The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Oh, To Be Poor or Safe in Jail Now That the Income Tax is Due!

April 19, 1924

By Gregory Clark, April 19, 1924.

Residential Streets Deserted These Evenings, While the Children Are Put to Bed and Dad Struggles With His Tax Forms – If You’re Puzzled Lots of Your Clever Friends Can Help You.

O to be in jail, now that April’s here! O, to be a bachelor, earning about eight hundred dollars a year!

Blessed are the poor, for they don’t know what income tax forms are.

Do you know why the dominion government set the last day of April as the date income tax forms have to be in?

To save population. If the tax forms had to be made out in the dismal month of November or in the heat of the summer, hundreds would be jumping out of upstairs windows or running amok in the streets screaming: “Four per cent, less allowance for normal tax, on dividends, plus amount of surtax forward from No. 35 (ii). OO-wah!”

The next few evenings you will notice the streets deserted. The little children will be banished to bed. There will be no ratepayers out gardening. No voters ring gladly underneath their cars in the side drive. Save for the song of the robins, the gorgeous April evenings will be desolate.

Papa is indoors struggling with his income tax forms.

It’s a pity the ratepayers’ associations haven’t Instituted evening classes in the public schools during April to have chartered accountants give a course in “Mathematics for Taxpayers.”

“For once set out on paper, the whole thing is very simple,” says Hugh D. Patterson, dominion inspector of taxation for Toronto district. “Like any rules, the tax regulations have a formidable look. Tell the public that we have a special staff of men put on for the sole purpose of explaining the regulations to them, and if they strike difficulties, to bring them to the tax office and we will make their forms out for them.”

Mr. Patterson, who is not an, aged, grizzled and fearsome official like a Roman governor, but a young man with black hair and black eyes and an awful understanding of the most obscure things, and who can calculate fractions of fractions with an ordinary pencil, has made out two samples for the guidance of the poor rich.

Here’s the Way to Do It

People with moderate incomes have no trouble. It is the people with incomes over five thousand who need sympathy.

“So here are two examples, worked out step by step. If everyone follows these diagrams, step by step, they will come out all right.”

And, gentlemen, get your scissors. these in your hats. Here they are:

“Remember this,” added the inspector.

“The surtax is figured on your total income, if it is over $5,000, regardless of the other tax, regardless of your family, or dependents. Marital status has nothing to do with the surtax. The trouble is, to keep these two taxes separate, in your mind. Work out the normal tax, as shown. Then work out the surtax as an entirely different proposition. Follow the diagram.”

Much of the trouble people have is in not knowing their exemptions. Single men, as a rule, don’t know that they are exempt the two thousand if they have a dependent parent, grandparent, sister or, if over twenty-one, a brother mentally or physically incapacitated and totally dependent.

A single man who has one child dependent on him is exempt only the $300. A widower with one child, is exempt as a married man, as well as for the child.

All speculation is exempt. If you lose five thousand dollars on a speculation in oil stocks, your regular business being a clerk in an office, you are not exempt for the loss. If you win five thousand, you don’t have to include that in your earnings for the year.

But if you win a million dollars selling the government some bonds – that isn’t speculation – that’s business. And you have to include it under the head of commissions earned.

The main thing is, don’t guess. Call up the income tax office or go in and see them.

One Toronto man, in clearing up his wife’s estate after her death, made the discovery that she had never rendered an income tax return. He could not get an order to distribute the estate until he had satisfied the tax department. He had then to make out tax returns for every year since 1917, pay penalties for each year she had failed to make a return, and from 1920 on had to pay ten per cent. tax on the estate, interest accruing, for her failure to declare.

That estate, a good one, paid a handsome sum into the government.

No earthly excuse will be accepted for failing to render your tax return on or before April. 30. If you go on May the first and tell them that yesterday you were knocked down by a street car and were unconscious the whole of April 30, they will take the greatest sympathetic interest in your story, but it won’t save you the five per cent. of the tax penalty which the law calls for.

No Excuse For Anyone

One Toronto man, wealthy, was in Florida and was having such a good time he forgot all about taxes. He paid a penalty that equalled the cost of his trip to Florida. Another man was at sea, on his way home, on April 30. He had to pay the penalty.

“No excuses are provided for in the act. Therefore no excuses exist, as far as the department is concerned,” said Mr. Patterson.

A man was in hospital for several weeks before and after April 30. He was undergoing operations and was near death’s door. Nobody thought about income tax returns. But he paid the penalty just the same as the careless man. Nobody gets away. Professional entertainers, the great musicians and artists who only come to Toronto for a visit of twenty-four hours pay taxes on the income of an hour’s singing. Massey Hall makes its return of money taken in and paid out. The government writes to the artist’s agent in New York – and to make future visits possible the artist comes across with her tax.

People who are leaving the country for good are usually Interviewed before their departure and taxes are collected. There are various ways the department gets word of their intended departure – often a letter from a neighbor.

The government has actually collected taxes from bootleggers, as such. That is, the department reads in the newspaper of a conviction of someone as a bootlegger. Looking up records, they note no income recorded. So they pay a visit to the convicted party and demand to see his bank books. They examine back records of the bank account. They demand a proper income return. And the bootlegger, alarmed at the possibilities of prosecution, renders returns on his ill-gotten gains.

“The policy of the department,” said Mr. Patterson, “is to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, as far as prosecution in the courts is concerned, until the act has been in force long enough for everyone to thoroughly understand it. We do come across many cases where returns have not properly been filed. All we do is secure the return and collect the money, with full penalties exacted., We do not often prosecute. But instructions are likely to be promulgated at any time for a tightening up of the regulations, and prosecutions will be in order.”

A final instruction is this: no one knows better how to make an income tax form than people who don’t have to make them out. If you have one of these amongst your friends, get him to make yours out.

Booze-Running Had its Humors and its Tragedies

An old man in the next chair glared out from behind his paper.

When it was Illegal to Import Spirits from Montreal There was an “Underground Railway” in Operation, Which Succeeded Many Times in Beating the Police, But Which Also Enriched the City Treasury by $500.000 – A Few of the Funniest Stories that are Told.

By Gregory Clark, January 10, 1920.

Now that liquor can be imported legally into Ontario1, some of the tales pertaining to the illegal importation of booze may safely be told.

Sober citizens have snapped their fingers, during the past four years, and said:

“Pah! There is more drinking nowadays than ever before! Liquor is coming into this town by the carload. The police don’t even pretend to stop it. Why, I know four places right now that I can phone to, and have a bottle of whiskey delivered here in five minutes.”

We all know this sober citizen. Needless to say, if he had really known of four such miraculous places, he wouldn’t have been wearing such an old hat. He could have sold his information and made a fortune.

No, the majority of such romancers were either highly imaginative extopers2, who, in the dire dessication of modern times, permitted themselves a free fancy; or merely wise guys of that old type which knows of so many wicked and thrilling places, but which seems content to remain in the haunts of ordinary and gullible men.

Nevertheless, that there have been underground routes for liquor, everyone knows. The whiffs of half-forgotten odors that we occasionally got on street cars were not all from doctor’s prescriptions. The hilarious gentleman on the night-car hadn’t been sitting at a sick-bed. And we all know of somebody who has a friend who safely wangled one lone bottle of rye in his suitcase from Montreal.

Taxicab drivers have been accused of being Toronto’s liveliest source of illicit liquor. All you had to do, the wise guy said, was to phone a taxi stand and the bottle was yours.

We asked one of Toronto’s senior police officials about the underground of liquor traffic.

“Did it exist?” we asked.

“It did,” said he.

“Why wasn’t it stopped like the underground drug traffic?”

“Because,” said the official, “in the drug traffic, there are a few crooks engaged in a sly business. They are hard to find, but once found, are easily squashed.

“But when crooks, bootleggers, lawyers, financiers, professors, bankers, clubmen, business men, aldermen, and even a few church officials all engaged whole-heartedly in the jovial game of booze-smuggling, the police, numerically inferior, were up against a big job. Some liquor was bound to leak in. To say that the police have done nothing is hardly exact. Their activities in Toronto alone, in the past three years, have cost the cosmopolitan booze runners over half a million dollars.”

The first and most popular method of smuggling liquor into Ontario was by freight.

The liquor, cunningly disguised as anything from a bale of hay to a human corpse, was addressed to the consignee who ordered it. Any article of merchandise big enough to contain a quart of whiskey was utilized as camouflage by the imaginative smugglers. The police and Inland Revenue Officers kept as close tab on these methods as was possible. But to probe every item of freight entering Ontario would have necessitated the remobilization of the C. E. F3.

One of the cutest ideas was a dozen cases of Scotch shipped as human body. The whiskey was in a beautiful black coffin inside the shipping box, just to allay suspicion. A case where the body was absent but the spirit present.

The second most profitable system, according to record, was by means of motor cars or lorries. To motor to Montreal or neighboring ports, load up at the alleged hoards, and drive home, was said to have been as easy as rolling off a log. But it had its comedies of error, too.

A Toronto military man decided to replenish his cellar. He drove in his touring car to Montreal, loaded up with $300 worth of assorted delicacies and started home. Outside Belleville, his car skidded into a ditch.

Presidently along came a flivver.

“Quit hoggin’ the hull highway!” yelled its two occupants at the Toronto man. And they got out of their flivver to investigate the Toronto man’s predicament.

While giving him the benefit of their advice, they casually noted the square contents of the ditched car, said contents being vainly covered with rugs.

“Excuse me,” said one of the strangers, “but I’m the county constable. Pardon me if I seem to examine your cargo.”

Luck? Merely luck. The Toronto man was soaked $500 and costs at the nearest court of competent jurisdiction, and the assorted delicacies were confiscated.

The third method of importation was by hand. The police have uncovered many schemes for concealing liquor about the body in hollow metal body shields. But the ordinary suitcase, handbag and trunk were the principal means used.

A Toronto traveling-man, finding himself in Montreal with an empty sample trunk, decided to load it up with liquor. He did so. He had it carefully deposited at the station, and hung around till he saw it safe on board. Then he took a seat in the coach nearest the baggage car, and at every stop between Montreal and Toronto, he hung out the window to make sure that his precious trunk was not put off.

