By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 19, 1946
“Your prejudices,” declared Jimmie Frise, “are costing you money!”
“I’m willing to pay,” I retorted, “for my principles.”
“Look,” pleaded Jim, “it’s a sure thing.”
“In this life,” I countered, “nothing is sure.”
“Aw, for Pete’s sake,” cried Jimmie. “I tell you we can pay for the winter’s coal with this race. It’s the end of the racing season. All kinds of long shots come home at the end of the racing season. It’s the time for trainers and jockeys and horse owners to balance the budget.”
“You mean,” I sneered, “that racing is crooked…!”
“No sport on earth is as rigidly policed as horse-racing,” replied Jim hotly. There’s a continent-wide organization that embraces every track and every breeder and every angle of the horse-racing game and it is devoted to keeping horse-racing on the level….”
“Okay,” I scoffed, “then how about these benefit races, for balancing the budget?”
“At the end of the season,” said Jim picking his words carefully, “there is a sort of devil-may-care spirit that enters the sport. Trainers who have been nursing their horses along, so as not to overtax them, allow them to go full out in one last fling. Jockeys who are cautious riders suddenly became inspired with the spirit of the end of the season and ride with an abandoned quality that upsets all the calculations of trainers, other jockeys and all the dopesters who do the adding up.”
“Adding up?” I inquired.
“Sure,” said Jim. “How do you suppose the experts pick the winners? Simply by adding up all the factors that go into the race; the condition and past performance of the horse; the trainer; and the jockey. But at the end of the season, all these factors are muddled up by this sort of last-fling spirit. Nobody knows what horse is going to win.”
“Nobody but you!” I laughed.
“More long shots come through this week,” insisted Jim, “than at any other season.”
“Because nobody can pick the winner,” I suggested.
“Exactly,” agreed Jim.
“Then how do you know you’ve got a sure thing?” I triumphed.
“This horse, Schnitzler,” stated Jim flatly, “has been running second and third all season. Why? Because his trainer has been ordering the jockeys to ride him easy and let him develop himself. No forcing. The trainer figures, from Schnitzler’s pedigree, that he is a horse that develops slowly but steadily instead of one of those flash performers that is all through before he’s four years old.”
To Balance the Budget
“It’s all Dutch to me,” I interrupted. “Jim, look. I just don’t care for racing. It’s like stamp collecting. Either you like it or you don’t like it.”
“Schnitzler,” said Jim slowly, “is going to win today in the fourth race. And it’s going to pay 30 to 1.”
“You mean.” I asked, “that for a $2 ticket, he’d pay $30?”
“For a $10 ticket,” said Jim in a low, vibrant voice, “he’d pay … THREE… HUNDRED … DOLLARS!”
“Aw, Jim,” I pleaded, trying to wake him from the trance, “how do you know? What facts have you got to justify this fixation that’s got you, like some sort of lunacy…?”
“I,” said Jim, still in that low intense voice, “know the trainer, I know the jockey and… I know the horse!”
“Ah,” I said, “so you’ve bet on him before?”
“I bet on him all through the season,” admitted Jim.
“But he always came second or third?” I inquired.
“And I always bet him on the nose,” said Jim.
“And you’re going to bet him today again, on his last race of the season?” I demanded.
“The budget,” said Jim with that faraway look that hypnotized race fans wear, “the budget is just about to be balanced.”
“Tomorrow maybe,” I sighed, “you’ll wake up. Ten or fifteen dollars poorer…”
“I’ll have the money,” said Jim, with certainty, “for the winter’s coal.”
All this was at 10 o’clock in the morning.
At 1 o’clock, Jim appeared at the office door with his hat on.
“Coming?” he said heartily.
“I…” I said.
It was a beautiful day. Too beautiful to sit alone in an office pecking at a typewriter.
“Well,” I chuckled, “I might as well go, if for no other reason than to watch the expression on your face as all these castles in the air come tumbling down…”
So we drove out to the track in the lovely Indian summer afternoon and once again I found myself in that completely alien atmosphere of the race-track, surrounded by thousands of people all concentrated on a sport that leaves me cold. I never feel so completely a stranger on this earth as at the race-track. Sometimes I feel all these thousands are queer. And then, suddenly, I feel a little queer myself.
We got into the grandstand where Jimmie seemed to know everybody by their first name. It was like a club. Very chummy. Full of a lingo of its own. I began to feel queer.
These race meetings are something like a symphony concert. Each race is like a number on the program. Each number builds up, like a symphony, to a familiar climax. The first race, there was the usual tuning up, as the horses were walked to the starting post. Then the intense gathering up of feelings and emotions as the horses prepared for the start. That would be like the fine string music of the symphony. Then, suddenly, like the brass and woodwinds of the orchestra letting loose, the start! Then a kind of gathering pandemonium, as the orchestra of these thousands of fans swelled and rose to a crescendo that ended as climactically and violently as a Beethoven symphony …
Jim’s horse lost. He also lost the second race, and the third.
He asked me to come under the grandstand for a cup of coffee and while we were drinking the coffee, he asked me if I had any money.
“I never bring money to a race-track, Jim,” I informed him. “You know that. I have my principles. And I safeguard them.”
“Haven’t you got even five bucks?” pleaded Jim.
“I haven’t got even five bucks,” I replied firmly, fondling the $10 in $1 bills I had in my left-hand pants pocket.
Jim looked desperately around.
Meant For a Killing
“Look here,” I said sternly, “didn’t you say this horse Schnitzel or whatever it is ran in the fourth race?”
“Yes,” gritted Jim. “And I want to put 10 bucks on him. But that last race, the brother of one of the jockeys gave me a hundred to one chance on that horse I bet …”
“I see,” I said, amused. “Sure things all over the place!”
“I was going to make enough to put maybe 30 or 40 bucks on Schnitzler,” pleaded Jim. “But now I’ve only got four bucks left. Do you see anybody you know that you could borrow a few bucks…”
“I certainly do not!” I stated sharply.
“Six bucks,” muttered Jim bitterly. “Six bucks, six measly bucks. Take a walk around and see if there’s anybody you …”
“My friends,” I stated, “are not to be found around race-tracks. Why don’t you make a touch on any one of those sportsmen surrounding you up in the grandstand? You call each other by your first names…”
“I…I…” said Jim anxiously.
We finished the coffee and walked out on to the lawn.
Jim was acting like an expectant father. He was breathing big deep breaths, biting his teeth together, putting his hands deep in his pockets and pulling them out again. He looked at his four dollars several times. And he kept his eyes on the clock. All around us, the eager swarms were reading their programs with fatuous expressions. Already the procession towards the betting enclosure had begun.
“Hello, Mr. Clark,” came a pleasant voice.
I turned and recognized one of my neighbors from up the street.
“Why, how do you do!” I replied heartily. “Are you a follower of the sport of kings?”
“Oh, I usually come out for a few races,” said my neighbor, whom I had always taken for a deacon at least.
Jimmie was gripping my elbow and squeezing it meaningfully. I shook my arm free.
“How have you done?” asked the neighbor.
“Oh, I don’t …” I began.
But Jimmie, linking his arm through mine to show we were buddies, broke in: “As a matter of fact,” he said, “my little friend here has been cleaned in the last three races. And he’s trying to borrow six bucks off me…”
“I am not!” I cut in indignantly, but Jim got a Judo hold on my funnybone that almost made me screech with pain.
“Six bucks is all he wants,” cried Jim jovially. “But one of my superstitions is, never lend money to the guy you came to the races with. It’s okay to borrow from anybody else. But NOT the guy you came with …”
“Why,” laughed my neighbor, reaching into his pocket.
“Not…” I began but again Jim, laughing jovially, gave my elbow such a horrible dig with his digits that I felt myself wilting And at the same instant, he reached out and took the $6 my neighbor was holding out, and stuffed them playfully, in my breast pocket.
“There you are! Come on,” he chuckled, “come on and let’s place the bet…”
And before the slightly puzzled gaze of my neighbor, he swung me around and started up the lawn.
At the same instant. I felt two large hands seize me by the shoulders from behind. And glancing back, I saw another very large and heavy stranger had Jimmie by the shoulders. And we were both being propelled forward at a rate that kept our feet trotting smartly to keep us from falling.
“Here, what the dickens are …” I shouted.
But the two of us, side by side, were hustled through the crowd, up the lawn, out the side entrance past the grandstand and towards the gate.
In the privacy of the entrance, the big men relaxed their shoving. I shook myself.
“Will you inform me,” I demanded, setting my hat back on straight, “will you inform me the meaning this outrage!”
“Okay, bud,” said my man, dusting his hands. “Okay, scram!”
The whole thing was incomprehensible, bewildering. Out-of-place though I feel at a race-track, this was too much.
“I’ll call the police!” I grated, readjusting my clothing.
“Heh, heh, heh,” said both the large men.
