199 Sep 27, 2001

COLUMBUS: Folks are getting back to work, back to watching baseball and football, back to normal on about everything but airplane travel and spending money. They may not be spending money, but they sure are donating it. Over $500 million has already been contributed. Now about those airplanes, there’s no safer way of going any great distance. I’ll be flying to Oklahoma in November for a couple of days at Claremore. Shucks, if I couldn’t fly, I may as well just walk. Today our President asked us to support the airlines and get on with our vacations and business meetings. Back in 1933, or maybe it was ’34, our First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt, flew commercial from Washington to Los Angeles. That was the first time it had ever been done by a President or his wife, and it did more to build confidence in air travel than all the flying done previously by Lindbergh, Mitchell and Rogers combined. Perhaps Laura Bush can arrange to fly to California and have the same effect as Eleanor. If she can’t get away, I bet you Barbara Bush would do it. Even if you’re a bit scared, climbing back on an airplane is just like riding a bike or a horse. Once you get used to it, you never forget the thrill and excitement.

Once you’ve been to New York, you never forget the excitement of that either. Naturally we’ll always remember September 11 and the seven thousand killed and thousands injured there and in Washington and Pennsylvania. Mayor Giuliani is inviting all of us to visit New York, to go to a Broadway play, visit a museum, watch a baseball game, shop. He’s doing a wonderful job leading his city through the crisis. We’re all pulling for him, and we’re willing to do everything we can to help. We’ll go, we’ll visit, and we’ll spend. We just have one request of the mayor. Please don’t ask us to cheer for the Yankees.

(If that little attempt at humor offends you, I apologize. It’s only been two weeks, and you may need more time. If so, come back and read this in November and laugh then. It will be funnier after the Yankees have won the World Series.)

Everybody is supporting President Bush, saying he has been quite, well, downright Presidential. Ninety percent say they approve of the way he is handling the situation, along with Mr. Cheney and Powell, Rumsfield and Ashcroft.

Democrats and Republicans in Washington are all pulling together. Of course it’s easy for ’em to all agree when they are spending money. When they have to figure out where the money is coming from, that’s when they’re likely to separate.

Defeating this Evil is the important task at hand. Taking care of Bin Laden and the Taliban won’t be easy, but it may not take as long as people fear. Bob Hope says he’s ready to entertain the troops at Christmas. Have you noticed, nobody has said a word lately against Prayer in schools.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:
“Well, they finally stopped us from sending Marines to every war we could hear of. They are having one in Afghanistan. The thing will be over before Congress can pronounce it, much less find out where it is located. It seems the King over there thought he was adopting modern ideas by limiting his subjects to one wife per each. No wonder they threw him out. He was just old-fashioned and didn’t know it.”
DT #748, Dec. 19, 1928.

“If your time is worth anything, travel by air. If not, you might just as well walk.”
DT #389, Oct. 20, 1927.

“If there is a safer mode of transportation (than airplanes) I have never found it. Even horseback. I got bucked off the other day.”
DT #1018, Oct. 30, 1929.

#198 Sep 19, 2001

LONDON, Ohio: There’s a big farm show going on here this week. They hold it every year. They have more American flags flying than usual. Planes are flying too. You notice them more than you used to.

You hardly hear a conversation without talk of where were you last Tuesday. But when the topic turns to farming, the enthusiasm is as high as ever.

Did you know the land area in New York that was occupied by the World Trade Center was 16 acres? In a city 16 acres is a lot of ground. On most farms 16 acres is a small field. I ain’t asked ’em, but I bet you there isn’t a single farmer in North America that wouldn’t gladly give up 16 acres if he could rewrite history and have back those tall buildings intact. They would all say Yes!!.

If some farm organization, or maybe all of them, would start a campaign asking farmers to donate the profits from 16 acres to the relief effort, you would be amazed at the number that would do it. Not everyone could do it – some don’t have 16 acres, some don’t have any profits. But others do, and would gladly share their wealth. The ones that didn’t make anything this year would say, “Let me work on it next year, and with the Lord’s help we can contribute then.”

Now it all don’t have to go to this one relief effort. We can’t forget our local charities. Folks are mighty generous for a good and worthy cause. We’ll find out a united America can reach deeper than anyone imagined.

