January 4, 1931 - Current
AMERICANS GOT THEIR MODERN TASTES
Well, here it is 1931, and what are we going to do about it. Don’t look like we are going to be able to prevent it. That’s one thing the Lord sure did regulate. He fixed so one year would just follow another one whether you had a calendar or not. He left us in doubt about everything else. We don’t know when it’s going to rain, snow, sunshine or anything. We don’t know when we are to get sick, rich or die. We don’t know who is going to follow us on when we are gone. We don’t know what will happen to Prohibition, we don’t know when or where the next war will break out.
We sure are dumb. But he did let us know what day followed what day, and made it so it would happen, no matter what happened. There has been 1930 of these same New Years roll around just since we been reckoning time, and I reckon a couple of million before that, kinder in porportion to whether you believe in Noah and his Ark, or the old monkey swinging by the tail theory. But never mind how we all got here. What we got to do these hard times is to worry about how we are going to stick here as long as we can without getting hungry.
We got to make some resolutions as well as interest and tax payments in this joyful season. It’s the starting of a new year of trials and tribulations, and if everybody that does anything is caught it will be mostly trials. We have just about broke the record when it comes to having done devilment during this last year. There has been more people and more commandments broke in 1930 than in any year since away back when old Sodom and Gomorrah was the local New York and Chicago of its day.
We havent had such a bad year in comparison to years we used to have, but we have had a disappointing year, for it’s been a bad year in comparison to the last eight or ten years. We have been just going like a house afire, and we couldent see any reason why we shouldent keep right on burning. We dident see how we could ever run out of fuel. Our tastes were acquired on credit, and we wanted to keep on enjoying ’em on credit. But a guy knocks on the back door during the year 1930 and says, “Here, pay for the old radio or we will haul down your aerial.” “Get out of that bath tub we got to take it back.” “Get out of that hoot nanny, you been driving it without payments long enough.”
Well, that was a sort of a jar. The man talked so nice when he sold it to us, we had no idea he would ever want it back. Why we had kinder got used to all this and took it as a matter of fact. If you never had a fifty cents cigar why a nickel one is mighty satisfying, but let you get to puffing on a real one for awhile and the old nickel one is going to be mighty nauseating.
Well everybody had just made things, and sold things, and it just looked like one of these endless chains where everybody gets a pair of $4 shoes for $1.25. They do but a fellow finally comes and gets the other $2.75. Well, that’s what has happened to us this last year. It wasent what we needed then that was hurting us, it was what we was paying for that we had already used up. The country was just buying gasoline for a leaky tank. Everything was going into a gopher hole and you couldent see where you was going to get any of it back.
You see in the old days there was mighty few things bought on credit. Your taste had to be in harmony with your income, for it had never been any other way. I think buying autos on credit has driven more folks to seek the revolver as a regular means of livelyhood than any other contributing cause. All you need to make a deferred payment on anything now is an old rusty gun. I don’t reckon there has ever been a time in American homes when there was as much junk in ’em as there is today. Even our own old shack has got more junk in it that has never been used, or looked at than a storage place. Most everybody has got more than they used to have, but they havent got as much as they thought they ought to have. So it’s all a disappointment more than a catastrophe. If we could just call back the last two or three years and do our buying a little more carefully why we would be O.K.
But things turn pretty quick, and with the government helping out like it is finally going to, why we are liable to get out of this bog hole before we know it. And it will be a good thing for everybody in the long run. We was just getting the idea that nothing could go down in price, we thought the only way it could go was up. Just buy it and hold it a day or so that’s all we thought there was to finance. Well, from now on you are going to find some mighty careful folks. A Salesman knocking on our door now with some new fangled pet knife is going to have to be mighty good to even get in the door much less make a sale. The Lord just kinder looked us over and says, “Wait, you folks going too fast, slow up and look yourself over, a year of silent meditation will do you good.Then when you start again you will know you got to get it by working and not by speculation.” So the old year just gone is liable to prove in the long run a mighty beneficial year after all. It may bring us back to our senses.
IT HAPPENS EVERY 100 YEARSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. I was just reading a thing here where just exactly 100 years ago there was a long Editorial in the papers asking the people not to get panicky, that they had had a bad year, but that “Fundamentally the Country was sound,” and that they looked for things to pick up, that there had been an overproduction of Overshoes, Red Underwear, knitted things about the length of a well rope, that you wrapped and rewrapped around your neck and also tied ’em over your ears.
Then there was too many lanterns on the market, for the amount of night work that was being done. There was also a glut of the Market on Mustache Cups. The men wasent buying them like the Producers had thought, they was just letting the old upper lip foliage drain right through the Coffee. It told of the evils of Mass production, that you shouldent produce faster than the buying power. If I remember I think the Republicans were in then too. And oh, yes, they was going to try and get the farmer some relief, going to give him some ammunition so he could shoot him some meat to eat. Oh yes, they was going to work on the roads, too. The President had just appointed some Commissions, one to look into and see what the Boys was drinking. Now all this was just exactly 100 years ago, so you see every 100 years we have what is humorously referred too as “Depression.” It’s always temporary. That it happens every 100 years proves that it will pass away. But it is funny how there is really nothing new under the sun. I sho was glad to get hold of this old article for it proves that we have had these things before and lived ’em down and we can this one. But regardless of bad times we got the Xmas holidays over in fine shape, and the New Years. Biggest excitement over the holidays was “The Young Pioneers” of New York. They put on a Burlesque of Xmas, and the birth of our Savior, and the Xmas Spirit, that must have been mighty gratifying to their Parents.
A Xmas in Russia would just suit them fine. But you just try to pay the fares of any of them and offer to send ’em, and you would have to call out the Marines. The old Communist preaches his doctrines, but he wants to do it where he is enjoying the blessings of Capitalistic surroundings. He preaches against the Pie, but he sure eats it.
Congress adjourned for only a week, so they been back at it again for about ten days. Back at what? Why back at what they was back at before. What was they back at before? I don’t know but they still back at it whatever it was. Some talk of a Special Session after this one is over on March 4th. But its not what you would call by “Popular Demand.”
Wickersham Committee havent turned in their report yet, so we don’t know if the Country is drinking or not, or if so, what?1 But as soon as they report why we will get that problem straightened out right away.
Mr. Hoover weathered quite a storm with his hired hands, but seemed to have come out on top and is in better shape than he has been in a good while. The boys have called him about everything they could think of, and as everybody laughed it off, why they have about decided to let him alone for a while. McKellar of Tennessee just discovered Xmas week that Hoover had been in England for some time, that’s about a record for being behind times.2
Got a nice letter the other day from Barney Baruch.3 I had about a year and a half ago, just before the crash, sorter half way decided to get a little dab of some kind of stock. Everybody all around me was just rolling so in profits, that it made my little joke telling stipend seem mighty little. I had never, or havent yet, got a dollar that I dident tell a joke for, either on stage or paper, so I knowing Barney mighty well, and having a mighty high regard for him personally and as being the last work in business, so in my little talk with him I asked him to invest in his own way a little dab that I thought I could spare.
Well I had to naturally tell him something of my affairs, so I told him what I owed, mostly on unimproved Real Estate. Well he liked to have thrown me out of his Wall Street Office. “You owe that much, and you want to take some of your money and buy stocks? Say you go home and pay your debts. Lord knows how long it will take you to do ’em. But pay what you can of ’em. You won’t like this advice, no man does. He don’t want to pay his debts as long as he thinks he can make an easy dollar in something else. I wouldent invest a dollar for you anyhow, things are too high, they don’t look good. Now go start paying on your debts.”
That’s the nearest I ever came to owning stock. (I mean outside of a few horses, and cattle.) Less than a month from the day I was in his office the Bust come. So every few months he writes me and asks me how I am making out on the debts, and how much I got ’em whittled down.
You know he is kinder the Angel for the Democratic Party, that is if you could call anyone connected with the Democrats an Angel. And he is forever trying to pay ’em out of debt, so I am writing him and tellin him, that I am just as good a business man as he is. That he can’t keep the Democrats out of debt any more than I can keep myself. So whenever you hear of the Democrats being out of debt I will be too.
1For George W. Wickersham see WA 344:N 1.
