For those of you too young to know anything about Will Rogers I suggest you go to the internet and ask Google about this man who in the 1920’s and 30’s was a cowboy, a movie star ,a columnist, a humorist and a philosopher who was killed in an airplane crash in 1935. You will find a barrel of information about this famous man that you will enjoy.
Will Rogers once said, “all I know is what I read in the papers.” And to some extent I am a lot like Will — the difference being that Will was a lot smarter because he read more and therefore learned more than I. And Will, like myself, read the editorials. “Yes, sir” he said, “you can’t beat that for miscellaneous reading. That’s what you call exploring in reading.
Course I forget everything I read. I haven’t got the memory of a billy goat,, and I forget nine-tenths of what I read, and get the other tenth wrong. But it makes me think I am sorter doing something when I am reading. Then too, I can fall to sleep and never drop the paper and my friends can’t tell whether I am reading or sleeping.”
They say you read a lot and I say “ No , I sleep a lot over my reading.”
In connection with Will’s reading we find that his reasoning for reading so much was to find material for his weekly articles, for his act in the Ziegfeld Follies and for his many speaking engagements. As a matter of fact he spoke so often and was away from his family so much that in 1923 he wrote “I have spoken at so many banquets during the year, that when I get home I feel disappointed if my wife, or one of the children don’t get up at dinner and say: We have with us this evening a man who, I am sure, needs no introduction.”
In his act and in his articles Will loved to kid our Congress and he got most of his material from the Congressional Record. He said he saw no reason to hire some writer to dope out something funny to say on the stage. “No sir, I don’t do that. Congress is good enough for me. They have been writing my material for years and I am going to stick with them. So I just have them mail the Congressional Record to me every day — because nothing is as funny as something done in all seriousness.”
When I read the things that Will Rogers said so many years ago it seems to me that he is talking about our Congress of today. Now if you don’t think so — just listen to something he said in 1924 about newly elected congressmen:
“Now they wouldn’t be so serious and particular if they only had to vote on what they thought was good for the majority of the people of the U.S. That would be a cinch. But what is hard for them is every time a bill comes up, they have a million things to decide that have nothing to do with the merit of the bill. They first must consider whether the bill was introduced by a member of the opposition political party. If it was, why then something is wrong with it from the start, for everything the opposition does has a catch in it. ———If lawmakers were elected for life I believe they would do better. A man’s thoughts are naturally on his next term , more than on the country.”
From the House of Representatives Rogers would go to the Senate.
“You see” he said, “they have two of these bodies. That is for the convenience of visitors. If there is nothing funny happening in one, there is sure to be in the other, and in case one body passes a good bill, why, the other can see it in time, and kill it.”
Along about here I think boy howdy, wouldn’t Will have had a good time with the Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton ethical charges (and don’t you know that he would have Jim Wright grinning about Newt getting his comeuppance) and if you don’t think Will Rogers could hit the nail on the head, just read the note he sent to defeated President Hoover back in 1932 and determine if it could not have been written to President George Bush exactly 60 years later or maybe even to John McCain after the 2008 presidential election :
Nov. l0, l932—To the Beacon:
Mr. Hoover: The consolation you have from the whole American people is no doubt greater than that ever shared by a losing president.
There is nothing personal in the vote against you. You just happened to be associated with a political party that the people had just “lost their taste for.” There is something about a Republican that you can only stand him for just so long. And on the other hand, there is something about a Democrat that you can’t stand him for quite that long.
We all know that you was handed a balloon that was blowed up to its utmost. You held it as carefully as any-one could. But the thing “busted” right in your hands. Well there isn’t much you can do in a case like that.
No, it wasn’t you Mr. President. The people just wanted to buy something new, and they didn’t have any money to buy it with. But they could get out and vote free and get something new for nothing.
So, cheer up, you don’t know how lucky you are.
Yours, Will Rodgers
In1932 the people voted for”something new” and got it.
In 2008 the people voted for “change” and they are probably going to get it.
Let us pray that the changes made by the new administration will strengthen our economy and bind our people together as united Americans rather than the cause more division .
While I have not quit dreading entirely I still limit myself to the Editorial and Viewpoint pages of a newspaper which is looked upon by some as “lite” reading. However, having recently read a book about Will Rogers I plan to use some of his writings as material for a few of my columns.
And why not? Will used the Congressional Record for a lot of his and I feel sure that readers of this column will find stories of Will Rogers far more entertaining than anything I could write. Therefore look for more Rogers humor in the future.
I want to thank Tommy Kent who works for the Mason County News for the following words to the song about “drinking coffee from an old tin can” that have been missing from my memory for so many years:
I want to drink my coffee from an old tin can
While the moon is shining high.
I want to hear the call of the whippoorwill,
I want to hear the coyotes whine.
I want to feel my saddle horse between my knees,
While riding him out on the range.
Just to kick him in the side
Make him show his step and pride
Out on the Texas plains
With these words as a guide I went to Google again and this time I asked for the words to “Out on the Texas plains”(instead of range) and got all of them. You can do the same.