Weekly Comments – “I’d like to get in one of those (movies) with Katie”

June 29, 2003

WESTON, West Va.: The Supreme Court finally made up its mind on law school enrollment and set off a storm in places. That decision didn’t raise even an eyebrow around here. The only concern in these parts is, with thousands wanting into the University of Michigan law school, that they only let in a few hundred like it is now. It don’t matter WHO they let in, the real concern is HOW MANY they let out.

When you live in a country where ten times as many folks want to be lawyers as there is room for in the schools, it just shows you what a catastrophe is around the corner if all of them were to become lawyers. We already have ten times as many as Japan. What would we do with a hundred times more.

Which brings us to telemarketers. There’s about 6 million of these telemarketers that’s been living off the gullibility of the other 250 million, so the government set up a system where we can call in and get our phone removed from their speed dialer. Now, either the government underestimated how unpopular those folks are, or they have no idea how many phones we have in this country. If telemarketers can only call the folks that want to be annoyed there would be so few of them left they could all fit in one phone booth.

That leaves just two groups that can legally pester us by phone, Political Parties and Charities, and the way things are today, the Democrats qualify under both. Frankly, I ain’t sure which is worse: a man wanting to sell you aluminum siding when you live in a brick house; or a solicitor calling for a $100 donation to the “Deputy Sheriffs Benevolence Association” (not to be confused with the Police Captains League, or the Law Officer Widows and Orphans Fund) when you know he will rake three-fourths off the top.

Are you like me? I’ve received hundreds of calls, maybe thousands, and I can’t recall a single one where I would say, “boy, was I lucky the fellow called me with that special offer.” Whether it was Wall Street stocks, storm windows, septic tank cleaning, magazine subscriptions, term life insurance, or a Florida vacation, there wasn’t a one of those products or services I couldn’t have dug up myself if the need arose, and probably for half the price.

With 6 million unemployed talkers on the loose, no telling where they’ll turn up. They may invent a new political party just to keep the money coming in. Call it Telecrats. Their theme: “We still want to reach out and touch someone”.

Or worse, what if they all apply to the Michigan Law school?

But more likely, they’ll trade in their telephone for a computer and deluge us with spam.

We lost some fine prominent people lately. Gregory Peck, Mayor Maynard Jackson, Senator Strom Thurmond at 100, and today, Katharine Hepburn, age 96.

Folks who have heard me speak in the last few years know that I kidded about Strom’s age. “I” claimed we were born in the same year (1879), but you know he was much younger.

Now Katharine Hepburn was a special lady. (see quotes below) She won an Academy Award in 1933, and then three more with the last one for “On Golden Pond” in 1981. Not many folks can lay claim to being the best in their profession, then 48 years later still be the best.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Katharine Hepburn… and lawyers)

“…my old friend, Fred Stone, is out in front, and I want to do a good show for him. He’s got a great job out here in the movies now playing Katharine Hepburn’s pappy. Boy, I’d like to get in one of those things with Katie. I wouldn’t care where I played. I’d just like to get in there.” Radio broadcast, June 9, 1935

“Fred Stone… is simply great in his first (talking) picture. He is playing with the charming person Miss Hepburn, and the picture is immense and of course she is marvelous as usual, but so is Fred.” Weekly Article #658, August 4, 1935      (note: the movie was “Alice Adams”.)

“The minute you read something and you can’t understand it you can almost be sure that it was drawn up by a lawyer. Then if you give it to another lawyer to read and he don’t know just what it means, why then you can be sure it was drawn up by a lawyer. If it’s in a few words and is plain and understandable only one way, it was written by a non-lawyer.
Every time a lawyer writes something, he is not writing for posterity, he is writing so that endless others of his craft can make a living out of trying to figure out what he said, course perhaps he hadent really said anything, that’s what makes it hard to explain.
But Lord if we go into the things that are useless, why two thirds of the world would have to turn to manual labor. That’s really the only essential thing there is.”
 WA #257, July 28, 1935

Historic note: I believe that Hepburn’s death leaves only one living prominent person that Will referred to by name in his writings or radio broadcasts. That person is Shirley Temple.