This fight we’re in is against Evil. It’s not just one man, or his army of 3000 radical followers. And certainly not against one country.

I read in the paper where some Islamic clerics are meeting to decide if it’s a sin to murder women and children, and commit suicide. The outcome appears to be in doubt. Now I ain’t one to interfere in a religious debate. But based on what I’ve picked up from the radio, and from conversations with folks I know personally in that denomination, at least 99.999 percent of the followers of that particular faith know the difference between right and wrong.

It’s pretty clear that these terrorists, including the Taliban, are no more Islamic than Hitler was a Christian. And any cleric that needs more than ten seconds to decide where he stands, well, he ain’t Islamic either.

They had a fine luncheon yesterday at the farm show. The Governor was there, and Senator Voinivich and Congressman Boehner. Normally I would tell you more about it, but I just got room for Mr. Boehner’s closing comment. He said, while you’re offering up prayers for the innocent victims and their families and the police and firemen, remember to say a special prayer for President Bush.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“Mr. Coolidge said in the next war we would draft wealth as well as men. Now everybody is arguing if it’s practical. Why not postpone having the next war till the cause for it is so popular that you won’t have to conscript either of them? If you will wait till we are invaded and everybody knows what they are fighting for, you won’t need conscription.

Yours from Kansas, the comedy relief of the United States, Will Rogers.” DT#86 Nov. 17, 1926.

197 Sep 11, 2001

COLUMBUS: This is not a time for comedy. Civilization was attacked today.

The targets were in New York and Washington, but we ALL got hit. Yes sir, not just Americans, but everybody around the world who believes in freedom and democracy and fair play.

I was not going to write a Weekly Comments tonight. But then I thought, maybe a few of you would like to know how Will Rogers reacted to tragedies and disasters. Although nothing as instantly catastrophic as today’s horror occurred between 1879 and 1935, there were a number of disasters that he wrote about. (See Historical Quotes for some samples)

First, I will do something I can’t recall ever doing before in any of these Weekly Comments. That is to include one of my own ‘historic quotes’. Here is part of what I wrote in Weekly Comments #47 on August 20, 1998: “News is happening so fast it’s hard to believe it’s August…. We had bombs explode in Kenya and Tanzania and Ireland, Monica and Bill took shots at each other, and just today we sent missiles cruisin’ after some terrorists in Afghanistan and Sudan. You might not have heard of this Saudi Arabian billionaire named ‘Bin Ladin’, but you’re likely to hear plenty from him now. He’s got more money than many countries, and a bigger army than at least half of ‘em.”

Historical Quotes from Will Rogers:

“Well, all I know is just what I read in the papers. This sea tragedy [sinking of British luxury liner, The Vistrus] has just been about all we could see for the last 10 days, and it was awful hard to get your mind off it. Talk about stage plays and dramas, don’t they fade into nothing when a thing like this comes along! And the great part about it is nobody knows where, or who will bob up in the way of a hero.” WA #309, Nov. 25, 1928

“You read about the disaster in St. Louis and what the Red Cross did. No matter what happens, or where it goes to happen, they are the first there. That’s why everybody in America should belong to it.” DT #372, Sept. 30, 1927.

“I know you all read of the terrible movie theater disaster in Ireland yesterday. Well, I am going to Dublin on Wednesday to give a benefit for them. Cable over what you can, either to me at the Hotel Shelbourne or to President Cosgrave. It’s a real cause. Thanks.” DT #35, Sept. 6, 1926 (from London)

“Here is a suggestion that will help you all out of a lot of anxiety and anguish in case your town or district should be hit by some disaster. Run quick and turn off the radio…

So, in case of disaster, run (don’t walk) to the nearest radio and turn it off, for they take delight in killing you, whether you have been killed or not.” DT #2069, March 22, 1933.

“No nation ever had two better friends than we have. You know who they are? Well they are the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. There is a couple of boys that will stand by you. And you can always depend on ’em, three thousand miles wide and a mile deep.” WA 537, April 9, 1933 (their value dropped a bit on Sept. 11, 2001)

196 Sep 3, 2001

JACKSON’S MILL, West Va.: If you’ve never seen one of those old water-powered grist mills operate, here’s the place to come to. This is where the famous Civil War General Stonewall Jackson grew up, and his uncle had a mill on the banks of the West Fork of the Monongahela River. You can watch ’em dump wheat in the top, and as the huge stone turns, it grinds the grain into flour that comes out below. I imagine, if you’ve a mind to, you could haul in a wagon load of corn, and they’ll grind it into meal that you can bag and take home with you just like the local settlers did 175 years ago.

