Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA249 October 2, 1927
FAMOUS WRITER GOES HOUSE-HUNTING
All I know is just what I read in the papers, or what happens right here in the commonwealth of old Beverly Hills.
All you readers know O. O. McIntyre, the writer that can just write about pretty near nothing and make it mighty interesting.1
Well Odd, (as that's his name) instead of going to Paris as he generally does every summer why he picked Beverly Hills and he come right through Claremore, Okla., to get here, can you beat that?
Well Odd is a great friend of Mr. Hogg of Houston, Texas.2
He is the son of ex-Governor Hogg of Texas.3
The best Governor the state ever had up to Dan Moody.4
They date time in Texas from when Hogg was Governor. Well Hogg comes out here. It gets pretty hot in Houston just sitting there watching seventeen railroads meet what Houston humorously calls the sea. Now Odd writes about all the odd and funny things that happen to him. But he has in no article told you the funniest one that has happened to their party since he come out.
Everybody in Beverly has been getting a laugh out of it and I have been waiting for him to say something, but he hasen't so here it is. Mr. Hogg wanted to rent a nice home here, something that a writer wouldent be ashamed to visit in. Well Odd was out here staying at the hotel. Odd's writings are just about the most popular of any being written and this man Hogg is one of Texas' most prosperous citizens.
Well they started out the whole party to get them a house. Pauline Frederick is playing on the stage in England and is a big hit over there and she has a lovely home here which was for rent.5
Well they got a list of a lot of homes and went out and looked at them. Now I don't know what kind of shape the party was in when they all went out home hunting. But evidently Odd had brought something on with him or Hogg had some Texas extract. Well they come back and announced to the Real Estate people that they would take the Frederick house. Now right down the same street about two or three blocks is the Whittier Home, Oil Millionaires and one of the old families of Beverly.6
It's a beautiful big expensive home that occupies a whole block.
Well a day or so later cars begin to arrive at the Whittier home. It was a mixed caravan of New York Hotel life and Houston hospitality. The first section piled out and started dragging the contents right in, when a Whittier servant looked out and beheld this troop that was on the verge of piling in on them.
"Here, what's the big idea of all the immigrant stuff?" Of course you are never too surprised out around here for you always take it for the movies and figure that it's some company trying to sneak a scene. The servants thought it was the Camera and prop cars. When the Hogg family moves the colored servant problem of Texas moves with 'em. The poor Whittier servant thought that it was somebody shooting a darkest Africa picture. Or maybe it was a "Mammy" Picture and the poor thing felt sure it was something like that when she got one peek at Odd, for if there ever was a civilian that dresses like a Director it's Odd.
That is, he is what they try to look like. For nobody can wear those check clothes and white spats just like old Odd.
Well there was the Director right there and there was the company. But no one had made arrangements to use the "location." The maid says to Odd, "You can't shoot this place, they don't allow picture companies here!" By this time the Mammys was unloading hams and sides of Texas hickory smoked bacon. They was dragging out sacks of yellow meal, to get the corn pones ready. One old faithful male Senegambian was nursing carefully an oil painting of Buffalo Bayou before a freighter had drove the catfish out.
Hogg was carefully watching the unloading of trunks containing the liquid contents of the waving cornfields. Odd was holding his dog in his
arms and the servant mistook it for a scrip. In the meantime the Whittier servants had assembled en masse, to try and withstand this Galopolis and Dixie onslaught.7
Odd tried to tell them that they wasn't a movie company but that they had rented the house and had come out to take possession. The servant said, "You never rented this house. This house is not for rent."
Well, Odd shifted the flea hound over to the other arm and set the corona down and the Hoggs and McIntyres went into conference. They then
decided to issue the following ultimatum. "Well, this is Pauline Frederick's home isn't it?" When told that it wasn't they wouldn't believe it. It looked like open warfare. The men and maid servants of a Texas gentleman versus the House and Garden crew of well managed California estate. Somebody in a sober moment said, "Maybe this is not the house we looked at."
The White Whittier servants stood their ground and the blackamoors seceded. The Mammy commenced reloading the hams and hominy and two jugs of Sorgum. When Odd got his wife and his pup and his spats and his typewriter all safely packed and the host saw that all the provender was
aboard the Caravan moved away. They went back to the Real Estate office, got directions as to the Frederick place which had been all prepared and was waiting for them. They drove to the front of it, got one look and woulden't go in.
They had been in Pauline's at first and it had looked all right to them, but after getting a flash at Whittier's this diden't look so big. They went back to the Hotel and rounded up a new list of names and started out. This time the Real Estate firm sent a still camera man with them with instructions that if they found a home they liked to get a picture of it so that when they come back to get the Eathopians and the dog and the typewriter, why they would get to the right place. So they landed up at Corinne Griffith's home and have had a wonderful pleasant summer.In the meantime the Whittiers have locked their big iron front gate.8
Funny thing about homes in Beverly. People come out looking for the movie people's homes to see where they live and they expect to see them
in all the big finest ones. Why, there is people in some lines of businesses that have homes that some of us movie people's homes woulden't be big enough for garages for 'em. Doug and Mary live right by Syl Spaulding (more oil) and Syl has a pipe organ room that Doug's house and grounds would get lost inside of.9
Syl has a dog house bigger than my home. So when you come to Beverly don't think every big fine home is a movie star's.
So the next time you are writing a fan letter to old Odd you tell him to tell all the things that happen to him. Or tell him to do his house hunting sober.
1Oscar Odd McIntyre, American newspaper editor and writer. His column, "New York Day by Day," was syndicated in more than 500 newspapers.
2William Clifford Hogg, Houston attorney and oilman; eldest son of former Governor James Stephen Hogg.
3James Stephen Hogg, Democratic governor of Texas from 1891 to 1895.
4Daniel James "Dan" Moody, Jr., Democratic governor of Texas from 1927 to 1931.
5Pauline Frederick, American leading lady of silent films and early "talkies"; close friend of the Rogers family.
6Max Whittier, California oilman and one of the original developers of Beverly Hills.
7McIntyre spent much of his youth in Gallipolis, Ohio.
8Corinne Griffith, American silent screen star who made a fortune in motion pictures, real estate, and writing.
9For Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., see WA 244:N 6; for Mary Pickford see WA 233:N 2; for Silsby Spalding see WA 244:N 8.
WA250 October 9, 1927
WHY BIG MEN STAY OUT OF POLITICS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Things have begun to kind of stir now. As the cold wind increases in the Fall, politics starts blowing. McAdoo's statement was the biggest thing of the past month. It's too bad he didn't think of it ahead of Coolidge's statement, for then he would have put Cal in a hole and had him looking like he was imitating W. G.1
But that's one thing Coolidge generally beats 'em all to, the original ideas. He either does one or two things: he does what nobody thinks he will do, or he don't do nothing. Generally, the latter. Now I think W. G.'s statement puts him a better position than he was before, and as far as being the candidate he can always take that at the last minute. Smith has more support right now, but you must never forget the idea that McAdoo with his dry scheme has the best platform.2
If Smith had McAdoo's dry plank he would coast in, because as I have often told you, the voting sentiment is dry.
You see all this talk now on politics is just like Dempsey and Tunney playing golf during their what was supposed to be training.3
It has no bearing on the what will take place next November a year from now. This stuff they are all doing now is just a few pre liminaries before the big bout. Congress is getting uneasy to start muddling things up again. The country has been going along too good here lately so they will start hindering progress around December the first.
One of our California Senators, Mr. Shortridge, has already announced that he would block any Flood Legislation unless they did something for
There is a great bit of statesmanship! "I won't help you protect anybody's life unless you help me put over my local project." They are further apart as problems than they are in milage. The Boulder Dam is the same proposition as the Roosevelt Dam in Arizona, or any other local River project. It's bigger, of course, and it takes more to put it over, but the Mississippi is not a light and power and irrigation project. It's a humanitarian business. We got to fix them so they won't get drowned, not so they can merely get cheap water for their swimming pools, or power to run their dishwasher or floor sweeper. One's a necessity and the other is a convenience.
I live out here and I know the need of more water for the city of Los Angeles in the next few years. And they should have it, and they should
pay for it the same as other cities pay for theirs. Our lawn sprinkling needs should not be compared with the needs of thousands of people on rafts and housetops floating down to join the ocean. Every little old one-cylinder Senator, and punctured-tired Congressman from all over the country is going to try and use the Mississippi Flood Legislation to try and help put over his little local scheme. I woulden't be surprised to see some of them comparing the Verdigris River at Claremore, Oklahoma, to the needs of the Mississippi. That is if the Congressman thought he could get an appropriation out of it.
