Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA221 March 6, 1927
INSIDE DOPE ON LEGISLATURE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I hear the legislature pass as I commune with the various localities all over the Municipality of Cuckooland. I had just swung around out of Florida and I want to tell you old Florida is coming along mighty nice. You got to admire those people. They took it on the jaw and never let a squeal out of them. Now they got more Tourists this year than last, and it will always be a great Tourist place. But everybody that goes there is not going to buy a house and live in it. They have too many good Hotels for that.
They only had one thing that I had to advise them on. You know when the entire State was subdivided, why they naturally put up street signs at the corner of every block, most of them away out in the pine woods, or on the edge of a swamp. Well, now you go in there and all you can see is these white looking things up on the top of Posts. Now I don’t know if you have ever toured in Ohio, but they have a system, if there has been an Automobile accident and any lives lost they mark the spot where it took place on the highway with a little white Cross. Well, it’s a good system, when you come wide open to a turn in the road and you see a white cross or two staring you in the face, you are going to just naturally slow up. (That is if you haven’t lived mighty good you are.) These Florida crosses, while not shaped exactly like those, they mean about the same. Any time you see one away out in the middle of the Everglades, you know that it denotes about the same thing as in Ohio. If the man didn’t sell the lot he is buried there, and if he did the man that bought it is buried there.
So I advise these various assortment of Luncheon Clubs (as it would give them a legitimate reason for existing), to sneak out in the dark of night and pull up all those evidences of the late lamented past and the Tourists coming in on the trains traveling along the highways would never know that the land had at one time been thought valuable enough to blueprint.
There is not a Blue Print in Florida. Everybody is working for a living.
Well, when I left there I come on up and run into an Epidemic of State Legislatures.
First I hit the Old Dominion of South Carolina. I was exhibiting my latest brand of Legislative Pills for all Political ills at the Capitol City of Columbia. Columbia houses a fellow named Wright.1
If you have ever
read the Literary Digest (and if you don’t I don’t want you to number me as your Author) for you get the whole thing in there without having to search through the adds in the newspapers to find the news. Well, Wright is the fellow that contributes about nine-tenths of those wonderful bright sayings on Topics of the Day. He is the Editor of the Columbia Record. In fact, that Town has about the niftiest Newspapers all of them, that you will find anywhere. Well, he is a little bit of a Runt and you wouldn’t think he was big enough to carry a Paragraph, much less write one. But he is a whale.
Well, I was invited to address the Legislature. They was there plotting against the rest of the people. It was the first time I had ever allowed myself to get right down there on the floor and mingle with them.
You see, going around like I am all over the Country and playing and mingling with the best class of people, why I naturally have to be pretty careful just what I do and where I go. But they were on their good behavior, and had already got about all the devilment out of their systems, and when I was there they were just as Gentlemanly bunch of fellows as one would meet. You would almost take them for ordinary every-day citizens.
They had just been wrestling with the usual problems that seem to confront the South here lately, namely, Evolution. I don’t know what has brought on this doubt here lately in all these States’ minds as to just what type their ancestry was. But it sure is the burning question.
Well, I was introduced by the Speaker, the local Nick Longworth, and I felt as big as Charley Dawes standing up there enlightening the lawmakers.2
Well in a couple of days more I invaded the secret precincts of Tom Heflin of Alabama.3
And as the Legislature had never been able to learn anything from Tom, why I was asked to address the Alabama Legislature in Joint Session. They were holding night session to keep from paying room rent, so after my discourse to the paying Guests, I went up to the State Capitol and did a Benefit for the Legislature. It took place in the House of Representatives.
They marched the Senate in to hear it. I thought it was a chain gang as they filed in. But sure enough they were Senators.
Well, they was a great bunch. I delivered a message to them almost as long as Mr. Coolidge’s.4
Coolidge talked to Congress on Washington. But I talked to Alabama on Cotton, Klu Klux, corn liquor, Bib Graves the Governor, my old friend Bill Brandon, the Ex-Governor (who has a good job now he is Probate Judge).5
Washington, they can read about him out of a book, the same books that Mr. Coolidge read about him and got the speech from.
But the things I enlightened them on ain’t in history and never will be. Then I hit over in Pat Harrison’s country.6
Pat is the Al Smith of the Bollweevil Belt.7
He is the Mussolini of Mississippi.8
Well their Legislature was not in session but Governor Whitfield, a mighty fine old Gentleman, offered to call a special term if I would consent to speak to them on “Honesty in Politics,” but I didn’t want to burden the State any more than it naturally was.9
I think every two years is a little often to have them meet. It just looked like I was playing a Round-Robin of State Capitols for I hit Arkansaw. I went on to Hot Springs. I dident stop and exhibit in Little Rock, as their Legislature was in session there and no Comedian can compete with it.
There is over a hundred of them studying every minute funny things to use every two years when the show opens. They sent a delegation over to invite me over and offered to send a Airoplane to get me if I would come over and tell them “What’s the matter with Arkansaw.” They had just gone through a siege with the Monkey Problem and had not been able to prove that they did not descend from it.10
So they were naturally a little upset.
Say, that Hot Springs is some resort.
They have a beautiful Hotel there, the Arlington. I had wired ahead, but when I got there and registered the Clerk said there was no rooms. He looked at my name. I looked around the lobby and saw who all was there, and then I told him, My Mother was a Ginsberg. So I got right in.
Now the reason I am announcing this publically, I may hit some other Capitols and I am going to give warning that my Benefit season for State Legislatures has closed. I will however make them a rate. I will inform the Legislatures at say half price. I do this not for the Legislatures’ sake, but I feel that the same time that I take up theirs is keeping them from doing any harm against the people in the way of laws, so I really do it to help out the people. One thing you can always feel assured of in addressing a Legislature Body, that is you certainly are not taking up any of their time. You are not keeping them from anything. So remember, half rates for Lawmakers.
This is an ad.
1Robert Charleston Wright, owner, publisher, and editor of the Columbia (South Carolina) Record from 1916 to 1929; contributor of many articles and poems to newspapers and magazines, including the Literary Digest.
2Nicholas Longworth, Republican United States representative from Ohio from 1903 to 1913 and 1915 until his death in 1931; speaker of the House from 1925 to 1931. Charles Gates Dawes, vice president of the United States from 1925 to 1929. An attorney and a Republican politician, he originated the Dawes Plan for solving the German reparations payment question arising from World War I.
3James Thomas “Tom” Heflin, Democratic United States senator from Alabama from 1920 to 1931.
4John Calvin Coolidge, Republican president of the United States from 1923 to 1929.
5Bibb Graves, Democratic governor of Alabama from 1927 to 1931 and 1935 to 1939. William Woodward Brandon, governor of Alabama from 1923 to 1927. Brandon had served as a probate judge in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, before his election as governor. He returned to the bench following his term in office and served as a judge until his death in 1934.
6Byron Patton “Pat” Harrison, Democratic United States senator from Mississippi from 1919 until his death in 1941.
7Alfred Emanuel “Al” Smith, Jr., Democratic governor of New York from 1919 to 1920 and 1923 to 1928. Smith, an Irish Catholic and antiprohibitionist, was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1928.
8Benito Mussolini, founder and leader of the Fascist movement; dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.
9Henry Lewis Whitfield, Democratic governor of Mississippi from 1924 until his death in 1927.
10In February of 1927 the Arkansas state senate moved to table an antievolution bill that would prohibit the teaching of evolution in tax-supported schools in the state. Arkansas legislators, however, enacted such a law in 1928.
WA222 March 13, 1927
ROGERS FINDS PLENTY OF
WONDERS IN TWO STATES
You know I have been telling you all ever since I come back from Europe that Mussolini is the smartest Guy in the World.1
That when his people
started sightseeing or vacationing up into Switzerland and France he issued a decree that if they dident have any business up there he would not give them a passport.
Well, I have claimed every night in my “Dissertation” that if Cal had the authority to do that and if he kept Americans at home one summer and made them see their own country that it would be the greatest thing that ever happened in the world to this Country, and incidentally give Europe a chance to laugh at something else beside us.2
Well, every day as I travel over this Country that strikes me as being “what America needs.”
I see my good friend Irving Cobb in this month’s Cosmopolitan tells you a lot of good straight facts about how we are liked over there.3
And when Cobb and Borah and I are unaminous on anything why it just about makes it practical.4
My goodness! Travel around this Country and see some of the things we have to see.
I don’t hit a town that don’t have something that is unique or unusual.
I wrote you the other week about the natural bridge in Virginia. Why if Europe
had that, Americans would withstand any insults and ridicule in traveling to get to go and see it. Now I am traveling through a country that there ought to be law passed in Congress that no one was allowed to receive a Passport to leave this country till they had visited New Mexico and Arizona. We got sights in these two states that if Europe had them, they would fence them off and charge admission and get enough to pay off their national debt. They haven’t got a single sight over there that nature ever built. Anything that is any good, naturally is in this country. We could take all Europe and push ’em over backwards into the Grand Canyon and there wouldent be enough of them to dam the thing up.
Why, the Astecs and the Cliff Dwellers, existed and had civilization before the Meades, and the Persians, and the Gauls, (by the way the Gauls are still there) had even taken out their citizenship papers in Rome or Greece. Why yesterday I was to play in Albequrque, New Mexico, and I drove up to Santa Fe, the Capitol. Why there they have the oldest House, (a Church) built in America. Now I know I am going to have a howl from St. Augustine, Florida. I was there too, and saw their wonderful old places. But they are dating all their time from when Columbus and those gangs from Europe commenced to squat in this country. Why this country out here was established so long ahead of that back there, that they were like a bunch of Tourists visiting a country after these old Pioneers out here had blazed the trail so far ahead of that Columbus bunch that the trail had grown up with Century plants in the meantime.
Why, if Columbus had landed at Galveston and marched inland to Santa Fe, New Mexico he would have been met by the Cliff Dwellers commercial Club, a delegation of modern “Red men of the world,” and the Astecs Rotarary. They would have apologised to Columbus for the primitive looks of the old end of town. (What they called Old town.) “We can’t get some of our old settlers here to change their ways, they want to live like their great, great, great, grandfathers have lived here before them.” Columbus would have remarked, “Pardon me gentlemen! I dident discover a Country, I am just over here paying my respects from a young country, to an older one.” Every guy thinks the first time he sees anything, that that is the first time it ever existed. I will never forget the first time I went to St. Louis. I thought sure I was the first one to find it. But Lord, here it had been reclining there in its own way for generations. Why this Santa Fe is one of the most picturesque places you ever saw. The streets are narrow and very crooked. They claim it was laid out “by a drunken Mexican on a blind ‘Burro’ on a stormy night.” They have the old “Palace of the Governors” there, where all the rulers lived who commanded the vast territory when it was under Mexican and Spanish rule. It’s the end of the old Santa Fe trail. Its Capitol houses the most unique Legislature in America, all the proceedings are in two languages, the minute a thing is spoken in English, or what the interpreter mistakes for English, why it is immediately respoken in Spanish, over two thirds of the State Legislators are Spanish. And if you think they don’t know Politics you are cuckoo.
The White members there got no more chance than a Farmer looking for relief. And you can’t blame the Mexes much. It’s their state, and most of them were there first, and if they want to run it a certain way why it’s their business. Course a lot of newcomers moving in want to start right in reforming, but I am a great sticker for the old timer, if he wants to run it on the old Spanish plan, why let him do it. We got enough States being run wrong the other way. So let them at least have a novelty anyway. It’s a great State in natural resources, it’s got just about everything under the ground that was ever piled into one Xmas basket. And the most wonderful thing about it and Arizona, is that it is giving health and years of longer life to thousands and thousands of people with that dreaded thing, consumption. And my what a cheerful lot they are, what a study in grit and nerve.
We sent some great boys to that war, but I tell you we left braver ones at home right out here in these two States, they are facing the enemy every day and licking him. It’s wonderful to come from a big prosperous State, and brag on your “population, Bank deposits, and value of crops produced.” But when you live in a State that can advertise “that you can save lives” you are just about the greatest States in the Union. You have got to build up and save what prosperous States have wrecked and torn down. So when you healthy, well fed, prosperous ones look out of your drawing room window on the miles and miles of desert waste, and say “My! How can anyone live in this country.” You want to remember that it’s everything in the world, it’s life, it’s gold, to millions.
1Rogers toured Europe in the summer of 1926. For this and all further references to Benito Mussolini see Weekly Articles (WA) 221:Note (N) 8.
2For this and all further references to Calvin Coolidge see WA 221:N 4.
3Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb, American journalist, humorist, and playwright. In 1934 Rogers, a close personal friend of Cobb, starred in the motion picture Judge Priest, for which Cobb wrote the screenplay as well as the book upon which the box-office hit was based.
