Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA56 January 6, 1924
THE WEEKLY EXPOSURE
IS ONE JUMP AHEAD OF THE SHERIFF
Editorial Policy. This being the second week of the life of “The Exposure,” we feel called upon to say a few words in commemoration of our second issue of this little gem of truth. In the first place, we want to thank our readers who have made it possible for us to get out this second spasm. I have looked up the statistics of the newspaper business and I find that 92 percent perish after the first issue. The Sheriff takes the place of the subscriber when the bills come in after one edition. So we are among the 8 percent when we are able to go to bat the second inning.
Now let’s get down to bed rock and find out what has kept us among the elect 8 percent. Just one thing, and that is truth. We are staking the reputation of our periodical on the assumption that nothing in public life (or out of it, for that matter) is any good. Now what we have set out to do is to find the worst. It’s no trouble to pick out the bad but I tell you, readers, when you sit down to pick out the worst, you have to set some task for yourself.
The issue this week will be known as the Lament Number, or Hearts and Flowers Week. The week just passed has been the saddest of any known to all alleged humorists, paragraphers, and stage comedians. When I picked up my morning paper one day recently and read one of the headlines, my wife had to pour water on me for 30 minutes to bring me to. The headline read:
“Henry Ford not to run for President.” Here I had been laying awak nights stacking up Ford jokes and I felt better fortified for the coming campaign than a prize fighter with a rock hidden in his glove.
I had some gags that I had never pulled. I was just nursing them along, until the heat of the campaign come and then I was going to cut loose with them. Well, that announcement just knocked me cuckoo. It was just like taking away a man’s bread and butter. You take a Ford joke away from an article or a monologue and you have just about ripped the backbone out of it. I tell you people, you don’t know what they mean to you until they are taken away.
Then also you must take into consideration that I really wanted him to be president. It was just as big a disappointment to me as it was to millions of you other folks who wanted him. Of course, outside of my personal friendship and admiration for Mr. Ford and his many great qualities, I had (I will admit) a monetary thought in mind, had he been elected, because the more I see of public affairs and public offices, the more I realize that a comedian has a wonderful opportunity if appointed to one of the high presidential appointments.
Comedians always have held those positions and there is no reason why I can’t go in and do as bad as some of the rest.
So you will see this Ford Boom busting a tire has been a double disappointment to me. I think Mr. Ford is wrong when he says “90 percent of the people are satisfied.” 90 percent of the people in this country are not satisfied. It’s just got so that 90 percent of the people in this country don’t give a damn.
Politics ain’t worrying this country one tenth as much as parking space. How to pass one car without meeting another one, gives people in this country more thought in one day, than all the messages delivered to Congress since Washington wore golf breeches.
There is millions of people in this country that know the color of Mary Pickford’s hair, but think the Presidential office is hereditary.1
So Mr. Ford should not mistake apparent prosperity, for satisfaction. There is more mortgages in this country than there is votes. This country right now is operating on a dollar down and a dollar a week.
It ain’t taxes that is hurting this country; it’s interest. Mr. Ford says” “America is on wheels today.” He means “America is on Tick today.” If an automobile manufacturer could make a car so good that he could advertise it as follows: “Will last ’till it’s paid for,” he could put Ford out of business.
The only way to solve the traffic problem of this country is to pass a law that only paid-for cars are allowed to use the highways. That would make traffic so scarce that we could use our Boulevards for children’s play grounds.
No, it’s not politics that is worrying this country; it’s the second payment. The only thing that makes it look bad is that, just before this announcement of Mr. Ford’s, he had held a conference with Mr. Coolidge. Of course a lot of people intimate that he was bought off. Now, speaking editorially I don’t believe that he was. What made it look bad was that, the next day after his visit, the White House ordered a new Lincoln Sedan and Ford delivery truck.
Of course, you give an automobile manufacturer a chance to sell a couple of cars and he will do almost anything within reason. So you couldn’t have blamed him if he had kinder looked out for himself in this transaction.
After all, this running for president is sort of a hazardous business. Statistics have proven that out of 110 million people there is only one gets to
be president. It’s what you might call a long shot office, and you can’t condemn a man for not investing in campaign literature.
So, in closing, let us say that the country not only lost a good president but his decision spoiled some of the best jokes I ever had in my life. But there is one gleam of hope on the horizon. While Ford fell down on us comedians our next best standby, Prohibition, furnished more than its quota.
There has been a terrible scandal in Washington. Official Washington is said to have been buying their liquor from the foreign embassys instead of getting it through permits from government warehouses. Now our officials are getting to be a fine sort when we can’t even get them to patronize home industry.
What’s the use having permits to get whiskey out of overloaded government warehouses if our own servants of the people are not going to use those permits. Of course they are excusing themselves now by saying it was just some cordials and fancy drinks, that they had gotten from the foreigners. They say they have gotten their staple liquors through the usual channels right here at home. Liquor sales is probably what maintains some of those embassys. Why, there is countries got embassys over here now, that before prohibition couldn’t even maintain a flag. That’s why America has such poor embassys abroad. We haven’t even got our own buildings. It’s because we have nothing to sell over there to keep them up.
Now, if England would only prohibit tobacco over there, why that would give us a chance to really do something with our embassy worth while. We could bootleg enough tobacco in a year over there to get us as good an embassy as they have over here.
You know foreign nations don’t send diplomats over here any more. They just find the best bartender they have and appoint him.
1For Mary Pickford see WA 25:N 4.
WA57 January 13, 1924
ALL THE NEW YEAR’S MILLIONAIRES
The Exposure is a weekly publication, but if things keep on as they are we will have to go to press daily to take care editorially of all the mismanagement that exists in our grand and glorious commonwealth.
Now, after gathering all the returns of the New Year’s, I find in hundreds of newspapers all over the United States that they devoted years of space to what some of our rich men think of the business prospects of the coming year. It’s the same old thing every year. It’s got so a working man hates to pick up his paper New Year’s morning, for staring him in the face will be:
“Judge Gary, the head of a Steel Trust, says, ‘I am at heart an optimist, and I look to the coming year with great fortitude.1
I think if everybody
buckles down and gives 12 hours of labor for 8 hours pay I can see nothing ahead that will affect the present prosperity of our grand nation.’”
Then Mr. Mellon is quoted and says, as follows: “I am by nature an optimist.2
I never want to feel pessimistic. Because of a presidential election there is some uneasiness. But I look forward to one of the best years
financially I have ever had.”
Mr. Ford also says as follows: “There was some loose motion in the body of our political life. But after I made an adjustment on the differential of the Koolidge Kampaign, and tightened up the loose parts with my declaration of where I stood, why things are all oiled up, and going smoothly, unless Hiram Hearst Johnston or McAdoo carelessly thrusts a heavy pedestrian in front of the vehicle.3
But I am at heart an optimist and I have great faith in the coming year. Speaking from a personal business angle, you just can’t imagine how many people want those things—pardon me, I mean buy those things.”
Then will come what Charlie Schwab has to say: “I am at heart an optimist.4
I think the coming year will be the banner year of 1924.”
Then will follow a dozen other rich birds, depending on where the paper is printed and who is the richest man they have in their town. Now these same gags you have to read every New Year’s. They don’t even change the wording. Every New Year holds the same thing in store for them. But they are as sure to make the front page every New Year’s as a screen star is of having her previous husbands all enumerated every time the papers write up her latest divorce.
Why, in the name of common sense, don’t they ask somebody else what they think of the coming year? What those guys think is pretty well established. Sure they are optimistic of the future. If we had their dough we would be optimistic too. I would not only be an optimist for that much Jack, I would even be a vegetarian.
Why don’t they ask me what the New Year has in hiding for me? Well, I want to tell you that it don’t look any too rosy from where I am sitting. With every public man we have elected doing comedy, I tell you I don’t see much of a chance for a comedian to make a living. I am just on the verge of going to work. They can do more funny things naturally, than I can think of to do purposely.
Instead of asking Gary what he thinks, why don’t they ask a farmer. There is 10 million farmers and only one Gary. See what the farmer is paid every year for his optimism. And he has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer. Why don’t they ask Connie Mack what the New Year has lurking for him and his Philadelphia Athletics.5
See if he can rake up any optimism after hearing every afternoon: “Well, we should have won that one.”
So The Exposure hereby and hereon goes on record editorially to try and have a new bunch of names to view on New Year’s, next Jan. 1st. Of course while the backbone of any paper is its editorial policy, why, at the same time, it must have some few news items, and various other departments.
This past couple of weeks foreign news has just swamped us. If it had not been for Magnus Johnston milking a cow in Washington, we not only would have had no milk, but we would have had no local news.6
Magnus milked in a contest for quantity, against Secretary Wallace of the Interior.7
Magnus’ cow had just been milked a few minutes before he started in on her. But that made no difference to him. Where he comes from milking is continuous. Magnus lost the contest. He said he hadn’t milked lately and didn’t have his hand in. Showing you that the United States Senate has already spoiled a darn good milker.
For the convenience of our political readers from now on we will conduct a dairy department in The Exposure. By the way, both of these men milked without washing their hands, to show their constituents that they were dirt farmers.
Newspaper headline says: “King and Queen of England dance with their servants.” My Lord, do you have to dance with ’em to keep ’em now. If the King has to dance with them what on Earth will the rest of us have to do. But if Kings are dancing with servants our War for Democracy has not been in vain.
Other foreign news by picture section of our press was that King George’s red bull had taken the prize at a cattle show.8
So, between bulls and blue ribbons and servants the Royalty had a strenuous week.
Speaking of what the War did for Democracy and to stop all future wars, I see where we have the exclusive contract to furnish all ammunition for this and the next five wars in Mexico, with the option to furnish for the following 5, if there are any receptacles left to shoot into. That’s a good idea. If you can’t match a war yourself, why get the contract to furnish the material for some other wars. You know, that’s a great thing. You take a lot of nations and if they were not able to buy ammunition why they just couldn’t go to war. I tell you there is nothing in the world as disheartening to a country as to want to go to war and can’t. So I think we are to be heartily commended for obliging a suffering humanity.
INCREASE IN POPULATION NOTES
A baby boy arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lem Strutters of 211 South Main Street. Mother doing fine; child seems to be sore at the world.
“Mr. Frank Kellogg, New American Ambassador, arrives in London in a Fog.”9
That’s the way all of them arrived and most of them have remained in one as far as America was concerned. Mr. Kellogg said: “This is the most critical time in the world’s affairs.” Where have I heard that remark before? Did you ever know a politician that was not facing the most critical time in the world’s affairs every time he spoke in public. I don’t know what could be so critical with Mr. Kellogg. The world is going along about as usual,
having about the usual quota of wars, robberies and murders.
