Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA16 April 1, 1923
SPRING IS HERE WITH ITS BATH TUBS
Well, there has been quite a bit happened since I last communed with you. Spring is coming; I can tell by the poetry and real estate ads. A poet exists all year just to get his poem published in the Spring. Then when he sees it in print he starts getting next Springs' verse all ready. These early Spring real estate ads read: “This house is located on the shady banks of a beautiful stream.” Say, if there is a beautiful stream anywhere now the railroad runs along it and all you have to do is to get run over by a freight train to reach this beautiful stream.
A favorite ad is, “Beautiful home in heart of the most exclusive residential district, 5 master bedrooms and 9 baths; owner going to Europe.” Now, let’s just take that ad out and dissect it and see what it is.
Now, in a real estate man’s eye, the most exclusive part of the city is wherever he has a house to sell. The dog pound may be on one side and the city incinerator on the other, but it’s still exclusive. And it is, too, for it will
be the only house in the world so situated.
Five master bedrooms! Now, they get that master junk from English ads where the man may be the master. Still, I don’t know why they call all the rooms his. Over there they call them master bedrooms, but the wife will pick out the poorest one for him, and keep the other 4 good ones for company.
Now, to the ordinary man on reading that ad of 9 baths, that would be an insult to his cleanliness. A man would have to be awful busy to support that many baths, unless, of course, he neglected some of them. The ad might better have read, “Buy our home and live in a bath tub.” The biggest part of city homes nowadays have more baths than beds. So, while they can’t always ask their company to stay all night as they have no place to put them, they can at least ask them to bathe. So, when you are invited out now, you can always be assured of your private bath, but you must leave before bedtime.
When you visit a friend’s newly finished home you will be shown through all the bath rooms, but when you leave you couldn’t to save your soul, tell where the dining room was. They seem to kinder want to camouflage or hide that nowadays. There is such little eating being done in the homes now that a dining room is almost a lost art. Breakfast is being served in bed, dinner at the Cabaret with dancing attached, and lunch—no up-to-date man would think of going anywhere but to his clubs for lunch. Besides, didn’t he hear a funny one and must get to the club to bore his alleged friends with it? He will talk everybody’s left ear off all day and come home and bite his wife’s off if she asks him to tell her the news.
And then they have such an enlightening custom nowadays. Everybody who can think of a name has a club. And is not Congressman Blindbridle, who has just returned from a free government trip to Bermuda, going to deliver a message at today’s luncheon on “Americanism, or What We Owe To the Flag!”
Now, as the dining room space has been eliminated to make room for an additional bath, most of the eating, if one happens to be entertaining at home, is done off the lap. This custom of slow starvation has shown vast improvement of late. Instead of the napkins being of paper, why, they have been supplanted by almost-linen ones with beautiful hemstitching. That’s to try and get your mind off the lack of nourishment. As I say, the napkin is hand sewn but the lettuce sandwiches still come from the Delicatessen.
Why, in the good old days, they couldn’t have fed you on your lap ’cause you couldn’t have held all they would give you. Now you have to feel for it to find it.
But the husband does come home some time during the day or night, for is not the overhead on his outlay of baths going on all the time, and shouldn’t he be getting home to get some good out of some of them?
It’s not the high cost of living that is driving us to the Poor House—it’s the high cost of bathing. The big question today is not what you are going to pay for your plot of ground, but what kind of fixtures are you going to put in your legion of bath rooms. Manufacturers of porcelain and tile have supplanted the pocket flask as our principal commodity.
The interest on unpaid-for bath rooms would pay our national debt.
Now, mind you, I am not against this modern accomplishment, or extravagance, of ours. I realize that these manufacturers of fixtures have advanced their art to the point where they are practically modern Michael Angelos. Where, in the old days, an elephant hook was almost necessary for a wife to drag her husband toward anything that looked like water, today those interior bath decorators can almost make one of those things inviting enough to get in without flinching.
But, in doing so, they have destroyed an American institution and ruined the only calendar that a child ever had. That was the Saturday night bath. Nowadays a child just grows up in ignorance. From the cradle to the alter he don’t know what day of the week it is. In those old days he knew that the next morning after the weekly ear washing he was going to Sunday School. Now he has not only eliminated the bath on Saturday but has practically eliminated the Sunday School, for neither he nor his parents know when Sunday comes.
THAT WAS AN EVENT
But, in those days, that old kitchen stove was kept hot after supper. And not only the tea kettle was filled but other pots and pans, and the family wash tub was dragged up by the fire, and you went out to the well and helped your Pa draw some water to mix with that hot. While you was doing that, your Ma, if you stayed lucky and had a Maw up to then was a getting out all the clean clothes and a fixing the buttons, and a laying out the schedule of who was to be first. And she was the only one who could tell just how much hot water to put in to make it right. And if anybody had to feel of the hot water, and get burned it was always her, not you, and she found dirt behind, and in your ears that the highfalutin fixtures in the world can’t find today.
Now that was an event. It meant something. It brought you closer together. But now bathing is so common there’s no kick to it. It’s just blah!
Why, now they don’t even lay out clean clothes for it. Half the people that bathe every day put on the same clothes again. That would have been considered almost heathenish years ago. So that only proves that we were cleaner in those days than we are with all our multitude of tubs today. But we have sure got pretty bath rooms.
The Romans started this bath gag; now look what become of them. They, used to have the most beautiful baths, kind of a municipal bath, where they all met and strolled around and draped themselves on marble slabs. It was a kinder society event. It compared to our modern receptions. I have seen some beautiful paintings of them, but I have yet to see a scene where a Roman was in the water. But they did look, oh, just too cunning, sunning themselves out on the concrete banks of those pools. It must have been like visiting our modern beaches were no one can swim but the life guards, and they don’t know that he can as he has never been called on to go in. But, like those Romans, our girls can arrange themselves in the most bewitching shapes out on the sand, which, after all, must be much more comfortable than the asphalt that those little Caesars had to spread themselves over.
I tell you if baths keep on multiplying in the modern home as they have lately, it won’t be five years till a bathtub will be as necessary in a home as a cocktail shaker.
If two members of the same household have to use the same bath, it is referred to now as a community tub.
Statistics have proven that there are twenty-five bathtubs sold to every Bible.
And fifty to every dictionary, and 389 to every encyclopedia.
Proving that, while we may be neglecting the interior, we are looking after the exterior.
If the Father of our Country, George Washington, was Tutankhamen tomorrow and, after being aroused from his tomb, was told that the American people today spend $2,000,000,000 yearly on bathing material, he would say, “What got ’em so dirty?”1
1For Tutankhamen see WA 11:N 10.
WA17 April 8, 1923
HOW TO STOP THE BOOTLEGGIN’
Well, I haven’t had much time lately to dope out many new jokes. I have been helping the girls in the Follies make out their income tax. A vital question comes under the heading of salary. You know that’s a mighty big item with us, when I say us, I don’t mean me, as no one has given me anything yet, but I stick around in case a few crumbs drop.
I have been looking for a bribe from some of our prominent men to keep their name out of my act, but the only ones who even speak to me are the ones I mention. So I guess about the only way you can get a man sore nowadays is to ignore him.
One girl wanted to charge off taxi cab fares to and from the theater. I told her she couldn’t do that. She said, “Well, how am I to get there?” I said, “Well, as far as the government is concerned you can come on the subway.” She said, “Oh! What is the subway?”
Another girl who has been with the various Follies for 10 years wanted to know what she could charge off for depreciation. And she was absolutely right because if, after being with them for that long, and you haven’t married at least one millionaire, you certainly have a legitimate claim for depreciation.
I reminded one of the girls that she had neglected to include two of her alimony allowances. She said, “Do I have to put them in?” I said, “Why certainly you do.” The girl said, “Well, how did the government keep track of
them? I couldn’t.”
One girl charged off a non-providing husband under the heading of bad debts. We charged off all cigarets smoked in public under the heading, advertising.
One sweetheart who paid for a girl’s dinner every night, went thoroughly broke in Wall Street by trying to corner canned tomatoes in the late Piggledy-Wiggedy uprising.1
We figured up what the dinners would be for the rest of the year and charged him off as a total loss.
And right here I want to say what an honest bunch these girls are. They don’t want to beat the government out of a thing. One girl who had been away for a few weeks last winter to Palm Beach, left a husband in the good hands of her girl chum. When she returned the girl chum gave her a $2,000 bracelet. Now she wanted to include this item in her tax and we couldn’t figure out where to put it. Finally we decided it was rents, so we put in “For Rent, of one husband, $2,000.”
Of course while the girls had these tremendous salaries I was able to help on account of my technical knowledge of them, (as I dress with their chauffeurs) and on account of my equal knowledge of making out an income tax, with any man in the world. As none of us knew a thing about it.
Look what I saved them on bathing suits! I had them all claim they bought various suits. And I defy even a Congressional investigating committee, (you certainly can’t pick any more useless body of men than they are) I defy them to say that a bathing suit on a beautiful girl don’t come under the heading of legitimate advertising.
Now, as I say, these girls all wanted to do what was right, as they could afford to but this income tax has not acted that way with the men. (The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has.)
Even when you make one out on the level, you don’t know when it’s through if you are a crook or a martyr.
Of course, people are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience be their guides.
There is some talk of lowering it, and they will have to. People are not making enough to pay it.
And, by the way, the only way they will ever stop bootlegging, too, is to make them pay an income tax. (At present it is a tax exempt industry.) Income tax has stopped every other industry, so there is no reason why it won’t stop bootlegging.
Of course, some of our more thrifty girls have followed the example of their male tax dodging friends and incorporated (as the rate is lower on corporations). Wall Street attended to that little matter when they were drawing the tax bill up in Washington.
These girls had to do it, the same as men, to protect their salaries. Of course, the big gamble in buying into these individual corporations is the lucky chance that she might make one or more wealthy marriages during the year. When of course, her being incorporated, all she gets come under the heading of income, and you, as a stockholder, get your pro rata share. If she lands a big one you have struck oil. Then, on the other hand, she may marry for love. In that case you have brought in a duster.
For example, down on the Exchange you will find the Anastasia Reed, incorporated along with General Motors and Blue Jay Corn Plasters.2
At the end of the year, stockholders, after adding up the salary along with the
accumulated alimony, can either declare a dividend, or vote a dinner and put the undivided profits into the growing concern.
Now, I can’t tell you the name but I was lucky enough to land five shares just before a blonde corporation married a multi-millionaire who was over 70 years of age. Us stockholders have figured out at our last meting that if he dies when we think he will (and we have no reason to believe otherwise, unless the poison acts as a monkey gland) why, just those five shares make me independent for life.
I don’t want to use this space as an ad, but I have been able for a small monetary fee, to tip off my friends just what stock to buy. You see I am in a position to judge as I watch who is in the front row every night and I can just tell when Meddlesom’s Spring Song will start percolating for some particular corporation. Now, at the present time, there is every night in the front row a millionaire Oklahoma oil magnate and a bootlegger, both angling for the same corporation. If this bootlegging person lands her, why her stockholders are made for life, but if the oil magnate comes through, (for sometimes these female corporations are swayed by sentiment) why the stock won’t be worth within a thousand percent of what it will be if the bootheel party lands.
Now, take me personally; this income tax thing don’t bother me at all. You are allowed $200 for each child, and my children and my income are just coming out even now.
