Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA108 January 4, 1925
OUR RICH MEN HAVING GREAT TIME
DISPOSING OF WEALTH
This is a Christmas story. I want to write you a Christmas story—I know that I should have had it in the paper back around Xmas, but I hadn’t thought of it then. You can’t write anything until you think of it, can you? Well, I just now thought of Xmas. I think anyway, a fellow can write a better story after a thing has happened than he can before it happens; besides I thought maybe something new would show up—but it didn’t, (just soxs, neckties, and handkerchiefs). I was just reading some of Dickens’ Christmas Carols.1
Chances are they were not written at Xmas time, and besides people read them all the year around. They will begin to get tired of them pretty soon, for they are just a fad now, and any fad don’t last long. People will be wanting some new carols pretty soon so I just figured now was a good time to write some carols, pretty, dainty, frothy, Xmas ones, so when people got tired of Old Scrooge and Dickens, they would have something to turn to.
Dickens described life in merry old England during the Yuletide. Mine is of old New York, laid around the years between 1924 and 25. Old Scrooge gave a turkey to Tiny Tim, and he has been hailed as a philanthropist ever since. Why in my Christmastime story, Mr. Duke gives twenty million dollars (not shillings) to a Dukes mixed University to promote smoking and learning.2
See, I have already made a sucker out of Dickens’ Xmas story. What’s a turkey compared to twenty million dollars?
Eastman saw that twenty million and raised Duke twenty and give it to some snap shot seat of learning for Kodakery, and Xword Puzzlery.3
So you see I got two Scrooges and sixty million dollars and Xmas morning is not half over yet.
Of course, Scrooge, when he gave his turkey didn’t demand that it be named after him. He let it carry its original Nom de Plume. I will admit also that Scrooge could not charge his turkey off on his Income Tax, because Tiny Tim’s Troop were not an organized charity. Of course, one advantage in giving your money to a College nowadays is if you get a good football team you get your money back the first season.
HOW TO SPEND IT
All of our disgustingly rich men are at a loss to know what to do with their money. Funny none of them ever thought of giving it back to the people they got it from. Instead of these men giving money to found Colleges to promote learning, why don’t they pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting anybody learning anything? And if it works as good as the Prohibition one did, in 5 years we would have the smartest race of people on Earth.
I am like Old Scrooge when he reformed and decided to enjoy himself. This was a very happy Xmas for me, in fact the best I have enjoyed in years. The shirts my wife gave me were the right size for the first time since wedlock. Of course, they were the wrong color, but one, if married, must not be too particular. For awhile it looked like I would spend a perfect Xmas. Then about noon a necktie arrived. I just looked out at the audience from the stage Xmas night and I laughed more at the funny ties than they did at my act. Men always wear ’em one night out of courtesy but the second night was back to normalcy.
The Eighteenth Amendment aided our Xmas greatly. They have got prohibition working so good now that they have it right down on a drinking basis. On the other hand it was the worst Xmas officers ever had. They wasn’t able to confiscate enough for their own use.
SANTA IN A TRUCK
In Dickens’ and Scrooge’s time they told of Santa Claus arriving in a sleigh. In my Xmas carols he arrived in a truck. In those old days if Santa happened to fall down he would stick himself with a tin sword or run his hand through a base drum but if Santa falls down nowadays it takes two doctors until New Year’s to pick all the glass out of his person.
Why, Dickens don’t even mention the burials after Xmas. During the time my stories are laid it took a week to bury people who enjoyed Xmas. Some of the girls in our extravaganza attended a Xmas party. The host had everything all ready, the corks pulled and everything, and the chemist didn’t show up. So they had to call the party off.
I heard them talking about one guest at these parties that used to test himself. Everybody liked him; they give him a wonderful funeral. The chemists have a steel bar they put down in the neck of the bottle. They hold it there a couple of minutes and when they take it out if it has just merely rusted the bar, why it is all right, but if it has bent the bar why then you better not take it straight; you better dilute it with something (Kerosene, or Lysol or anything mild). All the big New York Hotels have a testing laboratory free to guests, as long as they test right.
EGGS TOO HIGH FOR EGGNOG
In our old Yuletide days we used to have eggnog on Xmas day but there was not much of it this year. Eggs are so high it looks like that custom is lost to us forever.
In the old days a town had to be pretty big to support a distillery. They will run about two to the acre now.
Just after Prohibition started educating people to drink, everyone thought when they entertained guests it was smart to serve cocktails. Now it’s necessary. Unless you use different guests every time.
I called on a business man at his office the other day, when the girl outside his office phoned him, he said for me to come right in. The girl looked astonished at his quick reply and said to me: “Why you can get in there as quick as a bootlegger.” But I do sincerely hope that the holiday booze has by now finished with its spring drive.
So this endeth the drinking carol of the denatured Xmas. But what of a smoking legend pertaining to our modern Xmas. Well I have some good news for you. I can see the end of society women cigarette smoking. Shop girls and the poor are taking it up. It’s too cheap a fad to ever be permanent. Now we must have some more Xmas carols to finish out our story, Dickens could have stopped right here, but he didn’t write for the Tulsa World. They want their pound of truths.
GLAD IT’S OVER WITH
I am so glad Xmas finally ended. It is the first time in weeks that I haven’t had a bundle under my arm to mail. Lots of people had kinder lost their faith in the real being of Santa Claus, but a thing happened in Washington that made me absolutely certain there is a Santa Claus. Didn’t CONGRESS ADJOURN? Now let any skeptic deny that that wasn’t the greatest gift to a nation from an all wise Santa Claus. Be a good joke on Congress if Mr. Coolidge didn’t call them back.
Congress had been arguing for weeks over what to do with Mussel Shoals, Ala.4
Henry Ford made an offer on it one time; so that made Congress think it was worth something. So now the Government is thinking about running it themselves. They think they can do it better than Ford. You just wait until they try making those things and they will see it is not so easy. To see one of those bumping along the road it don’t look like it would be hard to make. But I bet you the Government will never make ’em as good as Ford. Mr. Ford was telling me himself how he would work it if he got this Mussel Shoal. He was going to take these parts all up the River and drop ’em in and let ’em assemble themselves as they went over the Dam. Then he had one older one that would teach the others to swim out on their own power.
Well the Government needs a new play place. Let’s see, didn’t we have one called Hog Island once?5
Now children this Xmas Carol was written after Xmas and before New Year’s but I bet you that I can tell you what happened on New Year’s. Mr. Gary of the Steel Trust made a speech somewhere (the same one) and predicted prosperity for the coming year, told how their orders had increased over the year previous, said he was by heart an optimist and was very optimistic of the future!6
Lord, who wouldn’t be optimistic with his dough? Now if he don’t do this New Years’ I will give every reader a seat to the Follies at my expense. Now you see if I am not right. His speech will be on the front page of every paper. He predicts it every year, and every year they take up some money for the poor.
1Charles John Huffman Dickens, celebrated nineteenth century English novelist whose works include the Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol.
2James Buchanan Duke, North Carolina industrialist who made a fortune in the tobacco industry. In December 1924 he created a $40 million trust fund, $20 million of which went to Trinity College at Durham, North Carolina, contingent upon the college changing its name to Duke University.
3George Eastman, American inventor and manufacturer who conceived and developed the Kodak camera in 1888 and served as treasurer and general manager of Eastman Kodak Company. Eastman contributed more than $4 million to higher education in 1924, more than one-half of the amount going to the University of Rochester.
4For Muscle Shoals see WA 46:N 1.
5Hog Island Shipyard near Philadelphia was the largest of 314 ship-building plants authorized by the federal government during World War I.
6For Elbert H. Gary see WA 3:N 6.
WA109 January 11, 1925
SHALL FRANCE PAY?
CONSULT MR. ROGERS, MR. HUGHES
The Illiterate Digest this week wishes to take up the discussion of the French Debt to America, and report both sides in an impartial way, as has always been our custom to do. We offer no Editorial opinion of our own. These are simply picked at random from some of our most influential Dailies. We find, in pursuing various Editors, quite a divided opinion. For instance the Yuma Snowshoe (Republican) which is one of several of our most widely read Journals believes in calling the debt off entirely and reports Editorially as follows: “America is too big, America is too rich, America is too high minded, America is above insinuating that a Nation owes us money. Can we as the nation which we are lower the dignity of our Honor, an honor gained by local and road trips of our hurriedly prepared Armies? Can we afford to lower ourselves to the mere standing of a Commerical Nation, by even hinting that an obligation is due us from a friendly nation? We say No! A thousand times No! Where is our National Price? Are we Shylocks? Are we to broadcast a Gentlemen’s agreement that a Neighbor owes us a mere four billion dollars? No! let us build a reputation of generosity if it takes us to the very threshold of Bankruptcy to do it. America
has opportunity knocking at her door. She has the chance to make herself unique in the history of Nations and what has she to do to reach those heights. Why simply to forget—forget that a friend in need once asked you for aid. Be idealistic; be above mere money; remember it was given at a time when the very foundation of Civilization was in the balance.”
