Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA43 October 7, 1923
BRINGING BACK THE BUNK — A DRAMA
This is a drama. The scene is laid in the Smoking and Drinking Room adjoining the United States Senate Chamber in Washington, D. C.
Time—the day of the opening of Congress this fall.
Characters in the drama—all the Senators and Congressmen who have been able to return from Europe. They are heroes. I, myself, in disguise of a newspaper man am the villain.
Senator Synthetic, who is just handing the empty flask back to Senator Apple Sauce, opens the conversation by remarking as follows: “Well, Apple Sauce, where did you spend your vacation on government salary?”
Apple Sauce retorts as follows: “I went to Russia, and I want you to know that I have a Bill all ready to present to this session of Congress to do something for those poor and razorless people. You wouldn’t believe the misery and vodka that those poor souls are living in. I tell you, this country has got to wake up. The poverty of those poor farmer peasants is appalling.”
Here I, as newspaper man and villain, horn into the conversation as follows: “Senator Apple Sauce, if you think the Russian farmers are poor, what do you think of the condition of the American farmers?”
Apple Sauce replies: “Oh, I don’t know anything about American farmers. I have been away on a mission, and I want to tell you when I answer roll call here for the opening of Congress, and get this month’s check, I am going out on the platform and open people’s eyes as to the true condition in Russia.”
I, as villain, (writing and furiously misspelling words) am taking down every pearl of Wisdom dropped by this late Man of the World.
I questioneer as follows: “But, Senator Apple Sauce, why did you choose Russia for your visit? Aren’t United States Senators’ lectures on Germany paying a dollar and six bits per lecture more than the same lecture on Russia?”
“Yes, you are right, Cub Reporter, and I would have gone there but my wife wanted to see the spot where the Czar and his daughters were murdered.1
So I let sentiment interfere with my business instinct and am hence the loser.”
Senator Synthetic, after the episode of the empty flask, is not so strong for Senator Apple Sauce and his views as he was before. So I asked him: “Well, Senator Synthetic, where did you get your lecture information during the summer?”
Synthetic relates as follow: “Oh, I went to Cheeko Slovakayah; I got a foreign map and my daughter picked it out ’cause it had such a pretty color on the map, and I want to tell you that there is a country that we owe a terrible lot to, and I want this term of Congress to help out these unfortunate souls. Why, do you know, their wheat is selling for less than what $1.80 a bushel would be in our money!”
Enter villain into conversation. “But, Mr. Senator, what do you think our farmers here are getting for their wheat?”
The Traveled Gentleman replied: “I have been away on a mission this summer and have gotten kinder out of touch with mere local affairs, so I really don’t know.”
A fresh flask enters in the person of Senator Slapstick whose lectures on the Chautauqua in the summer and at the Lyceums in the winter generally are in demand, because the tent he is speaking in always reminds him of a darky story with a tent in it, and the cars outside remind him of an original on Henry Ford. He is such a funny fellow and takes the world so lightly that one would hardly think that he had time for the more worth while matters of State.
Villain interrogates as per schedule: “Mr. Slapstick, where did you pick up some old stories for this winter’s audiences?”
“Me? Oh, I went to France and I tell you those people are not able to pay us. Why, they have settled right down to work since the War and they deserve encouragement. They are turning out some of the greatest bomb throwing airships in the world, and I am for cancelling their debt in full. Give them a chance to protect themselves. I will tell Congress so, too, as soon as I get a chance.”
Question by Villain — “Then, Mr. Slapstick, I guess you are in favor of an adequate Air Force for this country, as you are well aware that an airship will be no use in the next war.”
Senator Slapstick says: “I don’t know anything about our Air Force. I have been away on a very important mission to humanity all summer, but I want to tell you that France has a perfect right to protect herself and I am going to devote my time and energy to that end.”
Enter Senator Bo-Weevil with the conventional black broad brimmed hat and narrow black tie accompanied by the conventional southern thirst. “Morning, Honorable Colleagues. Might any of you be escorted by a toddy this sumptuous morning? I sorter acquired the habit while sojourning in the land of the hospitable Spanish dons this past summer. As you might know, I was on a secret mission to learn the real conditions as they exist among those most interesting people. They are developing the art of cotton raising and are really in need of financial aid from this most hospitable Republic, and I will so advise at the first opportunity.”
“But, Senator Bo-Weevil, what of the over production of cotton and the non rotating of crops, and the price of cotton in your native Southland?”
“I am really not in a position to state. The importance of my trip and learning the names of the Spanish towns for my lecture has occupied my time entirely. Thanks, Slapstick, that’s good liquor. Why, the Nigger that runs my still couldn’t turn out better corn liquor than that is. I tell you that was mighty bracing — just what a man needs that does things.”
Enter Villain, and asks: “Mr. Bo-Weevil, do you think this term of Congress will do anything towards modifying the Volstead law?”
Bo-weevil replies: “Why, it’s a law ain’t it? Why monkey with a law that has been made? It’s as dead as slavery. Certainly Congress will do nothing about it.”
Senator Droop-Horn from the West moves over from a bunch of emptys and, after complimenting the liquor, enters the conversation: “Well, boys, you ought to go to South America. I tell you there is a fine country. All they need is just a little help by our packing interests. I tell you, the minute we get our packers all operating down there, those people will get real money for their beef. It takes a mighty good steer down there to bring 10 cents a pound.”
Plot thickens again, Villain horns in: “Senator Droop Horn, did you know that it takes a mighty good steer up here to bring 7 cents a pound? Do you know that you sell a steer at 50 dollars, and buy him back as beef at 15 hundred dollars?”
The Senator says: “I know nothing about what cattle are bringing out home. As I say, you give that Argentine a chance and it will go ahead, and that is what I want to advocate to Congress. Of course, as far as the price of things, that’s all regulated by supply and demand. Let’s see the initials on that flask again, Slapstick. I didn’t pay much attention to them at first.”
The Villain, not being invited to partake in deciphering the initials, leaves them and moved over to a body of 18 or 20 — who had all been over, separately, investigating Germany. One Senator tells how he had been particularly fortunate in his travels. He didn’t let them know that he was a Senator. He says: “You know those people have just been investigated to death.” But it is the unanimous opinion that something would be done for them by an act of Congress.
Senator Sheik, just returned from Turkey, reports conditions are beyond belief. He said: “Why, there are Turks in that country that don’t know where their next wife is coming from. And the war! Why, their whole country is armed. I never saw such an armed force in my life. Every man has a gun ready to shoot somebody. I am submitting my investigations to Congress to have them all disarmed.”
Enter Villain: “But, Mr. Honorable Senator Sheik, if you think Turkey is armed, have you seen my native heath of Oklahoma? Firpo and Governor Walton have become National Characters over night.”2
Senator Sheik replies: “I know nothing about Oklahoma, Walton or Firpo, but I tell you Turkey needs assistance.”
Villain asks one Senator what he thinks of Calvin. He says he has just got back and hasn’t heard he was President. He has been to darkest Romania on a mission.
End of Drama—Sargeant-at-Arms knocks and all these Summer Tourists wipe off their mouths, and file in to make laws to protect America. Villain sneaks away hoping some day he will be elected to office so he can go to Europe.
1Nicholas II, czar of Russia from 1894 until his abdication during the Russian Revolution of 1917. In July of 1918 he and his family were executed at Ekaterinburg by the Bolsheviks.
2For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7. On September 15, 1923, Walton (see WA 7:N 1) placed the state of Oklahoma under martial law because of disturbances arising from Ku Klux Klan activities.
WA44 October 14, 1923
TO BE A PROMOTER IS COMMON URGE
Everybody at some time in life feels a call within him or her, as the gender may be, to try and promote something or other, that is, to form a company and sell stock. We have all bought so much and been stung so often that we want to try the side where the money comes in, instead of going out.
One-third of the people in the United States promote, while the other two-thirds provide. There are more commissions paid out to stock salesmen than are ever collected by stock buyers. So, after living honest for years, the thing naturally becomes monotonous and we feel a hankering to promote.
Now, I had reached that stage in life where I had thought maybe I would get by clear to the end without promoting something and sticking my friends, but the old bug has bit me; the old make-it-easy-without-working has got me. So I am now branching out as a promoter, throwing the rope, chewing gum, acting a fool in the movies, robbing Ziefgeld and writing for a living.1
All these are side lines from now on. I am now a promoter. A promoter is a man who would rather stick a friend than sell Henry Ford a synagogue.2
Of course, my proposition is different. (Did you ever hear one of them pull that gag before?)
My proposition is of interest to every town of any size in America. I am forming clubs, called swimming or bathing clubs, or any aquatic name. A great many towns have been denied the privilege of having these clubs, heretofore, as they were not situated near any body of water. Now I have been to all the prominent beaches in the East, and this summer have had a chance to study the various water resorts of California.
I have paid particular attention to the habits and procedure of club members and their guests, and I think I can do the same for the non-irrigated portion of this country as is being enjoyed by the tidal wave region.
ONLY $500 A PIECE
I come into your town and start promoting (we will call it a swimming or beach club). I sell memberships for, we will say, the nominal sum of $500 dollars a piece. That makes it high enough to keep out the substantial people who really after all are rather old-fashioned, and allows us to take into our club some of our most prominent bootleggers, oil magnates who have worked their way up from the bottom in the last year, and just the people of the town who do things — in other words, the ones who belong.
We build the club house (a rather long, rambling affair) on some ground which we can get at a nominal figure (as I will explain the value of citizens like we will have being located in their midst, and what our club will do for the surrounding land). Now, the great advantage that my clubs will have over the present ones in our beach cities is that we will build ours right in the heart of the town, so the tired business man can reach it even for lunch, whereas in other places they have to go miles to reach a beach club. We will have a uniformed man at the door to meet the cars, as nothing impresses the newly rich so much as gold braid.
Our cafe prices will be high enough so that if a member takes a friend any other place he will be considered rather a short sport. Each member will have his private locker (including a corkscrew), where he can change his bathing suit. There will be a wide Veranda under awnings where members may dine in their suits, and other tables which are not protected from the rays of the sun, where the more hardy members may sit and acquire a tan.
Of course, one item of expense in connection with these clubs which will require me to expend quite a tidy sum is having ocean sand transported to these towns. And then by truck to the center of the city.
This sand must be spread very, very thick, as the principal pastime of the members and guests will be to lay right down on it and try and cover each other entirely up. Oh, it’s a ripping experience that you in the inland cities have missed, if you have never tried it.
Mind you, this 500 dollars which I receive per each will not all be profit, as I will be called upon to purchase a medicine ball or so. That is a beach sport that only the most athletic and reckless of our membership would dare enter into—this tossing this ferocious ball from one to the other. I have seen a game of it last, if there was female spectators, as long as three or four minutes.
Then, for the more skilled, there is baseball on the beach which is played with a rubber tennis ball. I have seen men graduate from that right into some of our best tea and cake hounds.
We will have beautifully striped umbrellas paced at intervals over the beach for those who become fatigued in parading. When there is a big crowd and you have to walk by everybody in your bathing suit, it tires one more than the uninitiated would think. And we’ll have a life guard (perhaps a native of Honolulu if we can procure one). At any rate, we will get the most sunburned one we can, for the less fortunate ones to compare their tan with. We will be provided with smelling salts, and other restoratives in case a wife should unexpectedly discover her own husband with some other one piece suit female companion.
There will be life lines across the sands, so the more foresighted of the members can find their way during the afternoon back and forth to their lockers.
