April 2, 1933 - June 25 1933
CHOOSE UP AND FIGHTWell all I know is just what I read in the newsprints. If you just read Mr. Roosevelt’s daily orders to Congress why it keeps you pretty well informed on what will happen before it happens. Congress is minding just like a movie mob.
Say this guy Hitler has grabbed off the spotlight from all the dictators. He is a Dictator to end all Dictators.1 When I was in Europe a year ago this last January, I made arrangements from London to go to Munich to see this Hitler for an interview, then some newspaper guys talked me out of it, saying “Why he is only a flash in the pan. Before you get your interview published he will be through.”
Dog gone it, I wish now I had gone. I would like to see what kind of a bird he is. I don’t know but what I will prance over yet and take a look at him. But he is so big now I guess I couldent get an interview. If I did I would sure make it a nice one (all in his favor) till I got out of Germany anyhow. For that old boy runs that Country like a warden.
There must be an awful lot doing over in Europe now. Things are stirring around, kinder smells like another war. Can you imagine the Prime Minister of the Great England going clear down just to see Mussolini?2 Why any time in the past any one to have suggested such a thing would have been thought crazy. Mussolini a few years ago was one of the untouchables, as far as organized society was concerned. But the big boys are even flying to see him now. Ramsey MacDonald going down there to see him dident help out France’s peace of mind any, and now with Hitler doing a Mussolini, and Germany and Italy becoming kinder friendly, France don’t look on that as being so hot either.3
You know those Nations over there are just like a lot of so-called society women in a small town. The minute two of ’em get their heads together, it starts all the others wondering. Each one don’t know which other one to hook up with. They are so busy scheming and fenagling around that it’s no wonder they don’t get anything done at home.
France has been kinder lining up for the forthcoming festivities, signing up what Nations she could. She has Poland under contract. Mr. Woodrow Wilson fought hard to get Poland some freedom, but she is about sick and tired of it, and is about ready to go to war to end the whole thing.4 She is about as big as the lower half of the King Ranch in Texas, but has the biggest standing Army in Europe.5 Poland don’t hardly know who to jump on till France makes up her mind for her.
Then, Rumania signed up with France for the duration of the next war, and one or two of those little nations that France loaned enough money for the King to get him some new Uniforms. I guess we are about the dumbest Nation in the world in that respect. We have loaned more money to foreign Nations than anyone, but we never was smart enough to make ’em sign that they would help us out in case Mexico or Canada or some other bully jumped on us.
But when those bully Nations over there loan money to each other, there is a war clause in it. Of course the Nations like Poland and Rumania and those don’t ever figure on paying France back, but neither do the ones we loaned to, I think Austria too signed with France. No, I believe they got a better offer to go with England and made them the loan.
Your loan value as a Nation is in proportion to your war strength, and also to your geographical position. Now for instance Japan couldent get a dime from France. She is too far away from Germany. If Poland dident join Germany she couldent get any. That’s why Mussolini is sitting so pretty. They join France, so that gives them a mighty good loan value from any Nation that don’t care so much for France. If Germany had any money Italy could borrow all of it.
Switzerland just sits there in the middle of it all and hopes for a war so they can take care of the rich refugees from both sides. Switzerland is just like one of this board things they have in a bull ring where you can run when the bull gets after you. Holland is another one that keeps her nose clean when the European shooting starts too.
She just sells milk and butter to both sides, and an occasional diamond when things are prosperous. Spain is so far off to herself that she can’t afford to pay transportation to any country she could lick. Portugal discovered the whole world, and when there was no new worlds for a Portuguese to find, they just folded up and went out of business. So the old war will be on again pretty soon, but this time with different line ups and we will all say “Ain’t it a terrible thing!” And here we will kill more on a nice Sunday afternoon on our roads than they will in the first year of war. Well if we get in the next one I will vote my first Republican ticket.
1Adolf Hitler, chancellor and Fueher (leader) of Germany from 1933 until his death in 1945. The supreme dictator of Germany, Hitler based much of his political philosophy on racial bigotry, especially anti-Semitism.
2Benito Mussolini, founder and leader of the Fascist movement and dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.
3James Ramsay MacDonald, Scottish-born British Labour party leader and statesmen who served as prime minister of Great Britain in January 1924 and from 1929 to 1935.
4Thomas Woodrow Wilson, Democratic president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. Wilson played a major role in the settlement of the Polish question during the peace deliberations following World War I.
5The King Ranch, which embraced more than 1 million acres spread over five southern Texas counties was founded in 1852 by cattleman Richard King. Robert Justus Kleberg, son-in-law of King, managed and controlled the ranch after the founder’s death.
THE WORLD NEEDS MORE WHISKERSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers.
Bernard Shaw come to town a week or so ago and threw the biggest commotion in the film colony since Marlene Deitrick traded her chemise for breeches.1 That old Shaw baby just had answers to all the riddles.
“When will you have your plays filmed?”
“When the movies are able to handle them as they should be.”
“Which is your best play?”
“They are all good. I don’t write any other kind.”
“Some day I am going to rewrite Hamlet the way that it should have been in the first place. Shakespeare is like a volcano, he erupted, then for a long time he would be dormant.”
“America is not ready for prohibition as they are not happy enough. You have to drink to drown your troubles. I don’t drink, but I don’t expect your country to live up to my standards.”
“In California I had to fly over one mile high to see the sun.”
So you see the old whiskered rascal was really hitting on a mojority of ’em. And here is a funny one. Mr Winfield Sheehan, our studio General Manager, had a party up to his house in Beverley the other night.2 It was given for Miss Diana Winyard, the English lady that did such wonderful work in “Cavalcade.”3 In fact it was given for the whole company that made that photo, which by the way is considered about the classic of the year. So naturally that made “A few Englishmen.”
Mrs Rogers and I ventured out, for it was kind of a home talent affair, all our own studio folks.4 It was about our first venture into the night life of our Metropolis. She stayed awake till 11.30 but I dozed off around 11. We got home a quarter of twelve.
The whole thing was awfully decent. I guess that’s why I dozed off. She stuck it out another half hour figureing something would break out. But we had a fine, what you call buffett supper. Most buffett suppers, or dinners either, are a kind of excuse for not having much to eat. There is something about a “Buffett,” that suggests that it’s only going to be a couple of sandwitches and some potato salad. But this fellow Sheehan doubled crossed everybody much to their enjoyment and physical fortitude, and he not only had a tremendous lot of stuff on the table for the first helping, but he seemed to have more of it in the kitchen, and they just kept on bringing you more. Spagetti, chop suey, baked ham, salads all kinds, then lots of English dishes that we Colonials dident know what they were, but the Englishmen were just using up their knives and vocabularys on.
We had some red wine that on account of him being a very high sachem in New York’s Tammany Hall, they had sent him out to try, to see if it would pass the test for the new law.5 It was three and two percent. It was highly endorsed by all Englishmen and the scattering Plebians that attended. They are an awful nice bunch of folks these Englishmen. Well durn it, come to think of it, everybody is nice, with a host like Mr. Sheehan, and food that don’t include any wings and necks, and a good three and two percent that hasent been tested too strictly. I tell you pretty near any nationality looks good. I don’t mean that you got to get full to make ’em look good, but they just naturally are good. Now we had a Frenchman there, a mighty fine looking young actor called I think it was Garrah.6 Now as we all know Frenchmen are in the dog house with us. But he and I got off in the corner and we went over France’s situation. I have always claimed that France handled their own affairs better than any other nation, (with the possible exception of England). We cuss ’em, but we havent got their troubles. We can tell the world what they should do. For we have two great friends. No nation ever had two better friends than we have. You know who they are. Well they are the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. There is a couple of boys that will stand by you. And you can always depend on ’em, three thousand miles wide and a mile deep.
