6 January, 1935 - Current
HOW TO BE HAPPYWell, Xmas has passed. I was just thinking if there was some way to make the Christmas spirit continue during the other days of the year, why we would be the most happy and wonderful Nation on Earth. Gosh, if all of us that was able would just feed and do things for folks without waiting till Christmas. I think we mean well, but we just sorter got in our heads that about one day a year pays our obligations off, then we swell up and hide our Conscience till the next gift day comes along.
With all of our fact finding departments in our Government, and all our statistics gatherers, I believe you could increase generosity 100 to 1000 fold if there was some way of finding out just exactly the people that were in actual need throughout the country.
That is, I mean have the Government’s agents have some way of ascertaining through some system of offers, of work and records of what they had, and had not done, and then just list them by some of our various initial systems. Like for instance, I.N.B.A.W.W. I is for In, N is for Need, B is for But, A is for Absolutely, W is for Won’t, and W is for Work. “In Need but Absolutely Won’t Work.” Then cut them out from the other needy, and then you would have the names and addresses of all the people who really did need help, and the amount they needed per month.
You could find those nearest to you who were in want, and you would know they was in want, and you would know there was nothing they could do that would help themselves. I will bet you that every Community would be able to look after its own. Now, your system would have to work two ways. If you are going to pry into the business of the poor, to find that they actually needed help, you must pry into the affairs of the others and see what they were doing to relieve their neighbors. Your ability to help would be listed exactly as their needs.
You wouldent get much complaint if you knew that every dollar you gave reached a real case, and if you knew that your neighbors rich, well-to-do, and just ordinary salaried ones, were all contributing exactly in a graded amount, say like income tax. A certain per cent that must go to your unfortunate neighbors, and the quicker you can get them to working and off your list the better it is for you, then lack of employment would become everybody’s business, instead of like it is now just the business of the man who has lost his job. Of course when a case comes up where he won’t work he is shifted over to our Alphabetical Department, the I.N.B.A.W.W. Now the question arises what to do with these people. Well I am leaving them to last, and maybe I can think of something after while, but I can’t right now.
Now earlier I spoke of our Conscience. It’s one of the most individual things we have. It’s not like human nature, where they say “It’s all the same.” We got some mighty fine Consciences in this country, they prompt the owner, the owner acts. Then we got some other Consciences. While they are supposed to be Consciences, they are almost invisible. They may urge their owners, but they don’t seem to have any authority, so it’s those Consciences that my scheme is getting at. They maby, as I say, don’t act, and should be given a start.
Well there is a Government man, he is called C.A. (Conscience Assistor). Maybe your Conscience says you should help your neighbors $1,000 worth, but you can’t hear it. Well this C.A. (Conscience Assistor) he hears what you should hear, but won’t. He is also in communication with your finances, so in that way he is able to have the two act in harmony. In fact, without the aid of you whatever, it shouldn’t be much a job to find who is in need, and the degree that they are in need, and it shouldent be hard to find out what the exact proportionate amount of help that each of us should give to relieve that distress.
It’s paid exactly like taxes. That stops us from just being a Santa Clause on Christmas. You wear whiskers and bring presents every day in the year, instead of just one day. People wouldent mind giving if they absolutely knew that every person in the U. S. was giving exactly in proportion to them, and that every dollar given was to go to someone who needed it, and was not able to help themselves. It’s an unemployment tax in a way, then if everybody can hustle around and cut down the unemployment before next year’s contributions start, why the tax would be cut down in proportion.
Now we are getting down toward the end and I got to start doing something about I.N.B.A. Now statistics have proven that we always have a class of people that are looking for political or Government jobs. Now we could let them go, just tell ’em that they are not needed as political and Government job hunters any longer. They must take up something else. Then we put these (In Need but Absolutely Won’t Workers) in the P.L.F.G.J. (Perpetually Looking For Government Jobs) places, as they won’t work. Why they are the very fellows to apply for these jobs, for they are not going to get ’em anyhow, (none of these others ever got any), so in that way they fill in a vacancy in our scheme of life that seems to always exist, the (Perpetually Looking For Government Jobs).
But I would like to see the whole system tried. You might call the scheme “Conscience By Law” or “If You won’t be a Santa Clause, we will make one out of you.” Any such name would do.
I don’t believe any of us really know what our obligation is to our fellow man. That should be established, as I say you can’t go by Conscience for they vary too much. So, find the needy, and tax us exactly our proportionate share to keep them, and you won’t run up this tremendous National debt. We pay as we go, and if it’s not done fair and equal like this you won’t hear many kicks and those won’t be legitimate.
THERE ARE BIG CHANGES AHEADWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, and what I hear as I sit around on a moving picture set and argue about. We are still fighting the football game over. There is not a soul in the world that don’t think those Albanmians showed not only us, but themselves some football that they dident know they had in ’em.1 Stanford was a much better team than the score shows, but there is something about that Rose Bowl that just makes ’em do the wrong thing every time they get in there. They used to talk about deciding a game by the team that made the most number of first downs. Well Stanford in its three previous times in the Bowl had always made more than their opponents, and sure enough they did this time, but somebody told ’em they maby could pass. Well they could, but they couldent get anybody to catch ’em but Alabama, and that wasent a paying proposition. They could march down the field through the line and could have till yet, but they wanted to pass, and they did, right out of the picture.
I tell you those old Southern boys come here for the eggs, and they gathered ’em and went home. That Howell is a freak, and that old Hutson that caught ’em, he gathered ’em in like Rabbitt Maranville on an infield fly.2 It was a great team, and they beat a great team. Stanford is much better than they showed there. They are always better than they show in the Bowl.
Then too you see they made the first touchdown, and the coach must have felt pretty confident for he started pulling some of his main men out, and before he could get ’em back in, the horses had been stolen. But the arguments will go on into the winter.
Well football dropped out on January the first and the old Senate and House of Representatives met on the third, so we only had one day of no amusement. Mr Roosevelt delivered ’em a message that all the country had been waiting for, but the trouble with messages is conditions come along about a week or two after they are delivered and that almost makes the last messages null and void.
Things are sure rambling in this country now, and what’s radical today is stand pat tomorrow. Course there was lots of kicking on the message, and lots in favor of it. You see it’s getting hard to please all these fellows now. This enormous relief is running into big figures and they are all anxious to know how they are to be met.
Never a time in our lifetimes was money as scared as it is now. Even during the war when folks were asked to shovel it out they dident hesitate, but then they felt that they were able to keep on making it, but now there is a doubt, and they want to hang onto it as long as they can. We are getting two fairly well defined schools of thought on what is one’s obligation to another. Mr Roosevelt has a very liberal idea on the subject. He thinks that there has to be a more generous feeling toward those who are in need, and if it can’t be arrived at by persuasion, he will arrange some other way of making each meet their share. He has done a lot in his attitude to offset a communistic feeling, for if he did happen to lean to the more conservative element, there would be some justification of hollering for a more equal division, but with him doing all he can, and still keeping within the bounds of fairness to all, why he offsets the old red.
