Wit and Wisdom of Will Rogers

My thanks to Bob Jessep for forwarding an email to me. It had the following statements attributed to Will Rogers. While some of it may fall into the category of Yogi Berra quotes (in Yogi’s own words, “half of the things I said I never said”), I think they are all good food for thought regardless of who really said them.

Will Rogers was born in 1879 on a ranch in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma. As a young adult, he was an expert with ropes and lassos and became famous as a philosopher cowboy.

My favorite quote attributed to him is, “A fool and his money are soon elected.”? That goes well with a quote from Mark Twain: “We have the best government money can buy.” Both of these quotes are just as applicable today as they were more than seventy years ago when Will and Mark said them.

Will Rogers died in a 1935 plane crash with Wylie Post. I believe my father had witnessed one or two of Will Rogers’ shows. Dad always spoke highly of the man who never met a man he didn’t like.

Let’s take a look at the quotes that came in that email.

1. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco. (I tried chewing tobacco once while moving household furniture. Unfortunately, I found myself on the third floor of the house when the homeowner decided to ask me some questions – “Is this a summer job?” and “Are you in college?” were easy; I just shook my head. The trouble came when he asked me what school I attended. I had to swallow the juice in order to say, “Edinboro.” I then ran down the steps and outside before the juice turned my stomach.)

2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day. (I’d take that a step farther and suggest one not kick a fresh cow chip regardless of the outside temperature.)

3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman . . . neither works. (No comment.)

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up. (!)

5. Always drink upstream from the herd. (There’s a lot unsaid here; too many people jump on bandwagons instead of thinking for themselves. Just an opinion.)

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. (How many of our real problems are self-inflicted?)

7.  The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket. (It amazes me how many people still fall for scams that have been around since long before I was born. The ‘get rich quick’ mentality is a God send to the scam artists.)

8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves. (Have any of us ever touched the newly painted object to see if the paint is really still wet? I think we all learn in all three ways.)

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. (Amen)

10. If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there. (I think this is a major problem with our elected officials; I don’t think they care whether the herd is there or not… as long as they can get themselves re-elected. This thought sort of fits well with drinking upstream.)

11. Letting the cat out of the bag is a whole lot easier than putting it back. (I’m sure most of us have said or done something that we later regretted.)

12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut. (Should I take this personally and quit commenting?)

Will Rogers is also credited with the following statements about growing older.

1. Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.

2. The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.

3. Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

4. When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to your youth, think of Algebra.

5. You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.

6. I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.

7. One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.

8. One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.

9. Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable

10. Long ago when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.

And finally ~ If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you are old.

In truth, Will was around fifty-six years old when he died. He still had a lot to learn about old age!

As for government, Will had more than a few good lines.

“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.

“Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.

“Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what’s going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.

“Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.”

Didn’t a comedian run for the Senate seat from Minnesota? Personally, I liked their wrestling governor better.


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