Weekly Comments: American women shine in Athens

# 332, August 25, 2004

MORGANTOWN, West Va.: The Olympic Games are wrapping up. Just in time, too. Our women have been so great in Athens, the men are ready for football. Our USA women are winning in basketball, softball, soccer, beach volleyball and gymnastics to name a few. Meanwhile the men lost to Puerto Rico and Lithuania in basketball, and in soccer and baseball they fared even worse. So here’s to our women, the new rulers of American sports.

You know, it’s not surprising. I read where a survey of ten-year olds found that the girls liked playing sports just as much as the boys. So fellows, if you don’t put down the Nintendo and pick up a bat or ball instead, we’ll soon be overrun, if not already.

The Republicans are ready to swarm into New York for the Bush Follies. Senator Kerry was there yesterday, kind of in the role of a warm up act. The only crowd he drew was the gathering protesters, and they started booing just out of habit till they were reminded that Bush is the candidate they are called on to hiss and holler at, not Kerry. Kerry was last month in Boston.

I read where some organization of American women (I can’t remember which one) says President Bush doesn’t understand women, and neither does Senator Kerry. Well, up to about eighty years ago our Presidential candidates didn’t even recognize women, let alone understand them. My suggestion for this organization (whatever it is), is to come up with a candidate with a perfect understanding of women. It would be a feat unsurpassed in American politics, and the person would be a shoo-in for President. World issues would fade away, defeated by superior intellect and intuition. Why, Osama bin Laden would crawl out of his cave, give up, and tell the new President to pocket the $50 million bounty. This splendid individual with such a remarkable grasp of complex affairs could not only be President, but simultaneously serve as Pope, baseball commissioner, and, every four years, judge the Olympic gymnastic competitions.

So we’re all pulling for those women to name their candidate. Only problem will be getting them to agree on just one.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers:

“… it’s a great game, this Convention game is. I don’t suppose there is a show in the World with as much sameness in it as it has got. You know exactly what each speaker is going to say before he says it…. You know before you go who will be nominated. You know the platform will always be the same: promise everything, deliver nothing. I really don’t think any such proceedings could be carried on in any other civilized country in the World except ours. You cuss yourself for sitting day in and day out and looking at such nonsense. But the next four years find you back there again.” WA #289, July 8, 1928

[The 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles was the first to include women’s competition]
“Well with us right in the middle of the Olympics, we are just bogged down in swimmers, up to our ears in pole vaulters. It’s been great fun, and a wonderful sight to see… About ten days ago before it started why one day out at our studio they brought all the girl athletes out there for lunch and to see the studio… You musent miss meeting this Texas wildcat “Tex” Didrickson [Mildred “Babe” Didrickson Zaharias], she just believes that she can do anything, and the funny part about it is she can. There is none of the sports that she can’t do and do well. She is an athletic marvel…. Then I met that day Helen Madison, our great swimmer, then Georgie Coleman, oh and dozens of others.

A big pretty blonde girl from Germany spoke good English, said she was a javelin thrower. Javelin? Why that’s a little light thing like a spear. Why this girl could have heaved a horse, much less a javelin.

Two girls from Mexico, one was a fencer, one was a javelin thrower. The Canadian girls I believe as a whole were about the prettiest of any of our foreign visitors. The Japanese had a great bunch, and funny thing there was only one girl from France, just one here. I guess France is kinder slow having women taking up boxing, and wrestling, and running and jumping. Still they don’t mind ’em doing a lot of work in the fields. I have see ’em pitching hay and hauling manure to the fields.

Course I don’t know how this women thing doing all these games is. I mean I can’t just get my mind made up about it. But I guess it’s all right. They just as well be doing that as in some other devilment. It sure does make ’em take care of their health. Course some say that it will be bad for ’em in the long run, but I doubt it. You know women always could endure more than men. They are superior to the so-called male.

So I reckon that it’s only a matter of time that they will not only be doing the same games as the men…” WA #502, August 7, 1932

Weekly Comments: Ohio State Fair featured Ropes, Whips and Clydesdales

# 331, August 15, 2004

COLUMBUS: It’s a pleasure to be able to write to you today. You’ll know I mean that in all honesty when I remind you of the significance of August 15. See, it was on this date in 1935 that Will Rogers and world renowned pilot Wiley Post died when Wiley’s plane crashed at Point Barrow, Alaska.

The Ohio State Fair ended today, and for some of us old timers a Fair can be just as exhausting as a presidential campaign, even if it only lasts 12 days. August has been mighty cool, more like late September. Good for a fair, but not so great for growing corn.