Give me a couple of good oceans between me and my enemies and I will sink a battleship and do away with a couple of companys of Cavalry. But you take old France bedded right in there next to Germany, with nothing in the world between them but a boundary line of two hundred years of hatred, and I am going to tell you brother, I would look out for France, and I don’t blame ’em for looking out for France. What we forget is that every nation has to look at things from their own angle, not our angle. You must always remember America can get altruestic, (is that what you call it?) well even if it’s not what you call it, that’s what I am going to call it, but remember we got the old two oceans, our pals, the Atlantic and Pacific.
But what I originally started in to tell you about was these Englishmen. At the dinner I would brag on Shaw, and they thought he was the hooey. You see these Englishmen can’t figure out in all these years, is Shaw for ’em or against ’em. They don’t know. So if an old guy 77 years old can outfigure you, why give him credit. So as I started in to say, Bernard Shaw made a sucker out of England. One out of us, and everybody else, so let’s just be good sports and admit that what the world needs is more whiskers, more vegetarians, and more teetotlers.
1George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright, novelist, and literary critic noted for his satiric wit; winner of the Nobel Prize in literature in 1925. Shaw arrived in the United States on March 23, 1933, for his first visit to the country. For this and all further references to Marlene Dietrich see WA 534:N 2.
2Winfield R. “Winnie” Sheehan, American motion-picture director and producer; vice president of Fox Film Corporation from 1921 to 1935.
3Diana Wynyard, British stage and motion-picture actress who made her debut in Hollywood in 1932. She starred in the film Cavalcade in 1933 for which she received an Academy Award nomination.
4Betty Blake Rogers, wife of Will Rogers. She married Rogers at her family home in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1908.
5Tammany Hall, a Democratic political organization in New York City that controlled party politics in the city and wielded much influence in municipal affairs.
6Henri Garat, French supporting actor who appeared in Congress Dances, The Charm School, Adorable, and other films, mostly in the 1930s.
THE MISSIONARY HAS HIS INNING,
All I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I get in the mails. I got a letter the other day about the missionaries. I had insinuated one time after being in China and talking to everybody I could meet, and based a good deal on their opinions, (Americans that lived out there) that the missionaries hadent hardly been what you would call a collosal success. Lots of ’em have done lots of good, but the same effort by those same splendid men and women if it had been contributed to parts of our country would have been more benefitial, and would have added to international good relations.
AND WILL ROGERS AGREES HE
No nation likes to have some other nationality come to their Country to teach ’em something. Now you take things like that nursing service in the Kentucky Mountains, and dozens of other fine things done for the poor in the South, and in a dozen other parts of the Country, beats all your foreign missions.
I may be all wet, and probably am, but when an American starts telling a Chinese “How to live,” why it’s like a new dude telling an old cowman how to run his ranch. Now I can see some sense in a Chinese coming over here and trying to teach us, ease, contentment, no worry, greater appreciation of our parents, and a tremendous regard, affection and veneration for old age. Every one of those qualities are things that every American knows we are lacking in, yet those things are bred into the Chinese.
All those things China has got to offer us. What have we got to offer them?
We will leave the religious part out of it, and say that our Missionaries teach ’em not only how to be a Babtist, or a Methodist, but how to be sanitary. We bring ’em tooth brushes and paper drinking cups, soap and Fords. Now let’s get down to results, for that’s the ultimate answer. What kills the most people in the two Countries, lack of good roads, and “A reliable mouth wash,” in China, or accidents by automobile in our Country?
I would as soon be a heathern and die because the town dident have a sewer, as to be an Episcoplian and get bumped off by a fellow member’s Rolls Royce. But these are arguments that no sane person ever gets into, for you never get anywhere. But always remember that up to the time that the Missionaries arrived in China, especially up to the time when the Yale and Harvard students arrived back home, China was doing great.
If my son is educated at Oxford I still don’t think he can come back home and tell me how to play a hog raiser in the movies. Now you can imagine what a conglomeration of ideas a Columbia Chinese student would go back home with.
China is the only Country in the world that no Nation has to worry about. All the Missionaries in the world can’t make China Presbyterian, and all the return students from foreign countries can’t keep it from being Chinese.
But here is what a fine letter from Suchowfu, China, a Missionary says, “Have enjoyed your wisecracks, and otherwise cracks, have seen and enjoyed your movies. Now give a moment or two. I wish you could have been here to register for our 12 days Bible class. They brought (40 cents in American money) to pay for their meals during all that time.
“Now what did they get for this money? Just a chance to sleep on some straw and share their flies and faith, their opprobrium and their joy in Christ. ‘I dident understand a thing at last year’s classes,’ said one dear old country woman, ‘but did a little at this year’s.’ They go to the church and sing, and how, or should I say howl, and are preached at by the hour. Maby you will say, ‘Well they got what they deserved,’ but they don’t think so, for each year more and more come, and I know you are a lover of truth, and if you could have been here and seen this you would have taken back what you said in an article one time, ‘Most of them are Christians over there just as long as the Missionaries hand out the rice.’ We are not saying that all these Christians are perfect, (in fact we Presbyterian don’t believe in perfection) but the picturing these 500 above, I have given you a true picture of the rank and file of the church in inland China.
“Over in Corea one time I met some real ‘rice Christians,’ but they were not to get rice from the church but to give rice to Christ. When the collection was taken up the women too poor to give any kind of coins, put in a cup full of rice tied up in a handkerchief, and this each emptied into a large gourd which formed the collection box. A young Korean friend of mine who spoke english said, ‘They take this rice out of their own stomachs—a little every day—to give to Jesus.’
“And I then realized the words of our Lord, ‘Of the truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than you all.’
“Now Will the next time you pass through our town as you did last year when you was going from Pieking to Nanking, stop off and see us, you will find out that we Missionaries are not what we are ‘Wisecracked’ to be.”
Now ain’t that a nice letter? You just see there is two sides to everything, and I want to thank goodness that I have never said that the Missionary was wrong. I have only claimed in lots of cases that the system was wrong. My theory of the whole Missionary business could be summed up in a sentence. If you send somebody to teach somebody, be sure that the system you are teaching is better than the system they are practicing. Some think it is, some think it ain’t. A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and Missionaries. The fellow that wrote this fine letter is E. H. Hamilton, evidently a Presbyterian Missionary, and able, up to date, conscientious man, (as most of ’em are) and my only kick against him is that he is not doing that fine work in a hundred and one places right here at home.
My motto is “Save America First, then when you get ’em all saved, save the Portugese, for the Chinese don’t need saving.”
HOGS AND MENWell sir, you get pretty interesting letters from folks sometimes. Here is one from a farmer from Yakima, Washington: “Saw State Fair last night, the wife and I. It was pretty good. Lot of these movie shows we see we don’t understand, or they don’t seem real to us, and we kinder come away feeling we missed something, but this one we kinder felt like we was right in the hop pen with you and Blue Boy, and camped with you at the fair grounds. 1 I thought perhaps if it wasent too much trouble would you send two complimentary tickets to this friend of mine (——) at Miller, South Dakota. He could take Mother and see this picture when it gets there. He don’t have much to go to shows on.”
