Will Rogers was a cowboy, vaudevillian, movie actor and comedian who was Bob Hope and Jeff Foxworthy combined in the early 20th century. Born in 1879, he was part Cherokee Indian who worked as a real cowboy for years but traded his horse for the entertainment business.
He made 71 movies, starred in vaudeville, wrote over 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns and was a humorist. When he performed he chewed gum like he was mad at it often twirling a lasso. He is noted for saying, "I never met a man I didn't like."
He and friend Wiley Post were flying around the world in 1935 when their plane lost its fight with gravity and crashed near Barrow, Alaska. Neither survived. Seventy-four years later I am reflecting on some of his pithy sayings to see if they have application today.
"Never slap a man who is chewing tobacco." The reason is obvious because his sputum and spittle will spray saturating your shirt and suit stupefying your senses. Such is not a satisfying situation to suffer. Be careful what you say and do to another. It may hurt you more than him.
"Never kick a cow chip on a hot day." To those who have never "cut your foot" in the barnyard or pasture, let me explain. This is especially egregious if the cow chip/pie is fresh. Leave problems alone or you will clearly have a manure covered foot as well as splattered fecal material on your leg and other appendages. When you are really angry it is not advisable to act. Wait until you cool down then act responsibly. Truth be told it is never advisable to kick a cow chip.
"There are two theories about arguing with a woman ... neither work." I choose not to embellish this axiom.
"Never miss a good chance to shut up." Some people have velocity voices, jet jaws and mouths that are filled with bombastic verbosity leading to diarrhea of the mouth. It is said that the Lord gave us two ears and only one mouth which means we should listen twice as much as we speak. Great advice. "Shut uppa you face."
"If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging." I can recall several times in my life when I dug holes with my bad attitude, lack of talent and experience that I could not get out of but for some insane reason I kept digging with the shovel of stupidity. I got so deep that I had to reach up to touch the bottom. Let it go.
"There are three kinds of men: the ones who learn by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them have to 'pee pee' on the electric fence and find out for themselves." Some people don't learn from the experiences of others and therefore stumble, fumble and fall through life. You can tell them a mile away but when they get there you can't tell them anything.
It is safe to say that Will Rogers would be right at home in 2009.
Larry Vandeventer grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at Larry Vandeventer 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.