There’s something about him that just seems wholesome to the core. Will Rodgers. Young people today most likely have never heard of him. But today is his birthday, coming into this world in 1879, in none other than Oologah, Oklahoma. Even the town he was born in sounds like something from the wholesome aisle at the store. I didn’t know this until this morning: He was a Cherokee citizen born in the Cherokee Nation, Indian Territory, there in Oklahoma. He was 1/4 Indian, and the rest of European descent. Rogers quipped that his ancestors did not come over on the Mayflower, but they “met the boat”.
He was an American Humorist, more than anything, I think. But he was a lot of other things too — like a stage and motion picture actor, vaudeville performer, cowboy, radio show personality, newspaper columnist, and social commentator. Heck, the Sooners liked him so much, they named him “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son”.
It was indisputable. He had an infectious smile and an extra long funny bone. And just an all-around good nature. He got his start in vaudeville and the circus. Through all of that, he eventually began appearing in the Ziegfeld Follies, performing mostly physical feats of riding and roping like a cowboy.
Anyway, he was with the Follies a little while before making his way to the silver screen. During the 1920 and 1930s Rogers became a Hollywood movie star. Both in silent films, and then later in talkies.
He was active politically, mostly a Democrat, but in the end, supporting the candidate he thought was best for the job, party aside. He also seemed to be a good husband, father, and all around, nice guy with high moral standards of the “common man.”
But here’s the thing. He had a real love for aviation. He was an advocate for it as well, traveling frequently. A friend of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Wiley Post, and others. And then. He and Wiley post were charting mail routes from Alaska to Russia. And that’e when it happened. The two of them died in a plane crash, near Point Barrow, Alaska, after the engine failed on their craft. That tragedy occurred on August 15, 1935.
From a distance, he seemed, truly, to be one of the good guys. Sometimes, certain people shine in that way. You know it when you first meet them. That goodness of character has a way of sparkling all over, without that person even trying to show it. Good humans.
I like to be around those types of wholesome people, and I am truly “put off” by the people at the other end of the spectrum. The ones who can tell lies without batting an eye, or those people who might say one thing to your face, and something different in your absence. The shysters. The con artists. The connivers. The backstabbers.
This world gives us both. I’m not sure why anyone would want to rub elbows with the devious and under-handed. I’d rather take my chances with trusting the noble and the virtuous. Either way. Maybe Rogers said it best. “Always drink upstream from the herd.”
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
― Will Rogers
“When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.”
― Will Rogers
“Common sense ain’t common.”
― Will Rogers