New York, N. Y.—Arrivals last week from Europe 5,200. 5,150 of which are lecturers who are to tour the country telling us what we should do for Europe and what is the matter with us.
Next week we will get out our Midwinter number if the tourists from back East don’t run over us.
1For Elbert H. Gary see WA 3:N 6.
2Andrew William Mellon, American financier with huge interests in coal and iron production, aluminum manufacturing, and banking; United States secretary of the treasury from1921 to 1932.
3For Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3; for William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2; for William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
4For Charles Schwab see WA 3:N 6.
5Connie Mack (Cornelius McGillicuddy), professional baseball player; manager of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1950.
6For Magnus Johnson see WA 35:N 4.
7Henry Cantwell Wallace, Iowa agricultural editor who served as United States secretary of agriculture from 1921 until his death in 1924.
8For George V see WA 11:N 11.
9Frank Billings Kellogg, United States ambassador to England from 1924 to 1925. He later served as United States secretary of state and was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1929.
WA58 January 20, 1924
SEND MEXICO OUR WOODEN SHIPS, TOO
Editor’s Note.—The Exposure is a weekly periodical devoted to art, commerce, science, and anything pertaining to uplift, and for the better things in our community.
. Jack Dempsey has gone to Florida to get accustomed to the association of big sums, in preparation for his forthcoming commercial
. The past week 9 women in various parts of the U. S. shot and killed their husbands. In no line of our modern scientific advancement has progress been more marked than in the marksmanship of our weaker sex. Husbands are being hit in these days and times who in years past were just merely shot at. It is true that woman is the weaker sex physically. But the automatic (with its sprinkling of bullets) has proven to be the great stabilizer between the two sexes. Remington, and Smith and Wesson, have done more to advance the cause of womans’ suffrage than all the arguments of its millions of believers. Man used to be bigger than woman, but now woman carries the difference in her vanity case, neatly oiled and loaded. If you will notice in any of your towns you will find located as near as possible to the Marriage Bureau, a firearms store. In some cases the gun is bought with the License, but in most cases, the pistol is procured the day following the betrothal.
If you see a woman or young girl at a shooting gallery at any of our resorts or amusement places, you will know at once that she is engaged, and is practicing for the inevitable. So The Exposure, after carefully examining the steps made in all scientific lines, awards the palm to the woman’s marksmanship.
Now we must go from the scientific standpoint to the practical side. What has been accomplished by this continuous parade to the cemetery? Has it improved the character of our husbandry? No, it has not. The Exposure believes that the type and stability of husbands were never lower than at this particular era. This rattle of musketry in the homes has made more dead husbands, but has not made any better ones.
Of course, another thing the modern husband will not realize is that the modern woman, in addition to being a wife and a marksman, is also a detective. When you marry nowadays you not only have a helpmate, but you have a little Pinkerton in your home. Wives are finding out things on husbands today that in th old days even their mothers could not find out for them. Of course, in some rare instances, wives have casually mislaid their artillery for a few moments and it has fallen in the hands of their husbands who promptly took advantage of the opportunity and opened fire on the wife. But these cases have been so rare and the direct hits so seldom that it has made it practically a one sided warfare.
I would suggest in the forthcoming war (I don’t know if we have one booked now) but when we do, instead of using the men on our side, just use the women. Have them meet the enemy and marry them. Then give each woman a gun and the war would be over in 24 hours.
Speaking of wars, I have just read the Bok 100 thousand dollar sweepstakes plan.2
Well sir, at first it almost sounded new. I hadn’t read it in 4 years. Just think how things have advanced in price! Here they are giving 100 thousand berries for our old familiar article. Somebody will offer a prize for the best original oration on America, and then some one will bob up with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Imagine having to pay for a plan to stop wars! At that, this thing if it was properly applied would stop war. Just make every nation read it before they started and by the time they got through it they would be too old to fight. Then go even further make them try to understand it. That would stop them.
I see my old friend Jim Reed of Missouri was the first to spot the thing.3
He can smell a League of Nations Article 2 days before it’s printed. Now some bird is going to get 100,000 for rewriting that, while I have a plan which I will never receive 5 cents for but still it would stop all future
wars, and everybody could understand it for it’s only two words, DRAFT WEALTH. Any time big business know that their money is going to be taken away from them and used for war, the same as their clerks and stenographers, you will stop all wars.
Our government has made a wonderful business investment in Mexico. They have sold them a very large quantity of ammunition, which we not only will be paid for, but that will some day be returned to us gratis. So our slogan is, “Why be shot with somebody else’s bullets? Wait and be shot with your own.”
Obregon means well, but Mexican cemeteries are full of presidents who, during their short life, meant well.4
If we must sell them something let’s sell them the wooden ships built during the war. Then let the revolutionists capture them and try to escape in them. That’s the surest way to wipe out the revolution entirely.
So far, The Exposure is the only paper of any magnitude that has not made editorial comment on this small time war being argued out in the Episcopal Church. It’s bad enough to have to expose the political affairs without having to give our version of the Bible. If some of those birds would spend their time following His example instead of trying to figure out His mode of arrival and departure, they would come nearer getting confidence in their church. There is no argument in the world carries the hatred that a religious belief one does. It seems the more learned a man is the less consideration he has for another man’s belief.
Speaking of not believing, I don’t believe that Noah took a pair of every kind of animals into the Ark, for I have seen men, since Prohibition changed their drink, claim that they saw animals that Noah never even heard of. But just because I don’t believe Noah’s African adventure, maybe others do, and besides with my small experience with animals I don’t believe Noah could round up all the animals in one herd without the skunk causing a stampede.
That is no reason why I should go around shouting about it, and be arrested for heresy. I can enjoy a good zoo as well as any one. Whether the animals come here by ark or by subway makes no difference to me. If they are going to argue religion in the church instead of teaching it no wonder you can see more people at a circus than at a church.
1For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
2Bok (see WA 32:N 3) awarded his $100,000 American Peace Award from 1924 to Dr. Charles Herbert Levermore, secretary of the New York Peace Society. As part of his peace plan, Levermore urged closer American cooperation with the League of Nations and the World Court.
3For Jim Reed see WA 6:N 6.
4Alvaro Obergón, president of Mexico from 1920 to 1924 and in 1928.
WA59 January 27, 1924
WEEKLY EXPOSURE DISHES UP THE NEWS
As The Weekly Exposure (a paper devoted to the unveiling of the truth) goes to press this week, we have been reading the papers, not that we could learn anything from them, but we did it just to get a line on what our competitors are doing. I notice all of them are featuring advertising.
It’s awful hard to find any news. A thing that struck me very forcedly is that Mr. Ford is being editorially complimented in Republican papers, which before the late Coolidge announcement, he couldn’t even get an advertisement in. Now I have read, as I say, these papers and I will just give you the news as I see it.
(any one of you figuring on touring the arctic this summer don’t overlook this feature). “The U. S. Government is going to send an expedition to the North Pole by Air.” That’s nothing new. That’s the way Cook went—by air.1
“Scientists figure that there might be another country undiscovered up there.” Wouldn’t it be great if we could just find another nation. That would give us another entry in the next war.
And just think of the loans we could make them. I bet you if they do find anybody up there, they will find a Californian among them, subdividing the land and selling it out in lots.
They are going to try to make the trip in the Shenandoah, one of those Zeppelins.2
Well, maybe it can fly up there in that Northern Altitude. None of them have ever been able to fly very long down here. This one flew from Lakehurst, N. J. to St. Louis. That’s mighty poor recommendation to start out on. Lots of guys have made the trip from New Jersey to St. Louis that
I would hate to trust with important news to carry to the North Pole. A dirigible is one thing America has never had to retire for old age.
Of course, The Exposure is not speaking from a scientific standpoint. It is looking at it purely from the taxpayers’ angle. Our experience in the frozen North consists of playing one week in Duluth, Minn. in the month of September. The audience had on light mittens and two suits each of woolen underwear. They hadn’t really dressed for the winter yet. There was only one snowplough working on the streets.
Oh, yes, I did get up to Edmonton, Canada, one time. That’s just a thousand miles further North than Cook got. After six o’clock dinner at night we went to a ball game, a double header. Then we come back to theater and gave a show. After the theater, we came out and sit around waiting for it to get dark enough to go to bed.
So if The Exposure don’t seem to get overly excited over this Expedition, why it’s because I am afraid they will find some other nation up there, and I can’t see any good of discovering ’em.
Find the guy that discovered Europe, and see if you can get anybody to get enthused over him. We had better let these Eskimos alone, they might turn out to be another Europe.
Well, that was all the Polar News I could find, so if our Polar department fell down this week, it’s just because there is nothing doing North of 98.
I see by the papers that they say “Germany is going insane.” I wish you would name me a nation that is competent of judging insanity.
Russia. “Russia wants us to recognize them.” Our government say they won’t recognize them. We will sell them something but we won’t let on that we know them. Russia wants us to recognize them, so they can send over an Embassy. Then they can get in on this bootlegging.
Russia should take a tip from Mexico. Mexico got along fine the last few years till we started to recognize them, and immediately they broke out into another Revolution.
RURAL AND DOMESTIC NOTES.
There is a good deal in the papers about giving my native state of Oklahoma back to the Indians. Now I am Cherokee Indian and very proud of it, but I doubt if you can get them to accept it—not in its present state.
When the white folks come in and took Oklahoma from us, they spoiled a mighty happy hunting ground, just to give Sinclair a racing stable, and Walton a barbecue.3
Washington, D. C. papers say: “Congress is deadlocked and can’t act.” I think that is the greatest blessing that could befall this country.
It’s a poor day now when you don’t read in the papers of some presidential candidate flopping over to Coolidge. There is only one way to stop Coolidge now. That is to have Bryan come out in favor of him.4
Some of these presidential candidates who are resigning in favor of Mr. Coolidge are taking their supporters with them—both of them.
Coolidge is the first president to discover that what the American people want is to be let alone.
If the Republicans can just keep from doing something from now until next fall they will walk in.
The only chance the Democrats have is to try and get the Republicans to pass some bills. The more bills the Republicans pass the more chance the Democrats will have. Of course, this is the time of year when a presidential candidate can be bought off mighty cheap. Catch him just when he is figuring out what his campaign literature will come to.
They are having quite an argument over Mr. Mellon’s Tax Bill.5
Mellon wants to cut the surtax on the rich, and leave it as is on the poor, as there is more poor than rich. I suppose the majority will win.
“White House in Washington declared unsafe,” says a dispatch from Washington. That was before Ford’s declaration. I imagine it feels safer now. There is nothing will bolster up a political house like votes.
