The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Category: Miscellaneous Page 1 of 14

1930 Election Posters

These posters were created by Jim for the 1930 Canadian federal election, held on July 28, 1930. William Lyon Mackenzie King lost power to the Conservatives led by R. B. Bennett. This was at the beginning of the Great Depression, so, ironically, it was better for the Liberals not to be in charge during the worst of it.

Radio in the Kitchen

No longer is the radio mere novelty in a few of the rural homes of Ontario, but it is an established institution, presenting a regular galaxy of stars and entertainment

By Gregory Clark, July 15, 1933.

Into the village of Terra Nova – which lies somewhere between the desert sands of Camp Borden and the jungles of the Nottawasaga Valley – we drove and pulled up by the garage.

Over on the general store steps sat five young men. They had on faded overalls, shapeless caps and hats on the back of their heads. They wore that air of doing nothing forever that seems a gift of general store steps.

I got out of the car and walked around to the radiator cap which I pretended to be examining.

And then, very casually, I started to whistle some bars from “Stormy Weather,” the Cotton club tune which at the moment is making snakes hips from the Panama canal to the Arctic Circle.

Out of the corners of our eyes we watched.

The five lads on the general store steps tired lazy heads to look at each other. They grinned mildly.

Then two of them joined me in the tune, whistling, moving sympathetically in snakes hips motions on the general store steps.

Another softly clapped his hands to the sweet, moving rhythm of this up-to-the-minute tune.

The fourth rolled his eyes up in the familiar ecstasy of the jazz.

Hicks nevermore!

Hick towns are suddenly vanished from the face of our earth.

The same night that Cab Calloway in his Cotton club with coffee-colored Ethel Waters electrified exotic New York with “Stormy Weather,” these same boys of Terra Nova, fresh from the plow and the harrow on the lonely hills of remote and lost portion of Ontario, heard it, stilled to it, rose to it, thrilled to it, through the magic, the distance-destroying timeless, house-changing, farm-changing, style-changing, habit-changing magic of radio.

Ten years ago, those five youths, up from their solitary toil on these steps for a soft drink, might never have heard “Stormy Weather.” They might have heard it when it was old and stale in some Chinese restaurant in Shelburne or Barrie, sizzling out on a worn victrola record, when they came to town for their monthly or half-yearly bust of recreation.

In blue suits, stiff-legged, dangle-handed, they would have sat shyly, and red of face, in the cubicle of a Chinese restaurant in country town, half pickled with the bright lights, the spaciousness, the busy thronging crowds of Barrie or a Shelbourne Chinese cafe. And they would have barely heard it and at once have forgotten it.

Today, they know it, they know their popular, their classic, their artists, their humorists, their stylists of the earth and the air better than the very New Yorkers who sit in the club where these elegances are first born. For radio is a selector. And country people, with silence and space and loneliness all about them, are selective, too.

We went out all over central Ontario, down side roads up clay back roads, visiting farms and finding out what radio means to the farm.

We found many curious and delightful things. We found, for instance, that in the farm, the radio net is in the kitchen.

We found that it has transformed lonely houses into homes filled with life.

We found that lonely women, who spent all day listening to the far music of their men’s voices directing horses on distant fields, now have company all the long day, bright clever women talking about women’s affairs, music, funny talks by funny men, and talks by that heart-breaker, Tony Wons.

They see their men-folk coming hurrying across the meadows in the middle of the day to listen to some special program, some speech, debate, discussion of affairs. Or to join with the women in laughing at some favorite joker. Because in the country, they love fun.

“It seems to me,” said Adrain Bateman, whose lovely and prosperous farm lies between Bradford and Bond Hend, in little known but rich section of Ontario, “that radio must mean twice as much to the farmer as it does to the town men. For example, I can’t say how much I would miss the weather forecast and the news. It is a small thing to you. But an important, all important, thing to the farmer. Until lately there was a noon broadcast of livestock prices taken at the stock yards that same morning. That is bread and butter to the farmer; when a buyer came along in the afternoon, you knew and could refer to the current prices of stock. You can watch from day to day the prices of the very thing you are producing, stock, grain and produce.”

In Mr. Adrian Bateman’s fine home, where geraniums gleam at the windows, there are grown-up children and an old man, to whom that radio with its thousand voices, Its Amos ‘n’ Andy, its hockey games, is the difference between happiness and unrest.

“I have no doubt,” said Mr. Bateman, “that throughout the country, the younger people are much happier, much more satisfied to remain on the farm than they have been for many years. The radio in some degree restores what farm life lost when the towns and cities took such an enormous lead in the entertaining aspect of life.”

Mr. Tom Huxtable dwells somewhere in between that village of Terra Nova and the more widely known village of Horning’s Mills; although there is no harm if you never heard of it either.

“What programs do the country people like?” we asked.

“Well,” said he. “I like the news morning and night. And I like speeches on politics and current affairs.”

“And the family?”

Mr. Huxtable’s family numbers eight.

“Each member of the family has his or her own likes,” said he. “Eddie Cantor, certain orchestras. certain singers. I don’t quite follow it all, but it seems to me the average country family is an authority on all that is liveliest, newest and best on the air. You can hear a debate on music, drama or any of the arts at any fence corner, at any cross roads from one end of the country to the other.”

“You like news?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Huxtable, “and I find I know more about what is going on in Toronto and New York than the city people I talk to. They apparently haven’t time to keep up with what’s going on.”

Has Transformed Farm Life

But near Stroud, which is in Simcoe county, the family of Mr. Bert Marquis is half boys and half girls.

“We want breakfast before the news broadcast,” said one son. “But we usually have to wait for lunch until the noon broadcast is over.”

“And how about the 11 p.m. new broadcast?”

“The head man always sits up for that,” answered the daughter. “You will see lights burning all over the country now, where darkness reigned before 10 p.m. five years ago. In the winter, especially on Saturday nights when there are hockey games and Wade’s square dance orchestra, the lights burn a lot later than they ever have in the entire history of farming. One night last winter, they burned until after 2 o’clock. That was the famous five-hour game. Those who have radios invite their less fortunate neighbors over. The radio has transformed social life on the farm. Radio has brought more neighborliness into the country than perhaps all the organizations there have been for creating a social spirit on the farm.”

We encountered one farmer who said that he had a large room in his house in which, on the average winter Saturday night, ten families from the surrounding township were represented.

“Such visiting was never heard of five years ago,” and he. “The room filled with visitors, the radio going. the women-folk preparing sandwiches and coffee. Radio has created a new atmosphere on the farm.”

The storekeeper at Bond Head thought that perhaps 30 per cent of all the farmers had radios in operation.

Nat Bredin, who runs the hotel at Bond Head, says he owes radio a good deal of business, because all winter long, especially on Saturday nights, it attracted twenty to thirty farmers from all around who wanted to hear the game. And the food programs during the week draw customers for the soft drinks, the pool tables and the pleasant company of the hotel common room. The bar was abolished and hotels went lean. Now radio in making the hotel a gathering place once more.

