October 2, 1932 - December 25, 1932
SOME SWELL IDEAS TO
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. Now there’s not much use writing about politics, for it’s just in about the same shape it’s been in. If things get better Mr Hoover will be elected, and if it don’t, why he won’t. So that’s all there is to politics.
IMPROVE THE WORLD
One side is in and wants to stay in, the other side is out and wants in, and there is no difference between ’em, they are both good if things are going good, and both terrible if things are bad, so just throw up a coin and go to the poles.
Well let’s see what’s has been messing around out here. Roosevelt was out to see us, and a pleasant time was had by all, he made a very fine impression. He is a very charming man, we are always lucky with our candidates. All have been splendid fellows. Any of ’em could have served us well.
I always kinder hate to see an election, for it’s tough on the defeated ones. There is lots of luck in the whole thing, from the nominating right on down to the finish.
I have always maintained that the office of president should be for six years with no re-election. It’s not right that a president should have to “lectineer” and work on his next campaighn. It’s not fair to him. He is naturally human, and going to use every legitimate means of staying in office, so that takes up too much of his valuable time. He owes the nation that time. He don’t owe it to his political henchmen that want to stay in with him.
This don’t apply to Mr Hoover. It applies to all of ’em. Besides, in six years that gives him time to do something constructive. Suppose Mr Hoover had two more years now, we wouldent be doing all this worrying, right when everybody’s mind ought to be on how to help out of this, and not “How to Get Some Votes.” Then let two new ones fight over it, see which could outpromise the other.
Oh, yes then I got another scheme, a president retires at half pay for life, that relieves his worrys of a personal financial nature and makes him feel in his old days that his work and devotion to his country was always appreciated. Now these are just a couple of Rogers bills, course they will never get anywhere but the Sunday supplement, but I bet you that any ex-president will say the idea is not so cuckoo.
But ideas? Ideas? Schemes? Everybody has some scheme or plan to save somebody or the country. I am just a-gabbing like the usual soap box guy, always trying to remedy something, and not try to make out with what we got.
Everybody has got a scheme to set the world back right again. Come to think of it, I can’t remember when it was right. There has been times when it has been right for you, and you and you, but never all at the same time. The whole thing is a teeter board even when it’s supposed to be going good, you are going up and somebody is coming down. You can’t make a dollar without taking it from somebody. So every time we wish for something for our own personal gain, we are wishing somebody else bad luck, so maby that’s why so few of our wishes come to anything.
But all this kind of “nut” thinking is not my business. It’s for some economist, or some fellow that teaches in school, and all that stuff is his “racket.” You know we all got a “racket” and we shouldent tread over into the other fellows. So I am not going to try and muscle in on some thinker’s racket.
Our picture business is picking up, that is the studios are making more than at any time in the last few years. We are all making ’em in hopes we strike a good one. It’s just like fishing, we never know when the public is going to bite. With all their unfailing judgement, the public has bit at some bad ones, so we keep on having a supply of them on hand, figureing that ours might be the sucker picture they would go for.
Some of the biggest money makers have been some of the biggest fakes. As far as being real is concerned. But on the other hand the good ones that have done business deserved to do it. The old public is pretty smart after all. They don’t bite at a bad one as often as do a good one.
But what I am getting at is that these fellows that judge the public, make and sell the pictures, they must feel pretty certain that there is quite a few more dimes and quarters “just around the corner” or they wouldent be putting all these millions into these sliding chromos. Talking to a fellow that was just over from France, he is a producer over there, he says the Germans are making the best pictures in Europe. The big hits of Paris are some German pictures. England is doing better, Italy not so much, (this is all what he said, not what I said). Russia goes in for sort of “art” mixed with propaganda. You see art is when you do something just cockeyed from what is the right way to do it, then it’s art. When you get to monkeying with art, why you just about left commerce behind. You can make a picture that is saturated with “art” but it’s liable to not be even “diluted” with gate receipts. The mob knows that the old cat has kittens and raises ’em in about the same way year after year. Occasionally you will hit an old tabby that wants to be unconventional, but she generally winds up on the same back fence.
But it’s as I say, they are making more puctures, now who is going to look at ’em I don’t know. But I was just telling you, I thought it might make you feel a little better to know that somewhere someplace there was a few more people at work. We are not as high salaried as we were, we are not as cocky as we were, we are not as foolish as we were, but we are happier, saner, (we hope) and willing to take care of your wants in the picture line, and not our preferences. We are just a lot of hired help in a business that strives to please, for we are like the president, we want to stay in office as long as possible.
’TWAS A BIG DAY IN CALIFORNIAWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. Or what I see here and there. There is an awful lot to see this year, if you just sit on the side lines and look on. The politicians never were in a bigger huddle.
A few weeks ago when candidate Roosevelt was out here you never saw such a bunch of Democratic outriders. You see out here in California it used to be hard to scare up a Democrat, and where you did he was scared sure enough. But now they are showing their heads shamelessly. Why you would think the RASCALS were the salt of the earth the way they acting up.
But it was a big time for ’em. Folks did give Mr Roosevelt a fine reception and a mighty good time was indulged in by practically all. The movies turned out and gave a big night for him, not because they was going Democratic. They are a little of everything and most of us not much of anything. We are all too interested in our “art” to give much thought to material things. Don’t that sould like a real artist? Most of us don’t even know who is running.
In fact, who is running? Well Mr Roosevelt said he was, and the way they cheered I think he was. We (I don’t really mean “we”; I had nothing to do with it) but they did put on a fine show for him. They had what they call an electric pageant. That seems to be the “go” now is a pageant. It used to be called just a parade, but now it’s a pageant.
Now here is a kind of a joke on us that I don’t know if it’s ever leaked out or not. We had about 15 beautiful floats with girls just “strewn” all over ’em. You would naturally say “Why those floats cost a lot of dough.” And they did. That is they did when they were first used. They were built by somebody. I don’t know who, but they were built for the Shriners convention and parade in Frisco, which was held a short time before, and we just hired ’em. If there had been any Frisco folks in the audience it would have looked like old home week to ’em, but that’s one thing there is never any Frisco folks down this way. Here and Death Valley is two places Frisco folks seldom ever go. To them one is just about as desolated as the other.
Course we took the old floats and changed the name of ’em. Where one up there might have been christened “The Progress of Beauty” or something why we had Laurel and Hardy on it and called it “Laughter Will Pay.”1 For instance, up there one was all decorated with angels, and called “Virtue and Beauty Intact.” Why down here it was loaded up with Hollywood “extras” dressed as bullfighters advertising Sam Goldwyn’s picture, “The Kid From Spain.”2 Where they had featured beauty solely, we had combined it with a slight tinge of advertisement and had blended beauty and commerce. But it was done mighty cleverly. But Frisco had made it possible, and we want to thank ’em for it. So they can consider this official.
Then they had some polo games. They wasent so hot, on account of the size of the field, and they should have used an indoor ball, which is bigger and the people could have seen, and also that the players could have too. Then a few stunts of a rodeo that was put on by Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, and all our wild west boys.3 It was very good, the speaking was short and not “so hot” either. But we all did the best we could. It was for a good charity cause, and the audience was liberal and lenient.
We had lots of screen stars there. None of Metro’s for Louie B. Mayer is a staunch Republican.4 And they of course was afraid to come on that account. Lot’s of ’em would have liked to have seen Mr Roosevelt even if going to vote for Hoover, but they couldent take a chance. But Louie is a good fellow and loyal.
