then, that’s all off. We don’t want more
people in this country. What we want is to try and improve the mob we have here now. Canada couldn’t help us out. They couldn’t even learn us English they speak it just as bad as we do.
In my little prowling around this past week I have horned into quite a few Celebrities, mostly of the Artistic breed. Up at Ottawa, Canada, I was in there one night, and all the opposition I had in the World was a fellow giving a concert the next night. Little John McCormack of County Limerick over on the Auld sod.1
Well, he was good enough to come to our show, and as I
wasn’t working the next night I went down to his, to help make up a crowd. If I hadn’t gone there would have been one less standing room, so I am glad I helped him out. Some fellow had fenced in the northern end of a Canadian province, built a board wall around it and called it an Auditorium. The night before when I was in there, I got a candle and just went around inside the place and told my act personally to each one that I found. But do you know it’s really remarkable to go to one of his Concerts and just see what one man can do to an audience. He walks out there with no orchestra, just a Piano Player, and he stands there and reads his songs out of a little notebook.
Now he must know some of those songs by heart by this time, but he always has that little book that he holds across his chest like he was trying to balance a hot water bottle on his tummy. The reason I know he was doing it for some other reason than just to look at it was that lots of times he didn’t look at it at all. He either had a cramp or he was trying to hide a soiled white vest.
With John’s Radiator kinder protruding, why if he did happen to have a few gravy spots on his vest it would be the first thing you would notice. So I sorter give him the benefit of the doubt and I think that’s why he embraces his middle all during the evening.
But Boy, when he sings you don’t care where his hands are. You wouldn’t mind if he punched you in the jaw with them if he would just keep right on singing. Had a fine visit with him at the hotel and as I had just been to Ireland and met a lot of old friends of his, Ireland got many a good wish that night even from his capable Hebraic Manager, McSweeney.2
McSweeney knew Ireland as well as he did his native heath of old Kishnieff.
He is a great fellow to talk to, is John, just like a big old Kid. He has just returned from China and Japan and he told me a good one about a very prominent Chinese he was talking to over there. They were speaking of the unsettled condition of China and John asked him if he didn’t think that a Mussolini would be good for China. The stoic old Chinaman replied, “Yes, I think Mussolini would be a very good man for China.” John then asked, “How long do you think it would take Mussolini to straighten out China?“ The Chinaman scratched his head and thought very seriously for quite a while then answered very slowly and deliberate, “Well, Mr. McCormack, I think it would take Mr. Mussolini just exactly 250 years to straighten out China.”
John says they run his Phonograph records so fast over in Japan that he thought it was Eddie Cantor singing.3
John is a great Cricket Game fan over
in England, and knows the batting average of every player for years and when
you know the batting average of a cricksteer you have to have some memory. For I saw one in one time at the bat stay there and knock 324 runs. Babe Ruth would be the bat boy in a game like that with only three home runs. You know what has made McCormack great with his singing it’s because with all his God given voice he has never allowed himself to get High-Brow, and Artistic, with the selection of his songs. A song don’t get so common that John won’t sing it, IF IT HAS MELODY.
You see these others maybe with good voices come out and scream and yell in Dago or Frog lingo, to about a handful of people that pretend they know what he is calling for. And here is McCormack who comes out and can sing in all those languages but knows enough not to. He can sing to more people in one night than these others will in a year. You not only know what he is singing about but you can understand every word he says. Just think, a man that pleases more people with his voice than any human being alive. You would think some of these others would follow his example in a small way and trade their art for regular meals.
Well I had no more than got out of the sound of John’s fast-breaking Tenor voice than I land in Cincinnati and who do I have the pleasure of meeting but dear little Marion Talley.4
I had read so much about her that I was anxious to see her and see just what kind of a person a young Grand Opera singer
was before they got old and fat and Artistic and was called “Dame.” I wanted to run onto one that was going up, instead of coming down. Now Marion lives out home (or what we call home, if they discover anything worth while.) She is from Kansas City that’s about two hundred miles from the outedge of Claremore, Oklahoma, another town by the way that has turned out some mighty good Singers. I can’t think of any of them off hand but I have heard some singing there that I know must have turned out and went somewhere.
Now I have told you about John, what about our Marion? Well her mother was with her and my wife was with me and we were going up to top of the Sinton Hotel to have some photos taken and they wanted to label them “Western Types.” Now, the best way to get the real lowdown on Women and Daughters is to ask your wife. While Marion and I was discussing her opera roles of Mozart, Hans Wagner, Verdi, Rembrandt, Michael Angelo, Irving Berlin and Jake Schubert, and the Stock Yards in Kansas City, and Jim Reed and the monument to show you where the new depot is there;5
why Mrs. Talley and Mrs. Rogers were discussing the best way to bring up singers and monologue actors. Both having had experience in this line. So when the 80 per cent and I got alone after this long conversation with these famous Talleys, why both of us had found out the same thing, and we agreed exactly that the Talley family had started out endowed with considerable sense as well as voice, and that in spite of artistic critics’ praise, they had been able to keep all four of their feet square on the ground. Betty said “she was a plain, lovely, sensible mother,” and I said Marion is just like our little Mary, only she can sing better. Not louder, but better.
Now, if you have never seen this girl and only her pictures, why you have a surprise in store for you. I can place her with Ziegfeld tomorrow under an assumed name, and she won’t have to sing a note.6
She is very pretty, has no airs and is just like meeting a sweet young Girl Graduate. Her mother told us Marion studied typewriting and a business course. She didn’t know if she would ever be able to make her voice pay. She opens November first at the Metropolitan, and is to sing in four different languages. No, I am wrong there, Italian, German, and French; they don’t sing in English there for fear someone will find out what they are singing about.
I heard a dandy opera in English in Milan, Italy, but that’s a long way to go to get your own language. Society would never patronize it here. They wouldn’t get to act like they knew what it was if it was in English. But don’t miss this little 19-year-old girl. I don’t know opera, but I know common sense when I see it, and the commoner the better I know it.
1John Francis McCormack, successful Irish operatic and concert tenor. A naturalized American citizen, he appeared regularly after 1909 with various eastern operatic companies.
2Denis “Mac” McSweeney, Irishman who joined McCormack’s company as associate manager in 1912 and remained with the tenor for more than twenty-five years.
3Eddie Cantor, American vaudeville, burlesque, theatrical and motion picture comedian and singer.
4For Marion Talley see WA 178: N 2.
5For James A. Reed see WA 151: N 6.
6For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 117: N 11.
WA203 October 31, 1926
WILL ROGERS: READ THIS TO HEAR
WHAT CALVIN SAID TO MARIE
There sure ain’t going to be any argument on what to write about this week. There may be doubts some weeks but not this one. There is only one subject that is agitating the people’s composure and which is making their coffee get cold while they read what she has done the day before, and that of course is Queen Marie, “The Roving Rumanian.”1
The Democrats and Republicans were trying to have a little election around in various places and striving to get a little publicity on it, but, Lord, she landed right in the middle of it, and everybody that even did remember the names of Candidates has forgotten them by now.
I thought Al Smith was pretty popular and well known in and around the old Tammany Igloo, but, Lord, when Tammany heard the Queen was coming they canned Al and changed their Irish to an English accent, and they got some fellow who had met a Queen somewhere and he trained them for weeks on whether to wear a laydown or a stand-up collar on a Tug Boat on a rainy morning.2
Jimmy Walker had issued a decree that everybody was to appear in Uniform (without Flasks).3
The clothes were to consist, so his instructions said, of heavy striped pants, held up by suspenders, and cutaway coat. (For fear of mistakes they sent diagram to show which end was to be cut-away.) All tags, either size or price, were to be carefully removed. The edges were to be trimmed in black braid to add a certain solemnness to the occasion. War vintage silk shirts were totally barred; everybody must wear a white (or as nearly white as a New York Laundry can make them) shirt. Collar and shirt must not be sewed together but buttoned. Pearl gray four-in-hand necktie. (All diamond Horseshoe stickpins are to be left regretfully at home); check vests are barred; leave them for Al Smith’s ratification ceremony. Wear the vest that come with the coat. High Silk hats (and please have them fit good enough so they won’t blow off on the Tug going down the bay, as it is very windy, and we will only have a few extra ones). Practice wearing this hat a few days before the event, as they are harder to get used to than you think. You can procure these hats from any juggler on the stage, or Magician. Be sure all Rabbits are removed, Curry this Hat with the fur down, otherwise it will look like an inverted muff on the head.
Have white gloves and don’t dispose of them or throw them away after as you can never tell when there will be a political funeral. Don’t remove gloves to shake hands with Queen as Queens, for sanitary sake, have to be careful. Make bow when introduced, depth of bow to be judged by the size of trousers. Black Patent leather shoes, (not dancing pumps). It’s bad enough to have to meet you without her having to dance with you. Wear white “Spats”; if none are rentable just bandage your ankles and it will answer just as well. Have tip of handkerchief sticking out of upper lefthand pocket. (Let clean end stick out.) Sox interspersed with silk and lisle. Monocles all in right eye. Have it tied to cord (black). Leave all H’s at home.
Now those are the rules and the wardrobe plot that the Political Powers-that-be of the World’s greatest city had to learn so as to keep from appearing too American before Royalty. Now you wouldn’t think you would have to tell anybody how to dress or act when they met anybody, would you, especially leading men of a great City. Yet I saw it, and I guess you did, in the Movies, and they looked as much alike as Bell Hops. Now you know that must have been funny to the Queen with her splendid sense of humor to see all these things exactly alike on a misty morning.
