Will Rogers’ Weekly Articles

7 January, 1934 - Current

Jan 7, 1934

LISTENING TO ROOSEVELT

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I hear over the radio. The biggest news that’s come to us from any source was President Roosevelt’s Foreign Policy talk over the radio about ten days ago. Ever since I can remember telling jokes on the stage, and years before I started writing for any papers, I have used kidding stuff about us going into somebody’s country, and it’s always been tremendously popular stuff, for not a soul wanted us to be sending Marines out over the world. Like a big city would send policemen to places where they heard there was trouble. It had just become almost impossible for a country to have a nice home talent little revolution among themselves without us butting into it. Everywhere an American went to invest some money in the hope of making 100 percent, why here would be a gun boat to see that he had all the comforts to which he had been accustomed. Lord knows how many men we lost in Nicaragua. Finally we got out and we havent heard any more of Sandino than if he was a Republican politician. 1

But not only all South America, but all Europe seemed to offer praise of this Roosevelt speech. France seemed tickled to death and said “See Germany, Roosevelt says to disarm.” Germany looked on the speech as favorable to them and said to France, “See France, President Roosevelt says that ten percent of the world is blocking disarmament. He means you.”

Now when you can make a speech and have it suit both France and Germany, you have just about delivered another Gettysburg Address. Course that ten percent meant about 3 percent for France and about seven percent for Japan. Those are the principal babies he was hinting at. But my goodness now that they got a boy baby there will be no stopping them. 2 They was making so much fuss over the arrival of that little male that I doubt if they even tuned in on Mr Roosevelt.

But it was the kind of speech that the country wanted to hear. Course the fellow with money hollers for stabilization. But the general run of folks would rather have peace. We are liable to get our friend back with a policy like that, and with friendship will come trade. Now if we will just give the Phillipines their full freedom and get out of there. Course Japan might take it, but she would anyhow. A dog can protect only the bones that are right in front of him, he can’t have one away off to itself in front of another hungry dog and expect to be able to hold it.

But it’s wonderful now to go to sleep at night, and know that we havent just got scouts out looking for wars or private revolutions for us to get mixed up in. Just think of being a spectator once again.

1Augusto Cesár Sandino, Nicaraguan revolutionary leader who waged guerrilla warfare against United States Marines from 1927 to 1932, declaring that the attacks were motivated solely by a patriotic aim to end American interventions in Nicaragua. Sandino was assassinated in 1934.
2Tsugunomiya Akihito, crown prince of Japan and son of Emperor Hirohito, was born on December 23, 1923.

Jan 14, 1934

SWELL TACKLING IN WASHINGTON
AND THE ROSE BOWL

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. I been a watching Congress like a cat at a rat hole. And you know, considering everything, they have been acting pretty nice. Mr Roosevelt made ’em an awful pretty speech when the play opened, biggest applause was when he said little Finland had paid us every cent they owed us. Course it was only about two dollars and six bits, but the spirit of the thing was worth much more than that. He said he was going to have something to say on the debts a little later on. If he waits till we are paid anything before he says anything about ’em, it will be later on. He had a little sly dig in there at La Belle France, but I tell you it takes more than digs to make France dig. She has been dunned by better nations than us. He also had a kind of another little sly crack in there on Morgan, if I havent got my geography mixed.1 He told of big men evading the tax, “If not the law itself, or the letter of it, but they sure evaded the spirit of it.”

There is one thing about this fellow Roosevelt, he don’t play any favorites. Now they don’t come much bigger than France, and J. P. Morgan, but he dives for their ankles, I don’t care how big they are. This fellow is really trying to get a readjustment of some of our ills. While he hasent exactly got it in for big moneyed interests, he has got it in for some of their modes of doing business, and he is making Christians out of some of ’em too. Here a little while back they was raring up and defying him, but he has got ’em wagging their tails and looking up at him longingly now.

Say I don’t believe I told you anything about the big flood we had out here a couple of weeks ago did I? Well for about 36 hours the old heavens just opened up and give us both barrells. You never saw as much water in your life. All a fellow needed was an ark, for old Hollywood would have been a great place to get two of every kind of animals in it. But it was no joking matter.

Fire is tough, but I don’t know, you can put it out, but water, it’s got to go some place. It happened the day before the big celebration of New Year’s in Pasadena. Well they got a kind of a tradition there that no matter how rainy or wet it is they never postpone, because the committe that decides it, sits in the stand with a rain coat and umberrella, and the poor girls ride up every street in town on a decorated truck in a chiffon dress. The committe gets the glory of having braved the elements and gone through with it, and the girls get the pheunomonia. But it’s a fine parade.

