With a loud, derisive blast of the horn… McArony swept cheerily by.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, July 12, 1947.

“Get his number!” yelled Jimmie Frise from amid the dust cloud.

“Got it!” I replied grimly, picking myself up out of the roadside ditch.

We stood glaring after the vanishing car.

“A lunatic,” declared Jim. “Nothing but a lunatic.”

Here we were, a couple of decent, law-abiding citizens, in summer negligee, leisurely strolling along the gravel road which, behind Jim’s cottage, serves the whole summer resort.

And at 50 to 60 miles an hour, on that winding, twisting gravel road, a big new car, in two tones of gray, had come roaring along and blown its horn almost under the tails of our sports shirts.

“That’s the third time in two days,” I announced, “that the same crazy guy has hooted us off the road. He’s going to kill somebody yet.”

“Get his number down,” commanded Jim.

“It’s 41728,” I stated, putting it down on an envelope from my pocket. “But I know the fellow. He’s a broker,” name of Doug McArony…”

“You wouldn’t think a guy of Scottish descent,” said Jim, “would be so reckless. How old is he?”

“He’s our age,” I supplied. “Maybe he hasn’t had a new car for four or five years. Maybe it’s gone to his head.”

“Look, definitely,” declared Jim, “we’ve got to do something about that lunatic. Everybody in the district is complaining about him. He’s done nothing for the past week but race back and forth on this winding road at breakneck speed.”

“There’s one at every summer resort,” I submitted. “This is what you get for buying a cottage that can be got to by road. Now, up at my place, it’s 16 miles by boat from the nearest road.”

“If they aren’t racing in cars,” interrupted Jim, “they’re racing in fast motor boats, kicking up swells, upsetting canoes and rowboats and banging all the craft in the lake up against wharves.”

“There ought to be a speed limit of five miles an hour,” I offered, “at all summer resorts. The minute you introduce speed into a summer resort, all you’ve got is a suburb of the city.”

“What are we going to do about this guy McArony?” demanded Jimmie, as we resumed our stroll. “Will we go and call a meeting of the cottagers and frame a protest?”

“I’ve got a better scheme,” I stated.

“The best thing,” said Jim, “would be to go and see the guy and tell him about the way he practically booted us off the road just now. Tell him that there is a general resentment all along the shore, about the speed at which he drives. Tell him he’s going to kill some little kid one of these fine days.”

“These fast drivers can’t be talked to,” I informed him. “They just grin at you pityingly.”

“Okay,” said Jim, “let’s go and see him, and tell him that if we see him driving fast any more, we’re going around to call on him and simply punch the stuffing out of him.”

“Aw, you can’t do that, Jim,” I scoffed. “That’s taking the law into your own hands.”

“Well, there’s a law against speeding,” argued Jim, “which he ignores. There are the laws of decency and common sense, which he flouts. Very well. There is one little fact which those who break the law don’t seem to think of. And that is, that others may break the law too.”

“He’s quite a hefty specimen,” I advised.

“In that case,” said Jim, “we’ll just go along the road and recruit a little committee of those who are sore at him. And we’ll select good big men. Then we’ll call on him and tell him that, as a committee, we demand that he reduce speed to 25 miles an hour on this road. And if he doesn’t – we’ll all come and punch his nose.”

“That’s lynch law, Jim!” I protested.

“Okay,” said Jim, blandly, “how do you suggest we make this character slow down?”

“It’s very simple,” I announced. “Down at the cross roads, where this road meets the main highway, there’s a gas station. The speed cop, who controls this part of the country stops at that gas station every day. We’ll go down there and wait for him. And we’ll explain the situation to him. We’ll inform him the whole district is up in arms but doesn’t know what to do. We’ll give the cop this guy McArony’s description, licence number and so forth. It stands to reason if McArony drives the way he does on the back roads, he’ll drive like a maniac on the good roads.”

“It may be weeks before the cop happens to catch him,” protested Jim.

“I bet,” I stated, “that the speed cop, in view of a public protest like this, will lay for him.”

