Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA82 July 6, 1924
THEY NOMINATED EVERYBODY
BUT THE FOUR HORSEMEN
As I pen you these few lines, the Democratic National Convention is still going on; going on to where, nobody knows. But it has to end some time for even a delegate can only stand just so much oratory. Perhaps by the time you read this they will have nominated a man for president, but I doubt it very much.
All the first week was taken up with seconding the nomination of
McAdoo and Al Smith.1
It looked like they were going to run out of people to do it, and they would have to second each other.
I wish you could have been here and heard what great men we have in this country. We started out with 16 men for president. Here is what each one of them was. “The only man who can carry the Democratic party to a glorious victory in November. Whose every act has been an inspiration to his fellow men. Not only loved in his home state but in every state.” Well, there was six continuous days of that.
Then the Klu Klux Klan argument come along, and really it was welcome even in New York. Just to get people’s minds off that continuous, “The man I am about to name to you.”
One day and up to two thirty in the night they fought and argued the Klan. It was the most exciting and dramatic night I ever saw in my life.
After 11 hundred delegates voted and recounted and voted the thing stood only about one vote apart. In fact a fraction of a vote, due to North Carolina, instead of having an election and naming 24 delegates, just letting the whole state come as delegates and giving each one the usual Volstead Ratio, half of one percent of a vote.
Alaska voted one Klu Klux Klan away up there. Can you imagine a man in all that snow and cold with nothing on but a thin white sheet and pillow slip?
My old friend W. J. Bryan made one of his characteristic speeches.2
He said that if they split the Democratic party with this Klan issue that another great party would arise to take its place. Some guy away up in the gallery started booing him. He just stopped and waited a minute until the heckler quit, then he said: “But no great leader of any party has ever come from the gallery.” After that they laid off him.
Ex-secretary of War Baker made a speech on the League of Nations and spoke of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, meaning I suppose, Borah, La Follette, Johnson, and Brookhart.3
I arrived late one morning, well only about 15 minutes late, and they had nominated 5 men for president already. I asked a man in the press stand who they were and he said, “You weren’t here and you know them as well as I do.”
I had a friend who wanted to be nominated but all the nominating speakers were so given out that he had to let it go until next election, that is in case they ever have another one.
If the one who is nominated can only swing the votes of the ones who were defeated he will give Mr. Coolidge a tight race.
Talk about presidential timber. Why, man, they had whole lumber yards of it here.
There was so many being nominated that some of the men making the nominating speeches had never even met the men they were nominating.
I know they had not from the way they talked about them.
Every time the speaker nominated somebody, why the band would strike up what they thought was an appropriate tune. The bird nominating Governor Brown of New Hampshire kept talking and referring to “The Old Granite State. That glorious old Granite State.”4
When he finished the band played “Rock of Ages.” There was granite for you.
They nominated from a list of all Democrats. They drew them out the night before convention.
Some man named Stuart from Illinois got up to nominate somebody, and we knew we would hear something about Lincoln being born in Illinois, and sure enough we did.5
He kept quoting Lincoln’s famous remark about “God must have loved the common people because he made so many of them.” Well this bird kept talking about his man being for the common people, and he flopped terribly. You are not going to get people’s votes nowadays by calling them common. Lincoln might have said it but I bet you it was not until after he was elected.
The fellow that nominated Charley Bryan from Nebraska was the only truthful one.6
He said, “I am gong to nominate a politician.” You know nobody at these things dare mention politician. Matchless leader, or successor to Jefferson are about as low as they ever mention. This fellow told how Bryan had lowered the price of gasoline in Nebraska, and a crowd of people was seen to leave the hall. I think it was John D. Rockefeller and his Bible Class.7
In the Charley Bryan demonstration staged by Nebraska, Florida joined in out of brotherly love.
When Bryan was presented the band played “Way Down Yonder in the Corn Field.”
When Jimmy Cox was nominated the band played, “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot.”8
Jimmy Cox is a mighty fine man, but I don’t know of any quicker way in the world to be forgotten in this country than to be defeated for President. A man can leave the country and people will always remember that he went some place. But if he is defeated for President they can’t remember that he ever did anything.
Smith’s demonstration lasted an hour and a half. McAdoo’s almost as long.
But most of them just managed to last through a verse and one chorus of the band.
Matthews of New Jersey nominated Governor Silzer also of New Jersey.9
He made a plea for him on the ground that he came from the same state that President Wilson did. That don’t mean anything. Look, I come from the same state that Harry Sinclair did.10
Yet I couldn’t find an oil well with a search warrant.
His principal pleas for Silzer was on the highways of New Jersey. So if people west of the Mississippi and down south want a president who will keep the roads of New Jersey up in good shape you can’t do better than have him.
A guy from Utah talked so long and loud that all of us couldn’t see how it could be anybody in the world he was nominating but Brigham Young that matchless father.11
But at the finish he crossed everybody by saying he was seconding McAdoo’s nomination.
You could never tell until one got through who he was going to name. They would pull the name last. That would be the only surprise they had.
Quinn of Minnesota throwed the biggest scare into the Convention.12
He praised his man so high that everybody in the hall knew it couldn’t be
anybody but LaFollette but he fooled us all by seconding Smith. In his talk he never spoke of anything east of St. Paul, and in Smith’s travels he has never been west of Syracuse. So you can see for yourself how hard it was to follow who they were going to name.
At the time I am writing this it looks like Smith will be the lucky one, so I think they will nominate Ralston.13
1For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1; for Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
2For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
3Newton Diehl Baker, American attorney and Democratic politician; United States secretary of war from 1916 to 1921. For William E. Borah see WA 1:N 6; for Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4; for Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3; for Smith W. Brookhart see WA 79:N 1.
4Fred Herbert Brown, Democratic governor of New Hampshire from 1923 to 1924. He was the favorite son presidential candidate of his state’s delegation in 1924.
5Available records of the convention do not show that a Mr. Stuart of Illinois delivered a speech on June 26, the day on which the activities Rogers reported in this article occurred. Former Governor Samuel Vernon Stewart of Montana delivered a brief oration, however, seconding the nomination of William McAdoo. On the previous day, Lewis Green Stevenson, a former secretary of state of Illinois, put into nomination the name of David Franklin Houston,
secretary of agriculture in Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet.
6Charles Wayland Bryan, Democratic governor of Nebraska from 1923 to 1925 and 1931 to 1935. Charles, brother of William Jennings Bryan, won the Democratic vice presidential nomination in 1924.
7For John D. Rockefeller, Jr., see WA 15:N 10.
8For James M. Cox see WA 14:N 14.
9John A. Matthews, colorful New Jersey attorney and Democratic politician, noted for a gift for oratory. George Sebastian Silzer, Democratic governor of New Jersey from 1921 to 1926.
10For Harry F. Sinclair see WA 59:N 3.
11For Brigham Young see WA 76:N 8.
12William J. Quinn, Minnesota lawyer and Democratic leader.
13Samuel Moffett Ralston, Democratic United States senator from Indiana from 1923 until his death in 1925. Although touted as a dark horse presidential candidate in 1924, he refused to run for the nomination.
WA83 July 13, 1924
IN THE MIDST OF A 7 YEAR HITCH
Well, I guess you heard about my presidential boom. You know every calamity in the world befell the Democrats while they were here in session the last couple of years.1
First they started in nominating. The entire first week was taken up with that. They nominated so many Democrats that if it had kept up another day they would have had to gone over into the Republican column. They talked their delegates and audience to death the first week. No wonder they couldn’t agree, there was no two delegates that could remember the same candidate.
Well, it ran along week after week and the longer it ran the more confused the delegates got. They began to get this convention mixed up with the San Francisco one because it had been so long since they left home, why, both conventions seemed about the same distance off.2
One delegation got to voting for Cox thinking it was ’Frisco.3
The chairman had no more
than got that straightened out and explained to them that this was an entirely
different year when what does my native state of Oklahoma do! They woke up the chairman of their delegation right quick one day to answer roll call and he blurts out “Oklahoma votes 20 for Robert L. Owen.”4
Well the chairman had to explain to them that this was not 1920, and that Mr. Owen was not a candidate, he was only a delegate. The Missouri delegation, when they could get any two to agree, voted for two days for Champ Clark, until telegrams commenced to pour in telling them of his demise.5
Nebraska voted for Bryan, and got sore when the rest of the convention thought it was W. J.6
They said it was a son or a brother or something of his. Mississippi and Louisiana started out voting for my old friend Pat Harrison
and Pat’s bottle run out, and they found an old Hoffman House Hotel Register and from then on they just voted for the names on it.7
Alabama was the only state that you could absolutely depend on. It seems that years ago Alabama sent a delegation to some convention instructed for a candidate and that when they got there they sold out and voted for another. So they have passed a law that any time they send a troup away again that they were to vote for the man they told them to until the candidate’s body has been duly pronounced dead by the home coroner. Well, that knocked any chance of profit out of this trip as far as Alabama was concerned.
La Follette, out in Cleveland, wrote a platform, held a convention, nominated himself, and went home.8
All this happened during the time they were polling the Illinois delegation here at this convention.
Women delegates started in with Bobbed Hair and wound up by being able to sit on it. One Woman sent back home for her washing machine. The Arkansas Delegates started in whittling up the board floor and whittling their way from the back of the hall up to the speaker’s platform. There was so many shavings under their chairs that if a fire had ever broken out in the buildings, between these shavings and the long whiskers, why, there would never in the world have been a way to stop it. There was one old long bearded man from Utah, that when the voting on the Klan got close shook 4 delegates with half a vote each out from under his whiskers and decided the issue right there.
All the members of the National Committee had gold badges to start in with. The thing that had only gone along a few weeks when they commenced to turn green and finally you couldn’t tell whether it was a badge or a shamrock.
It’s too bad because all the delegates here will lose their votes when they go home this fall. The law plainly states that you must have been a resident of the state for the last 6 months. If they were not thoughtful enough to register when they come to New York, they will lose their votes entirely.
Lots of delegates also had wives who were delegates, and this has been the longest time they ever spent together in their lives. I bet you will never see another man go on a delgation to a Democratic Convention when his wife is on one. South Carolina has no divorces, so of course this convention gave all their members a chance to get out of the state, claim a residence of 6 months, and be divorced before they get home.
Now mind you, as I pen these lines for this weekly letter to you, this thing is still going on. It’s Monday morning of the third week. I don’t know now who they will nominate. In fact people have lost interest. If they ever do nominate somebody, some of the papers may carry it and you may know it by the time you read this, but I doubt if he will even be nominated by then. If he is, it will be too late to get his name on the ballot by November, as the racing forms have already gone to press for the November classic. I am certainly glad that La Follette entered. That will give Coolidge somebody to run against, anyway.
If they don’t hurry up they will be the only party in the world that ever nominated a candidate and got him defeated on the same day.
In number of population the convention is holding its own. The deaths from old age among the delegates is about offset by the birthrate. Personally I think that the candidate who will finally be nominated will be born in this country.
I have been writing a daily account for the papers for this even years’ HITCH. I took it for so much for the job. If I had signed by the word I would be able now to walk by and hiss Rockefeller.9
In 1860, the Almanac says, a Democratic Convention was moved from Charleston to Baltimore. There is nobody here in this convention to verify it so I doubt if it ever happened. But, anyway, they talked for two days about moving this one, on account of us being held here in New York where one of the candidates lives. Well, they got to figuring and there was no town they could take it to that didn’t have a candidate who lived there.
Of course their thoughts naturally turned to Claremore, Oklahoma, the best town between Foyil and Catoosa in Oklahoma. Then, when Arizona showed such splendid judgment in putting me in nomination, why of course we couldn’t go there on account of the galleries there being biased in favor of my nomination.10
Then they figured they might just as well stay here. Everybody had got used to the place, and if they moved them they would just have to get used to sleeping in strange chairs again, and maybe by a different seating arrangement they might be sleeping next to someone they didn’t even know. It meant really alot of trouble, anyway, opening up new credit accounts and getting used to a different climate.
I want the Democrats to just pass this election by without getting beat and then center all their forces on 1928. Cal will be ineligible then, unless they may pass a Constitutional amendment to elect a President for life—and he is so lucky they are just liable to do it. But if he is out, the Republicans will have to get a new man too. Then it will be an even break.