It’s going to be an interesting session of Congress. The question will be who is going to break over the traces. The Republicans are naturally going to dig in, and do all they can to save their old principles and theorys. Then there will be the plum locoed ones among the Democrats who will claim that Roosevelt has gone too far to the right. There will be a dozen factions, and there will be things where enough of ’em can unite to offset any of the President’s plans. He is not going to have any cinch, there is three or four hundred Democrats in there but there is two or three hundred kinds of ’em.
I am hoping to get back and see some of the games. I love to sit up there in that old Senate gallery and watch ’em down there on that ten yard line fighting to hold those seats.
Well we are living in a great age ain’t we? I think we are in for quite a few changes. I think you will see lots of folks offering to play ball and glad of it, that now think it’s their ball, so why should they have to furnish it.
1The University of Alabama defeated Stanford University, 29 to 13, in the Rose Bowl game in 1935.
2Millard Filmore “Dixie” Howell, football star at the University of Alabama from 1932 to 1934. Known as the “Human Howitzer,” Howell completed nine of twelve passes for 160 yards and one touchdown in the Rose Bowl.
Donald M. Huston, receiver for the University of Alabama foorball team from 1932 to 1934. Huston, whose speed earned him the nickname “Alabama Antelope,” caught six passes for 165 yards in the 1935 Rose Bowl.
Walter James Vincent “Rabbit” Maranville, shortstop whose major league baseball career began in 1914 and included stints with the Boston Braves from 1912 to 1920 and 1928 to 1935. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.
TOO CIVILIZEDWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers or the mail. You get all kinds of letters and, say, if you think this thing of being in the Movies and in the papers is a cinch, you ought to read some of our mail sometimes, and what hurts is that most of the time they are about right. You know you really don’t know how silly you are till you have to read it awhile after it’s written.
But we are all that way, not only with the written word but with the spoken. If somebody had a dictaphone on us all the time and then we had to sit and listen to it all run off every night or every month, or every year, I bet that would break us from shooting off so much. We had a great illustration of that out here in California during the late election. This fellow Sinclair had written an awful lot of stuff in his life.1 Well, they would go back among his writings and reprint things that he had said. (Maby it was only one of the characters in one of his books that was made to say that thing, but as he was the author of it, why naturally he come in for the blame.)
Well that had an awful lot to do with beating him, for a lot of those things sounded mighty cuckoo, but on the other hand if he had had the means of publicity, that is the papers to do it with and had been able to have every one of the papers who printed what he said maby in ’98, and had been able to go back over their editorials and reprint what they had said, he would have had them hollering “Quit.” I sure would hate to be running for something and have somebody dig back through old papers and confront me with all the nutty things that I have shown my ignorance on.
You see, conditions and events change so fast that what is passable today is redicilous tomorrow. Look at Mr. Roosevelt. He started in with an idea of a balanced budget and said that was what he would hold out for. But look at the thing now. Conditions are different, and he dident know this thing was going to be among us so long. The NRA looked like a good bet at the time, but part of it, in fact maby over half of it, have proven to be non practical. It all had the right idea but we are still just too selfish to see that exactly the right thing is done for the good of everybody.
I doubt very much if Civilization (so called) helped generosity. I bet the old cave man would divide his raw meat with you as quick as one of us will ask a down and out to go in and have a meal with us. Those old boys or girls would rip off a wolf skin breech clout and give you half of it quicker than a Ph.D would slip you his umbrella. Civilization hasent done much but make you wash your teeth, and in those days eating and gnawing on bones and meat made tooth paste unnecessary.
Civilization has taught us to eat with a fork, but even now if nobody is around we use our fingers. In those days people fought for food and in self defense. Nowadays we have diplomats work on wars for years before arranging them. That’s so that when it’s over nobody will know what they were fighting for. We lost thousands and spent billions, and you could hand a sheet of paper to one million different people and tell ’em to write down what the last war was for, and the answers that will be alike will be “D_________ if I know.”
So that’s what you call Civilization. Civilization is nothing but acquiring comforts for ourselves, when in those days they were so hard they dident need ’em. We will strive to put in another bath, when maby our neighbors can’t even put in an extra loaf of bread.
No, our Civilization is not so hot. Poor Mr. Roosevelt has tried to right some of it. He couldent do it by persuasion and he can’t do it by law, so he may just have to give it up and say, “Boys I have tried to bring a little social justice to you all, but even the Constitution is against me, so back to the old times. Sick ’em Tige.”
Now all this ain’t what I started in to write about. I started to write about some woman writing me about paying for her divorce as she had a better offer, and I just drifted into this mess. But at that maby I wouldent be afraid to be confronted with it 20 or 30 years from now. Nothing would hurt me but my Conscience for living like a “Civilized Citizen.”
1For Upton B. Sinclair see WA 603:N 7.
OLD MEN IN KIMONASWell all I know is just what I read in the paper and what I see here and there. Been on rather a kind of hurried prowl back east. I started in a week or so ago. I was to go east at 4 o’clock on the regular plane, and my good friend Jimmy Doolittle had asked me about a week previously if I dident want to ride east with him; that he was going to make a trip in a new plane, and so when I got to the field here was his plane.1
He was going to leave in one hour after our plane was. Well I did want to go with him. I knew he would really “burn oil,” but I was headed for South Bend, Ind., where I had promised to speak at Notre Dame’s annual football dinner, for my good friend the Coach, Elmer Layden, and Father O’Harra.2
Jimmy told me he would after landing in New York City fly me back to South Bend, but I figured that was kinder imposing on him, so I dident do it. I sure wish I had been on that trip. His wife was with him.3 I think they had it pretty cold and rough too, and I would have perhaps messed the whole thing up, so maybe it’s just as well I dident go. Jimmy is a great pilot, and I wouldent be afraid to go anywhere with him.
Well I went on and got to South Bend by regular air line, and they did have a great time, and a great dinner. I like that school. I always have. There is something genuine about it. They turn out some great men.
We had about 1,200 there in one of their big dining halls. Many an old boy in there that had played during his time under the great Rockne.4 My, what a heritage and tradition that man left. I had been a friend of his for many years.
I think this Elmer Layden is going to be a great coach for them. I tell you, he has the support of the whole school, and the whole alumni. In his first year he lost two or three games, but they dident do like lots of places, jump on him and yell for his scalp. They knew that he had made great progress, and were heart and soul to give him a chance, a real chance. He had ’em playing mighty smart ball when they played California out there last fall.
Did you know that school has no automobiles, no campus full of cars. There is books there. Oh it’s an odd college! Had some great speeches at the dinner that night. You know these Priests are smart fellows and a lot of humor. One old boy from, (I think he had charge of the charities in Cleveland, O.), well he was a knock-out. And Father O’Hara is an excellent talker.
I had to leave rather early to catch my plane. I was headed from there to Washington to attend the dinner given by the Vice Pres. to the President. I was there last year and we had a lot of fun, and the President said he had a lot of fun, and this year was just as good.
This little fellow Garner is a great fellow, and smart. Say I would rather have his opinion than anybody. He don’t say much, but he knows which way the wind is blowing every minute. They was all mussed up over the gold, but seemed to think that no matter how the decision was rendered that they had some schemes to fix it so it would get by.