And that's the sad part about politics. Those are the men that will get elected every time, is the one that is able to hornswoggle the Government out of something (no matter how we got it) for some kind of a scheme for his own district's special benefit. A man that looked after the interests of the majority in politics wouldent even be nominated the second time. He has got to come in with some loot from somewhere, and the more he drags in the more solid he is at the next election. If he lives on the Atlantic or Pacific coast what does the needs of the Mississippi River residents mean to him? Get an appropriation for a harbor (where nature never intended one to be) or get a river dammed up, or get some new Post Offices, or get something; don't come back empty handed. If it was in private life and he put over some of the polite banditry that he does in official life he would be caught with the swag and sent to jail instead of back to Congress or the
Then they wonder why our real big men never go into politics. How a man could in any way do one thing that would delay or hamper the progress
of Legislation to assist the Mississippi River problem would be a mystery to me. Suppose the ocean was washing in and continually overflowing
Long Island and New York City. That would be the Government's problem the same as the Mississippi is, and the bulkheads and sea walls to keep the water off New York should no more be linked up with a dam that is to be built on a river somewhere else than Coolidge and Jim Reed should be made to sleep with each other.5
As far as the life protection of the two go, which they try to use as an alibi, one has imperilled lives and property every Spring since Columbus made a forced landing on an Indian's private bathing beach; while the other river has never bothered anybody. They been argueing out here for ten years between the states over who will get the principal part of the loot when the dam is built. Each one is trying to go back home telling them that he put one over on California, or that he outsmarted Arizona. If they were really on the level every one of them they could settle the thing in an hour. Now Wyoming and Colorado and Utah and all those claim they ought to get something out of the dam, for the water passed by their place one time. Montana will be in on it next saying, "Well here is where the whole idea of the river originated. If we hadn't started it out you wouldn't have anything to argue over."
If a state wants the water why don't they get it as it goes by, not wait until it gets past and then put up a holler for it? Why don't each state put in an equal amount, build the dam, and each take an equal amount out in water or its equivalent in money value? No, each state thinks they have some particular claim to it that the others don't have. California claims the river really belongs to them as the river has never seen Los Angeles, and that it should have a chance to be taken over and see the town, that Arizona has nothing of interest to show the river, so why monkey its time away going there?
1McAdoo (see WA 224:N 1), who was a prominent candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1920 and 1924, early took himself out of the race for the nomination in 1928.
2For Al Smith see WA 221:N 7.
3For Jack Dempsey see WA 241:N 6; for Gene Tunney see WA 229:N 7 and WA 247:N 2.
4Samuel Morgan Shortridge, Republican United States senator from California from 1921 to 1933.
5For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2.
WA251 October 16, 1927
WILL FINDS HE'S USEFUL CITIZEN
Two years ago I blew into a State Capitol to play one of my little Concert engagements. Got in town in the morning early and one of the Newspaper Editors asked me if I would like to go up to the Capitol and see the Governor. That he was a very pleasant and splendid man. Well of course I was tickled to death at the honor, and we went up. There was several in his private office as the Editor took me right in. I had also noticed several country looking folks sitting outside the office. Well we met him and he was mighty sociable and nice. We exchanged a lot of the usual Democratic hard luck stories. Of what a great party it was but just wasent understood. He asked me if I had ever been out to see the home of a famous President who was buried there. I told him I had never been there. Course I knew what a great man he had been. But at the same time I had heard enough to know that an "Injun" dident exactly rate high with him, and being a direct and proud descendant of the Cherokees, I knew he had quite a lot to do with running them out and making them go west. But on the other hand, I knew that he had unconsciously favored us in the long run, so I forgave him. Well the Governor said he wanted to take me out there himself and show me the
place, I told him I dident want him to do a thing like that. That I knew he was busy and had no time to tour me around. But he insisted and phoned for his car. While he was waiting they took me up to the Historical Library rooms and there I started in an acquaintance with John Trotwood Moore, the best historical writer on our Southern Heroes.1
Don't miss his books.
Well the Govenor drove us out there, through a beautiful country and right in the most wonderful part is the old home of this unique President. It was late and the place was closed for Tourists, and as there is no gas or electric lights in the house it looked like we wouldent get to see the inside. But the Govenor dug up the caretaker and when he saw the Govenor, why he got a Candle and we went through the place by candle light. I won't dwell on what we saw for instead of prowling off to Europe to see some old junk that means nothing to our lives, why go and see this old place. On the way back to town I was thanking the Govenor for my good fortune in having him show me the place personally, and wasting all that valuable time on me. When he told me the following story, he was on his second term as Govenor of this state. And at daybreak in the morning he was faced with the first execution of a prisoner he had ever had. "He is young Boy, oh 24, or 25, married and has a family. He is true mountaineer, from the mountains in the western part of the State. He killed an old man who was storekeeper,
supposedly for his money. He was tried, convicted. The boy claimed the killing was accidental. His plea for life imprisonment has been refused by our higher court and all that stands between that boy's life and death is me.
I have been to see the boy myself several times. He is not the sullen, slouchy type of mountaineer boy at all. You could dress him up and you
would mistake him for one of our College boys. He had a very good record, but the evidence showed that he had committed the crime in some way. I don't believe in Capital punishment. I don't believe God gave us the right to willfully take anybody's life. But I swore to uphold the constitution of the State when I took office. I have gone over every phase of the case. I have talked with his people. I have talked with the witnesses. I have tried every means within my power to find some reason to keep from taking that boy's life. And do you know what is one of the main reasons that makes me hesitate in giving him life imprisonment, is the very qualities of the boy himself. He is not afraid of man, beast, or the Devil. He is absolutely fearless, and if he went to the scaffold before we see the light of another day, he will walk there more steadily than we will get out of this very car. Now if I commute his sentence I know that he is the type of boy that could not stand life imprisonment. As sure as we are here, he would at some time, with that absolute fearlessness attack and kill some guards, and perhaps take more life in escaping, fear of being shot would mean nothing to him.
I am not a rich man. But I would give all that I possess, and start life again without a penny, if this thing hadent come up. It shouldent be that these things should rest absolutely in one man's hands. It's asking too much of a human being, a Govenor has enough to do without taking life. I truly wish at this moment that I had been defeated for office. And now Will, for that's what I am going to call you, that's all we know you by, I want to thank you instead of you thanking me for this trip. With your jokes and your incessant chatter you have kinder helped me to forget this afternoon. You could not have come along on a more opportune day. I would have been besieged every moment with people with pleas and partitions. I want you to come by my house a few minutes and cheer my wife up a bit. This thing is as hard for her as me. I can't go to your Lecture tonight. I had intended too. But these people will be coming to my house all evening and through the night.
I want to give you one of Bob Taylor's books, with his wonderful speeches and Lectures in them.2
I want to autograph it for you. You would have loved Taylor. He was a great man. He was a Govenor, he could appreciate my feelings tonight. Oh if I just had some grounds to do something."
Well as I left his house and hurried to the hall to annoy the audience I felt, "Well maybe a Comedian is some good for something anyhow." I left the town after the show rode all night to another city. But the minute I arrived there, I bought a morning paper. It was in the same State, I nervously looked to see if there was headlines of an execution. There was, I knew then that duty to a sworn pledge had outweighed conscience. He had explained the case with so much feeling that I had gone through a bad night myself. I felt however that I had met a man with a real heart. I couldent ever say that a Politician dident have any real feeling. When I played there last year he had been elected to his third term as Govenor, a case unparalleled in that State. We had another and more cheerful visit and he was in my front row that night. He won't be there when I go back next time, for the great Govenor of all dident reprieve his sentence. I'll bet he will look for old mountaineer boy up there. And I wouldent be surprised he don't find him. For if he did do the crime, I bet the great Govenor will find some extenuating circumstances that he will keep him there with him. This man was Govenor Peay of the great state of Tennessee, who in some histories and records will go down as signing the Anti Evolution Bill, but in the hearts of everybody that ever met him and knew him, he will go down as a
real man with a soul and love for his fellow man.3
1John Trotwood Moore, American novelist, poet, and journalist whose writings stressed life in the South and in his native Tennessee. His Hearts of Hickory (1926) was a romantic novel based on the early life of President Andrew Jackson.
2Robert Love "Bob" Taylor, Democratic governor of Tennessee from 1887 to 1891 and 1897 to 1899; United States senator from 1907 until his death in 1912.
3Austin Peay, Democratic governor of Tennessee from 1923 until his death in 1927. Although he was personally opposed to the measure, Peay was pressured to sign an infamous anti-evolution bill in 1925.
WA252 October 23, 1927
MOVIE STARS MOB "LINDY"
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I run into as I prowl around. Everybody that meets or sees Charley Lindbergh writes about it. That poor boy has been written and talked about more than the war. Now, the reason I havent given my personal feelings at meeting him was because I hadent met him, yet. I had my opinion all formed before hand, just what I would like to think he was, and I was like the rest, crazy about him, so when the chance come to meet him I sure did grab it.
He was in Los Angeles one day and San Diego the next. I was working all day at the studio the day he was here and couldent see him land. But
in the afternoon he was to be at a reception, or tea, or whatever those little things are that are for no reason at all only to spoil your appetite for dinner. (Of course this was the only one that ever had a cause for happening. It was to meet Charley.) It was given by the movie people at the Ambassador Hotel so all the stars could see him. I was to go to San Diego to speak at his dinner the next night. But I went up to this tea affair this afternoon so I could get some advance looks. It was all very nice. The very people that you would have thought would have known enough to let the boy alone, and not autograph something. From the time he sat down between Mary Pickford and Marion Davies why the autographing of objects started.1
They didn't let him eat. They dident let him say a word, they dident let him do a thing but sign his name to everything in Hollywood. Now these
are the very people that know what it is to go somewhere and then have some one run up with a card or an autograph album and want you to sign
it. Well those that dident have anything for him to sign on rushed home and got something, or phoned their press agents to bring something. He signed on the back of old movie contracts, on old back number marriage certificates, on recent and long forgotten divorce papers. He couldent have been any busier when he was looking for Paris in the dark than he was here.
