Will Rogers' Weekly Articles

January 3 - March 28, 1926

January 3, 1926


Well all I know is just what I see in the Papers and what I see as I prowl over this vast Commonwealth.

When I wrote you last week I was away up in Boston watching Elinora Sears do some “Hoofing it” and listening to “Mellie” Dunham haul a mean bow across the old Maine Strad-I-Various.1Well, I popped off out into Worcester and Springfield, Mass. Had a great time. Those are two great old towns.

Got back into Symphony Hall in Boston. Can you imagine me appearing at Symphony Hall in Boston? From the Stock yards at Claremore, Oklahoma, to Symphony Hall, Boston! Me, with my Repertoire of 150 words (most of them wrong), trying to enlighten the descendants of the Cod. But they were fine. Say, you come right down to it, that Intelligence and culture thing is a lot of Applesauce. Ford Jokes got over bigger there than in Waco, Texas. Just one old boy there that thought we were “desecrating” their temple of Art by causing laughter in it.

We had been out 75 nights all over the country and everybody had been wonderful to us. Hadn’t received an adverse notice. So this was our last night of the tour. Well, this old Soul is a Musical Critic. Now can you imagine yourself raising your son up to be a “Male” Musical Critic? If one of my boys ever starts shedding off to be a Male Musical Critic the rope that I have played with for life will be put to some practical use. Now you can imagine about how much Humor a man to take up a thing like that must have. His name is Parker. 2

He writes under the initials of H.T.P. He didn’t want to drag the old family name down into the dregs of Journalism. He was named for the Parker House (which they just tore down). He was sore at our Quartette because there was only four of them in it.3 Having a trained musical ear, why naturally my jokes were “Off Key” most of the time. The ones on Mr. Coolidge. “The diction was poor.” My “selections were extremely bad.” For instance, I had a lot of stuff on Football. Well, that was my own dumbness, I will admit. I should have known better than to talk FOOTBALL near Harvard, where they don’t know anything about it. You see, a lot of the times these critics are right, and he was then.

I told about changing trains early one morning this fall in a little old town down in Kentucky. We got off there and looked over and there was an old brick warehouse, and on it in great big white letters was painted “CENTER COLLEGE 6, HARVARD 0, 1921.” Well, what a kick I got out of that! Here it was Danville, Kentucky, the home of Center College, the birthplace of the wonderful football team called the “Praying Colonels.” When the football team left for Harvard to play they didn’t have any substitutes. They couldn’t have any. They didn’t have any more Students. There was no Student Body in that School to meet or cheer the Team. The team WAS the student body. Well sir, there is just enough of the under dog spirit in me to get a kick out of a thing like that. When a little “Corn on the Cob” College away off down here in these hills, with 11 players and a Coach, could go up there and beat a wonderful Institution like Harvard who brought a Football off the Mayflower with them! Why, the Goal Posts in the Harvard Stadium cost more than all three of the buildings at Center College! Well, I told them all this, about what I had seen, and the audience got quite a kick out of it too, because a lot of them had never been any nearer Harvard than I had, even if they did live right there in Boston. But this old Critic had learned his first “Criticizing” right there at old Harvard. He wasn’t so wrapped up in music that he couldn’t detect that a little ribaldry was being directed toward the old “Alma Mater.” You know it’s been said that “when you graduate from Harvard or Yale it takes the next 10 years to live it down, and the next 40 to try to forget it.” Well, he thought my “High Register” was on the bum, and my “Low Registered Notes, had no roundness to them.” Even my “resonance” was in the wrong place.

I thought at first he was criticizing my “Residence.” I am glad he didn’t do that, because that is one thing I would get sore at. I like the places I live at and there is no Musical Critic can tell where I should Residence. I will send him some SOUR Bon Bons if he does. But complaining of my “Resonance”; that’s all right till I find out what it means, and I may even have a complaint at that. He said my Jokes had lost the Sting to ’em that they used to have; that they had mellowed. That’s not my fault. The prominent men are not as bad as they used to be. I am glad to report that through my criticism they are slowly improving. Either that, or we are just getting more used to them.

There seemed to be no particular complaint against the ones on Seaboard football lacking the old Zip. He said Red Grange and I should both return to where we come from, Me to the Follies where a full House awaited me instead of a scant gathering, and Red to Lecture Hall.4

Now I don’t know anything about Red’s business (he seems to be paying some men to take care of that). I haven’t heard of Red in a Break Line anywhere, and ever since he left College he has had a Bill Folder in his hand instead of an Ice Tong. Red needs a Rockefeller’s or a Morgan’s advice now more than he does a Musical Critic.5 You see Parker, you are capable of criticizing Red’s and My voices, because I don’t think Red ever made the All-American Quartette. I don’t think he was picked for any position on the Urbana Glee Club, not even a second string Ukalalee Player. But Red does WARBLE through a mean broken field if you hand him a Football and tell him to take it from here to yonder.

Furthermore, you have never seen him; he has never been to Boston.

Now as for me and the full house at the Follies, I grant you that. They are there whether I am there or not. In fact they say the show has done better this year than ever. But when the Follies has a full House Mr. Ziegfeld GETS the dough.6 He has 150 people to pay. While with our little troop we don’t need much.

But we didn’t do so bad. Those other people all paid. Your seat was about the only free one. It’s the old gag; people that pay for things never complain.

It’s the guy you give something to that you can’t please.

Anyway, Parker, I am kinder like Charley Chaplin; I don’t want to earn too much money. There is an Income Tax in this Country. I don’t know whether a MALE Musical Critic knows it or not. And it don’t do us much good to make a lot of money anyway. So if we only have 10 in our audiences I am just tickled to death. I know they come to see me and not the Girls.

You see Parker, most papers on this Tour have had their Musical critic review the Quartette and their Dramatic Critic reviewed my part of the show.

So I can readily understand your handicap, you were just taking in too much territory. It would be like sending an artist out to look at a Rembrandt for someone, and then at the last minute asking him to stop on the way back and see what Farmer Jones’ yearlings looked like they were worth.

In short, Parker, when you looked me over you were “slumming.” In other words the old Tradition got to working. But you unconsciously paid me a Bear of a compliment when you said “Will is a small town Actor.”

You bet your life I am small town. I am smaller than that, I am NO town at all, and listen, that is what I am going to stay is Small Town. Coolidge is even smaller town than I am, and I have heard of no impeachment proceedings being launched against him. Not that I am comparing myself with Calvin. But at that the same jokes you thought “were pitched too high”; he laughed at ’em, the ones on himself, too. Now who are we going to believe, You or Cal? (You will pardon me if I don’t hesitate over the selection, won’t you?) I’ll take Cal’s.

I went from Boston to New York, where I appeared at a High class Breakfast Musicale at the Plaza Hotel. Old Small Town Boy in wrong again, Parker. They laughed too. Great audience, just like Boston, only full house. Mr. Ziegfeld was there, and I told him about you in Boston. He said, “did he get you too?” He was tickled to death. He said, “The Follies have been wrong for 20 years, according to him. That guy didn’t like Lincoln.”

I don’t want you to think this is a lot of sour grapes, for a percentage of one out of 75 ain’t bad. Besides, you handed me this good Article, so you were really more concerned in my financial future than you thought. So bless your old soul, Parker. I bet if I met you we would like each other fine. Because in your own heart you couldn’t blame an old Country boy for wanting to finally get into the Symphony Hall of Boston, and I am broadminded enough to see your angle too. It’s your pet; it’s your life’s work. You want to see only the best in there. You have high ideals for it, and I don’t blame you. It is beautiful.

But listen, we have played in 30 this fall bigger and better. Hibbing, Minnesota, (now find that if you can) has one that cost six and one half million dollars. That’s more than the Boston Conservatory of Music cost. So you see you shouldn’t get sore at me for being in there. These other Towns might take it up, you see. They got the same kick coming. Now when I come back up there next year—because the manager thought we were pretty good. He said he had had worse in there, but when I asked him what he couldn’t remember them.

You are the first man I am going to look up, and I bet you we have a good dinner and we will kill off that old Indigestion of yours, and I will have a lot of good jokes against Yale, and maybe Harvard will have won a game in that time and you will be feeling good. But give me credit for one thing, Parker. Wasn’t that English of mine the Worst that was ever spoken in that Hall?

1For Eleanora Sears see WA 159: N 1; for Mellie Dunham see WA 159: N 2.
2Henry Taylor Parker, American drama and music critic on the staff of the Boston Transcript from 1905 until death in 1934.
3For The de Reské Singers see WA 153: N 4.
4For Red Grange see WA 152: N 5.
5For John D. Rockefeller, Sr., see WA 153: N 2. John Pierpont Morgan, Jr., chairman of the board of J. P. Morgan & Company, one of the most influential banking firms in the world.
6For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 117: N 11.

January 10, 1926


Now, I would advise you not to read this Article. You are just wasting your time, and again it will just make you about half sore.

I doubt if there is five people in the United States that will agree with me on what I am going to tell you in here.

I know you will say, “What’s the idea of writing a crazy thing like that then?” Well, I will tell you why. All you hear in Washington and all you can read about in the papers is “Cutting down the taxes.” Everybody is howling, “Cut the taxes.”

I was in Washington a few weeks ago, and as I came into the Willard Hotel to have breakfast one morning I met and sit down and had breakfast with Charley Dawes’ brother Rufus Dawes, a man that has held some very high Government positions along financial advice lines.1 We of course got to talking taxes. Nobody ever had breakfast in Washington without either talking Taxes or one telling the other about President Coolidge coming home from Church and his wife (who didn’t go) asking him the text. He said, “Sin.“ She said “What did he say about it?” The President remarked, “He was again it.” That story of course you get with each meal. It’s running Taxes a close second for national conversation.

Well, this Dawes is a mighty pleasant fellow, and I happened to spill my tax ideas to him. He said to me “You ought to talk to Mellon.2 That’s just along Mellon’s ideas. If it wasn’t for the lack of Politics of it.”

So that got me kinder swelled up, I says to myself, gee if I am thinking along the same line as Mellon, I don’t think so bad of my thoughts. So that is what give me the encouragement to tell you my tax plans. Mellon of course can’t tell you, because he is in Politics. (Not because he wants to be, but because he happens to be.) But I tell you because I am not in Politics.

Now, when I tell you that if I was running the Government, there would be no lowering of Taxes, you know now a Comedian is crazy.

President Coolidge says that we are just approaching an era of prosperity. Everybody generally admits (with a few exceptions, of some businesses) that we are better off than we ever were in our lives, yet we owe a National debt of almost 30 Billions of dollars. (That’s Billions, Bub, not millions.

I would write it out, but I haven’t got enough paper.)

We owe more money than any Nation in the World, and WE ARE LOWERING TAXES. When is the time to pay off a debt if it is not when you are doing well? All Government statistics say that 70 percent of every dollar paid in the way of taxes goes to just the keeping up of Interest and a little dab of amortization of our National Debts. In other words, if we didn’t owe anything our taxes would only be less than one third what they are today. Well, if two thirds of what you pay goes to keeping up just Interest, why don’t we do our best to try and cut down the principal, so it will lower that tremendous interest?

We howl and holler about why don’t Europe pay? Why don’t we pay ourselves?

Now here is what I can’t savvy. Why is it that one of us, in fact all of us will work and save, and stint all our lives. For what? Why, to leave something to our children. When we die, we want everything we have left clear and unencumbered. We will break our necks to leave them without a single debt. In fact we won’t die if we can help it till we get out of debt for their sake.

Now that is what we will do as individuals, BUT when it comes to COLLECTIVELY, why it looks like we will break our neck to see HOW MUCH we can leave them owing.

In other words, why don’t we cut our National and State and Municipal debt down as much as we try to cut down our personal one? Now they are making one slash of taxes of 350 million dollars. Now will you tell me why, with prosperity going like it is now that we couldn’t pay the same taxes this year we did last, and apply that 350 million on the national debt and help get rid of some of that 70 percent that goes out of each dollar we pay in as overhead.

Every Industry and business in the world have rushed battalions of Experts and Lobbyists to Washington the last few months just to show the Government that theirs was the very Industry that was “just RUINED by the taxes, and wouldn’t they please take them off theirs and put them on something else.”

Will you tell me any good reason (OUTSIDE OF POLITICS) why Taxes should be lowered this year? I know it’s good politics to lower taxes. In fact, did you ever figure it out Taxes is all there is to Politics? I bet you tomorrow if you started a Political Party and had this as its platform, “No taxes are to be paid at all. We will borrow money on our National resources for all current expenses.

