Hero of the People

One can’t come to Claremore, OK without a visit to museum and gravesite of Oklahoma’s favorite son — Will Rodgers:

I was surprised to learn that my companion had never heard of him. But after I thought about it I realized that he’d been dead for 80+ years. This meant several generations of folks may have forgotten him or never heard of him.

Lets rectify this right now with aid from an extremely knowledgeable docent named Kerry:

Between her colloquialisms like “fleas on a hot griddle” and the museum’s engaging exhibits well have a thorough understanding of the real Will Rodgers.

Rodgers was each these — often at the same time:

He was part Cherokee and grew up in a log cabin. He hated school and loved being a cowboy. He rode horses his whole life and felt it was strange that anyone could dislike horses. He learned to lasso virtually anything which enabled him to travel throughout the world many times over.

He made friends everywhere he went — many were famous like Charles Lindbergh, Shirley Temple, Henry Ford, Charles Russell and FDR. He once said “he’d never met a man he didn’t like”. And I believe he meant it:

He was a humorist not so much a comedian. He spun a homegrown philosophy that carefully smacked institutions — like Congress, without aiming at individuals, for example he said:

“As our government deteriorates our humor increases”.

And “Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don’t hurt anybody. It’s when they do something is when they become dangerous “.

Or, “Politics ain’t worrying this country one-tenth as much as parking space”.

Rodgers died very young while traveling in a souped up plane Alaska with The adventurer Wily Post. He was 56 and at the apex of his popularity.

Having moved to California some years earlier the funeral was held at the Hollywood Bowl. For many days prior to the funeral upwards of 15,000 people a day patiently strode by his casket.

When his wife died in the 1940’s his remains were taken to the present museum grounds to be interred with her and eventually all but one of his offspring:

Sadly, it pains me to think that we truly need his kind to ride again as we live through these crazy times.


About tourdetom

I'm retired. Travel a lot.
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2 Responses to Hero of the People

  1. Sue says:

    Thanks for the tour-My Mom loved him and took his death hard as a kid-the radio was her lifeline on the farm.

  2. Alfred Harrison Harrison says:

    Thanks Tom for this wonderful tour. My Dad recalled seeing Will Rogers as my Dad drove his Maxwell to UCLA.

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