Now, I think I have enumerated all that is required to successfully operate one of these beach clubs. Or course, most of them heretofore have had water, but in all my experience (which runs over a term of years) I have never seen a member willfully enter this water. Years ago at one of the eastern beaches they claim a man went into the water, but this has never been verified, and so far as the ladies go, there hasn’t been a swell bathing suit wet since Kellermann retired.3
WATER ABSOLUTELY UNNECESSARY
Now you see my scheme. I have laid it before you. Nobody ever thought of it because they were not a close observer like I have been. They just naturally thought water was required, but it is the most unnecessary thing connected with a beach club. Of course, showers are provided for those who do not care to sleep with sand in their bed.
Just think of a club right at your door where you can run down and change clothes and display your figure without having to go to Palm Beach or Del Monte! Besides, I am showing you how you can display it to the people you want to see it—not to a lot of strangers. Show it right where it will do you the most good.
If I had thought of this sooner and we had had one in my home of Claremore, Oklahoma (home of best radium water in the world), and I could have paraded up and down with my shape, I would have been able to settle down a lot earlier.
I tell you my scheme is a boost for home talent. Many a girl, if she could have shown off properly at home, would have never had to leave there. Now, if you think my scheme is crazy, you go to the ocean where there is no beach to prarade on and see, how many you ever see in there, where there is nothing but swimming water.
No, sir, the sand and the clothes are the thing-not the water. So I will put my scheme over, not only for the selfish motive of making money, but because I want to do something for the home town girl who hasn’t the money to go Narragansett Pier to be properly appreciated, but can stay at home and show how and what she is made of.
1For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.
2Ford (see WA 3:N 3) carried out a vitriolic anti-Semitic campaign in his journal, the Dearborn Independent, during the early 1920s.
3Annette Kellerman, Australian swimming champion who created a sensation in 1913 by introducing a one-piece, figure-hugging bathing suit.
WA45 October 21, 1923
THOUGHTS ON THE KLAN
AND THE TWO GEORGES
As I pick up my New York newspaper all combined into one little paper (for on account of a Pressman’s strike all the papers combined and got out a daily together) I see at last miracles are at hand. I never thought the day would come when those papers would ever agree on anything, much less be printed on the same pages with their rivals. But, when it comes to dollars and sense, policies and hatreds are discarded.
It really hurt my pride tremendously to have my paper, the New York Times, mingle its name on the same headline with various lowbrow publications, and I hereby take this means of informing my VAST CIRCLE of readers that it was not with my approval that the thing was done. I was away on location making a Covered Wagon Picture (I found two Covered Wagons out here that had not worked in the original so I decided to put them on the screen, as I think that every Wagon that has a clean sheet should be seen by the multitudes).1
Well, as I say, I was away when Mr. Ochs of the New York Times wired me and asked if I had any objections to my editorials appearing in this combined paper.2
Me being away, and him not hearing, why, he supposed of course that it was O.K. But had I known about it the thing never would have happened, because I feel that my Literary standing has been lessened, and I take this means of informing my Public and most of all my old College friends and Alma Mater that I had nothing to do with it personally. Had I known that Mr. Ochs didn’t have enough money to get out his paper alone without mingling with those other small timers, I would have personally made him the loan.
Each paper was supposed to contribute something. The Times, as expected, contributed the intellectual reading matter (due, of course, to a couple of other writers assisting me.) The New York World contributed all the news of the Klan; the New York Herald contributed the Republican alibis; the Daily news contributed the pictures of their Public who can’t read; the New York Staatz Zeitung contributed words, but nobody knew what they spelled; Il Progresso Itali-Americano contributed Louis Firpo’s memoirs; The New York (America first) American, contributed Spark Plug and Hiram Johnson’s latest speech.3
So as you read this combined New York paper you could tell at a glance just what paper was responsible for it being in there. So I hope I have made it plain to my public that I had nothing to do with my articles slumming, as they have been lately.
The only bad publicity move that my home state Governor Walton, has made, is to pick a time when all papers are combined in New York and hence there was a lack of space for him.4
But I am not far enough away to express an opinion on that case as I don’t want any White Robed Gentlemen leading me forth in the middle of the night and massaging me with any Tar, and sprinkling feathers on me for a chaser.
No, sir, I am not expressing any opinion even for Political purposes. I live down there and know a lot of those birds. “Rest in Peace” covers many a man’s head down there, who spoke out of his turn. I am kinder like President Coolidge is on All Public Questions — I know when not to say anything.
There are old guys down there who have an old Squirrel Rifle laying up over the door on some deer horns, and if they shoot at you and don’t hit you in the eye, why, they call it a miss. I want to conduct myself so that when I go back home to Oklahoma I can shake hands with all my friends - not just have to wave at ’em as I am running.
I ain’t going to tell some people 2 thousand miles away how they should conduct their business. I am like a song that Bert Williams used to sing in the Follies, “I ain’t got much education but I got good common sense.”5
Well, that disposes of the Newspaper strike, and the Battle of Oklahoma; now we will take up the leading of Lloyd George of England, who personally conducted one War to victory, and was let out over there because he didn’t hold his Tea Cup at the right angle.6
He is practically useless now to them until they get into another War.
He writes for papers, too, but I never read any of his stuff. I don’t think one writer should read another’s stuff. He is apt to find himself copying the other’s style. Or course, from what I have heard, his writings are more local; he just writes on what France owes Germany. My writings don’t deal particularly with any personal Grudge or Country, they are more broad and universal in their scope.
As a matter of fact, I took his place on the New York Times. They had him signed up and then he found out that he couldn’t sell what he had learned during the war. That was England’s private business. So the deal was cancelled, and he went to writing some other stuff and sold it to some other parties.
So then the Times started negotiations for me to write and tell America’s secrets during the War. Well, as we had none, there was no demand from Washington to keep them. There’s the one thing no nation can ever accuse us of and that is Secret Diplomacy. Our foreign dealings are an Open Book, generally a Check Book. If he comes out here, I want him to meet Charlie Chaplin the two greatest men of every country should know each other.7
He chose a very opportune time to come. We have nothing on our minds over here now, and can entertain him; at any rate, if they take him to Washington during Congress we can at least amuse him. Had he come just after the war, we were entertaining foreigners so thick and fast that we couldn’t ever remember their names, much less take care of them.
But he landed at a time when he has absolutely no opposition. Walton is barricaded in Oklahoma, and Firpo has sailed for the Argentine. I hope at some future time to return his visit, and see again dear old Whitechapel, and the various Inns that I missed on my three previous visits.
So here is good luck to you George! You are the first foreigner that has come here in years that we could properly pronounce his name, and, as one writer should be able to say to another, “Here’s looking at you.”
Now we have got rid of the Strike, the Klan fight, and George, what is the next bit of business to be taken up? Oh yes, the return of Col. George Harvey, Ambassador to England.8
He is giving up his knee breeches, bring all his after dinner speeches and coming right back to America. You see
an election is coming on some of these days and George runs Harvey’s Weekly and, believe me, George can tear off a mighty wicked editorial. A political party don’t know whether they would rather have him with them or against them.
Mr. Harvey claims this ambassing business is a financial failure. The first affair he gave over there cost him 600 bucks just for the rent of palms for decoration, to say nothing at all about appetisers and the cordials.
You only get $17,500 for ambassing. One visit from the King and that is gone!
So, about the only way I see for an Ambassador to get along over there on his salary is not to mingle with that class of people at all. Just go with the same class of people that he was accustomed to go with if he was home. Take Mr. Harvey for instance, he should have just associated with a lot of politicians over there like he did here. They wouldn’t have cared if he had any palms for decoration or just as long as the drinks held out.
He took Will Hays back over there with him the last trip.9
Maybe that is what broke him. Will is used to visiting film stars’ homes and is accustomed to a lot of service.
I made application to the President a good while ago to take Harvey’s place and told my requirements for the position. But that is off now. I wouldn’t give 600 bucks for all the palms in Brazil.
It is a very peculiar position. There is only one graft in it, and that is introducing Americans to the King and Queen, and most of them are women that, while they may promise you a lot to get them or their daughters introduced, it’s awful hard to collect from. Then the King got onto it, and now an Ambassador has to split commission so many ways that there is practically no real profit in it.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see the office abandoned entirely. It was started in the early days to give America a chance to send someone over there to learn Society manners. But now, as practically the same manners prevail in this country as that, there is no use of the office. Both countries’ manners are equally bad.
1Rogers starred in Two Wagons, Both Covered, a spoof of the pioneer Western epic film The Covered Wagon (1923).
2Adolph Simon Ochs, publisher of the New York Times from 1896 until his death in 1935. The Times was the first newspaper to publish Rogers’ Weekly Articles.
3For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7; for Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3.
4For Jack Walton see WA 7:N 1 and WA 43:N 3.
5Egbert Austin “Bert” Williams, black American comedian and songwriter who toured for many years with an all-black vaudeville troupe and in 1909 joined the Ziegfeld Follies. He died in 1922.
6For David Lloyd George see WA 11:N 1.
7For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8.
8For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
9For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
WA46 October 28, 1923
‘LIZZIE FERTILIZER’ MAY BE FORD’S
MUSCLE SHOALS PLAN
Well, as I go to press away out here in the broad spaces where a man is no better than his press agent, I have just been reading of the late war between Secretary Weeks and Uncle Henry Ford.1
Diplomatic relations have been strained for some time between Uncle Henry and authorities in Washngton over this Muscle Shoals. That thing has attracted more attention politically than the soldiers’ bonus. They are afraid to let him have it for political reasons and they are afraid not to let him have it for the same reason.
You see they figure if he gets this Muscle Shoals he will make a cheap fertilizer for the farmers, and they are afraid that the farmers will figure,
“Well, any man that can make and sell me cheap fertilizer is good enough to be my President.”
So the politicians figure if we can keep him from getting this place why maybe the farmers will forget they ever wanted cheap fertilizer. That is about as far sighted as the politician ever is when the farmer is concerned.
Anyway, this Secretary Weeks picked a bad bird to start a public argument with. Uncle Henry may not be packing a head full of facts on past historical events, but he is lugging a powerful lot of public confidence with the people who believe in past performances.
They make this stuff from nitrate or something they get out of the air. Mr. Ford himself tried to explain it to me one time when I was at his home and was asking him about this place, but I don’t remember anything about it. It seems like there is a river there with a big down hill slope to it where they can get cheap power. It’s the Tennessee River. I don’t know what the Tennessee River is doing in Alabama, or what kind of air they got there that they can make anything out of.
If they have gone to making things out of air, I want to buy the Washington rights around the Senate. This is the first time that this style of fertilizer has become a political weapon.
Another thing, I don’t know what got Uncle Henry’s mind from knicknacks to fertilizer. I can’t figure out what the two have in common. Why I have seen those little tin rascals raised where they had never ever heard of fertilizer. There are thousands of people in this country that own those little mongrels that can’t even spell fertilizer, much less buy it.
SEES CROP OF TIN LIZZIES
Personally I have always thought he must have some scheme where he can take this fertilizer and plant these things of his in there and raise them. Of course, that is just my personal opinion. He didn’t tell me what scheme he had, but you can bet it is something like that. Secretary Weeks could sue him for libel for what he said about him, but I guess he figures it wouldn’t do any good. He couldn’t get anything, for the chances are that Uncle Henry has what little he has in his wife’s name. Even if Weeks got a judgment he would have to wait for years to collect it.