A contemporary Daily to The Yuma Snowshoe, and also with a Republican leaning, The Durham, South Carolina, Fine Cut. The Fine Cut speaking in a lighter vein, but with equally as much conviction says: “If we needed the money it would be a different thing, but we don’t? In addition to the prosperity which we are enjoying since Nov. 4th what could we possibly do with another 4 million, (I mean billion) dollars? No, this paper wants to go on record as utterly opposed to the hoarding of National Wealth.”
The Subway Sun of New York City, (which incidently carries two of its pages in English) Editorializes as follows: “Down in the Subway where we ride, the Men and Ground Hogs, and women come sceond. We didn’t know France owed us any money. It’s been so long, we forgot it. We don’t want France’s or anybody else’s money. We want more straps. We want more Subways to ride on. The further under the ground the better. What good would 4 billion dollars do us in a six o’clock rush?”
The Chicago Murderer’s Gazette, which is really near the financial pulse of the great middle west, says: “A Guy named Lafayette hopped in and helped us out when we was all pinched and headed for de brig, didn’t he? Well give ’em de dough! We can knock off that much coin in 4 good hauls. Besides them Germans are laying for de Frogs again. So dey got their trouble ahead without worrying about us. It wouldn’t do no good to promise to pay us; dey will have another war before the payments start anyway. Live and let live, dat’s de motto of the Chicago Murderer’s Gazette, GET ME!”
The following from the Texas Tick: “We say, let France keep it. We are so far in the hole now that we wil never get out anyway, and we might as well pay the boob to the finish. We are behind now 30 billion in our National debt, so let’s us go ahead and make it a good one. We lose one million dollars on every Adminstration. We are not only the richest Nation in the World, but are the poorest. We got more than any of them, but we owe more.”
Now we find on the opposite side, papers of both political allignments. Take for instance “The Congressional Record” (Ind. Rep.) which says: “Sure they should pay. Suppose they should pay. Suppose they have another war and want money, how are they going to get it if they don’t pay this time?”
The Rochester Double Exposure (Dem.) says: “We see in the papers Mr. Ex-Ambassador Harvey says that France never intended to pay.1
Well, that is one of the wisest cracks that the Ambassador ever pulled. We are no Ex-Ambassador but we always knew that they never intended to pay.”
The Claremore, Okla. (best Town in Okla., yes, or even Kansas) the Claremore Radium Rust says: “France is trying to get out of paying by saying she furnished the Battle Ground. She claims we owe her that much because we mussed up her place. If France can charge us 4 billion for mussing up her yard, what could Germany charge us for mussing up her men. We didn’t pick out France as a Battleground. The Germans picked it out, so they are the ones the French ought to make pay for the Grounds. Our boys were asked to go over and fight the Germans and they thought it was best go to where they were, so they went to France. Then every time our Boys bought anything over there they paid one tenth for the article, and 90% for the Battleground. So that is really all we have done for 7 years is pay for Battlegrounds.”
Just think, if the Indians could make the United States pay for the Battleground, they would be rich, as they owned every foot of land, and do now, by rights, of the ground they fought over for years. If France gets away with this it will set a great precedent. Ground that has not been worth a cent will be offered by every Country for battle purposes. I tell you, Nations should have it understood what grounds are to cost before they sign up for another War. Why 4 billion Dollars for a short time we used their grounds! That would be a couple of hundred million a day.
Now you know that’s getting ground too high just to fight on especially when nothing goes with the ground. You have to furnish you own Men, Guns, Ammunition and Bull Durham. All they furnish was the ground and the Cooties.
So we say that they should be made to pay the debt and when President Coolidge says they must why he has the full support of this Daily.
You can rent Madison Square Garden for less than they want and this is the highest priced fighting place there is. No, again we say No! Why, if you get to charging so much for Battlegrounds the first thing you know you will be discouraging Wars. Just look at the Nations that couldn’t even afford to have Wars at all. We believe that all Battlegrounds should be free but they should be allowed to charge admission for Spectators who are going to write Books about it.”
Now the New York Hebrew Universe which Mr. Munsey owns and has just combined with The Irish Gazette, retaining, the best qualities of both races, and calling the paper, “Why Compete.”2
Why Compete says: “We don’t see why people make the excuse that France can’t pay. France can pay. It will only take one season of Americans who will go over there and squander money who if you take the same fellow here at home, if he got into a 20 cent Taxicab he would want a Transfer. So we say, make them pay.”
Another angle is brought forward by the St. Paul, Minn. Daily, The To H_ _ _ With Minneapolis, The To H_ _ _ With Minneapolis says: “France should pay. If Sweden or Norway, yes or even Denmark, owed it to us they would be asked to pay, so why let France off? She is no better than the above Countries that I have enumerated, and I even doubt if she is as good,so make her pay.
The Detroit Spare Parts speaking Editorially says: “Nations are just like individuals. Loan them money and you lose their friendship.”
Next week the Illiterate Digest will take up the Discussion of Japanese Yellow Peril, and as usual just give the exact facts from both sides with no Home Grown comment of our own. Just leave you to form your own opinion, perfectly unbiased, as we have on the French loan.
Remember Next Week YELLOW PERIL, with no raise in prices Coming in 5 columns.
1For George Harvey see WA 1:N 8.
2Frank Andrew Munsey, American publisher of magazines and newspapers, including Munsey’s Magazine and the New York Evening Sun and Evening Telegram.
WA110 January 18, 1925
25 YEARS OF AUTO SHOWS AND
THEY’VE SQUARE KNOBS NOW
The automobile show has just been held here in New York. They hold it every year. This year they held it just two miles south of Albany. You take a Sleeper here at night and make it by noon the next day. They have the same cars every year, only painted different. You can go in a show room in your home Town any day and see the same thing with no admission. Every year they try to concentrate on something new. This year they are featuring a square door knob to their closed cars instead of the old fashioned oblong ones, and the cigar lighters lay flat in a little compartment instead of being placed up and down. They don’t work any better than any cigar lighter does, but they lay different. And the funny part of it is that Thousands of people will come there, pay admission, and walk up and down the aisles for hours, seeing the very thing they have had in their own cars for years. Why don’t they, if they have a mania to look at cars, just walk along the streets of any town where there are more different kinds of cars parked than was ever in any Automobile Show in the World? You should feel then that the ones you were looking at would run.
Those cars in a show are all hauled there in trucks. In the old days when they had new inventions coming out there was some excuse for holding a show. If somebody wants to do something for the automobile Public, let him invent a car that will sell second handed, one week after you bought it, for at least one fourth of what you gave for it. It just seems to totally ruin a car to have an owner drive it a few weeks. They instruct buyers to not go over 25 miles an hour for the first 1,000 miles. You might just as well run it 70 miles an hour because at the end of a Thousand miles it will only be worth an old second hand kimono and a box of candy anyway.
The rise of the automobile Industry listens like a William Fox Scenario.1
Once upon a time, 1893 to be exact, the World Fair in Chicago opened. If it hadn’t been for the Streets of Cairo it just as well might not have opened, for that is all that was ever remembered. Well, a man named Chas. E. Duryea, and another named Elwood G. Haynes, saw the girls there on the Streets of Cairo do their stuff and also sitting in the front row at every performance was a kid named Ford.2
Henry was his christening handle. Well these three boys, Haynes, Duryea and Ford all got the idea: “Women like these can’t be messing their time away buggy riding behind an old horse. We got to do something to get Ladies like these somewhere right now. So as their Excursion Tickets were about to run out they all went back to their respective homes and each started in to eliminate the horse as a National Commodity.
