LAUGH IT OFF!
Hawaii Magazine ~ April 1945
By Edgar Rice Burroughs
with this issue, Edgar Rice Burroughs, author and internationally known
creator of "Tarzan of the Apes," will write "Laugh It Off" for Hawaii Magazine.
Mr. Burroughs' "Laugh It Off" column as originally started shortly after
Pearl Harbor at the request of army authorities in the Hawaiian department
as a civilian morale booster.
Mr. Burroughs, whose home is in Tarzana, California, has been stationed
in Hawaii for the past five years as an accredited United Press correspondent.
ORDER OF SUCCESSION to the presidency: The death of President Roosevelt
posed no question as to his successor. Naturally, it was Vice-President
Harry S. Truman; but from there on the order of succession appears to be
Reasonably confident that, in the event of the death of President Truman,
I should not be called upon to succeed, my interest in the subject might
understandably have flickered out had it not been for my consuming curiosity
and thirst for knowledge that could not possibly be of any use to me or
So I consulted the authorities immediately available to me: the Honolulu
Advertiser. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the World Almanac, and the Encyclopedia
The Advertiser gave the order of succession as follows: Secretaries
of State, Treasury, War, Attorney General, Postmaster General, Navy, Interior,
Agriculture, Commerce, Labor.
Here is the Star Bulletin's guess: Secretaries of State, Navy, Treasury,
War, Agriculture, Postmaster General, Attorney General, Interior, Commerce,
Labor. Out of ten, they agreed on three. A high percentage of agreement
on the part of the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin, perhaps, but of little
value to the searcher after useless knowledge.
The World Almanac ignores the subject entirely, which I think shows
excellent judgment. And as far as the Encyclopedia Britannica concerns
itself with the matter, I might have more profitably invested my nearly
two hundred bucks in Barney Guy's Aloha Gin. My only hope now is my favorite
columnist, MISS FIXIT.
But if I didn't learn exactly what I wished to know from the Britannica,
I at least got a clew. It lists the Cabinet Members as follows, presumably
in the order of their rank: State, Treasury, War, Attorney General, Postmaster
General, Navy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, which suggests that
Britannica must have consulted the Advertiser.
Here is something else from the Britannica which furnishes food for
thought and disputation: ". . . the cabinet, as a collective body, has
no legal existence or power. The Constitution contains no provision for
a Cabinet . . ." This suggests that almost anyone might succeed Mr. Truman,
as the Cabinet is no more official than Slpasy Maxie Rosenbloom.
But then my dear old source of mis-information and confusion, the Encyclopedia
Britannica, bobs up with this under GEORGE FRISBEE HOAR (1826-1904): "HIs
most important piece of legislation was the Presidential Succession Act
of 1886? It does not. So the best we can do is pray that President Truman
stays alive until Stassen takes office January 20, 1949.
ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: For years this noble work
has consistently disappointed me until it has become evident that its compilers
and I do not see eye to eye on what should be in it. In writing a story
about Apache Indians, I craved information on the warlike Yaqui of Mexico.
The Britannica, at that time, had not heard of them, though it does give
them twelve lines in the new edition.
Then, ears ago, a man purporting to be a relative of the famous Central
American revolutionist and soldier of fortune, General Christmas, wrote
asking me to go down to Honduras, or wherever it was that the general was
living, and write his biography. As I had never heard of General Christmas,
I thought it might be well to gather some information about him before
I met him.
The edition of the Britannica that I then had gave an interesting account
of his adventurous life, closing with the date of his death! The latest
edition ignores the general completely. The compilers evidently felt that
a man who wasn't dead when they said he was did not deserve immortalization.
However, there are a lot of pretty pictures in my new edition.
1948: Before Willkie dropped out of the Presidential
race, I told Harold Stassen that I thought he, Stassen, was too young to
run successfully for President, but after Willkie's term expired, I hoped
that I would have the opportunity to vote for him.
The last time Admiral Halsey was in Honolulu we were speaking of Stassen,
who is Halsey's Flag Lieutenant; and the Admiral told me that Stassen has
one of the finest minds of any man he had ever met. And Halsy has met a
lot of men with fine minds. He said many other laudatory things about Stassen.
Now I am doubly certain that I shall make no mistake in voting for Stassen
in 1948. Neither will you. I don't know why I have dragged this paragraph
in by the tail, other than that I seem to have Presidents on the brain
today. And who hasn't.
PRESIDENT TRUMAN: Since he was nominated for the
vice presidency it has become the fashion to belittle him. He takes office
with two strikes on him.
I was studying a newspaper portrait of him yesterday. His is a strong,
intelligent, pleasant face. It is the face of a man one might intuitively
like and trust. All my life I have been a Republican, but I cut that portrait
out of the Advertiser and pinned it on my wall, something I have never
done with the portrait of any other president.
I think that I was motivated by great hope and by a determination to
think and speak only the best of my president unless he proved himself
undeserving of my loyalty. What I alone think and speak is without value
or force, but what hundred and thirty odd millions of us think and speak
might conceivably determine the future of our nation and the world by influencing
the head of the most powerful nation the world has ever known. I hope and
believe that many others think as I do and that the President will find
that he has the backing of a united America.