Arriving at the Union Station, he trolled unconcernedly into the baggage room to claim his trunk. Picture his horror when he found his trunk set to one side in the “excess baggage” corner.

He figured he was found out, and that the police had set it aside, awaiting to pinch him as soon as he claimed it.

He was sick with disappointment. But he remembered he had a good friend high up in the railway company. Rushing to his office, he telephoned this friend, confessing all.

“And they’ve set my trunk aside,” he said. “You get it out, and I give you a good share of the contents”

“Sure,” said his friend. “Don’t worry. I’ll do what I can.”

And sure enough that afternoon, the precious sample trunk was delivered up to its owner’s home.

Feverishly, he opened it. It was empty!

Not a smell of liquor in it. Who had done this wicked thing: someone on the train, in the station, or was it his friend?

But the joke was on the traveling man. He could not kick4.

That was more than half the humor of the smuggling game. Whatever happened, one couldn’t raise a kick. Being contraband, liquor could be stolen with impunity.

Two friends were on the train coming from Montreal. Each had a bottle of whiskey in his grip5. They were in the smoking car.

“Look here,” whispered one to the other, “why should both of us run the risk of being caught. You put my bottle in with yours and then if you’re caught, I’ll split the fine with you. You’ll find my satchel back behind my seat.

“Shoot,” whispered the other. “That’s the talk. I’ll do it.”

But into the parlor car he went, drew his friend’s handbag from under the seat and quietly and stealthily withdrew the bottle of liquor from it.

An old man opposite suddenly looked out from behind his paper and beheld this action, glared at him but said nothing.

“Caught, sure,” said the traveler who felt the gaze of his fellow-passenger piercing his very vitals. “That fellow’s a detective and I’ll be pinched as soon as I arrive in Toronto.”

But nothing happened.

On arriving at their hotel, the two travelers opened their grips.

“Hello!” said the one, “I thought you put my bottle of whiskey in your grip!”

“So I did,” replied the other, producing two bottles from his bag.

In silent astonishment, the other produced a bottle from his.

“Great Scotch!” cried the first, “I must have opened that detective’s bag by mistake!”

He had. And the other chap, not knowing who the others might be, the was powerless to raise an objection. He happened to be staying at the same hotel, but when the friends hunted him up and returned the bottle he failed to see the joke.

“Whole carloads of whiskey have disappeared in transit,” say the police “If a foxy railway employe discovers a car of whiskey labelled sewing machines, and can sidetrack that car, he is fairly safe in assuming that the owners of the car, fearing they are discovered, will not raise a run holler.”

As the ravens fed Elijah, so did a jocular fate bring a grateful gift to a little village outside Toronto.

This little village is one of those way-stations which closes up at night, even the locals passing it swiftly by. The station agent goes home about nine o’clock in the evening.

One night, not long ago, a freight car was quietly sided at this station, The agent had gone home. All was silent.

About midnight, one of the village worthies, on his way home, passed the station.

Now this man had sort of a sixth sense. He could smell liquor through a cement vault,

He felt his spine tingling and his hair rising as he passed the station.

“Spirits!” he said, softly.

Just to see if his senses had betrayed him, he came over and investigated the lone box car.

Sure enough, it was packed full of cases of whiskey.

Here was a problem.

“This liquor,” argued the villager with himself, “is contraband. Some wicked man is trying to smuggle this liquor into the country. Is he going to get away with it? Well, not with all of it!”

And the villager hastened to the home of another villager. A working party was secretly assembled, and several buggies, democrats and Bain wagons6 came in the night to the lone freight car.

A working party was secretly assembled, and several buggies, democrats and Bain wagons came in the night to the lone freight car.

In the morning, the station agent, on arriving, found a freight car the siding, broken open, and about a quarter full of cases of whiskey. He Immediately notified railway headquarters and that afternoon a number of officials and police appeared on the scene.

The police scoured the village for the looted liquor. Suspect after suspect was visited. At several places, where they were cheerfully shown over the premises, they were given a quiet snort by the jovial owners. In fact, the police were of the opinion that nowhere had they encountered a village the cellars of which were go well stocked. And such fine, amiable people, too! But a hoard of looted liquor was nowhere to be found.

The police finally gave up the search, deciding that in all probability, some professional gang of booze runners from the city had arranged to have the car side-tracked at the village, and had motored out and taken most of their haul, leaving some because of daylight.

And the village concurs in this theory.

Editor’s Notes:

  1. Even though Prohibition was in effect in Ontario, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council had ruled in 1896 that provinces do not have the authority to prohibit the importation of alcohol. Quebec allowed alcohol at the time. This loophole was closed in the 1921 referendum. ↩︎
  2. I’m not sure if this is a typo, I cannot find the definition of this word. ↩︎
  3. The Canadian Expeditionary Force from World War One. ↩︎
  4. Slang for “complain”. ↩︎
  5. Slang for “suitcase”. ↩︎
  6. Democrats and Bain wagons were types of horse drawn carriages. ↩︎

The Song Barrage

December 31, 1932

These illustration were with an article by Paul Frederick about the overwhelming of Canadian made songs by American song writers. Until the 1920s, the music business was dominated not by major record labels, but by song publishers and big vaudeville and theater concerns. In those days, sheet music consistently outsold records of the same hit songs, proving that most of the music heard in homes and in public back then was played by people, not record players. A hit song’s sheet music often sold in the millions between 1910 and 1920. Recorded versions of these songs were at first just seen as a way to promote the sheet music, and were usually released only after sheet music sales began falling.1 With the decline of vaudeville and the rise of radio and records, big American hits could be produced more cheaply, and therefore became more popular than Canadian songs.

Gordon V. Thompson, Toronto song writer and publisher, keeps a piano back of his desk. He sings his chair around, strikes a few bars and bursts into song when the mood hits him
  1. History of the Record Industry, 1920— 1950s ↩︎

Our Leading Winter Sport

More doctors are prescribing dancing for their patients.
“The first thing you must understand if you wish to dance is that there is grace in your body whether you have suspected it before or not.”

By Gregory Clark, December 10, 1927.

The leading winter sport in Toronto is dancing.

Not enough snow for skiing, tobogganing or sleigh bells.

The people who golf and tennis and otherwise romp the long summer through are not free to quit, suddenly, all activity. Their nerves won’t permit it.

So they dance. With all due respect to those who denounce the sport of dancing, doctors are ready to agree that modern dancing is nothing but a form of exercise – a sport.

Etiquet forbids doctors to talk for publication but a well known young Toronto specialist answered the question:

“Is dancing good?”

“You take,” replied the diagnostician, “the average young man and woman of to-day, and they are a pretty active pair from, May to November, with golf, tennis, summer resorts, motoring, boating, playing as much of their time as they can spare. It is impossible for them, from purely physical reasons, to suspend all activity from November to May. Their whole being demands action. That explains the popularity of dancing, and it also explains, if I may theorize about something I know nothing about, the extreme simplicity of the modern dance: it is a form of pleasant exercise, reduced to the minimum of artificiality.”

This theory is borne out in the history of dancing. In olden days when duelling was a very formal sport, dancing, too, was formal and ornate. The barn dance, with its vigor and bounding simplicity, was merely a translation into terms of the off season of plowing, reaping and the common activities of the farm.

Modern dancing translates into indoor terms such games as golf and tennis. Waltzes are golf; one-steps and the flat Charleston1 are tennis.

You have to learn golf and you have to learn dancing. The proof that dancing is not a welling up of original sin in a boy or girl is the fact that few people are natural dancers, just as few are natural singers. The easiest way to learn is to start as a youngster, during the unselfconscious years. The great majority of beginners, according to dancing masters in Toronto, are eldest children of a family or only children. If dancing is learned in the home, as part of the everyday fun of the home, the two simple fundamentals of dancing are unconsciously won: unselfconsciousness and natural grace. And they never have to take lessons in an academy.

We visited different dancing classes and public dance floors in Toronto to witness the process by which the sport of dancing is mastered, and to see if it were a pastime to be classed with golf, tennis, skating and so forth as a means of enjoying that period of inarticulate ecstasy called youth.

In all of them, we found a majority of young men. They were attractive as a type, almost without exception. And they were going at the business of learning to dance with a concentration that reminded us more of our early days of squad drill as recruits in the army than anything else.

“If they like this,” said Jim, “we must have liked squad drill.”

First Lesson Just Walking

For the dancing master has only one or two principles to teach and he handles them as dexterously as the drill sergeant handled his “right turn by numbers.”

Picture a large dance floor with forty or fifty boys and a lesser number of girls grouped around the edge.

It is a beginners’ class.

“Take your places out in two ranks on the floor,” says the master.

They stride out, gamely or bashfully as they are constituted, these young students, clerks, juniors in all the callings and professions. The girls are less self-conscious than the boys.

“Watch me move from here to there,” says the master. And he walks, with a slow, graceful, gliding steps, about ten paces.

“The first thing you must understand, if you wish to dance, is that there is grace in your body, whether you have ever suspected it before or not. You can carry yourself handsomely, or you can carry yourself badly. You men will have the greatest trouble in this. I ask you only this: carry yourself in a manly fashion, straightly, easily, and not slinking or heavily. And instead of placing your heels down first, point your foot and place the ball of your foot on the ground first. All right. Now we will walk the length of the floor.”

And the roomful, to the count of the master, paces slowly all together from one end of the dancing floor to the other.

Some of them are extremely comic. The self-conscious ones are suddenly terrifically self-conscious. They shrink into themselves, and stride unsteadily, awkwardly. The bold ones swagger down the floor, with elaborate mincing steps as far from the master’s demonstration as could be conceived.

“Now, then! This is the way some of you went,” and the master imitates the bashful ones. “And this is the way others of you went.” He mocks the swaying, swaggering ones. There is a burst of hearty laughter and the class is suddenly on the way to learning how to walk. For the master again shows the way: body held still and straight, easily and lightly, advancing by an almost cat-like tread on the forward part of the foot. He seems to glide. There is not the slightest up-and-down motion to him. He is a big, manly man, and there is not the faintest trace of sissiness about his actions.