FORD WORKED FOR EDISON
Ford was working for Edison at the time in Edison’s Detroit electrical factory.3
His salary was One Hundred and Twenty Dollars a month, (with no profit sharing allowed). Mr. Ford built him an automobile. Used most of Edison’s factory and all of Edison’s time to do it on. The Timing gear he took out of Edison’s factory clock (replacing it with a shorter hour one). The Fly Wheel he took from Edison’s machinery. The one Cylinder which he used, was an inch and a quarter gas pipe that he borrowed from a burglar, who was not using it that night. The Steering apparatus, was the handle of a spade also appropriated from Edison.
He sewed all this stuff onto an old buggy, all on Edison’s time mind you and the funny part about it is that the thing run. But it took him over a year to tell where it was going to run. That started Ford in the Automotive business but it like to put Edison out of the electricity business. It took Edison 3 years to replace everything that Ford had copped out of his factory to put into this mechanical ground hog. That is why Ford has always tried to remain friendly with Mr. Edison; he is afraid he will sue him for royalty on all his cars because Edison put more into them than Ford did. If a man now worked in Ford’s factory and carried out as much junk as Ford did in those days, it would put Ford’s factory out of business for weeks. Why, just the dropping carelessly of one bolt will stop 10,000 men for minutes.
Now in the meantime, Mr. Duryea, and Mr. Haynes, had also made them a horseless carriage. Of course they didn’t have the equipment and pay while making it that Mr. Ford did but they turned one out. No one knew for years which was the best car of the three, as they were made in different parts of the country and none of them could go far enough so they could get them together.
Mr. Ford tried his car out in the room at his boarding house and it made so much noise that Mrs. Ford said it kept Edsel awake.4
They moved it into the street and since then it has kept everybody awake.
Along in 1895, they had a road race in Chicago—from there to Evanston and return, 52 miles. They would have had a longer race but it didn’t stay light only 12 hours. In ’96 they didn’t make much headway. That was the first year Bryan ran for President.5
Everybody’s mind was on Bryan; as a consequence neither he or the Automoblie got anywhere. In 1897 the auto and Bryan was both forgotten. In ’98 cars arrive back home which had taken part in the Chicago road race of ’95.
Spanish-American war broke out April 22. Broke up August 12. if wars were that short nowadays neither side would get their Armies there until after it was over. May 1, 1898, Ford found some more old piping and added another cylinder. Another minor event on the same day May 1, 1898, Dewey made the first second hand navy out of Spain’s Flotilla at Manila.6
Ninety-nine was a quiet year; no one could get their engines started. The Czar called a Peace Conference at the Hague and like all peace conferences it was followed by a War, which broke out the following week, between England and South Africa.7
The Philippine-American War also started as soon as our delegates could return from the Peace Conference.8
FIRST SHOW IN 1900
Nineteen hundred was a very eventful year in the social life of America. The first Automoblie Show was held in Madison Square Garden, and the Drainage Canal was opened in Chicago. In opposition to the canal, Paris and France also opened their World Exposition. The Paris Exposition only lasted a year. The Chicago Drainage Canal was such a success it was made a permanent attraction.
1901 saw the first horse that was not afraid of an automobile. He was used for towing them back home. Buffalo put on a Pan-American exposition and most everybody going to Niagara that year stopped to see it. 1902, Barney Oldfield races auto against Tandem at Salt Lake City.9
Time of race, 4 six-inch cigars. Steering wheel replaces stick handle drive. You couldn’t kill as many Pedestrians with the stick drive.
1903, limousine with a rear entrance makes it appearance. That was so the driver couldn’t tell the class of people he was hauling. Panama had a Revolution also that year, and the minute it was over America recognized them. The Wright Brothers also flew that year, the same thing the Spaniards had done back in ’98.10
1904 brought out the first windshield, also the Alaskan Boundary question, and the opening of the New York subway. St. Louis, jealous of Chicago’s drainage canal, opened up the World’s Fair, (where I was an attraction with a Wild West Show on the Pike, until we all starved to death and had to ride our ponies back home to Oklahoma). The automoblie made no progress with me personally that year.
1905 Olds put the first garage in his house and Russia and Japan had a war, (I don’t think it was over the garage but it was something about as trivial).11
1906 Olds introduced the first House in a garage, Wall Street had
a panic, (found an honest man, I suppose).
PUT BUMPS IN THE ROAD
1907, in Chicago, they built bumps in the roads to keep autoists from speeding. This custom has been followed out faithfully in most cities ever since. Jamestown heard about the Drainage Canal in Chicago and they put on an Exposition, for the few people who were looking for excursion rates to nowhere in particular. Judge Landis fined the Standard Oil $29,000,000 for speeding, but on account of them controlling the Government they got it back.12
Governor Hughes of N. Y. stopped betting on the horses at the
race track. You could bet on his Presidential race but you wasn’t allowed to bet on a FAST horse.13
1909, Indianapolis built a speedway for advertising and Peary discovered the North Pole for the same reason.14
New York wanted to offset Indianapolis and Peary, so they put on the Hudson and Fulton Celebration.15
Sailors rode in Subway for first time.
1910, whipsockets are removed from auto equipment, and that started a war in the Balkans. 1911, the first selfstarter appeared and President Diaz of Mexico resigned intact.16
These were both unprecedented events. Turkey and Italy couldn’t put on an exposition, so they put on a war during the tourist season. The South Pole was also discovered that year for no apparent reason whatever, and the minute it was, why China was declared a Republic, and they held the first Motor Truck show in Madison Square Garden, and Ray Harroun felt so elated over China and the Pole that he made 74 miles an hour on the Indianapolis Speedway without killing a mechanician.17
LINEN DUSTERS COME OUT
1912, linen dusters, goggles, and gauntlet gloves were introduced as standard equipment on all moderate priced cars. A second edition of the Balkan War was put on for late comers. The Lincoln Highway was suggested, (probably by some Road Contractor).
That brings us up to 1913, the year I bought an Overland, the sinking of the Titanic, the flood in Ohio and Indiana, the christening of the Peace Palace at the Hague, just prior to the World War. Now events have been so plentiful in these intervening years that it would be foolhardy for me to deal with the life of the Automoblie Industry in the short space I have left, so I will take it up next Sunday at 1914, and show what car caused the war. Besides from ’13 on, I had a car, so I can speak with so much better authority than I have up to now. So remember next Sunday we deal with the last 11 years of this gigantic industry. If you haven’t been killed by one of them you will enjoy it.
1William Fox, Hungarian-born American producer who was one of the great powers in the industry during the 1920s and 1930s.
2Charles Edgar Duryea, American inventor and manufacturer, reputedly the “father of the automobile.” He organized the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in 1895 and sold his first car a year later. Elwood G. Haynes, American inventor who designed and built a horseless carriage in 1893-1894.
3For Thomas A. Edison see WA 106:N 1.
4Edsel Bryant Ford, only child of Henry and Clara Bryant Ford; president of Ford Motor Company from 1919 until his death in 1943.
5For William Jennings Bryan see WA 5:N 7.
6George Dewey, American naval officer who commanded the United States’ Asiatic squadron during the Spanish-American War of 1898. During the war, his naval forces captured Manila in the Philippines and destroyed a Spanish fleet.
7Czar Nicholas II of Russia made peace proposals in 1898 which led to the International Peace Conference at the Hague in 1899 and to the founding of The Hague Tribunal. The Boer War between Great Britain and the Boers of South Africa was fought from 1899 to 1902.
8The Filipino revolt against American rule lasted from 1899 to 1902.
9Berna Eli “Barney” Oldfield, pioneer American automobile racer whose name became synonymous with speed.
10For the Wright Brothers see WA 107:N 2.
11Ransom Eli Olds, American inventor and industrialist, known as the “father of the popular priced car.” He served as president of REO Motor Company from 1904 to 1924.
12Kenesaw Mountain Landis, United States district court judge from 1905 to 1922. He presided at the rebate trial of Standard Oil of Indiana in 1907, finding the defendants guilty and imposing a fine of more than $29 million. The decision later was reversed. Landis served as commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1920 until his death in 1944.
13Charles Evans Hughes (see WA 2:N 4) served as governor of New York from 1907 to 1910.
14Robert Edwin Peary, American naval officer and arctic explorer. After several unsuccessful attempts, Peary finally reached the North Pole in April 1909, the first man ever known to do so.
15Robert Fulton, American engineer and inventor who built and operated the first successful steamboat, the Clermont. It made its maiden voyage on the Hudson River in 1807.
