The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Category: Greg-Jim Story Page 1 of 14

Garden Chef

“Fire,” yelled the neighbor, leaping up and heading out the drive…. The steaks were just ready to turn.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 27, 1946.

“A Surprise?” inquired Jimmie Frise.

“Yes, sir, a real surprise.” I assured him heartily, as I unwrapped the bundles.

“Well, it will take something to surprise me,” sighed Jim gloomily. “This summer bachelor stuff is all right when you are young. But when you get to be our age, I don’t think a man should be abandoned alone in the city by his family.”

“We’ll get along all right,” I asserted, as I drew from the larger carton the upper works of the charcoal garden barbecue outfit.

“What the heck’s that?” demanded Jim.

“You’ll see in a minute,” I gloated.

“What gets me about this summer bachelor business,” went on Jim grumpily, “is the eating. When you are in your thirties you can eat at any old neighborhood restaurant, Chinese, Greek, or just nice old ladies running a neighborhood Tea Shoppey.”

I lifted from the carton the legs and substructure of the charcoal garden grill.

“What IS this?” insisted Jim, leaning out from his garden chair and inspecting the black tin objects.

“Go ahead, go ahead,” I suggested. “Tell around at the neighborhood quick-and dirties.”

“Well, I was saying,” said Jim, still inspecting what I was pulling out of the carton with mystified interest, “I don’t think men of our age are supposed to be left alone in the city during the summer. We need to be taken care of. We ought to be properly fed…”

I drew triumphantly from the carton the wire grill, the broiler part of the garden barbecue outfit.

“Holy smoke,” cried Jim, leaping up. “What have you got here?”

I hastily set the legs into the charcoal stove part of the outfit and then laid the heavy steel wire grill on top of all.

“Jim,” I announced, “it’s a charcoal broiler, a charcoal barbecue for the garden. I’ve been reading all about them in those home and garden magazines. So I got one.”

“What do you do with it?” asked Jim expectantly.

“Look,” I said, “We fill this deep pan with charcoal. See the little draught holes underneath and along the sides? Well, we get a red hot bed of charcoal in that. Then we lay two beautiful thick juicy steaks on top. And then…”

“Enough, enough!” cried Jim. “When? When do we try it out?”

“Now,” I stated, “This very minute. In the house I’ve got a bag of charcoal. In the house I’ve got two of the slickest big porterhouse steaks with the tails cut off. In one hour from now…”

“Hey, let’s get going,” exclaimed Jimmie, drooling. “How do we fasten that thing together, solidly…”

“Now, just a second, son,” I cautioned him. “We’ve got lots of time. Run in to the top kitchen drawer and get a pair of pliers and a screw driver.”

A Bit of Ceremony

So, in a matter of 10 minutes, we had the barbecue broiler fastened securely together. In another 10 minutes, we had the card table out. In another 10 minutes, I had opened the next parcel, which contained a chef’s hat and white pants.

“What’s all this!” protested Jim anxiously.

“Now, Jim,” I reasoned, “don’t get into such a fuss. This garden cookery is an art. I read all about it in the magazines. You’ve got to dress the part. You’ve got to make a bit of a ceremony out of it…”

“Aw, ceremony,” growled Jim. “If you knew how hungry I am. If you knew how I feel about those two steaks. How thick are they?”

“Look, relax,” I pleaded. “Sit down in that chair there. Relax. This is my party. This is my surprise.”

“How thick?” repeated Jim.

“Two … inches … thick!” I said slowly.

“And what else is there?” demanded Jim, relaxing heavily into the garden chair.

“Salad,” I said, “I bought a ready-made green salad and it’s in there, in the kitchen, in the covered pot, to keep it crisp. And there’s coffee.”

“No bread?” said Jim.

“You’ll have no room for bread when you face that steak,” I informed him, as I put on the white pants and the chef’s hat. From behind the kitchen door, I got one of the family aprons.

“Get the fire on, get the fire on,” muttered Jim in the chair.

“Look, the evening has just begun,” I said. “Relax and watch. The magazine laid emphasis on the fact that eating a charcoal broiled steak in the garden was a pleasure for all. It was a pleasure for the host -that’s me – to prepare it. It was a pleasure for the guests to watch it. That’s you.”

At which moment, our neighbor, with his newspaper, came out with that sort of burping manner that a summer bachelor adopts after he has just eaten a measly supper of corn flakes and milk in his kitchen.

“Well, well, well,” he called across the fence, sizing up my chef’s hat and get-up.

“A little garden barbecue,” I explained to him.

“Hmmff,” he said, setting himself with his paper.

“Full of his evening corn flakes,” I murmured to Jim.

The next item on the agenda was preparing the fire. I went in and unwrapped the two big steaks. They were superb. Beautiful deep red, with little flecks of fat through the lean. The fat mellow white. They were a good two inches thick.

I left them on the table where Rusty, Jim’s Irish water spaniel, couldn’t reach them; and carried the charcoal bag out to the garden. I made a small kindling bed of paper and small sticks, and poured the charcoal over it. From underneath, I ignited the paper. In a moment, the kindling caught, and in no time at all the fire had taken hold of the adjoining chunks of charcoal. And it began to spread rapidly.

“Jim,” I commanded, “go in and put the coffee pot on.”

“How long will it take to broil them?” Jim asked.

“Get the coffee started,” I ordered,

By the time he had returned the brazier was a humming mass of bluish flames from the charcoal, with a hint of the cherry red that was to come.

Whetting the Appetite

Jim came and watched as the charcoal slowly grew in fury. I didn’t fan it. The holes underneath and along the sides of the pan drew all the pressure needed for a steadily mounting glow.

“Put them on now?” asked Jim.

“Sit down,” I explained. “You’re the audience. You should be relaxed and enjoying the show.”

I went in and inspected the steaks. I trimmed off almost all the fat, although the butcher, when he trimmed off the porterhouse tails for me, had taken most of the fat. But the instructions I had read said that very little fat should be left on.

I lifted the lid of the salad pot and the salad was crisp and cold. I carried out the plates and cups.

“It’s bright red now,” warned Jim.

I inspected the charcoal.

“You’ve got to let a little sort of gray film come on the top of the red, before it’s perfect for broiling,” l informed him.

Jim swallowed eagerly.

“Jim,” I announced, “a steak broiled over charcoal is unparalleled in the realm of food. No other kind of cooking can even remotely compare with it.”

“Harrummph,” said the neighbor next door, shaking his newspaper testily and shifting his position away from us.

So I talked lower.

“There is something about charcoal,” I went on, “that seems to transmit a special flavor, a special zest, to the taste of the meat.”

“Aw, for Pete’s sake,” groaned Jim.

“It cooks the steak,” I explained further “without changing the lovely rare quality of the fibres. It has a kind of charred crust on the outside and inside …”

“Listen,” barked Jim, “are you going to cook the steaks or are you going to gas all night …?”

I examined the fire. The bed of cherry red charcoal was a solid bank of shimmering, quivering coals five inches deep. And on top, I could detect the first faint shadow of a gray film…

I hopped smartly into the kitchen and got the two huge steaks. One draped over each hand, I marched down the back steps.

The neighbor, squinting, I could see, around the corner of his newspaper, gave the paper another shake and turned farther away than ever.

Jim stood up as the steaks passed him, the way he would stand up for royalty. He came and watched me as I laid each steak, with the aid of the big fork that came with the outfit, on top of the grill.

As I set it on the sizzling hot grill, a blare of flame leaped up from the charcoal. This was the fat instantly melting and taking fire. Those pure fat flames seared the meat.

“Now you see,” I explained, as the aroma lifted around us, “why they cut off nearly all the fat. You don’t want too much flame…”

“Turn them over, turn them over,” cried Jim, anxiously.

“Stand back, Jim,” I warned. “Sit down. Relax. I am doing this job.”

“But turn them,” begged Jim, sitting down. “Turn them quickly to seal both sides…”

“You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried,” I informed him, as I stood guard with the fork.

“You turn a steak only once when you are broiling it! Only once! You leave those steaks over the charcoal until you can see the transparent bubbles of fat forming on the raw top. THEN you turn them. But just once.”

Jim was scrunching down in the chair to peek under the grill.

“But,” he expostulated, “they’ll be black as soot on the bottom…”

“They’ll have a black crust on both sides, my boy,” I assured him. “And that’s the way they should be.”

Jim got out of his chair.

“Sit down,” I warned.

Down Wind

“I just want to get down wind from them,” explained Jim, “so I won’t waste any of that aroma.”

He got down wind from the broiler and stood, his head back, slowly breathing in the almost indescribably heavenly odor of the broiling steaks.

The neighbor was down wind too, and as I looked at Jim, I could see the neighbor slowly shifting and fanning his newspaper so as to waft as much as possible of it his way. Rusty, Jim’s spaniel, got down wind too and started softly whining and whimpering. Two cats came from different directions and sat on the fences at a respectful distance.

“Don’t you salt them?” asked Jim earnestly.

“Never,” I informed him. “Salt would draw the juices. You salt them when I put them on the plate.”

The neighbor got up and pretended to be studying the perennials along the fence. I could easily see that what he was really doing was shifting his position to get into the best breeze to smell that ravishing odor.

“Smells good?” I called to him friendly.

“Eh?” he said, glancing up. “Oh, yeah. That’s a nice smell…”

Jim shifted, so as to stand between the steaks and the neighbor. He didn’t want to share the perfume any more than he could help.

“Can’t you see transparent bubbles yet?” Jim demanded anxiously.

As a matter of fact, I could. The sizzling steaks were crisp around the edges and you could observe small bubbles and grains of fat beginning to ooze up through the red surface.

“Get the coffee, and the salad, Jim,” I announced.

Jim went and brought the coffee pot and the tin pot containing the green salad.

“Whooeeeee!” went a siren unexpectedly close.

“Hello?” said Jim.

“WHHOOOOEEEEEE!” screamed the siren, and we could hear the screech of giant tires.

“WHHOOOOEEEE!” whooped the siren, and out the side drive, we could see the fire reels coming to a furious stop.

“Fire!” yelled the neighbor, leaping up and heading out the drive.

“See what it is, Jim,” I ordered angrily, for the steaks were just ready to turn.

Jim laid down the coffee and salad and ran out the drive.

“It’s just across the street,” he yelled back. “The minister’s house, I think …!”

I took an instant and turned the steaks. I set them true on the grill. There was another burst of blaze as the released fat seared up under the meat.

Then I too ran out the drive. For you can’t have a fire almost next door without taking a neighborly interest.

It WAS the minister’s house. As a matter of fact, all it was was the ironing board on fire in the kitchen. The minister is a summer bachelor too, and he was trying to iron those little white tabs ministers wear under their chins when they are dressed up for the pulpit. He had laid the electric iron down for a minute…

Without a Trace

All the neighborhood crowded around and it took five minutes to express the proper condolences to our good friend. And then Jim and I broke away and hurried across to the garden.

“They’ll be just about done,” I assured.

Jim was a little ahead of me as we rounded the corner of the house.

He stopped so suddenly I bumped into him.

“Gone!” he whispered.

“GONE!” he roared.

The brazier stood there, redly, grayly glowing.

The chairs, the table, with the coffee pot, the salad pot, everything, just as we had left it.

But the two steaks, the TWO steaks, the great succulent, sweet smelling porterhouse steaks, were gone.

I whipped around to look for Rusty, Rusty was still across the road with the firemen.

I whipped the other way and looked over the fence.

The neighbor was gone. His chair was there. The newspaper lay on the grass, where he had flung it.

“Jim,” I gritted.

We strode out and looked across at the crowd around the fire reels.

“Go and see if he’s at the back with the minister,” I commanded.

Jim hurried across the road.

I went and made a rapid search of the hedges, the shrubbery. There were no footprints, no traces.

The two cats still sat, eyes closed, purring on the distant fences.

I heard Jim’s footsteps returning.

“No sign of him over there,” said Jim in a low voice.

I snatched off my chef’s hat. I yanked off the apron.

“What are you going to do?” inquired Jim hastily.

“I’m going in and ask him for our steaks!” I hissed.

“You can’t do that…” protested Jim. “You can’t accuse a man of stealing…”

“He’s got ’em,” I gritted. “He’s got ’em! Did you see the way he was sniffing and trembling when I was cooking them…?”

“Go and rap on his door,” said Jim, “and merely ask him if he saw anybody around the garden…”

I did so. I rapped. I rang. Nobody answered. The door was open and I was tempted to tiptoe in. I called. I rang and rapped.

No answer.

I stuck my nose in the doorway and sniffed.

But even if there were any telltale odor, I had lost the power to smell it from standing over those steaks for so long.

“Let’s sit and wait,” suggested Jim, when I came back.

“It’s too late to buy another couple of steaks,” I reflected.

So we sat and waited. No sign of the neighbor.

Dusk came. Jim and I nibbled the salad. We had a cup of coolish coffee.

Dark fell. No sign of the neighbor.

“Well,” said Jim at length, “I’m starved. I’m simply weak from starvation. So let’s…”

So we went up to the nearest neighborhood quick-and-dirty and had fried eggs and bacon.

And when we got back home, the neighbor’s house was all closed up, chair folded away, newspaper picked up, and a soft low light glowing in an upstairs bedroom.

But mind you; it is purely circumstantial.


Editor’s Note: Backyard barbeques were a new invention after World War Two, hence Jim not knowing what it was. Of course, cooking over fire or charcoal was nothing new, nor was barbeque in general. But up until then, barbeques were usually fixed things, that you would do at campsites or picnics. The idea of a small, portable barbeque that you could have in your backyard was new.

The Mechanics of the Thing

“… in the mechanical arts you have a true demonstration of social effort.” “Ouch,” screamed Jim.

The first rule is: Leave things alone. Particularly things like lawn mower blades

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 18, 1942.

“You’re looking particularly gloomy,” observed Jimmie Frise.

“I’ve been thinking,” I explained, “and it always makes me bilious.”

“You want to be careful,” warned Jim. “You should leave the thinking to those whose job it is. Suppose everybody started thinking. What a fine mess we’d be in then!”

“Don’t be cynical, Jim,” I cautioned. “Isn’t it time everybody started thinking? We have been leaving everything to the guy whose job it is. Or was. If some bird was interested in politics, we left polities to him. If some bloke liked soldiering, we left soldiering to him. If some other baby liked making great big steel tractors, we left making great big steel tractors to him. Then along comes a war. So we leave the conduct of the war to the guys who like politics. And we leave the soldiering to the bloke who likes soldiering. And we leave the making of tanks to the baby who likes making tractors. It never occurred to us that maybe these people who liked doing those things were no more fitted to save us from disaster than any other three busybodies we might pick out at random.”

“Now, now, now,” protested Jimmie. “Doesn’t it stand to reason that people experienced in government should be trusted with government in an emergency? Isn’t it reasonable to suppose that people interested in soldiering should be entrusted with handling our soldiers when we raise them? And doesn’t it make sense that industrialists should know more about producing war material than anybody else?”

“What you say proves,” I informed him, “that you haven’t been thinking. You’ve got faith. But you aren’t thinking.”

“Then,” smiled Jimmie loftily, “what should I think?”

“I suppose,” I weaseled, “that because a kid likes to play hockey, you should let him on the championship team?”

“But the way you find your championship team,” crowed Jim, “is by scouring all the lesser teams. You don’t make a championship hockey team out of wrestlers and tennis players. That is precisely how we get government, soldiers and industrialists. Out of all those playing those games, we select the best.”