Well, we have had quite a few prominent visitors in to look us over lately. Mrs. Nicholas Longworth, with a party of friends, were in last night, and were good enough to come back in the dressing rooms and give me all the latest on Washington.3
She is sure a chip off the old block. Talk about pep! And sense of humor! I told her I had heard her husband, Nick, might be the next Speaker of the House.4
She said she didn’t know. I told her I would hate to see that as now he had an awful lot of friends. Being Speaker of the House is just like jumping, in a small town, from town marshal to Justice of the Peace. That is as far as you can go politically. So I hate to see Nick get in bad and spoil a promising career. I can understand him wanting to be Speaker of a House as I have visited them at home, and it will at least be a novelty for him.
I asked her who it looked like the Democrats would run. She said she heard more of Ford than any one. Well, that will at least save everybody the trouble of asking who is he, and what has he done?
Among the prominent movie visitors last night was Sussie Hayakawa the Japanese screen star and his cunning little Japanese wife.5
After introducing them to the audience, I said that they were a movie couple who were still married to each other, which might not mean so much in their country, as perhaps it was a native custom to stay married in Japan. But that in this country it was a novelty.
We had quite a sensational murder here of Dorothy Keenan, and on account of the prominence of a mysterious Mr. Marshall they wouldn’t tell his real name.6
They had us all worked up, and when they did tell it nobody
knew any more than they did before. He was better known by “Marshall” than by his own name.
After all the fuss the papers had made over the prominence of this friend of the girls, I thought it would at least be Bryan or Lodge, or maybe Uncle Joe—at least somebody we had heard of.7
How was the man going to be well known.
Well, see by the papers where the Prince of Wales over in England fell off his horse again today.8
That’s got so it is not news any more. If he stayed on it would be news. England is all worked up over what to do as they are
afraid he will be hurt. I should suggest they have men follow along on foot with a net and catch him each time as he falls.
1The founder of the Piggly Wiggly stores, Clarence Saunders, was accused of manipulating the stock of the retail food corporation. The stock had been the victim of a “bear raid,” and Saunders, by buying more stock, had attempted to push prices higher and thus maintain the solvency of his company. He failed, however, and eventually declared bankruptcy.
2Anastasia Reilly and Jesse Reed, two former Ziegfeld Follies performers whose names Rogers combined to make up his fictitious corporation.
3For Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 9:N 4.
4Nicholas Longworth, Republican United States representative from Ohio from 1903 to 1913 and 1915 until his death in 1931; majority floor leader from 1923 to 1925; speaker of the House from 1925 to 1931.
5Sessue Hayakawa, Japanese motion picture actor who had a distinguished forty-year career in Japanese, French, and American films. The Typhoon in 1914 was his first film. He and his wife, the former Tsura Aoki, were married for forty-seven years at the time of her death in 1961.
6Dorothy King Keenan, model and mistress of John Kearsley Mitchell, Philadelphia industrialist and society figure, was murdered in her New York City apartment on March 15. The case, which concerned a complicated blackmail plot involving Keenan’s relationship with Mitchell (whom the district attorney referred to as “Mr. Marshall”), never was solved.
7For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7; for Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7; for Joseph G. Cannon see WA 15:N 7.
8Edward Albert, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne. An avid horseman and a much-pursued bachelor, he was crowned Edward VIII in 1936 but abdicated the same year to marry an American divorcee.
WA18 April 15, 1923
THE LOW DOWN ON BOHUNK RUGS
I have just come in from the train where I was seeing my wife off for what I think is her eighth trip back west since last June. The children are in school in California. You see, when I promised Mr. Ziegfeld to come in the Follies and assist him in glorifying the American girl, from what I thought I knew of American girls I didn’t think it would take over three months to get her properly glorified.1
My wife used to bring one of the children back with her, each trip, but we soon run out of children, so she has had to make it alone but this time, going back, she conscripted one of Fred Stone’s daughters to take out and join her father who is playing out there.2
She has traveled so much lately that every time she hears a locomotive whistle, she grabs her hat, stuffs a kimona in her bag and starts running. When we go out to dinner here, she unconsciously asks “How many cars ahead is the diner.” She can look out of the train window any place and tell you what Station you are at.
Now, all this is what I call true devotion, and I want to take this means of publicly expressing my appreciation, and also to register a hit that if R.R. fares keep getting higher, this devotion is either going to bring on bankruptcy, or divorce.
I am negotiating now for a 10 trip ticket. Then, when she is through with that, like Ambassador Gerard after his sojourn in Germany, she can write a book, “My Four Years on the Santa Fe Railroad,” or “The Only Commuter from California to New York.”3
Among our notables who were in the show last night was that wonderful musician and march king, John Phillips Sousa.4
The audience gave him a great welcome, and well they should, too, because the movies could not show a parade on the screen without his music. I didn’t hardly recognize him as he had shaved off his identification. I told him he should either wear his whiskers or his medals. I think he will go down in history as being the greatest composer; he has the only music that even an amateur band can play and it still sounds like music.
Among the events of the week where I, like a pet dog, had to bark for my dinner, was one last night at the Astor given by the entire detective force
of New York. Of course I had to go, as the business I am in now of telling the real truth on certain men, detectives may come in handy to me. All the city officials were there including Mayor Hylan, (who, by the way, I layed off of, as I have found out that when nespapers knock a man a lot, there is sure to be a lot of good in him).5
Then there was Governor Edwards of N. J. and Dr. Royal Copeland, both of whom are sentenced to the U. S. Senate, if it ever meets again.6
(And, not that I wish these two particular men any hard luck, but there is at least 90 million wouldn’t care if it never met.) Well, they were there trying to stand in with the detectives too.
A good conscientious Senator, when he goes to Washington, needs a detective to help him find out what they are doing. And even they couldn’t find out. The dinner was quite a success. It would have been bigger, but most of the detectives couldn’t find the Astor Hotel.
A few months ago there was a N. Y. detective who had been going with a girl for two years and one night he found out she was married, and had been, all the time. He killed her and himself. He was one of their best detectives. It’s too bad he wasn’t one of the ordinary ones or he never would have found it out.
Another one of my free feeds during the week was a big banquet at the Commodore Hotel, eleven hundred rug manufacturers and dealers. There was a fine den to go in amongst, but I was glad, as in building a home, I had encountered two troops of brigands. I thought, when I had paid the plumbers the height of highwaymanship had been reached. But, boy, when my wife commenced to try to get those floors covered to try and hide the dirt, I wanted to rush back and kiss the plumbers and apologize. So it was just my good fortune that I should be asked to speak to all of them. They couldn’t find any one else that would say even as much good about them as I did.
Now it’s all right to go out and skin a man—that’s fair play, but when you take a poor woman who is already in from perhaps having to chloroform her husband to even set enough to buy some floor polish, much less rugs, and those rug ruffians get hold of her and take an old wool fiber rug and make her believe it is a real antique, a Kabystand, or a Tabreeze, or a Surrook, or any of those bohunk names, that’s going too far. Even Jesse James never robbed a woman.7
I read, before I went over there, in one of their scandal sheets, or rug trade papers, a chart showing that over 50 per cent of all rugs and tapestries were bought by women and girls between the ages of 18 to 30. Now any man knows that that is the boob age. A woman will do either one of two things between 18 and 30. She will either get married, or buy a rug; and, if she is extra feeble minded, she may do both.
Over in Armenia the rugs are made by the wives and lady friends of the men. Over there they sometimes take as long as 5 years to make one rug. Over here we sometimes take as long as 10 years to pay for one. Of course, all the foreign rugs, the older they are the more they are worth, but over here, we have no old rugs. The minute the newness wears off it’s gone; it never gets a chance to get old in this country. It don’t last long enough.
The only way you can get an old American rug is to put the fuzz sweeping back together again out of some old garbage can.
Over there they make the patterns like the Indians used to name their babies, after things that they see, and also the name of the rug is the town that it comes from. There is one very crooked river over there and you can trace in lots of them this winding river. Now can you imagine, if that custom was in vogue over here, and the weaver put in what he saw or thought of every day. You would see a man making his way into a mansion with a load of cases; that design would be the family bootlegger, wending his way into the home of the dry politician. Then murder scenes would be the predominant designs.
Then imagine naming them after towns and having to take a guest into your living room and point out, “Here is a Khamokin, Penn.; it’s very old, my grandfather bought it on a pilgrimage to Pittsburgh six months ago. You can see it’s aged—look at the holes in it.”
Here is an exact ad that appeared in one of their papers; “Over half the customers who bought six months ago have reordered.”
The life of their rugs depends on the amount of sweepings. You will see a rug advertised to last a year—if you don’t sweep it.
Each sweeping removes just so much of your rug into the ash can.
And these new vacuum cleaners, those strong ones that operate from a truck out in the street, they have removed at one sitting a cheap rug right out into the truck. They not only clean your rugs, but they clean your floor of rugs.
In investigating their business I found that there had never been a rug manufacturer that failed. If things look bad, all he had to do was make another rug and sell it and open up a branch factory with profits. It’s the only business in the world that nobody knows anything about. You don’t have to, because your customers don’t know either, their big sales are done by auction, like some second hand dealer. This was their fall meeting; their spring auction is in October. I told them and showed them their whole business was cross eyed. Can you imagine any other merchant selling overcoats in April and straw hats in October.
And the funny thing about it was they were a fine lot of fellows, and there wasn’t a one of them but what could have gone out and made a living in a legitimate business.
I want to also tell you ladies some time about going over to Philadelphia this week to talk to the wholesale silk stocking manufacturers at a big luncheon. I had a fellow with me that had a patent to prevent runs, or broken threads in stockings. Well, do you know they bought him off, so you will go on having runs in your stockings and keep on buying them. Now, I did the best I could for you. I tried to get him to sell, but these sox scoundrels got him. So don’t trust them any more than you would a rug highwayman.
1For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.
2For Fred Stone see WA 13:N 2; for Dorothy Stone see WA 13:N 4.
3James Watson Gerard, American attorney and diplomat who served as ambassador to Germany from 1913 to 1917; author of My Four Years in Germany (1917).
4John Philip Sousa, American bandleader and musical composer known as “the March King.” Among his noted martial compositions were Washington Post March and Stars and Stripes Forever.
5John F. Hylan, Democratic mayor of New York City from 1918 to 1925.
6For Edward I. Edwards see WA 5:N 6. Royal Samuel Copeland, Democratic United States senator from New York from 1923 until his death in 1938. Copeland was a physician and a former president of the New York Board of Health.
7For Jesse James see WA 14:N 11.
WA19 April 22, 1923
WILL ASKS WARREN FOR A JOB
Mr. Warren Gamaliel Harding
President of these United States and
Viceroy of the District of Columbia.
Chevy Chase Golf Club, Washington, D. C.
My Dear Mr. President,
I see where Mr. Harvey (I mean Col. or, rather, Ambassador) Harvey is coming back here again.1
Now I don’t know if it’s a slumming trip or just what it is, as he was here a few days ago. Maybe he forgot something in one of his speeches and is coming back for an encore. But in a later paper I see where he is talking of resigning and not going back. Now, if that is the case, I hereby make this an open letter to you, Mr. President, as an application to take said Mr. Harvey (I mean Editor) Harvey’s place.
I can tell by observation that it does not come under the Civil Service or competitive examination. Neither, on the other hand, is it a purely Political appointment, as Mr. Harvey adapted his Politics to fit the occasion. Now that would not be even necessary in my case as I have no politics. I am for the Party that is out of Power, no matter which one it is. But I will give you my word that, in case of my appointment, I will not be a Republican; I will do my best to pull with you, and not embarrass you. In fact, my views on European affairs are so in accord with you, Mr. President, that I might almost be suspected of being a Democrat.
