#241 Aug 24, 2002

WESTON, West Va.: This is the town where they hold the Carp Fishing Festival, and it’s just upriver from where that famous general, Stonewall Jackson, grew up. But the reason I’m here this week is football. They’ve got a new high school and a new football field and I came to watch what the coaches call a scrimmage.

Let me tell you about this school. See, anywhere else when they decide to build a new school they buy up about 100 acres of prime flat land. But here, they bought 25 acres of steep hillside ground. I guess they figured once it was flattened it could amount to 100 acres.

Now, how do you build a big school and everything that goes with it, on a hillside? Well, you’ve seen pictures in China where they farm the mountain sides with terraces. It’s kinda like stairs going up the mountain. That’s what they did here.

First, you cross a bridge (did I tell you it was on the other side of the river?) and drive up to the parking lot, then up another level to the school building. Every school has to have sports, so they went on up the hill and leveled out a baseball field. Then someone remembered they had a football team, so they went higher up and leveled out enough space for a field. Putting in the home bleachers was easy, they just set them right on the slope on the uphill side.

But they forgot that in high school everybody cheering for the visiting team always sits on the opposite side, and there’s no room for bleachers. So, they just put up a fence along the edge, and the fans have to line up behind that fence and hang on. If you happen to let go, and the grass is wet, you’ll slide down the hill and you don’t stop till you hit the first base line.

This field don’t have the elevation of Denver’s Mile High Stadium, but by the time you walk up to it you feel like you climbed the Washington Monument. Our President says we should get more exercise, but anyone that goes up this hill every Friday night won’t need to jog three miles to stay in shape.

In July Mr. Bush told us he was going to Texas for a month, and, frankly, we were looking forward to the vacation. But he fooled us. He’s been flying all around the country… Maine, Pennsylvania, California…. giving speeches.

In Oregon he said the way to prevent forest fires is to cut the trees before they can burn. And anyone planning to build a house in the woods should first cut down every tree within 500 feet of it. Then all you’ve got to worry about is grass fires, mudslides and an avalanche.

Just down the road in Clarksburg today the town held an election to vote on one thing, an excess tax levy. I don’t know if it passed or failed, but you’ve got to compliment the city council for being honest enough to call it “excess”. You know, if Congress called every proposed new tax an “excess tax”, maybe fewer would go through.

By the time you hear from me again the baseball season may be history. Football is ready to take over, so hardly anybody cares what happens to baseball. It’s sure different than it was seventy years ago when we had Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Dizzy Dean and the Gashouse Gang. Ruth admitted he made more than the President, but said he had had a better year. We got lots of players today being paid ten times more than the President and they’re batting .210.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“Say, there is an awful lot in the papers the last few days about these experiments these college professors are making with rats…. One wanted to find out what effect athletics had on anyone’s intelligence. They wanted to see if he was dumber, or keener, after running back punts and tackling another rat for awhile. The experiment showed that the rat was keener with athletics, by him demanding tuition and board for nothing and 10 per cent of the gate on all big games. The rat with no exercise wound up as a bond salesman.” DT #990, Sept. 27, 1929.

#240 Aug 14, 2002

COLUMBUS: I’ve been out here at the Ohio State Fair a few days. They don’t make Fairs any bigger than this one, as far as young people is concerned. There’s hundreds of them here every day, maybe thousands, having fun and competing to see who can raise the best calf or pig or rabbit, or potatoes or squash. Most are in 4-H or FFA, but every group is represented from Boy Scouts to Campfire to Farm Bureau.

High schools have sent their best musicians and singers to make up an all-star band and choir. They put on quite a show several times a day, and the heat don’t seem to bother them.

Tonight they just finished the sale of champion livestock raised and exhibited by these youngsters. Kroger bought the grand champion steer for $40,000. Last year, you may remember, they paid $75,000. I guarantee you this one will taste just as good, for half the price.

Kroger bid $21,000 for the champion lamb, and they let another grocer, Meijer, take home the top barrow for $20,000 and a pen of four chickens for $11,000. It wasn’t only the food stores bidding. A machinery company owner, DeLynn Kale, bought the reserve champion lamb for $11,000. He’s a friend of mine, and I hope he invites me to the cookout.

The Statler Brothers sang here last Tuesday night. This is their farewell tour, and after forty years, they have earned a break. If you get a chance to see them, don’t put it off. They started with the Star Spangled Banner, closed with How Great Thou Art, and sang about thirty top hits in between, including Flowers on the Wall, Bed of Rose’s, and Elizabeth. They may not have sold as many records as the Beatles, but some of us country folks like them better.

Have you heard about this fat man suing McDonalds? He says they fed him too much, and it’s their fault he’s overweight. He said it’s because he ate there 4 times a week.

Now, if it was just 4 Meals, perhaps the other 17 during the week might have contributed a pound or two to his waistline. But if by “4 times a week” he meant that he arrived Monday morning and ate till Tuesday night, then Wednesday morning till Thursday night, and so on, then he deserves our sympathy, but no money. In fact they should take all his money away instead of giving him more. Imagine what he’ll weigh if he gets a few million dollars to spend on food.

If you want to lose pounds, don’t visit a Fair. There’s something about Fair Food… elephant ears, corn on the cob, ribs barbequed on an open grill, shoo fly pie, fresh lemonade, chocolate ice cream. (If they have a full size cow made out of butter where you buy ice cream, you know it’s going to be special.)

So, go to all the county and state fairs you can afford to. If you walk a mile between visits to the food stands, you’ll be fine.

This is the week Elvis died, 25 years ago. He was one of our grand champion overeaters. Elvis is drawing so much attention, it’s hard for anyone else who chose this week to pass on to get any notice.

There’s a prize boar here at the fair, and he’s a big one. The barrow I mentioned earlier weighs 275 pounds, but this hog weighed in at 1300 pounds. If he eats like the rest of us here, by the end of the fair, he’ll hit1400.

Historical fact about Will Rogers:

Will Rogers and world class pilot, Wiley Post, died when Wiley’s plane crashed at Point Barrow, Alaska, August 15, 1935. In the closing paragraph of her biography of her husband, Betty Rogers wrote, “I can see the boy – grown older, but not grown up; though a little gray and a little stout. He’s on old Soapsuds, still has a rope on his saddle and he still wants to go somewhere.”