July 5, 1931 - Current
LIFE IS FULL OF THINGS —
I guess I just get the usual amount of mail of anyone that writes junk for the papers, mostly people that sho don’t agree with anything you said in the papers, and showing you where you ought to be calling Hogs somewhere. But this week I got some interesting letters. One I sure was surprised to get was from Will Durant, a man that has studied Philosophy like Mr. Coolidge has Politics, and both have reached the heighth in their chosen professions.1 I met this Durant one time. He is an awful nice fellow. I don’t know much about what his “Racket” is, this Philosophy Gag.
BUT THEY DON’T MEAN ANYTHING
He wanted me to write him and give him my version of “What your Philosophy of life is? I who have lived philosophy for many years turn now from it back to life itself, and ask you, as one who has lived, to give me your version. Perhaps the version of those who have lived is different from those who have merely thought. What keeps you going? What are the sources of your inspiration? and your energy? What is the goal or motive force of your toil? Where do you find your consolation and your happiness? Where is the last resort your treasure lies?”
A copy of this letter is being sent to Hoover, McDonald, Lloyd George, Mussolini, Marconi, Ghandi, Stalin, Trotsky, Tagore, Einstein, Edison, Ford, Eugene O’Neil, and Bernard Shaw, and three or four others that I had never seen in weeklys.2 Now I don’t know if this guy Durant is kidding me or not. If I got this kind of a letter from some body less I would say it’s a lot of “Hooey” and wouldent even finish reading it. But putting me in there with that class, why I figured I better start looking into this Philosophy thing. I think what he is trying to get at in plain words, (leaving all the Philosophy out) is just how much better off after all is an highly educated man, than a dumb one? So that’s how I figure is the way I got in that list. He knew that I was just as happy and contented as if I knew something, and he wanted to get the “Dumb” angle, as well as the highbrow.
That education is sorter like a growing town. They get all excited when they start to get an increase, and they set a civic Slogan of “Fifty Thousand by the end of next year.” Well that’s the Guy that sets a College education as his Goal. Then when they get the fifty thousand they want to go on to make it a Hundred, and the Ambitious College graduate wants to go on and make it a Post graduate in some line, figuring he will just be about as smart as anyone if he can just get that under his belt, and the Town thinking that the hundred thousand will just put them by all the other competing towns, not figuring that while they are growing that all the rest are doing likewise and maby faster. When they get to a half million New York will be twenty million, so they are no higher in the ladder comparitively than they were.
And the Educated Guy, he is the same. He finds when he gets his post graduate course that all the other Professors have got one too, and lots of ’em a half dozen. He begins to wonder if he hasent spent all this time wondering if he knows anything or not. He wishes he had took up some other line. He talks with an old broad minded man of the world of experience, and he feels lost. So I guess he gets to wondering what education really is, after all. For there is nothing as stupid as an educated man if you get off the thing that he was educated in.
Now here is a funny co-incidence in the same mail I got a letter from Old Man W. T. Waggoner.3 I expect the biggest Cattleman in Texas, and the also biggest oil Man. What a pleasure to read it, the real Philosophy of that old Cowman, two pages of life on a ranch. He was just rambling along, but every line full of pleasure and satisfaction. No learning in the world could have made him as smart as his life has made him.
Then right the same week comes one from Bill Hanley, of Oregon.4 You don’t have to tell the Northwest who Hanley is, any more than you do the southwest is who Waggoner is. I had read the most wonderful book of Hanley’s called, “Feeling Fine.” It’s got more real Philosophy in it than any book today. I am going to send one to Will Durant, and I want him to get this old Bird’s idea on a few things. It’s the story of his life, not as he has lived, but as he has observed. He shows you a lesson of every day life in every little animal or Bird we have. Lord, what a wonder he would be to lecture in a College to Boys. What confidence they would have in his knowledge. They would know that it come from a prairie and not from under a lamp.
An educated man just teaches the things that he has been taught, and it’s the same that everyone else has been taught that has read and studied the same books that he has. But if these old fellows like Waggoner know anything, it come direct to them by experience, and not by way of someone else. If I had Hanley’s knowledge I wouldent give it for even Secretary Hughes’ and Nicholas Murray Butler’s combined, (and I like ’em both personally and think they are great men).5 But I would know I knew something if I knew what one of these old Cattlemen knew, and if I was as smart as Hughes or Butler I would still be in doubt, because I would be educated so high that I would know that I only had a smattering of what I did have.
So I can’t tell this doggone Durant anything. What all of us know put together don’t mean anything. Nothing don’t mean anything. We are just here for a spell and pass on. Any man that thinks that Civilization has advanced is an egotist. Fords and bathtubs have moved you and cleaned you, but you was just as ignorant when you got there. We know lots of things we used to dident know but we don’t know any way to prevent ’em happening. Confucius perspired out more knowledge than the U. S. Senate has vocalized out in the last 50 years.
We have got more tooth paste on the market, and more misery in our Courts than at any time in our existence. There ain’t nothing to life but satisfaction. If you want to ship off fat beef cattle at the end of their existence, you got to have ’em satisfied on the range. Indians and primitive races were the highest civilized, because they were more satisfied, and they depended less on each other, and took less from each other. We couldent live a day without depending on everybody. So our civilization has given us no Liberty or Independence.
Suppose the other Guy quits feeding us. The whole thing is a “Racket,” so get a few laughs, do the best you can, take nothing serious, for nothing is certainly depending on this generation. Each one lives in spite of the previous one and not because of it. And don’t start “seeking knowledge” for the more you seek the nearer the “Booby Hatch” you get.
And don’t have an ideal to work for. That’s like riding towards a Mirage of a lake. When you get there it ain’t there. Believe in something for another World, but don’t be too set on what it is, and then you won’t start out that life with a disappointment. Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.
1William James “Will” Durant, American educator, writer, and philosopher; author of The Story of Philosophy (1926) and other bestselling works.
2James Ramsay MacDonald, prime minister of Great Britain from 1929 to 1935; Labour party leader.
David Lloyd George, British politician and statesman who served as prime minister of Great Britain from 1916 to 1922.
Benito Mussolini, founder and leader of the Fascist movement; dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.
Guglielmo Marconi, Italian electrical engineer and inventor, celebrated for his development of wireless telegraphy; co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1909.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian political and spiritual leader, known as the Mahatma, or Great Soul; principal leader of the Indian struggle for independence from Great Britain.
Josef Stalin, Russian Communist leader who from 1927 until his death in 1953 ruled as a virtual dictator of the Soviet Union.
Leon Trotsky, Russian Communist leader who served in various posts in the Communist party and the Soviet government. Trotsky was expelled from the party in 1927 and banished from Russia two years later. He was assassinated in Mexico City in 1940.
Rabindranath Tagore, Indian author and guru who founded the internationally attended Visva-Bharati University; Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913.
For this and all other references to Albert Einstein see WA 429:N 6. Thomas Alva Edison, American inventor and scientist, famous for such innovations as the incandescent electric lamp, the phonograph, and the microphone.
Henry Ford, American automotive pioneer and innovator; founder of the Ford Motor Company; leading automobile manufacturer.
Eugene Gladstone O’Neill, celebrated American playwright; awarded the Pulitzer Prize in drama in 1920, 1922, and 1928 and the Nobel Prize in literature in 1936.
George Bernard Shaw, leading British playwright, novelist, and literary critic; recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925. Among his works are Pygmalion and Saint Joan.
3William Thomas Waggoner, Texas cattle baron and oilman whose W. T. Waggoner Ranch sprawled over six counties in northwestern Texas.
4William “Bill” Hanley, Oregon rancher and wit, noted for his homespun philosophy. Hanley was known as the “Sage of Harney County.”
5Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941. In addition to holding other high governmental posts, Hughes served as secretary of state from 1921 to 1925. Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945; Republican political leader; co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
’TISN’T THE WEATHER!