Now I want to enumerate a few of my qualifications for the position of Ambassador to the Court of James. (I don’t know whether it’s St. or Jesse). But, anyway, it’s some of the James family.
My principal qualification would be my experience in Speechmaking. That, as statistics have proven, is 90 percent of the duties of a Diplomat. Now I can’t make as many speeches as my predecessor, unless, of course, I trained for it. But I would figure on making up in quality any shortcomings I might have in endurance. For you know, Mr. President, there is no Race of People in the world who appreciate quality as the English do.
Now, the way I figure it out, what one has to do is to make his speeches so that they will sound one way to the Engish, and the direct opposite to the Hearst readers back over here.2
Now George, (I don’t mean King; I mean Col.) was rather unfortunate in that respect; he made them so they would
sound two ways, but both Nations took the wrong way.
Now, for instance, if I wanted Mr. Balfour to take something back, I would just kid him into it; make him believe I didn’t care whether he took it back or not.3
You know how it is, just like the Democrat Senators do with
Another qualification that must not by any means be underestimated is my Moving Picture experience. You see, for an official position nowadays, we must pay more attention to how our public men screen if we are to have to look at them every day in the news films. We must not only get men with screen personality, but we must get men who know Camera angles and know when they are getting the worst of it in a picture and not be caught in the background during the taking of some big event.
Europeans are far ahead of us in this line of Diplomacy, and, if you don’t watch them, you are liable to be found photographed with the Mob instead of the Principals. The thing is to do some little thing during the taking of the picture that will draw the audience’s attention to you. For instance, during some Court ceremony, I could just playfully kick the King. Now you don’t know how a little thing like that would get over with the public. Or, at one of the big weddings in the Abbey, I could just sorter nonchalantly step on the bride’s train, as they passed by, perhaps ripping it off, or any little Diplomatic move like that. You don’t realize how just little bits like that would make our Ambassador stand out over all the other Countries.
We have had an example of screen training right here at home. Take Josephus Daniels when he was working.5
We spent 4 years sitting in Picture Houses watching him launch ships, and at every launching he could place himself at such an angle that you not only could not see the Democratic Governor’s Daughter who was to break the Ginger Ale, but you couldn’t even see the ship.
Now that was not accident, that was Art.
And did you ever notice in the weekly news picture how some Senators can take a chew of Tobacco right in the scene and you catch yourself watching them and no one else? Now those are just a few of the little things that we have to look after if we want to hold our own as the greatest credit nation north of Mexico.
Now, another thing, I ride horseback, so the Prince of Wales and I could ride together and, on account of my experience with the Rope, I could catch his horse for him.6
Then I play a little Polo, just enough to get hit in the mouth, but the English would enjoy that. When they heard the American Ambassador had got hit in the mouth and would have to cancel his speech at the Pilgrims Club, why, that would of course be good news to everybody. You see you have to give as well as receive in Diplomatic Circles.
Now, to offset the above mentioned qualifications, I may lack a few Social ones, but what I lacked in knowledge I could make up in tact. I would not at any dinner pick up a single weapon until I saw what the hostess was going to operate with first. When in doubt, tell a funny story till you see what the other fellow is going to do.
Then, of course, any glaring error on my part would be laid onto the customs of my Country, and not on me personally.
Then I have an economy measure to recommend me. The Government is putting into commission the Leviathan, our biggest ship, and I could, by entertaining on the Boat going over, save passage fee.7
I could arrange a Monologue on, “The Benefits and Accomplishments or Prohibition” and, as we passed the three mile limit, I could start in delivering it and perhaps relieve, or rather add to, the dryness of the trip. We
would have to explain this to the Farmers of the country so they would not
think the ship was getting this feature for nothing. It could not be considered as Ship Subsidy.
Now the feature that I feel rather modest about referring to, but which is really my principal asset, is my being able to wear silk Knee Breeches not only wear them, but what I mean, look like something in them.
It seems that the Lord instead of distributing my very few good points around as he does on most homely men, why, he just placed all of mine from the knee down. Now that this thing has come over there, it almost seems like I was inspired for the part. Say, I can put on those silk Rompers and clean up. Now I don’t like to grab off a guy’s job by knocking him, but you know we haven’t had a decent looking leg over there in years. Now Harvey’s! Oh, but what’s the use arguing? You know you can’t stay in the Follies 7 years on nothing. Well, it wasn’t my good looks. So what was it but my shape?
That brings us down to Golf. Now I will have to admit that my political education has been sadly neglected, as I have never walked over many green pastures. Horses are too cheap for a man to spend half his life walking over the country looking for holes in the ground. But I understand this lack of Golf will not handicap me in England as it would over here, as Mr. Volstead has not percolated into that land and the game is still fought out at the 19th hole.8
And, if I do say it myself, I do talk a corking Game of
Golf. Then another thing, in looking over the results of the last two International Golf Tournaments I don’t think they play the game there at all.
Now Mr. President, if this suggestion receives the consideration that I think it deserves, I should like to get the appointment at once, as I want to get over there before all the king’s Children are married. If one can’t attend a royal marriage, why their ambassadorship has been a failure as far as publicity is concerned for that event is the World’s Series of England.
Now, if you can’t send me there, don’t, just because I have criticized some of the feminine members of the official life in Washington, don’t for the Lord’s sake, send me to Chile or Honduras or some of those outlandish places. I will even promise to hush rather than that.
Now, as to Salary, I will do just the same as the rest of the Politicians—
accept a small salary as pin money, AND TAKE A CHANCE ON WHAT I CAN GET.
Awaiting an early reply, I remain,
P. S. If you don’t want me, Turkey wants me to represent them in Washington.
So where would you rather have me—in England or Washington?
1George Harvey (see WA 1:N 8) owned and edited the North American Review from 1899 to 1926.
2William Randolph Hearst, leading American publisher who owned a chain of newspapers, including the San Francisco Examiner and the New York American, and magazines, including International-Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping.
3Arthur James Balfour, English statesman and philosopher who served as prime minister from 1902 to 1905 and held other important governmental positions.
4For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
5Josephus Daniels, editor and publisher of the Raleigh (North Carolina) News and Observer from 1894 to 1933; United States secretary of the navy from 1913 to 1921.
6For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 9.
7For the Leviathan see WA 10:N 4.
8For Andrew J. Volstead see WA 9:N 13.br>
WA20 April 29, 1923
NOW IT’S MARATHON DANCING!
Well, the baseball season opened up for New York. Boston and Brooklyn put on their uniforms every afternoon, too.
New York broke the record with a crowd of 72,000 people at a game. They have the largest grounds in the country. They had to make them large so they would hold all the policemen. Counting the policemen, there was easily 100,000 at the game. If you go to anything in New York, no matter if you pay 50 cents or $5, there will be a policemen standing just in front of you.
This all happened on a Wednesday, a matinee day; everything of any importance always happens on a day when we have to work in the theater. I’ll bet that when the world comes to an end it will be on a matinee day and I will miss it.
I am trying to hold this article back as late as I can so I can tell you all who is the latest long distance dancer. There is a magnificent sport! What a proud feeling it must be for a fond mother to point out her young hopeful daughter as “The longest-winded dancer in the United States.” We only have one other degree of inability which compares with it in this country. And that is the filibusters that are held in the Senate and Congress at Washington. They sometimes go on for days talking, but, of course, we don’t expect any more of them. But these girls that are doing this dancing seem from their pictures to be normal in every other respect. It just shows you what this generation is coming to. I’ll bet you the time ain’t far off when a woman won’t know any more than a man.
Now I see a lot in the paper where they have investigated and found that this is a kind of a mania that has happened for generations back—this continuous dancing thing. They say it always happens just before a revolution. Now that is a wonderul thing; just think what a relief a revolution would be after a siege of this dancing. Why, a revolution would be a blessing, following one of these things. So after all, nature kinder evens things up.
Married women haven’t taken it up yet, as it would take too much time away from shooting their husbands.
Well, we have had quite a bit of excitement here in New York. Some bird in the State Legislature up at Albany accused the Police Commissioner of New York City of being the biggest bootlegger in the United States. Now the Police Commissioner is suing this fellow $100,000 for flattery.1
Both political parties are kinder looking for a candidate for the presidency, and if this Commissioner can prove that he is the biggest bootlegger in the United States, why there is your Presidential candidate right there.
There was another terrible thing happened here last week too, Mr. Charles Murphy, the leader of all Tammany Hall Democrats—well, it seems that, during the war, a gang of low principled persons inveigled him into a scheme.2
He didn’t know what it was. (He is just a big hearted, trusting fellow.) Well, after they got him into it, he found out that it was a money-making scheme. They were going to sell Glucose, or something to make beer out of, to the English govenment. Well, naturally, the minute he saw what it was, (being a good Irishman naturally he wouldn’t want to skin the British Government out of a cent,) he pulled right out of it. It only shows you never know who to trust nowadays. He thought, of course, that it was some charity organization he was lending his name to. Come to think of it, I’ll bet you there is alot of big men in public life get led into things like that, only maybe they are not as lucky as he was, to get out before they could give him any money.
I see where the Supreme Court of the United States decided that women of the District of Columbia were not entitled to a living wage. It’s the law in a lot of states. Some time the United States Government will annex that District. If they don’t, some other nation will step in and grab it. Maybe they could persuade Rear Admiral Chester to take over the concession there, and build schools and sanitary facilities and educate these people up so they could vote.3
I think the possibilities are there, the same as they are in Anatolia, Turkey. Of course they haven’t got the oil that Asia Minor has, but the natural gas possibilites of the District of Columbia are unexcelled anywhere in the world.
Of course, if these Chester people can get this mandate over the District, the first thing they would do would be to get that Capitol out of there. Now, over in Turkey, when they take over these towns, the biggest problem they have is to rid the town of these bands of stray scavenger dogs, who just wander around and live off the town. Now that is the same condition they would be up against in Washington. They would have to poison all these lobbyists and politicians that infest the District and live off the town. That would be their big sanitary problem—getting all those out of the way. The harem system which prevails in Turkey is pretty well established in the District already, and would need very little encouragement to ever out rival Asia Minor.
Get all those Foreign Legations out of there. They are only underselling honest bootleggers because they have no overhead at all. A foreign government don’t need to send a Diplomat to represent them any more; all they need to send is a bartender.
Get Clark Griffith’s ball team out of there.4
They have been there 20 years, and if you can’t learn to play ball in that time you never will.
Now that is my scheme to get you people of the District into the U.S. by the way of a Chester Concession. Get him to get you so you can vote. It won’t take long for him to learn you. All you have to do to vote is just check your brains on the way to the Polls and then go cast your ballot.
The Supreme Court was divided almost in half on the decision. Talk about an International Court. How could we ever agree with a lot of foreigners when we can’t even agree among our own Judges.
Well, I see where England is having another Royal wedding.5
Americans are flocking over there to try and see it. That is one thing I will say for Engand—she is not mercenary. If she wanted to, she could charge Americans to get in to see these weddings and make enough to pay off their National Debt. That is the unfortunate thing about this country. We have rich
people over here who would pay to get into purgatory if they knew they were not wanted in there. They are kinder worried about the Prince of Wales; he stands up with all these others that are making the leap but they can’t get him to say, “I do.”6
Now, you mind what I tell you, there is a young man that has got away above the average intelligence of most Kings, and a whole lot of Commoners.
