January 1, 1933 - March 26, 1933
WE GOT SOME FINE STATES
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see here and there. Well we finally all of us about got X-mas out of our hair. Our little troop of children come ganging in here from the four corners. Got one boy, Bill Jr., the oldest, at the University of Arizona, a very fine school, well liked and spoken of by everybody that knows about it. You know that Arizona is going to really be understood and get somewhere some day. It and New Mexico, they are similar in lots of respects, but they are different from all the other states. They have great climates; almost any kind you like. They have a romance in history that out dates anything we have in our whole country, and there is just enough Indians to keep the whole thing respectable.
IN OUR COUNTRY
They are both states that kinder wear well on you. Don’t just look out of the train and condemn ’em. It just looks like nothing couldent live by looking out of a sleeper window. They built those railroads through the mangiest parts, so it wouldent spoil the good land. You know you can just look out of taxicab windows in parts of New York City and wonder what people live on, the same as you can in Arizona. There is many a canyon in N.Y. where the grass is short, and it looks like people packed their grub a long ways. Ah, but, darn it, there is some great country everywhere.
There is a fine comedy picture out that shows what would happen if a bunch of people received a million dollars apiece. Well now just suppose that by some good chance you did fall heir to a nice little nest egg, and you wanted to go somewhere and build you a home, a farm, or a ranch, and you dident previously have any particular place or ties that bound you to one locality. I tell you if you was to have a good car and the money to travel on, and also to build the place when you found it, you would be absolutely “nuts” before you settled down. We havent got a state in our whole Union but what has some great advantages that no other state possesses.
New England, the most beautiful place in the summer time, and for those that like their snow it’s fine all the year round. Up state New York is great. All the Middle West, with its rolling prairies and big grain farms. The Northwest, just anything in the way of scenery you want, any crops, any views. The whole Pacific Coast and its adjoining mountainous states. California, the Chamber of Commerce will take that up with you. But Nevada, there is a state that should be given a whole paragraph on its own. Mining and stock raising! There is two bunches of folks that just “anybody” don’t fit in with. They are kinder the aristocracy of labor. Nevada has a freedom and an independent spirit that is slowly reaching out all over our land. Utah is a great state and those Mormons are fine substantial citizens. Colorado is our grand stand seat to see our world from.
Texas? It’s too big to be even under Jim Ferguson.1 Texas has got everything that any other state has and then “Ma” and “Jim” besides. Oklahoma? A lack of vocabulary is all that stops me. I should have stayed in Oxford another year to really have done justice to Oklahoma. Alfalfa Bill Murray has taken what was once just a prairie dog town and he has populated it with emigrants from every political faith known to mankind.2 Why there is Republicans who live so high up in them skyscrapers of Tulsa and Oklahoma City that they ain’t been down to the ground since November eighth. Wilder than the Zulus in Africa. Bill has put a bounty on ’em now, and we are either going to house break ’em or yoke ’em up to a gentle Republican and bring ’em in. Kansas lays to our north, and there she lays, and you can never tell what she is laying for. It’s got more good newspapers and less people that can read ’em than almost any place. They can read the politics, but they never was taught to read anything else cause there wasent nothing else in Kansas.
Old Missouri? Some mighty poor farms but mighty good schools. You can learn something, but you can’t raise much. Boonville, (Kemper Military Academy) one of the finest Military schools anywhere. I was two years there, one year in the guard house, and the other in the fourth reader. One was about as bad as the other. Great old educator there, T. A. Johnston.3 Famous and deservedly so. Neosho, Mo? The school I went to there has blown up, and I did all I could while there to assist it in doing so. Lots of politics in Missouri. Wherever you find poor soil you will always find politics. When you see you ain’t going to raise anything, you just sit down at the end of the row and cuss the party in power. There is a lot of fertile ground in that historical old state too, but it’s from the limestone ridges where the long winded old congressmen come from.
Arkansaw’ scenery, vacation land, fertility, beautiful women. I traded a wagon bed full of hickory nuts for one of the prettiest ones in the state at Rogers, Ark., twenty four years ago. I expect with the depression on like it is, a gunnysack full would get you one now. But not as good one as I got. Arkansaw has got a lot of gallantry mixed in with their good sense too. They got the only bonifide lady senatoress in captivity. She is a conscientious sensible little woman; Hattie Caraway, and Wall Street don’t know her address.4
Was you ever down in Long Valley?5 There is a wonderful, beautiful, poetical valley along the length of our great Mississippi River. Cities, beautiful prosperous ones, hanging moss from century old trees. Charming and delightful people in this valley. It’s not called Long Valley on any of your maps, it’s labelled Lousiana. But “Long Valley” is a much more beautiful name and every time election rolls around, the people signify the fact by writing “Long” from the top to the bottom of their ticket. You would love “Long Valley.” It’s a paradise. Some famous old poem was laid there among its people.6 I don’t just remember whether it was Ivanhoe or Gunga Din but it was a good one. Oh I wish I had time to go over all those old states. I been in all of ’em. I love ’em. Each as I said has got something. Something different. Look at Mississippi, with Pat Harrison and the state sales tax.7 Not a senator. He is an institution. But I’ll get into the others later.
1James Edward “Jim” Ferguson, Democratic governor of Texas from 1915 until his impeachment and removal from office in 1917 for misappropriation of state funds and other misdeed. He remained an important figure in Texas politics, strongly influencing the gubernatorial administrations of his wife, Ma Ferguson (see WA 519:N 2).
2For Alfalfa Bill Murray see WA 442:N 1.
3For Thomas A. Johnston see WA 516:N 4.
4Hattie Wyatt Caraway, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1933 to 1945; widow of Senator Thaddeus H. Caraway (see WA 465:N 3).
5The Long family, including Huey P. Long, dominated Louisiana politics for several decades.
6Rogers was probably referring to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s narrative poem “Evangeline,” which chronicles the lives of French-speaking inhabitants of early Louisiana.
7For Pat Harrison see WA 465:N 2.
SERMON TO A PREACHER BY
A preacher named Rev. Grant, of Simpson Methodist Church, of Minneapolis, Minn., wrote me, “I am speaking on you and your life’s pholosophy at a Sunday evening vesper service, in our great Church of two thousand members.1 Is there any word of greeting? I would appreciate it.
JUST A “COMEDIAN”
Yours, A. Raymond Grant, Pastor.”Well the same night I answered his letter I had to write my weekly Sunday article. So I couldent see why one “greeting” or “alabi” wouldent do for both. He had been mighty nice and I appreciated it. So I got strung out and in my long winded way, I sounded like a preacher without a stop signal. I wrote:
“Dear Rev. Grant: I got your letter saying you was ‘speaking on me,’ but you dident say why? There is an awful lot of different ways to speak on me, and all of ’em be pretty near true at that.
My life has got more angles than a cat. You may be one of these Republicans, (as most of the Ministers have gone into politics). You may be one that blamed me for electing Mr. Roosevelt, or you might be one of those Democrats who blamed me for electing Mr. Hoover four years ago.
This is kinder the public season to jump on me if anything has gone wrong, everything from a scarcity of skunk hides in the Northwest to a predominating amount of girl babies in Pennsylvania. You see, Rev. Grant, I think I am as independent as any one writing. I have as many Republican as Democratic papers, as many readers that can’t read as can. The editorial policies of these great dailies mean nothing to me, I am going to call ’em like I see ’em.