Now I think that was nice sentiment and the friend gets the passes. But let him go on with his letter: “I am still wondering why that Hampshire boar dident get up in the pen when you prodded him. I sort of know Hampshire hogs. Now you take a Duroc or Chester White or a Poland China, when they get fat they are just like most human beings, plain downright lazy, but not a Hampshire. They are quick to be on their feet, and I have yet to see a Hampshire when he was prodded that dident get right up. Back in South Dakota I had a big rangy Hampshire boar.
“He was the onriest thing you ever saw. He would jump a forty inch woven wire fence like a coyote, and go miles to pick a fight with another boar. I used to go after him horseback and with a blacksnake whip and chase him home. My mother is a widow woman, has been since I was six years old. She lives back in Dakota, and this fellow I want you to send the passes to is her neighbor. He can take her to the show. He is a bachelor, and is so homely he says no one would ever marry him. He farms next to our old place. He has done a lot for us. He would come with his horses and help me put in our crop, then hire me to come and help him put in his. That was away when I was six years old. Hard times never did mean much to him. He kept right on raising hogs, Hampshire hogs by the way. He started me up in the hog business by giving me a few runts now and again.
“People around there used to make a lot of fun of him because he listed his corn instead of plowing the ground and planting it. When all the neighbors bought tractors he stuck to the horses and said, ‘Them durn fool tractors won’t eat grass.’
“You could always depend on him. One time my hogs all got the Cholera. A couple of fat ones were already dead, and the rest were awful sick. About sundown I went over to his house and told him about it. He tied his team at once to the fence, unhitched one horse and rode back with me, took one look and said, ‘Why, that’s Cholera.’ The roads were terrible, but he rode 20 miles bareback to the nearest town he could find that had some cholera medicine and a vaccinating syringe, came back that night and helped me and my mother by lantern light vaccinate them hogs. It was several months before we had enough to pay him for the medicine. Several years later it was him who told me, ‘I can get you a pass on a hog train to the coast. You might get something a little better out there. Your kid brother is growing up now and I will kinder help him out if him and your mother need any help.’
“He took me to the train and as I went to leave I tried to thank him, but he wouldn’t let me. Said, ‘Aw, shucks, I will never be good for anything but a plug farmer.’ Then he passed something into my hand, and turned around with a ‘Well, so long.’ He had left in my hand two $20 bills.
“I guess he knew I only had $3 with me. In the six years I have been gone I have never heard from him but once, but every time mother writes she mentions that——was over today and helped bring in a load of hay, patch up some harness, and grease the wagon. I have never written to any movie actors before and I don’t know whether they care to read such letters as this. The theater was packed the night I went, and everybody enjoyed the whole show. Them other actors and actresses in there with you was good too, but I sure did enjoy that hog. But I don’t know why he didn’t get up when you poked him.”
Now I call that a wonderful love story, that devotion of that homely bachelor to that neighbor widow. That would make a movie, and I would like to play the hog man. Nothing appeals in a story like simplicity. Well, I wrote and told this old boy why the old boar didn’t get up when I poked him, but that’s a secret among us actors. We don’t tell everybody how we do things, and old Blue Boy was the best actor of the two of us.
1Blue Boy, the mammoth prize-winning Iowa boar which “starred” with Rogers in the motion picture State Fair in 1933.
WHO’S DEFLATED ANYHOW?Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see when the old eyes are open. Greta Garbo is back.1 She had to protect her interest against May West.2 Yes Sir, that fleshy blonde lady of “She Done Him Wrong” why she just grabbed the box office records from the tall Swede and took ’em right back to the Bowery with her. So the Championship of art combined with pulchritude remains in America. May really showed the movie women how lines should be spoken. I never did run into this May. I played a big Jewish Benefit in Hollywood a couple of weeks ago thinking I would run into her, as she was supposed to be there, but I hung around the stage door till pretty near daylight, (the show dident start till midnight) and then found she was not able to appear on account of not being in the same state.
Will Hayes has been out with us for awhile kinder getting things looking respectable on the surface to kinder stave off a Senatorial Investigation.3 Anybody thinks Bill Hayes is overpaid is Cuckoo. Bill does an awful lot of important “finagling.” You see he is important because he speaks three languages, Indiana, broken movie, and political. Bill can speak to Sam Goldwyn and then go right straight and speak to a Senator that is kinder drawing up some censorship Bill, and do it so both will understand.4 Course Sam might give him something to take the Senator, maby some orchids, or some little keep sake.
But Bill always gets the job done. Now there is never a line you can draw about what a man should be allowed to earn in salary. You see the movies are a peculiar business. Everybody that don’t get in ’em some way have got it in for ’em and want ’em investigated, abolished, or given solitary confinement for 99 years.
Say this inflation business has got everybody by the ears. I was flying back from Oklahoma and Kansas on the day that our President inflated, and no man swelling up could have attracted more attention. I guess we are what they call off the gold and that’s going to be a terrible hardship to millions of us that was so used to handling gold every day. Yeah. But a lot of guys are talking and writing about it as though they had lost an old brother that they had been practically rooming with continuously. So now some day we are off the gold, off our nut, off everything that is an old Republican Doctrine.
Well I don’t know anything about it, but you can’t take anybody off something they never was on, and you never was on a thing very hot unless you had some of it.
So that settles the Gold Standard and the Movies. Has anyone else any questions to ask the Professor?
“Did the earthquake do as much damage as was reported, or did it do more?”5
Of course the minute I got back East every guy you meet would ask that. Well I just told ’em the plain truth. I have some lots there for sale, but on the other hand I want to be fair. Did the Earthquake do as much, or more damage than reported? So I just blurted out the very facts, and let the damaging statement fall where it lay, I just out with the truth. It did, and it dident.
And they all seemed mighty satisfied with the plain truth and stopped talking about it. After all it’s always better to be on the level, and lay your cards right on the table. Course there is lots of jealousy of California by lots of communities all over our land, but on the other hand we received a lot of appreciation, and we are called a real boon to humanity, and real aid to all parts of the whole country. You have no idea how glad they are to get rid of some of the people that we are able to take off their hands.
California acts a good deal like a dog pound does in any town. It gets the undesirable strays off the streets. We are the human pound of America. Some of their own communities even go so far as to catch ’em and send ’em out here. But being good humanitarians we just take ’em right in, and in a week they are as big liars as the natives. Which shows they are not without some genius at that.
1Garbo (see WA 534:N 1) departed the United States for Sweden in July 1932 but returned to Hollywood less than one year later to begin work on a new motion picture.
2Mae West, platinum blonde American leading lady of the screen who combined sexuality, suggestiveness, and humor in a successful film career that began in 1932 with Night After Night. Her second motion picture—which she also wrote— was She Done Him Wrong in 1933.
3William Harrison “Will” Hays, chairman of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945. Known as the “czar” of the motion-picture industry, Hays previously had served as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as United States postmaster general.
4Samuel Goldwyn, Polish-American motion-picture producer who arrived in Hollywood in 1910 where he soon became one of America’s leading filmmakers. He formed Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1918, which later became part of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer firm.
5A severe earthquake struck Southern California on March 10, 1933, causing 130 deaths and $41,000,000 property damage.
FROM GOLD TO HOPSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers or get through the mail. I don’t know whether it’s because it’s Mr. Farley (you of course know Mr. Farley) he is not only the Postmaster General, but he was the General Grant of the last political campaign.1 He picked up Roosevelt when he was nothing but a candidate, (which the woods was full of those) and he had unbounded faith in him. He is the only man that thought that Roosevelt was as good as he is.
