The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1920

“Ye Maggye McGintye Tea Shoppe,” a Symptom of What?

There are the arty people.

In 1910 There Were But Three Tea Rooms in the City – Now There are at Least 224 – A Study in the Transmutation of a Residential District.

By Gregory Clark, September 18, 1920.

In 1914 there were, according to a rum-hound of my acquaintance who has turned eminently respectable and sells second-hand motor cars, one hundred and twelve liquor bars in Toronto.

To-day, according to a tea-hound of my acquaintance, there are in Toronto no fewer than two hundred and twenty-four tea rooms of the various types.

What this indicates, I will leave to both the Referendum Committee and the Distillers’ Liberty League. Everyone is entitled to his opinion, however outmoded.

Tea rooms, which now constitute, with the movies the principal downtown diversion of the young, are of quite recent origin in Toronto. As far back as 1910, there were only three in the city.

To-day, there are dozens within a two hundred-yard circle of King and Yonge streets. They are popping up in the semi-business and residential districts. Fine old mansions which you have admired for years as stout homes that have defied the encroachment of business, are unexpectedly sprouting out genteel signs announcing “Tea Shoppes,” with old-fashioned names prefixed, such as Mary Anne, Sarah Louise or Eliza Jane.

There is one on the Humber. There are two away up Yonge street where motorists roam. They are scattered at random all over the city; the sprinkling becoming thickest on Yonge, between Queen and King.

They are of all sizes, shapes and fashions. The oldest of the tea rooms are furnished in the Victorian or side-whisker style of interior decoration. In them, you will find the last relics of horsehair furniture in use. The walls and all other space not needed for actual teaing are covered with brass and copper pots, pans, and old china, including Buddhas and porcelain cats.

Others are done in very modern style; very matter-of-fact chairs and tables, no decoration but wall paper; quite restauranty.

But the latest type of tea room, known as the “Tea Shoppe,” is the one that has sprung up the last year or two in the threatened residential district. These “tea shoppes” are designed to be “homey.” They are quaint, and frankly unmodern. Hence the “shoppe.”

Close by a block or two away, business shouts its conquest. Houses have been altered into stores. On the very street the “tea shoppe” is on, several houses have been secretly taking boarders for ten years past. Within the past year, four of those fine old residences have been unostentatiously remodelled into duplexes. The relentless advance of “business” has put the dent in residential. A “modiste” has placed a modest brass sign, like a doctor’s, on her front door. Another stranger has recently moved into the street and a much larger sign has appeared on her house-front – a French name daring, snappy; with the single word “robes” beneath it.

By these subtle changes does a fine old street move from residential to semi-business.

For, as sure as fate, somebody then opens “tea shoppe.”

Let me escort you to a nice, homey cup of tea into one of these latest tea rooms.

It is not a hundred miles from Bloor and Yonge streets.

On the door of what appears to be la fine old residence of a judge, or retired merchant or some other distinguished citizen hangs a quaint sign in white and gilt with, let us say, the legend: “Ye Maggye McGintye Tea Shoppe.”

There is an iron fence around the lawn and flowers in the borders. On the massive front door is a big brass knocker.

Does one knock or just walk in? While standing in doubt, a watchful lady behind the curtains of the parlor window sees your indecision and hastens to open the door to you.

She is a middle-aged lady of spinsterly bearing. She welcomes with a dignified smile.

Inside, you fear for an awkward moment that you have intruded into a private home. But a glimpse of many little white-covered tables within the dim parlor reassures.

The parlor and dining-room are given over to little tea-tables. Beyond that, the house is left as “homey” as possible. Crowded along the walls are the articles of normal furniture – the 1890 period furniture, red plush covered, bandy-legged, with innumerable scrolls and squiggles. On the walls, sepia prints of deer and pleasant scenes of rivers with spires in the distance. Aye, even to the gummy portraits in oils of the ancestors of the house. Behold, in one corner, a “what-not,” seldom seen but oft referred to; a little three-decked, three-cornered table, with, among other items on it, a pink sea-shell.

Let us sit at one of the tables. We are indeed “homey.” For the first time since childhood, since last you were at Grandmama’s before she gave up her old home, you sit on a horsehair-covered chair, and feel the fine prickle of the hairs working through your clothing. You begin to understand, now, the fashion for heavy broadcloth trousers, crinolines, flounces and bustles which flourished a generation and more ago.