Young folks from 4-H, FFA and other fine organizations were showcasing their livestock and various skills. I sponsored the 4-H Rope competition. If you think about it, this seems like a natural thing to do. Then I found out it was mainly about knots, not lassoing. But we had a lot of fun and got a bunch of these kids up front with lassos performing flat loops for the crowds.

My friend Gery Deer put on a kind of impromptu “Wild West Whip Show” one afternoon and drew a bigger crowd, more laughs and more applause than some of the regular performers. Mr. Busch’s Clydesdales were here and those horses drew more attention than any automobile on the grounds.

[If you’re interested, go to www.4hengineering.osu.edu and click on Pictures]

Florida got pounded by Bonnie and Charley. Folks down there at Punta Gorda need all the help you can spare. I do have one suggestion for them: if you live along one of these hurricane beaches in a light trailer, it might be wise to leave the wheels on the trailer for a quick get away.

Historic quotes from Will Rogers: (on Florida hurricanes, plus)

“Let’s lay off politics today and get down to something necessary and worth while. I don’t think we are taking enough interest in this Florida relief as we should. Florida is in real need. The Red Cross needs much greater funds than have been sent.
I know giving to campaign funds this year when the competition is so keen has about got everybody broke, but I think Florida is worth more to us than trying to get the post offices for the next four years.”
 DT #672, Sept. 20, 1928

“Take your campaign contribution and send it to the Red Cross, and let the election be decided on its merits.” DT #673
[Note: A hurricane struck Florida Sept. 16, 1928, and killed 1500 and left 15,000 homeless. Two years earlier a hurricane killed 372 in Florida and Will wrote about it and helped raise $30,000 for the relief effort.]

“When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.’ I’m so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. And when you come around my grave you’ll probably find me sitting there proudly reading it.” June 16, 1930, comments at Tremont Baptist Church, in Boston, Mass.

Weekly Comments: Canadian capital is cool and calm

# 330, August 3, 2004

OTTAWA, Ont.: Four days removed from even a hint of Presidential campaigning is tremendously refreshing. For a national capital, this place has been mighty calm.

I figure they got the right idea in Canada, or at least the right timing. This wonderful city gets so cold in winter, they don’t want to waste any of their precious few summer days debating politics. They save those heated arguments for winter. Even if you disagree totally, the excess heat generated by the opposition is much appreciated when it’s 40 below.

I did read in the local paper, “The Globe and Mail”, about a mild discussion (not yet lukewarm), they are having on what to do with appointees of a defeated party. When Jean Cretian got knocked out as Prime Minister, it seems he paid out $2,000,000 to get a bunch of them to leave. The opposition says this is excessive, even in Canadian dollars. Others suspect the severance is getting so high the appointees are voting against their own party, just for the chance to collect.

I got to meet one of the new boys in the government, Wayne Easter. He is kinda like our Secretary of Agriculture, and is a bonefide old time farmer. He and I were both here at a big international convention of agricultural and biological engineers; he is here as the main speaker, and I’m here with the understanding that my speaking is mainly limited to quiet conversation.

Mr. Easter reminded the engineers from south of the border that trade with Canada is worth more than $350 Billion a year, and it is a shame to let one old Holstein milk cow that slipped across with BSE put a damper on all that trade. The ranchers can’t sell their cattle, so they are about ready to drive millions of ’em across the border into North Dakota and Montana. The argument is really with Japan, but that’s too far to drive ’em. Twenty years ago Wendy’s asked, “Where’s the beef?” Today, it’s in Canada.

Here’s the most surprising statistic. When I was kidding about going to Canada to escape the campaign in Ohio, Mr. Easter said, “That’s strange, in your Presidential election years we get fewer American tourists, not more.” I am still pondering on that peculiar bit of news. Maybe Canada is too close, so instead they escape to Europe.

Historical quotes from Will Rogers:

“OTTAWA, Ont.: Arrived Canada capital today. More sentiment here to be annexed by Mexico than by America. They know us too well. If we get any nation to join us it will have to be some stranger. We only have one reason for wanting Canada, and a modification of the Volstead Act [Prohibition] will eliminate it.” DT #49, Oct. 11, 1926

“Canada has a big Congress of some kind at Ottawa, and for a family that is kin [to us] why they get along pretty well. They all agreed to buy from each other, and they will till somebody comes along and sells cheaper. But they are mighty patriotic, that English empire, and when the real show-down comes they will stick together…
Canada is a mighty good neighbor and a mighty good customer. That’s a combination that is hard to beat.”
 WA #505, August 28, 1932