From the time the doors opened till he run out of ink and excused himself and went to his room to dress for his banquet. He hadn't had as much as a wafer, he hadent had time to look up. He just smiled as good as possible and kept writing.
I will give Mary credit. She realized that this penmanship had about reached the saturation point. She got up and circulated around the crowd
and pleaded with them quietly to cease. But not that bunch! They had got the smell of ink and it was in their nostrils and they was anxious for the kill. It wasent a tea, it was an exhibition of penmanship. It was an autograph party and Lindbergh was the host. Demille had him autograph each of his commandments.2
Sam Goldwyn had him sign a paper that if he ever married, that he would be allowed to stage the wedding.3
Louie B. Mayer wanted him to autograph the Metro-Goldwyn lion.4
Tom Mix had him autograph a hat, and it still had room on it for 38 thousand more names.5
The writing was supervised by Thalberg.6
Ink by Carter, Pen by Waterman.
I will give Rupert Hughes credit.7
He wasent in the autograph line.
Being just a struggling author maybe he dident have anything for poor "Slim" to write on. Personally I think Rupert was just sitting there thinking up some devilment that George Washington had got in, that the daughters of the Revolution hadent heard about, and he was on the verge of telling 'em. What kept Lindbergh so long was that in a good many cases he had to turn the linen over so that he wouldent have to write over the "Ambassador." If he could have written on silverware I hate to think what the cost would have been to that poor hotel. I bet Lindy cursed the day he learned to write.
Well, the helpmate and I went down to San Diego that night, and the next afternoon one of the most inspiring sights it has ever been my good
fortune to witness took place. It was at the field when he circled it, getting ready to land. Here he was coming back to the very starting point, the place where the plane was made. Other cities got a kick but not like this. When he was coming down, you was afraid to watch him, you was afraid something would happen toward the finish of a perfect round trip. For the plane was really coming back here.
When he taxied up to the hanger, and got out there was workmen and helpers that had built the plane, men who had known him for the two
months while it was being built, and maybe you think he dident sorter hurriedly pass us old reception committee by to grab these old boys by the hand and tell them what the old boat had done. You never saw such beams of happiness as was on their faces when they each felt that Slim had remembered them. He had met Kings and Queens, but they hadent got the same handshake that these old Boys got. And dident they deserve it? Hadent they made the whole trip possible? One faulty bit of construction and we all wouldent have been out there that day.
You thousands of people that have seen this boy in your various cities havent seen him at his best. He of course always conducts himself perfectly. But there is a certain little restraint that he is always under. But when you see him with Mechanics and Aviators, and especially the ones whom he knew and had helped make "We," why then you see this kid at his best.8
When he landed there he told 'em, "Boys, my real trip is finished now."
They were the ones that had seen him off when he left, and they were about all that had seen him off. Why do you know they give a little dinner for him (the people that made the plane) a night or two before he was to take off, and they couldent conscript over fifteen or twenty to come to it, and here he was back, and they had turned away over a thousand applications for the banquet that night at the Hotel Coronado. At that first little dinner before leaving when he was asked to say something, all he said was, "I think you have built me a good plane. I am going to take it and fly from here to Paris on it. Thanks for the dinner."
That afternoon in the big immense stadium that was packed with this mass of people, he was presented with a silver model of the ship, and so by
the Aeronautical Society with a Parachute. I was sitting next to him on the stand, and when they brought in the "Chute" I whispered, "I guess they will expect you to demonstrate that." He said: "Gee, I would like to!" His face just beamed, and you could tell there was no bragging about it, he really would like to have gone up and hopped out and pulled the "Old Ring" just for the Kick.
From what I gathered from him that afternoon, and at the banquet that night and the next day when he took the big Ford machine and flew eleven
of us back to Los Angeles, and I sit out by him in the relief pilot's seat, and chatted with him, all the way up. That kid is a born Aviator. He eats, sleeps and drinks aviation. He is not particularly interested in anything else. This is an era of specialization. He picked out aviation, and he certainly has majored in it. His whole expression and attitude changes when he is in the air with no banquet table in front of him, and nothing under him but the clouds. Lindbergh is Lindbergh.
1For Mary Pickford see WA 233:N 2. Marion Davies, blonde American comedienne who starred in motion pictures from 1917 until her retirement in 1937.
2For Cecil B. De Mille see WA 233:N 20.
3Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-born American pioneer motion picture producer.
4Louis Burt Mayer, Russian-born American film producer who was a cofounder and the first vice president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corporation.
5For Tom Mix see WA 233:N 2.
6Irving Thalberg, American motion picture producer who in 1927, at the age of twenty-eight, was the head producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, overseeing and controlling all productions.
7Rupert Hughes, American novelist, songwriter, playwright, historian, and screenwriter, best known for his multi-volume biography of George Washington, which treated the first president as a great man but stripped him of myths.
8We, Lindbergh's nickname for his plane, Spirit of St. Louis, and the title of Lindbergh's book about his epic flight to Paris.
WA253 October 30, 1927
ROGERS TALKS TO A FAMOUS WRITER
All I know is just what little I read in the papers, and the people that I run into as I prowl around the old commonwealth, (not so common this
wealth as it is advertised). Well, today I had quite a treat that I know a lot of you envy me. I had lunch with Arthur Brisbane.1
Guess most of you have heard of Brisbane, unless you don't read Editorials.
I have been asked more times, "Will, did you ever meet Brisbane and what kind of a fellow is he?" Well I have been knowing him for quite a
while. I don't know of a man to talk to that you can sit and get more information out of. He is up on about everything there is. He knows everybody in the world and talks with everybody, and he don't do all the talking when he is with them. He is a good listener. For outside his editorial ability he is a reporter, every inch of him.
He is the one that Mr. Ford gave the news to first when he first offered his apology to the Jewish people and Brisbane did a big thing.2
Instead of releasing it just to the Hearst papers as a big beat, he gave them all an even break, even papers that were opposed to his own.3
He has just a week or so ago had lunch with the Coolidges and he declared that Cal is not going to run. He says that even Mrs. Coolidge didn't know anything about him deciding not to run until he had handed it in to the reporters.4
He says that Mr.
Coolidge would like to get into some firm and give him a chance to make some money for himself. That of course a President hasn't a chance to save much out of his salary as the requirements are so great. He says that since Mr. Coolidge has become accustomed to this luxury, like Yachts and all that, he sorter likes 'em, and that he would like to get out and make himself some yachts while the getting is good.
Brisbane thinks Mellon should be given the nomination because he has done more to further the Coolidge administration.5
Here is Mellon, that has worked these years for ten thousand a year. He has sacrificed enough that we ought to do something for him, that he is a great man on business and finance, and that's all America is, a business institution. He said he told Mellon that he should run, and Mr. Mellon said, "I couldent do all the work of the Government." And Mr. Brisbane told him, "Why you been doing it all as it is, as President you wouldent have anything to do."
He thinks there is a good deal of leaning to Hughes if Smith is nominated, on account of figuring that Hughes would carry N. Y. state.6
He also bore out my oft repeated statement, and that is that the sentiment of the country is dry. (That's the voting sentiment.) He told me in addition to politics and all that foolishness, why we really wanted to have plenty of cruisers in the Navy. Venesuela has more oil than California, and American companies are down there to get it. Now if we sent an aeroplane down to sorter impress 'em while we are grabbing their oil, why they wouldn't hardly know what it was and it wouldn't make any impression on them.
But if we go steaming in the harbor with a couple or three fast cruisers, why they have learned to know they better duck, and so we really have the cruisers to sorter bluff the South and Central American Republics. We had to go in and get that oil to beat England to it.
He says Henry Ford wants to build a plane that will cost perhaps a million dollars, sorter like an ocean liner, with a bunch of engines, and machine shop where you repaired any that went bum on you. Going on the theory that we have conquered the ocean with big strong ships that withstand the waves and storm and that the wind is not as strong as the waves, so that it should be easier still to build something that would withstand the air. He said General Motors would do something along aeroplane experiments, but the costs would have to come out of the stockholders and that it wouldn't be right to them, so they haven't done anything along that line. But that with Ford it was all personal. I think Mr. Brisbane has made a lot of money in stocks, and there is a lot that he could have made that he didn't. Otto Kahn wanted him to buy General Motors when it was thirty.7
He was going to buy two thousand shares. He would have made ten and a half million if he had done so. Otto wanted him to buy Winchester arms
one time, but because it was fifteen hundred a share he thought, "What fool would buy $100 par share when it is selling for $1,500." (Whichever it was at the time.) He wouldn't buy it and in a few weeks it was thirty-five hundred. When he told me what Mr. Hearst made on some of his papers, it made me want to write this as an editorial, print it myself, get me some cartoons, and go into the newspaper business. He says that Hearst is a newspaper genius. It may look like sometimes that Hearst is throwing money away, and the first thing it all pops up tripled in some new paper. He told me of the time when he left the World in New York to go over to Hearst. He said he used to take a few nips now and again and that he vowed that he would never take another swig till the circulation of the Hearst paper passed the World. He said he thought it would mean a drouth of about seven years. He stayed there eight weeks and passed the World. Now what are you going
to do with a man that is that anxious for a drink?