Jackson’s Mill is famous for another historic event. The first camp for 4-H was held here, I believe in 1921, and they still have those youngins camping here every summer, but not the same ones.

This holiday weekend, when America is honoring our hard-working men and women, they are holding a Jubilee here in honor of Stonewall. They got bluegrass and gospel singing, every kind of craft and art work you can imagine, all of it done by hand in great detail. There’s old steam and gasoline engines, marble shootin’ for the kids, and a bunch of traditional American foods from kettle corn to blackberry cobbler to Sasparilla.

My favorite among all the great talent here was a performer named Bum.

His full name is Bum the Wonder Horse. Now I mean no disrespect to anybody, but Bum is without a doubt among the smartest animals ever to walk the planet. He is the Einstein of horsedom. His IQ, if you could measure it, would place him above ninety percent of the folks interviewed on the streets of Los Angeles by Jay Leno, or maybe a hundred percent.

Just a couple of miles upriver in a town called Weston they are still figuring out who they elected as mayor three months ago. They have had ballot arguments here just like down in Palm Beach, only without interference from high-priced lawyers and television . (I bet though, that if Gary Condit had spent every night of his married life at home with his wife, and if one of these mayor candidates had had a rendezvous with a Washington intern, it would’ve been these Weston fellows on Larry King every night last month.)

They aren’t in any big hurry to settle it. They figure if the President of the United States can vacation for a month, then Weston can survive three months without a mayor. The economy here is just as good as it was in May, which is more than you can say for the country.

There have been all kind of suggestions on how to break the deadlock, short of the state Supreme Court, from arm wrestling to checkers to a carp fishing competition in the West Fork.

But I think the best solution is to have the two stand out in a field, and say, “Bum, go to the fellow that you think will make the best mayor.” He’s sure to pick the right one.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“Well, all I know is just what I see in the papers, or what I hear as I sit behind the free lunch table and listen to the boys bark for their meals…. They call it a Jackson Day Dinner. I made the mistake of my life. I went there with a speech prepared about Jackson, telling how “He stood like a stone wall,” and here it wasn’t that Jackson that they were using as an alibi to give the dinner to. It was old “Andy” Jackson.

Well, to tell you the truth, I am not so sweet on old Andy. He is the one that run us Cherokees out of Georgia and North Carolina. I ate the dinner on him, but I didn’t enjoy it. I thought I was eating for Stonewall. Old Andy, every time he couldn’t find anyone to jump on, would come back and pounce onto us Indians. Course he licked the English down in New Orleans, but he didn’t do it till the war had been over two weeks, so he really just fought them as an encore.” WA #267, Feb. 5, 1928

“…We had a wonderful time that summer. Jim and Dopey came that summer (1915). Jim was a baby boy, and Dopey was a little round bodied, coal black pony, with glass eyes, the gentlest and greatest pony for grown ups or children anyone ever saw. I don’t know why we called him Dopey. I guess it was because he was always so gentle and just the least bit lazy. Anyhow we meant no disrespect to him.

…One year I took Dopey in a (Ziegfeld) Follies baggage car, on the whole tour with the show, and kept him in the riding academys and practiced roping every day with him. Charley Aldrich a cowboy used to ride him, and run by for my fancy roping tricks. He has been missed with a loop more times, and maybe caught more times, than any horse living. In a little picture called the “Roping Fool” where I did all my little fancy catches in slow motion, he was the pony that run for them. He was coal black, and I had my ropes whitened and the catches showed up fine.

…all the children learned trick riding on him, standing up on him running, vaulting… When nineteen years of you and your children’s life is linked so closely with a horse, you can sorter imagine our feelings. We still have quite a few old favorites left, but Dopey was different. He was of the family. He raised our children. He learned ’em to ride. He never hurt one in his life. He did everything right. That’s a reputation that no human can die with.

Goodbye Dopey, from Mama, Dad, Bill, Mary and Jim.” WA #625, Dec. 16, 1934