“Look,” said Jimmie, who was pale as Swiss cheese, “look, boys, you’re making a mistake. My friend was only …”
“Aw, stow it, bud,” said the one with the black hat, “now scram. We seen the whole transaction. We seen you approach the gent. We seen you pass the tip. We seen you accept the money …”
“Jim!” I commanded. “What is this all about?”
“These are the Pinkerton men,” explained Jim pleasantly. “They watch out for touts and hangers-on. They have mistaken us for touts…”
“Heh, heh, heh,” agreed the two large men, preparing to shove us right out the gate. “If we ever saw a tout, this little guy is the champeen. Come on now! OUT!”
And before I could even go of my own volition, the big fellow in the brown hat took me by the back of the coat collar and the pocket and fingered the 10 one-dollar bills I had there.
And the two large men walked businesslike back into the grounds.
“But the race, the race!” suddenly yelled Jimmie, snatching the $6 from my breast pocket and adding it feverishly to his $4. “We’ve got to get this on the race …”
“Jim,” I ordered loudly, “I came here as an innocent spectator. I have been treated to every indignity…”
A bugle blew.
“Too late, too late!” moaned Jimmie, leaning against the fence, a broken man.
We stood there. We heard the silence fall. The slow, muttering silence. Then we heard the wild horse roar … “They’re off!” Then we listened to the rising symphony of the roaring grandstands. Then a mad cheer.
Out the gates poured the little dribble of people who always quits after the fourth, or fifth, or sixth race.
“Who won?” croaked Jimmie, seizing one of them by the lapels.
“A horse named Schnitzler,” said the passer-by disgustedly. “Paid 30 to 1.”
Jim crumpled beside the fence and sat, huddled, counting the $10 in his hands.
I ran my left hand cautiously into my pants pocket and fingered the 10 one-dollar bills I had there.
“Okay, Jim,” I croaked too. “Let’s go and get the car and go home.”
Editor’s Notes: As noted before, Jim was the gambler of the two, who would participate in activities like attending the race track and pool halls that Greg would not. Greg was more of a follower of his Victorian upbringing. Jim was hoping for enough money to pay for all of his coal needed for a coal furnace for the upcoming winter.
Touts at race tracks were people who offered racing tips for a share of any resulting winnings.
Pinkerton men were a generic definition for private detectives. In this case they would have been hired by the race track to root out undesirables.
By Foster Hewitt, October 13, 1928
The Lot of the Radio Man at the Big Games is No Bed of Roses
A radio announcer’s job is no bed of roses, particularly in the sporting line. To most people it gives the impression of the luck some fellows have of being able to attend so many games and then to have the best seat in the house for the occasion. It sounds easy but as a matter of fact it’s hard work.
A sporting announcer, has a life similar to an actor on the stage. No matter whether he feels under the weather or not he has to suddenly “come to life” and take part in the game Itself whether the stock market goes up or down or it rains or shines. Sports broadcasts are handed in the same way as any other kind from a technical standpoint. Remote control equipment consisting of a two-stage amplifier and telephone equipment is located at the field near the announcer; the stadium or arena is hooked up with the radio station by special telephone wires. At the station the lines run through a speech input amplifier and then direct into the transmitter where it is broadcast to all those within range of the station. A radio operator is required at either end and telephone men are ready for any emergency.
Out of town pick-ups such as rugby games from Kingston and Montreal are handled in a similar manner only long distance lines are held open and more telephone men are used to make sure there is no hitch in the broadcast.
The main point in broadcasting sport is to keep up with the play. Detail is essential and listeners-in are just as interested in knowing about the crowd and their actions as they are in the actual description of the game. An odd joke or two helps to keep the listener in a good mood, but a little of it goes a long way.
Toronto’s First Sport Broadcast
Sports broadcasts for CFCA date back to March, 1923, when the first hockey game was broadcast from the Mutual street arena. The main difficulty encountered in this respect was to keep the cheers of the crowd subdued in such a way as to make the announcer’s voice clear and above the hullaballoos of an exciting game. It was agreed that a closed-in box was the solution, but the main problem was the size. First of all the box had to be on the rail so that the players could be easily identified. Then A.B. (Andy) Taylor, the rink manager, had to be considered. He raised the point that the box couldn’t be of any height as it would interfere with the spectators’ view. Another point was that the seats were practically all sold and only the space for three seats could be spared. Out of all these conditions CFCA’s first “coup” was built. It was 3 ½ x 4 feet and 4 feet high. It had glass on three sides with a heavy wire netting to protect the glass. A stool with legs six inches in height was placed inside and the stage was all set. The first broadcast nearly ended in disaster. When I did finally get in and closed the door all the air was cut off. In a few minutes my head started to go round. The heat of my breath blurred the glass and obscured the view. The game was between Kitchener and Parkdale and went 30 minutes overtime before Kitchener finally scored the winning goal.
The spectators in the rail seats, although warned before the game to keep their seats, leaned over the sides in such a way as to cut off any view of the players in the corner of the rink. The broadcast was completed with the microphone set out on the edge of the rail where the play could be followed. The cabinet was used many times after that but several holes were cut in the box to give the announcer an even chance to breathe.
In April 1923, the final game between the Granites of Toronto and Hamilton Tigers was broadcast from the rink in Hamilton. In those early days radio equipment was very crude. Instead of the complete remote control equipment of to-day only the ordinary telephone transmitter was used with the receiver off the hook dangling by your side. I was stationed on the players’ bench along the boards of the rink. During the intermission between the second and third periods we started to give the summary. Hamilton is one of the best sporting towns in the world and nobody denies it, but there were many there that night that wanted to tell the world about how good Hamilton was and to even more strongly stress how unimportant Toronto was. The barrage increased in intensity when a few loyal Toronto supporters started to talk back. Pandemonium reigned. To get away from all this turmoil I placed the telephone underneath the benches, crawled under and completed the preliminary story. The last period was hectic. Granites started off with a lead of two goals obtained in the first two periods and were trying to nurse their hard-earned lead. The Tigers, urged on by the frantic Hamilton rooters were in a frenzy. After ten minutes of play Tigers scored their first goal. Spurred on by this success they scored another two minutes later, tying the score. Alex Romeril, one of the Granite players, who was sitting on the Granite bench beside me, in his excitement picked up the dangling receiver and smashed it on the boards. That meant that while I could still go on talking I couldn’t hear whether it was going out or not. In the last five minutes a heavy mist came off the ice and the players disappeared from view every few minutes. The game ended in a tie score but as Granites had a lead from the first game played in Toronto they won the title. It sure was a struggle.
Girls Out-Talk Announcer
During the Varsity Grads-Port Arthur Allan Cup finals at the Arena two girls were seated beside the broadcasting booth. If there ever was a talkative pair they were “it.” They yelled and screamed for Port Arthur from start to finish. In desperation I made the mistake of asking them to be a little more conservative in their words of encouragement. It was just like throwing a match into a can of gasoline. They shouted even louder than before and capped it all by draping themselves in front of the box so that it made it well nigh impossible to see all of the play. A radio fan in some remote part of Saskatchewan wrote me and repeated a number of the things he had heard the girls say. If nothing else the two girls added lots of the so-called “local color” to the broadcast.
If there ever was a battle royal it was the eastern junior hockey final between North Bay Trappers and Kingston. North Bay led going into the third period 3 to 1 and looked like easy winners. Suddenly Kingston took a new lease of life and encouraged by the tremendous bellows of encouragement from Captain James T. Sutherland, which, by the way, cut into the microphone like a knife, the Limestone City sextet tied the score. In the next thirty minutes of overtime the packed arena went mad. Many frenzied North Bay fans in their eagerness to see the play scrambled on top of the broadcasting box and nearly upset the works. As fast as I would turn them away others climbed aboard so that over the radio it sounded like a broadcast of the thundering herd in full gallop. After that broadcast the booth was nailed down.
For our broadcasts of hockey games to-day a large platform is located under the rafters on the west side of the rink in line with the penalty time-keepers. While it is a considerable distance from the players all the corners of the ice are visible and there is plenty of fresh air as the broadcast is conducted in the open. At this height the roar of the crowd serves as good background but is not loud enough to affect the announcements.
At Opening of Detroit Olympia
I had the honor of broadcasting the first professional hockey game for WGHP Detroit on the occasion of the opening of the new Olympia rink last year. The Olympia is very similar to Madison Square Garden and is just about the same size.
Ottawa and Detroit were the two teams and the rink was packed with 18,000 excited fans. A university band of 150 pieces supplied the music and the tremendous double-decked structure was covered with flags. It was a wonderful sight and thrilled one to the core.
The remote control equipment, which took over a day to install, took up a section the size of a box at the Toronto Arena.