I think I have complimented many a worthy thing in my time, and I have taken a shot at a lot of “hooey,” I am not against it mind you, as it just seems that it takes so much of it in every business. And they are all my friends, I am proud of the fact there is not a human being that I have got it in for. I never met a man I dident like.
I got no “Philosophy.” I don’t even know what the word means. The Fourth Reader, (McGuffy’s) is as far as I ever got in schools.2 I am not bragging on it, I am thoroughly ashamed of it for I had every opportunity. Everything I have done has been by luck, no move was premeditated. I just stumbled from one thing to another. I might have been down. I dident know at the time, and I don’t know yet, for I don’t know what “Up” is. I may be lower than I ever was, I don’t know. I may be making the wrong use of any little talent (if any) that I accidentally have. I don’t know.
I was raised predominately a Methodist, but I have traveled so much, mixed with so many people in all parts of the world, I don’t know now just what I am. I know I have never been a non-be-liever. But I can honestly tell you that I don’t think that any one religion is the religion.
If I am broadminded in any way (and I hope I am in many) but I do know that I am broadminded in a religious way. Which way you serve your God will never get one word of argument or condemnation out of me. There has been times when I wished there had been as much real religion among some of our creeds as there has been vanity, but that’s not in any way a criticism.
I feel mighty proud that you will discuss me in your tebernacle. The joke is more on you than on me. I thought the only time I would ever make the pulpit as a conversational subject was when I finished, and then only by one minister who’s charges for kind words would be deducted from the estate.
I feel like I did the other day when they told me I was in the British “Who’s Who.” There was no way I could sue ’em or make ’em retract, and there is no way to keep you from gabbing around about anything you like. I heard a fellow preach one time on Jesse James, the outlaw, and I left the Church wanting to hold up everything and everybody I run into.
So if you are such a persuasive preacher, you are liable to turn out a flock of Swedish comedians up around Minneapolis. Don’t make the life too rosy, for with the politicians horning in, our comedian business is overcrowded as it is. I preached one time in a church in Cleveland, Ohio. But the collection dident warrant me carrying it on as a steady profession. Preaching should not only be done by a preacher, but by a man like Gandi, who can do fasting when necessary. Minneapolis has always been one of my pet cities, they have been good to me on every occasion I was ever there. They have not only laughed at me, but paid to laugh at me.
Love to all your congregation, including the ones that are not paid up, it’s just hard times, they mean well, Parson. They got just as much religion as the paid up ones, so you will just have to trust ’em, and give ’em a little preaching “on time.”
You see preaching is one of the few things that folks have never been able to dole out exactly what it’s worth anyhow. Some preachers ought to pay admission to get into the church themselves, but as rule preachers do a mighty good job and are underpaid.
But there is a lot of dignity about the clerical (newspaper) profession that you would have to work for years for in any other line. But you are sympathetic, useful, instructive, and the most worthwhile profession ever invented.
I wish your church a happy and charitable ’33, or any other years. No use being stingy in our wishes. Pick out as many years as you want and I will wish you good luck with all of ’em.
Yours, Will.1Alsie Raymond Grant, pastor of Simpson Methodist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, from 1931 to 1933; Methodist bishop at Portland, Oregon, from 1952 until his death in1967.
2For William H. McGuffey see WA 475:N 6.
FOOTBALL, BRALE, AND POLITICSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I see here and there. Well sir, last week I went out to our “Rose Bowl” to see a great football game. Our Rose Bowl is down in a rocky hollow; there is not a rose in a mile of it, but they do replace their roses with some mighty finely developed football players.
Pittsburgh come out here twice before and run second and it naturally was a hard blow to the boys to get such a beating again but say they dident get near that bad beating; they made a great showing. They were as game a bunch of boys as you ever saw. They had two ends that were in the Southern California territory so much that Coach Howard Jones1 wanted to put California Sweaters on 'em.
Then they had a halfback named Heller, that was really that.2 But they just happened to come on a bad year. This guy named Howard Jones out here can coach. He could take me for three weeks and have me throwing Red Grange for a loss.3 And then California had a great team. A lot of the things we brag on out here is the hooey, but I want to tell you that this football team of U.S.C. is a pip. Pasadena put on their marvelous parade in the morning. They always do a great job of it.
Now, that’s enough about California, what about the rest of the Country? That fellow Hiram Johnson, our senator from out here, made a great speech in the Senate on the war debts a few days ago.4 Now there is a fellow that has always had the dope on a lot of our international affairs.
Hoover has always had an international learning, his life, his work, have always been of a European angle. Well Johnson seems to have always known that, and he has always had a bunch of facts to bring out at various times that just showed how the ball was rolling. And right in the middle of the argument up pops Borah, and brings out something that a lot had heard all the time, that was that there was some kind of an understanding between Lavalle and us.5 But what does most of us know about those debts? You could argue ’em till they are paid and you wouldent get it straightened out. There never was a debt that wasent at some time or another missunderstood. Every debt, be it personal, or any other kind always winds up in one side feeling they got the worst of it. So debts are sorter like “Why are you a Democrat?”, or “What ever induced you to be a Republican?” So we will leave the debts to those that can really settle ’em.
Say, by the way, I got the finest letter tonight. It was from a blind girl, and she sent me one of my Sunday articles and it was all written out in Braille. She said the article had impressed her and she wanted it handed around in her own language. Well, by golly, I sure did appreciate that.
She sent me also the alphabet. It has all the dots, (peruf-u-u) I can’t speel the thing. I mean it had the dots punched pretty near through with something, and it leaves a raised part that they can feel of with their sensi- tive fingers. And just read it right off.
I must write to my friend Helen Keller about this article being all pushed through like that.6 You know I don’t know how long that system of writing has been out. It may have been before the Nobel Prize was given for outstanding achievement, but Braille or whoever she was sure should have had that prize.7 It undoubtedly stands out as the greatest benefit to a handicapped people. Gosh, think of helping the world like that.
I prize it very highly. It was translated by Nellie Conger of Coshocton, Ohio, and says: “Presented to Will Rogers, the man who always writes the truth as he sees it.” I wish I had time to try to learn to read that. I can imagine nothing more fascinating. But I never have had time to learn to read our other kind for the ones with sight.
Still getting straggling X-mas cards, mostly sent out I think by folks that found they had a few left over. But they were mighty welcome I tell you. Just on first thought a X-mas card don’t mean much, but the older you get the more you like to open ’em and know that someone has remembered you.
Just got a beautiful pamphlet of the “Big Bend” Country down in Texas on the border, between El Paso and San Antonio. I doubt if America holds a more interesting place, and for you guys that like to hunt, my goodness, there is your star spot.
You talk about some wild old country. Well, that is about the wildest of the wild we got left, outside of the cities. Old Fort Davis must be one of the greatest of our old time forts. And smuggling back and forth across that line, why there is more danger, excitement and romance there than anywhere.
Anywhere around where there is some Mexicans mixed up in it always interested me. I think I like a Mexican because he can rope, or lasso as you would call it. They are the best in the world. We beat ’em in a contest at one thing. But in the brush or out in the open on all kinds of roping, they are the daddy’s.
Well, I guess Mr Hoover is not going to take my advice and resign. He has had worse advice than that during his term. I talked the other day here at the ranch about that very thing with Mr McAdoo, and Mr George Creel.8 Mr Creel is one of our foremost writers, he was ahead of all the writers of ours during the war. He had complete charge. He has a lot of humor in his stuff along with his vast sums of knowledge.