Don’t ever say America ain’t Cuckoo over Titles and Royalty. There are dented marks on an iron fence in front of Buckingham Palace where American noses have pushed, watching to get a glimpse of the King if he happened to drive out. Why, we even go batty over a Sir, and they are as ordinary as a Chamber of Commerce. Mind you, this Queen is some Pumpkins even over there among all those Hit-and-Run nations. She comes from right down in those Balkans where they would just as soon fight you a war as buy you a drink. She is just over between Revolutions.
I just been reading about the State Dinner at the White House and I am just dying to see Alice Longworth to get the real low down on it.4
there and following the example of the Queen she left Nick at home.5
I am kinder sore about that White House dinner. The night I stayed there, there
wasn’t a soul at dinner there but me and two dogs, and here when the Queen comes, they go and bring in a promiscuous gang.
Just read this what the Queen had on: “A regal diadem circled the shingled locks of this modern Monarch, inherited from Grand Duchess Marie of Russia.”6
(That’s one the Bolsheviks didn’t get their paws on.) “The Crown
dripped great Pear shaped Pearls.” Boys, get that; the Crown dripped Pearls. Say, I bet it didn’t drip them long around in front of Calvin. He would run and
get an old wash pan or something to catch ’em in. Either that or he was the first one down there looking around in the morning.
“These harmonized with three ropes of Pearls that she had around her neck.” Holy suffering Cats! Are they Roping with Pearls now? I roped with everything but I never tried Pearl rope. Maybe that’s what has been the matter with my roping lately.
“The decoration over her heart was the Order of Carol.”7
From what I
heard of the success she had in Paris with Son Carol, “The Orders of Carol” are not working very good. Carol is doing his own ordering.
“Her White Gown glittered with ‘Seguina!’” Watch the Society dames dive for the Dictionary and the Mining and Chemestry building to see what that ‘Seguina’ is. America will all be trying to trade Fords for ‘Seguinas’ now. “It’s decolletage was round in the front.” (I think this reporter who wrote this must be speaking now of the dress and not the seguina.) Still Seguinas may all be round in the front for all I know and also for all you know. “It ended in a low V at the back from which hung a train in the back.”
My goodness I haven’t seen a train on a Woman’s dress since Mrs. Rogers got married in one. She will be digging it out now that she hears the Queen has dragged them back into style. They wear trains so everybody will watch their step.
“The Princess Ileana wore a simple gown but well cut.”8
Say, if one is well cut they are not very simple, the cutting is what keeps them from being
simple. My good old friend Charley Dawes was there I would have just liked to have been there and heard Charley rise up about the middle of the Shindig and announce:9
“Diadems, Seguinas, Dripping Pearls or Lip Stick! Hell’s
Maria, what this Country needs more than Halter ropes of Pearls is a change in the Primary Laws and some life and pep in that troop of misnamed Senators that I am unfortunate enough to Warden over. Hell’s Maria: that’s what we need.”
I guess the Queen set near Calvin during the Chuck hour. I just wonder what Cal said to her. I hope he didn’t ask her what country she was from or “How is your husband?”
He just about asked her, “What do you do in your Country, Marie, to satisfy the farmer? If you can give me the recipe for that, I will see that you will get the loan, if Mellon has to take it out of his Pin money.”10
Then I can just imagine what Marie said to Cal, “Mr. President, how is it your party is able to pay so much money for votes and still make money out of their reasonable salaries? I want to fix some way so I can get more money for my subjects for their votes, can you tell me your scheme?”
Well, it was a brilliant affair and it only goes to prove that we are getting
a class of people in here that are going to have to have ’em a King and Queen to satisfy their Social desires. We could use Son Carol till they put him back in good standing in Rumania. Who his wife is wouldn’t make any difference to us if she had a diadem and a hand bag full of Seguinas.
So let’s get us some Royalty, so we won’t go entirely cuckoo when one does come. I would like to be playing in England now and hear what they are saying about this. It must be a yell to them.
Well, I have met a few of them in my time, but I have never yet ever dressed or trained for it. With all of our Virtues in America we have two boobs to every virtue.
1Marie, queen consort of Rumania. Accompanied by a retinue of seventeen, she conducted a highly publicized good will tour of the United States in the fall of 1926.
2For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1.
3For Jimmy Walker see WA 121: N 6.
4For Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 117: N 16.
5For Nicholas Longworth see WA 117: N 16.
6Maria Fedorovna, dowager czarina of Russia. Her son, Czar Nicholas II, and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Maria was allowed to remain in Russia until 1919; thereafter she lived in her native Denmark.
7Carol, flamboyant crown prince of Rumania who renounced his right to the throne in 1925, deserted his wife, and went to Paris to live in exile with his mistress. He later supplanted his son, Michael, as king and ruled Rumania from 1930 to 1940.
8Ileana, youngest daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie of Rumania.
9For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9.
10For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 124: N 5.
WA204 November 7, 1926
WILL ROGERS VISITS 101 RANCH
AND SEES REAL RUSSIAN ART
All I know is just what I read in the papers. But there is so little in the
papers that I just had to get out and dig up something that never was in them. I had blown, or blewn, or whatever it is into Oklahoma, the Eden on this earth
till something better turns up. I was privileged to prowl its vast domains, view
its miraculous achievements, wonder at its unprecedented growth, mingle with its unmatched intellects. In other words it was just one round of a never to be
forgotten experience. You just know when you cross the line into it there is something that tells you you are in another world. Well, in order to get from one town to another I had to detour through Kansas, in fact all the states adjoining Oklahoma are just used for detouring purposes. We always feel in entering them that we are just in them temporarily till something better can be
fixed up in Oklahoma. You are always glad to get back on the main highway
Well, I come into Ponca City after one of these Kansas detours. Ponca City is one of the Citys that clutter up our great commonwealth. It’s where the rich Indian meets the rich white man and when those two ingredients run together why there is nothing but money flys. It’s right on the edge of the Osage Indian reservation. It’s composed of three ingredients, Miller Brothers 101 Ranch (Who’s headquarters is just eight miles out of Ponca City), Marland (the great oil man), and Lew Wentz (a poor boy who loaned Oklahoma two million dollars yesterday to keep the State Farmers from giving away for nothing a half million bales of cotton to manufacturers of all-wool clothes).1
But it ain’t of Lew or Marland or George, or Zack or George Miller, that I am telling you about, they all ought to get single articles to themselves. After
I had opened and closed my campaign in Ponca City for the buying of a king and queen for America so it would learn us how to be sane when we do see one, why I went down to the 101 Ranch and stayed all night and we had a fine time. Pawnee Bill and his lovely wife and companion (Which is a rare combination) were there and we all talked Europe and rode bucking horses till three thirty in the morning right there in the big living room.2
But it is not of the size and magnitude or the hospitality of the 101 Ranch that I take my text, it is of Russian Art.
Last year Joe Miller, that’s the oldest of the three brothers, conceived the idea of getting some attractions that would be in keeping with the title of their Show, “Miller Brothers, 101 Ranch Wild West and Far East.” Well outside of a gift set of Chop Sticks, a recipe for Chow Mein, a Japanese Kimona, and twenty yards of old cloth, that had been an East Indian’s Turban, why the Ranch had nothing of a Far East atmosphere. They had some Elephants but they had all been born in Bridgeport, Conn. Which was as far East as they could get in this country without slopping over into Rhode Island, and only one elephant can slop over into Rhode Island at a time. They also had some Camels that Zack Miller had bought when Prohibition went in in 1918 to see if it really was possible for an Animal to go that long without a drink. And they stand today as being the only known things that have kept religiously the 18th Amendment. But Joe is a pretty wise Duck, he knew that it took more than Elephants and Camels and Kimonas and some Curry Powder to advertise as a Far East show. So they decided to send Joe to Paris to get some Far East atmosphere (that was as far East as they could think of) in fact it is as far East as anybody ought to go. Joe got to Paris and started in looking for Far East attractions. In fact he didn’t care much whether she was Far East, or nearby North, just so she was an attraction. Somebody told Joe that there was a terrible lot of Russians in Paris that had left Russia when they got short on holding Revolutions. There was nothing to work at, Joe says “What can they do besides revolute and drink Vodka?” “Why there is lots of Cossack Riders, and Russian Dancers, they can do anything.” Well, Joe rounded them up and they got a tally on them, and shipped them over to America to provide atmosphere and aroma for the Far East end of the Lithographs. Joe saw them in their native costumes and he said, “They will look pretty on the Billboards.” Well, they not only looked pretty but they could do something. They was just about one of the best Orchestras and Bands from a real musical standpoint that ever come to this country, and the Riders were the best bunch of Cossacks that ever spoiled the American language. In fact the Band was really too high class for Wild West atmosphere. They played so soft and melodious, and so much together that the 101 audience thought they were playing out of tune. You know when you learn anything in Russia, or pretty near all those Countries, you are supposed to learn it. You don’t mark the papers and then mail them in for correction.
Russians have always been a kind of a nut on Art and Music, and all that junk anyway and these fellows were every one a finished musician. If you are learning the Fiddle in Russia you spend 10 years of the first part of your
instructions in just looking and studying the Bow before they ever let you know that it is to be used in connection with a Fiddle at all.