The microphone was placed on a pedestal right by the boards and I had to stand in plain view of everyone and at least 500 people in the rink could hear practically everything I said as the crowd was all around me. It was like delivering an address to the multitude, both seen and unseen.
Before the game the band paraded all over the ice and the thousands stood up and cheered. Just before the game the band played the two national anthems and then they were away.
The crowd readily took to the “fastest game in the world” and entered into the hockey match with as much pep and noise as they do for a world series baseball game. Ottawa won the game 3 to 2, but it was tied with five minutes to go so that the result was always in doubt.
Rugby is another sport governed by the elements which help to “put over” a broadcast.
It was two years ago and Varsity were scheduled to play Queens at Richardson stadium in Kingston. Varsity had to beat Queens to win the Intercollegiate title. The roof at Richardson stadium was never built as a point of vantage for a broadcaster; the roof slopes towards the ground on an angle of 35 degrees. The authorities believing that no one would ever be crazy enough to go up on top, had built only an iron ladder running up the outside of one of the corner towers.
As all rugby games should be seen from a height we decided that the root was to be our location. All the equipment had to be carried up this ladder, then on to a slippery tin roof and then held in place so it wouldn’t slide off. It was a drop of over 50 feet and when looking down and juggling a heavy battery at the same time it was no wonder that the equipment was not in place before one o’clock after two and a half hours of the trickiest work imaginable. Once up we hadn’t nerve enough to come down.
Luckily one of the operators had brought a lot of extra wire, so they put it around my neck and under my arms and lowered me to the edge of the roof. I put a soap box in front of me, placed the microphone on it, braced my feet on the flagpole and the eavestroughing and tried to make myself at home.
The game was so interesting that at times I would find myself just about hanging over the edge, but a short sharp tug on the wire and warning shout from above reminded me where I was. During the last period it started to rain. The bitter cold wind from the lake then changed it to hail and by the end of the game my clothes were frozen to the roof. I went to move and I was stuck fast. A none too gentle yank at the wire from above at the most inopportune time freed most of me with the exception of a certain amount of coat and I was dragged to the top. Queens won the game 3 to 1 and brought about the first three-cornered tie in the history of the Intercollegiate series.
Describing Rugby from Snowbank
The following week we ventured to Montreal for the first of the play-offs. All night going down on the train the snow fell so that when Montreal was reached it was a typical northern scene. On visiting Molson stadium, the McGill field, in the morning, there was more than two feet of heavy snow on the ground. Things looked hopeless for rugby. The Varsity team had failed to bring their snowshoes and were plainly worried. McGill had prayed for a dry field for their fleet half-backs and this was the answer.
At 12 o’clock the sun came out and the snow stopped and the scrapers were brought on the field. For over two hours the men worked until the field was fairly well cleared. Huge snowbanks were at 30-foot intervals when the two teams took the field. The stands were jammed to overflowing and the McGill students were noisily confident.
As all the stands were open we put up our equipment along the touchline close to the 50 yard line. We had a long table with the radio equipment placed on it and I was sitting in a four-foot snowbank all set to go. Just as the game was to start a touchline official called to the referee and pointed to us. He promptly held up the game, came over where we were and ordered us off the field, claiming that some player might injure himself against the table. Things looked black. We moved back to the cinder track but that wouldn’t satisfy the officials, so we finally ended up in front of the McGill team’s bench. The sub players did everything but throw us out, but we stuck to our post and grinned and bore the abuse punctuated with snowballs from the McGill spares.
The game was wonderful. Varsity had McGill backed up on their own line three times before the Blue team was able to break the gallant red line for a touchdown; Stollery, the star U. of T. plunger, doing the trick in the last period. Up until then the game had been tied 2-2 with the battle see-sawing every few minutes. The Varsity supporters were wild with joy. The McGill team became desperate. On their own 30-yard line they attempted an onside kick. The kick was blocked and a Varsity player dribbled it over the McGill line and fell on it for a touchdown. There was no holding the Toronto supporters then. With a minute to go they rushed along the touchline in front of us, raving like a lot of maniacs.
I stood on the table, then climbed on a chair on the table to see over their heads, but it was hopeless. The whistle blew and the surge of the crowd carried both the chair and myself off the table. It was a wild stampede. But the equipment was unscathed. The next thing was to get Warren Snyder, the Toronto captain, to say a few words over CFCA. I rushed out in the centre of the field where a large mob had “chaired” Snyder. First I yelled, but it was no use. I tried to push the crowd the right way but this failed. In desperation I kicked one of the roofers on the shins and yelled “McGill” and then ran, but they didn’t chase me. l finally grabbed Coach Ronnie MacPherson and yelled “radio” in his ear. Instantly the word through the mob and I had to use what little speed I had to beat the crowd to the microphone. When I got back to the equipment I was out breath. Both Ronnie MacPherson and Warren Snyder said a few words to the radio fans and the broadcast was over. It took me over two hours after the game to take the mud off my clothes to make myself presentable to go to the hotel. On every step my feet would sink at least three inches into the ground. With all our work completed we just made the 11 o’clock train as it was pulling out of Windsor station. We got aboard while she was pulling out. This ended a hectic day in Montreal which started at 7 a.m.
Too Cold and Stiff to Stand
The final game at Toronto with Queen’s and U. of T. was another fine game with Varsity trimming the tricolor 8 to 0 for the college title. The blue supporters rushed on the field and hundreds joined in the snake dance. In all the excitement my new hat blew off and it lit in the midst of the wild-eyed throng. I’d like to gamble anything that every soul in that stadium walked all over it and knocked it further into the mud. After the crowd had gone we sent out a search party for the missing hat, but it was lost but not forgotten. My other hat had been crushed in the McGill mud the previous Saturday, but I had rescued it on its third time down.
The Ottawa-Varsity Dominion final was cruel. It was played at Varsity stadium on one of the coldest days of the year. A terrific gale blew from the north cutting right through everything. Expecting to be cold I wore an aviator’s helmet, two sweaters, a heavy coat and a pair of over shoes. I would have been just as warm with a pair of pyjamas. There was no holding that wind. It went through me in the first five minutes so that my jaw wouldn’t function. Some kind soul had set up two oil stoves right beside us, but the wind was so strong that it carried the heat right away. All it did for me was to burn my hand when I got excited when both teams were rushing after one of the many loose balls during the game. At the conclusion of the game I was positively frozen. I felt like Vierkoetter looked when he was taken out of the water this year in the Wrigley swim, and he looked terrible. I couldn’t move. I was as still as a poker. One of the operators who must have run over ten miles on the roof during the game to keep the blood circulating, punched me, rolled me over like a bag of potatoes and generally knocked me about for ten minutes before I could stand on my feet. I sat in the ticket office for over an hour beside a hot fire before I had thawed out sufficiently to go home. For the past ten weeks of the rugby season I had taken turns at getting soaked one Saturday and frozen the next, but had no ill effects afterwards. The following Saturday I went to a theatre and got a cold that kept me in bed for three days. Such is life!
Leadley’s Mustache Grew Rapidly
Last year’s Dominion final between Hamilton Tigers and Balmy Beach was another thriller.
As is the custom, all our equipment was set and ready by 1.30 p.m. At 1.45 the heavens cut loose with enough rain to drown us. As there is no shelter on the roof of the Varsity stadium we had to lie down and take it and try to imagine it was Saturday night. When everyone was really soaked the sun had the nerve to come out for few moments. The field was nothing but mud when the ball was kicked off. Balmy Beach stepped right into Tigers and before the much touted yellow and black clan had settled down the Beachers had gained a winning lead. During the game I moved from one puddle to another but each and every one was the same. I was the human sponge that day. I never realized before that I could “take in” so much water.
As all rugby fans know, the tricky “Pep” Leadfey has a Charlie Chaplin moustache. Oa catching one of Foster’s high punts he set sail for the Beaches line. Two of the purple and gold’s outsides hit Leadley coming and going and all three disappeared from view in the mud. When Leadley came up for air his moustache had grown one hundred per cent. He had a cake of mud under his nose that must have weighed two pounds. Exhausted as were the battling players several of them were seen to have a real laugh at Leadley’s expense. “Red” Moore, and all that the same implies, had his hair a purple shade after being doused in the slimy mud. Several of the players, after being tackled, did the breast stroke or Australian crawl before they realized they were playing rugby and not a contestant in one of the Wrigley swims.
At Maple Leaf Stadium
For baseball we are located on the roof back of the home plate where the play can be watched very closely. The main worry from the announcer’s standpoint is ducking fly balls. During the course of a game two or three fouls generally come too close to be comfortable. On one occasion a foul tip came up so fast that I didn’t have time to duck it. I stuck my hand out to protect the microphone and it hit me square on the wrist. As a result I couldn’t move my hand for two or three days after.
Of the boxing bouts handled by CFCA the Rocco-Gold flyweight battle was a standout. The two mighty atoms banged away at each other for the entire ten rounds. We were located close to Rocco’s corner at the side of the ring and in the intermission between rounds we would get some of the water meant for the battlers.
