Will Rogers’ Weekly Articles

7 October, 1934 - Current

Oct 7, 1934

PROWLING AROUND OLD HAWAII

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as I prowl around old Hawiahi. (I don’t think that’s the speeling of it, but spelling don’t mean much out here. You just add pleanty of H’s, U’s, and K’s and let her go.) And the funny part is that every one of these names over here are like that. There just ain’t any Oklahoma names. I tell you, you pretty near got to be a Hawian to be able to ask your way home.

Well it’s a great country though. Was just sitting up there in the Royal Hawian Hotel listening to a band right down under our window. I doubt if there is a more wonderful setting in the world. Course we were placed on the ocean side where we got a wonderful view. Right there under our nose is the famous Wikiki Beach. Surf boards are coming in there like Fords down a boulevard at home on Sunday. Those guys really ride ’em. It’s the peculiar formation of the coral reefs that reach so far out that makes it possible for it to be so fine to do. And here is the funny part of it. It’s the only place in whole islands where you can do it. So when you see them trying it at home and not getting far, you know why.

My wife and daughter Mary had been out there and had such a good time a couple of years ago, and she kept yapping it to me, that finally on this trip, I said well let’s stop a week in the islands. And I tell you it was a month or two too short. A guy on the boat from there kept telling me that the time was too short, and I kept kidding him, and asking him what I would do with the other five days.

The folks were awful excited when I was over there over the sugar quota. You see the Hawian islands are really and truly a territory of the United States. Not one of those things they call an insular possession. Insular possessions are like Porto Rica and the Philipines. An insular possession is like a first mortgage. You get it if nobody else pays it off and takes it up. But this ukalele group out there in the very bowels of an ocean, why it is just as much a part of us as if it was down in one of Huey Long’s parishes in Louisiana.

But there was some kind of an argument on where the government had kinder used them like they was only an insular possession. It was more a case of pride than a case of dollars and cents. They felt that they had been discriminated against, and I guess you come down to the thing they really had, but they had been doing pretty well and lots of ’em thought it might be better not to make a fight. You know these islands are in pretty good shape, lots better shape than the Mainland. There had been no drought there, and there is parts of the islands that it rains every thirty minutes. They got a golf course there where they say you get rained on at number one, you dry off by number two, it starts raining again at 3 and visa versa. So you are wet on even numbers and dry on odd ones. A season’s rainfall might be 50 inches on one side of the road and 18 on the other. You don’t carry an umberrella. All you do is move from one place over a few steps to another.

It’s the greatest country for clouds floating low over the mountains, they just come pretty near into your house. It’s not a tropical country, but it just borders on to being one. They sure raise an awful lot of stuff. Sugar fields are just like wheat fields in Oklahoma, (or Kansas). In spite of all the rainfall in some places, in the sugar plantations they have to irrigate, and when you say irrigate, brother you irrigate. It takes a world of water to keep that sugar cane growing, but what a mass of stuff it is when they do harvest it. They first burn it to get all the leaves off the stalk and the blaze don’t burn the stalk. They do that early in the morning when the wind is low. They burn off about what they could pile up and haul off that day. That burning is an expert’s job. They have to have each patch fireguarded (that is a fairly wide swath cut around the piece being burned). Oh they have on some plantations thousands and thousands of acres. Frank Baldwin showed me his.1 He had in over 17 thousand acres, and from the amount of money having been spent on the growth of the stuff it must take millions to handle the whole layout. It seems no crop for poor white trash. It’s all done on a large scale. Oh you could just go on for hours and try to explain the working of some big industry over there.

Pineapple is the next biggest thing, you don’t have to irrigate that. It’s a pretty looking thing growing. They don’t seem to have much wheat, have some oats, and corn. Well in fact they do about everything over there they do at home. The only thing is that pictures don’t get over there till maby the star of the picture is dead from old age. “State Fair” had just swept their country. I want to go back there and see a million and one things that I dident get to see. And that’s the best answer to “How do you like the country.”

1Frank F. Baldwin, powerful Hawaiian sugar grower, cattleman, and Republican political figure.

Oct 14, 1934

WILL CONSIDERS PROBLEMS ON DECK

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see as we prowl. One of the best ocean trips I have had in all my messing around these various oceans, was the one I took away back when I first started out on this trip. It was really in two parts. One leg of it was from the mainland to Honolulu, on the S. S. Malolo. A fine ship and great trip and the other was from Honolulu to Yokohoma on the Canadian Pacific’s crack steamer Empress of Canada.

Course the Empress of Japan is they say still nicer, but I doubt it. That was a great ship the Canada, and they do put themselves out to be nice to you.

An Englishman knows service, and he knows what to make a Chinaman do to give service. There must have been a thousand Chinese around on that boat to do something for you. Folks ask, “Why don’t you go on an American boat?” Well when you are traveling and when you only have a short time to make a trip, you take just the boat that is sailing at that time, provided that it gets you there ahead of some one that might leave later. Now we have the “Dollar” line out that way, and they are great boats. But in most of my travels I have just been unfortunate in not having one sailing when I was ready to go. I move so fast and make up my mind so late that there is not much preperation about my trips. But they are all good. And when the weather is fine it’s great, but when she starts rearing, why brother I am diving overboard and heading for the land. I sure am a poor sailor.