Well you can imagine the chagrin when they had to join a Wild West Circus and play Strafossky’s, or Trotsky’s concertos or Preludes, for an outlawed Bucking Horse to buck by.3
Can you imagine Marie’s Romanian Rhapsody in S Major being played for the Bulldogging.4
Well they just brought more Art and more Whiskers into the Wild West Business than had been there in a generation. They got through fine and constituted a Far East that saved the
Miller Boys from being sued for Miss representation. But Winter must come, as Winter has a way of doing, and Shows must close as it gets cooler, for it would be no pleasure to put up the Tents if it wasn’t hot and dusty. Now Joe has a big Bond on his bunch of Muscovites and when he is through trying to understand them, he has to deliver them safe over the three-mile limit of our shores, or else agree to keep them another year. Well these old Russian Boys didn’t crave going back even to Paris, so they wanted to stay, and said they would do anything to not be sent back. So all this is to plant in your mind the picture that greeted my eyes on the morning when I awoke and went out to look the Ranch over. They not only are a big Ranch but they are the biggest Farm in the West. They raise thousands of acres of winter feed for stock. They had two thousand acres alone of “Kaffir Corn.” Now that is a thing that grows up and looks like Corn only no ear on it. It has to be cut and shocked up out in the field. The Band dressed as Cossacks and carried big long Russian sabers. Joe made them sharpen them up and the old Leader Prince Barrsandclefsky would grab off a stalk of Kaffir Corn and wave it and these Concert Musicians would charge into that Corn field and start demolishing that Corn worse than they ever did one of Wagner’s Sauerkraut tunes.
The leader stood in the middle of the two thousand acres and waved his corn stalk “baton” and those old Russian Boys chopped off that corn according to rhythm and notes. It sho looked funny, they were dressed in their native Russian blouses, Big leg breeches, Russian Boots, Muff turned upside down on their heads for hats. Cartridge Belt high up across their Bosom. Violin Players, Chelloists, and Base Players, all used the Sabers like Bows. They sawed the corn off, two notes to the stalk. The Horn Players blew it over. And
then annihilated it. The Drummers beat it to pieces. It was the only time in
my life that I thought Art had ever really reached its level. There is where this so-called Art belongs, right in the Corn Field.
Joe Miller is the only man that ever was smart enough to find what to do with a Musician when he wasn’t Musicianing. I set there on a horse and watched them for a long time. That Kaffir Corn was running that day about two Verde Operas to the Acre. The Flute and Piaccalo players were generally about two corn rows behind. That old Leader Barr-and-cleffskay sho had that old corn stalk baton a waving rhymatically. I asked Joe “What are you going to do with these old Symphony Boys when the Corn is all Played up?” Joe said, “I will let them play ‘Pitching hay to the Cattle,’ that’s a new Opera that I have composed myself.” So Morris Gest and Otto Kahn is not the only ones in America that is doing something for Art.5
You leave it to Joe Miller and he will make the business of being a Musician pay the year around. What about the Saxophone Players that play all the Mammy Songs picking our Cotton next year. Bless the 101 Ranch for making Music Practical.
1The 101 Ranch, which was owned by three brothers, Joseph Carson, Zachary Taylor, and George Lee Miller, encompassed 110,000 acres in north central Oklahoma. The Millers regularly toured the United States from 1906 to 1931 with their famous 101 Ranch Wild West Show. For E.W. Marland see WA 172: N 3. Louis Haines “Lew”Wentz, one of the principal oil and gas producers in Oklahoma; a leading benefactor in the state.
2Gordon William “Pawnee Bill” Lillie, Oklahoma rancher, wild west showman, and oil company executive. He was married to the former Mary Emma Manning.
3For Leon Trotsky see WA 179: N 4.
4For Queen Marie see WA 203: N 1.
5Morris Gest, Russian-born American theatrical producer who introduced Russian ballet to the United States in 1922. Otto Hermann Kahn, German-born American banker and investor; patron and director of the Metropolitian Opera Company in New York City.
WA205 November 14, 1926
WILL ROGERS VISITS OLD RANGE
AND HAS TIME OF HIS LIFE
I have run into a good many pleasant things on my jaunts but the other day I hit San Antonio, what used to be before Progress hit it one of the three unique Cities of America. It’s a great old Town, is San Antonio, even if they have got a filling station in connection with the Alamo. You have to sacrifice something to Progress, but I never thought it would be the Alamo. I had the most wonderful day there I think I ever had.
There is a bunch of men called “The Old Trail Drivers’ Association.”
Due to the work of the few like Mr. Saunders, Mrs. Russell, widowed wife of a fine Texas Cattleman, and a great character, and Colonel Ike Pryor and a few others, they have formed this bunch together and they are what keeps San Antonio of the old days alive.1
They gave me a Barbecue. One of the finest feeds I ever had in my life. They had everything. Son-of-a-Gun made from stolen beef. Free holys, Dutch oven biscuit, cooked by real roundup cooks. They had the chuck Wagon, even made one of the fires out of “chips.” It sure was fine. I am a mighty young man to be allowed to mingle with those old fellows.
For every one of them saw actual service up the trail to Kansas and Montana, from the sixty’s to the early ninety’s. It’s always been the regret of my life that I didn’t live a few years earlier. I believe I would a fit in with that Gang better. There is a lot of this so-called “Progress” that I can’t keep step
with. An axe handle wrapped with Cowhide, I believe, would have fit and felt better in my hands than a Niblick. I wish I could have lived my whole life and
drank out of a Gourd instead of a Paper Envelope.
I just looked at those old fellows that day in wonder. Here they were 70 and 80 years old, lots of them straight and fine. They had trailed herds of cattle by the thousands from the Pecos to the Platte. They had done it year after year with not even a toothbrush in the outfit, six and eight months at a time, without a manicure. Not even individual soap. They all had to use the same piece. There was old grizzled gentlemen come to eat at that Barbecue that was
85 years old and never even had a face massage in their lives. How they ever
lived and existed under such unsanitary conditions I will never be able to know. They swam rivers for 20 years without even a bath towel. Some of them didn’t even know a “Putter” from a “branding Iron.”
I was raised up in the Cherokee Nation and the names that was at that barbecue used to stock our country every year, and ship out in the fall to market.
Their names were to me like you would look on Presidents. I had heard all my life of such families as the Pierces, the Slaughters, the Pryors, Wagoners, Burnetts, “Windy” Scotts, Russells, McFadden, Saunders, Blockers, Mavericks.2
Every business has its aristocracy. If you are in the Automobile business why Ford, Irskine, Willys and a few of those are your ideal of that business.3
But these men that I have named above handled thousands and thousands of cattle, from one State to another before the days of convenient railroads.
Johnny Blocker sent eighty-two thousand Steers up the trail in one year in ’85. He was one of the greatest Ropers that Texas ever produced, and when I say Texas ever produced way I mean the World for they have turned out more Ropers than any State. He was originator of the “Blocker Loop.” That’s a big loop, and you go upside of the steer and turn it over as you throw it, and it goes down over the Steer’s shoulder and picks up both front feet. He picked up a rope there the other day and showed me just how he used to throw it. He is around 75, and I bet he can spread it on one yet. He was judge of the first Roping Contest I ever was in in Texas in San Antonio in 1901. I was just an old Cuckoo Kid and had a little Pony and got it jerked down so many times they wanted me to tie the horse’s feet instead of the Steer’s. He even remembered it the other day and the color of the Pony.
Met one old fellow there that drove the only herd of Buffalo that ever was trailed from one place to another. There is a nice job on a dark rainy night
when they start to run. Met one of the Mavericks. The name Maverick on an unbranded cow brute started with that family. They brought a bunch of cattle
and didn’t brand ’em, just turned them loose and everybody seeing one unbranded
or unmarked called it “Mavericks.” So that’s how the name got started. If he could have always heed the unbranded ones, boy, he would have had some stock today! Then they afterwards got to calling them “slick and ears” when they had never been marked.
There is a wonderful book they presented me with, “The Trail Drivers of Texas,” published by the Cokesbury Press of Nashville, Tenn. It was published under the direction of George W. Saunders, President and organizer of the “Old Trail Drivers’ Association.” It’s not a story; it’s just a collection of experiences
in going up the trail. Get it, it’s the most unique thing ever published. It shows these old timers’ pictures. Some of them Millionaires today, and own thousands of acres and hundreds of oil wells, while others are poorer than when they worked on the trail for wages. But in that group together they are all the same. Johnny Blocker who sent up eighty-two thousand in one year, why “Lady Luck” hasn’t dealt any too kind with him. He wasn’t lucky enough to get in on the oil. But when he is with these boys he is just as welcome as Ike Pryor or Dan Waggoner.
They are trying to raise money to erect a monument in San Antonio, to the Old Trail Drivers. It’s a beautiful thing. The model is there now. It is being made by Gutzon Borglum, the originator of the Stone Mountain one.4
It would be a great thing to have, and San Antonio would be the logical place to have it. I certainly hope they get it. There is monuments to pretty near everybody that ever was drafted to kill somebody. Every Governor that was paid a big salary by each State for just living in the Mansion. But not a thing has anyone ever done to perpetuate something commemorating what a Ranchman or Cowpuncher has ever done. Texas would be in Mexico today if it wasn’t for them.