But go ahead with this convention and pick him now. In fact I would pick out three or four to run in rotation, in 1928, ’32, ’36, and so on, because you will never get Democratic delegates to ever give up the best part of their lives by attending another one of these things. If they are wise today down there they will pick Jackie Coogan, for President and Baby Peggy for Vice President.11
1The Democratic National Convention of 1924 met in session for fourteen days in New York City in June and July. It took 103 ballots to decide the presidential nominee. John Williams Davis headed the ticket, with Charles W. Bryan as his running mate.
2The Democratic National Convention of 1920 met in San Francisco.
3For James M. Cox see WA 14:N 14.
4For Robert L. Owen see WA 10:N 3.
5For Champ Clark see WA 24:N 2.
6For Charles W. Bryan see WA 82:N 6; for William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
7For Pat Harrison see WA 15:N 8.
8La Follette (see WA 14:N 4) ran for president in 1924 under the banner of the League for Progressive Political Action (the Progressive party).
9For John D. Rockefeller, Jr., see WA 15:N 10.
10Arizona cast one vote for Rogers on the sixty-eighth ballot.
11For Jackie Coogan see WA 54:N 31 Peggy Jean “Baby Peggy” Montgomery, American motion picture child star of the 1920s who began her career at age two.
WA84 July 20, 1924
BROTHER CHARLEY WEARS A SKULL CAP
BUT HE’S NO RABBI
Well, hello folks! I just woke up. I have been asleep for two weeks. I suppose you heard about the late Democratic unpleasantness finally ending. Some of the old time papers had lost interest in it. So I better repeat who it was in case the paper you generally read is up to date and don’t print old news.
A fellow named Davis!1
The Davis’s, Smiths and Jones’s are slowly coming into their own. His first name is John, so they figured if he can only just carry the other Davis and the John vote that he will walk in. Then there are 8 million men named the whole name, John Davis. Each of those will be allowed double voting privileges, on account of having both names. Just before they left the last night they nominated a Vice President. They didn’t think they would need one. You see Coolidge has none now, and so they figured if they could only just do as well as he is doing that that would not be so bad. But finally they dug one up. Now in selecting his name they were not as fortunate as they were with the Davis name. They picked out a man named Bryan.2
To the general public there is only one Dempsey, that is Jack.3
Only one Chaplin, and that is Charlie.4
And only one Bryan and that is W. J.5
Now Bryan has been years building up his reputation, such as it is, and now they go and nominate another one named Bryan and it will take him just as long to get the general public to understand that he is not to be confused with W.J., only in blood. The question arises in my mind whether in the short space of time they have left, whether they can educate the public up to know that the two are different, if they had known they was going to nominate Bryan they would never have let the convention go so long, because they were losing all these weeks when they could have been alibiing his name.
Out in Cleveland at the Republican Follies, W. J. and I were together quite a lot. You see he was lucky to get some one to associate with him out there. But when we got here he tried to high tone me. He started in giving me the Ritz. Because a few Democrats hollered “Hello” at him and paid him some attention, why, he plum forgot me who had befriended him in an Alien City, when nobody would associate with him. Because, I will say this for Republicans, they are more careful of their associates than Democrats are.
Well, one night at dinner he talked to me for an hour about this same brother. He was like a father talking about all the bright things his baby does. He told me how this brother Charley, as he always called him, had always took care of his (W. J. Bryan’s) money and invested it for him, and how he had worked his way up out in Nebraska from one political job to another, how one time he had been elected for Mayor of Lincoln, but that when they counted the votes and found Charley Bryan had the most the political ring put him in as Street Commissioner or Traffic Officer, or something. Any way he didn’t get to be Mayor. They practically told him “Why can’t you take a joke?”
Well, W. J. talked all during dinner about brother Charley and incidentally talked through a six dollar and eighty cents check, which I, the Boob, was paying just to hear about brother Charley and what he had done for the Ford owners in Nebraska, by lowering the price of coal. He remarked then, between orders, that Charley should be president. Well, of course, I just looked at him and laid it to his age and living in Florida. Because a Florida or Californian both get light headed if you start feeding them a little heavy. He said he wanted me to meet his brother, and I said yes, I would be glad to. You have to be polite to everybody, but at the same time knowing that I would not be in Nebraska soon or his brother be out of there soon.
But when the Democrats commenced to stagger in here for the convention, here is this brother on this excurison east. I am to appear one night at a big swell affair for Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, at the Ritz Hotel that she is giving for a lot of the delegates.6
Well, I told a lot of truths up there, which the crowd all took as jokes. Oh everybody was there that had ever lived off of federal or state funds. I talked with a lot of them afterwards, including Arthur Brisbane, Barney Baruch, Governor Sweet of Colorado, Mr. Hearst, Senator Copeland, Mr. Phelan.7
You couldn’t step without tromping on at least a Governor or a Senator.
Well, a fellow with a black skull cap come up to me and introduced himself to me. I thought at first that he was a Rabbi. He said he was Brother Charley. Well sir, he was the nicest fellow, a regular two fisted man. He started to make some apologies for his brother and I stopped him, and told him I understood. I had been in New York long enough to know what heat would do. He said: “This is a dam fine party, ain’t it Will?” I looked at him. I couldn’t believe it. Then in a few minutes he used the word Hell. He seemed so jolly and nice, said he would come and see our show, (the Follies mind you) I got away from him and went over to Mrs. Hearst and asked her if that was really Bryan’s brother. She verified it, and I have never known her to lie to me yet.
Well the next day W. J. and I who wrote for the same syndicate would meet in the office writing our stuff. I said to him, “Mr. Bryan I met your brother Charley last night. He is a regular guy. He said Hell and Dam, and everything.” W. J. looked at me sorter funny, and said “I will have to get after him about that.” You know W. J is never stuck for an answer.
But, on the level, this other Bryan is O.K. and if the Republicans think they have got it on the Democrats because they have a Vice President like Dawes with his Hell’s Maria cussing, I want to tell you they are cuckoo.8
Bryan has them beat at their own game.
That Maria stuff of Dawes, with all his cussing, that sounds like a girl or an amateur trying to say something naughty and afraid to while this brother Charley just brings his out just like they were meant. Now I am just tipping you fellows off that bet on elections, if this is to be a profane campaign don’t you be too sure of this bird Dawes laying it over his Democratic opponent. You see what I heard him say things where he had no reason to. Just imagine if he got mad what he would say! Any man that has drove a cultivator up a corn row in Nebraska, no man that comes out of a bank is going to beat him cussing.
Another thing that is going to help Charley Bryan, he don’t lecture at churches. He seems perfectly satisfied to let people use their own judgment as to what they shall do. While William Jennings was trying to prove that our ancestors did not hang by their tails and bounce coconuts off each others beans, why brother Charley was licking the Standard Oil in Nebraska. You see the minute W. J. got out of Nebraska and got into Florida, why this other Bryan commenced to get somewhere. I write this not for any political purposes, but simply out of my love for all mankind. I don’t want to see a man get in wrong even if he is Bryan’s brother.
As far as politics is concerned personally I am trying to get Debs to run on an eighth ticket, and I will be his cussing Vice President.9
Here is a little incident that actually happened that illustrates the very good nature of both these boys. I sent Governor Bryan a message the day after his nomination: “Congratulations. Won’t you please have your birth records looked up and see if you are not really a cousin of W. J. instead of a brother? If you can, it will aid us greatly in the campaign.”
Well, W. J. took that and showed it all around as a joke on himself.
There is a great chance for some good cusser to get in as Vice President with La Follette.10
He ought to have heard McAdoo when this convention
He would have hired him quick.
Well, here is my honest summing up of the whole convention. The Democrats, after floundering around here for the best part of 1924, accidentally picked the best two men they had.
Next week I want to write you about the prominent women of the convention. There is where the brains are, and that is what kept it so long. You couldn’t frame up political trades with them.
1John William Davis, American attorney and former Democratic congressman from West Virginia who served as ambassador to Great Britain from 1918 to 1921. He was the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for president in 1924.
2For Charles W. Bryan see WA 82:N 6.
3For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
4For Charlie Chaplin see WA 11:N 8.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
6Millicent Wilson Hearst, American society figure and philanthropist; wife of publisher William Randolph Hearst.
7For Arthur Brisbane see WA 49:N 12; for Bernard M Baruch see WA 14:N 9. William Ellery Sweet, Democratic governor of Colorado from 1921 to 1925.
For Royal S. Copeland see WA 18:N 6. James Duval Phelan, San Francisco financier who served in the United States Senate from 1915 to 1921.
8For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6. Eugene Victor Debs, American socialist who organized the Social Democratic party of America in 1897 and ran for president as a Socialist in 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920.
10For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4 and WA 83:N 8.
11For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
WA85 July 27, 1924
CANDIDATES’ WIVES ARE NICE FOLKS,
It’s been a year since that Democratic nightmare ended yet I can hear through my dreams ringing: “Alabama, two dozen for Underwood.”1
But there will always remain one bright spot. Well, not only one bright spot, but many, for thanks to the 19th amendment there were many bright spots there.
Now, mind you, all through that Epileptic Epidemic of 1924 I did not just sit in the press stands listening to the nominating speeches or to: “The Secretary will again call the roll.” No sir, if I had done that I would not be able to write you these few lines. I got out and mingled around with the delegates and everybody. And I want to tell you that the whole thing will always remain a happy memory to me just on account of the lot of great people that I was able to meet—especially the ladies.
Now, I am not much of a ladies’ man. But when I can meet some women and we can get started off on, “What ages are your children?” and, “I have some just the same age,” why, then I can always hit if off pretty good. Well, we had them here. Don’t you people think because women are in politics that they haven’t got time to stand herd over a troup of kids.
We will start in with the wives of the presidential candidates. Mrs. McAdoo I had known for a long time—her and her husband.2
I want to just tell you something that she did. A few years ago I was in New York and my wife happened to be in California with the children. It was Thanksgiving and she rang me up and asked me where I was going to have Thanksgiving dinner. Now, mind you, I know them only casually. Well, she wanted me to come over and have dinner with them, with only their family. Now I thought that was pretty fine. Here was an ordinary comedian spending a lonesome Thanksgiving away from home and they happened to think of me. Afterwards, when they came to California, they did me the honor of calling at our rats’ nest. So I would go up in her box at the Garden and have many a merry chat with her, and she always had a smile whether they were voting with or against her husband. Her sister, Miss Margaret, was generally with her.3
Just below her, in a box almost close enough to touch, sat Mrs. Smith, the wife of Governor Smith, the other leader in the balloting.4
Now I want to tell you of a little incident that happened, to show you what kind of sports these wives were. A newspaper woman met Mrs. McAdoo rushing out of the Vanderbilt Hotel one morning and asked her what her hurry was. Mrs. McAdoo said: “I am hurrying to the Garden. They are going to nominate Al Smith this morning and I want to be there. You know yesterday when they nominated my husband and the demonstration lasted for over an hour, Mrs. Smith stood up in her box and waved and applauded, and I am going to be there to do the same for her husband, if it lasts all day and all night.” Now I claim that was a thoroughbred thing to do. Both of them.
What an example that should be to our men candidates! Mrs. McAdoo was the most simply and plainly dressed woman in the boxes. Some of the women alternates had on evening dresses for the morning session. But breeding will tell even in a Democratic convention. She is a true daughter of a great president.
Mrs. Smith is another Al. She either got it from him or he got it from her. But, to meet either one of them, you know why New York is so strong for them. She always has some of her family with her, and I was standing talking to them part of the time during that hour and a half demonstration (the like of which has never been equalled for noise) at the conclusion of her husband’s nomination. There was 15 thousand raving friends of Al Smith marching, hollering, screaming. Armistice Day was a Sunday School Picnic compared to it. And here was the wife and children of this man who, regardless of race or creed, is beloved by all that know him. I left my press seat while all the writers were fast scibbling news to their papers all over the U. S. as to what states were joining in the demonstration. I wanted to see and hear what she, the wife, thought of all this. The human part of a thing has always appealed to me more than the spectacular. It took me at least 20 minutes to work and shove my way across to where they were.
Now, as this article is for and about the women, I want to tell you confidentially, she did have tears in her eyes, for though the gamest women can keep back tears in sorrow, they can’t keep them back in happiness. I asked her what she thought of it. She just said: “It’s wonderful.” But she didn’t say it boastingly.