It was kind of a chilly night, and it seems that it’s an unwritten law that you can’t put a girl on a float with any clothes on. In fact here is the ingredients of a “pageant.” You first pick a cold night, then have plenty of places all over the “float” for girls to stand, but don’t let ’em have anything on. That’s the first ingredient of a “float rider” is to be totally naked. Now she must be able to smile through the snow and sleet. What she is up there doing, or what she is to represent must never enter her head any more than it does the man that arranged it. She is just up there to act naked, and hope that she is not frostbitten by the end of the journey. They are not really “pageants.” They are early stages of pheumonia. They are endurance contests, to see how much a girl can stand and shiver herself off the pedestal they have her on. You see a thing like that is just right up these old fat Shriners’ alley. They sit there in their warm overcoats and delight on betting when the girl will turn to an icicle. A “pageant” is a collection of bare skin, surrounded by pleanty of electric light bulbs.
Oh yes there is a P. S. A guy tried to jump a horse through a hoop of fire, the horse wouldent jump, and the man was without the shadow of a doubt the worst jumping horse rider in the world. He finally walked the horse up to and forced him into it. The horse knocked the whole contraption and fell in the fire. The man got no burns, much to the disgust of 80 thousand people.
1For Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy see WA 464:N 1.
2For Samuel Goldwyn see WA 475:N 5.
3For Tom Mix see WA 494:N 2; for Hoot Gibson see WA 469:N 5.
4For Louis B. Mayer see WA 490:N 3.
LOUD AIRBUSTERSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I hear over the Radio, and brother if that old Radio ain’t getting a beating. The politicians are giving that poor little old microphone one of it’s toughest seasons since it’s birth. I was just sitting listening in like millions of you have been all Fall.
When the Country ought to be working it’s just listening. Even us that are fortunate to have a kind of a job, why we knock off to listen. Well one I remember was Ogden Mills, Odgen took over the Treasury when Mr. Mellon took over the business of introducing “Debutantees” to George and Mary.1
Men in America live, hope and die trying to become Presidents. If they can’t make it they accept the booby prize and go in the Senate. But women just live, hope and die happy, if they can be presented at the Court of St. James.
Well as I was saying before, one of the ones I tuned in on the other week was Ogden Mills. He was out our way sprinkling some tacks in the Democratic road. Ogden is the first man I ever made a political speech for, and the last one. When I got through it he was running for Congress in New York City and the audience couldent tell if I was talking for Ogden, or Aimee McPherson, so they pronounced my speech pretty much of a bust.2 But they elected Ogden, the only Republican candidate elected to Congress from the great City of New York. (And there is dozens of ’em from there.) At the time I made the speech I dident know that he was running on the Republican side, but young Teddy Roosevelt asked me to go say a few words for Odgen, and I have always been glad I did, for he has made good.3 I always feel that he is one man that I sponsored that lived up to it.
He is awful rich and got an awful nice wife, and she is a good fellow.4 She comes into Jack Garner’s office and we had a political kowtow. Mills is a wealthy man and always has been, but he really tries, and does render some fine service to his Country, and especially to his party. Even the Democrats say that he has made a fine Treasury, not that the Democrats know much about handling money but Mills has impressed ’em tremendously. He can count the Treasury money without looking at it longingly.
Well he come out to California a few weeks ago and I wanted to see him and Mrs. Mills, but the Republicans were around him so thick, that I knew I would be disinfecting myself for days afterwards, so I dident get to see him. And I dident have a Republican registration card so I couldent get in even to hear him, but I went home and got him on the Radio. I missed 15 minutes of him, for Amos and Andy was on, but the minute Amos stopped singing “Is I Blue?” why I went right over onto Ogden.5 He is a mild-mannered man in private life but when he gets on that diving board in front of that microphone, why he goes hog wild. If you dident know who it was, and just heard him, you would think it was a Southern Democrat. He orates, then he super orates, then from then on he just gets louder.
They used to call ’em Spellbinders. They ought to call ’em “Airbusters” now. But he had a lot of facts mixed in with the noise, and a lot of facts between growls. But here was the strange thing, he had the same things in his speech that Mr. Hoover had in Des Moines three days later. Now who copped who’s act? We used to have that a lot on vaudeville. Some bird would get in the week ahead of you and do your same jokes. Well that’s what Ogden had done with Herbert. He did his act the week ahead of him, all that stuff about the Gold Standard.
But it may have been Mills, for that was up his alley, that finance stuff. But he is a very able man and can make a lot more speeches if he will just take it easy. The fellows that rant have to do it to cover up ignorance. Ogden don’t have to do that.
By the way you know the best speaker of all of ’em I heard so far this fall? Well it was the wife of Bob Shuler, that preacher that is running for the senate out home.6 Most women’s voice is not so hot over the Radio, but I tell you hers is the most natural, and she’s got a lot of plain good facts. McAdoo looks like he ought to win out there.7 He has really done things. But old Bob getting in there messing it up for both the others, why that’s liable to make a difference. Well it won’t be long now! Just three more weeks to Alibis.
1For Ogden L. Mills see WA 491:N 4; for Andrew W. Mellon see WA 440:N 9; for King George V and Queen Mary see WA 440:N 1.
2For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 429:N 4.
3Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., eldest son and namesake of the twenty-sixth president. A former assistant secretary of the navy, Roosevelt was a noted writer, explorer, politician and soldier.
4Mills was married to the former Dorothy Randolph Fell of Philadelphia.
5For “Amos ‘n Andy” see WA 487:N 1.
6Robert Pierce “Bob” Schuler, fundamentalist clergyman and lecturer from Los Angeles, Shuler polled more than 560,000 votes for the United States Senate in 1932 while running on the Prohibition party ticket. He was married to the former Nelle Reeves.
7For William G. McAdoo see WA 494:N 5.
CAMPAIGN DIRECTORYWell let’s take this Campaighn right from the jump. You might wonder “Just when does a Campaighn really start?” Well they really start about 15 minutes after the official returns are in from the last election, on about the fifth drink after the counting is over or the Radio has announced that “So and So concedes the election to his honorable opponent.” That is the first hooey of the following campaighn. What he would like to concede to him is a dose of giant powder or a couple of hou-deuvers of Paris Green. Well right then is when the boys start laying their traps for the open office holding season, which is four years away, but they start cutting their bait right that very night. “Well Jim, I’ll tell you where we made our mistake this year and how we can beat that ‘Ham’ in ’36.” So they start soaping the tracks right away.
Course the President, he is always conceded the nomination of the next election unless he has been notoriously incompetent. But all things being as they usually are why he of course can have the election if he wants it. And history has never recorded the one that dident. Coolidge dident but he had already had practically two terms. And there is a kind of unwritten law against that (like the one where if a wife shoots her husband). But it wasent a third term bugaboo that kept Calvin out, it was horse sense. He knew just to an inch how much American wind the financial balloon would hold and he got out just two days before it busted. Poor Mr. Hoover dident see the thing any more than poor Rin Tin Tin.1 Or for that matter, the rest of us.
But what we are talking about is this campaighn. It was set that Mr. Hoover could have it if he choose, and he did choose, and how! They do love to be President. It’s the toughest job in the world, but there is always 120 million applicants.
Now that brings us down to the Democrats. (What do you mean brings us down?) The Democrats can always furnish more candidates than the Republicans. There is less Democrats, but more of ’em are candidates. Just after the previous election, let us say the one of 1928. Well the next morning after it, every Democrat who has been elected to anything at all the night before, his local paper said, and he like a yap believed it, “Jim Jasbo swept all opposition before him at the polls yesterday. He will be the best justice of the Peace the Democrats ever had in this country and the U.S. Senate is in his grasp and the White House is before him.”
