7 January, 1934 - 25 March, 1934
LISTENING TO ROOSEVELTWell 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.
SWELL TACKLING IN WASHINGTON
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.”
AND THE ROSE BOWL
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.
ROUND, ROUND, AND ROUNDWell 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.
COMPLETE HEADS OR TAILS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. With old inflation riding
the headlines the last couple of weeks, it dident leave much room for any real
news. I have read till I am bleary eyed, and I can’t get heads from tails of the
whole thing. We are told that money to be any good, has to be backed up by
gold. Yet there is a lot of countrys that havent got a five dollar gold piece to
back up their other money, and they carry on their whole business of government, and have very rich men. Well how is that done? China has got 400 million people 2 hundred million of ’em never saw any coin but copper, and the
other 2 hundred million nothing more than silver. Yet they have existed longer
and have the oldest civilization in the world. The whole of South America
hasent got a gunny sack full of gold, yet the Argentine has some of the richest men of any country. We been on a gold basis since the boys started digging
it out of the creeks, and the girls started digging it out of the boys, yet I doubt
if we got a boy or girl in this country under twenty that ever saw one of our
OF THE GOLD PROBLEM
We been on the gold but we been out of it for years and years. Our paper money said, “Payable in gold,” but it should have had under it in small letters, “Can’t you take a joke?” That sentence “Payable in gold” was like that other famous epitaph on money, “E Pluribus Unum”—“One out of many.” It should have read “One out a scarcity.” A dollar was supposed to be backed by gold, but there was only, I think, about forty cents worth of gold in the dollar, and if everybody had gone and asked for their dough in gold, they not only wouldent have gotten it, but would have perhaps been put in jail for loitering. They say we used to have about three fourths of the world’s gold. Then France and England (especially France) got it away from us, and now they have almost as much as us. They say it was their withdrawals that drove us off the gold. Now we are off and got nothing to lose why can’t we drive them off. Why don’t we buy paper Francs and make demands in gold, and let us read about our shipments of French gold to America? In other words why can’t we work the same “Racket” on France that they did on us, or are they too slick for us! I guess they are they always have been.
Then they say that a lot of our people went South (that is, out behind the barn under the old oak tree and buried it) with millions of our gold. The old saying was that if you got it in gold, let anything come and you are all O.K. But Mr Roosevelt fooled those babies. He had a law passed that all the gold in America belongs to the government, so that makes the old buried tomato can counterfeit. Now the old boys are scared to dig it up. I will never forget one time I made a picture where I was fishing and found some money. It had been stolen and hidden, and it was all in one thousand dollar bills, and here I was and couldent pass ’em. Well just even in a picture it was annoying. So you can get a rough idea of these old misers’ embarrassment when their gold was announced to be null and void. Course if they would bring it in the government would give ’em some paper money for it, but they are kinder shamed to let folks know they been holding out.
Some outfit called the Federal Reserve Banks have held our gold, now they even taking it away from them. There is one thing about all these things going on now, and that is that “Something is liable to happen to anybody.” So now the scheme is to raise the ante. That is we will say we got a third or twice as much more gold than we had. It’s some way they are slicing the pie smaller, more guests come, and we got to make eight slices instead of four. But the difference between this and pie is, that you ain’t going to get a piece of this. They are issueing doughnuts that are supposed to be backed up by pie, but they say that more people will get a doughnut. I think this ought to give you a elementary knowledge of our financial structure.
Now will the thing work, you might ask. Sure it will work. We never saw any gold before did we? Well we won’t see any now, so we have lost nothing. Now next week I will take up supply and demand, versus production and distribution. It won’t take me a minute to mow right through that. We are living in an age of explanations, and plenty of ’em too. No two things that’s been done to us has been explained twice the same way by even the same man. It’s an age of in one ear and out the other.
FLYING HIGHWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see flitting hither and thither. About ten days ago I finished making a movie, Old David Harum. So I just lit out to see the world, or, that is, the part of it that wasent hid by the wings of the planes.
You know they have now what they call “Low Wing” planes, that is, they put these wings right under your window. Well just like in a hotel in a big city, they put all the taxicabs, starting and coming in, right under your window. Or like on a train, when you just geta glimpse of something you are anxious to see, why a long string of freight cars are on the track and you never get to see it. Well I never used to think they would ever be able to cut off your view from a plane, but by golly the inventors have been able to do it. There just is nothing it seems that an inventor can’t think of.
