Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA302 October 7, 1928
ARE THOSE CANDIDATES
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and I want to tell you Brother when you read the papers nowadays and get through one speech including the denials, why you have just about done a day’s work. Just think where we would be if both Candidates would make speeches on the same night! We would be two days behind with our reading. Smith is making about two speeches to Hoover’s one. That’s on account of Smith asking a lot of questions, and it don’t take much of Hoover’s time for he don’t answer them anyhow.
Al started in down in Oklahoma by making a speech that he thought Herbert would come back at him on, but I don’t think Herb even read it. Al was kinder wanting to get the Quakers’ angle, but it seems that if these Quakers have an angle they just don’t let it angle. Then Al went on out to Denver and asked some very pertinent questions on corruption. Course there was nothing new about the questions, they had been asked by Jim Reed and Senator Walsh for over five years, and if the whole Republican party couldent answer ’em how was Hoover going to do it?1
You see this old corruption thing has been pretty well hashed out. It was used as an issue four years ago, and John W. Davis was buried so deep under it that every time he hears the word he gets jumpy.2
Now of course there has been more corruption since then. But they learned a lesson from the last and they not only keep the corruption to themselves as they did the first time, but they even keep the knowledge of it away from the Democrats. So that has always been a sore spot with the Democrats that they just couldent seem to get the people riled up about what had happened. But the thing that hurts ’em worse than anything else is they can’t even get an argument out of the Republicans out of it. Democrats don’t care, they will forgive you if you will argue with ’em. But when you won’t say anything, that’s what makes ’em sure enough sore.
So things have just kinder been drifting along like that on the whole tour. The further Al went the sorer he got, for those Guys wouldent say a word. If they did it was through a Spokesman. He couldent get anything direct from Mr. Hoover.
In one town Al felt so good that a woman asked him for a souvenir and he just took off the old Brown Derby and cast it out to her like it was a discarded moth ball. Well, the papers went after that with special editions. That beat throwing his hat in the ring. Here he was casting the old Brown Derby right into the lap of a strange woman. But the joke of it was he had another one. He took a lot of them out there with him, figuring that somebody would perhaps break up a few on him.
Calvin got back a couple of week ago from one of the quietest summers he has had since he entered public life. After they found out he wasent going to run why he might as well been vice President for all the attention he attracted. They wanted him to go up into old New England and kinder do some speaking and help Hoover out. He says, “I will go up and drive around, but I won’t do any speaking.” So sure enough he did. He made what you would call a political drive without words. They cheered him all along in New Hampshire and Vermont. I don’t know what that had to do with Hoover, but it seemed to satisfy the Campaign committee.
He is not what one would call breaking his neck for the old Party. Mind you I think Cal is for him, that is he is more for him than he is for Smith. I don’t see how he is going to get on the Supreme Court bench if he don’t wake up and get busy.
You know a strange thing about this Campaign this year is that there is quite a few people now who is running for Vice President. It’s really a Vice Presidential year. It shows that people are delving deeper and deeper into politics. I think that because they got two mighty fine fellows running. Joe and Charley are just about as popular as any two men about town in Washington.3
They have done a fine job of campaigning too. They havent dragged in anything that dident have any business being dragged in, they have made no hollers, and answered all the questions according to the dictates of their party. They have both been mighty honest and just practically told the people that what they were running for was the office.
Joe did a fine thing down in Florida when he quit campaigning and did what he could to help them out, and say by the way, we have been awful lax on that Florida situation. You see it just got worse and worse, and there wasent the response that there should have been. It don’t show a very healthy condition when we get in the condition that we are thinking more about politics than we are about the down and out of our own people. You see Florida was unfortunate in that it was the second time the same territory had needed help. It was just the scycology of the thing, helping the same fellow twice. If it had been some other State why the response would have been great. It was not that it was Florida’s fault, but human nature is a funny thing and the minute something happened down there they begin to think what they had given to the same State two years ago. But my Lord it might happen to any community a dozen times and that would not lessen the need. They have had hard luck down there and they don’t deserve it. They have had three catastrophes, two hurricanes and an epidemic of Northern Grafters, all three of which the State or people were not responsible, and of the three, why the Grafters hurt ’em worse than all. If they had only stayed and been caught in this flood it would have given us more confidence in divine power.
1For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2; for Thomas Walsh see WA 274:N 4.
2John William Davis, former United States congressman from West Virginia and ambassador to Great Britain; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president in 1924.
3For Joe Robinson see WA 276:N 7. Robinson was Al Smith’s running mate in 1928. For Charles Curtis see WA 267:N 5.
WA303 October 14, 1928
WILL ROGERS CLASSIFIES MOST
POLITICIANS AS CHORE BOYS
FOR MEN HIGHER UP
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what little I hear whispered. The whispering is about to overshadow the reading matter. Don’t think this new type of campaigning is confined to one side, people of both denominations Democratic and Protestant.
There is some great moves go on in Politics. There was one happened here in New York a couple of weeks ago. This fellow Roosevelt is a very fine fellow even if he is a Democrat and everybody likes him up state as well as in New York City.1
Well, Al Smith wanted him to run on the Democratic ticket for Governor to replace Smith. Now Roosevelt didn’t want to run for his health is bad and it’s necessary that he stay a great deal in the South. But get this, Roosevelt is just about two hundred thousand votes stronger all over the state than any one else the Democrats had, so Al got him on the phone late at night and begged and persuaded him until he finally consented.
Now also get this situation. The fellow that the Republicans are running on their party for Governor is a very fine and well liked man a Jewish Gentleman named Ottinger, so here was what the Democrats were afraid of that all the Jewish folks would naturally string with the Republican Ottinger and might vote the whole Republican ticket.2
Now it’s going to be great to watch and see if this don’t happen. Roosevelt don’t want the thing, so the Democrats will vote for Ottinger the Republican for Governor, in exchange for all his gang’s support of Smith for President, and the plan will be to elect Smith and a Republican Governor. They would rather lose the governorship than the presidency, and Roosevelt wouldent be losing anything, for he don’t want it, and he will do anything to get Smith in, for he has always been his most consistent booster. If Smith runs away ahead of Roosevelt and Ottinger runs second to Smith you will know that is what was pulled.
These Politicians would make old David Harum go and burn up his barn.3
He never saw the day he could pull off swaps like these babies can now. Two-thirds of the men in Politics are not “free born Americans of lawful age and a fair break in intelligence,” as the constitution call for. They was born but not free, they are of age but it wasent lawful, and the break they got in intelligence was not fair.
What I mean is they are just a lot of pawns. They belong to their party and mess around and do odd chores, and do all the dog robbing that is handed out to them to do, then a bunch of men meet in a room and start moving these blocks around. The poor nut don’t know if he is to be advanced from an alderman to Senator or sent back to garage inspector. These babies at the head move him and he goes and likes it or gets out. Maybe he has done his work just as well as some of the rest, but he just wasent the type they had picked to advance. Then if he is one that they advance it is somebody that they know the higher they put him the more they can control him.
An independent guy with no ties at all couldent, not only get to first base, but he couldent get a foul off these high ups. There is a hundred things to single you out for promotion in a party politics besides ability.
So he just has to hang around and see every election or nomination what they will do for him. They might decide to pitch him a bone enough to live on till they meet again and sorter keep him from kicking over and showing any inclination that he is a “freeborn citizen.” All of this is in the “organization.” What is it all about? And what is keeping the jobs in your own hands? Where does your justice and “free born” come in on that when one gang organizes to keep the other from working. That’s really a violation of the restraint of trade law, and those guys just work their heads off scheming to kill off the
other side. What difference does it make who is in, they are all about alike. The whole business is taken too seriously.
We never have a man so crooked that he would like to ruin the country, we may run onto one or two every once in awhile that want to grab off part of our possessions. But they feel there is plenty left where they got that. So the old country just rambles along, not because of the politician but in spite of him. Anyway politics is a business where most of the men in it are looking for glory and personal gratification more than they are money. It’s one of the easiest ways of horning into something publically.
You can talk all the modesty you want, but it’s just not one of our major industries. The old boys like to get their name in the pot. They like to pose as advisers and leaders.
