Right now I am working on bringing you additional film footage from interviews with Mr. Anderson that was shot by a professional film maker. As promised I will also keep you up to date on any important developments with the project. Also starting this week I will be posting one my weekly columns on a regular basis.
I am currently writing for several different publications and my topics vary according tothe publication so you may be reading a newspaper story one week and a magazine or trade paper story the next. I hope you enjoy reading them. Thank you for your support and comments!
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. There have been dozens of books written about Will Rogers but withthe anniversary of his death on August 15, 1935 coming up I felt compelled to write a piece in his memory and who could tell me more about this legendary person than his grand niece Coke Meyer.
Coke, who is now ninety-one, lives in the Will Rogers Hotel in Claremore, the same place where her uncle kept an apartment his entire life. She says that the land where the Will Rogers Memorial is now situated was where he planned to retire to and that the museum opened on November 4, 1938 which would have been his birthday if he had lived. Over twenty-five thousand people an hour attended the opening day to view the exhibits. Coke told me that even though Will lived on Long Island during his vaudeville days and in California when he was a star in Hollywood everywhere he went he always said he lived in Claremore, Oklahoma and that’s the address he listed on all his official documents.
Her memories of her uncle are very detailed and she recounts how he never slept more than four or five hours a night, getting up early and riding his horse first thing before breakfast. She added that although his horse Soapsuds got most of the publicity as Will became famous, his horse Comanche back in Claremore was always his favorite.
Back in his early days Will was a real working cowboy, driving herds of longhorn cattle from Texas to Kansas when the pay was thirty dollars a month. After he became successful as a movie star, Coke remembers that he donated hundreds of acres of land to the state of California to create state parks and he also gave thousands of dollars to various counties for disaster relief. His ranch at the end of the Sunset Strip is one of 300 state parks in California and was where he hosted friends such as John Wayne, artist Charlie Russell and John Ford who credited Will with showing him how to direct movies. Rogers made seventy-one silent and talking motion pictures in his much too short career including “The Roping Fool”, which is narrated by his son Will Rogers, Jr. and plays at the museum every day.
Today all of his children are deceased with his last son Jim dying in 2002. With the exception of Will Jr. who is buried in New Mexico, all of the children lie in the mausoleum at the museum next to their mother and father.
Will Rogers has a strong connection to Bartlesville,OK not only because Coke lived here for many years but also because the Phillips brothers and several other oil men paid for his mausoleum to be built at the museum.
I’ll end this week with a couple of my favorite quotes from Will who was famous for his quips.
“No man is great if he thinks he is.”
“Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.”
“You must judge a man’s greatness by how much he will be missed.”
Till next week I’ll see ya down the road…