The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1921 Page 1 of 2

This Blue Law Business

February 12, 1921

Jim illustrated this article by Stephen Leacock. It is about “Blue Laws” that were popular at the time to restrict any non-religious activity on Sundays. In Ontario, the Lord’s Day Act was passed in 1906, which prevented all sorts of activities including shopping, on Sundays. It was not repealed until 1985. I’m guessing there was more enforcement at the time, giving rise to article. The illustration is from this passage:

“Just to take a simple example: they say that under the Blue Laws the cigar counter in the rotunda of the hotel will be shut on Sunday. I am sorry, sorry over that. It was my wont always after breakfast at my hotel to stroll over to this counter and buy a two-for-a-quarter cigar from the Girl with the Golden Hair who stood behind it. She would smile at me over the purchase of a twelve-and-a-half-cent cigar in a way that made the place feel like home. It was my custom of a Sunday to talk to her, while I bought that cigar, of the kind of weather that we had been having in my home town. I suppose a hundred men a day told her about it.”

Toronto Has 3 Lawyers to Every Criminal – Ain’t it Awful?

For the first week, the young lawyers sit in their offices and place huge volumes of the law open before them on their desks

Osgoode Hall Continues to Belch Forth Young Barristers at a Furious Rate – Devious are the Devices Used to Decoy Possible Clients to the Doors of the Ambitious Young Legal Lights.

By Gregory Clark, January 22, 1921

There is a plague of young lawyers in Toronto.

It to estimated that there are now three lawyers for every criminal in this city.

That is a terrible state of affairs.

Osgoode Hall is belching forth raw barristers at a furious rate. Bay street, Yonge street and the other solicitor-laden thoroughfares are crowded at all hours of the day with grim, judicial appearing young men in search of junior partnerships. Several of Toronto’s leading barristers have given up their lucrative practices altogether in order to devote all their time to refusing jobs to the hordes of young lawyers who lay siege to their offices.

Many of the young lawyers have in consequence been forced to accept poor but honest situations as salesmen, insurance agents and office clerks.

But a few of them have courageously extracted a few hundred dollars from their parents and have opened up offices.

Most of the law business goes, naturally, to the old established law firms with six or more names on their office doors. The humble citizen loves to refer to his lawyers in names covering from fifteen to twenty syllables, although the actual work is done by the office boys and students while the numerous senior partners play “Ricketty Aunt” at the club, or shoot birdies in Bermuda.

The young lawyers who set up offices, therefore, have to do some real work in securing clients.

Clients are like pickles. The first pickle out of the bottle is hard to get. After that, they come easy.

It is that elusive first client that is the difficulty.

For the first week, the young lawyers sit in their offices and place huge volume of the law open before them on their desks. They walk out frequently, briskly, for the double purpose of looking again at the fine shiny new name plate on the door, and of creating an impression of traffic. To the same end the new barrister has his father, uncles, friends call on him as many times a day as possible. These know their part. They must walk anxiously, eagerly along the corridor to the law office; worried expressions on their faces; and come out smiling, as if all their anxieties were laid aside.

They go in and out frequently for the double purpose of looking at the shiny new name-plate on the door and of creating an impression of traffic

The young lawyer, for the first few days, has the stenographer copy yards and yards of egregious bunk out of fat law books so that the office will be filled with the comforting, prosperous music of the typewriter.

Some little genius is also displayed in the pursuit of clients. One young barrister, who is bound to be heard from, by the name of Torts, went forth as soon as he had hung his shingle and made the acquaintance of one of the most notorious bad-eggs in the city.

The barrister and vagrant were closeted together for over two hours. Presently the vagrant, well-known to every policeman appeared on the streets in a highly intoxicated and belligerent condition. He was, of course, promptly arrested and locked up.

In the morning, when he was brought to court with nearly a hundred other prisoners of all kinds, the rascal began to shout out to the guards:

“Send for Mr. Torts! I want Mr. Torts! There’s only one real lawyer in this town! I want Mr. Torts!”

Half a hundred prisoners heard this significant praise from one who apparently should know one lawyer from another.