Then another wedding over there last week that I was mighty glad to see was that of Matilda McCormick and Max Oser.7
That will relieve us reading about them every day now. He is the livery stable keeper that struck
oil. She is a very sweet appearing young girl. She used to come to the show in Chicago last Spring and good-naturedly laugh at my little jokes on her prospective husband, the best of which was, “Miss McCormick says she has looked all over this country but she can’t find anyone who compares to her Max. Well, I doubt if we have anybody in this country old fashioned enough to run a livery stable.”
See where Princess Yolanda of Italy grabbed her off a commoner just on account of his horsemanship.8
Maybe that’s why the Prince of Wales is trying to learn to ride.
I tell you it is a great year for horsemen. I have been displaying my ability around here thinking maybe I might land something worthwhile. But, up to now, all I have to show for it is a split lip trying to digest an opponent’s Polo mallet. Then once I fell off, but fortunately hit my head and there was no hurt. So, take it all in all, the Prince and I both have had rather a disastrous and unsuccessful season.
Guess Mr. Harding is going to Alaska. I see where the Governor up there has made an appropriation to clear off the snow and put in a links. They are painting the balls black, so on days that it does snow, the day won’t be entirely lost.
1Louis A. Cuvillier, a New York state assemblyman, accused New York City Police Commissioner Richard E. Enright of bribery, corruption, perjury, and bootlegging in the police department. Enright lost a subsequent libel suit against Cuvillier.
2Charles Francis Murphy, American politician who headed the powerful New York City Democratic organization Tammany Hall from 1902 until his death in 1924.
3Colby Mitchell Chester, Sr., American naval officer who was promoted to rear admiral in 1903. Although he had retired from the service in 1906, Chester maintained a strong interest in obtaining economic concessions in Turkey.
4Clark Calvin Griffith, American Major League Baseball player and executive; president of the Washington Senators baseball club from 1920 until his death in 1955.
5Albert Frederick, the Duke of York who later reigned as King George VI, married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in London on April 26, 1923.
6For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
7Mathilde McCormick, eighteen-year-old granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and Max Oser, wealthy, forty-five-year-old Swiss riding master and illustrator, were married in London on April 12, 1923.
8Princess Yolanda, a daughter of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, married Count Calvidi Bergola, an Italian war hero, in Rome on April 9, 1923.
WA21 May 6, 1923
TALKING TO THE EDITORS
AND PRAYING FOR THE SUBSCRIBER
You know, I have been speaking around here at so many of these Banquets and Luncheons that I got to be a sort of a pest, so a couple of days ago they got a speaker and brought him on here. They got him from the front porch of Ohio, Warren Gamaliel something, I forgot the other. Well, he wasn’t bad. He has a lecture tour booked through the west and didn’t know just what to talk on. So he come here to try out an act. I guess it is the one he will use. Anyway, I guess he didn’t make good as a speaker here in N. Y. as I see they didn’t keep him; they let him go back, and invited me to take up where I had left off before, He didn’t come to hear me in the Follies. I went to hear him. I am broad minded that way.
Now I don’t want to make any play for favor, or throw Bouquets at myself but I just want to show you the kind of a Patriot I am.
Mr. Harding wants to see the Follies, but, on account of the humorous relations between the White House and myself being rather strained, he naturally feels a kind of hesitancy about coming, for, at the present time, you can’t see the American Girl being glorified without being annoyed by a jarring presence among them which I am free to admit is myself.
So, on the first of June, I am leaving; not because I want to (for, speaking candidly, it’s not the worst position in the World, as my surroundings here have been most beautiful). But, even though you wouldn’t judge it by my writings or grammar, I have some politeness and courtesy, and, being a fair American Citizen, (I won’t say “good” as I think I have heard that used before) I certainly have a high regard for the chief Executive of this great Commonwealth, and I won’t do a thing to stand in the way of any pleasure that he may wish to enjoy, no matter how small. So I am willing to get out, and sacrifice a living wage.
There is no reason why a National Institution that is viewed night after night by the best Male members of our Government should not be seen in its mission of Glorifying Young Womanhood by the leading Citizen of our Land at least once. Now, if this is Treason, make the most of it.
Mr. Harding spoke on Golf, accuracy in Newspapers, International Court, Mexico, and more Honesty to Party pledges. Now we shall review them in the order in which he spoke of them. Naturally, Golf heads the list, I quote: “When I returned from my southern vacation, I picked up a paper not unfriendly to me (That was the Marion Star, but of course he didn’t mention the name.) and saw on the front page where I had broken 8 Golf Clubs in 5 weeks. Now I don’t mind that; only it puts me in the Duffer Class of Golfers.” Now that was a good joke and showed he is a pretty good fellow to tell one on himself. Now, about the International Court, he spoke very highly of and for it.1
Now, if I was a President and wanted something I would claim I didn’t want it. For Congress has not given any President anything that he wanted in the last 10 years. Be against anything and then he is sure to get it. He quoted several Republicans Platforms adopted by the Party from 1900 on down to show that they had been for the Court. But that don’t prove anything. You can take any one of our Party Platforms that they promise before election and they promise anything. The same fellows that make them make out these insurance Policies. That is, what they say
on one page they can deny on the other.
He said we were on good terms with all the Nations of the Western Hemisphere but one, and that was Mexico. That’s the only one we ever had any trouble with. But he said we were dealing with them now as to a settlement. Mexico must have struck more oil.
Last, but not least, he dealt with Party Pledges. He appealed for more honesty in Party Politics. That was all right, everybody knows there is plenty of room for more Honesty among Parties. As for sticking to your Party, nobody knows where their Party is. A lot of them would like to stick to it if they could find it. But, take it all in all, it was a good speech and will no doubt make a lot of friends for the League, via the Court.
Then, the other night the Newspaper Men and Owners from all over the Country held their big Banquet at the Waldorf. It was given by the advertising end of the Newspaper business. Naturally it had to be, as the advertising end is the only one which could pay for a thing like that. If the Editorial Department ever gave a Dinner everybody would have to bring their own Sandwiches.
There was 32 at the Speakers’ Table. Eight must have got caught, as I have heard Ali Baba’s original cast was composed of 40.
Well, I was unfortunate enough to get mixed in there with them. I didn’t know when I started in to write that I was going to have to associate with these merely Owners, and the class of Speakers they had me speaking with. There was Senator Pepper of Pennsylvania, who made a very fine and earnest speech.2
Most all new Senators are earnest and mean well. Then the Air of Washington gets in their Bones and they are just as bad as the rest. He spoke very feelingly on ADJUDICATE. You know what it means? I don’t either, but I am going to devote the rest of my life finding out, and in subsequent articles you will hear some adjudication from me.
That Dinner proved one thing—that Advertising pays. It pays the fellow you pay it to for the Ad. Each Paper was seated according to their importance, that is, according to how much Advertising space they sold.
A Bishop opened the Dinner with Prayer for the Newspaper men. I never in my life wished to know how to pray as I did then, for I wanted to offer up one for you readers and Subscribers. Nobody said a word for you but me. I tell you, the more I hear these big men talk, the more I realize I am the only one that is trying to uphold the rights of the common People. Now I don’t want anything from you YET, but, if things keep on, I may make a call for funds to carry on Truth.
The Toastmaster was a little bit of a fellow from the New York Times named Louis Wiley.3
He has been decorated by every form of Government in the World. He has 40 from Russia, as every time a new Government comes in he is sent a New Medal. You see these Foreign Countries strike off these Medals and they want to see how they look on somebody, so they try them on him, figuring if they can be seen on him they will do for anybody. He didn’t wear any last night as he is so short they wouldn’t show above the table. At that, he stood on a chair to announce the speakers. The last medal he got was from the Egyptian government. You know the New York Times bought the Exclusive rights to the Obituary Notices of all exhumed Kings. So he got a Medal for putting that through.
Then there was Lord Cecil who is over here trying to revive Interest in Article 10 of the League of Nations.4
Now I met the Lord and he is a great fellow, nothing Up Stage, not important. You know what I mean by Important—it’s the fellow who has just taken up Golf. I told the Lord we were glad to welcome a Lord over here as we had been about fed up on Sirs. Our Lecture Platforms are just clogged up with these English Sirs advising us how to run our Country. Lord Cecil spoke on the League of Nations. I think I heard somebody do that somewhere before. I forget when it was.
Then come Ambassador Gerard that was.5
There is a fellow who got an
unlucky break. We have an Ambassador or Consul in every Country, and he has to got be in the very one we go to war with, and had to come back. That had never happened before in the History of that Country till he got there. That’s what I call a tough break in Ambassing.
Then my old friend Will Hayes was there but he didn’t talk.6
him in Silent Drama to hush him up. Of course I had to tell a few on Bill.
According to all the speeches it was a mighty momentous occasion, and I never felt so impressed in my life as to be able to be at a Table when the affairs of the World were settled. Each said we were at a Crisis. I tried by best to get them not to settle it till they talked it over with you all, but they seemed to think if they didn’t arrange it right there that they might not ever have a chance.
The reason I am telling you all this is I wasn’t right sure that you knew about this critical point of our existence we were facing. I didn’t, till I heard them say it. So if affairs don’t go to suit you from now on you can always blame it on the Dinner.
1The World Court, or Permanent Court for International Justice, was established by the League of Nations in 1921. The United States never joined the tribunal.
2George Wharton Pepper, Republican United States senator from Pennsylvania from 1922 to 1927.
3Louis Wiley, business manager of the New York Times from 1906 until his death in 1935.
4Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, a member of the British parliament from 1906 to 1923; president of the League of Nations Union from 1923 to 1945; recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1937. Cecil participated in the drafting of the League of Nations Covenant. Article 10 of the League of Nations Covenant guaranteed the territorial integrity and political independence of member states against aggression.
5For James W. Gerard see WA 18:N 3.
6William Harrison “Will” Hays, American attorney and politician. As president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945, he was known as the “czar” of the film industry.
WA22 May 13, 1923
JOIN THE NAVY
AND GO OUT THREE MILES
Well, the big news of the last week was the Supreme Court decision handed down in the Prohibition on Boats case. It was kinder unique in decisions. It said, “You can sell booze on American Boats but you are not allowed to have it on there.” There’s one for the book for you. I bet you nobody in the World but a Supreme Court could have ever thought of a decision like that. It would be like saying, you can shoot a man but not with a gun.
It says foreign ships must sell out before they reach the three mile limit coming this way. That won’t be any trouble; their only worry has been having enough to reach this far.
It encourages immigration too, but not away from this Country. Of course, what they will do now is, outside the three mile limit every steamship line will have its filling station just like automobiles have. And, of course, if that takes too much time, they will arrange a trough like these fast railroad trains do, where they will just scoop it up as they go by. There will be a Beer trough, and a Scotch trough, and a Gin trough. Now, they say Foreign Boats can’t come in here with any on board after the 10th of June. If it’s against the law after the 10th of June, why isn’t it against the law now?
But the big news of the week is that Mr. Harding and the Cabinet are talking of using the American Navy to chase these Booze boats off the coast. Now, I think that would be a terrible thing. I am not in favor of them being there, but I am certainly opposed to use such a fine body as the American Navy to chase them with. Why not use them to catch murderers, or robbers or some other criminals, if they are going to use them at all? But that is not what they educate and study all these years for. Wouldn’t it be a fine thing for a boy, after he had won the highest competitive examination at home to be appointed to Annapolis and, after spending 4 years of hard study there to be graduated, and then spend the rest of his life chasing a launch loaded with Gordon Gin.
Just imagine this slogan to get boys in: “Join the Navy and go out three miles.”