Well it must be a great source of satisfaction to Farley to have his prize turn out wonderful. And it looks like in commemoration of the great foresight of Mr. Farley everybody wants to help out his department and are all writing letters. The people in the appreciation of Mr. Farley’s efforts all seem to think he must work on a commission basis, and the more letters they write the more Farley gets. Well such is not the case, unless there has been some Tammany methods introduced in our national government, and I don’t think so, for Mr. Farley is the man that showed Tammany that Tammany’s disapproval was a National asset. In fact I doubt without Tammany being against Roosevelt at the Convention his strength would have been half as great.
Well, I am a long time getting to the point. If I keep this up I will be in the senate. But what I am kicking about is the mail. People are writing letters that never knew where the mail box was before. But some of ’em are mighty interesting.
Here is one from an old boy that has been here from his county seat which is at Juneau, Alaska. He says from his letterhead he is in the big game business. Well now who ain’t in the big game business of one kind or another? He says the big game is on the increase but not his business. He thinks this man that hunted lions in St. Louis has kinder hurt the traveling to the far north to get game. If you can get a lion in St. Louis why go to Alaska, for a big horn sheep?
All everybody wants to know down here is, “How dark does it get in the winter time around noon up there?”
“The reason I am writing you is they say you fly a lot and we have had five planes up in our country and they have worked fine. Even prospectors use planes up there. Prospecting to us up there is what ‘negotiating’ is to you all down here. You could even bring your wife along if you want, although I don’t know how things stand along that line. Some like ’em along and some like ’em a long way from being along. Course all these they bring up here hunting. We are none too strict on showing the old marriage certificate and there might be a doubt just as to how Authentic matrimony has been. But it’s all big game, and that comes among hunting it.”
Now that is part of the letter that come from the old boy from away up in Alaska, but he and I can’t do much business, for as bad as I want to go to Alaska, I don’t want to go to hunt, even if I could find an appropriate wife. Here is queer streak in me, I am no hunting man (or fishing either) I wish I was for there must be a lot of pleasure in it, but I just don’t want to be shooting at any animal and even a fish I haven’t got the heart to pull the hook out of him. But I do want to make that Alaska. Everybody that went up and come back after that 98 rally, were such liars, I would like to go up and meet the old boys that had the nerve to stick as they tell me all the yellow ones come back.
With us off the gold, I don’t know if we are off Alaska or not. Everybody is excited over silver now. Well everybody is excited over anything that looks like it might buy something.
I did the drundest fool thing the other day, I said I would buy a drink for any senator or Congressman in token of them having done such fine work in agreeing with Roosevelt. Well I wish you could see my mail. I never saw such dry lawmakers. So I have called a moratorium on free drinks. One old boy here from Arlington Mass., claims his Congressman winked at the bartender and told him to “eliminate the decimal point.” Which he says the bartender did, and that all left of the Congressman was a pile of ashes. Well I will pay twenty cents for burning ’em up.
Another guy from Wisconsin bought Magnus Johnson, the old cow juicer.2 Johnson stayed strictly within his rights. He had milk, egg, bourbon, and nut megg, which constituted egg nog, but still retained his constituents.
Here is a bill, “25 cents for one bottle of beer for ex-Congressman Volstead, on his way through here to oblivion, W. Abner, Philadelphia, Pa.”3
Here is from Texas, “No Congressman here, that’s why we elected ’em so they would be gone, but found a sheriff, but couldent find any beer. Bought him three drinks of corn, $1.50. Fine for parking overtime $11.65. Total $13.15, if not paid at once will go into the hands of attorney.”
Most of the letters claim they couldn’t get hold of a Senator or Congressman. Well, that’s been the trouble with all of us, we couldent ever lay our hands on a Senator or lawmaker. If could lay our hands on ’em they wouldent today constitute one of our menaces. But money was well spent, the beer was well drunk, and no casualties among the drinkers.
1James Aloysius Farley, American businessman and politician who served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1932 to 1940 and as United States postmaster general from 1933 to 1940. Farley managed Roosevelt’s presidential election campaigns in 1932 and 1936.
2Magnus Johnson, United States senator from Minnesota from 1923 to 1925; United States representative from 1933 to 1935; member of the Famer-Labor party.
3Andrew John Volstead, Republican United States representative from Minnesota from 1903 to 1923; author of the Volstead Act of 1919, the enforcement legislation of the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment.
WE HOLLERED FOR ACTION;
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see as I prowl
hither and non, (or is it yon). Well, on my trip back East, of course the high
spot was Washington, D.C. (Deligations coming). McDonald would be going
out of one door, Herriott trying to come in the other, Jung and Soong, (Now
don’t that sound like a Vaudeville act, or two Chinamen? Well it’s not, it’s
only one Chinaman, Soong).1 The other Chinaman, Jung, is an Eytalian. Ain’t
that a funny name for an Italian? But when you have dictators you got to expect queer things.
WELL, WE’RE GETTING IT
This Soong, it’s T.V. Soong. I had the pleasure of interviewing him at his home in China last year, just a week, incidentally, before some friendly Chinese of an opposition tong dropped a bomb on part of the very house I had been to see him in. But, fortunatley, he was not hurt. He is a very high class, reliable man. A brother of the famous Soong sisters.2 Well, it happened that Jung got to Washington about the time I did. Both of us were seeking relief. There was never a time in the history of historic old Washington when things were moving with such rapidity. Well, they are moving more than rapid; they are going fast.
I was there on the historic day when Congress actually passed the inflation bill tacked on to the farm bill. Never in the history of the world was such a gigantic piece of legislation ever passed. It was more than gigantic, it was even big. It gives relief to the farmer in so many complicated ways that even if he received no relief at all, why, just trying to study it out will keep him so busy that he will forget he ever wanted relief.
Then there is two or three billion appropriations in there to put mortgages on small homes or farms at a small rate of interest and long time payments. Well that’s fine but they all already got ’em on. Then there was gold and silver. (All in the farmers’ bill mind you.) Now the poor farmer hasn’t even seen a few copper pennies, much less any gold or silver.
Then there was another small clause in there where the President could just reach up in the air and pull out another couple of billions to use as an added inflation, in case a little added inflation was needed. With the gold and silver it gives the President the right to operate on the old gold dollar and take out fifty percent of its innards, or he could split it down the middle, and make two out of it.
Silver was always used to buy something but now it buys something official. It’s no longer bootleg money. Europe pays in silver, that is (if) the silver don’t have to be designed in the shape of money. It can be in any form. Now you can well imagine the odd knickknacks we will receive. You take it by weight, you don’t count it out. You see, in that bill we not only relieved the farmer but we are going to try and relieve Europe of any old tableware they have laying around. They dident even stipulate in there that they wash it before paying their debts with it. Maby we won’t go to the trouble of coining it up into money, on account of this being a depression measure. Maby we will just use it like it comes. In other words, your wheat brought two of King George’s teaspoons and one silver tipped Prince of Wales silver cigarette holder.3 An American farmer can work all summer and get a salad bowl that had belonged to Mussolini.4 India gets in on this too, on account of them being a part of the British empire. There we will receive some queer objects of money. Fox Movie Company will perhaps pay me off at the end of a year with some ear and nose rings, and some old Mahrajah’s favorite pair of spurs, or a silver elephant hook.