4William Edgar Borah, Republican United States senator from Idaho from 1907 until his death in 1940; powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
WA223 March 20, 1927
WILL ON MEXICAN RELATIONS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. I pick up my paper this morning and what stares me in the face but the following headlines, “Going to break off Diplomatic Relations with Mexico, and lift the arms embargo, and allow arms to be shipped in to any Revolutionists.”
Now get that will you? Here we are sore at Mexico, and because they don’t do exactly like we want them to, why we are going and lifting the embargo on all ammunition and guns. We are going to allow, and even encourage, all the bloodshed we can, just because we are having an argument with them, instead of us going down and either licking President Calles, or if we are not, why then quit argueing with them.1
(Either do one or the two.) But no, we are going to allow Guns to go in and let some Revolutionists get even with President Calles for us. We are going to start the bloodshed all over again down there.
Here we are the Nation that is always hollering for dissar mament, and Peace, and just because we are not smart enough to settle our differences by diplomacy (because we have none) why we are going to make it possible for somebody else to exterminate the faction that we don’t like. Suppose they don’t like Coolidge down there, and they would allow arms to be shipped into this Country to arm a revolution against our Government that is in Power. Boy, what a howl we would put up! But it’s us doing it down their way now, so that’s all right. Here is the humatarian Nation of the world fixing so more people can get shot.
Fixing so Mexico can get all the guns they want is just like going to Sing Sing Prison and giving everyone in there a gun. We assisted one side in the Revolution in Nicarauga. We have taken sides in China. Now we are going to help some ambitious Politician gather together a lot of ignorant Peons and go forth to start a new Revolution in Mexico. All because we have to admit ourselves a failure as Diplomats in dealing with them. The people along the Mexico border that deal with Mexico every day, do it and do it without hard feeling or bloodshed.
Last week I appeared at Tuscon, Arizona. That’s seventy miles from Nogales. I got a lot of wires asking me if I wouldent please come down to Nogales. That’s the town on the very border, part in Mexico and part in Arizona. Well the next day before going to Phoenix why Banning Vale, one of the owners of the big Empire Ranch, of 275 thousand acres, took me and an old Cowpuncher friend Ed Echols, a great contest Roper, who lived down that way, why we went by the ranch and then on down to Nogales.2
Was met by the Mayor and all the town’s leading Citizens, and right on over the line with just a wave of the hand into the Old Mexico. There we met a gang from their side, including their Mayor and the Presidente of their State. After seeing the town, all met up in a big hall IN A BREWERY, and had lunch, and good Beer. (Nobody drunk and nobody bootlegging.) Had a few speeches, and a few laughs. I was welcomed by the Presidente.
Said if they had known a little sooner they would have put me on a Bull fight. (I was glad they didn’t know sooner.) Well, what I am getting at is not to tell how I was welcomed in Mexico, but the friendly way the people of our side of the line got along with the ones from the Mexico side.
All this argueing between the two Governments meant nothing to them, and here they was having more amounts of business dealings every minute of the day than the government has in a year. I met Bud Parker, a cattle dealer who had brought out over 25 thousand cattle from old Mexico in a year, arranged the duties to both Countries, as there is an import duty by us, and an export duty to pay to Mexico.3
Anything one side of the town did the other was in for. Here they are supposed to be a wild and wooly western town, and their men are able and have common sense enough to know how to deal with each other, and yet the higher up our officials get, the less they seem to know about human nature, or how to deal square with Nations the same as they would with individuals.
Each side down there knew how to GIVE as well as take. The Arizona side dident send them a note every morning making some complaint. If there was any differences of opinion both sides knew they could get together and talk it over, without having to politely insult each other through Diplomatic correspondence. It looked like a town to me where everybody was tending to their own business instead of somebody else’s. There was a colored Regiment stationed there, the 25th Infantry, and even they got along fine with both our side and its Citizens, and the Mexico side. Mexico by an overwhelming vote changed their land laws in 1917. This fellow that’s in now dident pass the law. He is only trying to enforce the Constitution. They give America 50 years to get the oil out from under the land, and then they want to divide the land up with the Natives. Now that don’t seem so unreasonable to give you fifty years. We say it’s against our laws. Our Laws!
What’s our laws got to do with Mexico?
Personally I don’t think Doheny, and Sinclair, and the Standard and all of those are undergoing any great hardships and starvation.4
I doubt if Mexico owes them anything, or owes us anything. We have got out more than
we put in. We make drastic laws and stay with ’em. Dident we pass an emigration
law to even keep people out of our Country? Well that was all right.
It was a good law. It’s our Country and we got a right to say who shall come in, but of course it was disscrimination. Now can’t Mexico pass a land law if it gives you Fifty years warning? I think that is about the longest dispossess
notice I ever heard of. When we started Prohibition we confiscated and threw out of business millions and millions of dollars worth of property that had always been in a perfectly legalized business. We dident give them any fifty years notice did we? And they were our own Citizens. I wish our Mexico relations was in the hands of some common sense old Cowmen, that “savied” human nature, and not a so called Diplomat. Who thinks he is insulting you in such a diplomatic way that you will never find it out. We don’t want a man that knows phrases for a diplomat, we want a man that knows people.
1Plutarco Elías Calles, president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928 and “strong-arm” leader of Mexico during much of the 1920s and 1930s.
2William Banning Vial, manager and co-owner of the sprawling Empire Ranch in Arizona which his father had founded in 1876. The ranch was sold in 1928.
3C. C. “Bud” Parker, Arizona rancher and cattle dealer who owned El Rancho Nuevo.
4Edward Laurence Doheny, American oil producer who organized the Mexican Petroleum Company in 1900 and founded several other oil companies. Doheny was accused in 1924 of bribing Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall to obtain preferred treatment in the distribution of government oil leases, especially leases in oil reserves at Elk Hills, California. Doheny was acquitted of the charges. Harry Ford Sinclair, American oil producer with interests in several major petroleum companies. Sinclair also was involved in the oil lease scandals of the 1920s. He was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud the federal government but was found guilty of contempt of the United States Senate in refusing to testify on leases at Teapot Dome, Wyoming.
WA224 March 27, 1927
WILL ROGERS FINDS
HE CAN’T TALK ABOUT SQUAB
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I leap from craig to craig. I hit the old adopted Village of Los Angeles week before last and I was to publically act a fool for the natives at so much a head on a certain night. Now, my friend, Mr. William G. McAdoo, had framed up a dinner for some sort of a benefit, and of all the 365 nights of the year he had to go and have it the very night I am in their midst.1
Well, he called me up and asked me if I wouldn’t come to the dinner and pester the diners vocally. Well, I was about half sore at W. G. for having his dinner at the same time I was making my first official appearance as Mayor in the sister city, because it was him, and the very gang that I thought he would draw at his dinner, that I wanted as paying guests in my Rodeo.2
I especially wanted him there as I had garnered quite a little political scandal in my benefit tour of America. He is a favorite out there and I needed all the local help I could get. Then when I found that we were sold out anyway, it dident make any difference.
Now this Dinner he was at the head of was a $100 a plate. (And just ordinary
plates at that.) Just think of that one hundred bucks a plate, AND NOTHING IN YOUR GLASS. Well, it sounded like night Club prices to me. Well, I had to appear at my own place of disturbance that night, but he made me promise that I would drop by early in the dinner that on account of me not having time enough to eat, I wouldent have to pay the $100. Well that offered novel possibilities to be at a $100 dinner and not have to pay for it. It was a charity to save young boys. I dident have the hundred to contribute, but I offered to contribute TWO BOYS, and if they could save them I would willingly pay them more than a hundred dollars a head, or a plate, either.3
I am a long time getting at it but here is the joke. Naturally, I had to butt
into the meal to speak, as I only had a short time. Mr. McAdoo gave me a lovely introduction and I started in among what looked like very favorable conditions. They all looked like they wanted to sorter laugh. But just as I started, why in comes the Waiters with the meat course. It was what looked to me like Squab. Well, they knew that that was “The Plate,” the $100 Plate. Well, they looked at me, and they looked at the squab, and it looked for a few seconds like I was going to get the break, and receive the benefit of the doubt, and then the thought of the price hit ’em.
Well, I saw in a glance I had lost the decision. You can’t combat the fangs of hunger. I kinder thought at first it was just because it was me speaking that they turned to their tools and set in to operate on them squabs.
But I tell you I don’t believe it was anything against me, or my poor attention-
holding abilities at all. I don’t believe that night with those Democrats paying $100 for that poor little pitiful Bird of a pigeon. I don’t believe Mussolini or Bernard Shaw could a held ’em.4
In fact, I don’t believe President Coolidge doing a double two-man talking act with Borah could have kept those Los Angelono’s away from that Grub Stake that night.5
They was after food and not facts. And you can’t blame ’em I tell you. At that price that little feathered beast would have taken apart and apportioned out Pro Rato about as follows, $10 a leg and a squab ain’t what you would designate as a centipede, about two legs generally lets him out, that’s if he is a normal pigeon. And as for beef on a squab’s legs, they are not what you would encase in flesh-colored stockings and parade around. Well at ten a
leg that’s $20 smackers just for squab’s legs. Then the wings will weigh out about the same, so that accounts for another $20, and a squab hasent got what you would call an awful wing spread at that. Then the body and contents which is at least half the squab, why we will give it say $50. Now, if you happen to draw one that has been reducing, why that little fowl is running you into a terrible lot of Jack. That brings the grand total up to ninety dollars and the only other place we can place the surplus $10 is either on the neck or the Tail.
Now there has been whole families brought up on the neck of a Chicken. That is where they are allowed to manhandle it. If they keep you strictly to knife and fork rules you can’t get much out of it. But I have never heard of children at even the second or third table subsisting entirely on Squab neck. Now the tail for about one bite offers to some people a mighty choice morsel. It’s easier to handle; it requires practically no acrobatics with either knife or fork, so I think the only fair way to do about this last $10 that’s left is to give the neck a shade the best of it. It’s longer and comes first. So let’s be fair and give the neck $6 and the tail $4. Now I may be a half dollar or so off on that either way, but no more than that. So now that it is shown to you with Squab’s tail running at four Slugs a bite, here was people gnawing into real collateral.
What I am getting at is you always learn something. I know now why they call ’em “After Dinner Speeches.” That’s because they can’t be made during a meal. I thought you could talk anytime, but you can’t. You got to get ’em full first. In fact the best way to do is to get ’em so full that they have to stay and listen. They can’t get out.
Did you ever hear 200 knives and forks dissecting an equal number of Squabs on hard surface plates all at the same time? You see a Squab is elusive and there is plenty of stabs made at him that reach nothing only the sounding-board of the plate.
I certainly want to thank Mr. McAdoo, as hungry as I know he was. (For who ever saw a Democrat that wasent?) Why, he was polite enough to let his lay till I had entirely give up the Ghost and gone over to my gathering in the Theatre, where they had nothing to eat but their programs. He, as I say, was awful nice and very sympathetic, and there was two more there who I want to give credit to, Elinor Glynn, and Morris Guest.6
They both realized what I had to compete with and Miss Glynn was trying to listen above the din and roar of Near Silverwear pouncing on Near Dresden China. As I say, her and Mr. McAdoo sit there trying to hear, and Morris dident bother me at all. He had perhaps had the same thing happen to him, and he was considerate. He took this squab up in his fingers, so he wouldent bother me at all. He was listening and laughing and eating all together. So I found out one thing. There is only one speech any speech maker in the World can make to a hungry audience and be heard, and that is “Dinner’s ready, Come and get it, or we will throw it out!”
1William Gibbs McAdoo, American attorney and Democratic politician who served as United States secretary of the treasury from 1913 to 1918 and as United States senator from California from 1933 to 1939.
2Rogers served as honorary mayor of Beverly Hills, California, from December of 1926 to August of 1927.
3William Vann Rogers, Will and Betty Rogers’ oldest child; known as Will, Jr., or Bill. James Blake “Jimmy” Rogers, Rogers’ second son.
4George Bernard Shaw, British playwright, novelist, and critic. His first of many successful plays was John Bull’s Other Island, published in 1904. Among his later works were Pygmalion and Great Catherine. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925.
5For William E. Borah see WA 222:N 4.
6Elinor Sutherland Glyn, British novelist whose works included Three Weeks (1907) and It (1927). The latter, a short novel in an American setting, made the word “It” for many years synonymous with personal magnetism. In 1920 she began a nine-year career as a script writer in Hollywood, where a number of her novels were filmed. Morris Gest, Russian-born American theatrical producer who introduced Russian ballet into the United States in 1922.
WA225 April 3, 1927
WILL ROGERS SAYS RENO’S WORTH
SEEING EVEN TO HAPPILY MARRIED
All I know is what I read in the papers or what I see with my own eyes as I gumshoe my way around Merry old “Cuckooland.” I tell you folks you don’t know what a country we have got till you start prowling around it.
