Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA367 January 5, 1930
ARE WE TOO SMART TO BE HAPPY?
Well all I know is just what I read in the Papers. Well let’s see what we got to “Blather about” this weekend. I know you all had a fine Xmas and New Years. Those that dident have it will have it on “Roshashona and Yomkipper.” But a funny thing is that our good Jewish Citizens are getting so they get as big a kick out of our Xmas as we do. It’s just about a real Universal celebration.
Take it all around everything passed off pretty good. Xmas is getting kinder like one of our old time western dances. They wait till the dancing is all over and then they sorter sweep out to see how many was left laying around. We are killing off some mighty good citizens with our Xmas cheer and it has been discussed quite openly as to whether the whole thing was worth the tallow or not. Since Santa Clause has been pretty thoroughly disscredited by even our Babe’s in Arms, and on account of Xmas cost to everybody, there has come up in this country quite a wide movement to just let the yuletide go by default. Of course in the old days when the Democrats were at their Zenith, and the old Reindeers and the jingling Bells were considered official, why then there was cause for all this. But now when they dress up some poor old fellow as Santa, why the kids get one peep at him, and say, “Oh look at the old Geeser trying to fool the old folks.”
That’s the trouble with the whole things. Kids are getting too wise. Why I was a big old chuckle-headed Nestor maby ten years old before I really even suspicioned that our old friend of the long whiskers wasent delivering into my stocking every Xmas morning the sack of candy, horn, and cap pistol. But nowadays you start asking a Baby, “What he wants Santa to bring him,” and he will bounce his empty nursing bottle off your bean.
In other words we just ain’t fooling nobody, and are buying a lot of stuff and giving it to folks that don’t understand why you was so half-witted as to get that particular object. It was the last thing on earth they would want. In fact we ourselvs have gotten so wise that even when we are buying it for them we know it won’t suit, but the etiquette of Xmas tells us that we must get them something. Of course the whole thing started in a fine spirit. It was to give happiness to the young, and another holiday to the old, so it was relished by practically everybody. It was a great day, the presents were inexpensive and received with much joy and gratification, and it was a pleasure to see the innocent little souls as they rushed down to the big room with the fireplace on Xmas morning in their bare feet, and generally the back end of their little sleepers unbuttoned and a dragging. They remembered right where they had hung their stocking, and they dived into it with great glee and anticipation. No matter why they dug out, it was great. It was just what they wanted him to bring for they had confidence in him. The merest little toy was a boon to their young lives, and what a kick it was to the parents to have them rush back up to the bedroom and show you “what Santa brought.”
Then the mother would finally venture down and look into her big-top stocking to see what the sly old father had deposited during the night. Maby it was just more cotton stockings. Maby it was a new “sofa.” Maby it was a new Axe for wood splitting. Maby a hot water bottle. But whatever it was it was the most acceptable thing in the world. It was just what she wanted “her man” to get her. Ah! Them was the days lads! When you could satisfy ’em with a squirrell Muff, and a box of five cent Cigars practically cinched your friendship with a Male friend for the coming year. Then they talk about Civilization. Say there ain’t no civilization where there ain’t no satisfaction, and that’s what’s the trouble now, nobody is satisfied.
In the old days where a nice crayon Picture would be just the thing as a present, why now an unborn Lamb would be unacceptable. They would wonder why you dident send Mink. And a wife, why she will sneeze at a Buick! If she don’t find a new Cord auto in her short sock why you will be the cheapest husband she ever had. The whole prospectus of the thing has changed. We not only don’t believe in Santa Clause, we don’t believe in anything, and the Kids say they don’t care anything about a “Train that will run if you wind it up.” They want an Aeroplane that will Fly, and NOT wound up either.
You start talking about sending them a ten-cent horn that will blow and they want a Saxophone that will annoy, and as for a Cap Pistol and a dozen boxes of caps, why say, he wants a machine gun. He has read about Chicago. A football? “Is it regulation?” If it’s not, you are wasting your time giving it. They know better than you do. If it’s a Girl Baby and you are sending some pink Sachet Powder you are all wet again. The “She” infant will rise up and demand an overnight bag, some Nose Paint, and a lip stick, and when they get it they will examine the brand.
So you just wonder sometimes if the ones who want to abolish Xmas are not about half right. Everybody faces it with, “Oh my goodness, Xmas is coming, and how I dread it!” Then you decide “The whole thing is the bunk I will just send cards.” Then about three days before Xmas you commence to get a few little boxes and remembrences from alleged friends, and you say, “I can’t do this. I have to return something.” Then out you go at the last minute to round up some tokens for friends who in your heart you curse for sending you anything. So the whole thing is an uproar from about Thanksgiving on.
In fact that’s what they have Thanksgiving for, it’s your last day of peace for that year. I sometimes think some bright merchants are not really taking advantage of their opportunities. Suppose along about a day or so after Xmas, the merchant went to each house and said, “Now this is confidential, but what did you get for Xmas that you don’t want and what do you want in cash for it?” They buy it for ten cents on the dollar, they hold it over a sell at some simp the next Xmas, and you are ten percent ahead. But anyhow it’s worth thinking about, this doing away with it. It would be all right if we could again believe in Santa Clause. But our smartness has defeated our own happiness.
WA368 January 12, 1930
WHAT’LL WE SINK NOW?
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Now just what has been adjitating the Natives in the public prints here lately? Course they got Xmas and New Years off their minds and are just now getting through exchanging all the presents, and so we can settle down to the serious side of life.
It’s only a few days now till the opening of the big Dissarmament Conference in London. I wanted to get over there and see what the boys were doing. But it looks like these people that I am working for are actually going to demand some of my time here in Beverley Hills making faces and odd sounds for the benefit of posterity.
Can you imagine just when I wanted to get to London and see what my old friends Mr. Dawes, Mr. Morrow, Joe Robinson, Dave Reed and Admiral Hilary Jones was doing, why these Fox people got the nerve to tell me I have to go to work!1
Just for a little I would tell them something. (A little salary.)
Course I don’t need to tell you that I don’t think the Boys are going to do much over there. Mind you I think it’s a fine thing, and it may be a step in the right direction. But the road is so long that step don’t make much showing. You know they say that all the education, all the learning we have is just from reading and studying what was done in the past. Everything after all according to the learned, is what has the past taught us. Mind you that’s what all the educated people say. But I am kinder personally like Henry Ford. History don’t mean much to me. Never mind what some other old Geeser did in 324 B. C. It’s what are you going to do in 1930. And to my mind the less you read about him the better. For no condition that existed during his time is around today. Now mind you that’s only the ignorant view. We must string the educated for they are the ones that taught us what little us ignorant ones know.
So the educated say that everything is based on what has happened, in other words there is a historical precedent to everything. Now here is where we will lick ’em on their own argument in regard to the success of this conference. If there had never been a Dissarmament Conference in the past why we would look to this one with great anticipation. We would figure that they was going to really dissarm. But since 1922 in Washington at one when I had the good fortune to be, (Not as a Deligate) Secretary Hughes was pinch hitting for me there, and then there was another in 1926 at Geneva.2
I went over on the Leviathan with our Deligation. Mr. Hugh Gibson, (who was then not an Ambassador as he is now but only Minister to Switzerland) and a very very competent man, he will be on this one too, then Admiral Jones, Admiral Andy Long, Mr. Alexander, all a fine bunch of men.3
Well I went down to Geneva too, to see what they would do. Well outside of paying board they dident do anything. We had sunk and sunk at the Washington Conference, till we dident have anything else left above water line, so naturally at the Geneva one as we had nothing to sink, there was no sinking. So it flopped.
It was like going to a Prohibition New Years party, there was just nothing to keep the thing going that was all. Then the next year they had another. But it did nothing. Now this is just another one. Of course mind you they will decide on some little thing such as the limiting of Battleships, (which are washed up anyhow) and they may do something about Cruisers. But there will be nothing done about Instruments of war.
If some fellow gets up and says, “What do you say about prohibiting the entire use of Chemical gasses during the next war?” Say they will throw that guy in the Thames River.
Suppose some Deligate says, “Aeroplanes are an unfair method of warfare, for they can drop things on defenseless people, what do you say we abolish them?” Well I will tell you what they would say, they would say, send that Deligate home to have his head examined.