“It might work,” grumbled Jim. “But we’ve got to drive home ourselves, tonight. And I don’t want to waste any of what little time we’ve got up here hanging around a gas station, waiting for a speed cop to turn up.”

“Okay,” I said, “I’ve got a better idea. We’ll write a note to the speed cop and leave it at the gas station as we pass by tonight on our way home.”

“There’s an idea,” applauded Jimmie.

And he had hardly got the words out of his mouth before we heard a low humming sound ahead of us, and around the turn of the road came the very same two-tone great big beautiful car, racing like fury.

Jimmie and I leaped for the opposite ditches, waving our fists. But with a loud, derisive blast of the horn and amid a cloud of flying gravel and dust, McArony swept cheerily by, his elbow out the window.

As we came out of the ditches, dusting ourselves off, Jimmie and I faced each other with a great resolve glittering in our eyes.

“I,” I enunciated, “am going to write that note to the speed cop NOW! And before lunch, we’re going to drive down to the gas station at the highway and leave it.”

“The sooner this guy McArony is pulled up,” agreed Jim, “the better.”

So we about-turned and strode back to Jim’s cottage where we got paper and pen and set down the following document:

“To the Highway Constable,

Moose Bay area.

Dear Sir-

“There is a large brand new car, Licence No. 41728, which is terrorizing this entire summer cottage district by the insane speed with which it is driven around the winding back roads. It is a large two-tone gray car owned, we believe, by a man named McArony. If he is not brought under control, someone, probably a child, is bound to be killed. You can confirm this by enquiring anywhere along the gravel road into Moose Bay. We believe it is the proper and most effective method to hand this complaint to you so that you can catch him red-handed and give him the works.

Yours truly,



“That says it all,” I announced, after reading it off to Jim.

We got immediately in the car and drove out to Dunc’s gas station, 12 miles to the highway. Dunc said he expected the speed cop within the hour, and he promised to give him the letter, which we marked Confidential.”

We got back in time for lunch. And after lunch, as is our custom, we lay down for an hour’s snooze under the balsams, amid the soft July breezes.

It was a quarter to four when I felt Jimmie shaking me.

“Time for a swim,” he said, “before we push off.”

“Where’s the car?” I inquired, sitting up.

“The kids drove it to the village for some watermelon,” said Jim.

“Gosh, Jim, the village! That’s 16 miles,” I complained. “I hope they get back in good time. I like leaving here not later than five.”

“They’ll be back,” soothed Jim. “Come and get your trunks on.”

“Anything I hate,” I muttered, “is driving in Sunday night traffic in the dark.”

“They’ll be back any minute,” assured Jim.

We had a good swim. At four-thirty we came out and dressed and packed our grips. At a quarter to five, no sign of the car or the kids.

“Jim, I wish you hadn’t let them have the car,” I fretted.

“They’ll be along any minute,” said Jim, “Let’s have a cup of tea.”

So we had a cup of tea. And by the time that was done, it was a quarter past five, and no sign of the kids.

“I hate this,” I groaned. “By the time we get 30 miles from the city tonight, traffic will be barely crawling.”

“What’s a few minutes one way or the other?” smoothed Jimmie. “They’ll be along any minute. You know kids.”

But at five-thirty no kids. And along the beach came the bellboy from the summer hotel half a mile up the road. He was on his bicycle, peering in at the cottages as he passed. When he saw Jim and me on the verandah, he dismounted.

“Mr. Frise?”


“Oh,” said the bellboy, “we got a telephone message. Your car has broken down. The clutch. They had it towed back to the village. It can’t be fixed until tomorrow and they wanted to know if you could get somebody around here to go and pick them up.”

I was on my feet in consternation, looking at my watch.

“Jim,” I grated, “we’ve got to be in town first thing in the morning!”

“Easy, now,” suggested Jim, giving the bellboy a quarter. “Easy, now. We can catch the six-twenty from Bracebridge if we can get somebody to drive us.”

“Bracebridge,” I snorted, “is 28 miles.”

“We’ve got nearly three-quarters of an hour,” pointed out Jim, picking up his hat.

“See if the Higgins’s are in,” I cried, “and I’ll go this other way and see who’s home to drive us.”

