The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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“Dump Here!”

February 22, 1930

To Arms, to Arms!

“Listen, you two,” said the farmer. “I don’t want you to touch my starlings!”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, February 17, 1934.

“Twenty thousand starlings,” said Jimmie Frise, “were bumped off last week by the farmers down along Lake Erie.”

“Little,” I said, “did those first sixty starlings that were released in Central Park, New York, thirty years ago, dream of the fate their children’s children would meet.1

“It was a ghastly mistake,” said Jim, “importing those European starlings to America. Why, you have no idea how they have multiplied. The sky down in Essex and Kent is black with them, Millions of them. They have spread all over America. They have established themselves permanently in the warm southern states, and yet they are reported up at Fort Churchill, on the edge of the Arctic.”

“What is the good of shooting 20,000 of them?” I asked.

“Well, when men decide a thing is bad, they like to do something about it,” explained Jimmie. “It makes them feel better to have killed 20,000.”

“But in the meantime, what are we going to do about it?” I asked.

“Nobody knows,” admitted Jim. “Whole cities, like Washington, are being conquered by the starlings. Park trees fifty years old are being sacrificed to try and drive the starlings away. Stately towers and belfries are being grotesquely boarded up in the hope that this inhospitable hint will be taken by the starlings and they will get out. But they don’t. It begins to look as if the starlings will alter the architecture of America.”

“It makes me feel very helpless,” I admitted.

“If I weren’t a hard-headed and clear-thinking twentieth century man,” said Jim, “I would almost imagine that this plague of starlings was nature’s revenge on us for destroying the passenger pigeon. It was just about the time the last passenger pigeon was slaughtered that the starlings were set loose in Central Park. Ironic, isn’t it?”

“Jimmie,” I declared. “I am a mystic. I believe in things like that. While we go blindly along imagining we can conquer the world by good business practices, while we march stupidly from one human disaster to another, each year getting more thoughtful, each year becoming more sure of our great human powers, nature keeps laughingly tossing us hints like these starlings. We strain our brains over economics. And nature plays her jokes.”

“Nature has no mind,” said Jim.

“No,” I countered. “But nature has a heart. In all our splendor and glory, we men conquer the earth and incidentally exterminate the passenger pigeon. Having conquered the earth, here comes the starling, just to see how much we have conquered.”

“Don’t forget,” said Jim, “that for all the sob stories you hear about the passenger pigeon, it, too, was an enemy of man. Why, a flock of pigeons, big enough to cloud the sun, would drop down in a pioneer’s little clearing, into a field of peas. And in a few minutes, before the pioneer could wake up to the disaster, there wasn’t a pea left.”

“Well,” I said, “we got rid of the pigeon. We’ve got the peas. What good are they? We can’t sell them.”

“H’m,” admitted Jim.

“And now the starling has come,” I said, “in ever-thriving millions, to destroy us!”

“Then,” cried Jimmie, “what are we going to do? Submit to our destruction? A fine patriot you are. Why, to arms, to arms, and join the patriots of the Lake Erie shore!”

“It is a war,” I agreed.

“You bet it is a war,” cried Jimmie. “It will make commonplace human wars like the last one, or the next one, seem like sport. Why, the starlings could starve us in one year. They could become so numerous, they would eat all our grain, our grass, starve our cattle. All the ships on the sea couldn’t bring enough food, fast enough, to keep us from starving. The starlings would consume the food of our live stock and poultry. Exterminate our grain. Gobble up our vegetables and fruits. And what an awful spectacle it would be. All of a sudden, us lovely civilized people murdering one another for a scrap of food. Bank presidents eating their old shoes. Movie actresses gnawing old bones. It’s a terrible thought. We ought to get busy and arm against the foe.”

“And all the while,” I gasped, “the sky about us black with the rustling wings of millions of birds, like demons sent to humble and destroy us. What a revenge!”

“What a revenge nature can take on us, any time,” said Jim, “for our sins against her!”

“Jim,” I said, “do you think we could rouse the people to their danger? If we could get everybody in the world to take a gun and shoot starlings…”

“If we could send our militia, armed with shotguns, out into the forests and the deserts,” added Jimmie.

“And Arctic expeditions all across the vast spaces of the north,” I said, “to pursue the deadly starling to its last lair!”

“Yet,” said Jim sadly, “if we missed only two of them, if we overlooked just one pair, then in thirty years we would have the same old menace again!”

“That’s the trouble with nature,” I said. “It is so healthy.”

“We ought,” put in Jim, “to do something about it, however. It is our function as investigators of public matters, to go and shoot a few of them.”

“I am certainly with you,” I agreed.

Defending the Human Race

So instead of going rabbit shooting, the rabbit being another, menace that Jim and I have been keeping down for years past, we spent last week-end, armed with scatter-guns and small shot, out in the defence of the human race from extermination through starvation.

We drove west, the starling menace being greater the farther west you go. We drove out the Dundas highway and then went north, zig-zagging west and north, all the while scanning the sky for the black legions of the foe.

“If we see any on the ground, or sitting on a fence.” I asked, “should we shoot them? Or only take them on the wing?”

“Only on the wing,” cried Jim, emphatically. “Remember, we are sportsmen, even though we are on the verge of extermination!”

We passed Milton, and its cleft mountains. We got up into a very pretty country of farms and swamps. Two or three times. we stopped the car violently to leap out and take aim. But the little birds we had spotted in the evergreens were only goldfinches and siskins and other tiny songbirds.

We saw one crow below Guelph, but it was too smart. The moment we started to slow the car, it bounced into the air and went away with one sarcastic croak.

Turning south, we passed wide of the cities of Kitchener so as to get southward toward that infested sea of Erie. We saw several small drab birds flitting over the snow from the fences and weedy ditches where they had been creeping, like beggars sniping butts along the roadsides of the city.

“When we come on them,” said Jimmie, while the long snowy miles ticked by us, “by all accounts there will be immense flocks of them. You will have to be ready, and load and reload like lightning, firing into the mass of them as they fly over.”

“I’m ready,” I said, setting the shotgun shells in between the fingers of my left hand, where they were held as in a holder for instant action.

“Hssst!” warned Jim. “A bird!”

He slowed the car. Ahead, on a rail fence, sat a dark bird, nearly as big as a robin. It had a long pale beak and a short tail.

“A starling,” I hissed.

“We’ll slow down,” whispered Jimmie, “and both get out together. Then when it flies, we will both shoot, both barrels. A broadside!”

We slowed. The bird was a good forty yards away, sitting serenely on the fence, all unaware of our approach, it seemed, and unafraid.