However, I believe that he was so satisfied with himself during this drouth that he kept it up. He was the first newspaper man to discover that
New York City was going up town, and instead of writing editorials about it, he went up there and bought. Today you can't get above Fifty-third street without jumping over either Brisbane or Hearst and you don't pass 'em till you get about Fifty-ninth. He's got him a new home out here on the desert, about 100 miles from Los Angeles. He has drilled him some wells and has put it in Alfalfa, and it raises about 8 crops a year. He's got about six children.
That would make a lot of us like him even if we didn't agree with all he says all the time. He is the most widely read writer in America today, and when you say that it means the world, for while they got a lot of people in Europe that can read they haven't got many that do. Lord knows what salary he gets. He is the first newspaper man ever got fifty thousand a year, and that's been so long ago that I bet he's forgot he ever worked for that little. Hearst, they say, give him a percentage over a certain circulation, and it was on a sliding scale, the bigger the circulation the more percentage, and before six months was up, Hearst was out shooting subscribers to keep 'em from taking the paper. If he hadn't called a halt, Hearst would have been working for Brisbane.
1For Arthur Brisbane see WA 231:N 2.
2Henry Ford issued a public apology on July 8, 1927, for anti-Semitic remarks published in his journal, the Dearborn Independent. See also WA 229:N 4.
3For William Randolph Hearst see WA 240:N 2. Brisbane wrote for Hearst's newspapers and was a business associate of the publisher.
4Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge, wife of President Calvin Coolidge.
5For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
6Charles Evans Hughes, former Republican governor of New York, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, United States secretary of state, and 1916 presidential candidate. He served as chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1930 until his death
in 1941. For Al Smith see WA 221:N 7.
7Otto Hermann Kahn, German-born American financier who was a partner in the powerful banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Company of New York City from 1897 until his death in 1934.
WA254 November 6, 1927
KING GEORGE, LAY OFF OF BIG BILL
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I cruise around and over our Commonwealth. There is some things that you
have got to see in an Aero-plane, that is if you're ever going to see 'em, and this Boulder Dam out on the Colorado River is one of them. I flew all over, around, and almost through it, and when the Politician says he has been there and investigated it. He hasent done any such thing, for he can't get there. An Aviator and a mountain goat is all that ever saw that dam-site. To look at the place, it don't look like it would take more than a few brush and rock piled in there to make a dam, for if ever nature give you a life on anything it sure did there. But of course when the OVERHEAD Department gets in there, there will be millions and millions that will go for plans, and not for moving any dirt.
It's got to be built though, and if we don't know enough out here in three states to agree among ourselves, why then let Mexico come up and
Well let's see what else has run over the old mill in the way of news lately. Congress will be meeting pretty soon, so we haven't got much Liberty left. Mellon has saved up a little money and when those six hundred Legislators line up at that feed trough, poor Mellon's little nest egg won't be a bite around for them.1
They have had six months to think up some bill to offer that will jar the government loose from some of it for each one's old home district.
Well, we was all glad to see Ambassador Morrow get into Mexico intact.2
He will be visiting Chicago next and coming out without a puncture. He starts in on his work with a charmed life anyway. I believe that fellow will be pretty good. You know Mellon making good like he has kinder encouraged these rich men to get out and try and do something for their country. You see we got so many rich in America now, that just to be one without any other qualification has got mighty monotonous. Being introduced to a millionaire don't scare us or overwhelm us with awe like it used to. We used to think he run everything, and we was afraid to crook our finger at one, for fear we would make him sore at us. But now we know that they all run everything, but no one of them runs anything.
So they know that they have got to leave a side line to be known. Just being a millionaire don't mean any more to the general public then just
being an Elk, or a Baptist, or President of the Chamber of Commerce. So everyone of them is on the lookout for a hobby or a job, or an office, or if they can't be known any other way they have to turn to a little Philanthropy on the side.
Now Morrow dident mean any more to us as a name, than Tomorrow, which is just another one of the 365. He was connected with Morgan and Co., but Lord, what did that mean to the average one of us?3
Morgan has more connections than a telephone exchange. We had heard that he graduated with Coolidge at Amherst. Well that diden't give his publicity much of a boost. But when he volunteered to face Mexico without a helmet, why then we began to notice him. If millionaires in the country would just go to work, why we wouldent need any immigration for years.
Russia has thrown Trotsky out.4
There is a funny thing about Trotsky. I was over there last summer and found out he is too conservative. This Bird Stalin that is the male Mussolini of Russia, he and Trotsky don't get together.5
You see a Conservative in Russia is a fellow that thinks you only ought to give it all to him, in exchange for you calling him Comrade. But you notice they don't do anything with Trotsky but rule him out of the Party. They don't do any vanishing to Siberia, or promiscuous shooting with him. They would like to but they don't dare. You know he and Lenin started in together and while Lenin is dead, the old Pheasants still are strong for Trotsky, so no matter how mad the ruling party might get you can go and bet they will never harm Trotsky.6
He stands too good with the old farmers.He knows a lot of these things they are trying is apple sauce, and won't work.
Communism is like Prohibition, it's a good idea but it won't work. Well never mind Russia and Mexico, we better be worrying what is doing somewhere else. Oh, yes, Lloyd George said in a big article that the Allies had in reserve or under arms eleven million men, and that the defeated nations of the last war had not a million all together.7
He meant by that that it looked like in the next war we would have to fight among ourselves, or go to the trouble of not having one. But when you got eleven million men all over the World working to learn a trade, they are pretty apt to want to work at it some day, especially when no nation has ever been smart enough to give medals in peace time.
All the little nations in the League at the last meeting at Geneva are pretty sore at the big ones. They claim they don't pay much attention to
them at all. So you see you will never have disarmament, for what designates a big nation from a little one but the size of their army and navy? India and China would make 20 of Japan as a nation. But Japan's Navy makes up the difference, and twenty times over. Brazil is bigger than England, France, Italy, Spain and all of them put together and has more natural resources. But they are a little shy on the army and navy, hence they are not classed very high in importance.
But speaking of International intrigues and Politics let's get back home. Did you ever see a man so harassed by a Monarch as big Bill Thompson,
is by King George?8
When I was over there last summer I tried to get to see the King and ask him to lay off Bill. It's the worst personal combat I think the world has ever witnessed between two rulers. It's reached the bonfire stage now. You know, since Judge Lindsey burned the confessions of half of Denver, instead of selling them to magazines and making himself rich and the folks famous, why everybody's minds are on bonfires.9
It seems that the Chicago Library has been subsidized by the King of England. He has been sticking a lot of Dick Turpin novels in there and replacing the lives of Hinky Dink and Bath House John.10
Bill wants to prove to the voters that America is first, even if it was discovered last. Chicago become famous over one fire and Bill wants to personally conduct another.
He wants to strike the flint that will light the torch of Liberty as they burn to a cinder every page containing reference, hint, suspicion, heresy, or even inference between lines of the British Empire, King George or any of his forebears, or offsprings. Even to any picture depicting the eating of roast beef, plum duff, yorkshire buck, or the drinking of lime juice. All such periodicals will be burned at the stake on the filled-in beach, just before the next election.
1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
2Dwight Whitney Morrow, United States ambassador to Mexico from 1927 to 1930. A New York City attorney and banker, Morrow later served in the United States Senate.
3John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., chairman of the board of J. P. Morgan & Company, one of the most influential banking firms in the world.
4Leon Trotsky, Russian Communist leader who served in various posts in the Communist party and the Soviet government. Trotsky was expelled from the party and the government in 1927. He was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940.
5Joseph Stalin, Russian Communist leader who from 1927 until his death in 1953 ruled as a virtual dictator of the Soviet Union. After he assumed power, Stalin banished his chief rival, Trotsky.
6Nikolai Lenin, Russian Communist leader who seized power in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, remaining in control until his death in 1924.
7David Lloyd George, British politician and statesman who served as prime minister of Great Britain from 1916 to 1922.
8William Hale "Bill" Thompson, Republican mayor of Chicago from 1915 to 1923 and 1927 to 1931. In the mayoral election of 1927, Thompson attacked his opponent, incumbent William Dever, for permitting the use in Chicago public schools of history textbooks seemingly favorable to King George III of England. George V, king of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1910 until his death in 1936.
9For Benjamin B. Lindsey see WA 242:N 7.
10Richard "Dick" Turpin, eighteenth century English robber, smuggler, and highwayman.
WA255 November 13, 1927
"AMERICA ONLY" SOCIETY
Now of course you all have read about Mayor Bill Thompson's Society, "America First," that he is forming.1
He had asked all the Mayors of the country to join it, and as soon as he gets them in, he will go after some prominent people, and it looks like it might develop into quite a thing. Well, of course, getting my idea from him, I go ahead and form me one "America Only."
There has been a terrible lot of various Societys formed to try and instill Americanism into our lagging Patriots. If you have never formed a Society in your life and don't know what to form one about, why don't let that worry you in the least. Just start to sponsor "Better Citizenship," or "100 percent Americanism," "America for the Americans," or any of those original ideas. There has been quite an epidemic of these, especially since the war.