Imagine a mother kissing her son goodbye just before an important cruise out to the three mile limit on an American Dreadnought to do, perhaps, mortal combat with a 50 foot Rum Runner, with a possible fighting force of 6 men. Now, wouldn’t that be a great thing to ask a boy to leave home and devote his life to!
Can you imagine the entry of the Great Atlantic Fleet into the Harbor of New York City after an important battle, after meeting and defeating 5 Bermuda Sailing Vessels? Why, Dewey’s entry into the City after the Battle of Manila would be small time stuff compared to this.1
Why, they would build a triumphal Arch as high as the Woolworth Building all out of empty bottles, with the Electric sign across the top, Bottle, you shall not enter full.
Then, of course, if we use the Navy on the seas to catch the Boats, why, of course we would use the American Army on shore to chase the elusive Booted Party. Just think how jealous men like Gen. Washington would be that he did not live in this day and time when he could have really done something worth while for his country.
Of course, it will give Gen. Pershing a chance to command the American Forces and will be a great opportunity for him to do something besides just merely winning a World’s War.2
The Army Slogan will be, “Join the Army and chase the Bootleggers.” What a great type of Manhood we could muster! Enforcement officers have shown us that.
Of course, they would have to change some of the courses taught in West Point and Annapolis. They would have to develop an acute sense of smell, where you could detect liquor by just looking at the smoke from the boat. Then the main maneuvering tactics would be to get to the windward side of a vessel. That’s why, in the last few days, they decided not to raise the range of the guns on our battleships. You see, they are now inferior to Japan’s or England’s but they knew they were good for three miles and that’s all we care about.
Of course, this will be a great argument in favor of no more wars. We couldn’t go into another war. Our Army and Navy will be too busy fighting bootleggers.
Just think, in years to come, how the honorable discharge of one of our retired Admirals would read:
“Admiral Smellum, you are hereby honorably discharged after 30 years of untiring devotion to the Morals of your Country, during which time you have cruised down the coast as far as Florida.”
“Last night, a Banquet given to the retiring old Salt there was over 40 barrels of water consumed. The old Sea Dog related many stories of his narrow escape while on his Flagship Pluto, from sometimes as many as three Row Boats loaded with desperate rum runners.”
Here would perhaps be a familiar item in our Daily press: “Captain Whiterock, who just last spring finished from West Point and has only been in active service 4 months, was yesterday decorated by Secretary of the Navy Bromo, of Clearwater, Texas, with the Congressional Medal of Honor (the highest gift within the power of the American Government). The citation read as follows:
“For entering a Nest of Bootleggers single handed three blocks in advance of his command, with nothing but his Trench Hammer to assault the Bottles with. He broke the Bottles so fast he had to swim out for his life. He not only destroyed their deadly liquor, but he got photographs of what is thought to be the real owners. So, for bravery and gallantry, far in advance of anything expected of a Soldier, he was presented with the Medal designed in the shape of a Faucet.”
The Secretary in presenting it said, “It’s on the shoulders of such as you that the tradition of the American Army and Civilization of the United States rest.”
On graduation day at Annapolis or West Point, instead of Diplomas, each Cadet would receive a Search Warrant.
Then, of course, they would use our Air Ships, too. Then, instead of McCready and Kelly simply being known as flying across the Continent without stopping, they could attain the distinction of being American Aces, after bringing down 5 thousand quarts.3
But the principal reason I am against using them against Bootleggers is that UP TO NOW THE AMERICAN ARMY OR NAVY HAS NEVER BEEN BOUGHT OFF.
Well, they are holding a Convention of Police Chiefs from all over the World here this week, so, yesterday, I was asked to address the Convention. Although I had never caught a Crook, neither had they, so we had a mutual feeling.
The first Country that catches a Crook gets the next Convention. They just had one here about 6 months ago, and some of them come from all over South America and Japan and China. The Delegates to this one didn’t have time to wait till the Delegates from the last one got him. So, no wonder they never catch anybody; they spend all their time trying to get home from the Conventions.
Now that the Police have an Organization, it looks like the Crooks will have to organize for protection. They could hold their Convention at the same time in the same town; they would never meet.
I tell you one thing they sure got down pat, and that is that fingerprint thing. They seemed very elated over that. As the President of the Convention said, they had the fingerprint of every Crook there is. Now all they got to do is find the fingers.
You know that would be a big consolation, if you had a friend or relative murdered, to know that you had his fingerprints. It’s like a robber leaving his hat or handkerchief on the scene. You have always got the consolation that some time he will have to come back for it.
I bet you didn’t know Ireland had a Chief of Police. Well, it was a surprise to me, too, but they have, or had, I don’t know what they’ve got today. But he was here and he is the finest little fellow you ever met, named O’DUFFY.4
The Duffy would have been enough to establish him, without the O. He made a dandy speech and spoke real Gaelic. Well, the place was full of New York Irish Policemen but they didn’t understand their own Language. The Chief of Police from Jerusalem got up and made a speech in his native tongue and every N. Y. Cop knew every word he said.
The big Scotland Yard man from England lost his watch and return ticket the first day in the convention room. New York certainly did entertain them royally and made them feel at home. They put on robberies and murders for them every day they were here.
1George Dewey, American naval officer who led the victorious American forces at the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
2For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
3Lieutenants John A. Macready and Oakley G. Kelly of the United States Army Air Service made the first nonstop transcontinental flight on May 2-3, 1923.
4Eoin O’Duffy, Irish military officer who headed the security forces of the Irish Free State from 1924 to 1925.
WA23 May 20, 1923
CHINA ADOPTS AMERICAN WAYS.
THEY’VE EVEN GOT BANDITS
Well, here is quite a little taking place in the papers the last day or so. I bought some stock in a Chinese bandit corporation yesterday. I studied whether to buy that or New York hotel stock. Their ideas are similar; they both work on the ransom plan. We have been sending missionaries over there for years; I knew they would get those people educated up to American ways.
As I write this, the people are still being held, and ours, and all the other governments are threatening China with what they will do!1
Years ago Chinese brigands killed two Germans, and Germany took about a fourth of China as pay for them. That was the highest price ever paid for two individuals.
Just suppose some foreign government took part of this country every time a foreigner was killed over here. The United States would consist of Rhode Island.
These governments ought to get together and do something about this.Those heathen Chinese should not be allowed to have bandits in their country. If you let ’em keep on, the first thing you know they will have pickpockets and taxi robbers over there. I bet you England wouldn’t stand for them annoying one of their citizens. They would take their oil land away from them. And if they didn’t have any, they would make ’em get some.
Missionaries must of been working up around Boston. I see where some woman bandit held up my friend old Charley Schwab for 325 thousand.2
But she improved on those heathens; she got her ransom first. I certainly am glad he wasn’t taken out into the mountains and held. For, with Judge Gary convalescing after the steel workers last raise in wages, Charley is the only sensible after-dinner speaker we’ve got around New York now.3
We don’t any more than get a law sorter halter broke, and get people kinder used to it, when some judge comes along and says it ain’t so. Last week Judge Knox comes out and decides that a doctor in prescribing for the modern American illness can prescribe any amount he thinks necessary.4
Now, according to the Volstead Law as passed by Congress, no patient is allowed to get sick over a pint’s worth every 10 days. So, along comes this Judge, and says “Congress is no doctor (they are all patients.) How do they know how sick a man can get? Why, for a pint every 10 days, a man would really not be sick at all; he would just be indisposed.” So now, when a fellow comes to see the doctor, the doctor will say, “What’s the matter with you?” The patient will say, “Why, about a gallon, Doc.”
Or the Doctor, after looking over one of his perpetual patients, will say, “Why you are looking great today; your case has improved from two quarts to one. If you don’t look out you will get well.” Instead of Doctors studying at a medical school as they used to, now he just takes a course in rapid penmanship.
It looks like a great year for fountain pens.
Heretofore, drug stores used to make their deliveries by a boy sent from the store. Now every drug store will have to deliver in a truck. You will fill your prescription now in a two-gallon milk bucket.
Of course, all this is right now, but you will wait till that Supreme Court of the United States gets a hold of the Judge’s opinion! They are liable to diagnose the case different. They are liable to cut out the patient’s illness entirely.
Well, they had another big convention here this week—the Chambers of Commerce from all over the United States. Being big sound business men, they wanted some good conservative business man to address them, and also wanted some frivolous or light talk that would sound amusing but mean nothing, in other words, something to get their minds off their hotel bills.
So Herb Hoover of Washington, D. C., but better remembered from Belgium, drew this last frothy or carefree assignment, and he had those babbitts just rolling off their seats telling them about the prosperous condition of this country, and a funny line about sending our gold reserve back to Europe.5
Then he knocked ’em coocoo with a gag for the government not to go into business. He said the standard of living had advanced so far in this country that we could lay off two million men from work and the rest of the people would live just as good as they did 10 years ago.
He didn’t say what would become of the two million he laid off. But you take a busy man like that, he can’t stop to worry about trifles like a couple of million men.
I thought he would surely have some funny gag on sugar, but he just let it go on up, he didn’t mention it. He predicted a coal shortage and asked everybody to get their coal this summer. So that means coal, by the time you read this, has jumped at least $10 a ton. If your prominent men would only just stop predicting maybe we would be able to lay by something.
Well, the next night after Mr. Hoover spoke, why, they were ready for some real conservative business talk. So I went over and instructed them. They had some from every city and their wives come with them. You notice I say “come”; I didn’t say were “brought.” A funny thing-they were here the same week that the police chiefs from every town were here. Rather a coincidence that it should be necessary for the police to follow their most prominent citizens to New York.
You know what the Chamber of Commerce is, don’t you? You remember the old ladies’ sewing circle in towns years ago that knew everybody’s business and were into everything, from the local marble championship to the next war. The minute a fellow gets into the Chamber of Commerce he quites mowing his own lawn.
Ambassadors Harvey from England and one from Spain and one from Germany have all come back home.6
By bringing them home in a bunch that way the government gets a party rate. Mr. Harvey just run over between weddings. I don’t know what he will do when the King runs out of children to marry off.
I see by the papers that President Harding is going to return from Alaska by the way of the Panama Canal. It seems a man can’t hold an official position nowadays in Washington without commuting through the Panama Canal.
A couple of weeks ago a bunch of Congressmen and Senators left from Kansas City, Omaha and Salt Lake to go to San Francisco by way of the Panama Canal.
You used to be able to go from Washington, D. C., to San Francisco in four days but, since the Canal has been built, officials traveling at the government expense make it easy in 18 or 20 days now. If the government had charged a bounty on every official that has gone through there the Canal would be paid for by now.
I don’t know what’s in that Canal but I am going to try and get myself elected to something, just so I can go and see it, too. Some men can’t hardly wait till they get elected, to start traveling some place.
Well, the day before the prize fights for a real charity, the milk fund, Jess Willard was up in the dressing room.7
He looked in great shape. They
figured to take in $400,000 or $500,000. Just think of that, a half million.
I come from a cattle country and there ain’t enough cows in the United States to give that much milk. Somebody’s going to see some condensed milk.
1Chinese bandits seized 36 foreign citizens and 100 native passengers on the Shanghai-Peking express on May 6. The capture of the foreigners and the holding of them for a $1 million ransom were featured for days in the press of many countries. They were released after major powers threatened armed intervention. Attacks by bandits and sea pirates, however, continued throughout the year.
2Myrtle Bowman Hayes, a Massachusetts property developer, forged the signature of Schwab (see WA 3:N 6) on $300,000 worth of promissory notes that she had used to purchase property in Massachusetts and New York.
3For Elbert H. Gary see WA 3:N 6.