Now, as I saw and talked with these two wives in victory, I also sat and talked with both of them in defeat. When all the votes were going to somebody else, they were just as game and I don’t think that down in their hearts, personally, they were either one disappointed. Mrs. McAdoo would greet me every day with: “Well, what new jokes have you today?” And up in my dressing room wall at the theatre, along with telegrams for J. W. Davis, Charley Bryan, McAdoo and others is one from Al Smith thanking me “in behalf of Mrs. Smith for my chats during the weary months of the siege.”5
Mrs. John W. Davis I did not meet but I did meet her husband, and they say she is equally the class that he is.6
So if a Democrat reaches the White House we will have a mistress to preside, who no titled European visitor can embarrass by doing the right thing first. She will never tip her soup plate even if she can’t get it all.
Mrs. Leroy Spring from the Carolinas, the only lady who was ever nominated for the Vice Presidency, was another one I was fortunate enough to exchange daily jokes with.7
She afterwards come to our theatre, and I introduced her and she received a rousing welcome. She could have remained right with us in the Follies as few of our girls had it on her for looks. She made a hit with me by saying her husband always read my stuff in the papers. And me, like a boob, fell for it.
Then there was another very able and charming lady, Mrs. Miller from Pennsylvania.8
I defeated her by one half vote for the Presidency of the United States. She is the first woman to ever receive a vote (or half vote,
rather) for the Presidency, and I am the first acknowledged comedian to receive one (not the first comedian, mind you, but the first acknowledged one.)
She made a seconding speech for Al Smith that knocked the old men politicians right back onto their flasks. Imagine a smart woman like that bringing up children in a place like Pittsburgh. I tried like a true Californian to sell her some lots in California. She was dandy, and next to the best speaker there, either man or woman.
The best speech made there was by Mrs. Izotta Jewell Brown from Virginia.9
She seconded the J. W. Davis nomination late in the evening when all these old windbags had been going all day, and she knew what to say and still more important, she knew when to stop, AND DID. She used to be an actress, and if it will do any of these long winded men any good I am in favor of making actresses out of them for a while if it will learn them what to say, and when to quit.
Princess Bibesco, the daughter of Margot Asquith and wife of the Roumanian Ambassador to Washington—I sat up on the Speaker’s stand by her several times.10
Say, she savies American politics! She is a chip off the old block. Mother had got nothing on her daughter for wise cracks. She was too fast for me. I could just reach up and get the dull ones. She was also the fashion plate of the Speaker’s stand. She and Mrs. Cordell Hull and Mrs. A. Mitchell Palmer, and Mrs. Harriman.11
Well, along towards the last night, I met the finest woman, just like down home folks, she and her husband, both. I had never met them before and if you ever get a chance, look them up. That’s Mr. and Mrs. Josephus Daniels.12
Oh, I can’t tell you all the ones I met. It would take a book for this was truly a woman’s convention, and during the last few days who pops in but my good friend Mrs. Alice Nicholas Longworth.13
I don’t know what she
was doing slumming around a Democratic Convention, but I certainly was glad to see her, as she knows more politics in a minute than all the floor leaders that ever spoiled a candidate’s chances. This was the only time I ever saw her stuck. Even she didn’t know who was going to be nominated. Nick was with her so we would all guess together. Nick said he was right half of the time as he had guessed who the Republicans would nominate at Cleveland.
If this Roosevelt woman had been born a man we would not have to be worrying all this time over who would be one of our Presidents.
Met and had gab fests with two other charming ladies whose husbands received many presidential votes. One from my home state, and one from my wife’s state: Mrs. Robert L. Owen, from Oklahoma, and Mrs. Joe Robinson of Arkansas.14
The women can well feel proud of their record at this convention. They made better and shorter speeches, didn’t sell out, look better, dressed better, stayed awake better, and had they been running it, they would have cooked up some candidate earlier and we would all have been home.
1For Oscar W. Underwood see WA 51:N 3. At the Democratic National Convention of 1924, Alabama cast all twenty-four of its votes for favorite son candidate Underwood on each of the 103 presidential ballots.
2Eleanor Randolph Wilson McAdoo, youngest daughter of Woodrow Wilson; wife of William G. McAdoo (see WA 25:N 1).
3Margaret Wilson, eldest daughter of Woodrow Wilson.
4Catherine Dunn Smith, wife of Al Smith (see WA 5:N 5).
5For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1; for Charles W. Bryan see WA 82:N 6.
6Ellen Graham Bassel Davis, wife of presidential nominee, John Davis.
7Lena Jones Springs, American suffragette and Democratic national committeewoman who was the first woman to be nominated for the vice presidency of the United States. She was the wife of Leroy Springs, a prominent South Carolina banker and manufacturer.
8Mary Emma Guffey Miller, wife of engineer and oilman Carroll Miller of Pittsburgh.
9Izotta Jewell Brown, American stage actress and political activist who was one of the several delegates to second the nomination of John Davis at the Democratic convention in 1924.
10Elizabeth Asquith Bibesco, only daughter of Lady Margot Asquith (see WA 9:N 1); wife of Prince Antoine Bibesco, Romanian minister to the United States during the early 1920s. A noted writer, Princess Elizabeth almost caused an international incident in 1924 with her public support of John Davis for president.
11Rose Frances Witz Whitney Hull, a cofounder of the Women’s National Democratic Club; wife of Cordell Hull, Democratic congressman from Tennessee who later served as United States secretary of state. Margret Fallon Burrall Palmer, wife of Alexander Mitchell Palmer who served as attorney general in Woodrow Wilson’s cabinet.Florence Jaffrey Hurst Harriman, American clubwoman and Democratic hostess in Washington, D. C.; wife of Jefferson Borden Harriman.
12Addie Worth Bagley Daniels, wife of North Carolina editor and publisher Josephus Daniels (see WA 19:N 5).
13For Alice Roosevelt Longworth see WA 9:N 4; for Nicholas Longworth see WA 17:N 4.
14Daisy Deane Hester Owens, wife of Senator Joe Robinson (see WA 10:N 3). Ewilda Miller Robinson, wife of Senator Joe Robinson (see WA 54:N 2).
WA86 August 3, 1924
RANDOM SHOTS AT THE NEWS OF A
Well, all I know is what I read in the papers. I see where Uncle Henry Ford has a new rule in force out in his factory where they paste those knickknacks together. Every man working there has to have his breath smelled every morning. That, of course, seems like a pretty strict rule to put in force in a so-called free country, and it has come in for a lot of criticism in the papers, but they way I look at it, it is absolutely necessary. Should a man go to work in there who had had a few strong shots of some of our national drinks of today, he would blow his breath on one of those F. O. B.’s, and blow all the bolts right out of it.
Now, Mr. Ford is a very smart man and in passing these rigid rules I bet you he knows where to stop. I bet you that he won’t instruct his salesmen to be so strict with a purchaser. In fact his salesmen smell of your breath when you come in to buy one and if it shows no signs of drink they don’t try to sell you. He is smart enough to know a sober man would never buy one. Mind you, all this smelling of breath is done, not on the company’s time, but on the time of the workers. Some men have to get up at four o’clock in the morning to get their breath examined so they can get to work at eight. Imagine a line of fifty-thousand all waiting to blow a single individual tester! Think what he must be with all those Italian workmen passing by him. He is just 180 pounds of garlic by night.
The University of Michigan is putting in a chair in their faculty devoted to the art of breath detecting. But there is always a way to defeat any reform. Drinkers will learn to hold their breath like a diver.
GIBES J. P. MORGAN
While we are on the subject of papers, why, Mr. J. P. Margan just sailed for Europe.1
Today’s papers here in New York are full of it. They made all the photographers and reporters get off the boat, and they put in a special
gangway for him to go on the boat. He had dozens of policemen and officers to see that no one molested him by even looking at him. Then you will hear some bonehead say we have no classes in America like they have in England.
Why, if J. P. Morgan was as democratic for just one day as the Prince of Wales is every day, Morgan would feel like he was slumming.2
He was asked, the day before sailing, if his trip had anything to do with the Dawes Debt Plan being discussed in Europe now.3
He said, no, “Absolutely nothing at all.” No, he is no more interested in that loan than Babe Ruth is in base ball or William J. Bryan is in electric fans for Chautauquas.4
He said he was just going over to Scotland for the Grouse shooting season. Can you imagine what would happen if some one told him he was trespassing during his hunting over there. He would just say to his valet: “Boy, buy this lower end of Scotland for me, and send my secretary the bill; and, by the way, boy, purchase a couple of more million grouse and turn them loose here. Fix it so that no matter which way I shoot I will at least hit one.”
HIGHER COST OF TELEPHONES
New York City has had a big telephone rate fight through the courts. The company wanted a 10 per cent increase and got it. The judge handed down a decision and I’m told it declared that they were only being paid for the number that they got for you; that if they could collect for the wrong numbers they would be able to lower the rates, but that they only got about six right numbers in a day, hence they should be allowed the raise. If the courts try to phone the company that they have won the case the company won’t hear it until away into next fall unless they write them.
BOBBED-HAIR ISSUE IN MEXICO
We had no more heard the news that Mexico was all settled down and that they had had an election down there and most of the ones elected lived through it, when, all at once, a war breaks out about girls bobbing their hair. Yesterday’s casualty list read: 4 deaths and 2,176 bobbes. Just when we thought they were getting civilized down there they bob up with a barbarous custom and show that they are just as far behind civilization as we are. It will be a complete novelty in Mexico for the men there have never bobbed their own hair yet. So, it will look funny to see long haired men and short haired women. Villa died just in time.5
WHY CARPENTIER REALLY WON
We had a big prize fight here the other night—Tunney and Carpentier, the Frenchman.6
Everybody is arguing over who won it. Tunney got the decision but I see by the papers today that Carpentier got fifty thousand and
Tunney twenty-five thousand out of it, so I figure Carpentier won. Some question his gameness. Say, if he had not been game he never would have got up that first time Jack Dempsey knocked him down in their fight. A man has to be game to get in the same ring with that bird. Why, I know fighters that wouldn’t stay in the same hotel with him. If you told them they had to fight Dempsey they would jump off Brooklyn Bridge even if they couldn’t swim.
PILGRIMS WHO ARE NEVER WEARY
Mr. Hughes, our secretary of state, has been over in England, and made a speech before the Pilgrims’ Society of London.7
I don’t know what the Pilgrims’ Society is but they must feed somebody every night. It’s almost impossible for an American to go to Europe and not be dined by them, and seal the good-fellowship of the two countries by a speech. If I ever go over I will have one of those cut and dried hands-across-the-sea speeches all ready to deliver there, even if I am not invited. I suppose if a man even told the truth at one of those dinners about both countries he would breakup the club.
WARNING TO RADIO LISTENERS
If you have a radio, the next three months is a good time to have it get out of fix. All you will hear from now until the 4th of November will be: “We must get our government out of the hands of predatory wealth.” “The good people of this great country are burdened to death with taxes; now what I intend to do is....”
What he intends to do is try and get elected. That’s all any of them intend to do. Another one that will hum over the old static every night will be: “This country has reached a crisis in its national existence. Can we afford to stand aloof from our worldly obligations?”
Of the defeated candidates I am the only one who had the nerve to remain in New York. McAdoo went to Europe, and Epinard the French race horse came over here.8
So you see we are trading our slow candidates for their fast horses. Al Smith went back to his Follies in Albany, and I stayed right here with my Follies in New York.9
VARIED SPEECHES OF ACCEPTANCE
All the Sunday papers today are full of beautiful pictures of the various candidates getting their acceptance speeches ready. You know, a funny thing, they haven’t been notified yet. Be a good joke on them if the people changed their mind. And if it was left to the entire vote of the people that is just about what would happen to all three of them. Mr. Coolidge has notified us that his acceptance speech will be very long. Well, he being the president, just out of respect to the office, we will have to listen for a while even if we can’t stay awake through the whole thing.
Mr. John W. Davis says his will be very short.10
La Follette says his will be very loud.11
So there you are; you can take your choice. A long speech, a short speech, or a loud speech. I wonder why one of them don’t
announce he will make a good speech. But why expect the impossible!