We have 96 senators in there, all of whom think they are only there till the next election when they will move to the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue. Then the Democrats go through what they call a “Delousing” process, that is they remove some of ’em’s ambition. They ask ’em if they won’t please wait four years, that they are young yet and that the office will be theirs four years later. Then we will say it’s getting down near nomination time. It’s been culled down to about one native son of each State. They get all they can out of him in the way of Campaighn trips, bands, and hotel bills. Then on a certain ballot they quit him cold and jump over to the fellow who was nominated the night before in the hotel room, and will be publicly announced the following morning.
Well the nominations are over now. The disgruntled ones start in: “Wrong man,” “Will never make it,” “Punk.” But as the weeks drag along and their complaining is getting them no campaighn funds why they begin to “see the light.” They have “heard the Candidate’s speeches and he is sound and we are going to support him.”
Now the Campaighn is going. The Democrats must attack. He is the “Out” as usual. He has to tell what he would have done. Finally the “In” must come “Out.” He must tell “Why he dident do it.” Now it’s up to the voter to believe one man’s promise or another man’s alibis. One fellow is in and he don’t want to get out the other fellow is out and he wants to get in. Nobody knows what the one that is in would do if he continues in, for no man knows what he would do till a condition arose, and he really faced it. But this thing has been going on for years, 150 I think it was, when George started it. But we always have good men on both sides so just let the voters guess their head off.
1Rin-Tin Tin, German sherherd who between 1922 and 1931 was the most famous canine star in American motion pictures.
OVER YOUR SHOULDERAll I know is just what I read in the papers or what I run into as I prowl like a coyote trotting along looking back over my shoulders to see what’s going on behind me. You know Ed Borein, the great cowboy etcher of Santa Barbara, Calif.1 Ed makes the best western etchings of anybody. He is a real cowpuncher, and knows the California “Buckaroo” and the old Mexico “Vaquero” better than any artist living. He has been in Mexico a lot, and in California a lot more. Old Ed swings a pretty mean loop himself and goes to all the calf brandings around Santa Barbara.
I went with him one time down to the Hearst Ranch in old Mexico.2 He had worked on it many years before. We were with Archie Parks, the manager of the big ranch in California, that the castle is on “Sam Simeon.” Archie used to run the Mexico outfit, and it was his first visit back there in years. We sure had a big time. It would take me a week to tell you all about it.
But what started me on all this was telling about what Ed told me. He said an Indian told him that the reason a white man always got lost and an Indian dident was because an Indian always looked back after he passed anything so he got a view of it from both sides. You see the white man just figures that all sides of a thing are the same. That’s like a dumb guy with an argument, he don’t think there can be any other side only his. That’s what you call politicians.
You can learn a lot from what that Indian told Ed besides just how not to get lost. You must never disagree with a man while you are facing him. Go around behind him and look the same way they do when you are facing him. Look over his shoulder and get his viewpoint, then go back and face him and you will have a different idea.
So lately I been trying to look back over my shoulder like a wolf and an Indian. I just been making a trip down through Mexico, Central and South America, and even in an aeroplane, I would look back. (Of course it was mostly looking back at the last place that looked like we could land if the engine stopped.) But I did do quite a bit of looking back.
Now for instance I looked back at Hollywood as I left. Now you would be surprised at Hollywood if you look at it from both sides. As you come up to it and its people, and you see the movie side, all the pain and glitter and makeup, and make believe houses, but as you look back at it, why a lot of those houses have backs to ’em, and people live in ’em, and they don’t have any make up, and they eat and sleep and fret and worry about work, and about their children, and every thing just like any other place. But you got to look back to see it. Yes sir, there is a lot of pleasure in looking back, and peeping around and trying to see the other fellow’s angle. Every guy has an “Angle” on living, and on life, and on everything.
Take the election. Now one side couldent or wouldent want to know really what the other side could do or really thought they could do. Both sides just spent the whole summer hunting up things to cuss the other side on. That the other side might be right in a lot of things never entered their head, in fact they wouldent let it enter it. A politician is not as narrow minded as he forces himself to be. Nobody is going to spoil the country but the people. No man can do it, and all the people are not going to do it, so it’s going to run in spite of all the mistakes that can happen to it. Any people that can raise more than you can eat and wear is set for life anyhow.
Sure everybody hasent got as much, but everybody don’t need as much. Flying along over Mexico, see all the little adobe huts, raising a little patch of “free hollie beans” a little patch of corn to mash up some meal into and make some “Tortillias” (bisquits to you). Now at first you will say “What in the world kind of an existence is that?”
Well now let’s look back over the shoulder and see if we can’t see a little more than just the hut, and the Mexican family sitting in the sun. In the first place you never hear of one jumping out of a window when General Motors drops ten points. What the Japs do in Manchuria is no more of his business than it is ours. Only he won’t worry about it. A “Burro” in a lope is as fast as he ever went, and he thinks that’s fast. A passenger aeroplane at (maybe) 140 is as fast as most of us ever went and we think that’s fast. But not to Doolittle or Hawkes.3 You see everything is by comparison. The old Mexican sleeps at night. Nothing bothers him except maybe a flea, but he can scratch him off. He knows how to reach him, but we don’t know how to reach over production, unemployment, second mortgages, poor movies, and a thousand and one things that bite us and keep us awake at nights. And we don’t know how to scratch ’em off for we don’t know just where they are biting us.
No, sir, the world has got a million millionaires that would give a million apiece to the old Mexican to have nothing bothering them but just fleas, and other kindred spirits. So Viva-la-me-he-co.
1John Edward “Ed” Borein, American western illustrator, etcher, and painter, known as the “Cowpuncher Artist.”
2For William Randolph Hearst and the Babicora Ranch see WA 461:N 1.
3James Harold “Jimmy” Doolittle, American flier noted for his speed marks set in the 1920s and 1930s, his interest in commercial aviation, and his heroism during World War II. For Frank Hawks see WA 434:N 3.
IT WON’T BE LONG NOWWell Boys it won’t be long now. This is the last week of Democracy’s campaign. If the boys haven’t corraled the votes by now, why they just as well figure that the ones that are out yet are out for the money. The boys that haven’t decided by now are waiting for the best offer. From now on till Tuesday is where dough counts. You don’t win these late deciders by arguments. You got to lay it on the line for them. They have all, perhaps, collected from one side already and are laying for the other one.
I think the people as a rule have been mighty patient all this summer and fall. They have heard the country saved in every possible form and dialect. There has been men talking over the radio that their own families couldn’t understand. Tammany Hall leaders spoke before the microphone without interpreters, which should never have been allowed. Poor old Tammany, as her figure grows less, her dialect becomes more pronounced. She has never been able to make a dent nationally.
Well, I guess after all it’s been what they call a clean campaign. A clean campaign is one where each side cleans the other of every possible vestige of respectability. Mr. Hoover rarely if ever mentioned his opponent. He has kinder worked on the “Totally Ignored” system. That is, “I suppose I have an opponent, but as far as I am concerned he does not exist.” Roosevelt took the other tack. He knew he had an opponent and he wanted people to know who the opponent was even if he did know some of them had forgotten.
They personally fought very clean (in all but the clinches). Then of course it was each man protect yourself. Mr. Hoover early in the campaign when he first went out to Iowa to speak, asked “For some degree of sportsmanship to be used.” It seems they had been saying that he had no ear for the suffering that had gone on during the last three years. Well that was pretty bum propaganda and he had a right to speak out in church to stop it, but it is too bad that politics can’t be conducted on a little higher plane. They just won’t pay even one atom of credit to the opposition. They are just horse thieves and that’s all there is to it. Well they are, but aren’t we all?
