The Death of Will Rogers
Was there an American who didn't love Will Rogers whose death along with aviator Wiley Post in an Alaskan airplane crash shocks and saddens the entire country.
Will Rogers and Wiley Post were both small-town Americans who made good, each in his own very American way. Post was the poor boy with a single-minded passion for mechanics who by hard work and amazing persistence became one of the world's great aviators. Will Rogers was the genial Yankee, confused and humorous, who was claimed as friend by more men than any contemporary figure perhaps because of his very lack of strong or clear convictions or any single-minded purpose. His wit was a solvent and not a weapon; it offended none of its victims—except perhaps that other Yankee Calvin Coolidge, who was as indigenous and as limited as Rogers himself. His comments on public affairs were almost always amusing; they became increasingly reactionary and chauvinistic; they remained always the unpredictable and irresponsible "cracks" of a professional amateur. To call him a philosopher, as thousands have done since his death, is to credit him with order and vision, the two qualities which he most conspicuously lacked and most often spurned— his favorite boast that all he knew was what he read in the newspapers was not merely a quip. A writer in the Times remarks that "voting for Will Rogers became a habit with people; it was one of the best ways to file a protest without going Socialist." Laughing with Will Rogers served the same purpose. It is not surprising that he made a large fortune letting off steam for the American people, or that Wiley Post, though he learned how to circle the world in eight days, accumulated little of its goods.