Out Stayner way there was one farmer who resolutely refused to buy a radio.

“It is an instrument of the devil,” he declared to the various radio salesmen who called at his farm. The radio salesmen make the rounds of the country the way they cannot in towns and cities. “Instrument of the devil,” asserted this well-to-do farmer. “It is nothing but jazz and nonsense. Bringing more of that city stuff into the country. Turning all the young people’s heads. Taking everybody’s mind off the serious business of farming. No, sir, no radio for me!”

This farmer was a religious man of the type still found in large numbers on the land. One clever radio salesman took a radio out one Sunday morning. Owing to the difference between city and country time it was possible for him to get one of the big Toronto churches at 10 o’clock country time, before the farmer was ready to go to church. The farmer did not want the thing in his house but the salesman explained that he merely wanted to show that for all its faults, the radio was great instrument for good.

The farmer heard choirs lifting their mighty voices, organs resounding, deep voices intoning prayer that filled the farm house. He was deeply impressed. He was sorry he had to leave for church just as the radio minister got nicely launched into the sermon.

Front Rooms Opening Up

“Besides church,” said the salesman, “you can get the prime minister of Canada, the president of the United States, and yes, the King of England himself, discussing public questions.”

“And,” said our informant, “one month later, you could go by that farmhouse at any hour of the night, and you could hear all the jazz bands in the world lifting the roof of it!”

You know that front room in farm houses? The one immediately behind that front door that never opens? That room in used for funerals, weddings and nothing else.

But not always, since radio.

Because those who bought radios in the pre-shiver days, bought those large console or cabinet style, and naturally you could not clutter up a farm kitchen with a great big elegant piece of furniture like that. So was put either just beyond the kitchen door, or right in that parlor.

And now many farm parlors of Ontario are back in circulation again.

We saw radios on shelves, on top of sewing machines, on ice boxes, radios in chairs, on cream separators in comers, on the floor.

But the kitchen wins out by a big majority as the favorite position.

“I hope the radio commission will give us country people a set program of farm market reports,” said one.

“I wish they would give us a news broadcast at 10 o’clock at night,” said another. “Eleven is too late for farmers to stay up.”

But the great majority had no suggestions to make.

They like the same things the New York broker in his love nest likes, the same joker who jokes for Broadway gets across with the little house hidden down the narrow ways

Their speech is coming easier, since they hear so much of it in their once quiet houses all day long.

What the greatest cities have of laughter, of wisdom, of art and science they are spilling out into the sky, to fall like the rain on the bourgeoning earth.

And, like rain, like sunlight, it is making things grow in the country.


Editor’s Notes: The song, “Stormy Weather“, came out the year this was published, first played in the famous Cotton Club nightclub in New York.

“Snake Hips”, was a type of dance.

Tony Wons Scrapbook“, was a popular program as Anthony “Tony” Wons was also known as “scrapbookman” as he collected works of writing from Shelley, Whitman, and other great writers. The show was conversational in nature, like an old friend who stops by for a chat.  He often asked the listening audience “Are you listening?”

Eddie Cantor was a popular singer and comedian.

Lion Brand Hay Fork Rope Ad

July 9, 1947

This advertisement was unusual, as Jim rarely did any work outside of his comic and the Greg-Jim story after 1937, and is the latest example I know of.

Summer Holidays a Fiendish Device of the Capitalist Class

Beautiful city, how art thou misjudged!

By Gregory Clark, July 3, 1920

Designed to Make City Dwellers So Fond of the City They Will Be Contented to Stay There and Slave – The Wail of an Urbomaniac Who is Now Fed Up With Summer Resorting

This is the holiday season.

Now for the annual going away in order more gladly to return.

Now for the fevered escape from the city into the beautiful sun-soaked, clean winded land of the mosquito, ant, sunburned nose and summer hotel food. Out of the frying pan, say I, into the fire. Aye, as in the old fable, it is a goodly thing to pop out of the frying city into the fiery country in order, more thankfully, to return in a couple of weeks to the city.

This sounds pessimistic, so early in the season. But it is not meant as a criticism of the holiday habit. It is

rather, an investigation into the psychology of summer resorting.

A radical gentleman of my acquaintance, familiarly known as “the Red” states as his earnest opinion that the summer holiday is one of the most devilish devices of the capitalists.

It is eminently to the wicked capitalists’ interests to make the common herd love the city, he says. The capitalist has many means. He encourages movies, parks, ice cream parlors. But, greatest of all, is known as the summer holiday. He gives, free, to all his salaried employees, that powerful but unsuspicious middle class, two weeks at full pay, which to go to some remote original spot in the wilderness. To the propaganda in the press, these are made out to be the places for holidays. At any rate, a deep and malignant power is at work. For, in two weeks the poor man of the brick and asphalt who fled so willingly and into the picturesque wilds, returns to his desk and his high stool like a shipwrecked mariner comes home.

That, my friend “the Red’s” view does not matter. My own experience to some respects, bear him out.

The street car strike added to the expense and gayety of our departure. After setting our trunks safely away three hours before train time, we did not remember, in our excitement, that the street cars were on strike until one hour before train time. Hastily, we seized the telephone and called up a garage. Too late! No cars available for two hours. One after another, for fifteen increasingly desperate moments, we called all the garages in the directory. None could send a car in ten minutes or in half an hour.

Taking the dilemma by its horns, we seized our suitcases, paper bundles, coats, umbrellas, fishing rods and golf sticks and raced madly for the street.

Jitneys, indeed, were plentiful. But it was the hour of even, when young ladies and gents go for cheap tours in jitneys at five cents the mile. The jitneys were full.

We raced to main corner, five blocks distant, in hope of getting an empty jitney there. But no; a crowd of one hundred leisurely evening revellers were there in the same hope.

Standing at the kerb, however, was a motor delivery truck fitted up with benches. Aboard it were eight others. We scrambled atop bag and baggage. And then we whispered to the driver:

“We have to be at the Union Station in thirty minutes. Make it, and we give you a dollar each!”

“Right-ho!” replied the driver, and leaped to the throttle.

I have many times jumped for my life to escape being hit by motor trucks. But not till that night did I realize how unnecessary such leaps were. Motor trucks make a great sound of speed. But they go about four miles an hour. This one of ours roared and hummed. But it crawled. And it stopped for several passengers en route. The minutes fled by.

As we neared Simcoe street, the driver said:

“I can’t go around by the station. You’ll have to run for it.”

So from King and Simcoe we ran, bag, baggage, golf sticks and all. When we reached the cobbled subway leading to the Union Station, it was six minutes to train time.

Baggage men, undoubtedly, are in league with the capitalists. We had three trunks to check. There were fifteen flurried people ahead of us at the check room desk. Five minutes! Four!