It seems that before the war come along, we were really kinder lax in our duty toward declaring just what we were. The war come along and about all we could do was to muster up five or six million men of every breed and color that ever been invented. Now these poor fellows dident know whether they were "100 percent Americans" or "Better Citizens," or what they were, and we started them drilling so fast that they dident have time to go through a clinic and find out.
You see up to then they dident know what all this meant. They thought that as long as they paid their taxes, tended to their own business, went to their own churches, kept kinder within the law, that that was all they was supposed to do. And it was like that in the old days. But you see we was a backwards nation and dident know it.
What we had to learn was to be better Americans. Why here was old men that had raised a big family and had never said "America First." Can you imagine such ignorance? How they had ever been able to do this without declaring where they stood was just another one of our lucky blunders.
So when the war come along and we found out that all everybody would do was to die, or suffer, or get rich (or whatever the circumstances called for) for their country, why we saw right away that something was needed to instill patriotism. So hence the forming of all these various societies. They come just in the nick of time. For after the war, a lot of young men who had never known much about other men from different parts of the country, and different nationalities, they had during the days in camps and in France had become to know and like and understand each other, and find out each other's viewpoint.
In other words it was just the start of what might a been a bad friendship and understanding. But it's like everything else, when the necessity arises somebody always arises with the remedy, so on investigation it was found that a lot of these same boys were not 100 percent Americans at all.
We had been kinder lax in who we had let into our war, everything had come up so hurriedly. Why a lot of them couldent even speak English. A lot of them dident go to churches, in fact, there was a million things we found out that we should have found out before we associated with 'em. Of course it was all too late now and was all over, and we would just have to charge it off to bad management. But let's get organized and don't let it happen again. We all went in 50-50 in war time, but this is peace now and we got time to see who is who, and why.
So these Societys commenced to be formed and they grabbed our little civilization just when it was on the brink and hauled it back to normalcy. You see in America there was originally just one Society (well, it was really two combined) : it was the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution
of the United States. If you was here and belonged to that why you was all members of the same Club. You dident know whether you was 100 percent, or 2 and 3/4 percent, or what ratio you was. You dident know whether you was a good citizen or bad one. All you knew was that you belonged to this club called America, and all you had to do was work for it, fight for it and act like a gentleman, that was all the by-laws there was. As long as you did that, you could worship what you wanted to, talk any language you wanted to, in fact it looked like a pretty liberal layout. But after 150 or more years, it was immediately seen that this plan was no good, that the old boys that layed out the Constitution dident know much. That the country should be divided up in various Societys and Cliques. So that brings us down to this generation, who really are showing us just what to do to prove that we are not against the old Fatherland.
We used to think that we were for it as long as we dident do anything against it, but now we find we got to join something and announce daily that we are for it. We have got to weed out the ones that are not 100 percent. We got to get around these luncheons more, and sing some get together songs. This old thing of eating at home with the folks is never going to get you anywhere. There is no real Americanism in that. Let's get down to the club and do some shouting and get some spirit into the old
"Going to be an election coming along pretty soon and we want to stick by the members of the club against all the outsiders." "There is a lot of these people just sitting around and not doing anything for American spirit and they are undermining the very principals of our Government." So you
see it's stuff like that that will save us. If those kind of clubs and societys hadent been formed just when they was, this would have been a fine looking country now. So get into a club as soon as you can. I don't care what it is just so it's banded together to make somebody else's life miserable and yours great.
Now if you don't belong to some of these Clubs or societies, why the first thing you know you will be getting narrow minded enough to want to give everybody an even break regardless of everything. So, that's why we got to get busy and instill some spirit. You see a lot of people live here and they mean well by the country but they just won't get out and announce that they are happy to be here. Now I have looked over all the clubs and none of them seem to have enough scope, or broad minded ideal. So that is why as I told you a few weeks ago that I wanted to get this society going. "America First" is all right, but it allows somebody else to be second. Now sometimes a thing second can be almost as good as something that's first. So that's the thing my Society avoids. It's with the whole idea of there being no one else. In other words, I am just taking the spirit and foundation of other clubs and societys and making them broader.
They are against something. (They got to be against something or they wouldent be formed.) Well, mine improves on any of theirs it's against everything. I can take my "America Only" idea and eliminate wars. The minute we extinguish all other nations there will be no more wars, unless it's a civil war among ourselves, and that of course we can take care of right here at home without a shipping board. I am getting a lot of applications already, real redblooded go-getttum Americans, that have seen this country trampled under foreign feet enough, and they are right out in the open. Why I figure the patriotism in my organization when I get it formed will run around 165 or 170 percent American. It will make a sucker out of these little 100 percent organizations. It's not too late to send your $20 yet.
Remember when you belong to "America Only" you are the last word in organizations.
1For Bill Thompson see WA 254:N 8.
WA256 November 20, 1927
HOW EL DUCE PUT SUNDAY TO WORK
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, you know it’s as I told you ever since I saw him and talked with him last year. That guy Mussolini is the smartest man in the world. Now I am not kidding, I honestly believe it.
I have never yet, and I dare anyone to point out to me one move, or decree, that he has made that wasent absolutely founded on common sense.
And the later decrees they are, the better they are. In other words, instead of running out, and only being a flash in the pan as everyone that don’t like him predicted, why he gets better as he goes along. I tell you the “Wop” is inspired.
Now the latest order, and when I say “order,” I mean “order.” If he says something must be “so and so,” it’s going to be that way. There will be no shadowing the jury, or any cars a block long changing hands. That only comes under the heading of “Liberty at its best.” Well Mussolini says “There is going to be no more celebrations, demonstrations, inaugurations, centenaries, either large or small, or speeches of any caliber, given on any week day.” Now if that ain’t the most sensible bill ever passed I will turn Presidential candidate in Mexico, why a man to think of a thing like that, he is no Dictator. He is a cross between Abraham Lincoln and Confucius. That’s an order; that an inspiration. Just imagine what that would mean to us over here. Take New York for instance. How many hours have you stood on one side of Fifth Avenue in a car waiting for a parade to pass. Nobody knew what it was for, who it was or what it was about. It just looked like parades are formed just to keep people that are in a hurry from getting from one side of town across to the other. Any little E flat organization in the world that can rake and scrape enough together to rent a half dozen horses, six red sashes, and the many silk hats can get a permit to hold a parade.
Men will travel days on a train to get to a town to walk 10 miles in a parade, when they haven’t walked from their homes to work in 15 years. I
think that Sunday is just the day for ’em, they don’t interfere with business. They don’t block traffic, for anybody driving on Sunday just as well be on one side of a street as the other. Turn your principal business street over to them Sunday, and just let ’em draw straws to see who will start first, and then hold all the parades and demonstrations that have accumulated during the week. If they got some old bird’s day they are celebrating, why let them wait till Sunday to celebrate it; the old fellow will never know the difference.
If you belong to two organizations that should have paraded during the week, why march with the first one that starts Sunday, and then hurry back to the barrier and start marching with the second one. Just look at the celebrating you will get. Same costume and same flag will do for the whole thing. If anybody has ever found a more useless thing than a holiday I don’t know what it was; only way you can be more tired than on the night after a public holiday is to just have swum the English Channel.
And no speeches, wow, that’s the gem of the whole order. Make ’em keep ’em bottled up till Sunday and then let every speech be let loose at
once. That’s the way they do in London. Out in Hyde Park on Sunday afternoon they have a regular place where there is dozens of speakers on
every subject from “birth control,” to “down with King George and lets put in Mayor Bill Thompson.”1
Just think then what a great day Sunday would be for us, go to our public square and hear one man talking on “the Glories of Washington’s birthday,” another on “The seamanship of Columbus,” “Farm Relief,” “What Cal has did to the Country,” “What Americanism means to the vote hunter.”
Even Thanksgiving; there is no reason we couldent have the time to give thanks on Sunday for what little we had got during the year. Then look
at the list of attractions on Sunday, watch a parade, (any kind desired), hear a speech (on anything or in any tongue), and if it rained and all these attractions fell down why then you could go to church.
No sir Mussolini is a knockout. If we had him here he would do away with elections even more useless than parades. He’s some guinea, that kid.
Well let’s see what else is in the papers, our trials are running along fine when it ain’t a misstrial it’s a hung jury. Someone suggested that in case of a misstrial that the Judge should go ahead and hear the evidence and render the decision. Oh but what a howl the law profession put up at that suggestion. That was cutting right into their graft. What a justice seeking bunch of babies they turned out to be.
Saw some pictures in the papers of the houses where some of our officers and men are located and it looked like General Sumerall must have
had a camera with him when he said our men were housed in places worse than a German Prison Camp.2
Just for that the General got his after dinner speech Chevrons taken away from him, and brought back to Childs in Washington where no speeches were permitted.
Magruder and Sumerall would be a great team for the movies now, where the voice don’t register.3
War in Nicaragua is holding on pretty good. Our original assertion, “That it was only a few Rebels that were dissatisfied has kinder been disapproved.” The Rebels must of had a majority when they started out or else we couldent have killed as many as we have.
China has kinder settled down now. It will be quiet till the Missionaries all get back to their posts again. It never mattered to us who was President of China anyway because we couldent pronounce his name whoever he was. Carter Glass who has studied Finance for elective purposes for
years has been accusing the President and Secretary of State of prohibiting private loans to European nations.4
He claims the Government had no right to tell an individual who to loan his money to.