We had a fine bunch on the Canada. We wasent out long before we all had kinder got acquainted. I think I wrote you one day about the Ambassador from Brazil who was on his way to his new post in Japan.1 He had been in Copenhagen, those guys have a great life. He had been for four years in Russia before the big war, then in Austria during the war. Then all over the place, he and his wife and two cute children. They move to Japan just about like we would think of moving across the street.

Then of course we had the old mysterious fellow on there about 76 years old, in this case. Nobody knows where he is going or why. The purser said he makes these trips often. And that one time at the Japanese immigration, they asked him what he was doing, he said he was going to buy ammunition for Manchuria. Well on account of Japan at that time annexing Manchuria that dident sound so “Hot.” But these mysterious ones are on every boat I ever saw. I think the lines have ’em along to keep the passangers amused and in arguments about who and what they are. This one had whiskers, that made him all the harder to dope out. We had quite a few Britishers, and of course saw more dress suits than we had seen in years. When that dinner bugle blows an Englishman is just like a fireman. He jumps for his dress shirt, pumps, and high collar, and he is ready for the blaze. But they look well in ’em, and you can’t blame ’em much. Maby if I dident look like a mule with a lovely horse blanket on, I might be right there within one.

Then there was an old gal on from Kansas City, she had prowled these oceans, said she just dident have anything else to do, that she only had at home her “Negro maid and a dog” and she would get tired looking at ’em, and have to leave. She knew everybody on the boat or off it. And everybody in Kansas City. Said she met me at Fred Harvey’s one night at Kansas City.2 She was a likable soul. Headed for China, and if the Chinese kidnap her, they will get what’s coming to ’em.

An English capitalist on here, that I had met on the boat one time from Hong Kong to Singapore, he was telling me about the Japanese manufacturing so many different things. He is in the chemicals and medicines, said he thought the British had the asparin trade sewed up, and here low and behold, comes along the Japanese one day and unloosed a mess of asparin. He seemed to think there was nothing that they wasent doing, and doing pretty good. And away underselling anyone else.

Well what can you do about it? You got to give ’em credit. We used to do it. Now we can’t, so we got no right to holler. Of course it’s with low wages, but there is India, you can’t get lower wages than they have there, and here the Japanese are underselling the British with cotton goods that they have bought in India, shipped away from there, manafactured it at home, then shipped it back, and undersell them. Well there must be some economical management in there somewhere, outside of wages, you can’t lay it all onto wages. You could eliminate the whole amount of the wage and then they could do it still. So they must just be doing the whole job in a mighty economical way. I doubt if any of their stock is on a market, and if the company managers and directors are getting any big cuts out of it.

Well anyhow that’s going into what they call economics, and when you go into them, you have entered the forest without an axe or a light or a compass. You just argue around in circles. The only thing you can go by is results, and the Japanese are getting ’em now. So that stops all the arguments right there. We don’t ever want to even try to compete with their cheap labor. So we have to figure out some other way to cut out costs. Anyhow I don’t know anything about it, I just happened to think of it. And I assure you I won’t do it again.

1Carlos Martins Pereira e Sousa, Brazilian ambassador to Japan.
2Frederick Henry “Fred” Harvey, American restauranteur who in 1876 opened the first of several rest and eating stops along railroad routes in the West. His establishments, known as “Harvey Houses,” were noted for good food, clean rooms, and excellent service.

Oct 21, 1934

AFTER THE BALL GAMES

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see here and there. I have found out this in the last couple of weeks, there is nothing in the world that people listen to, I mean as many people, as the World Series.

A football game is mostly sectional, and there is generally twenty big ones on in one afternoon, but the old World Series only comes once a year, and there is nothing to interfere with it, nothing that can interfere with it. Knowing that, I attended most of the games. That’s all I have been asked since the thing was over, “Say tell us about that riot in the last game?” “Is Diz really as hot as they say he is?”1 “Did Joe Brown shake hands with one of those big pitchers and squeeze it so hard the guy’s hands were crushed?”2 “What made Frankie Frisch put Dean in as a runner for anyhow?3 He is a pitcher.“

And these go on for hours.

Well it is a lot different to be there and see it, and then just hear it. But it is surprising, not only surprising but absolutely amazing how different people see different plays, and hear ’em describe ’em afterwards. Well maby it’s you that’s “Nuts” and not them, but anyhow one of you are out of step. Now for instance take the famous play where the kicking and attempted spiking was done. Now I sit right over about half way between home plate and third base in Mr Edsel and Henry Ford’s box, and from where we sit we certainly had that particular play right in our lap.4 Now here is a peculiar thing and I havent heard anybody else say it. I don’t think there was a play made there with the ball at all. The throw was cut off by the second baseman or shortstop. It was a three base hit and Medwick had his head down and naturally was expecting the throw to be made so he dived into the bag feet first.5

Now Owen was right there as though he was going to take the throw, but knew it wasent coming.6 Now I would like to hear from that. Was I trying to tell Mr Ford how to run his business when this play come up or am I right? I say the ball dident come to third base at all, that the coacher at third could have told him he needent slide, and that Owen in that case dident have to try to block his path. In that case there would have been no trouble at all. But Owen still held the line and Midwick dived into him and they both went down, they layed there piled up for just a moment and then is when Medwick suddenly made a quick kick kinder up and out at him, but with no chance of reaching him. It looked like a kind of a quick afterthought, with no idea of really kicking him.