Personally I like the small places and sparsely populated states. A place looks better before it gets houses on it than it does afterwards. I hit Nevada the other day. I was billed to play Reno, and say she sure is a pretty little town! It’s a regular Oasis right there in the heart of the Sage Brush Country, got beautiful homes and cottages and I am telling you it’s worth staying there a while to get rid of a lot of husbands that I know.
I had both eyes all cocked to get a peek at the “Divorcees.” I was like the little dames from the East when they first visited Hollywood and are all eyes for the Movie Stars. Well I was all set to get a peek at the “Liberty hunters.” You know I dident know it, and I bet you dident either (and that’s why I have to do all this traveling around and finding out things for you and all you have to do is to stay at home and just learn what it has taken me so much bother to find out for you.) Well, there is just as many men come to Reno for divorces as there is Women. So you see Women are not the only things that are dissatisfied with their mates. Some women are failures just as well as men. And you see when some woman comes there to uncouple from the “Old grouch” and don’t particularly have her mind made up about the next matrimonial accident why you see with all these men there on the same mission, why she may pick up something worth while right there. The two sexes are just a setting right there ready to console each other, and a lot of times you can get just as good or maybe better than you are throwing away right there in Reno. You see you got time to write back and investigate each ether’s financial status.
While I was there, they had just cut the time down from having to stay there six months to three. I was there the day they passed that law and I think it was a good one. Three months is long enough for anyone to be without a husband or a wife. Then they were getting lots of opposition. Other towns are making a play for their business, and they had to offer some extra inducement, so they put the three months clause in. Course that makes you go to work a little faster out there if you are looking for a new one. But six months was really too long, that gives you long enough to find each other out, out there before you could get married and naturally killed off lots of them. You can fool each other about three months. But six, you got to be an actress to do it.
But it’s just a nice little city and outside of Divorces they got a River running through it and a little Zoo in a pretty park with two Buffalo, a male
and a female and two elk, male and female. In fact pairs of several kind of animals and birds and reptiles. It looks like they mated ’em off that way just
to show the “Industry” what can be accomplished if they had been born a reptile or animal instead of practically human. It looked to me like an ad against their own business there in Reno, but I guess they know best.
Lawyers meet the trains and line up and holler out the same as Porters do down South at depots for Hotels. They got Lawyers there that can get you loose from an octapus. They can point out houses where some of the most famous husbands in the world were tied a can to. Lots of them buy these cottages and live in them till their probation is over and then maybe sell them to some other “Irresponsible” or lots of them, they tell me, keep their houses there and then use them when they come back on the next case.
Some women have as many as four and five “notches” on the same house, showing they had “Got their Man.”
I went over to Carson City, that’s the Capitol, and the day I was there was the anniversary of the Corbett-Fitzsimmons fight.1
Just 30 years ago that day, two of the men with me had seen it. I saw the place right near the Capitol where they pitched the ring and also Corbett’s training ranch and Fitz’s. I made two speeches to the Legislature. One to the Senate and the other to the House, I advised them but I doubt if they take it. These Legislatures are about hopeless. Had lunch with the Governor, an old Cowpuncher, a Real two fisted fighting “Hombre.”2
He don’t need anybody on his staff but some nurses to pick up the wounded. It’s a very historic old place is Carson City. Mark Twain run a newspaper there a long time, and I saw the house he lived in.3
Then we went over to Virginia City. That’s the great old mining town that he worked in and wrote so much about. They have his office and printing press just as he left it. It sure must a been a live old place in those days. It sure does ooze with tradition and romance. It’s the heart of the “Comstock Lode” where two hundred million dollars in Gold was taken out. You ought to see that country, Hot Springs, beautiful scenery, fine hospitable people, fine stock farms, fine race horses. Women waiting to sign up again. I tell you Nevada has got everything.
You know Mark Twain’s famous remark when he first walked into Virginia City after tramping over a hundred miles from another town where he had been offered a job here, so he came, he dragged himself in, threw his bed pack on the Newspaper office floor, started in to scratch himself and said: “I want to announce publically to this Newspaper and to Virginia City THAT I AM LOUSY!” Beat that for an entrance remark of his into a new Country. He was made right there.
1James John “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, American professional pugilist who held the world heavyweight title from 1892 to 1897. One of the first of the modern-day scientific boxers, Corbett retired from the ring in 1903. He later appeared on stage, in motion pictures, and on radio. Robert Prometheus “Bob” Fitzsimmons, English-born boxer who won the world heavyweight championship from Corbett at Carson City, Nevada, on March 17, 1897. He lost the title two years later.
2Fred Bennett Balzar, Republican governor of Nevada from 1927 until his death in 1934.
3Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorn Clemens, American author and humorist. Twain resided in Carson City in 1861 and in Virginia City in 1862, during which time he prospected for gold and silver and wrote for the Territorial Enterprise, a local newspaper.
WA226 April 10, 1927
WILL ROGERS HOLDS CHINA SHOULD
SEND OUT MISSIONARIES—NOT US
Suppose you were a native of a country and history absolutely proved that this country of yours had the oldest civilization in the world, that half the things the rest of the world was practicing under the heading of progress had been originated by your ancestors; that you and your people had lived for hundreds and hundreds of years pretty much the same as you are living today, and you were satisfied with that way of living, that it had existed so long showed that the system must have some merit.
Suppose you had gone along and never bothered anybody else, owned the biggest country, manipulated it in such an economical way that you raised and fed without outside aid a population of more than 450 million people, after having so arranged your needs and desires so that you didn’t have to ask a favor, a crumb, or a stitch from anyone, and you still had time for your arts and sciences, and practiced and believed a religion according to the dictates of your heart and what you know had been good for your country, not for years but for centuries.
Suppose you had been taught for generations that material things commerce and money and luxury were not the things for you to look forward
to, but the thing that counted was the character of the life you had lived and its value to your family and friends. Suppose in your family life you had always been taught to stick together, no matter how old, to keep the family ties, to worship and honor your parents and ancestors; not be turned out to go your own way the minute you are of age, but to be always kept at home, remain in the surroundings in which you had been born, and be happy and contented; not forever trying to push your way to what you think is up and trying to crowd someone else out; not leave your parents and go out and make what you might think was a success, but which in reality was a sacrifice to your parents in love and affection. Think of the elimination of heartaches to parents if they knew the families would always be together! The land is tended as it has been by your same families for generations.
Now, you say, how is a fellow going to progress? Happiness and contentment is progress. In fact, that’s all progress is. If you are hurrying and worried to death you ain’t progressing. How much better does an automobile seat feel to you than a buggy seat, if you had never seen the auto seat?
China can’t get rich like a few in other places and on the other hand they haven’t got that fear of poverty that is such a common fear in other
countries. Now, as I say, suppose you belonged to a people that looked at things in that light, didn’t bother nobody and didn’t want to be bothered.
And then let a lot of little nations that haven’t existed long enough to have taken out their citizenship papers in a Country like yours let them come along, call you “Heathen” and take over the best ports in your country!
How did they take ’em over? Why, by England wanting to smuggle in Opium, China knew it was bad and legislated against it, and captures all the
supply of it. That brought on war and England appropriated the Island of Hong Kong. That was the first Christian act done to the Heathen. Had another dispute over a flag incident and that gave excuse for not only England but France and all the rest of them dipping in and grabbing off a little more. And they submitted. Why? Because they are not a military power. Now we are having disarmament conferences to persuade nations to disarm. Then they pick on the only big one that is disarmed. Why dident England tell us we couldent pass a Prohibition law? It would have been the same as them telling China they couldent prohibit opium.
England made ’em mad enough, but when we started in with our missionaries, that was the last straw. Imagine, with all of our crime and all of
our immorality in the papers, and our small amount of attendance in our churches. Imagine their reaction to us going over there and telling them how they should live. Here we are, a nation that no one person in it ever did any job a month that he wasn’t trying to get out of it and into something else. About as much contentment and repose as a fresh caged hyena. Then we go to tell some calm, contented people how to live.
Why don’t we go out here and tell everybody they got to smoke cigarettes and do the “Black Bottom.” Lots of us don’t like those things because
we have never tried ’em and we don’t care to. That’s China. They have never tried our so-called progress, they like their way; it may not be
the best way, but it’s their way. Here is the difference between China and these other countries like us and France and England—China knows that their government will be existing, that they will be living the same 1,000 years from now as they are today. There is not a person in Europe or America that knows or even has any idea what us or our children or our nation will be twenty-five years from now. Then we call them “heathens.”
Why, they forgot more about living than we will ever know. I suppose Aimee McPherson’s new religion will be sending missionaries over to teach
them how to live.1
She will be showing Confucius up next. To us, progress is to work our way up to a 6-cylinder Buick, have a dinner jacket, belong to six luncheon clubs, and wear knee breeches on Sunday. Then go out and tell the world how the standard of living has raised. And start in telling the whole world, “We are the only one with the right idea.”
We and England are going to get a kick in the pants some day if we don’t come home and start tending to our own business and let other people
live as they want to.
What degree of egotism is it that makes a nation or a religious organization think theirs is the very thing for the Chinese or the Zulus? Why, we can’t even Christianize our Legislators! If the churches want to do something worth while with their missionaries, bring them home and put them to work among poor renters or “share crop” workers in the cotton or wheat belt. Some of them have a dozen children and never had $20 in the family in their lives. Let ’em work among them, and help ’em and teach ’em. This country is NOT prosperous. We got poor people in this country, only they are not the kind that asks for anything, and they are not on the streets where you can see ’em.
Never mind reading bank deposits. We got a million poor people that live in the country that never saw a bank. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. That’s what we better regulate instead of Nicaragua, Tacna-Arica, Mexico and China.2
Never mind trying to take the Chinaman’s chopsticks away from him and try to learn him to eat with a fork. He always has a piece of land, and
he can raise something. Why can he raise more on it than you can? Because he has got more sense. Must have, or he couldn’t raise more.
What we ought to do is import some Chinese missionaries from over there to come and show us, not how to be saved but how to raise something
every year on our land. We just got the missionary business turned around. We are the ones that need converting more than they do.
1Aimee Semple McPherson, American evangelist who preached a Pentecostal, fundamentalist, faith-healing doctrine. McPherson, who enjoyed a great following in the 1920s and 1930s, was the founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
2Tacna and Arica, provinces on the border between Chile and Peru, had been occupied by Chile for more than forty years. President Warren Gamaliel Harding, acting as an arbitrator, had failed in 1922 to settle the problem through a plebiscite. The provinces finally were
partitioned between Chile and Peru in 1929.
WA227 April 17, 1927
WILL ROGERS SAYS WE’RE YOKELS
IF WE DON’T BOOST AIR TRAFFIC
Well, all I know is just what I read, in the papers and what I see as I soar over these old United States. I tell you folks you don’t know what you miss by not trying to do some of your travel by plane. Course it’s hard to do sometimes for after inventing them we thought we was through with them, and it’s hard to get hold of one, and when you do the cost is almost prohibitive. For the government gives those that do try to do something for commercial aviation no subsidy like the governments do in Europe. Over there they figure the more they can get people to use air travel and the more they become accustomed to its possibilities why the more it gets all of them interested in it. If we were told tomorrow that the future and the safety of our country depended on football and athletics, why everybody the whole country over would be out practicing and all excited about it. But what any sane person absolutely knows that the success of the next war is in the air, why they just drag along and think somebody is kidding ’em.
We laugh our heads off at some old joke about seeing people living down in Arkansas that never rode on a train in their lives. Why haven’t they
been on one? It’s because they haven’t seen them. But here is the whole of America bigger Rubes than they are, for all of you have seen planes, see ’em every day and read every day of the wonderful trips and feats they do but the furtherest they can get you off the ground is on some summer roof garden, and you won’t venture up there till the Orchestra is playing. Every time a man is killed in the air every paper in the country carries it, and six and eight can be run over a crossing in an auto by a train, and there won’t be a paper outside their own country have a word about it. It’s so common it’s just not news.
A couple of weeks ago I had to cover pretty much the whole state of Montana and it’s some state, third in size. I found a fine flyer with his own plane and just kept him with me all week and we flew everywhere. Would stay all night in the town I had just played, get a good night’s rest, take my time about getting out in the morning, have a nice breakfast and then we could leave just whenever we wanted to. Dident have to have Mr. Northern Pacific make up your mind for you.
Fly over the beautiful mountain tops, and in two or three hours catch up with the train that had left the night before, see it struggling along up some old crooked grade and through tunnels, and we would just sail right on. You know how the country Yokels rush to go on top of Woolworth’s Tower in New York to get the view.1
Well, every minute you are in a plane you are getting just that kind of view only better for you are not standing looking at the same thing all the time. Then when we get to the town, fly around over it and you get more of an idea of it than you could get in a week from driving around. Then when the Committee come and want to take me for a drive to see their town I tell them all about it, the whole lay out of it, and I don’t have to take a chance of going with them and being run over or into.
