Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Will Had Words For It

I recently was given a small volume of Will Rogers' sayings, and it proved to be a gem in several ways. Of course, it was fun to once again be entertained by the words of one of America's most beloved humorists. But of more interest, I thought, was how applicable many of  Rogers' sayings are to today's political and social situations.

The old Texas cowboy started his career in 1902 touring with a Wild West Show and then a circus in South Africa , Australia, and New Zealand. He performed in U.S. theaters for three decades, appeared in 70 movies, and published his observations on just about everything in some 400 newspapers until he died in 1935.

Rogers wrote all of his own material. He was an unusual comedian in that he wanted his humor to make a point, to say something true. I think he succeeded often. See if you agree after reviewing selected quotes in various categories from the small collection I read:

On Female Inequality

You can't pass a park without seeing a statue of some old codger on a horse, it must be his bravery, you can tell it isn't his horsemanship. Women are twice as brave as men, yet they never seem to have reached the statue stage.

On Civilization

There ain't no civilization where there ain't no satisfaction and that's the trouble now. Nobody is satisfied.

On the Pace of Life

I have never yet seen a man in such a big hurry that a horse or train wouldn't have got him there in plenty of time. If fact, nine-tenths of the people would be better off if they stayed where they are instead of going where they are going. No man in America if he didn't get where he is going would be missed.

On American Prosperity

We'll show the world we are prosperous, even if we have to go broke to do it.

On Taxes

I don't see why a man shouldn't pay inheritance tax. If a country is good enough to pay taxes to while you are living, it's good enough to pay in after you die. By the time you die you should be so used to paying taxes it would almost be second nature anyway.

On High Food Costs

Got a wire today from an old boy in Parsons, Kansas, and he wanted me to enter in a hog-calling contest; you know I used to be an awful good hog caller when hogs were cheap, but the way hogs have gone up in price it's changed the whole system of calling 'em. It would take Henry Ford hollering with his check book to get one to come to you nowadays. I hollered all morning just for three slices of bacon and it didn't come, so there ain't much use of me howling my head off to try and get a whole hog to come.

On the Criminal Justice System

There are two types of larceny, petty and grand, and the courts will really give you a longer sentence for petty that they do for grand. They are supposed to be the same in the eyes of the law, but the judges always put a little extra on for petty, as a kind of a fine for stupidness. "If that's all you got you ought to go to jail longer."

On Characteristics of Politics

Common sense is not an issue in politics; it's an affliction. Neither is honesty an issue in politics. It's a miracle.

On Political Parties

If we didn't have two parties, we would all settle on the best men in the country and things would run fine. But as it is, we settle on the worst ones and then fight over 'em.

On Congress

We have the best Congress money can buy.

On Foreign Relations

Several papers have asked, "What would Europe do if we were in difficulties and needed help?" So this is in reply to those inquiries: Europe would hold a celebration.

On Communism

Communism is like Prohibition; it's a good idea but it won't work.

On International Travel

A bunch of American tourists were hissed and stoned yesterday in France, but not until they had finished buying.

On Cars and Driving

The trouble with us is America is just muscle bound from holding a steering wheel; the only place we are callused from work is the bottom of our driving toe.

On War and Peace

If we can just let other people alone and do their own fighting, we would be in good shape. When you get into trouble five thousand miles away from home you've got to have been looking for it.

On How He Wanted to be Remembered

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 am so proud of that I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved. And when you come to my grave you will find me sitting there, proudly reading it.


7 comments:

Mary said...

Some of these are priceless. thanks and many sure fit today, as they are timeless.

Rummuser said...

His comments on Europe is apt for the present imbroglio with the recent visit to Europe by the POTUS.

PiedType said...

Will was beloved in his and my native state of OKLAHOMA, not Texas. Texas has a lot to brag about, but they can't claim Will Rogers.

Dick Klade said...

Right, Pied, Rogers was born near what is now Claremore, Oklahoma in 1879. It was Indian Territory at the time. However, he really became a cowboy in 1898 when he left school to work on a ranch in Texas. Thus my reference. However, he surely is considered by one and all to be a native son of Oklahoma, and I shall henceforth connect him to no other State.

Incidentally, I spent nearly two years in Oklahoma at Fort Sill in the U.S. Army. Not enough to make me an "Oklahoma GI" though.

joared said...

As much as everything changes, it remains the same as these Will Rogers quotes reveal. Thanks for sharing!

Big John said...

"A bunch of American tourists were hissed and stoned yesterday in France, but not until they had finished buying".... NOT TRUE ! .. It was because they kept on yelling for .. "MORE CAWFEE!" .. Sorry Will.

Dick Klade said...

Probably so, John. I started learning about coffee attitudes on my first visit to Germany. When I pushed my small cup ahead suggesting the waiter refill it, nothing happened.