I talked with both of ’em in their dressing rooms right after, and Medwick said he really dident mean anything, and he don’t know why he really did it, and that he offered to shake hands when they got up. I do know he felt terribly bad about it. Owen was very nice in his explanation of it. He said he fell across him reaching for the ball. Well then there must have been a ball there, and he ought to know. But by golly I just dident see the ball come clear to him. I got to ask old “Diz” about that. He knows everything.

Well it’s all over and I enjoyed every minute of it. In my early vaudeville days I used to get out and see a lot of ball games, or see part of ’em. (Depending when I was on the bill.) Then they were great theatre goers. They always come to the leading vaudeville theatre, generally in bunches, and I would know they were there and generally kid about them from the stage, and lots of times I would be stopping at the same hotel. They are a great bunch.

Then I have had on a uniform and “shagged” flys at practice in the mornings with the home team. Detroit was the town I remember doing that in. I knew all the old players, George Moriarity, the great third base of those days, was talking to me about it at the game.7 He was batting ’em to me. He run me ragged. Honey Boy George Evens was another comedian that used to go out for morning practice with ’em.8 The old Philidelphia National League boys was another I remember messing around with in the mornings. That was back in 1905-6-7-8. From then on I had got out of my country ways, and was too lazy to get up and practice in the mornings. I was a “Regular” actor by then.

One summer they turned all the ball parks into open air summer vaudeville. They would put in a movable stage about where home plate is, and they put in great lights, and the show would be held right there. Well I was booked on the whole circuit, Pittsburg, and the Red Sox park in Boston, and Philadelphia, and as we only showed at night we had nothing to do all day but be around with the ball players, then get my pony out at night, and Buck McKee who rode him for me, and run him by and I would rope him.9 And it was great to get to do it on the ground, and not on a stage, we had so much more room outdoors. I liked that work but the thing dident go so good, and of course all of us acts were just transferred back into the theatres instead, but I met and become acquainted with many a fine fellow. And lots of ’em I saw at the games. Everybody ought to see ’em. It keeps you young and interested.

1Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, pitcher for the Saint Louis Cardinals from 1932 to 1936; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953. The Cardinals met the Detroit Tigers in the World Series of 1934, the Cardinals winning the series in seven games.
2Joe Evan Brown, American comedian and screen star, noted for his extraordinarily wide mouth.
3Frank Francis Frisch, player-manager for the Saint Louis Cardinals from 1933 to 1937; inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947.
4Edsel Bryant Ford, only son of automotive pioneer Henry Ford. Edsel became president of the Ford Motor Company in 1919 and remained in that post until his death in 1943.
5Joseph Michael “Ducky” Medwick, professional baseball player with the Saint Louis Cardinals in the 1930s; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1968. Medwick, around whom controversy constantly swirled, bowled over the Tiger third baseman with a slashing slide in the seventh inning of the last game. When Medwick went to his position in left field, the Detroit fans showered him with food and debris.
6Marvin James “Marv” Owen, third baseman for the Detroit Tigers from 1931 to 1937.
7George Joseph Moriarty, professional baseball player who played for a number of teams, including the Detroit Tigers from 1909 to 1915; manager of the Tigers from 1927 to 1928.
8George “Honey Boy” Evans, American vaudevillian; female impersonator and blackface comedian and singer.
9For Buck McKee see WA 563:N 6.

Oct 28, 1934

COME AND HUNT THE COSMIC RAY!

This is an article on “Cosmic Rays.” You know what a cosmic ray is? Just what I thought. Well you just as well learn now for you are going to hear a lot about ’em now any day. You are going to wake up some morning and a big headline will be in the paper and won‘t be about Sinclair being elected, or “Dizzy Dean gets $ 1000 per batter to pitch.”1 It’s going to be about cosmic rays.

A cosmic ray, or cosmic rays, as they may be found in the plural, or bunches, or they may be located away off by themselvs. They are a possible new source of energy, they are about 45 thousand feet up in the air. To bring it down to the understanding of my lay readers; that’s about nine miles. Now anything to be nine miles away don’t mean much, especially if there is a good road and the old car is going good, but nine miles straight up, that’s about equal to 18 miles on the flat.

Cosmic rays —Well the fellow that explained ’em to me wasent any to plain. It’s sorter like the “Atom.” The atom is a thing that Brisbane is always explaining to us.2 He seems to think quite well of it. In fact I think he has recomended some of the stock for sale. He seems to think if they can split the atom, that it will do even better than it is. Well this cosmic ray is a sort of atom splitter.

Now with this good working knowledge of the cosmic ray that I have given you, I will go ahead now and describe the cosmic ray hunters. The ones I run onto was a man and a woman, in fact a wife. Their names are Mr and Mrs Jean Piccard.3 I was out with Mr Henry Ford one morning, hearing his school children sing. (And say they can sing) it’s a wonderful school. It’s held in his old time village.