We got out.

“Quietly,” whispered Jim, “let’s walk closer. We mustn’t miss! When I raise my gun, it will be the signal to fire.”

Down the rutted country sideroad, with nary a farm or a house or a barn to be seen. but only the heaving hills and the little copses in the fence corners, and the gray winter sky overhead, we crept pace by pace, toward this mortal enemy of human kind.

Our hearts were beating high. This was the mystical moment. The first shot. It would ring around the earth. This was another Sarajevo2. What prince of the enemy was this, sitting on the rail fence!

We paced, cautiously, nearer and nearer, the guns poised. Double barrel guns. Loaded with number seven shot. To scatter and wipe out the black demon.

Then we heard a soft sound.

The stupid enemy was singing!

Squatted there, on the fence rail, its head lifted a little like the head of a mother crooning to her baby in a rocking chair, half asleep in the gray winter light, the starling was softly and aimlessly warbling.

We stopped. We lowered our muzzles.

Squeak, warble, hiss, flute, flute, flute, went the starling. Jim took another step forward and I followed. Pace by pace, we advanced. We were within twenty yards, eighteen, sixteen.

Squeak, flute, flute, warble, hiss, tinkle, squeak, softly sang the starling.

Fourteen, twelve yards.

And now we could see that the starling was not a black bird. He was in masquerade costume. A harlequin, decked out in a suit of golden chain mail, overlaid on soft brown-black velvet!

An unreal, a strange, a beautiful creature, with a pale large bill tremulous as he sang in a guttural low voice a sort of Wagnerian song. The only song in all the white, gray, bitter world!

The song of an exile. A sad, small song.

In the winter stillness, we stood listening, with reverently lowered gun muzzles, until the starling got tired of his song and fluttered his feathers out and stood up, as a dreamer wakes. He turned his head and saw us. And without haste, he took wing and flew away across the frozen fields.

“Well, well,” said Jim.

“I hadn’t the heart,” I admitted. “It seemed so lone.”

“The only way you can work up any passion about starlings,” said Jim, “is when you get them in masses, in hundreds, thousands.”

“Yet each one of them is a little harlequin in gold and black, like that one,” I pointed out.

“In war,” said Jim, “you can’t stop to consider your enemy as individuals. You musn’t picture them as nice young men.”

We got in the car and drove down at couple of lots. In an orchard, as we drew near, we saw twenty birds in the apple trees.

“Hsst!” I hissed. “An outpost! Twenty of the enemy in those apple trees.”

Two Opinions About Everything

He stopped the car. We got out with guns alert and crept down the road. We deployed. Jim took the right and I the left.

“Bang,” went Jim’s gun into the orchard.

“Bang, bang,” went my gun, scoring two misses.

“Hoy!” roared a voice.

The trouble with farmers in winter is they look so much like a plowed field.

This farmer was carrying an armful of wood across the field just back of the orchard. He dropped the wood and came, on bent legs, bounding through the orchard.

“What the Sam Hill!” he shouted, feeling his face with a large hand.

It was useless to run. He would have got our license number anyway.

He halted inside the orchard fence and glared at us.

“We were shooting starlings, sir,” I said.

“You were shooting me, you mean!” yelled the farmer, though he was only twelve feet away.

“Pardon, sir,” said Jim. “We are two public-spirited citizens out helping the great crusade against the starling. You ought to thank us for coming to help you keep down the menace that threatens not only your crops, your stock but your own very life!”

The farmer studied us for a minute.

“City fellows, I suppose,” he said, quietly. “Full of linseed and beans as usual. Listen, you two. I don’t want you to touch my starlings!”

“Why, they are destroyers of –” began Jim.

“I been watching them all fall and winter,” said the farmer. “They have been eating cocoons and grubs out of the bark of my apple trees. They have been eating pounds and pounds of weed seeds. What else would they be staying around here for all winter? There’s no other food but weeds, bugs and waste.”

“They ruin cherries,” said Jim.

“I have no cherries,” retorted the farmer.

“They will destroy a field of peas.”

“I have no peas,” said the farmer.

“The farmers of Essex and Kent slaughtered 20,000 of them,” said Jim.

“All right, this isn’t Essex and Kent,” said the farmer. “Look, I tell you what I’ll do. I’ll take your names and addresses. And if ever the starlings get so bad they are digging up my potatoes, or attacking my heifers, I’ll send for you to save me.”

“Good-day, sir,” we said, retreating back up the road to our car.

“You see,” said Jim. “There are two opinions about everything, even about extermination.”

We turned the car and went back the road we had come. And it so happened that when we came to the place where we had tried to shoot the starling on the rail fence, there it was again, huddled down in the fading afternoon.

So we got out of the car and crept up close and listened to it sing until it got up and flew away to its bed, probably some maple tree it calls its old Canadian home.


Editor’s Notes:

  1. All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds set loose in New York’s Central Park in the early 1890s. The birds were intentionally released by a group who wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned. ↩︎
  2. Reference to the start of World War 1 and the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. ↩︎

House Husbandry Course at the “Tech” to Train Young Men to be Useful Bridegrooms

“House-husbands qualified in all the domestic arts from, washing celery to basting a roast of beef”

Ornamental Hubbies Have Gone Out of Fashion – The Lad Who Has the Call To-day Is He Who Knows How to Prepare a Dainty Breakfast to Be Served to Milady in Bed.

By Gregory Clark, February 12, 1921.

The technical school, it is said, is about to institute a course in domestic science for young house-husbands.

In the last couple of years a very considerable demand has arisen for some sort of instruction for young men in light housekeeping, such as preparing dainty breakfasts, knocking out omelettes, tastefully arranging tea trays, and the like.

For in the most advanced feminine circles of younger Toronto the first requisite in a good husband is not his good looks, nor, indeed, how much money he makes; but whether he is handy at preparing a dainty meal on a tray to be consumed in bed.

And it is with regret that I must bring credence to this astonishing rumor.

When Jack married Ysobel six months ago, no one was more confounded than I. Jack is an amiable fellow, of course. But he is a shabby, moth-eaten little fellow, with a pet dog sort of an expression – perky, you know, but tame. And as for his other qualifications for marrying the magnificent Ysobel, the debonnaire, the almost boyish Ysobel, well, he is one of those bond salesmen who spend a busy day between the five soda fountains of Yonge street.

His income, as far as any of us ever knew, is equal to four sodas and one chocolate-egg1 per diem,

But he married Ysobel. And there they live, in their sporty apartment, amid a bliss that is the envy of all their friends, an ill-mated but preposterously happy couple.