16Porfirio Díaz, Mexican general and politician who served as president of Mexico from 1876 to 1880 and 1884 to 1910. He was forced to resign in 1910 and flee the country.
17Ray Harroun, American race car driver who drove a single-seat Marmon to victory in the first Indianapolis 500-mile race in 1911.
WA111 January 25, 1925
YEAR OF 1924 SAW GREAT
STRIDES IN AUTO WORLD
This is really a continuation of last week’s novel by the same author. But I better explain what was in last week’s installment as I never get the same reader twice. Last week I took up the history of the Automobile from its first stalling. Explained who made the first ones and brought the industry up to the year 1914. Now we have to pick it up there and see what we can do with it on up to this present Sunday.
1914 saw several important changes in this great Vehicular Movement. The Ford Company passed its first 1,000 a day production. People thought then, my Lord, will they ever stop turning those things out! They are like Japs, they were multiplying something terrible. So America woke up and said, we got to have somewhere to put these things, and somebody thought of the idea of building roads to store them on, so they commenced to make roads. And as fast as they would make roads, why, Uncle Henry would clutter them up with these things. It got so it was the entire nation organized against one lone man. Every state said to themselves: “We will build some vacant roads,” But the minute they got ’em built they found there were thousands of people there waiting to twist a mechanical thing’s tail and away it would go and fill up their road, just as much as it had been with rocks and trees before they had built it. He has filled every road that was ever built. I don’t care where you try to hide a road, why, one of Mr. Ford’s road fillers will find it.
The manufacturers’ review tells us that in 1914 builders of cars commenced to study where to put baggage in a car on a trip. Then the thought struck some of them to put it on the feet of the people in the rear seat, a custom which must have had some merit because it has been used ever since. Also in 1914 the Chicago Automobile Trade Association decided that 85 cents an hour was the correct pay for mechanic doing repair work. They were right; it was the correct pay, but the mechanic still received a $1.25 an hour. 1914 also saw the first filling station painted white with a red roof. The World War in Europe also started, but the history of the automobile makes no mention of that fact; perhaps they didn’t know it. But I want to tell you that my history of the Auto will embrace everything worth while, including Prohibition.
WAR MADE MANY CHANGES
In 1914, in additon to Archduke Francis of Austria being assassinated, and causing a war for the least reason that any War had ever been started, why Chauffeurs demanded a room and bath over the garage for the first time in Automobile History.1
Germany had some land over in China, so Japan declared war on Germany not on account of the shooting of the Archduke, but they thought it would be a good time to get this land, Germany’s Army being busy somewhere else. So on August 20, Japan declared War on a nation they had never seen. On August 21, 1914, Rubber Horns on Automobiles were replaced by sirens. They found pedestrians were used to the rubber honk honk ones, and could get out of the way, but with the siren ones they would scare you so bad you would be very little trouble to hit.
1924 United States Marines landed at Vera Cruz, Mexico, to protect Standard Oil interests. Next week Standard Oil in repayment for Marines’ courtesy raised price of gas 3 cents. 1914 also saw the only woman driver who ever looked back before turning off a road. Another novelty that year in addition to this lone woman was the opening of the Panama Canal to allow ships which couldn’t make it all the way round to come through and see this side.
Congressmen at Government expense and pay also went down and all that were sober enough saw the Canal. Massachusetts through good manipulation of their Senators and Congressmen got in one the Government Pork Barrel under the guise of the Rivers and Harbors Bill and they opened them up the Cape Cod Canal, to allow Cod Fish who couldn’t make it around the Cape to cut through and exchange courtesies with the Cod on the other side. It’s been a big social success for the Cod Fish, but financially it hasn’t paid the light house keeper.
BLOWOUT NEAR GARAGE
1914 also saw the first and only blow out that ever happened in front of a garage. So all in all it was, as I say, a very eventful year.
In 1915, Twin Sixes come on the market. The name was better than the design. British had a Naval victory off Dogger Bank, also and the Jitneys over run every town and city in America. It was worse than the Germans invading Belgium. Panama-Pacific Exposition opened so Frisco would have something on Los Angeles. They did till they counted up. Chicago Drainage Canal reopened. John D. Rockefeller misses golf ball and gasoline goes up two cents.2
1916. Clover leaf body was invented. Germans attack Verdun, which caused a slanting windshield to be the feature of the 1916 Automobile Show, and also Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico.3
We had a man on guard that night but Villa and Villain that he is wouldn’t come up on the side this fellow was guarding on. Our soldiers chased him over the line till they run into some red tape and had to come back. Safety First Federation formed by what few pedestrians were left. The first President and the Executive Consul were run over that year. Pershing enters Mexico and gas goes up 3 cents that same Fall.4
1917. A man in Claremore, Oklahoma, put up the first one man top single handed. America declared war on Germany. These were the two outstanding features of that eventful year.
1918. Motorless Sundays were invented, not to save gas but life. Undertakers made strenuous objections. First tractor is used for plowing instead of just for an ad. At Alapaiesky the Bolsheviki assassinated Sergius Milkallovitch, Igo Constanovich and Ugo Constanionivich, all just North of Eckterninburg. First mirror invented to see what the people in the back seat are doing.
1919. Automobile makers (outside of Ford) are worried over the price of steel. The price of steel is the last thing to worry him. Peace Conference opens at Paris, Peace is harder to decide on than War. There were then 15,500 cars in manufacturers’ hands and they didn’t know what to do with them. Then they thought of the idea of painting them different colors and striping the wheels and they sold them. Everybody tried that year to fly across the Atlantic. Some of them made it. Wire wheels look pretty on cars. Boston Police strike for the benefit of Calvin Coolidge. Four-door Ford Sedan invented.
START PLAYING GOLF
1920. Automobile agents started playing golf. Soviet Ark, called the Fuford, took Emma Goldman and a flock of Reds back to Russia.5
Self starters started to work, and everybody and national Prohibition started everybody to drinking.
1921. New York puts in traffic towers to keep their policemen from getting run over. Latter part of 1921, crosstown traffic allowed to cross Fifth Avenue. Disarmament Conference called at Washington to devise treaties to have America disarm. Women’s cigarette holder and mirror first introduced in closed car, biggest sales feature in years. First woman found who didn’t sit in back seat and tell husband how to drive. Wire wheels finished.
1922. Every street crossing had 4 corner lots. This is the year that an oil filling station was put on one corner, a real estate office on one, and a drug store on each of the other two. Irish Free State was established on account of lack of ammunition. Hole in gasoline tank (to fill it) is put under the tire rack so you can’t get at it.
1923. Insurance policies charged on automobiles to cover real value, instead of cost. Insurance companies believe many cars deliberately destroyed. (Insurance Companies belief well founded). Ford puts in self starters and saves 40 thousand broken arms. The World’s Friendship aeroplane reaches Rio Janeiro, (Nobody ever heard how it ever got back). Overland cut their price and there was an earthquake in Japan. Buick tried to make their car look like a Packard cost them 25 dollars fine per each for doing it.
Balloon tires had its reign during the last two weeks of this year.
1924. We had 17,000,000 cars in this country, 20 per cent of them paid for. Four wheel brakes came in 1924 and Senator Magnus Johnston of Minnesota was beat in a milking contest by Secretary Wallace of Agriculture.6
First taxi car driver gave another one the right of way.
1Francis Ferdinand, crown prince and archduke of Austria. His assassination by Serbians in 1914 was the immediate cause of World War I.
2For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 3:N 6.
3For Pancho Villa WA 34:N 1.
4For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
5Emma Goldman, one of many alleged Soviet sympathizers deported from the United States during the “Red Scare” of 1919 to 1920.
6For Magnus Johnson see WA 35:N 4; for Henry C. Wallace see WA 57:N 8.
WA112 February 1, 1925
ECLIPSE PROVES BIG SUCCESS
WHEN IT WAS STAGED IN N. Y.
Well, all I know is what other people put in the papers. The big event last week for the people who go in for outdoor amusements was the Eclipse. It got more free advertising than any aerial atttraction ever held. It was the first one New York had ever had. Anything can draw in this town once, but they never better try and bring another one back here. I will give it credit for one thing and that is that it is the first thing ever held in New York where ticket speculators couldn’t get in on it. Even at that, one speculator was trying to find where he could get seats for the Eclipse.