There was only about 50 at the dinner. All the cabinet and their wives were there, none of the second string team were there that night, the ones they call the brain trusters. The brain trusters are not the cabinet; they are the advisers to the Cabinet. Don’t hear quite as much of that bunch as we used to, but they are still there and still cooking up medicine. This Supreme Court has kinder held them up. They had all kinder forgot about it, but now that they find that those nine old men with the kimonos on are really alive, why it’s got all Washington excited.
1For Jimmy Doolittle see WA 559:N 2.
2Elmer Francis Layden, head football coach at Notre Dame University from 1933 to 1940. Layden, a star running back at Notre Dame in the early 1920s, coached the Fighting Irish to a 47-13-3 record. John Francis O’Hara, American clergyman and educator; vice president of Notre Dame Univeristy from 1933 to 1934; president from 1934 to 1939.
3Doolittle was married to his childhood sweetheart, Josephine Daniels Doolittle.
4Knute Kenneth Rockne, head football coach at Notre Dame from 1918 to 1931. Personable and popular, Rockne compiled a remarkable 105-12-5 record at Notre Dame. He died in a plane crash in 1931.
OLD TIMERS’ NIGHT IN MANHATTANWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see from here to hither. About ten days ago, Mrs Rogers and I were going into New York. (By train as the weather had me riding the rods about that time for several days.) It was late Sunday afternoon. We was coming from Washington D. C. I was going in to broadcast from there that Sunday evening. You see you got to kinder let ’em know a little in advance where you will be on these broadcasting Sundays so they can sorter make arrangements.
We hadent been in N. Y. in a good while. We had nothing to do but broadcast at seven thirty, and that gave us the evening to ourselves. We got into our hotel about six thirty. Dident intend to go and eat till after the wind jamming. Got to the studio, which was a real theatre, with an audience of three floors of people, and a big orchestra sitting on the stage.
Well I hadent any more than walked in the place till I was booked for a benefit performance, there was some kind of a combined charity broadcast by both companies, Columbia and National, for the musicians. It was to be around eleven, so I told ’em I would be glad to be there. Well then I come from my broadcasting and I hear of another show. It’s a big benefit for the Actors Fund, a fine charity ably sponsored for all these years by the beloved Daniel Frohman.1 Well I was tickled to death to go there. Here I havent been in town over 30 minutes and book myself two shows. You never get so old that somebody don’t want you at a benefit, and they have always got audiences too. I do know that N. Y. people are the most liberal and they always fill a house for a good cause.
You see, Sunday nights are the benefit nights on account of the actors being idle, and they can get the theatres for the show. First actor I met was Charles Winninger, who has become immortal as Uncle Andy of Zeigfeld’s “Show Boat” on stage and air.2 I was with Blanche Ring in a musical show called “The Wall Street Girl” twenty years ago when he and Blanche got married.
Well then out of the theatre and met an old cowpuncher friend, Charley Aldrich, who used to ride bucking horses in the stage show “The Roundup” with Macklyn Arbuckle starring.3 Then we went to an Italian Restaurant where we used to go and get the best food in the World, “Leones,” met the fine old Mother and the four sons. You eat so much you can’t do much but a short benefit afterwards.
Who should we run onto but Lillian Shaw, the stage’s best character singer.4 Played in vaudeville with her for years, and she was a star in my first musical show, one called “The Girl Rangers” at the Auditorium in Chicago. That was in 1907. Wow, 28 years ago! Lillian looked great. John Bunny the first movie comedian, was in that show.5 The chorus girls were all mounted on horses. (That is 12 of them were.) Reine Davis was the star.6 It was a beautiful show, but too expensive. Then who comes over to the table but Roscoe Turner, and we had to cross and recross India, Persia, Messopotamia, as I had flown that route too.7
Where do you think the Actors Fund Benefit was held? At the old Amsterdam Theatre, the one I had spent 10 years playing with the Follies in under the showman who will never be replaced, Flo Zeigfeld. Oh, what sentiment! What memories! Some of the same stage hands were there. Gee, if I had just have had as good a jokes as I used to have in those days! Saw Blanche Ring there. She did look great. And Elsie Janis.8 What a marvel, sing, dance, and imitate like no other human in America, and throw the rope better than me!
The grand dramatic actress, Charlotte Walker.9 All these people I am mentioning we have no one like them. There is no training ground. Where in America is there even a tenth grade Elsie Janis, a Blanche Ring, a Charley Winninger who could do anything ever done on a stage, every musical instrument, a dandy acrobat. No girl can sing those Jewish character songs like Lillian Shaw. And Charlotte Walker in the “Trail of the Lonesome Pine.” Saw Heyward Broun back stage, as fat, jolly, and amiable as ever.10 He must have thought of what those old days were.
Then over the broadcasting benefit. But as we walked out of the stage door or that old Amsterdam Theatre to a taxicab, we both had tears in our eyes. No Amsterdam Theatre, no Flo Zeigfeld. I would never have been as lucky, for no other manager in the world would have let me go my own way and do as I saw fit. At the broadcasting was dear Graham McNamee, who started it, and looks like he will finish it, even if it last a hundred years.11
And who do I hear is there of us old timers but Miss Geraldine Farrar.12 We worked for a year on the same movie lot for Sam Goldwyn in 1919.13 She was always a remarkable woman, the most pleasant, the most considerate, and the hardest working I ever saw in pictures. Now who can sing like her today?
Then we went up to see our dear friends the Fred Stone Family.14 Betty says, “They will be in bed.” I says, “The Stones are show people, they couldent sleep before midnight.” Fred has gone to Hollywood on a fine movie contract, and he will make a hit for he can do anything. Where on the American stage, radio or screen is there someone who compared with what he meant to the theatre? They don’t develop people like that anymore. They have no place to develop ’em.
Well as we were driving home mighty late for the Rogerses, Betty said, as we talked of each we had met that night, “Isn’t it a shame that not on our whole amusement fields have any of these a successor.” Everyone of them today can walk on a stage and show that when they learned their trade it was a profession and not an accident.
People who have spent a lifetime perfecting the art of entertaining people, then to have the whole stage profession snatched from under them, and ship your entertainment to you in can. Brave hearted people are theatrical people.
1Danial Frohman, American theatrical figure; manager of the Lyceum Theater in New York City from 1885 until his death in 1940.
2Charles Winninger, plump, ruddy-faced America stage and screen character actor, best-known for his portrayal of “Cap’n Andy Hawks” in Show Boat. He produced Wall Street Girl in 1912, which starred his soon-to-be-wife, Blanche Ring (see WA 597:N 5), and Will Rogers. For Flo Ziegfeld see WA 543:N 5.
3For Charley Aldrich see WA 625:N 5. Macklyn Arbuckle, Texas-born rodeo performer, vaudeville star, and motion-picture character actor. Arbuckle starred in the 1914 production of The County Chairman and appeared in other silent films through the 1920s.
4Lillian Shaw, American vaudeville performer and musical comedy star; entertainer on the Loew Circuit.
5John Bunny, American vaudeville and motion-picture actor; plump,
COMMUTING BY PLANEWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I see here and there. Well it just looks like I have been commuting. You know what that word commuting is? Well it’s a word that I learned in New York City many years ago when I lived out on Long Island, and I had to run and catch a train. If you spend a lifetime running and catching trains to get out into what is humorously called the Country, why then you are a “Commuter.” Well even little Towns have what they call “Commuters,” but they don’t know it. It’s folks that work in the county seat and live out in the Country and either come in in a bus or a Ford, and they do their job in the county seat all day, then get home the best way they can in the evening.