What was the attraction Jack possessed? He tried to intimate to me that it was his war record that turned the trick. But I knew that Ysobel had been pursued by D. S. O.2‘s in her day, and Jack had not even the M. C.3

Only last week I made the amazing discovery.

I was passing Jack’s apartment house about ten in the morning, and decided to call and see if he would walk down town with me.

I rang his apartment bell, and Jack himself answered the door.

Jack, not yet shaven and partly dressed, with a print apron tied under his arms.

“Jack, partly dressed, with a print apron tied under his arms”

“Come in, old bean!” he cried, with a false joviality. He was blushing through his stubble.

He led me into the sitting room and sat down with me in an awkward silence.

“Thought I’d call to see if you are walking down,” I said.

“I’m hardly ready,” replied Jack.

“I’ll wait,” said I, cheerfully, with the cunning of a wolf on the scent.

And just at that moment, the sleepy, muffled voice of Ysobel rose from behind the bedroom door:

“Jack, Jack! What are you doing? When do I get my breakfast?”

It was out. The secret was mine. Before I left with Jack, Ysobel, magnificent and drowsy in her kimono, had spilled all the beans to me.

“Why, Jack is the dandiest house-husband imaginable,” she said. “His breakfasts are delicious and endless in their variety. And on Sundays he can cook a dinner and serve a tea that would knock your eye out!”

There lay his charm.

Since last week I have made great progress in this discovery. By dropping unexpectedly on all my young married friends, at odd hours of the day. I have found that almost without exception the husbands of the past couple of years are house-husbands, qualified in all the lighter domestic arts from washing celery to basting a roast of beef.

Is this the beginning of the revolt of women? Thus quietly and secretly are they inserting the thin end of the wedge of domestic equality?

Possibly the war had something to do with it. All these young fellows overseas, saying “Yes, sir,” and “No, sir,” for four years, clicking to everybody. And when they got home habit got the better of them, and they weren’t happy unless they were clicking to somebody. So they click to their wives.

It is a widespread and dangerous thing. Where will it end? I know one young fellow whose mother-in- law, who lives with him and his wife, informed him that the reason she supported his suit for her daughter’s hand was that all her life she had yearned to have a son-in-law who would get her her breakfast in bed. And he had looked promising to her!

It is a conspiracy, that’s what it is. We men should get together. Anyway, I purpose this article to serve as notice to certain parties who shall be nameless that in future they need not expect me to get their breakfasts for them except on Sundays and statutory holidays.


Editor’s Notes: Yes, this story is pretty sexist, but still highlights the confusion over changing roles after World War One and the “flapper” women.

  1. A chocolate egg cream was a popular soda fountain drink. ↩︎
  2. Distinguished Service Order ↩︎
  3. Military Cross ↩︎

Five Pins

February 10, 1923

Five-pin bowling is a Canadian game invested in 1909 when customers complained that the ten-pin game was too strenuous.

Be My Turpentine!

All this business, factories, offices, miles of streets – everything started because somebody was in love with somebody else
“This isn’t him,” she said to the big fellow. “Put on your dressing gown”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, February 11, 1933.

“Us non-conformists,” said Jim Frise, “are funny. We have thrown over all the saints except a few that are of commercial value.”

“Such as?” I inquired.

“Santy Claus and St. Valentine,” said Jim. “I think I’ll suggest to the government that they restore all the saints again and make a commercial hook-up with each of them, so that every day of the year we would have to send something to our friends. If that wouldn’t revive business, what would?”

“Pardon me,” said I, “for my brains. But, as a matter of fact, Jimmie, St. Valentine’s day1 is a lot older than any of the several St. Valentines. The custom of sending valentines and flowers and candies to your love on February 14 was in full swing long before the Christian era.”

“How?” asked Jim.

“February 14 was the day,” I went on proudly, “in ancient Rome when all the boys drew lots for their girls, in preparation for the next day, February 15, when Rome celebrated the arrival of spring. It was the day of Juno Februaria2, if you know what that means, because I don’t. It was a day of dancing and feasting. It was a day of rejoicing, love making.3

“Whoopee,” said Jim.

“Hotcha,” said I. “They killed nanny goats and threw hunks of meat at the girls, for luck.”

“Just like the elections in Toronto,” said Jim.

“You can’t think up anything new,” I said. “Rome went wawa4 for a couple of days. All in honor of spring. Bands marching up and down the main street, all the old men slightly pickled, all the old ladies in the kitchen roasting chickens, and all the young people galloping up and down, arm in arm, singing and hollering at each other.”

“You make it seem almost modern,” said Jim. “Except for the setting, it might be to-day.”

“No,” said I, “business interferes nowadays. All we’ve got is the shadow of the old customs. We mail a few valentines, and a few people give valentine parties. But on February 14, you won’t see any jubilee in this country.”

“Yes,” said Jimmie, sentimentally, dreaming out the window, “but love remains.”

“Does it?”

“Sure,” said Jim. “The outward customs may have changed, but love is just as strong as it ever was. All this great city, jammed full of love. All the men in all these tall buildings, all in love; all the pretty girls pretending to be working, but first of all in love. All the houses side by side, in a thousand streets, each one thinking it is hiding a secret, but every house a monument to love!”

“That’s swell, Jim!”

“Yeah, and out in the country, all the fields plowed, what for? For love. All the young men leaning on the rail fences, looking across the country at some house, some hillside, for love. Love is at the bottom of it all. Maybe they get lost, as time goes on. But love started everything. All this business, these factories, offices, miles of streets, everything started because somebody was in love with somebody else, and wanted to make things for her. Make her a fortune. Make her a living. Make her dreams come true. Every skyscraper a valentine, every mansion, every cottage, every shop counter, work bench, a valentine to some unknown, perhaps forgotten love!”

“Not bad, Jim.”

In Quest of Love

“So don’t let’s be cynical. St. Valentine’s day is the day for the celebration of love, and when we look at all this hustle and bustle, we ought to give love her due.”

“Then why not have our modern St. Valentine’s day,” I asked, “on October first, the beginning of the fiscal year?”

“There you go!” cried Jim. “You are cynical about love. You don’t think love is what it used to be?”

“I think we have reduced love to a pretty small potato in relation to life as a whole, to business, labor, success, progress or whatever it is we are trying to do these days.”

“All nonsense!” stated Jim. “I could take you out and show you more love in one evening than you could have seen in the whole of Rome, even in the midst of their whoopee.”

“Where?”

“Anywhere,” said Jim. “Any street, any village.”