New York. John D. Rockefeller says: “Love is the greatest thing in the world.”6
You take a few words of affection and try and trade them to him
for few gallons of oil, and you will discover just how great love is.
Washington, D. C. (Dairy Department).
Magnus Johnston says he is “going to use common sense in the Senate.”7
That’s what they all say when they start in. But if nobody don’t understand you, why, you naturally have to switch.
East Orange, N. J. (Local Notes).
“Scientists say that the next war will
be fought with electricity.” I am glad to hear this as it means it will be a
light war. Now the editor of The Exposure will admit that that last was a very low candle power joke. But when you take into consideration that we deal in facts and not in humor, why that wasn’t so bad, at that.
I see by the papers that they are going to do away with all the nuisance taxes. That means that a man can get a marriage license for nothing.
America is following slowly in the footsteps of England. We have a liberal party. Ours is whichever one is in power.
Headlines in papers say: “Europe criticizes U. S.” If memory serves me right we haven’t complimented them lately ourselves.
They say hot air rises. And I guess it does. An airplane flying over the Capitol the other day caught fire from outside sources.
1Frederick Albert Cook, American physician and arctic explorer. On his return in 1909 from a two-year arctic expedition, he announced he had reached the North Pole on April 21,1908. The claim was denounced and rejected on grounds of insufficient evidence.
2The Shenandoah, the first rigid airship used by the United States Navy, had been scheduled to make the first aerial flight to the North Pole in early 1924, but mechanical difficulties and concern over the general reliability of dirigibles caused the project to be canceled.
3Harry Ford Sinclair, American oil producer who was involved in the Teapot Dome oil lease scandal during the Harding administration. For Jack Walton see WA 7:N 1.
4For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
5For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 57:N 2.
6For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 3:N 6.
7For Magnus Johnson see WA 35:N 4.
WA60 February 3, 1924
PUTTING BEVERLY HILLS ON THE MAP
The Exposure is a weekly publication, devoted to straight reading matter. We have no picture section and I doubt if we will appeal to over one per cent of the public as the success of a publication is based nowadays on the amount of pictures and advertising that they have in them. Of course, all our news comes by radio. But The Exposure is a tried and operating paper. In fact we are old timers in the field. This is our 4th issue and we have just bought out and combined The Weekly Blowout, a paper that was sponsoring Mr. Ford’s detour to the White House.
After his famous announcement that 90 per cent of the people in this country were satisfied, why, The Blowout couldn’t withstand such untruth. Had Mr. Ford gone through and been elected The Blowout would have become the mouthpiece of the administration. So, while not crowing over the misfortune of a competitor, we were able to procure the title of said paper as soon as it had lost the chance of getting our government run as Mr. Ford would have run it on a “Tighten a bolt as it goes by” system. Now The Exposure and Blowout combined, is looking for some other likely candidate to boost. We have even got down to such sore straits that a populist would not be overlooked.
BEVERLY HILLS IS SHOCKED BY PARTY
Bill Hays and Pauline Frederick Feature in Scandal.
The Exposure has some real inside Hollywood dirt to dish up to you this week. For fear some competitor will get in and publish it first I will tell just what happened at a wild party that was given tonight at the home of the editor of this very gem of truth. And what makes it worse the head of our industry that was hired and supposed to keep the scandal from our doorsteps, was the main guest, Will Hays, (the only man in the history of industry that was ever hired for a job without him or the people that hired him knowing what he was hired for, yet still made so good they couldn’t replace him).1
Will Hays, the man who made Harding president, and the movies (partly) behave.
Well my wife and I, aided and encouraged by daughter Mary decided to put on a wild party. Hollywood had been getting all the publicity and selling all the real estate through their scandal, and here was Beverly Hills who could put it on just as wild as they could, and we couldn’t seem to get anywhere. So we looked around to find some guest that would be well enough known, so that when we carried him home he would be recognized.
We thought of Will Hays. So about 6:30 p.m. who should come staggering in from across the street from the hotel but our guest. His brother was to have come with him, but the brother is a lawyer from Sullivan, Indiana, and not having had the experience and capacity of Will he had gone completely out earlier in the evening while being entertained by the Woman’s Federation of Churches.2
WEARING DRESS SUIT
Well, Will was so loaded that he had on a dress suit. It was the first one that had ever been in our house, so Bill Jr. and Jim, who had just come in from public school and refilled their flasks commenced to laugh at the suit, and we put a sheet over the chairs so that he wouldn’t get it dirty.
But by this time he was feeling so good he didn’t care anyway, for the industry had bought it for him, and about this time another guest who lives right near fell into the door before we knew it. That was Miss Pauline Frederick.3
She was all primed for a real, old prolonged rough house. She had brought the stuff along with her. She had under her arm a big bag of knitting. She was knitting a blanket for one of my polo ponies. So we all staggered around there till one of the children thought of introducing Miss Frederick and Will.
Then, to make the party real devilish, I was to go and get another man’s wife while he was away at work. She lived next door so I sneaked out while my wife wasn’t looking and dashed right into the home of the young Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Jrs.4
She slipped on something and we both complimented each other on account of her husband having to be at the office getting out his newspaper. She asked if the party was to be so wild, that she should take her gun. I said “Sure, let’s do it right.” So we blew back just as they are ready to get real wild and start eating. By this time Jim and Bill are becoming reconciled to Hays’ suit and start playing baseball in the house. Hollywood can’t put on anything wilder than that. Hays by this time is feeling so good he is telling a story complimenting a Democrat.
We all start off with a fruit cocktail and everybody commenced to loosen up and tell their right salaries. Then comes some consommé and I can tell you this old mixing of drinks is getting in its work. Daughter Mary started doing a wild dance in the living room until Jim laid her out with a baseball bat. Then Hays got to telling what his boy would do and the party just went from one debauch into another.
TOLD ABOUT TRIP
Will told us of his trip to England with Ambassador Harvey.5
he went for pleasure, and I tried to get him to really tell what he went for. I think it was to get the Prince of Wales to come out for Coolidge.6
Between drinks of broiled chicken I tried to find out if he was going to be the campaign manager for Mr. Coolidge. But he seemed to think it was such a sure fire thing, that they would waste some less expensive man. I kinder sobered up for a minute and asked him what he thought they would do in this investigation into the Tea Pot Dome Oil Lease. He said he didn’t think they could show where Sinclair ever gave Secretary Fall anything.7
He knew Sinclair was too smooth a giver for that.
I asked him what he thinks of us sending warships to Mexico. So he tells me what a hard time they had down there. Washington wired to the nearest one to go down and it runs on the rocks before they got through reading the telegram. You know our navigators now depend on radio to tell them where they are.
The Navy hasn’t had a compass in three years. They start on a trip and the radio operator tunes in and gets Paul Whiteman’s orchestra playing somewhere, and when he comes too he is in a life boat.8
Bedtime stories have put 9 ships to sleep.
Then I asked him who we were going to protect down there, he said, why the oil men. I asked him who protects the Mexican sheep herder in this country if somebody interferes with his industry, and if Mexico had a Navy would she send it up here to protect him. He said no. So the moral of this is, be an oil man not a sheep herder, and be sure to be born in a country that has a Navy.
By this time we are all so full we have to leave the table, and the noise of moving chairs is something deafening.
GETS RIGHT LATE
It’s now eight thirty and the neighbors can see the light in our house and begin to phone in about it to the police. Miss Frederick’s yarn runs out, and she begins to yawn. Jim, Mary, and Bill being youngest and less unaccustomed to the revelry, had to be literally carried to their beds. Scandal was running rampant, while my wife was getting them off. That left Bill and I with two women. I says, “What will we do, Bill?” And he says, “Oh, I am in for anything.” So I just up and said, “Let’s go down to the barn and look at the horses.” So out we staggered at 9 o’clock in the night in the heart of Beverly Hills. Bill Hays, a man that is a leader in the Presbyterian Church, but it only shows you when this old movie spirit gets in you, you will do anything.
I lassoed four or five horses and bring them out and show them to Bill, but he is still all excited talking to the ladies. They wanted to take a ride, but I didn’t want to carry this thing too far. So we go back to the house and I finally get them into their coats and hats and walk them home.
My wife and I we figure the walk will do them good. So when we come back and get in the house why it’s actually 9:15.
So I hope by the aid of Bill to put old Beverly Hills on the map as a wild town. Bill says to me, “Will, if the Woman’s Club ever finds this out they will stop your pictures.” I says, “That’s a good joke on the Woman’s Club, my pictures have never started.”
1For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
2Hinkle Cain Hays, younger brother of Will H. Hays and an attorney in Hays’ hometown of Sullivan, Indiana.
3Pauline Frederick, American leading lady of silent films and early talkies.
4Rachel Littleton Vanderbilt, wife of American journalist and railroad heir Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr., whom she married in 1920 and divorced in 1927.
5For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
6For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 9.
7Albert Bacon Fall, United States secretary of the interior from 1921 to 1923. While in office, Fall secretly leased naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California, to oilmen Harry Sinclair (see WA 59:N 4) and Edward Laurence Doheny. Fall was convicted of bribery and sentenced to one year in prison and fined $100,000.
8Paul Whiteman, American bandleader who became famous in the 1920s for pioneering the “sweet style” as opposed to the traditional “classic style” jazz music.
WA61 February 10, 1924
WANTED: A WET NURSE FOR THE
The Exposure is generally very prompt to detect any shortcomings in our national affairs and to chastise them editorially through the columns of this very valuable and able periodical. But this week we have been saved the trouble of exposing them, as, through the stupidity of their own actions, they have exposed themselves. I am referring of course to the Coffee Pot or Tea Pot Dome, or some such contrivance of kitchen apparel.1
Tea started one war we had, but nobody ever thought that a Tea Pot would boil over enough to scald some of our most honorable financiers. The only lamentable thing about it, as I am writing now, is that the U. S. Senate is investigating it. Statistics have proven that the surest way to get anything out of the public mind and never to hear of it again is to have a Senate Committee appointed to look into it.
You read where they go in session, and then you never hear any more of them unless one of them dies. Then it may come out that he held an appointment on this certain Committee. Now if they had turned this thing over to some Justice of the Peace, and give him power to act, with no appeal, why we would be reading this morning what millionaire so and so had served in his cell from the outside for breakfast.
Now I see only one way out of this lamentable scandal—that is to do as the movies did, appoint a Will Hays to wet nurse the oil industry, and see if he can keep their nose clean.2
When you come to think of it there is a great similarity between the two industries. Both of them, with the exception of bootlegging, are the newest industry we have. Neither one is a public necessity. We got along great a few years ago without either. But the minute something shows its head in the movies that smacks of scandal, why a howl goes up like a pet coon.