Now I am offering a suggestion too offset the inventors’ latest move, I make a motion that they put in glass wings, or windows to ’em, like we have in Catalina Island in the bottom of the boats, so you can see the trained fish that are trained to swim under the boat for the edification of the tourists. Well, if they put little glass windows right under each window, in the wing of the plane it would be great. Course now since they have found out that air, or wind rather, blowed, or blew rather, different ways at different altitudes, why these flyers are taking you up so high that you pretty near got to have a wreck up there before you can get a chance to see the ground. Did you know that a mile high, that is 52 hundred feet, the wind might be headed toward the West, and that if you pour the gas to her and go on up another mile, 10 thousand feet—I hope my figures are correct in regard to what makes a mile, but even if they are not, you never get a kick. Readers don’t write letters. It’s radio fans that write letters. It looks like a radio fan has a pencil and piece of paper ready before he turns on the radio. He or she rather (for it’s generally she) well they just know they are not going to like something you say, so they are writing while you are talking. You see, if they dident write it down then they wouldent be able to remember what it was wrong you had said. But that is a fact, a reader never writes and airs his or her views, they just figure, “Well he is a nut anyhow, and I am certainly not going to waste any time on him.” So, as I say, if a mile is not around 52 hundred feet, it’s not going to make any difference to the readers, and I am sure it don’t to me. But I got to get back to telling you about the wind. If there is a man in America that should be able to tell you about “wind” it should be me, I have started more of it than anybody. (I was going to say, more than anybody outside of a Politician, but as that is what I knew you would expect me to say, why I dident say it)—so, the wind may be west at five, and east at ten thousand.
Well that is something they have just learned in the last few years. So the way you do now, you go prowling around up in the lower strathersphere, you know what strathersphere is? No you don’t. I figured that, that’s why I brought it up. So I could explain it to you. The strathersphere is a layer of atmosphere that lays just on the outside of the layer of air that surrounds the earth. I don’t know what they call this first first group of air, the one that you go into if you climb a ladder, a tree, or go with Al Smith to see the top of the Empire State Building, or go on a mountain, or in a plane or baloon, it’s really the first substantial substance outside the earth.1 I would call it the undershirt of the earth, it’s next to the earth’s body. Then when you get though it, around 8 to 10 to 20 miles away from the earth, that’s the top shirt, or strathasphere, or chemise.
Of course if this essay should be read in a nudist colony, why this explanation will read to them like the gold policy does to us, it will be non legible.
But to get back to the wind, the aviators go up and hunt till they find a wind that is headed their way. Well they get up so high sometimes that you can’t see the earth, and if you wanted to get out and go back to it, you wouldent know which way it was, and that is why you never hear of a parachute jumping around 15 or twenty thousand feet. They are so high up they can’t tell which way the earth is, and they might jump the wrong way and be going right away from the earth and maby starve before they found they was on the wrong road. I was flying so high the other day that we missed Missouri entirely. We dident know if it was under us or over us. Then a wind is liable to change right while you are in it. It just makes up its mind to go right back and go the other way. Well, if you are a tail wind flyer (you see lots of flyers are strictly tail wind flyers. They can’t fly against the wind), why they have to whirl right around with this wind when it changes and go back with it. Now I am a “head wind” passenger. If I got a tail wind I wouldent know how to ride it. I got to have that breeze right on my chest. You don’t make as good time, of course, if you are a headwinder, but you can come down in the right place more often. Then it’s so much more manly to know you come in on a head wind. It’s kinder sissified come in with wind a helping you.
1Smith (see WA 560:N 5) served as president of the corporate enterprise that built the Empire State Building in New York City. Completed in 1931, the 102-story structure stood for many years as the tallest building in the word.
PICTURES INTERFER WITH STATECRAFTWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as I prowl hither and thither, and brother I have lately prowled.
I just blew back here to California about a week ago from one of those cross continent escapades. I finished a picture one night and and the studio told me that it would take them about a week before they would have it all assembled and be ready to preview.
Here is the way we work it with these pictures, I mean all of ’em do it about this way. When the picture is finished they take it out to some nearby town or lots of times in some suburban theatre of Los Angeles, and run it. It’s advertised in front of the theatre that there is a preview of a new picture that night, but it does not say what one it is, or whose.
A few of the main studio people connected with the making of it, and the principles, go, and it’s run. Then they see how it goes, and try to see what is the matter with it. Course we don’t always see, and then too sometimes we know the main thing that’s the matter with it, and that is that it should never have been made, but as it is made and lots of money is invested in it, why they take it back and work on it, maby retake scenes, add scenes, cut out scenes.
Then maby they will take it out and try it again on some other defenseless audience. I made one one time that we previewed so many times, and so many places, that the last couple of weeks we had to take it away up around Frisco. All Southern California rebelled and said, we have seen this thing enough. You see what I am trying to get at is that we try to make them as good as we can. Bad pictures are not made with a premeditated design. It looks to you sometimes like we must have purposely made ’em that way, but honest we don’t. A bad picture is an accident, and a good one is a miracle.
But this is not what I started in to tell you at all. I was going to tell you how I got away. You see a studio is like a jail, you can’t just walk out, you got to kinder escape, or in some cases be made a trusty. They told me I could go.
You see I have to go to Washington every so often to see what the Senators are doing. I can’t just leave ’em, they wouldent do a thing, or if they did it would be the wrong thing. I got to go there and kinder prod ’em up every once in awhile, same as Mr Roosevelt has to bring ’em in and pat ’em on the back every so often.