Cal says, “No we have no right but we are just tipping him off. We have a pretty good idea who is good pay and who is not.” By the way what
has become of the old debt talk we used to hear. No one ever hears any mention of anybody paying now.
1For this and all further references to George V see WA 254:N 8; for Bill Thompson see WA 254:N 8.
2Charles Pelot Summerall, American military officer who served as Army chief of staff from 1926 to 1930; later served as president of The Citadel. Summerall was recalled from a speaking tour in the West in October 1927 because he had criticized the Army for its reduced
expenditures for personnel housing.
3Thomas Pickett Magruder, rear admiral in the United States Navy, Magruder was relieved of his command on October 25, 1927, because he had criticized the Navy for economizing at the expense of naval strength.
4Carter Glass, Democratic United States senator from Virginia from 1920 until his death in 1946.
WA257 November 27, 1927
THE NEWS SWALLOWED WHOLE
This is written on the Santa Fe’s crack train, the “Chief,” going west. The balance wheel and I are trying to get home from that trip to see the Navajoes. We started out a couple of weeks ago to see the Navajoes and wound up looking at one of Henry Fords new model cars at Dearborn. We been everywhere west of Detroit, seen every race of people, both Indian and whites, but the Navajoes. Havent even seen a blanket.
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. The old paper in the morning is my breakfast. Course I don’t entirely depend on it. I like it accompanied by some ham and eggs, and a few biscuits, a series of cups of coffee, a few wheat cakes to help get your mind off the editorials.
Well, today I had a perfect breakfast. Between a Fred Harvey dining car and a Kansas City Times, (which is a morning warning that the Kansas City Star will be out later) it just about makes you what I would call the ideal Dassyuno.1
(That means breakfast in Spanish. I am going to Mexico next week and am practicing to speak to them in what I think is their native tongue.) That Kansas City Star is just about in the newspaper world what Jim Reed is in the political world.2
Both of them are liable to blurt right out with the truth, even if they step on a Republican.
So with my California grape fruit raised in Laredo, Texas, I had in the left column on the front page to wit and as is the following, “Looks like Kansas City will land Republican Convention.” I read on to see if they meant purposely, or was it being forced on them. I couldn’t imagine a city purposely asking for the thing. Then I read on to find what they meant by being the one to land it. It was one of eight cities so it looked like they would get it. I don’t want to take up your time, but if you would like to see a list of the illiteracy test, why here it is: Kansas City, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, Omaha, and Denver.
You don’t see New York or Cleveland in there do you? No sir, they had their fill last time. You don’t see Claremore, Oklahoma, or Beverly Hills, Cal., in there, do you? When they have to resort to a Political Deligate to come and see their towns they will burn their charter. You havent heard of any city wanting the Democrats have you? El Paso is the only one I know of. They have asked for it, and they have engaged quarters for it in Juarez, Mexico.
While they was broiling a couple of chops, I move over to the second column front and go headlong into this, “Ruth tells Womack goodbye and
sails for Panama.”3
I thought at first it was Babe Ruth going down to maby knock a home run from one ocean to another.4
But it was Ruth Elder, trying to get the husband to stay in the kitchen while company was there. These husbands do bob up at the most unappropriate times. Sometimes it looks like they are not hardly worth the trouble they cause one. Harry Rickenbacker is Ruth’s manager. 5
He is the highest priced press agent in the world. I know Harry well, and I know that anything he advised was for Mr. Womack’s own good. I know he would have just loved to have had Lyle, (that’s Womack’s given name) along with them on their forthcoming tour. But he is the athletic director for the soldiers at Panama, and so Harry and Ruth advised him that it wouldent be right if he neglected doing his daily dozen every day, and to just think how muscle-bound the poor soldiers would get down there if they had to lay off all the time he was away.
So Ruth starts out on her lecture tour, entitled, “How it feels to be alone in the air with a man when your husband is in Panama and his wife is in Brooklyn.” And of course every Woman that never had a husband in Panama will just flock to hear her.
With the rasher of bacon accompanying the chops I read the following in column three. “Chefs in London give dinner to visiting Chefs from
Paris.” And here is what they served. Sherry wine was the appetizer, instead of cocktails, as they claim cocktails dull the intellect. Pat De Foie Grass in jelly of Port Wine. English Sole was cooked in Champaign garnished with brandy, and served on newly picked grape leaves. English
pheasants cooked in Port Wine, pears stewed in granulated chocolate and smothered in Abysynthe. “The visiting chefs will be entertained tomorrow by the King at Buckingham Palace.”
Read that menu over again, and see if you dident make a mistake when you took up law or medicine. The line about the “King entertaining them.”
I just wonder what the King will do for them. Maby do a few card tricks, or tell the one about the two Scotchmen, or relate a few comical remembrances of the Prince when he was young and giddy.6
Suppose they come over here and our Chefs give ’em a dinner. Here is what we would have. For these French Pot Wranglers we would serve the
Pat a De Foy Grass (which is really nothing but alfalfa, unmatured). For the jelly we would just use the corn mash from the still. The English Sole, we havent that, but we could stew ’em up an English heel that would be prowling around looking for wife material. We havent the Champaign to pot boil him in, but we could spread a little home made “Dago Red” over his form. Now the English Pheasants cooked in wine. We are shy on the pheasants, but we got some mighty fine young Dominick Roosters. We can wring their necks and spread about a quart of white mule, or Jack Brandy over their old carcasses and it wouldent taste no worse.
Now as for Coolidge entertaining them at the White House. He might have ’em there, and if they had all of our native drinks they wouldent need
much entertaining. We would just carry the frog food tasters there, let ’em lay awhile, and re-carry them away. No sir, those Male Hired Girls havent tasted any dinner till they visit our fair land and let our native food spoilers fix them up a batch of vittles garnished with our first Industry. With the ham and eggs that the boy is replacing the empties with, I spy in column four.
“Cuba voted $5,000 a year to widow of General Leonard Wood.”7
There is a fine one. We got to depend on little Cuba to give the widows of our heroes enough to live on in ease and comfort. You will have to make your own comment on that. This a comedy article. With the pack of pan cakes in column five comes Borah and Carter Glass, who say the “Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment is not being violated in the South, by the states.8
That the Negroes can vote.” But they are advised not too. To not heed this advice has sometimes ended disastrously.
With some very splendid jam and toast which was rounding out an excellent breakfast, I see the heading, “Gunman Shoots a Woman.” Then away
down at the last of the little headlines, “Her Husband is also shot.” There is not much use for a man to get shot by a gunman and expect to get much on it. Then I turned the page over while I was waiting for a hot pot of coffee and there was the financial page with football and boxing. Then comes politics and “Mutt and Jeff” and “Bringing Up Father” and then an article on “What the Movies Need.” And by then I was full. So that’s all I know that was in the papers today.
1Frederick Henry “Fred” Harvey, American restauranteur, most famous for his Harvey Houses, rest and eating stops along western railroad routes.
2For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2.
3Ruth Elder, American flier who made a well-publicized but unsuccessful bid in October 1927 to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean; later, enjoyed a lucrative film career. Lyle Womack, electrical sign salesman from Florida; husband of Ruth Elder. Womack
was in the Canal Zone on business when his wife attempted the transatlantic flight.
4For Babe Ruth see WA 229:N 6.
5Harry Rickenbacker, New York City press agent and personal manager for Elder and other public figures.
6Edward Albert, the prince of Wales and the bachelor heir apparent to the throne of Great Britain. He reigned as King Edward VII from 1936 to 1937.
7Louisa A. Condit Smith Wood, widow of General Leonard Wood, American military officer, physician, and colonial administrator. A hero of the Spanish-American War, General Wood served as military governor of Cuba from 1899 to 1902. He died in August 1927.
8For William E. Borah see WA 222:N 4; for Carter Glass see WA 256:N 4.
WA258 December 4, 1927
CONGRESS OPENS, THE COMEDY STARTS
Well, the boys are off in Congress again. So the comedy will pick up from now on. We have never had a Congress that everybody was so excited
about. We have never had one where the politicians were so anxious to get going. Mellon simply through force of habit in business saved up some
money for us, nobody knows how much. It is in the neighborhood of three or four hundred million dollars. Just about what it took Henry Ford to take one radiator off and put on another in his new car.
Well, if you think that politics are based on patriotism and not on business you just watch the press from now on. Five hundred men in Congress
and another hundred in the Senate will argue from now till Coolidge runs em out of there, on what to do with that money. It’s the greatest plum that has ever dangled before a legislative body.
Now, the first thing you must get in your mind is the facts. Mellon has skimped and pinched here and there, and denied himself and saved this
money, because he foolishly thought that was his business and duty. Coolidge encouraged him in it because he liked him and wanted to see him
make good. Little did either of them know what trouble they were piling up for themselves in the future.
Well, the news got out that Mellon had a surplus.1
The Armistice didn’t cause one half the excitement that this news did. You would have thought every Congressman had struck oil on his farm and got the news at the same time: “Santa Claus had finally visited Congress. What do you know about that? Something to divide up with the boys back home! It looks like re-election for me if I can go in with some loot.”
Then the arguments started. “How are we going to split this?” The Democrats started wondering and planning. The Republicans started wondering
and planning. “Three hundred million! Why that would put the old party on its feet!” Course they were smart enough to know that they wasn’t
going to get much of it. A Republican treasurer had saved it and naturally the swag goes to the swagger.