Why, these old birds that are on all of these National Committees, and are always delegates to conventions why you could no more pry one of those jobs loose from them even if they had to pay their way and the convention was held in Moscow, Russia. They like to say, “Well we are going to put Seth Bohunk over. I been talking to all the boys in my state.” Now here is forty eight states and he thinks poor soul that the whole thing is all on his shoulders from this one state, then the credit they do take afterwards, now mind you two thirds of the people who voted don’t belong to any of the things, they just pick ’em out a man and go vote for him. Nothing in the world any of these regular politicians could say would influence them more than a goat.
But we got it and we will always have it. There is nothing else that they could get them much publicity out of and they think they are running the country and are directly responsible for what little we have to eat, so we won’t put ’em out of business. They are a harmless sort, and really at heart mean well, and I think at heart most of ’em are really wise to themselves, but it’s gone so far they can’t admit it.
1Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Democratic governor of New York from 1929 to 1933; president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945.
2Albert Ottinger, former Republican attorney general of New York who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1928 against Roosevelt.
3David Harum, a Story of American Life, a novel by Edward Noyes Westcott, posthumously published in 1898. Harum is a New England county banker, noted for his sly horsetrading. Rogers starred in the motion picture adaptation of the novel in 1934.
WA304 October 21, 1928
TOO BAD BABE RUTH HASN’T TIME
TO BE PRESIDENT!
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Between the various business of the Candidates there is not much nourishment to get from the press. Babe Ruth a week or ten days ago did make the Candidates take to the inside covers, in fact drove them back with the ads on his last day of carnage and destruction in Missouri.1
They made the mistake out there of throwing some Pop bottles at the Babe, and the Babe returned the compliment by showering a couple of hands full of home runs right back at ’em. Babe is not at his best till he is in difficulties.
You know it just don’t seem like we have any game in America where one man stands out so prominently, and so far ahead of all the others in his line as Babe Ruth does in Baseball. He is the most colorful Athlete that we have in any branch of sport. Kids are crazy about Ruth, and he is always doing something to keep solid with them. Raised himself in an Orphan’s home in Baltimore, he has always kept a keen interest and sympathy with Kids.
Look what happened in that last game in St. Louis. He had knocked one home run to tie the score, and here he was at bat again, and the Pitcher had two strikes on him, and Ruth had turned and was talking to the Catcher and Umpire when Sherdell the Pitcher threw one back right quick and it was another strike.2
But they had made a rule before the series started that there was to be no pitch made only when the batter was ready. Well Ruth knew that that was the rule, and he knew that he was in the right. So while the St. Louis players and the Umpires were argueing why he just stepped back and applauded them. Of course they decided in his favor. Then the Pitcher had to pitch to him again, as they didn’t count that last ball, and as he did why Babe just laughingly smacked one over the whole Grand stand into Grand Boulevard, and waved and kidded with the hooting crowd as he went around the bases. Then two innings later he comes up again amid jeers and just jokingly “putted” into the Mississippi river, his third home run for the afternoon.
In the meantime as he would go to his position out in the field why the St. Louis fans with their accustomed hospitality conferred on him a shower, a good deal as they do a bride when she is about to make the leap. But there was no point lace, or doilies in this. It was in the nature of Pop Bottles. They had strewn his path with glassware. He just kidded with ’em, and tossed the bottles aside, and then in the very last of the ninth inning when St. Louis had two runners on bases and their heavy hitter up with two out, a long high foul was hit, and even though being crippled, he leaped from bottle to bottle, like Liza crossing the ice.3
He finally found two bottles standing on top of each ether and that gave him a little higher lift, so all he was able to do was make a sensational one-handed catch and come down among a case of what had been Home brew containers. He is the only athlete that ever rose to the heights with nothing but a foundation of Coca Cola under him. They also shied seat cushions, St. Louis Globe Democrats, and Republics, and even were mean enough to shy tabloids at him as he ran to catch the ball. But through all this he went right on kidding and laughing at them.
You know this fellow is really more colorful than either one of the Candidates. If either one of them stood out in his business of Politics like this fellow does in his line there would be no need of them having an election. He is the Abraham Lincoln of baseball. It just don’t seem right that a Pitcher should be made to have to stand out there in front of him and have to throw baseballs at him and take the chance of being murdered when they come back to you.
Well I guess we will have to get off baseball as the season is over. So there is nothing else to turn to, outside of about half of New York being killed by bad Liquor during the past few weeks. Even Jimmy Walker pled with “speakeasys” to cut down the ratio of poison, and it looks like some of them are pretty short sighted, killing off their own trade like that.4
It shows they
must have plenty of new trade coming all the time to afford to kill off that big a percentage of their business.
Then, as I say, comes Politics. All of them are watching the Literary Digest straw vote. It holds a rehersal for the election every year, and this year Hoover has been away out in front, but Smith is drawing up on him at every issue. In case the vote is over before election, I doubt if they hold the election at all. They will just take the Digest’s poll and innaugarate the man on that.
I don’t know who they send these votes to. I never got any. It might have been because I wasent registered anywhere. I don’t want to have anything to do with this election, and then after maby my man was elected he dident turn out so good and that would make me feel like I was responsible for putting him there.
It must have cost that paper a lot of money for stamps and handling all those votes. But I guess they can charge it all off on their income tax as advertising. Hoover seems to be ahead in some of the States that are supposed to be solid for Smith. But don’t put too much dependance in that. There is a lot of Smith ones that can’t sign and send in, for they can’t write, and he will get a lot of votes that never heard if the Digest is a paper, or a digestion machine. But it’s got all the papers writing editorials, and no matter who gets the votes, each side seem to write that their side has really been benefited. Honest, some people can get nourishment out of the most peculiar things. Well there goes that Radio again. “If I am elected, I will pledge myself to relieve the Farmer. I will enforce the law, restrict immigration, and --- ---.” Oh, applesauce. I will be glad when it’s all over.
1For Babe Ruth see WA 229:N 6.
2William Henry “Bill” Sherdel, professional baseball player who pitched for the Saint Louis Cardinals from 1918 to 1930.
3Eliza, a character in the nineteenth century American novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In the book by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eliza, a mulatto slave, takes her child and escapes from her master by crossing the frozen Ohio River.
4For Jimmy Walker see WA 245:N 4.
WA305 October 28, 1928
LET’S BLINDFOLD EVERYBODY
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. And I have been so busy lately trying to learn to speak lines on the stage that I haven’t read all there is in the papers. But I have been keeping track of two things, that is the people who are so successfully taking the blindfold tests, and the speeches of the Candidates. Both of these two things are of equal importance.
It’s really remarkable to what a high degree of efficiency we are developing ourselves. Just think even blindfolded, we are doing according to the billboards, more than most people can with their eyes uncovered. And it just don’t look like anybody ever fails. Every one you see with their picture on the boards have picked the right thing.
You know I think it would be a good idea if we did more things blindfolded. We seem to do better that way than with the blinkers off. Just imagine if everybody can pick out the proper cigarette while blindfolded, why don’t they apply the same thing to Liquor? People don’t seem to be able to pick the right brand of liquor to stay alive on, so why not blindfold them? Maby they can pick out a brand that they can live to enjoy. And in marriage the blindfold test might help handicap divorces. Of course to look at marriage you would think that both sides had applied the blindfold test. But that’s just it, if they did that bad with eyes open and unhindered why it’s a cinch they can’t do worse blindfolded, and might accidentally do better.
I think from some of the speeches that the Candidates are using the blindfold tests on their voters, only it don’t look like they picked the right thing. It’s been a great campaign and the boys have thrown dignity and “high mindedness” to the winds and are going after that free rent at Washington. Calvin was a long time coming out, but he finally did kinder emerge, not for enough to do a lot of good, but he showed he preferred Hoover to Smith, even if he dident prefer Hoover to Coolidge. Herbert won’t hardly owe him a Cabinet position on what he has done. But on the other hand Cal feels like he has got a lot of dignity to maintain.
