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. ~ Ed.
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 anyone else.
So I consulted the authorities immediately available to
me: the Honolulu Advertiser. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, the World Almanac,
and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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
However, there are a lot of pretty pictures in my new
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
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.