And the wonderful part about it, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Here was an election coming on and naturally the best way to split this was so it would do the most good at the polls.
Now get this, we owe thirty billion. (Not million but billion.) Now if you owed a sum of money and you suddenly happened in some way to
make some, and you claimed and had even boasted that you were prosperous, what would you do with this extra money? Why, you would apply it
on what you owed and cut down the principal, wouldn’t you? Certainly you would. Well what a fine chance you would have ever becoming a politician. You wouldn’t last till you got by a city alderman job with those methods. You got to split that up some way so it looks like it is coming back to some of the loyal boys back in the home wigwam. So Congress, even met a month early. That is, most of them did. (Those that are on the “Ways and Means” Committee.)
It’s a committee that is formed to kinder lay out plans and advise the others what to do. But in all the history of Congress its advice has yet to be heeded. In this case it was supposed to find the ways to divide up the means. Not only is the politician on his toes and all aquiver, but old man organization has its ears to the ground. The United States Chamber of Commerce, formed for the protection of each other against those thieving, hungry masses, they tell Mellon how to divide the loot.
Their suggestion is that each member of the Chamber would get about $10,048 per head. It seems that they had been discriminated against in the
taxes and this was in the nature of a refund. Then the automobile men as an association arrived. They claimed that it was the government tax on automobiles that was holding back such struggling firms as General Motors. If they would just do away with that tax, why they would have a chance to live. Those that wasent selling cars never thought that it might be the quality of their cars that might be holding back sales. Then the theater men come in. They said it was the tax that the Government had on, that was driving their patrons to other theaters. Every organized band in the world arrived. “Hadent the Government showed a profit? What right had the Government to show a profit? That was our money and we want it back!”
Big income tax payers said, “Help us! We are paying most of the taxes, so this surplus is due to us. How can we keep on getting bigger and bigger if you are going to take it away from us?”
The moderate taxpayer said: “We are the backbone of the country. Give it back to the backbone.” The little fellow that had been just paying his various little taxes in dozens of different ways, he dident say anything. He just sit home with his sense of humor and said to himself, “I guess I am pretty lucky to just be allowed to live among all this. Lord! Grant that I never take it serious! I guess what little I paid in don’t count. And I am certainly not going to have the poor sportsmanship to ask for it back. I never asked for anything so I have never been disappointed. I haven’t got much, but you can see some great sights from where I sit. I’m the fellow in the campaign speeches that they are always protecting. I have had more platform relief than one of Aimee’s patients.2
But we are allowed to buy the papers and see
who does get the money, so we are thankful. Sarah! Will you please pass the applesauce? We must remember the apple farmer needs relief too.” So
you see the big problem of the day is “What to do with the $250,000,000.” I bet you Mellon is sorry he ever saved it.
1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
2For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 226:N 1.
WA259 December 11, 1927
A NEW FORD WITH
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I find out as I prowl around over the commonwealth. I went back the other day to see Henry Ford. He seemed to be kinder delaying on getting us into new vehicles. So I just went back to see what was the matter. I had been to see him several times before, and I felt I knew him well enough to know that he would receive me, and maybe show me the car. You know he is one of the friendliest men you ever met. It’s strange, but he and John D. Rockefeller, our two wealthiest men, are modest and plain, both easy to talk to and interested in everything.1
Well, when I got out to the Ford experimental offices I was ushered into Mr. Leibold’s office.2
He is private secretary to Mr. Ford, and is a very friendly, accommodating fellow. He has eight children, the oldest 16 years, so you see this mass production has had its effect. He said Mr. Ford was out in the country somewhere looking at some old antiques. There is a difference between an old antique and an antique. The workmanship of the old antique was the best that a man could do, while the work of a modern antique is the worst that the modern workmen can do.
I must tell you about this antique business in connection with Mr. Ford. We went over later to see it. He has a little antique shop, a kind of cozy corner where he stacks a few of his curios. The place is about the size of Soldiers’ Field in Chicago, only it is all roofed over. The first little knicknacks you come to are a few threshing machines, oh, not more than forty or fifty, every kind that ever was made. Then come the vehicles. If you ever rode in a buggy or old farm wagon, or buckboard, and have wondered what ever became of it, why stop wondering—it’s in Mr. Ford’s collection. You see he figures that everything moves in cycles, and in a few years people will be tired of the motor car, and go back to the buggy. When they do he will be right there and have you riding in his conveyance as usual. He has enough buggies and wagons to clog up the roads just as he is doing now with the new cars.
He’s got old spinning wheels, hundreds of them; old chairs, millions of ’em. Then, of course, motor cars, every kind he ever made and every kind anybody ever made. He told me he has already bought the houses to re-erect an old time village.3
Every time he sees an unusual looking old place he buys it and has it ready to move and put in this village. It will have old mills and stores just as they used to be. He will then use all this stuff in fixing and furnishing them.
So if you leave anything in the way of old plunder, like furniture you are afraid will break down, send it to him and he will buy it. I am going home and send him the furniture from my home in Beverly, practically everything we have. We have the first installment plan furnished house in Beverly and the Pilgrims can furnish nothing more rickety than that.
He is all tickled to death over the new car.4
Gave me a demonstration half the day in it. Mr. Ford himself told me he had been in it when it was going sixty-eight miles an hour. So if he can take a chance in the thing, why you can imagine what others will do. We did everything in it but climb a tree. I was kinder disappointed that this one didn’t do that. The old ones would.
I won’t tell you about it, for maybe you will have one by the time you read this. I found out everything about the car but the cost. They claim they don’t know till they get more into production and see what the cost is. I offered him $50 as a first payment on the first one out. (This was while sitting at the luncheon table.) He wouldn’t take it, but Edsel reached for it.5
When I pulled it back Mr. Ford said he would give me the first one for sale in California, with his compliments. Edsel looked kinder disappointed, as he is the business manager and has to be responsible for the money. He didn’t like to see the concern starting out on too liberal a basis.
I wanted to give ’em the fifty, as I figured that would cover the cost and put ’em in the clear, even if they never got any more out of me. So you see I was doing pretty well with our rich men. John D. gave me a dime and Ford a car. Now I am trying to figure out which is the most liberal. I should have got the Ford, then driven by Rockefeller’s and got the gas free.
We talked aeroplanes. He is all wrapped up in their progress. He has right there the finest field and equipment I have seen in this country. It
looks like a German field, it is so well equipped. He thinks the future will see a plane that will have 10 or 20 engines and carry 100 people strong enough to buck all the winds and storms. I went back to Chicago the next day in one of his three-motored ships. Thirteen of us made the trip.
He thinks Hoover will be the candidate. He says it was fixed for that years ago, meaning that Wall Street is the selection committee of our politics. I asked him about who the Democrats would run. He said, “I had never thought of it. They will run somebody, won’t they?” I told him that was the trouble, they would. I told him I had always felt sure Coolidge would run again. But he didn’t think so. So I imagine his judgment is a little better than mine.
He is getting his new car out. He is satisfied with it. He has made friends with the world, and he just seemed to be as happy as a kid. Here was a guy who had spent 150 million dollars to make a few changes in his business and he wasn’t batting an eye over it. He is 65 I think. He is active and alert. He knows all his machinists by name and stops and they talk over what they are working on. He is a great man. Just about the greatest we have.
1John Davidson Rockefeller, Sr., American oil magnate who organized Standard Oil Company in 1870 and who dominated the petroleum industry until his retirement in 1891.
2Ernest G. Liebold, private secretary to Henry Ford from 1910 to 1944; wielded considerable influence in the Ford Motor Company.
3Greenfield Village, an historical preservation project that Henry Ford began at Dearborn, Michigan, in 1928.
4Ford introduced the long-awaited Model A on December 1, 1927.
5Edsel Bryant Ford, son of Henry Ford; president of Ford Motor Company from 1919 until his death in 1943.
WA260 December 18, 1927
WILL TURNS LITERARY CRITIC
I tried about everything to make a living, outside of work. All kinds of writing and play acting, and trying to appear foolish and trying to appear smart. That is, I have tried about everything but book reviewing. That is critic.
No, it has never been my nature to criticize anything. I always just figured that the people doing it were doing their best. Now book writing I just figured they felt like they ought to write a book so they just up and wrote it, and they couldn’t be blamed for they were doing the best they could. But I am now going to take up this critic business serious. When the boys write their bound pamphlets why I am the local Heywood Broun that will knock ’em back to their newspaper game, or maybe boost ’em on if they are bad enough to writing scenarios.1
Now Rupert Hughes, an old friend of mine, that is, he used to say hello to me when we used to work at the Goldwyn studio.2
He was the original eminent author, and the only one who remained eminent after his first picture. Now Rupert is just about one of our greatest humorists in America. He is right in a class with Cobb and Larder.3
But like Cobb he don’t like this funny man business, so they now write stories and try and put in enough plot that it will drown the humor out. They try not to be funny, for they know people look on any one being funny like they don’t know much. So you really can’t blame them for trying to live down this humor business. But hear either one of them at a banquet when he knows it’s not going to be published in book or magazine form and the old humor will crop right out.