Now you see what I mean by us profiting by what has taken place in history is that we have held all these Dissarmament Conferences and nothing has been done, so if we base the future on the past why nothing will be done. It just is not in the cards. Naturally every Nation wants to protect themselves according to their own needs. They don’t want war. Neither do they want to be left entirely defenseless, so you can’t blame ’em. England and America may make a big too-doo about cutting down till it’s a parity in Battleships and Cruisers. But that won’t mean a thing. If you and I are evenly matched, that don’t mean that we won’t fight. It really means that we are more liable to fight, for each will naturally think they have the edge on the other.
But the whole thing may lead to something. It sets people thinking in the right direction. But as far as doing anything to prevent war, why it’s not liable to do that. There has been war since the beginning of time, and we are no smarter than the people that have gone before us, so there is awful apt to be some more war. So let’s sink something with ’em, but don’t sink anything that we are liable to need.
1For Charles G. Dawes see WA 331:N 2; for Dwight W. Morrow see WA 325:N 8. Joseph Taylor “Joe” Robinson, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1913 until his death in 1937; minority leader of the Senate from 1923 to 1933. For David A. Reed see WA 348:N 1. Hilary Pollard Jones, American naval officer who attained the rank of vice admiral before retiring in 1927. Jones and the other individuals that Rogers mentioned represented the United States at the London Disarmament Conference of 1930.
2For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 351:N 1.
3Hugh Simon Gibson, American career diplomat who served as United States ambassador to Belgium from 1927 to 1933; formerly held similar posts in Poland and Switzerland; chairman of the American delegation to the preliminary commission for the disarmament conference at Geneva, Switzerland, from 1926 to 1927. Andrew Theodore Long, American naval officer; member of the general board of the Navy from 1923 to 1930; naval adviser to Gibson at Geneva.
WA369 January 19, 1930
TARIFF, HOOTCH AND ROYALTY
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers.
We got some pretty big things been happening in the last week or so. Our Deligation to the Conference of Peace Propaganda landed O.K. and have rehearsed and are ready to open Tuesday. We sent over a mighty fine cast. It opens with great expectations, and I do hope something good comes from it. But I kinder look for the Boys to come sneaking back here one by one exhausted with really nothing done, unless we decide to do the sinking.
Prohibition has been the small table talk here lately. People are getting so they get pretty excited in Boston and New York when there is a run-in between the Coast Guard and Gentlemen of our fastest growing industry. You shoot a Bootlegger now and they take it up in Congress.
You shoot the Town’s leading Citizen in an attempted Holdup and even the local papers won’t make much of a to-do over it. That shooting up along the New England Coast, I don’t know what they thought the Coast Guard Boys should have done when the boat wouldent halt. Just let ’em go and lay it to unruliness I guess. The Commission that Mr. Hoover has out now “to see if there is any drinking going on, and if so why?” why it’s turning in its report now. Well when that comes in the Senate will break out again. The same old argument will start again. How much time in the way of salary do you suppose has been wasted in Congress just on argueing on Prohibition? And you just as well argue on the tarriff. Nothing is ever going to be done about either one.
Well we are going through the siege now of looking at the pictures of the Italian wedding.1
Say she is a pretty stern-faced young Lady ain’t she? Boy I would hate to beat her to a parking space. She looks like she took that Queen stuff serious.
Did you know that her Mother was Montenegroian? No it’s not as bad as it sounds. She came from a country called Monte-Negro. I looked all this up when I was over in Italy prowling around writing about them. Her father was the king there and he had a pack of daughters, and either he or someone was a mighty fine matchmaker, for he married every one of them off to somebody who would be King some day. He had ’em scattered all around those little “Balking” Nations. It got so you couldent hardly meet a Queen over there that wasent the daughter of the King of Monte-Negro. Course this one to Italy really landed what would be called the Piece-De-Resistance of the bunch of them. Course lots of these others dident stay Queens long, but that wasent their Father’s fault, he couldent be responsible for knowing that there was going to be a war and send pretty near all the Kings back to the bench. He was the King of a pretty poor little Country, and one time somebody asked him “what was the principal product of his Country?” He said, “Raising Queens.”
They were all very pretty and very domesticated. You know there is a great deal of misunderstanding in regard to the standing of the Royal Family of Italy, on account of the great publicity and prominence of Mussolini. It is most generally supposed that the King there is nothing. Well nothing could be further from the fact. That’s one of the smart things that Mussolini has done is to always show great reverence and respect for the King and his family and their position, and say if you think the King there is not popular with the people you are away off, he is very popular, and don’t think Mussolini don’t know that, and he always gives the King preference (unless he is really going to do something important.)2
But no, really he does get on great with him.
They claim at any big public function in most parts of Italy that the King will get a much bigger public reception than the “Duce.”3
He is a very small fellow, and he has always been very self-conscious about it. He only likes to attend functions where it’s on a hill, and he can be on the upper side. He did some very nice things during the war, and all the Soldiers like him very much. He really went right up to where they were at the front and helped to minister to their wants and ills. And the Queen did wonderful work then.
There dident seem to be any of the “Hooey” and Applesauce, about that Royal family that surrounds all those others. Course they had a lot of it, but they are modest, plus, in comparison to all the others. That old thing of doing away with the Kings, it will never be done there if the people themselves have anything to do with it, at least not while he is alive.
You know this Mussolini is a wise Bird. He knows that, and he knows that they don’t do any harm, and like the one in England, and all of them, they fill a certain social place, that the men who run the Country havent time or wouldent monkey with.
Those people over there like it and we eat it up over here. We are the biggest Yaps in the World to fall for stuff like that. Buckingham Palace has the Iron railings all wore off with the noses of Americans trying to peep through the cracks of the bars.
I really think the King of Spain has more to do with the affairs of his country than any of them.4
They have a Dictator, but the King put him in, and he can throw him out. But this little fellow in Italy is very popular, no more so than King George is in England, but much more so than people think, who have the impression that Mussolini is the only one in Italy that ever got a hand. So happy life to the young folks, they are no better or no worse than the rest of us. They got their troubles cut out. This Kinging is a tough job I imagine. And just think where would we be with our weeklies. You know Mr. Hoover don’t come out and be shot with everybody like Mr. Coolidge used to, so a Royal wedding now and then is mighty welcome.
1Humbert, crown prince of Italy, married Princess Marie Jose of Belgium on January 8, 1930. The princess’ mother, Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, was a former duchess of Bavaria.
2Victor Emmanuel III, king of Italy from 1900 to 1946. He was married in 1896 to Princess Elena, daughter of the future king of Montenegro.
3Alfonso XIII, king of Spain from 1886 to 1931. His reign was marked by the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera (see WA 339:N 5).
4For George V see WA 336:N 8.
WA370 January 26, 1930
A QUICK HOP TO LONDON
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl hither and thither, and Boy I did some prowling right lately before setting sail for our former Proprietors’ land. Just before I jumped over here to England, I was all set out in California to go to New York on some business, and was to take the plane the next day. Well the Company called me up about dinner time and said that the weather was none to good and they wasent sure about a Plane getting away the next morning, so I decided that I would catch the train that night, (the Chief) that left at nine o’clock. So my wife hustled me around there and we called up the aviation and told them if they did leave in the morning to wire me and I would drop off the train and they could pick me up along the line.
Well away I come and the next day as we was poking along I kept waiting for a message to get off, but finally one come saying the plane couldent go so that meant I had to stay on the train for the trip for it was snowing a terrible storm all over the country.
It’s the first whole trip I have made on the train in a long time. But I enjoyed it. We had a lot of folks aboard that I knew, among them Tom Mix.1
He was going down to Florida to confer with his boss Mr. John Ringling, as Tom was a big success in the Circus last year and he is to go out with the same show again this year, the “Sells Floto” show.2
You know Mr. Ringling bought it and all the other shows. Did you know that he owns all the Circuses there is now, every one of them. All but the 101 Wild West, that’s still Zack Miller’s.3
And by the way did you know that John Ringling is ONE of the richest men in America? Well he is. He has property everywhere. You know he had a great chance to tell where the country was growing and where it wasent. Talk about a weather report, that circus could tell you about to a “two bit piece” just the amount of money that was in every community and then he had these year after year records and having plenty of money he knew where to buy, and he did and today there’s not a growing town or State that he don’t own something in.