Quite a few of the boys were slow about taking to the old soap box to help clean up their party standard bearers. Dawes dident break out till awful late in life.1
Lowden at the present writing is hiding behind the barn hissing through the crack.2
Be a good joke on Lowden if Hoover got in and did relieve the farmers. Smith made quite a tour of one nighters around Missouri and Illinois. He hit Sedalia, even me on all my wildcat tours dident get that one. But that’s right near my old stamping ground of Boonville, where I used to attend one of the reform schools there.3
Sedalia is the Capitol where they send the Congressmen and Senators to keep them away from Jim Reed when he goes on one of his rampages.4
He spoke at Sedalia on “Prosperity.” He read a lot of records that kinder showed that while Coolidge might have saved a little money, they had squandered quite a mess. It showed that every Department had cost more in 1927 than in 26. While Mellon had been economical, it had cost quite a little more to get that way.5
Smith spoke of a Lodge called the “Woodpeckers” that had sworn to never throw away pencil sharpenings, but use them for fuel, and there was a rule where they were supposed to write on both sides of the paper. Well even if they do that then the very next day Mellon comes out and says that Smith got his figures from the Telephone Directory, and not from the Republican Campaign Committee, where he should have got them. Smith says the Country is not prosperous. He means of course by that, that the Democratic end of the Country is not doing as well as they could if they were in office. There is a great many Democrats that are forced to earn a living by the sweat of their brow, when all they should be doing is endorsing a Government pay check.
Mellon says, “The majority of the Country is prosperous.” He means by that that the Republicans are prosperous, and as there is supposed to be more Republicans than Democrats why of course the majority of the people are prosperous. Mellon kinder insinuates that if a man don’t know enough to be a Republican that how can he expect to know enough to be prosperous. Al claims that being a Democrat is a badge of Poverty that is worth more to wear than riches.
When a Democrat is hungry and can’t manage to get anything to eat he can always satisfy his hunger by dreaming and harking back to the “old Jeffersonian principles.” Nobody knows what they were, but they have furnished a topic for the poor Democrats to rave about for a couple of generations. He always wants a return of the Jeffersonian principles and give the Government back to the people. Well the people wouldent know any more what to do with it than they did back in those days. Nothing would please the rich more than to have the Government handed back to the people, for they would take it away from them so quick the people wouldent know what it looked like while they had it.
The Literary Digest is still taking the poll of everybody that can write their name. There was over three million that had voted this week and it showed that about one third more Republicans can write than Democrats. Course when it comes time to go the polls and vote, why you then can include the ones that can’t write. All you have to make is a cross so nobody knows how this “Cross” vote will go. It looks like it will be Democratic, but no one knows, for if they don’t know how to read or write they are just as liable to put the cross after Hoover’s name as they after Smith’s. But it’s all been a great show put on for no reason at all, for Coolidge could have stayed in there and made a better President than either one of them.
1For Charles G. Dawes see WA 221:N 2.
2For Frank O. Lowden see WA 263:N 3.
3Rogers attended Kemper Military Academy at Boonville, Missouri, for two years.
4For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2.
5For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
WA306 November 4, 1928
CAN’T RUIN THIS COUNTRY;
NOT EVEN WITH POLITICS.
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I gaze out over the footlights. “How does it feel to be back in the old harness again trying to swindle the old public out of a few laughs?” a lot of friends ask me. Well to be real honest it feels pretty good. You know after all if you have ever been Actor (or even if you never was an Actor yet still made a living on the stage) why it just about ruins for any useful employment for the rest of your natural life.
They had a big dinner the other night here for DeWolf Hopper celebrating his 50th year on the stage, and he seems as young and fine as he ever was during the 15 or twenty years I have known him.1
So I guess off and on as long as they will stand for me, I will be telling what are supposed to be jokes about Congress, and the Senate, and Nicaragua and all those things till my whiskers are longer and older than the jokes.
We got our little show started and going along pretty good. We have had quite a few Notables and Horse thieves in to see us, and I ought to get me one of these Guests Books and keep it in my dressing room and I would have quite an array of names of the visitors that have come back. The book would have got off to a flying start, for on the opening night Col Lindbergh was back to see Dorothy and I.2
I will have to tell you a little story about that. He was tickled to death when he come back after the show opening night because he had won twenty dollars off the fellow with him. He had called me up about eight oclock on the night of the opening telling me that he had just found that he could get out of a previous engagement and if it was possible to get him the seats he would come. I said, “Possible! Say you will get in if I have to pick some guy’s pockets of his seats out in the lobby.” Imagine Lindbergh asking if it would be “possible to make room for him to attend anything.” But that just shows modesty of the fellow. I made a wild dash for the box office. I had left some seats there for various friends, and I was in hopes that some of them had not called for them yet, as some of them were down in front. My wife had two seats for herself and a friend away in the back. So she said she would stand up or miss the thing entirely if it was for Lindy.
Now here is one I wanted Carl Fisher, of Miami Beach, Fl., and Montauk Point, New York, the best two real Estate developments in the world, (I have to put that ad in here for Carl to make up for what I did to him that night).3
I had left him some seats in the second row center, and when I dashed into the box office as luck would have it he had not called for his. So I grabbed his two and gave them to Lindy, and dug up two that come from Lord knows where and left them for Carl. I don’t know where he sit. But he will feel better I know when he reads this and finds out that he is really the fellow that gave
up his seat for Lindy.
Now here is about the twenty bucks. Lindy says to me over the phone “now if I come don’t you start any of your funny business on me.” I laughlingly told him I wouldent. He said, “Well I don’t think you will. But the Theatre might, by putting a spot light or something on me.” I told him he needent be scared.
Well I most generally introduce real celebrities and on an opening night it would have been a great thing to point out the greatest one we have. For I have so many things that I could have told of him while we were in Mexico, some of them jokes but all highly complimentary. But I says no, I will just see if I have got the heart to lay off him. You talk about a struggle. There I stood with a pocket full of Gags that I had never used and I knew the audience would laugh at, especially with him there. But I stayed with it and dident say one word about him being there. Of course you couldent introduce any other Celebrity that night, for with him in a house there just ain’t any more. So it seems this fellow with him kept telling him that he bet I make him get up and bow or do something, and they made a bet on it. Lindy betting that I wouldent,
and when he come back in the dressing room afterwards he was as tickled as a kid that he had won. I told him I was a bigger Hero than he was, that it took more nerve for me NOT to talk about him than he showed flying the ocean.
Now he has gone down to Mexico hunting with Colonel McNabb, the Military Attache of the Embassy there.4
He is a great fellow “Sandy” McNabb. He is the one that Ambassador Morrow appointed as my “Aide” during my stay there.5
He speaks better Spanish than the Mexicans, and is the best pistol shot in the whole American Army. That’s why they had him protecting me while I was there.
Oh yes, Lady Astor was in the show and back to see me just before she sailed.6
Oh what a Dandy she is. I wish some of these women that have made these terrible Campaign speeches over here during the past campaign could hear her. They would either quit or improve their style. You expect a man to make a poor speech, for he has been doing it for years, he don’t know any better. He is supposed to be boring or he wouldent be a Speaker. But we did kinder look for something out of the Women when they entered the political Arena. But they took the whole thing too serious. They acted like the very backbone of the whole Country was a leaning on them, and that they had “a great public responsibility to perform.” Why there is no GREAT responsibility for anybody to perform in this Country. Every time we have an election we get in worse men, and the country keeps right on going. Time have only proven one thing, and that is that you can’t ruin this country even with politics.
1William DeWolf Hopper, noted American comedian and star of vaudeville, theater, and silent films; excelled in such theatrical productions as Wang, Pinafore, and The Mikado.
2For Dorothy Stone see WA 300:N 1.
3Carl G. Fisher, Indiana businessman and realtor who conceived and built the Indianapolis Speedway and who helped to develop Miami Beach, Florida, and other resort areas.
4Alexander J. Macnab, American army officer; military attaché at the United States embassy in Mexico City from 1927 to 1930; close friend of Charles Lindbergh.
5For Dwight W. Morrow see WA 254:N 2.
6Nancy Langhorne Astor, one of the beautiful Langhorne sisters of Virginia; the wife of Lord Waldorf Astor and, as a British subject, the first woman to sit in the House of Commons, serving from 1919 to 1945.