New Yorkers were very much disappointed in it. Never having had one before they thought it would do some tricks, maybe tell some off colored jokes, or perhaps have some little suggestive touch like a Belasco show.1
Well, when it come and the moon did nothing but pass between the Sun and the Earth, why they felt like the whole thing had been overestimated. They wanted to know what had kept them from passing; wasn’t it perfectly proper that they should pass, what was to prevent it?
New Yorkers knew nothing about the Sun. They had never seen it even when it wasn’t Eclipsing. The Moon or the Sun mean nothing to a New Yorker. You can’t see the Sun out of the Subway and you can’t see the Moon through the top of a Taxicab. So when the two passed it meant nothing in their young lives.
Besides it was scheduled to happen at 9 A.M. Can you imagine somebody putting on a show for New Yorkers to take place at 9 A.M.? The milkmen and two night watchmen were all that saw it. Movie theatre owners heard it was to be dark and as they charge more for going to one of their shows after dark than they do during the daylight, why they raised their prices the same as night to apply during the Eclipse. The only people that really seemed to have gotten anything out of the Eclipse from an advertising standpoint was the Corona. There was a terrible lot said in all the advance notices of the Eclipse about the Corona. I don’t know whether the Corona worked or not. I know mine don’t.
New Yorkers were so used to traffic stops that they could not realize how any two objects could pass peacefully by each other without hitting. It was unusual in transportation in this part of the country. It was also the only thing ever took place back here that went off on schedule time. I wish those scientists run the railroads. It’s funny those guys can tell you just to the minute when something is going to happen 10 million miles away and none of them has ever been smart enough to tell you what day to put on your heavy underwear.
They are always studying out what some other worlds and planets are doing. Better find out what this one is doing. It’s been acting mighty crazy here lately. Long as these planets and worlds keep on passing we are all right; it’s when they don’t pass each other! But that will be too late to do anything about it.
REAL FIRST NIGHTER
I am a regular first nighter at these Eclipses. I attended the one held on the Pacific Slope last year. Los Angeles had it. I bet you they are crowing now over having it ahead of New York. I went last year down to Tia Juana, Mexico, to see it. You were supposed to look at it through smoked glasses but everybody that went to Mexico just looked at it through the bottom of beer glasses. It was very successful down there; people saw it who didn’t even get out of the bar rooms.
I suppose now the elements are putting on free attractions that the theater managers will be up in arms against them, like they were with the Radio, and try and have these Eclipses stopped because they are interfering with business at the theaters. It don‘t take a McCormack or an Eclipse to interfere with some shows.2
A clear day will do it.
Well, I see where France has been acting up again about their debt to us. A man made a speech against paying the debt, and the other members of Council of Deputies all cheered for an hour. Now what is the use kidding ourselves? We know that they don’t want to pay it. They don’t even feel like they owe it. Now here is my propsal: (Although I am not a member of President Coolidge’s Cabinet, still they are changing them so fast I may get in yet).
LET ’EM GO AHEAD
“I would say to France, “You don’t seem to think you owe us anything. What we did for you, you think we owed you. Now if it wasn’t worth anything, why let it go. But, listen, if we wasn’t worth anything in this War, why don’t expect us in the next one.”
Any person or any nation will break a neck for each other if they think that is appreciated. But the thing about this French thing is not the money. They don’t even in their own hearts appreciate, or even like us.
Instead of drinking wine and arguing about how heartless America is they better be home raising some families to help keep their population up to the standard.
Well, I see where Judge Garry, the Head of the Steel Trust and Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., head of the Oil Trust went down to Washington and had breakfast with President Coolidge.3
They are going to fix up the Prohibition Enforcement. They haven’t had time to get around to it before. They took down a pamphlet thanking Mr. Coolidge for his good example in not breaking the law. The Automobile men are going to draw up one now and take it down and give it to him for not stealing a car during his term of office.
They don’t have to have men like Mr. Garry and Rockefeller compliment Mr. Coolidge for keeping the law. He has always kept the law. His worst political enemy could never say he ever broke a law. You remember a few years ago this country had to pass a special law called the Anti Trust Law, aimed primarily at these two Trusts, the Oil and the Steel. Now if you have to pass a law to curb men like that they are not exactly the men to give confidence to the rest of our Nation in regard to keeping the law. Getting them to arrange our morals would be like appointing me as teacher of English at Harvard.
BIG ARGUMENT ON
The big controversy now in Washington is whether we can raise the guns on our Navy or not. Now of all the fool things I ever heard of coming up for argument that is the prize one. You spend millions of dollars on a battleship, and other millions on putting guns on it.
Now to us ordinary taxpayers a gun to put on a battleship is naturally (primarily) meant for one thing and that is to shoot at an enemy in case of war. And about one of the most useful ways you can shoot a gun is to be able to point it around in the direction where it will do the most good. If the enemy is up a little higher, why naturally, you would like to be in a position to aim your gun up a little higher. Or maybe raise it up on a goods box or pedestal where you could get a little longer range on the old boy. If you want to put it up on top of the mast, why hang it up there. The Country paid for it and it is theirs and it was bought with the object of shooting some bird if he starts anything.
Now we find that we can’t raise them up. England objects. In other words, we got great guns but we can’t shoot the way we want to. Another Country is going to tell us which way to point ’em. It is like going to War and having the sights taken off your guns, so you can’t aim ’em. Or that there is to be no warfare Saturday evening, as that is their half day off.
Our guns are pointing toward the water now, and we want to arrange to have them point in the neighborhood of the enemy even if it’s only to splash water on him. But the Treaty says no. Now if I am wrong in thinking we can not do with our guns as we please, who signed such a fool treaty? Why would any sane American sign a Treaty that we was allowed to have a gun but that we was not allowed to do with it as we wanted? Why can’t we stand it on its head and shoot toward the bottom of the ocean if we wanted to? Mr. Coolidge says it would cost too much to raise them. That is like buying a gun, and then saying, “Well, I can’t afford now that I have the gun to buy any bullets for it.” If it’s against the Treaty which some bonehead signed for us, for the Lord’s sake let us quit making treaties.
I have often said it is cheaper for America to go to War than it is for us to confer with anybody. It’s funny, but we can talk our heads off until it comes to a time when it means something and then we are as dumb as an oyster.
If they can tell us we can’t raise our guns at the next Conference we have they will tell us we can’t raise a mustache. The way our guns are pointing now, if the boat ever rocked, we would shoot ourselves.
1For David Belasco see WA 8:N 6.
2John Francis McCormack, extraordinarily successful Irish operatic and concert tenor. A naturalized American citizen, he appeared regularly after 1909 with the leading opera companies on the East Coast.
3For Elbert H. Gary see WA 3:N 6; for John D. Rockefeller, Jr., see WA 15:N 11.
WA113 February 8, 1925
DRAMA AND HEART THROBS
IN FROZEN NORTH AT 50 BELOW
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. As I am writing this with all the daily papers laying out here in front of me, there is one bit of news that so far over-shadows the rest, that the others need hardly be mentioned. It’s headed Nenana, Alaska.
Now how many of us had ever heard of Nenana? We didn’t know whether it was a town or a toothpaste. So what news could possibly be coming from an out of the way place like that, to overshadow such items as; “Mr. Bascomb Slemp Leaves Mr. Coolidge and Another Private Secretary Replaces Him.”1
“France Says They Never Said They Wouldn’t Pay; Neither Did They Say They Would.” “Mayor Hylan Leaves The Snow and Slush of New York for the Balmy Beaches of Florida.”2
“Gloria Swanson marries a Man She Can’t Even Pronounce His Name.”3
“Eastern Cities Slosh In Snow and Sleet.” “Taxi Driver Shoots Man Because Tip is not Large Enough.”
Hundreds of Headlines are given prominence that tomorrow you wouldn’t remember you had ever read about them. What do they mean? They are nothing. We don’t need a headline to tell us that Mayor Hylan of New York City goes south every year just two months later than a goose. Does President Coolidge changing private secretaries mean life or death to anyone? J. P. Morgan runs the entire world and nobody ever heard whether he had a private secretary or not.4
France and her debt problem, you can see that any day. When we get something that will be time enough to put it in a headline. A movie actress taking a husband for the season—nowadays that should not call for over three lines. Somebody being shot in a city should cause no comment at all. Papers should print every day the lists of people who were not murdered the previous night. “Cities slosh in snow and slush,” its awfully inconvenient; what is Congress doing about it, anyway?