The great criticism of the movies is that people are suddenly thrown into possessions of money who were never accustomed to handle it before, and that they lose their heads. Did you ever think of oil people? Why they are rich so quick they are millionaires before they have time to get the grease off their hands. They jump from a Ford to a Rolls Royce so fast that they try cranking the Rolls through force of habit.
So you take the two industries, scandal for scandal, and bribe for bribe! The Editorial writer of The Exposure after reading over back files of old newspapers, finds that oil has blackened the reputation of 99 percent more people than movies. Just the other day right here in our fair and untarnished city of Hollywood, didn’t one of our week end oil magnates go into a café
in our midst and publicly and for no reason take a wallop at our poor little inoffensive Charlie Chaplin?3
Who had never harmed a soul in a single
reel in his life.
And then Charlie, when taunted almost to a point of generosity (which is the furthest he can be taunted) to use the modern slang of our day, arose, busted him on the nose and, while the magnate was arising, Charlie took two bows.
Now this man sells oil stock. Well, all I got to say is that any man that Chaplin can lick, his stock ain’t worth much.
Now, what I propose is for the Women’s Clubs to take action the minute a thing like this happens, and have that particular brand of oil banished. Let each state act separately, and if a man is suspected (make it like the movies, he don’t have to be convicted) why, get busy at once and don’t allow any of his oil to be publicly sold. For if there is one thing that we want to inculcate into the minds of the youths of this country it is that honesty and fair dealing with our own government is the foundation of this nation.
Our history honors many names whose morals would not stand the acid test, but our history honors no man who betrayed, or attempted to have betrayed a government trust. I don’t want the patriotism of my children endangered, by driving around in a car that is propelled by gasoline manufactured from profits derived from tampering with the integrity of those noble officials whom we trust with not only our lives but our oil.
I have never been a mother, but I wish that I had so that I could get right up in club meetings and declare what the coming generation are endangered with.
Now mind you I am not against the good work that club women are doing for the public good. I am only in favor of them carrying it further and embracing some industry where it will do even more good.
The public is always after the stage and screen for some unfortunate happening, but can you imagine for a minute Sir Harry Lauder sending a hundred thousand dollars to a man, by way of a suit case.4
We of the screen are supposed to be very careless of our English, but never have I heard one of us mistake $68,000.00 for 6 or 8 cows.
The very day that all this testimony came out in the papers, there was in the same paper a picture showing a Negro with one of those truth machines fastened on his wrist, they are supposed to make you tell the truth, or rather to tell when you are lying. They had brought this Negro out of jail where he had been sentenced for 99 years. Now if he admitted that he killed the party he would get life. It meant either life or 99 years with him and they waste all this time on him, when that very day in Washington here were guys testifying with nothing on their wrists but silk shirts. God bless America for a sense of humor.
If they had ever taken one of those truth machines to that investigation there would have been more Americans sailing for Europe than went during the war. One good thing about these investigations in high quarters, they always give the party a chance to come back a second time so he can explain how he was misunderstood at the first one.
Now I am in favor, as I say, of appointing a keeper for them like we have. I would just off hand suggest William J. Bryan, or Dr. Percy Stickney Grant.5
What they most need is some one whose reputation is above reproach, and some one who will add a certain dignity to the oil business which is sadly lacking now. Now I think Bryan would be the best of the two as it would get his mind off this business of descending from a monkey. Then he could not only add a certain prestige to what has degraded into a greasy industry, but he could also advise them when and with whom to place their bribes where they would not be apt to creep out.
Now there is all this talk about making this a campaign issue. I think that is a good thing. We have no issue. This looked like the only campaign in history with no issue. Just think of what a dull election we would have with no issue. The only resemblance to an issue we have had up to now was tax reduction. And both parties claimed that. The Republicans claim they thought of it first, and the Democrats claim they needed it worst. So now the campaign cry is, “Have you a little scandal in your party.” Of course it would be a cinch issue but some of the fellows are Democrats, so that kinder complicates matters.
But I can sympathize with their industry. I can remember when the movies looked bad and it was thought we would never be able to show our heads again. So if they can just get a Will Hays to chaperon them back into decency again, we may yet be able to save some of our oil for what is left of our Navy.
1For the Teapot Dome scandal see WA 60:N 7.
2For Will H. Hays see WA 21:N 6.
3For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8.
4For Harry Lauder see WA 50:N 3.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7; for Percy Stickney Grant see WA 8:N 2.
WA62 February 17, 1924
WILSON COULD LAUGH
AT A JOKE ON HIMSELF
Some of the most glowing and deserving tributes ever paid to the memory of an American have been paid in the last few days to our past President Woodrow Wilson.1
They have been paid by learned men of this and all nations, who knew what to say and how to express their feelings. They spoke of their close association and personal contact with him. Now I want to add my little mite even though it be of no importance.
I want to speak and tell of him as I knew him, for he was my friend. We of the stage know that our audiences are our best friends, and he was the greatest audience of any public man we ever had. I want to tell of him as I knew him across the footlights. A great many actors and professional people have appeared before him, on various occasions in wonderful high class endeavors, but I don’t think that any person met him across the footlights in exactly the personal way that I did on five different occasions.
Every other performer or actor did before him exactly what they had done before other audiences on the night previous. But I gave a great deal of time and thought to an act for him, most of which would never be used again, and had never been used before. Owing to the style of act I used, my stuff depended a great deal on what had happened that particular day or week. It just seemed by an odd chance for me every time I played before President Wilson that on that particular day there had been something of great importance that he had just been dealing with, for you must remember that each day was a day of great stress with him. He had no easy days. So when I could go into a theater and get laughs out of our president, by poking fun at some turn in our national affairs, I don’t mind telling you it was the happiest moments of my entire career on the stage.
The first time I shall never forget, for it was the most impressive and for me the most nervous one of them all. The Friars Club of New York, one of the biggest theatrical social clubs in New York, had decided to make a whirlwind tour of the principal cities of the East all in one week. We played a different city every night. We made a one night stand out of Chicago and New York. We were billed for Baltimore but not for Washington. President Wilson came over from Washington to see the performance. It was the first time in theatrical history that the president of the United States coming clear over to Baltimore just to see a comedy show.
It was just at the time that we were having our little set too, with Mexico, and when we were at the height of our note exchanging career with Germany and Austria. The house was packed with the elite of Baltimore.
The show was going great. It was a collection of clever skits, written mostly by our stage’s greatest man George M. Cohan, and even down to the minor bits was played by stars with big reputations.2
I was the least known
member of the entire aggregation, doing my little specialty with a rope, and
telling jokes on national affairs, just a very ordinary little vaudeville act by
chance sandwiched in among this great array.
I was on late, and as the show went along I would walk out of the stage door and out on the street and try to kill time and nervousness until it was time to dress and go on. I had never told jokes even to a president, much less about one, especially to his face. Well, I am not kidding you when I tell you that I was scared to death. I am always nervous. I never saw an audience that I ever faced with any confidence, for no man can ever tell how a given audience will ever take anything.
But here I was, nothing but a very ordinary Oklahoma cowpuncher who had learned to spin a rope a little and who had learned to read the daily papers a little, going out before the aristocracy of Baltimore, and the president of the United States, and kid about some of the policies with which he was shaping the destinies of nations.
How was I to know but what the audience would rise up in mass and resent it. I had never heard, and I don’t think any one else had ever heard of a president being joked personally in a public theater about the policies of his administration.
The nearer the time come the worse scared I got, George Cohan, and Willie Collier and Frank Tinney and others, knowing how I felt, would pat me on the back and tell me, “Why he is just a human being; go on out and do your stuff.”3
Well if some body had come through that dressing room and hollered “Train for Claremore, Oklahoma leaving at once” I would have been on it. This all may sound strange but any who have had the experience know, that a Presidential appearance in a theater, especially outside Washington, D. C., is a very rare and unique feeling even to the audience. They are keyed up almost as much as the actors.
At the time of his entrance into the house, everybody stood up and there were plain clothes men all over the place, back stage and behind his box. How was I to know but what one of them might not take a shot at me if I said anything about him personally?
Finally a warden knocked at my dressing room door and said, “You die in 5 more minutes for kidding your country.” They just literally shoved me out on the stage.
Now, by a stroke of what I call good fortune, (for I will keep them always) I have a copy of the entire acts that I did for President Wilson on the five times I worked for him. My first remark in Baltimore was, “I am kinder nervous here tonight.” Now that is not an especially bright remark, and I don’t hope to go down in history on the strength of it, but it was so apparent to the audience that I was speaking the truth that they laughed heartily at it. After all, we all love honesty.
Then I said “I shouldn’t be nervous, for this is really my second presidential appearance. The first time was when Bryan spoke in our town once, and I was to follow his speech and do my little roping act.”4
Well, I heard them laughing, so I took a sly glance at the President’s box and sure enough he was laughing just as big as any one. So I went on, “As I say, I was to follow him, but he spoke so long that it was so dark when he finished they couldn’t see my roping.” That went over great, so I said “I wonder what ever become of him?” That was all right, it got over, but still I had made no direct reference to the president.
Now Pershing was in Mexico at the time, and there was a lot in the papers for and against the invasion.5
I said, “I see where they have captured
Villa. Yes, they got him in the morning editions and then the afternoon ones let him get away.”6
Now everybody in the house before they would laugh looked at the president, to see how he was going to take it. Well, he started laughing and they all followed suit.
“Villa raided Columbus, New Mexico. We had a man on guard that night at the post. But to show you how crooked this Villa is, he sneaked up on the opposite side.” “We chased him over the line 5 miles, but run into a lot of government red tape and had to come back.” “There is some talk of getting a machine gun if we can borrow one.” “The one we have now they are using to train our army with in Plattsburg, if we go to war we will just about have to go to the trouble of getting another gun.”
Now mind you, he was being rode on all sides for lack of preparations, yet he sat there and led that entire audience in laughing at the ones on himself.
At that time there was talk of forming an Army of 2 hundred thousand men. So I said, “We are going to have an army of 2 hundred thousand men. Mr. Ford makes 3 hundred thousand cars every year. I think, Mr. President, we ought to at least have a man to every car.” “See where they got Villa hemmed in between the Atlantic and Pacific. Now all we got to do is to stop up both ends.” “Pershing located him at a town called, Los Quas Ka Jasbo. Now all we have to do is to locate Los Quas Ka Jasbo.” “I see by a headline that Villa escapes net and fleas. We will never catch him then. Any Mexican that can escape fleas is beyond catching.” “But we are doing better toward preparedness now, as one of my Senators from Oklahoma has sent home a double portion of garden seed.”