Weekly Comments – Fifty-nine year old Miss North Carolina crowns successor

June 22, 2003

COLUMBUS: I’ve been out wandering over Ohio, learning about conserving soil and water. First it was at Circleville, hometown of Joe E. Brown. Then up to Wooster for a conference where they honored two old professors that started working on no-tillage forty years ago. Their research plots are still producing results and still showing how plowing on slopes lets the soil wash away over the years.

These fellows are Glover Triplett and Dave VanDoren, and while they aren’t as famous as Burbank or Carver, the no-till revolution they started along with some other folks around the country is catching hold. You throw in some farmers like Bill Richards and Jim Kinsella and you’ve got some high level thinking that beats most of what passes for wisdom coming out of Washington these days.

Not everybody is so hot on this no-till idea. There’s some folks that figure we ought to grow crops with no fertilizer and no chemicals, just round up about ten million workers every summer and give ’em a hoe to chop weeds, then in winter they can shovel out the barns.

Down in Australia they have a name for this conservation farming: Landcare. You take care of the land and it’ll take care of you. Everybody’s for it. This Landcare idea might spread to these shores if we’re fortunate.

These no-till farmers are not only growing crops they are banking carbon. Storing excess carbon in the soil is a whole lot smarter than letting it float around in the air. There’s more to farming than what comes off the land. What stays with the land counts, too.

North Carolina had a big contest yesterday. I’m not referring to the Hollering event in Spivey’s Corner, although that’s a big one. If fact you won’t find bigger voices anywhere, even on American Idol.

No, the big competition I’m talking about was in Raleigh to see who gets to be the next Miss North Carolina. What makes this such a big deal, more so than in any other state, is what happened last year. You might recollect that the winner, Rebekah Revels, had to give her crown to the runner-up because her no account ex-boyfriend threatened to print some photos he never should have took in the first place.

Last month she said she wanted the crown back, at least long enough to crown the new Miss North Carolina. This posed an embarrassing problem for pageant officials because the former runner-up said she was well qualified to do the crowning, and didn’t need Rebekah’s help.

Now, it just wouldn’t do to have these two beautiful women on stage fighting over one crown. Those crowns have points, and they’re tipped with cut diamonds. Now, let me ask you, would you want them out there with a sharp object?

That left the officials with another problem, who would do the crowning? They needed someone with experience, someone with charm, with flair. Just about any former Miss NC qualified, but they settled on my old friend, Jeanne Swanner Robertson. It was forty years ago that Jeanne represented North Carolina in the Miss America pageant, and she holds two distinctions. No contestant has ever been funnier, and none has ever been taller.

To put this development in perspective, just imagine if the Democratic Party said to those nine folks campaigning for President, “Go on back home, we’re nominating Pat Paulsen instead.” Or, suppose you were to turn out your county sheriff and replace him with Mayberry’s Andy Griffith.

So Jeanne brushed off the mothballs and her sense of humor and geared up for the big night. She told me last week, “I’ve been holding in my stomach, smiling and practicing the pageant wave. My plan is to tape up the sagging areas on my body, a process that will take approximately twenty-four hours. I fully intend to walk out on stage on my own accord and unassisted. I’m ready, but at this point in my life, if they give me a scholarship, I will not, I repeat, will not, go back to school. The biggest problem so far, is I put Vaseline on my teeth, and then I couldn’t remember where I put my teeth.”

You know they always let the past winner, just before she relinquishes the crown, kinda summarize what all she’s been up to since being crowned. Usually they allow about five minutes. This time, with forty years to cover, nobody knows how long Jeanne will go on. And they’ll be laughing so hard no one will care.

I’ve gone on a bit longer than normal myself. But I figured, if twelve year olds can read 800 pages of Harry Potter at one sitting, then a page and a half isn’t too much to lay out for the rest of you. Between J. K. Rowling and Senator Clinton, there hasn’t been so much reading since Mark Twain and McGuffey were in their prime.

Prince William turned 21 this weekend, and next Saturday another popular Englishman, the old Methodist himself, John Wesley celebrates birthday number 300. The way things are going, young Will may have to live just as long before he ever gets to be King.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“I have prowled the width and breadth of that wonderfully progressive state of North Carolina. Their citizens have been mighty good to me in time of need. I have sold ’em a mighty poor grade of jokes, but which they always seemed to accept either out of sheer generosity, or simply because they had nowhere else to go.” WA #557, August 27, 1933

No fuss, no rain, no spam make Father happy

June 15, 2003

COLUMBUS: This is Father’s Day. In 1930, “I” proposed the following for Father’s Day. “No flowers, no fuss, just let him use the car himself and go where he wants to. But we will never live to see such a contented day.” (DT #1183, May 11, 1930)

To that list for 2003, I would add, “no rain, no spam.”