Well these Piccards that crave these cosmic rays, are making preperations there at Mr Ford’s place to go on this cosmic rodeo. He is a brother of that one that went up over in Switzerland to about 10 miles, so you can’t blame this fellow too much as it’s a family trait.4 Well I had read about ’em, and heard about ’em, but I never had any idea I would ever be so fortunate as to meet ’em. But everybody drifts into Henry Ford’s sooner or later.

Well Mr Ford told me I ought to go over and see their machine. I thought maby he had made it on account of him bragging on it, but he hadent. It was a sort of a home made contraption. Course part of it is a baloon 175 feet high, with 105 feet diameter. It was just laying there in this hangar, but the thing is an iron basket or gondola. (That’s what they call it) I crawles into the thing at a hole in the top. I sure wouldent have stepped into the thing if it had been tied onto that blown up baloon. Well they tried to explain to me all the million and one little traps and instruments but here was the main thing that got me. When they go up they are just gone. They don’t know where they might light. They can’t control the direction. They say they can bring her down by letting out enough gas. They expect to perhaps to drift a thousand miles.

His wife is going with him. In fact she is sorter the pilot, that is if you can call a person that gets in a baloon and don’t know where it’s going a pilot. I would call ’em an adventurer, well she has her baloon license.

Otherwise she is an awful smart woman. She tried her best to make me sorter understand something of the nature of the trip, but it was all N.R.A. to me. She is a mighty brave woman to be cosmetic ray hunting away up there in the stratosphere. That’s a lining of air that hangs outside our world like a shirt.

I don’t think they figure on catching any rays. This is purely a pleasure jaunt in the interest of science, and not a commercial venture to capitalize on bringing any back. They are waiting for the right day, and the wind must be blowing the right way at the right height. They may be off before this reaches you, and I do hope they have a fine trip.

Nine miles up in an iron ball about 8 feet in diameter with the temprature 65 below zero. Oh yes and you have to have oxygen. They showed me how they regulated the oxygen in this little room, where they remain standing, for they will be too busy working and looking at various gadgets. They are mighty pleasant folks. The hardest part is the takeoff. There is so many things getting the baloon all properly filled with hydrogen gas. It was all out there on the aviation field where they will take off from, the same field where Harry, (I believe his name was Harry) Brooks looped the loop with me one time.5 I always think Mr Ford put him up to it. When he lost his life flying to Florida in about a two cylinder plane Mr Ford lost all interest in developing a small plane. Shows what sentiment a big man can have to entirely abandon something that his heart was set on. If these folks do take off you needent look up for ’em. You can’t see them, but they can’t see the earth. At nine miles away you couldent hit the earth with your hat.

If they get away with this this cosmic ray hunting is liable to become quite a sport. This friend of mine out here in Pasadena, Dr Milliken, had something to do with locating this cosmic ray “Gag” now that I am all mixed up in this science “Racket” I must go see him and we can exchange ideas on this product.6 Maby I can do for it what my good friend Brisbane has done for the atom. This science is quite a study. I had no idea there was so much to it.

1For Upton B. Sinclair see WA 603:N 7; for Dizzy Dean see WA 617:N 1.
2For Arthur Brisbane see WA 534:N 3.
3Felix Jean Piccard, Swiss-born Belgian chemist and aeronautical engineer who with his wife, Jeannette Ridlon Piccard, made several balloon ascents into the stratosphere.
4Auguste Piccard, Swiss-born Belgian physicist and balloonist; twin brother of Jean Piccard. In 1932 he ascended by balloon to an altitude of more than sixteen miles.
5Harry Brooks, young American test pilot for Ford Motor Company who was killed in 1928 while flying an experimental, one-passenger Ford “flivver” plane.
6Robert Andrews Millikan, American physicist; director of the Norman Bridge Laboratory of Physics at the California Institute of Technology from 1921 until his death in 1953; recipient of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1923.

Nov 4, 1934

INSPECTING HOOVER DAM

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see since I got back to “Cuckooland.”

Well it seems mighty good to be back and getting to work in the old movies again. We started off as soon as I got home making George Ade’s famous old story, “The County Chairman,” only we are laying the action of the story instead of Indiana, why we are putting it in the West, as we wanted to get some western and ranch atmosphere so we all bundled off up to Senora, California, on what we call “Location.”1 A great many of the company dident go because they dident happen to be in the scenes up there. But a regular movie crew since we have sound, (which makes it about twice as big and expensive as it used to be in the old days) it takes 50 or 75 people on a movie even if there is no actors at all.

Mrs. Rogers and I started in on one of our periodical little automobile jaunts. We went away up by Hoover Dam, that’s about 350 miles from Los Angles, and it’s the greatest sight in America today. I tell you you ought to get in your car and drive by there before it gets finished. It’s sure worth the trip and it’s got good roads coming in there from all ways. They are over two years ahead with the dam. They took us across and out and over and dropped us down into, and under and everywhere else in a cable and little platform arrangement, Mrs R dident know where she was going till she was away out over it. There is guys riding across there, (workmen) on little old gadgets, one has a sign on it saying it’s the “Flying Trapeze” and I bet it’s a kick on it. The thing that impressed me about this great dam was the amount of things they had to do that in reality have or never did have anything to really do with the dam; railroads to build, tunnels to dig. Some of ’em they needent have built. But they had no idea it would be this dry all these years. In fact if it don’t get wetter, maby they shouldent have built the dam, towns and water works away out on a desert.