The Eternal Battle

“I have trapped you,” I announced. “You still think war is a game. Our government, our army and our industry are not bridge tables. Neither are they private clubs or lodges in which only members may play. War is a convulsion. It is a desperate illness of the body social. It is a natural disaster like smallpox or infantile paralysis. It is like the eternal battle between the birds and the insects. It is one of the awful manifestations of nature. Periodically, one of the tribes of man that is down suddenly struggles to rise up. It happens endlessly, all across history, like the struggle of water to seek its level; like the battle of the jungle; like the fight in a garden between the plants; or the never-ending combat between the trees of the forest.”

“I admit war isn’t a game,” submitted Jim.

“Peace is a game,” I asserted. “A shabby, sordid sort of game, at that; in the hands of a lot of cigar-chewing promoters. But war is life and death; as it was in the beginning. War calls for fighters. And now the fighters must come to the top. By fighters, I don’t mean the noisy boys, the assertive, star performers who drew the big gates in the game of peace. What is there about government that a strong fighting man could not learn in 30 days? All he has to do, after 30 days’ study, is push button and call in a chief clerk to give him the technical data he wants. You and I have both been soldiers. What is there about soldiering that a clever man who has never soldiered could not learn in 30 days? All he has got to do is push a button and call in a department manager in the uniform of a general, to get any technical data he needs at the moment. What is there about one industry that a good man in any other industry cannot take in at a glance? The greatest successes in industrial and financial history have been created by clever, outstanding and fighting men who came in from the outside. War is neither a matter of government, of soldiering nor of industry. War is fighting. And what is fighting? Is it a game? Is it a thing of rules? A lot of dead men thought so, like Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon. They all ended in ruin, because fighting is another thing entirely – a matter of imagination of courage, of intellect and of soul. And as Caesar, Napoleon and all the rest found out, too late, the fighters hardly ever wore uniform, hardly ever had any political connection and hardly ever had the patience to collect, like raspberries, one by one, a billion dollars.”

To Help the Fighters

“You’ve ruled out all the ways we have of selecting our leaders,” complained Jim.

“And our leaders are ruling themselves out,” I assured him, “to make way for the fighters.”

“How will we select the fighters,” demanded Jim.

“You never select the fighters,” I explained. “They are a gift from on high.”

We sat in silence, thinking biliously.

“How useless my life has been,” muttered Jim. “Thirty years drawing cartoons. What good are cartoons now?”

“Thirty years emitting words,” I mumbled, for myself. “Like the drip from a pump.”

“We’re too old to fight,” said Jim, “but isn’t there something we could do to help the fighters?”

“We aren’t even good enough in the legs,” I snorted, “to be water boys, like Gunga Din.”

“We can still shoot,” calculated Jimmie. “We could be guerrillas.”

“I’ve often thought,” I suggested, “that we men from 50 to 60 years of age, if we were trained, could be recruited into special maintenance companies for the tank corps. Did you ever notice, around a garage, that the fellow who really does the problem jobs, on ignition, or on faulty timing, or any of the tricky cases, isn’t the strong, husky bird in his 20’s and 30’s? It is nearly always a middle-aged man, often in his 50’s or better.”

“By jingo, that’s a fact,” said Jim.

“The big husky boys,” I went on, “do the tire changing and the jacking up and the big, noisy jobs. But when your car has to be approached as if it were a murder mystery, it is always some middle-aged gent, in the dirtiest overalls, mostly wearing spectacles, who comes in, quiet and bold, and solves the puzzle. It seems to me that in this modern tank warfare, they are trying to get along without the very men they need most.”

“The men who fight the tanks,” agreed Jim, “can be the young, dashing, tough lads. But the maintenance squads… do they have to be young and dashing?”

“The light aid detachments,” I explained, “and the repair units that follow tanks into action have to be as nippy as the tanks themselves.”

“So they say,” added Jim.

“One thing,” I summed up, “in this day and age, every man ought to know some mechanics. The time has come, in human affairs, when it isn’t enough merely to be a smart buyer or a clever, seller; lawyers, parsons, accountants, salesmen, executives, even doctors, are so much baggage when fighting comes to the bare fists as it is now. Every living man, regardless of his age, should be trained to be able to make something with his hands. Every man should be a mechanic, if only to dig swiftly and cleverly with a shovel; or to splice a telephone wire or do rough carpentry.”

“Look,” said Jim. “At all the technical schools, at the universities, they are conducting classes, night classes, to teach people any one of the many mechanical arts.”

“Then…” I said with finality.

“Of course,” cried Jimmie. “Let’s get going. Let’s make a team specializing on heavy motors. You become the ignition expert and I’ll be the carburetor expert. It will be something,” cried Jim eagerly, “to fill our nights, this autumn. Every night we work, we’ll feel of more use. This awful feeling of sitting. doing nothing…”

“And in the course of a few weeks,” I stated, “we would be fit to grab hold of a job, instead of standing by and watching.”

“Even if we can’t be of practical use,” pursued Jim, “the training will at least make us the better able to understand what our fellow men are doing with their lives. In Norway, there are no private schools. All rich and poor, farmer and banker, are given the same education as far as they go. They all speak the same language, understand the same ideas. It knits them closer together as citizens. In our country, everybody ought to be made to master some mechanical craft and everybody should be taught literature, agriculture and business practice. Then, when we part to go our separate ways in life, we won’t feel like foreigners to one another as we do now.”

“Jim,” I confessed, “in the past 30 years, I haven’t mended a tap or repaired a broken switch. I haven’t even tacked down any weather-stripping. I blush to think of all the hundreds of little jobs I have passed up, around my home, in favor of calling in the plumber, the electrician or the handy man.”

Repairing the Lawn-mower

“It isn’t that you are lazy,” suggested Jim. “It is merely that you have been taught, from your earliest childhood, in school and in life itself, that you must be smart enough to be able to employ other people to do the work that is done by hand. The beau ideal of our educational system is not the white collar man. He is the white-handed man!”

“And now, in all our war camps from the Arctic to the tropics,” I exclaimed, “the commando is our ideal in a desperate effort to convert all our soft white hands into hard brown hands.”

“Okay, carburetors for me,” cried Jim, rising and rolling up his sleeves in expectation.

“I’ll run up tomorrow noon,” I said, “and find out what I can about these night classes at Varsity and at the technical schools.”

“After all,” said Jim eagerly, “just because I have been an artist all my life, surely all the stuff my farmer ancestors had hasn’t petered out of me.”

“One of my grandfathers,” I asserted, “was a stone mason and the other was a farmer who worked 200 acres. I bet I’ve got the stuff in me, if only give it a chance.”

With his sleeves rolled up, Jimmie walked around the room, tested the light switch, tried the window latches, lifted up a chair and felt its rungs.

“There are a hundred things a man can do…” he mused.

“I’ve got it,” he cried suddenly, “My lawn-mower. There’s the very thing. I’ve been intending to repair my lawn mower for two years now.”

“Clocks and lawn-mowers,” I cut in, “are two things my grandmother told me no man should tinker with.”

“Come on,” said Jim, rolling his sleeves still higher. “We’ll begin at the beginning. We’ll tackle the job on hand, just to show our hearts are in the right place.”

First he led me down cellar where, from shelves, drawers, boxes, he assembled the most extraordinary collection of tools. A wrench, hammer, file, oil can, at least half a dozen spanners of assorted sizes.

“Who said you weren’t mechanical?” I demanded in admiration.

“Some of them,” said Jim, “workmen have left behind. Others I borrowed from neighbors so long ago I forget whose they are. Every home has a scattering of tools like this.”

Out in the garden, Jim brought forth the lawn mower from the corner of the garage.

“Why, that’s a swell lawn mower,” I cried. “What’s the matter with that?”

“It needs sharpening,” said Jim, file already in hand. “And the blades need adjusting, Every once in a while, they jam some way.”

“Do you sharpen a lawn mower with a file?” I inquired dubiously

“You sharpen everything with a file,” explained Jimmie.

With a small spanner, Jim explored around among the nuts and bolts until he found the one that held the blade assembly in place. And in a jiffy, he had the blades, all in one piece, out on the ground.

“Feel them,” he said, “dull as a hoe.”

So while Jim scrubbed at the blades with the file. I tinkered around with the frame, oiling here, wiping off there: tightening loose nuts and screws and discovering, for the first time, the simple principle of gears which makes a lawn mower operate.

In 10 minutes. Jim had a nice gleaming edge on all the blades, including the big one in the frame. He wished he had a scythe stone to finish off the job, he said. When he was a boy on the farm, the thing he liked best was to watch a man stoning a scythe with long, strong strokes of the stone and a flexing wrist, making a sweet ring of steel in the summer air.

To Go to Night School

“Now,” said Jim, lifting up the blade assembly.

As his helper, I held the frame steady and helped direct the little ends of the axle into place.

“Gimme the small spanner,” ordered Jim, very mechanic like.

He tightened the nut carefully. But the blade assembly wobbled very loose in its frame.

“Have you touched any of those other nuts?” he demanded.

“I tightened a few of them up,” I explained. So Jimmie went all over the various nuts and screws, loosening and tightening, while feeling the set of the blades in the frame.

“It doesn’t hang level,” I pointed out.

“Not likely to,” muttered Jim, “with people tinkering all over the job. The first rule of mechanics is, don’t tinker. Leave things alone.”

“All I did was oil it,” I protested indignantly, “and tighten up a couple of these nuts that were just about falling off.”

“Here,” said Jim, “take this spanner. I’ll hold the blades in the proper position, and you tighten up the different nuts until it takes hold, just the way I’m setting it.”

I took the spanner and tightened. I tightened here and I tightened there, little by little the way you put on a spare tire.

“Easy now,” warned Jim.

“How’s she coming?” I inquired.

“It’s starting to grasp hold,” admitted Jim.

“One thing about mechanics,” I said, “you always have to have a helper. There is something very companionable about mechanics.”

“Easy,” said Jim. “Pay attention.”

“In most other lines of work,” I said, “you work alone. Writers, artists, lawyers, salesmen, they all work alone. But in the mechanical arts, you have a true demonstration of social effort…”

“OUCH!” screamed Jimmie very unexpectedly.

“Oh,” I replied, turning the wrench firmly in the other direction.

“Oucheeeeeee!” yelled Jimmie in agony.

The tip of his finger was caught between the blades and the edge of the mower.

“Turn it the other way,” he roared.

“That’s tightening it,” I gasped, heaving in the opposite direction.

“Take your foot off it,” bellowed Jim,

And with the littlest move of the mower my way, the blade opened and Jim snatched his finger out.

“It was your darn foot,” he accused bitterly “shoving on the mower that made the blade catch me.”

“I was just getting a good purchase on the spanner,” I explained. “Is it cut?”

“No,” growled Jim, “but it might have been.”

“I’m very sorry,” I assured him. “I was just shoving with my foot…”

“Don’t describe it,” said Jim, standing up and shaking his hand rapidly, to take the pain out of his finger.

“I was doing the best I knew how,” I insisted.

“Listen,” said Jimmie, “there is a mechanics to all things. There is a mechanics to lawnmowers. If you shove one way, the blades go one way; if you shove the other, the blades go the other. It is the same with politics, soldiering and business. There is a mechanics to them all. First, you have to be an apprentice. Then you have to be a journeyman. It takes a long time to be a master mechanic.”

“It’s a funny thing we can’t tinker with a lawn-mower,” I asserted, “a simple thing like a lawn-mower. We’re not saps exactly.”

“Yet,” said Jim, putting the end joint of his bruised finger in his mouth, “you are prepared to let guys at least as clever as us tinker with government, soldiering and industry?”

“There’s a big difference,” I claimed, “between waging war and mending lawn-mowers.”

“You’d be surprised,” retorted Jimmie, “how much alike they are, in the main.”

So when his finger stopped hurting, Jimmie held the blades steady with a stick. And I braced both feet on the frame and took hold of the spanner and tightened all the nuts until the veins stood out on my forehead.

And the lawn mower hums like a Spitfire.


Editor’s Note: A scythe stone is a long narrow sharpening stone.

Cave Men

Softly and terribly the low moan came from the darkness ahead

In the shadows on these ghostly walls, I thought suddenly he was wearing a skirt

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July, 8, 1933

“I was out for a drive Sunday,” said Jim, “and near Bronte I hear there is a great cave where William Lyon Mackenzie hid in his flight to the United States when the rebellion of 1837 blew up.”

“It would be nice to go exploring caves,” I said.

“That must have been a great adventure,” said Jim. “Only the pioneers would know about the cave. Maybe the Indians had told the pioneers, and along came Mackenzie in the night, with the Redcoats hunting him high and low, with £1,000 on his head, and some pioneer in his little log cabin hearing a rap on the door…”

“William Lyon Mackenzie,” I put in, “was dressed as a woman at that time. You know that gas station at Trafalgar, on the Dundas Highway? Well, sir, back of that gas station is an old roughcast tavern, a hundred and thirty-seven years old. It was a stage coach headquarters, and there Mackenzie came in the night, exhausted, and they dressed him in women’s clothes and hid him in an upstairs room while the soldiers who were hunting for him sat eating and drinking down in the tavern.”

“Well, then,” said Jim, “some pioneer down the Twelve Mile Crick heard a rap on his door and there stood Mackenzie in his women’s clothes, exhausted, beaten, bitter, alone. So they took him out across the little clearing and through the bush to this great cave on the hillside of the Twelve Mile. And he hid there until the posse of Redcoats on horseback came down the wild road.”

“You make it real,” I said.

“And the troop would stay out in the road while one Redcoat rode in,” went on Jimmie, “to shout out to the settler if they had seen a man, a little, fiery man with glittering eyes, come by. And the pioneer, with all his children locked in the roothouse for fear they might speak, would shake his head patriotically and say no, he had not seen any such a man come by this way.”

“Let’s go out there,” I said to Jimmie. “Let’s visit that cave. You don’t know what we might see in there. Or meet, for that matter. It is nearly a hundred years since Mackenzie hid there. Maybe the spirit of Mackenzie would appear to us.”

“They say it is a hard cave to get into,” said Jim. “It is on an estate called Woodlands; it used to be the homestead where Sir Thomas White was born and raised.”

“I’d like to spend a night in it,” I said.

So Jim and I got overalls and flashlights and pickaxes in case of trouble, and we drove out to the lovely Woodlands farm. On the way we stopped at the tavern at Trafalgar. All the gas station men knew about it was that it was very old and that Governor Simcoe used to stop there on his journeys by stage coach between York, Niagara and London.

The gas station men took us inside. The floors are of pine boards twenty-six inches wide, and the timbers are hand hewn. Upstairs the rooms are tiny, not much larger than pantries, with little low roofs. There is a front stairs and a back stairs and a most mysterious trap door stairs. It is mostly empty now. But if you stop and hold your breath you can hear very small sounds, such as spirits would make as they came to look at you, intruding in their private place.

Where Mackenzie Hid

“What a lovely bit of yesterday!” said Jimmie, eyeing the broad boards, the little sloping ceilings, the doorframes made by hand a century and a quarter ago by Canadians.

“Is there no record of which room William Lyon Mackenzie hid in?” we asked.

But the boys at the gas station did not know about that. They only knew about Governor Simcoe, which shows they are Tories.

We went from room to room and Jimmie finally decided it was the little room on the west side, looking out over the fields-toward the Sixteen Mile Crick, which Mackenzie would have to cross at dawn on a fallen tree before he could get to the Bronte creek, the Twelve Mile, to hide in his great cave.

The Mackenzie cave is hard to find. Even to-day it would be a good place to hide from the soldiers.

As Jimmie and I went through the deep woods, filled with flowers, we began to feel the spell of the past, and several times we saw Indians and Redcoats slipping from tree to tree, watching us as we advanced to the hundred foot high banks of the Twelve Mile.

