American Original: A Life of Will Rogers

By Ray Robinson | Go to book overview

4

Roamin' Free

Will often tried to sum up his career at Kemper: "I spent two years there, one in the guardhouse and one in the fourth grade. I knew more about McGuffey's Reader than McGuffey did."

One of Will's best pals at Kemper was Billy Johnston, who hailed from the Texas Panhandle. Billy loved to spin yarns about the wonders of ranch life in Texas, all of which appealed to Will's chronic wanderlust. Since he was perennially on the verge of expulsion at Kemper and wasn't managing the details of military life in a very exemplary manner, Will made up his mind to call it quits at Kemper in 1898. An added inducement to leave Kemper, without first consulting his father, was that Will had no idea how he could break the news to Clem.

"There has always been lots of curiosity about whether I jumped or was shoved out of that place," Will wrote, years later. "Well, I can't remember that far back now. All I know is that it was a cold winter and old man Ewing's ranch on the Canadian River near Higgins wasn't too warm when I dragged in there."

At the urging of Johnston, Will had embarked for Higgins, Texas, where he

-33-

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American Original: A Life of Will Rogers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Original - A Life of Will Ragers *
  • Contents *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • American Original *
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Indian "Problem" 7
  • 2 - Civil War 14
  • 3 - Childhood 21
  • 4 - Roamin' Free 33
  • 5 - A New Century 47
  • 6 - Home Again—for a Minute 62
  • 7 - Vaudeville Days 74
  • 8 - Will Marries Betty 87
  • 9 - Best Pal 104
  • 10 - Mr. Ziegfeld 115
  • 11 - The Celluloid Coast 128
  • 12 - Kidding the Famous 143
  • 13 - Travelin' Man 161
  • 14 - The Ranch 189
  • 15 - "I Was Never Sorry Movies Started to Talk" 202
  • 16 - Political Adventures 229
  • 17 - The Last Flight 243
  • Appendix A - Postmortems 261
  • Appendix B - More Wit and Wisdom 265
  • Index 271
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