“It might make a story,” I admitted. “You take me to-night and show me.”

After dinner I walked around to Jim’s and, telling his family that he was going to a political meeting with me (it’s great to be newspapermen!), he led me forth in quest of love.

“An apartment house,” said Jimmie, “is a regular love nest. I am taking you to an apartment where a couple of my friends live. They are, to my mind, the most joyously loving couple I have ever heard of. I just love to visit them. They know everybody else in the apartments, and they all visit each other, and the halls are filled with happy laughing people, young and middle-aged and old, every night. The place rings with happiness. Talk about ancient Rome! Why, that apartment house is just one big Roman festival all year long.”

“Oh, I admit,” I said, as we drove through the night, “I admit there are spots here and there. But on the great average love doesn’t cut much figure in the life of people nowadays.”

“These are average!” cried Jim. “This apartment house is just a cross section of humanity. You wait. Just because blinds are drawn and houses are detached, you needn’t think your house is the only abode of love in the whole world!”

We drove up Avenue road and came to a pleasant district where apartment houses cast their communal radiance into the night. We pulled up in front of a very handsome one and Jim led me into the foyer. It was Roman. Rich gilding and bright colors and Roman tile floor. A self-serve elevator carried us up three floors.

A number of muffled radios could be heard as we walked along the carpeted corridor past numbered doors. We heard a child crying. At another door we heard a lay5 screaming. At still another, as we marched along, we heard a man yell:

“Oh, is zat so!”

I plucked Jim’s coatsleeve and hinted with a head-movement that we scram.

“Just radio,” said Jim. “Listening to mystery dramas.”

“It sounded awfully life-like to me,” I replied.

Around a turn in the corridor we marched. This was a big cross section of humanity, this one. A door opened ahead of us and a young man holding a bowler hat tightly on his head, with his face very pale and set, came bouncing out and rushed past us in the hall, nearly knocking me down.

“You Home-Breaker!”

We paused outside the door. But inside was absolute silence. Not even a radio.

“H’m,” said I. “Well, lead on. Where’s your friend?”

“That was my friend!” said Jim. “He didn’t recognize me.”

I wanted to laugh, but Jim’s face deterred me.

“Why not let’s go in and see the lady?” I suggested. “Maybe what we saw was misleading.”

Jim rapped softly with his knuckles on the apartment door.

“Go way!” screamed a feminine voice within. “I hate you!”

So Jimmie and I went away. We walked down that long carpeted hall slowly, listening as we passed each door to the muffled radios, the tapping of heels on hardwood floors, the snatches of words, the silences.

“I tell you,” said Jim, “the last time I was here my friends took me upstairs to see the nicest middle-aged couple, the Gabwins. Let’s drop in on them while we’re here.”

“This is a bad night,” I said.

But Jim got me into the automatic elevator again, a queer, slow-moving, menacing thing with buttons to push. And up we went.

Again we started along a padded hall, Jim looking at the doors.

“I think,” he said, “it was either 24 or 34.”

We paused outside 24 and just as Jim was about to knock there was a terrific crash inside the door and a male voice roared:

“Pick up your feet!”

We hurried away down the hall.

“That wasn’t Gabwin’s voice,” said Jim.

“Try 34,” said I.

“We found 34 and after listening cautiously for a moment and hearing nothing Jim rapped delicately on 34.

The door jerked open.

A big man in a purple silk dressing gown, a big man with a purplish face and the most glaring eyes, stood before us.

His gaze fastened on me and he bared his teeth.

“So!” he said, through his nose, and crouching down slightly.

I backed up.

“So!” snarled the big man, treading with catlike steps toward me, “you brought a big friend with you, eh!”

With one grab, he took me by both coat-lapels and with a yank such as you see only in the movies he hoisted me through the air and hurled me inside his apartment, where I fell in a heap on the hardwood hall floor.

“Here!” I could hear Jimmie crying beyond, “a mistake! Excuse me! The wrong apartment! Just a minute! Hey!”

But dimly, as in a dream, I felt myself picked up again and yanked this way and that, and again I was hurled and this time I lit on a large, soft chesterfield.

“Hey!” I could hear Jim. “Hey! Just a minute!”

But a door slammed and Jimmie I could hear no more.

I removed my hat so as to see, and there standing before me was this large, bluish man, with his jaw stuck out.

“I,” he said, “am going to bust every bone in your body! Thought I was out of town, did you? Ha, ha!”

He laughed like Fu Manchu.

“Home-breaker!” he bellowed. “A little squirt like you daring to come hanging around my home, heh! I’ll –“

And in a blur of purple and blue fury he whipped off his dressing gown and started to roll up his sleeves.

“Love!” I croaked, hollowly.

“Annhh?” snarled the big man, stopped in mid-air.

“I said love,” said I, tucking my feet under me and drawing my neck down into my coat collar.

An Off-Night For Sentiment

The big man looked about to burst. His forehead, his neck and his stomach all appeared about to explode. He gasped staggered back.

“You – you –” he stammered, speechless.

There was a wild thumping on the door. Voices could be heard howling. A key scraped in the door and in burst Jimmie and a man with a dirty face whom I immediately recognized as the janitor, and a beautiful young lady.

“Are you hurt?” gasped Jim.

“I dared him to touch me,” said I.

The big man made a lunge for me, but the pretty girl thrust him aside lightly.

“This isn’t him,” she said to the big fellow. “Put on your dressing gown.”

“Isn’t him!” said the big man. “Then who is it?”

“He is my friend,” said Jim, heatedly, “and we are looking for Mr. Gabwin’s apartment. And we rapped at your door and this bird grabbed my little friend and whirled him through the air –“

The big fellow said:

“Well, I feel better anyhow!”

“My husband,” said the girl, “is very jealous of my men friends.”

The janitor beckoned Jim and me out. “The Gabwins,” said the janitor, as we got out in the hall, “aren’t living here anymore.”

“Why, it was only New Year’s I was here,” said Jim.

“Yes,” said the janitor. “It was very sudden.”

“Dead!” cried Jim.

“No,” said the janitor. “No, a little domestic trouble. She’s gone back to her mother and he’s living in a boarding-house down town.”

“Love nest,” said I.

“I beg your pardon?” asked the janitor.

“It is nothing,” said I.

We got in the elevator and softly, creepily, slowly descended to the street.

“Well?” said I.

“It’s an off night,” said Jim. “An off night. How would you like to go to a movie? There’s a swell love story down at the Uptown6.”

“How,” I asked, “about going to your place and letting me see all those old Birdseye Centre originals you’ve got. You said I could pick a few out for framing some time.”