Remember the Slogan. No Taxes as long as we can borrow.” Well I will bet you you would have the biggest Political party in America. Now on the other hand, start a Society on the following platform: “Everybody try to borrow all you can personally, and save up nothing. Leave your children plenty of debts.” Say you wouldn’t get 10 to join that. You would be arrested for being crazy. But you will let the coming Generation pay 70 percent (of each dollar they pay in) just for what you borrowed during your Generation. Our children shouldn’t pay for the wooden ships we tried to build during the war, and the millions of dollars we spent on aviation that didn’t aviate, and the Hog Islands that REALLY HOGGED us. That was not the coming generation’s fault. They will have their own wars to look after, without paying for ours.

You know Americans have been getting away pretty soft up to now. Every time we needed anything, why it was growing right under our nose.

Every natural resource in the world, we had it. But with them getting less, and debts getting more, there is going to be some work going on in this country some day. We will have prosperity and get along fine now for a couple of years and then something will happen and we won’t be doing so well. Well then they will raise the taxes again, but they will wait till we ain’t doing very well.

Seventy percent, that’s $700 out of every $1000 you pay in, going for Interest and back debts, and only $300 for running expenses.

Now I would like to hear from the five that agree with this plan of mine, if there is five. Write to me in care of this newspaper. I am also going to get Secretary Mellon’s personal opinion on it, if he thinks it’s a good scheme, as Mr. Dawes said he knew he would. Why, I am willing to string along with Andy’s judgment, even if I don’t get the other five.

Mind you, I would not advise anybody to run for office on that platform.

It would be as bad as Davis running on honesty.3 Where would common business sense get? No Sir, you let a Politician return home from Washington and announce, “Boys we lowered your taxes. We had to borrow the money to do it, but we did it.” Say, they would elect him for life. While me on my platform would be thrown to the wolves as an infidel. I am out here in California, and next week I will tell you about the big Football Game, Alabama vs Oregon.

1For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9. Rufus Cutler Dawes, Chicago public utility executive who served as an adviser to the international commission in 1924 that evolved the Dawes Plan for payment of war reparation debts.
2For AndrewW. Mellon see WA 124: N 5.
3For JohnW. Davis see WA 122: N 2.

January 17, 1926


Well, all I know is just what I observe as I flit from one end of our great Commonwealth to another. Since I held consul with you all last I am out here in Old California, where I have spent Xmas and New Years with old friends and all the Rogers troop. Closed our fall Concert Tour at Boston, and will open again soon at Daytona, Florida. We will move the cots out of the public Auditoriums down there, including Palm Beach, Miami, Jacksonville and all of them, and tell the Northerners of the delights of California.

I feel sure that by advancing them transportation I can get the entire population of Florida to come to California. We just want to give them a treat. Just imagine when they step off the trains here and see a million people in one town, all with houses to live in, nobody sleeping in the streets or automobiles, everybody just going casually about their business, nobody trying to sell the other fellow anything. No embargo on anything being shipped into the state.

Nobody wants anything that is raised or made outside this State. There is an embargo, however, on a great many products being shipped out of the state. There is so much stuff raised here that it is not hardly fair to other states to have California supply everything.

But I feel that I will really enjoy the trip down there into Florida. I know the people who live in New York City that don’t mind going to Brooklyn. I don’t care how good anything is, you want a change sometimes, so I will go down and slum around in their state and see what they have got.

I had quite a unique experience when I ordered my Railway Transportation the other day. I found that I was the first Ticket that had been sold from California to Florida in 5 years. The Ticket man had to look it up on some old maps to see where Florida was. Then, on the other hand, Florida people coming here would be handicapped on account of the Altitude. You see, Los Angeles must be 150 or 200 feet above sea level, and you take people that have been used to living below the ocean, this altitude would get ’em sure. So I am going down to Florida and look the whole thing over, and if they have anything I am going to give ’em credit, but I doubt if I will have to.

The Governor has sent me word that he wants to welcome me to the State. Well, that’s better than California’s has ever done. In fact I don’t know who is Governor out here. But everybody has heard of Governor John W. Martin of Florida, and I am looking forward to him showing me all the worth while places.1 Then I will go off by myself and see the ones he don’t want me to see.

Never look at a town with one of its prominent citizens and think you have seen the place. You have just seen what he wants you to see. I always get me a Taxi and go “prowling.” I just received a Book from Florida written by two very brilliant Newspaper men, Frank Stockbridge and John Perry.2 It’s called, “Florida in the Making.” I remember Balboa wrote one when California was just “In the Making.” That one, as I remember, was in several Volumes. This one on Florida is in one short Volume, so they got a lot of making to do yet.

But, as I say, I am going there, and I am going to be “unbiased.” I will be able to give you the really only authentic report on Florida that has ever been given.

Well, I sure have had some holidays out here in California. Got here just in time to see everything. Pasadena’s Rose Pageant fell right in my face. Of course you all read about the accident of the Grandstand.

Well, my wife has just gone through a siege of trying to put a real old fashioned wood fireplace in one of our rooms, and she related to me for an hour the difficulties.3 She thought, of course, all you had to do was to build it.

She didn’t know the City, the County, and State and I think the Federal Authorities had to pass on any improvement. You would have thought that she was building it purposely to burn down the town of Beverly Hills. One Inspector made her put another window in the room. I guess that was to jump out of in case the fireplace happened to work. Another one demanded she have a fan in the room, that the thing needed artificial ventilation. Another one said the ceiling was too low and wanted her to guarantee that nobody would ever sleep in the room. They have a law out here that anywhere you sleep the ceiling must be so many feet high. Some Politician jumped up in the night out here one time and bumped his head. Now every ceiling has to be padded. Low ceilings tend to narrower minds.

Well, we couldn’t guarantee somebody not falling to sleep in this room.

I might be telling one of my Stories to some guests some time in there. Well the way the Rogers family live we are just liable to eat, sleep, warm ourselves all in the same room so she got disgusted and just built the fireplace outdoors. She thought she had ’em licked. The Fire Department says, “You can’t have an outdoor fire,” so the poor woman had to build a house around the fireplace. And this is no joke; she did. She built a log Cabin, and today as you pass our place on the way to see where Mary Pickford lives, why you will see down in one corner of the yard a Log Cabin.4 Well, that was just to cover up the fireplace.

Now we got it we can’t build a fire in it because there is not 3 windows in it, and we can’t sleep in it because the ceiling is too low, but it is a dandy fireplace; just as good as some of them you can use.

What has our fireplace got to do with the Rose Festival? Well, here is what it has to do. Every town or City has a thousand inspectors for everything useless in the world, yet let something happen that is going to draw a crowd, and everybody that can find a few pieces of lumber can build him a stand and charge admission. One (so-called) Inspector looks at it, perhaps he is Ex-Bartender or saloon keeper, and he says it will hold so many thousand pounds. He don’t ever get on it to see if it would hold him or not. Then the thing falls down and they investigate. Nothing is ever done. Another fall will occur before the cases are out of court in this one.

I shouldn’t talk about a grandstand falling, for two women used my feet as their grandstand, and I deliberately tried to pull theirs out from under them.

But the Football game in the afternoon made up for it all. ALABAMA generally has 24 Votes. Well, they lost 4 of them since the Democratic Convention, but they arrived here with 20 of them. Washington couldn’t muster but 19, so Alabama was nominated on the third ballot. It was the first game I had seen since I saw Tuskegee Institute beat Alabama Normal at Montgomery, Alabama, last fall.

I could tell from the way they played that the whole of Alabama, regardless of color, sex, or previous conditions of servitude was a football fool.

And if this Washington thinks it was a fluke, (and as Northerners don’t draw the color line) why I will bet my last piece of rope and Chewing Gum that “Old Tuskegee” (the monument to Booker T. Washington) can come out here and confirm the victory.5 I only hope Jeff Davis and Stonewall Jackson had a Radio New Years Day.6 They will be willing to get static the rest of their lives.

A Guy named Wade picked up where Robert E. Lee left off.7 After seeing that game you will never make me believe that the Civil War was fought on the level. Poor Refereeing must have beat ’em.

1John Welborn Martin, Democratic governor of Florida from 1925 to 1929.
2Frank Parker Stockbridge, New York City author, journalist, editor, and publisher. John Holliday Perry, Florida newspaper publisher and owner of the Palm Beach Post-Times, Palm Beach Daily News, and several other papers.
3Betty Blake Rogers, wife of Will Rogers.
4For Mary Pickford see WA 117: N 5.
5For Booker T.Washington see WA 155: N 7.
6Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America from 1861 to 1865. For Stonewall Jackson see WA 159: N 7.
7William Wallace Wade, head football coach at the University of Alabama from 1923 to 1930. His Alabama teams won sixty-one games, lost thirteen, and tied sixteen. Robert Edward Lee, commander-in-chief of the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

January 24, 1926


All I know is just what I read in the papers.

Now I have read a lot about Golf in the papers, especially the last few years a terrible lot, but do you know, as old as I am, I never had seen anybody play it. I had lived last summer down on Long Island, right next to the Wheatley Hills Golf Course, and I have often looked over there and seen people walking around following a boy carrying a gunny sack full of bats, and they were always changing. They never seemed able to make up their minds just which bat to use constantly. Well, knowing nothing about the game myself, I naturally never thought they were playing. I thought they were just walking around practicing.

I had a little Polo field on the place, where I used to work my horses and practice hitting the ball. I would get out there and do that for hours, but I knew no one would ever be foolish enough to think that I was playing a game of Polo. They would just know that I was loping around practicing, because when I would hit the ball and knock it some place there was no one there to try and take it away from me or knock it out of my reach, so I knew that no one would ever think that there could be any game where just one fellow was concerned.

So I knew that they knew that I was practicing for a game, and I seeing them walking around alone sometime off to themselves, I knew they were just practicing for a game of Golf.

So the other day out here in California, right at the Los Angeles Country Club, I had read a lot in the papers that they were going to have one of the biggest professional Golf Tournaments that had ever been held. They were giving $10,000 in real (not Movie) money in prizes. Well, I had seen pictures in the papers for weeks about this and that professional Golfer who was coming to compete. I saw where Joe Kirkwood, a brother-in-law of Lila Lee (the Movie Star), was to be one of the main ones.1 It said he could do more tricks with a Golf Ball than the Senate can with the Constitution of the United States.

Then I read about a fellow named “Wild Bill Melhorn.”2 I thought there must be a reckless, wild, cutting, slashing, go-get-’em kid type of Golf Player. I read of Al Espinosa (of the rugged Spanish type).3 I pictured him in my mind as a man that carried a long dirk (or bowie knife) and maybe just cut a golf ball in half with one slice and knocking half of it in one hole and half in the other.

Now this Club where they was going to play was almost right under my nose from my own house in Beverly Hills. We live just near enough to the Golf Club so the real estate man explained to us that we were exclusive, and we have been. We have never been in the place. Well, as I say, the other day they had this Tournament there. Well, I don’t care how exclusive a place is, when they give away $10,000 Bucks you will always find that the ones Excluded will pay for it. Well, I says to myself one day here is where I am going to see a Game of Golf. I have seen every kind of game there is that I know of but Golf. I have seen most of the World Series of the last few years and The International Polo Games. Two weeks ago right here I saw Alabama reverse the decision of the Civil War on Washington. Seen the Army and Navy games from so close I could smell the Goat. Can even remember back when I was a boy, when Jack Dempsey fought to retain the Championship.4 Saw a Tennis Championship and the Democratic Convention but I had never seen a Golf game.

I drives over, which was only a few blocks and have to drive further by to find a place to park than I originally lived from the place. I could tell by the number of cars that the exclusiveness was about off. Well, I walked in and found a lot of people standing around a very pretty piece of lawn. Over on a kind of a mound where they seemed to have some sand stored, sit some Newspaper men. I recognized Reed Eustis and Brown of Chicago, and Damon Runyan of New York, all old friends of mine, so I immediately hollered out, “Hello Boys I certainly am glad to see you!”5

Well, I had no more than bellowed that out than you would have thought I had tried to assassinate President Coolidge. There was many hands laid on me, and 500 SHUSHES, for me to be quiet. If a fellow had done the Charleston at a funeral he could have committed no worse social blunder than I had done. After 8 of them had removed their hands from my mouth I asked in a whisper, what was the matter. They replied in a subdued whisper that So and So was putting. I remarked, “Putting? My Lord, I thought he was dying, the way you all act.” I was afraid to shake hands with my friends for fear I would jar the ground and interfere with his “Putting,” that’s what they called it. I would call it bunting, as that is what it is in Baseball when they don’t knock it very far.