One of the chief difficulties of an announcer is to get a location from which to describe the event. For the Joe Wright reception the event was handled from on top of a ten-foot ladder at the back of the stage at Sunnyside. For the. Prince of Wales reception we were located on the alcove above the steps of the city hall. For the Granites Olympic hockey champions of 1924 welcome we were right in the throng on the platform at the city hall.
CFCA, as in hockey and rugby, was the first station to broadcast horse races direct from the track during the last four years of the Ontario Jockey Club’s meetings at Woodbine Park. These broadcasts have been graphically given by W. A. Hewitt, sporting editor of The Star. The microphone has been located in the back of the main stand directly in line with the finishing point. Race broadcasts due to the ever changing of positions and the bunching of horses is exceedingly difficult to handle. Even with powerful glasses the horses are hard to identity as they speed around the big mile track and must be “called” by an expert.
The second and third Wrigley marathon swims in Lake Ontario off the Toronto Exhibition grounds were the longest continuous broadcasts in Canada and probably in the world.
Last year for the second Wrigley swim we were located on top of the captain’s cabin of the S.S. Macassa, which was recently lost in Georgian bay with twenty lives. We cruised from 8 in the morning until 8.45 at night until the German swimmer, Ernst Vierkoetter, crossed the finishing line victor after the 21-mile grind. The day was long and tedious. The boat was too large to be handled and the two hundred press representatives aboard had a hard time making “copy” as the boat “parked” in one spot for hours at a time despite the repeated requests of those aboard to move on.
During the course of the day our boat took on over 30 swimmers that were forced out of the race owing to the cold water.
At 8.30 after Vierkoetter crossed the finishing line every whistle available was blown, the thousands on the shore cheered and the tremendous volume of sound stopped the short wave transmitter on the boat from oscillating. At the time I didn’t know that the transmitter was off and I must have talked for over 15 minutes to myself without my voice going out on the air. I got the actual finish on the air, however, and I suppose that was the big thing.
This year’s Wrigley and consolation swims were handled perfectly by the engineering staffs of all the Toronto stations. It was the wonderful co-operation of the local radio stations that made the swim broadcasts the success they were.
A low power short wave transmitter was placed in one of the cabins of Herbert Hatch’s yacht, the Toddy. Batteries were used in place of a generator and the transmission from the boat was clean-cut. At the Press building a short wave receiver picked up the broadcast from the boat and sent the announcements to the loudspeakers on the shore and over land lines to all the Toronto stations. There was not a hitch in the transmission at any time.
I think the worst experience on the boat was to hear your own voice come back at you from the loudspeakers on shore. No matter where we went out in the lake the voice would simply haunt you. During the dark hours that we fol. lowed Georges Michel, the French swimmer, out on the outer course, the voice could be heard coming back to me about four seconds after I had spoken into the microphone, and we were at least a mile out in the lake.
During that long night vigil in the pitch dark, with a cold wind blowing right through us, only snatches of the swimmer could be seen. It was like a dream. The multi-colored fireworks at the Exhibition made a weird sight out in the lake. A flash would show two or three power boats almost touching one another. Another flash and the tricolor of France would show up at the bow of Michel’s boat. The next minute our boat would scrape alongside an unknown craft. To add to the creepy feeling shouts would pass from one boat to another and on the still waters would echo and re-echo. Above all the noise on the lake, the screams and shouts of happy persons could be heard coming from the Midway. Without any warning somebody out in the darkness started to sing the “Marseillaise”; it was picked up from boat to boat until half a hundred were singing at the top of their voices in a different time and an unknown key. It was a case of every man for himself.
Fan Letters Greatly Appreciated
At 10.15 when Michel reached the last outside buoy someone shouted “he is out.” The twenty or more boats that had drifted practically as one suddenly put on a burst of speed to get a real view of the gallant swimmer coming out of the water. It was like a traffic light turning green. Our boat due to its quick pick-up and ably pushed by two or three others trying to beat us to it, was right beside the scene in no time. Suddenly the flares went up for the “movie” men and it was as bright as day. Every one blinked and it was hard to see anything after being used to the dark. Michel was all in when taken out of the water by four sturdy lifesavers, and was rushed to the hospital. With the race completed the boats threw caution to the winds and raced each other to the shore.
One of the most interesting sights during the swim was when the various swimmers were taken out of the water. In every case a heavy rope was put over the swimmer’s neck and under his arms and he was held by one of the lifesavers until help arrived. In Vierkoetter’s case it took five men five minutes to haul him over the side of the life-saving launch. Each time they got him at the edge of the boat he would slip back into the water, due to the heavy coating of grease and the dead weight. He was as stiff as a poker and had a glassy stare in his eyes as if he was dead. Most of the other cases were the same, but Vierkoetter was the hardest man to haul into the boat.
In the consolation swim broadcast we took George Young aboard to say a few words over the radio. In helping him on the boat Mr. A. P. Howells was covered with grease from head to foot and looked like a marathon swimmer. George seemed to enjoy getting grease on us as when he spoke into the mike he kept bumping into me until I looked like another contender in the swim.
In CFCA’s sports broadcasts for over five years we have received a great many letters from fans all over America. All the letters are greatly appreciated, but the biggest “kick” of all is to hear from places such as Christie Street Hospital, Hamilton, Gravenhurst and Weston Sanatoriums, patients in hospitals and from persons who are bedridden or have lost their sight. Radio has been a godsend to them and for the announcer to hear that he has brought a little ray of sunshine into these homes and institutions it gives a thrill that cannot be described in print.
There’s a big gang down at “Mike’s” place at Oshawa that attend the various sports via CFCA.
In Little Current a party of ten men close up shop every time a baseball game is put on the air. The fans up north crave hockey and around St. Catharines the boxing fans hold sway.
It is a wonderful listening public and all are good sports.
To be able to “see” the games for good Canadian sports on the radio is not work but a pleasure.
Editor’s Notes: Foster Hewitt is famous as an early sports reporter in Canada. I’ve included this full article by him, which is illustrated by Jim Frise. He worked for CFCA, one of the first radio stations in Toronto, and owned by the Toronto Star. some of the teams and locations mentioned in this story include the Toronto Granites, Hamilton Tigers, Toronto Varsity Blues, the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers, the Allan Cup, Detroit Olympia, Richardson Stadium, and Molson Stadium. More about the “Wrigley” Marathon Swims held at the CNE can be found here.
By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 13, 1945
“Ducks,” insisted Jimmie Frise.
“Muskies,” I asserted emphatically. “This week-end is the last of the bass and musky fishing in Ontario. It closes the 14th.”
“Ducks,” repeated Jim doggedly. “This week-end is really the beginning of the duck season. They’ll be flying this weather.”
“Jim,” I presented earnestly, “the year 1945 is over this week-end as far as fishing is concerned. Gone forever, 1945! We’ve got the rest of October and November to shoot ducks. But this week-end will never come again.”
“Ducks,” said Jim.
“Have you no sentiment?” I demanded indignantly. “Don’t you realize that there are just so many fishing seasons in any man’s life? When a season ends, it is like a chapter of life closed. We shall not pass this way again.”
“Ducks,” said Jim.
“Aw, ducks!” I scoffed. “The silly things. There you sit, shivering in a clump of dead grass, crouched down. Minutes pass. Half hours pass. Hours pass. Far off, on the horizon, flock after flock of ducks sweep away, like wisps of smoke in the distance. Then all of a sudden you hear a rushing, whistling sound of wings. You jerk awake. Over your head, go six ducks, skating through the air, slithering and sliding in fright at the sight of you quivering below. You yank your gun to your shoulder and blast off. One, two. And then you slowly lower your gun and watch the six ducks vanish in the distance.”
Instead of resenting my contemptuous description of duck shooting, Jim’s eyes gleamed with delight.
“Gosh,” he said, “it’s wonderful!”
“But you missed them,” I pointed out.
“That time, maybe,” said Jim. “But tell me how foolish it is to shoot at ducks coming in to decoys.”
“Okay,” I agreed. “There you crouch, in a clump of frosty bulrushes, on a damp box sogged into a quaking bog. A nasty east wind rattles the rushes around you and coils up the back of your clammy canvas coat. It spits rain a little.”
Jim’s face wore an ecstatic expression as he listened.
“As you peer amid the clattering rushes,” I continued, “you can see your decoys bobbing in the cold gray water, 15, 20 yards out from your hide. They are silly looking things, decoys. All facing the same way. All bobbing busily. You think they look like ducks. So do the ducks.”
Jim took a deep breath and clutched an imaginary gun to his stomach, as he crouched in his chair.
“For suddenly, far off,” I related, “your eye detects a flicker of movement in the gray, dismal light of dawn. Yes. Over on the far shore a flock of 15 blue-bills has curved away and is heading for you.”
