On April Fools’


President Coolidge receiving a hat and rain stick as an honorary member of the Hopi association, October 22, 1924. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Contributing to the series published in Good Housekeeping two years after Calvin Coolidge’s death, the legendary humorist and entertainer Will Rogers had this to say about his late friend and former President,

“Mr. Coolidge has more subtle humor than almost any public man I ever met. I have often said I would like to have been hidden in his desk somewhere and just heard the little sly ‘digs’ that he pulled on various people that never even got ’em at all.

I bet he wasted more humor on folks than almost anybody. You see most fellows notify you that they are about to pull one, or it’s done with a story–‘Did I ever tell you the one about the farmer at the election?’ Mr. Coolidge never did that, his were pulled with not even a change of inflection, you got it, or you dident, and it dident make difference to him.

He never did it publically, because he told me one time that it was fatal to show humor in public office, it reacted against you. How he was able to withhold it publically is more than I know, for he was a man that very quickly could detect the sham and insincerity and ‘hooey,’ but he just had to sit there and keep a straight face and think it to himself.

One of the best and ‘fastest’ ones he pulled on me (and he pulled many). I was to lecture in Washington on one of my periodical tours (before reforming). I dropped in and wanted him to come to my little show that night, I explained to him that there was nothing to it, only me talking for two or three hours, but that I had a very fine quartet that sang. Quick as a flash without a trace of a smile, he says, ‘Yes, I like singing.’

Now it would have been a shame if I had muffed that one. Now just imagine how many he must have pulled on old boring politicians that went right over their heads, for they are so used to having somebody give ’em warning when one is coming. He has that real old New England humor, the ‘no effort’ and ‘no demonstration’ kind.

He was a great fellow. I thought much of Mr. Coolidge, told a thousand little jokes and anecdotes about him, but they were all ones that brought out some little humaness in his make-up. They were all jokes on qualities which the people admired in a man. I like all public men, but I especially liked Mr. Coolidge, and Mrs. Coolidge was just about my ‘Public Female Favorite No. 1.’ ” (Part of “The Real Calvin Coolidge” series, Good Housekeeping, 1935)

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