Mr. Torts was, indeed, waiting in the Court. He defended very ably the vociferous scalawag who had called for him and got him off with a $10 fine, which was promptly paid.

Thereupon at least a dozen prisoners in the dock called upon Mr. Torts to defend them. Three of these cases were remanded and went before juries. The ingenious Mr. Torts practice was founded.

Still another inventive young solicitor named, shall we say, Mr. Repleven, hired the hardest looking man he could find in the unemployment line-up. And all this hired man has to do, for $25 a week, is to ride up and down elevators, hang around restaurants and repeat in a challenging fierce voice:

“That’s all right! Mr. Repleven will get me off, he will! If any lawyer in the world can get me off, it’s Mr. Repleven. See if he don’t!”

Repetition! That’s the secret of publicity! Look at Beecham’s Pills and Mayor Church! Repetition. So by hiring this conspicuous and desperate-looking character to go about at random repeating that liturgy, Mr. Repleven has succeeded in drawing his first client out of the bottle.

He is expecting another any day.

Editor’s Note: Osgoode Hall was originally founded by the Law Society of Upper Canada and where one would go to become a lawyer in Ontario. It is now affiliated with York University.

The Vicissitudes of a Green Father

The cries of the multitude, when they beheld what he was about to do, filled the whole hospital.

One thing the father of a first born infant must beware of is an alarm clock.

Those first few weeks when a young man is making the acquaintance of his first child are fraught with many difficulties. For one thing, he need expect no sympathy or understanding from anybody connected with his household. However enthusiastic he may be, everything he does will be wrong. But of all things in this dark, blundering and difficult time, let him put not his trust in alarm clocks.

A certain young man recently was presented with a large and lusty son. It might be said right at the start that from the moment of the arrival of this remarkable small son the poor young father entered on a career of unparalleled and unenlightened blunder.

The first thing he did was to rush down town and buy a beautiful blue enamel and gold locket, heart shaped.

This, with sundry gladioli, roses, zinnias, marigolds, candies, all-day suckers, rattles, dolls, horses, and teething rings, he bore triumphantly and proudly to the hospital.

Several female relations on both sides of the family, various nurses, hospital officials, and other people of the indignant sex were grouped around the sanctum where his new son lay.

Of course, they did not notice his approach. In fact, they had not been aware of his existence all day. They had told him of the arrival of his son merely as an afterthought.

The poor young man stood there, proud, smiling eagerly, yearning to be recognized as a party to this great event. The ladies were cooing and exclaiming, oblivious to his presence. So the father produced the blue locket on its chain, and advanced with an air of proprietorship to hang it about the neck of his son.

The cries of the multitude, when they beheld what he was about to do, filled the whole hospital. The young father was well nigh done to death by the infuriated ladies. A nurse threatened him with a chloroform pad.

It appears that heart-shaped lockets are for girls, and girls only. To present a boy with a locket is considered the most deadly of insults!

But who was to tell the young father that beforehand? Nobody! Nobody cared.

Now the young man is kept in fear and trembling by all his relations, who threaten to tell his wife all about it as soon as she is up and about. And he has hidden the locket, the horses, the candy bulls-eyes, and the teething rings in his desk at the office.

A book of hints to young fathers should certainly be written. The etiquette, for instance, of the drawing-room is a bagatelle to the etiquette of the nursery. When a father, beholding his first born son for the first time, sees him lying helplessly on his side, his little face pressed on the hard, flat mattress and crying fit to explode, nothing could be more natural for the father to do than to try to set the little fellow up on end and make interesting faces to amuse him. But it is astonishing the way every body will jump on him if he tries it.

Then again, they don’t feed a baby till it is two or three days old. Ordinary people may believe this is right. But you can’t expect a father to believe it, when he sees his child desperately trying to eat its own little hands.

This young man I speak of brought up a couple of egg sandwiches and a few arrowroot biscuits in his pocket the second day, intending to sneak them surreptitiously to his son. But the nurse caught him, and ejected him with violence from the room. They simply won’t trust you at all.

It is when the baby arrives home from hospital that the real trials begin, and young fathers should be warned of this period.