Right after the war, cattle was all they had, and no market or no railroad for them. These old boys drove ’em north till they found markets and buyers, and it was through their efforts that the whole Northwest was stocked with cattle. The only revenue that come into this whole country for years was just what was brought back by these old “Waddies.” Now I don’t know what kind of cooperation they are getting from all the rest of the Southwest, but it certainly ought to be plentiful, for Lord help you silk garter boys of today that are setting mighty pretty down here now, if it hadn’t been for these old Timers. You know sometimes in our satisfied ease and prosperity why we forget to sorter remember somebody that is going on kinder over the brow of the hill. We say “Oh, those old timers, let’em rave!”
Well there is one thing about an Old Timers raving, he has gone through something to rave over. The sad thing is going to be the coming generations listening to us. We will be raving with nothing to rave over. Our most thrilling
experiences will be how we run to catch a street car and missed it, one cold day, or how we lost four good golf balls in one game. Build this monument now; these old boys ain’t going to be with you long. Let them see it finished while they are alive. If it’s a bore to you to listen to their old time ways, why you won’t have to listen to them long. Make them happy for their last years.
They have made it possible to make you happy for many, many years. You can certainly give ’em that much happiness. It will be to the glory of your State forever. They will live longer in legend and story than the first herd of Fords that was ever driven north. The Old Trail Drivers Association has a purpose; they are not just organized to eat lunch away from home once a week.
It’s getting kinder late in the afternoon for a lot of these old boys, and they will be drifting them in some nice high dry, divide, to bed ’em down for the night. They will be a catching their night horses for the last time. They will be rolling their old “Tarp” out and crawling into their old “Sougans” and “Parka’s,” and when they are waked up with a kick to go on guard by a Golden Slipper, instead of a shop-made boot, why they will roll out of there and face
their new Range Boss, and when he asks them “Boys, are you ready to go with me?” They will look him right in the face and never bat an eye and say, “We are ready to go with anybody that is right.”
1George W. Saunders, San Antonio cattleman and livestock commission dealer. He began driving cattle to Kansas in 1871, going up the trail nine times in the next fifteen years. Mattie E. Strickland Russell, widow of Richard Robertson Russell, Texas lawman, cattleman, and railroad executive. The Russell family holdings included extensive ranch lands in both Oklahoma and Texas. Isaac Thomas “Ike” Pryor, early-day Texas cattle driver who established successful ranching operations in Mason and Zavala counties of Texas; president of several state and national livestock organizations before his death in 1937.
2Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce, prominent Texas livestock producer whose Pierce-Sullivan Pasture Company sent thousands of cattle up the northern trails during the late 1800s. He died in 1900. George Webb and Christopher Columbus Slaughter, father and son who were among the first Texas ranchers to drive cattle to Kansas. George died in 1894, and his son in 1919. Daniel Waggoner, successful Texas rancher who used the proceeds from his first
cattle drive in 1870 to begin expansion of the famous Waggoner Ranch, which eventually reached into six counties. He died in 1904. Samuel Burk Burnett, Texas cattleman who made his first drive to Kansas in 1866. Owner of the successful Four Sixes Ranch, he also cofounded the Texas Cattle Raisers Association in 1877. He died in 1922. James Alfred McFaddin, Texas cattleman and livestock breeder; an early developer of the Brahma breed in Texas. He died in 1916. John Rufus “Johnny” and Abner Pickens “Ab” Blocker, brothers who teamed to drive cattle from Texas to the northern terminals during the 1870s and 1880s. Johnny died in 1927, and Ab in 1943. Samuel Augustus Maverick, Texas pioneer who was the patriarch of an important cattle ranching family from San Antonio. Maverick died in 1870.
3For Albert R. Erskine see WA 173: N 2; for John N. Willys see WA 172: N 3.
4Gutzon Borglum, American sculptor who designed and did much of the work on the Confederate memorial at Stone Mountain, Georgia, and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.
WA206 November 21, 1926
WILL ROGERS WRITES OF OLD FRIENDS
WHO DIED RECENTLY
A sort of a half breed no sense letter is not exactly the place you would go looking for obituary notices, is it? And I guess they don’t belong here, but
when three National Characters pass on all about the same time and you happened
to have had a fairly close acquaintanceship with all of them over a course of many years, why what do you say we just lay off Mr. Coolidge and his prosperity program which prospered everywhere but at the polls, also the wet and the dry perpetual motion question. Aimee and her kidnapper-less kidnapping. 1
Peaches has soured on the public, and we will be able to can her.2
Dawes is peeking his head over the Presidential horizon in a sort of menacing
Vare and Smith hold jobs which they will never be able to work at.4
The big Berthas and machine guns of Chicago streets have called a truce in no man’s land for a few days. New Jersey is trying a murder case, four years after they knew who did it.5
Poor Marie might just as well be touring Rumania as far as the publicity is concerned.6
All these above mentioned things are subjects that there is a possibility of digging some humor out of without any great amount of effort, but they can rest (in fact I wish some of them would rest). It’s of three old friends that I want to write you about. No three people in any three lines you can mention to me today stood out as prominently as these three did during their respective careers. They absolutely stood alone in their lines. The sudden and unexpected
death of Harry Houdini received far the most publicity in the public press, and
well it should, for he had been a good friend to the press.7
He had furnished hundreds and hundreds of columns to every newspaper in the land. He had risked his life many times to make news for readers. He was always in on any
stunt that they might concoct in their various towns. In my little career of several years meeting about everyone that ever was connected with a dressing room or a stage door, we have learned to give great credit to what we call a real showman. Everyone in any line of the theatrical business is always spoken of as a “Showman.” Well what constitutes one is a man that can sell himself to
the public in the very best way possible.
Houdini was the greatest showman of our time by far. A great many are good and can sell themselves fairly well but they will generally lack something, and if you figure it out it’s ability. Well, Houdini never lacked activity.
No person appearing on an American stage ever had any more license to be there than Harry Houdini. I played with Harry, at Keith’s Philadelphia, over 18 years ago for the first time. I was roping at my Pony on the stage and was billed to close the show (that is, go on last). Harry was just ahead with his handcuff tricks. It was late when he went on. He held that audience for one hour and a quarter. Not a soul moved. He would come out of his cabinet every 15 or 20 minutes perspiring and kinder size up that crowd to see just about how they were standing it. Now, mind you, when he is in that cabinet there is not a thing going on. A whole theater full are just waiting. The City Police had put
these cuffs on him. Now he had that something that no one can define that is
generally just passed off under the heading of showmanship. But it was in reality, Sense, Shrewdness, Judgment, unmatched ability, Intuition, Personality,
and an uncanny knowledge of people. So, when he had finished I just as well got on my little old Pony and rode back to the livery Stable as to have rode out on that stage. When I got my little act started the night watchman was just locking up the front door. That as I say was 18 or 20 years ago (I am ashamed
to say which) and he could have done the same thing the week before he died. All those years and Harry could fool ’em. You can’t do that on nothing, and the great part of it was he always told ’em he was fooling ’em.
We played on the same Bill many times in later years and he even helped me on a Burlesque in kidding his act, when I had to follow him. We have been friends all these years and he sent me the first of his books after being printed. He was a fine type of man, Houdini was. He did a world of good in detecting bunk and exposing it. He relied on cleverness and not superstition to get him by. With as many fake things as is being perpetrated on the people nowadays under the Spiritual, why Houdini will certainly be missed.
Almost at the same time we read of the death of Charles M. Russell, the Great Cowboy Painter, of Great Falls, Montana.8
He was the greatest Artist the west has ever produced. Charley was a Cowpuncher. He was a Cowpuncher at heart. He didn’t go there to study the west, just to paint it. He loved it, lived it, and painted it because he loved it. An old $60 a month Cowpuncher lived to see his paintings bring as high as $15,000 and now there is no telling what they will bring. He is just starting in to be great now. To have known Charley and just sit down and listen to him was the greatest remembrance of anyone’s life who had had that pleasure. I never met a person yet that ever heard him that didn’t say he was the greatest story teller they ever listened to. If he could have just sit on the stage and told his stories most of his own experiences up in Montana in the days gone by, why he would have been as big a success as he was an Artist. No matter at what party and who was present, why no one would dare take up a minute of the time with any of their stories. It was always Charley that everyone was wanting to hear.
And when he would come to our house out in California, as he used to quite often, he and Mrs. Russell, why even our kids would just look forward to it, for they wouldn’t miss a word for anything. I loved his paintings; could sit by the hour and look at one and marvel at the exact detail, every piece of rope, every saddle string, every hair on the horse laying just the way it should, and every painting had a touch of humor in them. I love them and liked to see ’em, but it was the man himself that you will always remember even more than his work. Everybody was great with Charley; no criticism for anyone.
The best way to judge just how good a man is, is to find out how he stands around his home and among his kind of people. Well he was the Cowpunchers’ Painter. They swore by Russell. The Cattle Country knew if it was a Russell it was right, and they loved him personally. Montana was for Charley and well they should have been, for he was the greatest thing that State ever turned out. They say that Art in America lost a great Artist. I don’t know nothing about Art, but I know that Cowpunchers lost our most unique character and friend.
Annie Oakley was the third.9
The older generation knew more of her.
She perhaps in her day stood for more pre-eminent in her profession than either
Houdini or Russell. She was the acknowledged headliner for years and years of the great Buffalo Bill Show, the best known woman in the World at one time, as when she was with the show it toured everywhere. She was not only the greatest rifle shot for a woman that ever lived, but I doubt if her character could be matched outside of some Saint. She and her fine husband were great friends of Fred Stone and family and I first become acquainted with her there, years ago. I had heard Cowboys who had traveled with the Buffalo Bill Show speak of her in almost reverence. They loved her. She was a marvelous woman, kindest hearted, most thoughtful, a wonderful Christian woman.