The baggage men, as cool and unhurried as though our train were not leaving for an hour, moved quietly at their task. Our agonized expression finally caught the eye of one checker Three minutes! He accepted our tickets, helped us we find our trunks; calmly he affixed checks and returned our tickets. One minute! Out to the platform we galloped. Just as a far baritone voice wailed:

“‘Board! ‘Board!”

We got on the train with the preliminary jolt of the engine.

Inside, the car was filled. That is to say, every two persons had their seat turned in so as to form a cosy rest for their feet. They occupied four seats per pair. As we paused beside each set, they would look suggestively backwards, as much as to say that there was lots of room further on. We struggled and bumped our way down the aisle, from car to car. The train was now moving.

But the conductor and brakesmen gave us no help. Why could not they go through and turn back those double seats?

Finally, we picked out couple of helpless and harmless looking people and turned the extra seat over on them.

Ha! Whew! We were on our way!

Of the heat and the smell of that car, of the intoxicated gentleman from the far north who made frequent and unsteady pilgrimages through the cars; of the stale sandwiches and tan-bark tea obtained at “ten minutes for refreshment” station; our arrival at a Muskoka station and our journey by boat to our hotel, little need or can be said.

After a week, we can look back through sun-seared and mosquito-bitten eyes, at a memory, fragrant with pine and balsam; of spacious bright days and still moonlit nights. We have eaten many curious things. Our noses have peeled twice. Our lips are sunburned, but look as if consumed by cold sores. We fished and caught nothing but sunstroke. We golfed and lost seven balls and busted four clubs. We tramped in the fragrant forest and got bitten from every angle and grew creepy with unseen spider webs striking our faces, as we walked. We have listened, in the moonlit evening to the life story of a dozen middle-aged ladies We’ve heard all about the boot business, the wholesale grocery business, and several other vocations represented on the hotel register. Our ears still ring with all the song hits of 1919, played on piano, mandolin, and gramophone, and sung in all the voices from old maid treble to baldhead basso profundo. And there is no health in us!

Ah, the music of the birds! Especially at five o’clock in the morning, when a cheery little warbler sticks his beak trough the mosquito screen of our bedroom and says:

“Tweetle, tweetle, tweet!”

And the lowing of the kine! Here the poets are wrong. The kine do not low at eventide. They come along to the hotel just after daybreak. And they are not kine. They are cows They do not low. They bawl and moo.

But, on second thought, now that I have this all off my chest, I must admit that the brittle feeling has gone out of my spine I feel a whole lot bouncier and brisker than I did ten days ago. And what’s more, the city looks good to me. What lovely trees, with no spider webs strung between them. What well-trained robins and sparrows, who do not screech at the dawn. How good the grub at the cafeteria tastes! How dry and fresh the sheets of my bed! And the movies! And the Ice cream parlors! And the neat, orderly streets, with no winged monsters to leap out and sting you unawares!

Beautiful city, how art thou misjudged!


Editor’s Notes: Kine is a collective term for cows.

Last week’s story told of a street car strike in 1919. There must have been one in 1920 as well.

Even a Street Car Strike in Toronto Has Its Compensations

June 28, 1919

A Jitney is a vehicle for hire which falls between a taxicab and a bus. You can see a photo of a truck carrying passengers during the streetcar strike of 1919 here.

With the Horse Lovers at Thorncliffe Track

You never see people at a cat or dog show studying pedigrees the way they do at a race track.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, June 11, 1921

Mr. Raney may be right. But he is not fashionable.

For one Mr. Raney there are thousands of men who love horses passionately: racehorses that is, not these great, clumsy wagon-horses.

Mr. Raney has been entirely misled by somebody as to the motives of these tens of thousands of men and women in Toronto who attend race meets. Someone ought to be made to suffer for kidding a minister of the crown.

Does Mr. Raney imagine for a moment that these great hordes of people go to the races only from motives of sordid gain? Is he so innocent as to believe that these mobs of sportsmen and horse-lovers attend the races only to bet?

Mr. Raney must have a very poor opinion of his fellow men.

As a matter of fact, it is time we horse-lovers began to proclaim the truth.

And the truth is, if you are willing to believe the sportsmen who love horses, that betting has nothing to do with the popularity of the racetrack. Betting is done for two reasons: First, because it is an ancient and honorable custom in connection with horses, dating back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome -merely a formality; second, because it encourages horse-breeding. But as for mere money –!

In short, the one and only reason for the great crowds at the race tracks is love of horses.

I will admit, right at the start, that up till a week ago, I held very much the same views as Mr. Raney. Because I had never seen a racecourse. But one day my friend James L., an ardent sportsman and horse lover, insisted on my going up to Thorncliffe with him. I had frequently been guilty of condemning James for his absence from the office. I looked on him as a deep-dyed gambler. And his protestations that it was just his passion for seeing horses run I regarded just as so much tosh.

I went with him. Leaving all my money, my watch and wallet securely locked in my desk, I drove in his flivver with him up to Thorncliffe Park.

“Now,” said James, as we drove up Yonge street, “I have fifty bucks on me. If I bet that on a twenty-to-one shot that would give me a thousand dollars. Then if I planted the thousand onto a ten to one shot – ten thousand. By that time I’ll go close on a few favorites and sure things. And maybe I’ll come home with twenty thousand dollars!”

And James’s face lighted, and he switched up the gas, narrowly missing a traffic constable.

“Think of it!” he cried. “Here I go up Yonge street with fifty measly bucks. And in four hours I may be coming down with twenty thousand.”

“But,” I protested, “what has this to do with horses?”

“My boy,” said James, soberly, “don’t let me kid you. We horse-lovers talk like that about betting just for fun. We all do. But don’t let that deceive you. It’s just our jolly manner.”

But as we passed through the cemetery through which the road to the racetrack runs, I noticed James crossed the fingers of both hands on the steering gear, and turned the lucky ring on his finger.

At the race track – a small grand stand, several stables, all painted white and a large oval race track in front – was a crowd of about seven thousand people.

At first glance, I was not at all impressed by the crowd. There seemed to be a larger than usual percentage of hard-boiled looking people in it. But James reassured me.

“Isn’t it wonderful,” he cried, “what a noble thing is man’s love for a dumb creature, even among people you wouldn’t expect it of?”

And as I looked about at some of the faces around me I was deeply moved that such noble emotions could be concealed behind such unpromising exteriors.

The crowd surged under the grand stand where the betting machines were located, then surged out again to the fence. And before I realized what was doing, a race was run.

It was all very sudden. A bugle blew. Several horse-lovers cried hoarsely: “They’re off!”

Then a tense silence for a few seconds while seven thousand horse-lovers feasted their eyes on the sight they loved best – beautiful horses running.

Then it was over.