Major Norton, who flew me to Des Moines from Ft. Riley, Kansas in a little over two hours, has flew since 1912, and no accident.2
He was telling me of two flyers in the army, been going back and forth all over the country for years was sent back east from Kelly Field at San Antonio, and they had to make the trip on the train, and they neither one would go till they had taken out insurance. The thing I like about it is you don’t have to tip the Porter.
There was an Indian walking through an exhibition of western paintings and wasent paying much attention to any of them till he come to one
showing “Custer’s Last Fight.”3
He stopped at that. One of the committee in charge of the exhibit asked him if he liked paintings. He said, “No.” “But you seem to be admiring that picture there,” replied the committee woman. “Yes, he good; only picture ever saw white man paint where Indian getting the best of it.”
Well I saw the very spot and all of the spot where the Indian got the best of it. I flew all over the Custer battlefield, landed on it and then drove over it. But the driving dident give you any idea of it. It was from above where you could see where he split his regiment sending Reno with three companies, another with two, and him taking five.4
From the air we could readily see why one would not see what the other was doing. We could also look miles away down the “Big Horn” where General Terry was coming with a detachment to join him but arrived too late.5
All of this we could see from practically one place over the very field where he fell. Just one Aeroplane and no part of the whole thing would have happened. Everybody would have known where everybody else was. He had no idea there was that many Indians there, and Reno not eight miles away dident know Custer had been killed till the next day, as he was fighting skirmishes with other bands all this time.
You musent miss going there. It’s a very impressive and historic sight. White grave stones mark where each man was found. Although their actual
bodies are not buried there, they have been taken to Eastern National Cemeteries. It’s right at the Crow Agency. When we come down with the
plane not a quarter of a mile from the very spot where Custer fell, the Indians and the town people drove out and rode out horseback from the little Agency Town. Over half were full blooded Indians. It kinder gives me a kick, being a part “Injun” and mighty proud of it. Here it looked like was one place they wasent able to drive ’em out from, even in 50 years since it happened. Course it wasent the Crows that was in that fight, it was the Sioux and the Cheyennes mostly. It does look like after flying over as much of it as I have lately and seeing the millions of acres that we don’t use anyway, as I say it does look like America was big enough that they could have staked off say at least a fourth or a fifth of it and give it to ’em for all time to come. Then I wouldent have seen Custer’s battleground and hundreds of other graves in all those lonely old western forts. They would a never bothered a soul if we had just split the Country even 80-20 with them. Custer marched a many a day into their territory to match that fight with them. The Indians give me a pair of Beaded Gloves before I flew on away
to Sheridan, Wyoming, and I am mighty proud of those Gloves.
Now the moral of this is to treat the Indians better, and I have shown you what one Aeroplane would have prevented. WELL MORE PLANES THAN ANY OTHER NATION WILL DO THE SAME IN THE NEXT WAR. LET’S NOT STAND AND LOOK AT ANOTHER CUSTER BATTLEFIELD AND WISH WE HAD HAD A PLANE THERE IN TIME. Get enough of them to see the other fellow coming into your Country, and HE WILL NEVER COME IN, and YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO USE ’EM.
1Frank Winfield Woolworth, American merchant who opened the first successful five-cent store in Pennsylvania in 1879. He thereafter expanded his operations until the Woolworth five-and-ten stores became famous in all major American cities. In 1913 he erected the
Woolworth Building in New York City, for a time the world’s tallest building.
2Major Norton, unidentifiable American serviceman.
3George Armstrong Custer, United States army officer who first achieved fame serving the Union Army in the Civil War. He later served in the West during the Indian wars. Custer and his entire command of 264 men were killed by the Sioux Indians at the Battle of the
Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876.
4Marcus Albert Reno, American military officer who served in the Civil War and in the western campaigns against the Indians in the 1860s and 1870s. He was charged with cowardice for having failed to support his comrades in the action at Little Big Horn. Other serious
charges were lodged against him, and he was dismissed from the service in 1880.
5Alfred Howe Terry, American soldier who distinguished himself as a Union officer during the Civil War and later in the Indian conflicts in the West. He was Custer’s commanding general during the Dakota campaign leading to the debacle at Little Big Horn.
WA228 April 24, 1927
ROGERS CHALLENGES THE WORLD
TO BIG DEBATE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. We just can’t get any news now for reading about somebody debating. When one man can’t draw
a crowd alone he goes in and gets somebody to debate with him and in that way it offers the public what is familiarily called a “double Bill,” and they think they are getting something at a bargain. Borah started it as he does about everything there is started in America.1
I don’t know what we would do if it wasent for him and Jim Reed in that Senate.2
They are the only ones we never know what they are going to do. Our others we know just what they will do; it’s whatever the party tells ’em or how the votes are leaning that’s the way they will act. But Borah and Jim don’t care any more about a voter back home than the City does for a Farmer.
Well, Borah debated against Nicholas Murray Butler.3
They debated “whether something ought to be said about Prohibition in the Republican Platform in 1928.” They dident debate whether it would be good or bad for the Country. That never entered either of their heads. They just debated whether it would be good for the Republicans. It was a question of “Will it get votes for us if we put in an Anti-Prohibition plank, or will it get us more votes if we say nothing?” Even the Boston Club that promoted it and run it like a Rotarary Luncheon, looking for all the advertising they could get out of it, dident even suggest that they debate on “What was good for the Country.”
It was always “What is good for the Republicans.”
Borah thinks we better let the thing alone and Nicholas thinks they better put in the next Republican contract that the Prohibition amendment
ought to be changed. Now all due regards to Nicholas Murray Butler. He deserves a lot of credit. He has taken a College that dident amount to much, right in the heart of New York City, (a place where you would think would be the very last place to get anybody interested in education) and he has built it up just by making rich men think that by leaving something to the school it would help the rest of America forget how some of them got the money. He was the first fellow that thought of the idea of calling it a “Monument” to the donor.
Well sir, it’s just surprising the men that he has sandbagged out of Jack. He is a business man if there ever was one, and a mighty nice fellow with it. I bet he could take the Democratic Party and make it pay. And here is the remarkable thing about Butler with Columbia. He has done all this without a Football Team. If he had had a Red Grange to help him out in his enrollment why he would maby have got some Native New Yorkers interested and entered in the School.4
But Borah, while he is not the promoter like Butler, he knows more politics. While Butler is thinking who he is going to knock over the head
for a new Stadium or a swimming pool why Borah’s mind is not on education. It’s on Politics, and that’s the fartherest you can get from education. Borah knows the sentiment of this Country better than any man in it, while Butler knows where conscience is hurting the most. If Borah tells you this country is dry you go out and pawn your last golf stick and bet that it is dry. Now, Wayne B. Wheeler the Corporation Lawyer, that works for one of the biggest concerns in America (their output last year was over 13 million dollars just spent on trucks hauling the evidence in).5
You see they have to have a pretty good Lawyer, this Anti Saloon League does. You say right away what does a League that is just organized to do good need a Lawyer for? Well it does seem strange that they need one. Churches don’t engage Lawyers. But these people have to have one for fear some of their men might go in and get evidence out of some wealthy and influential home. That would bring on a suit, and maby damages against the League. So you got to know just who you are raiding. You see wealthy men are all
supposed to have had their Booze for years and years. But any poor fellow that is caught just got his yesterday.
Well Wayne and Darrow had them a debate.6
Now you know what chance Wheeler had with Mr. Darrow. A debate like that would be like Tom
Heflin debating with Theodore Roosevelt, if he were alive today.7
Darrow has made a Monkey out of everybody he has ever come in contact with. He had the whole State of Tennessee hanging by their heels and throwing Coconuts. And in this debate with Wheeler it hadent gone over about second drink time till Darrow had Wheeler under the table and hollering for Bromo Seltzer and Acrobatic Spirits of Pheunomonia.
Lord, you better lay off that fellow Darrow on anything, especially Evolution. I challenge Billy Sunday to a debate on the Problem “Are people
harder to fool now than they used to be?”8
We both been at it so long. I think they are. They are not getting wiser; it’s just that they are getting more cautious. But that Darrow! I wouldent meet him on the subject of evolution. Why, we wouldent be over the first part and into the rebuttal of the debate till he would have me jumping up on the back of a chair picking fleas off myself. There is no telling where this debating will lead to.
I really started it four years ago when I debated a Preacher friend of mine, Dr. James Whitcomb Brougher of the First and Last Baptist church
of Los Angeles, on the subject, “Resolved that Cowboys have been more beneficial to humanity than Preachers.”9
He had the Cowboy side, and of course he won. If I had had any facts to work on I could have beat him. So you see you don’t have to limit these Debates to just prohibition. Farmers Relief would be a good one with Mr. Coolidge on one end and mortgaged-riddled Farmer on the other. (Just use the first farmer you find.) Or the new divorce law in Reno. I would like to hear Peggy Joice on one end of the following subject, “Resolved that one’s as bad as another if not worse.”10
“Shouldent the Chinese be run out of China so that Commerce and Missionaries can have full sway?” That’s a big problem now. “Who, when, and why, is Nicaragua?”
These are just a few of the million of problems that could be settled across a table and water pitcher. Well, I just want you all to know that I am open to meet anybody, on anything, single handed or in pairs. Any man or woman my weight, 180 pounds at three o’clock on the afternoon of the debacle. Anything from League of Nations to Moral Turpitude, or “Is Ford going to make new Model or cut the price on the old one?”11
I’ll debate, Winner take all. Have an audience full at real prices. It’s the receipts I am interested in, not the Subject. So come on, you debaters!
1For William E. Borah see WA 222:N 4.
2James Alexander “Jim” Reed, Democratic United States senator from Missouri from 1911 to 1929.
3Nicholas Murray Butler, well-known American educator; president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945. A close personal friend of Rogers, Butler was awarded the Nobel prize for peace in 1931.
4Harold Edward “Red” Grange, All-American football halfback for the University of Illinois. In 1925, in a highly controversial move, Grange left college to sign with a professional football team, the Chicago Bears. He played with the Bears from 1925 to 1934 and later
coached football and worked as a sportscaster.
5Wayne Bidwell Wheeler, American attorney and professional prohibitionist who acted as general counsel for the powerful Anti-Saloon League from 1915 until his death in September 1927.
6Clarence Seward Darrow, prominent American defense attorney and civil libertarian whose court cases were invariably headline material. Darrow served as defense counsel in the famous Scopes (“Monkey”) Trial in 1925, involving an antievolution law in Tennessee. Darrow and Wheeler debated the prohibition issue at Carnegie Hall in New York City on April 23. No decision in the debate was announced, but Darrow’s frank hostility to prohibition received the greater applause.
7For Tom Heflin see WA 221:N 3. Theodore Roosevelt, Republican politician who held many state and national posts, including the presidency of the United States from 1901 to 1909. Roosevelt died in 1919.
8William Ashley “Billy” Sunday, popular American evangelist and former professional baseball player who reached the height of his ministerial career in the 1920s.
9James Whitcomb Brougher, Sr., prominent American Baptist minister who served as pastor at Temple Church in Los Angeles from 1910 to 1926.
10Peggy Hopkins Joyce, American vaudeville, stage, and screen actress whose six marriages and countless engagements brought her much publicity.
11Henry Ford, American automobile innovator and manufacturer. Organizer of Ford Motor Company, he served as president of the giant automobile manufacturing firm from 1903 to 1919 and 1943 to 1945.
WA229 May 1, 1927
A LITTLE MURDER TRIAL HELPS A LOT
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Things have been awful slack in the newspaper reading business for the last few weeks. But
they are picking up now. This Ruth Snyder case is bringing Literature back.1
Do you know that reading had fallen off over 60% after Daddy canned Peaches and the Judge canned the whole tribe of them?2
There just wasent nothing in the papers. China’s war got everybody het up for a couple of days, but when we saw we dident have enough Marines to send to make it interesting, why the interest in that soon died out. The big war spoiled people for just ordinary wars. You can’t get them much excited over a half a dozen little wars running all over the Country like Nicaragua, Mexico, and China. You have to concentrate and put all your wars together and try and make one good one out of it.
