Will Rogers' Weekly Articles
WA315 January 6, 1929
CHRISTMAS IS OVER, HOORAY!
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. The holidays got by without much publicity. Xmas was awful quiet after the excitement of the late election. It looked like there was a lot more interest in Smith and Hoover than there was in Santa Claus. I guess Xmas is getting kinder old and we will have to scare up something new to take its place. The trouble with this generation is they are getting too wise. That is they are getting too wise about things which they ought not to get wise about, and learning none of the things that might be any good to ’em afterwards. We kid the idea of Santa Claus now, where as a matter of fact it was one of the greatest illusions and ideas we ever had. We lost it and nothing has taken its place. Even to presents, why in the old days just any little remembrance was the very thing we wanted and needed, but now with all this Republican prosperity, nobody can’t give you anything you need, for you already got it.
Nowadays if a person, either woman or man, has a Flask why there just ain’t much left for you to get for them. Children used to be tickled to death with a $1 drum. Now they want a Saxaphone accompanied by eight lessons. A doll that would shut its eyes when you laid it down was just about the best word in presents for a little girl. But now it’s a Party dress with a vanity case to match.
A little iron train with some coal cars would keep a bunch of children out of some other kind of devilment till away along up in April. But now it’s got to be one with tunnels and bridges and electric towers and will blow the fuses out in your whole house the first time you hook it up. And then the disgusted Father will be asked why he didn’t get an Aeroplane that would fly instead of a plain old train.
Xmas cards was invented by somebody that wanted to sell more stamps and wanted to break the backs of Mail carriers. You pay a lot of money to get what is supposed to be an exclusive design, and the first mail brings you twelve just like the ones you are mailing out. That makes you sore at Xmas from then on no matter how great things break from then on. It just don’t look like there is much left of the old time Xmas, but Sox and Neckties and handkerchiefs. That’s about the only things that have really stood the gaff of modern advancement. Mothers, childrens and friends’ presents have undergone a great change, but the old Father still can rest assured that he can dig in the ribbon- wrapped package and drag out three (near linen) hankerchiefs, a missfit pair of sox or a red Tie.
New York got away pretty good this time in the way of deaths from bad alcohol.
Hoover spent his Xmas out on the broad Ocean on a Battleship. But that even don’t do you much good nowadays to try and get away from everything. That Radio gets you even out there.
Mr. Coolidge he picked out an Island down in Georgia to get away from “Happy New Year Mr. President” in Washington.
He went down there hunting, where they had some game big enough to hit. You know on Thanksgiving he went to Virginia, but the quails didn’t fly where he figured they would. So he wanted something a little bigger. A Republican President in Georgia is kinder a novelty, even if he don’t hit anything but a Democrat.
But all these trips just shows you to what lengths these Public men will go to get away from other Public men. He has sit in that White House and seen so many Senators coming up that long front walk, that I bet he would like to go and visit Trotsky in Siberia for a year.1
You know there is nothing in the World as alike as two Senators. No matter how different their politics, how different the parts of the Country they come from, they all look alike, think alike, and WANT alike. They are all looking for an appointment for some Guy who helped them get theirs. One blind one brought his dog the other day and Coolidge said, “Even the dog looked like he had a friend back in the home kennels that he would like to see brought on and made a White House pet.”
So you just can’t blame Calvin for proposing that we get our Presidents a place where they can go and forget the following monologue: “Now Mr. President there is a man in my State that really worked very hard for your election and we really owe him this appointment. The Government is really losing by not having him work for them.”
“Who is he working for now?”
“Oh he isn’t working for anybody now.”
“Well then the country is losing his valuable services as much as the Government. So we better just let him lay off. I don’t like to take such a good man away from the people.”
Say, was any of you in that Prohibition contest that that fellow Mills won?2
His wife like to beat him, and none of the things she had in hers was anything like the thing he had in his. Then a Boy out in Hoover’s home town won the prize for Amateurs. That is people who had never tried to enforce it. He said the way to do it was by education. Teach ’em that it was wrong.
But the Professional that won the Twenty five thousand, he said, “Make it so expensive that the Bootlegger couldn’t make any money on it.” Why, the higher price anything is the bigger profit the middle man makes on it. A Man that sells potatoes don’t make near as much as the man that sells Automobiles. The Bootlegger makes ten times more profit on it than the Saloon keeper used to when it sold cheap. So it don’t look to me like either one of these Scenarios were anywhere near right.
Education never helped morals. The most savage people we have are the most moral. The smarter the Guy the bigger the rascal. And the minute a thing is high priced, you immediately create a desire for it. You give liquor away tomorrow like water and the novelty of being drunk would be over in a week, and nobody would touch the stuff. It’s like Golf, you let the poor all get to playing it and you watch the rich give it up. So make the Government make it, and give it away, and we will all be disgusted with it. Americans don’t like common things.
1For Leon Trotsky see WA 254:N 4.
2Chester P. Miles, United States Army officer; federal prohibition administrator in New York City from 1926 to 1927. Miles won the $25,000 first prize in a national contest for the best plan to make prohibition more effective. A schoolboy from Palo Alto, California, won $1,000 in the competition.
WA316 January 13, 1929
HISTORY IS OLD STUFF
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers, or what happens here in the old Human Hash Bowl. We got a new Police Chief here and he has arrested most of the population and over half the Police force.1
I look for him to issue an order arresting himself some day. He has got the Cops so scared that they are arresting traffic instead of directing it. He may get away with it. He is quite a fellow.
He has had great training for such a strenerous life. He used to be the head of the Mayor’s Reception Committee. It was his work to go down the Bay or out on the in-coming Boulevards and meet the Visitors to the City and try and get them to go to the City Hall and have their Pictures taken with the Mayor. You couldn’t tell whether he was working for the City or for some Photographer. There was for awhile that you couldn’t get a passport into the City unless you had had it “Vesayyed” on the steps of the City Hall.
He has been decorated by almost every foreign Government, for getting their subjects through the traffic from the pier to their Hotel. It used to take him till noon every day just to meet the Foreign Lecturers. People used to try and disguise and keep the Reception committee from knowing they were coming into New York. But it didn’t do any good. They had a Detective force to find out when any Channel Swimmer, Golf Player, foot racer or Diplomat was trying to sneak through the City without getting their Picture taken and they would nail ’em.
Grover, (His name is Grover Weyland) worked on a commission basis. He got so much for meeting an Aviator, so much for Swimmers. The Bounty on Queens was the highest. If you could coax a Queen to detour by City Hallwhy he could lay off and call it a day and not have to meet anybody else. And he made such a big success out of this that the Great Wanamaker stores heard about it and they offered him a job at a great big salary, if he would just bring these people by their store. It wasn’t far from Photographic Hall, so it got so the best place to see these Notables was as they went through Wanamakers. Course none of them didn’t buy anything, they never figured on that. But the people that come in to see ’em used to see the wonderful bargains there while they was waiting and that made it a very profitable undertaking for the store.
But say he is just going after these Crooks in this town like he did after those Notables. He is not letting a one get away, cause he is that kind of a fellow. There is no half way with him. It would be a good joke on this town if he did clean it up. Course that would ruin it, for it’s getting like Paris, it’s supposed Devilment is its biggest add. The rest of the country drop in here and think if they don’t stay up till four AM that New Yorkers will think they are “Yokels,” when as a matter of fact New Yorkers have been in bed so long they don’t know what the other half is doing.
New York lives off the out of towner trying to make New York think he is quite a fellow. So it looks like this fellow is going to get somewhere. There won’t be any “in between.” He is either going to be good, or a Bust. There will be no half way record with him. So here is good luck to you Grover, you took on a man’s job, and if you get away with it you will be the fellow that they will be rounding up the notables to bring and have their picture taken on the steps with.
We had all the Scientists met here in convention lately. (I don’t mean the Christian Scientists. These from the way they talked were Atheist Scientists.) They read great long papers to each other, discussing what they had found out. One of them got in wrong with the Toastmaster of the whole concern by announcing that “We needed some other religion, that we should look to the earth for our guidance instead of to the sky.” The “Head man” in the Scientist business told him, “Keep your mind on your work, never mind worrying about something you don’t know anything about. We don’t want to get mixed up with these Religious people in any argument. They are the ones we are living off of, so find something wrong with somebody besides our meal ticket.”