And then comes the big football game in what is humorously called the Rose Bowl. There is not a rose in a half mile of it. In fact, it’s the only place I know of in Cal. where there is not some semblance of flowers, but there ain’t even a Hollyhawk, or a Johnny Jump Up in ten blocks. Well the morning of the game the Bowl, while it dident have any roses, it did have sixteen inches of water all over it. Well they started to pump it out, but there was nowhere to pump it to. There was more on the outside than there was on the inside. Finally Columbia come in there and they just splashed it right in these poor Stanford boys, who hadent seen any rain in years.2 Playing in the rain for them was just like putting snow shoes on a Zulu. But it was a great game, and it was well played on both sides. But I did miss Nicholas Murry Butler.3

1For J. P. Morgan, Jr., see WA 545:N 2.
2In the Rose Bowl game of 1934, the Columbia University football team defeated Stanford University, 7 to 0, in an upset accomplished with a squad of only fifteen players.
3Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945, corecipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, and veteran of Republican politics.

Jan 21, 1934

ROUND, ROUND, AND ROUND

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I hear hither and thither. Couple of weeks ago, had an interesting little four day stay in Riverside, Cal., that’s the home of the famous Mission Inn, the most unique hotel in America. It’s a monestary, a mission, a fine hotel, a home, a boarding house, a museum, an art gallery, an aviator’s shrine. It combines the best features of all the above. If you are ever in any part of Cal, don’t miss the famous Mission Inn at Riverside.

We were out there filming the trotting racing scenes in David Harum. They have a great old fair grounds. We had about 150 people from Hollywood out there, then used a couple of hundred extras from there, and it was like a picnic, we had some real old race horse authorities, men who had been judges and starters on these tracks for years and years. Well sir there is nothing any more interesting to talk too than an old horseman, and there is nothing any older than a trotting horse man, I never saw a man in the trotting horse business under 80.

Now in our scenario, or script, as those things are called after Rob Wagner’s famous script, why it had the race being for the best two out of three heats.1 That means to any of you that don’t know harness racing, that there is one race after another till one horse wins two. If he wins the first two it’s all over, but he must win two so we were to have it that way, but these old fellows, knowing the time the story was laid, 1893, they informed us that in those days it was three out of five heats. One horse had to win three races in the afternoon to win the prize. Well they said they had seen as many as ten heats, before one horse was able to win three.

They claimed that in most cases that a pacing horse was a couple of seconds faster than a trotter, although that when two record holders met, the trotter beat the pacer. There is many cases where a horse has been changed in a season from a trotter to a pacer. The pacer’s power and strength and drive come from his hind legs, (like a runner) but a trotter’s come from his front legs. His is by reaching, and not by pushing. There are two great strains the Hamiltonians and the Morgans. They are pedigreed and are called standard bred horses. It’s a peculiar cross from a thoroughbred with a mixed cold blood. They say a trotter or pacer is more intelligent than a runner, he has to know more; he evidently must have more endurance, for no runner could run ten heats in an afternoon.

We are driving the first make of low wheel sulkys. They come in in ’92. Still they are much higher than the low ones they use today. I want to tell you it’s quite a kick, trying to drive one of those with pretty fast horses too, and ten drivers on the track at once. There is always a hole big enough for the horse but how about the buggy he is towing along. The only thing I had to recomend me was that I looked as old as a driver. I used to be a pretty good just old common horse driver as young fellow back home, but I never made the tracks. My father was the best driver I ever saw, though.2 Well he had quite a little training in his young days. He used to haul freight from St Joe Missouri to Dallas Texas.

Lord, his son hasent got hardly enough endurance to make the same trip in a plane, but I have seen Papa hitch ’em up when they was really wild and go where he wanted to with ’em, not where they wanted too. So if I show any driving ability in this my first real effort, it is inherited. It’s not from hard work, perseverance, and taking advantage of my oppurtunities, (as the American Magazine used to advise us). By the way this depression, and the fall of the big man has kinder knocked the props out of all those success storys we used to get fed up on. This is just an age of being a good Democrat and holding an office. That’s all there is to success now.

1Robert Leicester “Rob” Wagner, American artist, writer, motion-picture director, and editor writer for Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and other national magazines; editor of Rob Wagner’s Script.
2Clement Vann Rogers, prominent rancher and banker in Indian Territory and earlyday Oklahoma; father of Will Rogers.