The ladies who wait on you are all middle-aged and “homey.” The dishes are old-fashioned, chipped to a nice degree of antiquity; the menu card, written in quaint, old-fashioned script reads:

“Special blend of Maggye McGintye Tea, 15 cents a pot.

“Toast – 15 cents.

“Cinnamon Toast – 20 cents.

“Sandwiches, pickle, cheese, nut, tongue, ham – 25 cents.

“Maggye McGintye trifle – 25 cents.

“Ice Cream – 20 cents.”

Yes, it is very homey. At all the little tables, people have their backs to you. A soft symphony of talk and dishes fills the house. The ladies-in waiting stalk in and out amongst the tables.

The patrons are mixed. The University is only a couple of blocks away, and there is quite a sprinkling of Varsity people preparing for the opening, talking enthusiastically about lifeless matters. There are also some arty people (the ladies, of course, smoking plain 18-cent cigarets) – talking rather more loudly than others about what Varley is doing, and what Lauren Harris’ sixteenth study of Snow will be. The rest are mainly young people, fled in here, shoulder to shoulder and back to back with strangers, in order to be alone.

All the while, an elderly and melancholy gentleman with a worried and beaten look about him may be glimpsed through doorways, past curtains; a harried air to him. He is not doing anything. He seems to have come downstairs to look for his tobacco pouch, and doesn’t know how to get back, unseen. Several of the ladies-in-waiting stare warningly at him as be makes his stealthy dashes from curtain to hallway.

This is Mr. McGintye, Maggye’s father. No doubt as fine a business man, in his day, as ever swung a walking-stick down Yonge street.

But in the process of transmutation of residential district, this old gentleman has been shanghaied by his womenfolk, given the name of McGintye and made partner in tea shoppe.

Editor’s Note: All I could think of while reading this story from over 100 years ago was the appearance of Starbuck’s coffee shops everywhere.

Summer Holidays a Fiendish Device of the Capitalist Class

Beautiful city, how art thou misjudged!

By Gregory Clark, July 3, 1920

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

This is the holiday season.

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

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

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

rather, an investigation into the psychology of summer resorting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we neared Simcoe street, the driver said:

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

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

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

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

“‘Board! ‘Board!”

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

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

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

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

Ha! Whew! We were on our way!

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

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

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

“Tweetle, tweetle, tweet!”

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

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

Beautiful city, how art thou misjudged!

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

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

Why Not A School Of Politeness For Minor Public Officials?

No Truth in the Rumor That the New Ontario Government Has Decided to Set Up Such an Institution – Possible Students Who Might Benefit by a Course.

Failing the School, Why Not Arm an Inspector With an Ammonia Pistol and Send Him Out in Search of Offenders Against the Meek and Lowly Common People?

By Gregory Clark, April 3, 1920

The report that the new Ontario Government is to open a School for Minor Public Officials seems to be unfounded.

I have interviewed several of the Cabinet Ministers on the subject, but not even the Deputy Ministers know anything about it.

The original rumor was to the effect that the UFO-Labor Government on behalf of the humble citizens of the Province, was going to open a college for the teaching of the elements of politeness, courtesy and the spirit of public service to all minor officials in the Government’s employ. The idea was to have not only Provincial minor officials but all other public officials, municipal and even Dominion, drilled and diplomad from the school.

Thus every one from the little girls who accept registered letters at the post office up to the elderly old gents who guard the mummies and insects at the Royal Ontario Museum, would be schooled in how to avoid offending or angering the public.

Hitherto, our politicians and men of power have been of that urbane and swell type which is always instantly recognized and kow-towed to by our minor officials. Ask any of the Cabinet Ministers of the past twenty years what he thought of the minor public officials, such as wicket-clerks or door-swingers, and he would reply:

“Why, I always found them most agreeable and very polite.”

Of course he did. And that was why we poor, unimpressive people always got such rough handling.

The minor official knows his public. He salaams to the swells and recovers his self-respect by bullying the plain citizen.

But as the new Government contains no swells at all, and as it is said several of our Cabinet Ministers have already had distressing encounters with petty officials who mistook them for ordinary citizens, it was hoped some such school of courtesy would be established.