A Scientist is man that can find out anything, and nobody in the world has any way proving whether he ever found it out or not, and the more things he can think of that nobody can find out about, why the bigger Scientist he is. One of them here at this re-union read a Treatise, that the whole story of Christ and the Bible didn’t happen in the Holy Land, that the whole thing was away in the middle of Asia, somewhere around where China and India meet now. Now what if he is right? What’s that got to do with General Motors stock? The minute that California hears that there is a doubt among Scientists as to just where the whole action of the Bible took place, I bet you they will dig up a “Scientist from some Rotary Club” and he will read a paper to prove the whole thing took place just between Glendale and Long Beach, Cal.
Then the argument will start as to whether the River Jordan is the Sacremento or the Talhassee. You know that’s one reason why I think Henry Ford is the smartest man in the World today. He said never mind History, he didn’t care what had happened, he wanted to figure what was going to happen. I think if every History or books on old things was thrown in the river, and everybody had nothing to study but the future, we would be about two hundred years ahead of what we are.
What do we care about whether Caesar got along with Mark Anthony or not? What we want to know is “Are we going to get along with England or not, and if not, get ourself some Cruisers.” George Washington wouldn’t tell his Father a lie, but he misled the British about the strength of his Army till he led ’em into a war and killed most of ’em. What does that mean to us? What do we care whether he crossed the Deleware in a “skift” or dived under it? There is bridges on it now, that’s how we got to cross it. Nothing ever happens exactly the same twice anyhow.
Events are like finger prints, they say there is no two alike. History didn’t teach us that; somebody was smart enough to find it out. So what’s the use studying one event, when you know it will never happen that way again? If all that History teaches us is that Napoleon moved his Army on “its Belly,” what does that prove? Only that Soldiers were all belly and no head in those days. We got to fight the next war with Airships, so what does it matter whether Lafayette was on a Grey Horse or a Ford Car? If Henry Ford had studied the past instead of the future, about all he would ever have invented would have been “the Cheapest suit of Armour on the market. It will take you through the most wars with the least expense. Remember Ford’s Self starting Armour.”
1Grover Aloysius Whalen, New York City merchant and civic leader; police commissioner from 1928 to 1930.
WA317 January 20, 1929
WIVES BECOME WISER
All I know is just what I read in the papers. Well we had quite a crowd in the old County Seat. It was National Automobile Show week. That always brings in terrible lot of people. (I don’t mean the people are terrible.) I just mean there is a lot of ’em. And you know one of those things is just about the most uninteresting things you ever saw in your life.
You never saw as many cars alike in your life. The cheap cars have imitated the high priced ones, and the high priced ones have made cheaper models that are almost like their expensive ones, and every one of them copped the low flat Radiator cap. I think I first remember it on the old big “Locomobile.” Then I think Crysler nailed on to it, and the rest got it from him I reckon.1
But that is the only distinguishable feature of the whole show, is that there is no distinguishable feature, everything looks alike.
You know that show is the excuse for more people to leave home and come to New York, and none of these Automobile people ever go near the Show. This Show is just the old Alabi to get to New York. But I notice now that some of the wives are getting wise and are tagging along. They got wise to that old Gag, “I have to go to keep in touch with what’s going on in the Industry.” There was too many things going on that had no connection with the “Industry.” There is hundreds of Guys that are in the “Industry” that leave this town at the end of the Show that can tell you the price of Gin, that couldent tell you whether Automobiles are selling by the Crate or Bushel.
Cars are supposed to be more roomy this year. There is hardly a one that is not listed to carry 10 cases. They don’t figure capacity in flesh any more. Its in “Quarts.” Even the Fords are bigger, I was sorry to see them change. You know the old ones had become such an Institution with us, that to see one all “dolled” up was kinder like seeing the Statue of Liberty standing out there with “Step ins” on.
They have a lot of cheap cars now. Well they always had ’em, but what I mean by that, they are selling them cheaper.
The big thing is still “Accessories.” You price a car, and he gives you the figure, it sounds pretty reasonable. Then you say, “That includes everything?” “Well no, if you want Wheels on it that will come extra, you can get either wheels or runners, most people prefer wheels. But on account of us not knowing just what they might like why we make them extra. Then the bumpers, front, rear, and sides, and the lights. Of course you will want lights in case you might want to use the car at night. And the mirrors are extra in case you want to always see what’s going on in the back seat.”
“Well just what does go with the car at the original price you quoted me?”
“Well the name and the good will.”
When a car gets all its Asserories on, even the Manufacturer couldent in an hour’s time dig out the part that he had made. They got copper lined Radiators now that will hold Wood Alcahol till you get it poured into the prospective Corpse. There was one casualty at the show that resulted in death. Some person come up and bought a car and dident have any to trade in, and paid cash for the whole thing. The head salesman died and they had to pour water on the others to bring ’em too. They had never before heard of such a transaction. I see by all their Automobile statistics that they got it figured out just how many cars they will sell during the coming year. The only thing that might upset their figures is race suicide.
I had to make a speech to the Automotive Engineers’ Assn. That’s the big Society of the “Industry” and the Birds that really furnish the basic material to buy the Yachts for the Stock Holders. Can you imagine me talking to a lot of technical Mechanics? It would be like asking Coolidge in his Cowboy clothes to address the Cattleman’s Convention. Out of the 110 million people in America, there couldent possibly be one that knew less about Machinery. I never raised the hood of any car I ever had. If the thing stopped I just get out, kick it in the shins, and wait there till one of the things that are going to pick me up and take me somewhere. If I raised up the hood and a Rabbit jumped out, I wouldent know but what he belonged in there. I drive ’em, but I sho don’t try to fix ’em.
Hoover is really the fellow that they should have had. But they claimed he had been heard so much over the radio lately that he was no novelty any more. He is however an Engineer of some kind. He must be an Automotive Engineer. He certainly is not a Stationary Engineer.
Well Calvin is getting quite a little traveling done here lately too. He’s only got about six more weeks to do it in. I see where he is going to make some speech in Florida at some kind of a Bird cage affair. You know last year the slogan of the Auto Industry was to make every family a “two car family.” Why a family is practically destitute either of children or money if they don’t have a half dozen cars. If you got growing up children, you got to have that many so there might maby be one left for the Father in case he wanted to go out himself.
But the Automobile business looks for a big turnover this year, and with these better roads, faster cars and sharper curves, and more Oil in the Crank that’s driving than there is in the Crankcase, why I see great year in prospect, not only for the mechanical but the medical world.
1Walter Percy Chrysler, president of the Maxwell Motor Company and its successor, Chrysler Corporation, from 1921 until his death in 1940.
WA318 January 27, 1929
WHAT COL. HOUSE COULD TELL
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. And what I gaze at out over the footlights while trying to act a fool for the Natives. You know a fellow that was out front the other night and come back in my dressing room and we had a fine visit. And funny thing it was the first time I had ever met him personally. I thought I had personally run onto about all the men that have been mixed up in our National affairs. But here was one that I honestly believe had more influence on American affairs in our generation than any other ten men, and that would include Presidents too. It was Colonel House.1
Just think the part that man played during the entire eight years of the Wilson Administration. We had all formed all kinds of opinions and ideas about what kind of a fellow he was, and what manner of man to get this hold on the brain of a man like Wilson. Well from the minute you meet him you know he’s got something. He is quiet spoken. But you know he “savies” what he is talking about. Funny thing about that fellow. You know he and Wilson kinder had a falling out along about the time of one of those trips to Paris to get the League of Nations thing fixed up. The President kinder jarred loose from him. But you notice Mr. Wilson dident do so good afterwards. Nobody knows what all the advice that House give to Mr. Wilson was. But whatever it was, the minute it stopped, you could tell it.