“Fifteen!” whispered Jimmie, sliding the safety catch off the imaginary gun clasped to his bosom.
“They are fanned out,” I hissed, “in a wavering, shifting line of fast racing birds. They are going to pass a quarter of a mile to the south of your hide.”
“Aw,” regretted Jim, relaxing the gun.
“But, no!” I cried. They are wheeling! They’ve turned! They have spotted your decoys!”
Jim sank down deep in his chair, his eyes piercing the office wall.
“A mile a minute,” I grated in a low, dramatic tone, “that weaving, shifting line of blue-bills races towards you. They bunch! In the air, they seem to huddle as they flare up and wide, past you and your stupid decoys, bobbing busily on the water.”
Jim sat crouched in his chair, not turning his head, not daring to move.
“Up and wide, they flare,” I hissed, “and swing in an arc, still bunched. Then they begin to fan out. And as they fan out, they begin to drop. THEY ARE COMING IN!”
Jim’s knuckles turned white around the imaginary gun.
“They Taste Weedy”
“Lower, lower,” I muttered, “they are dropping, fanned out. They are 15 feet above the water. They are 10 feet above the water. They are floating in, on set wings, at silent, incredible speed. They are going to pass over your decoys about eight feet up, and land up-wind of them. Their wings are set, taut, curved, to brake them against the breeze…”
“BANG! BANG!” yelled Jim, leaping to his feet and taking aim with the imaginary gun pointed at the office wall.
And with a huge sigh, he fell back into his chair and said:
“How many did I get?”
“One,” I informed him, disgustedly.
“One?” protested Jim.
“As usual,” I advised him, “you fire into the bunch, instead of picking your birds and leading them. You got one. And it just happened to fly into your shot pattern.”
“I picked two drakes,” protested Jim hotly.
“You got one,” I informed him. “A hen.”
“Shucks,” said Jim disgustedly.
He stared into space until the imaginary scene I had built for him out of thin air had slowly faded.
“We’ll make it duck shooting this weekend,” he stated firmly.
“We’ll go fishing,” I retorted. “It is the grand finale, the finish, the glorious end of another fishing season gone into the dark limbo of the past.”
“Fishing,” asserted Jim, “is for May, June and part of July. By the middle of July, you are already sated with fishing. You are already sneaking up to the attic to fondle your guns.”
“There is no week in the whole year,” I countered, “to equal the second week of October for musky fishing. Maybe because it is the last, it is the loveliest. It is fraught with farewell and good-by. The shores are sentimental with autumn’s sweet, tragic colors. The sun is already paling. The wind of October is fitful.”
Jim began scanning the office wall for more blue-bills.
“In the water,” I pursued, “the weeds have died. And the muskies, who have hidden in the weed beds all summer, have fled the stinking water of the weed beds for the hard shores. The rocks.”
“In two and three feet of water,” I insinuated, “off these hard shores, amid the boulders, the crevices and along the sunken logs, the great muskies of autumn lie waiting and watching. For two reasons have they come into the shallows: to escape the stench of the decaying weed beds and to feed up against the winter on the little fishes and frogs and crawfish that dwell along the shore.”
“Slimy things,” yawned Jimmie.
“You drift in your skiff,” I wheedled, “along the shore, maybe 60 feet out. And you cast, cast, cast. Towards the shore. At every shadow of rock or crevice or log. You cast your plug and reel fast. Unlike in summer, you don’t have to reel slow and deep. You reel fast, your plug just skimming the surface. For when one of those fresh-water tigers sees your bait, he leaps on it like a famished tiger. He is in shallow water. He can’t go down. There is only one way for him to fight, when he feels the sting of your hooks. And that is up!”
“They taste weedy,” sneered Jim.
“Eight pounds. 10 pounds,” I exulted, “maybe 15 or 20 pounds of lithe, green, solid muscle. On the end of a fragile little casting rod. Twenty pounds of solid muscle, leaping, frantic, threshing, boiling in the water, in that cool October sunlight, against that lovely soft tragic shore …”
“I,” said Jim, getting up with finality, “am going duck shooting.”
“Very well,” I said bitterly. “I am going fishing.”
“After all these years,” said Jim, “you’d think a guy would get his full of a stupid sport like combing the water with a wooden plug.”
“After all these years,” I retorted, “you would think an old friend would not desert you on the last day of the fishing season of 1945.”
Jim stood looking out the window for a minute and then said:
“What we can do, we can go together to Blue’s Landing and you can fish and I can shoot. There is good musky fishing there. And the place whistles with ducks.”
So that was the solution. Blue’s Landing is an old favorite of mine for late season fishing. The old hotel is practically deserted by this time, save for a few lean and taciturn Yankees, who know about the mystery and glory of October musky fishing in the shallows, and come all the way from Memphis and Omaha to indulge in it here in the less popular resorts of Ontario. The Americans who come in summer are noisy and lively characters who fish hard and get a lot of sunburn. Those who come in October are silent, cold-eyed Yanks, with very old clothes and very costly fishing-tackle boxes and tailor-made split cane rods made in Bangor, Maine, and costing close to a hundred dollars.
They do not interfere with you, they eat by themselves, they do not crave any company, like their summer brethren. The autumn musky fishers from Mobile and St. Louis are prayerful men.
Voices in the Rushes
But when Jim and I drove in the dark into the hotel yard at Blue’s Landing, there were too many cars huddled in the October night. And inside, I could hear the whoopee of duck hunters.
When I pushed in the front door with my armful of rods and tackle boxes, half a dozen rosy gentlemen around the log fire, in loud hunting shirts, greeted me with stony stares.
When Mike, the hotel handyman, came out from the kitchen, I asked him if there were no gentlemen in the house this fall.
“Oh, yes,” said Mike. “But they’ve gone to bed.”
And he winked meaningly with a nod towards the living-room, where the duck hunters were greeting Jim heartily around the log fire.
“I’ll go to bed, too,” I said, “How’s fishing?”
“Mr. Vince got an 18-pounder this morning.”
So I went straight to bed, giving Mr. Vince’s room a friendly nod as I passed his door. Mr. Vince being an aged gentleman from Wheeling, West Virginia.
Jim came in after I was abed and tried to get me to come down and hear some of the stories that were going around the log fire. But I bade him good-night.
And very early in the morning, long before light, the old hotel was shaking and squeaking with the rising of the duck shooters and the musky fishers.
It was, in fact, a fact, I could hear no sound from Jim’s room and hoped I was ahead of him. But when I got down to the lamp-lit dining-room, there he was in his hunting shirt at the large table with the strangers of the night before. At separate tables, scattered around the room, were the musky fishers, singly, or two by two, but mostly singles. Mr. Vince was by himself. I. went and shook hands warmly and then went to a table of my own. That is the spirit of the autumn musky fisher.
Bacon and two eggs. Home-fried potatoes. Toast, coffee. And pumpkin pie. A good sound breakfast. Eaten rapidly. Because the duck hunters are already scraping their chairs away from the table and, with loud talk, scattering out into the hall to pick up guns and pull on waders and canvas coats.
As arranged with Mike the night before, I got the little red boat which Mike had hidden in the reeds some distance from the boathouse. Mr. Vince had his canoe and John Jacob, the Ojibway, for his guide, and they vanished away into the first mists of dawn. Outboard engines whined and roared as the duck hunters blasted off into the murk. In one of the outboard skiffs, I saw Jim perched up very chummy with a crew of his overnight buddies.
I waited until Mike brought the red skiff from hiding and shoved off to row the quarter-mile to McDuggan’s rocky shore across the bay. The mists of daybreak were still thick when, one by one, the outboard engines died in the distance. And a great silence fell over the world. The hunters were creeping into their hides. The musky fishermen were silently drifting along their favorite rides, flinging their lures towards the stilly shore.
There was just a tinkle of breeze. Little wavelets ruffled the water. I came to McDuggan’s shadowy shore, let my oars drag and began to cast. Not a sound broke the eerie silence. It was still too dark to see the best spots to hit with the lure. Suddenly, over my head, I heard a rushing sound which swelled into a squeaking whistle, and I could make out, for an instant, half a dozen torpedo-shapes hurtling through the air. Black duck, maybe, or mallards. They were heading straight up the shore, so I held my cast and listened. But no shots rang out.
“Heh, heh, heh,” I said to myself, and cast.
Slowly the dawn grew and I could make out the rocks and crevices of the shore. The wind drifted me at a pleasant pace. I did the full mile of rocky shore without a rise of any kind. But so great is the expectation, in musky fishing, that you don’t really need a fish.
There were tall bulrushes and reeds for the next mile of shore with all sorts of lily-pad beds.
“Hey,” came a muffled voice from the first clump of bulrushes, “buzz off!”
“That you, Jim?” I called back.