Now this naturally brings me back to my “Platform.” Every party and everybody must have some platform formed even if it’s in their minds. Mine is that a president should hold office six years, with no re-election. Stop this thing of a president having to lower his dignity and go trooping around asking for votes to keep him there another term. He has to do it, naturally, but a six-year term with no re-election will be the remedy. Six years gives him time to do something. It takes him four years to find out who is his friends in the senate and house. There is a lot of senators in there for six years. Well, where do they get that way? Look at the saving of all the money, all the time, all the uncertainty of another election. It lessens it one-third. Then pay the man when he goes out one-half of his salary for life. The country should keep an ex-president from bankruptcy if it can keep a railroad or a badly managed bank. Course the cabinet wouldent have much to do on their last summer in office like they do now, but they could hang around their offices and kill time.
The boys have worked mighty hard during this campaign. Pat Hurley boasts that he used to work in a coal mine down home in Oklahoma.1 Well he never shoveled as hard as he has this summer and fall. He did his all for his boss. Ogden Mills, all of ’em.2 This cabinet thing might be a cinch for three years, but the last one you earn your oats.
I am anxious to see how the state elections come out. My good friend Dave Ingalls in Ohio, is as fine a young man as ever entered politics, got a tough opponent.3 Governor White is a good man and there is a real race.4 There’s class to that. Whoever wins that can be proud and the loser need not be ashamed. Trubee Davidson in New York is another fine young man.5 Course Lieut. Governor is kinder like a co-pilot. After him and the pilot he has to jump and pull their chutes, there is not much he can do. But it may lead him to a better landing some day.
An’ we will know lots more in a week from now than we do now. There is going to be a terrible lot of people fooled. I have always said voting is a funny thing, a fellow will lie about it as easy as a golf score. Every candidate in the race on all sides have had enough promises to elect ’em unanimously, but you wait till the votes are counted and let them tell you how many liars there are of legal age.
1For Pat Hurley see WA 440:N 9.
2For Ogden L. Mills see WA 491:N 4.
3For David S. Ingalls see WA 440:N 11.
4George White, Democratic governor of Ohio from 1931 to 1935. White defeated Ingalls in the gubernatorial election of 1932.
5A Republican, Davison (see WA 469:N 15) was defeated in his bid in 1932 for the lieutenant governorship of New York.
A GRASS CROP AIN’T SO
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, and we will all be so dog gone glad to be able to read something in the papers from now on. I’ll bet there was more useless ink wasted on this dog fight that just ended than there was on the same length of time in the war.
EASY TO GROW
Now honest did you ever read, hear or see as much bunk and applesauce piled into one campaign? There wasent any more truth in over one half of what any campaign so called “Orator” said. If it wasent a “Deliberate Lie,” why it was an “Exagerated Falsehood.” Now can you tell us that ordinarily intelligent men can stand up there day after day and say, “If the Democrats win this it will bring hardship to every fireside in America, the grass will grow in five hundred streets. It will retard Progress for 100 years.” Now a thing like that dident have to be said. Half the towns won’t grow grass even if you quit using ’em, that’s why they decided to use ’em as towns was because they wouldent grow grass. And as a matter of fact if they would grow grass they would be worth more as a Range than they would as a Town. This thing of growing grass is a kind of a tough job. Did you ever try it? Well you wait till you try to start a lawn sometime and then see how much truth there is in Mr. Hoover’s “Grass” speech.
I remember one time out in Higgins, Texas, there was quite an “Amiable Gentleman” worked out on the “Box T” Ranch for the Doyle’s. This was in the Winter of 98. (I forget who run that year, but I guess it was Bryan, he was the only name the Democrats could pronounce along during that generation.)1 I had been temporarily incarcerated in a military institution at Boonville, Missouri.2 The warden was a mighty fine old gentleman named Thomas Johnston, in fact he is still living and occupies the same position, and has since enlarged his place till its one of the outstanding penal servitudes for Academic learning in the whole middle West, and receives inmates from almost every quarter of the Literary Digest Pole.3 It was a splendidly organized and conducted place but it dident exactly agree with my high ideals at that time so we severed relations. It was mutual in my part and practically “Super” mutual on theirs.
Having never worked cattle in the Great Lone Star State of Texas, why Billy Johnson, of Canadian, Texas, a cell mate of mine at the time, advised me to go to Higgins, Texas.4 Just got word the other day that Billy had passed away. Too bad, fine fellow.) Well Billy told me to go to Frank Ewing’s Ranch at Higgins, and he would give me some employment as maid of all work to a group of Texas Heifers.5 All this is just to tell you how I got to Higgins, for Higgins is a town that you have to explain why and how you got there. All this is gradually leading up to this famous “Grass in the Street” speech of Herbert Hoover’s.
Well the “Box T Lad” (that’s this sturdy old citizen that worked for ’em out there and had for generations) well the Box T Lad come in for Ranch provisions, driving four awful good mules, and had brought a plow in to get it fixed up to plow a Garden patch at the Ranch on his return. You know in 98 Volstead was still plowing corn up in his home state.6 In fact he is right back where he started and plowing the same corn, so there was good cheer in a Town in those days. The Box T Lad got full as a goat during the latter end of the evening, after all others were under the table for the night he went to the feed yard and by the assistance of the mules themselves got the harness on ’em, hitched ’em to the plow and in the dead of late night proceeded to plow up the streets of Higgins, the Main Street, the side streets, the cross streets, which in those days were all merged into one, if you plowed up the Main Street you practically had the town turned over. It wasent a long street but it had width. It was built for traffic, so four mule team pulling a trailer wagon could turn with ease. Next morning when the folks got up and found their “Main Stem” thoroughly turned over, suspicion gradually drifted to “The Lad.” And between eye openers he remarked, “I thought I would plow her up and sow her in grass, she wasent much good to anybody like she was.” So I think that’s where Hoover’s famous Campaign slogan come from. It was originated with the Box T Lad of Higgins in the Fall of 98.
Some of the other remarks and slogans of the various speakers God knows where they originated, but wherever they originated they will die at the same place, for none of ’em will live. The last campaign brought in religion. This one replaced it with fear. This time they tried to scare you into voting a certain way. Now take that fireside gag about “Affecting every fireside in America.” Was it going to bring ruin and disaster to the Democratic Postmasters who would go in? How did he figure that it would affect Roosevelt’s fireside? Not exactly dissaster I wouldent think. Well it’s over and while everybody is not happy, everybody is at least glad, glad the thing is over.
It takes a great country to stand a thing like that hitting it every four years. When you figure that you have a system where you make business stand still and people go nutty for three months every four years, why somebody who concocted the idea of elections certainly figured out a devastating scheme. The locusts that I saw swarming the Argentine are house flys compared to the destruction to a business by a presidential election. The Candidates are “High Typed Gentlemen” till the contest gets close then the “Brute” comes out in ’em. What starts out to be a nice fight winds up in a street brawl. But it all comes under the heading of Democracy. And as bad as it is it’s the best scheme we can think of. So let’s all rest up for 36, mow the grass out of the streets, get that dissaster out of those firesides, and start another battle over those Post Offices.
1For William Jennings Bryan see WA 481:N 4.
2Rogers attended Kemper Military School at Boonville, Missouri, from 1897 to 1898.