It was so quiet that not even a woman was inhaling her Cigarette, but it wasn’t so quiet that a gentleman didn’t tiptoe up to me on the velvet lawn and demand under his breath “Five-fifty, please.”

Just the rustle of the five-spot being extracted from a lone mate caused Bobby Cruickshank to miss an 18-inch putt.6 Then just when I thought I was still enough not to attract any more attention, why I found that I was again in the limelight. I thought to myself what in the world have I done wrong now.

It was my clothes. I had attended the game in long pants. I was as out of place as if I had had on a ballet skirt.
Well, we was on what they called the 18th hole. I whispered to Runyan and asked him when the game was going to start.
He said, “Start? Why each pair that comes up here is finishing.”
I said, “Is this a game that I am looking at now?”
He said, “Why sure!”
I said, “You mean to tell me that what one fellow does with his ball has nothing to do with the other fellow?”

He nodded in the affirmative. Well here these fellows was doing just what I had seen those others do out on Long Island, just walking around monkeying. Here I had seen Golf all the time and didn’t know it.

It is the only game in the world where practicing it and playing it is the same thing. Seeing a man walking around a Golf Course hitting a ball is just like seeing somebody handling a Eukalalie. You can’t tell whether they are playing it or just monkeying with it. It’s the only game outside Solitaire where you play alone. What you do with your ball hasn’t got anything to do with what the other fellow does with his. I can play you a game and I can play in the morning and you can play a month from then. It’s Solitaire, only much quieter.

Well, here I was, seeing a game that I had seen before and didn’t know it. I had heard it called an old man’s game. Say, why there was no old men in there. That’s the funny part of it. All of them were either great big husky birds, or little husky birds. Every one of them looked big and strong enough to work at something. I met and talked to the wives of the players. If you want to get the real low down on any game the ones who have to look at it all the time are the ones to explain it to you.

Now I am not going to make the mistake of the usual fool (just because I don’t play the game) and tell you that there is nothing to it. There is skill in anything if you practice it long enough. Spitting at a crack don’t get much recognition among the Arts, but you just try to hit one some time and you will never laugh at another spitter again.

The main thing that struck me about the game was the amount of skill they had developed in getting near the hole and how little they displayed getting into it. They could all knock a ball clear across a Canyon to a hole 225 yards away and light in one shot right up within a few feet of the hole, and then shoot the rest of the evening trying to get it in there. Mind you then it must be hard; when anything ain’t being done it’s hard. But like any man that goes anywhere and pays his money to see something, he is just liable to be the one to make a suggestion that will improve on the game. It was a one-legged guy that invented the rule that “Over the fence is a home run without running.”

So I am just liable to be the one to make a helpful suggestion on this Golf business. WHAT THIS COUNTRY NEEDS IS BETTER PUTTERS. Maybe that’s where the old men come in on golf. Maybe they are the Putters. It must be a great game. All these fine young men can’t all be wrong, and when I take up the game I am just going to work on my putting. Let somebody else do all the walking around. Let them bat ’em up on the old green, and I will be the man that will do the putting. But I will have to get me some knee breeches.

1Joseph H. “Joe” Kirkwood, Australian golfer who won the Australian and New Zealand Open championships in 1920. He later settled in the United States and became famous as a trick-shot specialist, giving scores of exhibitions. Lila Lee, American actress of motion pictures and stage who began with the motion picture firm Famous Players-Lasky in her teens and starred in many films, including Blood and Sand and Such a Little Pirate. She was the wife of actor-director James Kirkwood.
2William “Wild Bill” Mehlhorn, American golfer who was the runner-up for the United States Professional Golf Association championship in 1925 and a participant in the Anglo-American international matches in 1921 in 1926.
3Al Espinosa, prominent member of an American golfing family. Al was a runner up at the United States Open tournament in 1929 and for the United States Professional Golf Association championship in 1928.
4For Jack Dempsey see WA 134: N 1.
5Reed Eustis, sports writer and columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Alfred Damon Runyon, American writer and journalist, best known for his humorous short stories—written in a picturesque, journalistic style (often referred to as “Runyonese”)— about theatrical, crime, and sports figures.
6Robert A. “Bobby” Cruickshank, Scottish-born American golfer who turned professional in 1921. He was runner-up for the United States Open Championships in 1923 and 1932.

January 31, 1926


All I know is just what I read in the papers. As the old reliable Illiterate Digest goes to press we are called upon to straighten out Editorially the following assortment of subjects.

The first is Mosul.1 Now the first thing we are going to have to do for readers of the Digest is to explain what is Mosul? Is it a mouth wash, a Filling Station, a Cigarette, or another “Kreisler” springing on an unsuspecting Public?

Well it is none of these. It’s a province. Of course it’s not much of a place. It’s kind of like the World Court. Its advertising has surpassed its importance, but it is a town. It is not only a town, but it is an excuse for Turkey’s next war. So naturally it don’t have to be much of a town. Now where is it? It’s in Iraq. You don’t know where Iraq is? My goodness, you better go back to reading Mencken’s Mercury!2

Iraq is a Country. It was discovered about the same time the Dredge sucked Florida above sea level. Iraq has always been used as a summer resort for the Turks. It lays just west of where the Persian Rugs (that are made by Cocoran of Yonkers) are supposed to come from. It’s just south of where Young Theodore shot his first Avis Poli.3You don’t know what an Avis Poli is? I can’t stop to explain everything to you. This is the last one I am going to tell you, then you got to guess yourself. An Avis Poli is a kind of a Political Sheep. You hunt it between elections.

Now you will want to know how I found out where and what Mosul was. When there is some place that you don’t know what or where it is, go or write to the Ford Factory, (the Foreign shipping Department) and they will give you their last shipment, dates, and numbers. The reason I know Mosul was so small, they were shipping whole cars there. There wasn’t even a Ford assembling Plant there. After Ford finds countries, why then England finds ’em, then Rand McNally finds ’em. England and the map-makers follow the Fords. The reason you read so much about this Mosul is that you see where the League of Nations has given Mosul to England for 25 years. Now what does that signify to you? Why was England given Mosul? Watson, get out your deductions.

If England got Mosul, Mosul must have had something that England wanted. You are right, Watson. What do you suppose Mosul had? Why Mosul must have had Oil. That-a-baby Watson! You got it the first guess. Mosul had struck oil.

But you ask why did the League give it to England? Say whose League is this? England hasn’t lost a decision in that League yet. Well, why won’t Turkey fight for it? They will, just as soon as they get through with what wars they have on hand now. This is booked as their next war.

But I thought the League of Nations was to prevent wars.
Yes you thought the 18th Amendment was to prev .... oh, what’s the use of arguing with a fellow like you?
But why did they give it to England for just 25 years? Why didn’t they give it to them for life if they were entitled to it at all?
Because 25 years is about the life of an oil field. What would they want with it after the oil was gone?
You must have been raised on a Tabloid Newspaper. I bet you don’t know Tacna Arica.4
Well you are not going to fool me on that. That’s a medicine. It’s one of those things where if you don’t use it “Four out of Five will have it.”
No, Tacna Arica is not a Pyorrhea or halatosis remedy, neither is it another town. It’s a Country.
Whose country is it?
That is what General Pershing has spent the best part of his life trying to find out.5
Has England claimed it yet?
No, they haven’t struck oil there yet.
Where is it located?
Chili says it’s located in Chili, and Peru says it’s located in Peru. Mr. Coolidge wanted to do something for General Pershing so he sent him down there to settle it.
What was he sore at Pershing about?
Well, he thought Pershing might want to run for President in 1928, and he knew if he sent him down there that he would be out of the way in 1928, also 1932.
But Pershing is sick and coming home, ain’t he?
Sure. Who wouldn’t be sick of a job like that?
Well, who will President Coolidge send down now?
Well, he would like to send Al Smith down in behalf of Chili and W. G. McAdoo down in behalf of Peru.6 (Both members of the same club.) Then send Lowden to Referee the whole thing.7 In that way he would rid himself of all possible 1928 Candidates.
Why send Lowden? He is on the same side as Coolidge ain’t he?
Yes, he is, but there is where his opposition must come from. If Lowden was a Democrat he would have nothing to fear. But the Farmers believe that Lowden will help them. They think that if Lowden was President that Corn would be $1.25 per Bushel.
Is Lowden a Corn bread eater?
No, but Lowden owns a farm himself.
Well, don’t Mr. Coolidge own a farm; or his father?
Yes, but what you can raise on it wouldn’t affect the price of that commodity.
Do you think Coolidge will run again in 1928?
Only in case they have an election.
Who will the Democrats run?
If they are smart they will run Borah.8
But he is a Republican, ain’t he?
No more than he is a Democrat.
What is Borah, anyway?
He is the Tacna Arica of Politics. Both sides claim him. Neither side are sure they want him, and all sides are afraid of him.
Why did America want to settle something in South America? Didn’t we have anything to settle here at home?
Oh, no, we were practically settled up here, with the exception of the French Debt, the World Court, Disarmament, Lower Taxes, Prohibition, Farmers relief, Airship Investigations, and a few little odds and ends. So of course that put us in shape to help out any backward Country that wasn’t as progressive as we are in keeping everything settled right up to the minute.
Well why didn’t the President suggest that the Argentine or Brazil settle this dispute? They are right there and unconcerned and know more about it than we do.
He thought that we were trusted more than they were.
Why did Mr. Coolidge think we were trusted in South America?
He had never been there.
Was you ever in South America?
I was.
Was you trusted?
Yes, as long as I paid in advance I was.
Do you think America stands very good with all the other Countries of the World?
We stand ALONE.
Well how good is alone?
Well, it’s pretty good as long as you can stand.
What would foreign Countries do if we needed help?
I think they would hold a celebration.
Do you think any of them would help us out?
Well, off hand I can’t think of a single one that would, unless it might be Wisconsin.

1The provincial capital of Mosul was awarded to Iraq under British mandate in 1918. Turkey, however, contested Iraq’s possession of Mosul and threatened to take it by force. War was averted in 1926 when the League of Nations confirmed Iraq’s right to the city.
2Henry Louis Mencken, American editor and satirist who founded American Mercury magazine in 1924 and served as its editor from 1924 to 1933.
3For Theodore Roosevelt see WA 117: N 2.
4For the Tacna-Arica dispute involving Peru and Chile see WA 140: N 2.
5For John J. “Black Jack” Pershing see WA 122: N 5 and WA 140: N 2.
6For Al Smith see WA 121: N 1; for William G. McAdoo see WA 127: N 9.
7For Frank O. Lowden see WA 118: N 2.
8For William E. Borah see WA 119: N 2.

February 7, 1926


Well, I hate to admit it, but Florida got me. I come here representing California’s Realty Board. I come with an unbiased opinion. I said, Boys if they got it I am going to give ’em credit. Well, I saw everything they had, and would have remained loyal to California if it hadn’t been just by chance for one little incident. We were to go fishing on one of Mr. Carl Fisher’s Yachts.1 It took longer to decide which one than it did to make the trip.

We were to be accompanied by a man that is given up to be the greatest Fisherman in all the World, Capt. Charley Thompson of Miami.2 He is known by every Yachtsman and Fisherman in the U.S. Mr. W.K. Vanderbilt, by the way, has the greatest private collection of specimens of fish in the World.3 That’s his Hobby. He fishes in every known water. Charley has been with him on all of these trips. In two more weeks Mr. Vanderbilt comes by Miami in his big Yacht and picks up Charley, and they go for two months, away over on the Pacific side of Mexico, and gets some new strange variety.

Personally, I don’t know why he would ever leave Miami for strange fish. There is every known variety in the world coming in here every day.

Well, I didn’t want to go on this trip. I never had fished, even in a creek, much less an Ocean. But my wife wanted to go, and you know how these women are. If you let them have their way you will generally get even with them in the end, and I did. She got sick. I got pretty near sick.

Was you ever “Pretty near sick?”

Well that is worse than being sick. If you are sick you know how bad you feel, but if you feel like you are going to get sick you don’t know how bad you are liable to get. It’s that uncertainty that makes it bad.

Well, I was just a-hovering like that all day. Now, to me an ocean is an ocean. There is no difference in any of it. But not so with this Charley. He would look at a bit of water, tell the Captain to pull over there, and bait us our hooks according to what the water looked like.

Charley is a kind of a Fish Dietician. Charley says a human is the only thing that never knows what it is liable to eat.