You can’t fool that Baby; he knows how good your town is. The Circus business is about the smallest thing he is in, and he owns it all. The Dr. Gianini, one of those famous Italian brothers that made such a record with the “Bank of Italy,” all of us in California owe them.4
Dr. runs the New York end of all their business and I had borrowed from him even before we hit California. Well Dr. and his wife was on the train. You see it’s kinder like a party. You are on there three days. I visited with Dr. but paid nothing on account. He said to me, “Will, what do you do with your money? It’s about time you was paying your debt.” He finances all these Movie people that make productions. You know it’s one of the most wonderful tributes to the opportunities of our Country that a couple of Italians could start with a little working man’s saving chest in a little shack in San Francisco and in just a few years have the third largest banking Institute in the World. Their Father wasent Morgan, or a Rockefeller.5
Then Earl C. Anthony that runs our finest Radio Station out there where we get all our amusement from was on the trip.6
So it passed mighty fast. Well I landed in New York on the Century and made a date to see Winifred Sheehan, the head man in the Fox Organization at two o’clock.1
We talked over a story that I am to do for my next picture and found that it would take a little while to prepare it so that there was nothing I could be doing for the next couple of weeks. So I said, Winnie I believe I will jump over to London to this “Dissagreement Conference” and as our Deligation had already sailed we called up the Steamship line and here the Bramen, the newest and finest boat, was sailing that very night. This was three o’clock, and I had no Passports, Visa’s or anything.
So we hustled around and grabbed off an Emergency passport, then I had to go get my picture taken to put on the “Suponea,” so I rushed to one of those Passport Photo places, got the “Wanted in Oklahoma,” then I had to make the British Embassy Offices to get the thing Visayed for their Country or I couldent land. Then to get some Boat accomidations, then it’s knocking right on six o’clock, for this is all away down in the wrong end of New York.
Well I had clothes. I dident want a dress or Tuxedo, but I did want an old dark blue serge that I could get in the dining room on the boat with, so I found a little place open, not exactly second-hand, but they had been there so long they tasted like it. Then some black shoes, and a black tie, and I was ready to fool the head Steward. I was just thinking some people plan for years to go to Europe and wonder what they will get to wear, and all that Hooey. But Boy, I had to do it all in just fifteen minutes. Course I looked like fifteen minutes, but I made it. The whole thing was originally my Wife’s idea anyhow. She had been saying all the time that I should go to this Conference. I had been to the Washington one and the Geneva one, and she insisted that I needed some new gags, and told me when I left if I had the chance to run over and see what it was all about, for my Public.
So I hope some good comes from it. I am just landing here and mailing you this back and I can’t tell yet what will happen. But even if they don’t dissarm, it’s been a great trip, and next week I will tell you about London.
Oh, by the way, the little suit fell apart the first night out.
1Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix, famous American cowboy motion picture star; one of the greatest box office attractions in the history of the screen.
2For John N. Ringling see WA 332:N 5.
3Zachary Taylor “Zack” Miller, owner of the 101 Ranch near Ponca City, Oklahoma, and organizer of the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, which frequently made world-wide tours from 1906 to 1931.
4Attilio Henry Giannini, American physician and banker; brother of Amadeo Peter Giannini, founder of the Bank of Itay, predecessor of the huge Bank of America. Attilio, who supervised the family’s banking interests in New York City, was leading pioneer in the financing of motion picture productions. His wife was the former Leontine Denker of Los Angeles.
5John Pierpont Morgan, Sr., founder of the influential banking firm of J. P. Morgan & Company. For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 351:N 5.
6Earle Charles Anthony, California automobile distributor, service station developer, and radio station owner.
7Winfield R. “Winnie” Sheehan, American motion picture director and producer; vice president of Fox Film Corporation from 1921 to 1935.
WA371 February 2, 1930
PRESIDENTS MESSAGE AND ROMAN PROGRESS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. About ten days ago our President delivered his first message to Congress. You know that’s one of the things that his contract calls for. One of the few stipulated duties of the President, and that is that every once in awhile he delivers a message to Congress to tell them the “Condition of the Country.” This message as I say is to Congress, the rest of the country know the condition of the country, for they live in it and are a part of it. But the Senators and Congressmen being in Washington all the time have no idea what is going on in America. So the President has to tell ’em. The country must have been in pretty bad shape for it took 12,000 words for Mr. Hoover to tell how bad it was. You see when a thing is in fine shape, it don’t need much explaining, you can then just write, “Country. O.K.” Now we will just take up various ailments and see what he says about this land of “A dollar down and a dollar a week.”
In the first paragraph he says, “In complying with the Constitution that I from time to time give to Congress information on the State of the Union, I wish to emphasize that during the last year it has grown in strength, advanced in comfort, and gained in knowledge.” Well that don’t look so bad for us, we have “gained in strength,” in plainer words we have got stouter. That proves that our reducing has been a failure, if a Country can get stouter while they are on a diet, what could we gain if we wasent. This observation of the President’s will be of no knowledge to lots of middle aged women of the country. They have realized their strength, ever since they all procured a bath room scales.
Now the next paragraph, “Advanced in comfort.” Now why have we advanced in comfort? Maby it’s because we have gained in strength, or have we got more comfortable in spite of our fat, but at any rate we are “fat and comfortable.” Now in both of those I think his observations are absolutely correct. I never saw a President more right than he is there. We are “fat and comfortable.” Now I wish he had gone into it a little further there and kinder discussed the fact as to just how good is it for a country to be fat and comfortable. A pig being fattened for slaughter is fat and comfortable, but that’s just about all he is. He ain’t worth much to get out and do some rustling around for himself. So I wonder if the President dident just about sum up the condition of this country in those two observations. Wasent it Rome that was in that very shape one time? I never did read much about Roman history outside of the life of Mussolini, by Zurfatti.1
But I have gathered from Hollywood Photographic annoyances that Rome gained her exalted position in the manly art of self defense at a time when they were anything but “fat and comfortable” but were as a matter of fact, “skinny” and “ill at ease.” In other words little pangs of hunger drove them to deeds far beyond their natural capacities. They went out and cleaned up on the rest of the world not for glory but for “callories.” Just look at pictures of them in that great bales of tin armor. They wasent comfortable by any means. (I know I wore one of those things in a picture once.) That’s what made ’em fight was to get out of that thing. And Caesar wouldent unlock the thing and let ’em out till they had practically, whipped the world. Caesar was kinder the “Head Man” down there then. He was the Grundy of his day.2
He knew that Senators were a useless lot and that especially the ones from the backward states, should talk “darn small.” Brutus was a Senator from Cicily kinder the Alabama of the Roman Empire, and the other Senators wanted to have Caesar investigated. You see Caesar had really no official capacity. He maintains a suit of offices in Rome and every time there was a Convention or an election he would bob up. There was two political fations in Rome then, the Republicans and the Christians. Caesar was of course a Republican and contributed generously to their campaign funds, and would kindly furnish Christians for the Sunday afternoon affairs in the arenas. In that ingenious way they kept the Christians the minority party. But the Christians said, “If we can’t rule we will investigate. But Brutus being a learned man, far beyond the knowledge of other Senators, was the first person to have no confidence in investigations. He knew they were good for recreational purposes, and for a pastime till the next session was called, but not as a means of arriving at anything. So instead of investigating Caesar, he just procured a Bowie knife and just stabbed the gentleman, practically ruining him. It was a rather crude way of arriving at the facts, but you must remember Brutues was an honorable man, he was a Democrat. That called for a trial, to see if was a penal offense to stab a Senator. The Jury was to decide whether he was to get a medal or be reprimanded. It was the first trial at Cameras and Aielaniests took part. Nero the Paul Whiteman of his day, was called in to judge while he was rosining his bow.3
Mark Anthony was the first District attorney to have ambitions of becoming Governor. When he started speaking they couldent tell if he was for Caesar or against him, for it was the first time that satire had ever been used publically. When he kept saying, “Brutues was an honorable man,” why Brutues was taking it on the level, and he had to repeat it over twenty times to drive home his brand of humor. The Roman Senate at that time was a kinder modern House of Lords, and after Anthony for the 19th time said, “Brutues was an honorable man” why they got to looking at each other and saying, “This guy is either kidding us or Brutues” and they got to paying closer attention and they found it was both of them. Anthony made a wonderful speech. But it practically ruined all Senates to follow, for they have figured that all legislation must be based on oratory, make up in jestures what you lack in ideas. So all these intervening years Senators have tried to emulate Anthony, and the only thing they have ever approached him in is, endurance. Anthony had one quality that the boys following have never been able to grasp. Anthony dident take himself seriously. That how he got Brutues off with a tune by Caesar, and a small bail. But all this is just to show you that Rome’s turning point was just at that time. She had reached her heights through the American Magazine plan of hard work, perseverance, and taking advantage of her opportunities. Now she was “fat and Comfortable.” She started putting in baths. Up to then when a Nation got any dirt on ’em, they wore it off. But the Romans commenced to getting High Hat. They had bath tubs. With this effiminatecy started their downfall, they had up to then walked everywhere, or rode horseback. But an ingenious fellow named Chariot, first name Henry, got to getting out a contraption to ride in, a thing where you dident have to walk. You looked like you was walking but you wasent. You was in fact riding. Well that just upset the whole lives habits and customs of a Nation. “Ride in a conveyance and take a bath.” Rome was sitting pretty. Then somebody decided with these conveyances they must have some roads. Up to then they had had nothing but trails, for they dident need anything else to walk on. Then they appointed a Highway Commission.