The last thing the nurse tells you at hospital is not to “spoil” the baby. If it cries, don’t pick it up. If you pick it up it will learn to cry until you do pick it up. Of course, if you think it has a pain you can pick it up for a moment–

In the case I speak of, the baby slept all day and all evening of its first day home. But at midnight it opened up. Naturally, it was in pain. Father, mother, and maternal grandmother All took turns till dawn in relieving its pain. The minute it was laid down it was in pain. The minute it was picked up and sung hymns to its pain departed.

After two nights of this, the father stated it was his opinion that the baby was not in pain, but was, in short, in danger of being spoiled.

In vain he quoted nurses. He might as well have been a murderer. What little respect for him was left in his family’s eyes was by this statement dissipated into thin air.

Now comes the alarm clock. This young man wound up his trusty, old alarm clock and set it for two o’clock in the morning, the baby’s halfway feeding time.

To the ladies of the household he said:

“Retire. I will keep watch. I will let him cry little, before lifting him, to see if he won’t stop of himself. And don’t worry about the time. I have set my alarm clock for two. I will get up and bring the baby in.”

This speech, delivered with a dignity and an air of authority, did much to restore the prestige he had lost in recent weeks.

Now, this is what happened. At two o’clock the baby was in his mother’s arms, and had been there for some hours. Maternal grandma was sitting rocking into the small hours. Father lay in the adjoining room sound asleep on his couch.

Suddenly the alarm clock bursts forth. It rings and rings. Even the baby’s cries are stilled by it.

Father moves drowsily. He reaches out and turns off the alarm, and with comfortable snuggle sinks again into profound slumber.

And in the other lighted room, grandma and mother and baby look significantly at each other, in silence.

To what greater depths of ignominy can that father fall? Betrayed by sleep and an alarm clock, he let his little son go hang! Go starve!

He will not hear the end of that. It matters not that the family all was and the baby warm and cuddled.

It to the spirit, not the performance, that counts, that cuts.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a number of stories Greg wrote about in the early 1920s about being a father.

“Five Minutes to Closing Time”

September 17, 1921

Fair Fiction Fans of the Street Car

April 23, 1921

These two illustrations by Jim appeared on the same page for different articles. The first, above, is from a story by Fred Griffin about people being distracted on the streetcar, with the illustration showing a woman unable to look up while reading a book while paying her fare. Not unlike smartphones today?

April 23, 1921

This illustration is from “The ‘opkins Rent and ‘aunted ‘ouse” by Edith Bayne. It is a terrible story written in working class slang about a haunted house. The man in the illustration thinks he hears a ghost, but it turns out to be the new boarder who is a telephone switchboard operator who talks in her sleep (5 cents being the cost of a call from a pay phone).

The Sweetest Age

By Greg Clark, December 17, 1921

There is no more vain and no more popular argument in the world than at what age a baby is most sweet.

At lunch the other day, I happened to remark to George that in my opinion a baby three months old was without doubt the sweetest and quaintest creature in the universe.

“It’s astonished gaze,” I said, “It’s smile, it’s first silvery chuckle, it’s first difficult groping with its hands –“

“I disagree with you,” put in George. “To my mind, a baby is at its most delightful age at about fourteen months.”

That, of course, is precisely what George would say, for his little girl is exactly fourteen months old. As if I didn’t see through his absurd point of view, he went on:

“At fourteen months, they are intelligent beings, essaying their first little words, their first timid steps, discovering for the first time all the wonders of the world. I repeat, at fourteen months they are intelligent creatures, not mere little bundles of soft flesh, crying and kicking and oblivious to everything in the world except noisy rattles and gesticulating and diddering parents at their cribside.”

This, I might say, was a deliberate dig at me and my little boy, who, by the way, is exactly three months old, and the gentlest, cunningest – However!

George continued to shout in that manner about his little girl until everyone in the restaurant was staring at him. I never knew anyone who could blather so about a child as George can.

“Hold on, just a minute!” I exclaimed. “Give me a chance, won’t you? You’ve had fourteen months to rave about your child to me. Surely you can shut up for a minute and listen to me. As I was saying, a child of three months is not far short of fairyland. What I mean is, as a child grow older, it grows coarser, becomes, in fact, more human, and therefore more gross. Now, a baby of three months has that elfin air –“

“Look here!” shouted George, quite angrily. “What do you know about it. My baby was three months old, and six months old, and ten months old, and now It’s fourteen months old, so I know what I’m talking about.”