3Thomas Alexander Johnston, American educator and veteran of the Confederate Army; superintendant and owner of the Kemper Military School from 1881 to 1909; president and superintendant form 1909 to 1928; president from 1928 until his death in 1934.
4W. A. “Billy” Johnson, rancher and banker of Canadian, Texas.
5Frank Ewing, son of Perry Ewing, a Texas rancher at Higgins, Texas, for whom Rogers worked in 1898 after leaving Kemper.
6For Andrew J. Volstead see WA 431:N 2.
REPORT OF THE POST MORTEMWell all I know is just what I read in the papers and what I hear as I listen to Democrats like mocking birds in the tree tops. I kinder thought that when the votes were counted that we had closed the arguments, but we seem to have just started ’em, so as they are still going over ’em why we just as well join in. You can never be late with a Post Mortem, cause the corpse will always stay dead till you decide on what the cause of his death was. That’s one accommodating thing about a corpse.
Now let’s start from the beginning. What chance did Mr Hoover have at any time, even before the nominations? Everybody admitted “That if things don’t pick up a whole lot why Mr Hoover hasent got a ghost of a chance.” Well things dident pick up, everybody knew that. So why did they run him, or I mean rather why did he run himself, for naturally he would be called upon to by the party to run. They never care for the Individual. It’s always the old hooey, “For the good of the party.”
Now if Mr Hoover had just said, “Now boys I have done all I can for the good of the old Party. I have struggled with it, fought every type of hard luck that was ever invented, including some invented by my own party. Now I know the tide is against me, so why lead me to the slaughter? If people want a change as they evidently seem too, why maby we could lead them to accept a change in our own Party, so just let me drop out. In fact I don’t care for another term.”
Now you see where he would have been. Course you will say, “Yes Will, but this is a second guess you are making. It’s easy to tell after it’s all over what might have been done.” But it’s not a second guess. It was plain to him and all of ’em all the time. The whole thing hinged on “Things Picking Up.” Well what was to make ’em pick up? If they hadent picked up in three years why were they going to pick up this Fall? A slight gain wouldent have meant a thing. It would have had to rained dollars to make everyone think that the real turn had come.
Away before the Convention in Chicago, I used to ask “Well why does Mr Hoover run? You all say that if the election was tomorrow that he would be overwhelmingly defeated, that the people just want a change. Why don’t he step out and let me nominate somebody else in his place and save that beating?”
Well they would always tell me, “Well Will, don’t you see that would be admitting that the Party had failed? And we couldent do that.” You see it all gets back to the “Party.” They couldent have the “Party” admit anything. No sir he must run, whether he wants to or not, “We must stand for our principals.”
So another good man was sent out to bite the dust. I’ll bet you that Mr Coolidge would have ducked ‘em if he had been in there under these same conditions. He would have “Not Choosed” right in their face. He would have told ‘em, “The running don’t look good, and I am not going in just for the sake of running second.” The “Good of the Party” could have gone and jumped in the lake as far as he would have been concerned. They wouldent have made a Roman Holiday out of him. He would have said “Boys throw some other good Republican Christian to the lions. I see the handwriting on the wall in electric letters.”
You see you could get over some such resignation as this, “Citizens I am afraid that my administration has not been entirely to your satisfaction, and there seems to be a decided element in favor of a change. I have no alabi’s to offer, I have no excuses, I have done my very best. It seems that it should have been more. So for the good of all concerned I decline to be a candidate for re-election. Yours, Herbert Hoover.”
But the “Party” wouldent have allowed such a sane and sensible course. It would have put them in the hole instead of Mr Hoover. He would have had the sympathy of everyone, but the “Party” kept hanging onto the idea that “Things” might pick up. They did. Democratic support picked up. But on the other hand there just seems to be something about running for President that you can never get out of a fellow’s head. He never seems to figure his chances. It can be on an “Off Year” or an “On Year” or “Leap Year” and just nominate him, and he is perfectly tickled to death. That he will wind up by just being a defeated candidate never seems to enter his head. That “The time is not ripe for it” is as foreign to his thoughts as the moon.
But it’s over and I guess everybody did the best they could according to what they had to do with. But I did hate to see a man that had been as conscientious as Mr Hoover had, take a beating like that. He dident deserve it, he deserved a straightforward declination to run again.
AND HERE’S HOW IT ALL HAPPENEDWell all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I see as I prowl hither and thither. With the election over everybody seems to have settled down to steady argument.
The old “Hide Bound” Republicans still think the world is just on the verge of coming to an end, and you can kinder see their angle at that for they have been running things for all these years.
I got a letter the other day from a very very prominent business man in Los Angeles, Mr. Frank Garbutt, the man that has made running of clubs a science, and not just a business.1 He owns every club from the great Los Angeles Athletic Club to Beach Clubs, to Golf Clubs, to Polo Clubs. Now Frank is the longest headed man you ever saw. Yet he said there wouldent be a bank open in five months after Roosevelt took office. I don’t know what these fellows figure the Democrats are going to do with the Country.
You would think a lot of folks would have their passage booked to some foreign land till the next election when they could get these Democrats back among the unemployed. Why they was in for eight years here not so long ago, from 1912 to 20. Course I was just a boy and can’t remember back that far but I have heard my dear old Dad say there was some mighty good times including a war thrown in for good measure.
Personally I never could see much difference in the two “gangs.” They used to be divided by the tarriff. The tarriff was originally supposed to aid the man that manufactured things. Well, the Democrats of those days dident manufacture anything but arguments, so they was against the tarriff, but the South woke up one day and saw some spinning looms advertised in a Montgomery-Ward menu card, so they sent and got some and started spinning their own cotton.
Well they had cheap water power, cheap coal, cheap labor, and the Yankees started moving their shops down from the North. Well the Democrats woke up on another morning with a tarriff problem on their hands. The South had gone industrial in a big way. Well they started talking about a tarriff in bigger words than the North, so now that the South has got ’em some smoke stacks where they used to have some mule sheds, why they are just tarriffing themselves to death. So, that left the principal dividing line between the two parties shot to pieces. You can’t tell one from the other now. Course the last few years under Mr. Coolidge and Mr. Hoover there had grown the old original idea of the Republican Party that was the party of the rich. And I think that was the biggest contributing part in their defeat.
I think the general run of folks had kinder got wise to that. In the old days they could get away with it, but of late years the rich had diminished till their voting power wasent enough to keep a minority vote going. This last election was a revulsion of feeling that went back a long way ahead of the hard times. Mr. Hoover reaped the benefits of the arrogance of the party when it was going strong.
Why after that twenty-eight election there was no holding ’em. They really did think they had “hard times” cornered once and for all. Merger on top of merger. Get two nonpaying things merged and then issue more stock to the public. Consolidations and “Holding Companies.” Those are the “Inventions” that every voter that had bought during the “Cockoo” days were gunning for at this last election.
Saying that all the big vote was just against hard times is not all so. They was voting against not being advised that all these foreign loans was not too solid. They was voting because they had never been told or warned to the contrary that every big consolidation might not be just the best investment. You know the people kinder look on our Government to tell ’em and kinder advise ’em. And many an old bird got sore at Coolidge, but could only take it out on Hoover. Big business sure got big, but it got big by selling its stocks and not by selling its products. No scheme was halted by the Government as long as somebody would buy the stock. It could have been a plan to deepen the Atlantic ocean and it would have had the indorsement of the proper department in Washington, and the stocks would have gone on the market.
This election was lost four and five and six years ago not this year. They dident start thinking of the old common fellow till just as they started out on the election tour. The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickled down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the dryest little spot. But he dident know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellow’s hands. They saved the big banks but the little ones went up the flue.
