The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Gasoline Alley

July 21, 1928

This image by Jim accompanied an article by Fred Griffin about the proliferation of gas stations cropping up in Toronto. It is a statement not just on the number of gas stations, but on the number of cars in the city. He states that 25 stations were built in 1927, and 38 were built in the first 6 months of 1928. The article indicated that Toronto only had 15 gas stations in 1915, the first year they were built, with 72 built between 1915 and July 1926, followed by 12 in the last half of 1926.

“[Gasoline’s] earliest distribution was in sealed five gallon cans. You bought it and filled your own, after the fashion of filling your own lamps. After that came distribution in steel barrels equipped at first with spigots and later with pumps. Then was evolved the self-measuring automatic pump. And from that grew the modern service station.”

As for how many more gas stations Toronto could support:

“He arrived at Toronto’s need of 300 stations, or twice the present number, in the following way.
Toronto has some 90,000 cars of all sorts. Each uses an average of 300 gallons of gas per year. Toronto’s total gallonage would be there fore 27,000,000 gallons. A selling capacity of 100,000 gallons per service station per year should satisfy. This would call for 270 service stations.
Since this calculation took no recount of visitors and tourists, he thought that 300 service stations was very modest estimate Indeed of Toronto’s ultimate needs.”

The photo included with the illustration shows one of the oldest stations from 1915 at the corner of Queen and Davies Street. A gas station is no longer at the site, but you can see where is stood based on the street view today. Even the light post is in the same spot.

Looking for the “Prince of Whales”

May 19, 1928

By Greg Clark, May 19, 1928

American Tourists Have Quaint Notions About Canada

The lanky, well-dressed stranger strolled up to the bell captain of the King Edward.

“I’m from the States,” he said. “I want to take a run around your city and see the points of interest – the state house and that sort of thing. Whereabouts is the residence of the Prince of Whales?”

The bell captain informed him that the Prince of Whales did not live in Toronto.

“Ah, he’s in Montreal, eh? Or is it Que-bec?”

No, the Prince of Whales, the bell boy regretted to inform the American visitor, lived in London, England, and only visited Canada on rare occasions, spending most of his visit aboard Pullman cars.

“But he’s got a ranch here somewhere,” said the American.

He doubted the bell captain’s knowledge and inquired elsewhere, with the result that a most curious and interesting conversation developed.

“I had it firmly fixed in my mind,” confessed the American during this discussion, that the Prince of Whales lived in Canada the way the King lives in England. I thought you had princes instead of governors, you know, state governors.

“But tell me, it’s a fact, is it not, that you have British regiments quartered here in Canada?”

“No. We have one permanent infantry regiment in Canada – but it’s Canadian.”

“But you pay taxes to the King of England don’t you?” asked the American, shrewdly.

“No. We pay no taxes and we put a duty on nearly everything that comes from Britain.”

“No!” said the American, entirely out of his depth. “Well, I declare. Still, all your officials in your government at Quee-bec are sent out from England, aren’t they?”

“No, the only official sent out to this country from Britain to the governor general, and even at that we choose the one we want out of a number suggested by the King’s advisers. A matter of fact, there is a discussion under way just now regarding the appointment of a Canadian as governor general in future.”

“Then you’re turning?’ suggested the American.


“Turning away from England,” added the American.

“England has nothing to do with it,” explained his Canadian Baedecker. “Canada is more British, in the sense of empire, than England. Canada is peopled by English, Scotch and Irish who have done something for the British Empire besides stay at home. The King, as far as we are concerned, is a Canadian. It may hurt a Californian to know that your president is a New Englander. But it doesn’t bother us Canadians to know that our King is an Englishman. We still think he would be better if he were a Canadian, just as your Californian thinks the President would be better if he were a Native Son.”

It’s Hard to Beat the Movies

“Well, sir, yesterday,” said the American, “I saw lot of cavalry riding out near your Sunnyside park and I thought you were a hundred and fifty years behind the rest of America.”