“DOUG” AND MARY HAULED FORTH
We had Douglas and Mary Pickford in to see us the other night and I brought them up on the stage and they each made a very pretty little talk.12
I certainly was glad they did that for me, as it helped me out. It showed Ziegfeld that I know some pretty big people.13
He, with all his money and influence, couldn’t get Mary Pickford in the Follies. But I did, and none of our girls had anything on little Mary for looks either. The audience sure did give them a great welcome.
I am laying now for W. J. Bryan. I am going to get him in the Follies some night, if I can get him when he is not lecturing in a tent somewhere. He wouldn’t know how to act in a regular theatre with no hay to walk on and no dogs running around under his feet.
WAITING FOR THE PRINCE
Well, so long. I am going out to a polo game. That club I used to furnish the fun and falls for out in California is back here playing, and one of their team, Eric Pedley, not a rich millionaire but just a poor honest to goodness boy, has made so good back here in their practice games that he will no doubt be picked to play No. 1 on the international team.14
Hurray for the
West! He is California bred and raised.
I am waiting for the Prince of Wales. I want to match him single handed for falls.
1For J. P. Morgan, Jr., see WA 1:N 4.
2For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
3For the Dawes Debt Plan see WA 72:N 6.
4For Babe Ruth see WA 38:N 5; for William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
5For Pancho Villa see WA 34:N 1.
6James Joseph “Gene” Tunney, American prizefighter who won the world heavyweight championship in 1926 by defeating Jack Dempsey (see WA 31:N 1). He retired undefeated two years later. Georges Carpentier, French pugilist who held the world light-heavyweight title from 1920 to 1922. He was defeated by Dempsey in the fourth round of a heavyweight championship bout in 1921. Tunney scored a technical knockout over Carpentier in a fifteen-round fight in New York City in July 1924.
7For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4.
8For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1. Epinard, great French race horse who visited the United States in 1924 to compete in three international events. The best Epinard could accomplish, however, was to finish second three times, a different American horse winning on each occasion.
9For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
10For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
11For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
12For Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., and Mary Pickford see WA 25:N 4.
13For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.
14Eric Pedley, California polo player of the 1920s and 1930s who became one of the top American players in the history of the sport. Pedley and Rogers often played polo together at various southern California clubs.
WA87 August 10, 1924
AL AND THE MOOSE MAKE HITS
Well, I had an addition to my act this week in the Follies, and if I can make arrangements with him I would like to use him all the time. He was the biggest hit on his first appearance on our stage of any one we ever had appear. You might have heard of him, he has been playing around these little Bush League Circuits and is fairly well known especially among the political and undesirable element. The amusement places of Albany, and Tammany Hall have been his principal sources of employment. He works a good deal like I do, (not that he has copied my style) but he just stands up there and talks on stuff he has read in the papers. He takes the thing, and injects some truth into it. He is just now the biggest thing in New York, and I would feel mighty proud to work with him, I would be willing to let him have his name first in the billing: “SMITH and ROGERS, Al and Will, Those two Boys, in an Act, entitled: The Truth about Politics. Both defeated Candidates but who have proved themselves bigger in defeat than most Politicians would be in Victory.”1
In fact I myself feel that I am bigger in defeat than even I myself would have been in victory. The late Democratic Dementia which finally closed its prolonged Epileptic fit has made broader men of both Al and I. In fact we both leave the convention much older men than when we entered. They used to advertise beer as “being aged in the wood” but now they advertise Democrats as being “aged in the Madison Square Garden.”
Well, he was at our opera house the other night and I want to say this for him he brought his own wife which is considered enough of a novelty to attract attention, even if he were not governor. So I spotted him out and got him up on the stage.
Now I thought that was a pretty Democratic thing for him to do to come up there and help me out, he being the governor of the biggest state in the Union. But that only shows you the kind of a guy he is. He told better jokes on me than I ever could think of on him, and, say, he like to tore the house down with applause.
I tried to get him to announce to us whether he intended running again for governor but he would not commit himself. Politicians will never announce anything until everybody else knows all about it. Then they do it as though it was a great mystery.
I offered him the appointment as Mayor of New York City. I told him Hylan kinder wanted to be governor.2
Personally I don’t think there is any
comparison in the two jobs. Why, I told Gov. Smith on the stage that night, a man is lost up in Albany. There is nothing to see up there but the State Legislature, and you know what all State Legislatures look like. I told him to come to New York and stand on the City Hall steps and meet all the Foreign Lecturers that come to this country to tell us how to run it. Look at the parades you can review here, while up at Albany if a parade ever started it would use up all the space and be over in Troy with the overflow.
Mr. McAdoo, just before he left for Europe, was in to see us one night and also helped me out.3
He has gone to Europe and seems to be staying quite a while. I don’t know if his long stay means that he is establishing a residence over there for political purposes. Still I don’t know of anything over there that anyone would want to run for. In fact, you don’t have to run for anything over there. If you have the money you just buy it.
The Moose held their convention here last week and have all left town already. I am glad to know they had more manners than the Democrats. I was asked to address them at their opening convention in Carnegie Hall. In fact I was the keynote speaker. I had heard so many political speeches that I found myself saying: “The man I am about to nominate.” I had to welcome them to the city as the mayor was out working on Mr. Hearst’s ranch in California.4
I told them things were pretty tough here now, as the Democrats had drank and eat up about everything we had. This man Davis who is Secretary of Labor in Mr. Coolidge’s Cabinet is at the head of the Moose and to some of you that were like me and are not up on the lives and habits of these wild animal fraternities, why this particular one seems pretty good.5
I told them I thought they were just like some other lodges just sort of a bootleg organization, so it was a source of great satisfaction to learn that they care for hundreds of orphan children and aged people and have a town founded just for that purpose.6
Anything is just as good as the head of it and
no better, and I want to tell you that this fellow Davis is a regular guy. He
is a Welshman. The Island of Welsh has produced three great men. Lloyd George is one and Davis is the other two.7
He was in to see our side show last night. I introduced him to the audience as the Henry Ford of the Moose. We also had in Mr. Samuel Untermeyer, the great lawyer.8
During the convention he entertained all the delegates and alternates at his magnificent country home at Greystone at Yonkers. There was a couple of thousand or more of them. He had big circus canopy stretched out on the grounds near an artificial lake and all the food and things already to serve when a big storm came up and blew the whole thing into the lake—eats and all.
Well, it took him and all his servants to keep the delegates from diving in for the sandwiches. Now everybody in the world gets hungry at some time or other but no animal in the world gets quite as hungry as a Democrat. Well, a rain come up with the wind and here come these thousands rushing into the house tramping over the antiques and eating the Persian rugs and tapestries. It took him two weeks to clean all the Democrats out of his house. Now a Democrat can’t get nearer to his home than Tarrytown, that’s 15 miles away.
John W. Davis landed back here.9
He is the first one from the convention that has had the nerve to come back to town. He has been spending three weeks up in Maine with Charles Dana Gibson, the owner and publisher of Life, the humorous paper.10
Davis has been working on his acceptance speech. So if the people don’t like the speech, he can sell it to Life. It’s always good for a public man to stand in with editors that way. Hearst takes everything Hylan writes. I met the managing editor of the Police Gazette and he offered to use any of my stuff that the people didn’t want.
The papers are full of these Defense Day arguments. Our Army and Navy has degenerated so since the war I guess a lot of governors are ashamed to have a parade and show how little they have got. We are the only nation in the world that waits till we get into a war before we start getting ready for it. We are mighty glad to listen to General Pershing’s advice during the war, when we trusted the lives of millions of our boys to him.11
I don’t see why they can’t listen to him now. Pacifists say that “if you are ready for war, you will have one.” I BET YOU THERE HAS NOT BEEN A MAN INSULTED JACK DEMPSEY SINCE HE HAS BEEN CHAMPION.12
1For Al Smith see WA 5:N 5.
2For John T. Hylan see WA 18:N 5.
3For William G. McAdoo see WA 25:N 1.
4For William Randolph Hearst see WA 19:N 2.
5For James J. Davis see WA 46:N 2.
6Mooseheart, Illinois, site of a home for dependent children of deceased members of the Moose fraternal organization.
7For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
8Samuel Untermyer, prominent and highly successful New York City attorney; delegate to several Democratic national conventions.
9For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
10Charles Dana Gibson, American illustrator whose creation of the “Gibson Girls” in the 1890s made him a famous and much sought-after artist. See also WA 15:N 11.
11For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
12For Jack Dempsey see WA 31:N 1.
WA88 August 17, 1924
A SKINNY DAKOTA KID WHO MADE GOOD
Out of the west came a little skinny runt kid. He was born away out in the hills of South Dakota. On Sundays the cowpunchers and ranchers would meet and have cow pony races. On account of his being small he was lifted up and a surcingle was strapped around over his legs and around the horse. He was taken to the starting line of a straightway and was “lapped and tapped” off. He had the nerve and he seemed to have the head. So they cut the surcingle and he got so he could sit up there on one of those postage stamp things they call a jockey’s saddle. He kept riding around these little country shooting gallery meets, and merry-go-round gatherings, until he finally got good enough to go to a real race track at New Orleans. There he saw more horses in one race than he had ever seen at one track before.
His first race he run 2nd. Then he said to himself. “Why run second? Why not run first?” And he did. They begin to notice that this kid really savied a horse. He spoke their language. Horses seemed to know when the kid was up. He carried a bat (Jockey’s term for a whip) but he never seemed to use it. Other jocks would come down the stretch whipping a horse out when the best he could finish would be 4th or 5th. But not this kid. When he couldn’t get in the money he never punished them. He hand rode them. He could get more out of a horse with his hands than another jock could get with the old battery up both sleeves.
He got to be recognized as one of the best, and he passed from one stable to another until he landed with the biggest, a real trainer and a real sportsman-owner. How many thousands of people in every line come to New York every year that want to make good, get ahead and be recognized! They come by the millions. How many, if anything happened to them, would get even a passing notice in the busy and overcrowded New York press. If some millionaire died, the best he could get would be a column. Then perhaps it wouldn’t be read through by a dozen. But what blazoned across the front pages of every metropolitan daily a few days ago, in bigger headlines than a presidential nomination, bigger than the Prince of Wales will get on his arrival?1
In a race at Saratoga Springs, N. Y. a horse had fallen, and carried down with him a little skinny kid (that had slept in this youth not in a 5th Avenue mansion but in box stalls all over the country with horses, the horses he know how to ride and the horses that loved to run their best for him).
Here was the headline: “SANDE IS HURT. He may never ride again.”2
They don’t have to give even his first name; few know it. They don’t have to explain who he is. The don’t have to tell which Rockefeller or Morgan it was. It was just Sande. There is only one. Our Sande! The boy who had carried America’s colors to victory over England’s great Papyrus and their premier jockey Steve Donahue.3
The ambulance rushes on the track and picks him up; it is followed by hundreds afoot running. The entire grand stand of people rush to the temporary track hospital to see how Sande is, and hoping and praying that it’s not serious. He revives long enough to tell his wife he is all right. Game kid that. Then he faints again. Mrs. Vanderbilt and the elite of society are assisting and doing all they can to help.4
A personal physician to a president of the United States is working over him.5
He could not have shown any more anxiety over the president than he did over this kid. When those thousands of pleasure seekers and excitement hunters rushed from the stands and saw them lifting that frail lifeless looking form from that track ambulance there was not one that wouldn’t have given an arm off their body if they had thought it would save his life and that goes for touts, and grooms, and swipes, as well as the public.
Some western people who don’t know are always saying the Easterners have no heart, everything is for themselves and the dough. Say, don’t tell me that! Geography don’t change human nature. If you are right, people are for you whether it’s in Africa or Siberia. A wire was sent by Mr. Widener, a millionaire racing official, to Dr. Russell the great specialist of Roosevelt Hospital, N. Y., “Come at once. Spare no expense. SANDE is hurt.”6
That’s all Secretary Slemp could do if President Coolidge was hurt.7
Mr. Sinclair withdrew all horses from the remaining races.8
He would withdraw them for life if he knew it would restore this kid who worked for him, back to normal again.
Now what made this one hundred and ten pound half portion of physical manhood beloved by not only the racing public but by the masses who never bet a cent on a horse race in their lives? The same thing that will make a great man in any line—his absolute HONESTY. The racing public are very fickle and when they lose they are apt to lay blame on almost any quarter, but, win or lose, they knew it was not Sande. To have insinuated to one of them that he ever pulled a horse, would have been taking your life in your hands. What do you suppose he could have gotten out of some bunch of betting crooks to have pulled Zev in the big international race. Why, enough to retire on and never have to take another chance with his life by riding. He could have done it on the back stretch and no one would have ever known.