Clara Bow’s ranch is the nearest to civilization, if you can call Clara’s and Rexes ranch that.2 Fellow up there named Crowe, he is a real engineer, and some great men under him.3 You know there is something about an engineer. That, just about next to the medical profession, makes ’em about the most worthy folks we got.

I can give you an idea how near the dam is finished. The various states have started fighting over the water. Even away up in Wyoming, and Colorado, and Utah. And states that never paid much attention to it as they dident think it would amount to anything. But now they see it will so they claim some of the water, or something. About the best way to claim water that comes from your state is to grab it off before it gets out of your state. It’s awful hard to get water back after it’s run down hill off your place, but it makes a good state arumnet, and gives some lawyers some work, and won’t take any water out of the dam. It’s going to be through in just about a year from now.

You know I found out something about this silt thing, you know what all us dumb ones been worrying about is, “Won’t the silt fill up the dam?” Now I know I built me a little dam on my place at Santa Monica, and the silt filled up faster than we could build the dam, and backed up further up the creek than the water did. So all our dam did was just level off the ground above the dam. We corralled no water. In fact we just seemed to lift the bed of the creek up so it could get over the dam better. The water thought we did it purposely so it could get out of there easier. But about this Boulder Dam, I know there is lots of you wondered about the same thing I did, the silt. Now here is what Mr Ayres, one of the main engineers explained to me.4 As the water fills back up from the dam, that stops the silt. Silt won’t wash down only as far as the water is washing. The minute the flowing water strikes the standing water at the upper part of the dammed water why it settles right there. It don’t wash on down. Well as the water from the dam in this one is to be backed up for a distance of 100 miles why the silt will stop one hundred miles back from the dam, of course it will kinder slowly fill in there but they estimate that it will be 150 years before it would fill in enough up there to do any damage. And by that time, the government will have found a substitute for dams, or the Republicans will be back in, and it won’t matter anyhow. These catastrophes when they only come every 150 years don’t hurt us much. Well that’s about all I know about the dam that you can’t find out in regular chamber of commerce folders. That silt was what was causing the worry all over the country, and I feel I have done a public service and earned a vacation.

1George Ade, Indiana humorist, newspaper columnist, author, and playwright whose works include The County Chairman (1903) and The College Widow (1904).
2Clara Bow, American silent screen actress whose sexuality and vivaciousness made her one of the most popular stars of the 1920s. Rex Bell, American motion-picture cowboy star of the 1930s, husband of Clare Bow, and lieutenant governor of Nevada.
3Francis Trenholm Crowe, Canadian-born American civil engineer; general superintendant in charge of construction of Boulder (later Hoover) Dam from 1931 until its completion in 1935.
4Mr. Ayres is unidentifiable. Alexander Haines, a New Hampshire-born engineer, was the chief engineer from 1931 to 1936 for the general contracting firm on the Boulder Canyon project.

Nov 11, 1934

THE OLD SOUTH

Well all I know is just what I read in the mail. We turned out a little movie here a short time ago, and from reports it seemed to be pretty good, that is for mine. And the reports were that we had fairly got into the atmosphere of the South. We thought Irvin Cobb did a fine job, and that John Ford who directed did another fine one, and that Henry Walthall was superb, and an actor named Landau was great.1 Well, just as I was sorter grinning a satisfied grin, why I get this.

It’s from a lady who signs herself ______ ______ daughter of a southerner, from St. Petersburg, Fla.

“When one who is all southern goes to the theater to see you play in a supposedly southern play, a story depicting the old South, and comes out of that theater resolved never to see you play again, what is wrong? Judge Priest is far, very far, from being a true picture of the South of that period that it depicts (or any other period). Our feelings are hurt that you should be so misled as to think you were interpreting a southern jurist.

“If Mr. Irvin Cobb wrote that story as it was presented, then Mr. Cobb is not a true southerner. The negroes kept, and still do, their places as servants, respectful and obedient, never appearing in public except in caps and aprons (in other words, uniforms); the women with clean dresses, caps and aprons, the men wearing a white coat, all the time keeping a respectful silence. The south of that day was known for its culture, and I know not in history of a southern jurist manifesting so great ignorance as Judge Priest manifested.

“You played the part excellently but you did not understand the South and only southern men, and southern women should play the parts portraying life in the ‘Old South’ as they only understand the South.

“Judge Priest’s sister-in-law was also a travesty, a woman who held the social position of the sister-in-law of Judge Priest was usually a gentle refined woman of understanding. Even though she were haughtly she would always be gentle. It’s a pity those who do not know anything about the ‘Old South’ should assign you to a part that is destined to ruin you with the southern people.

“Should you live in the South among real genuine southern people you would agree with me, I know. There are many in the South who will continue to enjoy you in the pictures, who will understand that you have been misled as to the South. But something should be done to redeem that false picture of the South. I should suggest that the play be presented again with a cast of all southerners, then there would be a different interpretation.

“We like you, Mr. Rogers, but we think you have the wrong opinion of us. Sincerely yours, ______ ______, daughter of a southerner, St. Petersburg, Fla.”

