The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Our Confidential Vacation Guide

May 21, 1921

This illustration went with a story by Ernest Hemmingway.

Spring Cleaning Isn’t What It Used to Be

May 7, 1921

By Gregory Clark, May 7, 1921.

Man is a lucky creature.

But isn’t he brutally ungrateful?

This spring, the newspapers and magazines are as full as ever of spring-cleaning jokes, poems and cartoons.

The same old line of bunk: father afraid to come home to his muddled household; hubby going golfing or staying down to business at night to escape the madness that has overcome his home.

Is it possible! – is it possible that men are still under the impression that spring cleaning is the old bogey it was in the nineteenth century? Is it possible that men are unaware of the greatest revolution in womenkind since Eve.

The beating of carpets is no longer to be heard in the land. The sight of husbands eating supper on the back steps is no more.

For all unheralded, greeted indeed ungrateful indifference, has come the modernization of spring cleaning, a reform amongst women which for economic importance far exceeds their capture of the vote or their right to sit on juries.

It has been a most sweeping reform. It has affected every male citizen of the community. Yet have the men recognized it, hailed it, acclaimed it? No. They still perpetrate the outmoded jokes and jests of a bygone age.

Twenty years ago, what was spring cleaning? Ah, let us grant that was a terror.

As soon as the last foul snow had fled from the yard corners, the womenfolk began to set the date for the big bee. Father, sons and all were formally warned to be on hand yet out of the way. Soap, new scrubbing brushes and yellow ochre were bought in large quantities. Carpet beaters, step-ladders and curtain-stretchers were brought forth out of the cellar. As the fated day drew nigh, the women could scarcely contain themselves.

Then like doom, the day broke.

Off came curtains, carpets, pictures from the whole house, attic to kitchen. Out came books, out came the contents of the drawers, out came furniture, out came the hidden treasures of clothes closets.

For they did it all at a swipe, a generation ago.

There was a mad orgy of washing curtains, scrubbing floors, woodwork; beating carpets, dusting books, pictures, furniture. The curtains were dipped in yellow ochre to give them that correct creamy color, and then were stretched on frames with millions of pins, out in the backyard sun.

It lasted from three days to a week. Father had to come home early to beat carpets, ate meals in the kitchen, slept in a damp room on a strange bed, in a bare, curtainless, disorganized universe. He knew his books were being mixed up beyond redemption, that his desk was in confusion and all his valuable papers and memoranda lost forever.

He had to carry, heave, lift, tear up, tack down, and risk his neck hanging pictures which never would be straight again.

Those were days-

But what of the present!

To-day, a man never knows spring cleaning is going on if his wife didn’t tell him to notice how nice and clean everything was.

It is the greatest revolution in domestic customs since man moved out of caves into shanties.

For they now do it room by room!

A room a day. After, the men are off in the morning, the women tackle one room, wash and iron the curtains, vacuum the rug, dust and polish the floor and woodwork, clean windows, and so on.

Thus in a week or ten days the house is “done” and nobody would know the ancient fury had struck the place except the neighbors across the road who, peering out in true neighborly fashion, observed the curtains off for a few hours.

Where are the curtain-stretchers of yesterday? The carpet-beaters, the furniture piled in hallways, the tacks in the feet, the damp floors, the fury, the unrest of it all?

Are we not as cleanly as the former generations?

A dear old lady, who has seen many changes since stage coaches used to leave King and Yonge streets, explained the revolution as follows:

“Twenty years ago, had you suggested to a good housewife that she do one room at a time, she would have been scandalized.

“And have the dirt fly from one room to another!” she would have cried.

“To-day, you have machines that inhale the dust, so to speak. Lace curtains of creamy color are no longer the fashion. Little curtains of to-day are easily and quickly washed and ironed.

“But the secret of this great reform is this.

“Twenty years ago, women had very few pleasures. The annual spring-cleaning jamboree was one of their few real athletic pastimes. They had one grand fling, and then contented themselves with the occasional euchre party for the rest of the year.

“To-day what have we? The movie, the motor car. Home is no longer the chief thing in life. It is merely a shelter in bad weather and a place to sleep at nights.

“Movies, motor-cars, tea-rooms, the Daughters of this and the Women’s Association of that are inventions of the last 20 years

“So spring-cleaning, as a pastime, has declined. And as a nuisance, it has been modified into the tame little thing it is to-day.”

The old lady picked up her crochet work again.

“Women do not change,” she said. “Only times do.”

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

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

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

By Gregory Clark, February 12, 1921.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only last week I made the amazing discovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m hardly ready,” replied Jack.

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

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

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

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

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

There lay his charm.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

The Crime Wave

January 15, 1921

The New Year’s Hunt

December 31, 1921

Ontario was still in the midst of Prohibition when this was published.

Mrs. Fiegenbaum’s Fur Coat

October 22, 1921

This illustration went with a humorous story by Edith G. Bayne.

Thursday is a Day of Rice and Romance at the Union Station

June 11, 1921

This illustration accompanied a story on newlyweds.

Why I Refuse to Play Golf

April 9, 1921.

This illustration went with a story by Stephen Leacock.

Easter Morning

March 26, 1921.

The Approach of the Comet

March 5, 1921

This is an illustration by Jim accompanying a story by Stephen Leacock about the expected arrival of the Pons-Winnecke comet. This comet caused a bit of a news stir, as initial estimates predicted that it would strike the Earth in June 1921. Leacock’s article showed that people did not seem to be worried. It was not until April 1921 that calculations were updated to indicate it would only come close, resulting in meteor showers.

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