And, speaking of Secretary Weeks, one of our illustrious Cabinet, I had the pleasure yesterday of meeting another member of that cast, Secretary of Labor J. J. Davis.2
He come out to our studio to see us make those wonderfully funny pictures. You see the studios are getting particular about letting in visitors here lately as several have just laughed themselves to death, and the uplift pictures and the dramas why, tourists have been known to
cry so loud on seeing them made that they had to be removed from the lot entirely.
Of course, the principal reason that they stopped visitors was to keep the public from seeing the stars’ doubles. It’s awfully embarrassing to be standing talking to visitors and at the same time looking at some one with your clothes on jumping out of a third-story window for you. The stars were so conscientious about it that they had to cut out the visitors.
HOW SECRETARY DAVIS GOT IN
But at any rate, this Secretary Davis got in. He had a letter of recommendation from Will Hays, who used to be in the Cabinet before he was promoted.3
Well, this letter got him in, not because he was Secretary of
Labor, for goodness knows, a man investigating labor would be lost in a movie studio. Well, he came in to see us work, and everybody got up and spoke to him.
He has charge of Labor in this country and was out on a tour tying to find some of it. He spoke as though he would be out for some time yet. He was on his way to Frisco and had stopped over here one day. But the Los Angeles papers had it that he had come here and was returning home by way of Frisco. I asked him if he was investigating labor, why he had left Washington.
I had read quite a bit about him being a self-made man, and I was anxious to meet and talk to him for that reason, as I had heard so much of late years of self-made men that I was anxious to see what one looked like. I think the same fellow who started that self-made man gag started that other asinine expression, “100 per cent American.”
Every human from the time he is weaned is self-made. And how do you tell when a man is made anyhow? He may be only partly finished when a lot of guys call him made.
A made man is a finished man and I doubt if we have one in this country now. If we have, for the Lord sake let’s find him!
A real self-made man would have to be one who had received no learning or knowledge, or assistance from any person or source. All of this, mind you, has nothing to do with the case of Secretary Davis. He is such a fine and deserving man that I hate to see him go through life with that terrible moniker tacked to him, self-made man.
The woods are full of those birds. Every toastmaster at every 75-cent luncheon introduces from 3 to 5 self-made ones every day. But I don’t think the woods are full of Davises.
He started out in life working as a puddler. Now where, naturally, would a puddler end but in the United States Cabinet? But from what I have read of him and from what I learned in my lengthy chat with him, he is one of the few men who we have in Washington who has not remained a puddler.
CASE OF TWO-YEAR-OLD UNCLE
He is also the big head of the Moose Lodge, and has been for years. That lodge was formed during the epidemic that struck this country a few years ago to do something for different ones of our national animals and birds. So they formed lodges where they could stay away from home another night a week and drink the health of “these noble animals.”
But in later years, due to the influence of such men as Mr. Davis, they only toasted these noble animals with clicking glasses but have broadened out and done deeds for orphans, old men and women, so that now in all these lodges they have embraced humanity in addition to the animal. Still, mind you, in isolated cases, don’t think that the animals’ health is not properly beveraged even in this day and time.
Mr. Davis talked to me on immigration. He says we must import a better class citizen. Why not raise a better class of citizen? But I don’t suppose they ever thought of that.
He told me a great many stories of these tales you hear of people landing here and not being allowed to come in, and of all these inhuman acts you read of done by the immigration department. But when I heard his side it didn’t seem so bad as the papers had said.
Take the case he told me of the papers making a terrible yell about a poor orphan being held and not allowed to come in. The papers said it had no mother or father or relatives but an Uncle in this country.
Well, Mr. Davis is, if anything, a very humane man. Orphans are his particular hobby with the Moose Lodge Charity Fund. So he started in to investigate this poor Russian orphan and the Uncle who was to care for him. The orphan was just 42 years old, and the Uncle who was to care for him was 2 years old.
So everything you read in a newspaper is not as sad as it reads—even this article.
1John Wingate Weeks, United States secretary of war from 1921 to 1925. The controversy over Muscle Shoals in Tennessee concerned the question of allowing private developers, such as Ford (see WA 3:N 3), to take over from the federal government the hydroelectric generating facilities it had built in the area. Ultimately, the publicly-owned Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1933 to control the project.
2James John Davis, United States secretary of labor from 1921 to 1930.
3For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
WA47 November 4, 1923
IT’S TIME SOMEBODY SAID A WORD
I attended a dinner the other morning given for the old settlers of California. No one was allowed to attend unless he had been in the state two and one-half years.
I was the last speaker on the menu. They put me last, figuring everybody would either be asleep or gone by the time I begin.
Well, Sir, do you know, by the time it got to me there was nothing left to talk on! But I just happened to notice that in all the other speeches no one mentioned California, so as that was all I had left I just had to go ahead and do the best I could with California.
A NEW SUBJECT FOUND
Now, it ain’t much of a speech but it is at least a novelty, because in all my time out here I had never heard the subject used before at any dinners or luncheons.
Mr. Toastmaster, Ladies and Gentlemen, and members of the Old California Settlers Association: Your previous speakers have taken up so much time boosting and praising other states and their people that it is now most daylight, and I am at a loss to pick a subject, but at the last minute I just
happened to remember that no one had said a word for California. So I will take up this very remote subject and see if I can’t do something to drag it out of obscurity in which it has been placed here tonight.
Being one of your old timers (I have been a resident of this state now for nearly four years; there is only one other older member in the organization) I want to say right here that you often hear it said, “What is the matter with California?” Well, I will tell you what is the matter—it’s modesty, that’s what it is, too much modesty.
LET’S BOOST OUR CLIMATE
If we got out and blew our own horns and advertised and boosted our state like Delaware, and Rhode Island have, we wouldn’t be so little heard of. So, whether you like it or not fellow statesmen, I for one am going to throw modesty to the winds and just tell the world off-hand a few of the things that we have got out here.
Now, just picking subjects at random, what do you suppose we could do if we wanted to say something about climate? Why, that item alone would draw people here. But what do we do? We just set here and say nothing. We go out of the state and we are so darn generous that all we do is brag on the place where we are. We never think of handing our own state a little free advertising.
But you take, as I say, a fellow from Delaware, and he is preaching Delaware and all its advantages from the time you meet him till you leave him, and by golly, it pays to do that. Look at Delaware today! So never mind this old good fellow spirit of giving the other fellow the best of it. I believe in throwing in a little boost for the old native heath.
Now I know you other members don’t agree with me and think that we should think of our proud traditions and stoop so low as to have to advertise, but I tell you that this day and time is a commercial age, and we have got to throw our pride away and let the world know just what we have here.
There is no reason why other people from neighboring states shouldn’t know of our climate. Why keep it hid? It’s here. We got it. They can’t take it away with them.
PICTURE POST CARDS HELP
Of course I will admit that we have done a little good in a small way with picture post cards. Five years ago Iowa was a prosperous and satisfied state. They had no idea of leaving. They had shoveled snow for five months every year and figured they would always shovel snow five months every year. But finally one day a $20 bill came into the state and a farmer wanted to get change for it, so he started out trying to get it changed and wound up in Long Beach, California.
A fellow selling roses in January changed it for him, and when the farmer pulled off his mittens to count the change he found that it was warm and he didn’t have to put the mittens back on again.That made quite a hit with him and he decided to stay awhile. So he sent a picture post card back with the picture of a man picking oranges off the trees in January, and told them how fine it was and everybody that read the post card, including the postmaster, come on out.
So when they came they sent back picture post cards to all their friends who like oranges, and in time they came, too, and so on, each newcomer bringing out just as many more as he could afford post cards. Now in the short space of five years look what has happened. The whole of the state of Iowa is here. The only ones left back there are the ones who can’t read the post cards, or people who don’t care for oranges, and now I see where they have put in schools to teach those to read so that means we will eventually have them all, with the exception of the ones who don’t like oranges.
Now, as I say, if all of that can be done with just picture post cards what do you suppose could have been done if the newspapers of our state had thought to have said something in praise of our climate? So, fellow old timers, if we can get the grand state of Iowa out here on a picture post card of an orange tree, what could we do with some of these other states if we really devoted a little of our time to it!
EASY TO HOOK BOSTON
Why, oranges are a small time commodity with us. We raise more beans on one farm here without irrigating than we do oranges in the whole state. If we had picture post cards of bean fields instead of orange fields we could get the whole of Boston here the same as we did with Iowa. You will do even better with Boston than you did with Iowa, because everybody there likes beans. So let’s get busy and let them know what we are doing in the bean line.
Take the case of oil. You all know we struck oil here in southern California. But did you let anybody else know? No, you didn’t say a word about it, and consequence, a man can’t even find a place to buy an oil stock. Now there are lots of people would buy shares and units, but no, you are so darn modest you won’t let the world know what we have.
I would like to have seen what Delaware would have done if they had found this much oil. They would have sold so much stock that if the Pacific Ocean had been oil it wouldn’t have paid back the buyers.
Look at Real Estate. Here we have the greatest land and lots that ever laid out of doors, but do we do anything with them? No! We just sit here. We never advertise them; we never boost them. I wish you would see what the state of Delaware would do if they had the same class of lots that we have here. Why they would have sub-divisions all over the place. They would have barbecues, and drawings, and screen stars personally appearing, and men under umbrellas selling each lot. But no, we are too conservative; we like to sit here and let the stuff speak for itself. But I tell you, fellow old timers, you can’t do that nowadays. It’s all right for a state to build up a reputation for modesty and be known as always having a good word to say for the other place, but I tell you we have carried it too far for our own good.
FOR THE GOOD OF ALL
Of course I can appreciate you other old timers’ feelings in the matter. You have been here and helped build it to what it even is today, and you resent these Johnny Newcomers coming in and spoiling all of our old customs and traditions. I know it is hard to change with the times. We old timers who have seen this place grow from what it was two and a half years ago to what it is today, must realize these stacks of young fellows coming in here the last two weeks must have the right idea, and we must begin to realize that after all it is the general welfare of the entire community we are after.
So, fellow members, if my little speech has been the means of changing just one of you from your iron-clad rule of modesty in regard to your home state, why I will feel that my little efforts will not have been in vain.
So from now on I am for letting the world know of California even if the rest of the state does disapprove of it, and I sit down amid hisses from the modest old timers.
WA48 November 11, 1923
COME ON, BOYS,
LET’S RESCUE THE POLITICIANS
As I go to press this evening away out here in the open spaces where every man is a man, and not a politician, all I am able to find in the papers is: “Is Henry Ford a candidate for President and, if so, on what ticket?”1
Everybody and every paper seems to be worrying about it and think it is strange that nobody knows what party he belongs to. I think that is the biggest asset he will have when he enters the race. I know if I was running I would be ashamed to let anybody know which one of those parties I belonged to. Now, take the last three years, it looked like the Democratic Party was the best party. But the 8 years previous to that it looked like the Republican Party was the best. The only way in the world to make either one of those old parties look even half way decent is to keep them out.
Now you take, for instance, a Republican. Now there is lots of people that won’t speak or associate with one. They think they would catch some grafting disease, but I have met several of them and you take one, when he is out of office, and he is as nice a fellow as you would want to meet.
They are a good deal like the Negro down home where I was raised, (Claremore, Oklahoma, greatest one night stand health resort in the world). They are better when they are broke. You keep a Republican broke and out of office and pretty near anybody can get along with them.
As I say, they are unbearable now because they are prosperous, and I don’t blame Uncle Henry for not allowing his name to be associated with them, for whatever you might say against Mr. Ford you must admit that he has a certain amount of personal pride.
