By Gregory Clark, December 13, 1924.
Through no fault of mine, my house is filled with strife.
To be sure, it is one-sided strife. We are all together on the side of Union. But the strife goes on, long and ardent, from the time the morning paper is snatched from the doorstep and the latest infamy of the Antis read aloud, until bedtime is deferred for another final, emphatic and further elaborated recapitulation of the Union case, in all its justice, righteousness and light.
And now, the small son of the house has taken sides. He has just had his curls cut off, and in the pride of his new tonsure, which he confirms with frequent visits to his mother’s long mirror, he feels he must assume a more intelligent interest in the larger affairs of the world about him.
With grave eyes, he has listened to the arguments at the breakfast, luncheon and dinner tables. An extraordinary increase in the telephone calls, both in and out, have arrested his attention, being filled, as they are, with the mysterious words and phrases, the fervor and scorn, of the interminable table conversations.
He finally got me alone on the chesterfield after dinner, and in a low voice which his grandmother could not hear, he asked me:
“Is Auntie Beth bad?”
“Bad! I should say not.”
“Is Auntie Madl bad?”
“or Aunt Margi?”
“No. What’s the idea?”
“Well, grandmother says-” and he looked the picture of woe – “that they are bad.”
“Yes. They are all bad.”
“Well, well! What does she say?”
“She says they are fighting. Little boys mustn’t fight. Well, then, aunties mustn’t fight.”
“Dear me!” I said.
“And they are holding meetings. They mustn’t hold meetings. They must let them go. Is a meeting a kitty?”
“Look here, sonny,” I asked. “Which of your aunties has fallen foul of grandmother? Which auntie does grandmother talk about?”
“All aunties,” said the boy.
“Does she say Auntie Beth?”
“No,” replied the boy. “Auntie Oonun.”
I racked my brains.
“Who?” I repeated.
“Auntie Oo-nun!” cried the boy, louder than he should.
His grandmother, hearing and recognizing the battle-cry, swept into the room.
“What about the Anti-Unionists, laddie?” she asked.
He looked guiltily at me.
“The boy thinks you are attacking his aunties,” I explained.
“Auntie Beth isn’t bad!” he added.
“No, Auntie Beth is for Union,” acceded his logical grandmother.
“Auntie Madl kisses me, and Auntie Margl gives me fire reels and comes up to see me in bed.”
Following the ancient procedure for removing misapprehensions from the minds of little children, grandmother and I took turns in smothering him in our arms, tousling his hair and hugging him.
“Why, you silly boy,” cried grandmother, “it is another kind of Anti I am talking about.”
“What kind?” he demanded with firmness.
“Another kind altogether.”
“Are they ladies?”
“Whish! Tut-tut!” I burst in. “You mustn’t ask your grandmother leading questions, in her present state of mind.”
“Well,” said the boy. “I like my aunties and they are all good.”
“And every one of them,” said grandmother triumphantly, “for Union.”
At the point of the sword, I drove grandmother back to the telephone and her messages to follow Unionists no less ardent. The boy and I resorted to a discussion of Indians and cow punchers, the boy assuring me, with fitting gestures, that next summer, when we go to Muskoka, he is going to punch a cow, himself.
But at bedtime, during the tucking-in exercises, he said to me:
“I never saw Auntie Oonun.”
“Did she ever kiss me?”
“Does she smell nice?” (referring to his Auntie Madl’s delicate and elusive sachet.)
“I couldn’t say.”
He usually tells himself a story to put himself to sleep. He commences it the moment the light goes out.
“She has a long nose,” he began. “She doesn’t kiss little boys. She pinches them. The better to smell you wif, said she. A big, long nose. And she is fat. Could eat no lean. And she fights and holds meetings and pulls their tails. Who pulled her out? Little Johnny Stout. Who put her in? Auntie Oonun. And she had a big, long nose. And a . . .”
But the rest was lost in murmurs, which is the junction for Dreamland and all points south.
Editor’s Note: The Union they are discussing, is the creation of the United Church of Canada, from the Methodist Church of Canada, the Congregational Union of Canada and about 70 percent of the Presbyterian churches in Canada. As you can likely tell from the argument, not all Presbyterians supported the Union. Government legislation was required to deal with the property rights, and was passed on June 27, 1924, and the church was formally created on June 10, 1925.