Christopher Reeve was here Friday for a graduation speech. He reminded the students of some of the discouraging news they may have missed lately (cheating CEO’s, Catholic priests, New York Times reporter, Sosa’s corked bat) then challenged them to “maintain your integrity in a culture that has devalued it.”

He told them “you have already learned compassion for your fellow human beings,” and “you don’t need to break your neck to learn the value of living consciously.”

After the speech he visited the folks at the university rehab clinic that’s been serving accident victims for forty years. He was speaking with a dozen or so patients in wheelchairs, but their doctors and physical therapists and a few others were listening in. He encouraged them to do what the physical therapists advise, work harder, go farther, lift more and “exercise to keep your body healthy for the time when all parts are working again, and drink plenty of cranberry juice.” He implored them to have the “mental attitude to keep working, don’t give up and don’t accept limits.”

As I pondered over his comments I wondered, could any of us so-called able bodied folks ever receive any better advice? Christopher Reeve, an actor worth listening to.

Our preacher this morning quoted Art Linkletter, “It’s better to be a super dad than a superstar.” Listening to Mr. Reeve I would add, “It’s better to be a super person than a Superman.”

I’ll keep this short so you can get back to Hillary’s Memoirs.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad ones you did do, well, that’s Memoirs.” Saturday Evening Post, March 12, 1932

“If you ever injected truth into politics you would have no politics.” WA #31, July 15, 1923

No election tie this year for Mayor of Weston

June 7, 2003

WESTON, West Va.: I am just finishing up a week’s vacation without ever leaving the county. And, yes, just like where you are, it rained most days.

Rainy days ain’t all bad. If it’s not fit to do all the great things you had planned, why you can always visit old haunts and old friends, set on the porch and catch up on years gone by. Rain gets you out of hoeing weeds in the garden, temporarily. Rain on a tin roof can help a man sleep sounder, even in mid afternoon.

Weston held their city election Tuesday, with five running for mayor. Two years ago in the same election two men tied, or near to it, and it took most of the two years to figure out who won. That ballot battle made Florida’s 2000 chad-plagued race seem like a cake walk.

Since the rain canceled my other plans I volunteered to help report the returns on the radio, WHAW. It’s the biggest station in the county, also the only one, but you can hear it all over the state, and even the world, through the internet.

I was pulling for a result that would have put Weston in the history books, a five-way tie. I took along a suitcase and about a hundred pounds of nuts and dried fruit in case we were holed up in the studio for a week or two.

We went on at seven and by half past nine, the last of the votes were counted, the incumbent was declared the winner and the town went back to sleep. So Weston is stuck, for now, with whatever history they have already made, and I’m stuck with a year’s supply of peanuts, dried apricots and prunes.

Today, I’m at their annual Carp Festival, held on the banks of the West Fork River. While other towns celebrate their prize bass, trout or muskies, these folks fish for carp and use those other fish for bait. They set up a stage for a whole series of musical performers, mainly bluegrass and gospel, and I came on long enough to give the fellows a break.

With all the rain, I doubt anyone would have been shocked if Noah himself had walked out on stage. But some were surprised to see Will Rogers.

I reported on what I read in the morning paper. (Those folks had been so busy fishing, no time to read.) Headline said, “Unemployment is Up”. Well, Weston contributed to those figures with four out of five candidates suddenly out of work. Here’s another item, “Ken Heckler eyes race for Sec. of State”. That shows you right there the root of our unemployment numbers. Mr. Heckler is 89, and trying to knock some youngster out of a job.

I’ve got to go. I hear another thunderstorm approaching.

Historic quote from Will Rogers:

“(I flew) down to Tulsa, Oklahoma….. was met by my Sister and driven to her home in Chelsea. Well for the next few days I did nothing but just visit around with all my folks and old Cronies, made no dates, just get in the car and go see ’em. The family couldent get over the idea that there was not some place I had to rush to make a Lecture date every night.” WA #354, October 6, 1929