He and Mr McAdoo both admitted that it would have been a great thing to have done and would have put the Democrats in the hole, but there is just something about that being President, or even trying to be President, that once it’s in your system it never gets out till you are carried out. But I still claim it would have made him a bigger man. He hasent got a chance with this bunch in there now. He is too conscientious, hard-working a man to have to put up with two more months of this. He is just like being in the pest house, those Senate and House hyenas won’t even bring him food and water.
1For Howard H. Jones see WA 433:N 5.
2Warren Heller, running back for the University of Pittsburgh football team from 1930 to 1932; All-America player in 1932.
3Harold Edward “Red” Grange, star football halfback at the University of Illinois from 1922 to 1925. Grange later played professional football, notably with the Chicago bears from 1926 1934.
4Hiram Warren Johnson, United States senator from California from 1917 until his death in 1945. Johnson belonged to the progressive wing of the Republican party.
5For Pierre Laval see WA 463:N 1.
6Helen Adams Keller, famous American author and lecturer, blind from the age of two. She lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, raising funds for the training of blind and promoting other social causes.
7Louis Braille, nineteenth century French musician and teacher of the blind. Baille devised a raised-point system of writing for sight-impaired persons.
8For William G. McAdoo see WA 494:N 5. George Edward Creel, American journalist, government administrator, politician, and author. During World I, Creel headed the Committee on Public Information, the federal government’s office of wartime propaganda.
DID COOLIDGE KNOW?Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Well we just can’t hardly get over the shock of the death of Mr. Coolidge.1 I had a great admiration for Mr. Coolidge, and as for Mrs. Coolidge I just thought she was about the finest woman in public life.2 They were mighty nice to me. Right after I had written all those alleged jokes from Europe, “Letters of a self made diplomat to his President,” why when I got to New York he invited me down to spend the week end at the White House. Well that was the biggest thing for me, for I had never been there, and I don’t mind telling you that with all my jokes, I have a great reverence for our Presidents, and our White House.
Well the jokes I told about that trip were my biggest laugh producers anytime I wanted to tell them, but they were not disrespectful, they were touching on the little homely things that made people like Mr. Coolidge.
I have had many Republican politicians tell me, “Will, you are one of Mr. Coolidge’s best boosters.” Well I did like him. I could get a laugh out of almost all the little things he said, but at the same time they were so wise. He could put more in a line than any public man could in a whole speech.
I have visited them at the “Beeches,” the home he died in. He had gone to New York that day, but I had a fine visit with Mrs. Coolidge. She showed me over the place. It was very homey and lovely. She just sat and chatted like your next door neighbor.
I was down to his law office, met his law partner, Mr. Hemingway.3 He told me many stories of Mr. Coolidge. They all in the office had great affection for him. He dident take any active part in the law practice, but he always came to the office and transacted his private business. I know his son, John, who is an awfully fine young man, and his wife is a lovely girl.4
Here is a thing do you reckon Mr. Coolidge worried over in late years? Now he could see further than any of these politicians. Things were going so fast and everybody was so cuckoo during his term in office, that lots of them just couldent possibly see how it could ever do otherwise than go up. Now Mr. Coolidge dident think that. He knew that it couldent. He knew that we couldent just keep running stocks and everything else up and up and them paying no dividends in comparison to the price. His whole fundamental training was against all that inflation. Now there was times when he casually in a speech did give some warning, but he really never did come right out and say, “Hold on there, this thing can’t go on! You people are crazy. This thing has got to bust.”
But how could he have said or done that? What would have been the effect? Everybody would have said, “Ha, what’s the idea of butting into our prosperity? Here we are going good, and you our President, try to crab it. Let us alone, we know our business.”
There is a thousand things we would have said to him or about him. He would have come in for a raft of criticism. The Republican party, the party of big business, would have done their best to have stopped him, for they couldn’t see it like he did, and they never could have understood until a year after.
Later in his own heart did Calvin Coolidge ever wish that he had preached it from the housetops regardless of what big business, his party, or what anybody would have said?
Now here is another thing, too, in Mr. Coolidge’s favor in not doing it. He no doubt ever dreamed of the magnitude of this depression. That is, he knew the thing had to bust, but he didn’t think it would bust so big, or be such a permanent bust. Had he known of the tremendous extent of it, I’ll bet he would have defied hell and damnation and told and warned the people about it. Now in these after years as he saw the thing overwhelm everybody, he naturally thought back to those hectic days when as President the country was paying a dollar down on everything on earth.
But all this is what they call in baseball a “second guess.” It’s easy to see now what might have helped lighten or prolong the shock, but put yourself in his place and I guess 99 out of 100 would have done as he did.
Now on the other hand in saying he saw the thing coming, might be doing him an injustice. He might not. He may not have known any more about it than all our other prominent men. But we always felt he was two jumps ahead of any of them on think ahead. Now if he did know that the fire was going to break out and had he warned and warned, and shouted and shouted, he would perhaps have been impeached, but he would have gone down as “The world’s smartest man.”
But predicting, or no predicting, the thing was coming anyhow. But no one knows what passed through that wise head of his as he sat for three years on that porch up there and just thought.
1Coolidge died of a heart attack on January 5, 1933, at the age of sixty.
2For Grace Coolidge see WA 496:N 3.
3Ralph W. Hemenway, Massachusetts attorney; law partner of Calvin Coolidge at Northampton, Massachusetts.
4John C. Coolidge, son of President Coolidge, was married to the former Florence Trumbull, daughter of a former governor of Connecticut.
WASHINGTON IS GETTING
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. That Huey Long
episode in our history like to took up as much of our political historical
space as anything George Washington did. Huey made the boys a few preliminary remarks that lasted well into the latter part of January. Huey had it in for Carter Glass.1
Now if you know Carter Glass, and I have had that privalege for several years, he is a very high class, rather of the old school southern gentleman, but in addition to being a gentleman he has a tremendous amount of ability. Along banking and financial lines he is just about the most able man in either party in Washington. When they get all through argueing over “Who is the father of the Federal Reserve Act” why they will really find the sire to be none other than Carter Glass. Now eveidentally he had a very sound banking bill. Certainly knows what one should be. Then right in the midst of it to hear somebody crashing right through the Louisiana cane breaks with an arm load of adjectives that it would take a good strong voiced man a month to dispose of. Why naturally that was dumbfounding to the sensibilities of a man of the Carter Glass type.
But you can’t blame Huey near as much as you can blame the system that allows a prolonged thing like that. It’s not allowed in the House of Representatives, so I was a hoping that Huey might be the means of getting a rule like that changed.
I’ll bet you another one or two of those “Filibusters” break out before this session is over. This Huey Long spree of consanants and vowels that he excelled in, why it’s not the first one in the Senate by any means. Somebody is always trying to talk a bill to death in there. But Huey killed the bill and wounded the Senate.
Well poor Mr Hoover, they passed the Phillipine Freedom over his head. He sends suggestions up to the law makers, (no doubt some of them splendid) but they don’t pay any more attention to it than they do an add over the radio.
It’s a very humiliating position for a fine man like a president of our U. S. to be in. Here he is President but he “ain’t.” Roosevelt is President but he “can’t” yet. Which brings me right back to my pet belief, and that is that I’ll bet you if Mr Hoover had it to do over again he would have resigned after election and dumped the thing right into the hands the people voted to handle it. It would have been a grand exit. He would have gone out with more sympathy, and incidentally put the Democrats in a hole. All they could have done was say, “Well we was going to save the country but you brought it on us so quick that we havent quite got our minds made up how to do it yet.”