Just think of a quiet little fellow from away off down in those cedar breaks of that wide old State of Texas, holding no office, having no official capacity, yet really controlling the destinies of perhaps not only our 110 million, but the ultimate outcome of millions in other Countries. He alone and single handed talked and negotiated with every European Leader long before we ourselves got into the war. Wouldent his real personal opinion and absolute down to earth knowledge of what happened during those eventful years, be the greatest thing we could possibly know? That little fellow knows MORE about the war than any man in America. Well sir, do you know I introduced him to the audience, for here was a fellow who I knew that nine tenths of the after all the reading about him had never seen him, and he got one of the biggest receptions I have heard in the Theatre. Pershing’s was the biggest.2
I kinder felt like a lot of those people felt like he had never got any too square a deal in the whole thing, and I think they admire the fact that he has never put up a holler or let out a squawk. He has told in his books lots of things that happened, but Lord, what he knows that he never HAS TOLD.
Well, the Automobile Guys all sobered up and got out of town, or maby they dident, but they got out anyhow. I have given the whole Industry one year to put a door knob, or fastener on a car that everybody in the car don’t have to take turns after you get started slamming it to see if it’s fastened. If you had to slam House doors like you do Auto doors to keep ’em shut, people wouldent use ’em. They would get used to climbing in through the windows. That’s why you see so many Chouffers, there is very few Families have members strong enough to open an Automobile door. You first turn the handle, then you start trying to push it with your hand. You soon find that don’t work, then you try and get your knee against it and see if that won’t push it open. There has been more people mashed their fingers in an Automobile door being slammed by somebody else in the party, than there was more casualties in the war. If all mashed fingers from slamming Automobile doors was laid end to end it would build a corduroy road of fingers across the Continent. If Raskob will get his mind on that and off that Democratic deficiency he will be doing a greater good than argueing with those Republicans.3
You can’t get nowhere argueing with a Republican. They got the most votes. It’s just like trying to win an argument with the Boss. Or a clerk argueing with a Customer. Don’t you remember the old Slogan, that was originated by John Smith when he first started trading with the Indians, “The customer is always right.4
But give nothing back.” That’s the way it should be with the Democrats. “The Republicans are always right.” Of course we all know they are not, in fact I doubt if they ever was right, but as long as they got the most votes why how you going to argue with ’em?
Last spring traveling down in Alabama, I had a chance to go by the Great Negro school of Tuskegee, founded by Booker T. Washington.5
Had a great time there. Heard eighteen hundred trained voices sing Negro Spirituals, AND HOW. Why it’s the best run place you ever saw. Wonderful buildings, beautiful grounds. Why it’s bigger than Harvard, and got a better Football team. Well, there is a great fellow runs it, Dr. Moton.6
He has had it ever since Booker T. died, and he was Washington’s right hand man before that.
Well he is a great fellow. He was in to see me here yesterday. He had just come by Washington and had a long chat with President Coolidge, and on with the next batter. He told Mr. Coolidge a story and he said the President laughed like everything at it. He and Mr. Coolidge was talking about how the Negroes had kinder stayed out of the last election, that is as a race.
A White man bought a pig from old Negro Jim Davis, took him home and the old “Shoat” got out and went back home. Another White man come along and bought the pig, was hauling him home when he met the first buyer, who saw the pig and recognized him, asked about him and found they had both bought him. They went back to have it out with old Jim. “Yes sir, Gentleman, you both bought him, but do you know I has always heard that you White fellows is so much smarter than us Niggers. Now you all ought to be smart enough to go off and settle that matter among yourselvs without coming and axing a poor old ignerent Nigger to help you out.” And that’s the way Dr. Moton told Mr. Coolidge they did during the late Republican uprising. Let the White Folks fight it out among themselves.
1Edward Mandell House, Texas politician and United States diplomat; close friend and confidant of Woodrow Wilson and Wilson’s personal representative to European nations during World War I.
2For John J. Pershing see WA 246:N 2.
3For John J. Raskob see WA 300:N 8.
4John Smith, English military adventurer who helped found Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in America, in 1607.
5Booker Taliaferro Washington, African American educator who established Tuskegee Institute in 1881. He headed the school, which was devoted to industrial education, until his death in 1915.
6Robert Russa Moton, African American educator who served as principal of Tuskegee from 1915 until his death in 1940.
WA319 February 3, 1929
OKLAHOMA HAS GONE ZODIAC!
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. I never felt as important in my life as I have lately. I am the only name I know of that has not been named in the new Hoover Cabinet. I have had a terrible time keeping it out of there. It has been kinder like a Press Agent for a Movie Star. The thing is not to see how much they can get in the paper about their Client. But how much they could prevent from getting in the papers.
Hoover went down into Democratic territory, but that dident stop the Boys from flocking in. You can’t hardly go so far that an office seeker can’t find you. As I pen these lines it looks like my friend Morrow dident want the Secretary of State job.1
He feels I know that he is not through in Mexico yet, and that he would rather get that done right, than take a chance on a job that nobody knows what would likely happen to you. That’s a tough Baby that Secretary of State thing. You come in there labeled as a Statesman and limp out headed for the ash Can of Political hopes.
Well I hate to rattle Skeletons in my own Living room, But ain’t the old State of Oklahoma just taking the prize for continuous humor in Government. I don’t know this fellow Johnston personally.2
But I used to hear my Daddy talk about him.3
They were both on the Constitutional Convention for a long time together. And Papa thought he was a mighty promising young man at that time. And when I heard about him going to be Governor I thought, “Well at last we got one that will go out of office ‘Purposely.’” I don’t believe yet that he really has done anything dishonest. But nowadays it’s about as big a crime to be Dumb, as it is dishonest.
I don’t know what all this mystery thing is he is mixed up in. They claim he consults the Stars and is guided in his actions by the Zodiac. I don’t know what the Zodiac is, and I had no idea that any other old time Oklahomian did. Lord the thing might be a new “Mammy” song, or a Flesh remover, for all I know, but from what I can gather in his case it’s a “Mrs. Hammond,” she is the Zodiac.4
And Boy if you ever get mixed up with a female Zodiac that is one of the worst Zodiacs there is.
I can remember out in Los Angeles when Aimee McPherson first started “Zodiacing” around.5
She dived down on a California beach and come up in a Franklin Sedan five hundred miles away. People love high Ideals. But they got to be about 33 percent plausible. So when the Gov. went out to see if the “Stars” was right before he signed a Bill, and it would be on a night when there was no Stars, the people just kinder suspicioned that that Mrs. Hammond had been “Pinch Hitting” for the Stars.
Boys, if the word ever gets out that some Female is doing a little “Power behind the Throning” you just as well cash in your little chips and call it an evening. For your career is just about over as far as the Political feed trough is concerned. The Madam might have had the best intentions in the world, but if the people get the idea that she has reverted to type, and pulled an Eve and slipped Old “Henry” an Apple, why about the best he can expect is the following, “Among those impeached were the following.” That’s why it’s going to be tough for Women to get into Politics in any kind of a real way, for the wrong kind get in first and crab it for all the rest. They are liable to have more time if not now, why after his term expires to really give the old the Stars some serious consideration. She might have meant well, but she will see where she just Zodiaced herself right out of Free rent.
By the way speaking of Women, there was one convicted here the other day for shooting her Husband.6
She was a Big African Game Hunter. She claimed that he charged her in the Jungles. To have made it real good she should have had her Picture taken after wards, either sitting on his stomach, or standing over him with one foot on his neck. She dident kill him however, he come to, I guess that’s why she was convicted. She was penalysed for bad marksmanship. If you don’t know the vital spot to shoot your husband in you better not take a chance on a Lion.
Our New Chief of Police here has just about quit raiding the “Speakeasies.” His Squads were just exhausted. It was just like trying to keep dry with nothing but a Lamp Shade over you. About the best he can do now is to try and do what he can to keep ’em from opening ’em up right in the Police Station. The Juries they have had here in New York on all the Night Club cases have all refused to convict. They have just brought in a verdict of “Poor business judgement on the part of the accused for entering a business that is already overcrowded.” In some cases they have opened ’em up right in the Jury rooms for accommodation of the Jurys.