Now that’s one phase of this inflation. The other phase of it is, try and get Europe to even give us that much. Well, a little thing like all this that I have been telling you was just a moment’s work in the lives of Washington. They voted to do something with Mussell Shoals just while they were having lunch one day. I forget the appropriation it carried. All these things were done in addition to keeping Huey Long still.5
Talked with Senator Borah, an old crony of mine, and he was in a daze, poor man; said he had seen lots of legislation pass but he never thought he would live to see it all pass in one day.6 Saw Dave Reed, Senator from Pennsylvania.7 I shook hands with him very cordially. He seemed awful tickled. I couldent understand it. Then he told me I was the first Democrat that had spoken to him. Why, shoot, I dident think anything of it. I am Liberal that way.
But Washington is really a merry-go-round now. They never saw such excitement. But, after all, nothing really definite has really been done. All these things are just bills that give the President authority to do them, and the whole thing sums itself down into trusting the President to carry the thing through, and almost all of them thinks he will do it the very best way. The people trusted him by electing him, and we hollered for action. Well, brother, we are getting it, so now the whole thing is up to him.
1For J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 536:N 3. Édouard Marie Herriot, premier of France from 1924 to 1925 and in 1932. A leader of the Radical Socialist party, Herriot was one of the few French statesmen to advocate payment of the French war debt to the United States. Guido Jung, Italian minister of finance who attended discussions in Washington, D. C., in May 1933 concerning the worldwide depression. Soong Tzu-wen, known as T. V. Soong, Chinese financier and government official; minister of finance in the Nationalist government at Canton from 1925 to 1927 and 1928 to 1933.
2Soong’s sisters, Ai-ling, Ch’ing-ling, and Mei-ling, were married to Chinese statesmen and leaders K’ung Hsiang’hsi (H. H. Kung), Sun Yat-sen, and Chiang Kai-shek, respectively.
3George V, king of Great Britain and Ireland from 1910 to 1936. Edward Albert, prince of Wales and heir to the British throne; a universally popular bachelor prince.
4For this and all further references to Benito Mussolini see WA 536:N 2.
5Huey Pierce Long, Democratic United States senator from Louisiana from 1931 until his death in 1935. Known as “the Kingfish,” he previously had served as governor of Louisiana. As senator, Long was at first a supporter of the New Deal but soon became one of Franklin Roosevelt’s most vociferous critics.
6William Edgar Borah, Republican United States senator from Idaho from 1907 until his death in 1940. A powerful maverick Republican, Borah was an early supporter of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and programs.
7David Aiken Reed, Republican United States senator from Pennsylvania from 1922 to 1935.
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run into doing
a little outside scouting for Mr. Roosevelt. Had great trip back East week
or so ago. Have a daughter in school at Sarah Lawrence School at Bronxville,
and Mrs. Rogers had gone back a week ahead of me on the train, then when I
had the time I hit the plane.1 Went by the Salt Lake-Cheyenne-Chicago way,
WHAT SHE USED TO BE
There is three ways of going by plane from coast to coast. The one just mentioned, the Central one, by way of Arizona, Winslow, the Albuquerque, Amarillo Texas, Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbus and New York. Then the Southern way, by Phoenix, Tucson, then right along the Mexican border, (in fact you fly over the exact line for over two hundred miles all the way into El Paso). Then Midland, Ft. Worth, Dallas, Shreveport, Jackson, Miss., Birmingham and Atlanta, then up Washington way. All of ’em equally good.
All lines are good. They have to be, and they are making plans to put on faster planes. When they get that extra fifty miles an hour added, making at the least 150, why that will cut off one third of the times, and those last few hours are the ones you want cut off. They are eventually going to two and one motor, instead of three. Oh, say aviation is no more a thing to use, just so you can brag on the trip. It’s to be ashamed of if you don’t take it. Course the trains with the stiff competition have helped their service too, and they are rolling places. I have never made a long bus trip, but I am going to some of these days. I hope they don’t scare me as bad to ride in one as they do when they fly by me on the highway.
Well, now a bit about the trip. New York was just going up and down in their feelings with the rise and fall of the stock market, just like one of these old time movie heroines whose bosom heaved and sighed according to the heavy drama in the scene. There is a thing in our American life called the New York angle, that is that everything is based on speculation. Their idea is that the country must read the stock market report every morning before it can gnaw into the old ham and eggs.
Well, the market was as a whole doing pretty good, and so they all felt better than I have seen them in a long time, but Lord the old town is not what it used to be. Course that’s a sign that I am getting old. That’s the first thing the old timer of a place says, “Well Broadway ain’t what she was when I was acting on her.” And by golly she ain’t. Show business is show business no more. There is 95 legitimate theatres and only 20 of them occupied. No outstanding hits that everybody talks about, and with the musical shows, they all say, “Well we can’t get the talent.” They can’t find the people that will draw anything at the box office.
Jimmy Durante, late of the movies is now in a dandy good show there.2 Well, he is supposed to come back to pictures pretty soon, and Lew Brown and Henderson are having a hard time finding some comedian that will replace him.3 Why in the old days if any of us, that was featured in a show left it, they would call up a dozen out of the audience that was just as good. You see now with no vaudeville, I mean real vaudeville, high class houses, playing to the very best people, well now there is none, and there was your training ground for talent. There is where every comedian was trained. Every vaudeville bill was full of clever comedians that on a moments notice could step into a musical comedy.
No sir, the loss of old vaudeville was more than just the loss of seeing the show. Taking away vaudeville was just like taking the high school away, and want the pupil to jump from grammer school to college. Then too, too many actors made the mistake of playing just on Broadway. They not only wore themselves out there, but they meant nothing on the road. No one knew them.
That’s how Jolson became so popular in the old days.4 Al was smart. He would always duck out of New York and play everywhere he could. He played many a one-nighter in the very height of his tremendous popularity. He would draw anywhere.
But it’s not only the lack of great shows. Of course, taking Ziegfeld away from Broadway was just like taking up the sidewalks.5 He will never be replaced. There was just one of him. Ain’t you glad you lived in an age when you can tell your grandchildren that you saw Ziegfeld’s shows? But what the loss is is the looks of the street itself, it used to have class did old Broadway. Now it’s a street carnival. They will be selling fish out in front of some of the places. They have barkers out hollering for everything. As she is a geat old town, but it’s not “Us Old Timers Town.” But I expect we look just as seedy to it, as it does to us. Everything is about equal in this world.
1Mary Amelia Rogers, only daughter of Betty and Will Rogers. For this and all further references to Betty Rogers see WA 537:N 4.
2Jimmy Durnate, beloved, long-nosed American comedian with a lengthy career in vaudeville, nightclubs, motion pictures, theatrical productions, and television. Durante appeared on Broadway in 1933 in the musical comedy Strike Me Pink.
3Lew Brown, lyricist member of the famed song writing team of Henderson-DeSylva-Brown in the 1920s and 1930s. He collaborated with other composers before and after this period to amass an impressive array of popular songs. Ray Henderson, composer and member of the writing trio of Henderson-DeSylva-Brown. Henderson began working with Brown in 1922 and, with Brown, coproduced and wrote Strike Me Pink.
4Al Jolson, Russian-born American minstrel, vaudevillian, theatrical performer, motion-picture actor, and radio star. His film work began with The Jazz Singer in 1927, one of the first major films with sound.
5Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld, Jr., American theatrical producer best-known for the elaborately-staged Ziegfeld Follies. First produced in 1907, these musical revues featured a troupe of beautiful chorus girls and many of the leading stage performers of the day. Rogers appeared with the Follies from 1916 through September 1925.