You see if the President had done that, why naturally his example would have had to be followed by enough other lame ducks that this session would have been Democratic overwhelmingly. Then you wouldent have to wait till after March fourth for a new session to be called, and then see what they will do. We would have known by now.
But that’s all old time stuff. I guess he knew what he was doing better than some comedian. But these last four weeks is going to be the hardest.
I got a nice letter from Pat Hurley the other day.2 Hadent heard from Pat since the election, and was mighty glad to get the letter. And some of the “local “ news. Chances are Pat will stay in Washington. He has lots of financial interests there, and then he will want to be where he can make faces at the Democrats. It may be more profitable and more satisfying to belong to the party that’s in, but it’s certainly more amusing to belong to the party that’s out. Pat’s likable, and humorous, and can laugh now, where he couldent before.
I hear that Amon G. Carter, of Ft Worth Texas, owner of the biggest newspaper in the Southwest, will take Hurley’s place in the cabinet.3 Carter, from all I can gather from the “inside” will be the man that will draw that splended cabinet plum. Amon will make ’em a mighty fine man. He is mighty well liked by all the Democrats, and fifty percent of the Republicans. (Well I will say a dozen anyway.) He would handle our army mighty well in peace, and put us on a mighty pretty war if the occasion arose. So while all the other cabinet positions are more or less up in the air from what we can hear, why it’s practically cinched that Carter will succeed Hurley, who by the way is a very good friend of his.
Carter has practically retired from active management of his paper, but sometimes has it sent to New York or Washington to read. He is by far Texas’ most public spirited man. So with Garner daily inquiring as to the health of our President, and Carter at the head of our military hordes, why Texas will have received more than her share of the spoils of the late political war. All his old friends in Texas, (of which I almost consider myself a native of), we all hope this new honor will not make him break an old custom of years, and that was to always be in the Capitol, Austin, on all Furgeson innaugarations.4 This Carter cabinet news hasent been generally broadcasted, but those who know, say it’s “in the bag.”
Well it’s about time to write something about the debts again and get everybody all stirred up. I like to throw ’em a little piece of meat ever once in awhile and just sit back and hear ’em growl. We got Americans that take the debts as serious as a postmaster did the last election. I will write a little “Gag” in a day or two and stir ’em up again. Yours. Will.
1Carter Glass, Democratic United States senator from Virginia from 1920 until his death in 1946; widely recognized as a financial expert. Glass and Long clashed repeatedly in early 1933 over a Glass-sponsored banking bill which came up for debate in the Senate in early January. The Louisiana Democrat led a filibuster that delayed the bill for sixteen days.
2For Pat Hurley see WA 440:N 9.
3For Amon G. Carter see WA 437:N 2.
4For Ma Ferguson see WA 519:N 2; for Jim Ferguson see WA 523:N 1.
WHERE’S THAT NEW DEAL?Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. The lame duck congress has been putting us on a mighty inspiring example of just how honery a congress can be, if they really make up their minds to be honery. We just got about four more weeks of show and then these boys go into what some writer has termed oblivion. Oblivion is a oneway ticket town.
But the minute these guys get out of there here will come another bunch, and take their places. Now whether the new bunch is better than the old bunch is just kinder like cutting off a bunch of sheep as they run through the gate, stopping ’em because they don’t look so good, then opening up the gate and try out the other half of ’em to see this shearing anyhow. We had some old big horned babies that had been in that Senate corrall so long that their horns were getting kinder twisted, but some likable old animals at that.
Well we are all getting ready for the new deal. We don’t know what kind of hand we will get, but we want it even if it’s just duces. It will at least get us out of our expectant mood. Democrats been doing a lot of stirring around since they got promised work. Couple of weeks ago bunch of ’em went down to Muscle Shoals dam to figure out what they could irrigate, or imitate, or nitrate, or fertilate with it. That dam was built when it looked like the war, like depression, was going to run forever. We had an awful lot of things figured out to do with a big dam if we had a war, but we can’t think of a thing to do with it only have another war.
Well Congress is working on that, too. I been down to that dam, I was one of the first to inspect it. I could have told ’em about it without ’em going down. Dams are pretty much alike. They all work on about the same principal. You stop up the creek or river at some point, then the water generally backs up away from it, and how far it backs up denotes approximately how much the taxpayers paid to keep it backed up.
This Mussell Shoals is an awful pretty dam. It’s not like the Boulder dam. Mussell Shoals is a long dam, very long, over a very wide river. Boulder is over a very steep river. It’s in the deepest narrow canyon you ever saw. Mussell Shoals dam is laying down, and Boulder dam is standing up on end, but Mussell Shoals has got the most machinery, and a mighty fine little city by there named Florence.
Both dams were really made for fertilizer purposes, Mussell Shoals to make nitrates fertilizer and Boulder to make conversational fertilizer for the Los Angeles real estaters if we can ever get our heads up from behind these mortgages. Every time the Government starts to run it to make something at Mussell Shoals, why the politicians from the water power States raise up and howl, “Don’t put the government in the power business!”
They are always wanting the Government to spend the taxpayers’ money to build something, then don’t want ’em to run it. Why can’t the government run it, or anything else they have built? They run the Post Offices and deliver a letter from the North to the South Pole for 3 cents.
Well anyhow, the Democrats and Senator Norris as a chaperone went down to see if the water was really there, and just see what we could make out of it, if we turned it loose.1 Too bad it’s not closer to Washington. We could use it for our Presidents to fish in.
This dam business is getting to be quite a racket anyhow, every congressman if he’s got a little stream running through his client’s pasture wants to get an appropriation to dam it up with a federal appropriation, generally under a racket called flood control.
If the politicians have their way there won’t be a foot of water in this country that’s not standing above a dam. We are sure getting sucked into a lot of things for the sole benefit of a local community, to be paid for by everybody. Just think of an old bird owning a farm away out in the country in most any out of the way place, no paved road, no dam, no rural delivery, yet through his taxes he is paying for every dam, every road, and every other dam thing that he is not using. But the Democrats are going to do something about it. Maby build some more dams and roads.
Huey has been mighty quiet here lately. Kinder resting up for the big show that will open some time after March. That will be held in the nature of a Democratic reunion. There will be scattering Republicans in there, but they will remain scattered. February is going to be a kind of standstill month from a geographical, mineral and political aspect. There will be slight rains but no heavy damage done till March. Everybody is thinking up things to do and say for the new Congress. Some of the members are going so far as to get a new shirt for it. Well the people can’t attend. They havent got a shirt.
1For George W. Norris see WA 429:N 1
A GREAT PILOT GOES HOMEI made a fast trip in an aeroplane the other day. That is 205 miles an hour in a commercial plane, regular passenger run. Just pay your fare and get in. This was the Varney line on the coast. But it made me think of trips I had made in almost the same type of plane. Lockhead with the legs pulled up, that I used to make trips in. That was the famous plane owned by Hal Roach the movie producer that makes you laugh in the theatre after some of our long pictures have either made you cry or cuss.1
But making this last trip my thoughts naturally went to Captain Jimmy Dickinson, and it’s of him I want to talk about.2 One of the finest pilots, one of the finest men that it has ever been my fortune to meet and know. Here he was flying all around back and forth across the U. S. in a single day. Carrying Mr Roach or his business associates on the quickest business trips ever made in the world. He made the greatest flight to and across South America that has been made in that country. Every pilot on the commercial lines down there told me so. And today he is buried in the heart of Africa, at Victoria Falls, Africa’s Niagra.