So what is it happened away up there in Nenana, Alaska? Have they struck more new Gold mines? It’s 50 below Zero, and men are rushing night and day through feet upon feet of ice and snow. Not on a confortable Pullman. Not in an Automobile. Not even on a horse. No, they are running on foot behind a sled, urging and whipping, and even killing with the terrible pace some of their favorite dogs. If it’s not a gold rush they must then be doing this for a prize, a big money prize for the winner. No, there is no gold; there is no purse for the winner. They don’t get a cent. It’s all for nothing so far as material gain is concerned. They are trying to reach Nome, Alaska hundreds of miles away. They are going in relays, the best drivers and the best dog teams in the world fighting their way through weather, that if we had it we wouldn’t get out from under a stove. They are carrying a substance more precious than Radium. They are carrying an anti toxin that will save the life of a child with Diptheria that dreaded and fatal disease hundreds of miles away in Nome.
I just wonder as I read the accounts of it here today, if those men are not just going a little faster, a little harder, because it is children that they are going to save. I know they are. I bet you each man on that run will average more energy spent and hardship endured than if it has been for grown ups. A grown person has got to die of something, and he is sometimes responsible for what he contracts, and where he is, but these little afflicted children had nothing to do with being in Nome, Alaska, with no anti toxin within hundreds of miles. Nobody asked them if they wanted to go away off up there and take a chance. And I know that every time a driver slowed down through exhaustion and then would think of who he was doing it for, he would urge on and make better time. He knew that every minute might mean a little life saved.
We have had a great deal of ridicule on the stage and kidding in in the papers about the expression, “from the wide open spaces where men are men.” That of course was started by the boneheadedness of some Scenario Title Writer in the Movies, who would put in such a title and then the audience would see some wavy haired bird that had been weaned out of an ice box and raised in the shade of a radiator. Well, regardless of those misleading titles there are men out there, and the broader the spaces the more real men you will find and don’t let anybody tell you there ain’t.
I was never up in Alaska, but I know there is a lot of real guys up there, that can do something besides drink whiskey and recite “The Shooting of Dan McGrew.”5
We give medals during the war for the taking of human life. So why not let Congress vote some Congressional medals for these men who sacrificed to save that most precious of human life. A child!
I believe that a child could prevent all wars. Let a Congress, or a Reichstag, or a Parliament, or a House of Deputies be on the verge of breaking off diplomatic relations with some other country, and you let a child enter that Chamber and say: “What about me? What is to become of us? We have no say. Are not you men smart enough and generous enough to settle this without war? It won’t hurt you. We are the sufferers; it will leave us fatherless; and after we grow up we will have the debt to pay, so please think twice before breaking off relations, are you sure that it can’t be prevented.”
There is no truer line in our entire Scripture than, “A little child shall lead them.”
We have a very popular picture (and deservedly so) showing our early Americans crossing the plains in covered wagons so two lovers could finally meet and marry at the finish. Now where is your scenario writer? Why not one showing the world the sacrifices and courage of our men in the frozen north, not going for gain or adventure but racing to save little children.
You won’t need any love interest. No finishing to meet a sweetheart. Just show it to them as it actually happened in real life by real men, trying to save a child’s life, in a Man’s country.
This episode away up there in the North should be a lesson to our Government. This is one disease where the Doctors have mastered if antitoxin is given in time, and it is almost fatal if you haven’t got it, or it is too late.
I rushed 600 miles by a relay of automobiles in less than 10 hours one time to arrive and see where this very anti toxin was adminstered too late, and to also see what it saved when it was given on time.6
This is not pleasant to speak of in a so-called Humorous Article. But, oh, it is such a quick and terrible thing, that if anything I might say could help I know you will forgive me the lack of laughs. Let our Government see that this is on hand at every remote place. We have an airship service where our aviators risk life every day in all kinds of weather to deliver business mail from New York to San Francisco. So why haven’t we aviators in Alaska and every place were they can be of service quickly in emergencies like this. And if the Government won’t do it, let us do it by popular subscription.
1For C. Bascom Slemp see WA 88:N 7.
2For John F. Hylan see WA 18:N 5.
3Swanson (see WA 102:N 3) married the Marquis de la Falaise de la Coudrey on January 28.
4For J. P. Morgan, Jr., see WA 1:N 4.
5“The Shooting of Dan McGrew,” well known poem about the American frontier by Robert William Service, English-born balladeer and writer.
6Rogers’ youngest child, Fred Stone died of diphtheria in 1920 at the age of twenty months. Will was on location in San Francisco and failed to arrived home before the baby died.
WA114 February 15, 1925
MONUMENTS ARE ALL RIGHT
BUT EVEN HEROES MUST EAT
As I write this, it is Friday just about 9 days before you read it. As it has to be sent away all over the country by mail. (As Mr. Brisbane is the
only one of the writing fraternity who can afford to telegraph his stuff).1
Then besides, these Sunday papers make up the print and are even sold on the streets days before Sunday. Well, let us get this straight. It is now Friday of last week as far as you are concerned and tonight is the night that the world is coming to an end.
The papers here are full of it, as it is right down near New York City at Patchogue, Long Island, where the Apostle of Doom is located.2
everybody says to me, “Will, you ought to get a lot of fun out of this world ending business.” Say, you ain’t going to get me tellin no jokes on that. Suppose it happens! Look where I would be!
You are supposed to ride away on a cloud, I don’t want them going off leaving me standing there on what had been the Earth after it was gone. I have tried to live these few days so that if there was to be any cloud riding I would be in on it. I don’t know what kind of a cloud equestrian I would make, but I certainly want to be chosen among those who have a mount on it. Of course, I will admit that I reformed a little later, and maybe just for this occasion. But, at any rate, it did me some good.
Now, it is happening at a very inopportune time for me, because today, Friday, I have a payment to meet on some land out in California, and I have tried all day to get the payment postponed until tomorrow, figuring of course if it did happen I would just be that much ahead. Then, of course, in case it don’t, I don’t know which would be the greatest disappointment to be—having to pay or having to die. You know a great many of these Adventists sold their homes and land in preparation for this. From now on I am going to get ahold of some ready cash and just follow up one of these prophets and every time he announces one of these world finales I will buy up everything they have cheap. But it would just be about my luck, the time I did that to have it really come true and I would lose it all. It really has Mr. Ziegfeld, my boss, worried. It is supposed to happen tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) is the biggest day in the Theater, at both matinee and night show, and he is swearing at the misfortune of not having it delayed a day, until after Saturday’s big business.
These Adventists are supposed to go by way of a cloud to California somewhere near San Diego, and then from there on to Heaven. This is a terrible blow to me and California, to know that people are going to purposely leave there and go to Heaven, and me just today paying on some land out there. It certainly is the poorest ad California can possibly have.
DOGS REACH HOME
You remember last Friday I wrote you of the wonderful work of those dog teams and their drivers. The day I wrote that article the teams had just started. There was only one New York paper carried the story, and that not in very large headlines. I just felt and knew that they would get there. They didn’t have to make the race to show me what they could do. But I certainly was tickled to death as the days passed by after my little piece had been sent in, to see and read the wonderful tributes paid to what they were doing, by the Editorial writers who had down in real words what I had so crudely tried to say when they started.
I want to apologize for you having to read it after seeing theirs, and I want also to put in praise for that Doctor, away off up there with the very life of the entire town on his hands and that nurse.3
I didn’t tell about them last week because we had not heard of them when the race started.
Now what are we going to do outside of just complimenting them in words about their marvelous achievement? Let’s get some kind of fund from all over the country, enough so we can erect a monument to their memory—but not only that; give them some real money. You know that’s the tough part about a hero. He has to eat. We take care of them with too much newspaper space and not enough permanent endowment. We have great fellows back from the war that can show you two medals for every sack of flour they have in the house. They got a foreign decoration for every American dollar they have.
Heroing is one of the shortest lifed profession there is. So let us get some fund raised by our papers so we can show these fellows what we think of them.
You know, those dogs, even as wonderful as they are, and as hardy, they have to eat. They can’t read glowing editorials about themselves. Those mushers make a living mushing. But how long can you keep it up? What are they going to do when they can’t make those hard trips? Looking at the monument that was erected to them ain’t going to bring any bacon in the cabin. It might be so cold, and they may be so old that they can’t even get to the monument. No, give them an established fund where they will get so much a month as long as they live.