You see that’s the way he works ’em, he never scolds ’em, he knows they are just children at heart, and when he wants something done, he just coaxes ’em, brags on ’em, and first thing you know they have voted “yes.” Well, I can’t do that, in fact there is few that can, I am not that even tempered.
Our President is almost a freak in that respect, he seems to know just where their back itches and there is where he scratches. But I can’t do it, I have to cuss ’em a little sometimes. I like ’em, maby at heart as much as Roosevelt, maby more, but they do vex the very old devil out of me and all of us at times.
Well as I say the studio said I could go, but when they showed the picture that if there was any what we call retakes, that I was to be back there at a certain date to make ’em. They was turning me loose kinder on probation, if they had found that I had done anything wrong I was to come back and repent.
Well, I had just got settled down good in the Senate gallery when the news come that they had showed the picture, and that there was practically nothing wrong with it but the last five reels, (they must have skipped the first one), so right in the middle of a Huey Long oration, I had to grab a plane and hike back to California, and now it don’t look like I will ever get out again, so if the Senate gums everything up it will really be my fault for I was not there to guide ’em.1
You see Roosevelt can’t do everything. So it looks like I will be retaking the rest of the spring and early summer.
1For this and all further references to Huey P. Long see WA 542:N 5.
HIGH SOCIETY WITH GOLD EARRINGSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as I prowl. Well got some social news for you today. I am not so hot on the social gag, but when we were back in Washington couple of weeks ago, Mrs. Rogers, Mary, and myself, why among all the other prowling around, we attended what they call a White House Reception.1 That’s one of those little quiet intimate affairs where sometimes for homelike purposes they only have 12 or 14 hundred guests. At the bigger ones it runs up to a couple of thousand. It starts about nine o’clock. We had been there for dinner, at a very lovely fine dinner—only about 8 or ten guests. Then we stayed for the reception. It was the first time I had ever seen one. Most everybody has been to them I guess but me, so I don’t suppose I can tell you anything, but at that it was mighty exciting for me.
First I pretty near had an argument with the President while he was changing from his tuxedo, (which he had worn at dinner) to his dress suit which of course he would have to wear at the big reception. He had asked me into his room to show me all the things he has in there. I asked him if he dident sit down during the time the people were passing by. (It takes about an hour and half.) Well he said no that he stood. Well then I blew up. I told him he ought to sit down. That was one time I was telling the President of the U. S. what to do. I have done it a lot of times but not so they could hear it, but this time I was laying the law down.
Well anyhow I dident get away with it. He went right down and stood up all that time. I dident win but I still think I am right. It’s an imposition to ask him to stand all that time.
Having dinner in the White House is more fun and laughs than any place I know, and it has just about as much formality as dining with a neighbor. But I must get back to the reception.
I go down stairs and the first one I run into was Alice—(pardon my familiarity, but nothing else don’t fit her but Alice) I made a courtesy and kissed her hand.2 I wasent going to let some French Diplomat have anything on me. Well she looked lovely. My wife said she was the class of the show. She had on some queer earrings. They was great long gold buckets that looked kinder like minature coal scuttles. I think she wore ’em just for a laugh. They was gold, and she wanted to see if her fifth cousin would confiscate it.
The cabinet was there. One of ’em I met that night that I hadent met before. I had never met Mr. Ickes, he is a mighty nice fellow and they claim very able.3 He and I picked up an old argument that we had differed on. I claim that it is the Hoover Dam. But there was lots of things we agreed on. Met Mrs. Wallace, secretary of agriculture’s wife, he was away speaking somewhere.4 Farmers are people that loved to be made speeches too. He has a tough job. There is so many people that farm that are not farmers, it would be like trying to provide jobs for everybody that wanted to be an actor whether they could act or not.
Our treasurer and wife are very charming.5 I have been a friend of his dad’s for years, the elderly Mr. Morganthou, and I knew the son before his appointment.6 They all like him there. Jim Farley and his pretty wife was there laughing and cheerful as ever.7 Knew the first name of every one of the whole fifteen hundred. Mr. Roper, was there.8 I had met some of his sons. He raises his own Democrats, kinder like Mr. Dockweiler does in Cal.9 Mr. Dern of the army and we renewed old acquaintances of our trip with the governors last summer.10 Missed Mr. Swanson of the navy an old crony who I alays liked from away back in Senate days.11 Guess he was celebrating for the Navy had just landed an appropriation that day that will make it a navy again.
Then Mr. Hull who was being congratulated on all sides for his conference work in South America.12 We are going to quit being revenue officers for South American Republics. If they want to make their own revolutions, let ’em go ahead. The Attorney General were away too, and Mrs Perkins.13 I had had a long chat with her on another trip. They say she is the most able woman that ever entered politics. She gets it done. Old Jessie Jones was prowling around there, keeping tabs on his reconstruction loans.14
They served a little punch, nothing in it, but by this time there would be. We attended that one two weeks too early. Then they had dancing in the Big Blue Room, but it all busts up about eleven, not only about, but at eleven. They wasent all big wigs like the ones I mentioned. There was secretaries, voters, tax payers, lobbyists, everything. They say it’s not as classy as the Republicans had, but what a Democrat lacks in class nowadays he makes up in numbers. It’s well worth seeing—once—.