However, if there is not to be a school, there is at least this consolation: that hundreds of public door-keepers, stamp-lickers and others of the minor degrees are having an unhappy time trying to pick Cabinet Ministers and influential members out of the common herd.

A few Sundays ago we visited the Royal Ontario Museum. There was an old gentleman engaged in twining the turnstile gate that admits the public. The gate would turn without his aid, but still he was turning it.

As we tried to enter, he stuck out his arm and cried:

“Stand back.”

“What’s the trouble?” we asked.

“You can’t come in here with that cane!” he replied.

“Oh,” we replied, agreeably, and turning, beheld a cane rack, with several canes and umbrellas in it. We walked over to it to place our cane.

“Hyah!” roared the old man at the turnstile.

We halted irresolute. The old fellow passed three or four more people through his turnstile and then strode over to us.

It appears, after all this bustle, that one is not permitted to take walking sticks into the Museum, but that sticks are taken and carefully checked by this old gentleman.

The school of courtesy would have done away with all this confusion and excitement by teaching the old fellow to say, as a citizen, approached with a cane –

“Just a moment, and I will check your walking stick.”

Inside the Museum, while looking at a glass case full of insects, we unfortunately placed the tip of one finger on the glass, to point out one particular specimen.

Instantly, from a far side of the room, another old boy in uniform bore down on us, crying –

“Say, do you want to give me six hours work to-morrow?”

“No. How’s that?” we replied.

“Well keep your hands off them glass cases,” replied the official, and strode onward in the performance of his public office.

The school would have taught him to say –

“Please keep hands off the cases, gentlemen, as I am an old man and don’t like extra work.”

The Museum is a beautiful and interesting institution, but it is difficult to enjoy the exhibits on account of one’s mind being startled and offended by petty officials making obscure assaults on one’s self on others or endlessly pursuing children from room to room.

Clerks, janitors and many other minor officials similarly disturb the honest citizen’s peace. The mistake most of them make is in presuming that certain facts well known to themselves should be perfectly well-known to all men.

The clerk who has been saying “Sign there!” a hundred times a day for twenty years knows perfectly well where “there” is. And it irritates him sorely to discover people, day after day, who haven’t any idea where “there” is, and who want to be shown.

When you hand a letter in the wrong wicket at the Post Office, it peeves beyond words the pert young lady or the scraggly man in the wicket. Haven’t you eyes? Can’t you see the sign over the wickets telling you just which is which? Why, she or he knows this office as well as they know their own names. What’s the matter with most people anyway?

The tax official thinks all men are experienced tax payers; to the record clerk, all men are acquainted with records; to the door keeper, all men are familiar with buildings.

But, of course, there are two sides of the question.

“You must admit,” says a well-known and always courteous member of the City Assessment Department, whose imperturbable good manners are one of the marvels of the City Hall, “you must admit there are people who go out of their way to be insolent and overbearing with public officials. Then there are others so stupid you wonder how they escape in the traffic. These types are only exceptions, but they sorely try an official’s temper as time goes on. There is, I believe, the official temperament. Officials would be chosen for an unrufflable and easy manner that quails not before the bully nor flares up with the dunderhead. But unfortunately, there are some in public positions who cringe before the bully or the official superior to them, and who seek to restore the balance of their dignity (or to get even) by bullying the decent quiet citizen.”

Seeing the Government is not going to institute a school for courtesy, there should at least be an official chosen yearly from the ranks of the polloi whose sole duty it would be to seek out and bring to court all insolent, rude or bullying public officials.

This Inspector should be a man of small stature and meek and humble bearing.

He should be armed with a large ammonia pistol or squirt gun.

On being subjected to any official insolence, he would’ whip out his squirt gun, shoot the ammonia into the tyrant’s face and drag the unconscious form before the Civil Service Commission.

The reason I insert the squirt gun is because this admits of that element of retaliation without which I, first applicant for the job, would feel unappeased.

Editor’s Note: There is no illustration to go with this tongue-in-cheek article by Greg, from over 100 years ago. In 1919, the United Farmers of Ontario won the provincial election, and formed a coalition government with the Labour party. This shocked the establishment, as the UFO members elected were mainly made up of ordinary people, and not the usual higher society people of the Conservative or Liberal parties. The joke is minor officials would not know who to suck up to. The surprise was probably not that much different than the more recent 1990 win by the provincial NDP. A popular joke from 1990 is of rich Bay Street financiers fretting over the NDP win, and one proclaiming “don’t worry, my cleaning lady is the new Minister of Finance!”