WA307 November 11, 1928
IT’S ALL OVER NOW
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Well, it’s all over, and what a relief! What has it proved? What has it profited us? We have gone through the most exciting and bitter election that we have ever held in our history. And what’s the answer? Friends have been turned into enemies, families have been split. Husbands have choked wives, and wives have attempted to murder husbands, all because one wanted one guy to draw a government salary and the other member wanted the other fellow to live easy for the next four years.
I told you not long ago that the campaign lasted only a few months but that it would take two generations to sweep up the “dirt.” I think now that it’s all over and we have a chance to sum up. I think I was too modest in the time, it looks like we will be hearing from this one as long as they keep historys in the libraries.
You will please pardon a comedian for lapsing into seriousness, but there was no more reason for all this religious gab, and all the threats of what would happen if certain things were brought about, it could have been run like a state campaign without dragging all the various things into it that they did. When you just sit down quietly and figure it out, no matter which side you was on, you just got to say that all the fuss, and all the “shooting” was absolutely useless.
We will leave out all the religious end of it, for we certainly had enough of that for all time. Both sides were equally to blame. Then we get to prohibition. What can the winner do about it. What could the loser do about it? Neither one can do anything. In fact the winner can do as much as the loser. Here was the wets hollering for Smith, and at the same time hollering for a dry Congress and Senate, so that he could make no changes. Now could anything be more inconsistent, than that? It would be like a manager hiring me to work on the stage and at the same time hiring another actor to keep me from going on.
The whole South wanted dry Congressmen and Senators, yet they wanted Smith, who said he would do his best to get the law changed. Yet they elect fellows to keep him from changing it. It just shows what ends people will go to get a winner.
Hoover, the politicians in his own party never were so strong for him, yet they all went for him when it looked like he was the only one that could carry them to victory.
I really don’t see how anyone can take the whole thing serious, backtracking of all the changing opinions, of all the waiting to see what the majority will be liable to do, of all the trading back and forth with each other for support! There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail, they are always yapping about “public service.” It’s public jobs that they are looking for.
It may not always be the money, sometimes a man will be making a personal sacrifice as to money, but if you removed the glare of public office away from the job you can bet your life he wouldent take it. There is no other line of business that any of them could get in where they would get one-tenth part of the publicity that they get in public office, and how they love it! Talk about actors. Actors basking in the limelight! Say an old Senator can make an actor look like he is hid under a barrel.
You announce tomorrow that you will either take away a public man’s salary or his publicity and position, that he can have the choice of which to give up, and 90 per cent will say, take the salary away. They will find some way of living, in fact they will live on the strength of somebody calling them Judge, or Congressman, or even Alderman. Those old babies like it.
Then all this yapping about parties. If a man could tell the difference between the two parties he would make a sucker out of Soloman for wisdom. The Republicans have a tarriff, and now that it looks like it is accidentally working why the Democrats say, “If we are elected we will not tinker with the tarriff.” So where is your difference there? They both yap about farm relief, and rain and a failure if other farming countries they know is their only chance of ever relieving the farmer.
Water power, they spilled more words over it during the campaign than there is water, yet we have been here since Columbus made a forced landing in ’92, and the same creeks and rivers have been running, and there has been no great effort or even demand to do anything, so why all at once do we think that in the next four years we will stop everything that is headed toward the ocean and make it work its way going down?
Labor, they made all the crazy promises about what they would do with labor if elected. How can a President put somebody to work the next day after he is inaugurated? What can one man put them to doing that the other fellow could not? If I have a lot in a city and expect to build on it, engaging a lot of men, do you think I am going to let the thing lay idle for four more years just because the man I liked was not elected?
Are farmers going to quit raising crops and hiring of hands just because they voted for the wrong man? Things don’t change that easy in this country, this country runs in spite of parties; in fact parties are the biggest handicaps we have to contend with.
If we dident have to stop to play politics any administration could almost make a Garden of Eden out of us. If we were run by the manager form of Government we would soon be paying so little taxes we would be lonesome. You could transfer the Senate and Congress over to run the Standard Oil, or General Motors and they would have both things bankrupt in two years. No other business in the world could afford to carry such dead wood. But we got ’em, and they are going to live off us someway, so we just as well put longtail coats on ’em and call ’em “Statesmen.” They are great guys personally, and they know in their own heart that it’s a lot of “boloney,” and if they are smart enough to make us feed ’em, why then we are the yaps, not them.
WA308 November 18, 1928
SHADES OF JEFF DAVIS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the election returns. And from the Democratic standpoint it was some of the poorest reading matter I ever dug into. It really was not only bad composition, but the English was terrible in it. Texas Republican, now that’s not according to any English Shakespeare or old Bacon Rine ever wrote. Virginia with the Yankees. I bet Jefferson pretty near rolled off that hill.
The Everglades of Florida voting the alligators with Wall Street! I tell you the world is “cockeyed.” North Carolina joining the G.A.R.’s. What’s become of our glorious tradition? Are we leaving the teachings of our forefathers? Where does the fair state of Oklahoma think she can hide her head when she is asked to answer to her ancestors?
Here Alfred Emanuel Smith took the longest journey that was ever taken by a native New Yorker to go and be among you Oklahomans. He broke bread with you. He made speeches to you. You come by the thousands, you heard, you saw and then you went home and sold out to the Republicans! He told you about the old Jeffersonian principles. He told you to get back to the teachings of Jackson. (Andrew not Stonewall.)1
He told you oil would be used for something besides scandal if he was elected.
You cheered him; you made the Brown Derby the symbol of headgear, and made him think that you were for him, when as a matter of fact you only come to a free show. Any other New York headliner with the original cast would have cost you $5, or $10 bucks. Did Hoover come among you? No he dident. You might as well be the Cherokee Strip as far as he is concerned. He even went through Kansas to keep from going through Oklahoma.
Al went up into Omaha, and into what is erroneously known as the fair state of Nebraska, and he rounded up a gentleman of some local prominence, and Raskob traded him a new Buick for an old Ford.2
And he promised to swing the state into the party of Tom Heflin and Upshaw.3
Did he do it? No. The minute he got his Buick from the General Motors he went out and started making speeches for Smith. That killed Smith’s chances right there. What he should have done was to come out for Hoover if he wanted to help Smith.
And there was a lot of them like that in lots of other states. La Folette was afraid to come out for either one, so he just stayed neutral and elected himself.4
Ritchie swung Maryland to Hoover by comming out for Smith.5
Mayor Walker had no trouble carrying New York State and New Jersey for Hoover, the only two he spoke in.6
He was billed for a speech in Boston, but he got a bad cold in time to save Massachusetts for Smith. My good old friend, Josephus Daniels, of Raleigh, N. C., Suh, it took quite awhile for him to make up his mind but when he did it was in favor of Hoover.7
He come out for Smith. South Carolina on account of no prominent men coming out for him, went for Smith.
Pat Harrison by speaking in New York all during the campaign saved Mississippi for Smith.8
Jim Reed had no trouble whatever swinging Missouri for Hoover by his campaigning for Smith.9
From the early returns it looked like Carter Glass must have been for Hoover, for Smith got all the best of it, but it finally dawned on us that he had been for Smith when the ultimate result was announced.10
Vermont went for Coolidge to a man, till noon which it was explained to them that he wasn’t running, then they voted for Hoover for consolation.
New York, the state that is always telling the others about progress, this is written two weeks after election and their returns havent come in yet. All the primitive States were in by nine o’clock election night. They sent one hundred lawyers up state to see about the counting of the votes. Can you imagine 100 lawyers? Why two lawyers can make a scandal out of anything they have anything to do with. 100 will bring a revolution. Course Smith can’t blame all the damage on these guys. He carried every state in the South that he dident go into but Texas and Florida.
And it was the same with Hoover, the more he would speak in a place the nearer he would come losing it. As long as he would stay out of states there was never a doubt as to how it would go. Look at Washington, Oregon, Dakotas, Wyoming, Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont. But the minute either one of the candidates started going into them they would lose ’em, or come pretty near losing ’em. I would have liked to have seen how this election would have gone if both guys had gone to Europe or some place after nominating. I bet you it would have been a tie.
Smith promised everything that the other fellows did, and they believed him when he said it, but they just seemed to know that he wouldn’t be able to carry out the promises unless he got the chance. I know a lot of men that would help me if they was able, but it just don’t look like they will ever be able.