The American people that are reading nowadays can’t keep their minds on three wars at once. We got to have fewer and bigger wars or they will
mean nothing to the old public. Why, Bringing up Father and Boob McNutt will outread all the “Nankings” and “Yangstes” you can put in the papers.3
Of course, Sapiro and Henry Ford looked like an Extra Edition there for awhile, but they crabbed it making a Serial out of it instead of just an ordinary feature.4
Mr. Coolidge unintentionally cast a reflection on Sectary Hoover, that grabbed a first column for a day, and then the President issued another one saying that “Mr. Hoover was so good he was going to keep him right where he was and not promote him at all.”5
One of my constituents out in Beverley Hills made what looked like was going to amount to something there by breaking into our Jail. But the
minute we found out he was in there we threw him out, and that killed that. When we want anybody in my Jail we will put ’em in there. We don’t want anybody coming there voluntarily and breaking in without even an invitation. We pride ourselves on the exclusiveness of our jail. We have fixed it up till it’s really fit for a Chicago Bandit. That’s one thing I told the Boys when I left, “Don’t let just anybody get in this Jail. That’s what gets Jails a bad name. If you will watch your Guest list you can build up a reputation that will make your Jail different, and that’s why we have to throw out certain ones that break in. The minute everybody find out that it is a moving picture or a Stage Actor Jail, you are going to have more than you can accommodate. Not that they don’t make just as good prisoners as anyone else. But it’s the crowd that hears about them being in there and that brings a certain riff-raff.
Now, take Real Estate men. I told the Chief when I left to under no circumstances let in a real estate man, that if he broke in and we found it out to throw him out, map and all. We got to protect our other prisoners. We are trying to build it up on Bankers and politicians and Oil men, so that’s why we don’t have room for anybody else.
But as I say about the news, there just hardly hasent been anything. Babe Ruth has got to the point where he gets a headline if he even fouls a
They are keeping track of his fouls this year and they think they will break his record of 59 home runs. Tunney wants a Million dollars for his next fight.7
That dident get a headline but it got a laugh.
So when this Ruth Snyder decided a couple of years ago to have a Corset fitted personally with the aid of a “he-fitter,” why she was really
laying the cornerstone of what was later to be known as the lifesaver of the entire Newspaper business. It was certainly one of the most timely murders that has clogged up the breakfast table in years. You see it come at a time when there was absolutely no opposition. The “Blubbert Squad” had no other case to work on, so they all could concentrate on this one. Peggy Joice covered it, looking not only for news but for a likely opponent in her next matrimonial combat.8
Ruth had time to have some clothes made between the murder and the trial. Long Island hadent had a husband killed by a wife in such a long time that it looked like it was a lost art.
The beauty about killing a husband on Long Island is that you draw a better class of people at the trial. It’s far enough away from New York that you don’t get that ordinary bunch of court hangers-on. A Murder trial out there draws what used to be known in the old days as “carriage trade.” In other words they come in Limouzines. It’s a pleasure to be sentenced to hang if you can get the right kind of audience to be present at the verdict. Then Ruth bringing this Corset Architect in is going to add an awful lot to the case. Everybody will wonder if he has his samples, and lots of women will want to see what a Corset looks like. He and Ruth seem to kinder fall out over who should have credit for the idea. They love each other so they each want to be generous and give the other the credit.
But it sure does feel like old times to a constant reader to get the papers back to normal and know just what to look for every morning. Then
the Pictures, they have been not hardly up to the “Peaches Piano Leg Standard,” but the Photographers are doing their best with what material they have.
I predict a great newspaper future for this case, and believe that the interest will hold, and whatever happens to Ruth and Corsets, the newspapers will always owe them a debt of gratitude and incidentally some dividends. I know I want to thank them, for I was just on the verge of having to read “Elmer Gantry” when this murder come along.9
1Ruth Brown Snyder and Henry Gray, a corset salesman who was Snyder’s lover, were brought to trial in New York City in April of 1927 for the slaying of Snyder’s husband. The crime was sordid but also so inept that it was labeled the “Dumbbell Murder.” The two defendants
were found guilty and later executed.
2Francis Heenan “Peaches” Browning, fifteen-year-old New York City schoolgirl who married Edward West Browning, a wealthy real estate operator thirty-six years her elder, in the spring of 1926. The couple lived together for ten months and then, after a widely-publicized
trial, separated and eventually were divorced.
3“Bringing Up Father” and “Boob McNutt,” cartoon strips popular during the 1920s.
4Aaron Sapiro, American attorney and agricultural cooperative specialist. Attacks were made upon the integrity of Sapiro, a Jew, by the Dearborn (Michigan) Independent, owned by Henry Ford (see WA 228:N 11). The journal charged Sapiro with involvement in an alleged conspiracy of Jewish bankers to control American agriculture and international food markets. In 1925 Sapiro sued the Independent for libel, and the ensuing case ended in a mistrial, after which Ford published a complete retraction of all allegations.
5Herbert Clark Hoover, United States secretary of commerce from 1921 to 1928. An engineer by profession, Hoover was elected president of the United States as a Republican in 1928. He served from 1929 to 1933.
6George Herman “Babe” Ruth, American professional baseball player best known for establishing a season home run record of 60 and a career record of 714, marks that stood for decades before being broken. He spent the most productive years of his career with the New
York Yankees (1920-1935).
7James Joseph “Gene” Tunney, American pugilist who held the world heavyweight title from 1926 until his retirement in 1928.
8For Peggy Hopkins Joyce see WA 228:N 10.
9Elmer Gantry, a satirical novel dealing with religious shams and hypocrisy in the United States. Written by American author Harry Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry was banned in Boston but, nevertheless, was the best selling fictional work of 1926.
WA230 May 8, 1927
LET’S GIVE A DIME TO THE
All I know is just what I read in the papers. And what I am akicking about is that I haven’t read enough in the papers about something that ought to have had more in the papers about than it has had. That is this Flood.1
Your Earthquake (Pardon me, fire) in Frisco, or the Tidal Wave in Miami or the Tornados in the middle west dident start to wreck the amount of damage that this flood has. The Red Cross asked for five million. Why, that won’t start to do any good. There is a million people that have lost by it. That would only be five dollars a head. Five dollars ain’t much good to you, even if the water’s just up to your ankles.
Five million dollars won’t start to give all these people any kind of relief. There is 120 million people in America. We will say there are 10 million children that are too little physically to give, and then there is another 10 million that are physically large enough, but conscientiously too small to give. So that still leaves us 100 million. Now five million for the sufferers is only a nickle apiece for One Hundred million to give. Now, I think we ought to spread this to about a quarter each (25 cents). Or if everybody can’t spare a quarter why 20 cents would give them 20 million.
Now, if we sorter feel they dident get hardly wet enough for a couple of thin dimes per head, why let’s kinder spread our generosity a little anyway and give a dime each and that will give them ten million. That’s about ten dollars a head for the ones that suffered loss. Now you will hear lots of people say, “What do they do with all this money? Here people are giving millions!”
Well now, take for instance ten dollars a head in case my suggestion is acted on and everyone of the 100 million will give 10 cents. That will give the sufferers $10 a head. Now I know that is a pretty lump sum to go and squander on a fellow that hasn’t lost anything but his house and barn and stock and all his seed that he has planted already. It is liable to bring on an era of squandering. But you take it as a rule and most people are mighty good when they know there is real need.
’Course, the Florida thing kinder hurt collections for National calamities.2
The minute a community would gather up something and start to send it they would get word from the authorities down there that “they wasent hurt a bit; that they dident need a thing.” Well, you couldent blame them from trying to hide it as bad as they could and make it as small as possible. But in doing so they dident realize the harm they were doing to the collections of future calamities. It was like the old “Wolf! Wolf!” Gag. Then when he did come nobody come.
I tell you about the best way to judge these calamities is to trust the judgment of the Red Cross. They are a wonderful body of people, above all politics, and they are not out to protect the place just because the catastrophe might hurt the Tourist trade. They generally know the real needs of the people. That is the real needs of the poor people. So when they say they want so much money that is a very low and conservative sum. So it’s a good idea to at least double the quota you are called on for.
I don’t really believe that 80 or 90 per cent of the people realize just what flood disaster means, and what type of people it is that lost most by this particular horror. An Earthquake, a Fire, a Tornado, or anything like that is over in a few minutes. You know what you lost and you know what you got left. But look at this particular flood we have been reading of it for over 6 weeks. The water was up and over part of them and then it would go down a little and then would come along a larger one and then this last, the biggest and highest that the entire Mississippi valley has ever had. If your house burns out in the country you can run over to some one else’s and stay, but with this when yours go your neighbor’s go too. One person in the country is as bad hit as the next. Your stock is either washed away or marooned on a piece of land with no food. A fire, they can get to your town or place from other places to lend you help, but water, when the bridges are all under, one place can’t get to the other to help till they make temporary boats and rafts. Then the worst thing is their crops had lots of them been planted, and those that hadent had already plowed for seeding. Where are they going to get the money to re-seed and plow again? How are they
going to rebuild their fences? All stock that hasn’t drowned will just have to run loose, for there will be no fences or barns to put them in.
The poorest class of people in this country is the renter farmer, or the ones that tends the little patch of ground on shares. He is in debt from one crop to the other to the store keeper, or the little local bank. He never has a dollar that he can call his own. City people don’t realize the poverty of poor country folks. They can talk all they want about country people being out in the air and in the open, but I want to tell you as a diet and nothing to go with it, I don’t think there is a Scientist living that can show any more “Callories” in a few whiffs of Country air over air anywhere on Hestor Street or the Bowery.
And as for the number of children, say the poor in the city would be accused of race suicide if they was stacked up alongside of the poor white
family down in the bottom on a cotton farm. The poor man in the city hasent got any dog to feed. Why this first five millions wouldent even feed the dogs that have been caught in this flood. That’s one thing the poor country fellow will always have, his pack of dogs, and no man can be condemned for owning a dog. In fact you admire him, ’cause as long he’s got a dog he’s got a friend, and the poorer he gets the better friend he has. Then when you talk about poor people that have been hit by this flood, look at the thousands and thousands of negroes that never did have much, but now it’s washed away. You don’t want to forget that water is just as high up on them as it is if they were white. The Lord so constituted everybody that no matter what color you are you require about the same amount of nourishment.
What gets my Goat is hearing constantly, “Why don’t those people move out of there? There are floods every year.” How are they going to move? Who is going to move ’em? Where are they going to move to, and what are they going to do when they move there? Why don’t you move? Maybe you could do better some place else. That’s the trouble with us. It’s why don’t everybody do something but us. Wait till a calamity hits where
you are, and then they can ask, “Why don’t you move?”
Fifty million wouldent be too much for this cause, and I bet you Mr. Hoover will tell you so.3
If you have raised your quota once, start in and raise it again. Then you can brag, but don’t do it unless you have. Remember these people can’t get any relief for themselves until a crop is harvested. We went Cuckoo over the Armenians. We took off our shirts and sent them to the Russians. We give the Poles our Socks.
Now we have the greatest chance to help our own that has ever been given us, and it’s needed the worst. Give it to them. Never mind what is
going to become of Old Lady Snyder and Corsets.4
One little Coon saved down on the Mississippi is worth more to America than both of them if they lived 100 years.
1The Mississippi River, swollen by unusually heavy spring rains in many of its tributary areas, began to flood in early April 1927. Each day brought fresh reports of the crest moving downstream, with new inundations as sodden levees collapsed or had to be dynamited to save riverfront cities. Two hundred and fourteen persons lost their lives in the flooding, which caused more than $300 million in property damage.
2A devastating hurricane struck Miami, Florida, in September 1926.
3Herbert Hoover (see WA 229:N 5) headed a special federal commission to assist the Red Cross in the Mississippi flood relief drive. After inspecting the situation in the lower valley in late April, Hoover issued a plea for more private donations to the relief fund.
4For the Snyder-Gray murder case see WA 229:N 1.
WA231 May 15, 1927
CONGRESS WILL MAKE RIVER BEHAVE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. I wrote a little piece a few days ago in my daily gasp saying: “There was 10 photographers and special writers at the Snyder Trial to 1 at the flood, and that if they put all those writers on the flood, with their dramatic descriptive powers that we would raise three times the quota and that there was more real heart interest in one family floating down a river on a housetop than there was in all the corset salesmen in the world.”1
Well, my good friend, Arthur Brisbane, disagreed with me.2
He said “It should be that way Will, but it’s not.” Now I sure don’t want to argue with Arthur, for we agree on need of airships. We agree on arguments. We agree on debt settlements. We agree on Boulder Dam. We agree on the ability of President Coolidge, and of Mr. Mellon, on China, Nicaragua, and a whole lot of things, so I am not going to fall out with him over corsets, for I believe that flesh was intended to take its natural course and that it shouldent be rounded up and confined in any given space, and anyone connected in that un-American enterprise of corralling beef and making it uncomfortable did not deserve all this publicity.3
The whole corset industry is interfering with the “Liberty of American flesh.” Now here is what I am going to argue with Arthur. If they had nothing about the case outside the ordinary mention of it there would not be this wild curiosity. You couldent get Brisbane to tell you that advertising dident pay. So how can five or six pages every day entirely on one subject keep from advertising that particular case? It’s the New York papers that make the case. Suppose the Hall-Mills case had happened in Arizona.4
Say you wouldent even have seen a picture of the apple tree.