Congress voted 24 million dollars a couple of weeks ago to be used by Mr. Hoover in the enforcement of Prohibition. That was like I remember one time here in New York they started a fund where every child would donate a dime, to build a Battleship. Now just think 24 million for Prohibition enforcement, and I just read in the Literary Digest this week where rich men had donated two and one half BILLION dollars, that’s twenty five hundred million, for educational purposes, and the higher the education the higher priced drinks they become accustomed to. So prohibition will never catch up with education.
1For Dwight W. Morrow see WA 254:N 2.
2For Henry S. Johnston see WA 262:N 4.
3Clement Vann Rogers, early-day Indian Territory rancher, banker, and Cherokee tribal leader; father of Will Rogers.
4For Mrs. O. O. Hammonds see WA 262:N 4.
5For Aimee Semple McPherson see WA 226:N 1.
6Esther Evans Wilson, a New York City socialite, was charged with the near-fatal shooting of her estranged husband, Dallett Wilson, an attorney and Republican party official. She was convicted of assault and given a three-year prison sentence.
WA320 February 10, 1929
THE LOW DOWN ON GREAT PRESIDENTS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. We are getting down toward the end of Mr. Coolidge’s management. Now a little later on I want to touch more intimately on how Mr. Coolidge has handled the old Ship of State. I think he has done a mighty good job.
But today we are to deal with what was practically his last speech. Of course he made one to the Birds in Florida the other day, that was just a light fluffy, feathered affair, about being kind to Birds, and beasts and Politicians. Then on Washington’s Birthday he is going to speak to Washington and Jefferson, or Washington and Jackson, or some twin name University down along the Potomac somewhere. It can’t be much for they don’t play Notre Dame, and they have never gone to the Coast, and we can’t even recall the name of the Coach.
But Mr. Coolidge is going to speak to them on Washington’s birthday. Our Public men keep Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays alive, just so they can deliver addresses. When a man starts in Public life he gets him an “Address” on Washington, and one on Lincoln, and those two addresses carry him through his public career. They switch ’em around, for instance the paragraph that he opens with this year, he will close with next year. They learn ’em so they can deliver ’em backwards, sideways, or perpindicular. There has been more great ideas blamed onto Washington and Lincoln than they could have possibly thought of during their lifetime, even if they had thought of nothing but great ideas all the time. Course Washington was elected the first President, because he was about the only one had enough money to give a decent innaugaration Party. Then every once in awhile he would whip England. But that wasent an accomplishment. That was a habit.
He really took the job so he could locate the Capitol in Washington. At that time Vare had it located in Philadelphia, but he had an argument with Smedley Butler and they moved it.1
At one time it was on Wall Street, and Washington was innaugarated there, and he had to stand up all during the Innaugaration, for they wanted $50 for a seat on the Exchange, and he said it wasent worth it, and he moved the Capitol to Washington where you can sit down for nothing. In fact that is the principal Industry is sitting down.
It was really the first Real Estate promotion scheme. Washington and Jefferson owned practically all the land down that way, and Geographical reasons had nothing to do with our locating the Capitol there. It wasent the centerof the Country, BUT it was the center of George’s and Tom’s land holdings. Had Coolidge been the first President instead of Washington, Borah’s personally conducted Senate would be held in continuous argument at Plymouth, Vermont.2
So while you dident get much money for being President in those days, it wasent exactly a philanthropic job. George lost no money through the transaction. He and Jefferson landed on two of the best hills in that Country, and the Government got the swamps.
Now you see these are things they won’t bring out during those “Addresses.” They will tell you how this farsightedness is exemplified, (say that’s a pretty agravatin word for me, and I ain’t right sure it fits, but it’s got to go in somewhere for I heard it and want to cash in on it) in the broad street of Pennsylvania Ave. that he knew that some day the merry Ford and the frolicsome Chervolet would be flitting hither and thither. They credit all these to the foresight of Washington, when as a matter of fact the width of the Avenue was determined to give a Senator or Congressman room to stagger to his lodgings without bumping into a building. Then he always felt that he had made it too narrow, for through their bumping their heads against the buildings he attributed some of the terrible laws that they passed.
He made the Street wide for another reason. He could look from the White House up the Avenue and see when some Congressman was coming to call on him, and would know when to hide. Coolidge has been the most liberal. He has been feeding ’em. Course he only gives ’em breakfast, (that’s about the cheapest but that spoils ’em.) You shouldent feed ’em, the more you give ’em the more they want. Lincoln had the right idea, he would tell ’em a couple of Gags. They would come for an appointment for some Political Accomplice, and go away with nothing but the story about “What is Rigid Economy?” “A Dead Scotchman.” He is the one that said, “You can fool all the Democrats part of the time, and part of the Democrats all of the time. But a Republican is the only one you can fool all of the time.” That’s why he was a Republican.
You know it takes nerve to be Democrat. But it takes money to be a Republican. Now it’s as I say, Mr. Coolidge won’t tell you all these things about any of our first series of Presidents. He will stick to his old High School days’ address of “What Washington’s influence has meant to the Sophmores.” As though anything would mean anything to a Sophmore. They will need a man to announce who the Speaker is to them.
When I started I was going to tell you about a Speech that he made over the Rodeo about what the Republican Administration had meant to Wall Street. But I will have to keep that till some other time. What he wants to talk to that Martha Washington School about on the 22nd is “Forward passing.” Washington was a Surveyor and he knew the nearest line between two points, and that’s what that College needs is, “How to get from the kickoff to their back line accompanied by a Football.” But he will stay right with his old “address.” Then on the seventeenth of March they will drag out their old Lincoln address. Oh hum.
1William Scott Vare, United States representative from Pennsylvania from 1923 to 1927. Vare, the Republican “boss” of Pennsylvania, was elected to the United States Senate in 1926 but was never seated because of charges of excessive campaign expenditures. Smedley Darlington Butler, major general in the United States Marine Corps; director of the Department of Safety in Philadelphia from 1924 to 1925.
2For William E. Borah see WA 222:N 4.
WA321 February 17, 1929
WE’RE BUILDING CLUSTERS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. We are mighty mangy with news here the last week. There is an awful lot of stuff of really Big League nature taking place. You see Mr. Coolidge will be getting out in a couple of weeks and he wants as much to happen as possible under his Czarship. Course on the other hand there is a lot of things that he hopes don’t happen till he is out of sight of the White House.
Now take for instance those Cruisers that they voted, he wanted them voted under his coaching. But he kinder wants Congress to stall along and not vote the money till after Hoover is in. In other words Calvin wants to buy something for us, but he wants Hoover to pay for it. He is more set on going out of office having his Budget balanced than he is going out with any other one thing.
Now about the Cruisers, a lot of people were kinder against them, but I tell you we pretty near got to have ’em. You see we will be holding another Disarmament Conference pretty soon, and if we don’t have something to sink, we will be lost. You see people kinder work this way, that is their minds do. One year they are warlike, they get to thinking, why shouldent we have the biggest Army and the biggest Navy in the World, we are the greatest Nation. Then along come some taxes and bust ’em in the face and they seem all at once to get the Peace fever.
England sees us building these Ships, (and they are smartest Nation in the World). They will gradually start spreading a little talk about what a shame it is to build against each other, and the first thing you know we have fell for it and are just dying to get to a Conference and sink something. Then we go to the other extreme, we sink everything but the Deligates that went, the very things we should sink. Why don’t we either go on and build a great Navy, or not have one hardly at all, for running second don’t get you anywhere in anybody’s war. People are not going to quit fighting any more than Individuals are going to quit fighting. A Nation is nothing but a boy grown up, and he hasent any too good education in growing up.
All our Preachers are doing our principal Legislation for us now. We pick up a paper and it says, “We can’t get this Bill through, because Bishop So and So is against it,” and “We have to pass this as the Federated Parsons of Ossawatomie are behind it.” A Preacher just can’t save anybody nowadays. He is too busy saving the Nation. He can’t monkey with Individual salvation. Every cross road Minister is trying to be a Colonel House.1
In the old days those fellows read their Bibles. Now they read the Congressional Record.