He was in that same plane of Mr Roache’s, piloting Mr Edmund Loew, son of Marcus Loew of the great Loew circuit of movie theatres.3 He and a friend were making a tour of the world to see their various theatres. They had shipped the plane to Australia, then flew all over Australia, then flew it all the way from there to China, then from China across India, Messopotamia, Persia, to Cario, then the whole length of Africa, and were on their way back into Europe, then home. So you see they were on the very home stretch. Bad field, and the engine stalled on the take off. Up only a little ways, no chance, crash, other two safe, he went. Why, none of us know.
Judged by every moral and manly standard that anyone who knew him could judge him, fate dident give him a square deal. But maybe fate don’t run those things. Maby somebody sees somebody they need and they just reach out and get ’em. Well if our Supreme Being needed a real man, He used splendid judgement in His selection. He will be a worthy addition to that company, no matter how select it may be. They will be proud of Jimmy. He was an army flier, he was a graduate of Northwestern, Captain of their great swimming team, schoolmaster there with a wonderful little girl that become his wife. Two children, one he was rushing home to be there at its birth.
Used to always fly over his house coming in from a trip, dip down and let her know he was home again. He lived near the field, and she would hike for the car, and hike for the field. The love and devotion between them was beautiful. He flew Mr Roach, Mr Eric Pedley the international polo player and myself to Mexico one time.4 Every day no matter where I was I would file my telegram to the newspaper syndicate, he would say well I got to file mine too. His was to his wife. A great companion on a trip. And what confidence he inspired in his passengers!
He was the only pilot that Mrs Rogers ever made a long trip with. He flew us out to see our son at Roswell, New Mexico. Flew over there by lunch time.
Mrs Roach and her friends who are not aviation enthusiasts at all, but would go to Siberia with Captain Dickinson. He is the only pilot that I know of that ever fooled a nation. Roach and Lowe flew to Santiago, Chili with him in four or five days, some maricilous time, to fly the Andes the next morning to Buenos Aires. They left earlier than they had expected. Well it’s a military field, and they dident properly check out, or some technicality, (maby it was the starting of technocracy) but anyhow they just took off. The Andes to Jimmy was just a high hedge fence, and he took it in stride. He made Buenos Aires for breakfast. But Chili commenced getting hot, all kinds of stories, two movie magnates had taken a lot of gold out of the country, and all kinds of yarns.
Well they then went on up the coast of Brazil to Rio Janerio. Now I made that trip around and on up the East coast of South America from Rio Janerio, clear up to Cuba and Miami, but it must be done in a sea plane or amphibian. Theirs being a land plane solely, they had to come back by the West coast like they had gone down, so Chili figured they had ’em, because they had to come back through there, but they figured without Captain Dickinson. He looked on the map and saw that right straight west of them was Peru, but about three thousand miles away. Well he finds one landing field away out in there just north of Paraguay, at a place called Carambauy, which had only been approached from the south and not from where he was. So Roach said, “Let her go Jimmy! Anything you say! If you want to blaze a trail across Brazil in a single motored ship, O.K. Brazil we are crossing you.”
And he did, Roach says it was the greatest flight he ever saw, and those American pilots on the regular runs down there say it was a masterpiece of navigating, and judgement. So he hit the Pacific Ocean north of Chili, and saved some outlandish fine.
If you dropped down in those jungles there was no hitch hiking to town. They after wards got it straightened up with Chili. It was all a missunderstanding. But that trip of Jimmy’s was no missunderstanding, that was a real fact. Just before he started on this last trip he come up to my house to talk about a long hop of about nine thousand miles that I had just made a few months before, from Singapore, India to Cairo, Egypt. There is just one line across there like a western trail for the early 49’ers.
You see aeroplanes have kinder got to keep on a route to get the fields and the gas. Well I told him all I could remember about it, which wasent much for I slept most of the time. We was about nine days making it in a big three-motored Fokker on the Holland Dutch line. I guess he made it in about three. I told him to look out for sacred cows on the field at Calcutta. We like to hit one. If I had ever been able to own my own plane I wanted to steal him from Hal for my pilot.
Owing to various difficulties there was no way of getting the body home for burial, so one of America’s finest men, member of that new and adventerous calling, lies buried with the great Victoria Falls as his headstone. The next long trip I make is going to be that trip from Europe to Capetown, the whole length of Africa, and I am going to those falls, but not to see the falls.
1For Hal E. Roach see WA 464:N 1.
2For Jimmy Dickson see WA 464:N 2.
3Author Marcus Loew, American motion picture producer and president and chairman of the board of Loew’s, Inc., the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Loew escaped serious injury in the plane crash in Africa. Marcus Loew, Austrian-born American theater owner and motion picture producer: cofounder and controller of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corporation; father of Arthur M. Loew died in 1927.
4For Eric Pedley see WA 464:N 1.
A CLAIM FOR CHARITYAll I know is just what I read in the papers. Get all kinds of literature about everything under the sun. If there is a man in this country that hasent had a pamphlet printed giving his views on how to solve the depression, it’s because there is no more paper to print ’em on. Every stock selling scheme at cut rates. Then ads for all the things under Heaven and earth, but among ’em sometimes is worth while literature.
Here is one before me now that just come in the mail. It’s a beautiful illustrated booklet of a cruise in the West Indies Islands, and it’s on one of the most wonderful boats a float, the Belengenland, built especially for tropical comfort. Now that got my attention, for I never was on a pleasure cruise. I crossed and uncrossed about all the oceans we got, but it’s always been because I wanted to get somewhere. It never was just really for relaxation and pleasure.
But wait a minute as my good friend Al Jolson says, “You ain’t heard nothing yet.”1 This is a special cruise not only for people who can afford it, but its profit is for a great cause. Well that got my interest still more. I had never heard of anyone thinking up the marvelous idea of hiring a boat and putting on a cruise and giving the profits to some worthy charity, had you? Well anyhow I hadent. The whole scheme of the thing struck me as being unique and extraorinary.
Well what was the charity that would risk such a collosal undertaking, for it takes money to charter a real boat, and when you charter a floating castle, athletic field, swimming pool, church and night club, why brother you have done yourself some chartering. Well, it’s the Frontier Nursing Service. Never heard of it? Well I am practically world famous for my ignorance. But I certainly do know something about the Frontier Nursing Service, I was Nursed on the Frontier, but it was before they had any service. We was just born and raised Ad. Lib, our poor mothers pulled through away out there, just through good fortune. But somebody realizing the hardships of what pioneer women had to undergo in child birth without benefit of anything that even looked like a white apron why this party conceived the idea of organizing a nursing service that would touch the pioneer woman. You will rise right up in meeting and say, yes, but it’s fifty years too late for this, there is no pioneer women to nurse.
Yeah. Well you follow these nurses on a dark night with them sitting not on the seat of a Ford or at the wheel of a Chevrolet. But all that nurse has got under her is a mule, and there ain’t a stretch of pavement between her and Lexington, Kentucky, for this is in the mountains of Kentucky that I am alluding too. All our lives we have read of the feuds and the moonshiners back in those mountains. It’s the last stand of primitative and hundred per cent Americanism, (leaving out us Injuns, which of course they always do. Left ’ out so long till they are perpetually out.) But these are the real stock of the early emigration to America. A foreigner to them is a man that come into their country after 1750. He is what they refer to as a Johnny Newcomer.