Look at the Doctor! Why some big city Doctor with perhaps half this Nome Doctor’s ability, will collect more fees from the estate of some patient where he had officiated at death, than this poor fellow up there will collect for saving the whole of Nome. Some New York Doctor will get more for taking the appendix out of some useless guy, (who it wouldn’t matter whether he had it in or out) than this Doctor would get if he cured Alaska. And that Nurse—she didn’t ask how much she was to get a week and what time she was to be relieved by the night nurse.
WOULD HELP HEROES
We do something for every fool thing in the World. One time here in New York I played at a big benefit to get a Statue of Liberty for Russia. Now can you imagine Russia with a Statue of Liberty? We don’t even know if they want one or not. If they do want one, we will loan them ours. Ours has got its back turned on us at the present time, showing us that our liberty is behind us. So I certainly will contribute, and also play anything, anywhere, for a permanent fund for these Alaska heroes.
And the work of those fellows down there in Kentucky.4
Don’t overlook we got some real men right down there. The way those fellows worked and risked their lives to save that poor fellow! And Policemen here in New York, where the impression of some out of town people seems to be that nobody in New York cares for anybody else! There is not a day that you don’t read of the wonderful things performed by them and the firemen to save human life. I tell you it does your heart good to read these things, even if we haven’t got the nerve to be in on it, ourselves. We can at least admire it, and be proud that we have men like these, and thousands of women like this nurse, if the opportunity presents itself.
Even with lack of a 5-5-3 Navy, with lack of one-tenth enough airships, which lack of a competent sales tax, and a million other things, she is a great old hemisphere.
And if they bring it to an end tonight, I think personally they will make
a big mistake. This country has possibilities.
1For Arthur Brisbane see WA 49:N 12.
2Robert Reidt, a self-styled “Apostle of Doom” and a member of the Reformed Seventh Day Adventist Church, prophesied the end of the world would occur on February 6, 1925.
3Dr. Curtis Welch was the only physician in Nome, Alaska, during the diphtheria outbreak of 1925. He was aided by the community’s nurse, Emily Morgan.
4Attempts to rescue Floyd Collins, a professional spelunker, who was trapped in a Kentucky cave, drew nationwide publicity in February 1925. Collins was found dead on February 17.
WA115 February 22, 1925
THESE REDS ARE LIKE
THE EXHAUST TO AN AUTOMOBILE,
ALL NOISE AND SMELL
The last few days I have read various addresses made on Lincoln’s Birthday. Every politician always talks about him, but none of them ever imitate him. They always make that a day of delivering a lecture on “Americanism.” When an Office Holder, or one that has been found out, can’t think of anything to deliver a speech on, he always falls back on the good old subject, AMERICANISM. Now that is the one thing that I have never delivered an Essay on, either written or spoken. They have all had a crack at it every Fourth of July and Lincoln’s Birthday. So now I am going to take up the subject and see what I can wrestle out of it. Let’s get our rope ready and turn it out, and we will catch it and see really what brands it has on it. Here it comes out of the Corral. We got it caught; now it’s throwed and Hog Tied; and we will pick the Brands and see what they are.
The first thing I find out is there ain’t any such animal. The American Animal that I thought I had here is nothing but the big Honest Majority, that you might find in any Country. He is not a Politician. He is not a 100 per cent American. He is not any organization, either uplift or downfall. In fact I find he don’t belong to anything. He is of no decided Political faith or religion. I can’t even find out what religious brand is on him. From his earmarks he has never made a speech, and announced that he was An American. He hasn’t denounced anything. It looks to me like he is just an Animal that has been going along, believing in right, doing right, tending to his own business, letting the other fellows alone.
He don’t seem to be simple enough minded to believe that EVERYTHING is right and he don’t appear to be Cuckoo enough to think that EVERYTHING is wrong. He don’t seem to be a Prodigy, and he don’t seem to be a Simp. In fact, all I can find out about him is that he is just NORMAL. After I let him up and get on my Horse and ride away I look around and I see hundreds and hundreds of exactly the same marks and Brands. In fact they so far outnumber the freaky branded ones that the only conclusion I can come to is that this Normal breed is so far in the majority that there is no use to worry about the others. They are a lot of Mavericks, and Strays.
A bunch of Bobbed Haired men gathered in Madison Square Garden last Sunday at a meeting of these Reds, or Bolsheviki, or whatever they call themselves. It was one of their denouncement meetings. They denounced the heavy snow, Declaration of Independence, 5 cent Street Car Fare, Floods in Georgia, Mayor Hylan’s Bathing Suit, Twin Beds, and the Eclipse.1
A Kid 14 years old delivered such a tribute to Lenine that he made it look like George Washington or Abe Lincoln couldn’t have Caddied for Lenine.2
Oh, this Boy had got disgusted with America young in life. Incidentally, while he was making this tirade, NORMALISM of his age, at least a million of them were out skating.
Now some say that a thing like that should not be allowed. Why sure it should be allowed! England can teach any Country in the World how to handle discontent. (Maybe it’s because they have more of it). They give ’em a Park, Hyde Park, they even furnish the Soap Boxes (as the former contents of the Box is generally as foreign to the Speakers as his Nationality is to the Coutnry he is speaking in.) Give ’em a Hall or a Box to stand on and say, “Sic ’em; knock everything in sight” and when they have denounced everything from Bunions to Capitalistic Bath Tubs, then they will go home, write all week on another speech for the following Sunday and you never have any trouble with them.
It’s just like an exhaust on an Automoblie. No matter how high priced the car, you have to have an exit for its bad Air, and Gasses. They have got to come out. It don’t do any particular harm, unless you just stand around behind smelling of it all the time, but who would want to follow a car to smell of its exhaust when you could just as well be in the Car riding.
Now sometimes there is a loud explosion, and everybody on the Streets will turn around and see what it is. The minute they see, they will go right on their business. They know there has been no damage done. So that’s how it is with this so called Radical Element. Let them have a Park or a Hall as an exhaust Pipe. Then when they have some particular Noted Denouncer, why, you will hear a loud report. You will listen, or read what he said and go on about your business the same as the listeners to a backfire. You know it’s necessary.
Now I am not much on History but I don’t think any of these people were drafted over here, nor that there are any immigration Laws in Europe against this Country. I have often thought what would happen if the Government sent somebody to one of those meetings and he got up and announced that he was instructed to send every one of them back to the Country where they come from, and had been raving about. Say, there would be such a stampede they would tear down the building to keep from going. You couldn’t Shanghai them out of here.
No, sir! This country is too big now. To stop this Country now would be like spitting on a Railroad track to stop a Train. These Reds are on their backs snoring and they ain’t keeping anybody awake but each other. No Element, no Party, not even Congress or the Senate can hurt this Country now; it’s too big. There are too many men just like those Dog Team Drivers and too many Women like that Nurse up in Nome for anything to ever stampede this old Continent of ours. That’s why I can never take a Politician seriously. They are always shouting that “such and such a thing will ruin us, and that this is the eventful year in our Country’s life.”
Say, all the years are the same. Each one has its little temporary setbacks, but they don’t mean a thing in the general result. Nobody is making History. Everybody is just drifting with the time. If any office holder feels he is carrying a burden of responsibility, some flea will light on his back and scratch it off for him someday. Congress can pass a bad law and as long as the Old Normal Majority find it out they have it scratched off the books.
We lost Roosevelt, a tough blow.3
I thought in three months Turkey
would hold a protectorate over us. But here we are still kicking. So, if we can spare men like Roosevelt and Wilson there is no use in any other politician ever taking himself serious.
Henry Ford has been a big factor in the industrial development of the country. Yet if he was gone there would still be enough of those things left to clutter up the highways for years. John D. Rockefeller who has done a lot for humanity with his gifts; yet when he is gone and gasoline raises two cents, and all expenses and the estate is settled we will kick along.4
Even when our next war comes we will through our shortsightedness not be prepared, but that won’t be anything fatal. The real energy and minds of the normal majority will step in and handle it and fight it through to a successful conclusion. A war didn’t change it before. It’s just the same as it was, and always will be, because it is founded on right and even if everybody in public life tried to ruin it they couldn’t. This country is not where it is today on account of any man. It is here on account of the big normal majority. A politician is just like a necktie salesman in a big department store. If he decides to give all the ties away, or decides to pocket all the receipts, it don’t effect the store. It don’t close. He closes, as soon as he is found out.
So I can find nothing for alarm in our immediate future. The next time a politician gets sprouting off about what this country needs, either hit him with a tubercular tomato or lay right back in your seat and go to sleep. Because this country has got too big to need a damn thing.