4John Clark Knox, judge of the United States District Court in New York City from 1918 to 1964. On May 9 Knox voided the provision of the Volstead Act that limited the amount of alcohol a physician could prescribe.
5Herbert Clark Hoover, United States food administrator during World War I and commissioner for relief in Belgium from 1915 to 1919. A Republican, Hoover served as president of the United States from 1929 to 1933.
6For George Harvey (see WA 3:N 6). Alexander Pollock Moore, American newspaper editor who served as ambassador to Spain from 1923 to 1925. Alanson Bigelow Houghton, American industrialist and former congressman who served as ambassador to Germany from 1922 to 1925.
7Jesse Willard, American boxer who held the world heavyweight title from 1915 to 1917.
WA24 May 27, 1923
GIVE THE MINISTERS INSURANCE—
Just reading in this morning’s paper the outcome of an election held in Indianapolis by a Presbyterian Conference for Moderator. It read like old times, W. J. Bryan was defeated by the Rev. Dr. Wishart of Wooster, Ohio.1
You can’t beat these Ohioans for office. Like all conventions, the man that goes in with the most votes never gets it. Bryan had the most votes by far; then they stampeded the convention in favor of the Rev. Dr.
Now Mr. Bryan can appreciate how Mr. Champ Clark must have felt in Baltimore years ago, before Article X become our national Argument.2
So, you see, political methods prevail in spiritual proceedings as well as in Politics.
Bryan said, before his defeat, he had two speeches prepared, one in case of defeat and the other in case of victory.
The great team of Black faced comedians, McIntyre and Heath, used to have a line as follow: Heath, after taking McIntyre away from a good job in a livery stable where he eat regular, promised him everything on the road with a show.3
He even taught him table manners to use when they got out on the road. They are later broke and haven’t eaten in two days when McIntyre says to Heath, “You promised me everything; you even had me practicing eating with a knife and fork. That’s one trade I learned I ain’t never worked at.”
That’s W. J. That speech of Victory is one speech he prepared he ain’t never worked at. Of course, they claim what beat him was all his talk about us not evolving from a monkey.4
Church people all over the country are divided and arguing over where we come from. Never mind where we come from, Neighbor. Women living next door to you will find out where you come from, and all about you, better than Bryan and all the preachers. Just let the preachers make it their business where you are going when you leave here.
Just think what a difference if a wonderful personality like Bryan with a tremendous following had used his influence to stop beating prisoners in his home state, instead of waiting for one paper to shame them into it. That would have gotten him further than all the Monkey talk and half-of-one-percent arguments in the world.
I have beat my way on trains but the personal danger and hardship endured by everybody while doing it more than paid our fares.
Bryan and every prominent man in that state have beat their way. They used to issue passes to every political fellow with any kind of a pull. If they didn’t, politically, give the railroad back something in return, they beat their way.
Now, at this very Conference of Ministers my friend Will Hays made quite an impassioned speech in favor of a drive to raise a Pension Fund for Preachers.5
Now, that is a real Cause. The Ministry in all denominations are the poorest paid workers in the world. They would form a Union and demand more pay, but they don’t get enough to pay dues into a Union, so they can’t form one. They can’t demand regular hours for they don’t know what hour some of their constituents may need a christening or a wedding ceremony. They have to be respectable and the high cost of living advance is nothing in comparison to the high cost of respectability. Why, I can remember when a man could be considered respectable without belonging to a Golf Club.
Now, I have a plan that I would like to suggest instead of Will Hays’ pension fund. Not ask for more pay, as that is what made them poor now - asking for more pay. They haven’t got a chance to get more salary out of their congregations. They will only pay so much for their Souls being saved. They want to save up everything else first. Then they charge what they do give off on their Income Tax at the end of the year as bad debts. Of course, you got to take into consideration why some of these people don‘t pay their Preachers any more to have them. Their Souls ain’t worth any more to be saved.
Here is my scheme: Make every Minister carry an Endowment Policy, say, payable at the end of 20 years, to be paid at maturity to him in monthly installments for life. Every church is made to pay the yearly premium. As they are all taken out for the same amount, in case of a change, why, they pay for whoever is at their church that year.
Now, the Insurance Company collects direct from the church, and if they don’t pay, it’s advertised that such and such a congregation are delinquent in their minister’s insurance. Then, if they don’t pay, threaten them with publicity. That’s one thing a lot of the Deacons and Elders can’t stand, especially if it’s personal publicity.
Now, that would give every Minister something to look forward to in his old age and not be dependent on some Charity Drive for a Pension Fund. Look at the protection in case of death for their Wives and Children. For, as it is now, a Wife can’t subsist very long and raise a family on a swallow tail coat that is already worn slick. You know that Parsonage she occupies, rent free. When he stops preaching, she has to start moving, and our charity brethren soon forget that she was once the Wife of our respected Clergyman.
Then you have in there a sick and disability clause. For, on account of not being paid enough to dress comfortably, they are more susceptible to colds than most of their Clients. Now, what is the matter with my scheme? What church is so poor that they couldn’t support an Insurance Premium? The rate should not be high, unless on account of their scarcity of sufficient food they would be classified as hazardous risks.
I think the improvement in the grade of sermons you would get would pay you a good dividend on your investment. For the minute you relieve his mind of the physical outcome of the future, you will give him more time to devote to his sermons. I know, because if there is something worrying you, you can’t do a good act, and after all, our occupations are similar—we both have to amuse. They have to instruct, also, but in their instruction, they have to amuse with it, or it would be too tedious and dry. No audience will listen to all instruction.
But the most sensible suggestion I have to offer is make each Congregation when their Minister has an increase in his Family, raise his salary on a Pro Rata basis and so on for each Child. Why should a man, preaching and trying to support 8 children, be paid no more than a single one with only the upkeep of a Tennis Racket to worry about? Besides, he can live cheaper; somebody is always asking him out to Dinner. But whoever asked a preacher with a wife and 10 kids out to dinner? No, unfortunately, our Christian Spirit hasn’t reached that far yet.
Now before we start in regulating the affairs of all the world and all our neighbors, let’s do a little humanity work right under our nose. I am going to do some missionary work, for it looks like a fertile field. Who will be the first congregation, no matter what denomination, (Only the House of David barred)?
Who will be the first one to insure your Preacher; who will raise his salary on the arrival of each future Citizen? Now get busy and let me know and I will see that you get deserved publicity and proper thanks through the more than 100 papers I write for. Now, come on, what are you going to be, a Humanitarian or just a church member?
1Charles Frederick Wishart, American theologian and educator; president of Wooster College from 1919 to 1944. Wishart defeated Bryan (see WA 5:N 7) on May 17 for the post of moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
2James Beauchamp “Champ” Clark, Democratic United States representative from Missouri from 1893 to 1895 and 1897 to 1921; speaker of the House from 1911 to 1919. Clark was a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1912 but was defeated at the convention in Baltimore when Bryan switched his support to Woodrow Wilson. For Article 10 see WA 21:N 4.
3James “Jim” McIntyre and Thomas “Tom” Heath, American blackface comedy team known as the “Georgia Minstrels”; active in variety and vaudeville from 1874 until McIntyre’s death in 1937.
4In the early 1920s Bryan was embroiled in the controversy over evolution that was highlighted by the Scopes “Monkey” Trial of 1925.
5For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
WA25 June 3, 1923
PROSPECTING THE MOVIES
FOR PRESIDENTIAL TIMBER
New York City is trying to land the Democratic Convention. But its too late now. I have already launched the Candidate right here in New York in open Convention. Mr. Wm. G. McAdoo was in to look our Show over the other night.1
I introduced him to the Audience and had the distinction of
nominating him for President.
I thought it was hard. I had read a lot about these Conventions where someone would get up and make the nominating speech and get a lot of credit for it. Why, it’s a cinch; I wasn’t scared a bit. We had Delegates from every State, too, and they all seemed to agree. But I just pulled one of those old fashioned Penrose things and rode rough shod right over everything and put my man over.2
He was accompanied by the financial Department of the Democratic Party, Mr. Barney Baruch.3
Any likely candidate does well to be accompanied by Mr. Baruch. That’s what comes of his being the Party’s only rich man. Of course, if he was a Republican, he would be no novelty. They are all mangy with dough.
Well, anyway, after the show they came back to my dressing room which showed they were not displeased with my excellent selection. But Mr. McAdoo has a pretty good sense of humor founded on facts; he said, “Why did you launch me so soon, Will? It gives People time to look up my record.” You see he remembers what the Republicans did the last time they nominated so unexpectedly, and fast, and late that people had no chance to investigate the candidate.
The more people study about you, nowadays, the less they think of you. Mr. Baruch came back stage to make me apologize as one time I called him the Freylinghausen of the Democratic Party.4
So I did apologize. I told
him it was said in the heat of Political battle.
There have been lots of Presidents and prospective Presidents in to see the Follies but McAdoo is the only one ever nominated in there. Now, who he was and what he has done in the past: You remember during the war, well, he practically took charge of the home end of that encounter. If there was some important position and you didn’t know who was occupying it,that was him. His name was embroidered on every Railroad towel and doily from the rum running coast of Maine to the Iowa settled shores of sunny California and each job had a private Secretary for him. Well, he had to speak to them in Battalions every morning or he wouldn’t get around to them all. Why, a little job like being President and having to run but the United States, that would be a vacation for him. We would have to dig him up something for his spare time—fix him up some side line.
When I played in Washington last year I met the 10 men who took his place. When the Democrats were let out on account of a short circuit of votes, why, he got a job in the Movies where we all go when we want to recuperate our finances.
He was Lawyer of Uncle Dug and Aunt Mary.5
But nobody sued them, and they didn’t have a divorce, so they let him go. A film star can’t afford to keep a lawyer if he is having no Breach of Promise Cases or Divorces.
He first started into Politics by digging the McAdoo Tunnel from New York under the Hudson River to Jersey.6
That came about in rather a strange way. Prohibition was coming on, and he was digging a Cellar and accidentally come up in Jersey. Since then they have all dug straight down to save such another calamity.
He made a race of Ground Hogs out of New Yorkers. It’s only during certain hours that they ever come up for air.
Now some of you might think that my convention was not bona fide because I did not nominate a Vice President. Well, that is generally done through malice, and I hold no Vice Presidential malice toward no one.
Now, of course, at various times, I may nominate other Presidential Candidates either on one side or the other, as the Presidential Market fluctuates. You see conditions in this country change so rapidly that a man who would be a good President today might, tomorrow, be entirely unsuited for the job.
Now, take the case of W. J. Bryan; he would make an ideal Sunday President.7
But would be an absolute liability on week days.
Some men would be good Night Presidents. They might have a Dress Suit and look well behind a Banquet Table. Some men are congenial, can tell a good story, play a fair game of Golf and consequently make ideal Week end Presidents.
Now the same thing applies to Governors. Look at the case of Al Smith of New York State.8
He was a dandy Governor till he had a decision to make.
Then again, perhaps in a few months our Politicians will change. They will have forgotten about Europe and how we are needed there and commence to think of home here. You know Politicians, after all, are not over a year behind Public opinion.
Now, I am going out in the Movies and I may pick up just the Type for President, as you know everything comes down to Movies sooner or later. I may pick up a couple and cast one for each Party. I understand just the type of man you all want. We want a man in there who can handle men, and man who when his Hired Help gets to acting up, down at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, can hop in his car, go down there and tell ’em who is Boss and where to head in. Don’t confer with them—just soak ’em.