WORLD’S FAIRWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see from air and ground. Well a couple of weeks ago I was flying west from New York, and I had read so much about the World’s Fair in Chicago, which by the way will be opening right now, so I decided to stop off and see what it was like.1 I was on my way west to make a movie and I knew that I couldent get there for quite a while so I wanted to see it in the raw. Well, it was raw, but it was big and raw. I really predict it to be a mighty big thing. It looks like it runs more to the educational and of course to the amusement too. But there is things there that even folks that think they have outgrown fairs, well it will make them stop and look.
Rufus Dawes is the guiding spirit, and they have shown great courage in going right ahead with it, for they was keeping on going even when they dident think Roosevelt was as good as he is.2 Even if Roosevelt had just been an ordinary President they was all set to go through with it. But now that he has turned Magician, why it looks like a cinch, for folks have all just got a different feeling now. They want to get out away from old surroundings, see new faces, hear optimism, they are just going to renew their notes and mortgages and take a new lease on life. Chicago has the geographical location, most fairs have either been on one ocean or the other.
You can drive to this Fair. It will be the first World’s Fair which had to provide parking space. Of course when I was there two weeks before opening it dident look like it would ever be finished, but they declared it would.
Some darn nice fellow doped out that 40 years ago a beam of light left Arcturus. (Now you don’t tell me that I got to stop and explain to you what and where Arcturus is, do you?) Well that’s fine, I am glad I don’t have to. Well, some “Light and Statistic Man” figured out that this light on it—it’s been Chicago. Course what’s slowed this beam of light up is that it’s poking along at the rate of 186 million miles a second. If they can just get it so it will really start moving some place, why it might be here on time.
This light beam will throw a switch, and that will light up the whole of the Fair. Course it all may be just a gag, but it’s a good one anyhow. These scientists I expect have more fun out of us than we do out of them. Neither really know when the other is kidding.
You see Chicago claims they were born just 100 years ago, 1833. They don’t explain their parentage, so there has always been a doubt. Some say their dam was ammunition, and the sire was an animal called Racket. But it’s a great old city and they are doing the best they can, and time has proven that they havent got the sole and exclusive right to organize crime.
But that’s enough of science and business, what will we see at the Fair? Unless you are cockeyed, you will view the following.
In the first place you never saw as many cuckoo looking buildings. If a building is built like a building, they won’t let it live. Now colors. If a painter painted ’em, and he did, for it was my old and good friend Joseph Urban of Austria, who made Ziegfeld Follies famous with his riot of art and color, well they told me Joe framed up these never before seen colors.3 It’s like the buildings. If it’s a color you have ever seen before, they repaint it. They get 20 barrels of paint, of all colors, then pour ’em into a hopper, then that’s connected with a squirt gun, then a fireman with a hose paints ’em, instead of a painter.
I think it’s done on the theory that nothing that’s done nowadays is right anyhow. But the whole effect is kinder pleasing, and must be art, for nobody knows what it is. (That’s the only way to recognize art.) Course I think with all its million of attractions, I think what will make the fair is beer, and by that time the breweries will have sold all their near beer, and with good beer, why any Fair is made.
Now for instance they got the biggest horse in the world there. Well with beer even if he is not the biggest, it don’t matter. Hollywood has studios where they show you how they make pictures. Course the ones they make there won’t be good pictures, but they will be about as good as the ones we make out there. I wanted to go take old Blue Boy there, but he had some other big ideas.4
You must plan to go to this Fair. Commander Byrd’s ship, the latest in aeroplanes, stream lined Pullman cars, the flying Scotchman, the very train that beats all world’s records.5 No, it’s not an American train, it’s English, goes from London to Scotland. It will be there, and the most wonderful enchanted Island where you can check your children while you go to the beer garden. Chicago is going to redeem herself, go and help her.
1The Century of Progress Exposition, a world’s fair to mark the centennial of Chicago, opened in that city on May 27, 1933, and continued into November 1933. By popular demand, it reopened in May 1934, finally closing permanently in October of that year.
2Rufus Cutler Dawes, Chicago financier and utilities magnate. He served as president of the private corporation that planned and staged the Century of Progress Exposition.
3Joseph Urban, Austrian-American architectural designer and interior decorator. Urban designed stage sets for the Ziegfeld Follies in 1915 and for the New York Metropolitan Opera.
4For Blue Boy see WA 539:N 1.
5Richard Evelyn Byrd, famed American polar explorer. A rear admiral in the United States Navy, Byrd made expeditions to the Antarctic in 1928-1930 and 1933-1935.
LISTEN, MR. MORGAN!Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Was back East a week or so ago, messing around, trying to get some news. Was down to Washington for several days a couple of times. Things sure was popping when I was in the old joke factory.
The Senate was trying the Impeachment trial of Mr. Louderback.1 I happened to be in there the evening the vote come. He was tried on five counts, and come clear on all five. I hadent kept up much on the evidence. I dident know much what it was all about, but I would have hated to see a Californian lose his job. Jobs are tough to get, even judgeships.
Well of course the main thing that was percolating at that time, and it was new then was the Morgan trial.2 Well here was the astonishing thing about that, was the friends that Morgan himself made while on the stand. You know we had all come to look on Morgan as some sort of gorilla that just jumped through the forest and picked all the ripe fruit and berries and wouldn’t any more than grunt at anybody else. If we ever felt we would meet him, we didn’t know if he would shake hands with us or bite us. You know he used to shoo all the photographers away like they was mosquitoes, in fact few people had ever seen the old boy cause his yacht was so big and fast you couldn’t get near him.
Well then come along this trial, and he was just a changed man. Why he accommodated the photographers with all the pictures they wanted, he smiled, grinned, did everything but turn somersaults for ’em. And before you knew it all the newspaper men were all hot for him. He was so pleasing on the stand, never lost his temper, always willing to answer, or cooperate in helping them to find out something that he might not know himself. Well I right away after meeting him through his chief attorney John W. Davis, when I met Mr. Morgan I told him I didn’t know much about him, but I believed his racket couldn’t be so bad, or else Dwight Morrow wouldn’t have been with him.3
Well he said he considered that quite a compliment for he thought that Morrow was a great man. Well I did too, about the greatest I ever met, so as that made it unanimous why we got on all right.
Then the next day through my little daily “Blab” I started a crusade to make Morgan get interested in some side line beside this banking. In other words I want to pull a Rockefeller with him.4 You know when we were all young why we used to bring the children in off the roads when Rockefeller come by. We had heard such tales of his wealth and power. Then he began to get rid of gobs and gobs of his money, and it dawned on people what he was doing. The humanitarian things he was accomplishing why it changed our whole attitude towards him. (I am speaking of the elder John D., for the younger man had always done great work.)5
But today I doubt if we have a man in our history that has done more fine things to relieve suffering humanity, and I know he has been made mighty happy in his old age by it. Well now no doubt Mr. Morgan has done some fine things, and given away much money, but there is a great chance for him to leave a great name for himself, for fortunately he is just so constituted mentally for organization, with a grasp of facts, and conditions, and above all a great personality. Let him have active charge. Making money must have kinder tired on him.
Now he would get a whole new kick out of spending a lot of it. Maybe he does give it away and without ostentation, and I don’t mean that it’s to be with any blare of bugles, but he could personally do the job so much better than anyone else. Even if he was just working on a salary doing it he would still be able to do it better than anyone else, for he has everything that constitutes leadership.
Course it’s awful easy to tell somebody else what to do with their affairs (especially money) but I am just speaking of a side line for him, for it’s a shame that more folks don’t know what a fine old boy he is personally.