The Barber Shop

January 24, 1920

It is interesting to note, that when Jim was drawing in a more realistic style in the early 1920s for Life’s Little Comedies, he does not draw black people in a stereotypical manner.

Compulsory National Service for Everybody

“Each calling will be known by a number, and this number will then be painlessly branded in small, neat figures on the left ear lobe of each child.”

By Gregory Clark, January 17, 1920

Major-General G. B. Tallowhead, C.B., C.M.C., Outlines His Ideas as to How Canada May Profit as a Result of the Late Lamented War and Be Ready For Another at a Moment’s Notice.

It was with the greatest difficulty and only, through the efforts of certain personages in high political and diplomatic circles, that we secured the following interview with Major-General G. B. Tallowhead, C.B., C.M.C., etc, on the subject of universal military service for Canada.

General Tallowhead, it will be recalled, was an international authority, during the late war, on the subject of the tactical employment of field-kitchens. And his work in the salvage of bully-beef tins, wastepaper, and beef-dripping in the battle zone, with the enormous saving in money and material, was one of the factors in the ultimate success of the allies.

After a great deal of circumlocution and circumnavigation, we were admitted to a secret interview with the General in the rotunda of the King Edward Hotel.

Safely secluded behind a pillar, we opened the interview, as is well to do with distinguished personages, with a challenge.

“Is it not, sir,” we asked, “an historically typical thing that we British having fought Germany on the grounds of freedom and democracy, should now propose to adopt some of Germany’s most offensive principles? We refer, sir, to Brig.-General A. W Griesbach’s plan for compulsory military service in Canada, which was recently exploited in the Canadian newspapers.”

General Tallowhead’s face became purple with earnestness as he said:

“Not at all, sir, not at all! We British learn the secrets of civil government only in war. In the late war, we have taken far more than cash indemnities from Germany. We have taken the secret of her civil success. Not only do I believe in compulsory military training. I stand for compulsory social training, and a compulsory national organization for both peace and war!

“General Griesbach,” said General Tallowhead, “is a distinguished Canadian soldier. But I am deeply disappointed that he promotes such a half-measure as he outlined recently. His plan, in a word, is to take boys at the age of twelve and carry them through a period of compulsory military training until they are twenty-three, whereupon they enter a military reserve and are held in various reserves until they are sixty.

“Very elementary!” declared General Tallowhead. “After the lesson of the late bloody war, surely Canada is prepared to go further than that feeble compromise.

“My plan,” said the General in a loud voice, “is national civil service!

“To describe it briefly, it is as follows:

“On reaching the age of twelve years, all children, male and female, will come before a tribunal, which I will be appointed in each municipality and township.

“This tribunal will investigate the physical condition, parentage, mental force and general tendency of each child and then will decide for it what its trade, occupation or profession will be. Each calling will be known by a number. And this number will then be painlessly branded in small neat figures on the left ear-lobe of each child. I have myself, just patented a small branding device on the principle of the electric toaster and the rubber stamp.

“That, then, is the basic principle of my plan. As you can see, it will do away once and for all with the absolutely crazy irresponsibility of our present national life. Instead of leaving the future of a man or woman to mere chance, life will be consciously directed by the State. To an extent, it will do away with personal ambition. For instance, the son of a plumber whom our tribunal decides is to be a plumber cannot become a captain of industry or a lawyer. But there nothing to prevent him becoming a great plumber!

“In a word,” said the General, “it will do away with the ridiculous case of a golf professional masquerading in his spare time as a lawyer or a banker The State will consciously direct its citizenship. We will know where we are at.

“Upon being branded, these children will then be separated into their respective groups. Instead of our present absurd educational system, where we have twenty schools in a city all teaching the same generalities to children as a whole and leaving their futures in their own hands, we will institute specialized State education. These children will be wards of the State. Those who are labelled as artisans will go to the school of artisanry, and there learn nothing but what they require to know. So with all grades – lawyers, doctors, dentists and so on.