After various other ones on Mexico I started in on European affairs which at that time was long before we entered the war. “We are facing another crisis tonight, but our president here has had so many of them lately that he can just lay right down and sleep beside one of those things.”
Then I first pulled the one which I am proud to say he afterwards repeated to various friends as the best one told on him during the war. I said “President Wilson is getting along fine now to what he was a few months ago. Do you realize, people, that at one time in our negotiations with Germany that he was 5 notes behind.”
How he did laugh at that! Well, due to him being a good fellow and setting a real example, I had the proudest and most successful night I ever had on the stage. I had lots of gags on other subjects but the ones on him were the heartiest laughs with him, and so it was on all the other occasions I played for him. He come back stage at intermission and chatted and shook hands with all.
Some time I would like to tell of things he laughed at during the most serious stages of the great war. Just think there were hundreds of millions of human beings interested directly in that terrible war, and yet out of all of them he stands, 5 years after it’s over, as the greatest man connected with it. What he stood for and died for, will be striven after for years.
But it will take time for with all our advancement and boasted civilization, it’s hard to stamp out selfishness and greed. For after all, nations are nothing but individuals, and you can’t stop even brothers from fighting sometimes. But he helped it along a lot. And what a wonderful cause to have laid down your life for! The world lost a friend. The theater lost its greatest supporter. And I lost the most distinguished person who ever laughed at my little nonsensical jokes, I looked forward to it every year.
Now I have only to look back on it as my greatest memory.
1Former President Wilson died on February 3, 1924, at age seventy seven.
2For George M. Cohan see WA 35:N 8.
3William Collier, American comedian and playwright who appeared in On the Quiet, his own Never Say Die, and other leading plays of the day. For Frank Tinney see WA 13:N 8.
4For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
5For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
6For Pancho Villa see WA 34:Nn 1, 5.
WA63 February 24, 1924
IN THE OIL SCANDAL
I wish this oil scandal would hurry up and be settled, as it is very hard for one writing on affairs of our country to tell, in writing of our officials whether to refer to them as Secretary So-and-So, or Ex-secretary So-and-So.
Up to now I claim a very unique distinction. I am the only person I know of that has not been mentioned as receiving something in the nature of a fee from some big corporation. But I am going to get in early and tell what I received so when my name comes up later on people will say: “Well, there is a man who has accepted fees, but he was honest about them and come to the front and told it.”
I know a man that went to Washington to testify as to money he had received and there was twenty-nine cabinet and ex-cabinet members in line ahead of him, so he had to just write it and send it in. Now this whole thing was a strictly Republican affair until Mr. Doheny (who never lets politics interfere with his business) appeared before the committee, and when it looked like he was the only oil bespattered sheep in the Democratic fold, he just kicked over an oil can and hiding behind it were a flock of Democrats that reached almost as far back as Jefferson’s administration.1
Personally I am glad that he did unearth members of both parties, for if this thing had gone through showing no one but Republicans it would have cast a reflection on the shrewdness of the Democratic party. In other words, they would have looked rather dumb to be standing around with these oily shekels falling all around them and not opening their pockets to catch a few. For the American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of stupidity.
But to get back to my confession, for I want to be set right before the people by the time we meet in Madison Square Garden in June to select the worst man. Mine starts out like a fairy story.
A MILLIONAIRE IN THE OFFING
Once upon a time I had just gone to work for Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr., and was playing in what was called “Ziegfeld’s Midnight Frolic” on the roof of the Amsterdam theater, New York.2
Prohibition and my jokes were equally responsible in closing the place up. Now my home is Claremore, Ok., the home of the best curative waters in the world and, by the way, one of the best towns in the world to live in if any of you are think about making a change.
Well, after I had finished my little fifteen minutes of annoyance in the Frolic one night, one of the waiters come to my dressing room, which I used to hang my ropes in, and said, “There is a party of folks out front at one of the tables from Oklahoma and they want you to come out and see them.” I asked what place in Oklahoma did they come from and he said, “I don’t know, but they certainly got the dough; they have ordered everything in the place but the kitchen stove.” I said, “They are from Tulsa. I will be right out.”
Well, I hid what few dollars I had down in my sock and went out to see them. It was Harry Sinclair.3
I had never heard of him before, for he hadn’t bought Zev or the Teapot Dome up to then. But we soon felt like we knew each other on account of him being from Tulsa (a residential suburb of Claremore, where we park our millionaires to keep them from getting under our feet).
A REFERENCE TO MONEY MATTERS
Well, this Mr. Sinclair was an awful nice fellow. We hit it off pretty good. We kinder consoled each other, on account of being so far from home, and trying to eke out an existence from these shrewd New Yorkers. He took a fatherly interest in me, and asked. “Now, Will, you are working here, but what are you doing with your money.” So I told him just what I was doing with it—that the last three months’ wages had gone to paying a doctor and a nurse, for assisting us in accumulating another baby, and that the three months previous to that my wages had gone to making the first payment on a second hand Overland car, and that the year still previous to that I had bought a baby buggy and a Victrola.
He seemed mighty pleased that I was putting my money into such staple commodities. So I asked him what he was doing with his. He said, “I struck oil, but oil is no good unless it’s capitalized.”
That was news to me. I thought you could just sell the oil itself. But I learned that you can get twice as much for the capital as you can for the oil.
OIL STOCK TO THE ROGERSES
So then he asked me the names of my private herd. I told him I had gone to a great deal of trouble and thought in naming them and after months of research among pretty and odd names of novels and poems, I had decided to name the children, Bill, Mary and Jim.
He had never heard of anything more original. The names I thought struck him very odd, as he wrote all three of them down on the back of an envelope. So I left the table as I didn’t want to be there when the waiter presented his check. For I had seen several casualties from this same cause.
I never thought much more about it. I went home and told my wife about meeting him, and what do you think happened! In a couple of days here comes three official letters addressed to Bill, Mary and Jim, and they each had enclosed a share of Sinclair oil stock free. Well we thought that was a mighty fine thing for him to do to be so thoughtful to our little tribe. I accepted it in as good faith as McAdoo did his fee.4
NO INFLUENCE PROMISED
I don’t know if the senate investigating committee will get around to them soon or not. Of course they will have to get through before election for the whole thing will be a total loss after election. All I have to say is that the children were private citizens and did not promise to use any influence in any way. Of course, I, as the father and guardian of the children, will be apt to come in for considerable criticism, and I may go so far as to lose any chance I may have as being named as a presidential possibility.
Now I hate, for the children’s sake, that all this must come out for it is liable to put a stigma on their names that they will be two campaigns living down. One thing, of course, will be in their favor when it all does come out and that is that it was sent openly through the mails. It was not delivered in a suit case.
They have had these shares for years and have also received at various times a dollar or so interest on said stock. When this expose came out Bill and Mary were for resigning and sending in their stock, so they could show that they were not connected with the corporation, but Jim the youngest, who has a touch of Republicanism in him, why, he said, “No, let’s stick until they throw us out. Let them prove we took these stocks for some other reason than charity!”
As for Mr. Doheny giving me or mine anything, we live right near him here in Beverly Hills. His son did promise me a key, so I wouldn’t have to ride clear around his estate when out horseback riding, but I never got it yet.
1Edward Laurence Doheny, American oil producer who figured prominently in the Teapot Dome scandal (see WA 60:N 8). Doheny was indicted on charges of conspiracy and bribery but was acquitted.
2For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 25:N 1.
3Sinclair (see WA 59:N 3) owned a large stable of racing horses that included Zev (seeWA 49:N 1).
4For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
WA64 March 2, 1924
AT LEAST ONE LAWYER FOUND
FOR EVERY BARREL OF OIL
The Exposure, a weekly publication, has devoted its life work to ferreting out the persons and things in our national affairs which are not just exactly up to snuff. Now I see where the senate investigating committee has called a recess for 10 days. Scandals were unfolding themselves so fast that the committee couldn’t get one bribe straight in their minds before another one would bob up. So they have retired to kinder see where they are at.
Now, while that committee may be resting, The Exposure never rests; we are on the heels of the evildoer 24 hours of every bribing day. I hope by the time this reaches an eager waiting public that they will have two lawyers to conduct this oil investigation. Just think America has one hundred and ten million population, 90 per cent of which are lawyers, yet we can’t find two of them have not worked at some time or another for an oil company. There has been at least one lawyer for every barrel of oil that ever come out of the ground.
MONEY NOT IN OIL
You might wonder if they pay so much to lawyers how do they ever make anything out of the oil. Foolish question! They don’t make anything out of the oil. They only make money out of the stock they sell. You buy a share of oil stock and for every dollar you pay, 60 per cent goes for lawyers’ fees, 30 percent to over capitalization, and 10 per cent goes to the boring of a dry hole.
If a company just put down wells for oil and then sold the oil legitimately, they would have no use for lawyers. But oil men engage their lawyers nowadays even before they have leased the land or know where they are going to prospect. For the lawyer has to make the lease. It’s not like any other business where the owner and the man who is going to lease can meet and do business. Oh no, lawyers must do that. Then, if they happen to be leasing from the government, why they not only have to be lawyers but have to be political lawyers.
Now, I bet a lot of you thought after the company had got the land leased, that the next thing to do was to hire a driller to put the well down. But you are wrong again. You go out and get another lawyer to draw up the contract with the driller.
GET ANOTHER LAWYER
Then I bet you that you think the next step is to wait until you see whether you have oil or not. Say, don’t make me laugh out loud again. You don’t wait for anything of the kind; you engage another lawyer to draw up some pretty oil stock paper with nice flowered edges. Looks like a marriage license—only worse. Then you start selling the stock claiming that the Bohunk Oil Company are putting down a well on Smith 29, North East 40 of South West 80. Then if they do strike something, they shut it up and claim it was a duster.
Then you get another local lawyer who knows everybody around that neck of the woods, to go out and buy up or lease all of the adjoining land. Then when they get it all leased, they go back and pick the stopper out of this well, double the capitalization of stock under the direction of still another lawyer, and then they are in a position to hire more lawyers to investigate getting a lease from Persia, or Yugoslavia. This just kinder gives you a rough idea of what all these lawyers do and why we can’t get any to help prosecute this oil scam.
The Exposure will have to take editorial attention of the resignation of Secretary Denby.1
Mr. Denby was requested by the Senate to resign. Now that in itself is a mighty good omen that he is an unusually able man. Of course, where I think he got in bad was in saying, if he had the same thing to do over again he would do it. It is always bad for anyone on trial to say he
would do the same thing over again. American people like to have you repent; then they are generous.