“Well,” said Jim, “as a matter of fact, I’d rather not to-night. You see, we had a little row just before I came out over the children using my studio room for a play house — Let’s go to your place and look at trout flies. It’s only ten weeks to the first of May.”

“Not to-night,” I said. “My wife didn’t want me to go out to-night, it was my turn to stay home and mind the house. So, we – I — you see?”

“That’s too bad,” said Jim. “However, it will be Valentine’s Day on Tuesday.”

“And everything will be hunky-dory then,” said I.


Editor’s Notes:

  1. Valentine’s Day history. ↩︎
  2. Specific details on Juno Februata. ↩︎
  3. “Love making” pre-1960s or so, meant courting or flirting, or perhaps a little kissing. ↩︎
  4. “Going wawa” meant acting all crazy. ↩︎
  5. I have no idea. This just might be a typo. Perhaps they meant “baby”. ↩︎
  6. The Uptown Theatre opened in 1920 and was demolished in 2003. ↩︎

Do You Believe It or Not?

February 11, 1933

These drawing went with a story by Cyrus Leger about particular myths or urban legends. Other myths mentioned in the article that were not illustrated included “a child is influenced by what its mother sees or thinks before it is born”, “In old days people lived longer than they do now”, “hairy arms or chest indicates the person is very strong”, or that “those with a square jaw have great willpower”.

February 11, 1933
February 11, 1933

Birdseye Center – 02/05/27

February 5, 1927

Racqueteers

My good shoe carried me on the top of the snow. But my other leg sank each step to the knee or hip.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, February 6, 1943.

“How do they do it!” exclaimed Jimmie Frise.

“Who?” I inquired.

“The Russians1,” cried Jimmie. “With the whole resources of Europe – except Britain – against them. With the trained might of Germany, backed by the enslaved production of all the rest of Europe, concentrated on them. With most of the factory owners and moneyed and managerial classes of conquered Europe hating them and really aiding the Germans.”

“And Italy,” I reminded him.

“Phoooie,” said Jim.

“Phooie nothing,” I informed him. “I bet you, when the smoke clears away, that most of the skulduggery in North Africa and the confusion of the French cliques and parties will be traced to Italy. Don’t forget, it was Italy’s fear and hatred of communism that gave rise to the Fascist party. Don’t forget that Italy set up Mussolini long before Germany set up Hitler.”

“Italy,” said Jim. “Phooie.”

“Okay,” I warned. “But when history is written, I bet you it will be Italy’s demonstration of how to set up a boogey man and organize a Fascist party that gave all the rest of the world the idea of setting up another boogey man in Germany as a barrier against Russia. It was Russia the whole world was scared of 10 years ago. It was finagling against Russia that set up this whole devil’s kettle of a war. And now Russia appears to be the savior of the world.”

“Next to Britain,” said Jim.

“Next to us,” I agreed. “Us being whatever we are. Next to the good old U.S., if you are an American. Next to China, if you are Chinese. Next to Malta, if you are Maltese.”

“Don’t be cynical,” said Jim.

“I’m not cynical,” I assured him. “I am merely reminding you that you can’t help having a point of view. And your point of view depends entirely on where you happen to be standing. You wouldn’t deny a Chinese man the right to believe that but for China’s stand against Japan, years before our war broke loose, our war would now be lost.”

“Yes, but never forget we…” began Jim.

“Us?” I cried with passionate patriotism, “we’re wonderful!”

“Well, we are!” declared Jim angrily.

“That’s what I’m saying,” I retorted.

“But I don’t think you’re sincere,” said Jim.

Source of All Troubles

“I’m this sincere,” I submitted. “That so long as you allow Americans, Frenchmen, Chinese, Argentinians, Italians and all the rest to believe they are wonderful, we have a perfect right to believe we are wonderful too. The trouble is, however, with us, and Americans, Frenchmen, Chinese, Argentinians and so forth, is, we don’t include anybody else.”

“Aw, well,” protested Jimmie, “it’s human nature you’re complaining about.”

“Never cease complaining about it, Jim,” I pleaded. “It’s the source of all our troubles.”

“A fat lot of good complaining about human nature will do,” said Jim. “Human nature is as unchangeable as the very rocks of the earth. You might as well try to change the shape of the Rocky Mountains as change human nature.”

“Jim, not a day goes by,” I informed him, “but that the shape of the Rocky Mountains is being changed. The everlasting complaint of the winds, the rains, the snow and the ice, is forever changing the shape of the mountains and of the very earth itself. And never forget, one earthquake can change their shape so tremendously, they can be sunk right out of sight under the sea.”

“Are you looking for an earthquake to change human nature?” inquired Jim.

There have been plenty of earthquakes,” I submitted, “that have changed human nature. The birth of Jesus was an earthquake. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The invention of gunpowder was an earthquake. A peasant with a flintlock could destroy a king hedged round with battle axes. It would be a nice way to spend an evening, discussing which events in history were earthquakes that changed human nature.”

“I bet we’re not much different from the men who lived in caves,” said Jim.

“The winds of Shakespeare blew and are blowing on the granite of human nature,” I enunciated. “The rain of Charles Dickens’ tears, the snow of Alexander Hamilton’s logic, the ice of Charles Darwin’s speculations, all have eroded the Rocky Mountains of human nature…”

“See?” interrupted Jimmie triumphantly. “Every name you have mentioned is one of us!”

“When Marco Polo, in the year 1250 A.D., arrived in China,” I countered, “he found a civilization more advanced than Europe’s, and 1,500 years old.”

“Marco Polo!” scoffed Jimmie. “Who ever heard of him!”

“Each nation,” I said, “thinks it has its Shakespeares, its Dickenses, its Darwins.”

“Think is right,” said Jim.

“Well, you can’t help even us thinking,” I asserted.

“Anyway,” proclaimed Jimmie, “I think the Russians are wonderful. And I only wish I could feel we had done more to help them. I’d have more self-respect if I thought we had done something to help them. The performance they have put up, not only without much help from us but in spite of all the opposition we put in their way, across the years, makes it kind of embarrassing.”

“Geographically,” I pointed out, “they are the nearest people to Canadians in the world. We share with Russians the northern hemisphere.”

“I’ve often thought of that, this past winter, reading about the battles,” agreed Jim. “Leningrad is on a level with White Horse, in the Yukon. Lake Ladoga is on a level with Great Slave Lake.”

“Brrrrr,” I said.