That’s where the first graft enters into history. The Highway Com wanted to build from Rome to Naples. As Naples was where a great many of the boys spent their week ends. They called it the Apian way for the same reason we call one the Lincoln highway. Lincoln was never on it and neither was Apian. Then there was a fellow on the highway com who lived away over at Venice, so he built it by his place, thereby starting a custom which has been faithfully handed down. A smart state nowadays will appoint all their highway men from one place. Then one road will do all of ’em. So the lad’s commenced burning up the boulevards, more people crushed under wheels than met their death in fair competition with the lions. But what mattered the death, wasent progress on the rampage, “We are bathing and moving, what else do you want?”
With the riding come the flesh. Where they used to walk and keep theirselvs in shape to meet and defeat any enemy on a moment’s notice now they were taking on beef. But they was happy, they was riding and bathing. To solve the industrial situation, why they decided to sell on credit, making the Chariot within the reach of all. Up to then Romans had never been in debt, but now they were really becoming to amount to something. They could afford to look down on the Greeks, and the meades and the Persians, and the Pharisees, for those backward people dident not only not have a Bath, or a Chariot, but they dident even know enough to owe something, they were a backward lot. So the Romans just kept riding, bathing, for they were selling Tubs on credit. Well that was great. They framed themselves up a stock market, where they could sell something they dident have. They started selling shares in Vesuvious limited. Well these other Nations got to watching ’em, and as their waistbands expanded, their endurance lessened. Instead of standing on guard to see if any enemy approached they was week ending on the yacht in the bay of Napoli.
1Margherita Grassini Sarfatti, Italian writer and book reviewer; author of The Life of Benito Mussolini, an international bestselling biography in 1925.
2For Joseph R. Grundy see WA 332:N 3.
3Paul Whiteman, American bandleader who became famous in the 1920s for pioneering “sweet style” as opposed to the traditional “classical” jazz.
WA372 February 9, 1930
TONNAGE COSTS RISE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, but as I havent seen a paper to read for over a week, and then for the three weeks previous so that I dident get ahold of any that had any American news in them. So I don’t know what has happened with you all here on the home grounds. All I can hear that has happened is Prohibition. Congress is still argueing over it. So I guess I haven’t missed much by being away, for I have heard everything there was to say for either side in the first six months it was in existence.
So that leaves us nothing but London and the Conference, and that trip home. Now you have often heard people say, “The Captain said it was the worst trip he had ever experienced.” Now I know it’s terrible to pull that. But honest, that’s just what he said. He said that there was especially one day that it was not only a storm but a hurricane. Well old Claremore just keeled over and dident show up for days. We was on the French Lines crack boat the “Ille De France,” and it’s a great one in rough weather.
Of course we wasent making much time, but it did stand the weather great. It pitched a lot, of course, but it dident do any of that side rolling that is so popular with most boats. We come in right along side of the “Aquatania” that left a day and a half ahead of us.
I was awful anxious to get the papers to see what had been done at the Conference since I had been on the boat. Of course we had a little paper on board that gives us a few lines of each event that comes over the wireless. We couldent tell if they were doing anything or not, so when I landed I grabbed the papers to see what had been done, and do you know we hadent missed a thing.
There was something in there about Japan and America conferring on the tonnage of Submarines. Well when the conference started, everyone had been led to believe that they would be abolished all together.
Now they are discussing the amount of tonnage and it is far in excess of what either country has, so it will take a lot of money to build up to the amount that the Country dissarms down to.
They are talking about giving Japan equality with us on Submarines. Well, that’s one of the coming war weapons; why, that will mean just what I told you one time. That a one-eyed man can tell you who will win the Conference, it will be Japan.
Our ratio in Battleships are: England 5: America 5 and Japan 3, 5-5-3. Now they are talking of giving Japan 5-5-5 on Submarines. Why, the more submarines? Because Japan wants them, that’s why. Mind you, with all joking and kidding aside, it’s going to be a pretty tough thing to really do anything worthwhile over there.
You are bucking human nature. It’s simply an economic Conference and not by any means a Dissarmament Conference.
Nobody is going to dissarm in the least. You know the men that every Nation that is gathered there are not the “Idealists” that think, “Oh we can’t have war; it’s too terrible, we must not have war.” Well that’s wonderful, but these men know history too well. They know each other too well, they know that is not only a possibility but a probably.
They know they can’t go back home and tell their people that they have left them unprotected. England was raised on her Navy. Her Navy is what has made her great. Every British Kid 8 years old knows that. Do you think they are going to let a bunch of their statesmen just sit around a table and agree to let somebody else be ABSOLUTELY as big as they are? You know these things are not being done.
Something that you have held for life and you know it’s been your weapon that has made you, you just don’t give up that without a struggle, you don’t just hand it over.
It sounds great, this parity, but you are not going to get it. In the first place, it would take us years to build up to them and it’s a cinch they are not going to sink till they arrive at our level.
Then there is France and Italy, they were given equality at Washington. Why? Because France was down and out at that time, 1922. They couldn’t demand more. Now they are a different France than in 22.
They are the “Cockyest” ones at the Conference. They want to be given a much higher rating. They feel, (and rightly so) that they are one of the world’s powers, and they are not going to be humiliated by being called any less.
They have a tremendous submarine building programme. It’s their only weapon against England’s already great fleet. And you can bet they won’t give up a pound of that.
Italy will demand the same rating with France, and she won’t get it. Now what will the Italian Deligation do? Will Mussolini bring them home if they don’t get it?
You know those birds over there have a pretty tough time of it. It’s all right to joke about them not doing anything. But when you have fought each other as much as they have this old trusting each other to never have another war is a lot of beautiful stuff, but not just exactly what you would want to bet all your whole mode of defense on.
One thing we can rest assured, we have some fine men there, we got a great Deligation. They are not thinking the World is going to kiss each other from now to eternity. They want Peace, but they want a Gun to help get it with.
You must always remember that their is more National pride in this Conference to divide up than there is Ships. Nations are not there so much to protect their Little Gunboats as they are their National Prestige.
And always remember they are not there to stop wars, they are there just to put some kind of a stop if they can of this Nation and France of making them build too many.
WA373 February 16, 1930
AROUND ASTOR FARM
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see in the old Country. Of all the places I visited on this last trip to England the one that really was the most impressive was the country place of Lord and Lady Astor.1
I had been lots of times at their London residence. But this one, out about an hour from London, was the real McCoy. It’s got one of those long records that take you back and maby was where old Henry the 8th. did a big percentage of his marrying. I expect Caesar was registered there.
It’s right up on a hill overlooking the winding Thames River. I don’t know the acreage but the chances are that old Cromwell filed on the original 160 acres, and then had all his hired help homestead on adjoining 160’s, and then when they had proved up on them, why “Crommy” conveniently sent them off to some little Nicaraguan uprising.2
But before going he had them make their cross on some parchment, saying that in case of their not returning the holdings of the said Cross’ee were entirely at the disposal of party of the first part, which was Cromwell. So the Astors practically hold all the country lying east of the Thames.