Well, in New York they are called “Commuters,” and there is millions of ’em, even maby billions, for it’s a year of big figures. Well, these “Commuting” can take in a lot of territory, and what I am trying to get at is, that I have been in the last few weeks “commuting” from Coast to Coast. I would grab the “5.15” and hike for California and then get the early morning “8.20” back to New York. So I been leaping from Pacific to Atlantic and vis versa for some distance.
Now I might just as well stayed one place. There is an awful lot of this running around that is overestimated. You don’t see much more where you are going than where you come from.
But they got these airplane sleepers running now, and it’s kinder like a pullman. They sleep ten people. The bottom birth is about six inches from the floor and the top one is a little higher than the ordinary bed, but they are long, plenty long. Not so wide, but wide enough to turn over in. You just drop off to sleep and you land at Towns to get gas and mail, and you don’t wake up at all. Even when I got off to Ft. Worth, Texas, in the morning and on account of not hearing Amon Carter talking, I dident wake up (he was away).1 But they have a stewardess on there and she wakes you up.
John D. Rockefeller’s son-in-law, a Mr. Milton (I am sure it was Milton, maby it was Minoton, but I still think it was Milton), well he is the nicest fellow you ever saw.2 I mean he is the son-in-law of young John D. If I remember right back during the wedding I think he was a young lawyer, and his wife got in some little minor traffic jam and he defended her. (What in the world was her name? Was it Aggie?) I hollered in at my wife just now to ask her if she remembered it, but she was about half asleep and I might just as well hollered at the bell hop.
Well I can’t think of it, anyhow this late at night. I know the last name was Rockefeller, and I know it wasent Minnie. Well anyhow he defended her in this case, and to keep from paying him she married him. You know young John D. Rockefeller always brought those children up to not spend anything they could get out of spending. As luck would have it this girl hit a bargain, for this young Barrister was a fine young man, and it’s been a very happy marriage. Well what I am getting at, he was in the birth across from me. He had been out to California.
One of the nicest fellows we had out there in California was this same fellow’s brother-in-law. I think his name was Nelson Rockefeller.3 He was on a tour with some bankers, and he made a big hit with everybody. No better than Milton but this Nelson is single and a Rockefeller, and of course he carried a lot of authority. Anyhow he was a fine kid, no matter what his name was.
This plane thing has got to be a great place to meet everybody. It saves you a lot of time for a lot of reasons. I got home to California and they told me, “Your picture won’t start till next Monday.” Well then I am off again. Mrs. Rogers is back in New York with our Mary so back I hike, and I do a little show seeing. I found one show that was running backwards, and they figured it a big novelty, but my Lord, we been running Rogers Pictures backwards for years. We draw straws whether to run ’em back wards or forwards, then audiences have wondered and speculated which way they were run.
This one announced on their program that it was run backwards, but ours don’t. We just let ’em guess, but it don’t make much difference nowadays, for audiences are so smart that you can start in the middle and go both ways and they will still have you out guessed at the finish.
Anyhow this was a fine show and mighty well done. But about one season is all I want to see for figuring ’em out forward is hard enough, much less guessing ’em back wards. But there is some good shows in N. Y. Better than in years.
1For Amon G. Carter see WA 547:N 2.
2For John D. Rockefeller, Jr., see WA 545:N 5. David Merriwether Milton, American attorney; first husband of Abby Rockefeller, only daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
3Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, American banker, diplomat, and political figure; Republican governor of New York from 1959 to 1973; vice-president of the United States from 1974 to 1977.
BASEBALL WITH YOUR MEALSWell sir I got back home about a week or ten days ago, after prowling high and low. It just looked like I was jumping from one banquet table to another like a goat from rock to rock. Jesse Jones, my good friend, head of the R.F.C. was in New York and he phoned me to come on over that he was there to speak at the N.Y. Realty Board.1 Well I dident get over there for the dinner, but you can never be too late for the speaking. I got there and told ’em I come to cry with ’em, and that I was there as a property owner, that all they had to do was to try to sell it, but that I had to own it so I would be able to cry louder than any of ’em. They were a fine bunch. We had lots of fun.
Well then on the night before I left the Baseball Writers were having their big annual sport writers dinner. That’s a great bunch of folks. While I don’t get to so very many sporting events on account of having to say home and play myself, I do read every thing I can lay my hands on. There are some great writers among the sporting writers, real humorous writers and real heart interest writers. Then too baseball is really my onion, I used to go to an awful lot of the games in the old vaudeville and Follies days. I knew almost every old time ball player, and lots of ’em are my best friends today. They are a mighty clean living fine type of men, and have raised some fine famalies.
Well at the Dinner, they put on some awfully clever sketches, it’s sorter like the great Gridiron Dinner at Washington where the President comes, and they take a hair of everybody. This was like that along the sporting line. They had some good talent among the writers and they must have worked hard on a lot of the well played sketches. I sat by old Dizzy up at the speaker’s table, and say that old boy looks as good at a speaker’s table as he does out there when he has got that batter in the hole.2 He had on a real tuxedo (boughten one) and it fit, and he wasent pulling and hauling at his cuffs and collars. I had to leave right after I finished but I know he made a good speech.
Heywood Broun the famous writer on any and all subjects, made a good speech and he sure tried to get the players plenty of money.3 He said the fans went to the parks to see the Ruths and Deans, and Maranvilles and all the famous stars and that nobody went to see the managers.4 Well I sorter hung along onto Broun’s coattail in my little gab and tried to say the same thing only not as good. But I did think Dizz ought to have more money. I predicted at the last World’s Series (and that was early in the Series, not after he had carried it away in his pocket) I said he would replace the Babe. He is sho chuck full of personality and he is boastful, but it’s not in a fresh way. It’s in a kidding way, and he is always laughing, and he is what they call a natural ball player. He can do anything. Frankie Frisch put him in there to run bases because he can run bases, and he will get a hit off anybody’s pitching, and he loves to play ball.5 Will pitch every day if they let him. Course on the other hand lots of managers haven’t made money and they just are not able to pay all that some players are worth, but there is not too much that Dean should have. And his brother Paul is the quietest fellow you ever saw, but they sho do pull togeather. Please don’t call him Daffy. I am asking you writers you baseball writers who are friends of mine, and I like you, and I was going to ask you that night, but I forgot it, it’s all right to call Dizz, Dizzy, but such an uncalled for name as Daffy for that nice quiet one is not quite cricket. It’s Dizz and Paul.
Well right there by us sat Rabbitt Maranville, the gamest and most skilled little ballplayer that ever pulled on a spiked shoe. I hope and pray he will be able to be in there catching those infield flies off his (what is it). Frankie Frisch was there, as flashy and heady a player as ever there was. Bill Terry, who I had just left a day or so before down at Huey Long’s Baton Range.6 And dear old Connie Mack, young and keen as ever, just returned from his trip to Japan with a team.7 When you don’t play to seventy or eighty thousand in Japan at one game, it’s an off day. Great fielders, great runners, but they can’t hit our fast pitchers.