And I must say only a very few seemed interested in which horse had won. The rest of the crowd, just turned away, deeply disappointed that the beautiful sight of running horses was soon finished, and went down under the grand stand where the betting machines were, to rest and wait for the next race.

I didn’t see much of James while the races were on. He was rushing about, like a true horse-lover, chatting enthusiastically with different people about the beautiful steeds. In fact, I saw him earnestly talking with some very disreputable-looking men and I marveled at the equality that existed between horse-lovers. These strange fellows he was talking to were pointing out for James on his program the special qualities and beauties of the horses that were to run in the next race.

The horse-lover is an intense person. This crowd at Thorncliffe was not a crowd in the ordinary sense. There was no crowd feeling. They were simply seven thousand individuals, each deeply engrossed in his devotion to horses. They all walked with bent heads, devouring the facts contained in little newspapers specially printed for horse-lovers.

To imagine that all this intensity was over mere filthy money getting, mere greed, would be surely to misconceive the finest qualities of mankind. You never see such devotion at a dog show or a poultry show. You never see cat lovers bumping into each other so intently as they study the pedigree and former prizes won by their favorite cat! These horse-lovers are a race apart.

James and I met at the end of the last race.

He had tired look.

“Well,” said I, “have you got your twenty thousand?”

“You’re a jinx!” said James, with pretended bitterness.

He was very glum all the way down to the city. I then understood how fatigued a horse-lover could become with enthusiasm.

But I also noticed, at the garage where we had to stop for gasoline, that James could only find forty-five cents.

So we only took one gallon.


Editor’s Notes: This can be considered a very early Greg-Jim Story, as “James L.” is definitely James Llewellyn Frise. We also know from past stories Jim’s love of the race track.

William Raney was Attorney-General of Ontario at the time. He was known for his opposition to gambling on horse racing and the sale of alcohol. It is interesting that when the UFO (United Farmers of Ontario) won the 1919 election, the leader, Drury, approached Raney, a Liberal, to be Attorney-General since the UFO had elected no lawyers.

Thorncliffe Park Raceway existed from 1917-1953. It used to exist in the location of the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto today.

A “flivver” was early slang for cars, usually referring to a Ford Model T.

Currency conversion for 1921 to 2021: $50 = $665, $20,000 = $265,900.

45 cents/gallon in 1921 equals $1.31/litre in 1921 (which happens to be the same price of gas the day I write this!)

“Ride ‘Em Cowboy!”

“Haven’t you got a lower horse?” asked Merrill.

I’m not sure, but I think I heard laughter from the grooms behind us as we made off down the lane.

I executed a manoeuvre I had learned in the Mounted Rifles in getting off the back of moving lorries.

By Gregory Clark, June 14, 1930.

“My doctor,” said Merrill, “has ordered me to take up horse-back riding.”

“You’ll require a horse,” said I doing something else.

“Horse-back riding,” said Merrill, “is good for the liver, it jounces you around and makes up in one hour for all the jiggling your insides could get from a year’s work with pick and shovel.”

“Have you ever ridden?”

“No,” said Merrill. “I am told there is a kind of electric spark that passes from the horse to the rider as he bounces up and down which does a man a great vitality.”

“I think you’ll enjoy riding,” said I, “if you can persuade a horse that it will.”

“I am counting on you,” said Merrill. “You can teach me to ride. You were with the cavalry in the war, weren’t you?”

“Mounted Rifles,” said I, quickly.

“The same thing,” said Merrill. “When can you come with me?”

Of course, it wasn’t the same thing by any means. The Mounted Rifles may have intended to have horses but all of the time I knew them, they were just plain gravel crushers. Any riding I did in France was on a lorry. But men are silly. No sooner are they flattered with the notion that they were dashing cavalry men than they submit themselves to situations which are unbearable.

So I stand here writing this – I’ve had my typewriter set up on a high desk so I don’t have to sit down – I realize that the most cowardly part of a man is his tongue. Why didn’t I briskly tell Merrill that I knew nothing whatsoever about horses? But no:

“Any time you say,” said I. “Make arrangements for a couple of horses and I’ll go any day”

And the following noon, Merrill phoned to say that he had made arrangements with a riding academy up Yonge St. for that very afternoon. He would pick me up in his car.

Merrill called at the office in riding clothes, hard hat, shiny boots – as if he were a life long member of the Hunt Club.

“Where’s your bag?” asked Merrill.

“I’ve no bag,” said I.

“But your britches,” said Merrill. “How will you ride without britches?”

“The Mounted Rifles never rode in britches and always rode in trousers.”

“The academy fellow said to be sure to wear britches,” said Merrill.

Anyway, we arrived in a back lane that smelled strongly of horses and in a few minutes of being shown through a dark stable by a sun-tanned riding master who seemed to regard me with deep suspicion.

“Haven’t you better have britches, sir?” he said. Merrill had told him on the telephone that a cavalry officer was a friend of his and was going to teach him riding.

“No, no,” said Merrill, interrupting. “The Mounted Rifles always rode in trousers.”

“Merrill,” said I, “you should have a good tall horse, strong and well built.”

“I’ve the very thing,” said the groom. And backed out of its stall a huge brown horse that had to duck its head under the stable rafters. “Here’s a good strong horse, with lovely manners and it doesn’t care what it carries.”

Merrill looked unimpressed. So did the horse. It snorted loudly.

“Haven’t you got a lower horse?” asked Merrill. “A lower, wider horse, with shorter legs and broader across the back. I’d feel more sure.”

Spanked on a Large Scale

This is the very horse for you, sir,” said the groom. “Now for you, sir.”

And the groom stood inspecting me for a moment.

“You’d like something pretty,” said he. “No nags for you, sir.”

“Oh, just a nice little horse,” said I, trying to look cavalry. “I don’t want to be too busy riding to devote some attention to my friend here.”

He backed out a small, yellow horse with its ears pointing back.

“I don’t like its ears,” said I.

“That’s all right sir,” said the groom. “That’s the way he wears them all the time. He’s a dandy little horse.”

With the help of a couple more grooms, the two steeds were soon saddled. Twice I saw my little horse stretch out its neck towards Merrill’s big horse, and both times the big horse backed violently away.

“Are these horses good friends?” I demanded.

“The little chap is playful,” said the groom. “but don’t mind that, sir. You’ll have no trouble managing him.”

When Merrill came to mount, all three grooms had to help him up. It was a terrific heave. They had to push the horse up against the lane fence and then hoist Merrill on with the fence for a backing.

“Wait a minute,” said Merrill uneasily. “Suppose I fall off, are their any loading platforms in the neighborhood where I can get on again, or are you three going to follow me about?”

“You won’t fall off, sir,” said the head groom.

“I feel as if I will fall off at the slightest movement,” said Merrill. “This horse is like a barn roof.”