Charley says certain days fish eat different things. Now Monday, for instance, is Fish’s Fish day, instead of Friday.

He would look at another piece of water, bait his hook with something else, and go over there and accumulate some of that specie. In 1912 Charley caught the biggest Fish that has ever been known to be caught. It was a fish too; not a Whale. It weighed 40 thousand pounds, was 40 feet long. They had five harpoons in it, and shot over 200 shots into it. It towed an 18-foot boat for 39 hours. The Smithsonian Institute sent men there and got records of it. The Chamber of Commerce and the band met Charley down the bay when they towed it in.

They put it up on the beach, and after a few days Charley was asked to please remove it, or the town would have to move.

Charley said he presented it to the City; it wasn’t his.

Nobody could get near enough to it to move it, even if they could have moved it. That’s why Miami was so slow developing. If it hadn’t been for Charley’s big fish people could have come there years ago. He always accompanied President Harding on his fishing trips when Harding come to Florida. Also Cleveland and Roosevelt and Wilson. I told him if he landed Calvin to let me know; I wanted to go on that trip. The reason I am telling you all of this is not to try and show you what a great fellow Charley Thompson is. Everybody that ever spit on a piece of bait knows that. As long as he has Vanderbilt he don’t need me for an advance Agent. But I want you to be better acquainted with my new partner in a brand new enterprise.

It was through meeting with Charley and talking with him that I invested in Florida. It wasn’t the Real Estate Agents that landed me. Mine was a bone fide proposition. I was raised on a Ranch, and I don’t care who you are or what you do afterwards, you always have a longing to get back into the business you started in.

I love the Cattle business, but I know the day of the big Cattle business is fast passing. So when I run into Charley, why an entirely new branch of the Cow business was thought up between us.

Charles has a little private Aquarium of his own, and in it he has some “Sea Cows.” Now, after he had explained to me the habits and customs of these wonderful Animals, and taking into consideration the food value, why we decided to start a “Sea Cow Ranch.”

Charley knows where we can capture some of the Males, and we will open up in a modest way at first. But they are a very prolific breed, second only to the Guinea Pig and the Rabbit. Then, another thing. The big need of Florida now is fresh milk. Charley says when he only had one cow over in Miami, before he moved over to the beach, that there used to be hundreds of Tourists come to his little place every day to see him milk the Sea Cow. It will beat this condensed milk they all drink down there all to pieces.

Then they are a really domestic Animal. When he moved his Aquarium over across the bay to the beach, he drove this cow in front of the boat with a halter on her. She pulled the row boat and he would pull “Gee” or “Haw” when he wanted her to turn.

They feed on grass or sea weed. We can get that cheap and bale it and ship it around to our various Ranches. Charley says we will have to dehorn all of them, as they are bad to hook each other when they are confined on a home range. They are an awful hardy animal, and when they can’t get grass they will eat most anything.

Charley had one one time named “Bessie.” She was out in the bay and swallowed an old Pork barrel. When he was out there one day and saw her and called her, she come and looked awful bad. She had swallowed the barrel (which was empty) with the closed bottom side down in her stomach, and the open side up near her mouth, and everything she would eat would go into the barrel, and she almost starved to death. But we can get by that by having no barrels thrown out unless they have both ends knocked out.

Our only trouble and big expense down there will be the ocean for our ranch. Just about the time we get a good ranch established and a nice bunch of Cows and Calves all doing fine, why someone will put in a development and sell the lots right out from under our cattle. That is the high-priced stuff in Florida, is the water stuff, not the land. You just tell a man you have a Water lot and he commences to reaching for his Check Book.

We got a kind of a side line with our ranch. It’s the handling of Clams.

We are putting in a lot of Clam fish to collect the Clams for us. Charley says they have a long Bill and they dig in under the sand and get the Clams. When they get their stomach full they come out on the shore and start jumping. They jump away up in the air, sometimes three or four feet, and just come right down on their stomachs. That is to break the Clams. Now, of course we will get them as they come out and before they start jumping, and get a chance to break the clams. We will remove the clams and that will save the expense of digging. We will incidentally get clams that the ordinary Long Island Clam Digger would never get. It is really just the imbecile Clam that comes near enough ashore to allow itself to be caught by a “Clam Digger.” So we will be able to advertise a superior grade of Clams. “Smart Clams for Smart People.”

So remember Thompson and Rogers, dealers in Ocean Dairy Products. Sea Cow Milk, served from contented cows.

Now, I know you all want to know how our fishing trip turned out. We caught a lot of Fish, but there was only one that was lucky enough to get what Charley considered the right Fish. There was a kind of a Fish with bright scales on it in the shape of letters of the Alphabet, and if you caught one that spelled your name, why it was the right fish. lf not, Charley would make us throw ’em back. He claimed no man should take a fish that wasn’t his. He called ’em the Alphabet fish. Twice I caught three fish at once or what was a part of three fish, all on the same hook. I first caught. an Alphabet fish, and while bringing him in why a Barracuda jumped at him and eat him, but landed on the hook himself, and then a “Grouper” made a dive at the Barracuda, and I got him whole, but only the other two’s heads. I thought that was remarkable but Charley said he had lots of times got a half a dozen different ones on the way in. It’s awful hard to land the original fish you catch. Three was all I could ever get though.

1For Carl G. Fisher see WA 148: N 1.
2Charles “Charley” Thompson, Miami land developer and sportsman.
3William Kissam Vanderbilt, Jr., American railroad magnate, yachtsman, and automobile racer.

February 14, 1926


I left old Broadway last September. I thought, “I have been hanging around there so long I better go out and dig me tip a new audience to listen to the old wheezes.” Well, like everybody, sooner or later I bust into Florida, and as I do I meet Broadway face to face again. My perpetual Boss, Flo Ziegfeld, has a Midnight Beach that is as big and as elaborate as lots of his regular Follies shows are; 40 of his prettiest Girls are a big bunch of principals including Ukalele Ike and Art Hickman’s California Band.1 They had the old “Balloon Number” from the original Midnight Frolic on the roof. That was the show I started in with Ziegfeld, the original Midnight Show. People used to have all they wanted to drink in those days. I mean at moderate prices. Of course they didn’t have any more than they do now. In fact, they didn’t seem to require as much. Ziegfeld used to always say that I was a good act for people whose mentality was kinder fogged; that was why he kept me up there. Well it seems that every time Ziegy feels insomnia coming on him he puts on a Midnight Show. The same old Gang was at the front row Tables, bursting the toy balloons with Cigarettes, Tony Biddle, Gurnee Munn, Replogle, The Countess Salm (formerly one of the Rogers family.)2

We opened our Intellectual Lecture Tour, Spring Edition, at Miami Beach, and you would have thought it was a Follies first night. Carl Fisher of Montauk Point, Long Island, come down on some of his Yachts, just for the opening.3 We were playing in his big beautiful Casino, so he got in on a pass. Everybody had changed from their Subdivision Clothes, which is knee breeches. I always thought that makeup was for Golf, but it’s not. It’s a badge, showing you belong to Florida’s National Industry.

Well they all changed to their Monkey Suits. Tuxedos were unearthed, all good Pre-War Suits. Jessie Andrews, whose rural address is West Point, Indiana, but now General Proprietor of Miami Beach’s newest Hotel, the King Cole, slept in a nearby seat.4 O. O. McIntyre, that most entertaining of Writers and the man that I will bet is the most widely read Syndicate Writer in America today, was an uninterested spectator.5 He is one of our typical New York first nighters. He claims Gallipolis, Ohio, but St. Joe, Missouri, is where he broadcasted his first yell. He and the Pony Express both started from St. Joe. One went east and one west. You can see which one has survived. He winters in Florida and writes of New York, “of the cold, bleak stormy nights with mad throngs rushing and shoving for steam-heated taxis.” You would think he was freezing as he wrote it, and it makes you shiver to read it. Well, he is doing it under an Electric fan, dressed in a bathing suit. Also seated near enough to hiss was Gene Buck, the Frank W. Stearns of the Ziegfeld Administration. 6

Ziegfeld can’t go out in the morning and buy Billy Burke a new Rolls Royce without consulting Gene.7 He is the Col. House of the Follies. 8 He was accompanied by his beautiful wife, and they were guests on the Yacht of Sailing Baruch.9

The Baruchs, as you know are very rich. Everything they go into makes money. They have never invested in but one losing financial enterprise, and that was the Democratic Party, and they may realize something (maybe 10 percent) on that, as soon as it is liquidated. The Stockholders can’t seem to get together and agree on anything definite.

I spied an uncomfortable figure in one of the cheaper seats. I could tell he was restless among City people. In describing his Dinner jacket (which he wore with the nonchalance of a mule with chain harness) I will say this much for his suit, it was black. I wondered what plebeian could be in such a gathering.

On close scrutiny who do you think it shed off to be? Kin Hubbard, in an Abe Martin makeup.10 You all know Kin Hubbard’s Abe Martin. He writes Editorials like Brisbane’s every day, only Kin’s are in two lines.11

A very distinguished ringside guest was Jimmie Cox of Ohio resplendent in habiliments of well-worn keynote addresses.12 He has a paper in Miami that is bigger and thicker every day than a Sears Roebuck Catalogue. Some of the ads are bigger than the lots they advertise. Jimmie has a beautiful home on the beach for inheritance tax purposes. Mayor Ed Romph the World’s richest Mayor since Jim Couzens retired to private life in the United States Senate, was also a bored spectator.13

Gene Tunney, who started in life as a youth with but one object in view, that was to find the man that had hid the Boxing Championship of the world away.14 He has finally found it, but there is one stipulation. The possessor, Mr. Dempsey, offers to risk the crown just as soon as they find Captain Kidd’s Treasure, and offer it as a prize. Gene was host to a party of the younger sparring partner set.

John Golden, representing the drama, was another unintentional Spectator.15 He is in Florida during the royalty season. “Lightnin” on it’s world record had to “Turn To The Right,” to make way for “Abie’s Irish Rose,” the Iowa Agricultural College’s prize Play.16 John was counting up the house and wondering how he could send out companies with no scenery and no trunks and no actors.

To add an International flavor, we had the English Polo Team, who I had assisted in winning a game the day before, by playing against them.

Among them was a real Lord. Even higher than a Lord. He was a Marquis. 17 Not like Gloria’s. He comes from from Ireland, and when you are a Marquis in Ireland it’s got to be on the level. He is getting some ideas in Florida. He is going back home and subdivide his Estate. By the way, Gloria had just been down there.18 She still has a “Binder” on the Marquis.

I never did find out just how our Concert went in Miami. They charged $5.50 and I had a fast Automobile standing at the Stage door, and the minute I got off the stage I was gone. Conscience, even if you haven’t got much of it, will creep out if the motive is strong enough. I raced to Sarasota to get away from the angry mob. Sarasota is the town where John McGraw trains his Giants every year till last year, when they sold Real Estate instead of training. 19

It sure is a live Burg. Every man has a Map. There is two maps to every tooth-brush in the Town, and Pennant Park (that’s McGraw’s Subdivision) is the place of all the sales. The streets are all named after famous Ball Players. If, for instance, you are from Pittsburgh, you can live on Hans Wagner Avenue. 20 From St. Louis, Hornsby Boulevard.21 If you are from Hubbard City, Texas, “Speaker Alley” will be your ultimate mortgage.22 Its beautiful ground is right on Sarasota Bay. And already above water.

Well, who do you think I ran onto there? John Ringling, the head of the famous Ringling Brothers.23 By the way, here is something I bet you you didn’t know. Ringling is one of the 12 richest men in America. Their Show is the smallest enterprise he is mixed up in. He just runs that to keep the clowns in employment. He is building him a little Bungalow there that is patterned after the Vatican in Rome, only improved on. The Living room will accommodate three Rings and two Stages and the Hippodrome track. The Dining room will seat 56 Elephants. Eighty-four baths in the house for the convenience of his Aquatic Guests. You can stand on his Yacht and ring his front door bell. His Garage will house all the Parade Wagons of his Circus. He has a tower on the House that is the biggest point in Florida. It’s 61 feet above sea level. I am going to stop with him the next time I go there. He won’t find out I am there unless I just accidentally run onto him in some room some day. McGraw and Ringling are great friends, and on rainy days McGraw’s pitchers line up in the Butler’s pantry. Don’t miss Florida.