2Kenneth Douglas McKellar, Democratic United States senator from 1917 to 1953.
3Bernard Mannes Baruch, American businessman, statesman, and Democratic political adviser and financial contributor; confidant of several presidents.
LET’S GIVE EVERY MAN A JOB!Well all I know is just what I read in the press. Course those five hundred that come in out of the woods down in Arkansaw and demanded food for their families, that was a real sensation.1 It caused more than any one item that had appeared in a long time. Now those folks down there sho was hungry or they wouldent have come in and asked for food for if there ever was proud people it’s them. They don’t believe in accepting Charity.
Well the Government woke up and voted $15,000,000 for food right away. At first the Government said they would try and provide money to get the Farmers some seed for their next crops, but that they wouldent give them money for food as that would be too much like the “Dole,” that’s the thing they do in England when you can’t get work they give you a certain weekly allowance, and it’s called the “Dole.” Course everybody over there says it hasent worked out, and that it was a mistake to start it.
But I guess the ones that have been receiving it and buying their bread, don’t think that it is such a terrible blunder, so that’s the way it is. It sorter depends on which side of the fence you are on.
If you live under a Government and it don’t provide some means of you getting work when you really want it and will do it, why then there is something wrong. You can’t just let the people starve, so if you don’t give ’em work, and you don’t give ’em food, or money to buy it, why what are they to do? What is the matter with our Country anyhow?
With all our brains in high positions, and all our boasted organizations, thousands of our folks are starving, or on the verge of it. Millions of bushels of wheat are in Granaries at the lowest price in twenty years. Why can’t there be some means of at least giving everybody all the bread they wanted anyhow?
Here they are starving in Arkansaw and in our adjoining State of Oklahomea they are feeding their wheat to the stock to try and get rid of it.
Oil, there was never such an overproduction of oil in the World, and yet Gasoline was never much higher. But there you have a business that’s in the hands of a few men, and they see that the price is kept up. It’s not regulated by supply and demand it’s regulated by manipulation. If the Farmer had a Rockefeller among them, you wouldent see them pulling off a hundred different ways, and no two agreeing on what to do.2
Now this Farm board I been reading all I can about ’em, on both sides, and Lord knows there is sure two sides. If ever a Gang of fellows that are, (we all know trying to do some good) ever kicked up a dust it’s them. Now take Mr. Coolidge for instance he had always kinder kept his typewriter out of Government affairs.
He had always stuck pretty well to writing on the merits of the ten Commandments, and the Merits of “Hard work, perseverance, and taking care of your Oppurtunities.”
But even he said that the Government going in and buying wheat to try and stabalize the market was bad dope. Well, that is about the first flat footed statement that he has come out on since he advised everybody to advertise. But on the other hand Mr. Hoover put some mighty fine men on that Farm Board, and it don’t seem hardly that they could all be so terribly wrong. But it’s like argueing the tarriff, no two can agree on just where it should start or stop.
But the main thing is we just ain’t doing something right, we are on the wrong track somewhere, we shouldent be giving people money, and them not do anything for it, no matter what you had to hand out for necessities, the receiver should give some kind of work in return. Cause he has to eat just the same when he is laying off as when he is working.
So every City or every State should give work of some kind, at a liveable wage so that no one would be in actual want. Of course it would cost the taxpayers more money, but if you are making it, and all your fellow men are not why you shouldent mind paying a good slice of it for the less fortunate. Course the big man’s argument, and all the heavy Taxpayers’ alabi is that when you take too big a slice from a man as taxes it takes that much more out of his investments and might cut down on money being put into enterprises. But it dident work that way after the war, and during it why income taxes run as high as seventy percent on every dollar earned, and yet there was more money being made and put into things than there is now.
If your Income Taxes go to help out the less fortunate, there could be no legitimate kick against it in the world. This is becoming the richest, and the poorest Country in the world. Why? Why, on account of an unequal distribution of the money.
How can you equalize it? By putting a higher surtax on large incomes, and that money goes to provide some public work, at a livable wage. I don’t mean a wage that is maintained in other lines. I mean a wage is provided for the unemployed. That is if you could in no way find a job, you could go to some State or National, or City or Country Public work, that would give you say four hours a day work, instead of the usual eight.
You wouldent be accepting Charity. But you would be doing honest work for it, until you could get employment in some line that was not public work, and at a regular wage. It wouldent cheapen labor. It would only cheapen Public works, the thing that belongs to all the people, and the thing they would like to have cheapened. But it would be an Insurance against not having anything to do.
There is nothing that makes a man feel better than to know that no matter how bad things break he has something to fall back on, that he can make a living out of. It would be a glorified Community Chest idea, only instead of it being doled out to you as Charity you would work for it. There would never be any real Unemployed. The so-called unemployed would be working for the State or Government a guaranteed number of hours each week, at a living wage.
Now that we got that settled all we have to do is get by Congress and see if the Republicans will vote a higher Income tax on the rich babies. It might not be a great plan, but it will DAM sure beat the one we got now.
1Five hundred farmers marched through the business district of England, Arkansas, on January 3, 1931, demanding food for their drought-stricken families. Two days later, the Senate voted to add $15 million to a $45 million drought relief bill passed earlier by the House. The House, however, later refused to approve the added expenditure.
2For John Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 351:N 5.
AND SO TO BEDI used to write a good deal about what I read in the papers. But you know I been reading a lot of these other Writers of Sundays, and they write mostly about themselves, and they seem to be doing mighty well too.
It seems that away back in Caesar’s or Heflin’s or somebody’s early days there was some old Writer called Pepy, and all he did was just write what he did.1 Well he dident do much, (but write) for there wasent much to do in those days. Oh yes, drink. Well he had some kind of peculiar ways of saying things and his spelling was bad, (I can’t personally stand anybody with bad spelling, I am off anybody that can’t spell.)
But this old fellow could make nothing sound good the way he laid it on the line. He had two expressions, and if he just hadent happened to use them, why none of our modern Writers could have copied him, for that’s all they can copy him in, they just use these two lines over again and again and think they are doing a Pepys. One was “Laye late,” and the other was “Woke betimes.” Well I am going to do some of that “Lay lating” and “Woke betimes.”
I will start on my trip east from California a couple of weeks ago. The night before I started I “Lay late.” No I dident, it was two nights before I started that I lay late. The morning that I started I dident lay so late. In fact I dident lay hardly at all. I had to catch an Aeroplane that was leaving away over in Burbank, Cal. (that’s not Burbank’s home, it’s Jim Jefferies’) and I was away out at my little ranch at Santa Monica.2 It was leaving around Five oclock and you can’t do much “laying late” and make that kind of a getaway.
My Oldest Son Bill was to drive me, and that meant I had to get up just one hour earlier than usual in order to start trying to get him up. Well anyhow I “Woke betimes.” I woke betimes because I had two alarm clocks set for the job, and they both went off thirty minutes early.
Well 3:30 A M is pretty tough time to start a diary. Should be working on a Dairy, and juicing a Jersey Heifer at that hour. Well it was dark, and we drove in toward Hollywood, and got pretty near through it before we saw a single car. Hollywood is so wild that there wasent even a Street lamp burning at that hour. We got to the field, bought my Ticket for Ft Worth Texas, had some Baggage Excess, (I told my wife I dident need all three of those shirts). Stood around about half asleep, and then had a cup of Coffee. I don’t do much eating when I am on Plane, or getting on one. I am mighty easy to get sick. It’s a big three, Wasp Motored Fokker Plane. It’s still dark when I tell the Kid goodbye, and to take good care of my Ponies, and to stay off ’em, and only play his own.
Burbank and Glendale look mighty sparkling like from the early dawn, then out over Los Angeles. It’s spread out, well you have to look at it by lights to see how far it is spread out. Then we hit for out over Pomona, and on over through the mountain pass at Banning and the fashionable Palm Springs. Then nothing to see till we hit Phoenix, or near Phoenix where the Irrigation lads start in. Those thousands of flat squares are beautiful from the air.