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. The heat has just about knocked the news right out of everybody. California papers have had nothing in the world on every page and in every column, but the amount of people that were killed in other parts of the Country by the heat. All our deaths out here died from natural causes, but the ones anywhere else it was the heat. But I guess it has been pretty hot back where you folks live.
IT’S THE REPARATIONS
But Mr. Hoover pulled his debt canceling right in the midst of it.1 It wasent too hot for him to be thinking of something besides a cold drink. Now that may just be a mighty fine idea. It has already jumped the market up, and everybody got pretty excited over it. We are in such shape anyhow the last year and a half that we will jump at almost anything that is offered in the way of a scheme.
We know that nothing can do us any worse and we figure it might help, so we are liable to jump at things that after more quiet meditation we wouldent even monkey with. I don’t see how it could hardly effect anyone so greatly but Germany, for they are the only one that is saving anything. Germany owes France, England, Belgium, and I reckon Italy, (I don’t know what for, but I guess just on General principles.)
Well then, in turn each ones takes what Germany pays them and pays it to us, so when the debt is canceled for a year, that don’t mean anything to England, France, Belgium, and maybe Italy, for if Germany pays them nothing they pay us nothing. If Germany does pay them, they in turn turn around and pay us, so the money only passes through their hands anyhow. If it does pass they pay it out, and if it don’t they don’t, so what’s the answer? Why nobody is the loser or the winner, but Germany to be in a better position to buy from other Nations. But Germany makes or raises about everything they want anyhow, so they are not going to turn right around and spend all that they have saved. I imagine that the psychology of the thing is what makes it really acceptable than the actual figures in dollars and cents.
We lose 245 million that the Allies owe us, and 15 million that Germany pays us direct for the charge of the Army of occupation. They were to pay any one that wanted to send in an Army to occupy their Country after the war to remind them what an Allied Soldier looked like. Well that makes us lose 260 million. These are the real figures, (I just got them from “Time ”). That’s where all the authentic news comes from but we can afford to lose that much, for it takes more than that to do us any good, we are so far in the red that 260 million wouldent even stabilize our Liquor market.
But Mr. Hoover is dealing now in International problems, something that he knows something about, much more than the ordinary run of our Public men. He has fed these Nations before. This is not the first time he has fed ’em. That’s his business and he must know that the way things are going that Germany just can’t keep on paying. So it must have been to save a very delicate situation that he saw fit to do this. Of course it was not a new idea, it has been proposed a hundred times, in this and other ways, but it never was proposed by the man that had the authority to do it, even if it was a good idea.
Now what about the old Boys here on the home grounds? Well maby this thing will eventually reach him in some beneficial way. Lord knows what way but it may trickle down to him some day. Well the whole thing is beyond the understanding of us Dumb Birds anyhow, so just get back in your bead line and let it go.
A week or so ago we had it in our papers that Capone was broke.2 Well it was just like saying Mellon and Ford had taken two adjoining cots in the county poor farm.3 Capone broke ! ! !. We knew that depression had hit his Industry, but we had no idea that it had had such far-reaching effect. The Government is sending him to jail for illegally selling Liquor, and collecting a legal income tax on an illegal act.
If they can do that why can’t they make Robbers pay an income tax on what they received in loot? If you rob a Bank of 200 thousand, and they nab you, why can’t they in addition to sending you to jail make you pay an income tax on what you got away with?
They got records of Capone for all these years. But they dident get any of the Liquor, that is paying for it. I think that “Broke” gag is another Racket. He always did handle his money in cash all the time, so that Old Boy has got dough piled a lot of his different Distilliers and Brewery’s. You know what they tell you in Chicago?
The men that know they say that when you get Capone Liquor from some supernumary of his, that if you find any kick with it, that is too poor quality, he is more than glad to take it back and make it good. They say that he is more reliable in his methods than even the great Marshall Field store.4 He prides himself on a high class organization. Well it would be too bad if it stopped while he was in Jail, for a thing like that ought to be perpetuated.
1Hoover proposed on June 20, 1931, a one-year moratorium on World War I reparations and war debts to ease the financial chaos in Europe.
2For this and all further references to Scarface Al Capone see WA 436:N 2.
3For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 440:N 9; for this and all further references to Henry Ford see WA 445:N 2.
4Marshall Field, Chicago mercantile magnate and philanthropist whose household and dry goods business, Marshall Field & CO., dominated the Chicago retail market. His main department store on Adams Street contained more than thirty acres of floor space. He died in 1906.
‘SLOW POKE’ JULES VERNEWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. And this hot weather the last few weeks, every paragraph is prostration. Then come the fourth a couple of weeks ago, and that with it’s fire cracker, drownings, and auto accidents just about got what the heat had left.
But if things don’t pick up it don’t make much difference anyhow. But they seem to think this debt thing is going to help some of ’em out—some of ’em. Well, it’s kinder lonesome around the Rogers ranch (not really a ranch, but we call it that; it sounds big, and don’t really do any harm). Mrs. Rogers and Mary, that’s the daughter that just become a young lady right while I was looking at her, she turned eighteen and I swear it don’t seem ten.1
I was playing in a vaudeville theatre in Houston, Texas. It was the opening matinee, and I got the telegram of her arrival. She was with her mother, and her mother was at her old home at Rogers, Arkansas. A beautiful little town in the edge of the Ozarks, and that wonderful White River, great summer resort all around there. We didn’t have any home, we was just living in theater dressing rooms, and raised in trunks. That was before I knew there was such a thing as a Ziegfeld Follies.2
The act then was mostly roping, and a good deal of jokes, in fact the same one I am still using. Roosevelt was my best bet in those days.3 He was the best known public man that ever lived, and they kept up with everything that he did, so when you started in talking about something that he had just said or done, you didn’t have to stop to tell what it was before going ahead with your comment. Our public men nowadays haven’t got near as much color as the ones then had. People are not interested enough in the ones nowadays to read what they are doing, which generally they ain’t. But they are pretty able I guess at that.
But what I started out to say was that Mary and her mother have gone on a little trip over to Honolulu. Mary had heard that the dance orchestras over there were especially good so she wanted to make sure. I was working on a movie and couldn’t get away.
I would like to go to that Honolulu some time. I just come by there one time many years ago, on my way from Australia. But I do hate that boat trip. If I could fly over I would go tomorrow. If I could get this Gatty and Post to take me over.4 Those boys did a great job, didn’t they? I wish I could have gone to Oklahoma when they welcomed them there. They asked me to come. I would like to meet them, and the old fellow that backed the trip.5 It will be a long time before that record is beat. You won’t get another combination like that.
Such a navigator, and such a flyer, and they can’t get any better ship. Just think! Clear around the world with one motor. Then you find people that are afraid to go up for an hour with three motors. How in the deuce did they do about all that loss of sleep? Lord, if I miss two hours sleep I am dopy for the next day or so. I would have gone to sleep right in some Russian Reception Committee’s whiskers, and when it would have come time to get up and take off again, I would have left the record remain with Jules Verne in 80 days and even that was imagination.6 Poor old Jules, he must have had a relapse when he heard them flying over his grave.
We hear a lot now about the world becoming little, but I tell you it’s plenty big yet. It will be a long time before we know much more about each other than we do now. And I guess it will be just as well we don’t. Just think of those boys flying away up in Siberia. That’s where we used to see the pictures of these wolves jumping up at those sleighs, and the horse had something like a high yolk up over his neck.
Well, these old boys got enough altitude that no old wolf couldn’t jump at them. You know, too, these Russians were mighty nice to these boys, when you consider that we don’t give them much the best of it. We think they are running their country cockeyed, and I guess it’s mutual, at least it should be.
Now don’t get the idea that a plane is new in Russia, for they have a fine aviation system. I made a little part of this trip that these boys made. That was, I flew from London to Berlin, then to Moscow in 1926. They made practically the same jump, and when I landed in the afternoon in Moscow in a commercial plane, single motor, I was the only passenger, and the air was full of planes training, and we had to circle the field several times before we got the signal to land. Now that was five years ago.
I bet these boys saw many a plane in Russia. They have aviation societies over there that are maintained by the members not the government. They all throw in a small sum each and that goes to buy planes and fields and training flyers. It’s a patriotic thing like we donate to our Red Cross or some other charity. You know those rascals along with all their cookee stuff, have got some mighty good ideas. If just part of ’em work they are going to be hard to get along with. Just think of everybody in a country going to work. I don’t mean just like the ones that want to work, but I mean everybody.
What they mean by working is to produce something, to be of some benefit to the whole community. Just look at the millions of us here that tonight we haven’t done a thing today that helps the country, or that helps anybody. We have just gone along and lived off of it, and we are just “lousy” with satisfaction of ourselves, just think what we could do over here if we ALL worked.
Don’t get scared. I am not putting this in as a plan. But we must admit that other things being equal the nation that works and saves and don’t let the profits go into the hands of a few thousand or million men, they are going to be dangerous competitors. We can’t just laugh it off. We prospered for years on nothing but our natural resources. Well, they have got twice as much of anything as we ever had before we used it up.
It’s a terrible way to live, and do, but you can’t beat hard work, sacrifice, and unlimited resources. It’s liable, if it does just even half way work out, to have us winging on our foreign trade. But that’s for Mr. Hoover and Pat Hurley to worry about.7 I am sleepy, goodnight.
1Mary Amelia Rogers, only daughter of Will and Betty Rogers, graduated from a Beverly Hills college preparatory school in June of 1931. For this and further references to Betty Blake Rogers see WAS 435:N 1.
2Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld, Jr., American theatrical producer, best known for the elaborately-staged Ziegfeld Follies. First produced in 1907, these musical revues featured a troupe of beautiful chorus girls and many of the leading stage performers of the day. Rogers performed in the Follies from 1916 to 1925.
3For this and all further references to Theodore Roosevelt see WA 432:N 3.
4Wiley Hardman Post, Oklahoma aviator who won the national Air Race for longdistance flight in 1930 and also set records for around-the-world and stratospheric flights. Harold Charles Gatty, Australian navigator who began his study of aerial navigation after his arrival in the United States in 1927. In the summer of 1931, Post and Gatty broke the record for an around-the-world flight, setting a mark of eight days, fifteen hours, and fifty-one minutes.
5Post and Gatty were financed in their venture by Florence C. Hall, an Oklahoma oilman and aviation enthusiast who had employed Post for several years as an executive pilot.
6Jules Verne, French novelist and originator of modern science fiction. Verne wrote a series of romances of extraordinary journeys, including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) and The Tour of the World in Eighty Days (1870).
7For Pat Hurley see WA 440:N 9.
ROGERS GIVES CHEER
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I run into as I prowl hither to thither. I must tell you about a fine long visit I had with Post and Gatty, the round the World flyers.1
FOR POST AND GATTY
I happened to write a little piece one day complimenting the backer of that wonderful flight, Mr. Hall of Chickasha, Okla., speaking of his modesty.2 Well I got a nice wire thanking me, and saying that in return he would like to bring the Boys to Claremore. Well the only way he could bring the Boys to Claremore was in an Auto, and knowing they were real aviators I knew they wouldent come in an Auto, so I wrote and said that if they got there they would have to land in a Parachute, so the old Town got busy and in five days built one of the dandiest little Airports you ever saw, and sure enough Hall made good.
He was to bring the Boys there. Well I was sitting around our little ranch in Santa Monica and just happened to think, why if I get up early in the morning, catch the east bound plane I can be in Tulsa tomorrow night and be in Claremore for the Big Doings the next morning at ten o’clock. Well that’s just about the way I do things.
I don’t ever plan ahead for anything. I don’t even like to have dates ahead if I can help it. I like to do anything right now. So I grabbed the old aerial rattler the next morning, wired to Tulsa to have a Special Plane meet me in Amarillo Texas and they sent a Dandy, one of these Low wing Lockheads, with the retractable landing gear, (that folds up under the wings when it’s in flight) so we really did fly to Tulsa.
Well they were giving them a big welcome there that night, and I got to the Banquet just in time, too late to eat, but of course had to deliver an oration, a real grammatical masterpiece—some of the old Oxford and Eton stuff.
Well you would have been proud of Claremore, even if you dident have any knowledge of it before. The little town had done a fine job. I flew over that morning in the Winnie May, (the ship they broke the record in). I was in the back compartment with Gatty and he was explaining all the different gadgets that he used to tell where he was. He was about eight or ten feet back of the Pilot Pots, and there was gas tanks in between. They talked by a head ear phone tube. They couldent even see each other.
Now a few things they told me of the flight. They had no Parachutes, they would have taken up too much room, and been too hard to sit on, and besides if you had to use ’em, where would you been anyhow. They carried nothing at all of any precautionary nature. Post said, “It was make it or else.”
Now all you Radio Nuts get ready for a shock. Their Radio was a flop. Gatty said they didn’t expect to use it only on getting the weather at the place they were headed to land at, but that it was a fliv. He says no radio had been made that will fit those particular requirements, so Radio played no part in their Accomplishment.
Now about their sleep. They only got one hour a night for the first five nights, and only fifteen hours in the whole trip. They attribute their staying awake to their lack of food, as they said they always kept hungry. They never allowed themselves to eat but just enough to get them by; in that way it helped to keep them awake. They also trained for it before starting. They tried staying awake a lot.
The most wonderful banquet, the finest food and the greatest assortment of wines, (they dident drink but they said they had eight different kinds served) was in Moscow, so evidently everybody is not as bad off as we hear.
They said they slept in a room that must have belonged to the Czar, and that it was the most gorgeous thing they ever saw. Said the Russians were wonderful to them. Said that the Country of Russia was the most wonderful in natural resources they ever saw, also about a thousand miles of China, where it was beautiful and fertile but not a soul or a house on it. They had to land in one field in Russia where it was entirely covered with water, and they dident know how deep it was, but there was not a place where it wasent covered with water.
Post said it was kinder scary landing; the water was from six inches to a foot and a half deep on the entire field. They only changed their Spark Plugs once, and that was on account of some heavy oil they got in one place. They did not make any miscalculation in landing in Solomon, Alaska, instead of Nome.
They had intended landing in Solomon, as there is where their Gas was waiting for them. They had never intended landing in Nome. They are very unusual Boys. Gatty is the more talkative of the two, (which ain’t saying much). They both have absolute confidence in each other ability, they are still the Companions. Generally close association like that brings out all the bad in each other and they wind up wanting to eat each other up. They are mighty likable Boys. That Post is just full of determination. I would hate to tell him he couldent do anything.
Never will there be such a combination again, of ideal Flyer, Navigator, and Backer. This fellow Hall is unusual. Now those Wives, you Women would sure like them.3 They are like their Husbands, the most modest, quiet, retiring, and both very pretty. You know that takes a lot of nerve to let a Husband make that trip. They are mighty brave little Women.
On leaving Claremore, their husbands took off for New York. They were in another Plane leaving for the west. I went to the Plane to bid the wives goodbye; each had their handkerchiefs to their eyes. They dident want to let me see ’em crying, they were rather ashamed. But darn it, it just give you an idea what they have gone through. Women played a part in that flight, greater than they have ever got credit for.
1For Wiley H. Post and Harold C. Gatty see WA 447:N 5.
2For F. C. Hall see WA 447:N 6.
3Mae Laine Post, wife of Wiley H. Post; native of Sweetwater, Texas. Elsie Louise Gatty, first wife of Harold C. Gatty. The couple was divorced in 1936.
BACK HOME AGAINWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. And I been doing a lot of reading in the papers here lately, for that’s all I could do. You know the other day coming home from the big Claremore celebration on the Plane I either eat something that dident agree with me, at lunch in El Paso, where we stopped, or it was the general effects of what I had stacked in while at home in Okla. But anyhow I got home sick.
We always have such good things to eat at my sister’s in Chelsea.1 Beans, and what beans, kinder soupy navy beans cooked with plenty of real fat meat. Well when I can’t knock off a whole bowl of those myself, why I am sick before I start. And then the ham, fried ham; they cure their own ham. Tom McSpadden my Brother in Law, he is the prize ham curer of any I ever saw. Smoked ’em with the old hickory log fire, then salts ’em away for all this time. Then the cooking of all this has got a lot to do with it. Sister Sallie has got an Senagambian Soul there, but she is more for arguing purposes. Sallie fixes it all up when I get home.
Then the cream gravy. You know there is an awful lot of folks that don’t know much about eating gravy. Why not to be raised on gravy would be like never going swimming in the creek. They got their own cows and real cream. Ham gravy is just about the last word in gravys. Course good beefsteak gravy is good. You know we fry our beefsteak. It’s cut in thin pieces, and say let me tell you something. Did you know all this eating raw, bloody, rare meat, like they order in these big hotels, and City people like, well that’s just them. That ain’t old western folks. Ranch cooks and Farm women fry steak thin and hard. That old raw junk goes for the high collors in Cities, they are kinder cannibalistic anyhow.
Well, you can get some awful good gravy by putting the old milk in the skillet after you fried a lot of good beefsteak. There’s an awful lot of good gravy! A good old home cook can mix up a tasty batch of gravy just about out of anything. No sir the old city eaters missed some mighty fine grub when the don’t take advantage of making gravy one of their regular dishes at every meal.
Now then comes the corn bread. Not the corn bread like you mean. I mean corn pone, made with nothing but meal, and hot water and salt. My old Daddy always had that at every meal, said it was only the high toned folks that eat biscuits, and light-bread or loaves like you all eat now. He called that “wasp nest,” and thought that was just for the heathen. Well this corn pone is mighty hard to go hungry after. You see I am just a telling you My dishes that they have when I come. I am not telling you of what they have cause they know I would rather have it than to go out and kill the fatted calf, or kill a turkey or some Chickens.
Beans, cornbread, country ham, and gravy, and then just raw onions, either the young ones if they are in, or the sliced ones. Sallie had some dandy Bermudas that Tom had raised. He has the best garden in that part of the country. Well these wasent strong, so she was going to send me some to California. But I don’t guess they would let them come in. No, that’s one thing about California, if you raise anything better than they do, they got a law against it coming in. That’s why it’s awful hard to get good vegetables and fruits in California. They make you just use home talent.
Then for desert? Don’t have room for any desert. Had any more room would eat some more beans.
Now then I go from there over to my old Home place where I was raised at OO-la-gah, and there her Son and his remarkable wife Madeline give you an encore on all this, and maby it tastes better, for this is the house you was born in.2 So about all I do when I go to Oklahoma is just shake hands and eat.
So the day I left we come by the old ranch place and Madeline did have a fine dinner for us. Now she is out in the country with no ice, electricity or all that and yet she has got things that she can make everything that you would have at a town dinner. Can make ice cream. Yes got some kind of a doodad that makes ice out of a hot water thing, and she can put up and can more things than you ever saw, and this girl learned all this in the last five or six years. She wasent a Rancher; she was from the city of Los Angeles, but, Brother, she made a real Rancher’s wife and a good one too. You know that’s a funny thing, ranch girls don’t stay with it much. Looks like the City ones, when they have to, really come through the best.
Well the old home place looked mighty fine. Bout all we got left to farms is their beauty. Lays on the bend of the Verdigris River. My father settled it just after the Civil War, same old log house weatherboarded over. Most of the farmers are all raising ’em a good garden and getting ready to try and offset a tough winter. What they going to do with people this winter anyhow? Conditions can’t improve enough to help everybody by then, so Lord knows what it will be and especially if we hit a tough winter.
Oh, yes, I started out to tell you bout being sick. Well, I have been for a week or so, thought I was going to die, something I eat either at El Paso where the plane stopped for lunch, or the night before at Amon G. Carter’s “Shady Oak Farm.”3 I had dinner with him and the Gas Sextette and there was an amateur Doctor Walker, that mixed up a batch there laid me low.4
The Doctors called it Catarrhal Jaundice. I was the yellowest White man you ever saw. I never have heard who else died from this Carter dinner; the diet was, cove Oysters canned, then canned tomatoes, and raw onions all in one mess. Well, if they was laying for me, they got me. Next week I will write you of all the pleasures of being sick.
1Sallie Clementine Rogers McSpadden, eldest sister of Will Rogers; wife of John Thomas “Tom” McSpadden, stockman of Chelsea, Oklahoma.
2Herbert Thomas “Herb” McSpadden, a son of Sallie and Tom McSpadden. Herb managed the Rogers Ranch after 1919 and moved to the ranch house, the birthplace of Will Rogers, in 1927. He married Madelyn Pope Palmer in 1924.
3Carter (see WA 437:N 2) made his Shady Oak Farm on the shores of Lake Worth famous through the gifts of thousands of hats bearing his trademark.
4Gas Sexette probably refers to six Fort Worth city councilmen who were at the time consulting a plan for municipal ownership of local natural gas properties.
FARM BOARD KNOWS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Been under the weather and been doing nothing but reading, and taking some pills, and trying to talk the Doctor out of some more grub. Good deal of debts have gone under the Auctioneer’s hammer since I last communed with you, both private and National and International. Germany got a Moratorium, the Big International Bankers got theirs guaranteed, Taxpayers got another assessment, and the Farmers got exactly what everybody had been predicting they would get—two bits for their wheat.1 But we are told that indirectly this good that we did Germany, will trickle to get through the weeks and mortgages.
SOMETHING AFTER ALL
Course here is one thing where the Farm Board is right; (I havent heard that in so long that it scared me when I wrote it down).2 They told the Farmers NOT to plant so much wheat, they said there was going to be a big supply this fall, and you knew yourself that they hadent sold last year’s crop. So I kinder string with the Farm Board in that. You know the Farmers don’t use their own heads a whole lot. Some of ’em don’t even use anybodys.
Now it was last year that the Farm Board bought up all this wheat, and had nothing to do with it. From the day they started buying the first bushel it started going down, and no matter how fast they bought, it went down faster. Well there you was. You hadent put in this year’s wheat yet. Now Russia had an awful big mess of it, and if you read, you knew that they would lose money on it in order to take away some one else’s market, especially us. You knew that they would perhaps under the five year plan put in more wheat than ever before, because they ain’t supposed to know how to raise anything else.
Now the Argentine had a bumper crop. They had their last year’s crop still to sell. Then you got to take this consideration that every country both big and little that havent heretofore raised wheat, knowing they were at the mercy of those few big powers, have encouraged raising all that their folks could. Italy and England raise a lot more than they used too, not near enough but it all counts up.
Now then here is the Farm Board with their millions of bushels. Granaries full of private wheat. The worst depression in years. Now I just want to ask one question. What in the World made any Farmer think that things could possibly be any better than they was when he planted the wheat? Had he been listening to Chamber of Commerce speeches? How did anyone think that just over night we was going like we used too? What was there to look forward to that was going to raise everyone out of the dumps any more than there is something to look forward to that is going to lift us out overnight now—not even overnight but over a year? So why would a man, knowing the amount of wheat that was going to be on the market the next year, knowing that nobody was going to have anything to buy it with if they did want it, why would he go and gamble everything he had in more wheat?
We used to think that a wheat Farmer was smarter than a Cotton Farmer, and the Wheat one thinks so yet, (Well maby not now). But, by golly, it looks like there ain’t no way to get any people to cut down on anything as long as they think the other fellow ought to do the cutting down first. There is some excuse for the Cotton Planter, especially the renter one, for he has to put in what he is told too or else, and he hasent enough machinery and stock to put in anything else. But with the wheat Farmer it’s most generally a man that is his own boss. He generally owns the land, or had it rented to do with what he likes.
So it looks like he is going to do the same as the south has with its cotton, just go broke with it and be buried right in the patch, but he is going to plant plenty of cotton. You know there is few things that even the Government can’t protect you against, even if they wanted too, unless they send you to an asylum. Now here is where the Government made their mistake; they said “Don’t raise so much wheat,” so you raised it, and they can’t say they “told you not to.” But they dident tell you NOT to raise anything, and everything else has been as low as wheat. See? That’s what they should have done. They should have said, “Don’t raise a thing only what you can eat yourself.” You would have let your land gain a year, you would have saved all your seed wheat, or corn, or Oats, and while you wouldent have made anything you wouldent have lost anything.
But the Gag now is not to raise anything only that fits your appetite. Then the price don’t worry you. The Republicans don’t fret you. The Democrats don’t preach at you. Just raise all you can eat and let the low prices go by.
1Germany received assurances of short-term credits from the representatives attending an international economic conference in London in July of 1931. The loans helped to steady German finances.
2For the Federal Farm Board see WA 432:N 6
ALFALFA BILL KNOWS HIS OILAll I know is just what I read in the papers, and I havent had much time to peruse the prints here lately. Being a Col. on Alfalfa Bill’s staff means action.1 These Wars of his were coming so fast there for awhile that they were over-lapping. We finished licking Texas over the Free Bridge late one afternoon and before dark that same night, why Bill had one matched with the Big Oil People. And he told me that that was nothing to what he had in view for the future.
You know not only in Oklahoma or anybody else’s State we havent had a fighting Governor for years. Most of ’em have just been plain old every day Politicians that dident look for any more excitement than the next election. But with Bill it’s different. He knows Oil ain’t what it ought to be, and so he just loaded up his old Musket and started out to put it on a paying basis.
The Standard Oil and all those big fellows ain’t monkeying now with injunctions, and Habus Corpuses, and all that old hooey, they are up against bullets now. Us Hoklamonians don’t mess with all the ordinary procedures; we just go shoot it out till we get our price.
If Bill gets away with this, why it will be the road to a lot of industries loading up and trying to get $1 a Bottle for Pepsident, or 75 cents per gill for Sloan’s anticeptic mouth wash. I would like to see the old Butter and Egg men go out for a higher revenue on the output of the Heifer and Pullet. Trouble is there ain’t any of them that have got another Bill Murray. You got to have Leaders, and Bill ain’t enough to go round. Just Our own industries alone is going to keep us Boys in the trenches till Xmas.
Bernard Shaw and Nancy Astor, two of my old London friends, been to Russia and got back a couple of weeks ago.2 Shaw was so impressed that he couldent tell the reporters a thing. (Free), he was waiting till he could get home and write it himself. (I have done that same thing many a time.) Bernard and I and Calvin got to live on our “Cracks,” wise and otherwise, and we can’t be handing out a lot of information on where we had been and what we have seen.
Shaw seems to have got over mighty big up there. He has always kinder pulled for ’em, and it was a great thing for their Country when they landed him to come up. And taking Lady Astor and her husband, who have a lot of money, and favorabley impressing them, why that was a big job, cause if Nancy don’t think it’s working, why she will sure blat it out.3 There is none of the forflusher in her; she is the plainest spoken Woman you ever saw.
Bernard told ’em if he was a young man he would stick with ’em. That was a mighty pretty compliment; it dident bind him to anything. He was already old, so he dident have to stick by it, so he can go back to London to all his luxury and don’t have to worry about the five year plan only from a distance. I been reading a lot of books on that thing and it sounds so big it almost scares you, a whole nation of 150 million people all working, no profit, no board of Directors, No Dividends, No Wall Street to Support.
Just think for a minute what would be the profits on products in this Country, if there was no Grain or Produce Exchanges or Wall Street to provide for. Look what a Farmer would get if he got all that the Consumer paid. Then all the Big Industries being run with no profit, turning everything out at cost. Their own Steel mills, their own Ore Mines, own water power and an unlimited supply of coal, Wood, the greatest forests in the World, all productive. No Deserts. You see they are playing with the biggest natural resource fountain in the World.
If Italy started the same thing it wouldent mean so much, for they could work as hard, but they would have to buy raw materials from other Countries. But these folks have everything that any other Nation has only more of it.
Now they are buying brains, people to show ’em how to get all this organized. We have thousands of trained men over there, working to show them how to work with different machines. Now when they learn that they won’t leave us any corner on it, for no nation has a monopoly on brains. The thing sure is worth watching for just the idea of everybody working and producing something is going to have collosal effects.
Look at what we produce, and there is only about one third of us producing anything. The two thirds are living off the one third, and then we got more than we can sell. So just imagine what price they will be able to sell stuff for. No, you can’t laugh ’em off, they sure got some weird ideas, and things that a people like ours would never in the world tolerate. But they have got some ideas that if carried out properly is bound to make the world do some changing in this unequal division of wealth.
For that’s what’s the matter with us. No Country ever had more, and no Country ever had less. Ten men in our Country could buy the World, and ten million can’t buy enough to eat. So the salvation of all that might come out of these Cuckoo Russians. If it does, it will have paid for itself whether the whole five year plan works or not. So we ain’t going to get nowhere cussing ’em. We better watch ’em, and if they got anything any good, why cop onto it, and maby we can feed everybody.
1Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray (see WA 442:N 1) called out the Oklahoma National Guard in mid-July of 1931 during a heated controversy with Texas authorities over the operation of a toll bridge across the Red River. Two weeks later, Murray again used the National Guard to shut-down all oil wells in Oklahoma in an effort to stem overproduction and to raise prices.
2For George Bernard Shaw see WA 445:N 2. Nancy Langhorne Astor, American-born English viscountess who was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons, serving for 1919 to 1945. Lady Astor accompanied Shaw on a well-publicized tour of Russia in July of 1931.
3Waldorf Astor, British financier, politician, and publisher who served in the House of Lords from 1919 until his death in 1952. He was the husband of Lady Nancy Astor.
IF THE FARMER QUITSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. Let me state you all some figures! 3 bushels of wheat buys 1 bushel of Potatoes. It takes 5 bu. of Oats to buy one bu. of Potatoes, 2 barrels of oil buys one bu. of Potatoes, and mind you potatoes ain’t high either, they are only worth about 80 cents a bushel.
2 bushels of wheat to get a frying chicken, and the old Pullette ain’t high either. She is only retailing at about 50 cents on the hoof. It takes ten bushels of wheat to get a 50 pound sack of flour. Think of that, ten bushels of wheat to each sack of flour. You would think the thing wasent made out of wheat wouldent you? It takes 20 bushels of wheat to buy one pair of shoes, and then you only got five dollar shoes.
A pair of good Cowboy shop made Boots would just cause you to raise three whole acres of wheat at about 33 bushels to the acre, and that ain’t counting on the rust. It takes a bushel of wheat to get a mess of roasting ears. You know what that is, you City Slickers? Well it’s that stuff you eat off the cobb, and get it all in your ears, and if you got a front tooth missing you miss one row. 3 bushels of wheat to get you two pounds of bacon.
It takes two whole bushels of Oats to get you one pound of steak, and that won’t be so tender either. 2 bu. of wheat buys you one pound of coffee. You have to trade two bushels of oats for one quart of Motor Oil, and three barrels of oil for one quart of Motor Oil. You see, it’s like the wheat and the Flour, what a thing is made out of has nothing to do with the finished product. The price of a Cow has nothing to do with a steak, wheat to flour, or Oil to Motor Oil. A Bushel of wheat will get you a dozen eggs to go with your three bushels worth of bacon. So, for about a quarter of an acre’s growing of wheat, you can have bacon and eggs in the ONE morning.
It takes a bu. of wheat to get a package of Post Bran. Now what’s it made out of? I dident think it was wheat, and I guess it is not. If you want some butter on your bread that will cost you another bushel of wheat, and it takes a whole bushel of wheat to get one package of Cigarettes. Up to now you have blowed in 159 bushels of wheat and all you got is some bacon and eggs, one chicken, some fried potatoes, and a pair of Cowboy boots, on three full wagon loads of wheat. Oh yes, you had some motor oil and some roasting ears and a package of Cigarettes.
Now you got you some smokes you got to go to town and show the boys you can inhale. It will just cost you 2400 bushels of wheat to plant yourself in a Ford Sedan. At forty bushels to the acre, the Ford will just set you back 60 acres of wheat. Course you can go seventy acres and get a Chevrolet, that’s if you got plenty of acres.
By now you need some more Cigarettes so you got to shell out another bushel of oats. Takes another five acres to get you a Radio so you can keep track of the Market, and see how many bushels of wheat a Package of Cigarettes are running that day. With a radio you can tell how bad you are off every minute of the day. 2 pair of silk hose will knock your old grainery loose from 8 bu. of wheat, or twelve of Oats. Just one lone Golf Club bumps you off for another ten bu. of wheat. Now the wife and children are smoking, we got to have more cigarettes. “Lets get 24 boxes?” Well, haul twenty four bushels of oats to town and make the trade.
Need a hair cut but I forgot to bring a bushel and a half of wheat with me. A shave is a bushel of oats. “Here, Rastus, is a bushel of oats; give me a shine.” 200 bushel of wheat gets you one set of new harness to start raising some more high priced wheat. A new work team will cost you 600 bushels. A bushel of oats will get you three packs of chewing gum. Now we need ten gallons of oil for the car, so we got to sack off 15 bushels of wheat.
What you say about a Permanent? Cost you twelve bushels of wheat. If we had just put in another acre of wheat we could have got that pair of silk pajamas. Well take in another truck load of wheat and bring out another day’s rations of meat and bread and bran and Cigarettes.
“Pa, if you got ten bushels of wheat the family can all go to the Movies and see the gangsters kill each other and talk about Millions. What do you say we get a Tuxedo and turn Gangster, Pa? This farming is the bunk. All we got to do is see two more pictures and we can do it as good as the Gangsters.” Send in the truck with another load of wheat, we got to have some Gasoline, Radio Batteries some new Rube records, and Cigarettes. Minnie is going to High School but it takes 20 bushels of wheat to get her a Bathing suit.
And Lord rest my Soul if there ain’t the tax man. This land is taxed at $60 an acre —was taxed when wheat was $2.50 a Bushel. Now wheat is two bits and it’s still taxed at $60. When they going to do like the City folks do, pay on your income. If you don’t earn anything you don’t pay anything. And if there ain’t the old Banker who had a mortgage on my crop and Teams and Tools. Paid him 8% and a bonus to get the loan. Reading where money was loaning in the City for as low as 1%. Well that’s what you get for living in the Country I guess. Wish all the Farmers would move to town one year that’s the only way I know to clear the thing up.
WHY NEWS IS SLACKWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. News is awful slack. Depression is on in the news world. We had quite a run of news up till a year or so ago. But everything seemed to fail us at once. Good many lay it to Coolidge getting out. He was always news. Every new picture he had made, every different hat he wore, every pan cake for breakfast, every sausage, all was news. Mr. Hoover does just as much, maby more, eats just as much, maby more. But when depression is on, it’s just on and you can’t do nothing about it. You can’t make news out of nothing, no more than you can make work out of no jobs.
There just ain’t no news and now some of our big men predict that there will be a turn for the better, that there will be news coming our way any day now. They claim that News is just around the corner, and that it will be on us before we know it. They claim that there has been times like this before, and the Press has come out of it, and that it will do it again. But never has there been as general a shortage of news all over the World as there is now. Now in the old days when there might not be anything doing in the United States, why over in England there would be some big news in parliment, or an argument with Ireland, or the Prince of Wales would be doing something. Or they would be ruling the Sea somewhere, or over in France, they would be argueing with some Tourists, or down in Italy Mussolini would be either making a speech or getting shot at or something, or both.1 But Lord we can’t even depend on him any more. He has fell down on us like Sister Aimee.2
Since the King left Spain it was just like a little Circus having their only Elephant leave.3 The Show just don’t do no more business. Argentine and Brazil, and Chili all used to be good for some news, but now the Tango is as dead as the Charlestown, and the Gigilos they furnish this country ain’t much improvement on the home grown. Australia not only can’t afford any Adds, but they can’t even send us in any “Personal Items.” They are as dead as Austria, who havent made the front page since the Merry Widow Waltz. Germany here a few weeks ago made a little spurt for news, then died right back out again.
Russia has been a sort of a partial life saver. They put on a Five-year plan that sounded front pagey at first, but then we don’t understand it and the more we have it explained the less interesting it becomes. It will take us five years to even fathom it, so it’s not news any more.
Had a series of Aeroplane flights, but they all come so thick that we got ’em mixed up and we couldent tell who was flying which Ocean, or what was the names of the ones that did. Post and Gatty helped us out mighty nice for a week or so there.4 Lindy and Anne sorter stirring things up now.5 Then some other Boys started to go round the World and traded their compass for a Camera away off over there and started in taking Pictures for a sideline.6 Was just getting a focus on a Japanese Fort, when the Japs developed their plates for ’em, and only charged ’em a thousand Bucks apiece for it.
Bernard Shaw and Lady Astor eloped together to Russia, but their ages kinder acted against the news value of the story.7 Mexico never was as uninteresting. Depression has knocked the Revolution business back where it just don’t pay to loot. The Earthquake was the last news we had from Nicaragua.8 Since Smedley Butler left the Marines you can’t hear much from them.9 Navy is resting on its Oars. The Army Fliers the other day was given a Boat to sink, and they dropped every thing on it but their Parachutes but they couldent sink it. Finally it rotted.
Mayor Walker is over in Germany looking for the Child Slayer Bandits.10 Mr. Hoover wouldent take a vacation this summer, so that knocked us out of all that news. Remember what a lively summer we had when Mr. Coolidge went to the Black Hills? So it’s just been one bad break after another. Congress is out of session, so that means the old laughs is missing from your morning papers every day.
What the Republicans are doing, and what the Democrats are doing is of no interest to anybody any more, for no one knows one from the other. There is no fighters on either side. They both want a Tariff on what their part of the Country raises, and free trade on what is raised in other parts. But the depressing part of it is that I don’t see much hope of any news coming anyways soon. Out of these other news depressions something big has happened to get ’em some news. It’s generally been a war. Nothing revives interest in the Press like a good war. It don’t necessarily have to be local, it can be foreign if it’s a good one.
You see the trouble nowadays is that no one can think of anything new to do. Everything that is done has been done before, so there is no news in it.
Murders have just been done to death. You got to have a mighty good murder to get on the front page. People just lost interest in ’em. Automobile accidents they just list them over in the personal column. We just in a big slump and we gradually got to read ourselves out of it. We got to make less news do us. We got to get back to the old times when we was satisfied with reading just what had actually happened, and not just laying for the Big things to read. Everybody has just got to buckle down and say, “Here, there is no news, but we are going to stick to the ship and keep reading and be satisfied with what little there is that happens.” That’s the only spirit that will bring back the news.
We just had an Orgy of news, and now when it’s not coming why we are yelling. Those times never will come back. We got to just reconcile ourselves to that, so buckle down and be satisfied with less. It may be years before there is much news. It’s going to take a new generation of people to make new News. For there just ain’t any interest in the old bunch here now.
1For this and all other references to Benito Mussolini see WA 445:N 4.
2For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 429N 4.
3For King Alfonso XIII of Spain (see WA 428:N 1) left that country in April of 1931 to live in exile in France.
4For Wiley H. Post and Harold C. Gatty wee WA 447:N 5.
5Charles Augustus Lindbergh, American aviator who received international acclaim in May of 1927 for completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh and daughter of Dwight D. Morrow. The Lindberghs began an aerial journey from Washington D. C., to the Orient on July 28, 1931.
6Two American fliers, Hugh Herndon, Jr., and Clyde Pangborn, attempted to break the record for an around-the-world flight in the summer of 1931. They were detained in Tokyo, Japan, on August 6, however, on charges that they had violated Japanese espionage laws when they took photographs of restricted areas.
7For George Bernard Shaw see WA 445:N 2; For Nancy Astor see WA 451:N 2.
8For the earthquake in Nicaragua see WA 434:N 2.
9For Smedley D. Butler see WA 429:N 3.
10James John “Jimmy” Walker, Democratic mayor of New York City from 1925 until his resignation in 1932. In 1931 the popular and debonair mayor became the subject of a state investigation of corruption in his administration.
TOUGH ON THE LEADERSWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Lot of Prime Ministers have passed under the bridge since I last broke news with you.
Poor Mr. Ramsay MacDonald he is still in there, but under another uniform.1 He was a very able conscientious man. But just like all the leaders everywhere the victims of the slump. Being President or leader of any country during the last two years was just like arriving at the crossing just as the stop signal was against you. There is nothing you can do but just stand and watch your predecessor get through a-flying, and you wait till somebody switches something over which you have no control.
I don’t suppose there is a leader today who, if he had known what was in store for him, wouldent have thrown the job right back in your face when offered it. It’s just an off season for leaders.
The labor government come in when things looked bad over in England, and the people thought that they could do something for labor. Well, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Hoover can’t get you a job if nobody wants to hire you. They havent any personal positions to put you in. So when things went fluey, why they were the goats.
You see, over in England when you and your cabinet can’t agree on some major issue and everything is all cockeyed, why the Prime Minister is supposed to have lost control of his party and he resigns and sends his resignation to the King. In fact, I think he takes it. Well, then that generally means another election to put in some other party, but a general election costs a lot of money, and besides it is sometimes unwise on account of conditions to leave a thing to the people. They might not be in the mood to receive it like you would like to have them receive it.
They can’t have an election now in England for there is so many unemployed, and so many dissatisfied that they are liable to even vote further than for labor and go almost Bolsheviki. A hungry man is looking for immediate results and not caring for future conditions.
You see the whole thing come about over the amount of the “Dole.” They were running short of money, and wanted to cut down on the amount given to the unemployed. Well, these have been getting that so long that it’s like saying “Now here, you been eating three meals a day but we got to cut you to two.” The unemployed are NOT working, but they are in a position to dictate. Well, Ramsay wanted to cut the Dole in half. So instead they just cut his authority in half. Then they said in order to give him a kind of a dignified exit, “You go form a colition cabinet, and see what you can do with it.” That means that he can take in a few from each party. So he got him three conservatives, three labor and a couple of liberals. The liberals are the old Lloyd George party, and they are the smallest party, but neither of the others have a majority so that leaves them like the Progressives in our Senate.2 They are the ones you have to deal with before you put anything over.
Well, the co-lition got together and they knew that their only hope was to cut some of the Dole, but they knew what had happened to Ramsay when he wanted to nip off half of it. So they kinder studied and figured if they proposed to slash off a third would they still be able to retain their positions? Then they held another huddle and decided that about ten percent ought not to make ’em so mad that they would throw them (the co-lition) out on their ear. So co-lition really means careful.
Now they are going to pull through. They are that kind of people. They feel their loss of banking prestige worse than they do anything else. When you have been the world’s money headquarters, why it’s sorter hard to see it slip away. But they got great what do you call it re-cuperative powers, or stick-to-it-iveness. They will juggle around and fit their business to present conditions.
You know Mr. Hoover is sorter right about that “Dole.” He has seen what it has done for England, and he knows what it would do for this country. Of course, no country in it’s right mind would ever adopt the method that England did. That is just give people money that couldent work, and not make them do something for it—just let them sit and draw enough pay to live on. It’s got to be done by giving them something to do for that money. That’s what ruined the whole plan over there.
I will never forget in one of the Arkansaw towns that I visited with Frank Hawkes last year on our tour.3 They had been feeding something over three hundred in their soup kitchen, and one night they announced that they had arranged so that everyone would be given work the next morning at about (I think it was $1.50 a day). You could get a real meal in town for 25 cents, and after three meals that would have left you 75 cents. Well, the next morning there was less than seventy-five out of the three hundred showed up. So you see that is where England pulled their boner.
You can’t just give people something for nothing, you got to do something for what you get. Now they got big committees working in all the big cities getting money for the coming fall and winter. Mr. Hoover is going to insist on the people taking care of each other as long as it is possible to do so, and that will be a long time, for never was there as much money in the hands of the few as now. So you see England’s problem is our problem. Germany, Italy, Australia, everywhere you look or read about it’s the same unemployment.
Well, we been twenty years honoring and celebrating the inventor who could save a dollar by knocking somebody out of work, now we are paying for it. Machines are a great thing, but if one replaces a hundred men, it don’t buy anything, it don’t eat anything, while the hundred men spend theirs back for food, shelter, and hundred of various commodities for them and their families. So they can have all the theories and plans they want but till you get rid of something and put people back to work, you ain’t going to be able to fix it. You can call it co-lition, Republican, Democrat or Bolsheviki. But folks got to have work.
1MacDonald (see WA 445:N 2) and other members of the Labour ministry resigned on August 24, 1931, because of their inability to meet a budget crisis. Several Labourites then joined in a coalition government with MacDonald at its head.
2For David Lloyd George see WA 445:N 2.
3For Frank Hawks see WA 434:N 3.
ROYALTY IN THE MOVIESWe had a kinder funny experience the other day over at the Studio. I was working on a Picture that is supposed to take place over in Europe. I am Ambassador to some mythical Kingdom.1 It’s kinder the story of Roumania, with the young King and Queen seperated, and a Kid who is King, and I drop in as Ambassador A la Aleck Moore, who incidentally made us a dandy Ambassador to Spain.2
Well, we was shooting the big Reception scene, where the young King and the Queen was receiving all the Diplomats and we had the real Nationalities. You know that is one thing about Hollywood, you don’t have to fake any Nationality, just issue a call and there will be dozens of any breed under the Sun. In our last Picture before this we wanted some Arabs on the desert. We had over a hundred that come right from Arabia. All lived here in Hollywood, Greeks, Armenians, Indians from India, and everything. Well this day we had a great many Russians, Russians that really were somebody before the Country went Bernard Shaw.3 Every one of them spoke four or five languages, Germans, Poles, Checko-Slovakians. Well all these different races were in full court dress, with all the decorations. Well who should come out on the set but the Siamese Party. Not the King and his wife that are visiting over here, they went home through Canada, but it was his own Uncle, Prince, (he said you spelled it just like our Indian word for the Indian cross, “Swastica,” only with the C out.)4 He and his wife and his two sons.
One of the Sons goes to Georgetown University, and the other to Yale. They are a couple of mighty fine Boys, little in statue like all the Siamese, but pleasant and a good sense of humor. But it’s of this King’s Uncle that I got to tell you about. He is a Bear, you would be crazy about him. He speaks English with no trace of an accent. He is an Oxford Man. Of course we went over old times when he and I and Brisbane were there.5 Well it seemed kinder odd to be making a picture of a Royal Court, and here was some real Royalty sitting there watching us. We wanted him to replace Mr. Sam Taylor who was directing the scene, and let the Prince direct it himself as that scene should be right up his alley.6 He had served his Country on every important mission to every important Country on the Globe. A Russian was standing near us with all the old Czar decorations on. The old Gentleman called him over and said, “I have all five of those decorations. That’s the White Eagle, That’s the St Andrews,” and he reeled off each one and then he pointed to one that the imitation decoration was not just correct. “That Insigna is not that way, it’s this way.”
He had made five trips to Russia on important missions, and making of new Treaties. So we kiddingly wanted him to direct the scene. He said no we wouldent pay him the big money that Movie Directors got, and he wouldent be a cheap Director. So we started taking the scene. I was announced and come in, walked the length of this great room with all the beautiful Ladies in sparkling Gowns, and men in bright colored Uniforms. When I reached the Queen and was announced as the new Ambassador from the U. S. the Queen put out her hand, and instead of me kissing it I just grabbed it and shook it. Well the old Prince let out a snort and said “No, No.” He liked to have had a fit. He dident know that we purposely took it that way for the comedy effect.
Then when I told the Queen that I was a single man and had no children but would like to adopt her Boy (the King) why the royal party did like to have a fit sure enough. But he soon got on that we were playing it for comedy, (about the only way to take a Court). He had the most pleasant little wife, and the jewels she had on, these Movie folks that were there had on a lot of fake jewelry in the scene with their Court costumes, but she made a sucker even out of their Junk. She was dressed awful plain, but the bracelets and rings mostly of Rubies, they had us all gapping so we couldent act. He was on his way up to Vancouver to join the King and Queen of Siam and go back home with them. I told him I was coming over there in about a year and visit his country as I was going to make a trip around the World. I asked him how I could find out who or where he was over there. He dident get me for a minute and said, “Oh you can find me, I am chief justice of the Supreme Court of Siam, I am Royal Prince of . . . ,” and then he got it that I was kidding when I asked him.
But he asked me to come see him. Course that’s what everybody does when they are away from home, then you go and try and get in. But you know they must have a mighty fine little Country over there, and their Royalty seem to get on fine with their subjects. But a kind of a sad part of the scene was that here were a lot of Russians in the Picture, playing just extras and small parts, yet they had all occupied more or less important positions in their home Country.
Whether you were for the Czar or not, they were born and raised under them, and it wasent their fault. One had been a great Actor in Russia, played at the royal Theatre in leading parts. Several High Military officers, and the stories they all can tell of how they got out of there, and the struggles they have had since, each one is a novel in itself. There is no more interesting place in the world to meet characters than a Movie set. If you have lost anybody anywhere in the World and don’t know where they are, they are in Hollywood trying to get in the Movies.
1Rogers wrote this column during the filming of Ambassador Bill, a motion picture released on in October of 1931.
2Alexander Pollock Moore, American editor and diplomat; editor-in-chief of the Pittsburgh Leader from 1904 until his death in 1930; ambassador to Spain from 1923 to 1925.
3For George Bernard Shaw see WA 445:N 2.
4Prajadhipok, king of Siam (Thailand) from 1925 to 1935. Accompanied by Queen Rambai Barni, Prajadhipok traveled to the United States in early 1931 to undergo eye surgery. Svasti, Siamese prince and father-in-law of Prajadhipok. He and his family joined the king on his trip to the United States.
5Authur Brisbane, American newspaper editor and syndicated writer whose columns, “Today,” appeared in more than 1,400 newspapers.
6Sam Taylor, American motion picture director and screenwriter of the 1920s and 1930s.
CROSSING THE SHOALSWell all I know is just what I read in the newsprints. England has been the most consistent headliner of the last couple of weeks. We do love to read about some other Nation’s difficulties, it kinder gets our mind off our own.
Well now I tell you you better do your gloating pretty soon over her hard times if that’s the way you are geared up, for she won’t be that way long. Always remember she never looks good till it looks bad, then she comes through. A Nation is built on Character the same as a person is and no matter what their financial difficulties are that old Character shows up. They got many long headed old men over there, and when they get in trouble they just drop the Politics and start getting together regardless of Party. The fellow Ramsay MacDonald must be quite a fellow.1 I don’t think the labor party did themselves any good by throwing him out. He is either mighty sincere or the best Actor in public life.
Then there is old man Lloyd George.2 There is a smart old hombre. He is kinder the Borah of the islands over there.3 I heard him make the best speech I ever heard in any Congressional Hall when we were over there to the Dissarmament Conference last year.
Chili broke out a couple of weeks ago. Their Navy revolted and took to sea with the ships. The Aviation end stuck to the Government and went out and started in dropping various articles on ’em, mostly lead and the revolters give up so quick it looked almost like a frame up. Our Army Aviators had some trouble hitting a ship of ours. But these old Chilianians sho was poking ’em down the smokestacks of those old battle wagons down there.
Did you hear what Dave Ingalls, Secretary of the Navy for Aviation, told the Army fliers when they couldent hit that old tub?4 Well he sure kidded ’em plenty. But one side is about as good as the other. There would be no reason why one branch of our air forces would be superior to the other. They are all flyers and good ones. I would hate to be in even a row boat and have ’em dribbling things from the air at me.
Now we got England and Chili fixed and Aviation, we will take Mayor Walker.5 He has kicked up a Revolution of his own. Everybody in New York was either shooting at somebody or getting shot, so he grabs a Boat and goes on a tour of Europe for his health. Last spring he was out here with us in California while they was going through his record back there. He is always on the jump while the Boys are looking over the minutes of the last meeting.
France give him the Legion of Honor, England the Knight of the Garter, and Germany the Watch on the Rhine. He has gone through Europe like Aimee through a Revival.6 He has met people that the Republicans investigating him at home couldent get in apple throwing distance of. Last summer we sent twenty Mayors over there to offset the good our Soldiers had done. Now Jim has to go over to offset the Mayors. If the Rupublicans get out enough Inditements against him he will be met when he comes home by Democratic New York like a Channel Swimmer. He can pick his own job to run for. When he returned from California the Town raised his salary fifteen thousand a year in answer to the Republicans’ charges.
The kid is just too swift for ’em. He hasent much against him however, for the Republicans have used the poorest judgement in fighting Tammany.7 They have never guessed right yet. It seems funny that the dumbest Republicans must be located in the State of New York. Smith used to whip ’em every time they peeped.
Now Walker has made a sucker out of ’em. He may be the best Mayor in the World or he may be the worst but the opposition can’t tell you right now. They have accused him of everything from Bigamy to mayhem, but they can’t convict him of a traffic ordinance.
Now let’s get back home and see what is doing here. Is things going to pick up? Yes, and No. Yes for the rich, and No for the poor. Now what is our problem? Why it’s to take care of those that havent. How? Well how can it be done only by taking from those that have and giving to those that havent?
The question is how are you going to take it? First you are going to ask ’em to give it to you. Try and get it by voluntary subscriptions. That puts a tax on genorisity, for the liberal will do all the giving and the skinflints will do all the talking about it as usual.
So that at best will only be a temporary way, and can’t last through a long hard winter, so it ought to be done by taxation. What kind of taxation? Why on those able to pay it. Off incomes in the higher brackets. England did it the other day, they had a tremendous high income tax, but they boosted it still higher.
They don’t monkey with playing Politics when something is needed. Five percent on incomes of over $100,000 would be fair, for the rate stops at $100,000 for some reason or other, it don’t keep on going up like it does up to the $100,000.
A man making a million don’t pay any more on his last $100,000 than the fellow on his first. Why stop it up there where a man is just getting in shape to pay? That five percent would do the whole thing.
Will it pass? Not unless you poison all the Republicans. They take care of big money for big money takes care of them.
A Sales tax will also do it, with practically no tax on necessities and a big one on luxuries, and a big Inheritance tax to get the fellow that don’t spend. Well that practically settles that, so by next week everybody ought to be doing fine.
1For J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 445:N 2 and WA:454N 1.
2For David Lloyd George see WA 445:N 2.
3For this and all further references to William E. Borah see WA 432:N 5.
4For David S. Ingalls see WA 440:N 11.
5For Jimmy Walker see WA 453:N 10.
6For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 429:N 4.
7Tammany Hall, a Democratic political organization in New York City that controlled party politics in the city and wielded much influence in municipal affairs.