The Brown Derby, I don’t know about that. I believe if he had left that in a handsom cab years ago he would have not have missed it. People hadent seen a derby hat in so long that it was too much like resurrecting detached cuffs. You know after all a brown derby is just about as hard to put up with as a black one. Chewing on a cigar and not smoking it lost him North Carolina, the big tobacco center. They want people to get rid of cigars and light up another one, not just keep one in your mouth all day. Those old timers still think they was made to smoke.
It was a great election. It had some queer angles. Where the Democrats got their predictions of the results from Lord only knows. Raskob on the day of election said that Smith should get about 400 electorial votes. He had electorial ones mixed with plain ones.
1For Stonewall Jackson see WA 267:N 1.
2For John J. Raskob see WA 300:N 8.
3For Thomas Heflin see WA 221:N 3. William David Upshaw, Democratic United States representative from Georgia from 1919 to 1927.
4For Robert M. La Follette, Jr., see WA 287:N 2.
5Albert Cabell Ritchie, Democratic governor of Maryland from 1920 to 1935; states’ right advocate and federal prohibition opponent.
6For Jimmy Walker see WA 245:N 4.
7Josephus Daniels, North Carolina newspaper publisher and politician; United States secretary of the navy from 1913 to 1921; United States ambassador to Mexico from 1933 to 1941.
8For Pat Harrison see WA 221:N 6.
9For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2.
10For Carter Glass see WA 256:N 4.
WA309 November 25, 1928
WILL ROGERS FINDS COUNTRY
QUICKLY RESTORED TO GOOD TEMPER
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. This sea tragedy has just been about all we could see for the last 10 days, and it was awful hard to get your mind off it.1
Talk about stage plays and dramas, don’t they fade into nothing when a thing like this comes along! And the great part about it is nobody knows where, or who will bob up in the way of a hero. The old ordinary that looks like a mere matter of fact, even weakling, might be the big thing in an emergency.
I will never forget when Canada entered the war and their first (and for that matter all their troops) had made such a brave fight. I think their first big hero was not some rugged Northwest Mounted Police, or some nervy westerner, it was a little enemic cigarette smoking Piano player in a cheap Movie House. He was the first to do something beyond the demand in bravery.
Just think of that radio operator on that boat! Has to be sacrificed because he had to wait for orders from somebody that was thinking about his company instead of the lives of his people. You know those fellows have just gone through so many things that it never strikes them that there will be any come up that they can’t get through. I tell you I will take mine in an airplane and stay off these boats. In those things when you leave, if they are “listing” and not going so good you turn around and go back or come down on land and fix it. They don’t try to bull their way through. Expenses to the owners means nothing to a good pilot in comparison to the safety of his passengers.
And say, the old airplane thing is going along good. This commercial thing is developing fine, especially for mail and express. Passenger thing is not making headway as it should, for we are in too big a hurry in this country to even save time. We would rather talk about how big a hurry we are in than to do any hurrying.
Well I guess you all outside of the old “Burg” wonder how she took the election. Well, it started out with what looked like was going to be an awful noisy night. But when those first returns commenced percolating in why it was just like rain on a country picnic. Horns that were meant to be blown just as well have been meant for a decoration. They never uttered a blast. It was just a show that was billed but never come off.
In the theatres the folks was pretty late coming in. They had stayed out purposely to see what would happen and when they saw they come in. I took my last straw vote of the audience that night. I had taken it at every performance since we opened, and I also took it all last year in almost every State in the Union, even before the nominations and am not boasting, but I think I had as good an idea as the Literary Digest. Hoover run away with the vote on election night, the same as he had run away with it in every town I had played all year.
New York took it pretty game though. They had a game loser to set the pattern for them. Smith never let out a squawk, and the statement that he issued over the radio a few days after made him a lot of friends.
Course New York at heart felt mighty bad because they felt that the rest of the country had not stood by them. Having a big city man for the first time they felt you all would help them out. In fact they did have a little of the New York conceit, and this brought them to realize that there is a terrible lot of you boys that don’t get your mail up and down one of these gullys here.
I kept trying to tell ’em you fellows had been doing a little thinking for yourselves and dident need any outside advice when it come to voting, but they still thought they could swing you over.
But now it’s all blowed over and you could hold a Klan Klam Bake in the center of Broadway and not have anyone hiss you. They just don’t care now, everybody’s got their minds on something else.
Al left us and went down to play golf with Pat Harrison, the biggest surprise about that was to know that Pat Harrison could play golf.2
They will get a great welcome down there in Mississippi, that’s the State that passed a resolution since the election to have Jefferson’s and Lee’s body moved from Virginia since it went Republican. They wanted ’em moved to Mississippi. They better been doing like North Carolina, and Texas, they better been passing some resolutions to get some factories down there. That’s what is making those two states step so fast, they are not looking for any historical prestige. This is an age of business, not tradition. Mississippi needent worry about Virginia. Virginia will run out of Republicans like they run out of Presidents.
But take it all around the folks got over it all over the country mighty well. Everybody was awful het up, but they cooled off mighty quick. Both sides was haywire most all summer.
I personally believe that Al will make the race again. They ain’t nobody else that can hold that many votes. This fellow Roosevelt if he gets away good here in New York as Governor is the only one I know of outside Al that could carry his own precinct.3
Well, yes they have got another awful good man, that’s this Owen Young, head of the General Electric.4
He is the fellow that should have been chairman this year. He packs an awful lot of respect and ability.
But I doubt if he has any idea of committing suicide. So it looks like Al. He will remedy many a mistake that was made in his name last time, and with four more years of dissatisfaction over this liquor he may round up the other five million.
1The Vestris, a British-owned luxury liner, sank off the Virginia Capes on November 12, 1928, following a hurricane that had damaged the ship. The accident claimed 115 lives.
2For Pat Harrison see WA 221:N 6.
3For Franklin D. Roosevelt see WA 303:N 1.
4Owen D. Young, Chicago attorney and corporate executive; chairman of the board of General Electric Company from 1922 to 1939 and 1942 to 1944.
WA310 December 2, 1928
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Us poor misguided Democrats don’t seem to be able to get our minds on anything. We are just sorter stunned. The Democrats had mighty pretty hopes there for awhile. It looked like the Postoffice was about to change hands and get back where they belonged. For a Democrat is just naturally a Post Master. That is just about one of the few things he is fitted for. He never has had much work at it, but he just comes by it natural to want to meet and talk with people. He would just love to get all the news that’s on post cards, and bringing the mail sack from the train is just about his idea of the proper amount of daily exertion.
You know the Democrat at heart is just naturally an amiable fellow. He would rather talk with you anytime than make a dollar off you. He just loves politics, not for what he can get out of ’em, for he never has received much a dividend on his political investments but he just wants to be known as a politician. Now a Republican don’t, he just wants politics to be known as a side line. He is sorter ashamed of it. He wants to work at it, but he wants people to believe he don’t have too.
But the old Democrat he is still so old fashioned that he thinks it’s one of the honored professions. Just let him head a few committees, and make a few speeches every once in awhile and he is in his glory. He will miss his supper to explain to you what Jeffersonian principles are. He don’t know what they are, but he has heard ’em spoken of so often in speeches that he knows that no speech is complete without wishing that we would return to those principles and the only thing that keeps us from not returning to them is that very reason we don’t know what they were. Jackson is another life saver in their legends, you take him out of there and you would just about lessen Democratic conversation 50 percent.
That’s why I would like to have seen him got some work at this late unpleasantness. He has been laying off now for eight years, and he would have made somebody an awful good hand.
The Republicans have just taken it for granted that their positions are permanent. He has been running that Post Office so long that he is as independent as a bank Vice President. He won’t act like you ought to have any mail. The post Office to him is just a subsidiary of the Republican Headquarters. A Democrat is tolerated in there but they don’t want him to litter up the place long with his presence. But when the Democrats get their clutches on it, why the Post Office is a cross between the country grocery store and modern night club. They welcome anything in there just so it’s in the shape of an argument. When they hand you the mail they want to know who it’s from and why.