“Sure,” said Jim. “Fort Churchill, away up half way on Hudson’s Bay, is south of Leningrad. The northern tip of Labrador, where it juts out towards Baffin Land, is level with Leningrad. Sure, we share the northern hemisphere with the Russians. But we haven’t occupied our share yet.”

“I had no idea,” I gasped. “I thought of Leningrad and Toronto or maybe North Bay or Timmins.”

“In the banana belt,” snorted Jim. “All of them. Even Stalingrad is away down south, about level with Winnipeg. But Leningrad is north of Juneau in Alaska. Remember all the fuss we made about the Alaska highway2?”

“Now who’s belittling us?” I demanded. “Well, I was just thinking about the railroad,” said Jim, “the Russians built over the ice of Lake Ladoga. We quit work on the Alaska highway just as winter arrived.”

“Well, some day we Canadians may have cities and towns up in northern Labrador and along the Hudson’s Bay coast,” I declared.

“There’s two million citizens in Leningrad normally,” retorted Jim.

“One thing we might have done for Russia,” I asserted, “and that is, ship her a few thousands pairs of good Canadian snowshoes.”

“Skis are better,” said Jim. “And skis come from Norway. The Russians will know all about skis.”

“Snowshoes,” I insisted. “Skis are all very well in open fields and for playing around in civilized country. But in the bush, you’ve got to have snowshoes.”

“Slow motion,” cracked Jim.

“You never hear of lumberjacks and trappers wearing skis,” I asserted, “except as a novelty. They use snowshoes. And since much of the fighting in Russia in winter is through vast forests and swamps, I bet you snowshoes would be of the most tremendous tactical importance.”

“Skis,” said Jimmie.

“Listen,” I stated warmly, “long before skis were ever heard of in this country, I was a champion snowshoer. I belonged to a snowshoe club here; and there was a Canadian Snow Shoe Association, with clubs all over Canada. And I may say we didn’t spend our time trying to wear out a couple of local hills. We didn’t wait until somebody cut a trail for us through a couple of local bush lots, either. We got out and travelled. We searched out the wildest regions of the country round about and explored it. The tougher the going, the denser the bush, the wilder the swamps, the better we liked it.”

“Waddling,” said Jim. “Bow-legged. Squish. Squish, squush, squish, squush!”

“Waddling my eye,” I cried indignantly. “An export snowshoer can drift over the ground faster than any skier, on a mile of ordinary rough bush country. Or on 20 miles. Put a skier in ordinary brush country and he’s sunk.”

“Squish, squush,” remarked Jim.

“I won my Winged Snow Shoe in 1914,” I announced. “And if you don’t believe it, I can dig my old Snow Shoe Club outfit out of the attic and show you. I’m entitled to wear a crest and a shield, with the Winged Snow Shoe. I’ve got a ceinture fleche3, too, that I won in a 10-mile cross country.”

“A what?” inquired Jim.

“Ceinture fleche,” I said. “It’s a beautiful sash.”

“Are You Game?”

“In the attic, did you say?” asked Jimmie. “Has snowshoeing gone out of fashion then?”

“Of course it has,” I said. “The young people are no longer interested in exploring and going places. They only want to go nowhere fast, down hill.”

“Now, now,” said Jim. “Don’t be hurt.”

“In a trunk in the attic,” I stated, “I have my whole old club outfit and two pairs of snowshoes. Are you game?”

“Game how?” asked Jim.

“Game to come for a hike,” I said, “right this afternoon, until I show you what snowshoes can do. I’ll take you into bush that no skier can penetrate. And maybe, if I can get you interested, you and I might start something real for Russia. We might launch a campaign to send half a million pairs of Canadian snowshoes to Russia. Great oaks from little acorns grow. You’re complaining about not having had any share in Russia’s triumph. Okay; here’s your chance to do something strategic.”

Along which lines, I persuaded Jim to come along for an old-fashioned afternoon in the open on snowshoes. I got my old club outfit from the mothballs and, though the webbing of the racquettes was dry and the frames slightly warped, 20 years in a trunk had done them little injury.

In the street car which we took to the end of the line, there were many skiers who took a lively interest in our appearance; but Jimmie insisted they were not laughing at us; it was just their youthful and joyous nature.

While the skiers headed straight away from the end of the car line to the nearest hill which they gathered on like ants on a cookie, Jim and I put on the racquettes and steered for the bush. It took me some little time to persuade Jim to let his legs hang loose, in the proper snowshoe stride, and simply drag the snowshoe over the snow, instead of tightening his legs up in a cramped curve.

“Walk,” I explained, setting the example, “with an easy loose shuffle, forgetting the snowshoes entirely. It’s not like skiing, where you have to think of the skis all the time. Just stride ahead, with loose legs, and trail each shoe naturally.”

Jim tumbled several times, because he walked too naturally, toed in, thus stepping on his own shoes, which naturally threw him on his head. But after crossing a couple of fields, he had the hang of it pretty well and we entered our first bush.

It was a dense bush. And we had not gone 50 yards in its pure and secret sanctuary before we picked up the fresh trail of a fox.

“See?” I cried. “He’s never been disturbed by any skiers. In fact, we’re the first to stir him from his security.”

We trailed the fox to the end of the wood lot and finally got a glimpse of him, his tail blowing sideways in the wind, as he raced across an icy open field for a neighboring woodlot.

“Here,” I said, “within the sound of a city’s factory whistle, we have seen a fox. That’s what snowshoers see.”

And we saw also, in the sanctuary of undisturbed bush lots, many birds such as partridges, jays, chickadees, nuthatches and a whole chime of redpolls and siskins, which are the confetti of the bird world. And in the quiet woods, we were sheltered from the cold and we climbed over windfalls and through dark deep cedar swamps where the highways of the rabbit kingdom were worn in the snow; and saw many and delightful manifestations of nature where she hides where man does not come.

Mal De Racquette

And then Jim sat on a log with a sudden exclamation.

“My leg,” he said, grasping the inside of his thigh.

“What?” I inquired.

“A red hot knife seemed to stick into me,” he said.

“Ah; mal de racquette4,” I informed him. “You’ve been walking with your legs tense. You didn’t walk loosely.”

“I walked the way I had to,” replied Jimmie, painfully. “Squish, squush!”

“We’ll have to head for the nearest road,” I said anxiously. “That mal de racquette is pretty serious.”

“How do you mean?” demanded Jim.

“It ties some people up,” I said, “so they have to be dragged on a toboggan. They can’t even walk.”

Jim rubbed his thigh and then stood up. He sat down again promptly.

“Hey!” he agonized.

“Does it hurt?” I inquired.

“Ooh,” said Jim, starting to sweat.

So we sat for a little while on the log and then I got some birch bark and twigs and started a fire.

“Keep warm,” I advised, “while I go and scout out where the nearest road is.”

One thing about rural Ontario, there is always a road just over the hill. So I took what I believed to be the nearest cut out of the bush lot and found a good sideroad, well packed down with ruts, less than 400 yards away from Jimmie. And as I turned around to rejoin him, my snowshoe caught in a sharp stub sticking up through the snow. I was thrown on my face and what was worse, the dry babiche5 webbing of the shoe was ripped not only in the toe, but right in the mid-section where my foot fits.

The webbing was so old and dry it was like wire. So when I rejoined Jim, I was moving in a rather complicated fashion. My good shoe carried me on the top of the snow. But my other leg sank each step to the knee or hip, depending on how deep the snow was.

Jimmie watched my approach with considerable relief from his pain.

“Now that,” he said, “is something! You look like one of those old-fashioned side-wheeler steamboats.”

“Jim,” I warned him, “it is going to be no fun getting out to the road.”

We extinguished the fire carefully. And then set out for the road. Part of the time Jim wore his snowshoes, and part of the time, he took them off and just waded. But it was more painful to have to lift his strained leg out of the drifts than to swing the snowshoe in a specially bow-legged stride.

But we reached the road and headed, on plain foot, towards the city and the street car terminus.

And when we stamped safely into the street car, in company with many ruddy and happy skiers, Jimmie remarked:

“What do you say if we start a movement to smuggle a few thousand pairs of snowshoes over to the Germans? That would finish them.”


Editor’s Notes:

  1. When this was written, the battle of Stalingrad, considered to be a turning point in World War 2, was just finished. ↩︎
  2. The Alaska Highway was under construction at the time. ↩︎
  3. The ceinture fléchée (French, ‘arrowed sash’) is a type of colourful sash, a traditional piece of Québécois clothing linked to at least the 17th century. ↩︎
  4. Mal De Racquette (Snowshoe sickness) is a term used when a person went lame while using snowshoes. ↩︎
  5. Babiche is a type of cord or lacing of rawhide or sinew traditionally made by Native Americans. ↩︎

Wine and Water

She rose quietly and came over to Hubert, who had removed his hat and was looking at her dumbly.

By Gregory Clark, February 4, 1922.

Three generations in the city, and the wine of life becomes water.

The third generation born and bred in the city has lost its spring, its sparkle, its flavor. It does one of two things. It seeks artificial and erotic stimulation, and so becomes that type of sophisticated and effete waster common enough in cities. Or it succumbs to the enfeeblement it feels within its veins, and joins the lower ranks of those drab, mechanical tollers who are the chief inhabitants of cities, the fourth or tenth or fiftieth generation of dwellers in cities.

For there appears to be an energy in the soil that man must absorb. The city man goes away in summer for a two-week holiday close to the soil, and sucks enough of this mysterious energy out of the earth to revive him for a year. But presently there comes to town a young man born and raised close to the earth and abounding in this primitive energy. And he drives the city man to the wall; outlasts him, out-moves him, skins him, picks his bones.

But this new man’s grandson is in turn the victim of a newcomer, fresh from the soil. All about us are examples of the third urbane generation putting up its unconscious struggle against a soily Fate. In some of the wealthier families, so filled were the first generations with energy, as the wealth they accumulated bears witness, that the fourth generation is sometimes left still in the ring.

But we have made the pursuits of the soil so hard, unpleasant and unprofitable that the enfeebled generation finds it easier to slip back into the permanent category of the city’s damned than to return boldly to the soil to recuperate in a few generations the supply of vital energy.

There is a way out, nevertheless.

And J. Hubert Waterberry found it.

Hubert was the third generation in Toronto. His grandfather, son of an immigrant who fought with Mackenzie’s rebels in 1837, came to town and built up a great contracting and building business. Scores of houses still standing south of Carlton street were built by Hubert’s grandfather.

Hubert’s father, however, was sent to school and became a lawyer. A good lawyer, too. He had offices in Victoria street and developed a big practice. But he found professional life to be merely the service of business life, and he determined that his son Hubert should be a business man.

Hubert was twenty-one in the year 1900. He was a sophisticated, elegant young man, fresh from college. His father got him into a prosperous firm of insurance brokers.

When Hubert was thirty, he was a bachelor. He had been hectically in love with several girls, but all had rejected him, in an indifferent way, as if they had sensed a want of energy in him. At thirty, he was feeling that want of stamina. On his father’s death, he used up every atom of his energy in breaking away from the big insurance firm with another young member of it, and starting a business of their own with the old man’s money.

But after five years, Hubert’s partner became restless for some reason and left the partnership.

At forty, Hubert was not so much a bachelor as an old maid. His office was a dim, dusty mausoleum in that remote district behind the King Edward Hotel. His business was reduced to those old accounts which had not yet been won away from him by live competitors. Hubert lived in the same select boarding house on Sherbourne street which he had taken on his father’s death.

Hubert’s only employe was elderly Miss Murdagh, who had been middle-aged when Hubert brought her with him from the old company.

In the dim office, with its maps, calendars and directories, these two sat from nine a.m. to five p.m., writing letters, issuing renewals of policies, but rarely going out for new business.

He had no clubs, no recreations. He read his newspaper at night, sometimes he went to a theatre or a lecture. His only hobby was his health, which, finding its self an object of interest, became steadily more complex.

His hair grew thin and grey. At forty he looked fifty.

Then one day old Miss Murdagh failed to turn up at the office. Hubert phoned her boarding house and learned that she had died during the night, quite unexpectedly.

Hubert was badly upset. He could handle the work all right, but it meant hustling. And Hubert had not hustled in fifteen years. three weeks after Miss Murdagh’s funeral at which Hubert was the chief mourner, he struggled alone in his dusty office, but found a wave of untidiness, disorder and tangled business engulfing him. Several faithful old accounts phoned him impatiently. Each night he went home later and more distressed.

He decided he would have to get help. After writing and re-writing half a hundred ads., he went down at noon one day to the newspaper offices with this:

“Wanted a mature woman acquainted with insurance business and office work. Telephone Mr. Waterberry, Main –”

At three o’clock that afternoon, girls began phoning him and calling at his office. They had looked up his address in the phone book. Hubert got into a panic. Suppose he picked the wrong girl? He couldn’t tell what they, were like over the phone. All who called at the office were young, flippant girls with powdered faces–

At three forty-five, with the telephone ringing. Hubert breathlessly seized hat and coat, locked up his office and fled home.