Now, on the other hand, take the Democrats. They are a great deal like France. France wants to so entirely crush Germany that they will never be able to rise up and attack them again. You see Germany has pounced on them every 40 years, and France is trying to fix them this time so the Time Limit will be Extended. Well, that is the way with the Democrats. Every time they got in office and started to get ahead and accumulate something, why the Republicans would rise up and crush them. They didn’t even wait for 40 years like Germans, but would generally pounce on them about every 4 years. So it has got the Democrats so hardened against them that when he does get in power all he thinks of is to so completely put the Republicans out of commission that they can’t possibly recover and attack them again at least in his lifetime.
Now, while personally I hold no brief for either side, you must admit that France and the Democrats have some ground for this inborn hatred, so if something is not done about it by some intervening outside party, it looks like another destructive War next November in this country, with the poor but innocent tax payers bearing the brunt of the burden as usual.
So I am like Lloyd Meagin George; I am for peace.2
Let some outside
party step in and tell them both what they have to do. You take a Democrat
and a Republican and you keep them both out of office and I bet you they will turn out to be good friends and maybe make useful citizens, and devote their time to some work instead of lectioneering all the time.
The way our politicians are now, they are just like a man who thinks he has oil on his farm. He stops all work and just lives on the hope and prospects of this oil, but after they have bored a well and found it dry, and he knows he has no chance of easy money, why he will settle right down and go to work and maybe amount to something in the long run. If he strikes oil he is ruined. He is a total loss to everybody but the bootleggers.
Now that is the way I claim it is with these old line parties. If they knew they had no chance of ever getting any easy money by striking oil in Washington after every election, why the chances are they would be just like the oil less farmer. They might be rescued to decent society and be a help and a comfort to their families.
Now I am not saying who or which this third party will be but whoever they are let’s elect them for life. Now, mind you, I don’t want to have you think I am advocating this for any personal gain myself, for I am like Uncle Henry; I have not aligned myself with any party. I am just sitting tight waiting for an attractive offer, and I may have something to announce in the next few weeks. But right now I am a missionary. I am going to devote my life’s work to rescue this country from the hand of the politician, and also rescue the politician to a life of Christianity.
The reason I advocate electing our officials for life is for two reasons. The first is that no matter what man is in an office the one that you put in his place is worse. If we had kept our original cast that we had to start with we would have been better off. We had no business ever letting Washington (George, not D.C., I mean) go. We ought to have kept him till we got a hold of Lincoln. Then been more careful of the protection of his life and preserved him to a ripe old age down to where Roosevelt was, say, about 15 years old.3
Then we could have turned it over to him. He could have run it as good at that age as most men could at 50.
So you see we never get anywhere by switching around. A man don’t any more than learn where the Ice Box is in the White House than he has to go back to being a lawyer again.
Then the second reason for a life term is that when a man is working for the government on an elected office he never knows how long it will last. He can only give half his time to his job. He has to give the other half to trying to find out where he is going when this is over. So I believe if we guaranteed them anything permanent they would do better; at least we always have the satisfaction to fall back on that they couldn’t do worse.
And that would eliminate 9/10 of the discontent that we now have. It’s always the fellow that is out of office and wants in that is discontented, but if he knew there was no chance why he might maybe turn to some essential employment, maybe writing jokes for the newspapers or any of those WORTH WHILE industries.
Of course, you take a fellow like Ford and I doubt if he would take it for life. The chances are that he is ambitious and in the years to come he might want to devote his old age to trying to think up some different shape radiator for those things of his.
He told me when I visited him in Detroit that that was his life’s ambition. I told him that it was not only his ambition but everybody’s life ambition.
Now by this morning’s paper I see where the Prohibition Party is trying to claim him as their very own. That is not exactly the party that I would like to see him enter Washington for life with. It wouldn’t be hardly becoming for a man to be Prohibition’s head who had furnished the conveyance for more fermented juices than all the brewery trucks of Anheuser Busch and Pabst combined.
You remove all the bootleg booze from Ford cars in this country and you not only diminish drinking 90 percent but you create an invention by making them so light they will fly.
1Ford was frequently mentioned in the early 1920s as a presidential possibility.
2For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
3Theodore Roosevelt, Republican president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. A hero of the Spanish-American War and an energetic president, he enjoyed wide popular support throughout his public life.
WA49 November 18, 1923
THE WORLD TOMORROW
Now for the last few months I have been writing and I have become ambitious and want to do “Bigger and Better things.” I realize that my writings up to now have only appealed to the Morons. (That’s not Mormon misspelled. It’s Morons, just as it’s spelled.) So I have been a close student and admirer of some of our great editorial writers and I have tried to study their style and, beginning with this article, I am changing my entire method of Literature, and I hereby bid Adieu to my half-wit audience. (As writer’s writings never appeal to a higher grade of intelligence than the writer himself.) So, from now on, I am going to give these learned and heavy thinkers a run for their laurels. I am out to make the front page. My column will be called The World Tomorrow, not only commenting on the news of Today but predicting what the morrow will bring forth.
A Race Horse, In Memorandum, beats the great Zev, the international favorite and my own thrown in for good measure.1
That news will perhaps interest 40 million human beings, and 2,000 bookmakers, while the news of the unearthing of a prehistoric skull at Santa Barbara, California, linking us up with the Neanderthal Age will only be appreciated by a small majority of us thinking people. Some anthropologists, however, consider the extinct Neanderthal man as a separate specie (Homo Neanderthalenis) intermediate between the Java Man (or Pithecanthropus). According to Linneaus, Humanity comprises four races: the Whites, having a light colored skin, belonging to the Caucasian race; blacks, the completist possible negation of white; The Republicans, a form of genus Homo Male in his earliest Prehistoric State; and, last of the four races the Democrat.2
The Democrat doubtless originated in the eastern Hemisphere. The main structural characters distinguishing him are his gait, the modification of the feet for walking instead of prehension, and the great Toe being nonapposable, and most of all the enormous development of the brain, and smooth rounded skull.
But what cares the man of today for the Neanderthal Age! He is of the Speculative Age. If he can get 10 dollars down on the nose of a winner at about 15 to one, he don’t care if we descend from goat or ape.
As Demosthenes, the Great William Jennings Bryan of his time, so aptly put it when he casually met Confucius, the originator of Mah Jong, on Epsom Downs: “Good Afternoon countryman, art thee risking a few Shekels on thy favorite Crow Bait in this race?”3
And Confucius pulled the following nifty which has been handed down through the ages, and made him the Philosopher of Shanghai: “No, Demosthenes, betting is a form of unintelligence, so long as we
have betting, we will know we have the ignorant with us.”
That little remark of Confucius was well said, and the fact that we had 40 million interested in the race, and only a handful interested in the Neanderthal man, proves we have a long way to go yet until Civilization is
The Crown Prince of Germany is to be allowed to return, proving that War don’t pay.4
You only have to go back into History a short way to the Trojan Wars. What happened to Priam the King of Troy when Prince Paris his Heir and son was born? Eros, Goddess of Discord, threw out a Golden Apple to the most beautiful, and Juno, Minerva and Venus all claimed it. Paris was to decide. He gave the apple to Venus. Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in Sparta, got jealous of Paris and that culminated in the war of Troy. Troy was besieged for 9 years. This Trojan War alone should prove to the greedy interests that War don’t pay. And sons born of Kings don’t pay. A law should be passed that all offsprings of royal birth should be of the feminine gender.
An American army airman flies at the rate of 258 miles an hour.5
does this astounding feat mean to the world? What did Napoleon say at Austerlitz in 1805, just after the battle of Ulm, and after the Old Corsican
had rushed his troops from Cologne? He said, “An army travels on its stomach.”
Look at the progress that has been made in the mode of transportation from the Napoleon days to this! I don’t know exactly how far a man could travel in a day on his stomach. If he had a good stomach and was an apt traveler he might make pretty good headway. There was no way in reckoning speed in those days as there was no way of fixing a speedometer on a soldier’s stomach, but if you take a soldier going away from the enemy, and if his stomach held out, he certainly ought to have had the abdominal record of his time.
But has Congress heeded what the Airship is doing? No, they go ahead building battleships which will be as useless as a shipping board. Transportation advances but our lawmakers are still traveling on their stomach.
Lloyd George goes home to England after inviting us to join in the salvation of Europe.6
You have only to turn to Hugo’s Oration on Voltaire to find out if we should meddle in the selfish affairs of European turmoil.7
Hugo said, “Before going further, let us come to an understanding, Gentlemen, upon the word Abyss. There are good abysses; such are the abysses in which evil is engulfed. Rabelais warned royalty in Gargantua. Moliere warned the people at Tartuffe.” That proves right there to any thinking person that we should not meddle in the affairs of these envious nations. The more trouble you get them out of, the more they get in to. No, the time has come when this country has got to bank up our own fires for a cold morning. Just remember Cicero’s words speaking at Glasgow in regard to America’s participation in the World’s War: “La premiere femme du monde la tete montee en se couchant.” Those who want to adjust Europe’s Carburator should remember Horace Greely’s immortal gag: “Go west, young man. Not east.”8
A lady in Chicago is arrested for killing a casual acquaintance. That’s news. If she had killed her husband or lover that would be commonplace. But friends are seldom killed. What does the 8th chapter, second verse of the first book of Matthew teach us? That verse should be enough to teach us that friendship should be trusted. We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.
Judge Gary, the head of the great Steel Corporation, eats only the white of a soft boiled egg for breakfast.9
Which should be a lesson to some of
you who think you have to eat the whole egg to subsist. We should look and learn from our men who have done things. Read Einstein’s Theory on what constitutes over-gorging.10
He says: “Light rays, if obstructed, have an observed constant velocity irrespective of the relative velocity between the observer.” That should show even the ignorant when they have enough.
A little girl in Brooklyn started to school and forgot her books and had to go home for them. There you have a bit of news that is valuable. We are at that age when we are rushing headlong and paying no attention to small details. It’s only the big things in life that interest us. For instance, the little girl was only interested in getting to school, not in what she had when she got there. If we only stopped to realize that it is really after all the little things that count, why, we would be a wiser and more contented race. People that can’t remember should remember what Socrates said to Plato on the subject of forgetfulness. He said: “Where then I wonder shall we find justice and injustice in it? With which have we contemplated? Has it simultaneously made its entrance?”
A professor of Columbia University won a prize for writing a book in 15 hours. That’s a good thing. The quicker the authors write them the quicker they can get to some useful work. But if Pascal were on earth today and heard of that feat he would say: “That’s fine, Professor, but what did you do with the other 10 hours?”11
It takes two and a half tons of marks to buy a stein of beer in Berlin. Before the War you could have bought two and a half tons of beer for a mark. What does Wall Street think of that? It shows you that selfish interests can’t rule the people, when they make up their mind to rebel.
P. S. You see Mr. Brisbane and I both have an Encyclopedia.12
1Zev, famous American race horse that won the Kentucky Derby in 1923 and other top races. Zev finished second, however, to In Memoriam in the Latonia Championship on November 3.
2Carlus Linnaeus, eighteenth century Swedish botanist and father of the modern system of botanical nomenclature.
3For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7. Mah-jongg, a game of Chinese origin similar to dominoes. It became popular in the United States, England, and Australia in the 1920s.
4Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor August Ernst, German crown prince and eldest son of Kaiser Wilhelm II. One of Germany’s top military commanders during World War I, he fled to Holland with his father after the kaiser’s abdication in 1918. He returned to his homeland in 1923 where he remained until his death in 1951.