At Phoenix was met by a band of Citizens that wanted me to stay over or come back to a big affair where they were going to have 17 rail road Presidents at the Fruit Shippers Convention, and they was going to have a Golf Game, between the seventeen and seventeen Vice-Presidents were to Caddy for them. That would be nothing new, they have been carrying the Bag for ’em all the time. But it give Vice-Presidents a chance to do something. Then the rest of the Audience was composed of other Vice-Presidents. But they did plan on having a great time and I hear they had it. They give me a big box of the finest dates I ever ate. (Smuggled over from California I bet.) Then on down over Tombstone, Arizona, and the next gas stop was Tuscon. Another Deligation had some kind of a “Racket” they wanted me to stop over and enter into. No it was Douglas where this bunch was. It was on the Mexican line. I wouldent have minded stopping there. Then on the El Paso, had Lunch, changed Pilots, got there about 1:30 P M about three days ride on the train, then started across Texas.
Now you have started something. Oh Yes I am leaving out some of these “Woke Betimes” At each stop I “Woke Betimes” for I slept all the rest of the way. Well I “Lay late” at Big Springs and like to not “Woke Betimes” to see another Deligation, that wanted to draw my attention to a 15 story brick hotel that I would pass over as we passed over the town on leaving. Associated Press man there, and he got everything wrong but the name of the Town and misspelled it.
Then to Abiline, (Sweet Abiline, My Abiline, in all my dreams). I havent sung that old song since 1920. There I woke betimes and Amon G. Carter had a special Plane to meet me to take me to Ft Worth.3 For he dident want me to have to see Dallas. Had a nice night there, woke betimes, met a lot of nice folks that was going to handle my little Charity tour through the State, then flew up to Tulsa, where met equally as nice bunch for Okla. Then drove my Auto 45 miles to Chelsea, and spent the night at my only Sister’s home, saw a new Niece baby, nice Baby to, had fine visit, lots of my family.4
Lay late. No not there, awoke betimes, then caught the plane for St Louis, was going to Chicago, but just as both planes was pulling out grabbed the one for Columbus, Ohio, and New York. Comedians never know what they are doing. Wouldent take the money for my fare on the plane so everybody had to wait till they went and got the ticket fixed up. They will trust the Pilots with your life but not with $19 which was the fare to Columbus. Got to Indianapolis, was met by some Newspaper friends and Coworkers of the Indianapolis News. Talked about Kin Hubbard, the late Humorist, “Abe Martin.”5 They told me my junk had took his old place on the back page, (which it had occupied for 25 years). Imagine me trying to replace him. That would be like Clara Bow replacing Mrs Chapman Catt.6 So long, I am going to Lay late.
1For Tom Heflin see WA 330:N 3. Samuel Pepys, official in the English naval department and noted diarist. His diary, penned between 1660 and 1669, was written in a unique system of shorthand, complicated with foreign words and invented ciphers.
2Luther Burbank, American horticulturist who first took up market gardening in 1868 and who developed the Burbank potato and new and improved varieties of other cultivated plants. James J. “Jim” Jefferies, American prizefighter who held the world heavyweight title from 1899 until his retirement in 1905. One of the strongest men ever to enter the ring, Jefferies later became a successful businessman, operating a commercial farm at Burbank, California.
3For Amon G. Carter, see WA 343:N 1.
4For Sallie Rogers McSpadden see WA 354:N 3. Lucia Eaton, grandniece of Will Rogers and granddaughter of his sister, Sallie.
5Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard, American caricaturist and humorist on the staff of the Indianapolis (Indiana) News almost continuously from 1891 until his death on December 26, 1930. Hubbard created the colorful cartoon character “Abe Martin.”
6For Clara Bow see WA 400:N 5. Carrie Lane Chapman Catt, American suffrage leader and lecturer who was prominent in the campaign resulting in the adoption of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
SOME POLITICAL CRADLES
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see. Well here the last few weeks I have seen more than I have read. They say that travel is an education to you. Yes and it’s a bother too. But I must go back a couple of weeks in order to get at some of the old stuff I saw.
HAVE SHOATS IN THEM
First place I saw some mighty poor farms flying over Missouri, eastern Oklahoma, and Indiana, on my way to Washington. just little renter shacks, and it was snowing and lots of ’em dident look like they had any wood, much less food. You see it’s the country folks that are suffering more than the city ones, in this hard year.
Well I got into Washington and went of course immediately up to “Opera Comique” both ends of it, the Senate and the House. First in to see Nick Longworth in the Speaker’s office.1 That’s my official headquarters while at the Capitol building. I leave my overcoat there, (that’s trusting) and I work out of there. Phoned Jack Garner, the Democratic Leader, and told him the Democratic Party were ready to caucus, and he come right over.2 He told me the next time I come that I could still use that same office, and phone out to Nick to come over and see me there. It’s going to be mighty close as to who will be Speaker of the next house.
Next over to see Tilson Republican Leader but a nice fellow in spite.3 Then I hiked for the Senate for there is where the fireworks were operating, as they was argueing over whether the Government was to feed its folks or its folks were to feed its folks. Joe Robinson of Arkansaw was fighting for his Amendment to provide 25 million for food, and he was backed by all the Democrats, and all the “Wild jackasses.”4 That’s what Mr. Moses called the Insurgent Republicans one time just before election last year.5 It got a laugh and cost his side two million votes, so that really could be called the two million dollar laugh.
Gillette of Mass. was talking against the Government going into the food business just for our own home talent, he thought we should send something out to the other Countries, but that we could find some way of tiding our personal hunger over till something turned up, or the Market picked up, or something.6 Right in the middle of his “America second,” why Senator Caraway, who really reminds one of Felix the Cat, in the Movies, who you know is so wise and walks around with his hands behind him studying.7
Well Caraway, was prowling up and down, and one of the Boys in the Press stand says, “Caraway is thinking up one now to hit him with,” and sure enough he kept sidling over toward the Republican side. You know they have a line drawn there so you can tell the Republicans from the Democrats. They have to have nowadays; there is no other way telling. Well Caraway said, (You know this Caraway is a smart one, and very sarcastic, he bowls ’em over with a well placed Bon Mot, and it not only floors ’em but the hurt remains), well he said, to Gillette who is from Mass.,
“What about that time when Salem Mass. was destroyed by flames, or was it Witches, and the Government appropriated money to help the distressed, you Senator Gillette was in the House of Representatives, did you say then that it was a Dole, did you say it was ‘bad Precedent’ to set, answer me?”
Well, poor Gillette was in the hole, that gag about the Witches of Salem had got him groggy, and he was sorry that Salem had ever had a fire. Well he said that he dident vote for the relief, or against it either, he just answered “Present,” then Felix pounced on him again, (he was just playing with him from paw to paw,) “You just voted Present did you, well that’s courageous Statesmanship. Your State was stricken, they needed help, but their Congressman voted neither to help, or not to help, he just announced that he was there.”
Tom Heflin in the last days of his stay in there made one of his while I was in the gallery.8 They were going to go down to Alabama and investigate Tom’s election as he says there was frauds in the counting of the votes, he feels that he was elected but counted out. They can do that. Well his opponent had sent word that he welcomed the investigation. But Tom said that was just a gallant gesture, that he dident welcome the investigation and he told this story to illustrate it.
“Down in my old fine State of Alabama at Hot Springs was Rastus Lincoln, a Nigger. His white Neighbor had lost a Shote, little spotted one weighing about ninty pounds. Well the Neighbor got the Sheriff and went looking for the hog, and they went to Rastus house. He was sitting on front of the fire place rocking a cradle and singing a baby song, with the covers in the cradle all tucked in both head and foot till you couldent see a thing of the Baby. ‘Rastus you seen Jones hot?’ ‘Oh no sir I ain’t seen him, you can serch the place, I ain’t see the Shote tall.’
“They searched, but found nothing, then they asked, ‘What’s in the cradle?’ ‘Thats my baby Gentlemens, that’s my little baby.’ ‘Let us see the Baby?’ ‘Oh no, the Baby is sick and the Doctor said if I raised the kivvers on the Baby and the air hit him he would die. You can’t see the Baby.’ But they went toward the cradle and started to lift the quilt, and Rastus said, as he moved toward the door, ‘I can’t stand and see him die, I just got to go.’ And he did right out the door and across the cotton patch.