The Phillipines are a great base ball country. Cuba is nuts over baseball, and Mexico is coming fast. England and any part of Europe we can’t make much headway, but it’s by far our greatest game. Where is the football player going to play after he leaves college, only the pro ranks, and they don’t use many. But baseball is good for 10 or more years. Then as an old man you can always at picnics play with the Fats against the Leans. The game should be made compulsory. The modern kids a lot of ’em don’t go in for it, for it takes too long to learn it, and learn it good. It’s a skilled game. It’s America’s game, it and high taxes. But it was a great night and I wish I could have met and shook hands with everyone there, and talked with all the old timers.
1For Jesse H. Jones see WA 567:N 8.
2For Dizzy Dean see WA 617:N 1.
3For Heywood C. Broun see WA 632:N 10.
4Paul Dee Dean, pitcher who starred for the Saint Louis Cardinals from 1934 to 1939; brother of Dizzy Dean. For Rabbit Maranville see WA 629:N 2.
5For Frank Frisch see WA 617:N 3.
6William Harold “Bill” Terry, infielder for the New York Giants from 1923 to 1936; manager of the Giants from 1932 to 1941; named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1954.
7Cornelius McGillicuddy, “Connie Mack,” professional baseball player who managed the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1950, leading the Athletics to nine pennants and five World Series championships.
popular comedy star for Vitagraph Pictures in the early 1910s. He died in 1915.
6Reine Davis, American vaudeville comedienne, dancer, and singer who usually had minor billing in theatrical productions.
7For Roscoe Turner see WA 559:N 2.
8Elsie Janis, American vaudeville performer, silent screen star, and motion-picture scriptwriter; known especially for her imitations of popular personalities, including Will Rogers.
9Charlotte Walker, American theatrical and motion-picture actress. A favorite of the stage, she also enjoyed a successful film career, appearing in Trail of the Lonesome Pine in 1916 and other well-known features.
10Heywood Campbell Broun, American newspaper columnist, author, and organized of the American Newspaper Guild; syndicated columnist for the Scripps-Howard newspapers from 1928 until his death in 1939.
11Graham McNamee, sports and general announcer for the National Broadcasting Company and one of the best-known broadcasters in the country.
12Geraldine Farrar, American operatic prima donna and motion-picture star. One of the first opera singers to enter films, she made fourteen pictures between 1915 and 1921.
13For Samuel Goldwyn see WA 540:N 4.
14For the Stone family see WA 597:N 15.
BEAUTY AND THE BEASTWell all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I run into here and there. Back out here in old Orangejuice Land again, toiling to try and hand a fraction of the folks a laugh on the screen when your beauty has deserted you, when you are getting old you have to resort to pure skill or trickery. I kinder take up the trickery.
Now in the old days just looks alone got me by. I had the men love interest in my pictures stepping out to keep ahead of me. The Lord was good to me in the matter of handing out a sort of a half breed Adonis profile, (well it was a little more than a profile that you had to get). Straight on I dident look so good, and even sideways I wasent to terrific, but a cross between a back and a three quarter view, why Brothers I was hot. The way my ear, (on one side) stood out from my head, was just bordering on perfect. That rear view give you just the shot needed. That ear dident just stick out, it kinder protruded just gently. In those old silent day pictures that back right ear was a by word from Coast to Coast. You see all screen stars have what they call their better angles. These women have just certain camera men to shoot them, they know which way to turn ’em, and how to throw the light on ’em.
Well they don’t pay much attention to lighting with me, the more lights go out during the scene the better. So we toil and we struggle to maintain what is left of our beauty and manliness. Of course the Radio helps us. Any hour somebody is begging and imploring us to go to the drug store and buy something that will take the wrinkles out of our ears, lift our eyebrows, bring back that rudy, (that’s spelled rudy) complexion. There is as many gadgetts on the market to overhaul men as there is women. I doubt if women have got much on man when it comes to trying to outlook themselves.
You watch an old boy in a barber shop and he wants lots of mirrors and a lot done to him besides shearing off his mane. Barbers are awful clever and they have invented a hundred little tricks of theirs when they look like they are trying to get the furrows out, and make your skin look and feel soft. They are artists those fellows. Course I always just wanted a shave, a hair cut, and get on out, but most old boys will tarry as long as they will fiddle with him with little rubbing machines and lotions. Your Oldface gets back to normal about the time you hit the street anyhow. It begins to hit its original shape, those fancy remedies are awful temporary.
But I got to get back to the Movies and tell you what we are all doing out here. I am working on a picture they say they going to call it “Doubting Thomas.” Well I don’t know why, there is not much that I doubt either in the picture or out. I am a mighty trusting fellow and believe most everything. It’s from a very successful play a few years back called, “The Torch Bearers.” It was very clever, and we got us a fine cast, a lot of old friends among ’em. Mrs Flo Zeigfeld (Billie Burke) is playing my wife.1 She has duplicated her stage hit in the movies.
You know about all good stage people are good in the movies. Some of ’em might not have gotten off good in their first picture they tried, but it wasent their fault, it was the story, part or something. Give any good stage performer three or four parts in pictures and they would be just as good. But they turn ’em down too quick sometimes on just one missfit showing.
I can remember her, (Miss Burke) when she was first married to my boss, Mr. Zeigfeld. At least they hadent been married long when I started on the Midnight Frolic Roof. How proud of her he was. They and the Barrymores, and the John Drews and partys used to come up on the Roof and sit at a ringside table.2 Gosh what a place that was, the first Midnight Show, and the greatest and most expensive. Those girls wouldent think of leaving N. Y. with a show.
But I am getting old and rambling I guess. Andrew Toombs, who used to be with us in the famous 1922 Follies that ran two years in N. Y.3 He and I sang and burlesqued the famous Gallager and Shean song.4 He was afterwards with me with Dorothy Stone’s Show, and he is the one that sang the full dress suit song, only we were barefooted.5 (A nut idea that went over.) Well Andy is with us in this. He is the most versatile performer in musical comedy, and will be just as big on the screen.
Lord bless her Miss Alison Skipworth, that grand old performer, she is playing her original role from the stage in this play, and Helen Flint that was the bad girl in the saloon scene in our Coast stage show of “Ah Wilderness,” a fine trooper.6 Sterling Holloway, a great comedian, oh we got a lot of ’em.7 It’s like a real old stage reunion.
Fred Stone waiting for his picture to start visits us often. Gee how stage people do honor and look up to the achievements of that guy. I bet he has played to more money paid in at the box office over a course of years than any actor or actress in America. Well I got to close, so it’s just pure strategy that keeps me in their fighting now.
1For Billie Burke see WA 593:N 1.
2The Barrymores comprised one of the most famous performing families in American stage and screen history, with Lionel (see WA 570:N 3), Ethel, and John attracting considerable fame during the 1920s and 1930s. John Drew, American actor whose first starring role was in 1892 in Masked Ball. His last stage appearance was in the revival of Trelawney of the Wells, shortly before his death in 1927. His sister was married to Maurice Barrymore of the noted American theatrical family.
3Andrew “Andy” Tombes, American vaudeville entertainer, musical comedy star, and motion-picture actor. Tombes made frequent appearances in Broadway productions during the 1910s and 1920s and was seen on the screen after 1933.