I have seen hundreds of horsemen mount their charges in the movies, at the horse show, and so forth. I stepped boldly up to my small horse, seized its reigns, raised one foot for the stirrup when the little brute swerved violently away from me.

“The other side, sir!” shouted the head groom. It appears you cannot climb on a horse from any side. There is a particular side. I forget which one now, but with one of the grooms holding his head, I managed to clamber up the side of the beast and get myself in the saddle. Merrill and his large horse were standing waiting in the lane.

I don’t know anything more deceiving than a horse. It looks, from the ground to be a nice round animal, with a broad, smooth back slightly curved downward as if for the comfortable seating of a man. But the minute you get on top, you find it entirely different. A horse is really a three-cornered animal. It is triangular in shape, and one of the edges is up. The saddle is a small seat on this thin and dangerous edge, and your legs hang down two slippery sides.

And even my small horse seemed to be ten feet high.

Its ears were pointing back all of the time. The minute the groom let go, it gave a couple of little skips and, with its neck outstretched, trotted towards Merrill’s horse.

Merrill’s horse wheeled suddenly, almost upsetting him right at the start, and made off down the lane.

When a horse runs, it bobs up and down. By some curious lack of sympathy between man and horse, a man is always coming down just as the horse is coming up. I know of no other sensation quite like it. It is like being spanked on a large scale. And also like being hit on the jaw by a man much bigger than yourself. Both Merrill and I went out the lane being spanked. And I am not sure, but I think I heard veiled laughter from the grooms behind us.

“Whoa!” shouted Merrill, as we came out of the lane to the street. “Hold your horse back away from mine. Mine’s nervous of yours.”

A Horse Can Jump Sideways

I hauled on the reins and mine stopped.

“Which way will we go?” asked Merrill. “Up north of Forest Hill Village is nice.”

“Let’s go there then.”

“Turn left,” said Merrill, pulling on the left rein. But his big horse turned right.

“We’ll go this way,” Merrill called back to me. So one behind the other, we proceeded east towards Yonge St.

Merrill’s horse paid no attention to traffic. But mine began to prance every time a motor car passed. It laid back its ears and pointed itself in different directions, and sometimes it even backed up a little, which was very disconcerting. My trouser legs were beginning to work up and show my garters.

“We’ll go north on Yonge,” said Merrill, as we approached.

But at Yonge, when he pulled the north rein, the big horse turned south.

“Hey,” said I, “north on Yonge.”

“I’ve changed my mind,” called Merrill. “We’ll ride in the Rosedale ravine, it’s more secluded.

My pant legs were working up so high that I wished I had got britches. I don’t believe the Mounted Rifles ever rode in trousers. They probably wore puttees.

Amid traffic, we proceeded at a walk down Yonge St., Merrill having to slow up every little while until my small horse stopped pointing itself at half the cars that passed.

When we came level with the entrance to the Rosedale Glen, Merrill stopped his horse, turned it facing the entrance and then clicked his tongue and started it. But, without the slightest concern, the horse turned and proceeded down Yonge St.

I let my horse loose just a little bit and came within speaking distance of Merrill.

“We don’t want to go down town,” I said.

“He knows where he’s going,” said Merrill. “Take the lead yourself if you like.”

I tried to move my horse past Merrill. In doing so, I must have conveyed the wrong impression to him. I clicked and said “Giddap,” and slightly urged him forward with my body. And the fool horse started to trot!

As soon as he started to trot, Merrill’s big horse gave a lurch and started not to trot but to gallop.

“Whoa!” roared Merrill. I yelled whoa too. But it appears in the best horseman circles, nobody ever says whoa to their horse. Around a corner off Yonge St. we charged.

Merrill’s horse was going at what is called a canter, and Merrill was bouncing easily up and down. But my small yellow horse, with its ears back, was trotting smartly, with the result that I was joggled horribly, and I could only see in a blur. I could see in his elbows that Merrill was trying to stop his horse. Just as he got it slowed, we caught up, and mine gave a small whinny and made a nudge at Merrill’s.

A horse can jump sideways. You would be surprised at how far a horse can jump sideways. I wonder they don’t include sideways jumping events at the horse shows. Anyway, it was all of ten feet from where Merrill hit the pavement to where the horse stood, all trembling and indignant. For fear my horse would step on him, Merrill scrambled up and my horse stood up on its hind legs. I executed a smart manoeuvre I had learned in the Mounted Rifles in getting off the back of moving lorries. I slid off the rear end of my horse while it was standing up.

The two horses trotted in a leisurely way along the street towards Queen’s Park, which glimmered greenly a block distant.

“Well,” said Merrill.

“I was afraid you were hurt,” said I, pulling down my pant legs.

“What about the horses?” asked Merrill.

“What do you say if we let them go?” said I. “They will find their way home. Horses are marvellous that way.”

“It’s all my fault,” said Merrill. “I’m sorry. But if you ‘ll try me just once more, let’s go and catch them and you take the lead. I’ll follow.”

We walked with an accompaniment of small children, over to the park, where our horses were nibbling the grass peacefully and a park attendant was creeping warily up on them.

“You catch yours first,” said Merrill, “and then you can ride mine down and catch him.”

“No, Merrill,” said I. “I’m the teacher. I want you to learn to catch your horse right at the start. It is one of the most important things.”

“But how will I get back on it?”

“Some of this crowd will help,” said I. For all of the people in the park, who had been lying on the grass and lounging on the benches, had suddenly come to life and were gathering to see us catch our horses.

We stalked the big horse carefully. Merrill called “Co-bossy, nice co-bossy,” to it. Just as we were about to grasp the reins, it raised its head suddenly and galloped a few yards away, where it began to nibble the grass again. This was repeated several times, and we had made almost the complete turn of the park when a policeman came walking briskly up and said to Merrill:

“Here, you’ll have to get that horse off here.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Merrill.

“Well go on – get it off,” said the policeman.

“All right, all right,” said Merrill, approaching the big horse.

“Come on, now, no fooling. Get it off of here right away,” said the policeman.

Merrill reached for the reins and again the big horse bolted a few yards off.

“Look here,” said the policeman, sternly, “are you going to get that horse off of here, or are you not?”

Merrill turned to me.

“I guess you’d better catch yours, after all,” said he.

So we turned our attention to the small yellow horse, which had been watching the whole proceedings out of the corner of its eye while nibbling grass.

The crowd now numbered hundreds. To the nearest of them, I explained how we used to catch our horses in the Mounted Rifles. I said we used to turn out the whole battalion and form a huge circle, just like ring-around-a-rosy, and then narrow it down until the horse was caught in the middle. I asked them if they would like to help us. And a large circle was formed around the little yellow horse, so that five men, the policeman, Merrill and I managed to corner the beast, and a short man with bow legs and a peaked cap walked bang up to the brute and took it coolly by the straps.

“‘Ere’s your ‘orse,” said the little man. “What’s your trouble?”