“They lifted the Kivvers and there lay the 90 pound hog, and that’s what will happen when you Investigating Commite get to my old State of Alabama. You won’t find my people are crooked. My people in Alabama are the finest people God ever let live. I love my People in Alabama. I am not saying a word against the great folks of Alabama. I dont want any blot to be on them. It’s the crooked Politicians that done it. It’s not the fine people of Alabama. They are the finest folks on this green earth. They elected me. They done it fairly. But the crooks counted me out, and that’s why I want this election investigated. You come to Alabama and lift the Kivvers and you will find the Hog.”
1For Nicholas Longworth see WA 335:N 9.
2For Jack Garner see WA 389:N 10.
3John Quillen Tilson, Republican United States representative from 1909 to 1913 and 1915 to 1932; majority leader in Congress from 1925 to 1931.
4For Joe Robinson see WA 368:N 1.
5George Higgins Moses, Republican United States senator from New Hampshire from 1918 to 1933; president pro tempore of the Senate from 1925 to 1933.
6For Frederick H. Gillett see WA 332:N 2.
7Thaddeus Horatio Caraway, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1921 until his death in 1931.
8For Tom Heflin see WA 330:N 3.
WILL AND AL TALK THINGS OVERWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I happen to see prowling hither and thither. I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and I decided that before I left there I would like to see Al Smith. I hadent seen him in a long time and had always been an admirer of him. I just wanted to see him and see how he was, and how he was feeling. So I phoned him, and he said “Come right on down.” He is right across the street from that wonderful Empire Building, in a corner suit overlooking it.1
This building belongs to Jesse Jones a mighty well known Democrat. He is the fellow that bought the Democratic Convention for Houston, Tex.2 He owns these buildings all over the Country and rents ’em mostly to Republicans.
Well Al never looked better in his life, and I have known and been seeing him around New York for many years. He started in of course by showing me the 90 story building, out of the window that gave us the best view of it. It did look wonderful. It’s got some sort of outside structual steel work that looks like Illinum, and in the sun it just glistens. Then he started in showing me old pictures on the wall of his office that showed early scenes in New York. He showed some of the old houses on the lower east side where he lived, one under the very shade of Brooklyn Bridge. Then the old home on Oliver Street. He is without a doubt the most sentimental prominent man I ever met. He glories in the past. He had one that showed the old Theatrical team of Harrigan and Hart, who made their great fame in the “Mulligan Guards.”3 It was in a large frame with dozens of the old time favorites, including the old Theatres that they played in. He would hum to you the tunes of those old favorites.
It was hard to tell which he looked on with more pride, the highest building in the World that he was actually in charge of its construction, or his harking back to the days when he was the principal performer in all Amateur Theatricals, and they do say he himself was a splendid actor. He could have done anything that fellow. He sure beams personality. He is human if there ever was one.
I don’t care whether you agree with him politically or not, the person don’t live that could meet him and be with him awhile that wouldent go away not liking him. He does a hundred little things and mannerisms that make you feel that he is one of you. There is no put on, or front with Al, he is just Al, unlike anybody else in the World.
I had just come from the White House a day or so before and was telling him about how Mr Hoover was worked up over this relief business. Well Sir I bet Mr Hoover has not even among his own party a single man that has a much sympathy and good feeling for him than Al Smith. There was no put on about it, he really meant it when he would talk of the many things that had seemed to go wrong through no fault of the President’s, yet he had to bear the brunt of them.
Here was a man that had been in office long enough to know what you can be blamed for. No Sir Hoover’s best booster is Al Smith, and he had just been working with Ex President Coolidge on a Committe to give away an Estate that had been left to Charity, and he had the highest praise for Coolidge too, and he says, as I have always maintained, that Mr Coolidge has a great sense of humor, and he would tell some of it that happened during their deliberations.
We went over to the Democratic Club for lunch, and he got to telling about the animal pets that the children had at the mansion in Albany. He built almost a Zoo there to house them. How a big pet Bear that they had raised from a cub, had got loose and got over into a girls’ Orphanage, and they was all scared to death for fear he would hurt somebody and instead these Kids has him pulling and wooling him around and they couldent hardly get him away from them. They was feeding him bread and jam. He would tell of his dogs his Kids had. One a great Newfoundland, that in the summer when it was so hot they would fix him in the basement, and then out and keep the hose on him. He could tell you every characteristic of every dog, the more trivial a subject the more interesting he could make it. No hard feeling, no rancor toward anybody. An Unique man, with a unique record, polled more votes than all the other Presidents that were elected, with the exception of Mr Hoover. I doubt if he wants to run again.
Even if he don’t he will retire into private life one of the most, yes the MOST, popular men of our time. He is the most human of our present day figures. He is not from the soil, but from the cobblestones, and he knows after all they all are human and just alike.
1Smith served as president of the corporate enterprise that built the Empire State Building, which when it was completed in 1931 became the tallest building in the world.
2Jesse Holman Jones, Houston lumberman, oilman, land developer, newspaper publisher, civic leader, and Democratic party booster; chairman of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation from 1933 to 1939.
3Edward Green “Ned” Harrigan, American theatrical writer, producer, and author. Anthony “Tony” Hart, American theatrical entertainer of the nineteenth century, renowned as a member of the famous performing team of Harrigan and Hart. The duo debuted The Mulligan Guards in 1873.
ON THE WING FOR CHARITYWell all I know is what I read in the papers, and Brother listen I havent read a paper in two weeks. We been going too fast to read. Talk about an aerial circus, a One Night Stand troop, a Karnival! But we are a combination of all these and then some more.
I started my little tour to raise some extra money for the needy and unemployed in Texas. Started in Austin the Capitol. I had been in the Movies for a couple of years, and all the jokes I knew I had used ’em in my pictures. So when I started out on this I was mighty short handed on laughs. My Wife said to me, “You can’t go out and do an evening’s show. You havent any material.”
I told her well Honey, it’s for Charity and maby I can get by. She said, “It’s a good thing it is for Charity, or you would be in danger of your life.”
Then I got to thinking that I dident have much material, so I decided as I was starting in Texas that I better drop by Austin where the State Legislature was in session and get some material. Well that’s why I chose it, and it was a God send to me. It turned out great, not that the Texas Legislature is especially humorous. It’s not, it’s just the average, in fact I think they got a pretty good body there, as Legislatures go. They just hadent done anything, which made them on a par with all others.
They also had a new Govenor who looks like he is starting out on a good administration.1 He is a very wealthy man, and knows enough Politics not to think he can put in a lot of reform measures. He knows you can’t do that. There is where Mr Hoover fell down. He thought all you had to do if you was the Head man was to suggest something and it would be done. Well those Boys don’t work that way. They are as jealous of their position as a Governor or a President so they want to be conferred with on anything, so if you start rushing anything by them they just chop your head off.
But this Govenor knows that, and he will do a little trading with ’em. That was Coolidge’s long suit. He had that New England swap idea. Course then another thing Congress could never dissagree with Coolidge purposely for they never knew what he wanted. So in that way he got ’em with him accidentally part of the time. But we had a mighty pleasant visit at Austin. Met all the Ex Governors. Dan Moody who had just gone out.2 Always liked Dan. He is a fine young fellow. Then in come my old Friend Jim Furgeson.3 Him and Ma come pretty near getting in again last time. Their slogan was “Two Govenors for the price of one.”
Out of there after the Matinee and down to the old historic San Antonio, where we sure had a fine great big House, some nine thousand dollars. The old Cattlemen’s organization gave me a reception before our show, and that really kinder got me, for there is one class of men that won’t be replaced. Every other line of business is being carried on from Father to Son, and on by newcomers in the same business, but the Old Trail Drivers, and the old time Cattlemen, there can never be any to take on their work. They are the last of one of America’s most unique and extraordinary men. Some of the greatest Characters in our whole history were old Cattlemen. Humor they were chucked full of it, and San Antonio is one of their last stands.
Several old time Texas Rangers were there. There is a bunch that have made history. The old Trail Drivers are trying to get enough money to build a monument to the old time Trail driver, and from its model it’s very beautiful and I hope the State gives them part of the money to do it, for the Cowman certainly made that State.
That town is a great Aviation center, the Army has two or three of their greatest training places there.
Next morning out of there we had a show scheduled over 250 miles from there, and the fog and rain hit us. Had to drive it. Not So Hot.