“Ssshhh!” came a sharp rejoinder. “Beat it.”
Instead, I cast deliberately at the lily pads. As reeled in, I could hear mutters and mumbles from the rushes. I drifted, with occasional pulls on the oars to keep me straight, along the reedy shore, while dawn grew into day. A lovely, chill, misty day, ideal for muskies.
A figure rose out of the rushes.
“Will you,” demanded a voice profanely, “get the heck out of here? There’s no fish along here. You’re chasing all the ducks away.”
“What ducks?” I demanded scornfully.
“You’ve scared off three flights already,” declared the figure in the rushes. “Now get the heck out of here before somebody accidentally shoots your tub full of Number Fives.”
“I’m perfectly within my rights,” I said, aiming a cast for the lily pads 10 feet from where he stood.
He sank out of sight with growls.
By now, it was quite light and I could see the hotel at the foot of the lake, as well as Mr. Vince’s canoe far up the opposite shore and a couple of other anglers’ skiffs at likely spots.
As I was watching Mr. Vince, I saw a flock of what appeared to be red heads come spanking out of his direction. They raced across the lake towards me. But seeing my boat, they hoicked up in a beautiful climb and turned towards the hotel end of the lake.
At the same time, I heard shouts, groans and imprecations from half a dozen places in the reeds.
There She Blows!
Then I heard Jim’s voice:
“Greg! Greg! A huge musky. Just rolled. Hey. Here!”
He was in a point of rushes a couple of hundred yards up.
I rowed smartly towards him. His decoys were spread amid the lily pads.
“Where?” I demanded, as the skiff coasted in.
“Right among my decoys,” hissed Jim urgently. “Cast. Cast.”
I cast the weedless lure close ashore and drew it splashing and skittering among the lily pads and decoys.
“Go ahead, he was a 20-pounder, right under my nose,” urged Jimmie.
I cast and re-cast. There was no response.
“Come in,” urged Jim, “and pick me up and I’ll row you along here. He may be cruising up and down.”
“You stick to your ducks,” I said, suspiciously.
“Come on,” wheedled Jim. “A great big green monster …”
At which moment, from down the hotel end of the lake, a long line of speeding bluebills hove in sight, and I saw an expression of agony strike Jim’s face.
“Get out of here!” he roared. “Or come in here and hide that red tub!”
The flight swept far away to the other shore. Behind it came another and another.
“Get out of there, get out of those decoys!” bellowed Jim. “Or come in…”
“I knew what you were up to,” I retorted, as I snagged a lily pad from my weedless lure. “Trying to get me to let you get hold of this boat …”
“Will you come in and hide that boat?” demanded Jim menacingly.
“I’m perfectly within my rights,” I announced. The season is still open. This is a famous fishing lake. I don’t see …”
Far off, a couple of guns barked with that futile sound that means long shots and missed.
“Spoil sport!” yahed Jim.
“You’ve got all the rest of October and November to shoot,” I stated.
“Will you get out of my decoys?” demanded Jim.
At which moment, from the next point of rushes north, gun went off and a scatter of shot slashed the water about 10 feet outside my boat.
“Sorry,” a voice called, “My trigger caught in the rushes.”
And at the same instant, in the water where the shot had lashed, there was a sudden large boiling of the water, the immense dark green back of a musky arched up, a large reddish tail lifted and slapped the water.
“There!” yelled Jim.
I made a quick, backhand cast. My lure chucked into the boil before it had subsided. I felt the slow, savage tug of a big fish. I struck. The lake seemed to explode.
“Give him line! Let me in. Row with one hand. Hold him. Get me in that boat …”
It was Jim roaring from the weeds.
In musky fishing, once things start to happen, all is a dream.
Somehow, Jim got in the boat. Somehow, we fought the fish back through the decoys and the anchor strings and the lily pads and got into the clear. Seven times, the big fish cleared the water in arrowy, horizontal leaps 10 feet long. From the rushes came the yells and cries of advice that goes with a big fish.
And after horsing him up and down the shore for half an hour, we got him tired and hit him on the head with the numbing-stick and hoisted him aboard.
“The great thing about sport,” said Jim, as we shook hands, “is co-operation.”
The following are various advertisements created by Jim Frise for Pepsi that ran between 1942-43. They feature a smart kid thinking philosophically about Pepsi, and two other regular kids.
This comic is in the period of transition from “Life’s Little Comedies” to “Birdseye Center”. It is also unusual as Jim wrote in a copyright statement next to his signature.
By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 5, 1935.
“Nix,” hissed Jimmie Frise. “It’s a woman!”
I was leaning out the car window, wetting my lips and preparing to hurl insults and imprecations as we zipped past the car ahead, the car that had been holding us up for six blocks.
“Er,” said I, withdrawing myself into the car.
So we went by, without so much as a sideways glance at the driver. It was a lady. Sure enough. And quite a nice lady.
“Funny thing,” said Jim, who a moment before had been, like me, frothing at the mouth over the way this lady had been driving, “the nicest ladies are the worst drivers. By the nicest I mean the gentle, old-fashioned kind of ladies. Ladies with gentle faces and plain ways of doing their hair. Ladies with soft voices, who couldn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, wisecrack back at you if you bawled them out. Ladies that would just color up if you glared at them and drop their eyes. And you’d feel like a monster.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “they’re the worst drivers. The good drivers are the modern, lip-sticked, smart-haired, cold-eyed dames. They can drive. They never get into any jams.”
“I suppose it is only natural,” went on Jim. “Driving is not a woman’s work. The true woman is the worst driver. The womanly woman. I’d say to the young men of to-day, if you want to pick good wife pick a rotten driver.”
“This whole woman question is a curious one,” I mused. “Up until a few years ago women were the same as they had been for 10,000 years. Then, all of a sudden, the change comes. From being modest, gentle, bashful and retiring. they come whoop-de-doodle right out into the middle of the show and start doing jigs.”
“And fan dances,” pointed out Jim.
“Oh, there had always been fan dancers,” I explained. “And there always were emancipated women. Even in ancient times. But they weren’t the women men married or respected. They were the horrible examples that men held up as object lessons to all the rest of the fair sex. The sort of person not to be.”
“I guess it is kind of hard for a girl nowadays,” said Jim, “to decide what kind of a girl to be. I guess it is more fun to be the modern kind, gay and uninhibited.”
“Yeah,” I said. “But they don’t turn out as happy. Life, after all, is a pretty humdrum business. Sooner or later we all have to settle down. Especially the women. The women have to settle right down even to-day. So the freer they are before they are married, the tougher the settling down will be. Isn’t that right?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” countered Jim. “I Imagine the modern young mother isn’t such a little church mouse as her predecessor was.”
Less Money To-Day
“Listen,” I said, “the average young married couple to-day has less money than even we had when we started married life. Where are they going to get money to hire a maid? Or a nurse? And Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are just the same as they were 1,000 years ago, and every one of those days a baby has to be fed and stayed with, mamma can’t go out, even to a show; hard-boil a girl all you like before she is married, but the minute she gets baby the age-old miracle is performed and love comes first. Love of a baby. So, all I ask you is to imagine a rather perspiring and flustered young woman, hushed in a small room, with a baby in her arms, endlessly tending it and caring for it, rocking it and quieting it, answering its slightest cry with instantaneous service, anxious and devoted – and imagine that same girl, there in a dark room, alone, remembering the four or five years she had spent, just until a year ago, with parties and movies, out every night till all hours, dancing, doing what she pleased, free, emancipated, modern, wearing shorts, hollering and shouting whenever she felt like it, about as modest and retiring as a Varsity student. And I ask you, what kind of a pain does she feel as she hush-a-bys her baby in a little, dark, lonely room?”
“What else could she do?” demanded Jim.
“She could do what all the girls for 10,000 years have done up till now,” I replied. “She could be brought up in shelter, quiet, prim, ladylike, knowing full well that when she was about 18 or 20 there would be a kind of blossoming in her life, that she would be let free for a year or two, all dressed in her loveliest, to bloom before the eyes of men. And one man would she choose; but she knew her brief day of blossoming was ended and that she had to retire to the serious business of life, which was housekeeping and raising a family, she became matron. I imagine the word matron is the most hated word to the feminine mind in the world to-day.”
“It used to be old maid,” Jim said.
“Yes, and now it is matron,” I insisted. “Any girl to-day would rather be an old maid than a matron. Because an old maid fits into the scheme of the modern woman, free, independent and unfettered.”
“I hope,” said Jim, “that the women understand that they are very seriously responsible for much of the world’s troubles to-day.”
“Not them,” I assured him. “They think it is swell.”
“I would say,” said Jim, “that two things are responsible for the sort of stunned condition of the world to-day. The stunned, groggy, dizzy condition. And those two things are, the recent development of a lot of new countries that have started manufacturing and producing things and the recent addition into the working world of about 50,000,000 women.”