You see the class of help a President gets in the Senate and Congress since immigration has been restricted. You can’t treat them with kindness. A Congressman or Senator is not used to kind treatment, even at home, so you have got to be rough with those Birds. Use a little Florida methods on them.
I’ll find the fellow for you. It may take a little time but I will find the type yet.
Well, to get our mind off Politics, our old headliner, Mr. Stillman, bobbed up across the front page this week.9
He has walked out on another one.
He ought to grow a long Beard and take King Benjamin’s place in the House of David.10
Flo says she wants him to continue her allowance of 1500 Berries monthly.11
If she can get him to do it, and she can do as well on it as she has on just that much in the past, she will own New York—if
she can get him to keep it up for another year.
She says she didn’t get even as much as a man would allow his own wife. That’s a very poor comparison, ’cause a Wife is the cheapest thing you can get in the long run in the Female line. Why, if 90 percent of the Wives in this country ever got an allowance of $1500 in their lifetime they would have their husbands examined by a lunacy commission.
She says she don’t know how she is going to educate little Sturdie on an 85 thousand dollar Apartment house and 50 thousand dollars worth of Diamonds. I would advise her not to raise him on diamonds. That is what is the matter with part of this country now.
Why 85 thousand, where I was born in the old Indian Territory, there wasn’t that much money in the whole Cherokee Nation. For a hundred thousand you could have bought the whole State of Oklahoma. And after you bought it, if you happened to have 14 dollars over, you could bought Kansas.
’Course I guess it has advanced now. I haven’t been there in years. Chances are it has doubled since then. Still, both States managed to turn out some pretty good Sturdies.
1William Gibbs McAdoo, United States secretary of the treasury from 1913 to 1918; United States director general of the railways during World War I; prominent candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 1920 and 1924.
2Boies Penrose, United States senator from 1897 until his death in 1921. Penrose was the undisputed “boss” of the Republican Party in Pennsylvania from 1904 until his death.
3For Bernard M. Baruch see WA 14:N 9.
4For Joseph S. Frelinghuysen see WA 2:N 2.
5Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., American actor and hero of silent screen spectaculars; husband of film actress Mary Pickford. Mary Pickford, American motion picture actress known in the heyday of silent films as “America’s Sweetheart.” Pickford and Fairbanks were neighbors of Rogers in Beverly Hills,
6McAdoo’s Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company built the first tunnel under the Hudson River (1904).
7For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
8For Al Smith see WSA 5:N 5.
9James Alexander Stillman, wealthy New York City banker who was a central figure in one of the most sensational divorce cases of the 1920s. He first sued for divorce from his wife, the former Anne Urquhart Potter, in 1921 on the grounds of adultery. She later made similar charges, and the domestic squabble, interrupted by a brief reconciliation, finally ended in divorce in 1931.
10Benjamin Purnell, leader of the House of David, a religious cult that flourished in Benton Harbor, Michigan, during the first quarter of the twentieth century. Purnell claimed immortality, prohibited the cutting of hair or beard, and forbade his members to have sexual relations. He disappeared in 1922 when warrants were issued for his arrest on morality charges. He was
found and arrested in 1926 but died a year later.
11Florence Lawlor Leeds, New York City dancer and singer who claimed that her son was fathered by James Stillman and who tried unsuccessfully to obtain financial support for the child from the banker.
WA26 June 10, 1923
MR. FORD AND OTHER POLITICAL
Well, there has been quite a stir in the Political news. The big news of the last week was the Ford for President talk, made more important by Mr. Hearst announcing that he would back him if he run on an independent ticket.1
It only shows you what both of the old line parties are degenerating into. Nobody wants to associate with either one of them.
I think that it will be the biggest boost Mr. Ford will have—that he don’t belong to either party. It’s getting so if a man wants to stand well socially he can’t afford to be seen with either the Democrats or the Republicans.
I expect, if it was left to a vote right now by all the people, Mr. Ford would be voted for by more people than any other man. But, if it come to a question of counting those votes, I doubt if he even run third. For, with all the mechanical improvements they have in the way of adding machines, and counting machines, they can’t seem to invent anything to take the place of the old Political mode of counting. Two for me, and one for you.
More men have been elected between Sundown and Sunup, than ever were elected between Sunup and Sundown.
And, say, talking about Presidential Candidates, another one of the likely starters in 1924 Handicap for the 75 thousand a year Grubstake made one of the most impressive showings of his entire career during the past week. And that wasn’t anybody but the present Skipper of the Mayflower, Mr. Gamaliel Harding. He spoke on Decoration day at Arlington Cemetery, and when I say he spoke, what I mean is, he said something.
Our public men are speaking every day on something but they ain’t saying a thing. But when Mr. Harding said that, in case of another war that capital would be drafted the same as men, he put over a thought that, if carried out, would do more to stop Wars than all the International Courts and Leagues of Nations in the world.
Of the three things to prevent wars, League of Nations, International Court, and this Drafting of Capital, this last one is so far ahead of the others there is no comparison. When that Wall Street Millionaire knows that you are not only going to come into his office and take his Secretary and Clerks but that you come in to get his dough, say, boy, there wouldn’t be any war. You will hear the question: “yes, but how could you do it.?”
Say, you take a boy’s life, don’t you? When you take boys away you take everything they have in the world, that is, their life. You send them to war and what part of that life you don’t use you let him come back with it. Perhaps you may use all of it. Well, that’s the way to do with wealth. Take all he has, give him a bare living the same as you do the Soldier. Give him the same allowance as the soldier—all of us that stay home. The government should own everything we have, use what it needs to conduct the whole expenses of the war and give back what is left, if there is any, the same as you give back to the boy what he has left.
There can be no profiteering. The government owns everything till the war is over. Every man, woman, and child, from Henry Ford and John D. down, get their dollar and a quarter a day the same as the soldier.2
The only way a man could profiteer in war like that would be to raise more children.
If Mr. Harding went before the people on a platform of that kind and put it over, he could remain President till his whiskers got so long he could make a fortune just picking the lost golf balls out of them. But, no, it will never get anywhere. The rich will say it ain’t practical, and the poor will never get a chance to find out if it is or not.
Lincoln made a wonderful speech under similar conditions one time: “That this Nation under God, shall have a new Birth of Freedom, and that Government of the People, by the People, for the People, shall not perish from this earth.”
Now, every time a Politician gets in a speech, he digs up this Gettysburg quotation. He recites it every Decoration day and practices the opposite the other 364 days.
If our Government is by the people, how is it that the candidate withthe most votes by the people, going into a Presidential Convention never got nominated?
Now Lincoln meant well, but he only succeeded in supplying an applause line for every political speaker who was stuck for a finish. And that’s the way with Mr. Harding; he certainly meant well, for I can imagine his feelings after having to mingle for the last 2 years with some of our War Millionaires who are hanging around Washington, just laying off between Wars.
And, in after years, so will this speech of Mr. Harding’s be quoted, but the minute the fellow gets through quoting it he will go sign a War Contract for Cost Plus 10 Percent.
In our Decoration Day speech-making Mr. Taft spoke at some unveiling of a monument in Cincinnati.3
He made an alibi for the Supreme Court. I
don’t know what prompted him to tell the dead what the Court was doing, unless it was some man who had died of old age waiting for a decision from that August body.
We can always depend on Judge Gary for a weekly laugh in his speeches.4
But last week he had the prize wheeze of his career. He had his
accomplices make an investigation of the Steel Industry, and they turned in a report that it was much more beneficial to man to work 12 hours a day than 8. They made this report so alluring that it is apt to make people who read it decide to stay the extra four hours on their jobs, just through the Health and enjoyment they get out of it.
I never knew Steel work was so easy till I read that report. Why the advantages they enumerated in this report would almost make a Bootlegger trade jobs with a Steel Worker. But here is the kick. Judge Gary got up to read this report before the stock holders who had made it out. He read for one hour in favor of a 12 hour day. Then he was so exhausted they had to carry him out, and Charles Schwab had to go on reading the sheet.5
Now, if the judge couldn’t work an hour, how did he expect his workers to do 12 every day?
After Schwab read for two hours the audience was carried out.
It was the greatest boost for the 12 hour day I ever heard of. I am thinking of going out there and working for them, but, if it is such a pleasure to work 12 hours, I am going to try and get them to let me work 18 at least, for I don’t believe I would get enough pleasure out of just 12.
So if you don’t hear of me next week you will know I just enjoyed myself to death in Judge Gary’s Steel Mills in Pittsburg.
1Henry Ford was often mentioned as a presidential possibility in the 1920s. For William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2.
2For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 3:N 6.
3William Howard Taft, Republican president of the United States from 1909 to 1913; chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1921 until his death in 1930. Taft spoke in Cleveland on May 30 at the dedication of a monument to Salmon Portland Chase, one of his predecessors as chief justice.
4Gary (see WA 23:N 3) was taken ill on May 25 while reading a report to the American Iron and Steel Institute from a committee that had investigated the steel industry and had recommended the retention of the twelve-hour day.
5For Charles M. Schwab see WA 3:N 6.
WA27 June 17, 1923
WAITING FOR THE PRINCE
AND THE DEMOCRATS
Well, we had quite a few notables into our tavern of beauty last week. Our constant audience was Will Hays (Ex-man of letters), but now engaged in the lucrative position of making movies appear at least outwardly respectable, and he has done wonderful work.1
He has the morals all adjusted and up in good shape. Of course, the pictures are no better. But I tell you it’s a big source of satisfaction, when looking at a picture, to be able to say, “Well, that was a terrible picture, but Will Hays certainly has got those players’ morals looking better.”
Well, Will brought in as his guest among various other notables, Mr. George Harvey, the late ambassador to the weddings of the municipal court of Jesse James (somewhere in England).2
Well, that gave me a good chance to relate to the audience a few little personal characteristics, and say he sure did prove himself a good fellow. I introduced him to the audience and he stood up, and, after insistent applause, he thanked them. And he pulled a real gag, which showed that his sense of humor had not been dulled by coming in contact with objects foreign to it.
In the show, Mr. Brandon Tynan, a splendid legitimate actor, gives an imitation of a notable character.3
The deception is remarkable. Well, Mr. Harvey said: “I hope I am as good an imitation of an ambassador as Mr. Brandon Tynan gave of another notable.”
Now, that is what I call quick thinking. Or, I should say, on account of his just returning from England, that was “unexcelled repartee.”
I told him that on account of us carrying such little trade with foreign countries I doubt very much if we will send an ambassador over any more. I told him how glad we were to see him, but were just a little disappointed that he did not have on his knee breeches. All of which he took in the very best of spirit. Well, naturally he would, as a diplomat’s job is to make something appear what it ain’t.
You think I say something bad about these prominent men. You ought to hear what he used to say about them in that paper he had, called Harvey’s Weekly.4
THE HIGHEST BIDDERS
Why, he got so bad he had offers from both political sides to buy him off. The Republicans got him, on account of this ambassadorship to offer, as, of course, the Democrats had nothing to offer him. They didn’t have anything for themselves. So now they have got to keep him in work or he will revive the paper again.
Of course, you must always remember, before Harvey and I say anything about these men, we have the goods on them. They can’t sue us. The only thing they can do is to buy us off. So I am just going to string along and wait until the Democrats get in. Perhaps by then the Prince of Wales will have learned to ride horseback, and he may be able to get married, so of course then we will need a representative over there again.5
So I, after various refusals, will probably accept.
Now, all I have to wait for is the Prince to learn to ride and the Democrats to get in, both seemingly impossible feats.