“I was teaching my friend here to ride,” said I, “and he fell off.”

“Did he fall off bofe ‘orses?” asked the bow-legged little man.

“I got off to help him catch his horse.”

“Ow, I see!” said the little man. “Now then, wot?”

“We’re going to get on again,” said Merrill, “if we can find a sort of platform around here anywhere. Maybe a couple of benches one on top of the other will do.”

“Perhaps,” said the little man in the cap, “you’d like the ‘ave the ‘orse kneel down for you to get on?”

“Will it do that?” asked Merrill, eagerly.

“Sure,” said the small fellow. “An’ roll over.”

“You catch my horse now,” said Merrill to me. “Let’s hurry. This crowd is getting noisy and the policeman is getting out his little book.”

“That Horse is a Killer”

“We’ll catch yours the same way as we caught mine,” I said. “I don’t like galloping all around this park. There are women and children to be considered.”

“Form another ring,” said Merrill.

“Wite a minute,” said the little man holding my horse. “Do you want me to get that other one for you?”

“Do you mind?” I asked quietly.

The little man was quivering with anxiety to get on my horse. You could see that.

Up went one leg, with an easy bound the little man was on top and had hooked his bow-legs over that prancy yellow beast of mine. Its prancing stopped. With an easy twist or two, he rode it up to the big horse, took the reins and brought the two of them to us more quickly than it takes to write about it.

“Now then,” said Merrill, looking haughtily at the policeman, “up we go.”

“Merrill,” said I, holding him by the lapel, “look at the eye of that horse of yours! Just look at it! I didn’t notice it before. But that’s a bad horse you’ve got. A bad horse!”

“Eh!” said Merrill.

“That horse is a killer,” said I. “I’m sorry I ever let you get on such a horse as that. I wouldn’t dream of being responsible for you on a bad horse like that. He’s got blood in his eye.”

“What shall we do?” asked Merrill.

“I’ll ask this little chap if he would like to take the two of them back to the stable,” said I.

“All right then,” said Merrill. “I’m mighty glad you saw in time.”

“Would you like,” I asked the small man, still sitting on my horse, “to take the two of them back to their stable?”

“Right-o,” said he.

“What’s the address of that stable, Merrill?”

“Oh, I knows it,” said the little man. “I come from there and I’m the groom what the boss sent down to follow you two gents in case you got in trouble.”

“The very idea!” cried Merrill indignantly, looking to me to burst out into cavalry temper.

“Right-o,” said the little chap, wheeling the horses and taking them tamely out of sight.

“Let’s walk over to Yonge and get a taxi,” said I. We walked away and left the crowd to sort itself out on the benches and grass again.

“Ouch,” said Merrill.

“What is it?”

“That electric spark from the horse is catching me,” said Merrill. “It feels like a knife inside my leg up there.”

I walked a short distance and noticed the same thing.

We were walking slightly bow-legged by the time we got to a taxi. The next day we both stayed home. To-day I am working at my task standing up.

“What shall I tell my doctor?” asked Merrill.

“Tell him you consulted a cavalry officer who said that you were not cut out for a horseman and ask him if riding in a tank would server the same purpose.”

And the doctor retorted that Merrill should go in for sea fleas.


Editor’s Note: This is a pre-Greg and Jim story, in the similar format, but with Greg and Merrill Denison, another Star Weekly columnist. A few of these stories would run in 1930. Denison would later move to New York and still contribute occasionally to the Star Weekly, and Jim would still illustrate his stories. The quality of the microfilm was also quite bad, so I had to make some guesses with the text.

Gentlemen of the Game

In the dressing-room of the Jockey House

By Gregory Clark, June 5, 1926

At one o’clock the jockeys weigh in.

They are then confined to the jockey house until their engagements for the day are over.

Strictly confined. The jockey house is guarded very jealously by an official. Only the jockeys, the valets and the man charge of the colors are admitted.

The jockeys are not permitted to speak to anyone but their valets and officials of the track who have admittance. Owners’ trainers are barred. A jockey, once he has “made his weight” at one o’clock, is forbidden to speak to or be spoken to by anyone.

You see the jockeys, as they dismount after the race, met by their valets in grey uniforms. The valets take the saddles and whips. The jockeys walk in silence, by a guarded entrance, direct to the jockey house.

This is the ancient etiquette of the race track.

The jockey house is at the far end of the track, next to the paddock. You will see the brightly colored little figures watching from the sunroom windows above. You will see them trooping out, a minute before the bugle to mount is sounded, to the weigh scales where they “make their weight” for the last time just before the race. Their valets saddle up. In the guarded paddock, they mount and parade out before the grandstand. Then, jauntily or dejectedly, you see them filing back into their sanctuary.

In a very special abrogation of the rule, The Star Weekly was permitted to enter the guarded jockey house to report its mystery and its color.

In all that great arena of excitement which is a race course, you would expect the focus, the hot-point of excitement to be concentrated in the quarters of the jockeys, who are the final, ultimate and sole human factor in the actual consummation of the race. Instead, it is a little nest of peace.

The very air above the race track quivers with the eagerness and thrill of the multitude of spectators. The jockey house is so still and serene, some of the boys lie asleep in it.

The mob buses with talk, exclamation, shouts. But in the sanctum of the riders, the little men converse in quiet undertones.

At one end of the scene are the betting machines, and at the other, the jockey house. There perhaps, is the most unfriendly concrete criticism of the sport of kings. The aura of excitement in a race course is deepest in color around the automatic bookmakers. It shades away across the grandstand, becoming a polite pale color within the self-conscious members’ enclosure. It flares up again at the paddock, where the prancing horses are standing by for the race. Then it disappears almost entirely at the jockey house.

The first room within the jockey house is a cross between a Varsity gym locker room and the property of a theatre. It is strange room, like no other in the world. It walls are entirely filled with clothes lockers. Benches for the dressers take up all the floor. Aloft, on rails, completely circling the room, are the colors. Silk, every one, little jackets of red, white, blue, green, yellow, and every combination of them; stripes, part color, motley, white discs on red jackets, yellow discs on white jackets, half one color, half another -these jackets are the color of all the different racing stables of America, ready to be donned by the jockeys when they ride the horse of a particular stable. Beneath the flaming colors, silks, hang tiny riding boots, flimsy little flat racing saddles, frail girths, bridles, everything on the small side, everything on the dainty, delicate side. Here amidst the colorful gloom of the dressing room of the jockey house sit the little men who ride, some dressing, some idling and chatting, waiting for their next mount, resting from a race that made fifteen thousand throats sore. Underneath these silk garments, the boys wear nothing but cotton undersuits. They shiver in the wind. Others are sweating from a race and the silks are dark with wet.

But not voice is raised. Here come six of them, fresh from a race. The first to come in are the also rans. They are smiling or looking downcast, according to their natures. There is no chatting.