“We are a little backward,” said his Canadian adviser, “in some respects; for instance, it worries us Canadians that we can’t seem to put on quite as much of a celebration for the Prince of Wales whenever he comes to America as New York can.”

All of which is a quaint and comic but by no means rare instance of the extraordinary point of view entertained by countless numbers of our American visitors.

At the Niagara Falls office of the Toronto Convention and Tourist Association, a party of ladies and gentlemen drew up in a costly car and came in to get information about crossing the border.

They stood in the office, glancing about. Then one of the ladies said under her breath to her husband:

“Why, they’ve got everything printed in English.”

They made no move to ask for anything. 50 the young lady who is manager of the office step ped forward.

“Is there anything I can do for you?”

“I knew you were an American!” cried the lady enthusiastically.

“I’m proud to tell you I’m a Canadian,” said the girl.

“But you’ve been educated in the States?”

“No, I was educated in Toronto, Canada.”

“Well, what in the world language do they speak over there anyway?” cried the American.

It takes a lot of propaganda to defeat the movies, for example. And what little of Canada has ever been in the movies has been mounted police, French-Canadians coureur de bois, Eskimos and dogs. When Canada gets into the news in a big way in the States, it is when trans-atlantic fliers pass over the Labrador wastes or land on our coasts so that it takes weeks to get them off even by flying machines. Or when balloonists land in Canada, they nearly die of it. The news reels that show glimpses of Canada are not views of our tall cities but shots of the arrival of the governor-general surrounded by protective soldiering or perhaps a bit from the Calgary stampede which is a circus mostly made up of troupers and trick performers from over the border.

Since 1926 the Toronto Convention and Tourist Association has been striving to defeat the movies and the sensational reports as part of its propaganda.

“But Toronto still remains,” states E. R. Powell, managing director of the association, “the poorest-known big city on the North American continent.”

“They Speak the Same Language”

There are three restaurants in Toronto that belong to a well-known chain of American restaurants and these are eagerly seized upon by the American tourists as a little bit of home.

“Why!” declare those who have motored right through from the border, as they pay for their meal at the cash desk, “your money looks exactly like ours! Yes, one dollar bills, sure as you live. And dimes and nickels!”

The manager tells of countless curious angles.

“You eat practically the same as we do in the States,” said one shrewd visitor. “Why, when I was in France, I could hardly get a single bit of what you might call civilized cooking.”

“I’m glad your restaurants are over in this country. I’ve read a good deal of Canadian literature in the magazines, and the one thing I was scared about coming over here was the things I’d have to eat -pemmican and bannock and pea soup and those things, and I’ve delicate stomach.”

Ex-Mayor Webb of Winnipeg describes a trip he made last winter to Florida. At one stop they overheard the children, in disappointed voices, saying: “They wear the same kind of clothes we do!” “They speak the same language we do.”

At the Niagara Falls office one elderly woman asked if she could see the boat that sails for Europe If she walked across the bridge. Three young men were in this office getting information and they argued the question whether to have lunch in Niagara Falls or wait until they got to Montreal.

Montreal and Toronto are not merely close together in the minds of a large proportion of the tourists, but they are readily interchangeable. Montreal is where Toronto is and Toronto is somewhere else. Canada to them is a little colony on the northern border, back of which is the arctic circle.

Even when they see Toronto they cannot realize that their previous conception is shot. A party came into The Star office last summer to ask if we knew of a man named Billings, an American living somewhere in Ontario.

“In Toronto? We’ll look him up in the directory.”

“No, he don’t live in Toronto, but somewhere here in Ontario. He’s an American. We thought probably you’d know of him. An American, named Billings.”

And they meant it.

It is generally believed by Toronto people that our fine big policemen are a source of wonder and admiration to the American visitors. We print stories about what the tourists any regarding the force.

But there are other angles. We asked an American what he thought of our police, as compared with the general type of stick-swinging, lamp-post leaning cop.

“I guess you’ve got to have good big police men over here, with all those outlaws and lumberjacks riding into town every once in a while,” said the American seriously.