In fact I think I will start a society for the rejuvenation of prominent elderly men. Drag ’em out of their personal rat hole where they have been, let ’em get mixed up in some outgoing racket. Instead of all just incoming. You know there is nothing as tiring and boring in this country as just a rich man. So my scheme is to bring ’em back to respectability. I am going to start in with the bankers, that’s why I want Morgan. He will be my best add, and example. If I can make bankers loved by the community again it is going to be a Godsend to their families. I may have to work this on a commission basis, for it looks like a big field. They pay me according to their growing popularity. As people quit throwing rocks at ’em, I get so much, as they start speaking to ’em, I get so much. If I can get ’em cheering ’em, why then I get a real bonus. Remember the name, “Rogers Reconstruction Bankers Popularity Association.”
1Harold Louderback, judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California from 1928 until his death in 1941. Louderback was impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate in 1933 on charges of judicial misconduct.
2John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., chairman of the board of J. P. Morgan & Co., one of the most influential banking firms in the world. Morgan appeared before the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency in the spring of 1933 to explain why he and his financial partners had failed to pay income taxes in 1931 and 1932.
3John William Davis, former United States congressman from West Virginia and ambassador to great Britain; unsuccessful Democratic candidate for president in 1924. A senior partner in a New York City law firm, Davis numbered among his clients several corporations in which the Morgan banking concern held stock. Dwight Whitney Morrow, United States ambassador to Mexico from 1927 to 1930; Republican United States senator from New Jersey from 1930 until his death in 1931. Before his appointment as ambassador. Morrow had distinguished himself as a banker and attorney with the Morgan interests.
4John Davison Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil Corporation who used his great wealth to establish numerous industrial, commercial, and philanthropic corporations.
5John Davison Rockefeller, Jr., eldest son and namesake of the billionaire oilman. The younger Rockefeller assumed active management of his father’s business interests in 1911, while also engaging in numerous philanthropies.
DON’T WRITE ME UPWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run into running around trying to get on the preferred list. Been through the old home Commonwealth of Oklahoma two or three times lately and got wind of a personal nature while there.
In the old days of the silent pictures everybody had a business whether he was working or not. He was writing scenarios for the movies. Well they wrote ’em for years till they discovered the movies did not use them, that they had their own paid writers to write their stories. But you can’t stop a person if he gets it in his head he can write. They will pick out something. Well down in Oklahoma all the rejected scenario writers have switched from writing love triangles, and train robberies and westerns, they have switched from the life of the Dalton Boys to my life.1
Every guy that had a pencil and some old fool scap paper was going to put my life right in between the kivers of a dime novel. (Maby nickle.) I guess it’s the same in each state. The disappointed writers of Kansas are perhaps after notorious characters up there. The unpublished writers of Texas are perhaps telling the early life struggles of some old Texas highbinder. That these gentlemen dident know you, or maby had just met you once or twice in their lives never seemed to hinder their idea that they was the one to do your life.
Well, I don’t want to be a crab, or I don’t want to hinder hidden talent or art. But I just want to be modest about it, and let them practise on somebody else’s life. Why pick on mine?
Besides, I am a young man (get that) yet, and I havent even started living. I am going to cut loose here someday and try and get some life into my life and even then it won’t be fit to tell about. The first part will be uninteresting and the last part will be too scandelous.
One of these budding young biographers blew into my old country from Lord knows where, but he happened to land near the old ranch where I was on. He heard a couple of stories of my early day cavortings, so he goes so far as to get a fountain pen, and from then on he was my Boswell.2 Being some sort of Northerner by trade, he even works himself up into my semi-southern dialect, hits New York as the “Voice of Rogers.” By that time he has become a brother cowpuncher who was born and raised right next to me and gradually works himself up into a cousin.3
Well, a progressive minded fellow like that writing your biography is liable to turn out in his story to be my father. In other words there is just too much imagination there to work on another fellow’s life. There is a fellow ought to take his own life. With two more fountain pens he could work himself up into a Lincoln.
What kinder hurts me about all this life writing epidemic, is that no one that knows me has even suggested writing one (that kinder hurts my pride). So if any of my Oklahoma friends see anybody sitting under a persimmon bush with a pencil, pen, or typewriter take a nice round hickory saplin and put him out of his misery.
Somebody started writing the life of Charley Chaplin out here and started it running in a magazine.4 Well the magazine hasent got through paying damages yet. There is lots of injustices in our laws, but we can at least live our lives without having them lived by some well wishing amateur man of letters. Most of my life has been lived alone. I never run with a pack. In my later years Mrs. Rogers could perhaps give you a few details, but no one of my various authors have ever seen, or asked her. But the whole thing is so silly that we needent go further with it. I am just tipping the boys off to sharpen their pencils and go after somebody else. Why don’t they pick on Governor Bill Murray?5 Bill has done more, lived more in a year than I ever did or will. So Bill, I hereby pass you on a batch (I think it’s a dozen) of amateur Carl Sandbergs.6 Give ’em a chance they are all fine boys. I got nothing against ’em. But let ’em practise writing on your life. Yours can stand it. But my poor little life Bernard Shaw couldent make it look like anything.7 But here is better still, pass a law there in Oklahoma (you can do it, you always have) making every biography writer join the re-forestration camps. That will get their minds off of writing.
1The Dalton brothers—Grattan, Robert Rennick, and Emmett—were outlaws of the American West whose gang was wiped out during an infamous raid on Coffeyville, Kansas, in 1892.
2James Boswell, Scottish lawyer and biographer. His celebrated biography, Life of Samuel Johnson, was published in 1791.
3Calvin Laurence “Cal” Tinney, Oklahoma-born writer, journalist, and political gadfly; editor of the Oolagah (Oklahoma) Oozings; secretary of the Oolagah Chamber of Commerce.
4Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, English comedian and motion-picture star who won international acclaim for his film portrayal of the human condition as “The Tramp.”
5William Henry “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, Democratic governor of Oklahoma from 1931 to 1935; agricultural expert; colorful political leader.
6Carl Sandburg, American poet and biographer. His most ambitious work was a six-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln (1926-1939), which garnered a Pulitzer Prize.
7For George Bernard Shaw see WA 537:N 1.
A GREAT COUPLEWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Been an awful lot going on last couple of weeks. Course out there on the coast couple of weeks ago we were all excited, (well the whole country was) about Mrs. Roosevelt flying trip day and night to the coast.1 It’s the biggest boost commercial aviation has had since last June when they flew to Chicago for the nomination.
Mr. Amon Carter and Mr. Smith of the American Airways who flew out with her from Ft. Worth were just floored by the way this lady handled all the hundreds of requests and annoyances that come up.2 She saw everybody, talked to everybody, was photographed by everybody that had a camera. In Los Angeles she stood it looked like an hour after making this terribly long trip across the country, before they let her go to her hotel. She was only here one day, and then up at three o’clock in the morning to catch her plane out the next morning.
I was at a dinner party given by Mrs. Franklyn Lane, Jr., who’s mother-in-law Mrs. Franklyn Lane Sr., used to be many years as our Secretary of the Interior, and she was an old friend of the Roosevelt’s for many years.3 Well there was just Mr. and Mrs. Lane Jr., Mrs. Lane Sr., Elliott Roosevelt, Mr. Carter, Smith and myself.4 (Mrs. Rogers was in N. Y.) And of all the interesting things, and all the enthusiasm, that she could relate about her trip, and people she had met.