“What countries?” I asked.
“Oh, Brazil, for instance,” said Jim. “Before the war Brazil was a little nation, mostly jungle, with about the same population Canada has got now. To-day she has 40,000,000 population – in 20 years! – and is not jungle, but a vast country, far bigger than Canada, lying pleasantly and comfortably between the equatorial and the temperate zones. Lousy with wealth and life and productivity.”
“I thought the 20th century was to be Canada’s,” I complained.
Nations Awake Now
“Brazil’s,” said Jim. “And look at the way a lot of other countries were pepped up by the war? Italy and all those Czechoslovak countries and Japan and Russia. None of them was doing much before the war but snoozing. While we were full of pep, producing, selling. There are too many nations awake now. That’s what’s the matter. Too many nations wide awake and getting busy. We shouldn’t have kicked up all that racket in the war. It waked up a lot of sleepers.”
“And how about women?” I inquired.
“Well, the situation hasn’t been helped a bit,” said Jim, “by the fact that we have waked up about 100,000,000 women. They were sort of asleep, too. Nice and asleep in their homes, doing their humble jobs competently. Then, whatever the heck we did, we waked them up and out they came, in millions, to grab off our jobs in factories and banks and stores and offices. The trouble is, in the past 30 years there has been far too much racket. We’ve waked everybody up.”
“I begin to see It,” I agreed. “Don’t let us miss your street with all this talk.”
“It’s past Lansdowne,” old Jim. We were on our way to pick up Jim’s big camping tent which he had loaned to one of those friends who never return things. You finally have to call and pick it up yourself.
“What are we going to do?” I asked. “How can we get Italy and Brazil and so forth to go on back to sleep again? And how can we persuade the women to become housewives again?”
“Maybe we can’t,” declared Jim. “Maybe it is the end of us as big shots. Maybe we have had our day. Now it is theirs.”
“You mean, we’ve got to go muddling along playing second fiddle from now on?” I protested.
“Why not?” asked Jim. “Who are we to be the top dog forever? We men have been in the money a long time. We British, French, Americans and Germans ran the world for several hundred years. Then we got funny. Now look at us!”
“I never expected to be an anti-feminist,” I confessed. “But, by golly, I feel a little anti-feminist now. Maybe one of the new political parties will propose sending women back to the kitchen and the cradle-side?”
“They’ll be licked if they do,” said Jim.
“Maybe,” I contended, “in 20 years or so, instead of Liberal and Conservative and so forth we’ll have only two political parties, the Men and the Women?”
“It might easily come to that,” said Jim. “We’re drifting farther apart every year.”
I looked out the car window and watched the passing crowds.
“Why, they have a sinister look,” I gasped. “Look at those women, Jim! See how confidently they walk. And see how humble and dejected the men look.”
“They’re pretty bold,” agreed Jim, slowing, for we were approaching Lansdowne Ave.
“Jim, imagine me turning against my wife and daughter,” I supposed, “and my mother-in-law.”
But we pulled up in front of the factory in which one of the big executives was the friend of Jim’s who had borrowed the tent.
“Give us a hand carrying it out,” said Jim.
We went in. It had that chill, forbidding air of the best factories. A girl at a switchboard, a cool, cold, level-eyed girl, looked up lazily at us when we came in the lobby.
“Yes, please?” she asked chillily.
“Is Mr. Adams in?” said Jim.
“He’s in a shop conference,” said the girl. “Won’t be out for at least an hour.”
Lady of the Cords
Between these remarks she was plucking telephone cords out of the switchboard and shoving them in, saying “Yes” and “No,” while lights red and white flickered on the board facing her. She was absent in her manner.
“Well,” said Jim, awkwardly intruding on her affairs, “he left a tent for me. I’m to pick it up.”
“Won’t be out for an hour,” said the girl, continuing to weave the cords and make quiet little remarks into the mouthpiece on her face.
“He left the tent,” insisted Jim, “and I’m to pick it up. He said it was in the corner of the shipping room.”
“Sorry,” said the girl, like a diver coming up from the deeps. “Mr. Adams is engaged. At least an hour.”
“Listen,” said Jim, “who else can I see who will help me get a tent? Mr. Adams is a friend of mine. He borrowed my tent, see?”
“He’s in a conference in the shop. A shop conference,” said the girl, diving deep amidst the cords again.
“Jim,” I said, “let me speak to her.”
I leaned down on my elbow on the counter, shoving my face down within six inches of her ear.
“Miss,” I said, “Adams told us to call for the tent. We’re here. Call a boy and have him bring the tent up. It’s in the corner of the shipping room.”
“No, sir: yes, sir: I’ll ring him again, sir,” said the girl. cool and passionless and totally unaware of me. “There is no boy,” she said, aside, to me.
“Would you direct us to the shipping room?” I hissed.
“No strangers admitted to the shipping room,” said the girl, unexcited.
“Could you show us?” I said sarcastically.
“Can you run a switchboard?” she asked, quite simply.
“I can run anything a girl can run,” I stated.
With a lithe motion she rose from her chair, disentangling herself from the headpiece and the cords.
“Look,” she said crisply, “when one of these bottom lights go on pull the plug opposite it. That means the conversation there is ended.”
“I see,” I said.
“And if one of these other lights up here goes on, see?” she pointed to the upright board, “just stick the plug exactly opposite the light in the hole, press this little switch forward and say ‘Please call back in moment; there is trouble on the line.’ Do you see?”
“Thank you,” I assured her stiffly.
“Come this way,” she said to Jimmie, and glided poetically down the hall, Jim pursuing.
I sat me down. A little light was glowing. I pulled out the cord. A red light glowed I stuck the correct plug, the one exact opposite, in the little hole, pushed the switch:
“Trouble on the line: please call back in a moment,” I said coolly. What a cinch.
Two white lights and three reds all started at once.
“Trouble on the line,” I said smoothly pulling and putting: “please call in a moment.” To show how skillful a man can be I started also pulling out the ones opposite the white or “call finished” lights.
Lights Wink and Pop
But these cords grow tangled. The faster you work the more the red lights wink and the white ones pop. She had about six plugs in when I started. I got the wrong cord, and the white light did not go out. I tried another. I began, I fear, to stick quite a lot of plugs in the wrong place.
A door opened violently. A man in shirt-sleeves leaned out.
“Hey!” he yelled, and slammed the door.
So I pulled all the cords out and started all over again. Red light, pop in a cord:
“Sorry, trouble on the line; call in moment again please.”
The man in his shirt-sleeves burst the door open.
“Where the …” he shouted.
Two more men appeared. One girl.
“Get away from that,” yelled a short, fat man.
Then the switchboard girl came running beautifully back, her hands held high as she pranced along, feminine, smooth, lovely.
I vacated the seat. She slid into it.
Jimmie staggered into the lobby with the tent.
“Hello,” said Jim to the man in the shirtsleeves. “The girl said you were in a conference.”
“Jim, I could kill you,” said Mr. Adams. “Who’s this?”
“My friend, Mr. Clark, meet Mr. Adams,” said Jim.
“I was talking to somebody,” said Mr. Adams in a guarded voice, looking around, “when suddenly, without so much as warning click, I’m switched on to my wife. And I went right on talking. see?”
The other two men crowded close to Mr. Adams sympathetically.
“Dear me,” said Jim.
“Me,” said the fat man next to Mr. Adams, “there is one guy in all this world I don’t want to talk to. And I got him on the phone. Miss Julie, you’re fired!”
Miss Julie paid not the slightest attention, but went right on weaving her cords and speaking politely into the headpiece.
“I,” said the tall man, the third who had appeared in the lobby, “was speaking long distance to Seattle. And I’m cut off, just as Huggins out there, after saying he would think it over, finally got as far as saying, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what let’s do.’ Now he has had time to think it over by the time I get him on the line again.”
“Boys,” said Jim. “this young lady just went for a minute to show me where this tent was.”
“She’s fired,” said the fat man decisively. But Miss Julie just smiled up briefly.
And all but Mr. Adams went back into their offices and slammed the doors. Mr. Adams followed Jim and me to the exit.
“Next time,” he said. “I’ll return your tent in person.”
“Don’t fire Miss Julie,” I said.
“We’ve fired her four times,” said Mr. Adams, “but each time the business goes to pieces.”
So I looked back through the glass door and Miss Julie glanced up, smiled at me and made a little twiddle with her fingers at me.
“Women’s place,” said Jimmie, “is in the home.”
“And on switchboard,” I admitted, still damp with cold perspiration.
Editor’s Note: Both Greg and Jim would be of the generation that would have been surprised by the changes in society after the First World War, including the role of women.
By Gregory Clark, September 29, 1928
“What have you this week?” asked the editor.
“Nothing,” I said. “I can’t seem to get going since that article by Charles.”