The Church is in Politics more than the Politician. If Congress met on Sundays, why there would be no services anywhere, all the Ministers would have their eyes on Congress. We got to trust somebody to run our Country, and when we elect ’em why let’s let ’em alone, and see how they do, then if they don’t do why throw ’em out when they come up for re-election. But don’t stand in the wings prompting ’em all the time, that keeps ’em nervous, and besides they never do learn their parts. Now take the case of Senator Jasbo, it’s seems he got in wrong with a lot of his people down there, by being for Smith, for his State come pretty near going for Hoover. So that meant he was all wet with nearly half of them. So to get back in right with that bunch again, he figures he should do something that will show that he is drys although he voted for Smith, why he puts in a Bill voting 24 million for Prohibition Relief. Here is the Farmer starving to death. The wets wetter than they ever was, the Drys dryer than a Tarriff speech. Yet he wants to give ’em 24 million. Now what 24 million would do, nobody has the least idea. It might dry up the East side of Pennsylvania Avenue, but it wouldent be enough to cross the Street. Well now that’s his life’s work, is to BET 24 million dollars of our money that he can get back into the good graces of the extreme Drys that he lost out with last fall.
Now suppose every Senator wanted us to donate that much to his next election. We would like to have ’em around, but they just ain’t hardly worth that much to us. We would rather have a cheaper man that would finance his own election. Now Mr. Coolidge don’t want this 24 million taken out of his Kitty before he hands it over, and twenty four million, there is nothing that Mellon could buy with ONLY twenty four Million.2
So we are going to have an extra session of Congress just to see what to do with the 24. It must be a great life if you are bent on staying in there.
Well he has got over two more weeks to go. But I bet you Calvin goes out with the Books balanced. We may be in a terrible lot of scrapes, but we won’t be in the RED.
1For Edward M. House see WA 318:N 1.
2For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
WA322 February 24, 1929
THE LADY MOSQUITO IS BUSY, THANKS
Well all I know is just what I read in the papers. We are always reading statistics and figures. Half of America do nothing but prepare Propaganda for the other half to read. Insurance Companies have Guys figure out the very day you will die. (In fact they won’t insure till they have it investigated and find out.) Then you like a Sucker go bet them you will live longer than that. The Government can tell you how much wheat is going to be raised next year.
Everything is figured out down to a Gnat’s tooth according to some kind of statistics. Course nobody knows if the figures are right or not, you have no way of checking up on ’em. But just the other day a fellow in Atlantic City, New Jersey come through with some statistics that really ought to set us all thinking. It wasent one of those, “The average working Girl makes $33 a week spends $10 for board, $12 for silk stocking and the rest for lip sticks.”
This was professor Thomas J. Headlee, Dr. Professor and Chief “Entomologist.” 1
(That word will stop you ignorant ones. But we got a fifty-fifty break I don’t know what it means either.)
Well he delivered this address at a Convention of the New Jersey Exterminators Association duly assembled in the very heart of the Mosquito belt. So I gather from that that an Entomologist is a man that has devoted his life to a study that must include this Jersey product. He has either given his life’s work for or against the Mosquieto. Now it’s not only what this fellow said that is of such vital interest to all of us. It’s the surprise that New Jersey had such an organization called, “The New Jersey Mosquito Exterminators Inc.” Anyone who has ever visited that State could not possibly understand how there could be an organization devoted to the annihalitation of those Komical little rascals. And if they have got such a Society what have they been doing? Where have they been exterminating and when?
But you see that’s what they been doing is holding dinners. All you do in America nowadays is get a name for some kind of an Organization, then you start holding dinners. An Organization without a dinner is just impossible. Now the only Mosquitos exterminated was at the dinner. Well during the scratching and slapping and singing of the mosquitos at this Dinner, Mr. Headlee read off the following authorative statistics.
“The normal productivity of one lone Female house Mosquito in one year is 159,875,000,000 offspring.”
Now you statistic hounds get that. (There is four sets of those three figures.) So according to my remembrance of Ray’s “elementary” Arithmatic, that runs us up into the Billions.2
So that first 159 you see there ain’t nothing but BILLIONS. Now just wait and let that soak in awhile, 159 billions of offsprings.
You Mothers that think you have done something for your race when you have brought into the World two to 8 or 10 young Hyenas, you certainly can’t boast after reading what the Female Mosquito has done to leave her imprint on the ankles of humanity. Now I don’t know what was done at the dinner about it. Perhaps they all signed a pledge to all go out and during the coming year to exterminate as early in the season as possible one Female Mosquito, thereby lessening the yearly yield by 158 billion.
Now wait a minute. You ain’t heard nothing yet. “Only half of these, or 79,937,500,000 should be counted as Pests, for they are the active, buzzing, biting, and egg laying females. The others are mere Males which do not bite and are harmless. These figures which are based on the known rate of Mosquito reproduction and which disregard infantile mortality, indicate the urgent need for control measures that begin early in the season.”
Now Women what have you got to say for yourselves? Get that, the Males are harmless, they don’t bite, Buzz or lay eggs. That’s great. It makes me proud I am a Male. That fellow Kipling had it right when he wrote, (or maby it was Shakespeare, or Lady Astor, or somebody over there) “The Female of the Specie is more deadly than the Male.”3
Women denied it then and there was a great mess raised about it. But this Jersey entomologist has finally got the dope on ’em.
Now we are getting down to the “Nubbin” or main part and like all Speakers he dident explain that. It is this. He told you to “go out and exterminate a Female as early in life as possible.” But he dident tell you how to distinguish the female from the Male. You are liable to go out with the best intentions in the World and kill one, and what might it turn out to be but an innocent Male. A poor Male Mosquito, that had never done a soul a wrong in its life. It had never sung to you, it had never bit you, it had never laid eggs on you. In fact it had gone through life acting in a Gentlemanly way, and here it is killed. Why? Because you havent been taught to distinguish the sex. He has given up his life this poor Mosquito has just as a Martyr to the ignorance of the Human race.
What we need is Literature of two kinds. One to teach us readily to realize the sex, and the other is Pamphlets for the Female Mosquitos on Birth Control. Show them that they are not only doing their part but they are going over their Quota. Teach them that the days of the big families in Mosquitos are past, that what we want is “Fewer and better Mosquitos.” Try and get ’em to move out of Jersey and to Fifth and Park Avenue New York and let ’em see there that being prolific in offsprings is only for the “Lower Classes.”
Don’t try to kill off the Females. Educate ’em up to modern ways. They are not so crazy about laying eggs, it’s just because they think it’s their duty to do it. Course the whole thing is kinder mysterious to me. I don’t see how the Female can be the one that lays all the eggs, raises all the young, does all the biting, and still has time to sing. Now some of these must kinder overlap. Now they can’t bite and sing at the same time. We know that from experience. They generally don’t start singing about it till the biting is over, then they crow about it. If the biting hasent been good they won’t sing. I have noticed that.
Now when do they find time to raise all these children? There must be times when they can’t be singing or biting. Now the way this Entomologist has left us now about the only way we have left open to do is watch a Mosquito till he bites you and then destroy him. (I mean her.) in other words, if he bites you he is a Her, and if he sings, he is a Her. Watch him and see if he lays an egg, then it’s a Her.
But if he just sits around all day and don’t do anything, why about the only conclusion we can come to is that it is a HE. Don’t kill him, he does no harm, he just sits and revels in the accomplishments of his Wife. So when you find a Male the best thing to do is just to sit there and wait till his Wife comes between bites. “How does the Male live?” That’s what they going to take up at the next dinner.
1Thomas Jefferson Headlee, professor of entomology at Rutgers University from 1912 to 1943; organizer of the New Jersey mosquito control program.
2Joseph Ray, nineteenth century American educator and physician; wrote a popular series of arithmetical and algebraic schoolbooks.
3Rudyard Kipling, English novelist, poet, short-story writer, and journalist whose works include The Jungle Book, Barrack-Room Ballads, and Captains Courageous; awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907. For Nancy Langhorne Astor see WA 306:N 6.
WA323 March 3, 1929
COOLIDGE PACKS UP
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. In Washington things are kinder drawing to a close. Mr. Coolidge was for weeks packing up his “chaps” and spurs and Indian headdresses and sending ’em up to Northhampton. I never saw a man accumulate as much stuff as he seems to have.