But you see lots of times a man gets in wrong just by an ill timed remark. Look at Mr. Doheny’s reported remark that he would “make 100 million out of the Elk Hills lease.”2
That will go down in history as the highest priced gag ever pulled. That’s why Mr. Coolidge never gets in bad. If a man will just stay hushed he is hard to find out.
Personally and editorially, I don’t think Mr. Denby is guilty at all of any wrong doing that he knew of. But somebody has got to go in this thing, and before it’s all over you are mighty apt to find a few innocent along with all the guilty, strewn along the pipe line.
By the way, sometime this country, just by accident, is going to get some man Secretary of the Navy who has at least received a picture post card of Annapolis, sometime during his career. Josephus Daniels has never been in anything bigger than a rowboat up to the time he was made Secretary of the Navy.3
The first battleship he got on he kept looking for the paddle wheels on the side that made it go. He found the officers in those days had cocktail and cordial glasses with their table wear. He made them throw them all
overboard. He thought they would sink the ship. What he lacked in seamanship, he made up in morality.
Then come Mr. Denby who had received his maritime education by looking at the Detroit River, (which is so thick which booze boats that you can’t see the water). Naturally his aquatic viewpoint is rather warped.
I guess young Theodore Roosevelt comes nearer being an old salt than anyone connected with our ex oil owners (the Navy.)4
He did live in Oyster Bay overlooking Long Island Sound, and had to look at the Joy Line cruising, $1 daily to Providence. Then he had to subway under the East River to get to New York. So I guess he is the only Secretary we have that knows just by looking at one which end of the battleship is the front. By the way, I hope he stays in there, as I don’t think you will find a tinge of scandal ever rightfully touching a Roosevelt.
Judging by the experience of some of our Secretaries, of various things in our cabinets, it has always been a source of great anxiety to me just why a veterinarian has never been appointed either Secretary of War or Post Master
Now by the time this reaches our scandal loving public, I don’t know who will be left in Washington. The chances are, when I visit the old stomping grounds again this summer, as I will be on my way to the convention (if they decide to have any) I will have to make entirely new acquaintances. But I will always have the feeling, “Well the old boys were not so bad. They were just unfortunate in getting caught.”
HARD YEAR FOR BONUS
It certainly looks like a tough year for the soldier’s bonus. Politicians are so busy trying to hold down their own jobs that they don’t have any time to look out for anyone else. They will be voting a bonus to men who lost their livelihood in the great morality panic of 1924.
Children in future years will ask their parents, “Father, how much did you get in the great year 1924?”
It’s been a fine thing for Washington. The hotels are crowded. Every time a guest registers the clerk asks him, “I suppose you will be here until you testify.” It’s bigger thing for Washington than the Shriner’s Convention, because it has all of them, besides a lot more.
If they would all tell the truth the first time they testify they wouldn’t have to testify again like they are doing now, and they would get the thing over a lot quicker. They ought to pass a rule in this country in any investigations, if a man couldn’t tell the truth the first time he shouldn’t be allowed to try again.
Now we have another scandal in the Veterans’ Bureau.5
But we are just in such shape that we can’t take care of but one scandal at a time. If any other small affairs come up during the coming week that look like they might develop into a scandal I will let you know.
1Denby (see WA 15:N 4) was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal for allowing the transfer of naval oil reserves from the Navy Department to the Interior. Although he was not accused directly of corruption, he nevertheless chose to resign in 1924.
2For Edward L. Doheny see WA 63:N 1. Elk Hills, California, was the site of another controversial government oil reserve lease.
3For Josephus Daniels see WA 19:N 5.
4Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., son and namesake of the twenty-sixth president, served as assistant secretary of the navy from 1921 to 1924.
5SShortly after the news of the Teapot Dome affair reached the public, other irregularities were uncovered, including apparent corruption in the Veterans Bureau.
WA65 March 9, 1924
POLITICS REACHES STAGE
WHERE IT’S ABOUT TO JELL
The Exposure, after reviewing the news of the week, find that politics is sure at the point when it is about to jell. My old friend Jim Reed from the smelly banks of the Kaw River has broke out again.1
If you have done anything against the welfare or conventions of the United States, and everybody has passed their various opinions on you, and you think you have been roasted to a dark bay, why until Jim Reed breaks out on you, you haven’t been called anything.
Well, it was kinder funny Jim was to make a Washington Day speech. Naturally everyone supposed it to be on George Washington, but it was the only speech ever made on Washington’s birthday that didn’t have a word about Washington. He didn’t even mention his name. I don’t know that McAdoo, Denby, Daugherty, Doheny, and others will consider it much flattery, but it will go down in history as being the only time they ever replaced Washington.2
Reed wouldn’t have been any good making a speech on Washington, anyway. He would have been expected to compliment him, and I doubt if he could think of anything George had ever done that really was worth while.
A few weeks ago Vanderlip made a speech at the Rotary Club of Ossining, New York, that astonished the United States.3
Now that speech didn’t astonish me near as much as the knowledge that Ossining had a Rotary Club. For the sake of the un-finger printed ones, I will state that Ossining is the town where Sing Sing is permanently located. Now if Ossining has a Rotary Club they certainly had to take in some lay members from this musically named institution.
But when you come to think of it, just think what a distinguished Rotary Club they could have at that Rotary if composed of one of the best of each line of work or buiness. Just think what a competitive thing it would be trying to find in Ossining the leading burglar sojourning with them at the time, or the most representative pickpocket to represent them in the club. There are more bankers in Ossining than any town of its size in the United States.
A two year residence is necessary to be able to join the Rotary. Can you imagine them questioning members of Sing Sing, “Have you been a resident of the town for two years?” and the answer would be “Yes sir, constantly.”
So, as I say, it was not the things Mr. Vanderlip said that attracted the unusual attention. It was the distinguished audience that he delivered it to. Just to show you the difference: Appearing before the Rotary Club of Sing Sing he caused a commotion by his speech. He took the same act down to Washington and nobody would listen to him. It shows you have to have an intelligent audience. Up in Sing Sing they got what he was talking about, but down in Washington it went right over their heads.
I know, for last winter while playing in New York I was asked to go over to a big charity affair given by the 400 of Fifth Avenue. I thought I had a pretty good line of gags, as there was quite a lot happening every day of public interest. So I go over and start in telling them what I had read in the paper and nobody even cracked a smile, much less laughed. So I just kept on trying remarks on every subject that had been in the papers since Bryan last got a hair cut.4
But it was about one of the worst flops I ever encountered, and I have had some beauts in my time.
WAS A REAL FLOP
Well, of course, I felt terrible about it, so just by a coincidence on the very next night I had promised to go up to Ossining and do an act for (at that time it wasn’t called the Rotary Club). I think they called it inmates. Well I never knew I had as many friends in the world. I knew everybody up there. I was twice as much at home as I had been on Fifth Avenue the night before. So now I know why Vanderlip picked Ossining for his annual February oration.
I started in on those same jokes on up-to-date things that had flopped so completely at the millionaire’s charity affair. Why, say, they just started right in dying laughing at them. I was sorry Ziegfeld wasn’t there, as I would have got a raise in salary if he had heard how my act went.5
care what I talked about they knew all about it.
Ordinarily, I only do about 15 or 20 minutes, but up there I did an hour and a quarter. I was so tickled I offered to take all the whole audience of 12 hundred down to the Follies and pay their way in to see our show. Now you know I must feel pretty good with myself, when I offer to spend my dough like that. A lot of people would be kinder sore at the 400 because they didn’t laugh like these 12 hundred did, but I am not. I don’t blame them. If I had their money I wouldn’t read either. So I can understand very readily why Vanderlip’s act didn’t go so big in Washington as it did in Ossining.
Of course Van and I use just the opposite methods in our stage performances. Every gag I tell must be based on truth. No matter how much I may exagerate it, it must have a certain amount of truth. Vanderlip based his gags on rumor.
Now rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth. I will, however, give him credit for one thing. While here lately everybody is telling what he has heard, and all about this and that rumor. Why, he thought of by far the best ones I have heard up to now. That’s no small accomplishment I tell you, in this year of rumors, to be able to say at the end of it: “Well, I told the best ones.”
His were so good that before his audience got through applauding at Sing Sing (or rather Ossining) why they had him on the stand at Washington. That’s the first time a theatrical troupe ever jumped from Ossining to Washington.
PAVES WAY TO QUIT
They even put him on ahead of Fall, Sinclair, and all the headliners.6
I suppose by the time this reaches an eager public that Mr. Daugherty will have resigned, as I see where he says he “won’t quit under fire.” That is the usual remark before leaving.
Mr. Coolidge is going to let them all go as it is a lot easier to get a new cabinet than it is to get a chance to run for president. I guess this whole thing will end up all connected with it resigning.
And say, did you see a few days ago in the papers where a burglar sent in his income tax to the government? That is not the first time a burglar has sent one in, but it was the first time one ever admitted his calling. The only thing that sounded amateurish to me was that he apologized for not doing better in his hauls. He said he hadn’t done so well this year. Well that’s on account of a presidential year. Competition is too keen.
He said he wouldn’t beat the government out of a thing. He also sent the government his address which he said he knew they would keep a secret. Now what the government ought to do is to erect a monument to that bird, and make every man that has all his money in non-taxable bonds to be there every day and take his hat off and bow to him and repeat: “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”
1For Jim Reed see WA 6:N 7.
2For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1; for Edwin Denby see WA 64:N 1.
Harry Micajah Daugherty, United States attorney general from 1921 to 1924. Daugherty was tried for conspiracy in the scandals of the Harding administration but was acquitted. For Edward L. Doheny see WA 63:N 1.
3Frank Arthur Vanderlip, American financier, editor, and government official; president of New York City National Bank from 1909 to 1919.
4For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
5For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 18:N 1.
6For Albert B. Fall see WA 60:N 7; for Harry F. Sinclair see WA 59:N 3.
WA66 March 16, 1924
A COMEDY DRAMA—
'BORING FOR GUSHERS’
Place—Washington, D. C. Time—from 1924 to 1930. Scene—One of the forty investigating rooms of the United States Senate. Cast of Characters—Everybody that ever worked for, or just worked the United States. Hero—Senator Walsh, assisted by Lenroot and accomplices.1
Villains—entire list of Who’s Who in America. The scene opens on a greasy Monday morning with John F. Major being quizzed by Senator Walsh.2
Senator Walsh—Do you work for a man that runs a newspaper?
Mr. Major—I draw a salary from him.
Senator Walsh—What right have you to send telegrams to a man in Palm Beach if you are only working for him?
Mr. Major—I couldn’t get him on the telephone.
Senator Walsh—What did you tell him in your telegrams?