Angelo, another real old Cowtown that night, and a big packed house. The next morning still cloudy and rainy. Bobby Cantwell, Oklahoma’s crack Pilot still marooned in San Antonio, and Frank Hawkes on his way back from New York (where he had to go but was to return that day).4 We got out at seven A M, drove 110 miles, put on a milkman’s matinee at Ten at Abiline, in Simmons University Auditorium, played to over five thousand dollars.
Then another 110 mile jump, (these are by Auto, no Plane, it’s still cloudy and raining) to Breckinridge, Texas. Great Gang again, and Frank Hawkes had jumped on back from New York and there we started in on what was to be the most towns anybody outside of an ambitious Congressman ever made on one trip. We started in on our first jump out of there not so forty, we got stuck in the mud on the take off, and it took half of the Breckinridge till pretty near dark to get us out.
We are in Dave Ingalls’ plane, Assistant Secretary of the Navy in charge of Aviations plane.5 Its had those “Spats” over the wheels to help cut down the wind resistance. Well they are great till they get full of mud. If I had had a can opener I would have sent Dave a present. We made Dallas in the dark, then up early the next morning and flew to Port Arthur, where we showed at twelve, then over to Beaumont for the afternoon, and how those two towns did support the cause! They know all over that country what the need is. You see they take half the money raised for the town and half goes to the Country, and every cent of it is theirs, and I wouldent allow a thing to be charged to the receipts. The town had to give the hall, the Papers the Adds, and everything that come in was theirs.
By this time Frank Hawkes was developing into a fine Monologist, Jimmy Rodgers the Yodler was singing for us and Chester Byers the Champion Roper was roping, and then in Dallas was joined by the Famous Revellers Quartette, who General Motors, and Palmolive loaned me, and the Tenor was released for the trip by Salada Tea people.6 That all was mighty fine of these big firms for they had to engage someone else, and they allowed these boys’ salaries to go on so I was able to get this wonderful aggregation simply for their expenses. Of course these could not be asked to get up in the dead of night and fly to a town like I was to give a show, but they made all the night shows. Two of them dident fly. Both Tenors, so they couldent have made these jumps for the day shows.
It was nice of the National Broadcasting Co to arrange this, for it was an awful jolt to lose these boys from their programmes, but what a hit they were, and what a fine bunch of Boys!
The Texas Co had loaned me Frank Hawkes, and I couldent even pay for the gas the ship used even if we made a forced landing, there would be one of their wagons with gas waiting for us. No wonder that Hawkes can fly. He has been in every field in every town all over this Country.
I am going to keep this trip up till I find a field that he is not familiar with. It may take a year. He is a great little fellow.
I always thought he was a big man, but he is little. Oh I can’t get started to tell all this in this time. I got to write you next week about the old Home State of Oklahoma, and then the wife’s state of Arkansaw. I am writing this in the Navy “Hell Diver” at five thousand feet, and just landing at Stillwater, Okla. for a ten o’clock morning show. The best A and M College in America. Oh boy he is banking, and diving for the crowd! Good bye!
1For Ross S. Sterling see WA 402:N 5.
2Daniel James “Dan” Moody, Jr., Democratic governor of Texas from 1927 to 1931.
3James Edward “Jim” Ferguson, Democratic governor of Texas from 1915 to 1917 who was impeached for several reasons, including misappropriation of state funds. He attempted to run for governor again in 1924, but a court ruled that he could not be a candidate, whereupon his wife, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson (see WA 402:N 4), entered the race and won.
4For Bobby Cantwell see WA 354:N 4. Francis Monroe “Frank” Hawks, American aviator who established numerous transcontinental and point-to-point speed records in the 1920s and 1930s.
5David Sinton Ingalls, United States assistant secretary of the navy for aeronautics from 1929 to 1932; Republican politician from Ohio.
6James Charles “Jimmie” Rodgers, popular American recording artist of the 1920s and 1930s who became known as the “Father of Country Music.” Many of the 111 songs which Rodgers recorded feature yodeling. Chester Byers, world champion roper and rodeo performer from Oklahoma. Rogers gave Byers some of his first lessons in roping. The Revelers Quartet, one of the first “precision” singing groups on radio, featured James Melton and Lewis L. James as tenors, Elliot Shaw as baritone, and Wilfred Glenn as bass.
NOTES AND COMMENT
All I know is just what I see from the air with this Captain Hawkes going 160 miles an hour.1 I am dinging on this little Corona away up in the air. We are in a Navy Curtis “Hell Diver” plane loaned to us by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy in charge of air.2 We thought we did some shows in Texas, But Boy when we got into the old home State of Oklahoma, then they showed us how to lay out some shows. I am trying to keep this little diary. You just about have time to write a few words in here and then we have to land and do a show.
AT 160 MILES AN HOUR
This Monday, we are coming into Oklahoma from Texas. It’s the only day we havent got a bunch of day shows; we only have the opening show at Oklahoma City tonight. We land about ten o’clock, Captain Hawkes goes to the Hotel, and I get the man to drive me by the Capitol building. You see I wanted to see the other Oklahoma show, the Legislature. I don’t constitute Oklahoma’s sole Comedy element. Then too I had never met our new Governor, “Alfalfa” Bill Murray.3 My Dad had known him.4 They had served on the Constitutional Convention of Oklahoma about 1906.
Papa always said the crowning achievement of that Convention was that they made Hotel Bed Sheets 9 feet long. He used to often say that he dident know why they did it, “as so few of the Deligates had ever had much contact with sheets.” Well he is quite a fellow this Murray. He might be called a little Radical by some. But I think he has got some mighty good ideas. That’s why I doubt if any of them will pass. You got to get something pretty “Nutty” to get by nowadays. We had a good visit. I had lunch with him in his office. He is supposed to bring his lunch in a paper bag. So I dident take him up at once as I never saw the paper bag that could hold all I could eat. But he said he would sent out, and he did. He don’t eat much besides Onions. Well I love onions, but I like meat too. In fact I believe I like meat better than Onions, so he sent out and got me something to eat. Then they made me go and talk to a joint session of the Legislature. I will have to tell you about that some time. Big House in Oklahoma City that night, got over ten thousand dollars.
Tuesday morning. Here we are in the air again, and early, as we have to be at Norman, Oklahoma, the Home of Oklahoma’s crack University. It’s just a little ways from Oklahoma City. They got a pretty good flying field there. Got a lot of laughs out of the Students and Teachers, for the Govenor was just trying to put through a Bill to tax Teachers salaries, and I claimed I was there lobbying for it. Murray also has it in for the amount of traveling expenses spent by College Athletes. He is trying to put through a Bill to compel every team to play all its games at home. It’s kinder hazy in my mind yet. But I think he is going to do it just like chess, over the phone. One team grabs the ball and phones when they kicked off and the other phones back where they caught it and how many yards they made on that play.
This show was at ten o’clock in the morning. Captain Hawkes would do an act too, and the “Revellers” Quartette who only did the night shows they come down there that morning and sang for the University.5
Then to Chickasha, Okla. There an old Boy runs the biggest Bank that used to go to school with me in Kemper Military Academy about ’98. There is a Girls’ School there, and we were in their Auditorium. Those Girls sho would giggle when anything did strike ’em funny. They are a great audience. We flew out of there for Ardmore for our night show. Went out to a mighty fine barbecue at Ben Johnston’s house, where we joined all the rest of our troop, The Revellers, and Jimmy Rodgers who was with us then, (the Yodler De Lux) and Chester Byers, the Roper.6
Up early this morning and we are flying to Duncan. Oh Boy we are met here by a band of Cowboys mounted, and we get on horses. Hawkes is on one, he is the only riding Aviator. Wow what a street full of people. All these places the Theatres are full. Here we are back to the field and off for Lawton, that’s right by Ft. Sill, the old Military Fort, and quite a historic old place. After the show there today we went out to the Fort and visited the place where they had old Geronimo, the Apache Chief incarcerated.7 We saw the cell, I afterwards knew him at the World Fair in St Louis. As old as he was he used to go out with us at the Wild West Show and Roping Contest on Sundays and rope a steer. I guess he was about the best old Fighter that ever roamed that southern Country. It’s a pretty place, Ft. Sill is, and so is Lawton.