Well we have all read of those old boys that could take an old long barrell brindle rifle and shoot the hat off a revenue man almost as far away as he should be shot at. But no thought has ever been given to young of the specie. Where was any doctors? A Nurse was as foreign to ’em as a French payment.
Well then this party conceived the idea of these nurses to go away into the mountains and relieve the suffering and death rate of these pioneer women. Their home is as primitive from birth to death as any covered wagon ever invented. There is not hundreds of companions accompaying them. They are born alone, live alone, die alone.
I had just read a book, which you all should read called “Nurses on Horseback,” by Earnest Poole, it’s of Mary Breckenridge, a member of one of the old families of not only a state but our country.2 Mary, the name alone means something don’t it? Always helping someone. My mother was named Mary, my only daughter is named Mary, and I hope she does some good for someone.3
Well they have these Nurses that go in all hours of the day or night to lonely Mountain cabins and assist that greatest of all operation, our coming into the world. Now they are having this cruise it lasts 15 days, with a minimum rate of 177 apiece.
My goodness, you can’t stay home in a good Hotel for that price, or even stay home. And a trip through the West Indies! I have flown over them by plane, and they looked so pretty that if I had had a parachute I would have jumped out and spent a few hours or days. Cruises are one thing that depression has helped, for they are so reasonable they are a money saver. I would like to be on this particular cruise for they will be a great bunch, congenial people with the added satisfaction that they are going to perhaps assist in the saving of a young life, maby another Lincoln. He was born amidst just such surroundings. They said February 25, for 15 days. You will see Spanish colonies, Dutch, French, British, and may see some of our Marines prowling around somewhere.
1Al Jolson, Russian-born American minstrel, vaudevillian, theatrical performer, motion picture actor, and radio star. His Film work began with the Jazz Singer in 1927, the first major film with sound.
2Ernest Poole, American author and newspaper correspondent; awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for the novel His Family. Mary Breckenridge, a nurse and a member of a prominent Southern family, was the subject of Poole’s Nurses on Horseback.
3Mary America Schrimsher Rogers, mother of Will Rogers.
WHO CAN BEAT LINCOLN
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, now just what has
been agitating the natives here lately in the way of printed matter? Mr
Hoover’s speech couple of weeks ago is still fresh in the minds and editorials of our press, but no man should ever make a speech after someone at the same dinner has read or recited, (this woman did a kind of a cross between the two) Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. You see it was Lincoln’s birthday and the Republicans in New York were celebrating.
If it hadent been for Lincoln the Republicans in N. Y. would sure be short of a cause for celebrating. Well preceeding Mr Hoover’s speech some woman read Lincoln’s speech. It’s only about three hundred words long, and the plainest words. There’s not a child or even a comedian that can’t understand it. Well Mr Hoover got flowery, all long words. Honest Lincoln just as well not made his speech as far as it has had any effect on other speakers. He left it as an example, but no one ever followed it. You know this radio gives you a pretty good line on just how things go over. Now the President got a tremendous reception at all references to him by the preceeding speakers, and a great hand when he arose to speak, but when he got into his speech, which was on affairs as they pertain to us, why not a ripple did he get.
I just don’t believe one tenth of those people knew what he was talking about. You take an audience like he would draw, all of rich New York Republicans, and I bet you outside a few of the men present they dident get him at all. When he got into Gold Standard and finances, why those women dident care a thing about it as long as they already had on the sable coat, and dident have to worry about where it was to come from. The President said things in his speech that I know they would have applauded if they had known what they were.
I have played to audiances all over this country, cities, towns, and right on the bald prairie, and lots of swell charity affairs in New York, and if you talk about international or political affairs, a fashionable New York audience is the dumbest one you can assemble anywhere in this country. Small town people will make a sucker out of ’em for reading and keeping up with the news. I will never forget one time I went over to Sherry’s, a fashionable restaurant, after the Follies show one night to play a charity affair for one of the Vanderbilt ladies, and I thought I had some good material at the time. The League of Nations was in the heighth of its argument, Ireland and England was fussing, dissarmament was a headline topic. William Randolph Hearst was sitting with a party of friends at one of the tables.1 Well he had heard these same little jokes of mine over at the Follies Show, and I breezed out there rather cocky thinking I had some sure fire material. Well you never saw jokes hit a ball room floor and slide off like those did. Those old dowagers, and those young debutantes had no more read a paper than I had Shakespeare. Mr. Hearst was dying laughing, but not at the jokes. He was laughing at me out there dying. He had heard these get big laughs with an out of town audience at the Follies, and he got a kick out of ’em laying an egg there with that bunch.
So I can appreciate what Mr. Hoover was up against. They dident know who was on or off the gold. They knew they were on velvet was all. Then two nights later after that fiasco one time I went to sing and did a show for them and I never had as well read audience in my life. They dident muff a gag. Ever since then I have always felt we had the wrong bunch in there. They have papers and magazines in there and read all the time.
Talking about Mr Lincoln and his speech that day at Gettysburg, he was not what is always humorously referred to as the “Principal Speaker.” And this little speech of Lincoln’s dident go over so big, but this other old man that got up there and raved for an hour, they thought he was great. Now nobody knows his name or a word he said. He just talked himself right into oblivion. They say Lincoln wrote his going up on the train in a day coach, on the back of an envelope. Every speaker that goes to commerate something or other should be locked up in a day coach and if he comes out with over three hundred words then he should be put in a cattle car and make it to the stock. It’s funny how they use these famous men of ours birthdays to not pay tribute to his memory, but put over some party hooey. That the man in the grave if, he could hear it, would get up and denounce the whole affair. It’s “Lincoln and the great Republican party, and Jefferson and the great Democratic Party.” Neither man would know his party if he come back today, and neither one would admit it if he did know ’em, so Mr Lincoln you and Mr Jefferson have got a lot to answer for.
1For William Randolph Hearst see WA 461:N 1.
OVER THE MODERN
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I hear see or imagine. Here a week or so ago I attended my first thing called symposium. I dident know if it was going to be a circus, burlesque show, or a preaching. Well it was all three.
It seems that this symposium is a racket. It’s carried on by colleges mostly. It’s where some given number of men talk on some subject. They get it discussed from different angles. I guess that’s about what they are that’s what this one was anyhow.
I went because my friend Will Durant was going to be one of the symposers.1 He was to talk on the hopes and fears of Russia. Chester Rowell is the editor of the San Francisco Choronicle.2 Well he was to speak on the hopes and fears of China. Then there was a Japanes, I don’t know his name but it don’t make any difference they all have the same names anyhow, he spoke on the hopes and fears of Japan.
Then there was a fellow from Australia that was supposed to give a summary. Well he did but it was of Australia. Instead of explaining what the others had been talking to us about for the last two or three hours, why he sold tickets to Australia, and durned if he dident do it pretty good too. He said Australia was purely a white man’s country, and that they were trying to make a high class country out of it. They wanted immigration, but immigrants with some kind of “Who’s Who” record behind ’em. He said that Australia was the only country that was going to feature class in population. He showed that it is a very fine country.
Well he dident need to tell me about it, I have been over more of it than he had I expect. I was with Worth Bros. circus and we played everything from Wyapuckerou, in New Zealand to Killgooly, or something like that away out in the west of Australia.