Now there is lots of ways to treat that. I could start in by kidding about it. But it’s a lovely letter, it’s printed word for word for word, with the deletion of one of two rather flattering personal illusions to me. And the letter deserves I think an answer in the same spirit as meant. I myself would like to see it played by real Southerners. I was raised in the Indian Territory. (My father fought with the famous Stan Waite Regiment for the Confedracy), and if this lady will look at her map, she will notice that Okla, which was then Ind. Ter., lays south of the Mason and Dixon Line.2 So I am not the daughter of a Southerner, but I am the son of one, and I am like her if it’s to be done over again, it should be written by a man further south than Paducah, Kentucky.

There is just one little hitch about doing it all with Southerners as she suggests. You couldent have any villan, or mean parts, for they would have to be Northerners, for no real true Southerners would ever be mean, or a villan, so you would have to bring in a couple of Yankees for those. I tried to get old Step-and-Fetchit to not speak in public, but we figured he wouldent be unerstood anyhow, so we just let him go ahead, and that I know was a breach of the old Southern etiquette.3 Now there is only one thing in the whole leter that I think the criticism was not justified and that was about my sister-in-law. She said that all the Southern women would always be “Gentle.” Now right there, as much as I hate to enter into any controversy with some one I know is a lovely lady, but that “Continually” being gentle stuff among all the women?

Now here is another way I got mixed up with the South in addition to both my parents being born and raised there, and me too. I married one of ’em. Now I wouldent be gallant, and I wouldent be just, and I wouldent be a southern gentleman if I dident pay my wife a lovely, a deserved compliment, but I have seen her when she could have been “Gentler.” And then compared to some other Southern women I have known, my wife is plum “Gentle.”

Women, even Southern women, are a good deal like a horse, they are gentle as long as you handle one gentle. But you start roughing ’em up!

But a good dose of legitimate criticism does us good, and I want to thank this lovely lady and I will see that she gets the sister-in-law part in all the Southern Productions.

1For Henry B. Walthall see WA 602:N 1. David Landau, American motion-picture character actor who made thirty-two films in a brief career from 1931 to 1934.
2For this and all further references to Clement Vann Rogers see WA 578:N 2; for Stand Watie see WA 600:N 6.
3Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrews Perry, “Stepin Fetchit,” black American comedian who appeared in several motion pictures with Rogers, including Judge Priest.

Nov 18, 1934

A BIRTHDAY BRINGS
LOTS OF THOUGHTS

Well all I know is just what I read in the mail. Got an awful lot of birthday greetings couple of weeks ago, I was kinder letting the thing slide by, and had even forgotten it, but they won’t let you. They want to remind you how old you are getting, and too you would be surprised at the amount of people that was born on that very day, Nov 4th, ’79. Along on that date in ’79, must have been quite a day for births.

But I was mighty glad to hear from all of ‘em, and we can console each other on reaching such a ripe old age; I am going to start in demanding a little more respect. You take a dignified fellow that’s arrived at 55 years of age, and “Hello, there’s old Bill,” and “Look at that old guy Rogers over there.” Well that’s all got to stop. From now on there is going to be some “Mr Rogers” used. My hair is arriving at a sort of a blend that it deserves respect if nothing else. A greying head is a mark of respect in any land, so you guys cut out this rough uncouth stuff. You are speaking to a gentleman of the old school. The school of 79 sah.

One fellow was telling me; “I think you are kinder spreading some propaganda to get in on this old age pension.” You know they are going to have that. That’s going to be the very next thing. It’s advocated by practically everybody and it would be the grandest thing we ever had. It would be a great mental relief to millions and millions of old folks. There is nothing more terryfying than that thought of facing the future with nothing to carry on with. I don’t know where they will get the money. Take it out of increased income tax, ah, there is a thousand taxes that other countries have that we havent touched yet. Why a match, and a salt tax in many countries are the biggest things they have, India almost has war with England every year over the salt tax. And luxuries? Why we havent started taxing them yet. But I dident write this to get started off on any economic theory. I havent got any, but I sure do want to see an old age pension, if we have to print the money for it.

I started in to tell you about my mail here. Here is a awful nice letter from an Ames Agricultural College graduate, that brought out old “Blue Boy” to California and Hollywood.1 This was a great boy. He is now at Osage Iowa, working as a county agent. Fine a lad as ever lived. Old “Blue Boy” died last year. The studio had given him to me and he eat me out of house and home, and I give him to the California Agriculture School at San Louis Obispo.

Here is a letter from Rex Beach.2 Rex lives down in Florida, and in addition to being one of the most constant best authors in America, he is an expert farmer, got a great celery plantation, does it scientifically. Rex and Professor Hamilton Holt of the famous liberal college, Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida.3 Rex is an old alumni. They want to give me a degree, (a kind of a non paying old age pension). Now what in the world would I be doing with a degree? A lot of guys that earned ’em don’t know what to do with ’em, much less me that wouldent know what one was. They gave Fred Stone one. Well he deserved it. I can think of a hundred reasons why he should be knighted.

Oh yes here is some Daughters of the Confederacy that want to make Irvin Cobb and I a couple of honorary daughters. Cobb was up at my house last night in a kimona arrangement. He is just about ready for some “She” decoration. This was in return for his splendid story of Judge Priest. He has got a new one, and it’s better than that, up to date.