Now we are off and flying again over the old Ft. and off for Durant for the night. It’s a great life this. Talk about playing one night stands. Some days we play a half dozen. This Hawkes is a sweet flyer, and this Plane is a darb. We knock off 150 miles an hour right along. This is Thursday morning and we are to be at the Oklahoma A. and M. at Stillwater at ten A.M. I had never been there and always wanted to go, as I had a Nephew graduate from there and he has turned out mighty good, and it’s a great school.8 They win more prizes for fat Cattle than any other Agricultural School in the U.S. There is an animal Man there named Blizzard, and he is a Bear.9 He showed us all their fine cattle.
Enid. Here she is for the afternoon show. Frank is bringing her in, he is high and dropping and side slipping her in fast. You can’t write when this thing is doing this. Big hall and a big house full. Now we are off for Ponca City, that’s a great little City. That’s the place they have a Statue of the “Pioneer Woman.” I was there and made a speech at the unveiling of it. That fellow Marlin has done a lot for that town.10
Off again this morning early for Shawnee. Big crowd at the field. Here is a niece here to meet me.11 I drive with her and her husband and Boy to the Theatre.
Ada next. Sounds like a Girl. But it’s a town, and a nice one. Now we are off for McAlister. That’s the town where I took my Masonic 33 degrees 22 years ago and havent been there since. Gee they got a great Masonic Temple there. I played in the big auditorium, and it’s one of the most beautiful places you ever saw.
Now we are off for Muscogee, four shows today. Getting back in my own old Territory now where I know a lot of folks. I used to go to school here at a Girls’ school. Thats a fact. Myself and the President’s son were the only Boys there. We even roomed in a great big dormitory room with Girls. We were ten years old. I better quit before I get too far into this.
1For Frank Hawks see WA 425:N 4.
2For David S. Ingalls see WA 425:N 5.
3William Henry “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, Democratic governor of Oklahoma from 1931 to 1935.
4Clement Vann “Clem” Rogers, Indian Territory rancher, banker, and Cherokee tribal leader; father of Will Rogers. Murray and Clem Rogers served as delegates to the Oklahoma constitutional convention of 1907.
5For the Revelers Quartet see WA 425:N 6.
6Rogers probably referred to Roy M. Johnson, pioneer oil producer in southern Oklahoma and former newspaper publisher at Ardmore. Johnson was one of the primary benefactors at Rogers’ benefit performance in Ardmore. For Jimmie Rodgers and Chester Byers see WA 425:N 6.
7Geronimo, Apache war leader who directed his fellow tribesmen in an extended campaign against white settlers and soldiers in the Southwest in the 1880s. He finally capitulated and settled with other members of his tribe as farmers and stock raisers at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he died in 1909.
8Maurice Rogers McSpadden, nephew of Will Rogers and son of Rogers’ sister, Sallie Rogers McSpadden; graduate of Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College (later renamed Oklahoma State University).
9Warren Lale Blizzard, American educator and agricultural specialist; head of the department of animal husbandry at Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College from 1919 to 1939; later, dean of agriculture.
10For E. W. Marland see WA 384:N 2.
11Lasca Gazelle Lane Luckett, niece of Will Rogers and daughter of one of his sisters, Maud Rogers Lane.
WE CAN MAKE SPEECHES IN OUR SLEEPWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and all the reading I been able to do is in the air, “lepping” from town to town. But we finally got back home to California. We sure run into some tough weather on the way out. This Hawkes sure did defy the elements.1 We was a flying through the fog and rain coming from our last stand at Texarkana, Tex. all one morning. We finally worked our way out to the edge of New Mexico and then we got out of the rain and hit a real blizzard, a snow storm. Well sir that Bird started circling and messing around in the air and I had no idea what he was doing, or trying to do. I thought he is only trying to find the ground. But do you know he came down, and made a quick side slip landing. I just thought it was a forced landing on the Prairie, but then I saw it was a little marked off emergency field, he had found it by instruments, not by sight. It was the last one on the way across the mountains till we reached Albequraue, over a hundred miles away.
Now get this. Here was an emergency landing in a storm where you couldent see ten yards, and we hadent got out of the Plane and quit stamping around trying to keep warm, till a Committee of the town was there to ask us to come that night to a Banquet. We had had three solid weeks of Committees, and was flying away to escape ’em, and here was one away out on the Prairies in a snow storm. That’s working pretty fast. I want to see some Chamber of Commerce beat that. The School Teachers of Guadaloupe County were having a Banquet over at the Harvey House that night, so Frank Hawkes and I went over and did our usual little act.
We had got so by this time we could do it in our sleep. You could wake either of us up at any hour of the night and we could raise up, Frank would say, “I have been called a Speed Demon, I am not a Speed Demon, I think that Aviation has something to sell that no other line of transportation has, and that is speed. I mean speed within the confines of safety, the whole heavens above is open, and all we have to do is use it. You can’t get any worse hurt flying at two or three hundred miles an hour than you can flying at ninety, so what we have to do is develop planes that will fly at what we now call a tremendous rate of speed. I see the day coming in the not far distant when you will leave New York at noon, fly across the country at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, and reach Los Angeles at NOON. That sounds crazy but it’s not. The sun travels at the rate of one thousand miles an hour. Well if the Plane travels that fast you are keeping up with the sun, so you leave at noon, and as there is three hours difference in time, it takes you three hours to make it, so you can get there when the sun does, so you leave at noon and arrive at noon. Of course when we fly two thousand miles an hour, you will leave New York at noon, and will fly out and arrive back at noon, in other words you havent been gone at all, and that reminds me of the time I took up a Negro Boy.
Will always wants me to tell some jokes too, he has advised me not to get too technical. So I will tell you about the Negro Boy.” So we had this stuff down so pat that we could do it anywhere, or anytime. Frank has a Dandy appearance on the stage, and they like to hear him tell of his trips. Well in case I am called at any hour of the night, I simply roll over on my pillow and start in as follows, “Well folks sure glad to be here with you, glad you are starving, otherwise I would never have met you. You have got nothing on the rest of the Country. We are all starving. We havent had a regular meal since the Democrats were in, and if we wait for ’em to get in again we may never get another one. The Republicans promised us prosperity and we like a half wit believed ’em. But the joke is on them. They ain’t eating so regular themselves. Starving ain’t so bad, it’s getting used to it that is tough. The first three years of a Republican Administration is the hardest. By the end of that time you are used to living on predictions. It seems good to get back in the Old South again, for this is about the only old South we got. Prohibition split us in two politically, and the drouth cut the two halves up into quarters, and the quarters are divided over the tarriff, so that only leaves one eighth of the Party intact, and the Wickersham Report killed off those that could read, and the Hoover Democrats have committed suicide.2 So the o. d. South is solid in favor of anything that ain’t in effect now. This hunger is not local, it’s universal.
“Senators are drinking corn when two years ago they would have turned up their nose at less than Bourbon. Lobbyists are working on Commission and starving to death. Wall Street brokers have let the night chouffers go, Rockefeller Sr. is only playing seven holes.3 The Rapidan dryed up, and the President is using the seine in the potomac. Coolidge hasent had a new ribbon on his typewriter since Northampton raised its tax rate. Borah hasent issued an ultimatum since Idaho silver mines closed for lack of Gold.4 I am telling you times are tough. When Charley Schwab can’t think of an Alabi it’s H---.”5
1For Frank Hawks see WA 425:N 4.
2For George W. Wickersham see WA 344:N 1.
3For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 351:N 5.
4For William E. Borah see WA 337:N 8. 5For Charles M. Schwab see WA 358:N 2.
CONGRESS, REVOLUTION AND DROUTHWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. I got back home and am working in the Movies and have a little time in between scenes to kinder see what is going on here and there. You know that King of Spain is quite a fellow.1 They been trying to oust him these Republicans have for years and just when it looks like he was a goner why he comes up again. They ain’t going to get rid of that fellow. In fact I doubt if they could improve on him.