No Sir, the little fellow felt that he never had a chance, and he dident till November the eighth, and did he grab it? The whole idea of Government relief for the last few years has been to loan somebody more money, so they could go further in debt. It ain’t much relief to just transfer your debts from one party to another adding a little more in the bargain. No, I believe the “Boys” from all they had and hadent done had this coming to ’em.
1Frank Alderman Garbutt, California business executive and sportsman who founded the Los Angeles Athletic Club in 1905 and the California Yacht Club of Los Angeles in 1922.
SIGHTSEEING WITH ODDWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I see hither and thither. Was in New York here not long ago, and I rang up O. O. McIntyre.1 Amon G. Carter (the man who unconsciously elected “Ma” Furgeson governor of Texas) well, Amon was in New York at the time kinder dodging his own paper’s editorials, so we visited O. O. Mclntyre.3 I hadent seen him in a long time, and I had heard he was kinder feeble and grouchy, and was doing well enough to have the gout along with it, so for old times sake I thought I would see if he was still living. My acquaintance with him went away back to the Zeigfeld midnight frolic days, when he was our press agent. All a press agent had to do for Mr. Zeigfeld was to see that the war got on the front page along with Mr. Zeigfeld’s girls.3
Well Odd, (that’s his name, Odd, Odd). Both O’s stand for Odd. He was odd enough to stand for another O at birth. But his folks not knowing that he would get odder as he got older, thought double odd would be enough to start on. He comes from away out in Ohio. You see Ohio has two O’s in it, too. When Odd was born out in Ohio their alphabet dident consist of much else but O’s. So when they give a child an initial it had to have an O in it. He was born at a town called Golopolois, Ohio. So you see those Ohioans do the best they can on what O’s they got. He left there with the first Ford and never gets back there much. You see when I first met him I was just a boy working in the chorus of Zeigfeld’s show.
But let’s get down to some modern data. I was in New York on my way from South America and I had heard so much about the Odd Odd McIntyre’s apartment. It’s one of the show places of New York, and it’s located on Park Avenue, which is the fashionable street this year. Well he is away up in the top of one of those. It’s where you can own your own apartment, even if it’s in with a lot of others. His deed calls for apartment 96, located 345 feet straight up from where the ground would be on Park Avenue if there was any dirt on it.
There is more dirt on the people on Park Avenue than there is the houses are built on. Well let’s get back to Odd’s deed, it reads 345 straight up. Then the deed reads straight north till you hit apartment 97. Then you go west till you run into just space. Then the deed turns you south till you hit a bathroom, you come out of the bathroom keep straight ahead till you hit a Henry the Eighth crossed with a Roy Howard room, that puts you back at your original corner.4 Then your deed in a thing like that has got to tell how high you run, after your floor originally started at 345 feet. It says you go straight up till you hear knocking on the next apartment floor above asking McIntire to keep those dogs still. Now that ought to give you a pretty good idea of the McIntires’ apartment boundary. You don’t need a road map to find it, you want a sextant and plumming line.
Well I looked up a sight-seeing tour place and got a ticket to go through this apartment. There is certain days of the week and certain hours that you can go through. Well Amon he was tagging along, he said he had been up there when you dident have to pay, but Amon kinder stretches things sometimes. Amon, never got in as a guest. Well there was a big crowd got off this bus we was on, and it took elevators to haul us all up.
Mind you, he don’t get any money out of this. It’s a kind a charity fund that goes to men who want pearl gray spats but can’t buy ’em, but the whole thing is just a darn liberal and fine thing of Odds to let people see him at work and at play, and see his modest little home. There is a lecturer goes with you, and he points out everything and introduces you to Odd, and Odd is mighty gracious and nice to everybody the same as he is nice and considerate to everyone in his writings. Old Amon Carter was gaping all over the place, trying to find at which room Odd’s property stopped and Vanderbilt’s started.5
There was a series of glass topped tables, and desks, with nothing under ’em, just a kind of a skeleton frame of silver and glass all over it. No drawers or anything only just the glass top. It was built to look for things under, a collar button anywhere under it would show up like a spitoon. Everything looked awful clean, and in good taste.
Odd has on a kinda blue ensemble. (Jump on your dictionaries you Rogers readers.) An ensemble is a kind of a kimono, only it’s got a belt around it and that makes it masculine gender. He had on kinder fur boots, very roomy and worth-while. His hair is just starting to turn black again after being white for years. I was awfully interested in his dog kennels. They are in the same place he lives in, and are kept just as clean and nice.
He has two dogs, one a bull dog that can’t hear. Odd used to try his jokes on him and the dog went deaf purposely, I had never seen a deaf dog before. But he don’t show his affliction at all. Just as many flees as if he could hear ’em on him. The other was a little white Sealingham. He can hear, I don’t know why, but he can, so he hears everything then tells the other dog. One of ’em is named Billy and has been to Europe more times than Peggy Joyce.6 The Sealyham has never been off Park Avenue. He is just a country dog. The maid had just had ’em over to Roxies to see the show, and she brought ’em in and cleaned all the Odd things off em.
Odd asked Amon and I to stay after the other tourists had gone, so we sit there for awhile and talked about old times, when people wasent ashamed to say they was Republicans. He is the most widely read writer on New York, or anywhere else in the U.S. He has got more clothes and more different words than any writer writing outside of a book. He has suits for every sentence.
I go all over the Country, and I hear him quoted more than any man. He has a lovely wife, but she was out that day.7 Everybody knows him, and everybody likes him. He goes to all the first nights, and pays for his tickets.
He is not a critic, so he can see the last act. He’s got a Rolls Royce car and he delivers all the high brow writers to their homes to give ’em a treat from the subway, I am sure glad I went. I think it’s Tuesdays and Thursdays from three to five, and it’s embraced in a tour that starts from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. When we was coming down another party was going up. It was mostly friends, book and play writers who write about columnists and try to sell ’em. They was going up for a sandwitch. So don’t miss this when you go to New York.
1For O. O. McIntyre see WA 509:N 1
2For Amon G. Carter see WA 437:N 2. Miriam Amanda Wallace “Ma” Ferguson, Democratic governor of Texas from 1925 to 1927 and 1933 to 1935. Mrs. Ferguson won the gubernatorial election in 1932 despite the vociferous opposition of Amon Carter.
3For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 447:N 3.
4Henry VIII, king of England from 1509 to 1547. For Roy W. Howard see WA 437:N 6.
5Vanderbilt, name of a noted American family of industrialists, financiers, philanthropists, and sportsmen.
6For Peggy Hopkins Joyce see WA 480:N 4.
7McIntyre was married to the former Maybelle Hope Small.
CHINA AND THE BUCKSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run onto here and there. I was just sitting here awhile ago reading a Literary Digest that was about a week old. I always read it and Time Magazine. Keep loaded up on them and you got a pretty good idea what’s going on. The reason they are good is because in your local papers which you should all read, there might be things that they dident happen to cover. And these weekly magazines do.
Well I was just reading a long article in the Digest about Pearl Buck the author of not only the “Book of the Month” or book of the year, but the book of our Time.1 Well just a few days before leaving New York just before the election I had the pleasure of Mrs. Rogers and I to spend an hour or more with this very remarkable woman. How it come about was that last year when I was over China, I had read her book on the boat, when I wasent arguing with Floyd Gibbons. Well I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever read, so I talked to lots of people over there about her. A Dr. Donaldson on the train from Peking to Shanghai, he had known the family of this girl for years.2 He and they both were early missionaries out there.