Of course, I will admit that it couldent have happened out there, for while they have got room for the lane, they wouldent have enough people
to go in it. But any case has got to be near enough to New York City so the photographers and writers can come back in for the night. Those special writers wouldent cover anything outside of New York. Why, Chicago can furnish you a better case than that every ten minutes, yet they never get a bit of publicity on them.
No, sir, you can’t blame that on the public. It’s the papers that cause all interest in these things like this. If it wasent in the papers for you to read you wouldent know or care anything about it.
Why some of New York’s tabloids had to cut their advertising down in order to make room for more evidence and pictures. And personally I think
it was one of the worst photographed trials I ever saw. Both of them looked terrible. Any case you would pick out where husbands are being killed by wives and boy friends who are better to look on than these two.
Now we got that settled, we will take up the next business of the week. I got a wire from a very influential club in New Orleans saying: “The Government has cut our levee at our expense and overflowed five counties, so that the SEWERAGE from Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis and Memphis
can get past Canal Street here in New Orleans.” I wonder if there ain’t a bit of truth in that statement. Even a town where people live on top of a hill they are not allowed to just throw everything out of their doors and let it roll down the hill on to the people that live at the bottom on the level ground.
Well I see where they are going to take it up in Congress when it meets in December, so that means that while next year’s re-occurence of this flood is devastating the country, why the sufferers will at least have the consolation that Congress is “thinking and talking about them anyway.” There will be bills introduced in there to regulate the rainfalls. Some will suggest moving the river over in to some other Senator’s State. Some will suggest leaving it empty into the Grand Canyon where the levees on each side are high enough now without rebuilding them. Someone will introduce a bill to have the river run up hill so it won’t go so fast.
But the people down there better not put too much dependence in Congress. They can grow webb feet quicker than Congress will relieve ’em. If
I was them, I would make my next house a house boat. I got a wire my ranch, or what I thought was a cattle ranch was now a fish hatchery.
But Congress might fool us, and let us all hope and pray they will, for if anybody ever needed help it’s those people down there.
Now let’s see what other business we can take up. Andy Mellon got a diplomatic note from England last week, but it dident get their interest or
principal cut down any. This guy Mellon has been a Banker too long to let a few notes work on his sympathy. England ain’t dealing with a Statesman now. They are dealing with a Business man, and incidentally, just about as good a one as we got.
Headline in the paper says, “Young man just out of college 5 years pays $200,000 record price for seat on Stock Exchange.” Then you read on
down where the man that sold it to him was retiring and had never been to school in his life. So I can’t find much of a boost for Colleges out of that headline.
Lord, for two hundred thousand you could get into Charleston (South Carolina) Society, and that’s the most exclusive place in the world.
Coolidge wanted to go there and speak one time and they found some broken limbs on his family tree away back in the sixteenth century and they
had to call the visit off.
1For the Snyder-Gray murder case see WA 229:N 1.
2Arthur Brisbane, widely-read American newspaper editor and columnist. His column “Today” was syndicated in 200 daily and 1,200 weekly newspapers.
3Andrew William Mellon, United States secretary of the treasury from 1921 to 1932; multi-millionaire American financier and businessman who developed interests in mining, manufacturing, and banking; ambassador to Great Britain from 1932 to 1933.
4The bodies of the Reverend Edward Hall and Mrs. Eleanor Mills were found 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 decade. The defendants were acquitted in December 1926 on the failure of the state to prove its case.
WA232 May 22, 1927
THIS SACCO AND VANZETTI
I was admitted into a very imposing private home on what I would guess (according to my meagre knowledge) would be called a fashionable street. The maid ushered us in, said “We were expected,” and asked if we wanted to use the elevator. Being a person who had thought the height of convenience in my own home had been reached when we moved the well up near the house, why naturally I was looking for any new improvements.
We went up about the third-floor, which I thought was carrying things pretty high for a private house. We went into a nice big comfortable living room, where a man was reclining on a couch, with a very much swollen ankle, which he turned a few days before. There was three guns laying on the floor at his side, pistols. I thought for a moment I must be in Chicago. There was books of what looked like old bookkeeping ledgers piled around him. He had his secretary there and they were examining and pouring over these books and papers.
This man was an awfully friendly, smiling, good natured fellow. He thanked me for coming and said, “You are just what I need to cheer me up.”
Now, with these guns laying there, and him acting in such worried condition, and studying and looking over these old books and records, you
would think “What is this fellow going to do, commit suicide or something?” No, he would like to, but he is too game for that. Besides if some
of the hundreds of letters that he has laying there are telling the truth, he wouldn’t have to. The writers of them, themselves, will save him the trouble of doing that.
His life, his family’s, his home, this very one we are standing in now, he has been warned might be blown up. So you say, “No wonder the guy
has guns there, and is looking over his deeds and papers and getting them all straightened out.”
But there is 47 other men in America that occupy exactly the very same position in America that he does. Yet he is the one chosen out of that whole 48. He is absolutely innocent. He has never knowingly wronged a person. He has sworn on a Bible to be just, and uphold the laws of his State and Country.
Fate is juggling with his destinies more than they are with any man in America this day. Instead of being, sitting there in that room with beads of perspiration pouring out on his forehead, he should be lighthearted and out on the golf links like many of his more fortunate 47 compatriots are. What he does in the next few days (perhaps before you read this) will be cabled to the four corners of the entire world. Not a newspaper in any language but what will have their best man write lengthy editorials on the judgment and wisdom of what this fellow sitting here with these three guns by him will do. He is a very wealthy man. He has everything to be proud and happy over. As we were going out we were shown dozens of his famous collections of paintings. A new Rembrandt just received, a new Romney. Yet he would trade places with any reader of this for the next few weeks.
Seven years ago a man was killed, among our vast conglomeration of murders perhaps this man sitting here didn’t even any more than read the
headlines of it. It meant nothing to him. It looked like an awfully ordinary murder as up-to-date murders go. There was not a lovers’ lane, or a wife or a husband, or a lover, in fact there wasn’t even a corset in it. Two men were convicted and I doubt if this fellow sitting here ever read about the trial. Yet seven years later here he is sitting here and one of those guns laying there is the one that was used in that murder. Those old worn books that looked like ledgers, are typewritten pages of evidence in the trial of the now famous Sacco-Vanzetti case, and this is the last referee, or judge, that is to decide the life and death of those two men, and his decisions will be flashed all over the civilized world.1
He is Governor Fuller of Massachusetts, and he thought that he was just hiring out to the State for a Governor, and not be Judge, Jury and High Executioner.2
He took the guns and explained to us that he had had all the experts from manufacturing companies with all kinds of technical knowledge, all
about the Breech Block, and what imprint the recoil of a bullet would make on it. The shell found in the pistol after the killing with the bullet gone into the victim’s heart, showed such and such an imprint on the Breech Blocks, and various conflicting opinions as to whether this or that would be the case on such and such conditions.
Then he told us of the witnesses that he would have come here, who had testified at the trial. The wife of the murdered man was now dead, one
of the principal witnesses was dead. One man had sworn to one thing and since changed his mind, and said he believed differently now. He is elected to uphold the law, and a jury of 12 men convicted these two accused, the Supreme Court upheld the jury’s decision. There was a great many things entered into that case that don’t enter into the ordinary case. The two men were supposed to be Reds. He has been threatened by death if he don’t call for another trial or do something to prevent their being hanged.
Here he is day after day, night after night, studying over all the evidence, examining people and witnesses, trying from the bottom of his heart to get at the right solution of the case. I will tell you one thing, he will never be scared into any favorable decision. From the three-quarters of an hour chat I had with him I felt absolutely convinced that when he gives his decision that it will represent his honest opinion of the guilt or innocence of the men. When he looked at you you could just tell the man was striving to get at the absolute facts. I don’t know when I ever felt as sorry for a man, and I don’t know when I have met a man that made a more favorable impression on me of his absolute fairness.
And when he issues his decision, don’t any of you writers, or readers either, accuse him of catering to any class or of being forced by men or
conditions to do a certain thing, or accuse him of losing his nerve. Anybody that will say that, never met him. He is quite a character, this fellow, you know he was elected on a very unique platform. He used to be in the State Legislature and he attended one or two meetings and saw how politics was run, and he wouldn’t go to it any more. He holds the world’s record for NON-Attendance. He come out and was elected Governor because he knew enough not to mix with politicians. Then he still wouldn’t play either way after being Governor, and was re-elected by a bigger majority than ever.
The typical politicians don’t like him, so that means the rest of the state would bank their lives on him. He has caught about half of the politicians sneaking the capitol desks out under their coats, and made them bring’em back. You know every man convicted for murder in court is not guilty, and on the other hand volumes of propaganda and lengths of petitions have nothing to do with guilt or innocence. But these two men are fortunate in having a man umpiring their game that will be like a good umpire. He will call ’em like he sees ’em. He made one remark that will always stand out in my memory, “I don’t care whether they were Reds, Greens, Yellows, Pinks, or Pure Whites. WHAT I WANT TO KNOW, ARE THEY GUILTY?”
1Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested in April 1920 for a payroll robbery in South Braintree, Massachusetts, and for the murders of a paymaster and guard. They were tried and convicted in 1921 on evidence that left many doubts. Appeals and requests for a new trial followed, while many people believed that the convictions resulted more from the men’s Italian birth, philosophical atheism, and political radicalism than from proven guilt. The appeals failed, and the two men were electrocuted on August 23, 1927.
2Alvin Tufts Fuller, Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1925 to 1929; wealthy member of a prominent New England family. After a special commission ruled that the Sacco-Vanzetti trial had been conducted in a fair manner, Fuller allowed the execution to proceed.
WA233 May 29, 1927
ASK ME ANOTHER—HOW MANY
CAN YOU ANSWER?
All I know is just what I read in the papers. But today I varied a little and picked up a magazine on the newsstand in Hartford, Conn., and it was called, “Ask me another.”1
It was a “Question Book,” I later found out. It said “Match your wits with the following and see how near you can come to their score: Adolph Menjou, Tom Mix, Bull Montana, Dick Turpin, Tommy Meighan, Hoot Gibson, Lillian Gish, Jackie Coogan, Big Boy William, Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Ken Maynard, Walter Cameron and Rin Tin Tin.”2
And dozens of others. Each one is asked so many questions and graded on the answers. Seventy per cent is considered high, 80 is fine and 85 is perfect.
Chester Conklin started off the answers in the books.3
The first question was:
What is the name of a well-known sewing machine that starts with the letter S, and has the same name as a person who vocalizes on the stage?
What state is Kalamazoo in? What one is New York City in?
Who was the last fat man we had for President?
What was the name of Charlie Chaplin’s picture where he played the part of a Recruit Soldier?4
What war was the picture based on?
What well-known Sport is Babe Ruth connected with?5
How do the following sayings end?
- (A) It’s a long lane that has no ________________.
- (B) Shoot you are ______________.
- (C) A rolling stone gathers no___________________.
- (D) A fool and His money are soon________________.
What famous American President was tall and rather homely but freed the Slaves and was afterward murdered in a Theater?
Well old Chester just knocked ’em over, according to the Magazine, for an average of 78 per cent.
Betty Bronson got a 79 per cent on the following interrogations:6
In what game does the phrase the “Nineteenth Hole” appear?
Who discovered America and Why?
From what country was the Queen from, who backed Columbus tour?
What theatrical producer is known as “Glorifying the American girl?”
What is the largest City in the United States?
Dick Barthelemess got the highest score.7
He got 88 on the following:
How many of each Animal did Noah take into the ark?
Who did Romeo marry?
Who was it that said, “I cannot tell a lie,” when his father caught him trying to gnaw down a cherry tree with just a hatchet?
What is the Roman numeral for 10?
What animal is pictured on the Camel cigarette?
On what day of the month was the Declaration of Independence signed?
Adolph Menjou in a very suave manner answered enough of the following to bat out an average of 81!
What is Monte Carlo noted for?
What was the name of Robinson Crusoe’s servant (he was a man servant)?
Cleanliness is next to what?
What popular Movie Actor died in 1926, and Pola Negri not only cried but come east?8
What book of Mark Twain’s was it that a Yankee woke up back in the old early English days, it made a good movie?9
Who is the famous Polish musician who plays the piano with long hair and a long name?
Tom Mix hogtied enough of the following to be branded with a score of 77:
Who was the first woman to swim the English Channell?
Between what two cities does the Twentieth Century run?
How do this proverb end: Never count your chicks until what happens to them?
What country’s flag does the Star Spangled Banner represent?
With what season is the following word associated, Yuletide?