“I’ve seen other children,” I remarked.

“That’s not the same,” replied George.

“No,” I answered sweetly, “it is not.”

And we finished lunch without even talking about the new dominion cabinet. George and I have this kind of row about once a month.

It shows the futility of arguing about babies.

For instance, a young lady who has two very kindly asked me how our baby was.

“And is he smiling yet?” she said.

“Smiling!” I exclaimed. “My goodness, yes! He’s been smiling since he was three weeks old!”

“Oh, but not knowingly,” said she. “They don’t smile really until the seventh week.”

“Well, this boy of mine was smiling at three,” I declared.

“Of course,” she said, “a little pain or makes them appear to smile.”

Now, what could you say to that?

“He laughed out loud at three months,” was all I could think of to say at the moment. But it fell on deaf and unbelieving ears.

Our old family doctor has the misfortune to be a grandfather. His first grandchild is just about the age of our boy. And in his attitude towards our baby we can detect something just a little more than the professional manner.

“Oh, a fine boy, a fine boy!” he says, as our fellow, observing that it is the doctor, shows off his lung development in a few shouts.

“My little-grandson,” adds the doctor, “just laughs and gurgles all day long. I’ve seen countless babies in my day, but I never met so good natured a child as he.”

Of course, we discount his professional opinion to a proper degree.

“Well, now,” we all say at once, “this little fellow is so good we often wonder if it is right. We can’t imagine what has got into him just at the moment.”

“This grandson of mine,” continues the doctor in a loud, firm voice, “gains nine ounces a week.”

“Oh, surely that isn’t healthy,” exclaims my wife. “Ours gains five and a half, and that’s just about right.”

“Tut, tut,” says the family doctor. “The more the better.”

Doctors shouldn’t have grandchildren.

Our boy’s maternal grandma lives with us. She is a philosopher.

“The most beautiful age for a child,” she states, “is the age it is.”

“You will have a lot of fun with this fellow when he is creeping.”

“Not more than now,” I say.

“You will have great sport with him when he walks, and you can take him out to the parks.”

“Not more than when he is creeping,” I say.

“He will be great company when he is four or five.”

“Not more than when he first walks,” say I.

“But the greatest day of all,” says grandma, “will be the day he presents you with a little boy just such as he now is.”

And before such a mystery, at so marvelous thought, I am dumb.

Saturday Night Shoppers

December 10, 1921

“Don’t Spoil the Baby by Picking Him Up”

By Greg Clark, October 22, 1921

We are gradually getting on to the doctors.

For instance, one of their favorite tricks is to order you to do some impossible thing. And then when you fail, as you were bound to do, the doctors clear their throats, make a hopeless gesture with their eyebrows, and say – “I told you so!”

Now, take a baby, for example.

The nurse, egged on by the doctors, tells you right at the start:

“Don’t spoil the baby. Don’t rush and pick him up every time he cries. Let him cry: it won’t hurt him. It’ll exercise his little lungs.”

Then you have the doctor in, just to look over the baby to see that his legs are quite all right even if they are bent that way, and so on and so on –.

And after the usual assurances that it is indeed a remarkable child, the doctor hitches forward in his chair and says very earnestly, looking both parents in turn sternly in the eye:

“Now, don’t spoil the baby by picking him up every time he cries. You will let yourself in for to end of trouble. Just let him cry it out. He’ll be no bother after that.”

“But,” you expostulate, “maybe he has a little pain! Eh? What if he sounds as if he were in agony?”

“Oh, well, they have their little pains, you know,” replies the doctor, deprecatingly. “If you like, pick him up for a minute, and rest him against your shoulder.”

And so it goes. What a fiction! What a tradition! Let him cry it out!

This rule may be all very well for second, third, and subsequent babies. But as far as first babies go I’d like to see the parent, male or female, who has ever carried out the rule.