Australia is a fine place. It’s beautiful, the people are congenial and hospitable, and no one making a tour of any length should miss it. There is only six and half million people there, but that’s enough people. Who wants more people than that? I wish I had lived in this country when there was only six and half million. I may yet. You can’t tell. A lot of ’em that have the fare are walking out on us mighty fast.
But I must get back to the hopes and fears of all these nations. I wanted to get up and enumerate some of the hopes and fears of the Democratic party. We are more interested in them than in all the hopes and fears of Russia, Japan, and China combined.
Well it wouldent have taken me long to give that. The Democrats hope they will do something, but they fear they won’t. They hope 50 percent and fear 50. Now you can’t be any more fair with your hoping and fearing than that, can you?
Well first was Will Durant. He is just about our best writer on Russia. He is the most fearless writer that has been there. He tells you just what it’s like. He makes a mighty fine talk. One of the most interesting lecturers we have, and a fine fellow.
He said Russia hopes to make Russia industrial like us. They want to manafacture everything. Well that will be the end of ’em if they get like us. Their fears seemed to be by the ones in charge afraid the other 139 million would get wise to ’em, because there is less than a million running the country, but Lord they claim there is less than a dozen running this country.
Chester Rowell who spoke for China made a fine talk. Course he had the best subject. There is something about a Chinaman that everybody feels sorry for ’em, and there is no nation in the world that needs sympathy less. China will be getting along when people of the 25 Century will be digging and wondering what kind of apes inhabited this country along about the ninteenth century. Rowell showed that China had no fears of the ultimate future, but was just a little uneasy about local conditions for the moment.
Well then come the Japanese who spoke. He was a very pleasant man, they all are. They are the nicest people over there you ever saw. Hospitality toward you is just plum suffocating. Well this fellow said that it was Russia that they were afraid of, and that was why they were taking over Jehol, and Manchuria, it was to keep Russia from gobbling ’em up, as they have already done with Outer Mongolia. He of course couldent offer much reason for his country taking all this, but he was nice and pleasant about it, said he knew his country was in bad as far as public opinion was concerned, and they give him a big hand at the finish.
All in all it was fine symposium. Dr. Von Kleinschmidt the president and producer of the best football team in America, the Trojans, was the toastmaster, and did a lovely and gracious job.3 He gave ’em all a nice boost and asked ’em if they had a son that was a good athlete to send ’em to U.S.C.
All this exchange of talk is a lot of hooey. It changes nobody or effects no opinions, but it’s kinder like weather talk it does no harm. But a symposium is pretty good. If one ever travels through your town and plays there go hear it. It’s the old cracker barrell arguments over again.
1For Will Durant see WA 445:N 1.
2Chester Harvey Rowell, American newspaper editor and political science lecturer; editor of the San Francisco Chronicle from 1932 to 1939.
3Rufus Bernard von KleinSmid, American educator; president of the University of Arizona from 1914 to 1921; president of the University of Southern California from 1921 to 1946.
HAPPY MORATORIUM TO YOU!Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I hear through the static. Now that the Innaugural is all over we got nothing to do but just sit and see who is going to help who, and why. We have waited all this time to see what could be done, and if anything is done it will be a surprise to us. We have about give up the idea of being made rich overnight, but we do have hopes of something falling in our lap.
Henry Ford is thinking about taking up the banking business now, so we will all go plumb to Detroit to deposit.1 He has some scheme where you say when you put it in whether you want it back or not. Folks have got so used to being doubtful that he is going to let ’em say, here I want this money back. Well then he puts it in a seperate radiator, or tunneau, or in some old spare tires, but anyhow when you want it it’s supposed to be still there. Maby you don’t get any interest, but heretofore it has been maby you don’t get any principal. So he is going to fix so you do get your roll back. That in itself will make the bank a novelty.
Ford always comes through with some original and mighty good ideas when the time comes. This scheme that Mr. Roosevelt is talking of down in the Tennessee valley where you farm, and work in a factory, all that is being and has been done by Mr. Ford on his big farms in Michigan.2 He has factories near the farms and they work on each at different times of the year. I tell you everybody ought to have two or three things they work at, then when one busts they got the other.
Everybody ought to have a little side line, the farmer do a little bootlegging, or a little kidnapping, (which by the way has grown to be our national industry). After he puts his team away in the evening he wouldent lose any of his time by going out grabbing the village bell and holding her till the boys all took up a collection. Here we are with half of our people being held by kidnappers and you can’t get our legislatures to say that it’s a criminal offense. If there ever was a thing that should be punished by death it’s kidnapping.
These moratoriums they are having all over the country are mighty good things. We thought of ’em for Europe three or four years ago, but nobody ever thought of ’em for us. We said, let’s fix so Europe don’t have to pay their debt. Then it took us three years to think of, let’s fix so we don’t have to pay ours. We are just naturally a fast thinking people. We had thought of everything to relieve the farmer, but to keep him from losing his farm, and the funny part about it the banker dident want it.
But we just thought well we always have foreclosed, why do anything different, giving him some more years to pay in never entered any one’s mind. Now we are all sitting pretty, if we owe anybody we just wave to ’em and holler, “Moratorium, happy Moratorium to you!”
You see the fellow that loaned the money is always better able to lose it than the fellow that borrowed it, the fellow that borrows it blows it in and never uses it for the cause that he borrowed it, but the fellow that loaned it, he never loaned all that he had, he only loaned what he could spare, so if he could spare that much, why he dident need this that he loaned.
So you see the Moratorium dident hurt anybody, and then it’s an awful pretty word anyhow, it’s like “Propaganda”, and a lot of new things that we have scared up since the war. We used to call it just spreading bad news, and they generally just did it out of pure devilment, but now that it’s called propaganda and they get paid to spread it why it’s legitimate. The difference between doing a thing for money and doing it for nothing makes it legal. So half the enjoyment now is folks is paid to spread some lie that will aid somebody, and the whole country is clogged with propaganda, where it used to only be clogged with house flies, measles, and cramp colic, but all in all it’s a great country, it’s the best and worst one I ever lived in, and I been living in countrys for 54 years next November fourth.
I was born on election day, but never was able to get elected to anything. I am going to jump out some day and be indefinate enough about everything that they will call me a politician, then run on a platform of question marks, and be elected unanimously, then reach in the treasury and bring back my district a new bridge, or tunnell, or dam, and I will be a statesman. As I say all I got to do is get muddled up anough on Public Affairs, and I am slowly becoming that way. I wouldent bet you ten cents that this is the month of March, everything is so cockeyed. So look out, Rogers is becoming a politician.
1Henry Ford, American automotive pioneer; founder and president of Ford Motor Company and leading automobile manufacturer.
2Franklin Delano Roosevelt, president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, Roosevelt was overwhelmingly elected president in November 1932. Soon after his inauguration, he launched a far-reaching program, known as the New Deal, designed to provide relief from the depression and to reform the economic system.
BONDS AND BANKS AND MOVIE STARSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or observe in person. Innaugarations, banks holidays and all come so fast on us in the last few weeks that we have had plenty of excitement. I wanted to go to Washington to see a Democrat take over the country, but we was trying to pick out a story to do for my next movie.