Ablity is all right but if it is not backed up by honesty and public confidence you will never be a Sande. A man that don’t love a horse, there is something the matter with him. If he has no sympathy for the man that does love horses then there is something worse the matter with him. The best a man can do is to arrive at the top in his chosen profession. I have always maintained that one profession is deserving of as much honor as another provided it is honorable.
Through some unknown process of reasoning we have certain things that are called arts, and to be connected with them raises you above your fellow man. Say, how do they get that way? If a man happens to take up painting and becomes only a mediocre painter, why should he be classed above the bricklayer who has excelled every other bricklayer. The bricklayer is a true artist in his line or he could not have reached the top. The painter has not been acclaimed the best in his line hence the bricklayer is superior. Competition is just as keen in either line. In fact there is more good bricklayers than painters. If you are the best taxi driver you are as much an artist as Kreisler.9
You save lives by your skillful driving. That’s a meritorious prefession, is it not?
A writer calls himself a literary man or an artist. There are thousands of them, and all, simply because they write, are termed artists. Is there a Sande among them? Caruso was great but he only had to show ability.10
He didn’t have to demonstrate any honesty. Nobody tried to keep him from singing his best by bribery.
Now if you think the racing public and millions of well wishers are hoping for this kid’s recovery, what about the horses? They knew him better than the humans did. Why, that horse would have broken his own neck rather than hurt Sande. Who is going to ride him in the next race and make him win and not whip him—not Sande. Who is going to sit on him just where he will be the easiest to carry? Not Sande. Who is going to lean over and whisper in his ear and tell him when to go his best? Not Sande. Who is going to carry a bat and not use it? Not Sande. Who is going to watch his hand on that starting barrier and have him headed the right way just when the starter springs it? Not Sande. No, the horses are the ones who are going to miss him.
If we could speak their language like he can, here are a few conversations that you will hear through the cracks in the box stalls: “Gee, I can’t run. I don’t seem to get any help. I wish Sande was back.”
A three year old replies, “I wish there was something we could do. If they would just let us go up to the hospital and talk to him, he would savy. I wish we had him here in a box stall. I would stand up the rest of my life and give him my bed. I would fix him some clean hay to lay on. He don’t want those white caps and aprons running around. He wants to lay on a horse blanket, and have his busted leg wrapped up with bandages like he knows how to use on ours. I bet they ain’t even got Absorbine up there. That kid would rather have a brand mash than all that goo they will feed him with up there.”
The old stake horse 4 stalls down the line overhears and replies: “Sure, I bet they have one of them bone specialists. What that kid needs is a good vet.”
The old selling plater butts in: “Sure, we could cheer him up if he was here. Them foreigners up there don’t speak his tongue. That kid is part horse. Remember how he used to kid with us when he would be working us out at daylight when the rest of the star jocks was in the feathers. One morning I told him if he didn’t quit waking me up so early in the morning I was going to buck him off. He got right back at me; he said, ‘if you do I will get you left at the post your next race.’ Gee, he sure did throw a scare into me. And, say, you couldn’t loaf on that bird either. He knew when you was loafing and when you was trying. I throwed up my tail one hot day to make him think I was all through. He give me one cut with the bat and I dropped that tail and left there so fast I could have run over Man of War.11
Gee, those were great days; do youse reckon Zev knows anything about it? I hope they don’t tell him; it would break his heart. He sure did love that kid.”
Patient readers, Lincoln went down in history as “HONEST Abe,” but HE NEVER WAS A JOCKEY. If he had been a jockey he might have gone down as just “Abe.”
1For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
2Earl Sande, famous American jockey who recorded 967 race victories, including the Kentucky Derby in 1923, 1925, and 1930. Sande rode Zev (see WA 49:N 1) to victory over English-bred Papyrus, winner of the Epsom Derby, in a celebrated international match in 1923.
3Stephen “Steve” Donoghue, English jockey who won the English Derby six times.
4Virginia Fair Vanderbilt, American society figure and avid supporter of horse racing; wife of William Kissam Vanderbilt II. She helped to attend Sande after his fall.
5Cary Travers Grayson, American naval surgeon and personal physician to President Woodrow Wilson. Grayson was in his box at Saratoga when Sande was injured, and he hurried to aid the fallen jockey.
6Joseph Early Widener, noted American turfman who owned several stables for which Sande often rode. James Isaac Russell, well known and respected general surgeon from New York City.
7Campbell Bascom Slemp, former Virginia congressman who served as secretary to President Calvin Coolidge from 1923 to 1925.
8Harry Sinclair (see WA 59:N 3) owned a large and successful stable of race horses.
9Fritz Kreisler, Austrian-born American violinist who composed arrangements of classical music for violin and the operetta Apple Blossoms.
10For Enrico Caruso see WA 50:N 4.
11Man o’ War, American-bred race horse that won twenty of twenty-one races from 1919 to 1920 and set five American track records during his brief racing career.
WA89 August 24, 1924
ABOUT PEGGY, THE PRINCE,
CANDIDATES, AND COOLIDGE
Well, all I know is just what little I read in the papers. I see where one of our old Follies alumni has made the front page again. Peggy Hopkins Joyce has just jarred herself loose from another husband.1
You know, I know Peggy. We used to be in the show together. I tell you when it was. It was in her sophomore marriage. I didn’t meet her again until her senior husband. Then those post graduate ones I didn’t know at all. Now I never was married to her myself, but she is just a good natured, good hearted girl that when a fellow asks her to marry him, she just has not the heart to refuse. I will say this for Peggy, a poor guy don’t last any longer than a rich one with her. Some of them want to be supported in the manner in which Peggy is accustomed, instead of the manner in which they have been accustomed.
That champion marrying prize fighter Kid McCoy got himself into a fine mess.2
I see where he is going to plead insanity. Well if he can produce all nine of his marriage certificates he can prove it. In fact I don’t believe he would have to produce them all. He could leave 3 or 4 at home and even then convince a jury.
I have heard and read much of his shrewdness in the ring but the best one happened in South Africa. He had gone there on some gold mining scheme, and no one knew him as Kid McCoy the prize fighter. So he matched himself against a big burly negro, a native Zulu down there. This big burr head always went barefooted. In fact, he had to; he couldn’t get anything big enough to cover those polangus colored dogs of his. The Kid had heard about his fighting barefooted, so he got a box of carpet tacks and concealed them in the palm of his boxing gloves, and as he went out to meet the big jigg, he just casually dropped them on the floor of the ring. The coon stepped leisurely on about a half dozen at once, let a howl out of him that even frightened the other Zulus, picked up his foot with his hands, and as he did,—I say, as he did,—the kid swung a right from as far back as he could reach and clipped Mr. Barefoot right in the chin, and spread him so completely over that ring that it took them days to pick the tacks out of his body.
As I go to press they are still listening to the alienists and insanity experts out in Chicago in that case. There are two things that I don’t care how smart you are, you will never understand. One is an alienist’s testimony, and the other is a railroad time table.
Well, the heat spell finally broke here in New York. It broke and rained on the night J. W. Davis made his acceptance speech.3
So the Democrats immediately claimed credit for it.
The wheat crop in Russia failed and made the price go up here. So the Republicans claimed that as their contribution from the administration.
Everybody is making preparations for the visit of the Prince of Wales.4
He has been offered every private home to live in east of Altoona. I don’t know his address over there or I would write to him and tell him what I
had to contribute. So I will just do so publicly through the press in this article. He wants to avoid crowds and be off by himself so I think I have just
what he wants.
Now, in offering this, I have no (what is it they call it?) ulterior motive. I have no daughter of marriageable age that I have visions of occupying Windsor Castle. What I have to offer is not as elaborate as some he has been offered but it might be just what he wants. I have a nice large dressing room at the Follies and I can have a cot put in and he can have the use of it as long as he cares to stay.
Of course he will have to go out for his meals, but everybody that is anybody here in New York does that anyway. There are not ten modern homes in N. Y. with a dining room in them at all. As to this equerry, or whatever it is that he carries with him, I have no place for hired help. He would have to board them out some place.
I have heard and read that he loves dancing and the association of beautiful girls. Now that should make my offer attractive. We have one hundred of the world’s Best that would be passing his door, and that he will not see the likes of I don’t care where he and his Equerry go. And he loves dancing. Now where can you get girls and dancing right at your door like I am offering him? There is nothing like it on Long Island; I have been all over that.
Now I hear he is going to have lunch with President Coolidge. After all that excitement he will want some quiet place to rest, so I don’t think he can do better than to accept my offer.
By the way, I was just reading all day yesterday and today President Coolidge’s serial on the Republican administration. Who said he never said anything? He certainly has been saving up. The question arises whether a man who has been an established success and has absolutely gained the confidence of the American people by not shooting off on everything that come up—whether it is good policy for him to break that rule. Personally I think he made a mistake.
Now, take my case as an example. I have made a comfortable living by telling the truth about public men and politicans. I have had all kind of suggestions and offers to stop telling the truth about them and start lying for them, buy, NO, I have gotten by this far on one thing. Why should I change, and take a chance of failing?
So that is exactly what I think in his case. He has established himself and gotten to the top; now, why change it by starting in making long winded speeches? He was working and acting for the people and the government all the time. Everybody knew that. Now why does he stop and start telling about it? He is just a politicians, shouting around over the radio “What my party has accomplished.” If he had just said: “Boys, I accept the nomination. If you think from what I have done I deserve a chance, why I will he much obliged to you.”
I don’t care how smart you are, if you say something you are liable to say something foolish and the smarter you are, and the longer you talk the more fool things you will say. We had pictured him as the quiet active man that does instead of says. But, NO, like all Republicans, he has been badly advised, and now he is just a politician seeking re-election.
And I want to tell you that, the way he puts it, I don’t see how a fellow can exist and have any self respect and not belong to the Republican party. I did not realize that so many great things had been accomplished by them in the last four years. He states a thing in his first paragraph that I bet you a lot of you did not know and thought the same as I did. He says: “Our system of nomination is not the outcome of chance, it is the product of experience.” I didn’t know that. When Mr. Harding was nominated in Chicago after Hiram Johnson had gone there with almost a majority of the votes of the people, and also Mr. Lowden with a big block af them, and that in the deadlock Mr. Harding was chosen, I was always foolish enough to think that chance did have something to do with it.5
I was even silly enough to think that even in our selection of a Vice Pres., chance entered into it. But now I find that the Boston Police strike had nothing to do with it.6
Even as late as this year out at the Cleveland Convention when Dawes was chosen as the Vice Pres. I kinder thought that the custom which makes a plan or a bill bear the chairman’s name such as the Dawes Plan bore his name because he happened to be chairman.7
We had other members on that excursion who perhaps did excellent work, but because they did not happen to be chairman and have the bill bear their names we can’t even remember who they were. Well, I thought that perhaps the publicity accumulating from this Dawes Plan might have had some influence in his being chosen. But it seems I am wrong again. That chance of a bill being named after its chairman had nothing to do with it.
I also, in one of my most coo-coo moments, thought that the geography of the state a man happened to be from entered as an element of chance into our nominations for President and Vice President. I had wondered if Dawes, for instance, (with the same amount of ability) would have been chosen if he had been from Vermont or Massachusetts instead of Illinois. Would this have been a good Vice Presidential year for him? But I am wrong again. Luck or chance played no part in his being from the West on this particular year. All of my illustrations have been picked from the Republicans as of course when Mr. Coolidge made that famous remark of “No chance entering into it” he was referring only to his own party.
No one would dare to insinuate that there had ever been an element of chance entering into the Democratic Party. Their nominations are not through chance. They are through necessity. If the Democrats nominate by chance, God forbid that they ever take time to deliberate on their choice.
Now that we have learned that chance has no place in politics, and only experience and ability are considered, why not choose our Presidents on the competitive or Civil Service basis?
1Peggy Hopkins Joyce, American showgirl who appeared regularly in the Ziegfeld Follies; noted for her six marriages and countless engagements.
2Charles “Kid” McCoy, American prizefighter who held the world welterweight title from 1896 to 1900. In 1924 McCoy was convicted of murdering a girlfriend who had refused to marry him. Given a twenty-four-year prison term, he was paroled in 1932.