4For Gallagher and Shean see WA 602:N 2.
5For Dorothy Stone see WA 574:N 4.
6Alison Skipworth, English comedienne of the stage and screen. Although she was in Hollywood only eight years, 1930 to 1938, she made more than sixty film appearances. Helen Flint, American stage and motion-picture actress who often played prostitutes in films in the 1930s, including in Black Legion, Ah! Wilderness, and Fury.
7Sterling Holloway, slow-speaking American comedy actor seen in films after 1927 and on television.
BUY YOURSELF A MULEWell Sir, I am always writing about politics, or Supreme Court, or World Court, or dissarmament, or Russia, or any and everything. I don’t know any more about ’em than a boweevil (and I don’t even know how to spell boweevil). But today you are going to get a subject that I do have a right smart sprinkling of knowledge on. I can just see you all saying to yourselves, well I wonder what on earth it is that he knows anything about.
Well Sir, it’s mules, M. as in Mussilini, U. as in Youraguay, L. as in Longitas, E. as in Eucalyptus, S. as in Staten Island. Mules, those things with long ears and short tails. Let me tell you something. You know what was the first thing out of perhaps a million industries or products that come back after “Despondency.” Well you wouldent guess in a million years.
Of course Democrats were the first thing to come back. They had been in a state of unemployment since 1918 and come back in 1932. Fourteen years and not a Postmaster in a thousand car loads. So to be fair we must assume that Democrats were the first to feel the touch of prosperity again but what followed the Democrats? Why Mules, Mules, Mules. Franklyn D. Roosevelt in all his triumphial march back into the jaws of the U. S. Treasury was only one jump and a kick ahead of the old Mule. The Mule was the first quadraped to recover and that takes in centipedes and thousand legs.
I got some old Mules here on my little ranch that looked at one time like they wouldent be worth a thing only to run away with prominent guests on a hack ride. They afterwards told me it was Irvin Cobb they were after. Kentucky hasent been as fair to the Mule as Tennessee and Missouri. And when you stop to think of it, why shouldent the Mule be the animal to lead us back to the old haywire days again? It was us leaving the Mule and taking to machinery that put us in the dog house. That’s why I think in a lot of things we got to get back to old principles. The Mule has got to bring the farmer back and the contractor back just the same as many other common every day thing has to bring us all back. The difference between good times and bad times is gasoline, and what goes with it.
A Mule was a fundamental that we had thought we could discard, but we couldent, and that’s just one of the thousand fundamentals that we will have to get back to. Then will come work, wages, and contentment. Did you ever hear of Columbia, Tenn.? I figured some of you are just liable to be pretty ignorant. Well it was the home of President Polk, the seventh President of the U. S. and the home of Pop Geers, the greatest horse driver that the world ever knew.1 Andrew Johnson operated a tailor shop in Columbia, Tenn., home of the first horse to ever beat two minutes. The only town in the whole U. S. that ever had a kite-shaped track. Hal Pointer and Direct, ran their famous race over it.2
I could go on for an hour about Columbia, Tenn., but here is what makes it outstanding in present day world history. It’s the biggest street Mule market in the world. What the thoroughfare of Wall Street will do to you if you don’t know what a stock is, Columbia will do to you if you don’t know a mule. Maiden Lane, N. Y. city for diamonds, but Mule Street in Columbia for Mules.
Mules are diamonds today. They are pearls. They are the best ready money. They are the tops. Thousands and thousands of mules are sold in this town every year. The largest street Mule Market in the world. I am telling you, and on April the first they have their great annual livestock show. They will be 1500 Mules and horses in the parade, and not an auto. They wrote me an awful nice letter and wanted me to come down there, but on April the first we will be making the picture, “In Old Kentucky.” And I have to be here and make faces at the camera at that time, otherwise I would be riding a couple of Mules tandem right down the middle of the street.
I would sure love to be there. I love to be at any old time home celebration, and this one has been going on for about 75 years. But don’t any of you other towns start writing me inviting me to your place, and then think I am going to write a long story about it. This is a story about Mules. It’s not about folks, and it’s not about towns, it’s about Mules.
I tell you they are getting so high now that if the Supreme Court vote the gold back into the dollar, they will say you either have to pay off in gold or in Mules. It ain’t nothing to see a man come in and trade a tractor and a year old Buick, and 100 dollars down on a span of hard tails. So you go to Columbia. Remember the date, April first. It’s about 40 miles south of Nashville. And see some Mules, buy some of ’em just lay ’em away and forget ’em. They will make you some money some day. It’s the one thing Wall Street or the Government havent been able to monkey with, is the Mule business. Maybe that’s why they have done so well.
1Edward Franklin “Pop” Geers, picturesque American harness driver, known as the “Grand Old Man of the Trotting Turf.” Geers died in a racing mishap in 1924 at the age of seventy-three.
2Hal Pointer, a Tennessee horse driven by Geers, and Direct, a California horse driven by George Starr, engaged in a famous pacing race in 1891 at Columbia in which Direct set a world speed record.
REINDEER AND DEBATEWell all I know is just what I read in the papers. Here was an interesting thing that was just lately completed. That fellow that drove that herd of reindeer clear across Alaska, moving them for domestic animals to tribes away up near the Artic ocean, he drove ’em from some place away down in Alaska to just a niblick shot from the North Pole. He was over five years making the trip. I think he had about three thousand when he left, and he raised as many as he lost. And he got there with more than he left with. He was one whole year just getting over one mountain range and river. It will keep those people, Esquimos, away up there from starving. Will give them a start in raising these wonderful animals.
This fellow that did this was over seventy years old. His drivers used to come and tell him we are lost, and he would say you can see me can’t you, well then you are not lost.
There used to be some wonderful cattle drives from Texas to Montana, Wyoming and even to the Canadian Border. But not a five year one. Those old boys, if they was a good trail boss they would land with more than they started with, and that was more remarkable than the reindeers for the cattle they drove north were steers. And it’s pretty hard to raise many calves on the trail with a steer herd. But the good ones seemed to do it, and they used to arrive there with calves three and four years old, that same fall. So the old Indian Esquimo driver has got to go some to beat old Shanghi Pierce herds.1
These old reindeer cow boys didn’t go on a horse either. They go afoot, or on skis, or skates or something. You know those guys throw a rope too. Fred Stone was in Greenland and he saw ’em. It’s a long rawhide one, and they just bundle it all in one hand and throw it out there like throwing rubbish out of a window and then commence to hauling in, and they say they are awful apt to have reindeer on the end of it.
I never have been to that Alaska. I am crazy to go up there some time. I would like to go in the winter, when those old boys are all snowed in, and I could sit around and hear ’em tell some of those old tales. They have lied about ’em so much now that I bet they can tell some good ones. They do a lot of flying up there. There is some crack aviators. Wiley Post went back up there this last summer to visit one of ’em that had helped him out, and they went hunting in a plane.2 Fred Stone and Rex Beach have been up there a lot but I never did get further north up that way than about a block north of Main street in Seattle.3
I was telling you all away back days ago about me going with Charley Chaplin to hear a debate between Will Durant, that wrote the wonderful book the Story of Philosophy.4 He is just one of the finest fellows you ever met. He made the same trip across Siberia into Russia that I made. He was debating with an Englishman named Strachey.5 This Strachey was a Bolsheviki, but he was very fair in his talk, and it was a brilliant thing to hear. Debates don’t settle nothing, but they are entertaining.