1For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 117: N 11. Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards, soft-voiced American singer and ukelele player, popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Art Hickman, San Francisco-based band leader and pioneer in dance music. He formed his first combo in 1915 and thereafter played throughout the country until ill health ended his career in the late 1920s.
2Anthony Joseph Drexel “Tony” Biddle, Jr., Philadelphia and Palm Beach society figure who had widespread interests in nightclubs. He later served as American diplomat to several European countries. Gurnee Munn, Sr., wealthy Palm Beach real estate operator. Jacob Leonard Replogle, millionaire American steel industrialist. Replogle retired from the steel business in 1924 and built a home and bought other property in Palm Beach. Millicent Rogers Salm von Hoogstraeten, American wife of an Austrian nobleman and motion picture actor; heiress to a $40 million fortune.
3For Carl G. Fisher see WA 148: N 1.
4Jess C. Andrews, Indiana livestock owner who later headed the International Livestock Exposition at Chicago.
5For O. O. McIntyre see WA 151: N 10.
6Edward Eugene “Gene” Buck, American songwriter and theatrical producer; production assistant for the Ziegfeld Follies from 1912 to 1926 and director of the Midnight Frolics from 1914 to 1926. For Frank W. Stearns see WA 125: N 7.
7Billie Burke, American theatrical and motion picture actress who married Ziegfeld in 1914.
8Edward Mandell House, Texas politician and United States diplomat. Known as Colonel House, he was a close friend and confidant of President Wilson.
9For Bernard M. Baruch see WA 124: N 8.
10Frank McKinney “Kin” Hubbard, American caricaturist and humorist on the staff of the Indianapolis (Indiana) News almost continuously from 1891 until his death in 1930. In 1904 Hubbard created the nationally-syndicated cartoon figure “Abe Martin,” a colorful, rustic character that was accompanied with the quip of two sentences.
11For Arthur Brisbane see WA 151: N 2.
12James Middleton Cox, American newspaper publisher and Democratic politician. A former governor of Ohio and presidential nominee, Cox owned a string of newspapers, including the Miami (Florida) Daily News.
13Edward Coleman Romfh, president of First National Bank of Miami from 1912 to 1946; Democratic mayor of Miami from 1923 to 1927. Couzens (see WA 124: N 5) served as mayor of Detroit from 1919 to 1922.
14James Joseph “Gene” Tunney, American boxer who won the world heavyweight title by defeating Jack Dempsey (see WA 134: N 1) on September 23, 1926. He retained the title until his retirement in 1928.
15John Golden, American playwright, composer, and producer. Among his Broadway productions are Turn to the Right, Lightnin’, and Three Wise Fools.
16Abie’s Irish Rose enjoyed one of the longest runs in the history of New York City theater. Anne Nichols wrote the comedy, which opened in May 1922 and played before approximately 2 million theatergoers during its 2,357 performances on Broadway.
17John Charles de la Poer Beresford, seventh marquess of Waterford; British nobleman noted as a sportsman and world traveler.
18For Gloria Swanson see WA 117: N 14.
19For John J. McGraw see WA 124: N 11.
20John Peter “Honus” Wagner, professional baseball player with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1900 to 1917.Wagner, an accomplished shortstop, was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.
21For Rogers Hornsby see WA 156: N 7.
22Tristram E. “Tris” Speaker, professional baseball player who starred in the outfield for various clubs including the Cleveland Indians from 1916 to 1926. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.
23John Nicholas Ringling, American circus owner who with his six brothers (see WA 121: N 9) entered the circus business in 1884.

February 21, 1926


I have a real treat for you this week instead of the Old Hokum I give you every week. I have got a fellow Pinch Hitting for me, and you are going to get a real treat out of this, because it is funny and clever. On my various travels I run onto all kinds of people and everybody that is the Town’s Humorist or Clown is piloted around my way. Well, I am glad to relate that I believe that I picked up one that has a real latent talent, and I have some of his stuff here and I think you will agree with me that if I can ever get this Bird caged and delivered to New York, why you will hear from him.

I will tell you how I run onto him. I was booked to play in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Monday night, and as I had Sunday off and was in the town, I was invited to go up to Clearwater to spend Sunday with a lot of old friends and acquaintances. It, by the way, is a beautiful place, and seems to be one of the most popular among a crowd of the regulars who have been all over the state and should know which place is the best. Well, as this crowd was going to attend our little catastrophe the following night, I thought I better have some local “Gags” on them, as they were paying their way and there is about 20 of them. I furnish local references to Parties of over 5 paid admissions. If I can get 100 to buy I will do an entire local act about them. So I asked one of the Party if they wouldn’t give me a little local dope on this crowd. So he did, and it was so much better than anything I could have ever made up myself that I just took it out of my pocket and read it, just as he had written it, Verbatim, as we say in Claremore, Oklahoma, which means to let a thing alone and not try to spoil it yourself.

The young fellow who gave me the local dope on these Notables that were present in his party was named (it don’t matter much what his name is, but I will mention it, because he might be known some day) Lardner.1 Not Lorimer.2 That’s another writer that is on the Saturday Evening Post. This fellow’s first name is Ring. It’s the only thing outside of a dog I ever heard of called Ring. You generally name a Pup Ring if they have a white collar or stripe around their neck.

Well, this Ring had a white collar around his neck. That is, it was white when he left Niles, Michigan. That’s the town where Jack Dempsey and Harry Wills signed up to have their grandchildren fight.3 If they should each raise any. Well, his comments will show you who were in our Audience. He meant for me to get something from his notes, but I just read them as they were, and will do the same with you, even if you are not paying three dollars admission.

Now in our crowd tonight (who will be right down front) is the greatest “Gang” that comes to Florida. Don’t go and mention anything about me, you big Hunk. That is why I am giving you this dope on these other people.

You can go as far as you like about them; they are all good fellows. Grantland Rice, the Eddie Guest of the south.4 Mr. Rice comes from Tennessee and Mrs. Rice from Georgia. They both write in English, but neither speak it. One of Mrs. Rice’s distant relatives was recently married to Georgia’s first citizen, Young Stribling.5 One of Mrs. Stribling’s cousins is said to possess the largest Library in Georgia. He has a complete set of Zane Grey and a Savannah Telephone Directory.6 They used to say of him that he had so many books he didn’t know what to do with books.

May Wilson Preston.7 The illustrator who draws exclusively for the Saturday Evening Post. She graduated from Oberlin College, and has been very successful for a woman of no education.

Scott Probasco, from Chattanooga, Tenn.8 Tennessee was one of the first States to go dry, and Mr. Probasco was one of the first to leave the State. Ort Wells, of Chicago.9 George Ade’s Colonel House. 10 Was the first American to play Golf, and invented the telegraph so he wouldn’t have to write letters to Girls. He was scalped by Pocahontas' father.

George Morse, Golf Champion of Vermont.11 There are only two other Golphers in Vermont. One of them is George’s wife, Helen Morse, and if she didn’t let him beat her on the golf course he would beat her at home. The other golpher in Vermont lost his ball on the first hole and has had to quit. You might use this gag of mine, which went big in a Lambs Club Gambol Sketch I wrote.

Mr. Morse hails from the state that gave us President Coolidge. I asked him once to give me a letter of introduction to the President, but he said he didn’t know him well enough. I said, “That is funny. I heard you and Coolidge are very close.” “He is!” was Mr. Morse’s reply.

Frank Crowninshield, Editor of Vanity Fair.12 As a rule, Vanity Fair is put on the news stand the 10th of the month. But Mr. Crowninshield has been away from his office six weeks, so Vanity Fair will appear on the 10th of the month.

George Ade. How would it do to introduce George Ade as America’s second greatest Humorist, or the third if you want to let yourself in? George is the only Indianian that comes to Florida that is able to get back in the Spring.

Rex Beach.13 Rex is putting on a Book and a Subdivision down here.

You get a Lot with each Book, or a Book with each two Lots.

Walter Hagen will be in your audience.14 You don’t know anything about Golf, but Hagen is the greatest Golf Player in the World. He is President of the Pasadena Golf Club, and is the only one that can Putt while someone is whispering.

Rube Marquard lives here too.15 Now, all this might give you something to work on. Don’t mention me, but you might give the wife a little attention, as she is a great little woman, and has really kept me----. But don’t get me up in that crowd, or I would drop dead.

Now, that is what this Lardner person gave me, and I read it as I have told it to you, and it all got great big laughs from a big audience. I like to encourage talent, and if Liberty ever gets ahold of this Ring necked Michigander, why he will be a Wow.

Well, he had it right; they were all there and a lot of other prominent ones. I thought I would see some of them after the show, but they all avoided me and rushed out. There are times when it is better to say nothing. Grantland Rice was down there to cover the Outdoor Checker Championship of the World. They played in the sun down there, and the game is much faster and open on an outdoor board. Grantland is picking the All American Checker Team of 1926, and also covers the World’s Series Horseshoe hurling Contests.

The Champion Mule Slipper Slingers of the world are at St. Petersburg. They got Guys there that can take a pair of Horses’ Pumps and wrap them around an iron stob 40 feet away, when you or I couldn’t hit it that often with a shot gun. They can take a pair of second hand Horses’ low quarters and hang ’em on a peg more times than a dry Congressman can reach for his hip pocket.

Then they play Shuffle Board down there too. I had never seen the game played without a Boat. I thought you only played it to stave off seasickness.

I didn’t know you could play it for no reason at all. The younger set (from around 60 to 70) play Dominoes. But she is a great old place, and everybody was having a good time, and they were a great bunch to play to. Florida is so far advanced now that it will take more than jokes to stop it. They got the money to spend down there, and they spend it. In closing I want to thank Mr. Lardner for writing this Article for me, and me getting paid for it.

1Ringgold Wilmer “Ring” Lardner, famed American humorist and short story writer. A regular contributor to the Saturday Evening Post, Lardner also wrote sketches and lyrics for the Ziegfeld Follies.
2George Horace Lorimer, editor-in-chief of the Saturday Evening Post from 1899 to 1936.
3For Jack Dempsey see WA 134: N 1; for Harry Wills see WA 141: N 3.
4Henry Grantland Rice, American sports writer who began his newspaper career in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1901. From 1914 to 1930, he wrote a sports column for the New York Tribune. He was married in 1906 to Katherine Hollis of Americus, Georgia. Edgar Albert “Eddie” Guest, English-born American newspaperman and poet. Guest, known for his columns of verse and humor, wrote for the Detroit (Michigan) Free Press from 1895 until his death in 1959.
5For Young Stribling see WA 154: N 3.
6Zane Grey, prolific American author of adventure stories, especially set against the background of the American West, including Riders of the Purple Sage and The Lone Star Ranger.
7May Wilson Preston, American illustrator who worked for the Saturday Evening Post, McClure’s, Harper’s Bazaar, and Scribner’s magazine.
8Scott Livingstone Probasco, Chattanooga banker and corporation director.
9Orson “Ort” Wells, millionaire Chicago businessman, stock speculator, and traveling companion of George Ade.
10George Ade, Indiana humorist, newspaper columnist, author, and playwright, whose plays include The County Chairman and The College Widow. For Edward M. House see WA 166: N 8.
11George Morse, businessman and sportsman from Maine.
12Francis Welch Crowninshield, American magazine editor and publisher; editor of Vanity Fair from 1914 to 1935.
13Rex Ellingwood Beach, American writer, best known for his Alaskan adventure stories. Rogers’ first motion picture, Laughing Bill Hyde (1918), was based on one of Beach’s novels.
14Walter C. Hagen, American professional golfer who won the British Open championships in 1922, 1924, 1928, and 1929 and who twice won the United States Open crown.
15Richard William “Rube” Marquard, professional baseball pitcher who played for several major league teams, notably the New York Giants from 1908 to 1915. An urbane, well dressed man, Marquard was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971.

February 28, 1926


All I know is just what I read in the Papers and what I see as I prowl all over the universe.

Congress woke up two weeks ago, and instead of taking a pruning knife on the taxes, they grabbed a scythe, and before they could get them to stop, even to take a drink, they had hacked all the income right out from under the Treasury Department. Uncle Andy Mellon and his cohorts had announced to the assembled Statesmen that they might whittle off around two hundred and fifty or three hundred million and that we would still be able to owe a total of something like 30 billions.1

Well, Congress must always have their little joke, they just saw Andy’s three hundred million and raised him two hundred million more. What’s a couple of hundred million among Statesmen (in the making)? It would be like a crowd was out away from the Cabin, hunting on a cold day, and you sent one ahead to make the fire so you could warm up, and when you arrived there he had set the house on fire. This, mind you, I must say in all fairness to the House of Representatives, was the Senate that had this burst of generosity hit ’em. The House was willing to take a chance on re-election without quite so much liberality.