“Now, let’s be graceful. Take it easily. You are all so self-conscious that none of you is looking at his neighbor, so don’t be afraid of grace. It is in you all. Merely let it out.”

For half an hour the master makes these novices walk, walk, walk. They walk around in a circle or across the floor in ranks. A piano quietly cuts in, and they find themselves, each by himself, pacing slowly to soft music. The dance has begun.

“Ladies and gentleman,” says the master, “you are now dancing.”

And these clumsy-footed boys, awkward and painfully self-conscious, these girls rather shy and most of them mincing, under the impression that they must bounce in fairy-like swerves and shoulder-swayings, have delighted expressions on all their faces as they pace thus slowly, their bodies suddenly graceful and consciously graceful because they are light, easy, and under the first control of grace.

The master then lectures them: simply and without pretense or bluff; tells them to practise walking in the privacy of their homes, turning, rounding corners, to the music of the victrola, until they can handle themselves without losing balance, until they teach long neglected muscles to function with ease and sureness.

“Practise as you walk in the streets and in your offices,” he says. “Start right now to walk gracefully. Practise grace consciously until it becomes unconscious. Here endeth the first lesson.”

A dance class consists usually of six lessons. It starts in this simple fashion. The next meeting, the class is taught the first rudiments of steps. Instead of merely walking in a straight line, they walk two steps and turn. One turn is the two-step, another turn is the waltz. Again, the class is suddenly awkward, because new rhythm is demanded from unaccustomed muscles – muscles just left, for years past, to work as they felt like working. Now they must work with grace.

And Doctors Prescribe It

In six lessons, the average dance master can teach his pupils enough to put them at their ease on the ballroom floor.

Cecil Da Costa, one of the leading masters in Toronto, has no belief in much of the pretension and bunkum about dancing.

“The majority of people, wish to dance because it is one of the ways of being happy,” he says. “They are deterred from dancing because they feel they are awkward. Therefore, we simply have to prove to them that they are not awkward. And with the usual exceptions, it does not take more than three or four lessons to make them understand the simple principle of grace – which is nothing but control.

“All sports are graceful in the hands of proficient players – awkward in the hands of beginners. A great golfer is one of the finest exhibitions of grace there is. A great tennis player is not far removed – in his or her perfect control and rhythm – from a perfect ballet dancer. It is nothing more or less than that.

“The fashionable steps which come and go are simply decorations upon an institution fundamentally simple. Not ten per cent. of the people. who are dancing in Toronto to-night know what step they are dancing, or care! They are simply dancing to the music. What the music demands, they give. As in all other pastimes, there are the refinements. In dancing, these are the flat Charleston which the Prince of Wales2 dances, or the Varsity drag3. We give those who want them these refinements. And they must be learned, as Bobby Jones4‘ style of grasping the club must be learned. But we are busiest teaching the two principles and the few basic facts – grace, unconscious grace, and control of the body.”

Always there are the impossible ones. There are certain people who seem to be mentally incapable of conceiving rhythm or the beat of time. Not tone-deaf but time-deaf. And they try so hard. The careful, exaggerated beat of the master’s specially trained pianist is unheard. They stamp and stagger and hesitate all over the floor, trying to put their foot down when the others do, not when the music asks for it. These are hopeless, and are about as luckless as color-blind people in matching silks.

A certain number of elderly people are in every class. They move with an awkwardness born of years. The little finenesses of control in muscles is far behind them. In nearly every case, when investigated, these elderly people are studying dancing on physicians’ orders.

“More and more,” says the instructor, “we are getting what you might call patients – people who must have some gentle exercise or some new interest in life. A doctor called me and told me he was sending a man whose trouble was solely nervous, a man past his youth, who must be got interested in something stimulating to his mind as well as easy exercise.

“Then we have the reducing work: no end of women are taking private lessons for the sole purpose of reducing. They tell me the same story: that after settling down to the routine of married life, they missed the gay activity of their earlier years, and began to put on flesh. And of course, it is nothing new that dancing is the finest kind of reducing exercise. Now the doctors are beginning to prescribe it, most particularly to young married women who have suddenly surrendered their youth and settled down to matronly, habits – which, after years of activity, are bad habits.”

Which all goes to show that dancing may be many things, but really is one thing: a form of sport or pastime which, like many other pastimes, calls for mastery of the body, grace, and a stimulating activity.

Editor’s Notes:

  1. The Flat Charleston is a dance step. Here is a how-to video, also from 1927. ↩︎
  2. The Prince of Wales (future Edward VII) was considered quite the playboy at the time, and followed breathlessly in the press. ↩︎
  3. The Varsity Drag was a song as well as a dance step. ↩︎
  4. Bobby Jones was a champion golfer. ↩︎

Hallow Eve

By Gregory Clark, October 30, 1926.

When your door bell rings on Hallowe’en, answer it.

It will be somebody.

There used to be a time when it was not safe to answer the door bell after dusk on All Hallows Eve. Not only would there be NOBODY there, which is eerie enough, egad, but in all probability, when you opened your door, to peer into the ghostly darkness, a pail of water, carefully supported on the top of your doorsill would upset on your head; or you might be pelted with peas from unseen peashooters, or a string would have been stretched across the entrance so that you would trip and fall all over your own doorstep; or something strange, violent and mysterious would befall you.

Those days are gone forever. In the twentieth century we have driven mystery to the wall. If the door bell rings on Hallowe’en you need expect no mystery. It will be your aunt or the grocery boy or perhaps a poor man selling sheet music.

You see that old gentleman, there, in your mind’s eye-the one with the grey hair and ruddy complexion, who is so indignant because a gang of little boys are celebrating Hallowe’en by yelling feebly out on the street? He is very indignant. He can’t read his paper after dinner. He says it’s an outrage that children should be allowed to run at large at such an hour – eight o’clock!

Well, let me tell you about the way they celebrated Hollow Eve, as they used to call it, in the small Ontario town where he was born.

It is hard to reduce this portly, dignified old gent to a husky little boy of ten, with red cheeks and rough little chapped paws, and ragged pants. But that’s he, fifty years ago.

That’s he. Watch him.

There were two personages in every town and village in Ontario who, when Hollow Eve approached, began to suffer certain alarms. They were the schoolmaster and the town constable.

If there was also in the village an old bachelor who was a deacon and lived with his maiden sister in a cottage down near the end of the street, he joined the schoolmaster and the town constable in the ranks of the impending victims. This man generally had wiry whiskers of the pattern that grew in a fringe upwards out of his collar.

The day of Hollow Eve went by in a curious air of expectancy. The older folks wore a worried and watchful air. But everybody under eighteen years of age, largely the boys, wore the look of mastery. This night, big things would be doing. This night was to be theirs.

In this crowd of boys scuttling in the first shadows of nightfall outside the schoolmaster’s back lot, look you, a little red-cheeked rascal of ten, with chapped paws and ragged breeches. Keep your eye on him.

The schoolmaster sits within his kitchen, listening, intently.

He hears a mysterious sound at his front gate. Creeping to his door he peeps through the drawn blind and sees a group of boys working at the hinges. When he leaps out they disappear. He keeps a keen watch, but every time he withdraws the figures appear.

This, you might say, is a dumb way for boys to behave on Hollow Eve. But you notice that the schoolmaster is being detained at his front door. What is going on at his back? Wouldn’t he like to know!

For this party at the front are merely the feint attack. Let us hope they can restrain their boyish excitement long enough to stick to their job, though they all wish they could be on what is going on at the far end of the schoolmaster’s lot.

Painting Bessie Green

In the darkness, in profound silence, the schoolmaster’s only cow, Bessie, is being painted bright green. And the boy who is holding the paint pot so eagerly and proudly is not other than the little boy with the red, etc. The schoolmaster will presently go to bed, saying to himself that times are getting better. Not till morning will the schoolmaster know what Hollow Eve has brought him and all the village’s best and loudest laughers.

The town constable comes next. He is on duty in the street, but keeping mostly an eye to his own property. On one of his periodic returns to his own cottage he finds his front gate gone. Simply removed from its hinges. Well, it is no time to go looking for the gate. It will turn up in the morning astride somebody’s roof or in the village’s tallest maple tree. But there is a sense of relief in the fact that the gang has done its worst.

But there was no limit to the gang’s worst. Boys are great practical psychologists. They, from the hiding place they have chosen in the town constable’s own corn patch, watch him go off upstreet to attend the care of other people’s property which he feels he has perhaps been neglecting.

When he is gone they take the constable’s buggy, which is one of the eyesores of the town, with the stuffings falling out of the faded green cushions and no two wheels in line, and they hoist it to the roof of his own barn.

It is one of the mysteries of engineering how easy it is to get a buggy on top of a barn at night and how hard it is to get it down off a barn in daylight.

And in elevating the buggy to the top of the barn it is that same excitable little boy who in selected, because of his light weight and good muscle, to shinny up first and pass the rope to the haulers on the far side.

Now to the deacon, with the wiry whiskers growing upwards out of his collar.

There was, and still is, doubtless, a shed which used to be the butt of all jokers of all ages to Hollow Eve. The deacon, remembering past years, had decided that this time he would catch the culprits who upset his property red-handed. So he secreted himself in this building, in hiding, to await the coming of the marauders whose idea of fun it was to upset the edifice, every Hollow Eve, much to the chagrin of the pompous deacon.

But the deacon was observed, by some little hoy, as he crept stealthily out to hide himself. And the little boy runs with the glad tidings to the gang, who are just retreating after having hoisted the town constable’s buggy aloft.

The gang approached the deacon’s back yard with unexampled silence. Only half a dozen of the bigger boys were permitted to perform the actual major operation.

They upset the edifice, with the deacon in it, door down!

And since the deacon lived, as a rule, with a maiden sister, she, on hearing the frantic shouts of the imprisoned worthy, had to go and get neighbors – gossipy neighbors, neighbors who love such a jest from generation unto generation – to help her free her outraged brother.

And somewhere in the guerilla band which stood a distance in the dark and watched the men with lanterns helping the deacon to escape from his plight, was this same small boy.

He has grown up and old. Here he sits, a portly old gent, shaking his after-dinner paper angrily, while half a dozen tame little boys, outside on the prim pavement, yell feebly by way of celebrating All Hallow’s Eve!