Governments don’t have much to do with Nations anyhow, their importance is greatly overrated. The real business of a country is carryied on no matter what King or Emperor, or Dictator or Chief, or President. Even us over here we raise all the fuss and mess around over whether it will be a Republican or a Democrat, and one hundred and twenty million have to make their living under either one of them and it don’t matter much. It’s the people of a Country that have to change and not the Governments, and they don’t change much, so what’s the use of worrying. The whole thing is a lot of Apple sauce.
We have lived under over thirty Presidents. They couldent have all been great, in fact if we told the truth about ’em, maby some of ’em was pretty punk. But we drug along in spite of ’em.
Look at the Frenchmen. They look like to us they do everything Cockeyed. Their House of Deputies looks like a Keystone Comedy Company, yet with all their excitement they have made the finest recovery from the war of any of the others. The staid old Britisher that we think does everything just about right, why he is having his toughest sledding right now. Who would think they could ever mishandle their affairs. Yet they will recover, and in five years you won’t know ’em. It’s conditions that work ’em out, it‘s not people worrying about ’em.
Paraguay, or Uraguay, or some of those Guys, are having a home talent riot. But their don’t seem to be many of their population mixed up in it, most of their people are busy making a living. In Peru some ambitious fellow has got ahold of some amunition, and he is trying to trade it for their White House. But it don’t matter much. You take one of those Countries without a Revolution is kinder like us without some hard times to holler about. We just got to have it.
Prince of Wales is prowling around down there now.2 He is drumming up some trade for the Empire, and I bet does a fine job of it. There is one prospective Monarch that really makes himself useful to his Country. He is the best add any country has, and he is not too high hat to practically admit that that is why he makes the trips. He knows we are living in a Commercial and synthetic age, and he has to make the most of it. His samples is his personality, backed by the methodical workmanship of the British craftsman. Course he will play a little Golf, but he will pick out some Guy to play with, (and perhaps let him beat him,) some Bird ahead of some Industry that is in the market for an awful lot of things that England make. So he is a mighty sensible and useful young man.
As I write this it’s just a day or so before that Congress of ours is supposed to go home. Now whether they will do it or not, the Lord himself only knows. Course they have the prayers of a Nation being offered up in favor of a home coming for the whole mess. But there has been better ones than this that we couldent jarr loose from. I believe the Rascals meant well at this session. They really wanted to help the people, but as usual dident know how.
So it’s not really intention on the Government’s part that they don’t do better, it’s ignorance. You see every fellow looks at things from his particular part of the Country. He can’t see what might be the condition in some other part.
Now take this Drouth affair down South. Those people were called Farmers. Well they were farmers, they made what little living they ever got out of the soil, so they are certainly entitled to be called Farmers, but they were not the Farmers that the east and the north have been accustomed to look on as they drive by. It’s not the big red barns, the cows, the Pigs, the Chickens, the big fat work horses. During all this hardship, its the Renter Farmer, the “Share Cropper.” A man that on a cotton Plantation tends ten acres, that is if he uses one Mule. He is called the One mule cropper, or the two mule cropper. He lives in a little box house, generally two rooms and a lean too. They are eternally in debt to the Land owner who generally owns the store or if he don’t the local Merchant. That one share of that one little crop has got to keep them for the whole year. They buy everything they eat. They are going too, the Red Cross and the County Agents are, of making each land owner give them about a half acre and put in a garden, that will help a tremendous lot. There is nothing they can work at during the time they are not putting in or tending their cotton.
Those little few bales of cotton that he gets as his share has to pay his whole previous year’s Grocery, and other merchandise bills. Now how in the world can he have a cent left. He hasent, he is in debt. Then add a drouth to that, where he don’t raise anything, then what happened. The Store man was practically broke along with him. The land owner who also deals just from year to year, he was broke, so picture the condition yourself. No work to be had, no food to be bought, no seed to plant.
Now whose fault is it. It ain’t anybody’s fault. If it is, it ain’t his, he has done the best he knew how. He is tending to his business the same as his Father and Grand Father did before him. Rich men, educated men, on Wall Street and in all big Businesses were perhaps carrying on their Father’s business in what they had always thought was a safe and sane way, yet look what happened to them. Look what happened to everybody. The smart the crafty, the schrewd, they all got it, only they had somebody who would help ’em. These people had nobody, their friends were the same as they were. I was raised on a Farm and Ranch combined, was raised where they had Renter Farmers, and I have always conscientiously believed that a poor share crop renter was the poorest and least provided for man in this or any other Country, and the Cotton renter is just half again poorer than this wheat or Corn renter, so you see what shape he is in. The man in the City that has to live in the slums with his family, but he gets something every day for his work, he has something to show for it every week, he knows what he is making, he knows what he is spending. He has his little money, he can buy where he can find it’s the cheapest. This poor renter has to stay with the same merchant for the year even if he is overcharged. Then they tell me some of you havent raised your Red Cross Quota. Well all I hope is you are never a Renter farmer.
1Alfonso XIII, king of Spain from 1886 to 1931. Although Alfonso enjoyed som personal popularity, the monarchy was threatened by considerable social and political unrest. Alfonso was forced to abdicate in the face of a significant electoral victory by republicans on April 12, 1931. He died in exile in 1941.
2Edward Albert, prince of Wales and heir apparent to the British throne. Immensely popular, he succeeded to the throne in January of 1936, but was forced to relinquish the crown later that year because of opposition to his impending marriage to an American divorcee.
CONGRESS IS THROUGH BUT BUTLER AIN’TWell all I know is just what I read in the Papers. Of course the most assuring news of the past couple of weeks was the adjourning of Congress. That wasent only news, that was an achievement. It looked for awhile there that the Boys were going to be on our hands from now on. They sure did get rid of a batch of dough, the most money ever appropriated by any Congress, not even excepting war times. All we have to do is make it for ’em and they sure do distribute it.
Of course as usual in the last minutes of congress why they dident pass any of the bills that they should have passed, and did pass all that they shouldent. Now take the Lame Duck Bill, that’s the one where they want to do away with electing a man one year and have him seated on his first Grandchild’s Birthday. Senator Norris had a mighty good Bill in there to do away with that very Lame Duck term.1 Well the House voted it, and the Senate voted it, but one made a slight change from what the other had passed, so that meant that it had to go to what is called conference, (that’s one of the things that Golf Players are always in when you go to their office). Well do you know as bad as the country wanted this Bill passed so that Congress would meet on the fourth of January, instead of waiting till the fourth of December, and the President was to be innaugarted on January the 14th, just a little over two months after he had been elected, that would have done away with the plan of what to do with our presidents after the time they are elected and before they are seated.
You see it’s awful embarrassing the way it is, the President that is in kinder feels like a has been, after they have elected some one else. So that was all remedied, and then they go into this Huddle in Conference and they don’t get it threshed out in time to get it passed. There was dozens of ’em like that. But it was such a relief to get ’em away that we all felt mighty grateful.
Everybody says that things are kinder picking up, but you ask the fellow Do you mean that you are doing better, and he will say, “No, personally I am not, but everyone I meet seems to have a little better feeling about everything. But you just can’t find the fellow that is doing better. Sometimes I think we are just talking better, we ain’t doing any better. But we don’t have to do better. We can just keep on doing as well as we can and still be O.K. That’s because we are getting used to it. It’s knocked some of those big schemes out of us that we all used to bore everybody with.”
Well let’s see what else has been agitating the Natives here lately. Soldiers are getting their insurance money.2 Course it is fine to get it, the only thing is, how do you know there won’t be a time later on when you will need it worse than you do now. You know we are never as bad off as we are liable to get. Along about 1945 when that would be coming due in full, you would just be that much older, and less able to be working. But every fellow has got to figure his own case out his own way. But I hope none of them are led on by a lot of friends that just want to see ’em have the money now because it is there for ’em. We would all like to take our Insurance money and spend it, and it’s mighty hard not to, but we got to figure that later on it will come in handier than even now.
I was glad to see Smedley Butler get out of his case as he did.3 You know that fellow just belongs in a war all the time. He don’t belong in Peace time. He is what I would call a natural born Warrior. He will fight anybody, anytime. But he just can’t distinguish Peace from war. He carries every medal we ever gave out. He has two Congressional Medals of Honor, the only man that ever got another one. I don’t know him, never met him. But I do admire him. He is a mighty useful man in a war, and as we are always having ’em why I consider him a very valuable man.