Mr. Major—What was going on in Washington.
Senator Walsh—What did he tell you in his telegrams to you?
Mr. Major—What was going on in Palm Beach.
Senator Walsh—What was going on at the time in Washington?
Mr. Major—Why, the Senate Committee was investigating somebody.
Senator Walsh—Who were they investigating?
Mr. Major—They didn’t know themselves.
Senator Walsh—What did he say was going on in Palm Beach?
Mr. Major—I am ashamed to tell you.
Senator Walsh—Who were these telegrams from in Palm Beach?
Mr. Major—I can’t remember.
Senator Walsh—Did you lease a wire from Palm Beach to Washington?
Mr. Major—I can’t remember.
Senator Walsh—Why did you lease the wire?
Mr. Major—So we could say we had a wire to Palm Beach. It was good advertising.
Senator Walsh—Who operated this wire?
Mr. Major—A telegram operator.
Senator Walsh—What was his name?
Mr. Major—I think it was Jones, or Smith; maybe it was Brown.
Senator Walsh—Who operated the wire from Palm Beach?
Senator Walsh—Johnny who?
Senator Walsh—Did the operator on this end work at the White House also?
Mr. Major—Yes, he was the waiter there.
Senator Walsh—Did he work there during the Republican or Democratic administration?
Senator Lodge—Mr. Committee, I object to that question.3
This is not a partisan affair; I refuse to have the honor and the glory of the great Republican party dragged into a thing where up to now their fair name has never been.
Senator Caraway—Mr. Committee, I object to the Senator from Massachusett’s slurring remarks of the Democratic party, a party which has housed such illustrious names as Jefferson, Cleveland, Akron,Youngstown, Bryan, McAdoo, and sometimes Jim Reed.4
Mr. Major—Senator Walsh, have you got a cigarette on you?
Senator Walsh—No, I just got some cubebs here.
Mr. Major—Never mind, I will go across the street and get some. See you next time I am called.
Senator Walsh—Gentlemen, I think the committee should retire for a week to consider the testimony of the gentleman who has just testified.
Senator Lenroot—But, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Doheny’s yacht is waiting to take him on a cruise of the Mediterranean, and I don’t think it’s fair to keep him waiting.5
Senator Wheeler—Mr. Chairman, I make a motion, that the committee make a motion, that Attorney General Daugherty resign.6
Senator Lodge—Mr. Chairman, I object. His motion is out of order. I had a motion before the committee to make a motion, to ask him to stay. Now, by all the rules of parliamentary motion making, mine antidates his. And I will stake a reputation on it that goes back to the first class passengers that landed from that mother ship of mine, the Mayflower, who have so gloriously populated the fair state of Massachusetts.
Senator Robinson—Mr. Chairman, I object.7
The fair state of Arkansas houses one direct decendent of the Plymouth Rock expedition. And I protest when the gentleman from Massachusetts claims the entire cargo of that ill-fated voyage. Never as long as I represent the majority constituency of my glorious state will I stand by and hear the ozone swept Ozarks spoken of disparagingly, especially by that moron state of Massachusetts.
Senator Willis—Gentlemen, I don’t think that Mr. Daugherty should be let out without a trial.8
Senator Wheeler—Why, he has had three years’ trial already. His trial is what’s letting him out.
Senator Walsh—Whom will we call next?
Doortender—Why, just get a census return, and call anybody’s name on it; they are waiting outside.
Senator La Follette—Why don’t you call somebody unexpectedly, and maybe in their confusion they will tell the truth accidentally.9
Senator Lenroot—Who said anything about wanting the truth?
Senator Heflin—I want to ask the committee why they called on Mr. Fall at his hotel in private.10
Senator Walsh—We wanted to see where he got the hundred thousand. We may retire ourselves one day.
Senator Heflin—Why didn’t you tell, at the time, that you went to see him?
Senator Walsh—Wait a minute; who is running this investigation? Am I supposed to ask the questions, or to answer them?
Senator Lenroot—Where is Sinclair?11
Mr. Zevely (whose running name is Zev)—My client, Mr. Sinclair, has gone to the races and it will be impossible for him to appear until after the season is over.12
Mr. Walsh—Well, how about McLean?13
Can we get him?
Senator Caraway—You can get him by telegraph, I guess. Everybody else has.
Mr. Walsh—Well, where is Detective William J. Burns?14
He was supposed to testify here today.
Doortender—Mr. Chairman, I met him on the street and he couldn’t find the Capitol building.
Senator Moses—I make a motion that we examine the income tax and see what Mr. Doheny contributed to the Democratic Campaign Fund.15
Senator Jim Reed—I object. Senator Moses is a Republican and he is only throwing a smoke screen to try and hide his party behind it. This is not a partisan question and I object to politics being dragged into it in any way. Let’s handle this thing in a dignified way, and don’t let politics play any part. As it was the Republicans that did it, I am in favor of justice being served.
Doortender—Mr. Forbes is here and wants to testify.16
Entire Senate—My Lord, is he in this too?
P. S. This play to be continued every Sunday until somebody tells the truth.
1Thomas James Walsh, Democratic United States senator from Montana from 1913 to 1933; chairman of the senatorial committee that investigated the Teapot Dome scandal. Irving Luther Lenroot, Republican United States senator from Wisconsin from 1918 to 1927; a member of the senatorial committee that investigated the oil lease affair.
2John Frank Major, confidant of and private secretary to Edward Beale “Ned” McLean, owner of the Washington Post. Allegedly, McLean was involved in the Teapot Dome scandal. Major was called to testify about his employer’s role; he responded to committee members’ questions almost exactly as Rogers indicated in the article.
3For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
4Thaddeus Horatio Caraway, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1921 until his death in 1931. Stephen Grover Cleveland, president of the United States from 1885 to 1889 and 1893 to 1897. For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7; for William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1; for Jim Reed see WA 6:N 7.
5For Edward L. Doheny see WA 63:N 1.
6For Burton K. Wheeler see WA 54:N 9; for Harry M. Daugherty see WA 65:N 2.
7For Joe Robinson see WA 54:N 2.
8Frank Bartlett Willis, Republican United States senator from Ohio from 1921 until his death in 1928.
9For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
10For Tom Heflin see WA 9:N 12; for Albert B. Fall see WA 60:N 7.
11For Harry F. Sinclair see WA 59:N 3.
12William James Zeverly, American lawyer who represented Harry Sinclair and his vast oil interests. Zeverly was the man after whom Sinclair named his famous race horse, Zev (see WA 49:N 1).
13Edward Beale “Ned” McLean, publisher of the Washington Post. He falsely testified that he had loaned Albert Fall $100,000, the amount of money given to the interior secretary for his role in the naval oil lease deals.
14William John Burns, director of the United States Bureau of Investigation from 1921 to 1924 and founder of an international detective agency. Burns was questioned about McLean’s involvement in the oil scandal.
15For George H. Moses see WA 54:N 14.
16Charles Forbes, director of the Veterans Bureau during the Harding administration. Forbes was sentenced to two years in prison for conspiracy to defraud the government in connection with veterans hospitals.
WA67 March 23, 1924
TRYING TO FIND OUT WHO ‘PRUNES' IS
Same scene as last week, third degree room of the Grand Jury of the United States Senate. Senator Walsh, leading question asker of a body of men noted for their inquisitiveness.1
Doortender of this torture chamber—Who’ll we call first today?
Mr. Walsh—Call the editorial writer of the newspaper.
Doorman—But, Mr. Walsh, we just called him yesterday.
Mr. Walsh—I know we did, but call him again. A whole lot is happening in this country between yesterday and today.
Mr. Walsh—Now Mr. Bennett, who was it that you referred to as the principal in those wires to Palm Beach?2
Mr. Bennett—Why Senator Curtis.3
Sen. Heflin—Curse on the luck!4
I thought it was Coolidge.
Sen. Harrison—Wish it had been Coolidge.5
It’s no novelty to get a
Senator in wrong.
Mr. Walsh—What did you confer with Curtis about?
Mr. Bennett—About the editorial policy of our paper.
Mr. Walsh—Well, what does the editorial policy of any paper amount to? You don’t suppose anybody reads those things, do you? That will be all for you, Mr. Bennett.
Sen. Caraway—Just a minute before you go.6
Who was Peaches in those telegrams?
Mr. Bennett—I don’t remember.
Sen. Robinson—Yes, and who was Prunes?7
I hope it referred to no
Mr. Walsh—Call Mr. Curtis.
Mr. Walsh—Sen. Curtis, will you tell the Grand Jury in your own way just what happened between you and this editorial writer of the Washington Post?
Mr. Curtis—Yes Sir.
Mr. Walsh—What was it?
Mr. Walsh—You mean you didn’t confer with this gentleman?
Mr. Curtis—I did not.
Mr. Walsh—But you know him.
Mr. Curtis—Never saw him in my life.
Mr. Walsh—But you have heard of him.
Mr. Curtis—Never in my life.
Mr. Walsh—But you know of the Washington Post.
Mr. Crutis—Yes, sir, I have heard of it.
Mr. Walsh—Heard it? What do you mean you have heard it?
Mr. Curtis—I have heard Sousa’s Band play it many a time.8
Mr. Walsh—Play what?
Mr. Curtis—Washington’s Post.
Mr. Walsh—It’s not a tune; it’s a newspaper. You talk like a Congressman. Where are you from?
Mr. Walsh—That will be all.
Sen. Caraway—Just a minute, Mr. Curtis. Who is Peaches?
Mr. Curtis—I don’t know, unless it’s Jim Reed.9
Sen. Heflin—Hold on. I object to the Republican Senator’s slur on the fair name of the Democratic party. This investigation is supposed to be non sectarian, and I object to having politics dragged in just to make a Republican holiday.
Sen. Robinson—And I want to know who Prunes was.
Mr. Curtis—You mean you want to know who Prunes is.
Sen. Lenroot—Mr. Walsh and gentlemen of the vigilance committee: There is a bell boy over at my hotel and he just got it from the chauffer of a prominent oil man, that Major Leonard Wood’s son had just heard that his father was offered the nomination for the presidency 3 and half years ago, if he would appoint Mr. Jake Harmon Secretary of the Interior.10
Now that is a very serious charge and one that I think this committee should look into at once. Public affairs have come to a fine climax when a man in this country offers to make another one president. I tell you it is undermining the confidence of the great American people and when you do that you shake the very bulwarks of the American Constitution. I think a subpoena should be issued for Mr. Wood’s son at once and if this is so I am for a swift and speedy trial for the culprits.
Mr. Walsh—I am for calling Mr. Woods himself. There’s one thing that this committee has proven that it won’t take, and that is heresay evidence. So call Mr. Woods himself.