The house is a modest bungalow of not over seventy-five or a hundred rooms. It’s laid out a good deal like Westminster Abbey, only without the Towers. It’s rambling, but still kept within the bounds of good taste. There is a landing field in each wing, where you can take off and make the dining room by lunch. The ceilings are high enough that they give you plenty of altitude for taking off and landing. The first room you enter is kind of a cosy corner. It’s about ten acres cut off from the rest of the subdivision. But now they have made it a lovely homely place.
It was a lovely Sunday afternoon, the sun shining bright, a kind of a historic day for that time of the year near London. The door tender told me that Lady Astor was out in the tennis court and she had left word for me to come out, and sure enough she was out there. She was going it great guns. You know she has more energy, can get more things done in one day, and have more of them to do than any creature either male or female that I ever saw. Well, she quit the tennis racket, and when I started in blowing about what a place it was, she said, “Come on, I will show you around.” We were then out in front of the main house, and I was gapping at it, and then she told me:
“Right where you are standing is where my old colored woman, that I brought with me from Virginia when I was married, she got one look at the place and said to me; “Miss Nancy is here where we all goin to live?” “Why yes, Cynthia, here is our home.” “My Lord, Miss Nancy you all done outmarried yourself.” Well what a kick she got out of repeating that old favorite of hers.
Then we started in to see this wonderful place. We walked for about three-quarters of an hour then she saw a little old car there and she said “Come on we will ride.” I asked her can you run this thing. Well then we commenced seeing the place right, a golf course, steeplechase course, flowers, beautiful colored Pheasants running about, stables where he breeds his great Thoroughbreds, and then we walked down a beautiful walk. There was a fine big monument with names on it. It was all the men killed in the war that worked on the Estate. Then on down on the side of a beautiful wooded bluff or hillside, and there was a kind of a lovely sunken garden effect, about 100 feet long, and maby forty wide, in oblong shape, with a marvelous statue of an angel faced woman with arms outstretched, and she standing at the back and over this garden effect, facing a wide strip of clearing through the trees away down below so you could see out across the river.
What was in this spot? You wouldent guess in a million years. Well during the great war they had given up their place for a great Hospital, they had used a part of the house and built in addition great temporary buildings, and in this was the graves of boys who had died on their place, that lived in almost every country both England and all overseas. The stones were laid flat over the graves, all of one shape and kind, with their names and home; several of our boys, Canadians, Australians. There must have been as many as fifty in all and she could stand at any grave and tell you about each boy. She knew them all personally. She had held the hands of many as they passed out.
She would move from grave to grave and tell you the characteristics of each. How she had promised one a wrist watch if he would live till she could go to London and buy it, and he did, and he had it on smiling as he passed on. How she could go into a ward and say, “Now you boys either got to die or get well, we are not going to have you sick here all the time.”
She is the greatest jollier in the world. If I was sick and dident even know her I know of no one I would rather have come to see me. There she stood with tears in her eyes as she spoke of each boy as though he had been her own, and related stories of them.
This woman that can get up in the House of Commons and stand the “Ragging” and “chaffing” of the roughest old politician, an American born woman, and first to sit in the great Parliamentary Halls of England, the center of every drawing room crowd, the Famous Lady Astor, but here she was, just a plain mother, all the fight, all the alertness of mind, all the Social graces, all the wit and sparkle gone, there almost under the shade of her great house lay buried these lads, she had tried to help and learned to love. She was just walking among “Her Boys.”
She had had a great artist do the statue, it was symbolic of the Mother looking across these graves to the west, as they had “Gone West.” The spot had been consecrated for those of its religions that asks for that. One woman knew of her son being buried there and she wanted to move him. Lady Astor paid her way and had her come from Canada and when she saw the spot she said, “I wouldent move him for the world, no spot could be more beautiful than this.” How many will turn their beautiful Estates into a burial ground?
And when I hear some political or social opponent ever say aught of her, I won’t even go the trouble of telling them of her wonderful heart. I will just smile satisfyingly to myself and rake up that vision of that woman walking among “Her Boys” with tears in her eyes yet telling jokes of each one. So let no woman, mother of a son, ever say evil against her.
Then we come back to the House and that’s when I demanded the Port Wine instead of tea, and got it.
1Waldorf Astor, English statesman and newspaper publisher; husband of Lady Astor (see WA 344:N 3).
2Thomas Cromwell, English statesman during the reign of Henry VIII; noted for his harshness as a church agent in the dissolution of small monasteries.
WA374 February 23, 1930
ME AND THE KING AT THE HOUSE OF LORDS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as I prowl around. Of all the things on the English trip I have been asked more about was the big opening of the Conference where the King was present.1
Well that was about all there was and has been to the Conference so far. The opening was so big and impressive that they havent been able to follow it up. It’s like an act on the stage coming out and doing their very best trick first, then they have nothing to do afterwards. But in all seriousness I feel sooner or later (mostly later) they will be able to accomplish something over there. Nothing so big or radical as some had hoped, but they will do something.
Well this opening was in one of the rooms called the Lords Room in the House of Parliament. It’s not the one where they meet, it’s I suppose a lounge room. In fact I don’t know what it’s used for ordinarily, it’s not so very big, just a big old long bare room with some great paintings all around the walls, and a funny thing right behind the speakers was a scene the Battle on the seas where Lord Nelson, their greatest Naval Hero, was in a hand to hand battle with his enemy on the deck of the ship.2
Then facing all the speakers was another Naval battle scene where the English Navy had sunk somebody else. You would have thought their sense of humor would have made them change these things and get them out of there while this great effort to Abolish ships was on. It would be just like the Anti Saloon League holding their convention in a speakeasy.
I had heard of London fogs, and most of my trips over there heretofore had been in the summer and I had never seen a really great fog in action. But Broth! I want to tell you that on the very morning of this great opening ceremony, it was pitch dark. Cabs were poking along, people feeling their way about. The king coming from Buckingham Palace had policemen walking in front of his Auto with lights. Crowds of people had gathered along the route he was to take to see him but they couldent even see the street he was to come along, much less his car.
And that’s how our poor Charley Dawes got late.3
Here we had sent him over to England five months ahead so that he would be on time, and the poor fellow missed the King’s speech and half the others. Guess he dident have any Policemen to guide him. Everybody of an official nature had on the usual morning dress, cutaway coat, stripe trousers and black shoes, and high top hat. All but the American Newspaper men, lots of us still had on our Pajamas. News Hounds from other countries they had all these costumes, some of them looked better than their Deligations. But these old Political News sleuths from Washington, they had been on too many trips and Conventions, this was just another gathering with them. Course the King was kinder new to ’em. But outside of that and the fog there was no novelty.
I sure was lucky. My seat in the Press section was the row just in front of where the wives of the Deligates sit, and right behind me sat Mrs Morrow, Mrs Robinson, Mrs Reed, Mrs Dawes, Mrs Gibson, Mrs Adams and Mrs Stimpson.4
We could talk and visit without being rude, for we would do it during the time that the Interpreter was translating from English to French, or Visa Versa. You see every speech had to be translated. Not into Japanese. I don’t know how they were supposed to know what it was all about. They dident come there to hear speeches anyway; they come to get more ships, and you watch ’em get ’em, too.
A thing that struck me rather odd was that there was no prayer, or benediction, or blessing, or a single thing to start it off. You would have thought that they would have made some plea for divine guidance. But they seemed to have enough confidence in themselves that they dident need any help from the Lord. However I think by now they wish they had asked him to give them some small assistance.
Now the King comes in. Prime Minister McDonald and one of his Cabinet walk on either side.5
He looks fine. This is really his first public appearance since his severe illness, and the English people felt a little nervous that he might show the effect of it. But he dident at all. He walked in with a steady gait. He has a very infectious smile, and he bowed to the left and right very generously as he walked down the aisleway. He was escorted to the Throne Chair. All this time everybody was standing. Then McDonald announced who it was, and he started in. He read his speech, as all of them did, but a man from Australia, he had learned his. The king has practically no English accent at all. He speaks perfect English. He was by far the easiest understood of any speaker there. We all stood all during his speech. Happily it wasent long. The minute he had finished he was escorted out, and all remained standing. He dident even wait until it had been interpreted into French.