I thought Lindbergh accumulated quite a lot of loot, but I saw a picture the other day of four big government trucks loaded plum full headed for Northhampton. Calvin come in here with nothing but one “valise” and a speech on “economy.”
But nobody begrudges him what he has been able to save up during these years, and when he is up there in that town there ain’t much to look at, only what you bring with you.
Smith College is there. It’s an awful common name but a mighty nice college. Then out in the brush somewhere is Amherst, his old college. I was up there a year or two ago and lectured to Smith on “The Advantages of a Successful Marriage,” and Annie Morrow who was there then, profited by my advice and grabbed our boy Lindbergh.1
Wasent that a fine match! You know we all felt like we ought to be the one to kinder pick out the girl. All of us just got enough old women in us to want to kinder run things when it comes to him.
We used to couldent understand England’s feelings toward their Prince of Wales till we got ahold of Lindy, now we are like an old hen with one chicken, we go around watching him and “clucking” at everything he does.2
Well, as usual, he did a great job. That’s a fine girl, and a great family No fuss, no frills, rich but you don’t know it. Mrs. Morrow is a fine level-headed down-to-earth practical woman, and she has brought her children up the same way.3
I kinder have an idea they are going to get married up here at the home over in Jersey. Course they may get married down there but I think it will be up here along about June. Course they don’t have to worry about a home. All he will have to do is put another seat in the plane. I look for ’em to fly to Tokyo, or Pekin, or somewhere on their honeymoon.
Well, now let’s see, that takes care of Lindy and Annie and Calvin in this week’s news. Course that brings us to Herbert, now Herbert is sorter like Calvin, he is kinder hard to figure out. Course he is in now. But we dident know if he was going to have a Cabinet or not? Been a lot of talk lately about getting Borah in there somewhere.4
Now if he takes that Attorney General job and they attach prohibition enforcement onto it, he just ain’t as smart as we have always figured him. Mellon had it over in his outfit and the only way he got away with it was just to act like it wasent over there.5
You see they don’t know what department it belongs too. They could put it over in the Post Office Department, for a lot of it is handled through the mails.
They could put it under the Secretary of War for it has caused the nearest thing to war that we have had in ten years. Could put it in the Navy for most of what we make is shipped out by boat. Secretary of the Interior could handle it, as in the “Interior” is where it eventually goes.
Department of Commerce is really where it belongs. For if anything ever come under the heading of Commerce why prohibition is it. Department of Agriculture would be a legitimate place for it. It’s made out of corn. And labor. It could appropriately come under that for there is more people engaged in one way or another in it than there is on farms or on railroads.
But each man a head of these various departments is hoping and praying that he don’t draw it. It looks like Justice will get it.
Now what Justice can do with it is another thing. Now I think Borah is too smart to figure he can do anything with it so he won’t take the job. Now take a man that is running the Senate and he would be foolish to want to miss all those arguments. How could he ever have debated with Jim Reed if he had been Attorney General?6
You see the Senate is a show while this other is just a necessity. Now Jim Reed is out, but I believe if he had it to do over again he wouldent do it. You see he got out away last summer when he thought the party might do something better by him. Well he ought to have known about what a party will do in the way of paying debts.
You just as well be owed by France as a political party. Jim could have stayed in the Senate there for life and had a lot of fun. I sure hate to see him get out of there for he is a great fellow and a good friend of mine. I look for him to come back at the next election. His topic will be livelier than ever in four more years, and as for his age, he will be good at seventy-five.
The trouble with Senators is the ones that ought to get out don’t. Well we just got to sit and see what Hoover does for us. We are going to be awful disappointed if he don’t fix everything so none of us will have to work. If hedon’t do that he will be a terrible disapointment.
1Anne Spencer Morrow, daughter of Dwight W. Morrow (see WA 254:N 2); aviator and author whose books include North to the Orient and Listen, the Wind. Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh were married on may 27, 1929.
2For the Prince of Wales see WA 257:N 6.
3Elizabeth Cutter Morrow, American writer, educator, and charity worker; wife of Dwight W. Morrow.
4For William E. Borah see WA 222:N 4.
5For Andrew W. Mellon see WA 231:N 3.
6For Jim Reed see WA 228:N 2.
WA324 March 10, 1929
Scene -------- The White House, Washington, D. C.
Play produced under the management of U. S. Government
Characters in the order of their appearance:
Calvin---------------------- Mr. Coolidge
Grace --------------------- Mrs. Coolidge1
Lou----------------------- Mrs. Hoover2
Herb---------------------- Mr. Hoover
Supers in mob scene, Congressmen and Senators
CALVIN: Grace, I bet you gone and packed my shirt front.
GRACE: No I dident Calvin, I dident touch your old thing. You just about endorsed it, and sent it back with those other bills to Congress.
CALVIN: Well, what am I going to do for a shirt tonight?
GRACE: Wear the one you are going to wear to the Inauguration tomorrow.
CALVIN: I am not going to wear any to the Inauguration tomorrow. It’s not my inauguration. Hoover will have on enough for both of us.
GRACE: Well, for lands sake hurry up, they will be coming in a few minutes, cause he is noted for being on time.
CALVIN: From what I hear, he is noted for about everything. Where is my other sock? I bet you packed it around that painting.
GRACE: Calvin I dident see your old sock. Put on your Cowboy “Chaps” and they won’t notice you having one sock missing.
CALVIN: What would I want to put on my “chaps” for? I am not running for anything.
GRACE: You are running for this train tomorrow ain’t you? You claim you are
in such a hurry to get out of town. Hurry up now, they will be here any
minute. They are just the kind that will be on time.
CALVIN: Now I lost my collar buttons. What truck did you pack them on? I had ’em laid out right here. They was the pair that Tom Heflin brought me from Rome.3
GRACE: Well I do wish you would hurry up. I want to straighten this room after you get out, for she will want to look around. By the way, who owns these sheets, us or the Government?
GRACE: I’ve got Emily Post’s Book here on “What is proper to carry in and out of the White House.”4
CALVIN: Well, there is a “Precedent” I reckon, half of Washington does nothing but study up “Precedents.” They can tell what color underwear that a retiring President should have on when he turns over the Salary to his successful Competitor. If people of Washington obeyed as many laws as they do “Precedents” they wouldent even need a Calaboose in the
GRACE: Well, I know I want to leave the House in good shape. I had the whole place all fumigated after those Senators’ breakfasts you had here.
CALVIN: Well, they shouldent be so particular. They lived in a rented house all their lives havent they?
GRACE: Why no, they got a home in California.
CALVIN: But they was only there the night the election returns come in.
GRACE: Well where was you the night your election returns come in?
CALVIN: I was asleep.
GRACE: Well they have traveled around and seen a lot.
CALVIN: Well I seen a lot right here in Washington without traveling.
GRACE: Why he has been in Siberia.
CALVIN: Yes, and the first time he has a run in with that Senate, he will wish he was back in Siberia.
GRACE: He is an Engineer, he can do lots of things.
CALVIN: Well, he will wish he had studied to be a conductor instead.
GRACE: Listen I hear ’em, or is that them?
CALVIN: It don’t sound well enough organized for them.
GRACE: Yes, that’s them, hurry up, fasten your suspenders. “Precedent” says we should both meet ’em at the door, and say in unison, “Welcome to your new Home.”
CALVIN: Well suppose it was a Democrat, how could you say “Welcome to him?”
GRACE: There has been so few Democrats that there has been no “Precedent” established.
(Lou and Herb in huddle outside of door)
HERB: Now let’s don’t stay here long for I want to get home and rehearse
some Gestures on my speech for tomorrow. I bet they forgot this was
the night we was coming.
GRACE: Hello, why it’s you all. Come right in, Calvin will be down just as soon as he vetos two more bills.
HERB: Nice place you got here.
GRACE: Yes he thinks so, that is we thought so. It’s old but we have managed some way.
LOU: Where is the “Study?” I want to fix up Herbert’s study.
GRACE: Well Calvin studied wherever he happened to be. He dident have any regular place to study, when he studied. He used Public Dinners mostly.
LOU: How is the help, are they dependable?
GRACE: Well they are Government help, and you been here long enough to know what that is, either in Kabinet, Kongress, or Kitchen.