I dashed down the steps and ran west, looking at the Wintermeyers, the McDonalds, the Millers… but not one of them was home, no car beside the cottage, nobody on the verandahs… I turned and raced back, hoping Jim had done better.

But as I came in sight of Jim’s, there was Jimmie hastening back from the other direction.

He waved: “Nobody home!”

“What’ll we do?” I shouted. “Jim, we’ve simple got to be home first thing in the morning!”

“Take your grip,” commanded Jim, as we collided at the front steps. “We’ll go down to the gravel road and hitch-hike to Bracebridge.”

“There’s no chance…” I moaned.

“Otherwise,” said Jim, “if we miss the six-twenty, we’ll get a lift out to the highway and see if we can hitch-hike to the city.”

“Oh, of all the dreadful…” I groaned. “Hang those kids!”

With our bags, we hastened out the back and down the lane to the gravel road.

We took up our stance,

In the distance rose a low, powerful hum.

Around the bend of the road came a long, low two-tone job in gray.

Yes, it was McArony.

In a cloud of dust, he pulled up before us and swung a door wide.

“Want a lift?” he called.

“We have to catch the six-twenty at Bracebridge,” said Jim lamely.

I hesitated to get in. But Jim boosted me.

The door slammed.

“Six-twenty, eh?” said McArony, glancing at the clock on his glittering instrument panel. “I don’t know whether we can make it or not, but we’ll try!”

And I felt the long, low monster beneath me surge into lithe motion.

Trees whizzed by. Sickeningly, we raced up to corners and turns. I nudged Jim’s back – he was up in front beside McArony. But Jim ignored me. He was telling McArony about our car and how the kids were marooned at the village.

“I’ll pick them up, after I let you off at Bracebridge,” said McArony.

“Aw, no,” protested Jim. “It’s in the opposite direction.”

“No trouble at all,” sang McArony. “I just love driving this new job. Haven’t had a new car in six years. It’s just heaven to drive this car. Don’t you think so? Isn’t she smooth?”

“These turns…” I piped from the back seat.

“Oh, don’t worry,” laughed McArony, turning his head to smile at me, though we were going 60, “I can handle her.”

And then ahead, we saw a motorcycle parked against a birch tree. In front of it, the speed cop was standing forth on the side of the road with his arm raised.

McArony braked hard amid a vast cloud of dust.

“Oh, oh! Sorry,” he said. “I guess you miss your train now.”

We drew up level with the cop.

He walked around the back, looked at the licence and then came around to McArony’s window, drawing a paper from his breast pocket.

“Well, well, well!” said the constable. “What a coincidence! Not an hour ago, I get a letter from the citizens of this district complaining about you, mister. What’s the name?”

“McArony,” said our friend. “Douglas McArony.”

“The same,” said the cop, glancing at the letter. And then, word for word, he started to read our letter, while McArony listened and Jim and I started to shrink and shrink.

He reached the “yours truly,” and stopped!

“Who wrote that nonsense?” demanded McArony.

“It’s marked ‘Confidential’,” said the cop. “Anyway, I don’t need any more confirmation than what I saw just now. You coming along this winding road at a good 60 miles an hour.”

“These two friends of mine,” said McArony, “have to catch the six-twenty at Bracebridge. A matter of life and death.”

The cop glanced in at us.

“We must,” I agreed. “We… we simply MUST…!” He looked at his wrist watch.

“You’ll hardly make it,” he said. “Now, look here, Mr. McArony or whatever your name is: I want to give you fair warning…”

“Constable,” said McArony, “I never go at any excessive speed on this road. Do you think I’m crazy? On these turns? Do I want to break my neck? Do I want to wreck a beautiful job like this?”

“I don’t like getting complaints like this,” said the constable, waving our letter,

“Aw, some peevish old women, probably,’ said McArony.

“That’s what I thought myself,” agreed the cop.

And McArony got us the six-twenty, with one minute to spare.

Editor’s Notes: “In summer negligee” is an old term where negligee means “carelessly informal or incomplete attire”.

They also both use the slang term “grip” for a suitcase.