I attended a local book sale last week and among my finds was a 1935 life of a great American,Will Rogers.
When Wiley Post’s small plane crashed down in Alaska in 1935 it was a sad day. In losing Will Rogers America lost not only its premier humorist it lost something much rarer, a genuinely good person.
Many play at goodness, Will rogers was goodness personified. He was a loving husband and father but above that he loved all of humanity. He loved without reservation as Jesus taught us we all should. “I never met a man I didn’t like ” was his famous saying.
All this is not to say he loved everything that people do. He was of the school of “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” He had small tolerance for foolishness in government and wastefulness and greed among politicians was a steady subject for his column or stage lectures. His use of humor softened the blow of his rapier intelligence and made his message more likely to be heeded by the people he admonished.
Some quotes from Will will give you an idea of his insight. “Try to live your life so that you wouldn’t be afraid to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.” “There is no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you.” “Rumor travels faster…but it doesn’t stay put as long as truth.” “America is a land of opportunity and don’t ever forget it.” “Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.” “Chaotic action is preferable to orderly inaction.” “I read about eight newspapers a day, when I’m in a town with only one newspaper I read it eight times.” “We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others.”
Some anecdotes of Will’s actions, He had been the captain of a group of boys in baseball. At the end of the season the team got together and presented him with a little silver cup in gratitude. He took up the little cup and he was so moved he could hardly speak. finally he said “Thats mighty sweet of you little fellows.”
At the birthday party of Marie Dressler he said “There are a lot of big words to describe the big love we have for Marie but none of them are big enough. Love is a funny feeling there’s pride and a sense of possession too, like when we hear a young couple say “Our home” or “Our Baby” the word “our” expresses everything. Something they’re all wrapped up in, something they love better than anything in the world. And that’s how it is tonight, she’s our Marie and I guess that’s about everything a feller can say.”
The care and feeling Will bestowed on others showed the kind of man he was and his humor while sometimes biting always left room for hope. I’m glad I found that book.
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