“The girls will each be taught a useful occupation. And all the while, military training will be going on in an intensive manner. The boys will be graded into the different arms of the service and thoroughly drilled and trained. The girls will be trained as nurses, munition-makers, conductorettes, postwomen, clothing makers, in addition to being taught a few of the lighter military subjects, such as the machine gun, anti-aircraft defence, and sniping from attic windows; these for home defence.

“Now,” said General Tallowhead, enthusiastically, “picture Canada on the hour of the declaration of war!

“The State, owning all the citizens, owns all property as well. Word goes out, and every man reports to his military headquarters. Every woman leaves her home and goes to the factory, munition works, car-barn or office to which she has been allotted as her reserve.

“The State, owning all money, would promptly institute military rates of pay for everyone; and having charge of all industries, would control all prices.

“Not weeks and months, but only hours would elapse before this country would be established on a war footing. The slacker and profiteer would be eliminated. War would become, not a monstrous burden of debt, but a paying enterprise for the State.

“Aside from war altogether,” said General Tallowhead, you can see clearly how this organization would benefit the nation in times of peace. Canada would be like a huge regiment, with each member doing his or her allotted task. State discipline I would be modelled on army discipline, and our laws, instead of being hazy concoctions from out of the ages, would be smartly designed on the Manual of Military Law. Elections of our Governors would be done away with, and our Governors, etc., trained as such from boyhood, would be promoted from alderman, to mayor, premier, etc., as officers and N.C.O.s are promoted in the army.

And as soldiers are happier than civilians, so would the nation be happier, under compulsory national control than they are now under the present reign of casual, drifting, undirected indifference.

“It is going to take time,” concluded General Tallowhead, “to educate the public to this plan of mine. But I am assured that it has a big appeal to all thinking men.”

Editor’s Note: There was no doubt some recent discussion on national military service which prompted this tongue-in-cheek response.

The Midway, Where Grown-Ups All Become Children Again

September 4, 1920

An illustration by Jim from the time of year of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

Why Not?

August 21, 1920

Another take on the concept of “summer bachelors”, husbands left working in the city on weekdays while the rest of the family is at the cottage all weekend.

Medicos Suffer Loss of Prestige as Result of War

Canada’s Soldiers, Forced in the Field to Believe That Nearly All Illness Was Simply a Matter of the Imagination, or at the Worst a No. 9 Pill, Now Have the Idea that They Can Get Along Without Doctors Altogether – What a Change Has Come Over the M.O.’S.

By Greg Clark, February 28, 1920

The war has put a serious crimp in the medical profession.

Not that doctors fell down – far from it. In the pure advancement of the science of medicine and surgery, the war may be said to have speeded the profession up to unparalleled pitch.

But the practice of the profession has certainly suffered in so far as It concerns half a million Canadian soldiers, their wives, dependents and next of kin.

Picture the Medical Officer at war. Ho was merely a doctor in uniform. Yet, oh, what a difference —

You felt sick and sore all over. Your stomach had a far-away, detached feeling. There were shooting pains in your joints and your head was dizzy.

So you went to the Medical Officer, with that old unerring Instinct that, in prettier days, made you telephone for the same gentleman in civies, to call on you in your bed —

Aye, with that mournfullest of bugle calls, the Reveille, blatting in your ears, you rose in the chilly morn, and stumbled, sick, sore and half-clad, down to the Medical Officer’s billet.

You found him sitting, with his cap over one ear, in his raincoat over his pyjamas He glared at you with an undisguised professional eye. A hard, flinty and skeptical eye that seemed to penetrate your tibia, tarsus and medulla oblongata.

“Well!” said he.

“Sir, I’m sick,” you replied. “I’m dizzy and have pains here and here, and a sort of –“.

“Sergeant,” said the Medical Officer, “one ounce of oil and a number nine for this man. And mark him light duty!”


Pfft! All over in a twinkling.

Oil! Number nine! Ugh! Light duty! Ye shades of Caesar and D’Artagnan and General Byng! Was ever a poor soldier so whelmed in ignominy, so bereft of heart! Oh, the swing and the swank and the swagger of the carefree soldier’s life!

Reader, dost know what light duty is? Peeling potatoes for the cook, skimming grease off dixies of mulligan, sweeping out billets, emptying swill.