I went out to see her last spring in Dayton. She was in bed; had been for months, but she was just as cheerful. I told her I would see her this fall when
I come back and tried to cheer her up in the usual dumb way we have of doing
those things. She said I wouldn’t. She says, “But I will meet you.” Well, she
will certainly keep her end of the bargain. Just think of a little frail gray-haired woman who had spent her life with a wild west show, remaining in your memory as being just about the most perfect thing you ever saw beside your own Mother. One was a faker on the stage. One was a Cowpuncher. One was the
greatest single attraction the outdoor show World has ever produced, yet they
all lived so that their personal lives as well as their Professional ones will remain an everlasting credit to their various professions. So it’s what you are and not what you are in that makes you.
1Aimee Semple McPherson, California evangelist who preached a Pentecostal fundamentalist, faith-healing doctrine. A publicity-seeker, she mysteriously disappeared in late 1926, later reappearing to claim that she had been kidnapped.
2Francis Heenan “Peaches” Browning, fifteen-year-old New York schoolgirl who married fifty-one-year-old Edward West Browning, a wealthy New York City real estate operator, in the spring of 1926. The couple lived together for ten months and then separated.
3For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9.
4William Scott Vare, United States representative from Pennsylvania from 1923 to 1927. Vare, the Republican “boss” of Pennsylvania, was elected to the United States Senate in 1926 but was never seated because of charges of excessive campaign expenditures. Frank Leslie Smith, former United States congressman from Illinois who served as chairman of the Illinois States Public Utilities Commission from 1921 to 1926. A Republican, Smith was elected to the United States Senate in 1926 but was not permitted to take his seat because
of questionable campaign contributions.
5The bodies of the Reverend Edward Hall and Mrs. Eleanor Mills were discovered in September 1922 in a lovers’ lane near New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hall’s widow and brothers-in-law were arrested and brought to trial in one of the most sensational murder cases of the 1920s. The defendants were acquitted in December 1926 on the failure of the state to prove its case.
6For Queen Marie see WA 203: N 1.
7Houdini (see WA 120: N 5) died on October 31, 1926.
8Charles Marion Russell, American painter of western scenes, known widely as the “Cowboy Artist.” After his death, his wife, Nancy Cooper Russell, published Good Medicine, a collection of the artist’s letters. Rogers, a close friend of Russell, wrote the foreword.
9Annie Oakley, famous American sharpshooter who appeared in William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s Wild West Show from 1885 to 1902. She was married to Frank E. Butler, also a marksman and vaudeville star.
WA207 November 28, 1926
WILL ROGERS SAYS KANSAS CITY
NECKS SORE FROM HIGH COLLARS
Well, all I know is just what I see in the Papers. Out here around Kansas and Missouri and Colorado and back around Chicago there has only been two things. That is trying to see Queen Marie, and attending conferences to help the Farmer.1
I followed Marie, into Kansas City. Her and President Coolidge were there the same day. When I got there a week later, the necks of the reception Committee were still sore from the effects of a standing collar all day.
The Monument that was supposed to have a fire and smoke coming out of it all the time wasn’t even gasping a whiff of smoke the day I was there. The Taxi Driver told me that Mr. Coolidge had started the fire. But it was such an economical fire that maintenance on the up-keep will be very low. Mr. Coolidge in his speech here said that in the “Next war that Capital would be drafted as well as men.” Now Jim Reed is the smartest man in the Democratic Party, and about one of the four remaining men in public life that do their own thinking regardless of Party or anything else.2
Jim says the minute you start to conscript wealth that they would start covering it up the same as they did with the non taxable bonds before. He says you wouldn’t get any of it, that it would be hid away and sent out of the country, and as usual, James is not far wrong.
I don’t know why all this talk about what to do in the next war. I thought the last war was held to stop all the others. But it seems the Boys are sorter looking ahead and laying out ground plans for the next one. Europe has always
known there would be another one, because the last one didn’t determine anything.
Everybody lost but the book writers on it, and they have to buy each others to make it pay.
But it’s not of war that we must discuss, it’s first of Marie whose personally conducted Ford tour of America has just about stood Mayors and wealth on its head. It’s been a great chance for the Queen to see American Democracy at its best. Every rich man and his wife trying to beat the other rich ones to get to give a reception to the Queen. The Mayors have had more applications for chances to entertain the Queen than he has for political jobs. Society has been burying dresses and scrubbing their necks and ears for weeks getting ready for the Queen. The Mayor of Kansas City in presenting her said, “It’s the greatest day in the history of Kansas City.”3
Now can you imagine such a statement. Just take it apart and see. Now what is going to make it great because (not only because it was Queen of some Minor League Balkan War Trap Nation). It would be the same if the Queen of the biggest Nation or the King was there. What would that add to the greatness of the City to make it “The greatest day of its history.” Why last week when I was there, there was 17 hundred young Boys and girls brought there by that great Paper, the Kansas City Star, from over 30 states. They were taking vocational training and had led their various districts back home in the studying of farming, and stock raising, and had been brought to see the American Royal Live Stock Show. To see the Kings and Queens of Cattle, Sheep, Hogs, Horses. Real Kings and Queens that produced something. Real Thoroughbreds. If there had been a scrawny one and an outcast in the breeding he had been discarded at home and not allowed to enter the Arena. It was not like human Royalty where they use them whether they are fit or not. These not only have to have the breeding, but they got to face the Judges and be marked on their merit. They got to be better all around than their competitors before the “Diadem” or “Crown” is placed on their head. So Society and the Mayor kinder lost their head when they thought that on account of having Calvin and Marie there the same day they were writing their names as being present on the most memorable day of a great City’s History.
Why there will always be Presidents coming in and out of Kansas City.
It’s a Railroad center. They have to change somewhere. There will always be monuments to unveil, pretty near every war will have one. And as for Queens being there, why Lord, after this news gets back to Europe of the Plaudits of the American Bourggeoise, why the woods will be full of Kings and Queens coming over. Ford will run out of Lincolns hauling ’em all.4
Why this is Virgin territory for Royalty Worship. They have struck new pay dirt.
Mind you, this Queen is a very charming sensible woman, and a sense of humor, too, so you can imagine the many quiet laughs she has had at Democracy on this trip. Society trying to get to say they met her, and the Yokels trying to get to say they saw her.
She will go home with a great idea of American life as gained from the Banquet hall. So the Mayor in his elation over his wonderful day, could have waited one week when all these best breed live stock of America, and these 15 hundred best American Boys and Girls from all the Agricultural States were there, and then if he had said before them (without pearl grey Spats) “This is the greatest day Kansas City has had,” then he would have been saying something. For Kansas City has got to live off what is done in the Live Stock and better farming line.
They haven’t got a chance ever making a dime out of all the Kings and Queens you could herd into the stockyards. They don’t mean any more than a political speech. Meeting a Queen might tickle your vanity but it don’t bring you in much pork chops and gravy. All this must be a great laugh to Europe.
She was responsible for more “High Silk Hats” sales through the west than any other one product. Now the pawn shops and second-hand stores are full of them, as they don’t need ’em any more.
Now as I told you in the first place the next thing that is agitating the country is “Farmers Relief.” There is not a town or a City out here that is not
holding a conference on “What to do with the Farmer.” It looks to me like they have already solved what to do with the Farmer. They have “got him in Conferences.” If he attends all the Farmers conferences he won’t need to worry
about what to do with himself. He will have his entire time taken up passing resolutions. There is two farmers in every conference room, to one in every field. We are educating young boys and girls to raise more at our Agricultural
Schools, and we can’t sell bigger than the demand, and that the only way in the world you can remedy it is to raise less. But they are going to keep on raising
more till they get relief. If the Hotel rooms hold out in all the Convention Cities why they might get relief. If conferring instead of raising less will get
them more for their crops, why they are in for relief. Cause I never saw people
conferring as hard.
1For Queen Marie see WA 203: N 1.
2For James A. Reed see WA 151: N 6.
3Albert Isaac “Bert” Beach, Republican mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, from 1924 to 1930.
4Ford Motor Company furnished without charge the automobiles used by Queen Marie’s royal party.
WA208 December 5, 1926
ODDS AND ENDS AND
BOBTAILS OF THE NEWS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. I am feeling mighty happy as I pen these few lines, for I have just finished an engagement on our western battle front, in Chicago the most dangerous sector we have, one where there is never a truce. Colt, Remington, and the Krupps are selling more ammunition to Chicago than they did to both sides in the war. The reason I feel
so good is I had given up hope when I went in, that I would ever come out alive. But it’s just one of the breaks of the game. I did. Chicago has reconciled itself to the killings now, and they don’t pay any attention to them at all. It takes rather an unusual one to get into the papers at all. The Army-Navy football game was brought clear out to Chicago so the Cadets and Middy Blouses could see machine guns working in actual warfare. Hostilities among the gunmen were called off during game as the shooting would detract from the Pickpockets work.
Chicago is about to declare war with Canada over a drainage canal. Chicago had one canal and it turned out to be such a nice neat clean likeable sort of a product, in fact it was more like a rippling brook than a canal, it was a joy to go and sit on it’s banks of a warm evening, and watch the house boats of the beer runners, and the meat packers, were all beautifully decorated. So they decided they wanted another one. So they dug them a drainage canal.