After the others had left to go to their motel, (as they had to get out early) the elder Mrs. Lane who has seen much political history made in all her war years in Washington, and who is a very brilliant woman, that she told me, that Mrs. Roosevelt had always been an unusual woman, that her and Mrs. Robinson, (Theodore Roosevelt’s sister) were two of the outstanding women she had known.5 She said it was to Mrs. Roosevelt’s fighting spirit as well as her husband that he made such recovery from the infantile paralysis. His mother was for making an invalid out of him, but Mrs. Roosevelt says no, he will carry on just as he has been, and they kept fighting and struggling and did it.
I had never before heard the exact story of just how this affliction come on. They were spending their summer, as they are going to this summer, at an island in Nova Scotia. (It’s really out of the U. S.) It was in 1921, just the year after he had run for Vice-President. (Don’t you remember that?) It was Sunday morning. He was a very very big, strong, athletic fellow, and as well as I remember her telling it, he was over on the mainland, or another island, and he just pitched in and swam back to his island. The New York papers were there and he just layed down on the grass on the shore in his wet clothes for a long time. The next morning he was very sore and stiff, then gradually worse and it was several days before they discovered that he really had infantile paralysis. In fact I think ten days before they got to him in the N. Y. hospital.
Of course they were scared too about all the children, for it was thought that it was contagious. He was almost totally paralyzed, and for months after he could hardly do anything with his hands even. But Mrs. Lane said even then he was always laughing and jolly and confident. He just naturally believed in himself and they fought and fought together and now while of course his legs are afflicted, he was never in better physical health, and now they have this swimming pool in the White House where he can take exercise.
He is a regular fish in the water. It’s a funny thing but those afflicted can use their legs or arms fine in the water when they are sometimes almost a total loss at any other time. So these folks that worry about his health, and can he stand up under this strain, yes, you bet your life he can. He has learned through years of hard struggle, experience, and advice, just exactly how to take care of himself. There is not a one of us that know what to do to keep ourselves in shape. Well we know but we won’t deny ourselves, but he will. It’s a regular ritual with him.
They will all tell you in Washington after a long late conference at night, he is the first up and in the best shape the next morning of any of them. He claims that his affliction saves him at least a third of the energy and time of any other man. Everyone coming, he don’t have to get up, go to the door with ’em, all those stalling things that have crepped into our life like a pest. They know he is afflicted. They get their business over quick and get out. So he brags on it being one of his finest assets. Right there you have a touch of his philosophy and good cheer. Well, I got started in on this and got interested, for after all, everything depends on him, but they are a great couple.
1Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Charming and outgoing, Eleanor Roosevelt greatly expanded the duties of a first lady by undertaking innovative and precedent-setting responsibilities.
2Amon Giles Carter, publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from 1909 until his death in 1955; powerful and energetic booster of Fort Worth and West Texas; long-time friend of the Rogers family. Cyrus Rowlett Smith, American aviation executive. A Texan, Smith advanced from the vice presidency to the presidency of American Airways in 1934 at the age of thirty-three.
3Catherine McCahill Lane, wife of Franklin Knight Lane, Jr., wealthy Los Angeles attorney. Anne Claire Wintermute Lane, wife of Franklin Knight, Sr., United State secretary of the interior from 1913 to 1920.
4Elliot Roosevelt, New York City advertising executive; second eldest son of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
5Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, American poet, writer, and humanitarian; sister of President Theodore Roosevelt. Corinne Robinson, the widow of financier Douglas Robinson, died in February of 1933. Theodore Roosevelt, Republican president of the United States from 1901 to 1909; a distant cousin of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and an uncle of Eleanor Roosevelt.
CAN YOU HEAR IT?Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Well the old Conference over in London considering the start it got is not doing so bad. When McDonald instead of welcoming the guests almost insulted our little band, why it looks like that even for ’em to stay there this long is quite an accomplishment.1 McDonald really kinder double crossed the boys. He led with his right hand but it was doubled up when he did it.
We won’t make the mistake of getting off on this debt thing today, for that’s got enough people fighting already. I suppose we will wind up by paying them all they have been out in trying to even get us to cancel. It’s kinder like the old days of arguing prohibition, you couldent argue it with anybody, you just had to wait and see how it worked. You must never tell a thing, you must illustrate it. We learn through the eye and not through the noggin.
But let’s get onto more pleasant and less controversial subjects. You know I think I told you over the radio in my last broadcast about all the Senate asking me to stay on the air, that they enjoyed it, and they all signed this application. Well do you know it was one the most pleasant things I ever had happen to me. Here was the U. S. Senate that I am always kidding about, and here they come and do a nice thing like that. Why I never will get through thanking ’em, the whole mess of ’em. Why that petition will remain one of my most prized possessions, and the next fellow that knocks the Senate will have to answer to me. That’s my privilege and nobody elses.
You know after all with their arguments and time taking, they do a lot of good. Those old boys watch a lot of stuff that if it wasent for them would be railroaded through. They are really more of a night watchman than the house is. The Senate is kinder like one of these things you have in a kitchen sink to keep the spoons and plates and stove, and all those little things from going on through. There is some pretty smart hombres in there. We cuss ’em (and they need it) but they are pretty much doing the best they can all the time. Every one of ’em is a demagogue if he is a man that don’t agree to things we do.
We ourselves are all O. K. Our ideas are all perfectly sound and have nothing to do with any personal preference. But theirs is always cockeyed. So take it all in all under our style of Government why I guess they are about our best. Maby not, but I guess they are.
Well we have got a busy summer in front of us. There has been so many schemes for relief, and for everything else under the sun, that it will be an interesting thing to see how they all work out. You are going to get a lot of hollering “I told you so,” but on the whole everybody ought to get a little piece of the dough handed out. That’s what Roosevelt intended anyhow.
Funny to watch these states now that havent got beer and have to read about the revenue that their sister state is dragging down, seeing your whole state go next door to shop don’t sit so good. Then too they bring back enough to last ’em all week. You see the whole prohibition thing as it has been brought about is a question of economics, and not of morals. We are living in an age of “What can we get some taxes out of, for the maintainance of our town and state Government that shouldent be costing us anymore than it’s worth.”
So the old revenue has changed many an opinion. There will be quite a few special legislatures called if they can see any dough in it for ’em out of revenue. This new gag they got now where a Dr’s prescription will get you a barrell instead of a pint has got the old bootlegger groggy. He can’t peddle booze when you can order it like a case of canned peaches or tomatoes.
About be our country’s luck when we get the unemployed pretty well back to work, why by that time there will be about that many bootleggers out of work that will constitute the next big economic problem, for they will be men that will require a special type of work. It can’t be hard, it will have to be in keeping with what they have been accustomed. And there just ain’t that many bank presidents’ jobs left.
Say by the way the old banks are picking up. They are raising their blinds up in the day time, and are making some loans and getting back to old times.
Say we are kinder picking up in the movies too. Everybody is making a lot of pictures. I am batting away on Lord knows what till it’s finished and then maby he won’t know. I lost old “Blue Boy” he retired, said the work was too tame.2 Going to miss him, for I got along with him better than any actor I ever played with. He was just 900 pounds of harmony. Me losing him would be just like Laural and Hardy splitting.3
1For J. Ramsay MacDonald see WA 536:N 3.
2For Blue Boy see WA 539:N 1.
3Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, comedians who first teamed in 1927 to initiate a highly successful series of short and feature films. Laurel, British-born, played a childlike character who was the antithesis of Hardy’s pompous father figure.