They always try, of course. In a case with which I am acquainted the baby sleeps beautifully, softly, finely all day. In fact, he can scarcely be waked up for his meals, and falls asleep before even they are half through. He is all pink and dimpled sighs, snuggles, with quaint momentary blinks of wakefulness when he stares Intently and somewhat embarrassingly at your teeth or your necktie or your hair.

All day he sleeps. But at six p.m., he comes alive. He stretches his little arms over his head, starts a few premonitory kicks and squirms, and then opens his mouth and yells.

The first night this occurred the parents were, of course, naturally concerned. They both leaned anxiously over the crib.

“Let him cry it out, now!” warned the father. “Don’t you pick him up!” retorted the mother.

And it must be admitted the father was leaning a little the closer.

So for forty long seconds these young parents leaned over that crib and watched their baby yell and kick and wave its little hands. Then the father cried:

“Now, see! That’s a cry of pain, or I’m a Dutchman!”

But he had not completed the sentence before the mother had taken the cue and scooped that baby up into her arms with a gesture so swiftly divine – Oh, well! –

For several nights this same drama was enacted. The spell lasted from six p.m. till midnight. And during this time father, mother and grandma took turns in walking, rocking and singing to the baby, hushing it to sleep, laying it down in its crib, only to have it waken immediately and let out a most indignant cry. They took turns in picking it up.

After about ten days the doctor’s admonition was recalled.

“To-night,” said the father, sorrowfully, “we must let him cry it out. It isn’t that I mind nursing him. But we are spoiling him. It’s for his own good.”

Mother and grandma acquiesced.

But that night, after about two minutes’ crying, all three elders detected a distinct note of pain in the baby’s cry. And in the stampede to the crib-side grandma won.

For two weeks now they have been trying to let him cry it out. The longest period so far has been twelve minutes. That evening, when laid firmly in his crib and left to himself, the baby started with a few, casual, good natured yells. The three adults, sitting breathlessly in the next room, were smiling broadly into space. The quaint little shouts from the nursery would fall off for a whole minute, and they could hear him gurgling and clucking to himself.

Then the little rascal must have discovered he was alone. For all at once there arose a most abandoned yell from the nursery.

And father and mother and grandma jammed each other in the doorway in their haste –

It’s no use. These young parents I speak of have practically given up the attempt. They are reconciled to having a spoiled baby.

“Anyway,” declared the mother. “I detest those soft little book-fed babies that haven’t any steam in them!”

And she cuddles her little fellow till his face! turns red and he cries –


The only trouble about walking and rocking the baby is the songs that are inflicted on him. They are most demoralizing.

For instance, take this one, sung to the fine old tune of “There’s a Land That Is Fairer Than Day.”

The words come out something like this: (Sing it as you read it!) –

“There’s land that is fairer than day,

And by faith I think he’s going to sleep,

To-te-ta pick up the shawl off the floor

And put it on the head of the crib.


“In the sweet bye and bye,

This chair has an awful squeak,

In the sweet bye and bye

Turn out the light before I put him down.”

Then the father, along towards midnight, gets into a sort of comatose condition. And you can well Imagine the consternation of a church-going household, when the father, an ex-soldier, begins to vary his repertoire of cradle songs with some of the old war songs that have floated o’er Flanders fields. Picture him crooning, to the squeak-squeak of the rocking chair, the following billet favorite:



Gonna get drunk to-night

If I never get drunk no more!


“Glor-i-ous, glor-i-ous,

One keg of beer between the four of us!

Praises be, there ain’t any more of us,

The four of us can drink it all alone!”

Following this unfortunate lapse grandma purified the little shaver’s ears by singing her favorite lullaby, which goes, to various tunes:

“Bye low, bye low!

Bye low, bye low!

Deedle dee, deedle dee!

Bye low, bye low!”

Editor’s Note: “I’m a Dutchman” is slang said after describing something that is obviously not true.

The Summer Bachelor’s Plight

By Greg Clark, July 16, 1921

Once more comes round the season when man discovers anew the absence of that rib he lost in Eden.

The season of man-made breakfasts is here. The season of unmade beds, of disorganized laundry, of great heaps of dirty dishes in countless deserted kitchen sinks! The season of holey socks, of buttonless bedeveys, of bleak and dusty homes! Lo the season of the summer bachelor is upon us.