Then is when he sent four men carrying a long table back, and they carried the Throne Chair out. Of course that struck us Americans as funny. You would have thought they had enough Throne Chairs that they wouldent have to carry one around with him. Or knowing that Curio hunting mania of us folks over here, he knew that parts of that Chair would be in Arkansaw, and the throne part in Pennsylvania. Of course the Republican Senator would have taken care of that. But the King sent back for it after he had gone out, and we all stood while they carried it out, they put it on this table, and carried it like it was a stretcher. The king then went back to his Country Estate Sandingham, or something like that. He had only come up for this.
The Prince of Wales was of course down in Africa.6
Then the other Speakers, then the long Interpreters, and that when I would get all the scandal from the Women. Mrs Morrow was telling me all about Anne and Charles, that’s what she calls ’em, Anne and Charles.7
She told me about the wedding, and how they fooled the newspaper men who were standing out at the front gate all the time. The family dident take so heartily to her flying. But after she got so enthuastic about it, and they figured that on account of the teacher she had why it was OK. Mrs Morrow of course then dident know about this Glider stuff they have been pulling. That sitting up there on a little dab of canvass and some boards with no engine, and no power, that wouldent look so encouraging to me. I want all the engines I can get, and I want ’em all going at full speed before I crawl into anything. I must write you next week about what Ambassador Dawes had to say about these American girls who their folks practically go as far as committing murder to get them presented to the Queen every year. You wouldent believe that such scheming and conniving existed. Remember next week, “Meet the Queen.”
1For George V see WA 336:N 8.
2Horatio Nelson, British naval hero noted for his service in the Napoleonic wars. He won many key engagements, including the battle of Trafalgar in 1805, wherein he lost his life just as the British victory was assured.
3For Charles G. Dawes see WA 331:N 2.
4Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, American educator, social worker, and poet; wife of Ambassador Dwight W. Morrow. Ewilda Miller Robinson, wife of Senator Joe Robinson of Arkansas. Adele Wilcox Reed, wife of Senator David A. Reed of Pennsylvania. For Carol D. B. Dawes see WA 360:N 3. Ynés Reyntiens Gibson, Belgium-born wife of Ambassador Hugh S. Gibson. Frances Lovering Adams, wife of Secretary of the Navy Charles Francis Adams. Mabel Wellington White Stimson, wife of Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson.
1For J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 344:N 2.
6For the Prince of Wales see WA 336:N 8.
7For Anne Morrow and Charles A. Lindbergh see WA 338:N 1.
WA375 March 2, 1930
“MEET THE QUEEN,” A GREAT AMERICAN INDUSTRY
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, or see when I am looking. You know I told you I was going to tell you about one of our American Industrys that you perhaps never knew existed, and that is “Trying to get to be presented at the Court of St James.” The reason I happened to know anything about it, was not from actual experience, as you couldent hardly class me as a Debutante, but one day out at Luncheon with the Ambassador, Mr Charley Dawes, he got to telling about what he was up against with this mania.1
You see it’s getting along about the season for it now, it’s “Meeting season.”
I think its some time in the spring, that they have these “Presentations.” Well fond mothers and doting Aunts don’t wait till then. They go over sometimes a year ahead, and start laying their schemes. Each Nation is allowed so many, I don’t know what determines the amount. I imagine it was an old custom that started away back when they was trying to drum up trade to come to their Country. It was perhaps the first Tourist bait. In those days there was no Prince of Wales to attract attention, so they decided to let a bunch of Girls meet the Queen.2
Our big interest in it of course started when we got to be a Democracy. There is no race of people of people that likes to see royalty like a Democracy. I imagine that the American Revolution wasent hardly over before a bunch of our “better class Citizens” started in trying till finally they had to limit it, and now we are limited to 40. The other Nations I guess have about a like Representation. Personally I think the thing was promoted for the Dressmakers, and Photographers, because all they do is dress up, and then after it’s over have their picture taken in the Presentation dress.
Well here is something you maby dident know the Queen won’t meet at one of these a divorced Woman.3
She has got to have gotten rid of her husband by criminal and not legal means. Well when they cut out these Divorcees that just about cut our supply down to zero. Made some of them almost sorry they got a divorce. Our government tried to get ’em to kind of ease up on that strict rule, and cut it down to just bar ones who had been divorced MORE than once. Well this big elimination give the young Girls a chance. They had never had a chance to get divorced, but they had a chance to meet the Queen, so the competition gets hotter and hotter every year.
They found that no matter if you was presented in 1856 that when ever you married again or died, or shot somebody, that the papers would always remember that “Lizzie Presistent was once presented to Queen Helen of Troy.” It has become a great trade mark. A girl comes back home and lives on that “Presentation” like a Channel swimmer. The folks at home want to meet the girls that took the bow in front of a Queen.
Now how do they get there. Ah’ thats the story. Mr Dawes said that statistics showed that all Ambassadors died young, and that was the reason “Trying to pick 40 out of 120,000,000.” He says that over 93 and 1/3 percent of the business that is transacted at the American Embassy in London, is trying to do something about these Debs that are trying to get their pictures in the home town papers, via the Queen.
The old ambitious Mothers use every ruse know to scheming science. They have letters from their Post Masters, their Congressmen, their Senators, Young Voters League, and do everything that they can to blackjack the Ambassador into thinking that if “Our Mollie” is not one of the favored that they will see that he is recalled from London and sent to Peru. They take Houses in London, and start their Campaigns early. They use dinners as bribes, would use money if they could. Find out some one back home that they know that knows the Ambassador and get them to start work on him. I suppose there has been more money spent on getting and trying to get presented than there has on Armament, which they are trying to abolish now on account of its expense. Mr Dawes said it just had him about cuckoo, and what he wanted to do was to turn the thing over to the Senate of the United States, they have a try at everything and he wants to give them a crack at this. Let each State select a girl, and the seven States that lost out would get in next year, and seven others lose out. Well there is two Senators from each State and can you hear the arguments in there as to why each of their Candidates should not be the ONE. But at least that would give us a new argument in the Senate and that’s something that we havent had since Prohibition and the Tariff was invented. Dawes claims that if an Ambassador could get rid of that thing that it would practically eliminate the cause of an Ambassador being there, and they could come home and we could live in peace forever. I think they ought to sell the privaleges, let the English do it. That’s the way they do with the Titles over there; they auction them off. Why if England would raise the limit from 40 to 40,000 they could sell every one at a big price and soon pay their debt. But I am like Dawes. I want to see the Senate get ahold of it. In the meantime try and meet the Queen, everybody is doing it.
1For Charles G. Dawes see WA 331:N 2.
2For the Prince of Wales see WA 336:N 8.
3For Queen Mary see WA 339:N 3.
WA376 March 9, 1930
COOLIDGE TALKS BUT LITTLE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the Cigarette adds. Calvin and Grace were in our midst for quite a spell and went back last week.1
I really believe he had a great time. He seemed in a mighty cheerful mood. He dident have anything to say, but he kinder smiled when he refused to say it. I really believe it kinder reminded him of old times, the crowds trying to get a glimpse of him and all anxious to hear even a word from him.
The weekly men were shooting at him as of old. I was at a little quiet dinner party where he and Mrs. Coolidge were. I told him all my little jokes on the Disarmament Conference (well not all of them), for there was so many that it would take a week. He knows about the difficulties of one of those things. He sent a bunch over in ’26 and another in ’27 to Geneva and he remembers all they sunk was their expenses. He thinks that Mr. Hoover made a mighty fine selection in our Deligation. I was bragging on Joe Robinson and he said, “He was a very able man.”2
Mrs. Coolidge wanted particularly to hear about Mrs. Dawes.3
She likes Mrs. Dawes very much so she told me, and she is a sweet little old lady, just the opposite in manner from Charley.4
I was fortunate enough to be placed at dinner next to Mrs. Coolidge and she is a dandy. And you know a funny thing she would tell a story and imitate his twang, or New England voice and could she do it? Say, I make a living imitating Mr. Coolidge, but she has me beat and she did it right there before him. I dident think she would have the nerve.