But it’s as I say, we are so shot since this late November sixth uprising that we just can’t seem to gather our threads of life up and get started again. Al took to the golf clubs to drown his sorrows. I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf will. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but they say you can get so sore at yourself that you forget to hate your enemies. Al went into Mississippi where if he made a bad shot it would be laughed at by nobody but his own friends. He didn’t want any Republicans kidding his “putting.” Al took Raskob down there with him to manage his golf.1
Raskob is liable to be pretty good down there. He won’t have Moses to worry about.2
He had more trouble with Moses and work. He would tree ’em doing something, and he would just about be getting the evidence when they would break out with something worse and get Raskob’s mind off the first offense.
Then this fellow Kenny, they take him with ’em, he is the one that furnished the private car.3
I guess it’s one of the few private cars in the Democratic party. They did have a whole train before election, but this car is all they got left out of it now. Pat Harrison steered ’em down that way.4
I was going to try to take ’em to Oklahoma, but after it went Republican why that killed that trip.
Things is awful quiet here in New York. Barney Baruch, the Raskob of the Wilson Administration, was in our Opera House the other night with all the remnants of the “War Industries Board.”5
He headed it during the war, and he gives ’em a party every year. He is the only Democrat on it, and they let him pay the bills. They come from all over the country to attend it. I asked him what he thought could be salvaged out of the party, and he said it looked like another Vestris as far as the loss was concerned.6
I asked him if he would back another convention in ’32, and he says he would not. I told him what Al Smith said, “That it was still the same old party.”
And Baruch said, “Yes, that’s the trouble with it. It is the same old party.” Congress is going to meet now if we don’t watch ’em pretty close. They are gathering in there now. The Republicans have already got their wisecracks made up what they will tell the Democrats. They are going to be awful cocky. Course this is what is called the short session. But not short enough. It’s also called the Lame Duck Congress, for there will be a lot of guys in it that made a forced landing during the late storm of votes. Now they ain’t going to be wishing anybody much good, especially the voters back home that dident renew their contract. You know that’s the only job in the world a bill short of blowing up the Capitol.
Now they got to go through as “The Late Congressman Bohunk.” Got to dig up new bootleggers and practically start life anew.
1For John J. Raskob see WA 300:N 8.
2For George H. Moses see WA 287:N 1.
3William F. Kenny, New York City building contractor and stock market speculator; close friend of Al Smith and a leading financial contributor to Smith’s campaign in 1928.
4For Pat Harrison see WA 221:N 6.
5Bernard Mannes Baruch, American businessman, statesman, and Democratic political adviser and financial contributor; confidant of Woodrow Wilson and other presidents; Chairman of the War Industries Board during World War I.
6For the sinking of the Vestris see WA 309:N 1.
WA311 December 9, 1928
WILL ROGERS SAYS “SALE”
OF PARTY TO RASKOB
LEADS WALL STREET DEALS
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see in the old village. You know when you got nothing to talk about why you can always talk about the weather. Now I don’t remember in any article ever having to talk about the weather, but by golly I got to say a good word for it.
It has been the warmest and sunniest and most beautiful fall here in New York that you ever saw in your life. (This part of the article will be either censored or deleted entirely in all California papers.) Chances are I will lose my citizenship out there, and my holding will be confiscated. But the truth must out. It has been a wonderful fall. Now Beverly Hills, if that’s treason burn me in effigy.
Hoover is still prowling around down in South America. We know so little about it we don’t know what country he is in. We know he went South one way and comes back another. We don’t know whether he crossed over, under or went around. I hope he is able to stir up a lot of interest in those South American countries among people up here. I tried it twenty seven years ago, but I couldent seem to stir up much interest.1
Another cowboy, Dick Parris, and I went down in 1901 to the Argentine as peace envoys from Claremore, Indian Territory. We was a little disappointed in our reception. We went out on the ranches and those Gouchos we discovered could throw a rawhide lasso further than either of us could throw a green apple. I wrote back and said I had never seen such a productive country. You just throw anything out there and it grows.
Buenos Aires was a marvelous city of over a million then. It comes nearer being an American City than any city outside our own country. But we had no shipping and business with them. England and Germany had all their trade. Those great docks in Buenos Aires, second even then to only Liverpool, were packed with ships from every land. But not an old Stars and Stripes could you find. Course we have made some progress with them since then. But here is where our big trade should be, and this trip of Mr. Hoover’s will be the greatest thing that ever was under taken for us.
Spanish is the language. This old gag of having the children take up French because it’s fashionable is the baloney. You don’t see anybody in France but Americans, so you don’t get any chance to try out your French anyway. But just look at the dozens of countries that speak Spanish in addition to Spain. It’s the only one to learn for you can use it commercially the rest of your life.
There is a great gang of men that did a great deal for us during the war. It was called the War Industries Board. It comprised the heads of all big business and they all worked in conjunction with the Army and Navy to supply our whole forces. Well they still kinder keep their organization together, and have a meeting every year. It is headed by Barney Baruch (the surviving wealthy Democrat).2
Most of the men that belong to it are Republicans, and are from all over the country. Well there was about two hundred of ’em and they was in our Opera House the other night, and we had a lot of fun.
Baruch worked it pretty slick this year. He generally underwrites the Democratic foolishness’s every four years, but this year he was smart. He located this fellow Raskob who had made so much money he was looking for some place to put some of it where he could show a loss on his income tax, so Barney got him interested in the Democrats.3
“That he dident know of a surer fire place to put it to show a loss.” So Barney kinder “reluctantly” relinquished the leadership to him, and got out from under for once in his life.
Raskob, being in the automobile business, naturally asked when told of the Democrats asked, “Is it a four or a six.” Barney replied, “It’s not a conveyance, it’s a stationary thing. It looks like it’s going but it ain’t.” So he sold the idea to Raskob. I think it was one of the greatest bits of salesmanship ever recorded on Wall Street. Now all Raskob has is some letters from Senator Moses and a two million dollar deficit, and Barney is just grinning around trying to pick out some other victims for 32, unless Raskob is a glutton for punishment and wants to have another crack at it.4
They had General Pershing with ’em that night and he come back in my dressing room and gee, he is looking great.5
He certainly got an ovation in the theatre when I introduced him. He is getting bigger every year and will be about one of the only three great Generals that will live from that war, Hindenburg, Foch and Pershing, that will about let ’em out.6
And say, what do you know about Calvin turning kinder militaristic on Armistice Day? He just kindly informed Europe that we were competent to lay out our own Cruiser plans without any outside interruptions.
Now England and America are in a hot argument over the Navies. Congressman Britten wants to take a Deligation from Chicago and meet England, decide and then notify Congress and Kellogg and Coolidge what they have decided on.7
Why don’t they let every Nation go ahead and do what it wants to? Why should us and England have exactly the same size Navy any more than we should have the same things to eat every morning? Your Navy is as much as a personal affair with a Country as your habits are. They don’t no more than get some boat built till it’s out of date anyhow. Get us a good Navy, and a good Army and more aeroplanes than anybody, and just say, “Yes we got ’em, but they are only to be used on the home grounds, now lay off us.”
1Rogers and a fellow cowboy, Dick Parris, went to Argentina in 1902 to find work on the ranches in the country.
2For Bernard M. Baruch see WA 310:N 5.
3For John J. Raskob see WA 300:N 8.
4For George H. Moses see WA 287:N 1.
5For John J. Pershing see WA 246:N 2.
6Paul Ludwig von Hindenburg, commanding general of the German armies in World War I; president of Germany from 1925 to 1932 and 1932 until his death in 1934. Ferdinand Foch, French general who served as supreme commander of all Allied armies in World War I.
7Frederick Albert Britten, Republican United States representative from Illinois from 1913 to 1935. Frank Billings Kellogg, United States secretary of state from 1925 to 1929; corecipient of the Nobel peace prize in 1929.
WA312 December 16, 1928
THE BIG POKER GAME
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. There has been many messages delivered to us in the last week or so that we don’t hardly know who, or what to believe. Mr. Coolidge give us a Newspaper Lecture on Prosperity (as practiced by the Republican Party), then Mellon come out the next day and said he was just rolling in wealth, but that he could see no tax cut in sight.1
We are doing so well, and so busy counting our money that we just havent got time to stop and cut any taxes.