5A United States naval lieutenant, Alford Joseph “Al” Williams, Jr., set an airplane speed record of 266.6 miles per hour on November 4, 1923.
6For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
7Victor Marie Hugo, French poet, novelist, and playwright of the nineteenth century.
8For Horace Greeley see WA 35:N 10.
9For Elbert H. Gary see WA 3:N 6.
10Albert Einstein, German physicist who developed the theory of relativity in 1905. He received a Nobel Prize in 1921 for his work in theoretical physics, notably on the photo-electric effect.
11Blaise Pascal, seventeenth century French mathematician, scientist, and philosopher.
12Arthur Brisbane, American newspaper columnist and editor. He began his popular, nationally-syndicated editorial column, “Today,” in 1917 and continued it until his death in 1936.
WA50 November 25, 1923
LASSOING A SCOTCHMAN IN THE DARK
I dropped into a theater out here in Los Angeles the other night not because I wanted to go to a show but because I happened to know the manager who had always been such a good friend of mine for years back East, and he stopped me in passing and asked me in. Well, as it didn’t cost me anything, I thought, well, I will go in and help him out. The chances are he is out here with some ham and eggs troop and needs somebody in to help make it look like a crowd. So I humored him and went in. I didn’t ask him what kind of troop he had shanghaied out of New York.
Well, when I got in, I found I didn’t have any place to sit down. The show was going on and every seat in the house was full. I thought, my Goodness, he must have dug up a lot of friends out on the sidewalk besides me, because this was the Auditorium Theater, the biggest one out here, and the only other times I had seen it filled was on Sundays by a preacher named Whitcomb Brougher, who has proven that talking and not preaching is appreciated.1
Well, I was wondering what dragged all this Los Angeles gang away from buying lots, when all at once a funny looking little bow legged guy came a bounding out on the stage. He had on some little plaid skirts, and crooked old cane. Well, the house just broke loose. You would have thought Henry Ford had just been elected president. They applauded like mad and then from that into laughter. Then he started to singing a song and all through the song they just died laughing and after each verse applauded. Now I don’t even know what the song was and I don’t think anybody else does. It didn’t seem to make any difference. He could have sang the alphabet and got just as many laughs and applause. Then he talked, and when he talked he was better than he was when he sang. Then he went off and changed clothes and come back and sang and he was better than he was when he talked.
Well, he kept this up for one hour and a half solid and could have kept it up all night as far as me and that audience was concerned. Now I had had some few trials in trying to entertain an audience single handed with no aid from anyone, and when I can keep them awake for 15 or 20 minutes I think I am doing pretty well. But here is a man who can just take them and juggle ’em for an hour and a half and make ’em do tricks for him, whenever he wants to.
I didn’t have a program so I didn’t know who it was but in going out I told the manager I would like to meet this bird and talk to him, so he made a date with me for the following night to come down and he would arrange an interview with him for me.
So the next night I was right there at 8:15 and the mobs were rushing in just like it was a remnant sale. Some of them didn’t know where or how to buy a ticket. They had never been in a theater before. Some asked for the same seat they had for this same fellow last year. I thought, what manner of man is this that can get people to come who don’t know a box office from a telephone booth?
They told one old lady they would have to give her a seat in the gallery and she asked, “Does he sing up there, too?” Finally he come in through the front of the theater and I knew he must be a pretty big performer or they wouldn’t let him do that.
So this manager introduced me to him. His name was Lowder, or Lauder, or Lawler or something like that.2
I didn’t get it very plain. I remember his first two names. One was Sir and the other Harry. He said, “Hoot Mon, ’tis a braw bricht moonlicht nicht th’ nicht, lad.”
I couldn’t understand half he said. These foreigners should be made to learn the language before they let them come into this country.
On our way back to his dressing room he stopped behind one of the boxes and peeped out to see how the house was. He turned with a smile so I guess it was all right. Then he said to me, “You are the fellow who came in and stood up and didn’t pay for your standing space last night, ain’t you?” So I admitted that I was and apologized and offered to pay him now, but he said he had already collected it as he had made his manager pay.
The conversation opened up after we got into the dressing room by his seeing me with a new overcoat on. (It is getting Fall and rather chilly.) So he dug down into his old basket, not trunk, and dug out an old straw hat and tried to trade it to me for this overcoat. He said it would be fair and if I didn’t think so he would trade back with me next summer.
There was a candle burning in the dressing room for he said they charged for whatever electric light was used, so he used his own candle.
I asked him to tell me the story of his early life. He said, “I will, but before I start, I will just blow the candle out. We can talk as well in the dark.”
As well as I could get this story told in the dark, he was born in Scotland of poor but Scottish parents. He was the oldest of 7 children. His father died and he had to start earning his and the others’ living when he was only 13 years old. He worked in the coal mines from 13 until 21. He sang around little home talent entertainments, finally getting a few shillings for doing it. He married the mine foreman’s daughter and is living with her yet.
He joined a show troop at 35 shillings a week, $8.75 in our money. He and the piano player and the tenor singer all had to sleep in one bed. So if, today Sir Harry Lauder has any shortcomings at all, he is not to blame for them. It was all on account of sleeping with a tenor. I believe if I had had to sleep with a tenor in my earlier career I would have been in Sing Sing by now.
He sent his wife 5 dollars a week of this $8.75. You see his wife, while she was the daughter of the foreman, was still a Scotchman’s daughter. He said his greatest treat was on Saturday night when he and his pals could each afford a bottle of ale. My, that’s no hardship. We can’t get even a bottle at the end of the year.
Well, from then on his story reads like an American magazine millionaire’s—Pluck, Perseverance, and taking advantage of his opportunities.
He likes to tell stories on himself of his thrift, as he calls it. In Australia
where he was just arrived from, he was stopping in a hotel and had put his shoes outside his room door to be shined (a custom which prevails there and in England). A man passed the next morning and found the boy shining the shoes at the door and asked him why he didn’t take them downstairs and do it as he did all the others. The boy said, “I can’t take them down; they are Harry Lauder’s and he is holding the strings under the door.”
Now some have come to look on Harry Lauder as the champion stingy man of all time. Yet he raised for wounded soldiers more money than any other one person in the world. He did more charitable war work during the war than any one single person and was Knighted by the King of England for it.
Personally, I think that Knighthood is a liability instead of an asset, so what manner of man can this be who is the stingiest man in the world, yet he is the most generous.
He would make a good president. He can be the two opposite things at once.
He gave me one of his epigrams which is his belief: “Give a friend all he wants and he will take all you have.” I asked him to what did he attribute his success and he said, “Enthusiasm for my work.” He loves it, he is raring to get on that stage every minute. He writes all his own songs, words and music—both, works out his own costumes, and originates all his own stage jokes. I asked him if he was going to stay with his manager (who is William Morris, a Jewish Gentleman, and the most universally liked man in our entire profession).3
He said, “I started with Bill in this country 17 years ago and I will stay with him as long as I play over here, no matter what anyone would offer me.”
He plays to more money in a week than any man on the stage, including Grand Opera. Caruso could only sing 2 or 3 times; Lauder does 10 shows a week and plays to from 35 to 50 thousand a week with no expenses compared to other shows.4
And won’t play Sunday! So he can’t be stingy, for he could, by giving 2 shows Sunday, play to a thousand more.
I would like to see some of us, so-called, Big hearted Americans turning down 8 thousand dollars every Sunday for 52 Sundays. I personally, attribute his wonderful success to sincerity. Think what an enviable position he holds. The greatest single entertainer in the English speaking world, which no doubt means also the greatest in the entire world. It was a pleasure to meet him. He has not only entertained us but has taught us what a man can do with clean wholesome entertainment.
When he finished and had to light the candle to put on his make-up, I borrowed a lead pencil off him to jot down some notes. He told me of the two Scotchmen near the Bay in Scotland where he kept his Yacht. You know sea gulls always follow a boat to pick up any refuse thrown overboard. The Scotchmen were watching a yacht sailing and one asked the other whose boat it was. The other replied, “Well, I don’t see any sea gulls following it. It must be Sir Harry Lauder’s!”
He says he likes to keep the Bell Boys from grabbing his bag when he comes into a hotel, by telling them, “Oh, I am still working; I haven’t retired yet. When I retire you can carry my bag.”
I just wonder if it ain’t just cowardice instead of generosity that makes us give most of our tips. When I went to leave he reminded me that I still had his lead pencil. I apologized, and he said it was all right, as I hadn’t sharpened it.
He wasn’t too busy with his art and his title to forget that nickel lead pencil. Yet he wouldn’t play the next day (which was Sunday) for 8 thousand dollars.
But he will go to a hospital and sing for the soldiers every Sunday, and Good Old Bill Morris his manager will let them in free to the theater. So, give us some more Stingy Guys like Harry, if they only have half his other qualities.
I am a bit of an American Harry Lauder myself; he didn’t get the overcoat for that straw hat.
1James Whitcomb Brougher, Sr., prominent Baptist minister who served as pastor at Temple Church in Los Angeles from 1910 to 1926.
2Harry Lauder, internationally popular Scottish singer and songwriter who was knighted in 1919 for entertaining troops during World War I.
3William Morris, Sr., Austrian-born American talent scout and promoter who managed Sir Harry Lauder and other top entertainment stars.
4Enrico Caruso, Italian tenor singer who first appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in 1903 in Rigoletto. Highly successful, he had a repertoire of more than forty operas.
WA51 December 2, 1923
THE RING IS FILLING UP WITH HATS
As I go to press away out here in the Mortgaged spaces, where every man is either in jail or the movies or in Escrow, I pick up my morning paper and start in the review the political situation, as it effects the honest man. Talk about hats in the ring! Why, yesterday it just rained hats.
Senator Hiram Hearst Johnson, late of California, just yanked his old sombrero off and, after brushing the second choice dust of various campaigns from its wrinkled folds, decided that it would be able to weather another convention defeat.1
The dull thud of its landing in the political soup had hardly sounded around the world when William Jiggs McAdoo decided that he was bareheaded from now until the Democrats meet next June to pick their worst man.2
So, as I go to press, I am the only Resident of glorious sunburned California that still has his hat on.
Mind you, this was not all the day’s gathering of hats. This was only California’s contribution to our national rubbish pile. Other states have littered up the entire premises of the garbage ring with every known and unknown form of headgear from Senator Underwood’s old black flopped brim (nearly Beaver), with the scent of the Julep fresh on its crown, to the Radiator capped slopes of Michigan, where they are ready to contribute the
one man top of their favorite son.3
We spend millions of dollars every 10 years trying to collect the census of this inglorious commonwealth of America, when all we would have to do is wait until a presidential year, and then count the candidates.
Mr. Cox, of Ohio, is the only name in America that has gone through this entire year without the smirch of a Presidential insinuation.4
This having been a year of Prehistoric unearthing, even the roofing of William Darwin Bryan has been again cast asunder and lit just casually on the edge of the enclosure, where it will await the verdict next June of some 5 thousand uninstructed modern Chimpanzees.5
Kareful Kal Koolidge, with the usual New England thrift, throws nothing into a ring, not even a hat, until he is sure it will be returned with 75 thousand a year interest. He got so used, as Vice President, to have no one pay any attention to what any of them said, that he can’t realize that we might listen to him now.
I thought for a while, the way Lloyd George was complimenting us over here, that he might possibly be considering tossing that old Welsh cap of his onto the White House lawn.6
But I, along with various other slow thinking citizens of our land, find that he didn’t come here just to put wreaths of England’s foes of former days out of any particular love for them. He knew that we are the Champion Yap Nation of the world for swallowing propaganda.
