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“I never met a man I didn’t like.”

Encouragement  It’s a word we all need.

 

Will Rogers "I never met a man I didn't like."

 

This is what the singing cowboy, Gene Autry, wrote about fellow Oklahoman Will Rogers:

 

I admire him, too, because out of a full and busy life, he took the time and trouble to help a struggling newcomer. I honestly believe that if it had not been for Will Rogers I would still be working night shift at a small town telegraph key, plinking on my guitar to help fill the empty hours.
Back in 1929, I was relief night operator on the circuit in central Oklahoma, relieving the regular operators while they were on vacation. The nights were long, and the messages were few and far between. I sang and played the guitar for a hobby. With my friend Johnny Long, a railroad brakeman who had a pretty niece, I composed a few tunes, among them, “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine.”

 

Gene Autry "The Singing Cowboy"


Late on the evening of November 18 a stranger came into the office and said he wanted to send a fifty-word “N.P.R.” This means “Night Press Rate,” and I was naturally surprised and startled. I glanced up, and I recall very vividly even today the rather eerie effect of this man standing there.

I could not see him very well; only in silhouette, because I was behind the cage with only a small work light which blinded me to objects beyond it. He handed me a slip of paper which contained a message of rare wisdom, couched in down-to-earth terms. I have often wished I could remember the content; my only recollection, now, is that it was a simple, homely observation that made sense in a crystal-clear way.

     I recall feeling just a little foolish when I asked him where it should be sent – the supernatural effect of the stranger in the darkness, and the philosophical words of his message made an address seem ridiculously mundane.

     He broke the spell, though, when he drawled. “It goes to the McNaught Syndicate; sign it Will Rogers.”

     Needless to say, I was completely flabbergasted, and even more so when the stranger sat down and wanted to talk. He said he was born on a farm between Claremore and Chelsea which the government had given his great-grandfather, a Cherokee Indian who gave the name to Rogers County. (2) He came back often to see his sister, a Mrs. McSpadden of Chelsea, and other kinfolk.

     He complimented me on my playing, and asked to hear more. I played “That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine” and “Dixie Cannon Ball,” and Will allowed that I might be a pretty good hand as an entertainer and gave me the a name to look up if I ever went to New York.

This was The Break that every aspiring entertainer needs to get started.

Who knows where a kind and encouraging word from our mouth might land?

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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