Well the minute they did, why all of Lake Michigan started to run out of it. Canada woke up one morning and somebody had stole their lake. They said “We don’t mind you taking all our Rum, but don’t you start in taking away one of our lakes. You are flirting with one of our biggest Industrys.” Lakes is one
of the things Canada has the most of. Chicago said, “We didn’t take your old
lake. Half of it is ours anyway, and the half we took was only ours. We just dug
the canal and the water used its own judgement. If it come our way it showed that it preferred that way, blame it on the water not on us.”
We fought England once over tea. We fought in the late war because we heard it was going to be the last one, and we didn’t want to miss the last one. But the next war looks like the slogan will be for all Kiawanians and Rotarians “Is Chicago to mire down or is it to be allowed to drainage.” “Rally round the drain Pipe Boys.” “Are you going to let Canada tell you when to drain?” So the next war, you will be in water up to your neck. Get a bathing suit and go to war with Canada.
But never mind Chicago; just let us thank them for missing us while there. I know how Mussolini must feel now after an extra bad bit of shooting on somebody's part.
As I go to Press Mr. Kellogg has just dispatched Mexico another note, if Mexico don’t hear from us every morning it’s because we have run out of stamps.1
I bet you that Mexico in years to come can show more letters from
Coolidge and Kellogg than Mrs. Coolidge and Mrs. Kellogg can.2
Even on Thanksgiving day when you would think everybody would be at home either
eating Turkey or trying to think up something to give thanks for. But no “Cal or Kel” dispatched their daily Day letter to Mexico, to tell them what laws to
pass that day. Last week it was “if they didn’t recognize the President of Nicaragua that we had put in, why we wouldn’t recognize them.” Now this week
we say “If you don’t let Americans own your land why we will break off relations
with you.” Will somebody please write and tell me and then I will shut up, why are we always picking on Mexico? We have got more Oil in this country than we can sell. (The price is away off now on account of overproduction.)
We got more land than we can farm. It’s over production that is keeping the farmers’ price down. And Mexico’s dealings with Nicaragua? How in the world did we find out where Nicaragua is anyway? Every time you pick up a paper “the American Marines have landed at Nicaragua.” There has been more Marines landed in Nicaragua than there has at the Brooklyn Navy yard. Why don’t we send Marines to Liverpool or Cherburg, France? They was throwing rocks at us over there all last summer, and we never said a word. Well that was all right. We shouldn’t have said a word. If anybody goes anywhere they ain’t wanted, let ’em get hit. But what right have the Marines got settling an election in Nicarauga? I thought even at home our Army and Navy was supposed to never enter Politics. Evidently our Army and Navy have to go to South America to get into Politics. Why Lord, if it wasn’t for writing letters to Mexico we wouldn’t need any Secretary of State. But will you please tell me because a Nation joins you as Mexico does us, does that give you more right to dictate to them than to Morocco or Monte Nego. If Mexico had an Army and Navy as big as ours, we would be as courteous and gentlemanly to them as we are to France and England. That’s about all of that. I am, however, anxiously awaiting instructions from someone that knows.
Carmi Thompson just returned from the Philippines.3
We are in wrong
with them now. Why we don’t give ’em to them, and come on home and get our little Army together, and pass a law to never let them leave the country again. We took ’em away from Spain in ’98, and said as soon as we get everything running all right we would give them over to the people. Well if you can’t make a going concern out of anything in 28 years, why you better get out and give up. So that’s that.
Old Ferdinand finally throwed a big enough fit that the Queen went over to pacify him.4
There ain’t any more the matter with him than has been
the matter with him all the time. Well it is going to be a terrible blow to some
American reception Committees in those towns that she was supposed to visit and didn’t. They got all washed and cleaned up for nothing.
Well this old country is just a little too big for anyone to go clear across and back, and expect to keep on the front page all the way. What kind of dress
you are wearing in Mandan, North Dakota, on the thirty-fifth day of your stay
kinder loses its interest. Unless she had appeared barefooted in some town it
didn't have much chance making the Associated Press.
About four or five days is about as long as anybody can really go on high (Publicity speaking) in this Country. The old Prince of Wales hung around about 10 days too long.5
So her departure leaves me about the only one touring America.
Say, what do you know about my old friend Bill Brandon, Governor of Alabama, crashing the front page by letting a fellow nail him with some “Hootch?”6
Alabama votes 24 quarts for Haig and Haig.
The paper says they found this “Hootch” there, and no one of Bill’s party would claim it. That don’t hardly sound like Bill, not claiming it. He wouldn't do a thing like that. So I don’t believe what I read in the papers. We have just had to turn back to England a Rum ship that we went out 140 miles on the ocean to capture. They are wanting it pretty bad when they go out 140 miles to get some.
England just gave her Colonies something.7
They all seem tickled to
death. But none of them know exactly what it was they received. When they get back home they will find they haven’t got any more Liberty than they had before they left, but it sounds better.
In the Hall-Mills case, the Lawyers were unable to confuse or baffle Willie Stevens in his testimony, so now he is spoken of as a “half wit.”8
It’s so unusual to get a clear-headed witness on the stand nowadays in any case that one would naturally be considered “Unusual.”
That’s about all the news there is. Oh! No, France’s Ambassador to America resigned.9
He suggested paying their debts, and he was recalled. He
couldn't have been recalled any quicker if they had paid them.
1For Frank B. Kellogg see WA 132: N 7.
2Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge, popular first lady who was generally considered to be more personable than the president. Clara M. Cook Kellogg, wife of Frank B. Kellogg.
3Carmi Alderman Thompson, former United States secretary of the treasury who was sent by Coolidge as a special commissioner in 1926 to survey conditions in the American owned Philippine Islands.
4Ferdinand I, king of Rumania from 1914 until his death in 1927. Queen Marie (see WA 203: N 1) curtailed her American visit at her ailing husband’s request. She left the United States on November 24, at least one month sooner than originally planned.
5The Prince of Wales visited the United States and Canada in the late summer of 1924.
6William Woodward “Bill” Brandon, Democratic governor of Alabama from 1923 to 1927. Brandon, a prohibitionist, recently had been arrested and charged with illegal possession of liquor.
7The British Imperial Conference adjourned in late November 1926 after establishing the absolute equality of the dominions of the British Empire, thus permitting each state to conduct its own foreign affairs, sign treaties, and be represented by governor generals.
8For the Hall-Mills murder case see WA 206: N 5.
9Victor Henry Berenger, French author, politician, and diplomat who briefly served as ambassador to the United States in 1926.
WA209 December 12, 1926
TACNA ARICA VS. “MORO PROMONTORY”
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers every day. We ought to get some time for reading now that this Halls Mills murder is all set to the satisfaction of everybody.1
I really believe that that case had a wider appeal than most people realize. I think it is what drove Queen Marie, the “borrowing Balkan” out of this Country.2
When that Pig Woman got on the stand, why she grabbed two pages to every column Marie could get. The Queen of the “bad balkans” couldn’t start to compete in real interest with New Jersey’s only female Agricultarist. When it got right down to Hogs, versus Crowns, why America forgot its Royalty worship and got back to its raising and stuck with the hog. Then along come old “Willie” and he starred as a witness where he was only expected to open the show. He was all billed to clown the show and he double-crossed ’em all by being the only sane one in New Jersey.
I been hitting a lot of the Cities out in the Corburator belt that was all set for Marie, and I turned out to be their consolation prize. They had the hats and spats bought in Cleveland. They had gone so far as to start scrubbing themselves. The mayor was practicing wearing a standing collar at few minute stretches during the day. Now they all wonder if they can’t put in a claim against Henry Ford (under who’s auspices she come over here) and see if they cant get the money back, not only for their outlay in clean shirts and clothes
(that they will never get to use again) (unless they die,) but they had had coaching by paid experts, on how to act and they want re-imbursement for that.
But the Hall Mills is over and the Queen is conniving on the native heath. But we won’t get much of a respite, for Aimmee is going to open up the other barrell on us again.3
We will all be back in the Desert in the heart of winter. I hope they get this “Static” fellow there for the next trial, as they just about used up all the pictures of Aimee before.
Did you read in the papers a few days ago what we did down in Tacna Arica?4
You know we went down there to settle a dispute between Chili and
Peru over a piece of land that is between them and they have been arguing over it for 40 years. Well we stayed till they were both about to declare war on us, so we had to get out. Well everybody thought that certainly would be the end of it, but here the other day we bob up with a decision in the case. In other words after an Umpire had been kicked out of the game, he goes home and thinks it over and the next day issues his decision as to whether it was a ball or a strike. Well Mr. Kellogg handed down one, and who do you think he give the disputed piece of ground too, Chili or Peru? Or do you think he divided it up equally? Or do you think he let one keep it one year and one the next, or one on sunshiny days, and one on cloudy days? No sir, he issued none of those commonplace ways of settling disputed Territory. If you haven’t read it I will give you 12 guesses to guess who’s favor he decided in.) Why Bolivia’s.
I knew you would be surprised. You will ask, “Why what did Bolivia have to do with it?” Nothing. He said in his own statement that they hadn't been consulted in his decision at all, so they are going to be surprised to death when they hear that the United States has decided to deed them a big piece of Territory. They will say, “Where did the United States get a piece of Territory down here to give to us?”