We talked about the Stearns, their old friends up in Boston, and I told them I had met Mr. Stearns and liked him very much and told her the story that I used on the stage about her packing up to leave the White House and after I had finished it, she told me now I will tell you the story as it really happened.5
Mr. Coolidge and I were coming home from Church one morning and he asked me when we moved back to Northampton what I was going to do with all my clothes? I said, well I guess I will have to put them in the closet. He said, “You better put them in the bed room and we will sleep in the closet.”
She was telling about them both writing for the Magazines, and I asked her if they diden’t ever get mixed up on what they were writing and both perhaps refer to the same thing, and she told us, “One day Mr. Coolidge happened to pick up a page of my manuscript and said, ‘I used that, you better leave it out.’ ” She said, however that enough things happened there that both had plenty to write about.
She had that day been over to the Studios watching them make the Movies and she was all enthused about it and she pulled a good one, as they had been photographed with all the different stars and in every conceivable “Set” or place, she said, “I think we are the only ones I saw working all day. Nobody else was taking any pictures.”
As they went to the Studio and as they got out of the car, she said she started to take her little Movie Camera and Mary Pickford told her to leave it.6
She couldent understand that and neither could I. She said, “I suppose they thought I would take something that I ought not to show.” But anyhow Mary gave commands to our Ex-First Lady of the Land.
I flew through El Paso the morning after they had passed through and the Reporters had asked him how he liked West Texas, and what he thought of its advancement. He replied, “It looks just like it did 21 years ago when I was here.” That dident go so well with the Texicans.
He had wired ahead to a friend to get them “a room at the Biltmore Hotel. Nothing elaborate, and please meet us at the train and show us up there.” Naturally the Hotel gave him the whole end of it. But wasen’t that just like him and having the friend meet them at the Station and show them up there? Why that’s like Lindbergh having letters of recommendation to the French.7
Why, Lord, half the Town met them at the Station.
You know it’s remarkable the hold that little fellow has on the people. They sure do believe in him. They know that he didn’t do anything when in there. But he does nothing just at the time when the people want nothing done. You never caught him messing with any Tariff he knew that was loaded with ill will and chances, no matter which way you raised it you hit somebody. They would never have got an extra session of Congress out of him. He knew that was Dynamite to any President. It’s bad enough to let ’em meet when the law says they have to meet, much less gathering them in at other times.
Of course, Mr. Hoover was forced into it, but he shouldent have listened to Borah and that Gang before election.8
He had it won if he had promised nothing. That’s one thing, nobody ever heard Mr. Coolidge promise anything. He is perhaps the greatest Politician of our generation. He has forgot more politics than those birds back there know.
He knows a lot of human Psychology too. He would go to work right now for some big Company, but he is afraid it would be held against him in the future, that is that he had been connected with “Big Business.” You see there is very few businesses that don’t have business with the Government and he is afraid that it would be said that they hired him to help get something about their Income tax fixed, or something of that sort. So he is just laying off, AND YOU WATCH HIM. You are going to hear a lot more of him. I have already invited him to be my Guest at my ranch when he is Ex-President the NEXT time.
1For Grace A. Coolidge see WA 349:N 1.
2For Joe Robinson see WA 368:N 1.
3For Carol D. B. Dawes see WA 360:N 3.
4For Charles G. Dawes see WA 331:N 2.
5For Frank W. Stearns see WA 329:N 3.
6Mary Pickford, American silent film actress who won wide acclaim and legendary renown as “America’s sweetheart.”
7For Charles A. Lindbergh see WA 338:N 1.
8For William E. Borah see WA 337:N 8.
WA377 March 16, 1930
RED MEN GOT BIG LAUGH
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I see as I go about the Country watching Calvin open Dams, or close ’em up rather.1
You see he wasent going to go over into Arizona and do that at all. I think he kinder felt like it might be construed as a political move, for future reference.
So the Committee got the bright idea of wiring President Hoover and getting him to ask Mr. Coolidge. Well Mr. Hoover did and as he did he wired the Arizona Committee back that he had wired Mr. Coolidge asking him to go.
Well of course that put it up to Mr. Coolidge, and if he hadn’t gone the Committee would have known that he really was disobeying the wishes of the President. It was pretty slick on Mr. Hoover’s part in doing this, and anyhow after Mr. Coolidge got there I think he was glad he went.
It really was a wonderful sight away out in the Mountains and desert, and here was this huge affair that they not only had to spend millions on, but had to spend a tremendous sum to get the roads in there, to get in on, and bring all the thousands of tons of stuff to be used.
The Indians made it look mighty picturesque. One of the tribes, the Pima’s is supposed to get some of the water for they are supposed to own the reservation just below the Dam. I am going over there pretty soon when the thing gets going good and see just exactly how much land the Indians really own that is watered by this.
It’s as I told you before the Apache Indians owned the land the Dam is built on. But to be above a dam is very little comfort to you in the way of getting some water out of it. You got to be down hill from it. Living above a dam is just kinder like being a Democrat, you are living and voting, but you are not deriving any of the Benefits.
You know as you saw all those Indians you couldent help but think of the old days. Here was the old warlike Apaches that fought to hold all they had, and most of them wound up in jail, but there was a Washington that fought for his tribe against invaders and wound up with a flock of Statues and a title of Father of his Country. And yet I expect if the truth were known the old Apache Chiefs went through more and fought harder for their Country than George did. But George won, that’s the whole answer to history, it’s not what did you do, but what did you get away with at the finish.
That’s why your dissarmament won’t get anywhere much, it’s just because all those Nations know that they are important in World affairs just in proportion to their Military strength. Is there any reason in the world why Japan should be the power she is and China with its millions and resources, that go to the four corners of the earth. But that’s just the trouble, China has STOOD for so much from other Nations that they are not classed as one of the big shots. Why because they concentrated on peace and not war. So Japan is at London now, and China can’t even make a Rotary Convention.
Spain discovered half the world, her ships were on every sea, but she let her Navy run down and wound up in the class Z League. Look at Holland, great Country big as England, and they have Colonies, but do you ever hear of them when they talk of what the big powers want? No, you would think they were Rhode Island. Why? No Navy, and some of the rest of them the same. We don’t rate their culture, we don’t rate their achievements, their Art, their Literature, their Integrity, their population, their size, in fact nothing but How big is their Navy?
Why Brazil is bigger than all England, France, Italy and Japan, and has more National resources than all them combined. Yet she couldent get to a Chamber of Commerce membership rally. Same old answer. No Navy. They all know that.
So you can see why there won’t be any tall sinking done by any of these Babies that are up there on top now. It would be a marvelous thing if all of them could see that there was to be no more war and go ahead and do away with their arms of defense. But unfortunately they have all studied history and they know that these ideas we are talking about now are not new, they have all been gone over before, and they just can’t hardly bring themselves to believe that this is going to happen.
So it’s as I said at first we were out there on Indian land dedicating a Dam to get water for white people to come out and use and gradually take more Indian land away. There is going to be nothing different. It started with Lief Erricson in 996, then skipped over Columbus in 1492, for he couldent find this Country in four trips. Then come the Spanish settlers, then the Mayflower was the last straw.
They dident have any Ex-President at the dedicating at their taking land from the Indians but they got it just the same, and they have kept right on doing it up to last week. So you see history repeats itself, the same as it has in wars.
It would be wonderful if people would quit fighting, it would be wonderful if people would leave the Indians alone and let ’em do what they wanted too. But what a chance? I don’t blame Arizona, mind you. You can’t blame anybody. It’s just the way we are bred, that’s all. If we see anything we want we take it. The more so-called civilized we get the more we kill and take. But I bet many an old Indian got many a quiet laugh out of the speeches of “good fellowship” there that day, that were meant to be serious.
1Coolidge was asked to dedicate a dam named in his honor on the Gila River, 130 miles southeast of Phoenix, Arizona.
WA378 March 23, 1930
MERGERS OPERATE WORLD
I had to do a little yapping over the “Rodeo” the other night and as the hook-up was principally over the Middle West States, and having been there recently, I knew that one of the principal things that was agitating the Natives was the “Chain Stores.” I know in my own State of Oklahoma that it has caused quite a furror.