Somehow, you swallowed the oil and the pill under the marble eye of the Medical Sergeant. Somehow you staggered back to your billet and reported to the orderly corporal for light duty. Somehow the daylight nightmare passed, and at eventide as you laid you in your chicken-wire bunk amid the fumes of charcoal braziers and drying socks, you made a vow never to “parade sick” again, but to die, like a martyr, in your tracks some day, in the heat of battle, the victim of a malignant disease, while bullets passed you harmlessly by.

Yet, never was a healthier army known. Never did men smash all the medical rules with such impunity. Sitting in slush, wallowing in mud, sleeping all the sunny day in deep and damp and foul-aired dugouts and sitting in all night in the damp, chilly, night air. Nine men out of ten should have died of pneumonia or galloping decline. But they didn’t. A marvellous medical corps shot you a pill or a spoon of oil or merely a stern glance, and lo, all ailments vanished.

The soldier came to the conclusion that practically all illness is largely a matter of Imagination or at worst a simple matter of pills.

But the soldier comes home. Back to the soft bed, the steam heated billet, the umbrellas, the rubbers and the regular hours.

One day, he feels sick. Pains in his joints, dizzy of head, and so on.

And an almost forgotten instinct twigs him. With a mysterious smile on his face, he calls on the doctor.

He is ushered into a quiet, solemn little room. Presently a grave, but friendly gentleman enters. He shakes hands and eyes the patient with kindly and solicitous eye.

“Sir,” says the ex-soldier, a faint memory prompting him, “I’m sick. I’m dizzy and have pains here and here; and a sort of –“

“Mmm!” says the doctor, sympathetically.

“Yes,” continues the ex-soldier, “and I can’t eat, and my stomach feels far-away, kind of.”

“Mmm!” repeats the doctor. “Have you been this way long?”

“No, just since this morning.”

“Have you been eating meat?”


“Mmm! Let me see your tongue.”

Then the doctor takes his pulse and temperature, sounds his chest and back – scares the poor ex-soldier into a fit.

Mmmmm!” says the doctor, “Mmmm! Er – would your business permit you to lay off for a week or so?”

“Yes,” murmurs the awed ex-soldier.

“Very well. Go home,” says the doctor, “and go to bed. I shall call and prescribe certain things.”

So the patient hastens home with wobbly knees and crawls into bed.

The doctor calls twice a day for a week, feels pulse, takes temperature, prescribes dark medicine and Pulls Him Through!

But somewhere in this procedure the ex-soldier comes alive. He startles his poor wife half to death by suddenly bursting into wild laughter as he lies on his sick-bed. He has remembered. The incongruity of the thing has hit him. Again he can hear reveille sadly waking the morn with its flat ta-too, ta-too! The chilly crawl to the M.O.’s billet, the brief, disappointing interview —

“Hurroo!” yells the ex-soldier and leaps out of bed and confounds the doctor, when he calls, with a glance.

As we know now, much of the influenza was due to laymen trying to doctor themselves with various pills and powders and to fear. The best preventive of flu is to wear the hat at a jaunty angle over the ear.

But the returned soldier strikes the happy medium. He remembers that during the war he was unable to dope himself with all manner of pills from the corner drug store and that he was not subjected to any flummery on the part of the Medical Officer. Thus he was healthy.

A Toronto officer visited the booklined studio of his former regimental Medical Officer. The usual jovial and profane greetings over, the officer launched into a harrowing description of his symptoms. The M.O. sounded him, pulled a long face.

“Better lay up for a few days –” he began.

“Mo, you old rascal,” yelled the officer, “do you remember that day on the Lievin front that I was sick and you wouldn’t send me out because the Colonel fancied he was short of officers? Do you remember, I really was ill? Well, to-day’s the anniversary of that day, you old scalawag, and I just thought I’d drop in and celebrate it. There isn’t a thing the matter with me!”

So the M.O. smothered his chagrin, shed his professional manner, and become once again the jovial, cynical, hard-headed and congenial old poker-player he always was.

Editor’s Note: Not taking illness seriously during World War One became a common joke for soldiers, as men were always needed. The “Number 9 Pill” was a laxative.

Some Conductors you Meet on Toronto St. Cars

By Greg Clark, October 30, 1920

There are the Aggressively Efficient Kind, Who Regard Every Passenger as a Potential Trickster, and the Courteous Variety, Who Look After Everybody’s Comfort

Which would you rather have:

The street car conductor who stands just inside the door of the car (not the P.A.Y.E. kind), and who holds up the procession by taking fares as you enter, thus creating a jam on the back steps and causing several people to be left behind?