May 19, 1928

But Let’s Not Be Snooty

School book history was doubtless responsible for another remark about the Toronto police.

“Mostly old soldiers, aren’t they?” asked the American.

“A good many are.”

“The police are kept up by the English, I suppose.”

Won’t somebody please write the Great Canadian Novel – all about Canada us it really is today – with enough eternal triangle and it in it to make it a best seller in the States? We’ve got to do something soon to counteract Sir Gilbert Parker and James Oliver Curwood, not to mention school histories that cease to refer to Canada after the War of 1812.

Of course, the best possible educational work is being done now, regardless of any effort. The Americans are coming to Canada as a playground in annual tidal waves that seem to double in volume every year. The tourist traffic is now one of the greatest commercial assets of the province of Ontario and within a very few years may be the greatest asset, regardless of mines, agriculture and everything else. Because there is no credit in the tourist business. It is all cash.

A flood of cash business bursting on Ontario’s shore every summer. And the more the Americans are astonished and enlightened the more they will talk when they get home. And the more they talk about Canada the bigger will be the tidal wave next summer. They are coming from far and near. And no other kind of propaganda could do what word-of-mouth is doing to enlighten the huge population to the south with regard to the facts about Canada.

There is a certain kind of Canadian who is snooty with all Americans. There are various reasons for this attitude. Part of it originates in the natural jealousy of a small country for a powerful neighbor. Part of it is the same ignorance that makes the American imagine “England” rules Canada as a colony, a sentimental hang-over from a century and a half ago.

But there is one ready-to-wear attitude that Canadians can wear in their relations with Americans. One thing every American speaks about in Canadians is the “manners” of Canadians. We are supposed to be a graceful and well-bred race.

If we are well-bred, good-mannered and courteous to our visitors, and if we use our humor and imagination in promoting the disillusionment that is progressing rapidly every moment that they are in the country, we will build up a tradition that will be even more valuable than the legend of the mounties and the whiskered Pierre and the canoe sliding down a mighty torrent.

Because that movie legend has not been without value.

It has advertised Canada as a land of vast natural resources, water power, minerals, unlimited forests.

And that is what the tourists are coming over to see.

Editor’s Notes: At the time of writing, the Governor-General of Canada was still British, though as indicated, there had been public discussion of the post being given to a Canadian.

Baedeker was a publisher of travel guides.

I don’t understand what is trying to be said with the line that mentions “eternal triangle”. Eternal Triangle was a term that meant “love triangle”, so maybe it was a disdain against the kind of books that were popular?

Sir Gilbert Parker and James Oliver Curwood were popular writers, the first on historical French Canada, and the second on the wilderness of Alaska and Yukon.

Another Case of Highway Robbery

April 14, 1928

In the early days of automobiles, it was common for cars to get stuck on muddy roads, and paying as farmer to haul it out with horses was the solution.

It’s the Music Designs the Dance

By Greg Clark, November 3, 1928

A soldier gets the same kick out of marching to the music of a band that the average person gets out of dancing.

“The definition I like best,” says Cecil Da Costa, one of Toronto’s dancing masters, “is this: dancing is moving to music. You can elaborate that definition all you like. But the small child leaping about to the victrola and the highly accomplished steppers performing the latest measures come under that definition. And there is all the room in the world within the same definition for the great mass of dancers who do not bother to learn the newest steps and who one-step or waltz their pleasant way through everyday social life.

“The dancing masters naturally keep abreast of the times in learning and teaching the season’s specialty, just the same as the surgeon keeps abreast of the last word in practice. But the everyday pills and tonics that we hand out are the simple prescriptions for being graceful and sell confident in the performance of the old standard dance steps.”

Each year, along about this time, when the social evenings begin, a new and dazzling dance step bursts upon the scene. Amid a great bally hoo of publicity and outraged discussion in the press, the Charleston, the Black Bottom and the Varsity Drag have come and gone.

What will it be this year?

What new writhing or wriggling of the various cuts of the human carcass are being schemed and planned to convince the elders of the generation that the younger set are simply gone limp?