Talked Finnland the other night, and here is a lot of nice letters.4 Those Finns are the most appreciative people, in fact all the countries are. Here is a banker, J. Rowland, from Youngstown, Ohio, who wrote before this last election and says that it is Roosevelt and not the bankers that are in the “Dog House” as I said.5 He knows more now that he did before November 6th.

A note from Sam Fordyce, St Louis pet politician.6 Amon Carter of Ft Worth Texas sent me a saddle from some South American Republic on his flying trip clear around South America.7 I hear the next Democratic Convention is to be held in Dallas. I am glad to hear it. She deserves it. It’s a great town. Amon will perhaps go back to South America. Governor Rytti of the bank of Finnland, is in this country, and wrote and thanked me.8 Charley Wagner, my old concert manager, has got the itch again, thinks the country is ripe for one of those long winded concert tour talks of mine.9 No, I am going to let the country alone. It’s had enough trouble without me adding to it. Thanks for the offer, Charley. Thanks for the wire, Malcolm Stevenson, the internaional polo player.10 Here is one telling about the record of the American Airways, from Los Angeles to Ft Worth, and from there to Chicago, with their first new Douglas. They ramble, those babies. I also have the good news here of the terrific hit Fred Stone made in his new show in New York. Things are looking up since election. I tell you if they would just quit having those things we never would have hard times.

1For Blue Boy see WA 539:N 1. The letter writer, Martin G. Frabricious of Iowa, delivered Blue Boy to California.
2Rex Ellingwood Beach, American novelist and miscellaneous writer, noted for his rough-hewn portrayals of life in Alaska. Rogers’ first motion picture, Laughing Bill Hyde (1918), was based on one of Beach’s novels.
3Hamilton Holt, American educator and newspaper editor and owner; president of Rollins College from 1925 to 1949.
4Rogers commented at length on Finland during his weekly nationwide radio broadcast on November 4, 1934.
5John R. Rowland, president of Mahoning National Bank at Youngstown, Ohio, from 1924 to 1946; chairman of the board from 1946 until his death in 1948.
6For Samuel W. Fordyce, Jr., see WA 584:N 3.
7For Amon G. Carter see WA 547:N 2.
8Risto Heikki Ryti, governer of the Bank of Finland; premier of Finland from 1939 to 1944.
9Charles L. Wagner, American impresario who managed theatrical, musical, and vaudeville performers, including Will Rogers.
10Malcolm Stevenson, champion American poloist of the 1920s; member of the American squad that defeated the national teams of Great Britain in 1924 and 1927 and Argentina in 1928.

Nov 25, 1934

THE SCARE SEASON IS OVER

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Been buckling down pretty hard at the old studio, after prowling around all over for so long. I had to make a lot of faces at the old camera. Movie business feels pretty good now.

They had a couple of scares here lately. They are the darndest people to get up a scare. Here you remember not long ago they were all so excited over the fact the churches were going to make ’em clean up. Well you would have thought that they had been told there wasent going to be any more film made, that they had run out of the stuff they make it out of. Well they lived through it, and are just doing fine, and it’s all forgotten about. But they sure did take it serious for awhile. Then right about the time they could go to bed without looking under it, along come the scare of Sinclair being elected.1 Well they was off again. The business was to be ruined, they was going to have to move to Florida, or Claremore, or some other place. Well in the first place the fellow wasent going to be elected, and the next place he maby dident intend to ruin the business, and in the third place he couldent have done all these things if he had wanted too. You have to have a legislature with you. Huey Long is the only one that can do things with no advice, help, or visible aid from anybody but Huey.

But now we are over all the scares, and everybody is working hard, and are happy. California says they are in for quite a little better times, and I guess it’s like it is everywhere else, they are feeling a lot better.

This election changed a lot of folks’ idea on things. They have kinder become reconsiled to the fact that the folks are not so excited about this great debt that is being piled up as they thought they were. Course there is lots of ’em that think we are just so far in debt that there will never be any head above water again, but the most of ’em seem to think that it’s not so terrible. This thing of worrying about what our grand children are going to have to pay, well most folks say, “Well our children seem to think they are smarter than we are, so if they are, the chances are that their children will be smarter than they are, so if they are that smart why maby they can think of some substitute for money that they can pay off their national debt with, and they will wonder why we dident have a bigger one. Maby we won’t print the money but they will, so what difference does it make to us?”

Why I had the most surprising thing the other day I was reading in Time magazine that in Iowa during the election they had voted an old age pension, and in order to pay it all the tax payers had to do was to pay two dollars a year, everybody who is of age. Now can you imagine that every old person in the state gets a pension, if everybody else will pay only two dollars a piece.

Why there is dozens of great humitarian things that could be done at a very little cost, if the tax was properly applied. It’s the waste in government that gets everybody’s goat. I see now Borah is after ’em on a lot of that. Now I don’t know how you all feel about Bill Borah but I think he is just about one of our biggest men. He is a great fellow is Bill Borah, and he can put the finger right on many a festering place. And I think you will see an investigation and they will cut out a lot of that.