Well after the Broadcasting I got a lot of letters and Telegrams, lots of them from people that did not hear it, but wanted to know what it was. Well they asked me to send it to them, so I just figure the best way to do would be to just use it. There wasent much to it, just a lot of junk, but it might interest you. It really, however, is quite a problem I can’t and dident try to solve it. That’s what the Politicians are for. I only bring these subjects up and let them fix ’em.
Anyhow here it is. I am working here for the Standard Oil of Indiana. In fact sooner or later we will all be working for ’em, or for somebody else. For the day of the Guy working for himself is past. We are living in an age of “Mergers” and “Combines.” When your business is not doing good you combine with something and sell more stock.
The poor little fellow, he can’t combine with anything but the Sherrif in case he is going broke, which he generally is. But “Big Business” merges with another that’s not going good and both do “nothing together.” But it’s one of the mental weaknesses of the American people that if two things go together they think it must be great. They don’t know how it will be financially, but they know that the stock will go up, and that’s all they think about, never mind the dividends.
We used to think that it was only things of the same nature that could combine, but now it’s liable to be the Pennsylvania Railroad and Mennens Borated Talcum Powder.
Blue Jay Corn Plasters are just as liable to go into a financial huddle with Whirlwind Motors as it is to join pedal extremities with Allens footease.
General Motors not only took over Chevrolet, but Frigid Air Ice boxes. Now what’s a Buick car got to do with keeping the smell of onions out of the butter? What’s a Cadillac got to do with keeping your milk cool? I don’t know but Wall Street does. It knows that the stock went up. General Electric can take over a Tooth Paste, and Wall Street will turn a cartwheel in enjoyment.
Montgomery Ward has put in everything else. I look for ’em to put in Post Offices in every town in opposition to the ones the Government runs. Then where is your little fellow going to be who has struggled along all these years trying to build up his Post Office? Here to fore he has only been troubled by the fact that the Democrats were liable to come in and dispossess him. But now the Chain Stores are liable to put him out of business quicker than the Democrats.
They can put out their stamps and Post cards by the millions, and they can even lose money on stamps in some little town where people mail out a lot of Stories to the Movies and then get ’em back again and then mail ’em out again to somebody else.
It just looks like the way of the Little Post Officeholder is over, and the little anything is over, little Newspaper man, Little Grocer, Butcher, everything. Why Sears Roebuck have opened up a store on every section line crossing. You can’t possibly live over six miles out of their clutches. They will sell you a Mowing Machine, Standard Oil stock, U. S. bonds, a Farm, Town lots, Ice Cream soda, a house all put together like blocks.
If you want meat you don’t go to the Butcher. The Chain will sell it to you and throw in a Radio set and mattress. Independent Druggists just as well pack up their unpaid charge accounts and their Asparin Tablets and Lettuce sandwiches and quit and join the Navy. For the chain will slice ham thinner than they ever could. They buy their Coca Cola in Oil Tankers.
They can serve your wife a case of Gin, and you a Ford Tractor and deliver it over the counter with your Apple Pie. If you die Piggly Wiggly or owner of my sole name, will buy you cheaper than your local Mortician can monkey with the body. They even got the poor old Bootlegger on the run, they can sell Oklahoma City people Jamaica Ginger cheaper than the Bootlegger can square the Authorities.
And the Minister’s business is not safe. Julius Rosenwald, an old friend of mine, wanted me to go in some of their Stores and do a little fancy preaching for ’em.1
They figured the people would buy something before they got out if it was nothing but an Old Testament. They figure that they can deliver you your salvation cheaper than you can get it elsewhere, and a better grade. Big Business has already corralled the big preachers. So in a year or so we will all be working for “Edsel and Henry, Incorporated,” “U. S. Steel and Lip Rouge, Limited,” or “Chicago and DuPont Powder Consolidated.”2
We will either be doing that or else, “Or else what?” Or else not eating regular.
I don’t know what’s going to be done about it. One time the Government split up the Standard Oil into 31 parts, and in two years each one of the 31 was bigger than the original. So it looked like they just thrived on being split up. There is not much you can do about it unless you could change human nature. Americans are the greatest people in the world to blow and want to talk and go to big things. They will go to the biggest Hotel, regardless of service, the biggest Theater, regardless of performance, the biggest funeral, regardless of whether they knew the corpse, and the biggest store to get anything, whether it’s the best or not, and naturally, as the Chain Stores are bigger than most of the others, there is where they hike to. They want to be seen where there is the most people.
Course I hope the Politicians can fix it, for my sympathy is naturally with the little fellow that has struggled along all these years and give the best he could for the money. He must have given pretty good value, for none of them got rich, so that showed he didn’t cheat anybody. I don’t know what to do about it. We are not only raising too much wheat, we are raising too many people. There ain’t enough jobs to go round, and there ain’t enough business to go round.
1For Julius Rosenwald see WA 358:N 5.
2For Edsel B. Ford see WA 358:N 1.
WA379 March 30, 1930
AL GRABS FRONT PAGE
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Now just what has been agitating the natives? The fine humanitarian Ramsy McDonald visited this Country and received tremendous publicity, Mr. Coolidge closed up a dam and Indians come for miles.1
But when Scar Face Al Capone was smuggled through half the jails in Pennsylvania to avoid the crowds on his release, that really comes under the heading of front page “Copy.”2
Then anywhere you go some Bird will get up and tell “How our Civilization is advancing, and how primative it all was a few years back.” Honest there is times when it looks like we havent got over two ideas above a flea. Just give anything enough publicity, and we would pay admission to see folks Guillotined.
I happened to be playing last spring in a theater in Philadelphia when this estimiable gentleman Capone was arrested there, that is he arranged for his arrest. An opposition Gang was just two Machine Gun lengths behind him and he was looking for a refuge, so he just had himself arrested, and put where the Industry couldent get at him. He had looked all the jails over and decided that the Pennsylvania ones were the hardest to break into. He told the Policemen that he was carrying a gun, and for them to arrest him on that charge.
Can you imagine arresting a man in America for carrying a gun nowadays? Why in Chicago there is Pistol pockets put in your Pajamas. There is thousands there that are faultlessly dressed in artillery that havent got underwear on. He has a wonderful place at Miami Beach, Florida. He and Jess Andrews and Caryl Fisher all have arranged a Community Estate and interests there together, and they have great times romping together.3
We made an offer to get him to come to Beverly Hills, but Jess and Caryl knowing what an asset he was made him a better offer.
Capone just run the poor old Dissarmament Conference ragged. We havent heard of them in years. They drew on us for $150,000 more the other day. We better put them on a Commission basis. They get so much for what they agree to sink. Poor Ramsey McDonald. It takes all his time finding out if he is still at the head of his Government. Every time a problem comes up and is voted on in the House of Commons why if the side he is on loses, why that means that he has been defeated, and should resign, that the people have lost confidence in him, and losing confidence in a Public Official over there means something. It means he is not with you long. Imagine what would have happened to our Senate if such a procedure had been in effect over here.
Course McDonald is still strong over there, and they are afraid to put him out as he would run at the next election and come back stronger than ever. They come home, they can’t just leave and do absolutely nothing. But it just wasent in the cards to get anything done. For the very problems that have stumped ’em there, they knew existed before they went and what I never could understand is why they dident find out before the thing was called if it would be possible to do these certain things.
Well, let’s see what else we got. Oh Yes, the Literary Digest, it has got us in the throes of another heated Campaign. We are straw voting around. Straw voting is about the lowest form of voting there is. It don’t decide much, but it works ’em up while it lasts, but these old Literary Digest boys have got it down pretty fine, and the side that loses might try to kid it off as a joke, but at heart they will take it mighty serious.
Course whoever wins, it won’t mean anything, only another argument, and it will just get the Digest in good practice for another vote in 1932 on the same subject. I don’t know who they are mailing the ballots too. I havent SEEN ANY, OR ANYONE that has, but I saw a picture of one in the Digest, so whatever happens I won’t be able to get mixed up in it.
1For J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 344:N 2.
2For Scarface Al Capone see WA 335:N 9.
3Jess C. Andrews, Indiana livestock operator; head of the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago. Carl G. Fisher, Indiana businessman and realtor who conceived and built the Indianapolis Speedway in 1909 and who developed Miami Beach and other resort cities in Florida.