We are liable to scare him up something before long. We are looking around now to see where we can get in one worth while someplace. Even our Scouts for the Marines are having trouble locating places for them to go, this is about the first time that they havent been employed. We are even getting tired of continually fighting with Nicaraguans. We always have to take them on when there is no bigger bait. But I see where we are supposed to come out of there.
What other scandal we got? Oh yes Aimee’s daughter married the Purser on the boat that they went to the Orient on.4 I kinder thought Aimee would grab off that Captain, but she dident. Right here under our nose at the Old Soldiers Home, in Sawtelle, they had forty hit by that “Jake” paralysis.5 That’s the disease that originally started in Oklahoma, and was incidentally cured or helped at Claremore, by the Radium Baths. Where is our laws in these Drug Stores that they let ’em sell stuff like that?
We sure do miss Mr Einstein out here.6 He was supposed to come here for a rest and wanted to be let alone. Why my goodness, he just went out of his way to find something to go to, and Pictures? Why he would go searching for a Camera man if none was around. He sure did make himself a good fellow. He seemed to be a mighty pleasant little fellow.
This writing is going to be mighty tough with no Congress to pick on. I joke about ’em, but you know at heart I really like the Rascals. They are all right. If one wants to do right, our political system is so arranged that he can’t do it. The minute one wants to do what no one else has been accustomed to do, why they call him an Anarchist. Some of the old timers stepped out at the close of this one and that was kinder sad in a way. It must be a mighty fascinating game on those old fellows and it’s tough to have to bow out of the picture, and mighty few retire rich, so there must be a lot more honesty among them than we give them credit for. Well so long let’s see what the new week brings forth.
1George, William Norris, Republican United States senator from Nebraska from 1913 to 1943. A liberal Republican, Norris was the author in 1932 of the Twentieth Amendment, which abolished the “lame duck” session of Congress and changed the date of the presidential inauguration.
2Although veterans of World War I were due to receiver bonus payments in 1945, man ex-soldiers sought depression relief through early payment. A congressional act of February 27, 1931, did not provide payment of the bonus , but did make available low interest loans for veterans holding the adjusted service certificates.
3Smedley Darlington Butler, major general in the United States Marine Corps and winner of two Congressional Medals of Honor. Butler provoked a minor international incident in January of 1931 when he publicly slurred Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator. Although threatened with court martial, Butler escaped punishment with only a reprimand.
4Aimee Semple McPherson, popular and controversial American evangelist of the 1920s and 1930s; founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Roberta Star McPherson, twenty-your-old daughter of Aimee Semple McPherson, married William Bradley Smyth, the purser of the S. S. President Wilson, on March 4, 1931, in the midst of a tour of Asia.
5Sawtelle, which was adjacent to Los Angeles, was the site of a large veterans’ hospital and convalescent center. Jamaica ginger, popularly known as “jake,” was a beverage of ginger and sixty to eighty percent alcohol that had a crippling, paralyzing effect on the extremities of its victims.
6Albert Einstein, noted German physicist who received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his work in theoretical physics, notably on the photoelectric effect. He served as a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena during the winter of 1930-1931.
WILL SEES TROUBLE OVER PROHIBITIONWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. And I don’t mind telling you that since Congress has adjourned, I am not able to pick up much Scandal. Course they left an awful lot of Investigations to be carried on during the summer, for they had to have some place to go. They call it “Junketing.” That’s getting a trip at Government expense. They investigate everything from Bird life to pre-historic Mamals and radio wave lengths.
Mr. Hoover seems to be doing a little better since he got rid of the Gang.1 A President just can’t make much showing against that Mob. They just lay awake nights thinking up things to be against the President on. Work all around the Country is kinder “picking up.” Los Angeles voted five million the other day to be spent right away putting men to work on street and municipal improvements and most towns have done the same. We are liable to run into some pretty good times this summer just accidentally. Of course the big time is going to be in ’32. That’s the year of election and as I have always told you the Republicans see that things are fine on election years. Oh I guess in the long run this whole thing has been good for us. I believe we all got a little more common sense than we had before, we are kinder more down to earth.
In the old days we had had good times so long that we dident think anything could happen. Now we know it can, and we will be sorter watching for it in the future. We won’t let it sneak up on us again.
Well a couple of weeks ago the Democrats had a preliminary row. This one was just a rehearsal for the big one. It had nothing to do with anything in particular. They just decided to meet, and did, and when they did, Wow. It was a foolish kind of a thing as most rows are. Raskob is supposed to be head of the Gang, and there is a lot of opposition to him that has been held over since last election.2
They seem to think that he, on account of his money and personal friendship for Al, is trying to run everything.3 I don’t hardly think it’s that way at all. He just wanted to make a suggestion, and did. Well you wouldent think that would cause a row would you? Yes, but look what the suggestion was. It was on prohibition. Well that was the Skunk that they dident want to let out of the bag till they had too. Of course both sides would like to see the whole thing buried till after election, but there is a big gang on both sides that just make life miserable for the ones that don’t want it mentioned. Some speaker gets up and says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to speak to you on the economic problems of the day.” “Never mind the problems of the day, What about Prohibition?” And they make life miserable for the poor Devil from then on.
Well the Democrats met in Washington to try and dig up ways and means to get enough dough to carry on another Campaign. They had just called the gathering to order, and said, “We will take up the business of the meeting,” and somebody blated out, “What about Prohibition?” And oratory, denunciations, threats, and almost mayhem was committed before they could get the house to order. Then to add to the dog-fight, Mr. Raskob got up and delivered himself of a speech that he had been cooking up all winter. He told ’em it was just his idea and that it wasent in the nature of an Amendment, it was made just as a personal suggestion. Well that dident matter what it was made as, it could have been told as a dream, or a fairy story. The minute it was told, Democratic bedlam (by the way what is bedlam anyhow?) well, it broke loose. It always does when anybody is writing about something that comes up quick. My mighty good friend Joe Robinson was on his heels in a jiffy.4 Joe was for party harmony, and he knew there could be no harmony when the mention of Prohibition had been allowed to perculate. Course Joe was right. It shouldent have been among anything that had anything to do with harmony, cause harmony and Prohibition is two things that just won’t jibe. (Say what’s that jibe mean, I always hear it used at places like this, so I know it is used right, but what I mean is what is it?) Well there was a lot of support for Joe and his arguments “to not start anything that would be an argument.”
Well that was fine till another gentleman arose. You would think that up to now you either had to be on one side or the other. You wouldent have thought there was another side would you? But there was, and that was the one Al Smith was on. He said, “What is Democracy? I thought it was to discuss whatever anyone wanted to bring up. When did we get so that it was a crime for anyone to mention certain subjects?” He just wanted to fix it so they would be arguing there all the rest of the summer. He really dident speak for or against, but he did speak for arguments sake. He wanted to see the whole thing dragged out and start the split in the Democratic Party right away. He couldent see any use in waiting till voting time to split.
But they finally got the thing kinder half way straightened out and then somebody proposed that they raise six million dollars for the coming campaign. Well that flabbergasted not only one side like Prohibition had, but all of ’em. Six million for the Democrats? Why they were becoming Republicansized over night. If they had six million they wouldent want the Presidency. Where was they going to get it? Nobody knew any more about that than they did about where was prohibition coming from. But they decided it was a good fantastic idea, so they are now on the search of it, and the Republicans all laughed and had a lot of fun at the Democrats’ plight, cause they are so united on the subject of prohibition.
They can’t even find out how Hoover stands, much less the rank and file of the voters. But ain’t it wonderful to have something come up in a country where you can find out just how many Political cowards there are?
1Herbert Clark Hoover, president of the United States from 1929 to 1933. A Republican, he previously had served as secretary of commerce and in other public offices.
2John Jakob Raskob, wealthy American industrialist who resigned his executive position with General Motors Corporation in 1928 to serve as Democratic national chairman and as presidential campaign manager for Alfred Emanual “Al” Smith. He received much blame for Smith’s electoral defeat.
3Alfred Emanual “Al” Smith, Democratic governor of New York from 1919 to 1920 and 1923 to 1928; unsuccessful Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1928.
4Joseph Taylor “Joe” Robinson, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1913 until his death in 1937.