1For this and all further references to Mary Rogers see WA 543:N 1.
2Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt, widow of Speaker of the House Nicholas Longworth, and prominent Washington hostess. She was a distant cousin of President Franklin Roosevelt and a first cousin of first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
3For Harold L. Ickes see WA 562:N 2.
4Ilo Browne Wallace, wife of Henry Agard Wallace, United States secretary of agriculture from 1933 to 1940 and vice president of the United States from 1941 to 1945.
5Henry Morgenthau, Jr., United States secretary of the treasury from 1934 to 1945. He was married to the former Elinor Fatman.
6Henry Morgenthau, German-born American diplomat, attorney, and financial expert; United States ambassador to Turkey from 1913 and 1916 and to Mexico in 1920.
7Farley (see WA 541:N 1) was married to the former Elizabeth A. Finnegan.
8Daniel Calhoun Roper, American lawyer and politician; United States secretary of commerce from 1933 to 938.
9John Francis Dockweiler, Democratic United States representative from California from 1933 to 1939.
10For George H. Dern see WA 554:N 17.
11Claude Augustus Swanson, United States secretary of the navy from 1933 until his death in 1939. A former governor of Virginia, he was serving in the United States Senate at the time of his appointment to the cabinet.
12Cordell Hull, United States secretary of state from 1933 to 1944; recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. Hull had returned recently from a Pan-American Conference at Montevideo, Uruguay.
13Homer Stille Cummings, attorney general of the United States from 1933 to 1939. Frances Perkins, United States secretary of labor from 1933 to 1945; this first women ever appointed to a cabinet post.
14For Jesse H. Jones see WA 567:N 8.
AS WE GO RAMBLING ONWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. Now all these really successful columnists or writers, they have a whole lot of small little items, like Odd McIntire, he has the most interesting mess called “Thingamabobs.”1 But Lord he can take a sewer and write it up and give it a frag-rance that you will almost yearn for. Tonight I havent got any more subject to talk on than a lady companion at a dinner table, that is I mean nothing big. We just got to mess around and see what little stuff has shown up.
A few nights ago we previewed a picture David Harum, at one of Beverley Hills big movie houses. We generally take ’em out to some little out of the way town, but everybody was too lazy to drive anywhere so they just tried it on the home folks. The picture had been going only a short ways and the leading lady, Miss Evelyn Venerable, (from the Shakesperian stage and this is her third picture), well somebody in the dark whispered over my shoulder from the row behind and asked who the girl was.2 Well you know who it was, it was Jean Harlow and Mr Rosson her husband who asked, and they were very interested in the girls, also the boy Kent Taylor.3 Well I felt proud that they would turn out to see my little picture, and every once in awhile I would peek back and they would be holding hands. Now that is mighty big news for a Hollywood couple that are really married.
Then of course outside the theatre was the usual autograph pests. They don’t any more want your autograph but they just seem to act like they had a bet on with each. Half the time they don’t even know who it is they have asked to write. I don’t know, but that strikes me as being the dumbest fad that’s been invented. My Lord what could a lot of us movie folks mean. I can see someody wanting President Roosevelt’s, or Chief Justice Hughes’, or Col and Ann Lindberg.4 But the crazy way they are running after names now, their list would read like a petition for someone to get the Post Office.
Got a letter among some mail with the cutest picture of triplets, three little boys five years old, from Seattle. I don’t know why the mother picked me out to tell me about ’em, but I don’t blame her. If I had ’em I would be so tickled I would tell it too. Course after all they are not quite the burden on the father as on the mother.
Got a book here from some woman named Nola Henderson called, “This Much is Mine.”5 Havent read it. That’s a good title ain’t it, This Much is Mine. Think she says she is from Oklahoma. Speaking of books, did I tell you about meeting Harold Bell Wright here not long ago?6 I think I did, so I won’t tell you anymore. He is an awful nice fellow, and I sure enjoyed meeting him. Roscoe Turner, the record holder of transcontinental records, was just out to see me.7 We were both in hopes that things would not throw our old airmail buddies out of jobs.8 But equally hoping they got the ones that did pull anything.
Frank Hawkes and his wife stayed all night with me out here at my home the other day before they sailed for the Orient.9 He was taking over a big Curtis bombing plane to demonstrate to the Chinese Government.
This aviation is not a local affair, it seems to be spreading. C. B. Irwin, (Charley) from Cheyenne Wyoming was out.10 For years he was the mainstay of the Cheyenne frontier days celebration, he and his daughters that rode so wonderful. Charley has grown up and is a big boy now, says he has some good race horses down at Tia Juana, Mex. He said last Sunday was one of the biggest days they had had down there, yet they have drinking here, and legalized horse racing too, but there was thousands there all trying to make bets.