3For John W. Davis see WA 84:N 1.
4For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
5For Hiram W. Johnson see WA 14:N 3. Frank Orren Lowden, American lawyer and Republican politician; governor of Illinois from 1917 to 1921. Both Lowden and Hiram Johnson contested Warren G. Harding for the Republican nomination in 1920.
6Coolidge came into national prominence while governor of Massachusetts through his suppression of the Boston police strike of 1919.
7For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6.
WA90 August 31, 1924
FROM NUTS TO THE SOUP
A couple of weeks ago in my weekly hamburger, I had the following, “If Mrs. J. W. Davis ever gets into the White House we will have a mistress to preside whom no titled European visitor can embarrass by doing the right thing first.1
She will never tip her soup plate even if she can’t get it all.”
Now comes along an old friend of mine, Percy Hammond, a theatrical critic on a New York paper (pardon me, Percy, for having to tell them who you are, but my readers are mostly provincial).2
He takes up a couple of columns, part of which follows:
“For years I have been tipping my soup plate, but never until Mr. Rogers instructed me, did I know that I was performing a social error. Consultation with the polished and urbane head waiters of the Middle West, where I spent by boyhood, taught me, I believed, to eat soup. One wonders if Mr. Rogers has given as much thought to soup as he has to the lariat. Perhaps he does not know, being recently from Oklahoma, that in many prominent Eastern dining rooms one may tip one’s soup plate, without losing his social standing. I regard Mr. Rogers’s interference as prairie, impudent and unoffical. The stewards of the Dutch Treat Club assure me that it is proper to tip one’s plate, provided (and here is the subtlety that escapes Mr. Rogers) provided that one tips one’s soup plate from and not toward.3
“Mr. Rogers might well observe the modesty in such matters that adorns Mr. Tom Mix, his fellow ex-cowman.4
Mr. Mix, telling of a dinner given in his honor at the Hotel Astor, said, ‘I et for two hours and didn’t recognize a thing I et except an olive.’”
ONLY A SOUP CRITIC
Them are Percy’s words. Now Percy (you notice I call you Percy, because if I kept saying, “Mr. Hammond, Mr. Hammond,” all through my article it might possible appear too formal), Percy, I thought you were a theatrical critic. Now I find you are only a soup critic. Instead of going, as is customary, from soup to nuts, you have gone from nuts to soup. Now, Percy, I have just read your article on “My Ignorance of Etiquette” (I don’t know if that etiquette thing is spelled right, or not; if it is not it will give you a chance for another article on my bad spelling). Now you do not have to write articles on my lack of etiquette, my ignorance, my bad English, or a thousand and one other defects. All the people that I ever met or any one who ever read one of my articles know that. That would be just like saying W. J. Bryan was in politics just for Chautauqua purposes.5
It’s too well known to comment on. Besides, I admit it.
Percy, I am just an old country boy in a big town trying to get along. I have been eating pretty regular, and the reason I have been is because I have stayed an old country boy. Now I wrote that article, and technically I admit I may have been wrong, but the newspapers paid me a lot of money for it, and I never had a complaint. And, by the way, I will get the same this week for writing about you that I did about soup. Now both articles may be wrong. But if you can show me how I can get any more money by writing them right, why I will split with you.
Now you took my soup article apart to see what made it float. I will see if we can’t find some small technicalities in your literary masterpiece. You say I came recently from Oklahoma, while you came from the Middle West and “by consultation with the head waiters have learned the proper way to eat soup.” I thought Oklahoma was in the Middle West. Your knowledge of geography is worse than my etiquette. You say you learned to eat soup from a head waiter in the Middle West. Well, I admit my ignorance again; I never saw a head waiter eat soup.
Down in Oklahoma (probably near Siberia) where I come from, we won’t let a head waiter eat at our table, even if we had a head waiter, which we haven’t. If I remember right, think it was my mother who taught me what little she knew or how I should eat, because if we had to wait until we sent and got a head waiter to show us, we would have all starved to death. If a head waiter taught you to eat soup, Percy, I suppose you were sent to Borden’s to learn how to drink milk.
Then you state: “The stewards of the Dutch Treat Club assure me that it is proper to tip one’s plate.” Now if you had learned properly from the great social head waiters of the urbane Middle West, why did you have to consult the stewards of the Dutch Treat Club? Could it be that after arriving in N. Y. You couldn’t rely on the information of the polished head waiters of your phantom Middle West? Now I was in the Dutch Treat Club once, but just as a guest of honor at a luncheon, and of course had no chance to get into any intimate conversations with the stewards. At that time, the place did not impress me as being one where you might learn the last word in etiquette.
SELF-PROTECTION, NOT ETIQUETTE
And as for your saying that “anything of subtlety would escape me,” that I also admit. I attribute it to my dumbness. But as for me being too dumb to get the idea of “the soup plate being tipped away and not toward one,” that’s not etiquette; that’s just self-protection. As bad as you plate tippers want all you can get, you don’t want it in your lap. Custom makes manners, and while I know that it is permissible, to tip plates, I still say that it is not a universal custom.
Manners are nothing more than common sense, and a person has no more right to try and get every drop of soup out of his plate than he has to take a piece of bread and try and harvest all the gravy in his plate. If you are that hungry, they ought to feed you out of a nose bag. So, “prairie impudence” or no “prairie impudence,” I claim there are lots of them that don’t do it, even if it is permissible, head waiters and Dutch stewards to the contrary.
Now, Percy, suppose they all did as is permitted. Picture a big dinner with everybody with their soup plates all balanced up on edge, with one hand holding them up and the other hand with the spoon rounding up what little soup was left. They would resemble a lot of plate jugglers instead of dinner guests. Why, if that was the universal custom, I would invent a triangle shape side that could be pushed under the plate, so it would permit you to have one hand free, in case you were sitting next to your own wife, or if by chance you might want to use your napkin. According to your hungry plan, every guest practically handcuffs himself during the latter end of the soup course. He is absolutely helpless. So don’t ask head waiters and stewards what to do, Percy, look around yourself. You will find hundreds of them that are satisfied with just what soup they can get on the level. Why I bet you are a fellow, Percy, if you took castor oil, you would want to lick the spoon.
A CRITIC OF ETIQUETTE
You know, Percy, I might know more about etiquette than you think I do. I wrote a review on Emily Post’s Book on Etiquette, and it was recopied in the Literary Digest (and by the way, it did not mention the Digest’s name and it’s unusual for them to re-copy anything unless they are mentioned in the article).6
Now have you or any of your Mid-Western head waiters or retinue of stewards, ever been asked to write a criticism on such an authoritative work as that? So you see I am somewhat of a critic myself. I am the Hammond of the Etiquette book business.
Another thing, Percy, I spoke of a particular case; I mentioned Mrs. Davis. Well, I happened to see the lady in question eat soup, and she did not try and corral the whole output. She perhaps knew it was permissible, still she did not seem eager to take advantage of it.
Now, you speak of my friend, Tom Mix, where he says, “He et two hours and did not recognize anything he et but an olive.” Now, that is bad grammar, even I will admit, but mighty good eating. Don’t you kinder envy him, that he has lived his life physically so that now he can eat two hours? I bet you that you would trade your knowledge of the English language now for his constitution. Tipping that soup plate at all your meals for years is what put that front on you, Perc. Leave some, that’s why I am trying to prove to you it’s permissible to tip the plate, but it’s bad physically. The fact that Tom has done something to be given a dinner for, should make him immune from attacks from the press table.
Vice Dawes, the profanity end of Coolidge’s campaign, just went through New York last week cussing everything, and everybody, a Hell ‘n Maria’ing all over the place.7
But he has other qualities to offset his cussing, so personally I don’t think this word “et,” on Mix’s part will seriously affect the drawing power of his pictures. You see, Percy, Tom said, “et,” but you know better than him what to say. Still, if a western picture was to be made to amuse the entire world, I would trust Tom’s judgment to yours. You know, Percy, everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
So Perc, you string with the high brows, but I am going to stick to the low brows, because I know I am at home with them. For remember, if it was not for us low brows, you high brows would have no one to discuss. But God love you, Percy, and if you ever want to leave them and come back to us where you started, we will all be glad to welcome you, even if you do feel like you are slumming. You must remember, Percy, that the question of the world today is not how to eat soup, but how to get soup to eat.
1For Ellen Davis see WA 85:N 6.
2Percy Hunter Hammond, drama critic for the Chicago Tribune and New York Tribune.
3The Dutch Treat Club, a luncheon club organized in 1907 in New York City by a group of writers and illustrators.
4Thomas Edwin “Tom” Mix, famous American star of the silent screen who was one of the greatest box office attractions in motion picture history.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
6For Emily Post see WA 39:N 1.
7For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6.
WA91 September 7, 1924
WHAT WOMEN NEED
IS PERMANENT NOSE PAINT
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers! I see where Ma Ferguson was elected in Texas.1
Texas has gone from the Nightgown back to the petticoat. And when I saw Ma was elected, I mean elected. For when they nominate a Democrat in Texas they stay nominated. You don’t catch them wasting any nominations. They won’t even let a Republican pass through there on a train if they know it. Men have been set free for every crime on the calendar—murder, robbery, and parking near a fire plug. But if a prosecuting attorney can show where the defendant ever voted the Republican ticket the jury don’t even retire to deliberate. A Republican in Texas has about the same social standing that a gentile does in New York City. I was certainly glad to see a long haired woman get somewhere. If we can just keep Ma from wearing sport clothes now, Texas may do something
worth while yet.
The reason Ma was elected was she didn’t stop to powder her nose. That’s what is holding women back nowadays. I tell you when you take time out for powdering, the day is just about gone. It’s getting so this country only has two occupations now. One is the women pawing at their nose with a powder puff, and the other is the man talking about their golf scores. I don’t know what started all this color scheme in women’s noses. In the old days there didn’t seem to be any particular reason why the nose couldn’t go along bearing some light resemblance in shade to the rest of the face. If it happened to be red, why it at least was pale in comparison to the men’s noses of that time.
In those days, the nose was a thing considered just for blowing purposes, and it was never thought it would some day be used as a background for 50 million amateur female scenic artists. The blowing of a nose was done in those colorless days just before arriving in a crowd, and not after you were in the midst of one. In fact I think that custom still prevails. You are supposed to blow your nose in private and paint it in public. Why the blowing, which is an absolute necessity, should be performed on exhibition, is beyond my understanding.
Everybody is talking about what this country needs. What this country needs is less powder puffs and more babies’ rattles. The ratio of sales of the two objects is now about 20 to 1 in favor of the puffs. And why should a mirror always accompany the kalsomining operation? With all the practice they get, any woman that can’t find her nose without a mirror should not be allowed to have a nose. Suppose the man of the species, (who usually is more dumb than the female) had to take out a mirror to find his nose every time he wanted to blow it! Suppose he had lost his mirror! His nose would have to go blowless.
If this thing keeps on and women keep hammering at their noses even with such a frail thing as a powder puff, in two generations you will have your nose hammered right down into your face, because, as Lloyd George so aptly said, “Even the dripping of water will wear away at a stone.”2
Why you want your nose, which has a natural tendency to be red, to be changed to white, while your cheeks which are naturally white to red, I also don’t know. You take a freshly powdered nose against a red background of the rest of your face, and there is nothing that you so much resemble as a white face (Hereford) cow.
Mind you, I am not criticizing, because I am working on a scheme whereby I will benefit financially far beyond my expectations. I am going to arrange, like the hairdressers do with the permanent wave. I am going to mix up a some kind of preparation that will give your nose a permanent shade.
Just think of the joy of a woman going out in the morning knowing that she can be gone all day and never have to worry about her nose being shiny! Look at the advantage of a permanent roughness and shade about the nose. Another benefit of this permanent coloring is this: Did you ever notice every time a woman powders her nose she draws her mouth down out of shape. I don’t know why she does it but she does. Now, in the course of a couple of generations that will begin to tell on the race and you will all have drooped mouths.
My permanent nose paint will even allow you to go in bathing, and still retain its original blend. Noses are receiving entirely too much attention anyway. You can hardly pick up a paper nowadays without the story of some prominent person having the contour of his or her nose re-assembled. In the old days you used to be born with an appendix and a nose, and you went through life practically ignorant of the shape of either. Now the appendix in a bottle has replaced the Family Bible as an exhibit in the home, and a nose that has not been overhauled, don’t nose nothing.