And, girls hold your breath, sitting there with the Ambass. was Mr. Howard Chandler Christy, who I also introduced.6
He had just finished a wonderful picture for the steamship Leviathan of Mr. Harding. I told the audience I bet they didn’t know he painted men’s pictures, but I knew it because I was at Will Hays’s house one time and I saw one he painted of Will.
So I knew then he was slumming in art. And what a beautiful wife Christy has!
Well, Mr. Al Smith of New York signed the bill, as I predicted to you all the time he would.7
He knew what he was going to do. He didn’t have to get all those people up there to make up his mind for him. We will see now whether he lands in the White House or the ash heap. Sentiment in this country is overwhelmingly wet. But the votes in this country are overwhelmingly dry.
Now, no matter who you are or what business you are in, you appreciate brains and a man that uses and succeeds by his brains, no matter even if you don’t like prize fighting. Well, the audience last week gave a big reception to the little 125-pound featherweight champion of the world, Johnny Kilbane of Cleveland.8
He came up in my dressing room to see me—a little gray-headed gentlemanly man you would take for a banker or a businessman. He apologized to me for his wife laughing during the show. He said she would get to laughing and he wasn’t able, on account of her size, to stop her. I wanted to kill him for trying to stop anybody from laughing in a show. We get it so seldom.
Well, since that night he has lost the championship. He was knocked out by a war-scarred French Poilu, and the reason I am writing this is that he said, “I lost fair and square and I am going to quit, and go home to the farm.”9
No excuses, no alibis, no nothing. He had held the championship
in his class longer than any man ever did. So what a brainy finish to a career that was based on brains! And the next time you bring your wife to a show I am in, Johnny, you let her laugh if she will. If you don’t, I‘ll jump down there and maul you myself, now that I see it can be done.
New York is in the midst of what they call a Silver Jubilee.10
It’s celebrating the 25th anniversary of something, nobody can find out just what. There is no reason to just pick out 25 years and start celebrating it. But I think the reason was that this was as far back as any of them connected with the city could remember.
Personally, I think it was to celebrate the starting of the Hat checking privilege, which originated here and has been copied successfully everywhere else, but never with the finesse that it has in the Mother Lodge here.
Or, on account of being called a Silver Jubilee, it may be celebrating the passing away of all Silver coins, as that small denomination has vanished entirely here.
They have an exhibit representing progress, showing how much faster we cross the streets compared to what we used to. Now it’s a run, and if you don’t make it, and the probabilities are you won’t they show how quick they can get you to the hospital, so you can die there instead of en route, as you used to.
Then they show the modern hearses, which go so fast they have killed more people than they carried. You know we don’t stop to realize it now, but in the old days it was nothing for a man to be late to his own funeral. But now, if you are going to a friend’s funeral and happen to be held up in a traffic jam a few minutes, you will arrive there just as his widow is coming out of the church with the next husband, counting the insurance money.
Also, in this exhibition of progress of 25 years, they show the old saloon where you had to walk to the corner to even get a drink. With the modern method it’s brought right to your home.
It showed how the city’s money was spent for city government. Not all of it, of course, but the 20 per cent, which is spent for it, it showed.
It showed police methods years ago compared to now. In the old days they had to hunt till they found the crook. With modern methods they have his finger prints. So what’s the use getting him, if you know who he is. Then, if he ever surrenders, you know if he is telling the truth or not.
It shows the advancement of the art of ticket speculating. An Irishman named Louie Cohen was the only one in town 25 years ago.11
Now there are hundreds of them in offices where a stranger in the city can go and buy the last row, without going near the box office.
It showed 25 years ago they still had a few street cars pulled by horses, but they were up on the level of the ground and were very unsanitary—bad air and everything. Now it shows you how you can be in a nice tunnel under the ground where the air is good. You know it’s good because there have been hundreds using it before you got a hold of it.
Then, if you got stuck in old cars, you had to walk to get another car. But now you can stay right under there, sometimes all day, and read over somebody’s shoulder and not get out at all. Oh, I tell you things do move.
Then they had a parade. Everything nowadays has to annoy with a parade. They gave all the city employees a day off without pay, and all they had to do was to march 20 miles.
1For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
2For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8; for Jesse James see WA 14:N 11.
3Brandon Tynan, Irish-born American actor and playwright who first appeared in the Ziegfeld Follies in 1922. He was noted for his impersonations, especially of producer David Belasco and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.
4Harvey was editor of Harvey’s Weekly from 1918 to 1921.
5For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
6Howard Chandler Christy, American illustrator and painter who worked for several magazines, including Cosmopolitan. Christy painted many portraits, including ones of Warren G. Harding, Will H. Hays, George Harvey and Will Rogers. He was married to the former Nancy May Palmer.
7Smith (see WA 5:N 5) signed a bill on June 1 that repealed the New York State Prohibition Enforcement Act.
8John Patrick “Johnny” Kilbane, American prizefighter who held the world featherweight title from 1912 to 1923.
9Eugene Criqui, French boxer who won the world featherweight title from Kilbane on June 6 in New York City but lost it less than two months later. A veteran of World War I, Criqui fought professionally as the “Wounded Wonder.”
10New York City residents celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary in 1923 of the unification of the five boroughs into the City of Greater New York.
11Louis “Louie” Cohen, New York City theater ticket speculator and business manager.
WA28 June 24, 1923
ON TOUR BOOSTING CHILI CON CARNE
Well, folks, I am writing my little Swan Song to New York. I am like Merton of the movies; I am going out into the broad spaces.1
I have been for 52 weeks, one solid year telling my mangy little jokes to Broadway. I only came into New York expecting to stay three or four months. They have been mighty good to me here, but I want to get out home and give them a rest for a while, and maybe in the year or so that I am gone I may possibly learn a new joke or two for you all to hear when I come back.
I have spoken at so many Banquets during the year that when I get home I will feel disappointed if my wife or one of the children don’t get up at dinner and say, “We have with us this evening a man who, I am sure, needs no introduction.”
Of course, a great many will think that it is Dyspepsia that is driving me away from behind the old Banquet Table. But it is not. There is only one way a person can survive a year of banquets and not wind up with a Burlesque Stomach, that is, not to eat there at all. And a better plan still—don’t eat there, but try to get there late enough to miss the speeches too. If you follow those two plans you will never have a spoiled banquet.
Now I will tell you how I did. There is a little Chili joint on Broadway and 47th Street where there is just a counter and a few stools, but, comrades, what chili! Well, on any night I had to go to a banquet, I would go in there and play about two rounds of enchilades and a few encores on the chili, and I want to tell you that I was fortified, not only to refuse anything that might be offered to me at the dinner, but I would just sit through almost any kind of speeches.
I tell you that is what has made Texas. Did you ever listen to a Texan make a speech? Now, you thought it sounded terrible, didn’t you? That is why they sound so good at home and so bad away from home. Now, you take a man on that banquet routine, and he ain’t in any shape to listen to the worst.
We will, just as the old Doctor says, diagnose the Banquet Menu, they are all alike. They start with a little Fruit Cocktail, as they call it. I don’t know where they get the cocktail part of the name. After eating it, it’s almost a wonder also where they got the fruit.
Then comes thin Consomme in cups, (you know you never want to give a man too much Consomme. Hot water ain’t good for you before you eat.) Then, thirdly, comes the fish (generally weakfish). That’s to match the speeches. Then comes that inevitable Chicken, broiled, of course. It was broiled before the guests were even invited to the affair, so naturally it’s dry. That is so there will be no grease to splatter on your white shirt, which you had such a time getting the buttons into.
Sorter what they call garnishing. In the same corral with this chicken there is always little Saratoga Chips. They have been calling from a box in the Grocery store for months to you. Then, on the side where the Bottle used to sit, is a quarter of a head of lettuce, swamped by Bolsheviki, or Russian, dressing. Nobody but a Russian on a Revolution could ever thought of a concoction like that.
Now for the big surprise. I bet you can’t guess what it is. It’s Ice Cream. It’s different colors (that’s a novelty), and if it’s a big banquet and they have spared no expense, it will be in the shape of whatever the organization represents. For instance for the Automobile Dinner it was a spark plug. Then, for the Real Estate Dinner, the cream was patterned in the shape of a little mortgage. For the Bankers, it was a Blackjack, or Billy.
After the Ice Cream, of course, comes the Coffee, served Demitasse. That’s to prevent any possibility of drinking out of the saucer. This coffee is to try and keep the guests awake during the speeches. But, according to my observation, it has proven an entire failure.
Now, you know a man can’t listen to good heavy speeches on diet like that, especially if the speaker is a man with a message. You know a man with a message is a whole lot harder to listen to than any other species of
speaker. That is why I recommend Chili. It’s the only thing I have ever found that will strengthen a man up to listen to all he hears.
Now, as I say, I am getting out. I have talked more and said less in the last year in New York than any man outside of Public life. So me for Los Angeles and the Movies for at least a year and perhaps two. You see, when I left there a year and a half ago, they were cleaning up the Morals of Hollywood and I had to get out. But now that we both have reformed, I am returning. It seems that Rudolph Valentino can’t get his troubles straightened out, so I am going to take his place.2
Rudolph has been out on the road with some kind of Medicine Show, selling some kind of mud that goes on your face, and they say that if you use enough of it it will get you into the Movies.
They tell me in towns where he played that, after he left, they found girls mired down in every mudhole you come to. They wanted to get in the Movies, not only with their face, but all over.
Now, I have had as much mud on my face in my time as anybody my age. I can’t remember the day from boyhood up that I didn’t have a few streaks of it dried on there. Still, they have never come and asked me to go out and show what it did for me. So don’t believe all you see advertised, ’Cause, while Mud may have made Rudolph’s face, it durn near ruined mine.
Now, I was thinking of going out exploiting some worthy commodity, and I have figured it out that that Chili I was talking to you about a while ago would be about the best thing I know for a suffering humanity. You know, that would be a Godsend for those Rotary, Kiwanis and Commercial Clubs. For those 75-cent Luncheons are terrible, and those speeches on “How I Double My Sales” are nearly as bad. So, if you see a Speical Car touring the country in opposition to Rudy and his Mud, it wll be me and my Chili Con Carne.
You see, I have figured that if Mr. McAdoo could go out to Los Angeles and live and be away from his Public, I could do it too.3
Besides there are just two towns in the United States where everybody goes. One is New York, so’s to get where you can act different from what you vote, and the other is Los Angeles, to have a test made to see how you screen.
So don’t think I am letting these prominent men get away scot free. I will continue to give you the low down on them every week, as they all come out there every winter, as they have to see their constituents, and I will be able to find out more about them out there. You can’t find out anything in New York. Everybody comes there, but on account of the Volstead law not applying in that state, why, they are never sober enough to tell you anything. So I really think I can give you more details from Los Angeles on the Great American People, their habits, manners, and customs.
Then, too, I see where Bryan and Borah both are going out there to speak, so things can’t be so bad—yet.4
I was going to do like President
Harding and work my way across the continent by speaking. Then I thought well, that wouldn’t hardly be right; it would just take the edge off his trip.
He has got a tough trip ahead of him. He is a hitting that stubble field and roastin’ ear country right in the hottest weather, when wheat is only half a crop, oats is cheap, and babies are teething. Its going to take an awful lot of perspiring to get them interested in any part of Europe.
1Merton of the Movies, a satiric novel about a young man who aspires to a career as a matinee idol. Written in 1922 by Harry Leon Wilson, the book was adapted for the stage in 1923.
2For Rudolph Valentino see WA 9:N 9.
3For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
4For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7; for William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6.