Classic Pranks in Toronto

Back in the days when Toronto was a small city, largely recruited from the villages round about, the students of the university took the lead in celebrating Hollow Eve and one of the pastimes of the less fortunate youth of the city was to come down to the grounds to watch the students burning the picket fences, firing the old Crimea cannon which stood in the grounds as souvenirs of a war in which Canada took no part, and disporting themselves generally.

There are two peak moments in the history of Varsity Hollow Eves. The one is the time the students got a cow up into the Old Grey Tower of University College. The stair is a steep and winding one. How they gained entrance to the college, where they got the cow, how on earth they forced the heavy beast to climb the winding staircase is a mystery never solved. How they got it down is another story. They had a gang of abattoir workers come and take charge, after all the professors of engineering and mathematics had given the problem up. There was talk of slaughtering the poor cow and taking it out in quarters of beef. But at last they rigged up some tackle and eased the amazed co-ed down the way she had come.

Another and less savory exploit was the hanging of a human “subject” from the medical college on the hooks of a butcher shop at Carlton and Yonge streets. Those were the days when the butchers displayed half beeves all over their shop fronts, suspended from hooks.

Hollow Eve was also the occasion at Varsity for the stealing of those odd souvenirs with which students used to like to decorate their rooms. If ten students got a good stout fence post and leaning heavily on it, charged one of those iron horses which used to decorate all the main streets of Toronto as hitching posts, the iron horse would snap, and a perfectly good souvenir would go home with them. There was one group which succeeded in getting into the backyard of their boarding-house one of those octagon sheet metal cubby houses which the policemen used to have on the main corners to telephone in and in which to keep their raincoats. But the police heard about it from unfriendly neighbors and a scene resulted.

Largely those things that were an affront to the delicate feelings of students – painted orders to keep off the grass, or to “keep out of here,” or physicians’ door signs that were unnecessarily pompous. If any wealthy citizen decided to express his sense of art in a pair of iron deer or leaden cupids on his front lawn the students felt they had to take a hand.

Much of the worst taste of the Victorian age was thwarted by Hollow Eve in Toronto.

It is only in the past ten years or so that the self-imposed curfew has been in existence in Toronto, and in the name of child welfare children are put to bed at dusk. Hollow Eve parties were not what they are. They were children’s parties, and no one was too little to bob for apples in a wash tub or take one end of the taffy-pull, and the littlest ghosts you ever saw paraded the streets to ten o’clock, which was bed time for all, old and young, fairly and without discrimination.

Has anybody seen a tick-tack1 for years? The modern young mother does no sewing, and therefore there are no spools around for making tick- tacks. But in the other days Hollow Eve was no occasion for lovers to spoon, in the parlor. It was a shocking experience to be gazing, with all the world forgot, into your best girl’s eyes and to have the fierce and unexpected sound of a tick-tack on the window pane wipe out the illusion and fill you with embarrassment.

The twentieth century has taken the mystery out of many things. The scientists have revealed many mysteries of disease. The engineers have solved space. There is no mystery now in hearing voices from Virginia and songs from Los Angeles. And society has kept pace with science. The girls dress mystery away. Our daily lives are revealed to all the world in, a thousand ways.

And even the pretense of mystery that was left for the children, one of two days in the year, has been crowded out.

So if the door bell rings answer it.

It will probably be the boy with The Star Weekly.

Editor’s Notes: Pre-World War Two, Halloween was not as popular a holiday in North America. Treat-or-treating was not established, and the holiday was more known for kids playing pranks as indicated in the story. Costumes could be worn, and some adults might have had parties.

  1. A tick-tack is defined as a “a contrivance used by children to tap on a window from a distance”. I’m not sure what it may have looked like. ↩︎

War Made Gamblers of Us All

Amidst a continuous uproar in which the onlooker wonders how any business at all can be done, the Standard Stock Exchange is in the thick of the most tremendous business in buying and selling mining stocks in the history of this great mining country

By Gregory Clark, September 24, 1927.

Four years ago, a seat on the Toronto Stock Exchange cost about $7,500.

To-day, when some member dies, and you have a lot of drag, you might get a seat for $35,000.

In 1924, a seat on the Standard Exchange – the mining stock exchange in Toronto – cost about $3,000.

$25,000 is the price you would have to pay to-day.

Just four years ago, The Toronto Daily Star ran a page of financial news. To-day it runs two full pages, plus features.

Four years ago, the clearings of the Toronto stock exchanges amounted to seventy-three million dollars. This year they will run up to five hundred million.

These few facts indicate the enormous increase in the art of investment and speculation that has occurred, suddenly, in Toronto.

There is no way of arriving at a definite idea of the increase in the number of Toronto people who have, in the past four years, started to dabble in stocks. But brokers, figuring on the increase in business and the number of sales, estimate that between three and four times the number of people are in the stock market as compared with Toronto in 1924.

Toronto has always been noted for its canniness. It has been the city in which an unusually large number of people owned their homes. Previous to the war, from the financial point of view, Toronto was conservative even amongst Canadian cities. For its well-to-do population, that might have played the stock market freely, preferred to buy bonds. The stock market was played by a limited number of the wealthy and by the usual motion-picture stock gambler. The mass of the Toronto people looked askance upon the stock market as being mysterious and somehow wicked: like champagne, for the rich who could afford it, and for the worldly who could ill afford it.

All is changed. Toronto’s two stock exchanges are flourishing as never in all their history. It is the longest “bull” market in history.

The change has been, so the financial men say, an extremely good thing for Canadian industry. It has thrown unheard of millions of dollars into industry. It has allowed Canadian financiers to get control of many Canadian industries that formerly were owned in the States, and by re-financing them, on a stock basis, have allowed Canadians to share in the success of Canadian industries. It has created a spirit of optimism which has allowed new industries to launch forth and old industries to expand.

War Bonds Started It

With everybody kicking in their little bit, a great deal of money has been made available to the promoters of industry and wealth production in Canada.

For four years there has been a decidedly advancing market. Which simply means, things have been booming. Things have been on the make. Stocks have been going up. Fortunately for Toronto’s – and Canada’s – thousands of new stock investors, there has not been much speculation.

It is a good thing for industry and finance. Is it a good thing for the people?

The answer, so far, is yes.

Who gets the credit?

The war, and the government.

It was the war that caused the government to issue bonds, and it was the government that used every means, fair and foul, to persuade the public to invest in bonds.

Bonds were issued in small denominations, fifties and hundreds. They were as ready as cash. Everybody was egged on to own a bond. The magic of investment was pointed out. Even the industrial and business men, who later were going to bewail all the money being tied up in bonds, got after their workers, down to the janitor, to invest in these beautiful, comfortable bonds, with coupons attached which you snip off with scissors every so often.

This was high-pressure, intensive education in investment. It was universal. By this means, though nobody saw the turn things would take, the governments of the world turned their people into speculators.

For, in due time, the bonds matured. Five, ten years, the public held its nice bonds and clipped the coupons at five, five and a half and even six per cent.

The bonds came due, are coming due. The dominion government has to redeem about a hundred million dollars worth of them this year. But in the meantime, interest has fallen away down.

The war bond buyer who has been getting five and a half and six per cent. now has his capital handed back to him, and he looks around for another bond. But there aren’t any – at that rate of interest.

He is offered 4 per cent.

So what does he do? He has tasted the joy of clipping five and six percent. He is not content to slip back to mere bank interest. He sees a rising market in stocks. Right there we have born a stock investor.

That is the explanation of the phenomenal increase in the stock market.

Before the war, the Canadian investor in industrials, even the wealthy, preferred industrial bonds to industrial stocks. In other words, he preferred to be a creditor on industry rather than a profit-sharer in industry. Canadians preferred industrial bonds, and let the stocks go over the border.

How Stocks Have Risen

That is changed now. With the great increase in war-made investors, there has arisen a mighty contingent – a great proportion of whom must be small investors – who wish to share in the profits of industry rather than be mere creditors. A constantly rising market has encouraged them in their wish.

The more experience they get, the more daring a certain number of them get. Many of the less assured industrial stocks have no end of speculators, and the mining exchange, in which there is a range of speculation greater than in industrials, with a consequent greater chance of rich rewards, has got clients to a number beyond the dreams of the most hectic days of old gold booms.

To show what encouragement those who have entered the field of stock investment have got in the past three or four years, let us take a look at the bank stocks, which probably reflect the trend in the most substantial of all stock investments.

The left hand column shows the highest point reached by the various bank stocks in the year 1924. The right hand column shows the market price of them about the present moment.

1924 Highest      1927

Bank of Nova Scotia…… $266                     $395

Dominion Bank…..           185                        270

Bank of Commerce……   205                        290

Imperial Bank……              180                        250

Montreal………                   250                        350

Royal Bank…….                  240                        339

That is the increase in value of these stocks in three years, besides paying handsome dividends.

The war bond buyer got his five and a half per cent. for ten years, but when he cashed in his bond, all he got was the $100 he put into it ten years before.

The war-bred investor discovers about these stocks that besides their interest, they have – so far – a most extraordinary gift of increasing their capital value at the same time.

A few of the more famous industrial stocks will illustrate this over the same period.

1924.                    1927.

Brazilian Traction…           55 ¼                       185

Consol. Smelters…            49 ½                       265 ½ (high)

City Dairy…..                       135                        660 (equivalent)

Int. Nickel….                        24 ½                       74 (high)

A man who cashed in a $1,000 war bond in 1924 and bought four shares of Bank of Montreal at 250 with it takes his interest for three years and then sells, and gets not his $1,000 but $1,400!

These are the things, multiplied a hundred fold, and in many cases, particularly in mines, with more Aladdin-like results, which are causing thousands of people who never invested before the war at all to think that the world is not such a dusty old place after all.

The mining stocks have, so far, been the most spectacular. These are the figures for the past three years of actual sales, in dollars, on the Standard Exchange:

1924 ………. $30,000,000

1925 ………. 43,000,000

1926 ………. 125,000,000

So the activity in the stock market is not a matter of the past few weeks or months. And the vast leap in trading in 1926 will in all probability be far exceeded by the figures for 1927.