Hoot Gibson was right on Tom’s heels with a 76 on the following tough one:
What did a famous war song tell you to pack your troubles in?
What is the advertised average of the number of people who have Pyoreahea?
In what State was Gold discovered on the West Coast in 1848?
Coleen Moore got a big percentage of the following:10
What according to the advertisement do “Children cry for?”
What well-known General was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo?
Who was heavyweight champion ahead of Jeane Tunney?11
Here is some that Richard Cortez had among his, according to the magazine. 12
What two names do they call the line that was supposed to separate the North from the South?
What countries award the following decorations for bravery,
- (A) Congressional Medal?
- (B) Iron Cross?
What state is known as the Blue Grass State?
Florence Vidor, I forget the score, but she was high on the following:13
What famous English male comedian with a derby, now has a brother who is featured in the movies as a comedian?14
Had Moses a beard, or was he clean shaven?
What did the orator in Rome want them to lend him when he said, Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your____________?
Dorothy Gish took care, according to the magazine of some of these stickers:15
Between what country and America is Niagra Falls located?
What country was Joan of Arc from?16
Who is Will Hayes?17
Can Aimee McPherson Swim?18
Bebe Daniels was in there too, Bebe had this tough baby right off the reel.19
Name the female of the following, Bull, Lion, Rooster?
What do they call a man that sells Liquor illegally?
From what book did Cecil Demille and Jeanne McPherson get the idea of the picture the King of Kings?20
Who was the fiddler during the fire at Rome?
Who was the man tried for murder at the same time that Ruth Snyder was?21
Old Rin Tin Tin barked out a 100% on the following:
What is the last word in the following sayings:
- (A) Love me love my_____________?
- (B) A barking dog never____________?
- (C) Every dog has his__________?
What animal is a man’s best friend?
There was a lot more of them answering them in this magazine, Wallace Berry, Doug McClean, Richard Dix.22
Well, get the magazine yourself it’s only 25 cents, and you can read all the questions. Now I don’t know whether these folks know that their name is in there. Maybe somebody just put it out and dident consult them about these answers at all. I know all these people and they are smarter than that. I tell everybody “I don’t like the game,” and that gets you out of showing your ignorance. I make out like it is beneath me, and it is because I don’t know any of the answers. I am framing up one of my own to ask you all in a week or so. I am going to have some stickers. For instance, “Who will be the first President that will run for the third term?”
1Ask Me Another; The Question Book, complied by John Spafford and Lucien Esty, with an introduction by Robert Benchley; a bestseller by Viking Press in 1927.
2Adolphe Menjou, American actor of the stage and screen. Dapper and suave, Menjou appeared in more than 100 films between his arrival in Hollywood in 1919 and his death in 1963. Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix, American cowboy motion picture star who was one of the greatest box office attractions in the history of the silent screen. He appeared with Rogers, a close friend, in early wild west show productions.
Louis “Bull” Montana, Italian-born American wrestler-turned-actor who was especially active on the screen in the 1920s. He is best remembered as a fierce-faced character actor. Ben Turpin, American slap-stick comedian best known for his crossed-eyes and large toothbrush mustache. He appeared in hundreds of films from 1907 until his death in 1940. Thomas “Tom” Meighan, American leading man of the silent screen who from 1915
to 1928 was Paramount Film Corporation’s most consistently successful and popular male star. Edward “Hoot” Gibson, American cowboy hero of silent films. Winner of the rodeo title “World’s Champion Cowboy” in 1912, he became the leading cowboy star at Universal Studios during the 1920s. Lillian Gish, famous American stage and motion picture actress whose film career spanned seventy-five years. Jackie Coogan, American child star who was immortalized on the screen as “The Kid” in 1921 and subsequently cast in many standard juvenile roles in motion pictures.
Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, American motion picture character actor, usually seen in amiably tough roles. He was active in Hollywood from 1919 until his death in 1926. Greta Garbo, Swedish motion picture actress. Garbo, noted for her haunting beauty and sultry sexuality, arrived in Hollywood in 1926, where she soon became one of the highest paid performers in films. She retired in 1942 and died in 1990. Mary Pickford, American film actress who won wide acclaim as “America’s Sweetheart.” A legendary star, she won the best actress Oscar in 1929 for Coquette. She retired in 1933. Ken Maynard, American cowboy star of more than 300 western films. A rodeo rider, he broke into motion pictures as an “extra” and remained active in the industry until his death in 1973. Walter Cameron, American motion picture character actor; appeared in The Great Train Robbery in 1903 and in many of Will Rogers’ early silent films. His stable was a leading supplier of horses for Hollywood film work. Rin-Tin-Tin, German shepherd dog that, between 1922 and 1931, was the most famous canine star in American motion pictures.
3Chester Conklin, walrus-mustached American comedian who starred in such slapstick films as the Keystone Kops series.
4Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, legendary English-born comedian who starred in several classic American and British films. He was widely known for his portrayal of the “Little Tramp.”
5For Babe Ruth see WA 229:N 6.
6Betty Bronson, American leading lady of the silent screen who starred in such films as Peter Pan and Ben Hur.
7Richard Barthelmess, American actor who went straight from college into silent motion pictures. He was catapulted to enormous popularity by his performance in Broken Blossoms in 1919. His last role was in The Spoilers in 1942.
8Pola Negri, Polish actress who came to the United States in 1923 to star in such films as Bella Donna and Passion. She was considerably shaken by the death in 1926 of the Italian-American leading man of the silent screen, Rudolph Valentino.
9For Mark Twain see WA 225:N 3. The question refers to Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889).
10Colleen Moore, American leading lady of the silent screen who first appeared in motion pictures in 1916 in Intolerance.
11For Gene Tunney see WA 229:N 7.
12Ricardo Cortez, Vienna-born American motion picture leading man who developed in the 1920s as a “Latin lover.” He made his film debut in 1920 in Children of Jazz. He retired in 1948.
13Florence Vidor, American leading lady of the silent screen who starred in fiftyeight films between 1916 and her retirement in 1929.
14Sidney “Syd” Chaplin, elder brother of Charlie Chaplin. Sidney, a British comedian, starred in many silent films, including a Keystone comedy series in 1915 and several popular motion pictures in the 1920s.
15Dorothy Gish, famous American stage and screen star who made her debut in 1912 and who continued to make film appearances until her death in 1968 at age seventy; younger sister of Lillian Gish.
16Joan of Arc, French national heroine of the fifteenth century.
17William Harrison “Will” Hays, attorney and Republican politician who served as United States postmaster general from 1921 to 1922. As president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945, Hays became known as the “czar” of the motion picture industry.
18For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 226:N 1.
19Bebe Daniels, American star of motion pictures who made her film debut at age seven. Daniels, a vivacious and versatile performer, starred in such silent films as Male and Female and She’s a Sheik.
20Cecil Blount De Mille, American producer and director whose first film was The Squaw Man in 1913 and whose last was The Buccaneer in 1959, the year of his death. De Mille was noted especially for his biblical “spectaculars” of the silent era, including The Ten Commandments
and King of Kings. Jeanie Macpherson, American actress active as a screenwriter in the 1920s and 1930s. Among her works adapted for the screen were Forbidden Fruit and The Buccaneer. She also wrote the script for De Mille’s King of Kings.
21For the Snyder-Gray murder case see WA 229:N 1.
22Wallace Beery, American actor with circus and musical comedy experience. He played villains in early silent films and then developed into a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star and one of the studio’s greatest box office attractions during the 1930s and 1940s. Douglas MacLean, American silent screen comedian and leading man from 1917 to 1929. He later became a successful Hollywood producer and writer before his retirement in 1938. Richard Dix, American motion picture leading man of the 1920s and 1930s. A strong-jawed star, Dix was one of the best representatives in films of rugged masculinity. He was active in films from 1921 until his death in 1949.
WA234 June 5, 1927
LET’S KEEP LINDBERGH
OUT OF VAUDEVILLE
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and it don’t take much foresight and intelligence to guess what I have read in the papers lately. I have read everything in them, and all that I have read has been about Lindbergh.1
And mind you I was tickled to death to read it too. The more you read of him and his actions, and the way he has conducted himself in Paris and the rest of the country has been a great satisfaction to all of us. The ones of us here now will never live to see a thing that will give us a bigger kick than his flight did. It was the greatest wished-for, and prayed-for achievement that ever happened or ever will happen in our lifetime. Prayers was what he was sailing on.
And what a smart fellow he turned out to be in everything that he did after he got there! Why, we never had a diplomat that conducted himself
with as fitting grace as this lad did. Now, if we can keep him out of show business and the movies. Not that I am claiming it would belittle anyone to go into either branch of those professions. But no one has any legitimate business in them unless he belongs there. When a man is put on the stage or screen for nothing but the sole purpose of giving some one a chance to see him, he naturally becomes nothing more than a sideshow. That’s what freaks are for. They don’t do anything. But on account of some particular odd build, or amount of tattoo marks, they are there just to look at. The real performers are in a circus or on a stage for an entirely different reason. This boy is too much thought of to do that.
At his age and with his mechanical knowledge why he is just starting in to be one of real value to us. He is at the top of a profession that is just starting to get somewhere. He might be the means of saving us in the next war. Because right up there in his territory is where it is to be held. His inspiration will do more for aviation than anything that has happened to us since the Wrights invented them.2
Keep him where he can work and consult with all our great builders. Maybe through this the government will wake up. We have a few planes. The other day at our air maneuvers in San Antonio we had something over a hundred in there at once. But we ought to have had 10,000.
What’s a hundred of anything in a country of 120,000,000? We get the boys to fly ’em. We have a lot of Lindberghs over here, and a lot in the
making. All they need is the training and the proper financial backing. If the rest of the world knew that we had the greatest Air Force in the world, we wouldent have to be worrying over any disarmament conferences and a thousand and one other things that we get mixed up in now. All we would have to do is just to sit here and take care of our own business, and you can bet no one would ever have any idea of coming over and pouncing on us.
It’s not only Army and Navy Aviation but it’s Commercial Aviation that we want to develop. By the time you read this I will be on my way out
to the old Mayor’s office in Beverly Hills. (After first going by Claremore, Oklahoma, and see how they all are getting along, for I am also Deputy Sheriff there.) I will be three or four days on a train. Now why will I be that long on a train? Lindbergh come from California to New York in 23 hours. Now why can’t we go and get into a regular commercial air line that will take us out there in at least 30 or 40 hours?
Get people used to flying. Why a railroad is a stage coach after you once fly. I bet you a line going, we will say, at the start, once a week, will pay. Then gradually increase your trips to twice weekly. They run a line clear into Russia. Now you mean to tell me that there is not more people that want to go from Los Angeles to New York, and visa versa than there is that want to get into Russia? Why then I am out of order.
We will and break our neck to try and save a minute in every thing else. We will mash a gas accelerator through the bottom of a car to beat a
train to the grade crossing, then when we get on the other side we stop at a hot dog stand and eat and drink for 15 minutes. We knock 12 women and children down to get on a street car ahead of everybody, then get home and stand on the corner and gab to some fellow who is tired listening to you. We do all these crazy things to try and save time, and yet there is something that will save us hours and hours and perhaps days, and we don’t seem much interested in taking it up. There is no danger in it. These hundred planes that gathered at San Antonio from all over the country, flew there and back and all during the maneuvers there wasn’t an accident. Germany has carried a half million passengers for over three million flying miles and never lost a life.
If Lindbergh will fly across the ocean in one, we ought to at least muster up enough courage to fly across a state, even if it’s only Rhode Island. Maybe we can get Cal to fly to the Black Hills. He wouldent have to make any speeches to the farmers from the back of the train as he went through the thrasher and corn planter belt, He never had any idea that he would like yachting till the Mayflower fell into his hands.3
Now he is crazy about that. Well, we can keep him flying with a smaller crew than it takes to keep up the Mayflower, and he won’t have to take any Senators or Congressmen with him.
It would almost be worth taking a chance in a plane just for him to get rid of some of the company he has sometimes.
Another thing about reading about Lindbergh, the reason that people have eat it up all this time is because it’s the only thing that has been in the papers in years that was clean, and no dirt connected with it in any way. People hadent read clean stuff in so long they just went crazy over this. It sho was lucky for Marie she dident land here during the reign of Lindbergh.4
He sho would have started hunting up Roumania. Why Ford advertised a new car, a thing that would have ordinarily drove a war off the front page, but it dident dent old Lindy’s front page.5
Well, if he ever comes to Beverly I will give him the keys to every screen star’s heart. Mary will walk out on Doug when that kid comes
1Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., American aviator who made the first solo nonstop transatlantic flight from New York City to Paris, May 20-21, 1927. He later set other point-to-point records and became an international hero and booster of aviation.
2Orville and Wilbur Wright, American aviation pioneers who made the first successful flights in a power-propelled, heavier-than-air machine at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903.