They sent what they call the Budget to Congress. It took the head men of every Department in Washington six months to think up that many figures. You have a Budget like you have a limit in a Poker game. You are not supposed to go beyond it till at least an hour after the game has been started. We won’t run over the Budget limit until maby as late as August. It’s a good thing. It makes another department in Washington. Then it’s fun to vote on when it’s presented.
But here it is right here in the paper a whole financial statement of how we stand. Now I know a lot of you don’t pay much attention to our Government finances, because it’s all too complicated. We read ’em and we look like we are doing fine, and then there is another bunch of figures on the other side that deny what the ones on this side say. It’s like these Publishers with both a morning and evening Newspaper. They have one to keep the other out of a law suit. Now if you are feeling pretty down in the mouth and it looks like you ain’t going to have much Xmas why it’s because you havent kept in touch with Mellon. He could have cheered you up anytime. Here is how we are doing, so take it to the Bank and ask them to give you your share.
Well I went down and I found that what little I was supposed to have had been put in a sinking Fund. There is things on there that you had no idea existed. Federal Radio Commission grabbed us in advance for 1929 for $364,027.25. That’s just for static alone. In 1930 (you know they book away ahead) why we are supposed to get off for $179,234.28. If they can cut it down every year they will get the thing about right in ten years.
Commission of Fine Arts (that don’t include Politics) only got us for $9,080,015. But let’s get down into some money. Department of Agriculture $154 million. That’s just to tell the Farmers how they can keep on farming even if they don’t get relief. If I was a farmer I would join our Agricultural Department. That’s in 1930. In ’29 it was three hundred thousand less. They don’t intend to give him as much advice that year.
Department of Commerce, only nicked us for $38 Million in ’29, and $58 million in 1930. The further Hoover gets out of there the more it is predicted it will cost us. 1930 is going to be a hard year to handle Commerce. That’s the cause of the twenty million raise. See we only pay Hoover 75 thousand as Salary, and we lose $20 million by his leaving his Department. He has to be pretty good to make that twenty up for us in this new job.
Department of Justice costs us $28 million, that ain’t bad for Justice. In fact Justice is about the cheapest thing we got on our list. Maby that’s why we don’t get any more of it. I am in favor of paying more and naming some people that ought to have what’s coming to ’em.
Department of Labor only runs us a little over 11 million. Jim had got his Department running pretty cheap.2
You see he is supposed to keep track of everybody whether they work or not. If he only had to keep track of the ones that worked he could do it on a few hundred bucks. It’s keeping track of all the idle ones that runs into dough. An idle fellow is much harder to watch than one working. Treasury Department nicked us for 1929 for $345 million. Mellon is practicing his economy on somebody else’s Department. Cost us 345 million just to make out these figures to tell us what we was in the hole. That’s like hiring a man to tell you you are broke.
The Navy sunk us for $364 million, including cost of sinking ships according to Washington agreement. The Army pot shotted us for $408 million in 1929, and $444 million in 1930. Must be looking for a kind of a small war that year. Maby that 44 million is to send the Marines further that year.
Now hang onto your seats while you get this item of expense. Interest on the Public debt is $731 million. And the funny part it never does tell what we owe. It keeps jugging with millions and we owe billions. 15 or 18 billion I think it is. But none of this tells.
That’s where all the money goes that we pay in as Taxes, most of it goes to pay Interest on money we owe. Either the Federal, or State, or Town Government. Let’s sell off enough of this Country to somebody and pay off all National debts, then the taxes wouldent be nearly as much. The Democrats will agree to peddle Texas and Florida. They are kinder on the edges anyhow, and I am certain the Republicans will let Massachusetts and Rhode Island go, if it’s only for a Song, and not a particularly good song, just an old song.
As I say though we owe maby 25 billion. It’s so much they won’t put it down, and here is what we got saved up to pay it, we got a balance of “Cash on hand in Treasury June 30th, 1928 of $260,190,380.85.” That’s pretty low dough to look a fifteen billion dollar debt in the face with. After studying and figuring on ’em all day for you I have about come to the conclusion that, that 85 cents on the end there, of our “cash on hand” is just about our Pro- Rate-Share.
1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
2James John Davis, United States secretary of labor from 1921 to 1930; Republican United States senator from Pennsylvania from 1930 to 1945.
WA313 December 23, 1928
WILL ROGERS SAYS PRESIDENT SHOULD
HAVE EXTRA HOME TO DODGE PESTS
All I know is just what I read in the papers. Guess you been reading in all the papers about President Coolidge’s appeal to “The St. Louis-Post Dispatch” to get them to use their influence with Congress and get Congress to get into the White House. One where the President could get to and far enough away so that Congressmen and Senators couldent come to eat breakfast off him. The house don’t necessarily have to be White, but it must be a house. He wants it somewhere in motoring distance of Washington.
So all the Congressmen from Maine to Oregon have offered sights. They say they are in motoring distance. It sounds to me like a mighty sensible idea and I guess that is just about what will kill it off. Every state will get into an argument and because their state don’t get it it will be voted down.
Mr. Coolidge makes the statement in there that he has at least been the healthiest President we have ever had. Say he better kinder look up some history. I don’t know much about it, but they tell me that we have had some pretty husky birds in there. That old Andrew Jackson (while I got no use for him or any of his methods, for all he ever did was pounce on the Indians) but from what I have heard of him, he was not exactly what you would call a physical wreck. He had to be tough to think up all the things he had done to the Cherokees.
Then of course getting down to Presidents that I have had some personal knowledge of. Take Taft for instance (or take him for his weight).1
He never struck me as being what you would call enemic. Then there was Roosevelt. Now Calvin is pretty much of a man and can handle a mean pitchfork in a picture during campaign year. I wouldent hardly have liked to see Cal put the gloves on with “Teddy,” in fact I wouldent even want to see him lay himself liable to bodily injury by having gone on the same Tennis Court with the Col.
Course if History wasent too big a liar, which it generally is, why old honest Abe Lincoln wasent hardly a bottle fed baby all through life. Even if he dident split those rails, just piling up rails after somebody else has split ’em is not hardly child’s play. So Calvin really took in some territory when he announced himself the healthiest man we had ever had. You know I think Calvin was just feeling so good at that time, the election was just over and his gang had done pretty well. Course they got a few states that they will hand back to the original owners, but they are liable to keep enough of them to have made the last election worthwhile.
Now he says in his appeal, that “The President has the Yacht Mayflower, but going on it don’t get you away from sea level, and that what is needed is to get away from sea level, as Washington is practically located at sea level.” Now that can’t hardly be blamed on the Yacht Mayflower. He seems to like the Yacht but the fact that it only operates at sea level, is kind of a disappointment to him. Now it’s awful hard to get a Yacht (I don’t care how much you pay for it) to get really away from sea level. That’s one of the things they have worked on for years is to get a boat that will leave sea level and come back without having entirely impaired their usefulness. If you can get one of the “Leaping Tune” type, that’s the nearest you can get to what he is after.
It’s going to be hard to cop off a good high hill around Washington, for Washington and Jefferson got in ahead of Coolidge or Hoover. If there had been any more hills those two babies would have copped ’em off themselves. Washington was quite a farmer. Instead of putting a golf course on his land, he put in Indian corn (that he had captured from the Indians).
His nineteenth hole was in his own house. Washington was the most versatile President we ever had. He was a farmer, Civil Engineer and gentleman. He made enough at Civil engineering to indulge in both the other luxuries. And Jefferson sitting up there on his hill believed in equality for all. But he dident divide up the hill with any poor deserving Democrats. (For Democrats were poor in those days, as they are today, and they were deserving then, as they are today. It just seems like they are the Lord’s unfortunate people.) Then down at Staunton, in Republican Virginia, Jefferson had another hill, and I think that is what give Mr. Coolidge the idea that to live in history you must have plenty of hills.
Years ago some fellow in Baltimore left two hundred thousand to do this very thing on, but he left only eighteen months in his will for Congress to accept or reject. Well, Congress can’t get the roll called in Eighteen months, much less accept or reject anything. Then they have a great high ideal, and they consider it an insult to give us anything. “We will build our own White House.”