“That was only meant in fun,” said the editor
“It may be, but I’ve had to shave off my moustache, borrow $500 to pay a lot of debts, answer a lot of letters and generally clean up. I haven’t had time to do any work.”
“Why,” asked the editor, “not take your revenge?”
“Charles is bigger than me.”
“I mean,” said the editor, “take your revenge by writing one about Charles. Revenge is sweet.”
“He wouldn’t stand for it,” said I. “He’s funny that way.”
The editor and I leaned out and looked through the door at Charles. He was sitting at his desk, close up to it, his back very straight. Charles looks at everything with the same expression. You can’t tell whether the thing he is reading is a cheque from his brokers or vice versa. He even reads his own stories with perfect emotional control. In all the time he has been with us he has never been known to stop the rest of the office working while he read aloud a few choice sentences.
“Not a very promising looking prospect,” said I.
“Every man is vain,” the editor mused. “Charles is probably no different. Go at him by stealth. Don’t let on you are going to interview him. But if he suspects anything his vanity may overcome his suspicions.”
“Yeah, but,” said I, “what will I interview him on? He hasn’t got any weaknesses, therefore you can’t describe his character.”
“Eh?’ said the editor.
“And he hasn’t got any hobbies, so you can’t make fun of him.”
“Don’t be bitter,” the editor said.
“He’s one of those cold-minded men that nobody could interview but himself. You know the kind of people Charles interviews? I’d sooner go out and interview Scarborough Bluffs.”
“You are afraid of Charles,”
“Say, listen …”
I got up and walked out to Charles. He was reading something. It looked like the annual report of a bank or something.
“Good morning, Greg,” he replied, looking up politely.
“Say, Charles, you ought to have some kind of sport. You ought to fish or shoot or something.”
“Why? Don’t I look well?”
“Yes, you look all right. But I don’t like to see a man who hasn’t any hobby.”
“I have. I play golf.”
No Angle of Approach
“Gosh. It’s the first I ever heard of it. I never heard you even speak of golf.”
“Why should I?”
“Well, what I mean to say … a fellow might … what I mean to say, you hear me mention fishing now and then.”
“Your fishing wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t hear about it,” said Charles.
The trouble with interviews is you are liable to get into arguments.
“We’ll let that pass,” I said. “How about your golf? What’s your handicap?”
“It’s a delicate subject,” replied Charles.
“Sure, but I’m interested, Charles. Just as a friend, you understand? This is very interesting about you. Suddenly coming across a thing like that. Tell me something about it.”
“What shall I tell you?”
“Well, for instance, about golf. Which is your favorite golf stick?”
Charles has an inscrutable way of gazing at you. He began to tap the paper he was reading ever so gently on his desk. Then a smile slowly spread all over his face. And he just looked at me and said nothing. Not a word.
“I’ve been decent with you,” I said. “I’ve told you all about fishing. You might tell me about golf. I’d like to hear about golf. Maybe I’d like to play it if it was a good game.”
Charles continued to smile.
“Ask some of the other boys,” said he. “Bill Orr or Deacon Johnson know far more about it than I do.”
“Oh, well,” said I.
I went back into what is generally called the editor’s sanctum.
“No luck,” I said. “Revenge may be sweet, but this is sour.”
“Well, you don’t expect to get an interview in three minutes, do you?”
“No,” I said. “But there isn’t any angle of approach. I tried to get him going on sport. He plays golf.”
“Certainly,” said the editor. “The way to Interview him is to go and play a game of golf with him.”
“I’d drop dead before I’d ever take a golf stick in my hand.”
“Take him to lunch then. That’s the way he interviews the big fellows. Lunch or a golf game.”
“Who? Henry Ford and Al Smith and all those fellows?”
“That’s the way he gets them,” said the editor. “They’re all human, after all.”
“Charles isn’t,” said I.
“Well, then, work him this way. Tell him you are going to interview somebody and ask him how he goes about it. It would make an interesting story. The public like to know how you go about interviewing these big men.”
“But,” said I, “I don’t want to play him up. I want to get my revenge on him. I want to describe his character.”
“Won’t that show when you tell how he gets the facts out of men like Hoover and Big Bill Thompson of Chicago?”
A Psychological Gunman
“I suppose I could make him out a sort of a gunman.”
“Sure,” said the editor. “A dandy heading, ‘Psychological Gunman.'”
“You would spoil it!”
“Don’t give up. Revenge is sweet,” the editor egged me on. “Get after him. You can pry him open.”
“With a brad awl. Like an oyster,” said I.
I walked out to Charles again. He had a pink slip in his hand. It looked like the second notice from the electric light company. But Charles was viewing it with the same composure with which he would regard a complimentary memo from the chief.
“Good morning again,” said he.
“I’ve got a big interview I’ve got to do. I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind giving me some ideas about interviewing big men.”
“Are you kidding?” asked Charles.
“Certainly not. You’re the interview man. I never do interviews.”
“Then why not let me interview this fellow? Who is he?” asked Charles.
“No, the editor has asked me to get this interview and I couldn’t very well pass it up, could I? But tell me, what’s your method of approaching these big fellows?”
“Usually on foot,” Charles replied.
“But seriously, Charles. There is surely some technique about it. Do you write them first? Do you make appointments and so forth, and arrive in some ceremony?”
“Yes, I hire the town band and get a bunch of the boys to make a torchlight procession.”
“I wish you’d help me, Charles. I’ve often helped you. Remember the time I introduced you to the police sergeant?”
“Well, then, what do you want?”
“I want to know how you go about interviewing these nabobs, these moguls of finance and industry and politics.”
“All right,” said Charles. “You walk into the room. They ask you to sit down. They offer you a cigar. You don’t take it. You talk to them. They talk to you. You look at your watch. In twenty-five minutes your train is leaving. You apologize, rise, shake, hands and depart. That is an interview.”
“But what about technique?”
“It is all bunk.”
“How do you analyze them? How do you arrive at an estimate of their character?”
“No man reaches a high place in any work whose character has not been made manifest.”
“Then interviews are easy?”
“Easy as rolling off a log,” said Charles.
“I disagree with you.” I retorted, and walked back into the editor’s room.
“Well?” asked the editor.
“Bad,” said I. “Think of all the years Charles and I have been friends, working on the same jobs, sharing our toothbrushes and so forth, and now he turns to me the frozen face.”
“Maybe he is on to you. If Charles is nothing else he is shrewd.”
“I have been very guarded.”
The Art of Interviewing
“Well, do what he did to you, then,” said the editor. “Ask him all about his views on Canada as a nation and whether we should have a governor-general.”
“We couldn’t possibly print Charles’ views on that sort of thing.”
“That’s right. But didn’t you get anything out of him on the art of interviewing?”
“He said it was nothing.”
“We know better.”
“Yeah, but how can you describe the character of a man who says to you that the art of interviewing is all bunk?”
“Well,” said the editor quietly, “that’s kind of a character sketch in itself.”
“I don’t want to leave a good impression like that,” I said. “He’s got to get his.”
“Well,” said the editor, “he’s a worker. You know that. Make him out a regular steam engine for work. The public likes to think of other people working like the dickens. It explains the general failure.”
“Then I’ll make out that Charles is nothing but a toiler. A kind of robot. A mechanical man. That’s the stuff.”
“All right,” said the editor, “get him to tell you how he got on top of that stuff about the St. Lawrence waterways. There was a job.”
Once again I crossed the room to Charles
“Ah,” said he. “Welcome. You seem a little restless this morning.”
“Say, Charles, a fellow was asking me the other day how you got around all that material about the St. Lawrence waterways, how you went about it, and so forth. By golly, I couldn’t tell him. I wish you’d tell me some time the story of how you go about getting a grasp on subjects like that – technical and involved and complex.”
“It is work,” said Charles. “You wouldn’t understand that.”
“Charles, you are being nasty?”
“No, I am being careful.”
“Look here, Charles, you don’t suspect me of anything, do you?”
“Well, I mean to say, we’ve been friends long time. We’ve slept in the snow together and ridden in aeroplanes together and been summer bachelors together and all that sort of thing.”
“Granted,” said Charles.
“We’ve banged around all these years together in the unhappy business of amusing and entertaining the public, getting frozen in Elk Lake and attending functions that made us both sick, risking our lives and going hungry together …”
“You got the big half of that porcupine,” interrupted Charles. “But what are you driving at?”
“Well, then, Charles, why don’t you help me? I want you to tell me some things about you?”
“You asked me my object in life and I told you.”
“So you did.”
“Then will you tell me your object in life?”
“Yes. My object in life is to have a large bathroom with a fireplace in it.”
Well, what I mean to say, what can you do with a man like that!
Editor’s Notes: This is a story about Charles Vining, a fellow reporter at the Star Weekly. He was only at the Star Weekly for three years, with this year, 1928, as his last.