There are today in New York City more doctors removing superfluous noses, than there are dentists removing teeth. Every nose has a doctor all its own. They are landscaping noses just like flower gardens. If an architect has not drawn up a blue print of your nose you are as old fashioned as red flannel underwear. I haven’t had mine charted yet, as the face gardener said it would take more than a readjusted nose to do me any good. In fact, he said my nose was about the only thing about my face that seemed to be properly laid out.
Well, the Prince of Wales is here now and everybody has put on her best nose and is trying to see him.3
I see where he won a booby prize at some affair on the boat and the papers have been kidding him about it, and belittling the accomplishment. I want to tell you that with the stiff competition one has nowadays, it is hard to win a booby prize in any line. It’s no credit for a person to win a prize where he has real merit to display, because he has no opposition, but it’s hard to win a booby prize as there is so many boobies.
He only danced with one girl out of the 700 débutantes. The rest of them went to the steamship office to try and get their money back. Can you imagine the temper of some of those old fond mothers on that boat, after wasting a new dress on their daughter every night.
He took boxing lessons on the boat all the way over, so you won’t get me to tell any jokes about him while here.
America seems genuinely glad to see him, part of it on account of his personal popularity, and part out of respect to his position. But the thing which I think makes his visit so universally popular is the fact that he is not going to lecture to us. He will be the first foreigner that ever landed on our shores that didn’t advise us on something. Another thing his visit will accomplish—he will give a lesson in Democracy to some of the untitled rich in this country.
Last night 10 British golf champions were at the show and come back in my dressing room. They were the biggest, huskiest, strongest-looking gang I ever saw. I just thought if you could only get men like that to work at something, what a help they would be, and it’s the same over here.
I told them they will find golf a lot different over here. In their country when they get to the 19th hole they have their scotch and soda. Over here they will find it the custom to drink wood alcohol and creosote at every hole. The caddy carries the clubs and the player carries the 19th hole in his pocket with him. I am not a golfer myself, still I think the game itself is not so bad. It’s the talk they do about it that is so terrible. It’s the only game in the world where it takes longer to explain than it does to play. You play it in 2 hours, and it takes the other 22 alibiing for what you didn’t do.
The British polo team is here too. I guess that Labor government in England is what is driving all those loafers over here.
1Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson, wife of James Edward “Pa” Ferguson, Democratic governor of Texas from 1915 to 1917 who was impeached for several reasons including misappropriation of state funds. He attempted to run for governor again in 1924, but the courts ruled that he could not be a candidate, whereupon Ma entered the race and won. She served from 1925 to 1927 and 1933 to 1935.
2For David Lloyd George see WA 1:N 1.
3For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
WA92 September 14, 1924
CHUKKERS AND CHUCKLES
FOR THE PRINCE
Well, friends, this has been a very busy week, between hobnobbing with the Prince, trying to stay on my horse in a polo game against him, making speeches to him, and trying to help New York keep track of him after 12 o’clock at night, besides all the other weekly affairs, such as Benny Leonard’s thumb being so sore he couldn’t stand a physical examination, so his fight was postponed, also Firpo’s trouble.1
His thumb was all right but they thought his morals were bad.
Then Washington and Brooklyn base ball teams played to the entire satisfaction of the 105 million people who don’t live in New York. They raised up and showed that it’s a long worm that has no turning. If Washington can just win that pennant, I want to tell you that it will be the greatest achievement in the political annals of the Republican Party.2
If Washington wins there will be no way of beating Coolidge. He will have accomplished something that no other President has ever been able to do.
Just think what it will mean to the city of Washington to have thousands of visitors coming to their town to see a ball game instead of to see their congressmen to get their taxes adjusted. Just think, Washington winning the pennant after all these years trying! It sounds like W. J. Bryan being elected President, (and it will no doubt have its effect on inspiring him).3
I should be speaking to you through my Equerry. I shouldn’t address the masses only by appointment. My cards (if I had any) should read down in the corner, S.H.W.T.P. (shook hands with the Prince) or “purveyer of American gags to his Majesty the Prince.“ It’s going to be awful hard for me to come back on to my raising—corn bread, beans, and fat bacon.
But, all kidding aside, the kid is there. He is a regular guy, and that is saying a whole lot in his case, for everybody around him and that meets him seem to try their best to keep him from being human. They mean well but they get stage fright and are afraid to treat him like he would like them to. I want to tell you that for a young man that has had the world’s attention showered on him like he has and come through the way he has it is really remarkable.
Last week during a performance of the Follies I was using quite a lot of material and jokes in regard to the Prince’s visit here, because it is the biggest thing of interest since the Democrats took 300 ballots on a president and a half ballot on a vice president. So, one night after the show, a man sent his name up saying he was Major Metcalf, Equerry to the Prince of Wales.4
Well, he come in and thanked me for what I had said about the
Prince, (because I have never been one of those joke writers or comedians or editorial writers that could see any fun in kidding a man because his horse had fallen with him. The Prince’s falls have all come through horses falling in Steeplechase races. Now I may have a poor sense of humor, but a horse falling with a man never struck me as being particularly humorous. And I could never see any particulary bad horsemanship in a man when he had a horse fall with him. I also can’t get much fun out of a fellow poisoning a well, or shooting his wife, or any of those trifles that most columnists get fun out of. I have had too many horses roll over with me to get any nourishment out of it. I would just as soon have a tatooed mark on my chest as a horse lying on it).
Well, this equerry gentleman said that the Prince had heard of me and my remarks and was very anxious to hear and see me. The Polo Association who was giving this big afffair to the Prince at the Piping Rock Country Club had asked me to this dinner to speak and when the Prince expressed a desire to hear an old ignorant country boy talk, why I began to think how I could make it. The Polo Players, I knew all of them, wanted me to come. So I went to Mr. Ziegfeld and to show you the kind of a Prince I work for he took everything I do in the show and put it up early in the first act and they had a fast car there for me and away I went to annoy royalty.5
I didn’t get scared until just before it come time to go, then I happened to think of the Tower of London and remembered that its whole reputation was built up on obituary notices of people who had displeased Princes and Kings. I thought to myself, I will about pull some crack that will sever Diplomatic Relations between Charles Evans Hughes and Ramsey MacDonald.6
All the wars in the world have been started on less things than a joke, up to the last war and it also was started by one—the Kaiser.7
Then I got kinder scared at what could I say to a man that perhaps will some day be the King of the British Empire. Then I happened to think, well, I spoke before W. J. Bryan years ago one time, when he expected to be President, so I thought, what can they do with me if I kid the future king! If they arrest me I can plead insanity. It’s being done for every other crime, so why not this! Well, any way, I went out and when I got there he was just speaking, so I had to follow him. That’s a tough spot, as we say in show business.
Did you ever have to make an after dinner speech following a Prince? Now the audience was composed of 150 of the most prominent men in the U. S. A man with only 5 million at the dinner would have been a waiter. I stumbled over the feet of 10 of the heads of the oldest families of New York trying to arrive at the Speaker’s table.
Well, this little Prince guy just seemed to enjoy it immensely. The speech went great, it sounded like La Follette making a speech in Wisconsin.8
You see it was not the merit of the speech that made it go; it was the way he received it. You know, when you are telling a joke on a man, the audience may listen to you but they will look at the person you are telling it on, and if he reacts pleasantly to it, it goes with them. Well, he even worked it up to such an extent that he grabbed me by the coat tails and whispered suggestions in my ear, of ones he had heard of me telling on him but which I had not told there yet. I never do over 15 or 20 minutes and out there I did 50.
So you will pardon me for raving over this distinguished visitor. If you want to win the way into the heart of a comedian, why laugh at his jokes. If he had hissed my gags I probably would have said he was the poorest excuse for a Prince I ever played to. But he struck me during a 20 minutes talk with him after I had finished and sat down, that he was just a modest retiring, pleasant soft spoken, human being.
After the dinner he went to a dance which lasted until 6 o’clock, but he was out at the polo field before 12 all dressed to play. He beat me of course. That is about the poorest recommendation a polo player could have. His side beat us 8 to 5. I couldn’t discover anything wrong with his riding, and I had a good chance to see it as he was always in front of me. He wants you to treat him the same as you do any one else and try and ride him off the ball. He is rather slight of build and small and of course is not a hard heavy hitter, but he seems to love the game and plays his position all the time.
America has been trying to keep up with him. You see we promised England we would take good care of him and we have, up to one or two o’clock in the morning. But after that we have lost track of him. England herself will have to care for him from midnight on.
Lots of people have wondered when he ever sleeps. Say, no foreigner comes to America to sleep. He can sleep when he gets to England. A man leaving England for this country should have enough sleep stored up to do him a lifetime.
The other night the New York Reporters thought they had found him at a Cabaret in the city here. They saw a foreign car outside. That’s what gave them their cue. I guess if they had seen a horse hitched outside they would have thought Jessie James was inside.9
As a matter of fact he don’t use a foreign car; he uses Lincolns. Mr. Henry Ford on account of the business that England has so generously bestowed on this product put 15 Lincoln cars at the disposal of the Prince and also the British Polo Team. So he is generally in a Lincoln and is hard to find because there is such a mess of them.
He is going to his ranch in Canada. I talked to him about it as I happened to know the man he bought it from and who ranches next to him. Well, we talked like a couple of old neighbors. He told me all about the place and how everybody was getting on up there. So if you ever meet him don’t be scared; just treat him like a regular guy which he is.
Of course, don’t ask him where he was after 12 o’clock! But, for that matter, don’t ask any American where he was after 12. We can’t keep track of them much less a king.
1For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8. Benjamin “Benny” Leonard, American boxer who held the world lightweight title from 1917 until his retirement in 1925. For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7.
2The Washington Senators won the first pennant in the history of the club in 1924. The team went on to win the World Series from the New York Giants in seven games.
3For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
4Edward Dudley Metcalfe, British army officer and personal attendant to the Prince of Wales.
5For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 3:N 1.
6For Charles Evans Hughes see WA 2:N 4; for J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 70:N 2.
7For Kaiser Wilhelm II see WA 1:N 3.
8For Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4.
9For Jesse James see WA 14:N 11.
WA93 September 21, 1924
PRINCE QUALIFIES AS MARATHON
We have had a kinder abnormal week in the news. After this week we will be rid of Luis Angel Firpo, Loeb and Leopold and Prince of Wales’ dancing partners, and we can get back to normalcy (as the Republicans used to call it when they were doing pretty well).1
But really we can get back to the old staples, Dawes, Coolidge, La Follette, and Bryan, for the politicians are like the rich—they are always with us.2
The polo games here were postponed so much that they turned out to be another Democratic convention. They had all the delays, but none of the humor of their famous predecessor. I don’t know which is the worse, having the Englishmen here waiting or the Democrats.
It dragged along so far that most people lost interest and didn’t know what two nations were playing. In fact, after the first game it showed that there was only one nation playing. The American four were playing against a fellow named Lacey from the Argentine (who was born in Canada).3
The game doesn’t exist where one good man can beat four good men.
There were fifty thousand people there to see the Prince and the families of the players there to see them. England had only one chance of winning—that was to put the Prince in—and everybody, including the scorekeeper and referee, would have been so busy watching him they would forget how many the Americans made.
The funniest thing that happened at the game was that the Prince, a few days ago at the races, wore his hat with the brim turned down all the way round, so at the polo game there was about ten thousand males with their hats turned down all the way (they could not have seen the game even if they had come there to see it). Well, the Prince enters with his hat turned up all the way round. Immediately ten thousand hats switched just like a traffic signal.
I really got scared for our youths one day last week. It happened this way: The Prince was playing polo and a clod of dirt flew up and hit him in the eye and he had to have a patch over it for days. Well, do you know, some of these boys tried to knock an eye out to be in style. With the opportunities the Prince has of seeing everything, I don’t believe it would worry him to lose the use of an eye. You give me one eye and his chances and believe me I will be able to report to you some sights. He has certainly set a new fashion in America in the way of a night’s entertainment. Americans used to think they could go to one party and when they got through with that they were done till the next night. But this guy books them in relays.