Mr. Moses—But Mr. Walsh, Mr. Woods is in the Philippines.11
Mr. Walsh—I thought he was home. Haven’t they got their independence yet?
Mr. Moses—No, Mr. Coolidge wouldn’t give it to them.
Mr. Walsh—What’s the matter? Haven’t they struck oil, too?
Mr. Moses—No, Mr. Coolidge told them that a nation that would not support Wood’s administration certainly would not be able to support one of their own.
Sen. Heflin—Well, how did America get independence? They didn’t support Wood.
Sen. Reed—Who said we had any independence?
Sen. Lodge, the Confuscious of Nanant—I object to having the president of these United States’ name dragged into this thing.12
I think when a man occupies the exalted position that he does that his name should not be degraded by having it mentioned in the Senate. Now I know that he is doing the best he can. I have known him ever since he got prominent enough for me to know. In the eight months that I have known him, I have found him to be patient, honest, and a man who would not knowingly rob a single Filipino of his liberty. This is simply a political trick to drag his name into this Philippine puddle.
Sen. Harrison—Does the exalted Senator from Massachusetts recall that during the late Democratic administration he himself, during the talk on European affairs, mentioned not only once, but twice, the name of the then president, Mr. Wilson? Now he doesn’t want us to mention his president.
Sen. Heflin—Well, it’s funny to me that a country can’t get their liberty, when they have advanced far enough to have the champion bantamweight prize fighter of the world. I know countries that have their liberty when they can’t even produce a good golf player, and that’s the lowest form of civilization.
Sen. Caraway—I would like to ask Mr. Lodge if he knows who Peaches is.
Sen. Lodge—I do not. It’s the only subject I ever admitted being ignorant on.
Sen. Robinson—Well, I want to know who Prunes is.
Sen. Lodge—You mean who Prunes am, don’t you?
Sen. Robinson—Darn it! That man is a bear on grammar.
Mr. Walsh—I think the committee should adjourn until we can get Mr.
Doorman—Excuse me, Mr. Walsh but there is a gentleman out here who wants to testify in regard to the Doheny and Sinclair leases.13
I tell him?
Mr. Walsh—Oh, yes, I had forgotten about those. Tell him as soon as we get this Woods for president affair settled, and Jack Dempsey’s mysterious sickness, and Babe Ruth’s collapse, that we will be able to get to that oil lease thing again.14
Sen. Copeland—Mr. Walsh, I was in New York last night and I heard Mr. Vanderlip make a speech to the Rotary Club of Coney Island, and he said, “I have it on absolutely reliable authority that George Washington never crossed the Delaware, and that the fellow you see in the picture in the middle of the boat was a fellow doubling for him, and if I am called I will be glad to give this information that I possess to the Senate Investigating Committee.15
Sen. Walsh—Mr. Secretary, call Mr. Vanderlip at once. Mr. Lenroot—Let’s not call him until tomorrow, Mr. Walsh, as he will make another speech tonight perhaps on what he discovered about Lincoln. So we can quiz him on both men at once.
Mr. Caraway—Before we adjourn, I want to know who Peaches is.
Mr. Robinson—I want to know who Prunes were.
(Next week new testimony on everything but oil.)
1For Thomas J. Walsh see WA 66:N 1.
2Ira Elbert Bennett, editor of the Washington Post from 1908 to 1933; an important witness in the Teapot Dome investigations.
3For Charles Curtis see WA 3:N 5.
4For Tom Heflin see WA 9:N 12.
5For Pat Harrison see WA 15:N 8.
6For Thaddeus H. Caraway see WA 66:N 4.
7For Joe Robison see WA 54:N 2.
8For John Philip Sousa see WA 18:N 4.
9For Jim Reed see WA 6:N 6.
10For Irvine L. Lenroot see WA 66:N 1. Leonard Wood, United States Army officer who served as governor general of the Philippines from 1921 until his death in 1927. General Wood was mentioned as a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nominations in 1916 and 1920, but his supporters were too poorly organized to enable him to secure the nominations. Jack Hamon, Oklahoma oilman and Republican national committeeman who told General Wood in 1920 that he would contribute funds to his campaign for president if the general
would agree to appoint him secretary of the interior. Hamon died before he could be called to testify in the Teapot Dome scandal. Leonard Wood, Jr., the general’s eldest son, was the source of the story.
11For George H. Moses see WA 54:N 14.
12For Henry Cabot Lodge see WA 4:N 7.
13For Edward L. Doheny see WA 63:N 1; for Harry F. Sinclair see WA 59:N 3.
14For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1; for Babe Ruth see WA 38:N 5.
15For Royal S. Copeland see WA 18:N 6; for Frank Vanderlip see WA 65:N 3.
WA68 March 30, 1924
MEETING 2 1/2 CARLOADS OF LAWYERS
The Exposure, published weekly, is right in the heart of things this week. The Oil Investigation has been transferred to Los Angeles. Mr. Doheny arrived here in three private cars—two and a half cars of lawyers and a half car of evidence.1
There were lawyers on those private cars that had never been on anything but the New York subway. Mr. Doheny seemed mighty cheerful, especially considering his association with this herd of lawyers for 5 days. You know association with just one lawyer can get a man mighty vexed, much less two and a half car loads of them.
Did you ever see two and a half car loads of lawyers? I never had, so I went down to the station early one morning to watch ’em unload. (It seemed like old circus days.) There was a big crowd around as lots of people, just like me, had never seen two and a half car loads of lawyers.
Well, they unloaded the first car just at daybreak. They were just the little ones. Chances are there was not a one in that car whose fee run any higher than, oh maybe 40 thousand a case. In fact they were just kinder engaged to carry the brief cases.
Well, they herded them out to one side, and called the roll. But none of us spectators were much interested in that gang. It was at the second car load that we commenced to prick up our ears, for we were now getting into the big money.
Lawyers came out of that car who wouldn’t argue even a speeding case in a traffic court for less than a hundred thousand. And then maybe you would have to give them a retainer in case you got pinched again.
There were men in there who had procured divorces for every one of the 400.
Well, when they had unpacked this second car and got them safely away to individual private suites at our home talent Biltmore, why, then come the real headliners. Just a few big ones that were in real touch with Mr. Doheny personally. Real lawyers! men who, on a case like this which involves perhaps about 400 million dollars, why they consider that slumming. They just come out for the outing.
Now I know lots of you people think he must have hired all the lawyers in the East. But such is not the case. This is only half of them. The other half took the northern route. The Tea Pot Dome Gang, they went to Cheyenne. Mr. Sinclair unloaded at least 4 cars there.2
The Supreme Court has closed up entirely, there is no one there to plead the cases. There is a great chance now for some young lawyer to get in right back East now. Mr. Doheny’s special came through Three Rivers, New Mexico, but they ordered the blinds pulled down, and no one was allowed to speak above a whisper. There wasn’t a single private car there as they come through.
Well after seeing this wonderful pageantry of lawyers arrive I thought, well, now me for the station to see Uncle Sam’s Battalion of Justice arrive. For the United States of America is not to be outdone in the marshaling of legal talent. So if these people have three cars, what will Uncle Sam have!
So I go down to the station next day, and finally a local pulled in. I had no idea that the defense of the American Republic was on that train, but, sure enough, they were.
Just then a special pulled in also with 5 private compartment cars, so I thought this must be it and not that local over there. But I found out that this
special was Ziegfeld’s “Sally” Company with a private compartment for each girl.3
So back to the local, and who do you think emerged? Why, Atlee Pomerene and Mr. Roberts.4
They came crawling out of a day coach where they had been sleeping on the back of their necks from Cheyenne. They didn’t even have a caddy to carry the legal proofs.
Well, I just looked at them and then visioned what I had beheld the day before when that Doheny Brigade arrived. And I thought to myself, “Uncle Sam, no wonder you never get anywhere.” Of course this is not saying anything against our men, as far as they went—both of them.
I do, by the way, wish Mr. Pomerene had a different first name. That Atlee don’t seem to add quite the dignity that I would like to see associated with one who is 50 per cent our oil salvation.
Of course there is one silvery lining for the Navy’s fuel. That is the other side has so many lawyers they may get to fighting amongst themselves and we would win accidentally.
But they are so well fortified against every emergency. They are just like a baseball team. Now if it should happen to be a dark rainy day when they argue the case, why they have dark day lawyers—men who are better in the dark than other lawyers.
Then they have expert technicality lawyers. That is, a lawyer that don’t know or have to know anything at all about the case, but who, if it goes against his side, why he can point out that witness So and So had on the wrong color tie when he testified, and that in signing his name he had failed to dot one of his I’s, and that therefore that rendered the whole of his testimony null and void.
He is a man who could take W. J. Bryan and show you on technicalities how he is entitled to be president.5
Then they have one car load of just postponement lawyers. Men who can have the falls of Niagara put back on account of the water not being ready to come over. Men who on the last Judgment Day will be arguing that it should be postponed on account of lack of evidence.
Then there is just the plain every day long-winded lawyer who argues so long and loud that they decide in his favor just to get him to stop. So you see, when you have every species of lawyer there is, you are a hard man to beat.
Of course there is the corporation lawyer. In his mind the individual has no more rights than a bull frog unless he is incorporated. Then he deserves every protection.
I had a particular friend that committed murder, and went to what he had heard was a good lawyer, but who happened to be a corporation lawyer. He wouldn’t take the case until my friend went back and incorporated. He told him, “If you are incorporated, I can get you out of anything.” So now my friend has engaged him for all his future murders.
Well, I tell you just how high Mr. Doheny went to procure talent for his case. He has Jack Dempsey’s lawyer!!6
Now I don’t know how this thing will come out. If our two lawyers who arrived by local can beat this train load of trained fee hounds, why it will certainly be a personal triumph for Mr. Roberts and Pomerene. It will prove that one ex-Senator has made good. You know a stay in that body generally ruins most men for any useful work.
Oh yes, I like to forgot; I went down last week to see the American fliers off who are going to fly around the world. I don’t see any particular thing in that, as they don’t expect to get back until fall. What’s worrying me is where are they going to spend all their time. One of them is liable to get in a hurry and jump on a horse and ride on home.
1For Edward L. Doheny see WA 63:N 1.
2For Harry F. Sinclair see WA 59:N 3.
3For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 18:N 1.
4For Atlee Pomerene see WA 7:N 3. Owen Josephus Roberts, American attorney who along with Pomerene served as a special government prosecutor in the oil reserve scandal of the Harding administration. Roberts became nationally known as a result of his work in the case and later was appointed to
the United States Supreme Court.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
6For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.