So then the fight started over how to get together. They took the Automobile tax off. They took the Theatre Tax off on lower-priced admissions or cheaper shows, and they lowered the Inheritance Tax. So that now you can buy an Automobile, you can go to a show (provided it’s a cheap show) and you can die, all without being taxed very much. Now if either one of these things appeal to you, take your choice. I don’t know why the tax should be taken off of any one of them. They are all luxuries. But you can tell who had the strongest Lobby there.

I don’t see why a man shouldn’t pay an inheritance tax. If a Country is good enough to pay taxes to while you are living, it’s good enough to pay in after you die. By the time you die you should be so used to paying taxes that it would just be almost second nature to you.

Mellon’s argument was that it discouraged dying that with that tax on, a lot of men that would otherwise be dead was still living, and that they were getting no revenue from them anyway. You know, he may be right. There is nothing in the world so contrary as an old rich man. But we pay taxes to live, so I don’t see why we don’t pay ’em to die. Congress claims that the Inheritance Tax works a hardship on the Children of very rich men who die. They claim that sometimes there has been cases known, when they had to sell one of the Yachts to pay the Government the Inheritance Tax, and in one extreme case I remember reading where a Son had to give up his membership in over half of his Golf Clubs. Well, just such catastrophes as these (related to the Proletariat Senators) made them realize that something must be done for the “Younger Rich Set.” That if the Father died with a hundred Million that he had wormed out of our Country, that the spoils all belonged to the Children and no part at all to the Community that had made it possible for him to accumulate this heavy Jack. In other words, they claim his Descendants were more responsible for him making it than the State he made it out of.

Now, you mind my word and watch what will happen. Somebody will introduce a bill to make this lower Inheritance Bill Re-tro-active, and those that have paid in in the past few years will sue the Government and we will be paying it all back again. Their lawyers will claim that they were discriminated against. That because they died at a certain time in our history there was no reason why they should have to pay for dying, and they will get away with it.

Look at the income Tax. We have paid back more than we ever collected already. Now, this being an election year for a lot of these Statesmen, they will go home run on a “I cut your Tax” programme, come back next year, find a deficit, and have to dig up something else to raise the money on.

But let’s hie ourselves away to more pleasant subjects. If we took Congress serious we would be worrying all through this Article. As a kind of a Salad to this delicious intellectual repast of this week-end, how about a dish of the Stillmans?2 Jim and Fifi are back together again. I look for the Kaiser and Pershing to make up next.3 Lloyd George and Ireland, Count Slam and Millicent, Kip and Alice, Dallas and Ft. Worth, Borah and the World Court.4

All these things are now within the bounds of possibility.

Going back to the original wife that you started out with offers up some unique possibilities. Suppose everybody would get conscience-stricken all at once and decide they had wronged their original partners and wanted to get back and finish up life with them. Boy, what a scramble! “Where is my first wife?” In the meantime she is saying, “Where is old John? He was too ornery to kill, but at that he was better than the last ones. Maybe he will be better this time.”

Talk about changing cars at a Union Station. Out in Hollywood, unless they had a particular good memory, they would have to look up old marriage certificates to see who was the first. I believe it would be kinder welcomed at that, because I bet you every woman that was first married to a man believes in her own heart that she is still the only one he ever really loved, and he, poor conceited thing, thinks the same about her.

Then, on the other hand, if she didn’t really think much of her first Husband, now it would be a good way for her to get even with him, or he with her.

So it looks like the Stillmans have opened up rare possibilities. Americans are getting so they are looking for a new thrill all the time, so an idea like that ought to be just about what Society has been looking for.

We have had a back to Farm movement. Why not a Back to your first Husband movement? Especially if you are thinking of making a change, why give the first one consideration, because you know what she or he is, and you can’t tell about a new one.

So who will be the first one to start the original fight over again? You have had all these years to think up an answer. Wouldn’t you like to get back and tell her? So this is my contribution in the way of an idea to a thrill-hunting Public.

And while we are on the subject of Social Hygiene and complicated matrimonial miscellaneous, why the Countess of Cathcart, and the Earl of Craven grabbed the Immigration Department by its ears and shook it out publicly before the Scandal-hungry mob.5 Somebody found a clause called Moral Turpitude, or something that sounded like that. It means you told the truth when you ought not to.

It seems she had been in Africa with this Lord Craven. Now you can go to Atlantic City and Palm Beach accompanied by a misplaced Husband, but they don’t like to have you take one as far away as Africa. That’s what constitutes Turpitude. If it’s a week-end trip it’s only indiscretion.

Well, they held her up, and she told them, “Well, why didn’t you hold up the Lord?” (Or Earl or some minor League title like that.)
“Well, we would have held him up but we didn’t know what Moral Turpitude was then. We just got a Dictionary. Besides we don’t know for sure he was down in Africa with you.”
“Yes, but you are keeping me out for being down there with him.”
“No, we are keeping you out for saying you were down there with him.”
“But suppose I say I wasn’t down there?”
“Why, that will be all right. You can come in then. The idea is, Lady, we just don’t like to have people do anything and then admit it. You can go to Siberia with Mussolini and spend the winter and come back by here and get in, if you tell us you haven’t been there.”6

Well, they got to looking around for the Earl to see if he had any recollections of Africa, and if he could perhaps recall any of his Female associates.

Why lo and behold, he had heard of some big game in Canada, and they found him in the lobby of the Ritz there, stalking a Scotch and Soda. He was with his own wife. That was a bigger surprise to everybody than it was to find him in Canada. There was another case of a man going back to his first wife. (My plan is beginning to act already.) Wait till England retaliates now, and puts in one of those Turpitude clauses. We won’t have any more traffic to England than we have to the North Pole. Look at the money we would save if we could keep all the Turpitudes at home every summer.

1For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 124: N 5.
2James Alexander Stillman, prominent New York City banker who was a central figure in one of the most sensational divorce cases in the 1920s. He first sued for divorce from his wife, the former Anne Urquhart “Fifi” Potter, in 1921 on grounds of adultery. She made similar charges, and the domestic squabble, interrupted by a brief reconciliation in 1926, finally ended in divorce in 1931.
3For Wilhelm II see WA 122:N2; for John J. “Black Jack” Pershing see WA 122:N5.
4David Lloyd George, prime minister of Great Britain from 1916 to 1922. He arranged a conference in 1921 that resulted in the founding of the Irish Free State. Ludwig Salm von Hoogstraeten, Austrian nobleman, cavalryman, and motion picture actor who married American heiress Millicent Rogers (see WA 166: N 2) in January 1924. The marriage was dissolved in 1927. The World Court, or Permanent Court for International Justice, was established by the League of Nations in 1921. Borah (see WA 119: N 2) successfully led the senatorial opposition to American membership in the court.
5Vera Fraser Cathcart, the Countess of Cathcart, and William George Bradley Craven, the fifth Earl of Craven, visited the United States in 1926. The countess was detained at Ellis Island upon her arrival and an arrest warrant was issued for the earl. He fled to Canada, where he later was joined by his wife, the former Mary Wihelmina George. His wife later sued for divorce, naming the countess as correspondent.
6Benito Mussolini, founder and leader of the Italian fascist movement and dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943.

March 7, 1926


I had a great time last week. I don’t know of any week I have been out when I got around and saw more old friends and old places that I wanted to see again, than I did last week. I been on the stage for 20 years and I love it. There has never been a time when I didn’t like my job. But do you know, really at heart I love ranching. I have always regretted that I didn’t live about 30 or 40 years earlier, and in the same old Country, the Indian Territory. I would have liked to got here ahead of the “Nestors,” the Bob wire fence, and so called civilization. On Saturday night I had played Galveston. And why that town is not a second Miami or Palm Beach I don’t know. It’s certainly not on account of lack of climate, beach, hotels, or any other thing I could see.

Well, I had Sunday off and was passing through Houston. I had heard of the ranch where they made the Big Movie, “North of 36.”1 It was about 35 miles out of Houston, so I just gets me Mr. Waide, the political reporter, as a companion, and we go out there to see it.2 It belongs to Mr. Bassett Blakely, and is a mighty nice place.3 He was there, also his brother, and they showed us all around, and I never felt as homesick in my life. The old Ranch House, the Corrals, and the Brahmas. The hands were haltering up some “Bronks.” I didn’t crave to step aboard any of them, however.

Well, that started the week off. Tuesday I played Austin and run into the Fergusons, America’s only Double Entry Governors.4 Well, they are old ranch people, and we talked ranching instead of pardons. I enjoyed meeting them. I enjoy meeting any plain folks. I think Ma Ferguson is a much smarter woman than she is given credit for being, and as for Jim, he is the smartest Politician in Texas. I had quite a stay at the Mansion. It’s a great old building. They showed me Sam Houston’s bed.5 Texas has the best Capitol building I remember seeing.

Both Governors come to our little show that night, and they sure did laugh. Next day I went to their home town, Temple, to play, and Jim went with me, and being such a glutton for punishment, he come to the show again.

Now for a little secret. I am certainly not foolish or conceited enough to believe anybody is inviting me to dine with them at the Governess’ Mansion for social reasons. Jim, as I say, is a shrewd Hombre. He knew that even a man of no culture or education would not be liable to eat with you and then knock you that night. Politically, I take no sides with anybody. I haven’t got time to fight the country’s battles or private fights. By a coincidence the best friend I have in Texas is Jim’s bitterest enemy, Amon Carter.6 But I think Jim will lay off Amon now. He is a pretty tough Bird to handle.

I met a very pretty young Ferguson Daughter who talked politics to me, so she may be the one they are grooming for the next race.7 She would have the advice of both the former Governors.

But I must get back to my ranch life. In Breckenridge there is more Oil and money than there is Pocket Flasks in the House of Representatives. One Cowpuncher gave us a Banquet after the show, Jack Degraftenreid, and we had Chili and no speeches.8 That is what I call a perfect Banquet. Stories had to remain unreminded of. Jim Minnick, an old Cowpuncher friend of mine that went to New York with me to work with a Wild West Show in Madison Square Garden in 1905, come clear down from his ranch 120 miles away to see me.9

He rode the pony for me on the stage at Keith’s old Union Square Theater for a trial show the first time I ever saw a stage, much less was on one.10

The next night I played Amarillo, Texas. There is a Cow Town, and now they have the biggest oil District in the entire United States.

In 1898 Kemper Military School was not being run in accordance with the standards that I thought befitting a growing intellect. I was spending my third year in the fourth grade and wasn’t being appreciated, so I not only left them flat during a dark night, but I quit the entire school business for life.

Billy Johnston of Canadian City, Texas, was also an inmate and a ranch boy like I had been in Oklahoma, so he advised me of a friend’s ranch at Higgins, Texas.11 I not wanting to face my father with what little I knew by going back home, I landed in Higgins, and Mr. Ewing gave me a job on his ranch.12 His son Frank, about my age, really run the outfit. We took a trail herd to Kansas and I worked with him for some time. He was a great fellow, funny as they make ’em. I got enough to buy me an old horse, and I went out to Amarillo, Texas. I rode in there in the summer of ’98, broke and looking for a job. Got a job with another big trail Herd going away out in Western Kansas. We crossed the Canadian River at a Famous Ranch, where Remington had painted some of his pictures, the old “LX” Ranch.13

I had never been to Amarillo since. Now it’s a city. Frank Ewing wired me, “If you could ride an old give-out horse from Higgins to Amarillo in ’98, I certainly ought to make it in a Ford, so if you have somebody in your audience you will know it’s me.” I hadent seen him in 28 years. He is still a prominent rancher up there, and as great a sense of humor as ever. Well you have to to have stayed in the Cattle business the last few years.

But let me say right here, Boy, they are coming back. You steak eaters better get yourself a bank roll, or change your diet. If ever an industry deserved to come back, it was them. Not only Frank come, but Billy Johnston, the boy who had sent me to Texas to Frank. He come clear down from his ranch, and what a gab-fest we did have.

I will never joke about old Soldiers who try to get to reunions to talk over the war again. To talk of old times with old friends is the greatest thing in the world. Also met the man’s wife who had taken me up the trail from that same Amarillo. He was dead, but he used to tell her of what an onery cuss I was. Great Audience, full of old Cattlemen along with the oil rich. You actors know how you feel when you play a big Theatrical Benefit and the house is full of Actors. In the afternoon I met the man that owned the LX ranch, and as it was only 20 miles out, we drove out there and saw the old ranch where we had had such a time crossing the river.