LOU: Oh, but look at those Cuspidors!
GRACE: You have to have those for Congressional receptions.
CALVIN: Hello Herb, glad you come to the wake.
HERB: Well thought we would walk over. Lou wanted to look the place over, the two trunks won’t be over till tomorrow.
CALVIN: Well, we are about ready to get out. Oh! We got maby ten or twelve truck loads of little knick knacks around yet.
HERB: How is the place anyhow? I just wanted to ask you about that.
CALVIN: Oh it’s all right. But you can’t get much of a steady lease on it. The fellow just lets you have it on short term, about four years, then lots of times he don’t want to renew, and that’s what makes it bad. Come on in and sit down to dinner, we ain’t got much, just kinder a little snack. Just sorter cleaning out what little was left in the ice box, and dident want to get anything. We figured you was like most folks, you liked to come in with all your own stuff. There is a few half jars of some stuff that we dident think hardly worth while packing, and maby some butter left from Breakfast, and lots of just little small things like that, that we just thought we would leave. I expect there is a little flour in there too ain’t there Grace? She will give your wife the name and phone of the grocer and they will send you up what you will need for lunch tomorrow. Just run a charge account there, that’s the way I did. But you got to watch the bills. This town is awful slick that way, they just live off such as you and me. You see there is so many of these politicians that get away and don’t pay their bills, that they have to make it up on those of us who do.
I don’t want to be telling you your business, but don’t go and make the mistake I did and start feeding them Senators and Congressmen breakfast. They will eat you out of house and home, and then go right back up on the hill and vote against what you fed ’em for.
LOU: Come on Herb, now we must be going, and let these people get some rest. They got a long hard trip in front of them tomorrow. Thanks for showing me the house, Grace. Herb has to get home and study up a new Cabinet in case the Senate is wise to this one.
HERB and LOU: Well Goodnight you all. Coming to the Inauguration tomorrow ain’t you? Maby we will see you there. Thanks for the dinner.
Just leave the Key under the door mat and leave your address and I will send you any little thing you might of left.
CALVIN and GRACE: Goodnight, thanks for coming. Hope you like the place. I will have to mail you the address where we will be. Calvin, can’t make up his mind.
1For Grace Coolidge see WA 253:N 4.
2Lou Henry Hoover, wife of Herbert Hoover.
3For Tom Heflin see WA 221:N 3.
4Emily Price Post, American writer and columnist, famous for her advice on manners and social etiquette; author of the best seller Etiquette (1922).
WA325 March 17, 1929
HERE’S TO MEXICO
Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. Of course as I write this about all we are reading in the papers are about Mexico. We got Hoover all set now for four years.1
After that he will have to hustle for himself. There is an option clause in his contract, but we will look him over carefully before we exercise it.
But he is starting out pretty good. The night he was inaugurated why Mexico broke out. So this ain’t going to be one of those “Let Nature take its course” Administrations.
And Calvin is just settled down up there in Massachusetts.2
He has wanted solitude and it looks like he will get it. Just think of having a breakfast in the morning and not having to feed some senator.
But the thing I want to take my text from today is “Mexico.” Now it was just a little over a year ago that I was down there for weeks, and it looks like every fellow that I met and got well acquainted with down there is now mixed up in all the headlines on the days news, some are on one side and some on the other.
Now take General Escobar.3
He is the Leader that is operating in the North East. I have been his Guest at his home in Mexico City. He is one of their most popular generals. He is the one that took me to the Bull Fight. He got a great kick out of it for every time the bull was anywhere near the horse I would bury my head down on my arms and look down at the floor. (We were sitting in the front row and there was a big concrete ballustrade where our elbows were resting on). Then he would tell me when to look up again.
Finally it got to be the laugh of everybody around there. My friend President Calles and his Party were kinder around the circle almost facing us and Calles got to kidding me about not looking up.4
They had pictures in the Mexico Papers the next day of “American Comedian enjoying Mexican Bull fight,” and all you could see was the top of a hat buried on a couple of folded arms on the railing, and General Escobar laughing and pointing to me. I could stand part of it for there is some very clever things done in the ring. But when it come to the horses I sure couldent go that, and say by the way the most famous fighter in Spain now is a fellow that fights the Bull from his horse and dont get his horse hit at all. He has splendidly reigned horses, and he gives a great exhibition. I think he was to be in Mexico this winter. Now that is worth seeing cause that is real work.
But let’s get back to personalities, when you read this you may be reading on the front page of the same paper, “Cross marks spot where Rebel Leader General Escobar stood when he faced the firing squad.”
Now he is an awfully nice fellow, well educated, speaks English. Very fine personality. He told me the whole story of how he had captured the Leader of that Revolution. (For one was just being finished when I was there.)
That’s the one where Serano, and Gomez were the Leaders and were shot.5
Gomez was the last one. He had been hiding in the hills for weeks and Escobar was the government General that caught him. He captured him one night on a trail as he was coming down to the house to try and get something to eat. He had lived in the hills and was about half starved and weak. Escobar took him to his tent and had him shave and put on some of his clothes and clean up. Gomez couldent understand why he dident take him out and shoot him then, (as he naturally thought he would be shot on arrest).
He and Escobar had gone through Mexico Military School together (their West Point), and had both been Generals in the Army for years, but had never been particularly good friends, and Gomez couldent understand Escobar showing him this much courtesty.
From what I could gather from it Escobar wanted him to look well at the funeral.
He turned him over to another General who shot him the next morning.
Now it had been reported that Gomez dident die game, and just the day before Escobar told me this story, why Gomez’ Mother and Sister come to Escobar’s house and asked him to please tell them the real facts of his death.
You know that is one thing you got to hand to those Mexicans. They do know how to die. Course I guess they get a lot of practice out of it. But when they line em up against the wall, the most they ever ask for is a cigarette. There is none of these Alabis, and “Oh honest I dident do it” thing.
They got no excuse to offer, they lost, and they die like a man.
Well, he told these two ladies that the report was not so, that Gomez died like a real man, and he told me that they put their arms around him and cried and thanked him and seemed to be relieved as much to hear that as they would to have heard of his escape.
Now he is in the hills, and he will be the one to get lined up. Well I bet he don’t flinch. And another Gerneral Almasans, he is the one that is hunting Escobar.6
I got awfull well acquainted with him, in fact I had he and Escobar to dinner one night and they took me to a “Teater” after. He is a dandy fellow kidding and full of fun.
Then there is a General Limon, that was defending Juarez.78
He is a great little fellow. There was two of them brothers, Limon Grande, and Limoncito. I always called em big and little Lemon. He was a Polo Player and when I got back to Mexico City he mounted me and I played several times with him.
It makes you sick to hear of these things happening down there. For they are no difference from us. They love Peace just as much, they love Life, and they want to be let alone. But these Leaders get overally ambitious, and think they are not getting a square deal from somebody, and there is just enough adventure in em to take the chance. But I think they are on the way to good Government. These Revolutions are getting more useless all the time. This one is Not Popular. If it was it could win. I hope they get straightened out, for they are an awful nice people. Hospitality is their middle name. If I wasent acting a Fool here in New York and have to stay I would be in Mexico in 24 hours. I would try to kid em out of fighting. So Viva Mexico.
1Herbert Clark Hoover, Republican president of the United States from 1929 to 1933.
2John Calvin Coolidge, Republican president of the United States from 1923 to 1929. At the end of his term, Coolidge returned to his adopted hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts, where he lived in retirement until his death in 1933.
3José Gonzalo Escobar, former general in the Mexican army and commander-in-chief of rebel forces in Mexico from 1928 to 1929.
4Plutarco Elías Calles, Mexican military and political leader; president of Mexico from 1924 to 1928. Several Mexican military officers, unhappy with the imposition of the official presidential candidate, rebelled in early 1929 against the government and the strongarm
rule of Calles. Calles took charge of federal military operations and by mid-April had quelled most revolutionary activity.
5Francisco R. Serrano, Mexican military leader and politician. An instigator of a short-lived rebellion in 1927, Serrano was captured and executed on October 3, 1927. Arnulfo R. Gomez, Mexican general and leader of the 1927 rebellion.