Well I wanted to meet her while out there. She lived up at Nanking. That’s the capital of China, or was that week. It used to be Peking, and if the southern crowd keep getting stronger I guess it will be Canton.
Well I wanted to go up to Nanking anyhow. I had come through there on the train from Peking, but dident get to see much. So I called up the school where they live. Her husband is a professor in a big University there, he has made a study of Agriculture, graduated at Cornell.3
By the way that always struck me as being the oddest place for an Agriculture course. You just kinder look for them out in the Middle West where they raise something. Well I got in communication with them up at Nanking and was to go up and see her on a certain day. Well I was going to fly. There was a line of sea planes that went right up the Yangste River. Well I got to the place to take off that day and it was raining and cloudy all day and I dident get to go.
I was leaving on the boat the next day for Singapore, then for the flight across India, and all points west. I talked to Mr. Buck, her husband, over the phone, but not seeing her out there was a great disappointment for she is one person that wrote a book about a country, and even that country liked it. I never heard a derogatory (that’s a pretty hot word for me ain’t it) word about the book. The Chinese say it was true to life and characters.
Well her publishers knew what a great admirer I was of hers, so when I landed from South America and Mrs. Rogers met me in New York, why they phoned us and said Mrs. Buck would be in New York at a certain time and would see us.
Well we were tickled to death. Well we went over to her hotel. Her husband is taking a special course again at Cornell. He is quite an Agricultural authority in China, and has held some very important government missions in regard to trying to get them straightened out on what to raise. Well she too I think was taking some course up there. So she stayed up there most all the time. She just come down to New York occasionally, she dident like it so much. She is not so hot for this hero worship business. She is very modest, wonderfully interesting to talk to. She almost speaks with an accent, she has spoken Chinese so long.
After “Sons,” which was another powerful book, she is working on the third and last of the series that brings it up to now. You know if you know your Chinese there is quite a big communistic hold in certain parts of China. The influence is growing rapidly. Well they said they would like her in finishing up, or bringing this same family up-to-date. They want her to show that it was through communism that China would eventually be saved. (I don’t know what they are supposed to be saved from. They got the best mode of life and living in the world now.)
But somebody is always “Saving China” from something or other. She said in “Good Earth” that while she dident write it in Chinese, that her thoughts were all in Chinese, that is her characters were all talking to each other in Chinese, then as she translated the very words into English before writing them down, that there is where some of the reviewers got the idea that it was Old Testament writing, or a throw-back from these words being the very ones the Chinese utter, with a literal translation.
This next one will bring in the modern things that have pestered China during our times, including the American missionaries I imagine, for she is like everyone out there. They doubt in their own hearts if they should have ever gone. She claims they send the wrong ones, the ones who couldent make a living here. She claims a dumb missionary hasent any more business in China than he has here, in fact not as much.
She is for specialists in that particular work out there. Well she was a-talking right up my alley. For from all I could ever hear abroad, and here at home, this thing of making Baptists or Holy Rollers out of some nationalities that has had his certain brand of religion when folks over here was living up in the side of a cliff like a mountain goat is not so good. Most of ’em are Christians over there just as long as the missionaries hand out the rice. The Sioux Indians could go out there and siouxise a bunch of ’em as long as they could demonstrate their religion with some grub. You can take all the Methodists who’s eyes slant out there, and let ’em get a better offer for the old stomach and you will have a bunch of back-sliders on your hands. I think she feels that the same efforts, money, and time devoted on us local heathen here at home, and it would have been better all around. Course these folks here that work so hard to send them and do all this, they mean well, they are fine conscientious folks, they got a heart as big as anybody, but it’s in the wrong country.
1Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, American author who lived and taught in China during the 1920s. Among her many bestselling and award-winning works is The Good Earth (see WA 494:N 1).
2Donaldson, unidentified missionary.
3Pearl Buck was married to Dr. John Lossing Buck. They both served on the faculty of the University of Nanking.
NOW, ABOUT THESE CRITICSYou know in the radio it’s hard to tell just how anyone’s stuff is going. That is they have no real way of checking up as to whether anyone is listening in or not. But us fellows that write on things of a political nature, we have an absolute way of knowing just who is reading our stuff. We can check up on it to the individual, because each one writes you a letter telling you how “Wrong” you are.
Everybody sure was “jumpy” during this late uprising. They had a vote in their pocket and chip on their shoulder, and any insinuation you made against their “hero” was just too bad for you. For instance, they would write to the paper, “I read Will Rogers, but why does he have to dabble in politics. Let him stay on funny stuff where he belongs.” Well if they would just stop to think I have written on nothing but politics for years, you never heard me on a mother in law joke. It was always about national or international affairs.
Well I have been in almost every country in the last few years. I have talked with prominent men of those countrys, our Ambassadors, or Ministers, and I would have to be pretty dumb to not soak up some information. For instance I was in Japan, China and Manchuria. I wrote one paragraph that was copied all over the Far East, and editorials written on it. Well I couldent have done it by staying in Hollywood or in an editorial room. I had to be over there to learn it. It was, “China owns the lot, Japan owns the house that’s on it, now who is going to furnish the policeman?”
Still you will read some letter where it says, “Why does Will Rogers butt into these international problems he knows nothing about?”
Where do these other fellows get all of their vast stores of knowledge. I never hear of ’em going any place. If I write about Mexico, I have been down there half a dozen times. Nicaragua, I been there twice and found out things that I couldent ever have by reading about it. Crossed India at the heighth of their troubles, been in Europe and talked debts till I had everybody’s angle over there. There is not a state in this country that I am not in ever once in awhile. Talk to everyone, get the ranchers’ and farmers’ angle.
Those New York writers should be compelled to get out once in their lifetime and get the “folks” angle. I know and have known all the time that the real backbone people of America wasent going to cancell any debts. They would never have given the moratorium if it had come to a vote of them. All your Lippmans and all your cancellationists in New York can write their economic theories that want too, but they dident know a thing about our people.1 They said “How you going to collect it?, Europe won’t pay.”
Any old farmer knew that if you owed a debt and had money and dident pay it, you couldent do but one thing and that was default, so the minute the word “default” was brought in why you heard a different tune. I learned on my trips to Europe and to South America too, that our international bankers had hotels full of their agents begging countrys to take a loan, then back home and sold them to the people, so they got their commissions both ways. Go to Europe and it’s the first thing you will find out, but not here, you don’t learn that.
I said that nothing would come out of the meeting of Mr Hoover and Roosevelt on the debts. A true guess, but at election time you make people sore if you tell ’em the truth. Republicans got sore at me because Roosevelt was elected, and the cancellationists got sore at me because they had to pay. I guess that was all my fault? Now as far as showing any dissrespect for our presidents or high officials, that is only an excuse, it’s something I am saying that they don’t like, it’s not something I am saying that the President or some official don’t like.
I have told more jokes than would go in this room if they were written on tissue paper, about Mr Coolidge, yet he knows that I have the greatest regard for him personally, and for his ability. Mr Hoover I wish every critic had to read every nice thing I have said about him during his administration. I know him, admire him, and I think he will tell you that I have been fair. I have spoken hundreds of times about the bad breaks he got. We have been a fortunate nation, we have always had good presidents.
You are going to find from now on that this party thing is a lot of hooey. People are voting policies now, not partys. We are living in a time when if one or the other of these partys don’t start delivering an economic government to the people, they are both going out on their ears. The Democrats are only in for a trial. If they don’t make good out they go. It’s perhaps too bad that sentiment plays no part in our elections, but it don’t, it’s results, or out.