It was up at the time we crossed, and we had to swim ’em. She looked just as natural, and don’t think that all the big ranches are being cut up. Lots of them are as big as ever, as they own all the land. Wagner has one of 675,000 acres.14 It’s eighty-five miles across it.

Well, right from there the next night we went to El Paso, another real Cowhand town. A lot of old Cowpuncher acquaintances had wired and wanted to give me a dinner party. I answered, “There will be no Dinner. We will go to Juarez and get some Hot Tamales.” In meeting old friends there, there was a tinge of sadness. I was not met by my old friend, Clay McGonigall, the Champion Steer Roper of the world for years, who I first met at a contest in San Antonio in 1901, and who come clear to California to visit me while in Pictures, and also his Partner “Little” Joe Gardner, who I wanted to see me at the train.15 They had always roped together, been together all the time. They always split at the Contest, and one would generally get first and the other second. I had gone clear to Joe’s ranch at Sierra Blanca, Texas, from California, just to help brand calves four years ago. Among everybody that I hoped to see in El Paso, they were the ones I wanted to meet me at the train. Clay was acknowledged by everybody to be the funniest Cowboy that ever lived. Joe is a Fiddler. Everybody west of Red River knows Clay and Joe. I knew Clay would have some joke framed on me. But everybody was there but them. They didn’t come. I missed ’em. I bet they was looking at us from some place, just to see what we would do when I didn’t see ’em. They watched and hoped that they would see that they were missed. Their wives were there, both of them, and they knew that I missed the Boys. You know what I bet happened, that they wasn’t there? I bet you the Lord had no way to get the old Outlawed Steers and rope ’em, and “snake ’em” out of there. That’s why He took ’em both at once, so one could head the old “Sinners” and the other could heel ’em. He is what I call a Real Boss. He picked two top hands.

1North of 36, motion picture epic of 1924 which depicted the Texas cattle industry following the Civil War. The production was based on Emerson Hough’s novel by the same title.
2Cudellas D.Waide, reporter and columnist for the Houston Chronicle.
3Bassett Blakely, Texas rancher and oilman whose herds of cattle ranged on the prairies of the Gulf Coast near Houston.
4For Miriam “Ma” Ferguson see WA 146: N 3; for James “Jim” Ferguson see WA 157: N 1.
5Samuel “Sam” Houston, American military officer, attorney, land owner, and political leader; president of the Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1838 and 1841 to 1844.
6For Amon G. Carter see WA 157: N 8.
7Ouida Wallace Ferguson Nalle, eldest daughter of Miriam and James Ferguson.
8Jack W. DeGraffenried, Texas cattleman who ranched near Breckenridge in Stephens County. The DeGraffenried family had established a ranching operation in the area before 1879.
9James “Jim” Minnick, cattleman credited with introducing dude ranching into Texas. A long-time friend of Rogers, Minnick rode with the Oklahoman in the Mulhall Wild West Show in the early 1900s and introduced Rogers to the sport of polo.
10Benjamin Franklin Keith, American theatrical manager who operated a nationwide chain of vaudeville theaters during the late 1890s and early 1900s.
11William A. “Will” Johnson, banker and rancher from Canadian, Texas.
12Perry and Frank Ewing, Texas ranchers who gave Rogers a job as a cowpuncher in 1898.
13Frederic Remington, renowned American painter, illustrator, and sculptor, known for his scenes of the American West.
14William Thomas Waggoner, Texas cattleman and oilman whose Three D Ranch in west central Texas embraced more than one million acres at the peak of its operation from 1889 to 1903.
15Clay McGonigle, champion roper and horseman from Midland, Texas, who set several roping landmarks during the 1890s and early 1900s. Joseph “Little Joe” Gardner, roper, cowboy, and early-day rodeo performer from San Angelo, Texas, who often competed with McGonigle in roping contests.

March 14, 1926


Well, all I know is just what I read in the Papers and view as I tour this great Commonwealth. I just hit California, and you don’t know how glad they were to hear about Florida. You would have thought they were getting news from a long lost brother.

“How is it down there anyway? I hear they are about to blow up. I hear the Real Estate men have all turned Bootlegger. Is that so? You know we have had more people here this year than ever before in the history of California.

Yes, and we had more rain than in any year since I left Iowa. They tell me they have stole every name of every town we ever had out here. Can’t they think of names of their own? Did you see any Alligators? The Bible says a house built on sand won’t last. It’s been one of the nicest winters in years. I really do believe this Climate is improving every year.”

“Improving, nothing! How is it going to improve? You can’t get no better than perfect, can you?”

Well, I wanted to tell ’em about the good points of both places, but they kept asking questions and answering them themselves, so fast that I couldn’t get to explain to them that both states were liable to keep on existing, regardless of what the other one did. I tried to tell them that in Florida they tip the waiter more than we pay for a meal. I wanted to tell them if they wanted to pass resolutions to pass some that would make these railroads make better time getting out to the coast. There ought to be a full day taken off the running time between New York and Los Angeles. You can be eight hours behind time and they will make it up before they reach the next division point, so that shows what they could do.

Well, they were having a big stir out there, and in fact all over the United States, about Tia Juana and Mexicali, Mex. They want President Coolidge to clean these places up, or make Mexico do it, and if they won’t why go to war with them and make ’em clean ’em up. It seems they sell drinks down there right over the bar. You don’t have a fellow leave it at your place or anything. You just pay for it by the drink, and not by the bottle, and they Gamble right there before your own eyes, and they claim it is ruining the Youth and Manhood of this Country. That it is a disgrace to have these things done right there in Mexico, where the Americans can go right over and see all this.

Americans don’t want to drink and gamble. They just go over there to see the mountains, and these scheming Mexicans grab ’em and make ’em drink, and make ’em make bets, and make ’em watch the race horses run for money. It seems that Americans don’t know these places are over there at all, and when they get there these Mexicans spring on ’em and they have to drink or the Mexicans will kill ’em.

So Secretary Kellogg is going to send them another note. You know when England or France sends us a sharp note, bawling us out about something, why the only thing Kellogg can do to get even with them is bawl out Mexico.1 We come nearer running Mexico than we do New York State. If they pass a law they have to send it up to Washington to have it O.K.’d by our State Department. If they want to say that an American can own land down there but not the mineral rights, why we say it’s not constitutional; that we will use force if necessary to have the law rescinded. Yet we can pass one and say that Japs can’t even own Land, and that is all right. Mind you, I am in favor of that law.

We had a perfect right to say who can own Land, and so does Mexico have the same right. For the love of Mike, why don’t we let Mexico alone and let them run their country the way they want to!

Americans only go there to make money. Not one in a million ever becomes a citizen of that country. Yet when a man comes to our country to make money and settle and don’t become a citizen, we get very hostile against him, which we should. If a country is good enough to make money in, it’s good enough for you to become a citizen of. So if you go down there, don’t start yapping for America to protect you. Nobody shanghied you and took you there. If you ain’t man enough to protect yourself, they better put you in a crate and keep you in the kitchen. Suppose, for instance, when we had all our scandal in Hollywood, that Mexico had demanded that we clean up; that a lot of their Tourists were passing through there every day and that it was contaminating them. We would have laughed ourselves sober at that, and told ’em to mind their own business and keep their tourists at home if they didn’t like the way we do.

All in the world we have to do to keep our citizens pure and good like they have been all this time is to not allow them over the line. If we have to admit to the world, that we are raising people that don’t know enough to take proper care of themselves, we will have to do it by another Amendment, as follows:

“Americans are not allowed anywhere they will be subject to evil influences.” You put a Church in every building where there is a Gambling House and Saloon now, in Tia Juana, Mexico, and I lay you a bet there wouldn’t be five people cross the line a year. I played in San Diego the other night. And, by the way, you talk about a real Real Estate Boom! That town has one! That and Ashville, North Carolina, is the two biggest and most active lot-selling towns I have seen, and that takes in Florida.

Well, I talked to newspaper men who covered that whole Tia Juana case. One of the head Mexican Police Officials of Tia Juana pulled the best bit of philosophy in regard to America and all her protecting influences, I ever heard, “You never make a dog good, by keeping him tied up.”

On big days over there, like Saturday and Sunday, Mexico runs short of drinks and has to rush it in there from the states. Let’s pick on Canada a while, and let Mexico alone. Not that we have anything against Canada, but it would display at least a little more backbone to do it.

1For Frank B. Kellogg seeWA 132: N 7.

March 21, 1926


All I know is just what I read in the papers. A couple of weeks ago Ring Lardner was good enough to furnish me material for an article of mine that finally had some humor in it.1 Now, as everybody knows, Ring is America’s surest-fired laugh producer, but even as good as he was in helping me out I pick up my paper this morning and I find other confederates that I think is even better than Ring. These seem to have had one of their especially good days yesterday. The scene is layed in the United States Senate, the most dignified and deliberate Legislative Body in the World, as that is really what they call themselves. Well, there is the first laugh right there, even before they open their mouths. Then, as these Professional Law Makers are starting to operate at the advanced salary that they so reluctantly voted themselves last fall, why there is also another Scene being enacted at the opposite end from this exhaust end of the Capitol corridor. It’s the Amateur branch of our Lawgivers Association.

So they both had just convened in solemn conclave. Here is just what was in my morning paper to relieve the distress of Farmer, who had had more punctures this year than any year since rubber had advanced.

Festivities opened with a prayer as usual in both Theatres. The Chaplains of both places had just ended their hopeless supplication for guidance and knowledge, and both bodies immediately went into the work at hand, which as I say was to be the relief of the Farmer. Senator Bruce of Maryland arose. 2

“Mr. Chairman, Ladies and you too Senators, I would like to read the records of yesterday’s poll of all the votes cast in the Prohibition vote. I would like to state and also apologize for the size of yesterday’s vote. The total number cast is off, compared to other days, especially on the side of the drys. Yesterday was a bad day for voting. Income tax falls due Monday and most of the more prominent drys were busy making out their returns. With the usual amount of Bootleggers voting the dry end would have reached its usual proportion. The wets or the poorer classes however about maintained their usual strength as they had no income taxes to make out. New York City, out of a total of 12,486 votes cast votes. . . . .”

“Just a minute, Chairman Dawes,” interrupts Senator Willis of Ohio.3 “I object to the Congressional Record being entirely clogged up with Wet Propaganda. I have here an Editorial from the Hamilton, Ohio, Daily News, of Feb. 12th, on Lincoln the Prohibitionist. I will read it to you. If the wets want to pack the record with their propaganda I will show them that I can read just as much stuff in there as they can on their side.”

“He is interrupting me, Mr. President. I hadn’t finished reading my daily vote,” said Mr. Bruce of Maryland. “I have the vote here of the Claremore Progress, of Claremore, Oklahoma. Out of a total of twenty-five thousand six hundred and twenty-one votes cast here in town yesterday, the Repeal of the Volstead Amendment got . . . .”

“Just a minute!” spoke up Senator Carter Glass of Virginia.4 “May I ask the Senator from Maryland what would be the effect of incorrect information?”

Senator Bruce: “I don’t propose to offer that kind of information. I leave that kind to the Senator from Virginia.”

Senator Glass: “It is my opinion that the Hon. Senator of Maryland has already offered the Senate incorrect information on the subject.”

Senator Bruce: “It is, is it? Well, so far as I know the Senator from Virginia’s opinion does not give absolute finality to any subject.”

Senator Glass: “Does the Senator know any more about the correctness of his figures on Prohibition than I know?”

Senator Bruce: “I should be sorry to have the extent of my information on any subject measured by that of the Senator from Virginia. Well I would like to ask the Maryland Senator if wine and beer are intoxicating?”

Bruce replied: “The Senator from Virginia has drunk too much of both not to be thoroughly informed about them.”

Senator Glass: “I never touched a drop of intoxicants in my life.”

Senator Reed Smoot of Utah:5 “This stuff you are talking here costs the people of the United States $44 a page. That’s beside what it cost to ship it to the Asylumns where it’s read.”

Senator Bruce: “I have the returns here from the Ooolagah Oozings, of Ooolagah, Okla. Out of a total of two votes cast. . . .”

“Say, this thing is robbery!” hollered Senator Smoot. “These men are taking money out of the United States treasury. It cost $46 a page I tell you, even if nobody ever reads it!”

Senator Ashurst of Arizona:6 “The Senator from Maryland is employing his PERSPICACITY and. . . .

That remark sent pages scurrying for Dictionaries, as nobody knew just what he might have called them. They couldn’t tell till they read the definition whether it would be a duel or a kiss.