Or the one who lets all on board and then jams his way through collecting fares?

The first types becoming numerous on the Toronto cars. He is a sort of half-way Pay-As-You-Enter person. But the only difficulty is this that while on the regular P.A.Y.E. cars the car cannot start till the back door is closed, under this other system of collecting at the door to save hunting them up and down the car, the motorman starts the car as soon as he likes. And usually it means a terrific jam on the back platform, a dozen people left behind, while there is still plenty of room forward in the car.

It is a fine scheme for the conductor. It saves him struggling up and down the car, and it saves his voice. But it is a poor stunt as far as the passengers are concerned. And conductors are practicing it more and more.

Are conductors becoming more polite and human?

There is one little, knock-kneed big mustachioed fellow on a cross-town line, who creates more unrest than the Bolsheviki in the section of the city his car serves. It is impossible to ride a complete trip with him without at least one scene.

He sits at his Pay-As-You-Enter fare-box alert as a mink. His beady eyes gleam with distrust. To him, all men, women and children are sneaks and cheats. When a crowd gets on at a main transfer point, he works himself into a frenzy of worry. He frantically holds back the crowd while he scrutinizes each transfer. Unless you wave your ticket before his nose and place it ostentatiously in the box, he is liable to follow you up the car, after his doors are closed, and demand a fare from you, swearing you didn’t pay.

He may be efficient. Enormously efficient. But some day someone is likely to take a most efficient pass at him, on general principle.

Here is a sample of his manners:

A middle-aged lady, quietly dressed, with the kindly look of a homey mother, who only gets out once or twice a month, boarded the car.

She presented her transfer, and started to pass into the car.

“Hold on there,” snarled this conductor. “This thing’s no good!”

“I beg your pardon?” said the lady, nervously.

“Put a ticket in here,” said the conductor, with the knowing air of a martyr to human trickery. “You can’t get by with this.”

“What’s the matter with it?” asked the lady.

“What’s the matter with it! Why, you can’t travel all over the city on a transfer. Put in your fare.”

Meanwhile the car was lurching on its way. The lady was still standing. The passengers all staring.

“I don’t understand,” said the lady.

“Oh, don’t you! Well, this is punched from the same part of the city you are going to.”

The lady stated where she had got on.

“No, you got on at the west end of the line,” replied the conductor.

The lady, with tears of indignation in her eyes, paid another fare and entered the car.

A man sitting near the back rose and accosted the conductor.

“You would sooner believe,” said he, “that everybody is a liar, than that other conductor was careless? You believe that for five cents a lady would lie, rather than that a stupid or slipshod conductor would punch a wrong place on the transfer? I pity you, you runt! Now, you punch my transfer correctly!”

And the passenger pointed out an error in the transfer given him by this same conductor,

But it did no good, beyond relieving the feelings of everybody in the car. For a couple of afternoons later, this same fellow was raising trouble as usual. The railway company would do well to promote this old bear to be an inspector, as to save the public.

On the other hand, on the Queen line, is a stout, middle-aged conductor, who has been with the railway for years. It hasn’t soured his temper. If you pause to pay your fare to him as you enter, to save him following you up the car, he invariably says “thank you.” He never starts the car with women on the step, and always warns, even when crowds are thickest, that he starting. He helps old people off and on his car. When a crippled person, a soldier, for instance, boards the car, this conductor calls attention to the fact by asking people to sit closer, thus always getting a seat for the unfortunate one; for most people will give their places if they see that a person is crippled. He examines not only all the transfers he receives, but every transfer he issues. And there is no conductor in Toronto who gets more “good mornings” from his passengers. For his unfailing courtesy and consideration are noted and appreciated by public that is decent if given half a chance.

Editor’s Note: P.A.Y.E. (Pay-As-You-Enter), was a new type of streetcar introduced at this time, that would be common to all future bus riders. Rather than have passengers enter from any door, and requiring conductors to collect fares by walking up and down the aisle, these had only one entrance, with the rear door for exit only. This meant you had to pay as you got on, and allowed for fewer staff needed in streetcars, and allowed for faster trips.

“Bolsheviki” was the common plural used in English shortly after the Russian Revolution for Bolsheviks.

The Church Wedding

June 5, 1920

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