But it must always be borne in mind that the two extraordinary circumstances have combined – the war-induced habit of investment, the falling due of bonds, the decline in interest rate and a great advance in the stock market – and a steady advance.

It may keep up for years. Or it may all end, like a bubble, overnight. The financial optimists say Canada is on the eve of an unparalleled expansion that will last for years and years. There seem to be certain moments in industry which, if a man start up at that time, his future is assured. The optimists say such a period is at hand.

But the history of the world is so filled with examples of slump and panic that the moralist has plenty of good material with which to warn the small man against the lure of easy money.

Certainly, in getting the material for this article, we listened intently amongst the brokers and financial men, for words or signs of caution, or some phrase that would be a text for a paragraph on caution, but none was heard. The brokers and financial men themselves are faced with so many new and strange factors in their own world, the great increase in trading, the steady, and constant advance in the market, that they do not feel at all inclined to make forecasts of any sort. Stock brokers are increasing in number. The bond companies are branching into stocks. The banks are taking a much larger share in the bond business. There is a sort of transvaluation of all values in the financial world going on, and in the shifting process everybody is excited and happy and money is rolling free.

For there is an undeniable pleasure, a sport, in the stock market, arising out of the gamble. And then there is the lure of money.

The stock exchanges themselves are exciting places. A race track is a sort of country show compared to the floor of the stock exchange at opening hour.

There is no tumult like it. The dog show at the Exhibition is the nearest thing to the sound of it. An old time Varsity inter-faculty brawl is the nearest thing to the look of it. The galleries are public, and some time it would do you good to go and watch the pandemonium that reigns most of all at the opening at ten o’clock and which is sustained, unbroken, all through the hours until closing time at three o’clock in the afternoon.

There is a sort of dance floor entirely surrounded by telephone booths.

On this floor stand a crowd of men, mostly young and all endowed with tremendous, strident, army voices.

The Roaring Stock Exchange

Having seen the financial page and thought the matter over during the night, you telephone your broker to buy you five thousand shares of Thisnthat. His man on the exchange has made a note of it amongst all the other things he has to buy and sell for clients who have also been thinking over-night, and there he stands, at two minutes to ten in the morning, waiting for the bell to ring that will cut the wildcats loose.

They bunch together, eagerly, waiting. The bell goes. And you never heard such an uproar in all your life. Every one of those strong-lunged young men yelling something unintelligible at the top of his voice. They jam and shove each other, trying to hand each other little slips of paper on which the trades are recorded with each other.

Your broker, with his order to buy 5,000 Thisnthat at say 65 – the price you stipulated – hears – heaven knows how – somebody else roaring Thisnthat, and he roars back “sixty-five.” The other fellow, not knowing whether your man wants to buy or sell, may raise or may lower that bid. If he yells back “sixty-four and a half” your man knows he is trying to buy too. So he gets as far away from the other as possible and keeps on roaring Thisnthat until somebody with 5,000 to sell at 65 is found and they exchange little scraps of paper, the thing is recorded on the ticker, transmitted to all the brokers’ offices, put up on all the brokers’ slates in town, and entered in the newspaper financial page that Thisnthat sold for 65.

Picture seventy-five men all yelling at the tops of their lungs and making transactions of this sort in a dense mob on a floor about half the size of a Sunnyside dancing floor, and you understand why they call it a market. The market at Baghdad, in Haroun al Raschid’s day, must have been like that. They took selling seriously in those days. They take it seriously on the stock markets to-day. Seventy-five auctioneers all going at once!

How they complete the deals, how your block of 5,000 is transferred from whoever, sold it through the trust companies acting as clearing houses to you; how you buy on margin instead of paying whole cash; how you can buy and sell without ever putting up the cash; these are mysteries – the old, impressive mysteries – which brokers can explain briefly with smile and the wave of a cigar.

But it is an exciting game; for some time past, a profitable game; and thousands of small folks who never played it before were taught to play it during the darkest and direst days of modern times.

“The most reassuring fact about the present boom,” said one Toronto broker, “is the attitude of the Canadian manufacturer.

“True, he is not going so far as to admit that things are improving. But at least he has ceased to threaten that he is about to quit.

“That, I think, is the most impressive assurance we could possibly have that Canada is on the first leg of one of the mightiest booms in her history.”

Editor’s Notes: Uh, oh, we know how this is going to end.

Harun al-Rashid was an early Caliph. His reign is traditionally regarded to be the beginning of the Islamic Golden Age.

Those banks still exist, though the Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank merged, and the Dominion Bank merged with the Toronto Bank. Brazilian Traction became Brascan, which became Brookfield Asset Management. Consol. Smelters became Cominco which merged with Teck Corporation, and is now know as Teck Resources. City Dairy was sold to Borden. Int. Nickel became Inco, which was purchased by Vale.

Every Girl Wins Her Beauty Contest

By Gregory Clark, August 21, 1926.

The judges in Toronto’s beauty contest started out with a scoring system.

The general ratio of beauty was to be 80 per cent. for face, 40 per cent. for figure and 10 per cent. for carriage and deportment.

They had to chuck arithmetic out.

Along would come a girl with a face and head so like an angel’s the judges wanted to reward Heaven by giving her eighty per cent – though she had a figure as shapeless as a boy’s

Or it would be a girl with a face and head as jolly and hard and rough as a boy’s but with a figure divinely proportioned. And it seemed to the judges only just to the selective powers of this girl’s ancestors to mark her not less than seventy-five.

So they chucked any attempt to arrive at an appreciation of beauty by means of statistics. They got up on the judges’ stand the first night of the contest with a fairly clear idea of the cardinal points of beauty and their relative values. They ended up, the fifth day of the contest, judging beauty just the plain, homely way you and I Judge beauty – by psychic sense.

Beauty cannot be scored half the face, two-fifths the body and one tenth the grace of carriage.

Beauty is a force, a power, an energy. It throws off an aura. It strikes some psychic sense other than the sense of sight. When beauty comes before your vision, it is appreciated by an unknown and unnamed sense seated somewhere close to the dwelling place of your spirit.

“Half the girls,” said Mr. Henry Button, one of the five judges, “who entered the contest had some of this psychic appeal, in varying degrees. They created varying impressions of sheer beauty. Nearly all had obvious charm. But those who lasted through the selective process up to the semi-finals were those girls who had that indefinable blending of the features of beauty – head and face, figure and grace of movement – and then that something else besides which I cannot, for the life of me, find the word for -which roused that subtle sense which responds to beauty.

“The odd part of it was that not only did the judges all respond to it – and we were close to the subjects -but the crowd responded, too. Mind you, the judges all determined to arrive at their decisions regardless of any demonstrations by the onlookers. We were under no obligations. We are none of us in politics. In fact, it rather settled us, who were raised to the eminence of Judges of beauty, to find that our selections were also the selections of the populace.

“When you consider the women men marry – and the men women marry – though this was a contest involving feminine beauty alone – when you consider the women men marry, isn’t it amazing that the conception of beauty should be so unanimous as the demonstrations at Sunnyside clearly indicated?”

All Toronto Bows to Beauty

The answer, Mr. Button himself supplied it, is that men do not marry the outward form of beauty for itself alone.

“No doubt many plain people are beautiful within,” said Mr. Button. “Beautiful characters beautiful minds, voices, manners. They may be unable to create the impression of beauty with their outward semblance, but can stimulate vital impressions of beauty by their minds or out of the psychic forces of their spirit. Yet it seems to me that people who are beautiful in the external features must be beautiful within. All this outward perfection cannot be meaningless mere chance, mere pot luck in generations of breeding. Nature, I should think, works outward from within.”

What is beauty?

Toronto has been considering beauty for two weeks. A hundred and fifty thousand Toronto people assembled at Sunnyside during those five evenings of judging, to consider beauty. It is vain to discredit the gatherings by saying that vulgar curiosity brought the crowds there. Far more can be seen at any of the bathing pools. The press, with a couple of stodgy and slightly psychopathic exceptions, has been filled with pictures of girls and with the discussion of beauty. Beauty has been the talk of the town, around supper tables, on porches, over bridge tables and over dishpans, for days and days.

In countless homes, it has been said “If only this contest weren’t so vulgar, our Lizzie would go in there and clean up on all of them!”

Fathers looked upon daughters with new interest and pride. Mothers retraced strange, dizzy paths back to girlhoods of which these daughters are the reincarnation. Lovers have talked of beauty. The lips of puzzled young men have been opened. Beauty is a thing Toronto – a city filled with inhibitions more than prohibitions – is shy of. The Old World has inherited beauty from a loose and creative past. America to the south has been beauty-mad for years, screaming about it in her publications, her movies her stage. But Toronto – if you ask about the beauty of the Sons of England memorial at University Avenue and College street, someone tells you the war record of the Sons of England. If you breathe against the beauty of the Parliament Buildings, you are informed that a distinguished Buffalo architect designed them. There is an answer to everything: Yonge street, the economic considerations of real estate; a certain recent sky-scraper, business before pleasure. Toronto has had more than its share, in the past, of those historic covenanters who regarded beauty with dark suspicion.

For two weeks, Toronto has been considering beauty. You cannot consider beauty without it reflecting some soft effulgent light back upon your own countenance. Social psychology is potent stuff. The city-wide contemplation of the question of beauty may result in a new era in the life of an intensely practical city which appears to esteem so many, many things before beauty.

What an Elderly Spectator Saw

In the crowd assembled around the judging stand at Sunnyside there was conspicuous a middle-aged man. He was conspicuous because of his type. He did not belong to the gentle, genial, easy-going amusement-hound style of man which is familiar on Sunnyside. One of the newspapermen, curiously studying the crowd spotted him, a hard, austere type, the kind of man, the reporter thought to himself, who was there to condemn. Several times, during the first evening, the reporter’s eyes picked him up in the crowd, and the flinty gaze was fastened with a veiled look upon the girls as they wheeled in five and stood before the judges.

The next evening, the same man was there, closer. With him was a lady, obviously his wife. The two stared without expression at the gay and decidedly exciting scene. The reporter tried to conceive what curious, inverted impressions were moving in the minds of these two elderly members of a generation from which the younger generation has heard a great deal.