You know there must be a lot of money in this country yet. I think a lot of this continually howling about hard times is to try and stave off taxes. Cars are selling like they havent sold in years, and at higher prices. I don’t see why there is not as much money as there ever was. Fewer have got it, but somebody has got it. It just dident all dissapear. (Well it did dissapear too as far as millions were concerned, but it’s gradually sticking its head out now.) Gold is coming home to roost again from Europe. Course the individual is not allowed to get his clutches on any of it, but it sounds good.
It’s raining a little here today. First time we had any since the flood. Columbia University and the flood hit us the same day. Going to have beans for supper tonight. I said supper, six o’clock, navy beans, cooked in Oklahoma ham, raised on the Dogiron ranch at Oolagah. Cooked plenty soupy like. Got to eat ’em with a spoon, raw onions and corn bread, nothing else. Anybody that would want anything else ought to be shot.
Well so long.
1For O. O. McIntyre see WA 566:N 5.
2Evelyn Venable Mohr, American leading lady of the screen who appeared in motion pictures from 1933 to 1943; co-starred with Rogers in David Harum in 1934 and The County Chairman in 1935.
3Harold G. Rosson, motion-picture cameraman and third husband of Jean Harlow (see WA 555:N 15). Kent Taylor, American motion-picture leading man who first appeared in films in 1931. He and Evelyn Venable, who often co-starred with him, were known for several years as the “handsomest lovers on the screen.”
4Charles Evans Hughes, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1930 to 1941; former governor of New York and Republican presidential candidate. Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh, American author and poet; daughter of Dwight W. Morrow and wife of Charles A. Lindbergh (see WA 559:N 2).
5Nola Gamblin Henderson, Oklahoma-born newspaperwoman and author. Her 1934 novel, This Much Is Mine, concerned life in rural Oklahoma.
6Harold Bell Wright, American cleric and novelist; author of many widely popular works, including The Shepherd of the Hills (1907), The Calling of Dan Matthews (1909), and The Mine with the Iron Door (1923).
7For Roscoe Turner see WA 559:N 2.
8All air-mail contracts were cancelled by President Roosevelt on February 9, 1934, after senatorial investigation indicated possible fraud and collusion on the part of domestic airmail operators in the securing of government contracts.
9Hawks (see WA 559:N 2) was married to the former Edith Elizabeth Bowie Fouts.
10Charles B. “Charley” Irwin, Wyoming rancher, wild west showman, railroad lobbyist, and race horse owner. A commanding figure and personality, Irwin weighed 500 pounds at the time of his death in a car accident in 1934.
LOBBY SHOPPING, A SPORT IN
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as I prowl,
and brother the last week or so I prowled. I like to tell of old friends that I run
onto. Of course Washington, D. C. is my alley when it comes to running into
men I have known and admired for years. Now take ex Senator Jim Reed of
Missouri.1 Will this generation record a more dynamic, fearless, and more
colorful career? Noe, No. Well I had a fine visit at their hotel rooms with he
and his charming young wife. They live in Kansas City and she has a very big
ladies’ dress goods factory, not factory dresses as we know ’em, but real designs by Paris architects, which just happened to be made in her (not factory)
overgrown shop. Jim Reed come as near being President as any man in America that dident, and he would have made a good one, a little too outspoken
perhaps for mass voting strength, but sound in principal, and he goes into his
maturing years with a great satisfaction. I would rather tell ’em what I think
and retire with satisfaction, than be President and be hampered. He told me
many things of today’s carryings on, that I will think mighty hard over. It’s
good to meet a man who sees farther than the bend of the road.
Amon G Carter, the Ft. Worth Lobbyist, of course he was here.2 Fort Worth had just been left off the army air mail, and he was making arrangements to run it in by Pony Express from Washington via Fort Worth to the West Coast. He was of course making all the arrangements that Fort Worth would be the main stable where they harbored the horses. The riders were to come through Dallas in a high lope and not stop. Going to use the landing field there for a corrall. With those horses back in Fort Worth, it will regain much of its lost glory, like it was before some durn yahoo started bringing Fords into town.
Sam Fordyce, a country lawyer from St. Louis, Mo. was another old acquaintance that pitched forward out of the Mayflower elevator door as it was opened.3 I once made a tour of the great King-Kleberg Ranch of South Texas with Senor Fordyce in a private railroad car that he had momentarily purloined from a client to attend the Houston Democratic clinic in.4 Sam had no brief case with him in Washington, so he was evidentally doing his lobbying from memory. He was being assisted physically by a man by the name of Jackson, an old friend and accomplice.5
Chip Roberts, assistant secretary of the treasury, the only athlete to ever be trusted with such a larder full of gold, Chip comes from Atlanta, and was loaned to the cause by Major Cohn one of the original signers of the newspaper code.6 Major Cohn at one time in his life voluntarily promised a dying Senator that he would go in and serve out the remainder of his stretch in order to return citizenship to the man’s family. The major not only promised, but he did it, and to this day they are still delousing him.