6Juan Andreu Almazán, Mexican medical student who abandoned his studies in 1910 to join the Revolution; federal general who opposed the Escobar rebellion; unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1940.
7Gilberto R. Limón, Mexican revolutionist who led a brief, ill-fated rebellion against the government in 1929.
8Dwight Whitney Morrow, United States ambassador to Mexico from 1927 to 1930; lawyer, banker, and Republican politician.
WA326 March 24, 1929
A HISTORY OF MEXICO
Nothing has gained as much Publicity and is known as little about as this Mexican Revolution. Hoover hadent been sworn in over three-quarters of an hour till the desire to be President on the part of half of Mexico broke out.1
It just looks like his being inaugurated kinder put the same idea into 34 generals’ heads in Mexico. So they started issueing ammunition to their men and said, “Come on Boys lets be inaugurated, how would you like to be personal bodyguard to the President of Mexico?”
Up here in our country every boy is taught by some old disappointed spinster that “Every one of you boys have the chance of becoming President, provided you were born in the right part of the country, and were not born of Democratic parents.”
We are taught that from birth, and some of the most feeble minded ones take it seriously, and start to preparing, by reading what Washington did, and what Lincoln did, and what Roosevelt did.2
And as a matter of fact, no one of the whole thirty of them that we have had ever did what any one of the others did.
All of the prospective candidates study what to do, and who to do it to, and here comes Coolidge and does nothing and retires a hero, not only because he hadn’t done anything but because he had done it better than anyone.3
Now in Mexico they have their fairy tales that are told to their children, the same as we do here. Where we are taught that every boy has a chance to be President, they are taught, “If my ammunition holds out, and I can get them before they get me, I not only can be President, but will.”
Now we have come to look on a Mexican revolution the same as we have come to expect the farmers to cry for relief. We may not know just what day it will be, but we do know that it will come as soon as enough notes come due with the farmer, and in Mexico as soon as enough generals have had a dinner together, got full of mescal (Mexico’s TNT) and decided on who would be President first out of the bunch.
Mexico used to have these things years and years ago, and then along come a fellow named Portfolio Diaz.4
Now nobody has ever to this day discovered what’s in a Portfolio. (Boston carried more of them for no reason than any city in the world.) But this old Portfolio down there it dident take long to see what he was loaded with. He just sit and waited till one of the generals got too full of “Teculia” (that’s mescal before it’s been diluted).
Well, old Portfolio would just play a little trick. He would see if this certain over-Patriotic General could stand up in front of a “Doble” wall while some other fellows playfully tried to bowl him over with a series of Mauser bullets. In that way he kept what has since become known as the Peace for about thirty years.
A Revolution under his administration just dident seem like it could get organized. The fellow wouldent any more than get an idea that he would like to be the God Father of one than the last words he would seem to remember would be spoken in his native tongue, “Ready, Aim, Fire!”
There was no disarmament of Conferences, no League of Nations, no World Court. Life in Mexico was just perpetual peace outside of just burying Generals. One day instead of the usual routine of “have you any Message you would like to leave to your folks,” why he give a fellow a jail sentence instead. That was his first mistake in thirty or forty years. He was getting old and his judgement was getting faulty. Instead of relieving this fellow of his over abundance of patriotism in the usual way why he put him in jail.
That was a fellow named Madero.5
Now a jail will detain you for an indefinite period, but a firing squad will just practically ruin you. Now it’s never been quite clear how Madero got out of there, neither has it ever been any clearer how Portfolio Diaz got on a Boat. You see he had broke his rule. The best way to keep a good man down is with Bulletts.
Well Madero hadent any more than got in till a Guy named Huerta come along, and Poncho Villa saw that the stage needed a new Character for Holbrook Blynn, so he charges into Columbus, New Mexico, one night and that gave us a chance to see Mexico first, before seeing France.6
So our troops went down and used that as a rehearsal for the main event overseas. Someway or other Madero and his Vice President Suarez were being transferred from the White House to the jail and come to an accidental death by murder.7
Huerta was supposed to know nothing about it, and he was very much surprised on appointing himself President.
Well then when the whole of Mexico saw that all you had to do to be President was to shoot the one that was, why that brought on some pretty fancy marksmanship. Carranza started him a school of marksmanship.8
Villa joined him. Villa would join anybody that had any ammunition.
Then Obregon comes into the picture.9
Up to then he was an Amateur, but he entered in earnest now. Huerta saw that old man Diaz knew more than just how to rule a Country, he knew how to leave one when the leaving was good, so Huerta used the same Ocean for the same cause. He decided to get seasick instead of shot. Carranza moved into Chapultapec Castle, whiskers and all.
Another revolution bobbed up in the State of Sonora, whose principal product is Revolutions. Villa and Obregon were sent to either assist it, or hinder it, but at any rate not to let it stay dormant. They fell out with each other on the way and started one between themselves, had a battle, Obregon lost an arm and Villa lost the battle.
Then Zapata come along.10
(That means shoes.) Well he walked into a personally conducted Revolution of his own. Then another Huerta, Adolpho.11
(Not any relation to the other one.) He takes out a Revolutionary permit, and starts revoluting. About this time Carranza died what is a natural death in Mexico, he was shot, practically totally.
De La Huerta (he was only supposed to be Provisional President). That is president until he was shot, banished or thrown out. Obregon however comes in by an election, something unheard of up to then, that was a new way to get to be President. So everybody wanted to try that so another man from Sonora, Plutarco Calles, follows in Obregon (as a Mexican President can’t succeed himself even if he is living he can’t do it).12
Calles served and Obregon was to follow back in, (you can go back in if you stay out awhile) same idea that Coolidge has. But Obregon died a natural President’s death. Then they appointed Portes Gil.13
(Pronounced Heel.) Now Escobar getting tired of this back to the old way of electing Presidents by the Bulletts instead of the ballotts.14
So it’s just a question of whether he will be shot before he becomes President or after.
1For this and all further references to Herbert Hoover see Weekly Article (WA) 325:Note (N) 1.
2Theodore Roosevelt, Republican president of the United States from 1901 to 1909; Spanish-American War hero, Progressive party candidate for president in 1912, and world renowned sportsman.
3For this and all further references to Calvin Coolidge see WA 325:N 2.
4Porfirio Díaz, Mexican military leader, politician, and dictator; president of Mexico from 1876 to 1880 and 1884 until his ouster in 1911.
5Francisco Indalecio Madero, Mexican revolutionary and politician; forced Díaz’s resignation in 1911 and served as president of Mexico until his ouster in 1913.
6Victoriano Huerta, Mexican general and politician. Huerta supported the Madero revolution in 1911 but then deposed Madero and had him killed. Huerta served as provisional president from 1913 until his removal from office by force in 1914. Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Mexican bandit and revolutionary leader; opponent of the government after Madero’s death. In 1916, hoping to draw the United States into war against Mexico, he raided Columbus, New Mexico, killing sixteen persons and burning much of the town. He was assassinated in 1923. Holbrook Blinn, noted American dramatic actor and theatrical director. Blinn, who made his stage debut in 1878 at the age of six, achieved personal success as a loosely-disguised Pancho Villa in The Bad Man. He died in June 1928.
7José María Pino Suárez, Mexican Lawyer, poet, and revolutionary; vice president during Madero’s ill-fated administration.
8Venustiano Carranza, Mexican revolutionary and liberal political leader; president and virtual dictator from 1917 until his assassination in 1920.
9Alvaro Obregón, Mexican military officer, revolutionary, and politician; president of Mexico from 1920 to 1924. Obregón was elected again to the presidency in 1928 but was assassinated before taking office.
10Emiliano Zapata, Mexican revolutionist and champion of agrarianism. Active from 1911 to 1916, Zapata was independent of all other rebellion movements; he ultimately was defeated by Obregón.
11Adolfo de la Huerta, provisional president of Mexico from May to November of 1920; minister of finance from 1921 to 1923.
12For Plutarco E. Calles see WA 325:N 4.
13Emilio Portes Gil, provisional president of Mexico from 1928 to 1929.
14For José G. Escobar see WA 325:N 3.