YOU CAN TAKE A SOB STORY AND A STICK OF CANDY AND
LEAD AMERICA RIGHT OFF INTO THE DEAD SEA.
He read the life of Lincoln coming over on the boat, and we marveled at his knowledge and admiration of our great commoner. Perhaps he used the same adjectives that he had many times applied to Cromwell in England.7
His next jump was direct to Mount Vernon to the Tomb of Washington.
Now, you know what he thought of Washington. You know what Firpo thinks of Dempsey.8
He is super A politician. Instead of going through the country, doing the old gag of kissing the babies of the voters, he pulled a New One. He visited all the graves of our departed heroes who he knew were dear to us and he complimented them and told what they would do for civilization if they were alive today. He knew they couldn’t rise up and deny it. You didn’t hear his complimenting any of our living did you?
He is a wonderful little man; a marvelous personality and the greatest salesman that England ever sent over here. He is so good that he darn near sold us another War.
England is always sending some big men over here claiming they come just sightseeing, and only want to see the country. But you can’t see this country from a speaker’s platform inside a hall.
Now, for some unknown reason, we had Ambassador Harvey returned back to us.9
I look for ex-Ambassador George to take off his powdered wig
which he used on State occasions over around the King, and cast it into the
Political Mud Hole. Mr. Harvey would make us a good social president. He could tell you at what hour tea should be served.
I am glad Mr. McAdoo has come out in the open and declared himself. I had a very pleasant evening over at his home here in Los Angeles just before he went East the last time. I thought I would get all the political news from him and find out if he was really going to run. He showed me all over his house. He seemed to be more interested in how cheap he had gotten in than in who was to be President. We had a lovely dinner, and here is one for the drys. He had nothing to even offer for drinks. Well, that was such a novelty I feel that it is worth mentioning.
After seeing how modest he lived and the way he talked as though a dollar was really a dollar, I related conversations I had heard during his term in office that he would “after holding all that authority, and controlling all that money, retire the richest man in this country.” It was not political enemies but people that really thought—here is a man that has a chance to clean up.
He laughed and told me the real story of how he had to retire from the Cabinet because he simply had no more money to maintain his position on. Here he was, handling and paying out the most colossal sums ever dreamed of during the war, and he had to borrow money on his small insurance policy to keep his children in school.
I said to him, “Why, if I handled all that dough, I would manipulate around some way to raise my salary privately, or casually sweep out a couple of billion dollar bills.” Then he said to me, almost sadly, “No, Will, there is so much Red Tape you can’t get a cent—even the Secretary of the Treasury.” Maybe that is the true story of why he resigned. Now he wants another office where there is not so much Red Tape.
He is back lawing for his living. That’s one thing these politicians, when they can’t make politics pay, can always fall back on the honorable practice of law.
Whatever we can ever say about graft and the thousands of millionaires that was made by the War, you can rest assured that the Treasurer who handled all the money come out broke. So, if Bill is lucky enough to get back into Washington, I want to see him get a position this time where he will be able to get a hold of something.
I asked him about the railroads. He said all he got out of that was his name on the towels.
So from what I learned from him these Cabinet jobs don’t look so good to me. These U. S. Senators look to be about the best graft, as there is no one to watch them. Guess the people figure that the class of men they send to the Senate would get caught if they took anything, whether they had any one watching them or not.
1For Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3; for William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2.
2For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
3Oscar Wilder Underwood, Democratic United States senator from Alabama from 1915 to 1927. Underwood was a leading presidential contender in 1912 and 1924.
4For James M. Cox see WA 14:N 14.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7; for Charles Darwin see WA 40:N 5.
6For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
7Oliver Cromwell, lord protector of England from 1653 until his death in 1658; led the Ironsides during the English Civil War.
8For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7; for Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
9For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
WA52 December 9, 1923
PROSPECTUS FOR REMODELED
CHEWING GUM CORPORATION
Last week I made, on account of my movie work, a trip to Catalina Island and along with the glass bottom boat I had pointed out to me the home of Mr. William Wrigley on the top of the highest mountain.1
He also owns the Island. We were not allowed to go nearer than the gate as the guide said
some other tourist had carried away a grand piano, and he had gotten discouraged at having them around. Another tourist was caught right on the lawn chewing an opposition brand of gum. That is really the thing that gummed up the tourist parade.
Then I remembered having seen his wonderful building in Chicago, Ill., mind you, accumulated on chewing gum at a cent a chew. Now I felt rather hurt at not being allowed to at least walk through maybe the kitchen, or the cellar, because I know that I have contributed more to the building of that home than any one living. I have not only made chewing gum a pastime but I have made it an art. I have brought it right out in public and chewed before some of the oldest political families of Massachusetts.
I have had Senator Lodge (who can take the poorest argument in the world and dress them up in perfect English and sell them) after hearing my act on the stage, say: “William (that’s English for Will) William, I could not comprehend a word of the language you speak, but you do masticate uncompromisingly excellent.”2
This reception which I received at the Wrigley home was so in contrast to the one which I received at Mr. Adolphus Busch’s in St. Louis.3
When he heard that one of his best customers was at the outer gate, Mr. Busch not only welcomed me but sent me a fine German police dog to California, the stock of which had come direct from the Kaiser’s kennels in Pottsdam. The dog did wonderful until some one here by mistake gave him a drink of one percent beer. He would have been six years old next May.
After looking at Mr. Wrigley’s home with much admiration and no little envy, the thought struck me: A man to succeed nowadays must have an idea. Here I am, struggling along and wasting my time on trying to find something nice to say of our public men, when I should be doing something with dividends connected with it. So then the thought struck me.
WHAT BECOMES OF ALL THE CHEWING GUM THAT IS USED IN THIS COUNTRY?
I just thought to myself, if Bill Wrigley can amass this colossal fortune, and pay the manufacturing charges, why can’t I do something with second hand gum. I will have no expense, only the accumulation of the gum after it is thoroughly masticated. Who would be the most beneficial to mankind, the man who invented chewing gum, or me who can find a use for it? Why, say, if I can take a wad of old gum and graft it onto some other substance, I will be the modern Burbank.4
With the ideas I have for used gum I may be honored by my native state of Oklahoma made Governor, with the impeachment clause scratched out of the contract.
All Wrigley had was an idea. He was the first man to discover that the American jaws must wag. So why not give them something to wag against? That is, put in a kind of shock absorber.
If it wasn’t for chewing gum, Americans would wear their teeth off just hitting them against each other. Every scientist has been figuring out who the different races descend from, I don’t know about the other tribes, but I do know that the American race descended from the cow. And Wrigley was smart enough to furnish the cud. He has made the whole world chew for Democracy.
That’s why this subject touches me so deeply. I have chewed more gum than any living man. My act on the stage depended on the grade of gum I chewed. Lots of my readers have seen me and perhaps noted the poor quality of my jokes on the particular night. Now I was not personally responsible for that, I just happened to hit on a poor piece of gum. One can’t always go by the brand. There just may be a poor stick of gum in what otherwise may be a perfect package. It may look like the others on the outside but after you get warmed up on it, why, you will find that it has a flaw in it. And hence, my act would suffer. I have always maintained that big manufacturers of America’s greatest necessity should have a taster — a man who personally tries every piece of gum put out.
Now lots of people don’t figure the lasting quality of gum. Why, I have had gum that wouldn’t last you over half a day, while there are others which are like wine — they improve with age.
I hit on a certain piece of gum once, which I used to park on the mirror of my dressing room after each show. Why, you don’t know what a pleasure it was to chew that gum. It had a kick, or spring to it, that you don’t find once in a thousand packages. I have always thought it must have been made for Wrigley himself.
And, say, what jokes I thought of while chewing that gum! Ziegfeld himself couldn’t understand what had put such life and humor into my work.5
Then one night it was stolen, and another piece was substituted in its place. But the minute I started in to work on this other piece I knew that some one had made a switch. I knew this was a fake. I hadn’t been out on the stage 3 minutes until half of the audience was asleep and the other half were hissing at me. So I just want to say you can’t exercise too much care and judgment in the selection of your gum, because if it acts that way with me in my work it must do the same with others only they have not made the study of it that I have.
Now you take Bryan.6
I lay his downfall to gum. You put that man on
good gum and he will be parking it right under the White House dinner table.
Now, some gum won’t stick easy. It’s hard to transfer from your hand to the chair. Other kinds are heavy and pull hard. It’s almost impossible to remove them from wood or varnish without losing a certain amount of the body of the gum.
There is lots to be said for gum. This pet piece of mine I afterwards learned had been stolen by a Follies show girl, who two weeks later married an oil millionaire.
Gum is the only ingredient of our national life of which no one knows how or of what it is made. We know that sawdust makes our breakfast food. We know tomato cans constitute Ford Bodies. We know that old second hand newspapers make our 15 dollar shoes. We know that cotton makes our all wool suits. But no one knows yet what constitutes a mouth full of chewing gum.
But I claim if you can make it out of old rubber boots and tires and every form of old junk, why can’t I after reassembling it, put it back into these same commodities? No one has found a substitute for concrete. Why not gum? Harden the surface so the pedestrians would not vacate with your street. What could be better for a dam for a river than old chewing gum? Put one female college on the banks of the Grand Canyon, and they will dam it up in 2 years, provided they use discretion in their parking.
Now, as for my plans of accumulation, put a man at every gum selling place. The minute a customer buys he follows him. He don’t have to watch where he throws it when through, all he has to do is follow. He will step on it sooner or later no matter where they throw it.
When he feels it, he immediately cuts off the part of his shoe where it is stuck on, so he can save the entire piece. Then he goes back and awaits another buyer.
I have gone into the matter so thoroughly that I made a week’s test at a friend of mines' theater. At one of Mr. Sid Grauman’s movie theaters here, I gathered gum for one week and kept account of the intake every day.7
My statistics have proven that every seat in every movie theater will yield a half pint of gum every 2 days, some only just slightly used.
Now, that gives us an average of a pint and a half every six days, not counting Sunday where the Pro Rata really increases. Now figure the seating capacity of the Theater and you arrive at just what our proposition will yield in a good solid commodity.
Of course, this thing is too big for me to handle personally. I can, myself disrobe, after every show, one theater and perhaps a church on Sunday. But to make it national I have to form it into a trust. We will call it the “Remodeled Chewing Gum Corporation.”
Don’t call it second hand, there is no dignity in that name. But if we say “remodeled” why every bird in America falls for that.
Of course, it is my idea ultimately after we have assembled more than we can use for concrete and tires and rubber boots to get a press of some kind and mash it up in different and odd shapes.
You know there is nothing takes at a dinner like some popular juice flavor to our remodeled and overhauled product. I would suggest wood alcohol. That would combine two industries into one.
I want to put flavors in there where we can take some of this colossal trade away from these plutocratic top booted gentlemen. If we can get just enough of this wood alcohol into our reassembled gum to make them feel it and still not totally destroy our customer we will have improved on the modern bootlegger as he can only sell to the same man once.
Now gentlemen and ladies, you have my proposition. Get in early on, “Old gum made as good as new.” Think of the different brands that would be so popular, “Peruna Flavor Gum,” “Jamaica Ginger Gum,” “Glover’s Mange Gum,” “Lysol Gum.”
It looks like a great proposition to me. It will be the only industry in the world where all we have to do is to just pick it up, already made, and flavor it.