It was while canvassing the Toronto dancing masters that a rather startling fact was discovered.

The dancing masters do not make the dances.

The professional stage and concert dancers do not create them.

The public does not design them.

 Who does then?

The makers of music.

Music is the mother of the dance.

Whatever song or dance number is most popular this winter – outstandingly popular and demanded by public favor – will determine what dance will be popular.

Recent history proves it. Out of jazz which began during the war and rose to a permanent fever that has not yet abated, there developed at last a sort of ecstasy in which rhythm was broken and interrupted and shattered into super-jazz so that even the jazziest dancers had to be more than merely hot-footed. They had to perform some special high-jinks to meet the demand of that interrupted and riotous music. Came the Charleston!

When Valencia Ousted Charleston

The black man has always been an ecstatic dancer. Away back in simple old minstrel days a black man loved to interrupt even the dignity of a cake walk with sudden and uncalled for outbursts of enthusiasm – which he managed to still keep within the pattern of rhythm.

So when jazz music went mad – around about 1924 – and actually demanded interludes with arms and legs aside from mere clever foot work, it was a simple matter to ask the black man to show us a few well known high jinks.

Into the midst of this cheerfully wiggling and arm gesturing world of the Charleston there suddenly broke, almost overnight, a song, a tune – Valencia.

It was utterly apart from the frenzy and ecstasy of the bucket loads of music that was being poured out to appease the Charlestoning multitude. It was a stately, romantic staccato tune simply reeking of Spanish onions. No breaks in it, but a swift, dagger-swinging, shawl waving tune.

Now, if the dance made the music, the world would simply have ignored Valencia. But the music makes the dance. Valencia was one of those earfuls of which there is not more than one per annum. The public listened, sat up, hummed and got bright of eye. The orchestra leaders saw this and played it over and over.

And of course, the world danced.

And suddenly instead of Charleston, everybody was tangoing, trying to remember the graceful twists and bull-fight swagger of the tango. All the sheiks started growing side-burns. And the dancing masters began feverishly to re-introduce into a world shot to pieces by the Charleston some of the upstanding swank, the flashing eye, the stiletto-footedness that they imagined belongs to Spanish dancing.

You remember that phase. It did not last. A multitude of poor little saxophones were wailing out in the storm. Jazzed cornets cried shrilly in the night. And as the result of Charleston being ousted by Valencia, along came the Black Bottom which gives you all the abandon of Charleston with some of the foot-stamping and staccato of the Spanish aroma.

The Varsity Drag was the last – born and bred not out of preceding dances but in answer to the arbitrary tune that tickled not the foot but the ear. Between one dance and its successor there is enough resemblance at least to show that they are both being performed by the same mammal. There are a few bones and bits of meat of the Charleston still left in the Varsity Drag.

Listening for a New Tune

But what the ballyhooers of the dance are waiting for now, all with their ears to the ground, is the arrival of the most popular air for the winter – the one that will endure a winter.

For a little while, they thought it might be Old Man River. There was a haunting quality to that tune that might almost make it the key tune for the season, in which case the curious cadence of Old Man River, with its hesitant little extra beat at the end of each line, would have given us this winter a hesitation one-step, not a hesitation waltz which some of the gray-heads will recall. And being all about the Mississippi, naturally, any dancing to Old Man River would have a lot of Ethiopian Jungle stuff in it too..

Titchener Smith agrees with Cecil Da Costa that the music creates the dance of the season.

“Dancing is divided into two distinct forms,” says Mr. Smith. “Popular ball room dancing, which after all is a social convention in which we can teach merely the routine of simple steps but with great emphasis on the necessity of grace and self-assurance out on the floor. The other kind of dancing includes the ballet and all forms of classical and professional expressionist dancing. That of course is an art and there must be teachers of it as there are teachers of music. Included in that division of dancing are also these popular forms such as the Charleston and Varsity Drag. For you would be surprised how many people, young people mostly, who find dancing a great hobby and who insist on being taught the most advanced forms of these popular and ever-passing dances of the moment.