A path leads steeply down to the Mackenzie cave. A path worn mostly by a century of boyhood.

On a shelf of the steep and sheer bank of the Twelve Mile Crick, which you pass on the long bridge over the Dundas Highway, we found the Mackenzie cave.

Its entrance is just a split in the great limestone rocks. Just a huge mouth, slightly open, as if the cliff were holding its breath.

“Or as if it were smiling,” said Jimmie, as we rested at the cave mouth and peered into the dim and forbidding entrance.

At first sight, the entrance to the Mackenzie cave appears too small for a person to enter. In fact, a big man would have trouble even crawling on end like a worm. It is about two feet high and fifteen feet wide, a wide grin of an entrance.

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me.”

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave-mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me”

I shot my flashlight into the gloom and saw twenty feet in large limestone rock blocking the passage, but over it appeared the deeper shadows of an inner room.

“Look overhead,” said Jim. “Millions of tons of damp earth and rock. What if our talking and moving around in there were to dislodge some little pebble and the whole thing collapse on us?”

“William Lyon Mackenzie wasn’t afraid of it,” I said.

“He had soldiers after him, dead or alive.”

It was bright summer sunshine outside. But a cold breath came softly out of the great mouth.

“Hello, in there,” I shouted. “Anybody in?”

My voice echoed queerly.

“Let’s come out some other day with a gang of us,” said Jim. “Just in case. Suppose anything happened, who would know we were here?

“Hello, anybody in there?” I shouted. Around us lay the bright summer stillness. Inside lay shadow, gloom and chill.

“I’ll go in here as far as that rock.” I said to Jim. “I’ll see what lies beyond.”

You lie down flat and work your knees and elbows until you reach the rock. By the time you get that far the roof over your head rises, and you can stand in a stooping position.

The soft trickle of a little stream of ice-cold water makes an eerie sound as you gaze into the dim shadows ahead, still faintly lighted by the day,

An Unearthly Sound

“Come and see, it’s a big room,” I called.

Jim, being larger, had a lot of trouble but presently got beside me at the barrier of rock. We shot our flashlights ahead and their beams were lost against an extraordinary darkness.

Beyond us, twenty feet further, lost in inky dark, was a huge cavern, its ceiling and walls marbled with stalactite traceries, like dull ice, from which dripped thousand trickles of water.

The vaulted ceiling was twelve feet high, and the chamber was perhaps fifteen feet in diameter.

Along the low, rock-roofed passage, with icy drops falling on our necks, we crept, and stared at the ghostly room.

“Unless they smoked him out,” whispered Jimmie, “they never would have got him.”

My flashlight began to flicker.

“That looks like a pool there,” said Jim. “That whole chamber is floored with a pool of water.”

We were not near enough to see the bottom of the cavern, and just as we started forward to get a view of it, our hearts froze with an unearthly sound.

“Oooooooohhhhhhh!”

Jim’s flashlight clattered from his hand and went out. Mine, grasped tightly in my hands, flickered and faded.

We gripped each other. “OoooooOOOOOhhhhh!”

Softly and terribly, the low moan came from the darkness ahead.

An icy drop fell on my neck. Jim and I clutched convulsively. My flashlight, calmly, quietly, went out.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered soundlessly to Jim. Lingering, he let go of me and I heard him pawing around on the rocks.

Something went splash ahead of us.

We clinched again.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered tensely.

Dimly, a little daylight filtered behind us and Jim started toward it, on all fours.

“Wooooo!” came the low howl.

They say in a theatre panic, it is terrible to see everybody trying to get through the one small exit. It is terrible to see two gentlemen trying to get out the same exit of a Mackenzie cave. I don’t know whether it was my elbow or Jim’s knee that caused the jam, but before we knew it, we were jammed headfirst in that tunnel, panting for breath.

“Back up!” I shouted.

“You go forward a bit!” roared Jimmie.

But backwards or forwards we were stuck.

“Don’t struggle too hard!” warned Jim. You might dislodge something and down all this would co-ome!”

Patiently we wriggled and backed and shoved and wormed, without avail.

“Jimmie, we’re stuck!” I announced hopelessly.

“We’ll have to stay here until we shrink with hunger,” said Jim. “When we lose weight, about the third or fourth day, one of us can work out.”

“And maybe we’ll have enough strength to climb that hill out there for help!”

We lay still.

“What would that be in there?” asked Jim.

“What else could it be?” I retorted.

Ahead of us we could see the glimmer of day. Our feet lay stretched behind us in that cavern filled with ghostly hooting.

Icy water dripped on our heads, our hands.

“Gentlemen,” said a voice behind us, “can I be of assistance?”

We lay stiff.

“You seem to be struck,” went on the voice. It was old and dry and soft.

“Perhaps,” it went on, “if I were to take hold of one of you by the heels and pull?”

“Yaw!” we yelled, kicking our heels frantically behind us.

A strong hand seized me by the foot. Then it caught my other foot and I felt myself being dragged backwards.

“Jimmie!” I shouted. “Hold me! Hold me!”

“Is it pulling?” demanded Jim.

“Yes.”

“All right, a ghost can’t pull,” said Jim. “Let him pull.”

The Force behind pulled and yanked, this way and that, and I felt myself giving. Suddenly the jam was broken. As I backed up, hands took hold of my shoulders.

“Don’t be alarmed, gents,” said the ghost. But Jimmie was vanishing like a groundhog out the tunnel.

“Who are you?” I gasped.

“Just a homeless man,” said the ghost. “I knew of this cave when I was a boy, so I just came up here for a day or two. It makes a good home for a hobo, doesn’t it?”

“Why did you go woo at us?” I demanded.

“I didn’t want any other residents in here,” said the ghost. “You seemed scared, so I did the natural thing.”

He located Jimmie’s flashlight and turned it on. I beheld a small, grizzled-haired man of about fifty, in ill-fitting old garments. His eyes were steel gray and brilliant. His hair was long and he had side-burns growing in front of his ears. He had a quaint look, if you understand me.

“Come into the big room and have a look around,” he said. There was a Scotch accent.

“Yoo-hoo, Jimmie.” I called. “Come on in, it’s all right.”

“I’ll stay here now I’m out,” called Jim faintly.

The little man smiled and led me into the big cavern.

Under the marbled and icy dome, with its wavering lines of stalactite drawn down the curving walls, lay a pure pool of water, six feet square. It seemed bottomless. In it you could make out sticks and logs that had been thrown in by people trying to see how deep it was.

“Did you ever see so pure a pool?” asked the little man.

“There might be some relics of William Lyon Mackenzie in there,” I said. “He was here, you know, in his flight to the States.”

“Was he, indeed?” said the little man.

“And if we dug around in that pool, might find something, preserved all this hundred years, some old papers, a pistol perhaps, some secret thing.”

“He threw nothing in there,” said the little man.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I have scraped around it and found nothing,” said the little man with a whimsical smile.

I began to feel uneasy.

“Well,” I said, “it’s beautiful. It is strange and eerie and beautiful. I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Oh, stay a while. Smoke a pipe. Don’t rush away.”

The little man had such large lapels on his old coat.

“I don’t mind certain kinds of visitors,” said he.

He had a wide, grim mouth that was sweet when he smiled.

“It all depends,” he said. “It all depends.”

In the shadows cast off those ghostly walls, I thought suddenly that I saw he was wearing a skirt!

“Well, sir, I must be going,” I said huskily. “I really must!”

“Good-day to you, then,” said he. “And don’t believe all you hear. And don’t take any plugged shillings.”

He handed me Jimmie’s flashlight. I bowed down and worked out the passage, lay down and wormed through the tunnel, and all of a heap, came out to the dazzling sunlight where Jim was crouched down watching me emerge.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jim. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know.” I said.

And the fact is, I don’t.


Editor’s Notes: William Lyon Mackenzie is well known to students of Canadian history.

Weekend Party

Jim worked the cord of the motor while I bailed water out of the boat…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 4, 1936.

“You’re coming up,” said Jimmie Frise, “to my cottage this week-end.”

“Maskinonge,” I asked, “or bass?”

“Both,” said Jim. “I have a letter here from the family saying that a great big monster has been rolling every morning out in front of the cottage not fifty yards off shore. They say it will go twenty pounds.”

“They’ll have it before we get there,” I suggested.

“They are saving it for you,” said Jim, kindly. “We can have a grand time. We’ll get there about five p.m. Saturday and go straight out fishing. All we have to do is push the skiff out from the dock and start casting right off our beach. It is grand musky water. Then, we can take the outboard and scoot down about a mile and a half to gravel point where the bass are as thick as swallows around a barn.”

“Boy, this sounds grand,” I cried. “When do we have to leave there for home?”

“We don’t have to leave until after supper Sunday evening,” said Jim. “That’ll get us in town by midnight.”

“It sounds like a real week-end,” I enthused.

“I’ve been wanting to take you up for the past three summers,” said Jim, “but somehow we never could match up our week-ends. But this time you’re coming.”

“Sure I’m coming,” I declared. “That musky rolling out in front of the cottage has got me. What bait do you generally use?”

“Oh, spoons,” said Jim. “Cast in spoons, little brass ones, with black feathers on the hook. But bring your whole outfit. We’ll go after them in a big way.”

And when we set sail Saturday noon, Jim’s car was so laden with boxes of vegetables and baskets of peas and all my fishing tackle that we could not see out of the rear view mirror.

“I love this week-end business,” I told Jim as we lurched through city traffic heading for the broad highway. “This business of loading up supplies. It’s a sort of Christmassy feeling every week. We poor husbands lonely at home, watering gardens, going to movies, sighing around the house in the heat. And then comes Saturday, and we get almost the same old feeling we used to get years ago when we were going to call on our best girl. We buy gifts. Instead of roses, we buy meat and vegetables and marshmallows and canned fruit. And with high hearts and a flush on our faces, we head for the wilderness, where our dear ones, amid the cool and pleasant wilderness, have hardly thought of us all week.”

“I wonder,” said Jim, “if other parts of the world are as happy as Canada, in regard to summer resorts? The minute a Canadian gets enough money to buy a car, he has got to have a summer cottage.”

“Imagine,” I cried, “having a place to park our families in summer where there are great big muskies and tough fighting bass right off the front porch! How many muskies did you get last year, by the way?”

“Oh, you know me,” said Jim. “I talk a lot about fishing and I buy a lot of tackle, and I plan to go fishing a lot. But I don’t really fish much. By the time I get to the cottage, I want to lie in the hammock.”

Eager and Gay

“Not this week-end, my boy,” I assured him. “You’re with a real fisherman this time.”

“That’s what I need,” agreed Jim. “Somebody to egg me on.”

“Listen, we’ll pull up in front of your cottage,” I planned, “and unload the tackle out of the car straight into the skiff and push right off? Is it a bet?”

“You’re on,” agreed Jim delightedly.

So we arrived at the broad highway and began the four-hour battle. All bright and gay, the country smiled encouragingly as thousands of us debilitated city dwellers fought our way north, east and west. Good cars and old cars, cars laden with provender and cars loaded with mattresses, camp cots and tents; trucks grinding their obstructive way while long lines of us sweatily horned and tooted and glared sideways back at them while we passed; sport models full of superior and carefree youth that zipped by us more sedate citizens; tie-ups, old junk cars coughing up hills; ah, the parody of Saturday afternoon. If it were not that we were as bridegrooms, if we were not eager and gay, we would never so much as take our cars out of the garage of a Saturday afternoon.

But Jim drove and cussed and sneered; and I leaned out the window and shouted uncomplimentary remarks to drivers of less agile craft than ours; or retorted to the jeers of others whose cars were more agile than ours. And in due time we came to the end of pavement, and launched forth into a highway of gravel, where we ate dust, and skittered and bumped over washboards, and finally left even the gravel to take to a narrow little backwoods road where, if you meet a car coming against you, either you or it has to back up to a wide place to pass.

And about the time we struck this country road, the sky had darkened, rumbles of thunder warned of weather, and down into the leaves that brushed the sides of the car spattered the first big drops of summer rain.

“All the better for fishing,” I assured Jim. “You aren’t afraid of a wetting?”

“The best muskie I ever got,” replied Jim, “I got in a heavy rain that made the water leap up in a million little jets.”

And at six p.m. daylight saving time, in a world gray and sweeping with rain, we arrived at Jim’s cottage. And from indoors, as we turned in, came a bevy of gay young people, and we unloaded the chariot and the boxes were happily hustled indoors. But I could sense a certain embarrassment. I could see them catching Jim’s eye and giving him signals. And in a few minutes Jim came out heartily and said:

“They’ve got some kids staying with them, so I guess it’s the tent for us two old campaigners.”

“Grand, Jim,” I cried. “I love the sound of rain on a tent.”

“We had better put it up now, rather than when we come in from fishing,” suggested Jim.

“Right-o,” said I.

But then we were called for supper, and by the time supper was over and I looked out across the dimpling water, where the rain still slanted and peppered, it seemed to be getting a little dark.

“Jim,” I said, “let’s slam the tent up or we won’t get out to-night.”

Caulking the Old Boat

Jim went hunting and came back with a roughly-bundled tent of an oldish grayish color, and then we both hunted for the poles which never turned up.

“We can cut poles in a jiffy,” said Jim. Which we did, and they weren’t very good poles. We unrolled the tent and figured it all out, and struggled with the poles and the billowy canvas, and the rain still spattered and slanted. We had to go and cut pegs for the guy-ropes of the tent, and it got darker all the time.

“Just cut pegs for the corners,” said Jimmie. “We’ll do with a rough job tonight.”

“We’ll never get fishing,” I said. “But we can be up bright and early.”

The tent was pretty damp by the time we had it more or less erected, and the ground was soaked. But Jim got camp cots out of the cottage, and presently we got to bed.

“Early to bed, early to rise,” said Jim.

“The mosquitoes are fairly bad,” I answered.

The sun waked us. I could tell by the angle of the sun that it was not really early. In fact, it was the voices of children in the distance, apparently in swimming, that really wakened me.

“Jim,” I cried, looking at my watch, “it’s after nine, daylight saving.”

We leaped out of bed to find a lovely sunny morning, the water still as a mill pond, and nobody up yet.

“We’ll just go in and snatch a bite of breakfast,” decreed Jim. “And away.”

Quietly, so as not to wake everyone, we had a bowl of dry cereal and bread and jam. And then we gathered up our tackle and headed for the little dock in front of Jim’s.

“The boat,” said Jim, “was kind of leaky last week but I told them to leave it in the water to soak up.”

The boat, however, was on the beach, turned over. And I could see right through the cracks in the keel.

“Can we get a boat handy?” I inquired, businesslike.

“It won’t take ten minutes to caulk this up,” said Jim. “I brought a can of new caulking stuff for it.”

Which he produced from his fishing tackle box.

“Jim,” I said, “don’t fool with this skiff. Let’s rent one or borrow one, handy.”

“The nearest place to rent one is six miles up the lake,” said Jim, “and I wouldn’t dream of borrowing anybody else’s boat around here. Anyway, they are likely all out fishing.”

“Well,” said I. So I laid down all my tackle, rod cases, steel boxes, leather bags, nets, gaffs and what not, and helped Jim pry the lid off the caulking cement.

“This stuff is elastic,” explained Jim happily, cutting himself a sort of spreader from a stick. “It dries quick, the man said. But it is elastic and sticks in the cracks.”

The stuff was very liquid. We stirred it and spread it carefully in the wider cracks. Then we found smaller cracks and nail holes and carefully stuffed the cement into them.

“This is a great old boat,” said Jim. “I wouldn’t get rid of it for any boat they make nowadays. It’s a pleasure to handle this boat.”

We just went on stuffing and spreading. We found some quite large holes at the ends.

“Now,” said Jim, “let her dry, a few minutes, and away we go.”

“Let’s Prove We’re Anglers”

I sat down and batted mosquitoes away.

Jim walked out on the little dock. It was high and dry and the piles of stones that supported it were at least ten feet from water’s edge.

“The water in these lakes,” said Jim, “is dropping every year.”

“Maybe if we waited a few years,” I said, “we could come up and catch the muskies on dry land.”

Jim started moving stones from under the ricketty dock out towards the water. There is something attractive about moving a stone.

Jim moved about four stones. I got up and picked one up that I saw him deliberately avoid. I hoisted it. Waddled down to the water with it. Plunked it down.

“Boy,” said Jim, “you’ve got a back.”

“Short men are good at lifting,” I explained.

“We might as well do this,” said Jim, “while waiting for the boat to dry.”

One by one, we hoisted the stones. Jim tried several he couldn’t even get knee high, I hoisted them easily.

“I never realized,” said Jim graciously, “how strong you really were.”

“I was always a good lifter,” I assured him.

We got them all shifted. We made two good strong piles of them, and Jim said we might as well shift the planks, now that we had got the stones moved. It was only a matter of ten minutes before we had a nice little dock rebuilt, right where it should be.

We were just testing the caulking on the skiff when there came a strong call from the cottage.

“Dinner!”

“Dinner,” I said. And my watch showed noon.

We went up and squeezed in at a very crowded table, with several of the smaller children sitting at a side table, and had a great big summer dinner of cold meat and salad and about five cups of tea the way you can drink it at a summer resort. And it was two o’clock, daylight saving, when we walked out on the veranda, and Jim sagged into the hammock.

“Come, me lad,” I laughed at him. “None of that!”

“Just for five minutes,” said Jim. “Just to start digestion.”

I sat and rocked while the veranda filled with youth; and old Jim, with a grin on his face, closed his eyes and enjoyed a brief snooze.

“Up you get,” I commanded. “We’re anglers. Let’s prove it.”

“Oh, me,” groaned Jim, and rose heavily and went indoors to get the outboard motor, I helped him carry it down. The skiff was not yet dry. As a matter of fact, the cement only had a sort of crust on it, which broke when you stuck your finger on it, and the sticky stuff clung to your finger.

“Let her go,” said Jim. “The water will harden it.”

We launched the skiff, carefully.

“She leaks,” I noted.

“You bail,” decreed Jim. “It will close up in no time.”

He adjusted the outboard. I bailed. I batted mosquitoes. The lake was glassy smooth. There was a haze. I scanned the water for the boil of a monster musky rising. But only the dip of little water flies disturbed the glassy smoothness.

Jim wound up the engine cord and jerked. The water bubbled. The engine hissed and sucked. We moved, in slow bunts, forward with each jerk of the outboard cord.

“Hm, hm, hm,” said Jim, opening this and shifting that. He stuck his finger in the fuel tank and inspected the mixture. He gave little quick pulls of the cord. Long, slow hauls at it. He twiddled gimmicks and gadgets.

“Hm, hm, hm,” said I.

But bailing was necessary. There were several small clear little pencils of water spouting up out of the bottom of the boat from places we had not suspected.

“Paddle her in to the dock,” said Jim.

“What with?” I asked politely.

“Oh, I forgot the oars,” said Jim. “Paddle her in with your bailing can.”

I paddled as best I could the little distance we had drifted. Jim unscrewed the outboard and hoisted it on to the wharf.

“It won’t be a second,” said Jim. “I know the insides of these things like a book.”

I went for a little walk along the beach while Jim took the thing apart. I came back and sat down and watched him, as he unscrewed and unbolted, examined, refitted. He got covered with black grease. He seemed so concentrated, I hated to disturb him.

He tried three different bolts in the one nut he was holding, so I said:

“Jim, it occurs to me we ought to get an early start home so as to miss that dreadful traffic. A day like this, I bet it would take seven hours to get back to town.”

Jim pondered. He tried the three small bolts in two other nuts.

“Hm,” said he. “What time is it?”

“It’s three-fifteen.”

“Not much of a day for fishing,” he said, gazing at the glassy and brassy lake.

“I don’t think a fish would look at a bait on a day like this,” I agreed, rising. “What do you say if we get an early start and avoid the traffic jam?”

“I’m with you,” agreed Jim. “I’ll take this thing back to town and have it overhauled. By next week, the boat will be thoroughly tight. We’ll make a day of it next week.”

We got a box and Jim put all the loose parts of the outboard in it. We packed our stuff into the car.

“I should attend to a couple of leaks in the roof,” said Jim. “They were nearly flooded out last night. It wouldn’t take ten minutes to slip a few shingles in under the spots that leak.”

“How about doing that next week?” I asked. “Time is flying. We don’t want to get into that traffic jam.”

We made our farewells to the one or two who were not having the afternoon siesta.

“Next week,” said Jim, gazing tenderly at his cottage, the placid lake, the dock, the boat, once more upside down, its repaired bottom bright with spots of pale cement, “we’ll make a real day of it.”

“Yes,” I said, “yes, yes, yes, yes.”

Only I made each yes sound different from the others.


Editor’s Notes: For some reason, Greg says Maskinonge, which is French for Muskellunge, which is the pronunciation he normally uses.

As mentioned before, the weekend only started on Saturday afternoon back then, and it was common for men to stay in the city and work while their families would spend all summer at a cottage. The men would then go up on Saturday afternoon, and leave Sunday afternoon.

This story appeared in both So What? (1937), and Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise Outdoors (1979).

Locke Can Have Them!

Some small children, playing in the street, called to one another and formed a procession behind us.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, June 28, 1947

“Incidentally,” inquired Jimmie Frise, “are you color blind?”

“Certainly not,” I informed him.

“The reason I ask,” went on Jim, “is the way you dress.”

“What’s the matter,” I demanded, “with the way I dress? I’d rather dress with a little individuality than the way most men dress. In drab grays, blues, browns. Like inmates of an institution.”

“I’d rather look,” replied Jim, “like an inmate of an institution than like an escaped inmate of an institution.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked hotly.

“Weeeeelll, after all,” soothed Jimmie, “it pays to conform. After all, there are certain standards in this world. It’s a lot more comfortable to conform.”

“I’m comfortable enough,” I assured him.

“Just look at you!” scoffed Jim. “A rowdy tweed coat. A green shirt. Navy blue pants. And brown shoes.”

“Look:” I interrupted. “What difference does it make to anybody in the world how I dress? Actually, does it matter in the very slightest degree to a single living soul in this whole earth whether I dress this way or some other way?”

“There’s me,” suggested Jim. “The sight of you makes me uneasy.”

“How could it?” I protested.

“It’s this way,” explained Jim. “Society is an institution. An artificial institution. Society doesn’t come natural to man. Cattle and sheep live in herds. That’s society. But men are more like wolves or other predators. They live best in small packs. In the beginning, men did live in small packs. And the packs were continually fighting one another for trespassing on each other’s hunting preserves. So, after a long struggle, a system was worked out, called human society, in which an effort was made to persuade men to abandon their natural wolf pack way of life and adopt the social system of the herds of cattle and sheep.”

“Now, just a minute…!” I tried.

“What I’m getting at,” persisted Jimmie, “is that it is the duty of everybody in human society to try and conform to the herd. All sheep look alike. All cattle in a herd look alike. You can’t really tell one from another; unless, of course, you’re the owner of a small herd, and you know them Individually as Bessie, and Brownie and Bunty. I’m referring to great herds, like the human herd.”

“Now, hold on there!” I argued.

“To make human society work,” went on Jim, calmly, it is the duty of every one of us to fight back those individualistic impulses that throw back to the wolf in us. That is why clothes and fashions are so important. The highest type of social man is the man who looks most like all other men.”

“Some of the greatest men we’ve ever had,” I challenged, “like Winston Churchill, were famous for their funny-looking hats and conspicuous clothes!”

“Ah, the leaders, yes,” agreed Jim easily. “The herd bull is often a mighty and individualistic-looking creature. The ram that leads the flock is distinguished by huge and spectacular horns. I imagine the leaders of human society are entitled to the same distinctions. But I’m talking about the vast mass, the rank and file of human society. Its function – its DUTY – is to conform, to be uniform, to be standardized.”

“Are you talking socialism,” I demanded, “or Nazism?”

“The army,” concluded Jim, “is the highest expression of human society. There, the rank and file are dressed as like as pins, and trained, as far as possible, to act and think exactly alike. The generals, of course, are gaudy.”

“Jim,” I pleaded, “you don’t really believe all this, do you?”

“If it weren’t true,” retorted Jim, “then why do you see, in a big city like this, all the men breaking their necks to look all alike, to wear the same suits, coats, hats? Why do the great majority look askance at any man who dresses against the fashion? Like you?”

“Do people look askance at me?” I snorted.

“I’m looking at you askance,” confessed Jim, gently. “Ow! That shirt! Those pants! Those yellow boots!”

I looked down at myself and saw little to complain of. The coat is a favorite. It has great big bellows side pockets in which you can carry pipe, tobacco, all the letters you’ve got in the last few days, a notebook, a couple of small books like a bird guide or a fishing book, a small camera, a bottle of vitamin pills and any of the other things a man likes to have handy.

The navy blue pants, I admit, were not what I had intended to put on. But I picked them off the hook in the dark closet and had them on before I noticed they weren’t the gray flannels. But is a man to go around looking at his own pants all the time?

The green shirt? Well, it was the top shirt in the drawer.

And the yellow boots? Ah, now we’re on fighting ground. Boots are a man’s foundation. Comfortable, sturdy boots are the basis of a man. Rich or poor, look at a man’s boots, and you can tell his character at glance. I had my yellow boots on because they are the most comfortable.

Jim slowly surveyed me from head to foot, and shuddered.

“Ordinary consideration,” he said, “for your fellow-citizen should prevent you from a get-up like that.

Jim, never since the days of George IV.” I informed him, “has there been such color and freedom in men’s clothes as there is today. Sport coats, sport shirts, hand-painted neckties, pastel hats…”

“But they don’t clash!” cried Jim. “They blend, they co-ordinate.”

“Did you notice,” I asked bitterly, “in the papers a few weeks back all the excitement about Bobby Locke’s plus fours?”

“The golf champion?” said Jim.

“Yes, the South African,” I declared, “who came over here and grabbed off a lot of the big cash prizes in the golf tournaments. Now, what do you suppose was the biggest news about Locke? What do you imagine all the newspapers and the wire services featured about Bobby Locke? It was his plus fours. His big baggy pants. Why, even Time had a feature on them.”

Now, what do you suppose was the biggest news about Locke?… It was his plus fours.

“Well, they’re a little old fashioned,” pointed out Jim. “Back 20 years ago, plus fours were the standard golf costume. No gentleman felt himself properly dressed for a golf game unless he had on plus fours.”

“Plus fours,” I stated, “have nothing to do with golf, then or now. Plus fours were sanctified by the grouse shooters, deer stalkers and salmon fishers of Scotland ages before the golfers took them up. Plus fours are the finest sporting garments ever designed. There is more freedom in them than anything save the kilt. They’re roomy where room is needed, and leave your lower legs and ankles free of the flapping nuisance of trouser cuffs. And I have a pair.”

“Of plus fours?” exclaimed Jim. “I never saw you in them.”

“I wear them on special occasions,” I explained, cautiously.

“Such as going to the opera, I suppose,” scoffed Jim, “or to weddings!”

“They’re heavy Harris tweed,” I explained stiffly. “I got them in Scotland about 20 years ago.”

“Funny I never saw you in them,” muttered Jim.

“Well, there are too many burrs in this part of Canada,” I mentioned. “First time I wore them out rabbit hunting in the fall, I got into a burr patch and it kind of gummed me up. Took my entire family and me the whole evening to pick them free.”

“Still, there have been several funerals,” persisted Jim,” where I would have expected to see you in them…”

“Okay, Jim,” I submitted sadly. “You dress like a chartered accountant if you like. You go socialist if you like, and dress like a numb little robot. An I can say is, Bobby Locke wore plus fours and almost swept the golf world. I’m willing to bet he owed a lot to the plus fours on two accounts: first, because they gave his legs the fullest freedom possible; and second, the psychological effect of them on his opponents. They were a mental hazard. You see a man waddling around in plus fours, and you get an entirely erroneous idea of what he’s got underneath them.”

“Let’s see you in your plus fours, some time,” laughed Jimmie.

When I went home for supper, I went to the attic and opened up all the pillow cases full of old hunting clothes until I came to the plus fours, forgotten all these years. There were still some burrs in them.

I took them down and changed into them, and selected a windbreaker and a nice quiet sport shirt of one of the gloomier Scottish clans. I found the coarse woolen knee hose that go with the plus fours balled up in the pockets of the garment. My yellow shoes completed the ensemble.

And after dinner, I walked around the corner to Jim’s, finding him weeding the petunias. He sat back on his haunches and surveyed me.

“By George,” he breathed, “you look like something dug up out of the twenties! You look like a Scotch countryman out on the misty hills looking for a shilling a friend said he had lost. Did you come round the front way, or through the back lanes?”

“Does anything clash?” I inquired sharply. “Isn’t this shirt and windbreaker in conformity with the plus fours? The hose are a proper blend with the tweed…?”

“It’s not the blend I refer to this time,” said Jim, rising. “Let’s go indoors, eh?”

“Are you afraid of the neighbors?” I sneered.

“Well, after all,” said Jimmie, “it’s not the season for masquerade parties.”

I stood my ground.

“Jim,” I enunciated, “I’m going around to the corners to get some tobacco. Want to come?”

“Think of your wife and children,” suggested Jim.

“They don’t mind me,” I said.

“Wait till after dark,” urged Jim. “Come on in.”

“You’ve got a psychosis,” I charged. “You’ve gone socialist without knowing it. You may be a Tory in your surface mind but underneath, you’re licked, Jim. You are frightened. You conform. You want to hide in the herd – that herd of sheep you were talking about this afternoon.”

“You’ve got a good point there,” agreed Jim, “come on in and sit down and we’ll talk it over.”

“I’m going to walk around and get some tobacco,” I stated, starting for the front walk.

“If you were taller,” suggested Jim, “if you weren’t so wide … sort of … or if the plus fours weren’t QUITE so bloomy …”

“Even personal insults, eh?” I gritted.

“Oh, well…” sighed Jim, throwing down the trowel and dusting off his hands.

So we walked out to the pavement and turned south to go the three blocks to the shops.

It is easy to be nonchalant in plus fours. They afford great freedom to the nether limbs and also to the mind. They are airy, roomy, and from them arises a spirit of liberty that affects the whole being.

On the verandahs of the neighbors, as we passed, there were outbreaks of sudden short coughs; and also sudden silences. Whenever we met people walking, Jim stepped smartly ahead of me, as if to shield me from view. Normally, Jim is very respectful to the sensitiveness of a short man, who always hates to be stood in front of. But tonight, he was obviously in distress. A car full of young people honked their horn loudly as they passed, and cheers wafted from them. Another car, farther on, slammed on its brakes with a screech of tires, as it passed us.

Some small children, playing in the street, called to one another and formed a procession behind us, chanting some unintelligible nonsense, until Jimmie drove them away.

At the corners, where there were groups of people waiting for the bus and lingering in the store fronts, there were again those sudden silences as we passed along into the cigar store,

“See, Jim?” I explained. “Those abrupt silences are marks of respect. Everybody respects a person of obvious individuality.”

We got our tobacco and emerged into the evening.

“Let’s go round the other way,” suggested Jim. “Right around the block.”

“Okay.” I said.

Again, the silences on the verandahs. Again a couple of salutes from car horns and several cars slowed down for the view.

“What’s the hurry, Jim?” I remarked, for he was walking far faster than his usual gait.

A bunch of kids were playing soft ball on the pavement ahead. One of them got his eye on me at a little distance and yelled. They were all ganged up on the sidewalk for our passage. Their cries and exclamations grew louder,

“Hey, mister,” yelled one, “what have you got in there? Samples? Hey, give us some samples!”

Another made a snatch at my plus fours, as I passed. I thrust him firmly aside. They formed into a parade and followed, yelling variously.

“He’s got SOMETHING in there!” one screamed. “Biggest pockets I ever saw ….”

“Go away! Go away!” Jimmie and I both commanded.

But they followed; the procession grew; and a small wirehaired terrier, seeing the excitement, joined in, yapping perilously at my heels. People came forward on their verandahs, and out their side drives. A cocker spaniel, of gloomy mien, joined in and, with the terrier, started yapping very close to the lower extremities of the plus fours. I walked faster.

On a lawn ahead stood a large sheepdog. From behind the screen of hair over its eyes, it viewed the gathering procession with lifted head and the tension of alertness.

I walked faster.

“Not too fast!” hissed Jim, beside me. “It makes them waggle.”

The sheepdog bounded forward. It took up the head of the parade behind me. The smaller dogs went frantic. The sheep dog took a small, speculative nip at the Harris tweed.

I lengthened stride.

I started to run.

The sheepdog took a good wide grab.

And in a great confusion of small boys, dogs, parents and the owner of the sheepdog, I was wrested free by Jimmie, who escorted me rapidly the rest of the block to my own house.

In the long hall mirror, I examined myself over my shoulder.

“I’m TERRIBLY sorry it was a sheepdog,” consoled Jimmie.


Editor’s Note: As they mentioned, Bobby Locke was a South African golf champion, whose early career was interrupted by World War Two. He was invited to the USA by the golfer Sam Sneed in 1947.

Brown Market

The old boy forked the frying chops which sizzled with the most punishing of savours!

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, June, 19, 1943.

“What a waste,” cried Jimmie Frise, “of valuable energy.”

“Where?” I inquired, glancing about the passing countryside.

“Right here, in this car,” declared Jim hotly. “You and me.”

“I can think,” I stated, “of no more honest use of our few gasoline coupons than visiting an old friend who is perhaps on his deathbed. Sam is one of our oldest friends.”

“What I mean,” cut in Jimmie, “is, we could have killed two birds with one stone. Right back there we crossed another trout stream.”

“I wish, Jim,” I said sternly, “that you would give up this eternal struggle to carry on your life as usual. We have entered into a solemn pledge not to waste our time, energy, money or gas on idle sport. Okay, let us stick to it, in the letter and the spirit.”

“Look,” pleaded Jim. “If one thing is going to hamper the war effort of this country, it is being stupid and stodgy. Never in our lives has it been more important that we use our imaginations, that we remain flexible and intelligent and alert, so that our every act, our every dollar, our every calorie, shall be fully spent to the best value. What is our situation right now? Sam, our lifelong friend, is very ill and has sent word that he would love to see us. We couldn’t get to his place by bus. And to go by train would be difficult, tedious and expensive of time. So we decide to use four of our precious coupons in driving out to visit him. Okay. After all, the human factor still survives, even in the midst of total war.”

“Total,” I asserted.

“Now,” said Jim, “in going to Sam’s, we know we have to cross at least seven famous trout streams.”

“Aw, Jim,” I snorted impatiently.

“Wait a minute,” insisted Jim. “We are both expert trout fishermen. Not many men in this country can get as many trout, in as short a time, as you and I. In certain respects, you and I are fish hogs.”

“Pardon me,” I stated. “I resent that.”

Just a Line of Talk

 “Well, what I mean,” said Jim, “is, we could be professional fishermen, if we had to. There are not many tricks about taking trout out of a stream that you and I don’t know, are there?”

“I haven’t been really skunked,” I confessed, “in the past 15 years.”

“Okay,” pursued Jimmie. “There is, at the moment, a food shortage throughout our country. Every pound of meat we eat, every sausage, every chicken, is just another cipher added to the shortage.”

“Mmmmm,” I muttered, seeing his line.

“We have,” said Jim, “in the past half hour, crossed half a dozen trout streams. In each of them are several hundred pounds of speckled trout, the finest, if I may suggest, the finest meat in the world. And we have stupidly, ignorantly, pig-headedly passed right over them, though they were ours for the mere asking. Why? Because of a wholly unintelligent pledge we made with each other not to indulge in sport. It’s criminal, that’s what it is!”

“Jim,” I stated wearily, “it is just such a line of argument as you are using that is the curse of our war effort right now. What you have just said, in relation to our little problem, is being said by men and women all over Canada, only in relation to their own lives, habits and desires. Big industrialists, bankers, financiers and members of the board are sawing off, just the way you want us to saw off, about trout fishing. Before them is the straight, grim hard road of war. But every one of them is seeking the rational, the sensible course by which they can follow that straight, hard road and at the same time take a little shortcut to pick a few daisies. Each of them is searching for the ideal system by which they may give their all, and at the same time keep as much as possible.”

“Hah, the usual cynical line,” cut in Jim.

“If it were cynical,” I assured him, “it would not be so bad. But it is here, right in this car, with us. It is in great big factories, where, for all the furious war activity, the deepest thinking around the place is being done for the future salvation of the factory. Not a worker in the factory but spends some minutes of every day talking or thinking about his private rights and privileges, and how to improve or secure them.”

“Rightly so,” declared Jim.

The Pharisees of War

“We are the Pharisees of war,” I submitted. “It is more important that we appear to be in the war effort than that we are in it. Great and terrible as are the demands of war, our own little private concerns are deeper in our hearts.”

“There are exceptions,” said Jim.

“Yes, I admitted. “There are, after all, a few really good people in the world. But, like white pine, they are usually far back from the railroads. I am speaking about us all, as a whole.”

“Still,” said Jim, slowing the car at the top of a long slope from which we could see a great dark valley full of cedar swamp, amidst which we knew one of the finest little trout streams in Ontario chills its secret course, “still, I think this case is different. We have to visit Sam. We have to use gas. We have to cross over these streams where, in maybe one hour you and I could take, for the alleviation of the food shortage, ten pounds each of the finest food…”

“Jim,” I said, closing my eyes so I could not see the valley, “you cannot temporize with life, much less with war. You have to set a hard and often grim rule. And stick to it as you would the ten commandments.”

Slowly down the mile long slope we coasted.

“I’m saving gas,” explained Jim, eating up the valley with his eyes.

When we entered the first fringe of the cedars, it was cool and fragrant, and Jim drove even slower. And when we reached the bridge over the stream, he stopped the car altogether.

We sat and looked at the beautiful dark, hurrying water. There is no water on earth as beautiful as a trout stream’s. There is a majesty about noble rivers. The St. Lawrence, below Quebec; the Ottawa above Mattawa, a noble river little known to millions of Ontarians: the Fraser, amid its mountains, a drama all unto itself. Certain lakes are incredibly beautiful. The sea is often so mighty in its beauty that it leaves you shrivelled and shrunken from that hour forth. But a trout stream, to be a trout stream, has to come from pure springs. It must travel in cool ways, avoiding the warmth of the open sun. It must be broken with riffles and rapids and falls, it must be alive and full of air, to be a trout stream. It must be secret and aloof in its character.

Jim got out the far side and I got out my side and we walked cautiously to the edges of the bridge and peered down under. Dark, quivering shadows darted this way and that, and suddenly a large trout, the size of a stick of stove wood, swung majestically around and hung poised in the shadows, its orange and milk edged fins fanning.

“You,” grated Jimmie, “and your temporizing! If it hadn’t been for you, there would be a fly rod in the back of my car.”

“Do you mean to say,” I demanded bitterly, “that you haven’t a fly rod in the back of your car?”

Jim just gave me a long, cold stare, as if he had never seen me before.

“In the back of my car,” I stated indignantly, “there is always an old fly rod. I always keep an old rod and a box of flies …”

Jim jerked so violently, the big trout vanished and all the small ones darted in all directions frantically. He walked off the bridge and wandered up the streamside amid the cedars, pausing to look cautiously into each pool. I went downstream, peering into the log jammed pools and seeing many a trout of good size, half a pound and up. In about 10 minutes, over 50 yards of water, I saw my 10 pounds of potential wartime emergency provisions.

By the time I got back to the bridge, Jimmie had cooled out, and he was signalling me eagerly from a clump of cedars up the stream.

When I reached him, he led me, stepping as soft as possible, to the edge of a pool. A spring came in there, right in the stream bed, and its golden sand whirled and eddied not only from the current but from the billowing up of icy fresh water from the earth. There, alert and filled with the lightning of their species, five glorious speckled trout circled and poised, ready for instant flight. They were all of a size, which would be about 16 inches each, or say a pound and ten ounces per.

“There,” hissed Jim, “is war effort!”

And after a good quarter hour of fascination, we wended our way back through the brush to the car, Jimmie not speaking at all.

He got in and slammed his door. I got in and shut mine politely. Jim stepped on the starter. It growled.

It continued to growl.

“Wait a minute, maybe she’s flooded,” I suggested.

Jim rested her a few seconds, and then impatiently tramped on the starter again. At the end of five minutes, we knew something was wrong with the engine. We had the hood up. We examined the carburetor. We checked the wiring to the spark plugs. We did all the things we could think of. But the engine was very hot. And very dead.

“What time is it?” demanded Jim.

“It’s just noon,” I replied.

“We were to be at Sam’s at noon,” said Jim pettishly, “and it’s another 30 miles to Sam’s.”

“Let her cool for a little while,” I suggested.

A Treat For the Eyes

So we stood around and studied the stream some more. I went back up to the spring hole and sat down and soaked my eyes in those five lunkers. Jim kept fiddling about the car. He put a hatful of the icy stream water into the radiator. I heard him grinding the starter again, and I came out.

“Don’t wear your battery out,” I warned.

In reply to which, Jim gave the horn a short, sharp snort.

“Well,” he cried, “are we going to spend all day here? If we only had a trout rod…”

“Let’s walk up the road,” I suggested, and find a telephone. Maybe in the next village there is a garage.”

Which we did. The valley was wide, maybe half a mile, and just at the far edge of it, where the cedars began to give way to hardwood, we saw a little cabin set back in the woods.

In the doorway, an elderly man was standing and he waved cheerily at us.

We walked in his path to inquire where we could get the nearest telephone.

He was a genial old boy. Apparently he was just cooking his lunch, for he had an old tea towel in his hand, and from the door came the most ravishing odor of cooking.

“No phone,” he said, “within two miles. Abbott’s used to have a phone, just over the top of the hill, there. But they took it out about 12 years ago.”

“Two miles,” we sighed, for it was a warm day and a long hill ahead.

“Stay right here,” suggested the old boy, “and in about an hour, Jake the mail man comes by. He’ll give you a lift to the nearest phone.”

“Mmmm,” I said, “we don’t want to interrupt your dinner.”

“Come on in,” cried the old boy, “and share it. I don’t often get visitors. It’ll be a pleasure.”

“Is it trout?” I inquired eagerly.

“No, I’m fed up with trout,” said the old boy. “I’ve ate enough trout this year to last me. What with the prices they can get, the farmers around here even haven’t any eggs, let alone a bit of meat. But sit down, I’ll have a dish fit for the king in another 10 minutes.”

We came inside the tidy cabin and the old boy went to the stove and forked the frying chops which sizzled with the most punishing of savors.

“No woman here?” I asked.

“Never had a woman here,” said the old boy above the frying, “women, are too pernickety for me. I like to lead my own life, always have.”

New Kind of Chops

We had arrived at the psychological moment, for the chops were just done, the potatoes were boiled and a small saucepan full of some fragrant sauce was simmering on the back of the stove. In a few exciting minutes, the old boy had three tin plates all neatly portioned and laid before us.

“Aaaah,” he said, “that sauce is made of things I picked up in the bush right handy here. Pepper root, wild garlic, tansy mustard and sweet cicely! Have plenty.”

And from the saucepan he poured liberal helpings of the sauce over the golden brown chops.

We set to.

“Gosh, that’s good!” I exclaimed.

“Lamb?” inquired Jim.

“You’d be crazy to eat lamb now,” said the old boy, stuffing it in. “Conserve your lamb, brother. Mutton will bring a good price next winter.”

“What on earth is it?” I asked, for the chops were not chops at all, but neat little sections of tender and delicate steak. I even got a miniature rib on one of my pieces.

“What do you say it is?” the old boy asked Jim.

“Well, sir, it’s mighty good, whatever it is,” said Jim. “Would it be chicken?”

“Guess again,” laughed the old boy, stowing away, and mopping up the wild herb sauce with his potato.

So we tasted and tested and guessed. And by the time we had tasted it all and tested and rolled it about and savored and sniffed, and gave up, the old boy sat back, with a heavy sigh.

“The red ones,” he said, “are no good. Only the gray ones. The grayer the better…”

“Squirrel?” I cried.

“No, groundhog,” said the old boy, picking his teeth. “Young choice groundhog. I call it the Brown Market.

Jim and I could not think of anything to say so we just looked at him.

“It stands to reason,” he said, “that a groundhog should be choice victuals, because it eats only the best. From early spring to late autumn, only the finest shoots of young wheat, garden vegetables, Brussels sprouts, only the finest.”

“I thought it would be kind of soft…” ventured Jim, trying his voice.

“Not it,” said the old boy, “Only use the good gray ones, cut out the little kernels from under the fore legs, boil him for an hour to remove any flavor there might be, and then fry him. You’ve got a dish for the king.”

I felt all right. I felt good, as a matter of fact, except spiritually. Moses did not mention groundhogs in his instructions to the Chosen People; but somehow I felt I had just offended against Holy Writ.

So we thanked the old boy. And on Jim’s suggestion, the mail man not having come by, we walked the half mile back to give the car one more try before deciding to walk the two miles over the hill.

At the first growl, the starter took, and the engine leaped to life.

“There you are, Jim,” I said. “If we had had trout rods with us, we would never have tasted groundhog.”

“Erp,” said Jim, giving her the gun.


Editor’s Note: The wild herbs mentioned are pepper root, wild garlic, tansy mustard and sweet cicely.

To Err is Human

“Hey,” cried Skipper from the back seat, “don’t be crazy. You’re hitting 65.” And did I ever have her leaping when we passed Eddie!

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, June 10, 1939

“The trouble with going four in a car,” said Jimmie Frise,”is, you can’t hold conversation.”

“The more the better,” I differed.

“That’s a common mistake,” stated Jim. “The perfect setup for purposes of pleasant conversation is two people. Like man and wife, for example. Why did polygamy die out of the more civilized world? Because a man couldn’t carry on a decent conversation with five wives.”

“I don’t agree,” I declared. “When two people engage in conversation, it generally boils down to a one-sided conversation. You rarely find two people of equal wind.”

“Some people are natural born listeners,” pointed out Jim.

“I like about three or four people in a group,” I explained, “because then, if there is one windbag in the party, the three others can generally work up enough between them to sort of balance the windbag.”

“Then,” said Jim, “you will be happy today. Because Skipper and Vic will very nicely help me hold the balance against you.”

“I resent that, Jim,” I informed him.

“I always hate to get into a car with you and several people,” said Jim, “because the minute you see three people you think it is an audience and you begin making a speech.”

“Is this the spirit,” I demanded, “in which to start off on a nice trip to the country?”

“If there were only two of us in our car,” said Jim, “I could let you drive and then I could go to sleep. I’ve often worked that scheme.”

“I never knew you to be so unpleasant,” I protested. “What’s got into you?”

“Oh, nothing,” sighed Jim. “I just feel like having a fight with somebody.”

“Jim,” I consoled, “I often feel that way myself. Life gets humdrum, not from having to do the same things over and over forever and ever, but because it gets so eternally pleasant. Life gets pleasanter all the time. I don’t think human nature can stand it.”

“You’re right,” agreed Jim. “Look at all the inventions of the past 30 years. All to make life pleasant. The motor car, to take us quickly and pleasantly wherever we get the whim to go. The movies, to give us the pleasant thrill of romance for 35 cents. The radio, so that with a click of a button we can get any sort of entertainment we desire, from a symphony to an educational talk about how to kill potato bugs.”

“Life is getting too pleasant,” I concurred. “Why, even the poor can’t be poor any more. They are hounded and chased and given food and clothing and life made as pleasant as possible for them. Criminals can’t even find any real unpleasantness in life because they are making jails into educational institutions.”

“At the rate we are going,” decreed Jim, “there will be no escape from pleasantness except in our own natures. The more perfect the conditions of life are made, the worse our characters are going to become.”

“Nobody wants perfection,” I admitted.

“It is the struggle for perfection,” explained Jimmie, “that makes life interesting. To attain perfection must be a horrible thing.”

“We can always figure,” I reassured, “on things going wrong, however we perfect life and all its arrangements.”

“No,” said Jim. “the way we are heading now, life is going to be made perfect. For all. There will be no more poor, no more underprivileged, no more unhappy. The whole vast force of humanity is right now in the throes of a gigantic struggle toward perfection, Hitler going one way. We democracies the other. But back of it all, a countless army of scientists, thinkers, workers, politicians, all striving day and night to find some road to perfection for all mankind. It will be a technical perfection as well as a social perfection. We will have pleasant ways of going where we want to go as far ahead of the motor car and airplane as they are far ahead of our grandfather’s buggy. They will have pleasant ways of being entertained and amused as far ahead of movies and radio as they are ahead of the ham actor touring theatrical companies and elocutionists of our grandfather’s time.”

“But always something will go wrong,” I assured him.

“No, sir,” prophesied Jim. “As they have taken out the defects of the motor car, progressively, over the past 20 years, so will they take out the defects of the social system during the next hundred years.”

“What a smooth running world it will be,” I mused.

“And,” said Jim, “life being perfect, we will turn to our own natures for a little relief. We will turn into cantankerous, mischievous, troublesome and altogether miserable creatures, just for a little relief.”

“Just for an occasional surprise,” I agreed. “Because if we get things perfect in this life, we take out all the surprise. And what is life without its surprises?”

“You’re right,” said Jim. “Of all the deadly dull people to have to live with, the perfect characters are the worst.”

“They never surprise you,” I admitted, “even with their perfection.”

“I wish somebody would surprise me today,” sighed Jimmie, sinking back into his former gloom.

“Look here,” I suddenly thought, “we can surprise Skipper and Vic, even if I can’t surprise you. You know that speed cop on the highway between Orangeville and Shelburne?”

“Eddie?” said Jim. “What about him?”

“Look,” I chuckled, “we’ll have Skip and Vic in the back seat. Eddie usually takes his stand on that long hill about five miles north of Orangeville. When we see him ahead, you call out and warn me. Make sure the others hear you. Then I’ll say, ‘Aw to heck with speed cops. I’m not afraid of speed cops. And I’ll step on the gas and shoot her up from 50 to as high as she’ll go.”

“Swell,” laughed Jimmie, quite refreshed.

“And we’ll go by Eddie at 70 miles an hour,” I exulted, “and Skipper and Vic will think I’ve gone nuts.”

“This is a swell idea,” agreed Jim. “I wish it was on me you were playing the trick. I’d like somebody to give me a thrill.”

“Well, you can have the second-hand thrill,” I pointed out, “of imagining how Skip and Vic will feel.”

Something Up Your Sleeve

So when we came to the time to pick up Skipper and Vic it was with that good-humored feeling you have when you’ve got something up your sleeve. In fact, it was a very jolly party that sped in the late afternoon out of Toronto northerly and westerly to visit some friends in Owen Sound and have a little early morning trout fishing the next day.

“No hurry, no hurry,” shouted Skipper from the back seat. “This is swell. Let’s take it slow enough to see the scenery.”

Which you can see from an open car in a fashion unknown to those addicted to closed cars.

So I slowed down to a lazy 40 and under; and when we passed through Orangeville, I slowed her even more, so as to make the surprise all the more exciting.

“Speed cop ahead,” suddenly cried Jim.

And sure enough, half a mile ahead, Eddie’s motorcycle sparkled modestly in the shadows and there stood Eddie, watching the great sweep of hill before us.

“Speed cops don’t worry us,” said Skipper, from the back seat.

“Oh, don’t they?” I retorted a little indignantly.

And I started stepping on the gas.

“Hey, hey, hey,” warned Skip. “There is a cop there. I can see him.”

“Aw, who cares about speed cops,” I shouted over my shoulder. And put my foot right down on the floor boards and the old car picked up all she had and flew.

“Hey, hey,” cried Skipper, from the back seat. Don’t be crazy. You’re hitting 65.”

“I’ll make it 75 by the time we pass that guy,” I shouted, amidst the wind of our passage.

And did I ever have her leaping when we passed Eddie!

Jim was sitting beside me and behind sat Skipper and Vic almost out of sight so did they huddle. The fear of a speed cop is curiously ingrained into the human species. And it was with a feeling of having committed blasphemy that the two of them crouched as I drove the car at a mad pace past.

Eddie was magnificent. I cast him a sly smile over my shoulder so as to tip him off to chase us. And hidden behind his goggles, he put on an expression of outrage and indignation it is impossible to do justice to. Just as we are intimidated by the sight of a speed cop – other than a friend – is a speed cop astounded and hurt by indifference.

“Have You Gone Nuts?”

In the rear view mirror I watched, as I still tramped on the gas, and sure enough, with every indication of outrage, Eddie grabbed his cycle and with a run and a jump was after us.

“He’s after you; he’s after you,” wailed Skipper, looking back. “Slow up, slow up. Have you gone nuts?”

“Let him catch me,” I roared, holding the speed.

“The guy’s gone nuts,” shouted Vic, leaning forward to grab Jim’s shoulders and shake him. “Turn off the ignition!”

“Aw,” replied Jim loudly, “what we need is a little excitement. Let him go.”

“Excitement,” groaned Vic, relapsing back.

“Yes,” said Jim, turning around so he could see the rapid approach of Eddie on his motorcycle, but with an air of bravado also, “a little excitement. We’re sick of going through life with nothing happening.”

“Turn round, turn round,” hissed Skipper at Jim. “Let on you don’t see him.”

“Aw, I see him all right,” shouted Jim, half raising in his sent and looking over their heads back at Eddie, who was now within 30 feet of us and gaining fast however hard I tramped down the gas. In fact I had it on the floor boards.

I made plenty of room for Eddie by keeping well over to the side. I didn’t want any accidents to mar our little fun.

Eddie went by with a final wild rush. It was magnificent. He blew his horn as he flew by and veered in ahead of us, forcing me to slack speed. His arm flew out to signal us to stop. I slacked and drew into the shoulder of the road, and Eddie dismounted ahead of us.

“Aw, what’s the matter!” I roared hotly “We were only doing 50.”

Eddie swung off his cycle, turned, walked slowly back, lifted his goggles – and it wasn’t Eddie.

It wasn’t Eddie. It was a white-faced cop I had never seen before and hope never to see again. His eyes were blazing in his face. He stood and looked for a long steady minute at me, while I slowly shrank and shrank.

“First,” said this stranger, “permit me to smell your breath.”

I permitted him.

“Next,” he said, “permit me to behold your driving license.”

And he suited the action to the word by producing his own little notebook. I fumbled numbly through several pockets and finally found the little black case I always carry in the same pocket.

“Is there any explanation,” inquired the stranger frigidly, “for your actions in increasing your speed when you approached me and continuing to accelerate your speed though you had full knowledge that I was in pursuit of you?”

I tried to speak, but it just went gug.

“I think,” put in Skipper in a rather weak voice, “that he went a little nuts for a minute, officer. He’s had a lot of work lately, he’s overworked, he works night and day, he’s a tremendous worker, and maybe he just went a little nuts for a second.”

“Did you go nuts?” demanded the constable grimly.

“May I speak to you a minute privately, constable?” I inquired.

“Certainly,” said he. He sounded like a university graduate.

I crept out of the car, steadying my legs under me and grasping the fender for support. I walked up ahead of the car and the constable followed me. In a low voice, up beside his motorcycle, I explained to him how I knew Eddie so well and I just thought would have a little joke on my two friends the back seat who were very high strung, jittery fellows.

“Jittery, are they?” said the policeman.

So he gave me his arm and we returned to the car.

“I think one of you jittery gentlemen should take the wheel,” suggested the speed cop.

So Skipper did.


Editor’s Note: 35 cents for a movie ticket in 1939 would be about $6.50 in 2021.

Wiring Party

Every time we freed ourselves of one coil of wire we were seized by another…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, June 6, 1936.

“Tell me,” said Jimmie Frise, “something about the war.”

“Jimmie,” I exclaimed, “this is wonderful of you. Nobody ever asks me about the war any more.”

“Oh, I just wanted to freshen up my memory of some of the infantry angles,” said Jim. “Us artillery men missed certain features, you know.”

“Jim,” I said, “this is very kind of you. You can have no idea how congested I get sometimes just from wanting to talk about the war. But nobody will let me. I’ve worn out all my family. I used to look forward to the days when my little sons would be old enough to want to hear about the war. But now that they are getting into long pants they haven’t the slightest interest. If I even try to stick in just one little apologetic anecdote about the war they hear somebody whistling outside and jump up and leave me flat.”

“Don’t forget,” said Jim, “I’m a veteran myself.”

“Yes, but,” I pointed out, “the artillery couldn’t have had all the adventures the infantry had. Don’t forget that.”

“Oh, is that so?” said Jim.

“Just the same old thing every day for you gunners,” I explained. “Firing a modern gun is just like working a lathe or running an engine. You don’t see anything. You just twiddle some wheels, adjust some gadgets, pull a string and bang she goes off into space, aimed at an arithmetical calculation instead of a romantic target.”

“Is that so?” said Jim.

“But don’t let me offend you,” I hurried. “You wanted to hear about the war. My dear boy, I appreciate this more than I can tell you.”

“Just a certain aspect of it,” said Jim.

“It has got so,” I assured him, “that not only does my family walk out on me whenever I introduce even the least teeny weeny bit of war, even just in passing, but now my old gardener has folded up on me. He used to love to have me walking beside him when he was running the lawn mower, for example, and tell him about the war. Many’s the hour we have sat in the garden when he was edging or weeding, and remembered old times together. But now whenever I see him he is so busy he just has to rush.”

“Maybe you have told him all your stories for the second time,” suggested Jim.

“Second time?” I protested. “My dear boy, a war story doesn’t really get rich and fruity until the third or fourth time.”

“What I wanted to know,” said Jim, “was about these wiring parties. What was a wiring party?”

“Ah, now you are asking somebody,” I cried, settling back. “Jim, you are talking now to one of the most expert wirers in the world. I have strung literally miles of wire. I have laid acres and acres of barbed wire.”

“You mean your men did,” said Jim.

“Naturally,” I admitted. “An officer does not go around, as a rule, with canvas mitts on hauling barbed wire. When I speak of having strung miles of barbed wire I speak as an engineer speaks when he says he has built miles of road, see? But as a matter of fact, Jim, I have actually laid quite a lot of wire myself in my time. I remember one night…”

Infantry Experts

“Tell me,” said Jim, “was the wire in big coils?”

“No, no,” said I. “It came in tight spools or bobbins. Remember, we had to carry that wire into the trenches, as well as string it after we got it there. I recollect one night – was it in June, seventeen …?”

“Was it springy, sort of?” asked Jim. “When you started to undo a coil of it did it spring out and get all tangled?”

“No, no,” I assured him. “You cut a couple of small bits of tie wire, and then, with the spool on a stick, you just backed up and unrolled it. Now, this night I speak of in June, I think it was, seventeen, or was it May? Now, let me see? We went from Enquin lez Mines back up to Les Brebis and Mazingarbe…”

“I should think,” said Jim, “that anybody who had handled barbed wire could handle almost any kind of wire.”

“You’re right,” I said. “There were about 300,000 Canadians in the infantry from time to time and every one of those men to-day, wherever he is, is an expert wire man. But as I was telling you, we were on the Bully Grenay front, out by Loos, you remember. It was a fine summer’s night…”

“How did you get the wire tight?” asked Jim. “After you had laid it where you wanted it, how did you pull it snug and tight?”

“A fine summer’s night,” I explained. “One of those luminous June nights, with the stars fairly dripping from the sky. It was quiet, too. Here and there a flicker of guns, like summer lightning. Now and then the lazy bang of a five-nine somewhere in the distance …”

“How many men would you use on one spool of wire?” asked Jim.

”The major says to me, ‘Clark,’ he says, ‘I want you to take the wiring party tonight. It’s a ticklish bit. It’s those old chalk pits. On our side, the wire is about as useful as a lace curtain. I want some wire in there that is wire. I want you to handpick your party, Clark,’ he says, ‘and make a night of it.’ It must have been about nine o’clock …”

“Is this the story,” asked Jim, “about the time the two Germans crawled out and asked you the time, thinking you were a German?”

“Ha, ha,” I laughed. “You’ve heard that, eh? Wasn’t that a scream?”

“I have heard it six or seven times,” admitted Jim admiringly, “and every time it gets better.”

“One keeps remembering details,” I explained. “I wonder if I ever told you one little detail in that story about…”

“What I am trying to get at,” said Jim, still laughing reminiscently. “is this – you see, I had no experience of wiring – and now I am trying to put up a fence at my place. I wanted your advice.”

“A wire fence?” I asked.

“You know that little green wire fence I’ve got?” said Jimmie. “Gyp, my new setter, can hop it in her stride. What I am doing is putting up about twenty tall stakes, with holes bored through them, and then stringing two wires along them, about a foot apart, above the top of the regular fence. Then I am going to plant morning glories and sweet peas and things and grow a sort of screen. I don’t think Gyp will jump through that.”

“It should be very simple.” I said, “just threading wire through holes in stakes.”

“I was trying it last night,” said Jim, “but the wire coil springs out fearfully when you snip the little bits of wire tying the coil together.”

“Hold it with one hand, my dear fellow,” I smiled, “and thread it with the other.”

“I wish I had been in the infantry,” sighed Jim.

“Tut, tut,” I said. “I’ll run over after dinner to-night.”

Which I did, and Jimmie had all the material laid out just like a regular old supply dump back of the lines in Flanders. Four large coils of good stout wire. A heap of long green painted stakes with holes ready bored in them. Smaller posts of two by four for reinforcing them.

“You haven’t the stakes up yet? I pointed out.

“I got three or four up as you see,” said Jim, “but I thought I had better get your advice on that, too, because half the problem of wiring must be the stakes, isn’t it?”

“Quite right,” I agreed. “I recall one time down on the Arras front, out by a place called Roclincourt straight ahead from Madagascar Dump, if you remember?”

“Sure,” said Jim. “Which do you suggest? Should we just drive the stakes down or should we first dig a little hole to soften the earth and then drive them in?”

“On this Roclincourt front,” I explained, “”the problem consisted of an overbody of soft, mucky earth on top of a stratum of hard chalk. And the way we drove our angle iron stakes and screw stakes was this.”

“Here’s a shovel,” said Jim.

He removed his coat and vest eagerly and picked up a fence stake and carried it over to the side of the garden. I followed suit, bringing the shovel. I dug a small hole. About a foot deep.

“Now,” said Jim, “which will I do? Hold the stake or drive it with the axe?”

“You hold it,” I agreed. “I’ll show you a trick or two.”

So in a matter of twenty minutes we had three stakes well and firmly buried in their proper places, except that the first one had the holes for the wire pointing the wrong way.

“That won’t matter,” I showed. We will just jog the wire there and it will make it all the tighter.”

In less than an hour we had ten stakes firmly planted, and that gave us the one full side of the garden and all along the bottom.

“Now, Gunner,” I explained, “we’ll string some wire just before it gets dark, so that you will know how to carry on.”

“This is the part I am interested in,” said Jim.

The big coils of wire were heavy. It would be impossible to hold one in one hand and steer it with the other. So we agreed that one of us would carry the coil and the other steer it through the little holes in the pickets. Jim handed me the pliers to snip the tying wire around the coils.

“Wire,” I explained, as I squatted down to snip, “has a character all its own.”

“Shouldn’t you kneel on it?” asked Jim, “before you cut that last bit?”

I snipped and the coil of wire sprang into the air with a twanging, hissing sound like a serpent. It seemed to be wrapping itself around me. I threw myself on it, and held it down.

“Jimmie,” I commanded, “lend a hand here and tuck it back under me.”

So I lay on it while Jim slowly tucked it back in rings and circles about the size it was originally.

“Ease up a little,” said Jim. “As I coil these coils under you.”

“We never used to have this happen in Flanders,” I said.

“Upsadaisy,” said Jim, “but not too much. Just relax a trifle, while I slide this end under.”

And thus spreadeagled on the very untidy and always struggling wire, I lay while Jim patiently worked it back under me.

“I wish some of your old troops could see you now,” said Jim, appreciatively. “The ones that you used to wire miles and miles with.”

“They’d help me if they did,” I declared.

“And be just about as handy as you are,” said Jim.

“One time,” I said, “out near the Canal du Nord, it was in August, eighteen, if I recollect…”

“Ease up a little,” said Jim, “just a little.”

“We were stopped,” I continued, “on account of our flanks having failed to keep up with us, so I had to put out some wire, just a temporary belt of wire, while we dug in and waited for a day or so…”

“Lift your left leg,” said Jim.

“That’s very wiry wire,” I admitted, after we had got most of it back somehow and laid the axe and a few stakes on it to hold it down.

“I’ll sit on it,” said Jim, “right here on the ground while you work it out carefully and fasten one end to the first stake.”

So Jim sat on the rather untidy coil while I sought out the end of the wire and slowly edged out yard after yard of it until I had enough to reach the first post, up near the house end of the proposed fence. With staples I secured it firmly and wound it several times around the post.

“Now,” I said.

“Good heavens,” said Jim.

For now, having secured one end, we had the whole coil on the ground before us to thread through the holes of the dozen remaining pickets.

“Mmm,” said I. “I guess we should have threaded it first, eh?”

“In the artillery,” said Jim, “we always put the shell in the breech before we fired the gun.”

“I’ll thread this end,” I explained. “It will all come to the same thing.”

It did. In removing a few more coils, Jim eased up just a trifle too high and a whole burst of coils leaped front tinder him and, like lariats, flung themselves around me before I could grasp the situation and let go my end. Jim seeing me trapped, foolishly leaped up to help me and as he did so, the clever coils had him. In a moment, we were both netted in the wire, which, every time you freed yourself of one coil seized you with another.

“Up around Arras,” asked Jim, “what did you do when this kind of thing happened?”

“It didn’t happen,” I declared. “We had proper wire. Barbed wire. Wire that had some sense to it.”

“I suppose all you had to do was call the troops, and they uncoiled you?” said Jim.

“Jim,” I said, as I shoved the coils down off my chest and legs, only releasing them to have them snare Jim instead. “I think you might remember that I sunk most of those pickets for you. I did the digging. I did the pounding.”

“It was your experience with wire that I wanted,” said Jim. “Even gunners can dig holes.”

We gradually got free of the wire, and it committed a few more twangs and leaps and futile snatches in our direction and then subsided into a large, loose and twisted tangle in the middle of Jim’s garden.

“Now let’s see,” said Jim.

“Jim,” I said. “I promised my boys I’d drive them over for an ice cream soda before bed.”

“Good old infantry,” said Jim.

So when I looked back as I went down the gate steps, Jim was standing, the way the gunners always did, just looking down with his hands in his pockets.

Sport of Kings

Jim, with the quiet air of the sportsman, took Flying Beetle’s bridle….The photographers knelt and banged their cameras at us.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, May 27, 1939

“I’d like you to meet a friend of mine,” said Jimmie Frise, “Mr. Charlie Spavin.”

I shook hands with the gent, who rose jointedly from beside Jim’s drawing-board.

“Mr. Spavin,” said Jim amiably, to cover my frosty manner, which I could not conceal, “is a well-known sportsman.”

Mr. Spavin collapsed into the chair again. He was a very tall, loose-jointed person, extremely thin, with the look of a starved hound. His facial bones seemed to shine through his skin. His hair was frizzled and wispy. And his eyes, close-set like buttonholes on either side of a big, boney nose, were colorless.

“What sport do you follow?” I inquired, as I hung up my hat.

“The horses,” said Mr. Spavin in a voice such as an Egyptian mummy would use if he could speak.

“Mmmff,” said I, sitting down and immersing myself in the letters on my desk.

“You might be interested in Mr. Spavin’s proposition,” said Jim earnestly. “Charlie, tell Mr. Clark your idea.”

“It’s this way,” said Mr. Spavin huskily, despite me rattling the papers on my desk. “I’ve got the horse Flying Beetle, a nine-year-old maiden. She’s et me to the bone. I’ve owned her two years now. I’ve wasted every cent I own, lost my house, sold my car, all my furniture has been reclaimed, my radio was picked up only this morning, I’ve separated from my wife and borrowed myself off the track with all my friends and even borrowed 50 cents from the very last of my acquaintances, all on account of this here horse I own called Flying Beetle.”

“See?” said Jim. “You always claimed there wasn’t an honest horseman in the world. Mr. Spavin is one.”

“If I never told the truth before,” said Mr. Spavin, with an air of amazement, “I’m telling it now.”

“Tell Mr. Clark why,” prompted Jimmie.

“It’s this way,” said Mr. Spavin. “I claimed this horse two years ago for $200 when I was in the money. She’s a swell big filly. Light bay. Full of life. Raced all over America. Never won a race. Never even showed. Some of the best trainers in the world have had her. She does trials that make your hair stand on end. But in races she just lays back. She’s run sixth in over 75 per cent of her races.”

“Why don’t you get some bets she’ll run sixth?” interrupted Jimmie. “Maybe she’s a trick horse.”

“She’s a trick,” sighed Mr. Spavin. “But she’s got me ruined. And she’s the only horse I own. She’s my last possession on earth. I’ve fed her and pastured her; I’ve made a bum of myself paying her feed bills and stabling. I’ve shipped her all over the country and borrowed money from the jockeys to pay the jockey fee. And now here I am so broke I ain’t had any breakfast yet. There’s a race at four-forty this afternoon, and by all the hokey pokey I think this is the race she’ll win.”

Having a Horse Fit

“A nine-year maiden?” I inquired drily. “Haven’t you thought she’d win several times before this in the past few years?”

“Look,” said Mr. Spavin, sitting upright with an effort, “she never had a horse fit before.”

“A horse fit?” I exclaimed.

“You’ve heard of a cat fit, haven’t you?” said Mr. Spavin excitedly. “Well, a horse fit is something the same. It’s a sign of a great change in a horse. This morning, down at the track, when we took her out of the stable for her exercise, she was all of a tremble. She was sweating even before we got the boy up. She acted crazy. Her eyes glared, she breathed heavy, she seemed to be laboring under some deep emotion.”

“Maybe it’s just old age creeping over her,” I submitted.

“O.K.,” said Mr. Spavin shortly. “If you don’t believe in miracles.”

“I never saw a race-horse that wasn’t crazy,” I retorted.

“Look,” said Mr. Spavin. “We got the boy on her and she started to rear and buck and squeal. She suddenly started to run in little circles, and the boy couldn’t do nothing with her. She ran circles smaller and smaller and I knew she was having a horse fit. I yelled to the boy to jump. He did. And just in time, too. Because she suddenly whirled end for end, fell on the ground and lay there dying, as I thought, her eyes sticking out, breathing like the heaves and, all of a sudden, she grew quiet, got up, shook herself and walked quietly over to us and stood waiting for the boy to mount.”

“Doesn’t that sound curious?” interrupted Jim.

“It sounds a little veterinary to me,” I stated.

“Wait,” said Mr. Spavin tensely. “The boy mounted. She was as cool as a cucumber. She seemed to have grown bigger, stronger. She seemed to exude power. She was lithe.”

“Mmmm,” said I, interested.

“Like a panther,” said Mr. Spavin, “she went to the track. I was nearly nuts. I’d heard of these horse fits. I knew they came only once in a lifetime. But when a horse has a horse fit it is born again, you might say.”

“So?” I encouraged.

“She ran,” said Mr. Spavin in an awed voice, “a mile in one second less than the track record.”

“Whew,” I admitted,

“And she came off that track,” cried Mr. Spavin, “as quiet and easy as if she had cantered.”

“Mmm, mm.” I admired, though I know nothing of horses and care much less.

“And I think she’s going to start running,” said Mr. Spavin, “at last. I think she’s thrown off some trouble that’s been in her all her life. I think that horse fit has made her another horse. I think she’s going to be as good as she’s looked all these years. And, by the hokey old pokey, here I am without the price of the jockey fee.”

“And the purse,” said Jim, “is $500.”

Mr. Spavin collapsed back into the chair.

“Well, Mr. Spavin,” I stated, “only six weeks ago Mr. Frise swore off all horses for a period of two years.”

“Just betting,” put in Jim.

“Don’t quibble,” I said.

A Powerful Hunch

“I swore off betting,” said Jim. “But I didn’t swear off being interested in horses. Can’t I look at a horse’s picture in the paper? Can’t I sit and think about horses?”

“Think all you like,” I said, as one of the custodians of Jim’s mighty oath. “But don’t spend a dime on a horse.”

“Just listen to Charlie’s proposal,” said Jim quietly.

“My proposition is,” said Mr. Spavin, “if you will put up the 10 bucks for the jockey fee I’ll give you a half interest in the horse.”

“And a half interest in her feed bills, et cetera,” I smiled.

“This half interest,” said Mr. Spavin, “to take effect only if she wins today. If she wins you got a half interest in her. If she loses I just owe two more guys another 10 bucks.”

“I never heard of such a proposition,” I declared.

“It’s common enough in the sporting world,” said Mr. Spavin. “Isn’t it, Jimmie?”

“Look,” said Jim, “here the races have been on for weeks, and I haven’t even seen one and I haven’t wagered a cent. Along comes this chance in a million. If you come in for five bucks so will l.”

“You promised you wouldn’t make a bet,” I reminded him, “unless I bet, too.”

“That horse fit,” pleaded Jim, “is famous among horsemen. It’s as old as history. When a horse has a fit, strange and mighty things happen. I’ve got a powerful hunch.”

“You’ve had hunches all your life,” I recalled to him,

“Look,” said Jim. “You’re a sportsman. You fish and shoot. You are an outdoor sportsman. What a lovely day. Let’s go and kill something. But you’ve reached the time of life when more constructive sports should begin to interest you in place of killing things. How about interesting yourself in the breeding of horses, in the improvement of a noble creature, in the sport of kings?”

“I like shooting things,” I informed him; “not running them to death.”

“You’ve come to the end of fishing and shooting,” pleaded Jim. “What more is there for you to learn? Why not take up, for the remainder of your life, something that will give you as much pleasure learning all about it as learning about fishing and shooting has given you in the more active years of your life? Do you realize that by tonight you may be part owner of a thoroughbred?”

“For five dollars?” urged Mr. Spavin. “The cheapest I ever heard of, even in Kentucky.”

“If the horse wins,” said Jim, “you’re a horse owner. If it loses you aren’t stuck in for any bills and only out $5.”

“We put nothing on paper?” I demanded. “This is purely a gentleman’s agreement. If it wins, we’re in. If it loses, we’re out.”

“Exactly,” said Mr. Spavin as if the deal were closed.

As in fact it was. Because lately I have been finding that to get any fishing I have to go farther and farther and all the time I am getting older and older; and I have been looking around for some solution of the problem that sooner or later confronts all who follow any sport other than stamp collecting and who do not die young.

“It’s a waste of money,” I said. But when Mr. Spavin left, all legs and arms, he had $5 each from Jim and me. And Jim and I went down to the sporting editor and borrowed a couple of members’ passes for the afternoon, it being one of those days the sporting editor has figured there will be no race, so he sends his third deputy assistant to cover the meet. And therefore all his friends’ passes are in his pocket.

“Jim,” I said, when we settled down to work, “there is something spooky about these horse fanciers. They have some kind of mesmerism. I never fell so easy in my life. Why, a campaigner for a new wing on a hospital couldn’t get $5 out of me as easy as that.”

“Deep in every man, even in you,” said Jim, “is a love of the horse.”

“I don’t think I’ll even go to the races,” I said bitterly.

“Aw, come,” said Jim, “if only to confirm your low opinion of race track enthusiasts.”

And it being a fine day, I went for that purpose. And I sat in the grand stand and didn’t even look at a program or pay any attention to the prices they put up. In fact, I didn’t even stand up when the races finished and didn’t even look at the silly little squads of horses bobbing around the track; but devoted my whole time to studying the people, the men and women who thronged about, their faces so set, their expressions so greedy, their eyes so narrow, all for the love of a horse. And when Jim came up the steps and said the 4.40 race was next, and wouldn’t I come down and at least see Flying Beetle in the paddock, I got up reluctantly.

In the paddock nine horses were getting ready for the parade, and I must say Flying Beetle was the best of them. But my chief interest was on the melancholy jockey who sat on top of her, by grace of $5 of my hard-earned money. I spent my time figuring which of his colors I preferred, the red or the yellow, for my dough.

They went out on the track. The bugle blew. The crowds swarmed down on the lawns and climbed eagerly into the stands. Jim led me along to a place near the winning post.

“I have a hunch,” he said, rather breathlessly.

There was the roar, “They’re off.” The crowd began, in that curious way, to stir and pop. It is like putting popcorn in the pan and slowly, little by little, the racket grows, until the whole pan is popped. With a wild yell the race ended, and Jimmie was hugging me and dragging me after him and yelling like a maniac, with people bumping into us and everybody gone nuts.

“She wins, she wins,” he explained to me, leaning down to scream in my face.

“She’ll pay nearly $200 for a $2 ticket,” shouted a stranger madly into Jim’s face.

“Jim, you didn’t bet?” I shouted.

“We split the purse,” cried Jim.

He had dragged me through the crowd to the paddock by the judges’ stand.

“Make way for the owners,” Jim roared, shouldering into the mob. And a lane opened amid aisles of respectful people and we got slaps on the back.

Mr. Spavin was not in the paddock and the jockey, very astonished, was sitting on Flying Beetle, while a steward held the horse’s head.

“We’re half owners,” Jim told the gateman, who opened the wicket and let us in.

“Hello,” said the steward, who knew Jimmie through long and mischievous years. “I didn’t know this was your horse? I thought Spavin had her.”

Jim, with the quiet air of the sportsman simply walked up and took Flying Beetle’s bridle and beckoned me to stand forth. The crowd cheered. The photographers knelt and banged their cameras at us. It was all very sudden and tumultuous and I was just realizing hazily that I was launched upon a new chapter of my life when Spavin came bursting through the wicket shouting–

“Get away from the head of that filly!”

I looked around, but there was nobody else but us.

He snatched the bridle and with his elbows bunted Jimmie to one side and me to the other. It was very humiliating.

“What are you lugs trying to pull?” Mr. Spavin demanded furiously.

“Well, we have a half interest, haven’t we?” I demanded, and Jim was trying to get hold of Spavin’s sleeve to catch his attention, but Spavin was striking a pose and having the photographers to do their stuff over again.

“How about the half interest, Charlie?” asked Jim.

“What are you bums trying to pull!” shouted Spavin hotly.

“You said…” I began.

“Do you want me to call the stewards and have you bounced by a cop?” hissed Spavin. “Get away. Let the photographers have a chance.”

“We’ve got…” said Jim.

“Look here,” roared Spavin, and already stewards and judges were coming down the ladder, “what are you bums up to? Have you got any papers? Have you got any I.O.U.’s? Have you got anything? Get out of here.”

“We’ve got a gentleman’s agreement,” I shouted.

“Who with?” shouted Spavin, giving me look so full of meaning that I realized it was no agreement at all.

“Besides,” said Jim, when we got out behind the grandstand where nobody could see us and we could recover from our confusion, “after all, why should we try to horn in, for a measly five bucks, on what must be the greatest moment in the life of Charlie Spavin?”

“The purse was $500,” I insisted.

“If I’d only had 10 bucks on that horse,” groaned Jim.

“There you go,” I scorned, “Why not insist on our rights? Let’s sue him for half the purse.”

“What a swell pair of sportsmen we’d be,” retorted Jim, “suing on the strength of $5 apiece.”

“A gentleman’s agreement,” I sneered. “No gentleman should ever mix up with horses.”

“No,” agreed Jim, “horses are for bums or millionaires. They can’t hurt either.”

So having no further interest in the meet, we went and got in the car and drove back down to lock the office.


Editor’s Note: $5 in 1939 would be $91 in 2021.

Buzz Off

What seemed to be a very thick and heavy shawl was folded around my neck and shoulders …

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, May 25, 1935

“Ouch,” I shouted, “Jimmie, a bee!”

We were bowling along the highway. Jimmie Frise at the wheel.

“It’s down around my feet!” I warned loudly. “Slow down till we shoo it out.”

But Jimmie just went right on driving, with a lazy smile.

“Don’t be a sap,” I cried, “Accidents have been caused by bees. Motorists have been killed by being stung and going into the ditch.”

All Jimmie did was put his cigarette back in his mouth.

I drew my legs up on the seat and peered anxiously down into the shadows under the dashboard.

“Jim, I wish you’d slow up,” I pleaded. “It was one of those nasty big yellow and black ones, like chenille. If there is anything gives me the Dracula shivers it is the thought of a bumble bee up my pant leg.”

“A bee won’t bother you,” said Jim calmly, “unless you bother it.”

“I imagine,” I said icily, “that a bee would rightly consider itself bothered by being carried about fifty miles out of its way in this car.”

“I’ve had two hundred bees come into my car,” said Jim, “and go out of it again without stinging anybody.”

“And I tell you,” I stated, still sitting on my legs, that there are about a thousand motor car accidents unexplained every year on these highways, and I’m willing to bet it was a bee sting that caused them.”

“Did you ever got stung by a bee?” asked Jim.

“I’ve had wasps sting me,” I exclaimed.

“Yes, because you stepped on their nest or bumped into them or took a swipe at them when they were merely looking at you with friendly interest,” said Jim.

“In my opinion,” I announced, “the cause of a great many of the unexplained accidents on highways is because a man, dreamily driving along the highway, has suddenly felt a red-hot needle stick him in the back of the neck.”

“If that were so,” said Jim, “since most accidents are not fatal those who escape from motor accidents would explain how it happened. And I don’t recall ever hearing of more than two or three cases where a man blamed a bee sting for putting him in the ditch.”

“If I were you,” I begged, “I’d slow up for a minute until I shoo that bee out of this car.”

“For heaven’s sake,” said Jim, starting to slow her down, “are we going to have to stop every time a bug gets in our car?”

We slowed down and stopped, and while I took my handkerchief and flapped it around all the corners of the car Jim got out and walked around the car to take a look at the tires. He likes to stretch his legs.

“All right,” I called. “I don’t see it anywhere. It must have flown out itself.”

“OOUUCH!” yelled Jim.

And I ran around to see him jumping excitedly up and down, holding his wrist and putting it to his mouth.

“What the-?” I asked.

“A bee,” said Jim, hotly. “I was just standing here and a bee flew off that weed there, right at me, and stung me on the wrist.”

The First Communists

“Put some mud on it,” I advised him. “Spit on some mud and plaster it on the bite.”

I looked and saw a little white lump on his wrist.

“If we hadn’t stopped,” cried Jim, angrily.

“Much safer,” I assured him, “to get stung out of the car than sitting driving it.”

But Jim just stared with prejudice at me. You can’t expect a man with a bee sting to be reasonable.

We got some mud and plastered Jim’s wrist up. And then we drove on.

“Bees, they tell me,” I said, as Jim was a little sulky, “are wonderful creatures.”

“You can’t tell me,” said Jim. “I was born and raised on the farm. I kept bees.”

“They tell me,” I went on, “that they have higher form of civilization than we have?”

“They’re the first Communists,” said Jim.

“Yet the bees have drones that don’t work,” I pointed out.

“So have the Communists,” said Jim. “How do you know the drones aren’t the deep thinkers? Somebody has to think.”

“Tell me about them,” I urged.

“Bees,” said Jim, “collect honey. They put it obediently into little frames you get for them in the hives. You put up hives, as you might say, company houses. The bees live in these company houses which you have thoughtfully equipped with little wooden frames for them to store their honey in.”

“And how do you get the honey out?” I asked. “At night?”

“No, you smoke them out, ever so often,” explained Jimmie. “You make a big smudge and dope the bees, and lift the hives open and take the honey away, installing new empty frames for them. When they wake up from the smoke they feel dopey and wonder if it was but a dream that they had worked all July. So they set to work again to store up another lot. And so it goes.”

“How do you get them into the hives to start with?” I asked.

“Ever so often,” said Jim, “there get too many bees in a hive. You see, all the time the bees are storing honey the queen bee is laying eggs and raising little grubs that turn into bees. That is how you keep your bee colony up. New bees. But when a hive gets too populous they swarm. The new queen leaves the hive and takes half the bees after her. They swarm, they go flying away, looking for a new hive.”

“So?” I said.

“So you have new hives ready,” said Jim. “And when you see them swarming, to prevent them flying away to some other farmer you and your wife and the hired girl and the hired man all grab dishpans and rush out and start beating the pans, which dins and confuses the bees. And you can drive them toward the new hive you have ready for them with a couple of combs of honey in it to attract them.”

“I’ve seen pictures,” I said, “of bees swarming like festoons and drapes of bees all over a tree or a bush.”

“Or a man or a horse,” said Jim. “The trick is to prevent them flying away to some neighbor when they swarm. Because the law is that when a swarm of bees lights on your property they are your bees.”

Nice Little Side Line

“Why?” I demanded. “If my cow strays into your field it isn’t your cow.”

“Well, that’s the law, anyway,” said Jim. “So you get busy, when you see them swarm, and beat tin pans and make an awful din and drive them dizzily back toward where you have a new hive waiting for them, all nice and fresh and filled with empty frames for the silly things to devote their lives to.”

“I like honey,” I said. “Honey and bread and butter.”

“A Northern Spy apple,” said Jim, looking at his wrist, “a slice of fresh homemade bread and a comb of clover honey.”

“Mmmmmm,” I agreed.

“Everybody likes honey,” said Jim. “You never get tired of it. But you forget about it. And then, after a few weeks or months, you remember it again and get terribly hungry for it.”

“It’s healthy, too.” I pointed out. “Doctors say that the ancient Greeks were as good as they were largely because they ate quantities of honey. It was about the only sweet thing they had in the olden days.”

“Didn’t they have sugar in ancient times?” I asked.

“They put honey on their bread,” said Jim, “and they didn’t have tea. And they didn’t know about preserving. Candies were unknown. So honey was the universal sweet. Mankind has never been as good looking since they substituted sugar for honey. Bees were the big sugar manufacturers of olden times.”

“I’m going to start eating honey,” I stated.

“Personally,” said Jim, “we could have a nice little sideline if we owned a few bees. Why are we city men so dumb? Here you and I are working in a building with about five thousand people in it. We know scores of them. If we wanted to, we could know hundreds of them. Now, suppose you and I owned an apiary.”

“A what?” I exclaimed.

“An apiary. That’s what they call a bee farm,” explained Jim. “Suppose, instead of wasting our money on silly things like stocks or bonds or slapping our money into a bank or something, we invested in a bee farm. We could get some regular farmer to run it for us on shares. We’d put up the money to buy him a bunch of hives and a few thousand good pedigreed bees. Then he’d collect the honey, strain it, put it up in pails, and it could be the Frise-Clark Honey, from Pedigreed Bees.”

“Frise-Clark Honey, from Busy Bees,” I suggested.

“And every Monday,” went on Jim, “he’d ship us down a case or two of honey and we would pass the word around the building. I bet we could work up a nice little trade.”

“Is there money in it?” I inquired.

“There must be,” said Jim. “or there wouldn’t be so many people growing honey. I bet we have passed twenty farms with bee houses this afternoon.”

“Let’s drop into the next one we see, I suggested. “I’d like to see what a bee farm is like.”

“There’ll be a lot of bees around,” warned Jimmie.

“But surely they are trained,” I said.

“They wouldn’t keep bees that would sting prospective customers.”

“I suppose,” said Jim.

And this side of Palgrave we came to dear little white farmhouse with evergreen hedges and in the orchard by the house rows and rows of bee houses on their little platforms.

“Whoa,” said Jimmie.

A kind old lady greeted us as we came through the hedge. She was busy cutting lilacs.

When we asked if we could see the bees she went indoors and got a cow’s horn trimmed with brass, on which she blew a long blast very skilfully and in a few moments over the hills came an equally kind old gentleman in overalls who seemed not to have done any talking for so many years that he could hardly remember the words.

But he shyly took us out into the orchard, where we walked very slowly and politely toward the bee houses.

“They’re Swarming!”

“We just won’t worry them.” said the old man. “If we walk very quietly now, they won’t be bothered with us.”

“Had any swarms lately?” asked Jim.

“I’m expecting a swarm any time,” said the little gentleman. “I’ve lost two swarms this year already. I’m afraid I’m not a very good bee man.”

“Would the honey taste of lilacs?” I asked him.

But he just exchanged a look with Jimmie and they both smiled,

“It tastes better than that,” said the old man proudly.

We stood respectfully looking down the first row of hives, while Jimmie asked about the bees and the blight and all the things that happen to bees. The old man said one of the swarms had gone a mile up the road and settled on the farm of a poor woman, a widow, who had been terribly hard up for a year or more, and he was very glad on her account for these were the finest bees in many a mile.

The other swarm had followed a motor truck, loaded with cows, straight south.

“The last I see of them.” said the old gentleman “the driver was driving like mad, the cows were rolling their eyes, and the bees were gaining. I hope no rich man got them, though I must say every rich farmer always has a few empty hives sitting around, expecting.”

“That’s why they’re rich,” said Jim.

“I suppose,” agreed the old man. You could see he liked Jim.

Thus we were standing, while the orchard hummed and there was a sort of cello music faintly adown the aisles of hives and the orchard trees made a lazy dappled shadow for the music to live in. And the kind old lady with the scissors was shipping more lilacs than she needed in a busy sort of way that told me we were to have some lilacs with us.

And then all of a sudden the old man jumped back and cried:

“They’re swarming!”

And out of one of the hives, about the fifth one down the row, bees began to boil and bubble out of the box with a high sing-sound.

“Get a pan,” shouted the old man, running for the house, with Jim and me after him. The old lady dropped the lilacs and into the house we rushed, where all was cool and fragrant, with a smell like fresh milk, and the old man feverishly thrust a milk pail on Jim and seized the dishpan off the wall for himself, while the old lady took a black cake tin and I grabbed a dipper out of a pail of water.

And toward the orchard we rushed, making a din.

Jimmie and the old man, like Indians at a war dance, hopped about the hive, banging the pans fiercely, bees were darting this way and that excitedly, and what appeared to be a sort of ragged lacy shawl slowly rose from the one hive and began swinging this way and that amongst the apple trees.

Several bees from other hives, upset by the racket, zipped around, like scout aeroplanes, zooming and diving, and I backed off because a couple of them bumped into me.

I decided to withdraw to a little distance, as the noise I was making with the dipper and a stick was not really a big noise, nor did it seem to harmonize with the deep sounds Jimmie and the old man were making with their larger vessels.

I turned my back to walk outside the edge of the orchard when I felt, rather than heard, a loud snore.

“Stand still,” roared Jimmie.

And what seemed to be a very thickly and heavy shawl was folded around my head, neck, shoulders. All was dark.

I stood very still. And all around me rang a furious whanging and banging and heavy breathing.

My fingers ached with stiffness. My leg muscles seemed turned to iron. I breathed through my lips, barely open, while a million tickles, like a million electric shocks, ran around the corners of my mouth, my ears, my eyelids.

I felt like the mummy of King Pharaoh, while the band of 500 B.C. played the funeral march on a million drums.

Then I smelt smoke.

And the lacy tickly shawl, of fine lace, of soft, singing cashmere, not chenille, was slowly lifted, wafted from my head.

I opened one eye. Then the other. I relaxed one finger. Then two. With an effort, like opening a gate, I relaxed one leg.

Jim and the old man and the lady were piously drumming under a tree, while the old man waved a dishpan full of smoking grass from side to side.

I found a thin place in the hedge. I pushed through it. Into the car I stepped, slowly and carefully. All the windows I ran up. I looked cautiously into every corner of the car. I flicked my hair experimentally with my handkerchief.

Presently the old lady came out with a big handful of lilacs.

“Are you married?” she inquired when I opened the door a little.

“If I remember rightly,” I said.

“She’d like these,” said the old lady. “They are an old-fashioned kind.”

“Would they attract bees into the car?” I asked.

“Dear, no,” said the old lady. “The bees are much too busy now to think of lilacs. Once when I was a girl I had then swarm on me.”

“Does it happen often?” I asked.

“No, but it is considered a very lucky sign,” she said. “Were you stung at all?”

“Maybe I’ll begin to feel it a little later, when I can feel anything,” I said.

Jimmie came out with a blue pail of honey for me.

“You saved them from getting away on me,” said the old man. “There’s a pail for you.”

“If I had been out on the road,” I said, “they’d have been my bees.”

“You’re right,” cried the old man.

“Well, I’d have given them back to you,” I assured him.

And I covered the lilacs with my rain slicker and we drove on about our lawful business, which was fishing.


Editor’s Notes: I’m not sure why he would use the phrase, the “Dracula Shivers”, but the Bela Lugosi Dracula movie did come out only a few years earlier in 1931.

Palgrave, Ontario is still a fairly rural area in north Peel County.

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