1For John F. Hylan see WA 18:N 5.
2Nikolai Lenin, Russian Communist leader who seized power in Russia in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. He died in 1924.
3For Theodore Roosevelt see WA 48:N 3.
4For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 3:N 6.
WA116 March 1, 1925
MORE LYING THAN FLYING
IN OUR AVIATION SERVICE
An original Drama in which the villain gets the best of it, even in the end. Scene is laid in one of the Committee Rooms of the Capitol Building at Washington, D. C. A meeting of the Congressional Committee to investigate our Airships if any.
Chairman of Committee—Please call Mr. Mitchell, Vice President of Aviation.1
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Mitchell, what it your title?
Mr. Mitchell—Mr. Chairman, I haven’t read the latest paper; I don’t know. But I am known by the Aircraft Board as being the bump in the air over which no inefficiency can fly without hitting.
Mr. Chairman—Then I take it you are an Air Pocket which the Army and Navy must go through or drop in the attempt. Now, Mr. Mitchell we are going to investigate all our Airships.
Mr. Mitchell—That shouldn’t take long.
Heads of Army and Navy Aviation—Mr. Chairman, we object. It will take longer to find us out than he thinks. And besides, he is breaking Army discipline. He is testifying here and the Chief of Staff did not write his speech. You know, Mr. Chairman, or you would know if you wasn’t a Congressman, that the first law of the Army, if you are asked anything, is to go to your Superior (so Called) Officer and ask him what you are to say. If men are going to be allowed to come here and tell the truth the whole structure on which the Army is based will crumble. What do you suppose a Superior (So Called) Officer is to do if he can’t instruct his inferiors (So Called) what to say at an investigation?
COULD GO TO WAR
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Mitchell, do you think we are prepared to go to war with an enemy with our present Airships?
Mr. Mitchell—Yes, Mr. Chairman, I think we could if we used good judgment in picking our enemy. I think we could defeat Switzerland, and we would have an even chance with Monaco.
Mr. Chairman—Then you mean to insinuate that we couldn’t whip England or Japan in the air?
Mr. Mitchell—Not unless it was fixed, and we bought them off.
Mr. Chairman—How long do you think it would take Japan to take Honolulu by air?
Mr. Mitchell—I don’t know the mileage. I don’t know how long it would take them to get there.
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Mitchell, is it a fact that you have really been up in the air in an Airship?
Mr. Mitchell—Yes Sir, I flew during the War.
Mr. Chairman—Have these other men of the Army and Navy who are appearing here against you ever been off the ground?
Mr. Mitchell—Yes Sir, they have been up in the air high enough to shake hands with Carter Glass.2
Mr. Chairman—Then you mean to tell me they are not actual flyers?
NEVER OFF GROUND
Mr. Mitchell—They have never been high enough to get into an upper berth in a Pullman.
Mr. Chairman—Why, Mr. Mitchell, these men have wings on their shoulders, and must have been up somewheres!
Mr. Mitchell—Listen, Mr. Congressional Committee, these aviation experts have never been up in the air any further than William Howard Taft can jump.3
Mr. Chairman—But where did they get these wings on their uniforms? What kind of aviators are they?
Mr. Mitchell—They are Taxicab Aviators.
Mr. Chairman—Call Mr. Weaks, Secretary of the Army.4
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Weaks, is there anything significant in your name of Weaks, and the condition of the Army of Aviation.
Mr. Weaks—Just because my name is Weaks they say the Aviation is weak. Now Mr. Chairman, that is not so. That is, it is not so on paper. If you will only hear my side of the story I can prove it to you. We have 12 hundred Airships.
THE BURNING QUESTION
Mr. Chairman—Where are they?
Mr. Weaks—I can’t just remember off hand where they are. But we have paid for that many.
Mr. Chairman—Will they fly?
Mr. Weaks—Well, the companies that sold them to us said they would and I have no reason to disbelieve them.
Mr. Chairman—Have you ever seen any of them fly?
Mr. Weaks—I just can’t bear to watch a man leave the ground, even if he was in a good aeroplane. I have a weak heart.
Mr. Chairman—That will be all. Mr. Weaks. Call Mr. Wilbur, the Secretary of the Navy.5
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Wilbur, what do you think of the Army’s branch of Aviation?
Mr. Wilbur—Oh, it’s terrible! The Navy have the best aviation and it should be that way. We are the first line of Defense. The Army is a lot of Groundhogs.
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Wilbur, where do you come from?
Mr. Wilbur—California, the State of the most wonderful climate and the most—
Mr. Chairman—Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Mr. Court Stenographer, take off 90 per cent of any Californians’ testimony.
EDDIE TO THE RESCUE
Mr. Chairman—Call Mr. Rickenbacker, American Ace of Aces.6
Mr. Chairman—Mr. Rickenbacker, what do you think of American aviation as it it today?
Mr. Rickenbacker—I think it is ROTTEN.
Mr. Chairman—Do you mean to tell us, Mr. Rickenbacker, that you, a mere flyer, know more about Airships than our illustrious strategy board?
Mr. Rickenbacker—All I know is that I was shot at millions of times by antiaircraft guns and I am still here. Hitting an Airship is just like hitting
a flying bird with a rock. It’s possible but not probable.
Mr. Chairman—That will do, Mr. Rickenbacker. We didn’t listen to Mr. Pershing in regard to keeping prepared for another war so why should we listen to you for mere air preparedness?7
Mr. Chairman—Call Mr. La Guardia, Congressman from New York.8
Mr. Chairman—Mr. La Guardia, you were a flyer in Italy during the World War. What did you find out?
Mr. La Guardia—I found out that I was the only Congressman that ever used air for anything but exhaling purposes.
Mr. Chairman—Well, what does President Coolidge say about this aviation business?
COOLIDGE VIEW POINT
Mr. La Guardia—Mr. Coolidge thinks that as soon as aviation has reached the point that the steam railways have that it will have proved its worth.
Mr. Chairman—Then you mean to tell me that the same men who looked at the automobile and said, “It’s all right but it will never be practicable;” Those are the men that are against the development of the Airships.
Mr. La Guardia—Yes, Sir, the nearest a lot of these officials have ever come to flying is when Mitchell throwed this scare into them.
Mr. Chairman—Call back Mr. Weaks and Mr. Wilbur.
Mr. Chairman—Now you gentlemen seem to think that the aircraft should not be a separate branch of the service. If so, why is it that you think the Army and Navy should be separate branches? If Aviation should be kept with them, why shouldn’t they (the Army and Navy) be kept together?
Mr. Weaks—Yes, but the Army is the backbone of the Country.
Mr. Wilbur—Yes, and the Navy is the Gizzard of our Anatomy.
Mr. Mitchell—I object, Mr. Chairman, to their testimony. The Army and the Navy are as jealous of each other as a couple of old setting hens are over one chicken. If the Committee thinks I, General Mitchell, am lying about the condition of our Airships, just let them have a War and see whether I am lying or not.
Mr. Chairman—The Committee, after summing up all the testimony, have come to this conclusion that the only way the Army and Navy can ever settle their difficulties is for them to have a War, and the winner shall be known as the National Arm of Defense. Or, if they didn’t do that, we propose the following:
That the Army take one Aeroplane, and the Navy take the other one we have, and that we have another built for the Aviation branch of our service. That would give us another Aeroplane and give one to each branch of our service.
1William “Billy” Mitchell, American army officer who served as commander of the United States Army Air Service from 1917 to 1918. Mitchell was court-martialed in 1925 because he had criticized the departments of War and Navy for mismanagement of the aviation service. Convicted, Mitchell resigned from the Army in 1926.
2Carter Glass, Democratic United States senator from Virginia from 1920 until his death in 1946.
3Taft (see WA 26:N 3) weighed in excess of 300 pounds.
4For John W. Weeks see WA 46:N 1.
5For Curtis D. Wilbur see WA 69:N 1.
6Edward Vernon “Eddie” Rickenbacker, American aviator and airline executive who as a flight commander during World War I personally disabled twenty-six enemy aircraft.
7For John J. Pershing see WA 4:N 10.
8Fiorello Henry La Guardia, United States representative from New York from 1917 to 1919 and 1923 to 1933. During World War I, he was commissioned an officer in the Army Air Service and commanded the United States air forces on the Italian-Austrian front. He later served as mayor of New York City.