“Wait a minute, Colleagues! It’s words like that that is costing our Government $48 a page almost a piece, when they are that long, so I ask the Senator from Arizona to please withdraw that word and see if he can’t substitute a shorter one meaning the same thing,” asked Senator Smoot.

Jim Reed, who hadn’t been in an argument for almost 10 minutes, spoke up happily again:7 “He don’t know any other word that means the same thing, because he don’t know what that one meant.”

Senator Smoot: “Well, if Senators don’t know what words mean here I would be much obliged to them (as a member of the finance Committee who has to furnish the funds for this ‘Worst Joke I have heard today record’). I wish they would get one-syllable words, as I say it costs $50 a page.”

“I have a Newspaper account here,” spoke up Jim Reed of Missouri, “and it says that Gov. Donahy denounces the methods of Prohibition men in using women of doubtful character in obtaining evidence.8 I denounce them the same as Gov. Donahy and. . . .”

“What state is this Donahy guy Governor of?” asked Coley Blease of South Carolina.9

“How do I know what state?” replied Jim Reed. “They impeach these Governors so fast and change so much I can’t keep track of them. Gentlemen, it is costing the United States Treasury $52 a page to locate the Governor’s of these various states, and I doubt sometimes if it is worth it!”

Senator Ashurst of Arizona: “Mr. Bruce is trying to re-hab-i-tate the worst curse this. . . .”

“Wait a minute!” shouted Ashurst. “There he goes with another long word! Now Mr. Ashurst, I don’t care if you did learn these words from the late Senator Lodge.10 They are too expensive to use here. I have an editorial here from the Marion Star. It says Christopher Columbus didn’t drink a thing but salt water. I will read it. . .”

Being a Farmer myself, and needing relief, I thought I can’t stand reading this all day, so I will turn to another Column and see what the House did that same day. I said to myself I bet they got something done. So here is the news of the house that same day. They were helping the Farmer as follows:

Congressman La Guardia, N.Y., talking to Blanton of Tex., “What do you think should be done with you Congressmen that vote wet and drink dry?”11

Blanton: “I think they should be run out of the Country.”

La Guardia replied: “Then you Drys wouldn’t have a quorum here.”

Congressman Cellar, N.Y.:12 “As George Washington’s recipe for beer has been inserted in the record, I have one here for the old-fashioned Cocktail that I want to read into the record.” Not only wanted to, but did.

Con. Tinkham:13 “History does not record as terrible a place as Washington is now. It is under Government control, and if we can’t do anything with it, what kind of example are we setting for other Cities?”

Congressman Black, N. Y.:14 “What’s the matter with the voice of the President. Let us hear from him on this all-important question. He is in a position to know if the law can or cannot be enforced. Why don’t he answer?”

When I read that I laughed to myself and thought fine chance you will have hooking him in on any cuckoo argument like that. Nobody was over on this Amateur side of our National Capitol to look after the expenses like Smoot in the Senate. I guess you can publish a Congressman’s speech cheaper. Maybe they don’t have to mail out any of those. But wait a minute; it ain’t over.

Congressman Tydings, of Maryland:15 “Prohibition is un-Christian and in direct conflict with the teachings and example of Christ.”

Upshaw, Democrat, Georgia:16 “Your doctrine would abrogate every law of God and man from Sinai to Washington.”

Tydings: “You, Upshaw, are as shifty in your Prohibition arguments as the quicksand on which you stand.”

Now if that ain’t funnier than anything Ring Lardner ever wrote for either me or himself! That’s just one day, and to think we elect them for 6 years of 365 days each.

1For Ring Lardner see WA 167: N 1.
2William Cabell Bruce, Democratic United States senator from Maryland from 1923 to 1929.
3For Charles G. Dawes see WA 117: N 9. Frank Bartlett Willis, Republican United States senator from Ohio from 1921 until his death in 1928.
4Carter Glass, Democratic United States senator from Virginia from 1921 to 1946.
5Reed Smoot, Republican United States senator from Utah from 1903 to 1933.
6Henry Fountain Ashurst, Democratic United States senator from Arizona from 1912 to 1941.
7For James A. Reed see WA 151: N 6.
8Alvin Victor Donahey, Democratic governor of Ohio from 1923 to 1929.
9Coleman Livingston “Cole” Blease, Democratic United States senator from South Carolina from 1925 to 1931.
10Henry Cabot Lodge, Republican United States senator from Massachusetts from 1893 until his death in 1924.
11Fiorello Henry La Guardia, Republican United States representative from New York from 1917 to 1921 and 1923 to 1933; mayor of New York City from 1934 to 1945. Thomas Lindsay Blanton, Democratic United States representative from Texas from 1917 to 1929 and 1930 to 1937.
12Emanuel Celler, Democratic United States representative from New York from 1923 to 1971.
13George Holden Tinkham, Republican United States representative from Massachusetts from 1915 to 1943.
14Loring Milton Black, Jr., Democratic United States representative from New York from 1923 to 1935.
15Millard Evelyn Tydings, Democratic United States representative from Maryland from 1923 to 1927.
16William David Upshaw, Democratic United States representative from Georgia from 1919 to 1927; Prohibition party candidate for president in 1932.

March 28, 1926


All I know is just what I see in the papers and what I learn all over America as I carry the gospel of clean Politics and Government to the hindmost parts. Since I confessed to you last on my trails of truth I have covered more ground than a stolen automobile. After leaving wonderful old Frisco, than which there is no finer or more unique town in America (something about old Frisco that you don’t find after you leave New York till you get away out there). Salt Lake evidently was running along all right without any advice from me, so we just changed trains there, but had time to go all around the city, which has grown much since I was last there 12 years ago. Our little troupe had one good laugh there.

One of our Quartette was telling about a girl he knew there.1 He was asking a lady Newspaper woman, “You must know her. Everybody ought to know her here. She is Brigham Young’s Granddaughter.”2 Everybody hollered out as if it had been rehearsed, Lady Reporter and all, “Which one of his Granddaughters?”

That being the only description of a Girl in Salt Lake would be like saying, “You ought to know the girl I mean, she has bobbed hair.”

Salt Lake is the only town in the world that saw far enough ahead and predicted the forthcoming traffic jam, and made wide streets. Well, then we hit the Royal Gorge Route. There is a trip that is a trip, for real scenic beauty. If that was in Switzerland, newly rich Oil Millonaires would travel all summer to get to tell about seeing it.

Right on into Pueblo, Colo., the only town that has ever been able to tell the Arkansas River where to run and get away with it. They built a concrete pit and put the thing in there and have made it run their way. It was a big undertaking. But no more floods for Pueblo, unless Noah plays a return date with all of us.

Then up to Colorado Springs. I had never been there before. I had often heard of it. It is the Osage Indians’ Summer Resort. They being the richest people in the world, are naturally able to pick out the best resort there is.

When the Osages come, Marland, of Ponca City, and Spencer Penrose and all the smaller fry have to move out and give way to wealth.3 I had heard all my life of the beauty of Colorado Springs, and believe me, it had not been over estimated any. Pikes Peak is there for people that like to go up on top of the Woolworth Tower. Fine Hotels there, the Swimming Pools, 4 Polo Fields, Golf Courses, and private fishing lake; all for the Guests. I think it has it on that one at Ashville, N. C. I know there is not so many rules.

There is a Tepee in every room to make the Osages feel at home.

Then from there I hit the Capital of Kansas. I mean the Intellectual Capital. The Incorporated Village of William Allen White.4 I was glad to get there. It’s the Claremore of Kansas. And more glad to know that he was home, as he is just as liable to be in Siberia as in Kansas. He was laying for me that afternoon when I got in, as there was a banquet on that night, and it seemed like old times to be barking like a Dog for my meals again. The Santa Fe railroad had just given him a new Depot and they were feeding them free in return for it. Mr. White himself was down for a speech. He withdrew in my favor, and took the speech that he was going to make and sold it to Liberty Magazine for $2,500. I spouted for 20 minutes, and all I got for mine was the usual Fruit Cocktail, Olives, Celery, Cold Broiled Chicken, Ice Cream and Coffee, and the offer of one Cigar, which it is always a pleasure to refuse.

White ate like a Newspaper man that he is. Before the Dinner was over it turned out that they were not wasting the entire dinner on the Santa Fe Shops to be enlarged there. It seems Willam Allen Whiteville had the extra ground and all the Santa Fe had to do was to build on it. So it was a typical mercenary Chamber of Commerce Dinner. If you have never met William Randolph White you have missed a treat.5 He is a great fellow, one of the big minds of this Country. I know you will laugh and say what do you know about whether a man is a big mind or not. Well, I don’t know, but it’s a good title anyway, and I am going to give it to him till some other Guy comes along and proves that he has a bigger mind. He writes for more Magazines than Judge Gary gives interviews predicting prosperity.6 He owns and runs the Emporia Gazette.

When a thing is not good enough that the Magazines will take it and pay him for it, why he uses it in the Emporia Gazette. So in that way he gets everything he writes published. I don’t want you to infer by that that the Gazette might be made up of inferior articles. It is not. Every once in a while Magazines will turn down a pretty good article.

He is going to Russia this summer to study the Russian form of Civil War, and bring back the better points of it and apply it to Kansas politics. He has the finest home and the most littered up desk in Emporia. He has a son named Bill who eats Chili and writes too.7 It’s a dandy town. Has a real hotel, a school to teach Teachers what to teach Kansans, and another college where they learn you to be a Presbyterian.

Then we played another knowledge factory town, Ames, Iowa. They don’t have the best Agricultural College in the U. S. It’s kinder the last resort in learning how to farm. Never was our farmers taught as much as they are today, and never did they raise as little. Everybody is learning to farm and nobody is farming. But its a great thing, and they have a wonderful class of students there. They have a course in those schools called Animal Husbandry. I asked a boy what it was and he told me. Here I had followed Cows all my life and didn’t know what it was.

Well, it looks like every time I get off and get kinder short of a place to go why I can always go back and pick on my old home state of Oklahoma.

When we was down there before we didn’t have any dates open to play Muskogee and Okmulgee, They sure were fine to us. I felt awfully conscience stricken, picking on them, Here was all the rest of the United States to try and jip out of any loose change they had, and then me coming home and Hijacking them out of their hard earned collateral. Even Jesse James never robbed his own people. But they were both good, prosperous towns, and growing and improving, and I hadn’t bothered them in all my life of 20 years on the stage.

I sure did meet a many an old friend and all my kinfolks. I got more and better kinfolks than anybody. I believe Injun families stick a little closer together than Yonakers do. (That’s Cherokee for White Man.)

I sometimes introduce prominent men in the audience. Well, in Muskogee I picked on one that lots of people might not think was the most prominent or worthwhile, but he was to me. It was an old backwoods mountain man that had lived in these Tahlequah hills all his life, with the exception perhaps 8 months. I know this was the first time he had been in a Theatre in 28 years.

But at the finish of those eight months he had heard more applause and cheering than any Actor or any Governor of a State will hear in a life time. And I wanted time to hear it again. Not because he was a second cousin of mine, and a Cherokee Injun, but because he was the most modest of Heroes. It was Johnny Adair, of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, who come out, did his bit and went back to the hills when it was over.8 Why, I would rather go to my grave as a member of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders than I would to have been a Governor or a David Warfield, or a Georgie Cohan.9

What Heroes there are around in every gathering if we only knew and could pick them out.

1For The de Reszké Singers see WA 153: N 4.
2Brigham Young, American religious leader who headed the Mormon Church from 1847 until his death in 1877. A polygamist, he was survived by seventeen wives and countless children and grandchildren.
3Ernest Whitworth Marland, Oklahoma oilman who made and lost a fortune in the 1920s. Marland was governor of Oklahoma at the time the Will Rogers Memorial was dedicated: November 4, 1938. Spencer Penrose, wealthy gold and copper mining engineer and executive who was a leading developer of Colorado Springs and the nearby Broadmoor resort. After Rogers’ death in 1935, Penrose built the Shrine of the Sun Memorial to the humorist on Cheyenne Mountain at Colorado Springs.
4William Allen White, owner and editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette from 1895 until his death in 1943; recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in 1923.
5For William Randolph Hearst see WA 144: N 5.
6For Elbert H. Gary see WA 153: N 2.
7William Lindsay White, American journalist, writer, and Republican politician; only son of William Allen White.
8John Adair, Oklahoma rancher who served with Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during the Spanish-American War of 1898. He was a first cousin of Rogers.
9For David Warfield see WA 123: N 12; for George M. Cohan see WA 121: N 8.