Well, about a year or more ago Rupert, you remember, wrote a book exposing (well not exactly exposing), but kinder giving Washington’s other
side. They say every man has two sides and Rupert is the first one to roll Washington over.
Well it kicked up quite a furor. The Daughters of the Revolution started revolting. Most of the organization had traced kinship back to George, and they wanted him to stay like McGuffy had put him.4
But Rupert’s humor cropped out and he dug out all this other and put it into print. That is it was already in print but not all the scandal business was printed together. (It had to be in print somewhere or Rupert couldn’t have found it.) Well, people that hadn’t read anything about Washington in years except the Cherry Tree and hatchet episode started in new. Course it kicked up a lot of fire, and Rupert, seeing he had the blaze started, certainly never had been accused of being a poor showman that he didn’t know when to throw on more wood when he saw the blaze going good, so the rascal up and hits ’em with another volume, and it’s this second volume that I am starting in my career as a critic on. You would have thought if you read the first that he had aired about all there was, but as Al Jolson says, “You ain’t heard nothing yet.”5
If he don’t go and get that skeleton out of that Virginia closet and shake another volume out of it.
Liquor, and cards, and dances. Well you just got to read it. It’s a good thing he run for president when he did. Of course I lay the whole thing of Washington’s downfall to environment. It was those Virginians, and you know they haven’t changed much. Why right there in that Shenandoah Valley it’s full of blue grass, and race horses and you know race horses ain’t meant for no good, and where there is blue grass there is sure to be devilment. Look at Lexington, Ky. Why there they will bet on a horse race or a poker game quicker than the rest of America will go to church.
Then that valley of the Shenandoah is full of caves. Now what does a respectible community want with caves? You don’t see any caves around
Claremore, Okla., do you? No sir, everything is above ground. And look at the corn they raise in Virginia, and everybody knows they feed their horses oats. Where does the corn go, eh? I ask you. You Roanoke, I am asking. So you see it’s Virginia. That’s what it was, if he had run with Oklahomans, you couldn’t have ever dug up all this on him. What’s Virginia done anyhow? All they could do was write Constitutions, and Declarations, and have Presidents, and make Hickory Smoked Ham.
Who couldn’t write Constitutions? You give me all the ideas of other nations and a good dictionary and I will show you some Constitution. And
Presidents, they had to get ’em from Virginia, because it was the only doubtful state.
What I want to know is why Hughes keeps picking on Washington. He couldn’t do all that devilment alone he had to have fellows with him. Why
don’t Hughes write about Jefferson? I bet he could dig up some scandal on him. You know what I think it is. I think it’s politics. Hughes is a Democrat. That’s about what’s the matter with him, and he won’t tell things on Jefferson because he was a Democrat. Why don’t he tell about any number of other men? What about Monroe? And doctrine? And Mason? And Dixon? And all those linesmen. How about Grant; he couldn’t a been smoking all the time.
It’s politics, that’s whats doing it. He is trying to show that the Republicans were not decent from the start. Now no man can do two volumes
worth of scandal. Why don’t he hop on Andy Jackson? There’s a lad that never missed a shot or a drink while in the White House, but he was a
Democrat, that’s why Hughes is trying to protect him. I hate to say this, but I believe that Rupert is paid by the Clem Shaver Organization.6
If they can show that the Republicans started their cussedness under Washington, why it will prove that it is hereditary and can’t be stopped, that they are just naturally honery from birth. The whole thing is nothing but political
propaganda. Why do they have to drag a man’s fair name in to make politics? I think if a man can do things and get away with ’em for a hundred or two years that you ought to give him credit. If we couldn’t find him out in that time, why let him go. And if Hughes keeps on putting out these volumes slamming the Republican party, why I am going to do a little research work and tell something on the Democrats. I’ll show ’em some dirt.
1Heywood Campbell Broun, American journalist and writer; on the staff of the New York World from 1921 to 1928.
2For Rupert Hughes see WA 252:N 7; for Samuel Goldwyn see WA 252:N 3.
3For Irvin S. Cobb see WA 222:N 3; for Ring Lardner see WA 237:N 8.
4William Holmes McGuffey, nineteenth century American educator, best known for his series of Eclectic Readers for schoolroom instruction.
5Albert “Al” Jolson, American actor and singer in vaudeville, legitimate theater, and motion pictures, best known for his blackface act.
6Clement Lawrence “Clem” Shaver, American attorney, farmer, and politician; chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1924 to 1928.
WA261 December 25, 1927
MOTORISTS NEED PARACHUTES
I’ve made a lot of Aeroplane trips, and people in talking to me about them, always something would come up about the Parachute. That seems
to sorter scare ’em. They get the idea if somebody puts something on you to save your life that it looks like it is so dangerous that you might have to use it. Now on the regular mail lines where they carry passengers now, if it is an open cockpit you wear a “Chute.” From Los Angeles to Salt Lake you wear one, then from Salt Lake to Chicago you are in a closed plane, and I have never seen anyone with them on in a closed Plane. I don’t know why that is, I guess they figure nothing ever happens to a closed plane. Then from Chicago to New York on the other end of the coast to coast trip you are again in an open plane and you wear one.
Now it may seem kinder scary to some, the idea of having one of those on you. It gives you something to think about all the time. All I do is wonder if I would have sense enough, or nerve enough to use it if necessary. They have absolutely saved hundreds of lives. Had there been no parachute there would have been no Lindbergh flight, for there would have been no Lindbergh. He has jumped four times during his mail carrying experiences. I will never forget an old time flyer that was helping me on with my chute. He was telling me what great things they were. He said, “You know old Slim, (that’s what all the flyers that know him call Lindy). Old Slim is sure quick on the draw.”
I didn’t know what he meant and asked him. “Why with them chutes he is awful quick on the trigger with one of them. He don’t monkey with these Aeroplanes. When one gets out of whack up there with him, and he can’t see any safe landing, he just heads her up into the clouds, pulls her
into a stall, steps out and pulls the string. No sir that Boy is a two gun man with a Chute. He just says, all right old Plane you go your way and I’ll go mine and we will see which one will get down in the best shape.”
Well, I had read Lindy’s book “We” and it tells all about all four jumps, and by the way I hope my friends the Editors won’t think it wringing in an add, if I advise every one that hasent read that book to do so. It’s a great book even if he had never gone to Europe. It’s just a straight away story of all his happenings since he left school and started in to fly, and you won’t lay it down till you finish it. Get the story about down south where he took a “coon” up, and the crowd paid the boy’s way, and asked him to stunt with him, and the old Black Boy told ’em he would wave his handkerchief to show ’em all the time he wasn’t afraid. Well, I’m not going to tell you the rest; you read it yourself.
Lindy is a four time member of the Caterpillar Club, that’s a club composed of men who have had to jump to save their lives, (not just for exhibition purposes). It hasent quite the ideals and business go get ’em quality as some of our more progressive Luncheon Clubs. But it was founded on an idea, and it’s the only Club I ever heard of that was.
I’ll never forget the first time I put on one of the things. It was down at Kelley Field.1
That’s where Lindy learned, and he says it’s the greatest flying instruction school in the World. Well they started to harness me up with this thing and I was kinder paling up around the gills. It was one of the crack army fliers. I forgot his name just now but all you army boys will know him when I tell you he is the one that fell out of a plane down in Texas last year when he was riding as excess with another flyer. He went to sleep and they hit a bump and threw him clear out. He had never jumped before. He said, “I dident jump then.”
I asked him did you pull it? He says, “I’m here, ain’t I?” He says, “You was supposed to count five after you jump, but it dident say how many you was supposed to count after you was thrown. So I commenced reaching for it right pert.”
But the funny part of that experience is to imagine the feelings of the other Aviator when he landed where he was going and looked back in the
rear Cockpit and no partner. They say the Guy like to have gone crazy. He couldent imagine what had become of the other fellow.
Well, this old boy that got bucked out was the one that was putting this one on me. He is one of the oldest and best Army fliers. He was going to take me up. It dident look right to be telling me there was no danger and at the same time cinching one of those up on me. But it’s an Army regulation, in either the Army or Navy, no one is allowed to go up without one, and it’s a good rule too. I asked him if the thing worked. He said, “We have never had a complaint.” Another flier said, “If it don’t work, bring it back and we will give you another one. It’s the one thing in the Army that is absolutely guaranteed with a replacement.”
I got the thing all on and then asked, what do you do IF. “Oh, you just jump, count five slow, and then reach for this ring here.” (It was a kind of an iron ring and seemed to me all bundled up like I was that it was hard to reach away around at your left side.) I asked him why they had it away round there. He said, “Why the idea was that the ring would be over your heart and if you jumped you would always have presence of mind enough to remember your heart and reach there and find the ring and pull it.” Well I told ’em, “If I ever jump, and reach for where my heart is, I will choke myself to death.”
They are the cutest things you ever saw, and you look stunning walking around with one on before you get in. It’s a nice cushion and they hang
where if somebody took a kick at you he would be wasting his time. They make the cushion that you sit on.
Wish there was some kind of Parachute invented to use in Automobile accidents. The only thing they have ever invented when it looks like an
Auto crash is to throw both hands over your eyes and scream.
1Kelly Field, located near San Antonio, Texas, was the largest flight training center in the world during World War I. It was also the site of the Army Air Corps Flying School for Advanced Instruction from 1922 through World War II.