Will Rogers

Oct. 18, 1931  “The only problem that confronts this country today is at least 7,000,000 people are out of work.  That’s our only problem.  There is no other one before us at all.  It’s to see that every man that wants to is able to work, is allowed to find a place to go to work, and also to arrange some way of getting more equal distribution of the wealth in the counry.”  Will Rogers

This is an excerpt from a talk Will Rogers gave which was broadcast to the American public at the request of President Hoover.  The title of the talk was “Bacon and Beans and Limousines.  Rogers was completely comfortable calling things exactly as he saw them and was unfailingly in tune with the public.

He was a remarkable man.  Born in Indian Territory in 1866 he was about 1/4 Cherokee.  Son of a prosperous, well-respected family he grew up in Vinita and Claremore.  My great grandmother, Alice, was about 13 years older than Will and may very well have taught him when he was in school in Vinita.

Dad grew up hearing about Will Rogers.  We grew up knowing about Will Rogers.  Reading some of his speeches and watching his roping tricks–truly brilliant athletic performances–I am and will always be very impressed by his grace, intelligence and humor.

He and Wiley Post were killed in 1935 when the 3-man plane they were in crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska.  The outpouring of grief was enormous; thousands of mourners filed by his casket in California and in Oklahoma.  His body was first brought to Hollywood and then home to Claremore where he is buried.  Wiley Post is buried in Oklahoma City and a small craft airport there is named after him.

Identifying with a man like Will Rogers was heady stuff for a boy without a father.  Rogers was also supportive of OMA so dad must have heard nothing but good things about him there.  Why not identify yourself with this legend?  I tried to think is there anyone at all like Will Rogers in today’s world?  Athlete, thinker, writer, humorist, humanitarian, actor, philanthropist, loving father, son, and devoted husband.  No one came to mind.

Rogers Memorial Museum Claremore

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