A very charming lady on an Irish hunter named—Dusty Foot— come charging over the political barriers, and was the cynosure, (that word may be spelled wrong buts it’s meant well) of all eyes. I recognized her as a lady from the polo fields who had galloped into Washington between chuckers to lend succor to another Long Island constituent who was temporarily incarcerated in the N.R.A. calaboose. The first lady in person was “Lizzie” Whitney who had come in from her Silver Fox Farm.7 (They won’t chase a fox unless its on a gold or silver standard.) The farm is in the smoked ham state of Virginia, sah. Elizabeth knows horses, but she couldent make head or tails of these politicians.
Mrs. Mary Harriman Rumsey, the second lady referred to in the above codicil, who also knows a bog spavin along with her caviar, was trying to tell Lizzie Jock Whitney that a lady must stand when a cabinet member enters the room, but to hide when a Senator enters, and give another name.8 Both ladies are far enough away in the giant Commerce Building so they can’t hear General Hugh Johnson when he “cracks down” on a bunch of millionaires when they are getting their code.9
All these, as I say, were just people met in the lobby, along, too, with Mr. Pecora, the little Italian lawyer that has asked more embarrassing questions of millionaires than any man living.10 Men love to get rich, but this little Pecora has made it so discouraging to ’em trying to tell how they got rich, that he has really discouraged ’em, that is unless they did it honestly and that’s such a task nowadays that it’s not worth the effort.
I have known him a long time, and always attend his shows, for he invariably has a great cast. The last time I attended one of his performances he had J. P. Morgan and a midget in the cast.11 This time he had a half billion dollar cast. Huey Long is no longer in the lobby but he found me and pinned a button on me, called “Every Man a King,” and it said everybody was to divide their wealth. I am working with him on a percentage. Up to now nobody has divided, but we will get ’em. In fact I think the taxes will get ’em before Huey and I do.
Well, that’s enough folks to see in one lobby, so we will close the door.
1James Alexander “Jim” Reed, Democratic United States senator from Missouri from 1911 to 1929; attorney from Kansas City, Missouri. After his first wife’s death in 1932, Reed married Nell Quinlan Donnelly of Kansas City.
2For Amon G. Carter see WA 547:N 2.
3Samuel Wesley Fordyce, Jr., Saint Louis attorney, corporate executive, and Democratic political figure.
4For the King Ranch see WA 536:N 5. The Democratic party held its national convention of 1928 in Houston, Texas.
6Lawrence Wood “Chip” Robert, Jr., assistant secretary of the treasury in charge of public works from 1933 to 1936; Atlanta construction engineer, corporate executive, and sportsman. John Sanford Cohen, American newspaper editor and political figure; president and editor of the Atlanta Journal from 1917 until his death in 1935; Democratic United States senator from Georgia from 1932 to 1933. Cohen attained the rank of major during the Spanish-American War.
7Mary Elizabeth Altemus “Lizzie” Whitney, socialite wife of John Hay “Jock” Whitney, American financier, government official, sportsman, and philanthropist. When the couple was married in 1930, jock Whitney presented his bride with a $500,000 estate in Virginia as a wedding gift. They were divorced in 1940.
8Mary Harriman Rumsey, New York City civic leader, horsewoman, and heiress to the vast Harriman railroad fortune.
9For this and all further references to Hugh S. Johnson see WA 568:N 1.
10Ferdinand Pecora, Italian-born American lawyer and jurist. From 1933 to 1934, Pecora served as chief counsel for the Senate Banking and Currency Committee investigating banking and stock market practices.
11A circus press agent placed a female midget in the lap of J. P. Morgan, Jr. (see WA545:N 2), during proceedings of a Senate stock market investigation in June 1933. Although flabbergasted, the multimillionaire financier dismissed the publicity stunt good-naturedly.
THE WHOLE ALPHABET
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see hither and
yon. Can’t get over my trip a couple of weeks ago back to Washington. You
see I am old country folks that don’t get around much, and when I do everything is all new and fresh in my mind, and I can’t forget it very easy.
IS USED UP NOW!
Well I was back in Washington at the time that the aeroplane business was at its heighth, and there was a propeller buzzing in everybody’s head you met.1 Everybody knew what should have been done, but they dident know who to do it to. But all that’s kinder dying down now, and something new is cropping up. It takes a mighty big thing to keep us stirred up for over a week solid on the same subject.
I was in Washington the day that they opened the I.Y.G.A.A.T.N.R.A.C.T.W.A.G.I.O.O.Y.S. now get that’s for it’s a new government department. The I-Y-G-A-A-T-N-R-A-C-T-W-A-G-O-O-Y-S department. Now that’s got more letters in it than most of the new departments, so you might not know what it is. It’s the “If you got anything against the N.R.A. come to Washington and get it out of your system.”