Course the way we do things, always have done things, and always will do things, there just has to be so much graft. We wouldent feel good if there wasent. We just have to get used to charging so much off to graft just like you have to charge off so much for insurance, or taxes, or depreciation. It’s a part of our national existence that we just have become accustomed to.

It will be very interesting to see just what the new Congress does do, or rather it will be very interesting to see what it is he has thought up for them to do, for I guess no bunch of men ever come to a Congressional mess hall with any less idea of what they was going to order to eat. They are all just coming and saying, “Well I had no idea I would be allowed to order myself. I just figured I come and sit down, and I eat what they bring me. Why I dident know I would be asked to order.”

But I expect that’s the best way after all. You can look at half the guy’s stomachs in the world, and you can see they don’t know how to order for themselvs.

1For Upton B. Sinclair see WA 603:N 7.

Dec 2, 1934

A CHILD AND A ROYAL WEDDING

Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. I just picked up a last Sunday’s paper, last Sunday mind you, and I was surprised to see the things in it that are still hanging on. There was a lot of comment then about the Vanderbilt child, and there is yet.1 Can you imagine the child coming home from one place to the other and then the so called subtle questions, “Have a good time dear. You dident have as good time as you do here did you? I bet it feels good to you to be back home don’t it?”

Why say, the poor kid will be so showered with attentions, one trying to outdo the other. But the judge said that was the way, and he knows best. Never dispute the baseball umpire, the movie director, or the judge.

Well here in last Sunday’s paper was Japan and dissarmament. It’s been a week now, and not a thing has been settled. Japan says we want this, America says you can’t have that. England sits there and plays both ends against the middle. When I was in Japan and Manchuria away last summer they all said that Japan was just trying to make an alliance with England. That is fix so that whatever she, (Japan) might start, they could count that England while not maby actively agreeing to help her, she would at least not help the other side. Like the old negro story, if you can’t hep me for God sake don’t you help that bear. And that case they meant that bear too, that Russian bear. Or that eagle. Well England can tie up with Japan if she wants to if she thinks she would rather have Japan in her corner than us. She has had us in her corner once, and maby she thinks she can do better with somebody else the next time. Maby we was a disappointment.

Well that’s any nation’s privalege, and this is new signing up time. Everybody is a free lance now, and can hustle out and do the best they can in the new alliances. You will find England using mighty good judgement. She has men that are trained from the cradle up to do nothing only study what to do when a situation arises. Some guy is not a high place there just because he dug up $50,000 for the campaign. He is attending conferences because he knows something, not because he has something. And I don’t think they will throw us over any too quick. Maby we are not all that could be desired, but we will do till something better come along.

Course the big wedding in England was big news and the paper was full of what was happening.2 Well it’s still full of it. King Carol was pretty sore on account of not receiving an invite.3They picked all around him, but muffed him. Well I don’t know, but I think that was a sort of dirty dig. He is not a bad sort of a fellow from what they all say over there in his own country, and he is doing a pretty good job. You see he is not so fortunate as the King of England. Carol has to think of what to do and say himself. His power is more than just social. Say he is right in the heat of things. Course the English plan is the best, like a lot of their plans are the best. They have a great king, and a great royal family all the way through, and they know just what they are to do, and they do it, and no more.

I imagine that it is the best of systems. It must be for it’s worked for many years. There is a great loyalty, and great devotion over there, and it’s never been misstreated by the receivers. There is not a well trained servant in England that knows his place any more than royalty does in England. They would no more monkey with affairs of state than an English butler would monkey with slang. But old Carol he has to double in brass. He has to do the whole thing himself, and dodge bulletts in between. Then too he would have been a big drawing card at the wedding. He would have been a hit with the ladies anyhow.

Well it must be a mess telling who to invite in a situation like that. I bet you there has been times when the King and Queen of England wishes that the couple had run off to a justice of the peace and got married and saved all this trouble and worry. Either that or just invited everybody, and just served a box lunch.

Do you know I read what this was going to cost them. It was not less than $100,000. And they (the King and Queen) have to pay it themselvs. If it was the Prince of Wales, or the oldest daughter, why the government would have to pay it, but for these third and fourth sons, why they have to get them off themslvs.4 They say they don’t like for them to marry a “Commoner” but I bet you they wish he had, a wedding to a “Commoner,” why they don’t rate very high in the social order. Then the commoner has generally got the money, so that helps. But it is a wonderful match. He seems a fine boy, and her a lovely girl, a fine wholesom type of girl. It’s one of those things where there is lots of money spent, but it’s distributed all over the country, and a wedding is a thing that appeals to everybody, we all heartily approve of it, and wish them a long and useful life.

1Gloria Laura Morgan Vanderbilt, ten-year-old heiress to a vast American railroad fortune, was the subject of an exhaustive two-year guardianship struggle between her widowed mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, and her late father’s sister, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. the aunt won the court battle, which finally ended in 1935 when Mrs. Vanderbilt was declared an unfit mother.
2Prince George, the duke of Kent and fourth son of the ruling house of the British empire, married Princess Marina of the exiled royal family of Greece in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey on November 29, 1934.
3Carol II, king of Romania from 1930 to 1940. Carol was well-known for his extramarital activities.
4For this and all further references to the Prince of Wales see WA 542:N 3.