I am going to put this thing up to my friend Henry Ford. Think, with no overhead, how he could keep the cost down. It’s a better proposition than being President.
1William Wrigley, Jr., American industrialist who found William Wrigley, Jr., & Company, manufacturers of chewing gum in 1891. He served as its president until his death in 1932.
2For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
3Adolphus Busch, German-born American brewer and industrialist who served as president of Anheuser-Busch Brewery from 1879 until his death in 1913. He was one of the wealthiest Americans of his generation.
4For Luther Burbank see WA 38:N 2.
5For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 18:N 1.
6For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
7Sid Grauman, American showman and motion picture theater owner who built the famed Egyptian and Chinese theaters on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
WA53 December 16, 1923
CASTING THE LARIAT OVER WEEK’S NEWS
The great trouble in writing for the papers every week is that you are so apt to hit on some subject that does not appeal to a certain class of people. For instance, if I write a learned article on chewing gum I find that I lose my clientèle of readers who are toothless, because they naturally are not interested in chewing gum if they have no teeth. Then when I write on just strictly politics, I find that the honest people are not interested. Then if I write solely on some presidential candidate I find that there are so many of them that few know the one I am writing about.
TOO MANY ANTI-BATHERS
I wrote an article on bathing and I found that I lost the interest of most of my readers as they were not interested in bathing either by tub or beach. Then I wrote an editorial for high brows and I found a high brow is a man who wouldn’t read anything that was not written by himself. So I have finally thought out a scheme where I am going to try and appeal to all classes.
I am going to work along the same lines as a newspaper. I am going to touch on each subject, with a heading over each one, so you will know where to look in the article for just what interests you. For instance, I find that there are people in the country that are really interested in the saxophone. Now, as my articles gain headway, I will have a section devoted to the uses that you can put a saxophone to without playing it.
One of the readers of mine and two of somebody else are still primitive enough to be interested in housekeeping. So for him, I will run a little paragraph on the proper treatment of doilies, and how they should be kept. Now it has been said that it is impossible to run a paper unless you have advertising. So I will not make the mistake of trying to prove it can be done. What little advertising I do, will be of a very high class and in a dignified manner, and will be headed as such.
I will feature murders. So if any of you are contemplating a murder in the near future, communicate with me at once, and I will give your particular case the benefit of all the advance billing that it deserves.
Now this applies principally to the ladies. You know months before you are going to shoot your husband, so why not let everybody know. Think of the novelty of a woman advertising that she was going to shoot her husband on a certian day, and then doing it, without changing her mind.
I will feature scandal; not enough to be disgraceful, but
just enough to be interesting.
I will have a movie department, and tell almost the truth
I have a friend who used to be on the edge of society, and you know that there is no one who can tell you as much about society as the one who has just been on the edge.
Will be strictly non sectarian.
Will be given the benefit of any and all doubts.
Will embrace everything except heavyweight championship battles. They will be found in the financial section.
I will do everything but publish a dealer’s picture standing on the running board of his newest model, as all dealers’ pictures look alike.
Now, of course, in this first issue today, I can’t cover all the subjects that I will later be able to embrace, as I have taken up so much of my time in the laying down of the policy of my mineature paper. But, no matter what you do or say, be careful or you will fall under the heading of some of my departments, and we will treat them all alike.
By radio, G-I-M-M-E Station. Ex Royalty speaking. The Kaiser wants to return to Germany as it is today.1
The old guy has courage of which we never suspected him before.
The Crown Prince says all he wants is to be left alone.2
That’s all a
Paris, France—France, our Ex-Allie, wants to lick Germany this time alone, just so she can make more favorable peace terms.
London, England—Lloyd George says: “Peace in Europe can’t last.”3
Who wants this kind to last!
Rome, Italy—By leased wire, “King of Spain visits Mussolini.”4
A King is never so popular nowadays as when he is away from home.
WASHINGTON, D. C.
By special graft wire—“Congress meets.” Everybody is asking, “What is the matter with this country?” Those two lines above tell you what is the matter with this country. Congress met that’s what’s the matter with this country. They meet to make laws. We have more laws now than Germany has marks. And the quality is about equal to the mark.
The government keeps statistics on every known thing. But there is yet to be a statistic on how many laws we are living under.
Mr. Coolidge makes straightforward appeal to right our wrongs. He wants “help for the farmers.” But don’t want anyone to have to pay more for their food. He is for “lower taxes,” but the country must receive more revenue.
He certainly seems to me like a very agreeable man, and if he can do these things as I have enumerated them above, he deserves serious consideration in the choice of our next president.
Mrs. Vernon Castle married for the third time.5
She is now in her senior years.
Quite a lot in the papers about a dinner in Chicago which Mrs. Harold McCormick, the first, and Ganna Walska, the present Mrs. McCormick, “Both attended but didn’t meet.”6
They must be holding their private dinners in the White Sox ball park if two wives can be at a private dinner and not meet. Of course, this shows that Chicago is slowly getting out of its rut, and into the Los Angeles and New York swing of things. Why, in either of these two places, it
would be impossible to give an affair of any magnitude unless it contained at least two or three old wives, and it has been known where four ex-wives of one man clustered around one cocktail tray.
I don’t see why they raise such a fuss over them meeting after marriage. It’s before marriage that you don’t want to let a prospective one meet one of the old timers.
The other night at a benefit, back stage, I introduced a dozen screen friends to each other, and then had them say: “Why, Will; we used to be married to each other.” Well, I just got discouraged and quit trying to be sociable, and introduce anybody.
Thanksgiving, the races opened at Tia Juana, Mexico, just over the line from San Diego, Calif. There was so many Americans there that they run out of stuff to drink and had to send back over into California to get more.
My good friend from the movie days at the same studio, Miss Geraldine Farrar was forbidden permission to sing in an Atlanta, Ga. church.7
Her voice would be so different from what is usually heard in there that it would be sacriligious. Imagine saying to a friend, “I have Elder Johnes’ pew tonight to hear Farrar sing “Zaza.”
It would have been a novelty for grand opera devotees to have gone into a church.
Under this heading of church notes I am going to debate next week against Dr. James Whitcomb Brougher, our most popular preacher out here, in open debate, question: “Resolved, that the movies have been more beneficial to mankind than the preachers.”8
It’s the most uneven question I suppose ever debated. I have the movie side, and he is such a nice fellow that I really feel ashamed to see him try and bring preaching up to the level of one of the arts.
All I have to do is to mention the scandalous conduct of some preachers and the number of them in jail. While, look what a fine chance he has trying to dig up something of a questionable character connected with the movies. Not a word of scandal has ever crossed our doorstep! NEXT WEEK I WILL REPORT THIS DEBATE.
Rates on application. You have tried my cars and they have made good. Now try me! Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan.
1Kaiser Wilhelm (see WA 1:N 3) never returned to Germany; he died in exile in Holland in 1941.
2For Friedrich Wilhelm, crown prince of Germany, see WA 49:N 4.
3For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
4For Alfonso XIII, king of Spain, see WA 42:N 9. Benito Mussolini, founder and leader of the Fascist movement in Italy; dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.
5Irene Castle, American dancer who with her first husband, Vernon Castle (see WA 13:N8) formed one of the premier dance teams of the pre-World War I era.
6Edith Rockefeller McCormick, daughter of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and first wife of Chicago industrialist Harold Fowler McCormick. Ganna Walska, Polish singer who married Harold McCormick in 1922, a year after his divorce from his first wife, Edith.
7Geraldine Farrar, American dramatic soprano who appeared with Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City from 1906 to 1922.
8For J. Whitcomb Brougher, Sr., see WA 50:N 1.
WA54 December 23, 1923
A STRAW VOTE
ON KAREFUL KAL’S MESSAGE
Kareful Kal Koolidge a couple of weeks ago read to Congress his message. The message itself seemed to be quite an achievement. The only thing to be desired was the delivery, which was rather amateurish. But when you figure that the gentleman hadn’t used his voice for months, why, any little defects in delivery can readily be overlooked. At a great telegraphic expense I have gathered together the opinions of some of our best paid politicians and I will do just as the Literary Digest does, I will simply put down their opinions as they were uttered, with no personal editorial comment from me at all. I am just simply reporting the straw vote of the country:
Senator Lodge, Republican, of Massachusetts—It is a message that could not possibly be improved upon.1
Massachusetts can at last say it has two of us favorite sons. Of course I took the message before delivery and brightened up the English. But he deserves great praise nevertheless. I think it is one of the best messages since I delivered my memorable one on the unknown islands of the Pacific Ocean during the disarmament conference.
Senator Robinson, Democrat, of Arkansas—I have been reading messages ever since I can remember and if that is a message then I am Babe Ruth.2
Even the English was very bad.
Senator McKinley, Republican, of Illinois—The President’s message is what I call a real message.3
It is short, concise and to the point.
Senator Dill, Democrat, of Washington—It was the longest, most garbled, and got nowhere at all.4
Senator Reed, Republican, of Pennsylvania—It was marvelous.5
a second Gettysburg Address.
Senator Jim Reed, Democrat, of Missouri—It was terrible.6
It was a
second “Yes, We Have No Bananas.”7
Senator Greene, Republican, of Vermont—It makes me proud that I am a Republican when I read such messages as that.8
Senator Wheeler, Democrat, of Montana—It makes me proud that I am a Democrat when I read such messages as that.9
Senator Jones, Republican, of Washington—His position on home problems could not be improved upon, but I wish he had been a little more generous with Russia.10
The message was no disappointment to me.
Senator Shipstead, Farmer Labor, Minnesota—The message was no disappointment to me, as I expected little.11
His stand on Russia was perfect but his home problem treatment was terrible.
Senator Pepper, Republican, Pennsylvania—A clean cut communication of definite ideas.12
There is no vague talk and no fine writing. He gives the line on which to attack each problem.
Senator Magnus Johnson, Farmer Labor, of Minnesota—They thought I would be out of place up here in Washington.13
Well, if they have messages like that I will be out of place. Back in Minnesota, where I come from, there are men who can milk a cow with both hands and never lose a drop, and sing a better message than that in Swedish.
Senator Moses, (No relation to the Moses of Bull Rushes fame) New Hampshire—It was strictly American.14
It took a true son of New England to utter it.
Senator LaFollette, Wisconsin—I was away sick and glad of it.15
Senator Capper, Republican, Kansas—The President was very unfortunate in falling heir to all the vexing problems of two past administrations.16
But I think he disposed of them in a manner that will be suitable to all Republicans who, after all, are all that amount to anything.
Congressman Charlie Carter, Democrat and Chickasaw Indian, Oklahoma—it was one of the best messages I ever slept through.17
Speaker Gillette, Republican, Massachusetts—Not since the Pilgrims landed on Massachusetts’ fair shores, have such utterances come from a fellow statesman of mine.18
It will please the country immensely.
Senator Pat Harrison, Democrat, from the Julep Beds of the Sunny South—He didn’t guess a single problem right.19
And they call that a message! I wish they could have heard Bryan’s Cross of Gold and Crown of Thorns message years ago.20
There was a message that will live as long as there is a Democrat.
Ham Lewis, late Senator, of Chicago, and late Fashion Plate of the Senate—I didn’t like the color of his vest, otherwise the message was perfect.21
Representative Berger, Socialist, Wisconsin—it sounds good, but a guy couldn’t be elected even vice president on it.22
Congressman Longworth, leader of House, Republican, Ohio—I haven’t had time to talk to Alice yet, but offhand I would say that it will reflect many votes on the Republican party.23
Senator Owen, Plutocrat, Oklahoma—Although retaining my membership in the U. S. Senate, I haven’t visited the old place for years.24
I spend most of my time abroad, and know little of American affairs so had overlooked the message.
Editor’s Note. Now in order to get the real opinion I not only asked politicians but went into business and social life for opinions.
Judge Gary, Head of the Steel Trust, Plutocrat, New York—It was a masterpiece, nonpartisan, conciliatory, frank and fair to every form of big business.25
Give us more messages like that and Steel will double in price in one year.
Cap Lane, farmer, Chelsea, Oklahoma, (18 miles from Claremore, best town in entire west)—Give us one more message like that and farmers will read it in the poor house.26
Jack Dempsey, Wall Street and financial world—I think the message will be a big aid to big financial undertakings.27
Under a message like that I can see nothing ahead but a prosperous year.
Charlie Chaplin—His stand on the reduction of income tax was excellent.28
Under a good old stand pat Republican Administration, I can see a
great year ahead for humorous pictures. His stand on Peru was to the point.
Mary Pickford—I haven’t read the message.29
Douglas just won’t take
But I will still say, as I told Los Angeles last week, girls should have mothers.
Jackie Coogan—His position on Child Labor was by far the outstanding feature.31
I also heartily endorse his advocating lower taxes on earned
incomes. You let some of our rich get out and really earn their money and they will see what hardship it is. but, take it all in all, it’s the best message we have had since McKinley declared war on Spain.32
Ex-Governor Walton, Oklahoma—I haven’t read the message.33
The last thing I read was my two weeks notice. What did he say about the Klan?
Wives prominent in Washington political life who were present say:
Mrs. Coolidge, Massachusetts, wife of principal speaker—It was simply wonderful.34
But then, I had never lost confidence in him.
Mrs. Alice Nicholas Longworth, wife of wet representative of Ohio, and herself a politician par excellence—Bully! It was great! I didn’t think Kal could do it. But he certainly woke up and showed them something. By the way, is Nick perking up too. I think it’s just the association with those indolent congressmen that held him back.
Hiram Hearst Johnson, California, Republican, Democrat, Progressive—It was just the message I would like to have an opponent deliver.35
William Jiggs McAdoo, Democrat, California, Kentucky, New York, District of Columbia—It was just the message I would like to have an opponent deliver.36
1For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
2Joseph Taylor “Joe” Robinson, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1913 until his death in 1937. For Babe Ruth see WA 38:N 5.
3William Brown McKinley, Republican United States senator from Illinois from 1921 until his death in 1926.
4Clarence Cleveland Dill, Democratic United States senator from Washington from 1923 to 1935.
5David Aiken Reed, Republican United States senator from Pennsylvania from 1922 to 1935.
6For Jim Reed see WA 6:N 6.
7For “Yes, We Have No Bananas” see WA 35:N 1.
8Frank Lester Greene, Republican United States senator from Vermont from 1923 until his death in 1930.
9Burton Kendall Wheeler, Democratic United States senator from Montana from 1923 to 1937.
10Wesley Livsey Jones, Republican United States senator from Washington from 1909 until his death in 1932.
11Henrik Shipstead, United States senator from Minnesota from 1922 to 1947. Originally elected to the Senate as a Farmer-Laborite, he turned Republican in 1940.
12For George W. Pepper see WA 21:N 2.
13For Magnus Johnson see WA 35:N 4.
14George Higgins Moses, Republican United States senator from New Hampshire from 1918 to 1933.
15For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
16Arthur Capper, Republican United States senator from Kansas from 1919 to 1949.
17Charles David Carter, Democratic United States representative from Oklahoma from 1907 to 1927.
18For Frederick H. Gillett see WA 7:N 3.
19For Pat Harrison see WA 15:N 8.
20Bryan (see WA 5:N 7) delivered his famous “Cross of Gold” speech, an impassioned plea for monetary reform, at the Democratic National Convention of 1896.
21For Ham Lewis see WA 12:N 1.
22Victor Luitpold Berger, Socialist United States representative from Wisconsin from 1911 to 1913 and 1923 to 1929.
23For Nicholas Longworth see WA 17:N 4; for Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 9:N 4.
24For Robert L. Owen see WA 10:N 3.
25For Elbert H. Gary see WA 23:N 3.
26Cap Lane, Oklahoma druggist, dairy farmer, and land owner; husband of Rogers’ sister Maud.
27For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
28For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8.
29For Mary Pickford see WA 25:N 5.
30For Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. see WA 25:N 5.
31Jackie Coogan, American child star of vaudeville and motion pictures who appeared in such films as The Kid (with Charlie Chaplin), Oliver Twist, and A Boy of Flanders.
32William McKinley, Republican president of the United States from 1897 until his death in 1901. The United States went to war against Spain in 1898.
33For Jack Walton see WA 7:N 1.
34Grace Anna Goodhue Coolidge, gracious and popular first lady who was regarded generally as more personable than the president.
35For Hiram N. Johnson see WA 14:N 3; for William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2.
36For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
WA55 December 30, 1923
WILL ROGERS FOR THE BONUS:
Just been reading in the Literary Digest what both sides have to say for, and against the Bonus. Now, while nothing I would say would be quoted, as what you say for Humanity doesn’t have near the appeal as what you say for political purposes, especially on a presidential year, still my opinions on the Bonus question are not issued after first taking the opinions of any constituents, and then stringing with the majority.
HAS SCHEME TO RAISE FUNDS
My opinion is based on what I heard uttered to soldiers in the days when we needed them, when they were looked on not as a political organization with a few votes to cast, but as the pick of one hundred million people, the saviors of civilization. We never looked on a soldier in his uniform but what we who didn’t go felt he was worth 10 of us. He went—did more than we even expected him to, now why is he not just as much to us today? What has he done to lower himself in our estimation? He still looks like 10 to 1 to me, and the same to a lot of others if they will be honest and tell the truth.
You promised them everything but the kitchen stove if they would go to war. Now a lot of our wealthy men are saying, “Oh, I am willing to do anything for the disabled but nothing for the well.” It wasn’t these boys’ fault they didn’t get shot. (I don’t see them doing anything for the SICK.) When he went away you didn’t tell him he had to come home on a stretcher before you would give him anything, did you?
$1.25 A DAY AND KNITTED SOX
We promised them EVERYTHING, and all they got was $1.25 a day and some knitted sweaters and sox. And after examining them, they wore the sox for sweaters and the sweaters for sox. They deserve a bonus just for trying to utilize what was sent to them.
They got a dollar and a quarter a day. Out of the millions of bullets fired by the Germans every day, statistics have proven that an average of 25 bullets were fired at each man each day. That figures out at the rate of 5 cents a bullet. Now I am no agitator for an unfair wage, or trying to hold anyone up, but the boys in this Bonus want the salary at least doubled. And I don’t think that 10 cents a bullet is an exorbitant price.
At the price things are today, I believe that to offer yourself as a target at 10 cents a shot is not too much. Some days he worked 24 hours but the pay was just the same. Those Germans would not observe the 8-hour law. Then they are not asking anything extra for gas bombs, air raids, and cooties. Those things are accepted gratis.
Now the way to arrive at the worth of anything is by comparison. Take shipbuilding, wooden ones, for instance. (That’s the only way they were ever taken—for instance. They were never taken for use.) Statistics show that the men working on them got, at the lowest, $12.50 per day, and, by an odd coincidence, statistics also show that each workman drove at the rate of 25 nails a day—the same number of nails as bullets stopped or evaded by each soldier per day. That makes 50 cents a nail.
Now I am broadminded enough to admit that there is a difference between the grade of these two employments. But I don’t think that there is 45 cents per piece difference. I know that bullet stopping comes under the heading of unskilled labor, and that ship-building by us during the war was an art. But I don’t think that there is that much difference between skilled and unskilled. That makes him 10 times better than the unskilled, while I claim he is only 5 times as good.
“KAREFUL KAL” AGAINST ME
I may be wrong in my estimation of the two jobs. Kareful Kal Koolidge is against me on this. It’s the first time he and I have disagreed on one of the
big questions. He is new and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. I realize that our opinions have been formed somewhat by our associations. He has been thrown, especially lately, with the wealthy, while I have, except on VERY RARE occasions, been thrown with the common herd.
Now, as I say, while the soldiers got no overtime, the nail expert got time and a half for overtime, up to a certain time, then double time and salary after that. Of course, he lost some time in the morning selecting which silk shirt he
should nail in that day. And it was always a source of annoyance as to what car to go to work in.
Now, I may be wrong, for these rich men who are telling you that the nail is 10 times harder to handle than the bullet know, for they made and sold both of them to the government. I haven’t read it, but I suppose some Puttee manufacturer will come out against the Bonus pretty soon.
ANOTHER PET ARGUMENT
Everybody’s alibi for not giving them the Bonus is, “We can’t commercialize the patriotism of our noble boys.” “They didn’t go to war for money, they went for glory.” Then another pet argument is, “The better element of the returned soldiers are against it themselves.” These wealthy men say, “All for the disabled; nothing for the well.”
Now I have a scheme that I don’t think has ever been proposed. Of course, coming from one with no political office to back it up, I doubt if it will be considered. Pay the Bonus to all. Then let the boys who don’t want it give their share to a fund to be added to the disabled ones in addition to their regular share. Everybody wants the disabled to be cared for first and best. This plan would doubly care for them. We will say that there would be as many boys who wouldn’t take their money as there are wounded ones. That would give each wounded one a double share. Then, if it reached even more, put it in a fund for the disabled ones and divide it according to their affliction. The more serious getting the most. This disabled money would not have to be paid to them at once. It could be left with the government and paid out in yearly installments. That would cut down the amount of money that would have to be raised immediately. That gets the disabled more than any scheme I have heard of, and also eliminates any returned soldier of the embarrassment of receiving $2.50 per day. His conscience would be clear.
I also have a plan of raising this Bonus which I haven’t heard brought up. That is, raise it by a tax on all tax exempt securities. These boys helped their country in a time of need. Tax exempt bond buyers knowingly hindered it in a time of need by cheating it out of taxes.
In 1916 there were 1,296 whose income was over $300,000 and they paid a billion in taxes. This year there were only 246 whose income was supposed to be over $300,000 and they only paid 153 million.
SKEPTICAL TO THE 246
You mean to tell me that there were only 246 men in this country who only made $300,000? Why, say, I have spoken at dinners in New York where there were that many in one dining room, much less the United States.
That old alibi about the country not being able to pay is all apple sauce, There is no debt in the world too big for this country to pay if they owe it. If you owed it to some foreign nation you would talk about honor and then pay it. Now what do you want to beat your own kin out of anything for? You say, “Oh, it’s not enough to do him any good, anyway.” If it’s not enough to do him any good, it’s not enough to do you any harm when you pay it. Tax exempt securities will drive us to the poor house, not soldiers’ Bonuses. This country is not broke, automobile manufacturers are three months behind in their orders, and whiskey never was as high in its life.
And don’t forget that there are many and many thousands of boys who came back and are not classed as disabled but who will carry some effect of that terrible war as long as they live. I never met 10 who were not injured in some minor way, to say nothing of the dissatisfaction. I claim we owe them everything we have got, and if they will settle for a Bonus, we are lucky.
Now if a man is against it, why don’t he at least come out and tell the real truth?
“I don’t want to spare the money to pay you boys.” I think the best insurance in the world against another war is to take care of the boys who fought in the last one. YOU MAY WANT TO USE THEM AGAIN.