Well they come in wagons, planes, trains, dog teams, and limouzines. You wouldent think there was that much wrong with one plan, (and I don’t suppose there was) but everybody that hadent done well, maby partly due to their own efforts, was willing to lay it onto the N.R.A. Well there was sure a lot of ’em that was not doing so hot, for it looked like the run on the Cherokee Strip back in my childhood days. They lined up in the morning outside the Department of Commerce building, and when you line up around the outside of it, it’s just like lining up on the borders of Texas. Some are hundreds of miles from each other.
Well they got a great auditorium in there. That was just built for complaining purposes. The aucostics are very bad, put in that way purposely. But it’s not only the N.R.A. They come to Washington to complain on everything. Everybody that comes to Washington either has a kick or a wish, and he is just as big a pest no matter which one he is there on.
There is many an investigation going on there. I never saw such an eager Senate. I was looking for the aeroplane one, and I run into the first one I saw thinking it was it, but it was one on sugar. Went on down the hall and butted into another one, and it was on anti lynching. The next one was “Has the army paid too much for what they bought.”
There is something about a Democrat that makes ’em awful inquisitive, especially if it’s on a Republican, and there is an awful lot to find out about most Republicans.
I told dident I about Borah kinder playing a dirty trick on the boys of the Senate. They already had a bill in and practically passed restoring salaries to where they were before the cut. Well just as it was to go to vote, Borah put in an amendment that it wasent to apply to salaries over six thousand. Well they get I think it’s 85 hundred, or maby it’s 10,000. But anyhow it cut out there raise. Well the vote was mighty close, about 45 to maby 40. But they did pass it. Now that was mighty fine, and I can just imagine how good Senator Borah stood.
You don’t hear so much of Mr. Borah as you used too, for then he was head of Foreign Relations, but he is a mighty able man in anybody’s administration, and a kindly loveley soul. There is an awful lot of fine old fellows in there. Well all of ’em ain’t so old either. But they are a likable bunch. Dave Reed of Pennsylvania is a very able man, perhaps one of the most able in there.2
And here is something did you know that Senator Gore, our very able blind Senator from Oklahoma, Senator Gore, he is the wittiest man in there.3 Now you wouldent think that would you? But he is, he has got a world of humor has Mr. Gore, and as nice a fellow as you ever met. Johnson of Cal, who you might picture as a tough insurgent, is a sweet character.4 He has got many a friend among the others.
Oh I havent got much time with you. But I could ramble on like this by the hour and tell you about ’em. Joe Robinson, leader of the pack, is a regular guy, and got plenty on the ball, and they all like Jack Garner, the Vice President.5 They know his ability, and they appreciate his fairness, knowledge of anything that comes up, and above all his humaness. No sir the rascals are all right.
1For the air-mail contract controversy see WA 583:N 8.
2For David A. Reed see WA 542:N 7.
3Thomas Pryor Gore, Democratic United States senator from Oklahoma from 1907 to 1921 and 1931 to 1937.
4Hiram Warren Johnson, Republican United States senator from California from 1917 until his death in 1945. Johnson long had been a leading member of the progressive wing of the Republican party.
5Joseph Taylor “Joe” Robinson, Democratic United States senator from Arkansas from 1913 until his death in 1937. For this and all further references to Jack Garner see WA 567:N 1.
I HAVEN’T READ MANY BOOKSWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers, and say, I have finally found something in ’em too. They are running the story of Christ written by Charles Dickens for his children.1 They kept it 45 years, and finally decided to publish it.
Well, it’s the most interesting and best written story I ever read. Maby it’s because I have a child’s mind, (that may be putting it a little high) but it tells you so many little things in a connected way that it’s, well I think it’s wonderful.
Of course the Bible has always been “The best seller.” But unless you are a real seeker of knowledge, or of consolation, it sometimes gets hard to read for a dumb fellow, for there is so much that we can’t understand. I don’t suppose there is two preachers in the world that would absolutely interpret a whole chapter exactly alike, but any interpretation you put on it is good.
I believe this little plain story will be a great incentive to want to know more. I know I am going to go searching in there and find out just where he got all these plain facts.
That Dickens must have been a great writer. You know I never did read him. Can you imagine any man growing plumb up into an age when it should be called manhood, and not having read Dickens?
I sure hate to admit it, but there is no use trying to bull it through that I have done any reading for I haven’t. I been sorter busy during my lifetime, and then too I have done a lot of playing. A lot of folks now think I am awful busy, but that’s the biggest bunk in the world.
I am always playing around at something. There is days when I actually realize that I havent done a thing but mess around. I could just as well have read one of Mr Dickens’ wonderful books. They are down stairs right now, the children have read ’em, every one, but with the Senate operating six hours a day, and the House the same, and all the investigations, and the robbers getting out of jails with candy pistols and a million and one things going on, and I read it all, I just got started in wrong. All educated people started in reading good books. Well, I dident. I seem to have gone from Frank Merriwell, and Nick Carter at Kemper Military Academy, right to the Congressional Record, just from one set of low fiction to another.2
I don’t know how I got to reading about the fantastic running of our country, instead of boning up on Shakespeare. But I did, even before I got to making a living by doing a little police reporting on the lawmakers. I am kind of a slow reader anyhow, and a lot of the stuff I have to read was not delivered in what you would call a straightforward or lucid vein, so I have to go back over it a few times to catch the meaning, and then I don’t always grasp it.