Now I read politics, talk politics, know personally almost every prominent politician, like ’em and they are my friends, but I can’t help it if I have seen enough of it to know that there is “some” Baloney in it. Now I am going to be like an umpire, or referee. I am going to keep on doing the same as I have in the past. I am going to call ’em like I see ’em. If I don’t see things your way, well why should I?
I hope I never get so old that I can’t peep behind the scenes and see the amount of politics that’s mixed in this medicine before it’s dished out to the people as “pure statesmanship.” Politics is the best show in America and I am going to keep on enjoying it. If there is some people that can’t enjoy it why they are missing something.
So on with the show. We will have many a laugh in the next four years, for there is one thing about the Democrats, they never put on a dull show. But always remember this, that as bad as we sometimes think our government is run, it’s the best run one I ever saw.
So this winds the whole thing up. There has only been two that has disagreed with me, the “rabid” Republican, that was just sore at the world anyhow, no matter what you said, and the other is the cancellationist. My lack of humor, lack of English, lack of good taste, and all the other things they accuse me of, is a lot of bunk. Let the same things be said in favor of their opinion, and I would be a great guy. So now we got the whole thing straightened out. He is a “die hard” Republican, or a cancellationist, but you are still going to get the truth.
1Walter Lippmann, American editor, columnist, and author who served on the editorial staff of the New York World from 1921 to 1931 and later contributed columns to the New York Herald-Tribune and the Washington Post. In one of his columns, Lippman had questioned the accuracy of some of Rogers’ statements concerning the cancellation or postponement of the war debts.
WILL PREFERS BOOKSWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run into high and low. We had a big time out at our studio the other day. The Fox studios where I labor is the only studio that has been built entirely since the talkies come in. It’s all new and all talkie. Well in most studios they just have little cubby holes or places for writers. That is the writer has never really had a place in commemoration with his surroundings. Well Mr. Winnifred Sheehan conceived the idea of building them a real building all to themselves, nothing in it but writers, and we had a big dedication of it the other day.1 Mr. Rupert Hughes the eminent author come over and spoke in behalf of the authors.2 That is he took it, he said he would be glad to receive it in behalf of the authors for they had no “club house” as it is, and that this free one was very acceptable to them. I know you have all read Rupert Hughes, but you missed much if you have not heard him in one of his delightful speeches. He was at his best on this day.
I can remember when he come out here first it was with Mr. Sam Goldwyn’s “Troop of Eminent Authors.”3 Among them was even Materlink, “The Old Bee Man.”4 I was working at Goldwyn’s Studio at the time. Of course none of them were brought out for any of my pictures, but I could at least talk to them. A fine bunch of fellows you never met. I never did get to read that bee story of Materlink’s, but I met a “Bee Man” on the boat going to China last year with a contingent of bees and he told me that just reading the book had put him in the bee business. He claimed a bee was more interesting than a person, and he looked me right in the face when he said it. I am going to read it sometime, it’s got love, and sex and gangsters bee’s and everything in it.
Well, Rupert Hughes stuck out here, and it’s part and parcel of our industry. We hate to call it that, it sounds so sordid. He is really a co-artist with us, in this constructive photography we carry on.
Rex Beach was another that was tremendously successful, and is yet with his stories for the movies.5 Rex was responsible for my little toe hold on this eighth science. I played by request of Mrs. Rex Beach in one of his storys called, “Laughing Bill Hyde.“ The part was rather that of a crook, who received money under false pretenses. Mrs. Beach had seen my little act in the follies, so she decided that I was the one to do naturally this crook who obtained money under false pretense.
Rex Beaches “Spoilers” are made or remade every time a company had to absolutely have a new batch of dough. Beach was and is today a “Natural” screen writer. His stuff is pictorial and it moves. Well then that day another great favorite appeared and helped us out on the dedication. It was Fred Niblo, the monologist, lecturer, traveler.6 And great screen director. He made some of the biggest screen hits of our times. Fred is one of our top hole masters of ceremonies, and that’s taking in a lot of territory, for Rupert Hughes and Conrad Nagel are just as good.7 In fact they are three ties.
Fred spoke in behalf of the directors who have to “do” the authors pieces, no matter what kind of rooms they have been written in. Fred said he could remember the days when they were all under foot, that folks were tramping on ’em, loads of ’em would come from New York, and no one knew who or what they were. Then some detective would discover they were authors. Then the laugh would be on the studio. He never thought he would live to see the day they would have a house of their own to write in. In fact he doubted if they could write under happy and beautiful surroundings. Mr. Hughes thought the place resembled an institution where you confine people for various maladys. Niblo thought it a fine place to hide from the producers.
It is a beautiful building, and when you tourists come to the coast you must see it. It’s more French than Shakesperean, as the French plays rather lend themselves to “Box Office” than the Bard’s stuff. Lots of people like to read Shakespeare, but that’s the trouble, he appeals to the people who can read, and not to the ones who want it read to ’em by an actor, either on or off the screen. The successful author is the one who can write for the ones who can’t read.
We have some splendid men out here from the East and everywhere and I am sure that they will under such pleasant surroundings turn you folks out some fine screen entertainment, so if they don’t why you write ’em and tell ’em that I told you that they had lovely quarters, and that you looked for something great. As to the acting, that is of course as always “The Same.” Little Miss Janet Gaynor did the unveiling and while she dident lay the cornerstone she did unveil it.8 In fact two, we had two cornerstones. That was in case you was standing where you couldent see ’em unveil one you could see the other. She did a gracious and dignified act with it. The whole thing has kinder led me to decide to take up reading. I mean reading in English, not newspaper reading.
A book dropped into my hands the other day called “The West Is Still Wild” written by our ace writer of the coast, Harry Carr.9 No one knows our Southwest like this man. He came with the Mission Padres and will leave with the last movie camera. What Materlink can do with humanizing the bee this fellow can do with a rattlesnake, broncho, or a Mexican hoot owl. He knows the scandal of the cliff dwellers, he is the Walter Winchell of Prehistoric cavortings.10
Oh I tell you I am going to read more. I am at least going to read the titles of some of these books anyhow. We have all got to read more and remember less. The trouble people used to read something then remember it, but things are changing. So many books are being published that you couldent possibly remember ’em, so you just got to read ’em. Then books are not written to be remembered anyhow, they are written just to be sold, not even to be read.
1For Winnie Sheehan see WA 509:N 4.
2Rupert Hughes, American novelist, songwriter, playwright, historioan, and screenwriter; best known for his multi-volume biography George Washington (1925-1930).
3For Samuel Goldwyn see WA 475:N 5.
4For Maurice Maeterlinck see WA 475:N 4.
5Rex Ellingwood beach, American novelist and miscellaneous writer, noted for the rough-hewn portrayals of life in Alaska. He was married to the former Edith Crater. Rogers’ first motion picture, Laughing Bill Hyde (1918), was based on one of Beach’s novels.
6Fred Niblo, famous Hollywood director of the 1920s who had stage and vaudeville experience. Niblo left Hollywood in the early 1930s.
7Conrad Nagel, American stage actor and motion-picture leading man of the 1920s and 1930s.
8Janet Gaynor, American film star of the 1920s and 1930s who gained immense popularity in sentimental roles. Gaynor won an Academy Award in 1927 for her performance in Seventh Heaven.
9Harry Carr, reporter and columnist for the New York Mirror from 1929 to 1963.
10Winchell, one of the best-known journalists and radio commentators in the country, specialized in show business gossip and political commentary