The one he started in at early in the evening he may not stay at later than 12 or 1 o’clock. Some lady will be dancing with him and all at once she will speak casually to him and get no answer and will suddenly realize that he is not in her arms at all. He is perhaps twenty miles from there at another party that no one knew anything about outside of his advance agent.
A couple of hours steady dancing just gets him in good shape for what they call a little informal gathering that is to be held over on the other side of Long Island. But on his way over there he stops to break his jump and perhaps has just a couple of light dances with a small select crowd who have been gathered in a couple of adjoining estates (perhaps only eight miles apart) finally arriving at this one which he had started out to. That is of course just the preliminary part to the big one. He may only dance with one married lady four or five times, it is then just the shank of the evening, maybe 5:30 a.m., so it is time to go to the final real party of the night.
By this time the reporters are all asleep and can’t follow him, so he only has to change cars twice to baffle them. He arrives as the party is just getting well organized. He makes the opening dance and after a few waltzes and a sprinkling of two-steps, why a light buffet breakfast is served, consisting of tea and cakes and plum pudding.
The American host and hostess sneak off in the kitchen and fry themselves some bacon and brew up a little coffee. Nothing is allowed to interrupt the dancing until lunch is served. This is a very elaborate affair. The first four courses are English mutton chops with Scotch and soda; the last eight courses are English roast beef, same beverage, only without the soda.
It’s now around 3 o’clock in the afternoon and the party is at its height. Nothing is allowed to mar the dancing until just before the end of the party, when a late supper is served with black coffee and white scotch. Then it is time for the Prince to leave, as it is getting late and he has to drive to his
home to dress for a dinner given in his honor at the palatial home of Mr. Gothis, one of the newest families on the island. (The home they now own dates back for many generations).
It’s 7:30 when the Prince arrives home and that only gives him thirty minutes to shave and dress for the start of the following night. The advance men are out booking up a new route. The Long Island home that can advertise in the future that it was the one that the Prince did not dance in will be such a novelty that it will sell for a fortune.
He is going from here to his ranch in Canada. If he had danced straight way instead of around in circles, he would be at his ranch in Calgary already. It will take Long Island society two years to get back to American accent and American customs. English butlers and chauffeurs have been three months teaching their bosses and wives what to do and say. Why, after the amount and size of the parties that have been held it will take three years just to remove the empty bottles off Long Island alone.
Not that the Prince was personally responsible for them (because when you are accustomed to something all your life you know how to use it in moderation). But a host has to do something to entertain his guests. Everybody can’t dance with a Prince. Besides, look at what these husbands of the Prince’s dancing partners must have drowned their grief in.
The Catskill Mountains during the reign of Rip Van Winkle were noted for their drowsiness. But if you want to see some sleeping that is sleeping you just watch Long Island when the Prince leaves.
Now, mind you, the polo and the Prince have not been the only sporting events we have had. Wrestling has come back strong. Eighty thousand people paid about eight hundred thousand to see twelve rounds of wrestling between Wills and Firpo.4
They gave them a minute’s rest after each round. Can you imagine resting from what they are doing? No one out of that eighty thousand that saw the affair can ever criticize Judge Caverly of Chicago for not giving those boys a hanging.5
For eighty thousand sit there and let those two get away with life when they should have been given the extreme penalty.
Some preacher tried to stop the fight, he claimed Firpo’s morals were bad. If his morals are as bad as his fighting he is in the same class with Loeb and Leopold. By the way, if anybody else is ever hung in this country, their families will have a good suit against the government for damages. I can’t imagine what they would have to do to be hung. That fellow Darrow ought to defend the Kaiser.6
He would have the allies apologizing to him for starting the war.
By the way, on the same day that those alleged fighters received one hundred and fifty thousand dollars each for thirty-six minutes embracing, why we released on half salary Gen. Pershing who had spent forty-two years fighting for his country.7
During forty-two years his whole total salary paid to him by (what is sometimes humorously referred to as a Federal government) never amounted to what these men received in thirty-six minutes, and there were not boxing gloves on the hands of any enemy he ever fought. All these men could lose was their reputation. All he could lose in his fights for us was his life.
So if you are thinking of taking up fighting as a career, why be sure and FIGHT FOR YOURSELF INSTEAD OF FOR YOUR COUNTRY. He was retired on half salary and a Coolidge speech.
Everybody thanked him and nobody gave him anything. I guess they figure at his age he only needs half salary, as he will only eat half as much, and only need half as good a place to sleep.
Here is a man that absolutely won the war for us, and all he got was a medal. He had to pay his own taxicab fare to the place where they gave it to him. The government ought to have given him a whole army post and maintained it with a whole flock of soldiers to wait on him. Then in his old days he could bawl them out and it would make him feel at home.
My Lord! Can’t our government do something for a man who is not a politician?
He is not a politician. He was born a soldier and he will die a soldier, so why didn’t they give him his rank for life? They cut his salary in half and fired him for winning the war. What would they have done if he had lost it?
He not only won the last war, but he has done more than any other man to keep us from losing the next one.
1For Luis Firpo see WA 35:N 7. Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold, intellectual sons of wealthy Chicago parents, confessed in 1924 to the kidnapping and murder of Bobby Franks in a “thrill” slaying. They were sentenced to life imprisonment, plus ninety-nine years. For the Prince of Wales see WA 17:N 8.
2For Charles G. Dawes see WA 72:N 6; for Robert M. La Follette, Sr., see WA 14:N 4; for William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
3Lewis Lacey, Anglo-Argentine polo player who regularly played for both English and Argentine teams. A fine horseman, he led an Argentine team to victory in the United States championship of 1924.
4Harry Wills (see WA 40:N 6) defeated Firpo decisively in a boxing match in New York City in September 1924.
5John R. Caverly, English-born American jurist who served on the bench of the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago from 1921 until his death in 1939. His most famous case was that of Loeb and Leopold.
6Clarence Seward Darrow, prominent American defense attorney and civil libertarian whose court cases were invariably headline material. Darrow served as defense attorney for Loeb and Leopold. For Kaiser Wilhelm II see WA 1:N 3.
7For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
WA94 September 28, 1924
EVERYBODY IS PULLING FOR WALTER
Away out west some 37 or 38 years ago a baby was born, which was not considered unusual in those days. It was found to be a boy baby, which also was not considered over 50 per cent unusual. In fact, the whole thing went along in such a usual way, that for years it looked like there was nothing unusual about it. He was just tagged to be one of the hundred and ten million of us who are here for no apparent reason.
He grew up kinder long and tall and awkward, and his folks knew and felt right away that he would never be the Prince of Wales, because he was not built for dancing. He was very modest and retiring, and it was almost a certainty that he would not be a politician. He had to work to make a living, he didn’t have any advantages. He didn’t get much schooling. He was just a big strong healthy country boy.
A BIG COUNTRY BOY
He is still just a big country boy yet as I am writing this (several days before you will read it in print) there is more real genuine interest in him than there is in a presidential election. What is this fellow that he can do this? How is it that one single individual can have the sincere good wishes of the President of the United States, the Congress, the Senate, the Judges of our Supreme Court, even the sincere wishes of the other two presidential candidates? (I suppose the only time in political history that three candidates ever agreed heartily on one thing.) He is not sick, yet there are lots and lots of people in all parts of our country that never saw him or hope to see him, that are actually praying for fate to smile on this big old country boy.
No presidential candidate in the history of our country ever carried the good wishes of everybody. There are always differences of opinion, and personal prejudices, and likes and dislikes. In every conflict, or game or fight, people are generally divided. But not in this case, they all are for this country boy.
Now what has he done to arrive on such a pedestal? No man in politics ever did it. No man in war ever did it. They all had enemies. No man in civil life, no philanthropist ever did. So what has he done? Why he has just played. Nothing else in the world but played. But he has played so fair and good, and given his all to the game that the man, woman, or child in the United States that don’t love Walter Johnson and admire him as a man, is not a good American.1
Baseball is our national game; every boy and girl in the United States should play it. It should be made compulsory in the schools. Had Loeb and Leopold been made to play that game along with their other education, they wouldn’t be in Joliet today, and it is certainly a wonderful tribute to the fairness of good sportsmanship in America that everybody is pulling for Walter.2
ON LOSING TEAM
Professional baseball has almost become a business of finance. But I don’t suppose that ever in the history of any sporting event has sentiment played so big a part as it has played in the case of this one man this year.
Mathewson, the great pitcher, was the idol of millions of well wishers, but he was on a winning team.3
He was in the limelight all the time. But here is a man, Johnson, that has been with a team at the bottom of the list so long that the only way he could ever get any satisfaction out of a newspaper was to stand on his head. He never grumbled, he could have sulked, and demanded and had been traded to any other team in the league, and been with a pennant winner almost every year and made lots of money.
Lots of them have done it and they are playing today and all has been forgotten.
But not with this old country boy. That is why he stands in public estimation today where he does. Had he deserted Washington he would have just been known as a wonderful pitcher perhaps losing fewer games with a good team than any pitcher the game ever knew. But as it is, he is known as a wonderful man, and today the entire baseball world is not pulling for Johnson the pitcher; they are pulling for Johnson the man.
If you want to know how a man stands go among the people who are in his same business. I have some mighty good friends, ball players, and I have been around them for years, and they are all a mighty fine class of real upstanding Americans. Walter Johnson is more universally liked among other ball players than any man that ever played ball. 10 out of 10 ball players will tell you he is the best fellow ever lived, and 9 out of 10 ball players will tell you he is the best pitcher ever lived. If he had played with McGraw’s Giants all these years and had lost a single game in his 18 years they would have released him for incompetency.4
Rain would have been the only thing that would have kept an opposing team from being beaten by him.
HARRIS HAS “PEP”
A great deal of the sudden success of the Washington team is due to the able management of Buck Harris the young manager.5
He deserves the credit but what makes the sentiment of everybody with Washington is Walter Johnson. Harris is young and a comer, he has lots of time to win pennants, and will win them. But the people know that Walter can’t go on much longer. They know that it is only due to the wonderful care he has taken of himslf that he has lasted far beyond the allotted time. They want to see him get in there and get what has been coming to him for years.
I have a custom of introducing prominent people of our audience every night, to the rest of our audience, and I have had some pretty big men, but I want to tell you that when I heard Walter was way back in the house I knew he was so bashful that he would never stand up if I introduced him. So I sneaked down off the stage and went out there and put my rope around his neck and with the aid of other players I literally dragged him up on the stage and introduced him. Well, he got the biggest applause, and the most genuine, that I ever heard in our place. And mind you he had just beaten New York that day and this applause was in their town.
Just think of the unheard of condition of everybody pulling for a team to win just because they want to see one man get a small part of what they know is due him. Even in New York among the rabid Yankee rooters if they must be beaten they want Walter to beat them. If Washington goes into the World Series with the Giants, the Giant fans will pull for the Giants to win the Series, but they will pull for Waler Johnson to win his game.
I know McGraw has been friendly with him as long as I have known Walter, and I know McGraw loves to win, but if he is beaten I will wager that he would rather be beaten by Walter Johnson than any other man living. If Walter gets into the World Series and should be so unfortunate as to be bombarded and have to retire from the game (which happens to the best of them at times), why, I bet you, out of that audience of 50 or 60 thousand, you will see more old hard boiled baseball fans wipe their tears as Walter goes to the bench, than you ever saw shed at most men’s funerals.
So good luck, Walter; win or lose, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you carry more good wishes than any other man that ever entered any event in the history of our country, and we will love you just the same if you never see a World’s Series, because you are an example to the American boy, the same as Abraham Lincoln SHOULD BE TO THE POLITICIANS.
1Walter Perry Johnson, professional baseball pitcher whose career as a player and manager for the Washington Senators spanned from 1907 to 1935; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
2For Loeb and Leopold see WA 93:N 1.
3Christopher “Christy” Mathewson, professional baseball pitcher who played for the New York Giants from 1900 to 1916 and who managed the Cincinnati Reds from 1916 to 1918. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
4John Joseph “Little Napoleon” McGraw, baseball player with the Baltimore Orioles from 1891 to 1899 and manager of the New York Giants from 1902 to 1932; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
5Stanley Raymond “Bucky” Harris, baseball player with the Washington Senators from 1919 to 1928; manager of the Senators from 1924 to 1928, 1935 to 1942, and 1950 to 1954; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.