It is in the next eight weeks that the married man discovers what liars and mockers his bachelor friends are.

Thousands of husbands, growing shabbier and seedier and more undernourished every day, are falling in love with their wives again.

Yoho and ahoy! Regard the well-known summer bachelor whose wife is up at the cottage! See him at seven o’clock of the evening, the cafe-fed expression on his face, a large hole in the heel of his sock, a bundle of funny papers under his arm, standing on a deserted down-town corner watching the hours whizz by.

See him watering his lawn at home. Observe him deporting himself gayly on his verandah, rocking in the wicker rocker that is his wife’s favorite chair. Hear him in the early morn, rattling pans as he gets himself his breakfast. Does he sing as he shaves? Does he come home at eve with his usual spring stride?

It is time we recognized the pitiful plight of summer bachelors. The Armenians and others are getting altogether too much sympathy.

What an opportunity the churches, the Y. M. C. A., and the Rotary Club are missing by not shepherding the summer bachelor!

The churches could hold special mid-week social gatherings for them. The poor fellows could be invited to bring their socks to be darned, their garments to have buttons sewed on by the ladies of the church who are still in town. A bright program could be made up by inviting two or three of the summer bachelors to bring their wives photographs and give little ten-minute talks on “Why I Miss My Wife.” Good old sentimental songs could be sung, such as “When You and I Were Young Maggie” and “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.” In addition to improving tremendously the domestic spirit of the community, such gatherings would be of wonderful relief to the poor neglected fellows.

The Y. M. C. A. could put on summer bachelor evenings, to which the distracted, lonely beggars could invite several of their real bachelor friends. Then in the gymnasium, bouts could be staged between real bachelors and the summer variety, in which the latter could pound the stuffing out of the genuine article in payment for all the false blather he had indulged in about “freedom” and “independence.”

I advocate this thing in order to render unnecessary the tragedy which recently occurred in the apartment of a real bachelor friend of mine.

Being temporarily alone, I had reached the climax of summer bachelor misery. All my laundry was equally divided between the laundryman and my bedroom floor. My socks had run out. There were no more restaurants left to try. All the dishes, including the cut glass and the fancy plates of the dining-room plate-rail, were in the sink. And the house fairly shouted with emptiness. Then I remembered Henry.

Henry is, or was, my bachelor friend, who bragged so of his “freedom,” his Independence, his blessed single estate.

I decided to hunt up Henry and see how he managed, without a wife.

We met; we dined together. He took me to his apartment.

His apartment was about the size of a decent chest of drawers. It smelled of heat and stale smoke. His bed was unmade. There were heaps of clothing on the floor, garments hung on doorknobs, a boot on his dresser. There was dust and confusion on all his tables and window sills. In his bachelor kitchenette dirty dishes were in the sink, and extinct sardine cans and milk bottles were strewn about.

Henry, wholly ignorant of my emotions, sat down in his rickety leather easy chair, and said –

“Ah, this is the life! No slavery for me! Free and independent! Now, you, your poor – “

With that, I struck him with a chair over the head.

Over his remains I heaped the stray garments off the floor and a few tin cans out of the kitchenette.

I make no excuses for this deed. For the summer bachelor is subject to a sort of madness. It is caused by the uneven pressure on his vertebrae and spinal cord owing to the loss of one of his ribs.

Editor’s Note: A “summer bachelor” was a common character in Greg’s stories, even early ones like this one from 1921 illustrated by Jim. Middle class families who owned summer cottages would have the wife and children go to the cottage for the whole summer when the children were out of school. The husbands would stay behind in the city for the work week, and would go to the cottage on weekends. The joke was that the men would always be helpless at home without their wives around. This situation would come up in the future Greg-Jim stories as well, as the hijinks they would get into was always when they were on their own.

Bobbed Hair and the Sunnyside Bathers

July 9, 1921

Jimmy illustrated this 1921 article about women with bobbed hair and swimming. It is hard to tell if the unknown author was disapproving of young women with short hair (no bathing cap!) and “skimpy” swimming outfits. As the caption noted, “Looking like wet Pomeranians”.

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén