January 3, 1932 - Current
PROWLING THE PACIFICWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl hither and thither, and believe me brother I have been prowling hither for the last few weeks. It would take me a week to tell you all about it. But this one will just have to kinder start me off.
I left the American shores when my plane crossed the Canadian border up above a town called Bellingham, Washington, on my way to beautiful Vancouver, and say, by the way, that is undoubtedly the prettiest aeroplane trip I ever made, that is from Seattle to Vancouver. You fly over all those islands and inlets and straits, and the mainland is in places low and level and a wonderful dairying country. It looked to me exactly like Holland.
There is a lot of rivers and canals, and lots of old milking cows out chewing on the green, and it was green. And here ten miles back was Mount Baker that is some fifteen thousand feet up, and covered with snow. But it is beautiful all up in that country; they say one of the prettiest trips is the inland trip to Alaska by boat, or plane for there is islands off shore and you can keep inside them. But the whole northwest is beautiful from Frisco north, its mountains and pines, and rivers and lakes.
Seattle is a great aeroplane center on account of the great Boeing plane being made there. They supply the government a lot of them and to lots of commercial and private parties. They have a fine field, well equipped, and Vancouver has one out on an island or a point of land, I was so busy looking at the beautiful scenery that I couldent tell. But Canada is going somewhere with aviation, and they should, for they are a country of long distances. Just think the time a plane will save in Canada.
Well, we went to the beautiful and big C.P.R. Hotel there, a well-appointed and really elaborate affair and was to sail on the Empress of Russia, a boat of their line in the morning. I had heard along the line that Floyd Gibbons, the world’s champion reporter and radio announcer, was to be on his way to Manchuria too, but I wasent sure.1 But when I finally got to Vancouver and they told me it was so I was tickled to death.
Just think of the privilege of traveling and being with him. Here is a man that has been in every nook and corner of the world, knows everybody, everything. I got acquainted with him in Warsaw, Poland, in the summer of 1926, and have been good friends with him since. Well, he was coming in on the C.P.R. at eight-thirty that night from N.Y. All the press boys was down to see him in and I joined out with ’em. He had 22 Chinamen on the train with him that was catching the boat too.
They were going back home, BUT NOT TO FIGHT. They said they dident want any war. Well, we all went up to the hotel and the newspaper men had a nice party that night, with all their wives and friends present and of course Floyd and I had to gab. He is just as good as he used to be on the radio, only slower. He gives you time to take it all in when he is talking to you. We had a fine time, met lots of fine folks, and up in the morning and saw Vancouver. It’s the coming city of all west Canada, and well laid out and very pretty.
We shoved off the next morning about eleven thirty. It looked like a long trip, eleven days to Yokohama. I am the world’s worst sailor anyhow. I get sick before the boat unties from the dock, but you know I says, “I am going to lick this, I am going to eat everything they got, drink ____ ____ _____.” Well, anyhow I stayed with ’em, and do you know I kept waiting to get sick, and kinder looking forward to it, and days went by and nothing showed up, and by golly I begin to believe that maybe the old Oklahoma kid was a sailor after all. Then we hit rough weather, and when you hit rough weather on the Pacific, brother you are encountering some weather.
The Atlantic is only a fish bowl. The Captain, and a very fine capable man, Captain Hosken, really did a great job of handling that boat in that hurricane.2 He practically had to stop, then he turned south off our course, as we were not so far off the Aleutian Islands. That’s the one these aviators try to sail along coming from Japan. Well, we was trying to keep off of ’em. The waves got so high we lost a lifeboat, washed off one of the top decks.
But I was still riding it, and retaining beautiful. Why any other trip I was ever on I would have died. This foolishness kept up with this ocean for over two days. It was a Chinese typhoon, that had run into a monsoon, that was crossed with just plain hurricane, and Oklahoma norther combined. But I kept eating, and HOW! They gave me good food on that line, and they are always passing something, and I was always not letting anything pass me. We had a fine little bunch on board, as travel like all other commodities has been curtailed by Hoover, I suppose, and there is not a whole lot of world travel. Now is the time to go, you are not run over by what one traveler always called “The other objectionable people.” You see everybody is doing the wrong thing when you travel but you.
Read a lot of books. I never was much of a book reader. I am kinder like Al Smith. I never read one through. But I knocked off some on this trip. That old Genghis Khan, that flourished around in all this country around 12 hundred. If you enjoy Jesse James, Al Capone, and the Younger boys, you want to read about this baby.3 Oh Lord, the world was his oyster. He ruled everything from all of China clear to the gates of Vienna, and from the North Pole to Africa, and he did it all horseback. There was a real buckaroo for you.
Then I read a book by General Graves about our adventure in Siberia with our soldiers.4 He tells you he was in charge of ‘em and he don’t know yet what we sent ‘em over for. Now that it’s all over and he has been looking up till now, he still don’t know what they were doing there. I guess it will go down as one of the prize boners of all our foreign invasions.
I want to drop up there to Vladivostok on this trip if I can. You know we have all heard of that place, and I want to get a crack at it. I am anxious to see this Japan and China and all this, and I will write you more about it when we land, which is right now. Oh Lord, here is what they call a rickshaw, a thing where a man pulls you in a chair. What a traffic jam I am going to get into in one of those.
1Ralph Floyd Phillips Gibbons, American journalist, author, and radio commentator who as an internationally-known roving reporter was recognized as the “premier was correspondent of his generation.”
2A. J. Hosken, Canadian mariner; ship commander for the Canadian Pacific line for thirty-two years until his death in 1936.
3Jesse Woodson James, Missouri outlaw of the western frontier during the post Civil War era. The Younger brothers—Thomas Coleman “Cole,” John James, and Robert— Missouri desperadoes who were prominent members of the James gang.
4William Sidney Graves, American army officer; commander of an American expeditionary force in Siberia from 1918 to 1920. A major general, he retired from the service in 1928.
IT’S A LONG WAY TO OSAKA!Osaka, Japan:—Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl. I think the last time I wrote you a long letter we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You know I am the Champion of the World getting seasick, and I know that it is just lack of nerve. If you will just keep up there and battle with it, and keep going why you are O.K. But I am kinder yellow anyhow, and when I feel a little squirmish why I start hitting for the Hay, and when once I get down in the old Bunk why I am a dead Dog from then on, no matter if we are out for a week or a month. So knowing this in advance I was all set for about eleven days fun and amusement right in the old bunk with one of these little tin Bread Baskets fastened onto the side of it. Everybody said, Ah’ keep going, eat all the time, Drink!
Well we shoved off in the morning about eleven thirty from Vancouver on the Empress of Russia, a fine boat, a fine crew, and fine Captain, and they sure did do everything in their power to make everything pleasant. I dident want to get sick for I dident want to leave this good Gang. Floyd Gibbons of course was a good Sailor, for he had done nothing but sail somewhere all his life.1 He was a kidding me and telling me to come on and eat a lot, and have another little glass of beer.
Well it’s a beautiful trip from Vancouver over to Victoria, that’s the Capitol of British Columbia. So I dident have much excuse to keel over going through all those beautiful wooded Islands and straits. We got over there just about dark, and there was a lot of folks come down to the Boat. The American Consul there wanted to take me ashore and show me the Town. Course it was dark, but we drove by all the big Government buildings and we got a mighty good idea of the City. There is beautiful homes there and gardens and grounds. It’s about the most British City of any in Canada, there is an awful lot of Britishers there. I mean the real ones that come direct from England, and are not Canadians, but British. There seems to be a kind of a pack of ’em out there.
Well then we pulled out and hit the real Ocean, and course I went to bed. But even in the morning I surprised myself by getting up and going down to breakfast, and then stuck it out till Lunch, and then dinner, and mind you all this time I was packing in the Fodder. They had awful good eats on the boat and I just went the limit, and then about the middle of Mister Balboa’s Ocean we hit a Typhoon, and that’s when the Lifeboat washed away and like to got some more.
But do you know those little Chinese Crew, all the head officers were British but the crew are Chinese, and they are real Sailors. Those little Rascals stood out on that deck and hung onto ropes and did work around there when the waves were breaking all over this deck and it was the top one. I like to fell overboard from just looking at it from the inside, and we just had another glass of beer, and they were always passing all kinds of Hors Duervs, (I can’t spell it but I can eat it). Well I was cramming that in all the time. And three big meals a day in addition. I bet by the time I landed I was as fat as C. B. Irwin of Cheyenne.2 (You don’t know Charley. Well that’s your loss, you ought too.)
Then by that time I was figuring that I was a real Sailor. This thing of a Typhoon, crossed with a Monsoon, and sired by a Hurricane lasted with all that was following it, about two days in all. But what I started to tell you was one time, away out in New Zealand, that’s right near Australia, I was working with a Circus, (Wirth Brothers) May Worth the great Bareback Rider was a little Kid with it then.3 Well I left it to come to America, or rather the United States, for we are not ALL of American. Well I was supposed to make a one night trip by a small boat from down the coast where I left the show, after being it for over six months, and finally made enough to get home on. (But not first class.)
Well the train I was on pulled up beside the Boat, and I knowing that I was going to be sick, rushed aboard right away, and I says to myself I will get in the bunk and maby that will help me from being too sick. Well it’s the paint, and that smell of varnish that does it. Well I got a whiff of it going down, and I crawled right into my bunk, (which was in among a lot of other men’s bunks). Now I was under the impression that the Boat was going to pull right out. But this old sniff of paint had got me, and sure enough I started in being sick. I had the old Lunch Basket tied right on to the edge of the bed. (They have lovely little Cuspidors of a thing for Birds like me.) Well I sure was going strong. I thought well I havent got long to be sick, for we will be in there before long, and finally some fellow come in and asked another fellow, “What’s the matter with this Boat, ain’t it ever going to pull out?” Here I was practically dying and the boat tied to the dock, we hadent moved a peg. But the old Imagination had done some working along with the old Stomacher, and here I was dying and still tied to the dock. So when I crossed to Pacific this time with no casualties, why I sure did think I was a Sailor. I was for shipping on as a regular.
1For this and all further references to Floyd Gibbons see WA 471:N 1.
2Charles B. “Charlie” Irwin, rotund and colorful Wyoming rancher, race horse owner, and showman. At the time of his death in 1934, Irwin weighed more than 500 pounds.
3May Wirth Martin, Australian-born equestrienne. In 1903, at the age of five, May made her debut as a member of the Wirth family circus. Ten years later, the Ringling Brothers Circus showcased her at Madison Square Garden ad “May Wirth, the greatest rider who ever lived.”
AMONG THE HEATHERNWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl among the Heathern (so-called). Say these Heathern are pretty foxy guys. Us Methodist, and Baptist, and Holy Rollers, and Sister Aimee’s Four Square, have got to go some to put over anything on these babies.1
Now you take Japan for instance. That’s where we first hit the dirt. Of course, there was the Aleutian Islands off to our North. There is nothing on ’em, they are barren. Being in that state, of course we won ’em. If they had anything on ’em why some other nation would have taken them over and at least hold the mandate over ’em.
You know what a mandate is? It’s a thing you take over a Country, when you haven’t quite got the Gaul to take over the Country. It’s a kind of a fashionable way of glomming it, and still have a speck of pride left.
Well the Captain kept telling us that we were “off the Aleutians.” This kept on for days. “We are off the Aleutians,” till I thought he was off his Aleutian. But he was right, we were. They string out and they go pretty near over to Japan (not too close or they would cop ’em) but they sure do look like they were headed for the other side of the ocean. They are the ones that the aviators try to follow on their way from Japan over here. But it’s always so rough and foggy that you just as well try to follow a dry Republican into a speakeasy.
It got so rough once we turned south to keep from bumping into these possessions of ours. I was just wondering if Mellon knows we got ’em, and has he figured out any way to put an additional tax on ’em for being there during these times of a misplaced budget.2 I am going to escape to one of ’em some day and if I see a Revenue man coming I will flee to the other one, and I will keep him following me till after March the Fifteenth. That is the date you got to look out for is March the Fifteenth, that is if you have made anything during the past year. Of course, if you haven’t you got to look out for every day. And you know that the trouble over here among these dusky friends of ours, we don’t get any news.
Since I crossed into Canada from Bellingham, Washington to catch the Boat at Vancouver, I don’t know a thing that’s happened. Canada was so tickled that England payed her some attention that she was still writing about them, and they wasent paying any attention to their little innocent Sister to the south. It kinder feels good not to know what is happening at home. In fact it does feel good, for none of it is any good, so it’s better to stay in ignorance. Whether Congress ever met or not I don’t know. I hope they dident, but it would be just about like ’em to do it, they got no more regard for the people’s welfare than to.
Politics, I guess, is pretty cold for the Boys now, and we won’t hear much till they thaw out in the spring, and what an odor that will be after a year’s hibernation! Newt Baker was kinder smelling around the old Salt Lick when I left.3 I don’t know if some of the big Bucks horned him out or not. Newt did some good work during the war. Now as to whether we can remember that far or not is the problem.
This Japan has been kicking up a mess politically since I got here (not of course all on account of that) but they had a Budget that wouldent balance, and they had nothing to use for money, just like we did, so they changed Cabinets. Mellon has never thought of that idea. Now as to whether these new ones can find any more money laying around is doubtful. A Cockeyed Budget is the downfall of more Prime Ministers nowadays than was used to be.
Japan has got two Parties too. I don’t remember their names any more than they could remember ours. But they keep things in a turmoil just like ours. You see if we dident have two Parties we would all settle on the best men in the country, and things would run fine. But as it is now we settle on the worst ones and then fight over ’em.
But outside of Politics and Tea, this is a great little country. Everybody is mighty nice to you. It looks just like America outside of the kimonas. Course under the kimonas in either place I am not an authority. But the most of them here dress about like we do. Subways, elevated trains, Electric trains, Street cars, and Bycicles. Did I say Bycicles? Well I underestimated. It wasent just Bycicles. It is millions of ’em. Did you ever see a Kimona on a bycicle? Say that’s standard equipment here, and they are all carrying something on the Bicycles, generally an automobile, or a Piano, or some little trifle, a tray of dishes is the most common cargo. They will lope off on their wheel from one end of Tokyo to the other with a pot of tea for a friend, and then spend more time bowing before drinking it than it would have taken them to cook up some real coffee.
But they are mighty polite and nice, and they want you to see and like their Country, which you can’t help doing. They got everything we got, and if they havent you show it to ’em and they will make it. They are a great race.
1For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 429:N 4.
2For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 440:N 9.
3Newton Diehl Baker, American attorney and statesman; United States secretary of war from 1916 to 1921.
FLYING OVER JAPANTokyo (By Mail). Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I listen to the chatter of folks that I don’t understand. Well, got away off over here in Japan for no reason whatever. There is no inkling of it around here anywhere. But I was determined to locate it if there was one on foot, so I set out.
Naturally I was looking for a plane if there was one. I wanted to see what aviation was like in the Nippon empire. All us old timers that know Japan intimately call it Nippon. Nippon means Sun (it’s awfully embarrassing to have to explain these things to the prolectariat), so I says Nip, what have you got in the way of commercial aeroplanes, and Nip right up and answered me, “Where you want to go?”
So I says offhand like, “I want to go where the war is, or was or is going to be. Where is this Manchuria I been hearing so much about? Lead me to it!”
Now as a matter of fact, and geographically, Manchuria is away over on the mainland from Japan. You not only got to go the length of Japan, which for a nation with as many battleships as she has got, ain’t as long physically as you would expect. But it’s quite a prowl at that, then you have to take to the drink. You got to fly over some open ocean. Oh, not long, maybe only a hundred and fifty or two hundred miles, but that’s quite invigorating when you are doing it in a land plane, that has no skiffs on the bottom of it.
They say they have a regular daily line from Tokyo, that’s their local Washington. Got embassys there where you can get a drink just like Washington (I don’t mean ours) I mean the Portuguese. Oh yes, and the Greeks.
Well, this Tokyo is quite a capitol. Got everything but Senators, which really may be responsible for their tremendous advancement. Well, they say they have a regular commercial line from there to Dairen. Dairen is the old Port of Dalny (I think it was Dalny) that was originally built and fortified by the Russians, that’s the white Russians. They called ’em white before they turned red.
Well, this Darien is the big port of the Japanese that takes out all the products of Manchuria, and it’s the real starting place of the Manchurian railway, that you have read and heard so much about in the newsprints.
Well, old man Gibbons, the decrepit old Penman, says he would relish a flight by air, so we take flight simultaneously, or practically both together, on a lively December morning. Gibbons has a fur coat that he claims he bought in Tibet (that’s not the singer), and he cherishes it highly.1 He claims that it was not only a bargain but warm.
Well, he has nursed this dog bed all the way across the Pacific, wearing it into even the dining room on the boat, and in the men’s bar it was a continual source of another round. He has in addition to that a polo coat, although he has never mastered even as strenuous a game as checkers yet. So on this day that we went to the field he had on his polo coat, although there wasn’t a horse in that end of Tokyo. But he had an assistant that guarded and mothered the giant fur.
He really made this trip to Manchuria just to give these skins a chance to see their native land once more. The poor old pelts had no idea they would ever reach the homeland again. They wasn’t the usual sealskin or Kolinsky, or Hudson Bay Fox. Their native habitat was Siberia, Manchuria, and of course, some of the inner hides had been slumming over into Mongolia. But the whole thing had been assembled by some of old Genghis Khan’s old henchmen, and this particular garment had been smuggled down into Tibet.
It had, so Gibbons related, once belonged to Marco Polo, but it was too hot to take to Venice, or Naples, or Rome, (or wherever it was he come from before he started in on this lying expedition). But at any rate Gibbons was proud of this collection of varmit hides. To me it was not only ill fitting but ill smelling. But he is a tough bird anyhow and seemed to have become accustomed to its shape as well as its odor. So he has this Bellboy from the hotel accompany us to the flying field, just as an accompaniest to this peltorium.
Well, of course a lot of American friends come out to see us off. And there was hilarity and glee all over the place, and for once in his life, Gibbon’s attention was distracted away from the winter housing problem. We went to the plane, had pictures taken of course those always seem to be as evidence in case there is doubt as to the recognition of the remains. Well then we had tea. No matter what you do in Japan you must first have tea, then after you do what you was going to do you have tea again.
So before the pictures and after the picture we had tea. Then we got on the plane and a boy come with pot and cups, and we just happened to think we hadn’t had tea since stepping in the plane, so we asked if all the baggage had been loaded on, including Rogers’ two shirts and a typewriter, and Gibbons’ twelve pieces. Everyone assured us that they had. So we took off, splendid takeoff (otherwise I couldn’t be telling of it) and we had quite a flight.
Japan is a beautiful country to fly over. Any country is a great country to fly over. And then we got to Osaka. It’s an Osage Indian word, meaning (I forgot now what it does mean).
Well, anyway, it was cold and raining, and the pilot had been hedgehopping to get in there, so in unloading all of Gibbons’ various treasures that he had assembled from covering every war from Grant’s down, he missed the coat.2 Well, there is no way of describing it. He accused the pilot of carrying an assistant that had jumped overboard with a parachute to get away with the coat.
When as a matter of fact, if anyone had put it on and jumped, they would have been well protected without a parachute. But anyhow he had lost the coat. He was for not going on to Manchuria. I offered him my mackintosh instead. But he was inconsolable. He wanted even Russia to win the war. Finally I just took him to the bar room of the hotel and left him with his grief. His coat had been left in Tokyo.
1Lawrence Mervil Tibbett, American operatic baritone who made his debut on the concert stage in 1917. In addition to opera, he also sang on the radio and in motion pictures.
2Ulysses Simpson Grant, president of the United States from 1869 to 1877; commander of the Union armies during the American Civil War.
BEES IN HIS BONNETFrom the Far East, by Mail: Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl hither and thither. You know I kinder like people to talk and write about more than I do places, and Temples and Churches. Well, Sir, there was on our Boat coming out here quite an interesting bunch. We didn’t have many passengers outside of the steerage, but we had a might interesting little bunch.
Two Germans who had been home from Japan on a visit, prominent business men, spoke good English, that is about like me. Said things were very bad in the old Country, even worse they thought than most of the other places. But seemed might cheerful and optomistic about it. Great race those folks. When they do come back they will do it with a Bang, for they are built of fine stock.
These were great Readers, well informed on everything, and told us more of Japan than even a Japanese Scientist that was with us. He was might pleasant, but he wouldent tell us exactly what we asked him. He was smart though, he had been down to Pasadena, and studying with Prof. Millikan and all those fellows that Einstein was with.1
You know, funny thing, it was just a Japanese gardner that had a Truck patch away out in the Desert toward Arizona that had a sort of an amateur globe of some kind and he found a Star, a new one that none of the Scientists had ever found. There was a big fuss made over it, I remember at the time, and they gave him a new set of tools, or Spy Glasses, or whatever it is you find odd things with, just for his contribution to Science, so he went right on picking Radishes, and I bet in about another year he will bob up with another Star, or Planet. Hope he finds one that hasent been hit by depression.
By the way I wonder if they are hit like all the rest of the World anyway. If they are it just shows you how far Hoover’s influence reaches. Then, of course, we had Floyd Gibbons on there, and he knows about everything, and has been everywhere, and read everything. A Scotch Golf Player from Canada that was as liberal as anyone you ever saw, I don’t know where they get that scotch stuff. Then a Standard Oil man from Jersey Company, Mr. Walton.2 He was headed for Batavia, where they have Big holdings.
But the fellow that I want to tell you about was the “Bee Man.” His name was Riddell.3 He had lately come from up in Alberta, Canada, and he was just about as odd and human a Fish as you will find in a year’s trooping. He had on board 500 hives of Bees, taking them out to China. Well up to the time I met him I dident know any more about a Bee than I do about Shakespeare. But the Bee man told me a lot. He had ’em all stored on deck, right out in the cold. He first had ’em down below, but he was afraid of the heat, so they brought ’em up, and they was roped down for believe me you Brother those Bees did some rocking if they was with the Boat.
He would send all over the Country just to buy Queen Bees, that’s the Head Bee. There is some Guys called Drones that don’t do anything as long as they live, but they Bump those Babies off mighty soon, so the life of a Drone while it’s restful, it’s rather curtailed. He says they are all organized and that each one has his certain work to do, some bring it in, some store it away, some stand guard. I am going to get that Book of Materlink’s on Bees and read it.4 He says that’s what drove him in the Bee business.
I remember Materlink when he was brought out years ago to Hollywood with the Sam Goldywn Company that I was with at the time.5 I dident know he knew anything about Bees then or I would have asked him. He was a mighty pleasant old fellow, and had a plum pretty little French Wife. I knew he had written a Play about I think it was Blue Bird, but I dident know a thing about this Bee business.
But it was the other qualities that made this Bee man stand out. He at first was kinder a “Windy.” But as we kept trying to pin him down, why we found out he had really been there, or he had read it. By Golly those fellows on the Boat that had really read a lot couldent find anything to stick old Bees on. I finally horned in with my reportoire of books consisting of Ibanez “The Cabin,” Sandberg’s “Lincoln,” McGuffy’s Fourth Reader, “The Life and Exploits of Jesse James,” “When the Daltons Rode!” and on the way over Lamb’s “Genghis Khan,” and “Marco Polo.”6 Now that’s my life’s work digging through that mess, and here this Bee Guy not only had read all of ’em but memorized most of ’em, and then would tell me companion books that I should read following these up. But the Rascal was just book smart and he dident have much real horse sense knowledge. He has read a little beyond his limit.
He was what you call a kind of a well read Nut. He thought the three greatest men in the World was, well I can’t even remember either one of them. I believe one was Thore, or some name like that, a poet or something like that, and Whitman, and another Writer, he really thought these men had contributed more than a man like Lincoln or Edison.7 You see they ought to be a law to stop a man reading when he gets too far. Imagine a Poet, don’t care what kind of a Poet he was (even a good one) being worth more to the World than Edison. How could you read the Poetry if it wasent for Edison? You would have to do it in the day time.
But Old Bees was pretty tough to down in all argument, and you would about have to buy him a drink to beat him. He was a young fellow too, about forty-two, but he was high on old Thoreau or whatever his name was, he lived up around Boston, Harvard man I guess. I never could find out from Bees just what type of stuff he turned out. Maby was a Collumnist, he had also read a lot of Chinese stuff. He and the Japanese would argue over that, I tell you this old Bee man was a freak.
He knew an awful lot about ants too. That’s something he got me interested in, and soon as I can get my mind off Movies I am going into the Ants. This old Boy just put more ambition into me. He has just got me all excited to learn, so no more Hoover and the Senate and Boarah and all that, I am going to devote my time from now on to Ants. They do something.
1Robert Andrew Millikan, American physicist; director of the Norman bridge Laboratory of Physics at the California Institute of Technology from 1921 until his death in 1953. Credited with being the first to isolate the electron and measure its change, Millikan received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1923. For Albert Einstein see WA 429:N 7.
2Walton, an unidentified American oilman.
3Riddell, an unidentified American beekeeper.
4Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, Belgian poet, dramatist and essayist; recipient of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1911. His Life of the Bee remains one of the most popular treatments of the subject.
5Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-born American motion picture producer who formed Goldwyn Pictures Corporations in 1918. It later became a part of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer firm.
6Vicente Blasco-Ibáñez, Spanish novelist and politician, most famous as author of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. An anti-monarchist, Blasco-Ibáñez died in 1928 in voluntary political exile. Carl Sandburg, American poet and biographer. Sandburg’s most ambitious work was his six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln (1926-1939), for which he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. William Holmes McGuffey, American educator; professor of moral philosophy at the University of Virginia from 1845 to 1873, remembered chiefly as the compiler of the McGuffey Eclectic Readers (1836-1857). For Jesse James see WA 471:N 3. The Dalton brothers—Grattan, Robert Rennick, and Emmett—outlaws of the Old West whose gang was wiped out during an infamous raid on Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1892. Harold Albert Lamb, American author who wrote chiefly about Middle Eastern history. Among his many works are Genghis Khan (1927) and Tamarlane (1928).
7Henry David Thoreau, nineteenth century American poet; considered by many to be the greatest of all American poets. For Thomas A. Edison see WA 445:N 2.
WHAT’S THE NEWS, ANYHOW?Somewhere East of Suez, by mail: Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I go thither and thither. The thing that makes it tough out here in all these Countries is that you don’t get any News, that is I mean OUR news.
My goodness, I was out here a month before I found out that Notre Dame had lost a game. Imagine newspapers being printed in any language and in every Country and not having that in it. Now that I have heard it, I can’t find out how it happened, so that makes you madder than ever. Well they made a great record, and I bet they give a great account of themselvs at that. You see these papers have just a few lines of some events that happened back home. But whoever picks ’em out to print must be someone that was never over home, or if so it was just after the Boxer uprising. Now Congress was to meet at home just a week after I left, now as far as we in the Far East are concerned they never did. Of course as far as you all at home are concerned they never did either, but they did meet, I am afraid. What have they done? We can’t hear a thing, and I guess you all there can’t either, so in lots of respects we are equal.
But darn it, I miss my paper. I used always to sit a long time over breakfast and read my papers, and just think, over here I sit, but that’s all. A breakfast don’t taste good to me without a good paper.
Japan has one awfully good English speaking paper, it’s the Tokio Advertiser. It’s about the best in the far east, unless it is Manilla. Course this little one-sided war out here has so upset the news, you don’t get anything but it. There is so much Propaganda mixed up in it, on both sides, that they just fill the papers up with a lot of junk put out by whichever Country the paper happens to be in.
The funniest thing in all the war is that up in Mukden there is about twenty Co-Respondents gathered from all over, and they have been in the one Hotel for over four months, just waiting for the one little Battle that they knew must come, but they dident know when. That is the Battle of Chinchow. They all wanted to go to their various Posts like Shanghai and Peking and back home to spend Xmas, but they couldent leave for fear the Japanese would pull the thing off while they was gone. They sure are a fine bunch of fellows. I was around there with ’em for about a week. This Mukden that you read all these war dispatches out of used to be quite a City. It’s the Capitol of Manchuria, and was some place in the very old days. But since the Japanese took it over, and there is martial law, why there is not even a Movie in Town. Over at some other Hotel they have one a week, they of course are all silent. Not only silent but absent.
There is a pretty nice Hotel there, with good food and rooms and Baths, and a Bar. But over in this Country everybody sits down at a Table, and have the drinks brought to ’em. They sure do like to holler, “Boy-san.” I think that’s it and it means boy. They just put the San on to make it harder. Well a Foreigner does like to holler at the Boys, so you have the boy do everything but actually take the drink for you. The American and English, well in fact all the foreign Colony in these towns like Darien, Mukden, and Harbin, all have a Club, which will stand comparison with any of our Clubs over home, and most of their social activities are held there, and their dances and gatherings. There is always the Consuls, of the different Nations, The Standard Oil is in all these, and the Texas Co., Ford’s, and General Motors have men, then up that way you run onto a lot of Fur Men that go to Harbin to get their Furs for you Women. Their headquarters are in Tiensein, China. There is twenty or thirty of those that are American Buyers. Kolinsky is the main fur, and then the Mongolian Dog, it’s a sort of a half wild dog, well they render that up into pretty near any fur you call for, but it’s orginally Mutt.
The trains on the South Manchurian Railway are very nice up to date Trains, that’s the line that the war is over, as the Japanese say they are doing all this to protect that line. Course they have gone out three or four hundred miles on each side to do it, but it supposed to be all just to protect their line. They do run anything in first class shape. Their trains are always clean and right on time, sleepers are some of them like ours, but most of them are the European style, Wagon Lits (like France’s). They are the best kind; they beat ours.
Course some of those lines there is a lot of robberies on. The Chinese lines are not so well protected now. For the Japanese have kinder got ’em all dissorganized and the Chinese don’t know whether to run ’em or leave ’em. But the Japanese say they are not safe on account of the Bandits. Course there is naturally lots of Bandits, for the Chinese Army has been kinder let go, so they got nothing to do but Banditry. There is no work and nothing to eat, and they got guns, so they ain’t going to starve.
But it’s a rich Country in resources, and they will be fighting over it for years, for Russia is in the Northern end and Japan in the Southern, now they ain’t going to live in the same kennell, and when Russia gets ready, if this scheme of theirs even just half way works, they are building up a big Army, and a great air force, and they haven’t forgot the Russo-Japanese war yet. So that will be a real war, for don’t you let anyone tell you these little Japanese are not Soldiers. They fight, and will be hard to lick, so don’t put all your money on peace. War to end wars was a bust.
MOVIES IN TOKYOTokyo, by mail: Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what is see as I prowl, and this is the prowlingest Country there is to prowl in. These Japanese they sure do try to do things up in real European or western style.
Got to tell you about the Hotel we (when I say we, I mean Floyd Gibbons and I, he come over on the same boat with me), well, it’s called the Imperial. It’s built of bricks, but it’s low and rambling. It’s freaky looking, but you kinder like it after awhile. It of course was built by an American Architect, but it was the only thing that stood up during the Earthquake.1
These Japanese have a real City here, about two and half million, and it almost connects with Yokohama, another big City and their principal seaport. They are, of course excited over the war in China. These Japanese take their wars serious, they go in ’em to win ’em. Of course, all the Propaganda you get here is on their side, naturally. They feel they got a lot of money invested in that Country and they want to be in charge of things so they can supervise the things their way.
Course the whole thing is so mixed up with treatys, and secret agreements and understandings, that nobody knows head or tail to who’s claim is any good.
Well, this is a great Movie Country. They make more Movies here than they do at home. And naturally I wanted to see some of the Studios. You know the Gag. When a Motorman is off he visits another Motorman and rides with him.
Well being off from the Studio for a couple of months before I was to start another Picture why naturally I must go see somebody else make ’em. But they have a lot of Studios over here, so Mr. Dwight Davis, the Governor General of the Philippines, and his very lovely Daughter, who were on their way back home, were here at the time and they wanted to see a Japanese Studio too, so we got our Company’s representative, in charge of Fox Pictures out here, and he arranged it.2
Well, we finally got out there. Of course it was pretty sad lot after seeing the tremendous things at home. But yet it had the same stuff at that. Mind you they make their pictures at an average cost of five thousand Dollars, where our cheapest will run $150,000. But they do a good job with what they have.
They didn’t happen to be shooting that morning, said they had worked the night before. That sounded kinder natural. But we had tea, that was the minute we went in. They sure will load you up on tea if you do any visiting around. Just at the drop of the hat somebody will start bringing in tea. They started out to try and scare up some of the Stars. You know they have favorites over there just like ours, and some of ’em are big drawing cards.
Well we walked all around among the old buildings, you know theirs are all silent pictures, they have only made one or two Talkies, they don’t like ’em so well, only the foreign ones.
Then they dug up a Screen Star and she was pretty. They had a Camera man that followed us around just like they do at home, where he is on publicity and snaps everything in the world that will never be used. I often wondered what they do with all the Pictures over home that Photographers take and that are never used.
None of them spoke any English and none of us any Japanese. But we bowed and giggled and pointed, and drank more tea, and had a fine time and I had quite a thrill of visiting a Japanese Studio. Course then I did a lot of Picture going in what little time I had there. They get our pictures out there right soon after they are released, and the Stars that are big here are over there too. Chevalier’s latest was there.3 These Japanese sure will try anything, and get away with it. Everything at home we make or do, or wear, they got here, and make it.
Course they got lots of Automobiles around Tokyo, and good paved streets. But what gives you a scare is to be in one of these Rickashas and have ’em be going right down the middle of the street among about a million others and then coming right at you, and a Driver that is not sure he knows where he is going coming at you in an Automobile. Here you are sitting up there in this frail little contraption. Nothing ahead of you but this Bird hauling it, and here comes this big car lumbering at you. Sometimes I have seen ’em missed by three and four inches. I quit riding in ’em. I says to myself if two things is going to meet, me for being the biggest one, so I got into the car.
Then the Bicycles, you never in all your born days saw as many Bicycles. Fords were never as thick as Bicycles are over here, and carry stuff on ’em? Say they will move your grand piano any day and do it on a Bicycle. A person riding along over here on one without anything is just practically dead heading in empty. They have always got a Billiard Table, or a stove or bed, or a couple of mattresses on the wheel with ’em.
There is lots of green over here even at this time of the year, and they do love flowers. They all got a little flower of some kind, they can make what they got go a long way, and they are awful neat and clean. There is a lot of fine qualities about ’em, and they are just about the most ambitious folks you ever saw. They are for progress, no matter what it is. All this has been done in fifty years, and they are proud to show you their Country, and if you ever want to make a real trip don’t overlook ’em.
1An earthquake in 1923 destroyed much of Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan.
2Dwight Filley Davis, United States secretary of war from 1925 to 1929; governor general of the Philippine Islands from 1929 to 1932. Davis was visiting Japan with his eldest daughter, Alice Brooks Davis.
3Maurice Auguste Chevalier, French entertainer who gained an international reputation in Paris music halls in the 1920s. He also achieved fame as a star of American films, beginning with his appearance in The Love Parade in 1930.
DING! DING! NANKINGWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see here and there. Now just looking out of the window, what do I see? I am traveling from Peking, (Peiping) all same place, to Shanghai, by way of Nanking. (Nanking is the Capital of China, that is it was. You see there is a place called Canton.)
Canton is where all the Americanized Chinamen come from, and they have taken the Government of Nanking over. They are the real Trouble raisers, of Canton, that is I mean they are the progressive ones. They want always to be stirring something up.
Well, the Nanking Government has fallen and the Canton crowd is in the saddle. But that hasent anything to do with this trip by Train from Peking, the old capital, and by far the most interesting town in China.
Well, I was to have flown down. That flown is a pretty big world, maybe I better make that flew. I was to have flowen down, but there is a bear of a Snow storm here and there won’t be any Planes for days, so I had much against my will to take a Train. It’s not a bad train. They have these Wagon Lits cars.
Know what is the Wagon Lits? Well it’s a French contraption where you sleep cockeyed of the way the train is going. There is a little aisle along the side of the train and then some little Compartments, sometimes there is beds for two and sometimes there is beds for 4 in them.
I wanted one alone so I had to pay more, to keep somebody from sleeping with me, or over me or under me. I have heard of these same cars crossing the Transiberian Railway where they are for 10 days on this train, and you might be in the same room with a Woman. I say I have heard of such things. It wouldent be my luck.
But as I was saying I am in this one all alone. We are pulling out of Peking. It’s snowing and it’s cold. The poor Ricksha “Coolies” are out there in the snow trying to make 5 cents in their money for a fare, and one American Dollar is worth four of theirs so that means they are trying to make one-fourth of five, which is a cent and a quarter, to pull you where you want to go.
This is in a deep snow, and they will pull you by main strength, in a trot mind you, for just a fraction over one penny in our money. Then we talk about hard times. Say, we havent seen hard times. They wear a little cloth shoe that is exactly like a house slipper. It’s no more than a sock, yet there they stand out there, hundreds of ’em and there can’t be any more than onetenth of them get a passenger, so you will see what China is like without even going any further.
They say they don’t last long. It’s their heart that fails ’em. You go at a run or fast trot, in all kinds of weather, with practically no clothes on, rain, snow intense heat and all, and you are finished before you are 30, so they say.
Well, I hear some people in the next compartment speaking English or something like it, so that don’t seem so bad. We are to be on this Rattler two days, and two nights, that’s if it’s on time. This is the line where the Students have been laying on the line and obstructing the traffic, you must have read about that.
Well it’s a terrible night and if any of them are laying out there tonight, they deserve to have a train not see ’em. You can’t beat education for foolishness. They have been going down to Nanking to see the Members of the Government. They beat up two or three. Ain’t that a mess!
Imagine Notre Dame going to Washington to beat up Senator Borah, or Yale lying on the track to keep a train from getting to Harvard. There has always been a problem, “Does education pay?” Yes, it does, if you got a sense of humor, you got to pay for your laughs at a Show, so why not at School.
Here we go, a friend from the City National Bank of New York brought me down a package. They are the real banking institution out here, they are in all these towns. Let me see, what is in it? Oh Boy, it’s two bottles (small ones, darn skinflint) of Champaign. He could just as easy brought two big ones. Course I just met him casually, so you can’t expect everything.
There is sure a lot of Chinese on here, most of them in the second and third class cars. But they are like Mexicans, they sure do love to travel, and eat as they go. Every Station we stop at, they are hollering and yelling till it sounds like a Football Game, and of all the queer junk they sell to eat, they have little Charcoal stoves they have it cooking right there before you. Everything is done with Chop sticks, and say these old boys can do more with a pair of them than Bobby Jones with a Putter.1 Some of these Chinese girls are mighty pretty, they are prettier than the Japanese.
Here is a bunch of Students. My friend next door, a Mr. Furgeson, an American that has been here just fortyseven years, he is giving me all the dope.2 He says the students are taking up a collection for General “Ma” to fight the Japs.3 Ma is the old General that fought ’em pretty good away up at Titzihar.
He is a sort of a Pancho Villa.4 When there is no war with Japan why he just makes up his own local wars to kill time till something better turns up. Well the Students wanted to go up and join him, but he sent word that for them to just send some money. “Smart people these Chinese.” All these Students have on Kimmonas or long robes, and the Chinese are giving too, they are very liberal, especially the old ones.
Well, I just come from up there, where they are sending this dough, and it’s no use. The war in Manchuria is over, Japan has already got all she wants and more in fact. I don’t think they will try to hold what they have as it would be too big an expense to patrol it. It would break any nation to police such a large area. For these Chinese bands that would be on their tails all the time are big Armies, not just a little band of Bandits.
More students with Banners, “Down with Japan.” Graves all over the place, round mounds just scattered around like shocks of wheat, they tend the ground all around them. Just think here we are jogging along here on a train, over ground that the history of it is known for 4 thousand years. That’s older than some of the jokes we use in the Movies.
1Robert Tyre “Bobby” Jones, highly-acclaimed Atlanta golfer who won five United States National Amateur championships, four United States Open titles, and three British Open crowns. In 1930 he became the first player to win the national open championships of Great Britain and the United States in the same year.
2Fergerson, an unidentified American traveler.
3Ma Chan-shan, Chinese general who led military opposition to the Japanese presence in Manchuria and who served as governor of Hejlungkian province in northern Manchuria.
4For Pancho Villa see WA 435:N 3.
SEEING THE MANCHURIANS AT HOMEWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. And say brother it’s so cold out here in this Manchuria that you can’t read even if you had something to read which you haven’t. Sitting here in Mukden, that’s the town that all the Japanese and Chinese war news comes from, you know it’s been on the front pages of every paper for months and months. It used to be the old capitol of Manchuria when Manchuria was really a kingdom.
They have had Emperors and rulers here for 2 or 3 thousand years. It’s kinder in the range of that old repscallion Ganghis Khan. He ranged up and down these parts. He captured everything from Japan clear on right to the very gates of what is now Europe. He got clear to Vienna, and did it all horseback.
Well, this is right up his alley this place. It’s got an old walled city here, where they close the gates at night. Went down there yesterday with some newspaper men to buy some curios, that is rare jade. They have been out here for years and savvy jade, so they seem to know that they were doing. But I don’t know how anybody would hardly get the best of a Chinaman in a trade, so I figure my friends dident get away with any bargain.
It was sure cold, and in each little shop there would be a whole family. When you say a whole family in China I mean all the sons he has, all the grandsons, all the other kin folks. They are great family people and they all live together. When the son is married he brings his wife home and there they all stay.
They have some wonderful old curios in these old shops. Course they might have been like ours made the week before someplace but they looked pretty ancient to me. You know what these Chinese was nutty about was clocks. They say most of them were made in France and Switzerland, as they never did make any out here, but they sure was cuckoo about ’em.
They live in the back end of these places. The way they work the heat or the stove is they have a little bit of a thing like a fireplace. It’s generally right under their bed, and their bed is built down solid to the ground. It’s not a bed, it’s just a high platform built against the back of the wall.
Well, they have little openings, not pipes, but just little long troughs, or alleyways running through the masonry that makes the foundation of the bed, and this little heat from this dinky little stove, it runs on through these little passages, and that is what heats the bed. It don’t have a thing to do with the house but at night they have enough fire till they can get to sleep. They all bundle up there on the one big long bed. It’s a regular Brigham Young affair.1
The Japanese they sleep on a mattress on the floor, but the Chinese get up on this shelf. We also went into a fur store as they wanted to get a kind of a lap robe to use in a Ricksha. That’s one of the little carts they pull you around in. They can just hit a long trot and take you to the end of the road. These fellows however don’t live long. They are so poorly paid you have to give what would be less than a couple of cents in our money, and then there is so many of ’em, the business is overdone. It’s like everything at home, overproduction.
Well, you ought to have seen these furs, if they dident have some of the queerest looking old pelts in there, and what do you think they were, well, they were every kind of fur in the world, but they were all dog fur.
That’s what they really were. Of course, there was fox and beaver and Kolinsky and mink, but all made from practically the same dog. You see those old dogs up there are kinder semi wild, and they roam the country and they are raised in the villages, then when the family get broke why old Fido is executed, and his hide brings in some rice, and his meat brings in all the neighbors, and they have a feed, “Come tonight we are eating the flea hound.”
There is no two mutts colored alike. They look like everything that ever wore hair, and on these Chinese streets they don’t sell hardly anything in the stores, they move it all out of the streets. Of all the junk they are cooking right there before you on a little charcoal fire. All kinds of fish, and queer do dads.
Then the barbers are out there. The tonsorial parlors are right in the middle of the road. They also wash out their ears too, all in the same sitting, that’s one of the places they have to wash, as they get so stopped up they can’t hear. When they cut hair, boy, they do it with a thing like a cycle or scythe. They get it off and you are cleaned as far as the hair is concerned. They don’t wear the cues anymore, that is you do see a few but not many, it’s kinder old fashioned, and is kinder like wearing a derby hat.
Did I tell you how they traded? Well, they wear great long kimonos, with sleeves about six inches longer than their hands, and in cold weather they run each hand up each sleeve, like a muff.
Well if two of them are trading, one each runs his hands up the other’s sleeve, and by feeling each other’s fingers they telegraph how much is offered and the other one how much he will take. Well, if they are a couple of good quick traders they can get the price of a pair of sox agreed on along about the middle of the afternoon.
Course the time means nothing to ’em, neither one is going anywhere. They are, everybody says the sharpest traders that there is in the world. There used to be a Jewish settlement many years ago, and these just finally wore them out and gobbled them up, they couldent start with the Chinese.
No pigeon English up north China where we are. That is down south at Canton, there is where all the American Chinaman come from is Canton. I sure am going down there. I want to see the home town of some of these. They are a great people they don’t care who has got Manchuria, all they want to do is just to get you in a trade of some kind and they are fixed. They are not what we call “sharpers” they are just good legitimate traders. You got to be good to live among 400 million others.
1Brigham young, American religious leader who headed the Mormon Church from 1847 until his death in 1877. A polygamist, he was survived by seventeen wives and countless children and grandchildren
WANTED—A NEWSPAPERWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and say, wasent I glad to get back home and read some papers! I mean some Papers! With some news in ’em and printed in language that was about 50 per cent intelligible to me.
Honest there was times on that trip when I would have given almost any amount of money to just have had that day’s American newspaper. They don’t print a bit of American news, even the big papers in England won’t have two date lines from America.
Why our country newspapers have more European news in one edition than their big city ones will have of us in a month. No wonder the world don’t know anything about us. They don’t get a chance to read it, and if it is in there it is just about Al Capone, or some Gangster, or anything that is in any way detrimental to our Country.
They keep publishing that we are going to go off the Gold. Well so many of us over here haven’t seen any Gold in so long that we don’t know if we are off it or on it. But honest it was good to get a newspaper in my mits again. A breakfast without a newspaper is a Horse without a Saddle. You are just riding bareback if you got no news for breakfast.
I have just read since I been back till I am blue in the face. Everything that has happened in three months was news to me. Why do you know that I used to send Mrs. Rogers cables from Japan and China asking her about different National events.
Here I was all hopped up over my good friend John Garner. Now I dident know if he had been made Speaker of the House or not. News like that meant nothing to a Chinaman, but it meant something to me. Notre Dame and Southern California, I couldent find out if it had been called off on account of rain, no attendance, or for the good of the order.1
Did Mayor Jimmy Walker get Mooney out?2 Or did Jimmy just get out of New York? All these things I couldent get head and tail of. So I would cable Mrs. Rogers, now at $1.25 a word, naturally my news was scattering. So if I talk about things that don’t mean a thing to you any more why they mean a lot to me for I just found ’em out. So what I am getting at, don’t underestimate your paper, I don’t care how small it is, and how little news you think it might have in it at that particular issue. Lord kiss it, for the news that it does bring you.
Why I have seen times when I would have given $100 for the “Claremore Progress” or the “Claremore Messenger,” and that’s just two of the smaller papers of Claremore. Take my ham away, take away my eggs, even my chili, but leave me my Newspaper.
Even if it just has such purely local news as “Jim Jones came home last night unexpectedly, and bloodshed ensued,” or “Jesse Bushyhead, our local M.D., is having one of the best years of his career practically speaking. But they just won’t pay him when they get well.”3
“The County seat was packed yesterday with prominent visitors from out of town, attempting to renew their notes,” “Election ain’t far off and everybody is up for office that can sign an application blank.”
Now all that don’t seem much news to you. But it is news, especially when you know the people, and they are your own folks. So no matter how punk you might think your local paper is getting, why just take it away from you and see how you feel. The old newspaper I think is just about our biggest blessing. Course the car will strike some of you as better, but a Horse and Buggy was a mighty fine substitute for the Ford. But there has been no substitute for the old newspaper. Then look at the difference in the cost to us.
Then you see too we are living in such an age that we have to pick up the paper to see what Countries have gone to war, what one have Revolutions, how many Billions our Congress has appropriated. Never since the oldest inhabitant was born have we lived through such exciting times. The great war was just local. It was all in France. But today news, excitement, is everywhere. Nations are furnishing the news nowadays, and not just Peggy Joyce and Al Capone.4So let’s all read and be merry, for tomorrow the paper may not have enough adds in to come out.
1The University of Southern California football team defeated the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame, 16 to 14, in November of 1931 in the annual renewal of their gridiron rivalry.
2For Jimmy Walker see WA 453:N 9. Thomas Joseph Mooney, American labor agitator who was convicted as a participant in the bomb killings of nine persons in San Francisco and sentenced to death in 1916. His case aroused international interest because of the widely held belief that he was innocent. Jimmy Walker attempted unsuccessfully in November of 1931 to win a pardon for Mooney.
3Jesse C. Bushyhead. Claremore physician who served as treasurer and as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. He and Rogers were first cousins.
4Peggy Hopkins Joyce, American vaudeville, stage, and screen actress whose six marriages and countless engagements brought her much publicity.
WILL SEES THE EARLY CANDIDATESWell all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I see hither and thither. Did quite a bit of prowling around since I landed from Europe. Course went down to Washington a couple of times to see what the hired help was doing. They was just appropraiting right and left. The U.S. Treasury to them is just a rainbow. There is no end to it.
You see appropriations for the boys back home is what gets you the votes. Putting on taxes to get them money to appropiate is a sure way of losing votes. So this being election year, everybody is handing out, and nobody has the nerve to vote to replenish what they are taking out.
You see what makes it bad for our relief this year is that both sides are just bent on getting in in November. So they naturally got an eye for their own employment and not for the unemployed now.
They voted two billion bucks to help out the bankers but from the looks of the line when I was in Washington there was two billion bankers. So they will only get a dime apeace. Everything was politics there. All you could hear was “Who is going to run?”
The Democrats have got more candidates then they have voters. Every place wants to run a different man. The Republicans are just as bad. They want to run everybody too, but they can’t run anybody but Mr. Hoover. If they run anybody else they would be repudiating their own administration, so they are up against it.
If things pick up Mr. Hoover has a good chance, but if they don’t he is kinder snowed under. I bummed around from Washington, went over to Cleveland by air with secretary Dave Ingalls of the Navy.1 Dave is running for the governorship of Ohio. He dident act like a real candiadte to me he was so complimentary about his Democratic opponent.
Dave said “Why Will he is a fine man, good friend of mine, he is a Democrat is about all you can have against him.” Now that’s no way for a young man running for his first office to talk. He has to cut that out and start telling what a schroundel he is. Voters never heard anybody complimented. They want to hear you knock ’em. He outside of that is a very capable young man. I think we ought to have some younger men in public life. Don’t want to knock any of the older ones out of a job, but lots of ’em been in for years and years and they never have shown much, so if they havent in all this time why it looks like they won’t. So it’s no use monkeying with ’em. Went on over to Detroit and Chicago, then down through Oklahoma.
It looks like Garner is coming mighty strong. He has made tremendous gains in the last two or three weeks. He is going to make some of those first mentioned candidates hard to catch. He is one they can’t get much on. Everybody both Republican and Democrat have a lot of confidence in him. He has been right in the mouth of all the things that have happened, and should know more about it than anybody. If everybody knew him personally they would be for him.
Then I had a nice chat with Mr. Newton Baker.2 There is a smart, pleasant, fine fellow. He did one great job for us and should be able to do another if he gets the chance. He is a very level headed fellow, perhaps the best orator of the lot, or any other lot.
Then I get on around into Oklahoma and go and see “Our Bill.”3 Now there is a guy that will fool you. When you look at him, you wouldent bet much on him, but if you go up and feel of him and examine him, and ask him some questions why he starts improving on you. His answeres will kinder make you forget his looks. Bill is mighty shrewd. He is especially cagy on state rights and laws. I bet there is not a governor in the land that knows just what his state is entitled too as much as Murray. His not bragging on his chances, but he is out to do all he can, and if he can talk before enough voters why he will win a lot of votes, for he has some mighty convincing arguments. He is a sticker for the little fellow. Well there never was a time in our history when there was as many little fellows, so he ought to do mighty good if he can get too ’em.
Saw Al. He was feeling great. He is not out just to stop Roosevelt. He is out the same as the others, just to be nominated if he can. Lot of ’em blame him, but I don’t see why. He has got a tremendous lot of friends in the country that will always vote for him. Look at Bryan.4 There is people voting for him yet, and it will always be that way with Smith. He is the kind of man that he gets your support and friendship why you are for him for life.
There is lots of men that you are for just for the moment, or just while some certain thing is on, and then there are others that you are just for, now, then and forever, no matter what it’s for, when or why. Well that’s Al Smith. I dident get up to see Mr. Roosevelt. I know him and admire him very much. He is a very human fellow. Ask Warm Springs, Georgia if he is not quite a guy. Then this late affair with Tammany Hall, when he threw out a sheriff that had been “hoarding” the city‘s money for ’em personally. Why that will boost his stock in the provinces. Even if Tammany was to change and get respectable the world wouldent believe it.
Now that brings us to Mr. Ritchie.5 There is the aristocrat, the gentleman, the good fellow, the politician, good state executive, champion state righter, one who saw that prohibition was a flop, even before it was. Younger than the others, great personality, and in case two or three of the others get into a deadlock at the convention is liable to make a great compromise candidate. He won’t perhaps enter the convention with the amount of votes that some of the others will, but if the Democrats get in a fight there, and the only thing that will keep ’em from doing it, is if the convention is called off, why during the fight anything can happen. Then too you see the candidates I have enumerated to you, they are just the eary bird variety. There will be dozens and dozens come in from now on. The harder the times are the more will come in, mostly through starvation, and partly through thinking that the Democrats can win with practically nothing, and there will be some enter the race later that will qualify for nothing.
1For David S. Ingalls see WA 440:N 11.
2For Newton D. Baker see WA 473:N 3.
3For Alfalfa Bill Murray see WA 442:N 1.
4William Jennings Bryan, American statesman and orator who ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic nominee for president in 1896, 1900, and 1908. He died in 1925.
5Albert Cabell Ritchie, Democratic governor of Maryland from 1920 to 1935.
A NIGHT PHONE CALLWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I hear one way and another.
One night out at my little ranch where I live I was awakened out of my sleep about 2:30 in the morning by a phone call. It was from New York and was from William Randolph Hearst, Jr.1 I had been out to a dinner at the home of the neighbor, Oscar Lawlor, Los Angeles’ best lawyer, who had just won the biggest case the Standard Oil had ever won.2 It was over the Elk or Kettlemen Hills Oil Field. It wasn’t a celebration, for he is too modest for that. It was just a lot of friends gathered together to “blather“ and eat.
So naturally no one turned on the “radio,” as everybody was pretty well fixed for toothpaste and mouth wash. My one tube had run me for years. So I went on home about eleven feeling that all was well with the world, outside of China, Japan, India, Manchuria, Russia, Germany, England, France, Italy, Spain, South America, Nicaragua, and the United States, including a two and a half billion deficit in one year and a worse year coming up.
So I felt that the world was really sitting pretty, outside of everybody not working, and nobody buying anything, and nobody knowing what the morrow might bring forth, but even if it brought it forth it wouldn’t surprise us, for we were prepared for what we thought was the worst.
Well, the phone rings. You know how that scares you away in the night? You think of the ones that are not there with you. Mrs. Rogers was with my sister in Chelsea (twenty miles from Claremore).3 She didn’t fly home from the East with me. She don’t mind short flights of a couple or three hours but when they run into days, she believes that old man Pullman had a pretty good idea how to cross the continent, and she has made it so much that she knows every jack rabbit or coyote from California to Kansas.4 Her being away when the phone rang, and two boys scattered around in schools, of which we hadn’t heard from since Christmas.
But when I am half asleep and nervously grabbed the phone and it was young Bill Hearst from New York, I couldn’t think what in the world it was. I had just been up to his father’s ranch about half way between Frisco and here, and I thought maybe I did something up there that I shouldn’t. Maybe some of the silver is missing. Maybe there is an old William the Conquerer tapesty missplaced.
In fact, there is so much devilment up there that a country boy could do, that I couldn’t think of what it was I had done. I remembered riding off horseback with the cattle boss, and spending the whole day, when I should have been maybe with the other guests at the castle. But there was lots of lawyers among the guests, and I knew cows better than I did lawyers. There is a way of studying a cow and learning all about her, but a lawyer? There has never been any course at college devised where you can take in “What Makes A Lawyer Like He Is?”
This young Bill Hearst, Jr. is a mighty promising young fellow, and looks like he is going to pick up W. R.’s trail and keep the ink smearing over half the pulp wood of Canada. Then when he says, “The Lindberg baby has been kidnapped,” well, that put a different complexion on life.5 What did General Honjo taking Manchuria amount to?6 We could give the whole mess of candidates on both sides for the return of the baby.
It was just one of those things that hit you right between the eyes. It was then five-thirty in the morning in New York, and he said they had been up all night working on the case. He said that he had just had Arthur Brisbane on the wire for a couple of hours down at his home in New Jersey, and Mr. Brisbane wanted him to get me, that I was the last newspaper man to have seen the child.7
And would I tell ’em some more about it? So I told him what little I knew over the phone, which didn’t take me long. It’s as I have told you in my little daily blurb, we had spent the day out there, not at the Lindberg home, but at the Morrow home, where the Lindbergs live most of the time.8
In fact, my wife and I discussed going home that evening as to whether the Lindbergs would ever live at their new home. You see it was started before Mr. Morrow’s death. But since then, of course that puts a whole new complexion on all their lives. Mrs Morrow is naturally crazy about the baby, as are all the family, and they have this great big lively home at Englewood, that this baby and the family all being there would just help to make up for some of the loss of Mr. Morrow.9 It is just a sad state of affairs, for here was this man Morrow who was as sure to be one of the pillars in our destiny as night was to follow day.
You didn’t find a public man like that once in a lifetime. He had ability combined with common sense. Everything that come up he just took all the “hooey” out of it and brought it down to just an every day problem. The bigger the problem the easier it was to solve diplomatically with him, for he knew it only took square dealing on both sides, and the other fellow knowing how on the level Morrow was, why naturally he turned “straight” too. We all know a lot of these little old one horse papers in New York have taken digs at Lindberg. It made a lot of them sore because he didn’t want their publicity. They can’t understand anyone that don’t want their name in the papers. He did his stunt and he wanted to be let alone, and live his life the way he saw fit. But no. These birds must start tormenting him, when he don’t do like they want him to, then the little scandal sheets started “gunning” for him.
Why there is nothing that he has done since his flight that has not reflected credit on him and the whole people who are proud of him. Heroes are made every little while, but only one in a million conduct themselves afterwards so that it makes us proud that we honored them at the time. As I have always argued that fellow has a native intuition to do the right thing. In China, Japan, Mexico, France, or New Jersey, he hasn’t made a wrong move yet. His wife has proven a lovely sweet American girl. She has at the risk of her own life taken up her husband’s profession, and anything said against them in any way, must come through nothing but jealousy.
1William Randolph Hearst, Jr., reporter from the New York American and eldest son of publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Young Hearst later served as publisher of the New York Journal-American from 1937 to 1956.
2Oscar Lawler, Beverly Hills attorney and personal lawyer for Will Rogers.
3Betty Rogers was visiting Will’s sister, Sallie Rogers McSpadden (see WA 449:N 1).
4George Mortimer Pullman, nineteenth century American inventor and manufacturer. Pullman co-designed and built the so-called Pullman sleeping cars for railroad travel.
5Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., twenty-month-old son of Charles and Anne Lindbergh (see WA 453:N 5), was kidnapped from his parents’ home at Hopewell, New Jersey, on the night of March 1, 1932. Young Lindbergh’s body was found on May 12, 1932, after a $50,000 ransom had been paid.
6Shigeru Honjo, Japanese military leader and commander of Japanese forces in Manchuria in 1931.
7Arthur Brisbane see WA 455:N 5.
8For Dwight W. Morrow see WA 431:N 5 and WA 461:N 5.
9Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, American educator, welfare worker, and poet; widow of Dwight W. Morrow.
CHEER UP! THERE’S NO TAX
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Poor old papers. While the Lindbergh case was at its heighth they even had to cut out some of the ads.1 Let’s see how is the world going anyhow.
FOR BEING HAPPY
Has depression scraped the bottom, or is it anchored there? Things happen for a few days in a row that make you think, well maybe she is turning. Then the next week all that is washed up and it looks like we don’t know a thing.
They are getting a lot more people employed, due to some splendid work of some very able and public spirited men. I have a friend in the east, one of the big international polo players, Cheever Cowdin, and he has done a lot of fine work along that line.2
You know this darn thing has made the whole country better off in a lot of ways. It’s done away with four flushing. If a man hasent got it, he don’t mind telling you right out that he hasent. It’s made poverty fashionable. It’s brought out some mighty good qualities in lots of people. There is a spirit of better fellowship among everyone I think.
Things really are not as bad off as some paint ’em. That is I mean if the ones out of work could get jobs. Course there is lots of things that are making money, but they are not suffering so much. Everybody is living cheaper, still there is lots of things that haven’t come down in comparison to other things.
Rents are still high in comparison to food, but everybody is trying to make the house or apartment pay a return on what it cost them at the time of the boom. They are not making any money out of the houses, according to the cost price, but the cost price is not liable to ever be what it was. Other businesses have charged it off and called it a day, and started in on a new scale.
The darndest crime of the whole thing is farm machinery we are now paying on. Never did a farmer have as little, yet never has his machinery cost as much. I think their earnings have kept up during all this hard times. They know an old boy has got to have a plow, so make him pay for it. Most men that I have talked to that ought to know, (but Lord that don’t mean anything). Well most of them are of the opinion that things will never be as they were, and I don’t suppose anybody wants to see that “cuckoo” stage again, but these men seem to think that things will be more like they were away along before the war. This is in prices. Things you have to sell will be cheap but things you have to buy to eat, wear, and use will be in comparison.
I can remember when cattlemen made plenty of money and got ahold of all their big ranches on three and four cents a pound beef, but other things they had to buy and use were in comparison. Land taxes is the thing. They got so high that there is no chance to make anything. Not only land but all property tax.
You see in the old days, (I am speaking of when I was a boy back in the fortys’) why the only thing they knew how to tax was land, or a house. Well, that condition went along for quite awhile, so even today the whole country tries to run its revenue on taxes on land. They never ask if the land makes anything. “It’s land ain’t it? Well tax it then.”
Millions and millions of people don’t pay an income tax, because they don’t earn enough to pay on one, but you pay a land tax whether it ever did or ever will earn you a penny. And the taxes we pay now are on “After the war valuation” when things you raised were at their highest.
Now we got some kind of a big overhauling on this tax thing. Different conditions make different taxes. All taxes should be on income, and where there is no income either personally, or on your property, why you shouldent pay anything. You should pay on things that you buy outside of bare necessities.
I think this sales tax is the best tax we have had in years. It’s what they call painless, that’s when you don’t know you are paying it. Course that’s just a name, no tax is really painless. Then get the income tax high. You got to earn big money or you don’t pay it, so there should never be any holler about that, but there should be a distinction between earned and un-earned income. For instance a man that earns every dollar by his work or efforts, then another earns the same by having enough money invested to bring him in that much. One has his principal to fall back on, and the other has nothing to fall back on when his earning capacity has diminished.
Oh, but the tough part of our whole system is the amount of money they are spending, hundreds, thousands, practically millions that are working for the state, the city, the federal government. There is hundreds of different branches, and bureaus, that everybody knows is not essential. But they were politically created to give jobs, and no politician has the nerve to do away with ’em. Lord, the money we do spend on government. And it’s not a bit better government that we got for one-third the money twenty years ago. But we will do like the British, we will muddle through. We are kinder like China we are so big and powerful that we get along in spite of all the bad management we have.
Gosh wasent we crazy there for awhile! Why the thought never entered our head that we wasent the brightest, wisest, and most accomplished people that ever was on this earth. Hadent we figured out “mass production?” Couldn’t we make more things than anybody? Did the thought ever enter our bone-head that the time might come when nobody would want all these things we were making. No, we had it all figured out that the more we made the more they would want.
Honest as we look back on it now, somebody ought to have taken each one of us and soaked our fat heads. Bought everything under the sun that anybody had to sell, if he would sell it on enough payments. Where was our payments going to be if we lost our job? Why that had never entered our heads. Why should we lose our jobs? Wasent all our big men telling us things was even going to get better. Was our government or our prominent men warning us?
If we had had a “Prominent” man he would have but we just dident have any. But we can’t lay the blame on to that, we all got to lay it on ourselves. Each one of us individually as we look back we can see what a mess we made, but the drunk is over, and this sobering up is terrible, but as bad as it is, it’s better than any other country. So cheer up! That’s the only thing they don’t tax you on.
1For the Lindbergh kidnapping see WA 482:N 5.
2John Cheever Cowdin, Americna industrialist, financier, and sportsman; member of several leading United States polo and other sports teams; major financer of American aviation companies.