We can, but it took sixty years to get a new roof on the old one. We had to get Congress in there and threaten to let the roof fall on ’em before they voted this new one. Then besides $200,000 wouldent hardly be enough to buy for the Senatorial investigation to find out where the man got the money that he give to the country. If he got it working for a rich man, why it was tainted. Now I want to see us get this new White House. The one in Washington is nothing but a Zoo.
Tourists have wore their ears back peeping through those iron bars to see if they can’t get a peep at the President. Give him a place out in the country, where if he sees anybody coming it will only be a neighbor and not an office seeker. I got a place out in Oklahoma, Oo-la-gah, Oklahoma, near enough to Claremore so he would have all the advantages of Washington. Now I would offer him that place of mine, but I guess its too near in to Washington. Some Senator out in Colorado or Wyoming will want him there, so mine is too close to Washington to be acceptable. But for the Lord sake let’s get one for it’s a very needed thing, and he wrote a very human document in asking for it.
1William Howard Taft, Republican president of the United States from 1909 to 1913; chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1921 until his death in 1930. Taft weighed in excess of 300 pounds.
WA314 December 30, 1928
ON THE WAR PATH
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run into from day to day. I was sitting in my dressing room at the theatre where I come in the afternoon to kinder hide out and get a little public annoying done, and the back doorman come in and said, “Mr. Bender to see you.”1
I says Bender, what Bender? Show him in anyway and I will look him over. Well, in he comes, and who do you think it is? Well, it ain’t a soul but our old Baseball Pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics, “Chief” Bender. All you young folks skip right over this Article for it may not interest you, but before you throw it away hand it to your parents and say to them, “Pop, did you ever hear of a Ball Player named Chief Bender? What did he ever do? Here is this old man Rogers writing something about him.” Your dad will grab the paper and say, “You young American! You mean to tell me you never heard of Chief Bender? Do they teach you about Washington, or Lincoln, or Bryan, or Carrie Nation, at your schools and not teach you about Chief Bender?2
My boy, he is what made pitching famous. Had there been no Chief Bender there would have been no pitcher in baseball. They would have just let the second baseman throw the ball up to the batter as a matter of formality, or maby let Mayor Walker pitch, or Calvin or just anybody.3
You go and tell your teacher to learn something about American history. Baseball is our National game, the same as War is our National heroic effort, and Bootlegging is our National Industry. Shame on our educational Institutions if they don’t teach the children about Chief Bender and all our other Baseball Heroes.”
“Hello Chief, gee I am glad to see you! Havent seen you since I went out in Philadelphia and had dinner at your house maby about 1910.”
“Hello Will! You being a Cherokee, I always been sorter keeping track of you. I guess you seen where Charley Curtis, our Kaw Brother, had worked for the Government for years, and he finally got set back to Vice President dident you?”4
“Yes I did hear that Chief, and I certainly felt bad about it, cause I have known him for years, and I can remember when he was Leader of the Republican side in the Senate, and when you was Leader of that side you dident have to worry much what the other side would do. He really had some authority and I was sorry to see ’em set him back to nothing but a Toastmaster.
How you been, Chief?”
“Oh, I been managing ball teams, and coaching baseball at Annapolis for the Navy for six years.”
“Did you learn ’em how to get the other teams signals, Chief? I remember when you and Harry Davis used to coach at first and third for the old A’s, and you know what kind of a ball the pitcher would throw before he got out of bed in the morning.5
Everytime the Pitcher wound up you just told the batter what was going to happen. Why it was almost like the Literary Digest calling the turn on an election. You made some great batters out of men that never got a foul after they left your team. How did you do that Chief?”
“Well we just studied ’em. Pitchers have a certain way of doing everything just like a Politician. You know yourself Will, you know yourself what he is going to say before he even takes his first drink, downtown with the reception Committee, and that’s the way I studied ball players. They are pretty near as limited in their business as Politicians. If they used a signal ten years ago they think it is good yet, and they would have been just as well off if they had announced to the batter, here is a curve, or here is a fast one.”
“Remember the time, Chief, in 1905 I think it was, you all beat McGraw with Mathewson and McGinnity?6
You won that series yourself.”
“Yes, but I was lucky Will. Matty was a great Pitcher, and McGinity beat Coombs 2-1.7
They hurrahed me, and give me the Indian war Whoop all during the game.”
“Chief, you know who was sitting here in this dressing room the other night? He was out in front at the show, Pop Warner!”8
“Oh is that so? I went to Carlysle in 98, wanted to play football, but was so tall and skinny, in a year or two I finally made sub end. I was there with the Metoxens, Bemis Pierce, Johnson, Dillon, (the man that hid the ball under his Jersey and made the touchdown against Harvard).9
The boys used to like to make the football team because they got better things to eat. You got steaks then instead of just gravy. You know the Government dident feed the Indians much better than they have taken care of them. You know people don’t know it but Pop Warner used to go out on the reservations every summer and pick out Boys that looked promising. There was no rich Alumni to send him material. You know Will, he taught me how to throw a curve and a slow ball. He was baseball Coach too. For a slow ball I used to hold it in the middle of my hand. It was the old fashioned way but it was effective. Mathewson used to be over at a School adjoining, Bucknell, at the same time. You know when he used to have those wonderful teams Pop Warner had a bunch of those fast Babies with this Forward pass, and all this open field stuff, with him coaching and a bunch of good Indians. Harvard and Yale and Princeton wouldn’t get their Racoon coats off before they had had at least fifty scored against them.”
“Chief, when did Thorpe come to Carlysle?”10
“Oh, he was after me. He come in about 1907. But when he come they knew it.”
“Where you living now Chief?”
“Oh, out on the edge of Philadelphia, just 568 feet high, right on the level with William Penn’s hat on the City Hall.”11
“Well, us Injuns got to stick together, Chief. For these white people bout to take this Country. You know Coolidge tried to claim kin to us last year, but that was only an ad to get the Indian vote. But it’s too bad about Curtis for we had kinder depended on him doing something for us.”
“Yes, Will that was a big disappointment to me, I thought he would amount to something some day too.”
1Charles “Albert” Chief Bender, professional baseball player who pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1903 to 1914 and 1916 to 1917; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. Bender was a Chippewa Indian from Minnesota.
2William Jennings Bryan, prominent Democratic politician, known as the “Great Commoner”; three-time Democratic candidate for the presidency; United States secretary of State from 1913 to 1915. For Carry Nation see WA 283:N 2.
3For Jimmy Walker see WA 245:N 4.
4Curtis (see WA 267:N 5) claimed Kaw Indian ancestry.
5Harry H. Davis, professional baseball player and coach who starred at first base for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1911 and 1913 to 1917.
6John Joseph McGraw, “Little Napoleon,” professional baseball player with the Baltimore Orioles from 1891 to 1899; manager of the New York Giants from 1902 to 1932; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937. Christopher “Christy” Mathewson, professional baseball player, manager, and executive, who pitched for the New York Giants from 1900 to 1916. Mathewson, one of the greatest pitchers of his generation, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936. Joseph Jerome “Joe” McGinnity, professional baseball player who pitched for the New York Giants from 1902 to 1908. A winner of 247 games, McGinnity was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.
7John Wesley “Jack” Coombs, professional baseball player who pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1906 to 1914 and the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1915 to 1918.
8For Pop Warner see WA 296:N 2.
9Jonas Metoxen, American Indian athlete who played fullback at Carlisle Institute from 1894 to 1898. Bemus Pierce, football player at Carlisle Institute; named second-team All-American guard in 1896; captain of the Carlisle team from 1895 to 1897. James “Jimmy” Johnson, Carlisle football quarterback; consensus All-American in 1903. Charles “Charlie” Dillon, American Indian athlete who had a colorful eight-year career at Carlisle.
10James Francis “Jim” Thorpe, Sac-Fox Indian from Oklahoma who excelled as an all-around athlete. Thorpe played halfback for Pop Warner’s football team at Carlisle, where he received All-American honors in 1911 and 1912. He also won the pentathlon and decathlon at the Olympics of 1912 but later had to forfeit his gold medals after it was discovered he once had played professional baseball.
11William Penn, wealthy and influential English Quaker who founded the colony of Pennsylvania in 1681.