But I do do a lot of newspaper reading, then at the end of the week I have to do a lot of magazine reading, for it contradicts what the papers have said all week. Then by that time come the monthlys, and they fog the issue up more than ever. Here is something I have learned that is absolutely true. If you are going to write, talk, comment, or argue over any public question, don’t do it by just reading one newspaper. I try to get all kinds, breeds, creeds, and every single different political one. You can tell in a minute a person that only reads one paper. Gosh, you would be surprised how one bit of political news is so differently construed in different papers. Some public man is a horse-thief in one paper, and then pick up the other and he is just about to be cannonized and made a saint. Then the next paper will say he is a horse thief in the day, but repents at night.
But it’s sorter fascinating to read a paper clear through, even if you do know before you start about what’s in it. But some day when no papers come I am going to get a Dickens book, and see how he stacks up with the Beverly Hills Citizen, and the Claremore Progress.
1Charles Dickens’ Life of Our Lord: Written for His Children during the Years, 1846-1849 appeared for the first time in 1934. The existence of the manuscript was kept a family secret until the last of the children of the celebrated, nineteenth century English author had died.
2“Frank Merriwell,” a character in the juvenile stories of William Gilbert Pattern, American writer whose dime novels and serials about college life and amateur sports sold more than 25 million copies. “Nick Carter,” name of a hero in many dime novels. John Russell Coryell probably introduced the character in the 1880s, but more prolific writers produced most of the more than one thousand Nick Carter books. Rogers attended Kemper Military Academy at Boonville, Missouri, from 1897 to 1898.
BONUS UP-THE AIR MAIL DOWNWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and say with this air mail not perculating so often since the recent lay off I am going to have to get busy and pen you these few lines a little earlier than usual, for this document is liable to have to take the baggage coach from here to New York.
They sure did gum up this air mail thing, but they are trying their very best to get it straightened out. I guess that has got more folks excited than any one thing since Sister Aimee went to the desert.1 Folks that hadent sent an air mail letter, in fact that hadent sent, received, or was in hopes of ever receiving even an ordinary letter, yet they was all het up one way or the other over this whole thing. It was as much as taking your life in your hands by taking sides.
Most people were naturally with the President, for he had said that there was fraud, and they had every reason in the world for doing what they did. Well the other side said, “They should have convicted ’em first.” And the thing ranged back and forth.
Then of course politics got all messed up in it. A Republican Senator would throw a rock and a Democratic Senator would dodge it and hit him with a brick. But there is one thing about Washington, you can’t keep their minds concentraited on one thing very long. They get awful mad, but somebody come along and ask ’em to have a drink and they get over it, and maby while they are standing there having one they think of something else to go kick up some devilment over and in this particular case, the Democrats were mighty in favor of ’em thinking of something else.
I never saw a race of people that wanted to change the subject as easily as they did there for awhile. But like everything else they are getting it straightened out. Things in our country are not ever fixed, they just wear themselvs out. About the time the air mail had a forced landing the bonus hit ’em, and they was all off on a new tack.
That bonus is sorter like playing with loaded dice. You don’t know in whose favor they are loaded. What the old Congressman wanted to know, “Was the President going to veto it?” He wanted to know that before he voted. A lot of ’em dident want it, but if they could vote for it and not get it, that would be fine. So it was up to the President to pull ’em out, and they wanted him to sign a pledge that he would do it. They dident want any just mere hearsay.
Then on the other hand there was lots of ’em that really thought it should be done. Here we were spending money on everything else, why not spend some now that we would be forced to anyhow in the future? It looked like the best time to get it in circulation. Of course that idea of putting it out in greenbacks, that scared ’em, and it scared lots of soldiers. They wanted their money, but they dident want it if it was going to run us to the printing press.
Other schools of thought think that that’s what we should do, borrow from ourselvs, and not from bonds that bear interest. The whole thing is so cockeyed, that I can’t even read about it. But anyhow as I say it will work itself out. It won’t be worked out on any prearranged plan. The Lord is generally with us, I don’t know why he should be, but why worry?
In another few days when you read this, (if ever) why all we been talking about will be over and we will be off on something else. Maby we will catch Dillinger, and that will convert the whole thought of America off what was on its mind, and once it’s off we never get it back on the same subject.2
1For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 550:N 4.
2John Herbert Dillinger, American bank robber and murderer who headed one of the most notorious gangs of criminals in the Middle West during the early 1930s. Dillinger was captured in 1933 after a highly-publicized nationwide manhunt. He then escaped from a county jail in Indiana on March 3, 1934, and another intensive search ensued. The end finally came on July 22, 1934, when federal agents ambushed and killed him outside a Chicago motion-picture theater.