This thing of getting stories is more of a job than making ’em. But don’t take this as a plea and start sending in some that you have written, send ’em to the studio but don’t send ’em to me. Outside of some man that wants you to recommend him for the Post Office, there is no pest as great as the person that has written a scenario that will “just fit you.” They talk about a lot of money wasted in the movies. Say it’s wasted in the paper that scenarios are written on. I don’t mean that there is not maby some good ones, but they are mighty scarce. You just can’t become a dramatist over night. But it keeps people out of some other devilment, so I guess no harm is done. Send ’em to the magazines, there just done seem to be a story so bad that some magazine ain’t bad enough to fit it.
Speaking about the movies, we all took it on the chin in the way of a volunteer lay off for a while. That was in addition to practically all of us who are not receiving what we used too, which of course we don’t expect. I tell you with all the knocking and abuse we get from some of the jealous and envious writers who are always telling what’s the matter with the movies, they have got a mighty loyal bunch of people working for ’em. When you read some blab about somebody telling how overpaid the movie stars are, in the first place our salaries are always overestimated. But they don’t stop to think that a movie star is one person that can’t be overpaid, that is not for long. There is no other business in the world where the company you work for knows just to a penny just what you are worth to them.
Is there any way checking up on a bank President, or Vice President to see what he can actually by his own efforts draw into his bank? Is there any other business you can think of outside of stage or screen where they know just exactly how good you are to them in dollars and cents? Greta Grabbo don’t get that dough because she is a long tall Swede, she drags it into a box office and they know just how much she dragged in.1 They can tell you to a dime what Deitrick with her breeches on or off can draw into a box office.2 So they are all worth what they can get, and they can only get what they can draw. There comes a time soon enough in their lives when they don’t get it. And then you must remember that at the present income tax rate the government takes 55 cents of every dollar from any of the high-priced stars. You see that hires many a politician, and gives some of us a little license to holler how the government is run, even if it’s only a holler.
Now get this in our laws, if we derived the same amount of money from investments in government or Municipal tax exempt bonds, why we would not pay a cent to the government. A movie star getting $300,000 a year would be taxed over half of it, (less their exemptions) while a financier receiving $300,000 a year in interest from that many tax exempt government bonds wouldent pay a cent to the upkeep of his government from which he not only received protection for himself and family, but also his government guarantees him his original investment, and gives him in addition $300,000 for which he does nothing. Now think that over a bit and you wonder what is the matter with the country. It’s tax exempt bonds is the biggest thing in the world the matter with the country.
Arthur Brisbane is absolutely right, they ought to call in and pay off hundreds of millions of these and stop that interest on ’em.3 Put ’em back out with no interest, people would still buy ’, for it’s not interest they are looking for today, it’s security. It’s certainly a queer critter that is looking for interest on his money today. Everybody is looking for just some place where he can get it back when he wants it. It’s the most unjust and unequal law we have in this country, every one of you that own or make anything pay some sort of tax on it, yet there is a way that a very rich man could draw millions from our government and never pay a cent of it out in taxes. Nothing in our country should be tax exempt. They yell about hoarding. There is where the hoarding is.
So don’t begrudge the movie folks that are lucky enough to get some money for a little while. It’s not a business where you can charge off depreciation for your buildings or equipment every year. No matter what age might be doing to talent, there is nothing you can charge off on it. There is many an ex star broke today, that have in their short careers paid the government more money than a half dozen successful business men will in a life time. Mind you this is not a wail about taking it away from any of us, but make the thing fair, take it away from all alike. So instead of writing a scenario, write to your Congressman and tell him to do away with tax exempt bonds. Then you will get some money in circulation. Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him.
1Greta Garbo, Swedish motion-picture actress whose sultry sexuality and beautiful features made her one of the highest paid performers in film. Only in Hollywood since 1926, she retired suddenly in 1941 at the age of thirty-six.
2Marlene Dietrich, German-American film actress and singer. She scored her first success in 1930 as “Lola” in the German classic The Blue Angel. Soon thereafter she came to the United States to star in the motion pictures of Josef von Sternberg.
3Arthur Brisbane, prominent American newspaper editor and syndicated writer whose column, “Today,” appeared in more than 1,400 newspapers.
WE’RE OFF TO A FLYING START!Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I hear by word of mouth. You can hear an awful lot by word of mouth nowadays. In fact there is almost twice as much distributed by word of mouth as there is by the written word. Never were people chattering so much.
But I am telling you my honest opinion, gathered here and there. We’ve got the puncture fixed and are headed away. Of course I don’t know when we may have another one, but it’s a terrible relief to get this one mended, get in the old car with a sigh of satisfaction and get started, and that’s what Mr. Roosevelt has done for us.1 I never was one of those predictors, for I never did know what to predict, but we are off to somewhere.
This President hasn’t been in there but three or four weeks, but he certainly hasn’t spent that time in front of the newsreels. He told Congress, “I want some authority,” and for once in their lives they did the right thing and gave it to him. And the minute they gave him some authority, things began to hum. The first move, away back when he first entered the office, was to close all the banks. He beat the depositors by about twenty-four hours. They would have closed ’em anyhow. That was the one big thing he did that really started the whole “Back to Normalcy” movement.
That’s an old Republican expression. Poor old Republicans, they weren’t a bad bunch of fellows, just dumb. You know a dumb fellow can be the most likable fellow in the world. You can just kinder love ’em and pity ’em at the same time. Well, what are a Republican’s thoughts now? Here they see a guy come in and do everything in the world that they ought to have done years ago, but didn’t think of doing. So it’s as I say: They meant well but were just dumb. They didn’t put the country on the bum purposely, as lots of folks think. They thought they were getting somewhere.
You see a Republican moves slowly. They are what we call conservatives. A conservative is a man who has plenty of money and doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t always have plenty of money.
A Democrat is a fellow who never had any, but doesn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t have some. So the idea of closing a bank of your own free will and accord is as foreign to a Republican as selling stock which you don’t own is foreign to a Democrat. It’s not that the Democrat’s conscience would hurt him, it’s just that he never thought of the thing.
The Republican thinks the boat shouldn’t be rocked. The Democrat says, “Rocked, bedambded! Why sit here and starve in it? Go ahead and turn it over; maybe the bottom side has got some barnacles on it we can eat.”
It didn’t take Mr. Roosevelt long to see that a major operation was necessary. Aspirin wouldn’t do a thing for the patient but prolong the agony. He had had that for years, so when Roosevelt started operating it kinder threw a scare into the old conservative Republicans, but I am going to give the rascals credit. When the operation was a success, they were the first to applaud. Every one admitted, “Boys, we were wrong.”
You see the Republicans, as I say, have all the money, and they would much rather be saved by another Republican, but they would rather be saved by a Democrat than not saved at all. And Roosevelt today has some of his staunchest admirers in what used to be humorously called the Republican Party. You keep a Republican getting interest on his money and he doesn’t care if it’s Stalin of Russia who is doing it.2
The next best thing Mr. Roosevelt did was to lose Europe’s address for a week or so. That was always the main trouble with Mr. Hoover.3 He was the most able, conscientious man, but he just couldn’t help worrying about Europe, or China, or Madagascar, or Liberia or somewhere. If he could have let them carry their own load for a while, everything would have been better, but he was what you call a world humanitarian, and Roosevelt is just a local humanitarian.
1For this and all further references to Franklin D. Roosevelt see Weekly Article (WA) 533:Note (N) 2.
2Josef Stalin, Russian Communist leader who from 1927 until his death in 1953 ruled as a virtual dictator of the Soviet Union.
3Herbert Clark Hoover, Republican president of the United States from 1929 to 1933.