Why we got it from Peru and Chili as our consul fees for settling the dispute about it. Now Bolivia will say, “Why how does Kellogg know we will take it? It might be like a cotton farm down south. There is no law says you can give a man one of them and make him take it. (That’s one thing our laws are just about. You can’t force a farm or an old car on any man, woman or child without their consent.)
Now Bolivia will say “I wonder how he happened to think of us. He started in alphabetically I guess and as the Bo’s come ahead of the Br’s he gave it to us instead of Brazil.” He says “It will make Bolivia a seaport, that they havent got a seaport,” and that he thinks “every Nation nowadays should have at least one seaport,” even if there is nothing to see but sea. By them having a seaport and no Navy to protect it, it gives other Nations a chance to come and take it any time they like. Then you see the way it was before with Bolivia having no Seaport we had never been able to land Marines there. It had been the one Country down there where we couldn’t get to with our Marines. So now we are all set. Any time there is a Revolution in Bolivia, why we won’t have to be just a long distance onlooker. We can go and get right in. “But what about Chili and Peru? Did we do anything about paying them anything for their rights?” Oh yes, he suggests that “they establish the ‘Moro Promontory,’ under International control, as a Memorial to the valor of Peru and Chili, also the harbor to be crowned with a ‘lighthouse’ commemorating the friendly settlement of the whole affair.”
Now I know you want to know “what is a Moro Promontory?” How in the world do I know? It’s another one of those words that the State department has dug up like that “Moral Terptitude.” There is some guy lurking around our State Department that come from Harvard and hasent got over it yet. First thing you know we will have to have an Interpreter. It sounds like a sort of a board walk like Atlantic City. But Lord who wants to go to Tacna Arica to stroll on a walk made out of Morros?
He says it is “to be kept up Internationally.” That sounds like a little miniature League of Nations. If the thing was built to the valor of Peru and Chili you would think Peru and Chili would at least keep it in repair, whatever
it is. Now it may not be a Board walk at all. Maby it is a Museum, or an Athletic Field.
They are building everything in the world now under the guise of something to commemorate the valor and deeds of our nations. You will see a big Hall where they hold Charleston Contests built by public subscription to commemorate our Army’s valor.
Why have all the International Nations contributing to maintaining this (Whatever it is) to somebody-else’s valor? Peru and Chili’s principal valor, as
I see it, was in presenting the land to Kellogg to give. (That is if they do.) So the monument should be not to their valor. It should be dedicated to their Generosity.
Then this “Lighthouse commemorating the settlement of whole affair.” That’s the only time I ever heard of a man suggesting his own monument. This idea of settling this thing is certainly original and is entirely our Secretary of State’s, and when he suggests “a Lighthouse commemorating its settlement.” There sho aint nobody deserves a Tablet on there but him.
It looks like a wonderful settlement to me. Bolivia gets them a “Moro Promontory” and Kellogg gets him a “Lighthouse” (rather a unique “memorial” for a man from the State he is from).5
We form a little small time League
of Nations to keep ’em both in repair and nobody loses but Chili and Peru, the
people that own it now. Unless this “Moro Promontory” is moro than I think it is.
I would love to see Bolivia when she sees the Sea the first time from the decks of a “Moro Promontory.”
Next week we will have the Chinese problem settled by our Gunboats.
That will be settled by us taking it away from both Chinese sides and giving it to Japan and England. We will make a “Mandarin Promontory” out of it. Remember next week, China, settled. Something settled every week, but our own problems.
1For the Hall-Mills murder case see WA 206: N 5.
2For Queen Marie see WA 203: N 1 and WA 208: N 4.
3For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 206: N 1.
4Tacna and Arica, border provinces between Chile and Peru, had been occupied by Chile for more than forty years. The United States had failed in 1922 to settle the problem through a plebiscite. On November 30, 1926, Kellogg (see WA 132: N 7) proposed that both provinces be demilitarized and given to neighboring Bolivia. Instead, the provinces were partitioned between Chile and Peru in 1929.
5Kellogg was a former United States senator from Minnesota.
WA210 December 19, 1926
WILL ROGERS FURNISHES A REAL HINT
ON DIVIDING UP SURPLUS
Well, blew into the county Seat of Cuckooland yesterday and spent the day prowling around the old Fun Factory, watching the hired help trying to fool the boss and make him think they were doing something. I had been in Baltimore the night before and while the Commonwealth of Maryland was not just exactly what you might call clamoring for enlightment on national affairs, we did have what is sometimes mistakenly called some of the towns best people. Governor Ritchie, “The wet nurse of Maryland.”1
Threw the cares of office into the corn mash, and turned out to get the low down on what the sentiment was all over the Mortgaged belt.
This Governor Ritchie is setting mighty pretty for the draw in the next Presidential Democratic nomination. He has made a mighty fine record down there. He hasent had as big a State to work on as Al Smith, but he has had a
more intelligent bunch of people as a whole to fool.2
If Fiasco’s repeat themselves like they say History does, and McAdoo and Smith go into another dog fall, why this Ritchie is going to be within mighty easy calling distance.3
He has a great personality and would make a mighty agreeable friendly campaign and could do as much for the farmers as anyone else.
He was Democratic enough to come back to my dressing room and have a chat with me. You know everybody that went through that last Democratic convention together always feel like friends and have a sympathy for each other.
Well, I got out of Baltimore driving over to Washington that night and made awful slow time. We just happened to be on the road at the hours when all the “Stills” were trucking their next day’s stuff off over to Washington. They have a regular market place up near the Congressional Buildings and they get in there about daylight and have regular stalls and the private secretarys of the lawmakers do their shopping for the day. In that way they never have to carry any stuff over. I talked with one of the “Stillers.” He said he was just starting in, in a small way and had already built up quite a trade. He said,
“You have no idea though how business picks up when Congress is in session; it’s practically dead when they are not here.” Most of the trucks on the road had political escort.
Well I got up early the next morning and went up on “Handicap Hill.”
First one I went in to see was Charley Dawes.4
He had been so nice to me when I went to Europe last year; he had given me so many letters to men, and they were such big men, that I couldn‘t even get in to see the men to give them the letters. So I don’t know yet if Dawes really knew the men himself. Well
he was sitting in his office right next to the Senate door and had three alarm
clocks and two boys standing there with pins to stick him if he should happen to go to sleep again. For with the next Senate a tie between the Democrats and
the Republicans this is no time to take a nap. I complimented him on being just
awarded the “Nobel Peace Prize.” They gave him that for smoking a Pipe upside down and never setting himself on fire. He not only should have gotten the Peace Prize, but he should have been awarded a prize for “Fire Prevention.”
He also has the unique distinction of being the only man that wore a high silk hat the day of the big Blizzard in Chicago when they dedicated the big Football field, the day before the Army-Navy Game. Most men wore fur lined caps with ear lappers, but Charley swung onto his silk hat as though the Queen was going to arrive and he was to meet her.
He is a great fellow, Dawes, and you would get a kick out of meeting him if you never have. John McCutcheon, America’s most famous newspaper Artist (I won’t say Cartoonist, for he is out of any Cartoonist class), I never had met him before.5
He was with Dawes. Dawes had to go in. The opening Overture
was playing and I noticed he was the first one in there. He had his Hammer in his hand three minutes before the time to open arrived. Mr. McCutcheon and Mr. Hardin (the man that sent over the first story of Dewey’s “Victory at Manila”) – We all went up in the Senate gallery and watched ’em while they were debating the color of a bridge to place between the State of Oregon and the State of Washington.6
It didn’t look much like the farmers were going to get any relief out of that, so I went on down to the minor league end of the building and dropped in to see what kind of a break the farmers were getting there. They were arguing over what to do with the surplus. That surplus that we are supposed to have is going to cost us more in argument than it is worth in money. That’s all you can hear in Washington. “What will we do with the surplus?”
I sit in there for an hour or more with the farmers all over the country in the most excruciating pain, and not a soul offered him even an antidote. I knew he wasn’t going to get any relief, but I did think somebody would have had the good manners to suggest it. The Gridiron Dinner was to be held that night. Out of 365 nights to pick from they had to go and book me in there on the one night when it was held. I had to work and couldn’t even get to the dinner.
But the Press Club had Nick Longworth and Secretary of Labor Davis, and Secretary of War Davis, and a lot of other (well proved for) officials up to
their place for lunch, and I talked there while everybody else eat.7
They have a great bunch, the newspaper men of Washington, every one of them are their paper’s crack men. They are building a wonderful new club house which will
be the finest in the country for any Press Club. We had everybody at our show
that didn’t get an invitation to go to that wonderful dinner of theirs. You see,
it’s all men at theirs so I had to take care of the wives at my dog fight.
Well, I got a pretty fair break at that on the government officials, I had 60 per cent of the government in one seat. That was Borah, and he called up after the show and told me he liked it very much and would put in some of my suggestions at once.8
I had the stars of the Democratic House, Finnis Garrett of Tennessee and Garner of Texas, and Walter Johnson and Alice Longworth and Mrs. Ned McClean.9
So I think I had the best of the Gridiron. Course they had the President cause he has to go to all the Gridiron dinners as he is the one the jokes are all about.