As he sat in his room waiting till dinner time, Hubert was filled with alarm. What would he do? Doubtless, when he went down to his office in the morning, there would be a queue of girls a mile long. He’d have to pick one. And Hubert didn’t want to have to pick one. He had lost his nerve. He would perhaps pick some horrible, hustling, cocksure creature.

Hubert decided he would be ill, in bed tomorrow, and maybe the ad. would blow over.

Just before supper-time, there was a knock on his door, and the housemaid said:

“You’re wanted on the phone, sir!”

Hubert went down.

“Mr. Waterberry?” asked a pleasant feminine voice.

“Yes,” His heart sank.

“I am answering your ad. in the paper today,” said the voice. “I hunted you up in the directory, finding your office, closed. Am I too late?”

Hubert was reassured by the softness of the voice. He could picture another Miss Murdagh.

“No,” he said.

“Then, I’ve had experience in insurance office work, not in Toronto, but in a small town in western Ontario,” said the woman. “I am very anxious to get any work, so whatever you regard as a fair salary I am willing to take.”

“Yes. All right,” said Hubert.

“Shall I call at nine or earlier?”

Hubert had an inspiration.

“Yes. And – and would you mind – I’m not very well – perhaps if you would take charge of the office for the morning and deal with the other applicants?”

“Why, yes!” said the woman. “The key?”

“Could you call here at my boarding house to-night? I’ll leave it with the housekeeper,” said Hubert.

“Very well.”

And Hubert, leaving the office key in an envelope, fled out and had dinner at a restaurant and spent a most enjoyable evening at Shea’s1.

The following morning Hubert went down town before lunch. He couldn’t help walking past his office, just to see–. There was no line-up of painted girls. He entered the building and paused outside his office door to listen.

There was a strenuous sound as of someone house-cleaning.

Hubert could scarcely eat his lunch, he was so excited. What if this woman he had engaged turned out to be one of those energetic, aggressive, chirpy women? What if she were young and bouncy? And Hubert spent a few minutes in prayerful remembrance of quiet, stodgy old Miss Murdagh.

Bracing himself, at two o’clock Hubert shoved himself down the back streets to his office. With leaden feet he climbed the old wooden stairs. He rapped nervously on his own office door and entered.

At the typewriter sat a big, splendid, brown-haired girl in a blue skirt and white waist.

She rose quietly and came over to Hubert, who had removed his hat and was looking at her dumbly. She smiled at him.

“Yes?” she said.

“I-I-ah!” said Hubert.

He looked expectantly at her. “Are – are you-?” he began.

“I’m in charge of the office. Mr. Waterberry is not in yet? Is there anything I can do?” said the pleasant young lady.

“Well,” said Hubert, immensely confused, and laying his hat down on a desk with an attempt at the proprietorial air. “I’m – ah – that is to say you see, I am –!”

“Ah, you’d care to wait?” said the girl, pulling out a chair.

And nodding pleasantly to him, she returned to the typewriter.

Hubert sat down weakly. He gazed around the office, noting its tidiness and order. “I – ah” he began.

The girl swung on her chair.

“You see,” said Hubert, “I’m Mr. Waterberry!”

What happened afterwards was a golden memory all his life to Hubert. The girl leaped up and helped him out of his coat. She escorted him over to his swivel chair. She was blushing furiously.

“Why – when you knocked,” she was saying, “you see, I was expecting Mr. Waterberry – but when you knocked, I thought you were a client. And then, when you stood there, with your hat in your hand –“

Her eyes were glimmering with laughter. Hubert looked sheepishly up at her and smiled. Then out came the laughter, boiling and bubbling. And Hubert suddenly joined in. He leaned back and laughed till he wept. They looked at each other and laughed again. It was years since Hubert had laughed with anybody. Years and years. It was a wonderful sensation. He hated to stop laughing. So he confessed about his fear, and how he ran away from the office yesterday -and – and –

So they chuckled and laughed. They exchanged confidences. Hubert how he detested these modern office girls. The girl, how she had come to move to Toronto. The minutes passed. Then an hour. Still they were talking. Hubert was zestfully explaining to her her work, the various accounts.

It was a long time since Hubert had been intimate with anyone.

When dusk caught them in the dim office. Hubert regretfully closed the discussion. He bade her a most cheery good night and went home feeling better than he ever remembered feeling in his life.

It was a new world for Hubert. It was a pleasure to go to the office. He felt infinitely younger, boundlessly young. The girl talked before a week was out, quite boldly about the need of new business. She discovered openings for it in old accounts. Hubert went and got it.

At the end of a year, the business and Hubert were so changed that Miss Pigeon – that was her name -found it necessary to hire another girl, and a little later, a young man.

She won Hubert over to joining a golf club. On business grounds.

Hubert and she still kept sacred their regular daily laugh and exchange of confidences. It was found necessary, after a while, to go to lunch together in order to complete these conversations. And finally, it came to theatres and movies.

Naturally, the whole thing had but one end. Hubert felt himself drawing the very breath of life through this vigorous, splendid girl. He depended on her more and more, in countless little ways, and in big ways.

Finally, she helped him select a new overcoat and hat.

He looked in the mirror of the hat store and beheld a mere lad of forty – a swagger, upstanding fellow–

And when they closed up the office that evening, the juniors having gone, Hubert helped Miss Pigeon with her ulster2. As he did so, something that had been smoldering in him all afternoon, broke loose. He felt as if an electric current were flowing from her to him, a magnetic, swirling current. And he released his hold on the collar of her ulster only to seize her shoulders, turn her around to face him and stare breathlessly and foolishly at her, and then enfold her in a vast, stupid hug.

Romance: thou art as sly of foot in Wellington street as in the castled fastnesses of Rosedale.

They were married in no time. They live in a bungalow out beyond High Park, in an atmosphere of the most absurd happiness, forty-four and twenty-five.

“You’ve made a new man of me,” says Hubert, at least once every twenty-four hours.

But while Hubert is aware of it, he doesn’t give proper value to the fact that his pigeon was born and raised on the farm.


Editor’s Notes:

  1. Shea’s Hippodrome opened in 1914, and was the largest movie palace in Canada, and one of the largest vaudeville theatres in the world. It was demolished in 1957 to make way for Toronto’s new City Hall. ↩︎
  2. An Ulster coat is a Victorian style working daytime overcoat, with a cape and sleeves. ↩︎

20 B’low at Birdseye Center

January 31, 1925

This is the first appearance of Pigskin Peters.

Page 1 of 81

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