Proposing something in a debate is just about like writing a letter to your congressman, nothing ever comes of it. The debate was called - America’s Way Out - and it was right up Charley’s alley. You know that Chaplin reads that deep economic stuff all the time. He told me quite a bit about his new picture that he is just about half through after six or eight months actual work on it, and two and a half years preperation. It sounded awful funny, and I bet is.
No he is not doing any talking in it. Lots of sound in it, but its action is in pantomime. If a man is the greatest pantomimist in the world, and can make you understand anything he wants too by action alone why should he talk? We don’t go to a big concert to hear John McCormack talk.6 His medium of expression is song. Besides it would be a disappointment to millions if Chaplin talked, every Nation kinder pictures him as being one of them, and if he talked he would be a disappointment to them. They would want to hear him speak in their language.
No sir, let Mr. Chaplin alone. He knows what he is doing better than any one person I know of. He knows his career, and he knows his art. That’s the trouble with most of us, we gab too much. We are blathering all the time. We write too much, we do everything too much. We are a Nation that can’t do much moderating, but we have lots of fun. Everybody getting lots of education, but nobody don’t know much. Every time we want to run a man for some big job, we pretty near go nutty trying to think up somebody, but any Country that is seriously debating paying a man as much to not work as to work, why we are unique anyhow.
1Abel Head “Shanghai” Pierce, prominent Texas livestock producer whose Pierce-Sullivan Pasture Company sent thousands of cattle up the northern trails during the late 1800s. He died in 1900.
2For this and all further references to Wiley H. Post see WA 559:N 2.
3Beach (see WA 621:N 2) was a brother-in-law of Fred Stone.
4For Will Durant see WA 564 N: 3.
5Evelyn John St. Loe Strachey, English writer and politician. A socialist, he was the author of Revolution by Reason (1925) and The Nature of Capitalist Crisis (1935).
6For John McCormack see WA 626:N 4.
JOHNSON MIGHT LEARNWell all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what I run into. We are living in a great time. For millions of folks it is a very hard time. There is nothing that they personally can do to help their position. Their living has always been made by working, by holding an honorable job, but there is no job to hold.
We used to think that if a man was out of a job for a few months that that was almost a record, but now it goes by the years. What can be done to relieve it? It’s our only problem. All the rest that our Government get all excited about mean nothing. The Bonus, the Townsend Plan, the C.C.C. the A.A.A., the N.R.A., Inflation, Deflation on the gold, off the gold.1 All the whole mess are just little side issues compared to re-employment of those out of work.
In fact, most of these other ills are just side lines of the unemployment issue. If everybody was working, there wouldent be all these others. If every soldier had a job he wouldent think of wanting a bonus. If the old folks children were all working, and lots of the older ones themselves holding jobs, there would be no Townsend Plan, gold, silver, debts, all those wouldent mean a thing, if folks were working. Yet with all the honest effort, and all planning, and all the money that’s been spent along various schemes, unemployment has held its own if not increased.
The NRA at the time of launching looked like it would do the work but it fell from its own complicated structure. I wrote a little gag at the time and said that the whole NRA plan should be written on a postcard. Nobody can work a man over a certain number of hours (without extra pay) and nobody can pay anyone under a certain sum (no matter what line of business it was), nobody can hire children. There was the whole NRA in those few words.
No codes, no lobbying, no running to Washington. You dident say a man had to hire more men, you said he couldn’t work the ones he had over a certain number of hours, and that number applied to all industries.
Then if he said well I have to have my place open longer than that, well he automatically hired more men, not by Government compulsion but by necessity, let all the prices, and all that take care of itself, the same as it had all our lives. If a man undersold another man it was done by good management, and not through low wages or long hours. It was because he just was a better business man.
There was enough money spent by everybody running to Washington on codes to pay off the depression, and then all business got sore. All was looking for the best of it in their codes, and they went home and closed up shop. This other way, everybody would have been on one footing. You don’t get kicks when you know that everybody is treated like you are being treated.
The minute a thing is long and complicated it confuses. Whoever wrote the Ten Commandments made ’em short. They may not always be kept, but they can be understood. They are the same for all men. Some Industry can’t come in and say, “Ours is a special and unique business. You can’t judge it by the others.”
Well no committee come pullman-carrying-it into Jerusalem looking for Moses and saying “Ours is a special business.” Moses just went up on the mountain with a letter of credit and some instructions from the Lord, and He just wrote ’em out, and they applied to the steel men, the oil men, the bankers, the farmers, and even the United States Chamber of Commerce. And he said, “Here they are, Brothers, you take ’em and live by ’em, or else.”
Well that’s where Moses had it on Hugh Johnson, Hugh had as good intentions, but Hugh Moses Johnson went up on Capitol Hill and come down with 24 truckloads full of codes. He just couldn’t come out plain and say, “Thou shalt pay so much. And thou shalt work men only so much, and if thou canst not gettith thee more, but payeth them-like-wise.” Hugh should have been born B.C. (before codes).
Course that is not all our troubles. It wouldent have solved every thing any more than the Commandments have solved human weaknesses, but they did stop all arguments as to whether they were good and fair to all was concerned, and they left no argument as to whether they would work if you kept them. I expect there is a lot of lessons in the Bible that we could learn and profit by and help us out, but we are just so busy doing nothing we havent got time to study ’em out. But in Moses’ time the rich dident gang up on you and say, “You change that Commandment or we won’t play.”
1Francis Everett Townsend, California physician who conceived and promoted an old-age pension scheme known as the Townsend Plan. Certain aspects of his proposal were embodied in the Social Security Act of 1935. The Agriculture Adjustment Act, which went into effect in May 1933, provided for production control programs for major crops and some stock animals in order to raise prices. The Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) supervised the programs. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), another New Deal agency, provided jobs for young men in reforestation and other conservation projects. For the NRA see WA 560:N 4.
WHERE CATTLE ROAMWell, all I know is just what I read in the papers or what I see here and there. Mrs. Rogers and Mary are away off on one of those Mediterranean cruises and I think they are about Cairo, Egypt, by now. Think they did a little flying. They wanted to stay longer in Jerusalem and Palestine, so they flew over to catch the boat again in Egypt. Caught up with it, you know.
I never was on one of those cruises. They must be very fine trips. You know I never did do much along that line for just pleasure. I was always pretty busy. Done a lot of traveling but it was always working my way. In the early days it was working my way on a boat to try and get back home. I left home first class one time and it took me two years and nine months to get back third class. That’s what a clever lad I was, and had to go all the way around the world to do it.
I want to go to the Holy Land. I flew over it and circled Jerusalem, but I dident land. By golly a billy goat couldent land. Those old early settlers had the world to pick from and by golly they go and settle on that place and it’s the rockiest place you ever saw. River Jordan looked pretty good. That Nile has got some fertile land and the best grass I ever saw outside of the early days in the Indian Territory where I was born. Was in a very big long valley, hundreds of miles, and I thought looking down on it from the plane coming from China to Europe that I had found me a real new cow country, and I thought, my goodness, why don’t folks settle here. I bet they don’t know where it is. There was just roving bands of Nomads with cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. (Not all in the same bunch, but each handling different small herds of stock.)