I saw some of the rehearsals yesterday and they have some great Singers. Most of the stuff was leveled at the Third term of Coolidge, the Defeat of Butler, the fishing of the President.10
They brought in the third term “Baby,” feeding it Mellon’s food.11
Had a picture of a beautiful girl labeled 1928, and Cal over in another picture waving at her and the whole club sang the chorus, “Won’t you let me call you Sweetheart, I’m in love with you.” Mr. Hughes, and Underwood and Mr. Coolidge were the Speakers.12
Their speeches are never allowed to be published. Anything they care to say is in secrecy. The dinner is by far the most unique thing given in America. And it has the best brains and thought to produce it, backed by real enthusiasm, and talent. Talk about me going the limit about truth on our public men!
They start where I finish. Now I will report to my constituents the chances that they have of getting any part of the “Surplus.” There is 110 million people
and 330 million “Surplus,” so I propose they must pay everybody in America three dollars apiece. I may be able to do better for you than that, but I doubt
1Albert Cabell Ritchie, Democratic governor of Maryland from 1920 to 1935. An active foe of prohibition, Ritchie made a strong bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1932.
2For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1.
3For William G. McAdoo see WA 127: N 9.
4For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9.
5John Tinney McCutcheon, newspaper political cartoonist who worked for several Chicago dailies, including the Tribune from 1903 until his death in 1949; a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1931.
6Edward Walker Harden, New York City financial editor and stockbroker. As a correspondent with the American forces at the Battle of Manila in 1898, Harden sent the first news of the battle received in the United States. It reached New York City five hours before the arrival of the official dispatch at Washington. George Dewey, American admiral whose forces defeated a Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila in 1898.
7For Nicholas Longworth see WA 117: N 16.James John Davis, United States secretary of labor from 1921 to 1930. Dwight Filley Davis, United States secretary of war from 1925 to 1929.
8For William E. Borah see WA 119: N 2.
9For Finis Garrett see WA 159: N 10; for Jack Garner see WA 159: N 9; for Walter Johnson see WA 133: N 2; for Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 117: N 16. Evalyn Walsh McLean, mining heiress andWashington D. C., society hostess; wife of publisher Edward Beale “Ned” McLean.
10William Morgan Butler, Republican United States senator from Massachusetts from 1924 to 1926; confidant and political adviser to President Coolidge.
11For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 124: N 5.
12For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 156: N 5; for Oscar W. Underwood see WA 155: N 6.
WA211 December 26, 1926
AND POINTS WEST
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers every day. On account of being down around Washington, the old Law Foundry, the last few days, I gumshoed quite a little political and near political scandal. Course you all have read about Len Small, the Hard Surface Governor of Illinois, appointing this fellow Smith to fill out the unexpired term of McKinley.1
You know this Smith was the one that was elected out on his own hook, during that Croesus period of high finance. He was not supposed to go in on his own till the next meeting of Congress, but Len I guess thought “we better stick him in there now and see what happens to him. If he can’t get in substituting for somebody else, why he will never get in on his own ticket.” It looks like it is a good wise move cause if you are going to get throwed out why go ahead and get it over with. You see Len figures that they might sneak him in there, and he being a likable fellow, why they would begin to like him enough that when he got
back next year they would say, “Oh let him in, he is a good harmless fellow.”
In fact, Len is pretty smart. Smith didn’t pay a cent for this particular seat that he wants to occupy now. In fact it will be one of the cheapest seats in there, and I am not so sure that they have any grounds to throw him out for buying a separate seat from the one he is sitting in. I will have to brush up on
my Blackstone for that. I wish I had Charley Hughes around with me like I did all summer.2
I would find out from Charley. He knows just how much the law says you can lay out for a Senatorial Camp Stool without it being considered exorbitant. Of course the Democrats will be against him, but they would be against any appointment. If Abe Lincoln from Illinois was resurrected and was to fill this unexpired term and he still insisted he was a Republican, there would be a party vote against him.
It will be Peaches for Vare in Pennsylvania.3
He will know without applying personally whether he has a job, or is he “at leisure” from now on.
Course I have always been for seating them. The higher price they come the bigger the seat. Deliver us from anything but a cheap Senator. No man can ever rise above his surroundings, and if you put a man in that was elected on nothing but Campaign speeches, you are going to have nothing but wind in there representing you. If this fellow gets in why maby Samuel Insull will let him bring the Chicago Opera Company to Washington.4
Now what could some
cheap Senator bring? Why he would have to come in a day coach himself.
Speaking of Grand Opera, the one that this Len Small ought to have appointed is Mary Garden.5
I wish he had put Mary in there. Say, she would have woke up that Senate. She is smart. She would have been stage managing that gang in less than a week. Let’s get somebody in there with some pep and color and life. They keep Jim Reed out sleuthing around so much he ain't there half the time, and Pat Harrison has got so rich out of Gulfport land that he is just about as tame as a Republican.6
So Boy, what a god-send Mary would have been to that organization! So if you ask me Len Small missed a chance to make himself immortal.
Say what become of our old friend Count Von Sam Von Hogs a Trottin?7
Either the father, or the Klan, one must a got hold of old Sam. I think Sam was just about to tell the real value of an American Title-hunting Heiress, and they said to Sammie, “Wait a minute! Come out here! Let us get together! This thing has gone far enough.”
I was in Pittsburg last week. The Council was argueing over a bill of two thousand dollars that was to be paid in connection with the Queen’s visit, and as she dident arrive there, they dont know what to charge it off to.8
They can't charge it to advertising, for it’s no add to have somebody cancel their whole American tour just to keep from coming to your town. Mayor Klein, a mighty nice fellow, got a Picture of the Queen, so now they want to claim he should pay it as he was the only one got anything out of it.9
The Mayor claims the picture belongs to the City. So Pittsburg is out $2,000 for a lone Photograph, and the queen missed having to have a couple of dresses dry cleaned.
Pittsburg had sent a woman clear to Chicago to see what the Queen eat. A fellow
named Shovel in Pittsburg had just scooped out 50 thousand to one of our Folly girls, so there is after all a real heart beats below the soot and smoke of that great city.10
Well I bet you all was glad about the Doheny-Fall trial.11
I know I was.
If you would meet the old Gentleman Doheny and have a talk with him you would sure like him. I was at a dinner Party in Los Angeles one night at Mrs. Tony Moreno’s the Daughter of his old Partner, Mr. Canfield, and I was fortunate enough to have a long chat with him while the others was a dancing.12
I am pretty heavy on women’s feet. Why he and I sit out about a dozen dances togeather. He told me that whole story of his early struggles and digging the first oil well with a pick and shovel and Mrs. Moreno as a Girl used to bring he and her father their dinner in a tin bucket and hand it down in the well. He
had been back in my old range in the Indian Territory. If his life’s story had been written before Aladdin, why Aladin would have never sold a half dozen copies of his. He is the most pleasant man you ever talked to, and very soft spoken. He is mighty well thought of by everybody out there, and everybody that ever had any dealings with him, like him.
It would be a terrible bad thing if we got so every time somebody got something from the Government, we would think there was something crooked about it. I like to tell bum jokes about all our great and public men, but I got a lot of confidence in every one of them.
I don’t believe we have or ever have had real dishonesty in any of our officials. This trial however will do good. It will show that it is dangerous to
even use your personal friendship with any one in an official capacity, if it is
dealing in something that involves money. We might have incompetency in some places, and it might look queer to the skeptical, but there is no dishonesty.
If there is lets dont dig it up. That’s what has made our Government, is our faith in it. Let us keep on cussing ’em, and joking about ’em, but by golly if somebody is going to call one of them a crook why lets climb his hide.
1Small (see WA 158: N 2) acquired his nickname, “Hard Surface Road,” for sponsoring an ambitious highway building program in Illinois. On December 15 he appointed Frank Smith (see WA 206: N 4) to the United States Senate to fill a vacancy created by the death of William B. McKinley (see WA 176: N 10).
2For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 156: N 5.
3For Peaches Browning see WA 206: N 2; for William Vare see WA 206: N4.
4Samuel Insull II, English-born American utilities magnate who held a virtual monopoly on the public utilities in much of Illinois. Insull’s contributions to Frank Smith’s successful senatorial campaign in 1926 caused the public utility commission chairman’s election to be voided by the Senate.
5For Mary Garden see WA 178: N 9.
6For James A. Reed see WA 151: N 6; for Pat Harrison see WA 181: N 8.
7For Ludwig Salm von Hoogstraeten see WA 168: N 4.
8For Queen Marie see WA 203: N 1 and WA 208: N 4.
9Charles H. Kline, Republican mayor of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from 1926 until his death in 1933.
10John Winslow Hubbard, founder and chief executive officer of a major steam shovel manufacturing company headquartered at Pittsburgh. Hubbard paid $50,000 to vaudeville singer and dancer Anne Caldwell as settlement in a breach of promise suit.
11Edward Laurence Doheny, American oil producer who was a prominent figure in the oil lease scandals of the 1920s. Doheny was indicted on charges of conspiracy and bribery but was acquitted. Albert Bacon Fall, United States secretary of the interior from 1921 to 1923. While in office, Fall secretly leased naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome,Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California,
to oilmen E. L. Dohney and Harry Ford Sinclair. Fall was convicted of accepting a bribe, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $100,000.
12Daisy Canfield Danziger Moreno, wealthy and socially prominent wife of Antonio Garrido Monteagudo Moreno, Spanish-born American actor of stage and screen, popular during the silent screen era as a “Latin lover.” Charles Adelbert Canfield, pioneer California oilman, land developer, banker, corporation director, and philanthropist. With Doheny as his partner, he drilled the first oil well in the Los Angeles district in 1895. Canfield died in 1913.