3The Mayflower was the presidential yacht.
4Marie, queen consort of Romania from 1914 until the death of her husband, King Ferdinand I, in 1927. Queen Marie made a highly-publicized good will tour of the United States in the fall of 1926.
5For this and all further references to Henry Ford see WA 228:N 11.
6For Mary Pickford see WA 233:N 2. Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., American motion picture actor who starred in such silent adventure films as The Three Musketeers, Robin Hood, and The Black Pirate. Fairbanks’ famous marriage with Mary Pickford lasted from 1920 to 1935. The couple were close neighbors of Will Rogers in Beverly Hills.
WA235 June 12, 1927
THAR’S BARS IN THEM HILLS
I don’t know what Mr. Coolidge wants to go away out there to the Black Hills in South Dakota for.1
If I was a man that was looking for some hills I sure wouldent pay any transportation away out to any South Dakota. I would go right up to a State called Vermont and I would hunt up a place called Plymouth and he will have him about as many hills as a man can scenically digest in any one vacation.
I have just been up there. Vermont has got Black ones, Green ones, White ones, any kind, color, shape or size Hill that you want. Why when it
comes to having hills, Dakota is just an amateur. Vermont has misplaced more Hills than Dakota’s Chamber of Commerce has on their list. So I don’t know what he is going to the Black Hills to hunt hills for. Why Vermont has more hills in what they call their valleys than Dakota can produce on top of their hills. A Vermont farm don’t lay. It hangs.
When your corn grows up big enough to gather you go up on the farm and shake the ears off and they fall in the barn. Now that’s as I say if a man is looking to vacate among the hills. Now you see that’s what makes you lose confidence in him in a way, especially if you have been there and see what he is leaving. It kinder makes you doubt sometimes if he really is going to Dakota just on account of the Hills.
Now, I am not hinting anything. I am just sorter soliloquizing out loud. We will take for instance suppose he had during this last session of Congress vetoed a Maple Syrup Bill, and there was enough Maple Syrup catchers to kinder clog up a few voting booths. Now, do you think he would a been hunting the hills of Dakota or the hills of Vermont? Suppose he had lowered the duty on imported Tombstones, and Vermont with her monotony of marking the spot “Where body was last seen.”
Don’t it kinder look like he would a gone back up there for the summer to kinder cheer the boys up that had a surplus of stones on their hands,
and the dying not hardly keeping up to normal? Yes, sir, he would a done something for them, even if it was to put out a slogan, “Use home talent Tombstones. These foreign ones won’t last even till you are forgotten.” Now you see Maple Syrup and Tombstones are protected by the Tariff, so there is no use going up there to pacify them this summer.
Now it has been intimated by some that the fishing was what he was going to the Black Hills for. Now there’s another misleading statement.
There is more fish in Vermont than all the Dakotas put together. I imagine that Dakota (including the Non-Partisan league) have more queer fish than Vermont. Vermont’s is a more conservative fish.
He don’t go in for many new fangled ideas or new ways of doing things. You see, the reason there is more fish in Vermont is economy. The
fishermen up there don’t spare much bait. They try to get what few they can with just an empty hook. If you want to be extravagant and really use plenty of bait why you can get all the great fishing you want in Vermont. Here is the first thing I ever heard about the Black Hills. It’s an old cowboy song of the noted Texas outlaw, “Sam Bass,” and here is the first few parts of it.2
Sam was, as I say, from Texas, but he is just up in the Black Hills before you know it in the song.
Sam Bass was born in Indiana; it was his native home. Sam wasn’t crooked enough for politics, so he had to go and roam. Sam come down to
Texas a cowboy for to be. A kinder hearted fellow you seldom ever see. Sam used to deal in race stock, one called the Denton Mare, he matched her in scrub races and took her to the fair. Sam used to make good money and spend it just as free. He always required good whiskey wherever he might be. Sam joined a Dakota trail herd the Black Hills for to see, sold out in Custer City and then got on a spree. On the way back to Texas they robbed a U. P. train. They then split up in couples and started out again. Joe Collins and his partner were overtaken soon. And with all their hard-earned cash they had to meet their doom.
Now that’s the first part of the famous Sam Bass song. I was weaned on that, and the “Dying Cowboy,” and “Ty Yi Yippy, Ty Yi Ai.” I always
like that last line that I quoted above, “They robbed the U. P. train,” and then a little later it says “With all their hard-earned cash they had to meet their doom.” That “hard-earned cash” line after robbing a train always “intrigued” me.
I am not trying to sing to you, or sell you a song. I am only quoting all this to give you an idea of the kind of a place that Cal has desires to see. There must be a bit of the old Sam Bass blood in Cal. “He wants the Black Hills for to see.” So Coolidge don’t have to go to the Black Hills to make them known. This song of Sam Bass, more people know the words of it than do our National Anthem.
Sam when he got there as the song says “He got on a spree.” I am kinder wondering just how Calvin will take to the wild life. I think he went
because if he stayed around the East all his life we would liable to get to thinking he was sorter effeminate, and he wanted to go out and rub up against some real he-men. Out in the wide spaces where men are men, and farms are mortgaged. Where the Government has showed them every way
in the world where they can borrow money and never yet introduced an idea of how to pay any of it back. Where women are women and only get
to town when they have to go to endorse a note with their husbands.
If your crop is a failure and you don’t raise anything, why you are fortunate. Because it costs you more to raise anything than you can sell it for, so the less you raise the less you lose, and if you don’t raise anything you are ahead. Oh yes, I like to forgot this Dakota is the first place that holds a presidential primary, and most states name as first choice some local celebrity.
Well, Cal is going to furnish the celebrity. They can’t hardly turn down one of the “Boys from the Black Hills.” Every state wants to please their tourist element, and Dakota can’t afford not to nominate their summer boarder. I know you will say “Yes, but ain’t thar Bars in them thar Black Hills?” “Won’t the Bars hurt our little Cal?” Hell No; them Bars will just love Little Cal.
1Coolidge, a native of Vermont, spent his summer vacation in 1927 at a resort in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
2Sam Bass, native of Mitchell, Indiana, went to Texas in 1869 at the age of eighteen. There he joined forces with a small-time badman named Joel Collins. The two men spent most of their criminal lives in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Texas. Bass was slain in a hold-up
attempt in 1878, and a legendary ballad of his life appeared soon thereafter.
WA236 June 19, 1927
I DON’T BUTT IN IN FAMILY ROWS!
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Between the return of Lindbergh, and the arrival of Chamberlin, and Coolidge going west to get fish and votes, why it don’t leave much else but Charlie and Lita.1
Course, if Charlie and Lita start in telling names like they keep claiming they are, why that will be about enough. Hollywood wishes they would either name them, or quit talking about naming them. For just about everybody is afraid they won’t be among those named.
Charley says he will name 2 men, and Lita says she will send him the two and raise him five. She says she will name seven prominent film actresses. The producers are laughing up their sleeves at that. For they say there is not seven prominent screen actresses here. They say they have paid good money to find out just how prominent they were and that they know. But I don’t like to butt in. It’s right here in my town of Beverly Hills.
But as long as they keep their paving and light and water tax payed, why I don’t worry much about how my constituents live. I just sit at my desk day in and day out taking care of the worth while things that come up for a mayor of a thriving and growing town to attend to. I have found out that it don’t pay to interfere officially with any kind of sex problems. I just figure if both sides was not slick enough not to get caught, they are too commonplace for me to waste my official time on.
My constituents, I don’t claim that they are all good, but the most of them is at least slick.
Well, I covered a good deal of what the Latins (or maybe it was the Greeks) used to call Terra Firma, since I last penned you a line.
I last wrote you when I was going into New Orleans to give the benefit. Well, sir, it would have done your heart good to have seen how the
whole city did cooperate on that little performance. All three papers helped wonderfully, and all the people of the town. We got 48 thousand dollars, that’s the most any benefit has raised anywhere in America. It’s over twice as much. They are fine people down there and they know the need of the money being raised. The flood at no time was in New Orleans, but it was in great danger at one time.2
So now everybody’s thoughts are on having the government settle on some policy where it will never occur again. The next day I went up to Baton Rouge and met a lot of the men who were responsible for the great work done in the rescue. They were through and scattering to their various army assignments. Major Gotwalls, and Major McCoy, two who had done especially heroic work, both said they had never in all their army experience seen everybody and everything work together like they did in this work.3
You see there was about a half dozen different branches of the Government service there, Army, Navy, Naval Aviation, Army Aviation, Coast Guard, Rum Runner Boats, Geological Survey Forces. They all pitched in and worked, no matter who the orders come from. The National Guard also did great work.
It sure does make you proud of our men in the service when you see what they can really do. We don’t have as many, in our service as lots of
them, but I tell you we have a very high class bunch of men. And the Red Cross, that just almost goes without saying. We are so used to the things that they do that we sometimes just forget to praise them. But this time they outdid themselves. It was the biggest thing since the war, and they were on the ground and just in a couple of weeks feeding and housing and caring for as many as six hundred thousand. And I want to tell you they were cared for, too.
I went through some of the camps, both whites and colored ones, and it would have made you feel that every dollar you gave went right where it
belonged. Lord, what a blessing an organization like that is. I would have rather originated the Red Cross than to have written the Constitution of the U.S. Hoover can run for President and be elected down there, even over a Democrat.4
He did wonderful work. But that’s why he is not a politician. He is too competent. Something big comes along; we look to Hoover to do it. Some little sorter half dirty work comes along; we look to a politician to do it.
An Ex-Governor Parker (by the way, the man that run as Vice President with Roosevelt the year he was defeated.)5
He was appointed at the head of the whole thing. He was the one took me through the camps. Then a Navy Flier took me for hundreds of miles over nothing but a sea of water and housetops. If you have never seen a flood you don’t know what horror is. These fliers were real heroes. They flew all over the tops of those swamps, locating people for the boats to get. Planes proved their worth, right in that flood.
Now the argument has started. What to do to give permanent relief down there. The cry of those people down there is, “We don’t want relief
and charity; we want protection.”
And if Congress don’t take it up the first thing when they meet, in fact,there should be an early session called about the last of September.
Coolidge was right in not calling one now, but till December is too late to do anything that will give relief by next spring. Course if it ever gets into Congress, I would just as soon try to swim upstream against the flood as to be in the hands of Congress. For every old Senator will want to tack his little flood or power bill of his little river onto this one so he can get it through. Everybody is for the sufferers now, but how they will feel when December comes is a different story. They will be arguing over what to do with the Mellon surplus.6
Spillways is the only thing they can build, so these smartest of Government Engineers told me.
They can’t get the levees any higher and save it. They have to put in some way of relieving the river of part of the water. It’s got to be done. It’s the biggest thing before the country today. Course we are liable to have to cut down on ammunition expenditures in Nicaragua and China. But it looks like saving and protecting some of our own is better than trying to shoot somebody else, especially when we have to go so far to get to shoot at ’em.
But the flood has been a great lesson to us. The people have done their part, now it’s up to the Government to do theirs. But if you want to get some comedy, wait till they start in suggesting what to do. One fellow seriously wants to bore holes in the bottom of the river and let the water out. Another one wants to dig a ditch alongside of the river and run the extra back into the Great Lakes. He had it all with the possible exception of the water, running up hill.
1For this and all further references to Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr., see WA 234:N 1. Clarence Duncan Chamberlin, pioneer American flier who piloted the Columbia in a record nonstop flight (with a passenger) from New York City to Eisleben, Germany, on June
4-6, 1927. Lita Grey, young American actress and wife of Charlie Chaplin (see WA 233:N 4). Lita Grey divorced Chaplin in 1927 after a much publicized, tumultuous marriage.
2For the Mississippi River flood see WA 230:N 1.
3John C. Gotwals, American army officer who served as district engineer with the United States Corps of Engineers at Saint Louis, Missouri, from 1924 to 1930. Arthur L. McCoy, United States Army officer attached to the Quartermaster Corps.
4For Herbert C. Hoover see WA 229:N 5 and WA 230:N 3.
5John Milliken Parker, wealthy New Orleans cotton broker who was nominated for vice president on the Progressive party ticket in 1916. Parker, who served as Democratic governor of Louisiana from 1920 to 1924, was in charge of flood relief in the state in 1927. Theodore Roosevelt (see WA 228:N 7) organized the Progressive party and ran as its candidate for the presidency in 1912 but was defeated. The Progressives renominated Roosevelt in 1916 with Parker as his running mate, but Roosevelt declined the nomination and the party essentially folded.
6For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
June 26, 1927
No WA appeared on June 26, 1927. Rogers was recuperating from a serious gallstone operation that he had undergone on June 17. The illness, which became complicated when internal poison failed to drain, nearly claimed Rogers’ life.