They were to the fore the third night, and the fourth night, the reporter – nerve is one of the first qualifications of reporters – made it his business to stand beside the man and to engage him in conversation.

“I have been here every night,” said the reporter.

“So have I,” confessed the elderly man.

“Yes,” said the reporter, “I’ve noticed you.”

The elderly man looked at the reporter narrowly.

“You see,” said the reporter, “you are older than most of the audience, and I noticed you, thinking you might be one of those who condemn this sort of demonstration.”

The elderly man was silent for some moments, chatting quietly to his wife and ignoring the reporter.

Then he turned to the reporter and said:

“I would like to tell you about this. And I don’t think it would do any harm. My wife was visiting friends in Parkdale, and they sent me off after tea to amuse myself at Sunnyside. I saw the crowd that first night, and stopped to look. We had one child and we lost her just as she was becoming a young woman. That is twenty years back. I saw a girl on the platform that night who was the living image of our girl. I brought my wife the next night, in the expectation of seeing her again. She did not come on, but we saw another one who was very like. Then we came again last night, and the one we thought was the image of our girl was selected as one of the semi-finalists. There has been another one again to-night, though it will sound absurd to you.

“But it is a long time back. We think they are all very beautiful, don’t you?”

The reporter withdrew very quietly.

Among those crowds of people, there must have been thousands of little miracles such as this, which beauty can perform.

A pompous individual approached one of the judges and said:

“Your decision, I am glad to note, spells the end of this bobbed hair nonsense.”

But it does not. Four of the five final winners had unbobbed hair.

“But we were no more conscious of that fact than of the religious denomination or the political views of the contestants,” said Mr. Henry Button. “Of course, it may mean that a greater impression of beauty is conveyed by a girl whose hair is left long. In my opinion, bobbed hair improves the prettiness of a pretty girl. But I have not yet thought whether long hair improves the beauty of a beautiful girl. There is quite a distinction there.”

Every Girl is in Beauty Contest

Titian, Romney, Reynolds never painted bobbed hair beauties. Our conception of beauty is rooted in the past. Art’s age long selection of the beautiful in women has come down to us in painting and statuary. They all had long hair. This may unconsciously have biased the judges and the public – for the public acclaimed the winners even as the judges selected them – in favor of the girls who were reminiscent of the old masters and of the Grecian statues.

“But,” said Mr. Button, “I think it would be interesting to dress up the statue of the Venus de Milo in a smart modern frock. I wonder if she would still maintain her reputation?”

All of us have gone through the experience of thinking some girl a beauty until she revealed a discordant note.

Many a girl is beautiful until she smiles. No end of girls are beautiful so long as they are dumb. The minute they speak, the impression of beauty vanishes into air. Bad teeth, queer writhing of lips, raucous, or squeaky or nasal voices, and no matter how you concentrate on the outward semblance, it takes a powerful imagination to recapture the impression of beauty.

Every girl in the world is engaged in a beauty contest. Beauty, either outward or inward, is the first and possibly the sole appeal a girl has for a man. Consciously or unconsciously, every girl in the world is attempting to display what beauty she possesses. It is the ancient law.

“We did not hear their voices,” said one of the beauty judges. “We did not see them smile. They stood before us, expressing only what their external beauty and their carriage could express of what was within. At the last, we had to make the semi-finalists smile. Then we knew. If we could have spoken to them, we would have known more.”

But once you pass the simplest requirements “face 50, figure 40, deportment 10,” you get info a realm of beauty that is as complex as life itself.

For here we come to the secret of the beauty contest which is being waged, endlessly, feverishly, in our midst and all the world over eternally, the beauty contest of life. In the beauty contest of life, more than face, figure and deportment are involved. Into this greater contest, a thousand subtler factors of beauty enter. Then voice and smile, thoughts, deeds, actions, the mind in sickness and in health – health, ah, there’s a beauty factor! – come into play, to create the psychic impression of beauty watch makes its appeal to the supreme court of beauty, the young men, the prospective husbands of the world.

Some men swear by blonds, others are moved by nothing less than a raven brunet. Why? Away back in the making of us all are factors which determine our likes and dislikes in the realm of beauty. A man might have a beautiful but spiteful and bad-tempered mother. He will seek a girl who is gentle and sweet, let beauty pass. A man will have spent his life amidst severe and stiff women. He will, by the force of reaction, be attracted by gay and happy girls.

Reaction to environment, they call this. A man raised in a lively and rowdy atmosphere at home seeks a demure and quiet little wife. The legend of the “minister’s son” proves this

Maybe the girl a man marries may not be in the champion class as regards “face 50, figure 40, carriage 10,” but each man makes his own secret score card. If we could read into men’s most guarded thoughts, we might find some such scoring as this:

“Face, 30; figure; 10: carriage, 0; fun, 15; laugh, 25; tender hands, 10.”

Or it might go:

“Face, 10; figure, 5; carriage, 0; money, 85.

But most often, we would likely find some such rating as this:

“Face ? figure ? carriage ?, but eyes, deep as the sky, glorious jeweled windows looking into a secret place where love abides and I alone may go, 100!!!!”

Editor’s Note: This article is about the very first “Miss Toronto” contest held in 1926. Photos from the contest and a wall mural in Toronto can be seen here.

Time Out From War

U.S. soldier takes his turn receiving a cup of milk given by an elderly French woman in Normandy.

“Behind their laughter is the dark curtain of sound, the guns miles away where our comrades labor at the day that never ends”

By Gregory Clark, August 5, 1944.


One of our little jokes over here is that we go racing all over Normandy looking for war while watching the time carefully so as not to miss the war news on our portable army radio back in our tent. It reminds us how insignificant after all is one man’s view of the war. I envy you the front page of your newspaper where, in a few bold strokes of black ink, the sum and the total for the day is set forth, while I, in Normandy, are only the little digits which often add up to nothing at all. Therefore, with your kind indulgence, I will set down a few digits and no longer pretend to be a chartered accountant. From our station a few days ago, a pilot did not come home in his Mustang, though his friends came away from the supper tent and stood at the landing strip’s edge, pretending they were looking at the fine sunset. But night came.

A few days later a flight lieutenant took his bicycle and in his battledress went, for a wander across these curiously Ontario-like byways of Normandy. He took the little roads to avoid the traffic and the eternal brown of the thrusting, shoving army. He saw fat cattle and great French farm horses as gentle as fawns. Then he came to a solitary traffic control soldier who looked lonely and the flight lieutenant slacked the pedal and let his leg down.

“Air force?” asked the traffic man. “One of your boys is lying up on the hill there.” The flight lieutenant pedalled up the hill and beside a Normandy cottage found a new heaped grave. There were five different sets of flowers on it, five different stages of withering revealing five friends, though the pilot, like a meteor, had come to earth amid this lovely verdant land. On the crude cross were the particulars. Atop the cross was a flying leather helmet. As the. flight lieutenant stood with his bicycle, looking down, out of the cottage came the woman of the house.

“I would like to take his helmet,” said the flight lieutenant.

“No,” said the woman of Normandy.

And there in the sun and the rain sits the pilot’s helmet, jauntily.

Rev. Father Norman Gallagher of Swift Current is our Roman Catholic padre, a young man of only 27. I have an awful time in argument with him, though I have been to Rome and he has not. Capt. Freddie Boyle is the auxiliary services’ officer and also a Catholic. Freddie’s large marquee tent is usurped by Father Gallagher for mass every day at 5.30 in the afternoon.

On the road, this being the Sabbath, Padre Gallagher, all full of saintliness, encountered Mme. Le Grand, who owns the big farm where our tents are laid. She asked the chaplain where he said mass and the padre indicated the large Knights of Columbus marquee and in his excellent Canadian-French foretold the hour. At mass that night were 15 of Mme. Le Grand’s family and friends whom she had gathered together, four of the party being very pretty young ladies. Padre Gallagher had one of the largest congregations of his R.C.A.F. experience.

Mme. Le Grand has many curious impressions. For example, she refers to the Germans and the Gestapo as though they were separate enemies. The Germans were nice boys who helped about the farm – the Gestapo were very bad men. She also has a perfectly clear impression of Dieppe as a reconnaissance in force, though the Germans drilled into all her people the idea that it was an invasion thrown back into the sea. We dropped leaflets from the sky a few minutes before our invasion this time. But the wind carried them back to the Caen area. None fell around here. And so the German boys, encamped on Mme. Le Grand’s farm, laughingly told her it was just another Dieppe and their officer loaded them into trucks and took them off toward Caen, where they would be in reserve.

“I was very proud,” said Mme. Le Grand, “that it was Canadians who came through my farm. My late husband always spoke very highly of Canadians beside whom he fought, at Amiens in the last war. He had always hoped that if any rich relative died he could visit Canada. No Germans being on my farm, the Canadians came through without any damage to my property whatsoever.”

P.O. H. T. Weenie is only three months old – but he has one hour’s operational flying to his credit already. He is a small, bad-tempered, brown dog belonging to Flt.-Lieut. Malcolm Brown of the City of Toronto squadron, though 23 other pilots of the squadron lay equal claim to him. It was in Mac Brown’s Spitfire, however, in contravention of K.R. air, not to mention the public health and quarantine laws of the Republic of France, that Ben – which is P.O. Weenie’s name for short – came to France. Right now he is chewing my artistically bagged, blue battledress pants and I am too old to be patient with pups.

Into our mess a moment ago, very pale and quiet, came F.O. Ron Knewstub of Winnipeg and F.O. J. L. C. Brown of Vancouver, who, none the less, have the honor to belong to the City of Toronto squadron. I angled up to them and asked them what was amiss.

“We have just been flown over from England in a Dakota,” said Ron Knewstub, a gaunt flier. “It was pretty grim.”

“Why, what happened?” I demanded.

“Oh nothing,” said Ron, “but I hate flying. I always get sick.”

I should mention that Ron and his pale, quiet friend Brown are two of the pilots of the City of Toronto squadron who, for months past, have gone out in their high altitude Spitfires that come off the ground like a bullet and whistle up to a height of seven or eight miles. There were not enough Spits for all the squadron pilots to fly their tooth brushes over to France so some of them had to be ferried over in that loveliest of passenger planes, the Dakota. No fighter pilot can travel with any degree of comfort behind another pilot.

“I felt I was going to be sick, said both Brown and Knewstub. “So I just looked out the window all the way over.”

After their harrowing experience of flying the channel in a Dakota along with 20 other passengers, they will take off joyously to seven miles high in their little canoes.

Well, there are the digits. In the tent under an apple tree in Normandy, so like an apple tree I know on Indian Grove in Toronto, I set them down, while the radio roars Charlie McCarthy and the front of the tent is crowded with my R.C.A.F. friends. Pilots, mess waiters, dispatch riders and lorry drivers at the long day’s end laugh uproariously at the little wooden bad boy, and behind their laughter is the dark curtain of sound, the guns miles away where our brown comrades labor at the day that never ends.

Editor’s Notes: Some of the abbreviated ranks are: P.O. = Pilot Officer, Flt.-Lieut. = Flight Lieutenant, F.O. = Flying Officer.

“K.R. Air” refers to King’s Regulation’s that were issued with regards to all R.C.A.F. regulations. These were regularly updated and were likely last issued in 1940 at the time of this wiring.

Canada’s Vanished Legion

No Politician Need Fear The Soldier Vote, For The Veterans of The Great War Are Scattered to The Four Corners of the Dominion – Disunion Is Evident – Lack of a Soldiers’ Organization That Represents The Old Corps of War Days – What Chance of a Canadian Legion?

By Gregory Clark, July 18, 1925.

Canada has succeeded magnificently in disbanding her army.

One of the oldest problems in the history of the world is how to disband an army.

Raising an army is a joke. Any country can raise an army overnight. The late war proves it. A few drums, a few flags, a few promises. But it is getting rid of that dangerous mustering of men that is the mischief of a job. The world’s history is full of jagged holes torn by armies that wouldn’t disband. Caesar’s to Napoleon’s, great, rearing political and social factors that the statesmen had not counted on when they planned and executed a “good war.”

Caesar set out to make the world safe for democracy: and, after he had done all he intended, here were legions unnumbered cluttering up the streets of Rome, who wouldn’t go back to the plow, but, professional veterans, began agitating for democracy. Napoleon set out to make the world safe for democracy, against the kings of the world; and before he finally got his army disbanded he was an emperor, an exile, and his old army disbanded itself in the cafes of Paris under a king.

It isn’t an army in the field that is a dangerous thing. It is an army back home.

Canada’s army is utterly disbanded. It was probably not by design that our regiments were recruited from different parts of the dominion. Yet there is the secret of disbanding. To hold a reunion of one Toronto regiment, for example, you would have to get its old members from Owen Sound, Ottawa, Quebec, New Brunswick, North Bay, Alberta and Kingston.

That regiment cannot hold a reunion. It has never held a reunion. It disbanded in Toronto Exhibition grounds. And its members scattered to the four winds of the vast dominion. As a whole, it will never be again. A thousand old familiar faces are gone forever. This is the fact about practically every regiment in the Canadian corps.

No politician has anything to fear from the soldier vote. Nor need anything great ever be expected, by way of splendid constructive and organized effort from that magnificent body of Canadians who stood together, say in 1917 and 1918.

The recent gathering of veterans at Ottawa to meet Lord Haig and to hear his inspiring appeal for the union of all Canada’s veterans and to join Canada’s veterans with the British Legion in an imperial association of all the ex-soldiers of the war has merely brought to the front the fact of the disunion of Canada’s veterans.

That Canada’s veterans have tried to get together is proved by the fact that there have been and are in existence at least twenty and perhaps more distinct veterans’ organizations in Canada. There is one strong one – strong, in comparison with the others – one that was strong in the hectic days of 1921, but now of unknown strength, and then a large number that trail away to mere regimental societies, looking after the dependent members of the units they commemorate.

Each Claimed the Honor

That any or all of these veterans’ associations actually represent the ex-service men of Canada as a whole is claimed by all, but stands in need of proof.

Five offices of five separate and distinct veterans’ associations were visited in Toronto. In each office a paid official stated in unqualified terms that there was only one real, strong, representative soldiers’ organization in the country.

This emphatic statement by five paid officials does not mean that the union inspired by Lord Haig has suddenly come into being. Nor does it mean that all five are agreed that one of their number is really the one effective, powerful agency for the service of the ex-soldier.

No. Each official claimed the honor and distinction for his own association! And the words that each used regarding all the others, only a few hours after the meeting with Lord Haig, were hard words.

The reunion of old regiments is physically impossible. The effort to enroll the veterans in a civil organization has failed in the upspringing of a score of separate and opposed associations. The union of these associations, without the leadership of a mighty man, and the co-operation of tens of thousands of Canadian ex-service men who have never joined any organization, is most unlikely.

Yet every one of these societies of veterans has had as its first principle the assisting of ex-soldiers or soldiers’ widows in the winning from the government their just dues in pensions, allowances, and medical treatment. All of them have done something in this direction; some of them have done much. The millions of dollars that have been awarded by official departments in the last eight years on the representation of these veteran societies is proof enough that they have been of value to the country. That such service bureaus would have emerged at the end of the war was perfectly natural, of course.

But to what extent are the veterans’ associations now active representative of that Canadian corps which enlisted, from its start to its finish, over half a million men in Canada?

This has become more than a little question. Because, at the meeting with Lord Haig in Ottawa, the various associations, with a decisive gesture, appeared to hand over to Lord Haig not merely the associations or clubs of veterans which were represented there, but the veterans of Canada as a whole.

When, for example, a veterans’ organization of all of them for that matter makes a public pronouncement on some public question can this be accepted as the opinion of the old Canadian corps?

Descending Order of Figures

To our representative in Ottawa C. Grant MacNeil, general secretary of the G.W.V.A., Nell gave the following figures. He stated that the active and paid-up membership of the G.W.V.A. throughout Canada is now 99,900. He gives as the Ontario membership 42,000.

Mr. A. Shields, secretary of the Ontario district command, stated that the active and paid-up membership of Ontario would be about 30,000, and of Toronto about 5,000.

Mr. Harry Bray, president of the Toronto district, said that 5,000 would be about the paid-up strength of Toronto, and that the Riverdale branch, probably the strongest in the city, would be 600.

The secretary of the Riverdale branch stated that his active paid-up strength was 480.

This downward discrepancy of figures throughout would probably seriously affect Mr. MacNeil’s estimate that there were 99,900 active members in his organization, the strongest of all the associations.

In the audit of the G.W.V.A. dominion headquarters at Ottawa an order of the senate committee which was investigating the payment of trust moneys made to Mr. MacNeil, it showed that money received by the headquarters of the G.W.V.A. over the whole period of eight years of its existence as per capita tax of 60 cents per member per year, totalled for the whole period only $121,000. Divided by eight, this would give some $15,000 a year, the per capita tax of some 25,000 members over the whole dominion. However, some years, the per capita tax receipts were bigger than others, the largest being for ten months ending February, 1920, when over $30,000 was received, the tax on about 50,000 members.

But the last record, the tax received from May, 1923, to April, 1925, when the audit was made, shows only $13,197 over a period of two years, which would indicate a membership, active, during the past couple of years of something around 11,000 members in good standing – not 99,900!

Mr. Shields, the Ontario secretary, explained this extraordinary discrepancy by pointing out that in the case of a returned soldier organization it was hardly fair to demand the paid-up and active membership as being the strength of the organization. The enrolment was much greater than the paid-up strength.

But in searching for the right of representation of Canada’s ex-service men can anything but paid-up figures be allowed? And, of course, the G.W.V.A. is unquestionably the strongest of all the organizations.

“What percentage of your membership is Canadian born?” we asked Mr. Shields.

“Not a very large percentage,” he replied.

“Why is that?”

“Well, for the main thing, because the majority of the troops in the Canadians were Old Country men.” stated Mr. Shields.

This was received with some astonishment, and we were able to supply Mr. Shields with the official figures of the Doomsday Book, showing the records of total enlistments in the Canadian corps to be divided as follows:

Born in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales  221,495

Born in Canada  317,705

Born in the United States   37,391

Elsewhere, some 13,000.

This shows a majority of nearly a hundred thousand Canadian born over Old Country men in the corps. And it shows one-sixth as many Americans as Old Country men, which is an arresting thought, since surely the United States had no particular call to arms until at last she entered on her own behalf.

Absence of Native Born Puzzle

In the same building in which Mr. Shields was being interviewed, as a matter of fact, there had been held a mass meeting of veterans during the recent excitement over the establishing of a Canadian flag, at which all veterans present passed a unanimous resolution that the Union Jack was Canada’s flag. The hall in which the meeting was held was the G.W.V.A. hall.

“How many of the veterans present at that meeting were Canadian born?” we asked Mr. Shields.

“There would not be a great many,” he admitted.

“Would there be ten?”

Mr. Shields thought there would be more than ten. But he would not say precisely how many. He makes no bones about the fact that the Canadian born, who were in the majority in the corps, are by no means in the majority in the G.W.V.A.

So, admitting, for example, the perfect right of every man to express the love of his native land in any way he likes, the mass meeting of veterans that passed the unanimous resolution that the Union Jack be in no way added to by a symbol of Canada, these veterans – Canadian no less than any man who lives and loves and toils in Canada – were none the less British-born veterans expressing their love of their own land above all else.

This is merely one case that makes it interesting and necessary that the relation of such veteran societies as exist to the ex-members of the Canadian corps as a whole be looked into.

The absence of Canadian born from the various veterans’ societies other than those special ones referring to some particular disability is one of the puzzles and problems of the whole situation.

“It is admitted,” says Mr. Harry Bray, the Toronto president, who is, Canadian born himself, “that the majority of veterans are not enlisted in any association, which, from the point of view of the service they might render, alone is a great pity. And it is also clear that those principally absent from the associations are the Canadian born.”

Mr. Bray stated that not one per cent. of the cases that come into his hands as an officer of the Soldiers Aid Commission for relief of various kinds are members of any veterans’ organizations.

How utterly the old corps is disbanded! The regiments but memories. The veterans in conflicting societies of undemonstrable strength, though doing good work. And these societies not representative of the Canadian born, who, though not in the first contingents, the statistics of which are a glorious tribute to the love of Old Country men for their homeland, nevertheless made the Canadian corps predominantly Canadian as a whole.

Who can bring all the veterans of Canada into a union? Can Sir Arthur Currie, commander of the corps, do what Lord Haig, commander of all the British forces, did with the British veterans?

If he could and does – and indications are not wanting that the duty is inevitably moving his way – would it be a good thing or a bad thing for Canada?

History tells that disbanded armies have been mighty social and political factors, most of them very much for the good of the nation. They served to check the ambitions of victorious tyrants. But they have also played tool to politicians.

One little organization with headquarters in Toronto, little in the sense that it has only a small office with three paid officials and no membership of its own, though representing nine different Ontario veteran bodies of various sizes down to regimental veteran associations, is known as the Veterans’ Alliance. It was formed in 1923 as a protest against the inactivity of the Dominion Veterans’ Alliance.

Canada as a Motherland

This independent alliance, with a staff of three, in the seventeen months it had functioned up to the time of making this return to the government secured for veterans from the pensions board and other official sources the sum of $109,080 in cash. These were just and honest claims that the government was not paying until brought to their notice by a society that secures the services of the city’s foremost medical specialists, without cost to the pensioner, and spares no pains to make a true and faithful presentation of claims. The pensions this represents over a period of years could be shown in millions. But the $109,080 is cash already received by ex-service men.

That is an indication of what the need of some independent representation for the ex-service man amounts to. It is very real and, urgent.

What a great union of all veterans, a Canadian Legion, like the British Legion or the American Legion, could do in the wider field of service to Canada as a whole demands vision.

The commander of that legion when it was a corps serving Canada on the field of battle is known to be a man of vision.

With him at the leash the corps did Hill 70, Passchendaele, Amiens, Arras, Cambrai to what we all thought was the finish.

Some want to call the proposed union of veterans the British Legion. Another group want to call it the Canadian Legion.

If the union consists simply of those associations now existing, it should be called the British Legion in Canada, unquestionably, because it would very largely consist of British-born veterans of the corps.

If a union under a great leader can be devised that will include also a just proportion of the Canadian born, then it should be called the Canadian Legion, in memory of that great corps which consisted of British born and the sons and grandsons and great-grandsons of British born and of French-Canadians, Americans and sons of many lands. Yet any organization which denies to the Canadian born the divine right to love the land they were born in more than any other and whatsoever will not much appeal to Canadians as a whole.

To the British born in Canada the last vision vouchsafed to them on this earth will probably be some bit of Surrey, some little street in Scotland, some green hill of Erin. The spirit turns again home.

Yet to their very sons, as to the sons of their predecessors in the building of the empire, the last vision will surely be of some sweet, familiar glimpse of this beloved motherland that is Canada.

Editor’s Notes: As indicated in the article, after world War One, there were a number of veteran organizations, with the largest being the Great War Veterans’ Association. These organizations were needed as the government was not very good at looking after veterans. By November of 1925, the appeal for unity lead to the creation of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Ain’t Nature Grand!

June 25, 1927

By Gregory Clark, June 25, 1927.

Paris announces knee pants for men.

When Paris speaks to the ladies, ladies listen.

And from the appearance of the downtown streets the last week or so it begins to look as if men are going to listen, too.

By knee pants Paris means something more than plus fours. But plus fours were the first step. Knee pants are the next step.

“France.” says a despatch from one of the most reliable news sources, “ever in the vanguard of human progress, has begun sponsoring a reform in masculine dress which threatens to do away with the conventional trouser and substitute in its place the ancient knee-breech. Maurice de Waleffe, a mere journalist, launched the campaign and stimulated a group of artists to open a Salon de la Mode Masculine, which has been liberally attended. M. de Waleffe points out that the trousers we wear to-day are not only social parvenus, but that they are inconvenient, ugly and deceptive. They are an offense to the esthetic eye, and an outrage in the sight of Mother Nature, for they ‘dissemble the harmonious line of the leg’. Yet they remain. There is no denying that trousers as we know them and wear them to-day have conquered the world. Under these circumstances M. de Waleffe is only too well aware of the magnitude of his task.

“His artists, however, are not to be discouraged. Not only have they shorn men of their pants, but their designs call for radical changes elsewhere. The prophetic pictures they have submitted represent the men of the new generation wearing broad-brimmed hats of a decidedly cowboy cut. The coats for almost all occasions are long – one artist prefers a rakish Prince Albert model, another suggests something halfway between a cutaway and a dress coat. They all go in at the waist, and all are long in the rear. Several designs frankly imitate eighteenth-century styles; others run to Spanish and Argentine motifs. They are all full of curves and contrast, and, as one critic says, ‘they liberate the natural line of the body, not without encouraging, by refinements of cutting and details of lingerie, a certain air of femininity.’

“At the salon several actors from the Paris stage appeared wearing the new styles, and they evoked great enthusiasm from the ladies, who composed most of the audience. But a male observer of the show remarked that the average man might not look quite so well as these well-shaped models. ‘There will be little esthetic profit,’ he announced, if the new styles display knock-knees, skinny calves and fat ankles -women’s experience with short skirts has given us food for thought along these lines. But the movement goes forward none the less, encouraged by the example of the MM. Briand and Doumergue, who have both ordered short pants in preparation for a visit to the Court of St. James.”

Plus Fours Getting Smaller

When you see a girl in a long skirt nowadays you do not give her the benefit of the virtue of modesty. You wonder, instinctively, what is the matter with her. Unsymmetrical, you say to yourself, or words to that effect.

In the vogue for plus fours, which has very slowly been growing in Toronto and is just this

season beginning to invade the business hours and business life, it must be granted that the majority are not bold men, but well-shaped men. The same held true of the short skirt five years ago. Those who could best afford the short skirt did so. Two factors entered into any delay – symmetry and modesty.

The same will probably be true of plus fours. The men with substantial underpinnings are already the first to blossom forth. Then the younger men will follow and break the ice for the odd sizes. Because there is a glorious quality to youth. If youth has comic legs youth is not aware of the fact.

And when the lads have accustomed us to thin legs and fat legs, bowed legs and knock- kneed legs, as we got used to the short skirt, then plus fours will begin to be general, and the older men will step forth with only themselves at all conscious of their new trousers.

Paris of course does not mean plus fours. She means knee breeches of the sort our great-grandfathers wore at funerals and weddings, or when the squire, in good humor, gave an old pair away.

They fitted close to the leg and had silver buckles at the knee, and were in color, black, plum, gray, blue or brown. Instead of the heavy golf stocking which fortunately for the thin man and unfortunately for the fat man are to-day worn with plus fours, silk hose that revealed the beauty of the calf were worn.

It is the Windsor costume of to-day which is worn on state occasions by statesmen, a fact which has prevented many a politician from aspiring to the highest ranks in his profession. His legs would not let him.

Already the plus four is moving perceptibly in the direction of the knee breeches decreed by Paris.

Last summer, did you notice the American tourists in their linen plus fours?

Plus fours are getting not baggier but smaller. The plain knicker has started to come back and oust the potato bags. This is only another step in what has been, in the case of the short skirt, a logical progression. Short skirts at first were roomy and full. Now they are skimpy. Once the shock is over compromise is past.

Plus fours in their full size were easy on the bandy-legged gallant because he could drape them low. And the fuller and lower they were draped the more the wearer was concealed.

The Age of Revealment

One of the mighty effects of the war was the revelation of the manly figure which puttees and spare fitting clothes insisted upon. No end of well-known dudes around Toronto were woefully showed up and exposed as frauds by puttees. In well-tailored suits with smartly-cut trousers that were kept well pressed, some of these lads who were supported in an upright position more by grace than by works, masqueraded as quite athletic and manly figures. Once they got into breeches and puttees their true aspect was revealed. No doubt some of them failed to enlist for that very reason. Rather than confess to skinny legs they confessed to a weak heart.

And the reverse effect was noticeable on certain heavy, stocky men, who, in the roomy trousers of the pre-war period, had no grace at all, and they seemed to be walking bears on heavy wooden structures. But, in revealing puttees you could see the strong, hard legs that held up the barrel of chest and mountain of chest, and they walked more like gods than their slim brothers.

We know one man who wore two pairs of puttees always. But it was a queer thing, nevertheless, that men with exceptionally skinny legs nearly always won the military cross at least.

This is a revealing age. Art is being given short shrift in the second quarter of the twentieth century. The painters are playing hob with the art that used to take pains to record a beautiful world. The musicians are bursting the eardrums that art had soothed. The art that used to enable a lady, with pads and hoops and panniers, high heels and a thousand other devices to make herself appear beautiful and whatever degree she or her advisers could conceive is lost. A minimum of material, and no art can conceal nature. We have got used to nature lately in the ladies, and nature is not half what the artists and poets of the past have, by careful selection and full use of their arts, led us to believe.

Some of the more rugged works of nature are still concealed, as Paris points out, by camouflaging trousers. Nature does not merely build the elm; she builds the gnarled oak. Nature is not bound to produce birches, slim and lovely. She turns out the odd weeping willow, with a trunk like a gas company tank and branches that no end of foliage can quite conceal.

Plus fours are showing us what we needed to know about many men. One of those English journalists of the shrewd, merciless type says that Lloyd George looks like a statesman at all times except when he walks, and then his short legs give him away as middle clawss. He doesn’t go well in Windsor breeches.

There are a number of men we would like to see in plus fours. Tommy Church is the first. Of maybe the last.

Lindbergh’s best pictures are in knickers.

Editor’s Notes: There were a lot of articles in the 1920s about changes in fashion and culture, and this is another, this time regarding short pants for men. Plus-fours were one thing, but you can see the anxiety about where it could be heading, being less baggy and more like 18th century breeches. But that did not happen.

Tommy Church was the Mayor of Toronto from 1915 to 1921, and at the time of this article, was a Conservative member or parliament for the riding of Toronto Northwest.

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