I said to the pilot, a Holland Dutchman, too bad people don’t know about this place, it sure looks fertile. Pretty soon he circled the plane, and pointed down and said, “There is the Garden of Eden.” Not a thing there but tall grass, not a soul in miles, not a tree, just plains. It was right above the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Pretty soon he pointed out the ruins of Babylon. Nothing there either.
I hold the record of being the only person that ever went to Cairo and dident go out to the Sphynx and the Pyramids. It ain’t far out of town. There is some great things to see over the world, and it’s getting so you can travel cheaper than you can stay at home, and here at home it’s still cheaper, and we got a lot of see. I wish I just had the time to get in a car and just take my time and prowl around, see a lot of ranches that I been always wanting to see for a good many years now.
I never been on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Drove along below the south rim the other day, Fred Stone, Edd Vail, a California cattleman, and got off the train about eight o’clock in Seligman, Arizona.1 Drove all day long. Saw just three ranch houses, two men hauling wood at one, one sheepherder with a band of sheep, and one cowboy at another ranch, and we drove till dark. Now that’s about a record for keeping away from the crowds.
Nothing is spoken of in acres. In fact, lots of ranch countries don’t mention acres. They speak of sections, that’s 640 acres. But this country always speaks of it in townships, that’s 36 times 640. They will say there is a little ranch up here of I think it’s 15 or 20 townships, that’s 20 times 36 times 640. There is an awful lot of room in this country. That’s where I was hollering for a car that would be much higher.
My good friend Brisbane said all you had to do was to put wheels a foot higher, he dident say what would happen to the fenders.2 Then I have been swamped with wires and literature saying the Chrysler put one out, and I think maybe the Plymouth. I never did hear from Ford about it. He was just monkeying around and had his mind on something else.
Then literally dozens wired and wrote that the Government should take the unemployed and build boulevards to these places I was talking about. It would be a lesson to some folks to publish some kind of statistics of people in America that don’t live on a highway. Also never saw a car all day outside the town we left. The wood haulers had a team of mules, the sheepherder had a burro. Lots of folks riding horseback nowadays.
I had Irvin Cobb on a horse here yesterday. There is a picture, the southern gentleman spread out not only over the saddle but the horse. He was funny but not to that old cowpony I called Soapsuds.
Leo Carillo come dashing up this evening on a brand new Palimino.3 (Light dim to you.) Most the actors that had race horses, the delivery wagons have taken ’em back. Well, that’s about all that happened this week.
1Edward Fit Randolph “Eddie” Vail, California cattleman and philanthropist; lessee of the 20,00-acre Jalama Ranch in Southern California.
2For Arthur Brisbane see WA 534:N 3.
3Leo Carrillo, American motion-picture and television actor. Carrillo, who started his career in vaudeville, was best known for his role as “Pancho” in the Cisco Kid films and television show.
WHAT’S THE HOLDING CO. HOLDING?Well, all I know is just what I read, either in the papers or in the mail. The other day I went “Popping off” about holding companies. Now as a matter of fact I don’t know a thing about a “Holding Company.” I had read naturally that there was graft and inflated values in the forming of a lot of them. Then when I read Mr. Roosevelt’s tirade against them, I say to myself, well here is a man that must know what he is talking about. He is not given to just having it in for a legitimate enterprise. So as Congress had been pretty good that day and done nothing, why that left me nothing to yap about, so seeing the President’s headline about ’em, why I said, a holding company is like a fellow handing the other fellow the swag while they search you.
Well I dident figure that little half witted remark would upset the whole holding company business. But I forgot that a remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth. If it’s so untrue as to be ridiculous why nobody pays any attention to it. And on the other hand I don’t want to get any remark that will be so true that it hurts, I mean really hurts.
So I was in wrong both ways. Now I don’t know what it is, but right or wrong there must be some little teeny weeny bit of underground connivance connected with the idea of holding companies, or is there?
Now be honest. In a straight forward legitimate business, a farm, a store, a little manufacturing concern, or any business what makes the holding company necessary? Don’t it have something to do with shifting the responsibility over to another company that are liable only for so much? Now maby it don’t. I don’t know. Anyhow I got some fine sensible and fair letters from real people that had confidence in the companies. Of course, 99 out of a hundred were working for one, or had stock in ’em, but anyhow it showed a spirit of fair play. They felt that I was wrong, and I am sure that I dident know enough about ’em to know if I was or not.
Now you will say, well why did you pop off when you dident know what you was talking about? Well if you are going to stop that, why America would be speechless. There is not any of us real sure of what we are yapping about. You see here is something that any of us that write have found out, if we write or say something that agrees with you, why then we become a smart guy in your estimation. But if we should write or say something that don’t agree with your idea of the same subject, then we become a “Menace” and should be eliminated from the public prints. So we are only good as long as we agree with you. But a lot of these were mighty fair.
Here they are:
Dan Winslow, Pittsburg, Pa. “This is a fan letter, and also a matter of life and death. You have hurt me and many more but I know it’s unintentional. I work for the West Penn Power Co. as good people as any one ever worked for, so give us a fair deal.”
York, Nebraska R. A. Graham “My faith in my company who employ me is unshaken.”
Frank Dinwiddle, Walker, Philadelphia “I work with the United Gas and Improvement Co., a group which you and I would be glad to own as a family.”
A gentleman named J. E. Mann, N. Y. “Shomaker stick to your last. You are supposed to be a comedian. Stay one.”
Henry Boenning, Investment Bonds, Philadelphia. “Suppose your money is in tax exempt securities.” No it’s in a few acres of Cal. land which is worth about one tenth of what I paid for it.
Here is one headed “Roosevelt’s Democratic Clown. “How do you know how a thief passes money to an accomplice unless you have been one or the other?” No name. He was afraid I would sue him. I wouldent. He may be right.
John Nickerson, 61 Broadway, N. Y. votes no on the Roosevelt plan. C.
H. Burnam of Bronxville adds a no.
W. H. P. Townsend of Philadelphia says Roosevelt and I are both equally wrong, and mabe we are. It was Roosevelt that started it and I was just tagging along, but we got to stay with all the Townsends for I am just four years off.
Valentine Garfias, 60 Wall Street, N. Y. rightfully says I should have studied the bill. I never studied the bill. I never studied any bill, and neither did anybody else. If we did none of ’em would pass.
Olin Tomlinson, 525 Lexington Ave., N. Y. says I was too hard on ’em and maybe Olin was right.
R. R. Morgan, La Jolla, Cal. (there is pretty near a neighbor) he says there is a great many women who have stock in them and that it would destroy that. Now I don’t think Roosevelt wanted to destroy anybody’s stock. Anyhow I hope he don’t. That wouldent be right. Everybody I imagine is in sympathy with the stock holders.
And the last one is from Mr. Nottingham from Duluth, Minn., who wants me to give it more study.
And they are all fair. Nobody wants to shoot me. It’s too complicated for me to learn about. I will stay with the Senate. I know those guys backwards, cause that’s the way they are generally going. So take up your holding company squabbles with Roosevelt, and lay off me and thanks for your friendly criticism.