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Will Rogers’ wit and wisdom live on 84 years later

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Nov. 4 will mark the birthday of Will Rogers, who was born in 1879 and died in 1935.

I would love to have met this man.

Rogers has most often been described as being a humorist, one who uses humor in writing or public speaking, although he wore many other hats as well including stage and motion picture actor, vaudeville performer, syndicated newspaper columnist and radio personality.

Rogers got his start in humor during the late 1800s as a vaudeville comedian and his career lasted the rest of his life, reaching a peak during the 1930s and the Great Depression.

He was extremely popular in America and his folksy, witty style allowed him to make fun of everybody and everything in a manner that was both accepted and appreciated by almost everyone.

Rogers was responsible for thousands of sayings, expressions and comments that are as funny and pertinent today as when he said them.

Here are some samples.

• “Ancient Rome declined because it had a senate, so what is going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate?”

• “I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but people tell me when you play, you get so mad at yourself you forget to hate your enemies.”

• “We are all here for a spell, so get all the good laughs you can.”

• “Things ain’t what they used to be, and they never were.”

• “The more you learn to read, the less you learn how to make a living. That’s one thing about a little education. It spoils you for actual work. The more you know, the more you think somebody owes you a living.”

• “It’s a good thing we don’t get all the government we pay for.”

• “Things in our country run in spite of government, not by the aid of it.”

• “Politics has become so expensive it takes a lot of money just to be defeated.”

• “We don’t seem to be able to control crime, so why not legalize it and then tax it out of business?”

• “When ignorance gets started, it knows no bounds.”

• “Get someone else to blow your horn and the sound will carry twice as far.”

• “We can’t all be heroes. Somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.”

• “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”

• “The only time people dislike gossip is when the gossip is about them.”

• “There is nothing so stupid as the educated man when you get him off the thing he was educated in.”

• “It’s easy being a humorist when you’ve got the whole government working for you.”

• “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.”

• “You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.”

• “The only way you can beat the lawyers is to die with nothing.”

• “Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.”

• “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”

• “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”

• “A man only learns in two ways — one by reading and the other by association with smarter people.”

• “Letting the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.”

• “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

• “Alexander Hamilton started the U.S. treasury with nothing, and that was the closest our country has ever been to being even.”

• “This thing about being a hero, the main thing to it is to know when to die.”

• “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

• “The time to save is now. When a dog gets a bone, he doesn’t go out and make a down payment on a bigger bone. He buries the one he’s got.”

Keith Barnes is a reporter for the Johnstonian News. Email him at