“Dog gone!” cries one tiny little fellow with a Kentucky drawl. “‘At horse just bucked like a wil’ horse and when the barrier comes up, none of his feet is on the groun’.”

The last to trail in are the winners, who have been held up at the judges’ stand to be weighed in again in the interminable round of declaring one’s honest weight which is part of the ritual of racing.

“Good ride, boy! More money for the old hip pocket!”

Nine out of ten jockeys appear to be about fifteen or sixteen years of age, and probably are. It is hard to tell with this class of human that is naturally built on miniature lines. About one out of ten is a man undoubtedly in his thirties, little, dark, lean men, with the slim limbs and narrow features of a hawk. But the rowdy, happy-go-lucky spirit which one expects in boys of middle teen age is utterly lacking. There is an occasional swear word spoken with an accustomed and final manner that is startling and causes you to look twice at what appeared to be a quiet boy of high school age, you become aware of a certain assurance veiled behind these reserved lads. For not a living one of them but is brave as a lion. Riding race horses in a man’s job for which mighty few boys are fit. The Arab on his steed wins instant respect as a tamer of wild nature. The little jockey up on his horse is entitled to the same flood of respect, for race horses are wild nature, pure. And the jockey has not the advantage the picturesque Arab has, who sits in a great cradle of saddle, with both legs forking his beast, his feet gripped in deep irons.

Wise Lads and Quiet

If there is one thing that strikes the attention immediately on entering the jockey house, it is the subdued manner of these boys. And the very next fact is the heart stirring assurance of the eyes, that you are looking upon a collection of courageous and fine-spirited human creatures. For courage needs so much room in the human heart, it leaves very little room for lesser gifts. One reason why lifelong followers of the racing game, in Toronto, officials of the courses, have nothing but praise for the little men who ride is that being of proven courage to begin with, there are few bad qualities left to disturb or distress the gentlemanly and sportsmanlike conduct of the finest aspect of the race track – the jockey house.

Upstairs in the house are two rooms, a work room, where the valets keep boots and saddles in spotless trim, and a sun-porch where the riders sit to watch the races and rest between rides.

On the low work-tables where the valets do their spit-and-polish, three or four little figures, in bright and gala costumes, lie carefully covered with greatcoats, sleeping – sleeping within sound of that vast hum and murmur, rising now and then to a roar, of the crowd of those who regard themselves as sportsmen because they stand or sit and look upon the exploits of sportsmen. The horror of a jockey’s life is flesh. The addition of a pound of weight is a grave piece of news in a little fellow. What a jockey knows about reducing would startle the ladies of fashion if they enquired. The reason these little figures are laid out so uncomfortably upon the bare table is no doubt that they are exhausted by their training down to make weight. In the early hours of the morning you can always see these small men on the run in the neighborhood of the tracks, like prize-fighters, loaded down with sweaters, chasing along as hard as they can go, to reduce one pound in order to make their scheduled weight.

In the sun-porch a blaze of color fills all one side, where the little riders are leaning out watching a race. Far beyond them is the background of the excited mob, the murmur rising every instant. The dark mass of them is agitated. The color-clad riders in the foreground are still and unperturbed.

“Eddie’s in the lead. I knew he would be.”

“Poor Sam has got a three-footed horse. Look at him at the turn!”

We stood right behind the watchers at the sun-room windows and these were the quiet, casual comments. It seems as if you took a boy and made a man of him too soon, you are likely to get a gentleman out of him.

“Do you ever have any fights in the jockey, house?” we asked one of the older valets who looked as if he had a good many years of jockeys back of him.

“Only enough to prove the rule,” he said. “Now and again a fellow goes sour under the strain. His nerve wasn’t of the lasting sort. When you get a rough rider, sooner or later he tries his stuff on one of the bigger boys and then there is bound to be a punch or two. Remember, jockeys as a class are sportsmen of the finest type, and it is little enough recognized. There is little rough stuff amongst them for two reasons – one, that it isn’t in them, and two, that they are afraid of nobody and will stand no dirty work from their inferiors.”

Why Jockey House is Guarded

“Do you recall any incidents?”

“Yes, but no names. I remember the time one of the foremost riders in America threw his horse against another jockey, who has since become the greatest rider in Germany, in a deliberate effort to drive him through the fence. He was set down for the offense and fined $200 by the stewards. In the jockey house after the race there was a good deal of silence when the two came in. It was an unforgivable offense, and something was bound to happen.

“‘Well,’ said the offender. ‘you nearly got me last year in California and I said I’d get you some day.’

“This showing that the attempt to drive the other through the fence was really deliberate and planned, the other stepped up and whacked him on the jaw, knocked him into a pail of water and into complete and eternal disgrace in the jockey house.”

Like the theatrical profession, jockeys are always on tour. They are far from home and mother, despite their tender years in most cases. They are under contract to certain stables, travel with the personnel and horses and live with the trainers. But as you see them in the jockey house there are plenty evidences of a mother’s care. One wears a home-made dressing gown. Another has his initials painstakingly worked in silk on his cap.

As they turned away from the sunroom window after a race, without a single trace of excitement, we asked them if they got no kick out of seeing a race.

“When you ride a couple of races a day, just seeing one,” said a slim-legged sportsman, “doesn’t create much kick.”

“I don’t see anybody nervous before the race. Are you ever nervous?”

“Before a big race, with big stakes, or with a lot of good horses over which there is jealousy, we get a bit jumpy. Then there are the two-year-olds and a certain proportion of bad horses that no amount of riding can handle. Going out on them always causes a little nervousness. But, of course, riding year after year, day in and day out, soon hardens a fellow.”

He motioned secretly for us to look at one of the boys in green. This was one of the season’s star riders. He was sitting on a chair staring out the window. His hands were drumming on the sill. He was whistling. Then he jumped up and walked a couple of turns around the sunroom, stopped and stared absently out of the window, his fingers plucking nervously at his waist band.

“He’s got a big bad horse in the last race that he wants very much to ride to a win,” whispered the other boy. “He’s riding him right now, in anticipation and worry.”

The rider in green continued his restless prowl around the sunroom, in his eyes the look of an anxious boy waiting in the principal’s office for an interview. Half an hour later, be rode his big, bad horse to victory and came back to the jockey house all ease and smiles and his nervous hands quiet and controlled.

Jockeys taste some of the most romantic joys of earth – of the circus trouper, of the stage, not to mention the elements that belong exclusively to racing. But on top of all these is sportsmanship, in an old tradition, which the trouper and the actor never experience.

The jockey house, if we get the right perspective on a race track, from the betting machines to the paddock, is guarded for still another reason. It houses the gentlemen in the game.


Editor’s Note: Jim illustrated this early collaboration on a news story with Greg. Based on what we know about them later, Jim was likely much more interested in this story than Greg.

British American Oil Ad – 05/25/29

May 25, 1929

Jim created this advertisement for the British American Oil Company, which became Gulf Canada in 1969. In 1985, it’s assets were sold to Petro-Canada and Ultramar. Other advertisements from the series can be seen here, and here.

The Canucks Beat Malaria

This is the female Anopheline mosquito, transmitter of the malaria germ. It takes on an average 12 to 20 days for the disease to develop in a human being after being bitten.
Three Canadian army nurses, above. At left is one way servicemen have devised to keep mosquitoes away.

By Gregory Clark in London, May 20, 1944

The First Canadian division shares with one famous British division, the Seventh Armored, the distinction of having the best malaria record of all the British forces engaged in operations last summer and fall. The Germans used the mosquito as one of their most potent weapons. In Sicily the reason for their vicious determination to hold us down in the Catania plain was to subject us to the bites of mosquitoes in that heavily infested malaria district. They tried again in Italy in two other areas famous for centuries as malaria plague spots. In the Volturno valley and the Foggia plain they blew dykes, created dams, did everything engineers could think of to flood the ground, not to impede our advance alone, but to multiply that most ancient of war weapons, the mosquito.

In Italy I met Lieut.-Col. Jameson Carr, the eminent British malariologist, who has in his lifetime travelled over 1,000,000 miles to every part of the world studying malaria. He completing a tour of the Sicilian and Italian battlefields before returning to make a report to the war office.

“The mosquito,” said Lieut-Col. Jameson Carr, “has been a major weapon of war from time immemorial. Possibly the mosquito is the most ancient war weapon in human history, outdating even the spear and bow and arrow. Possibly because the Canadians were ‘new boys’ in fighting in malaria regions they achieved their distinguished record of low malaria casualties.

“Being new to malaria,” said Jameson Carr, “and also being in a high state of training when they reached Sicily, the Canadian commanders and the Canadian rank and file apparently lived up very fully to the precautions. My Investigation shows they took their mepacrine in an efficient and systematic fashion which I think is the number one reason for the good record. I also find they kept up their precautions well into November and some units into December long after the average man would suppose the mosquito had gone for the season. At all events, they turned in a fine performance.”

Col. Milton Herbert Brown, O.B.E., deputy director of hygiene at Canadian military headquarters in London, well-known Toronto doctor, described to me the dramatic circumstances surrounding the Canadians’ training against malaria. A certain percentage of Canadian medical officers, of course, had been given some training. During the long years of training in Britain several dozens of Canadian army doctors had attended the school of tropical medicine in London. When the first division went into hiding last summer, prior to their secret departure for Sicily, the war office warned the Canadians they were going to enter a malarial zone. The Canadians asked for and got Capt. F. W. Bone, British army specialist in malaria, and in a very short period prior to departure and during the tense and exciting period of the great convoy by ship to Sicily, the Canadians were initiated into the mysteries of this potent war disease.

Lectured on Malaria

“Our Canadian specialist in fighting malaria,” said Col. Brown, “was Major Paul Scott of Picton, Ont., commanding number two field hygiene section. Every officer and every man was lectured and instructed in malaria. The use of mepacrine was explained and its issue was begun at the very outset, long before the Canadians landed, so that every man’s blood was saturated with it. Leaflets were published and senior officers were fully instructed. It was short notice, but I am very proud to know the results were so good.”

“What is there,” I asked Col. Brown, “about malaria that makes it so peculiarly deadly in the military sense? The rate is not high, is it?”

“No, the average lay-off with malaria might be as low as two weeks,” said Col. Brown. “What happens is this. A commander plans a battle. He gets up all his supplies. He places his artillery in position, gets up ammunition in plenty, prepares his supply dumps in the fullest degree. But he does not know that perhaps 15 or 30 per cent of his troops, including possibly some of his essential junior officers and non-coms, have been infected with malaria which is due to break out at the critical moment of his attack.

“It takes on the average 12 to 20 days for malaria to develop in the human after being bitten. Sometimes less, sometimes up to 30 days or more. But when a man comes down with malaria he is completely helpless from the military point of view. He has a high fever, is weak and wholly incompetent to fight or carry out his normal duties. True, he does not very often die, though it can be malignant. But he has to be evacuated. He is a casualty in the same sense as if he had been wounded by a shell.”

Lieut.-Col, Jameson Carr told me some extraordinary facts about malaria. It is carried by the female mosquito only, and she must bite somebody who already has malaria before she can transmit it to someone else she bites later. If we could ever cure everybody in the world of malaria, that would be the end of it.

You come down with a violent fever, sometimes fatal. It lasts a couple of weeks until you conquer it with quinine or mepacrine. But it lingers in you normally for about two to three years, breaking out every seven to nine months in another return. Any mosquito that bites you in that time may pick up a stray bug to ripen in her own tiny system and transfer to somebody else.

Jameson Carr told me he had known of malaria doing many other things besides giving a fever. It can attack internal organs and simulate many diseases. Unless he is suspicious of malaria, a doctor can diagnose it as anything from venereal diseases, pneumonia or bronchitis to mental disorder.

Mepacrine, the drug we took in such quantities against malaria, is a pill about the size of an aspirin. It is the most awful and wild livid yellow color you ever saw. It is so bitter it makes your eyeballs contract. You take four a week with sometimes a double at the end of the week. A few days after you start taking it you begin to notice the webbing between your fingers and the tips of your fingers are starting to turn yellow. Presently your face begins to show a queer ivory glow, despite your sun tan. Finally your friends call you “daffodil.”

The Germans are credited with the discovery of the drug, which they call atabrine. Before going to the Mediterranean we were all issued with mosquito net canopies for our beds, and tins of mosquito ointment to smear on ourselves. But of all precautions everybody seemed convinced mepacrine was the trick that did it. Fill your blood with this acrid bilious yellow and even a leech would fall dead off you.

In exploring the malaria story, I found these instances among hundreds to demonstrate what a tricky weapon it is. In equipping an air squadron with a new bombing device one pilot was selected for special training to carry out the necessary experiment. The day the experiment began this officer went down with malaria. In the same Foggia area one of the best fighter pilots got into a terrible jam in the air and made an incredibly bad landing. In hospital it was found he had been taken with malaria in the air, though he was 100 per cent fit when he took off.

On the Sangro an outstanding officer was selected for a particularly hazardous job. He was given 30 selected men. They went into training for the task on which a large operation depended. In their training they were in advertently exposed to mosquitoes. The officer and eight of the men went down with malaria on the eve of the show. Such instances can be multiplied endlessly in all armies and probably back to Hannibal’s time or Nebuchadnezzar’s. If you think about malaria, you begin to see that war consists of a vast number of things besides shooting.


Editor’s Note: Mepacrine was initially approved in the 1930s as an antimalarial drug. It was used extensively during the Second World War by Allied forces fighting in North Africa and the Far East to prevent malaria.

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