“What this winter’s genuinely sensational dance will be we cannot yet for certain say. The dancing masters of America meet in a convention every autumn and do their best to determine the trend of popular fancy in dancing, check up on the errors and mistakes of last season from the point of view of art, and attempt to forestall any such similar errors entering the scene for the coming season. We agree on certain modifications and developments of popularly accepted steps and dance figures. We are more concerned with beauty in dancing than popularity, for as most of us have been trained in the classic school, we know how many of the modern dances trespass on the sacred ground of beauty. Yet nine out of ten of our pupils are in search of just a little grace and assurance on the ball room floor. By insisting on the essential quality of grace in dancing, I think the dancing master does a great deal towards controlling that ecstatic expression which modern jazz has carried to the verge of the ludicrous in some cases.”

Cecil Da Costa imagines back in the cave man days some warrior chipping flints with rhythmic strokes and causing the children or women to commence the almost instinctive movement of arms or torso which any rhythm excites in human beings. Just home from a victorious fight, he starts excitedly chipping fresh flints and out of that is born a war dance. From flints to sticks, from sticks to tom-toms is a short more, even for a cave man. And the dance must have been one of the first modes of human expression.

“Maybe we danced,” says Da Costa, “before we talked.”

Editor’s Notes: This seems almost like a follow-up to an article written two years earlier and referenced here.

The Victrola is a generic term for a record player.

The Charleston, Black Bottom, and Varsity Drag were all popular dances.

As mentioned in the previous note, this was a period in time when dancing followed “rules”. You have to learn the various dance steps, and how “good” you were was defined by how well you performed them.

Cider Time!

October 13, 1928

No Wonder the Chief Has the Best Patch of Corn and Potatoes in Town

July 14, 1928

The chief is using a horse-drawn, steam powered fire engine, which draws water from the local river.

Portrait of a Gennlemn

By Greg Clark, June 16, 1928

He wears a Christie, horn-rimmed spectacles, a fawn coat. He is perhaps forty. His jaw, while not large, is wide and tight. And he is sitting in the forward part of the street car with his newspaper.

A girl with stockings enters. Sits down across from him. Arranges herself and assumes that unafraid air that the modern girl wears.

The gennlemn, in turning the pages of his paper, happens to see the stockings, the long, shining stockings.

And there commences that humorous business that is to be seen almost any time – a gennlemn pretending he is not looking.

First, he glances casually to right and left, to see who his immediate neighbors are and what sort of people they may be, observant or otherwise; lost in their papers or staring about.

Having reassured himself that there are none of his acquaintances at hand and nobody noticing, the gennlemn arranges his paper before him in such a way that nobody could tell whether he is reading the upper part of the folded paper or peering over the top of it.

The gennlemn peeps at the stockings.

Alarmed for fear his ruse is too obvious, he glances again to right and left, with the air of one looking to see what part of the city he is in now, and he folds his paper lengthwise, thus being able to hold it up and see, with one eye, past the side of it.

This works for a moment, but again some alarm is felt that this method is too conspicuous, so he turns a few pages of the paper studiously, absently, and tries the over-the-top method again.

But just as he achieves the proper expression of interest in the paper he is not reading, and has quieted all his suspicions about his neighbors catching on, the young lady with the shiny stockings gets up and walks back to the other part of the car where people sit two by two.

And the gennlemn in the Christie and horn-rimmed spectacles – after a long moment of staring intently at the type on his paper – raises guilty eyes to those around him to see if they witnessed what had happened. For the gennlemn believes the young lady caught him.

But she didn’t.

She had merely noticed a good looking oarsman sitting in the rear part of the car.

And there was a seat across from him.

So she moved.

It’s all very simple, when you understand it.

Editor’s Notes: “Gennlemn” is just a mumbling of “gentleman”.

A Christie is a brand of hat.

This type of article would be one of Greg’s observational ones, where he just describes what he sees.

Many men were flustered by the shortening of skirt lengths during the 1920s.

“So Here Are the Gamblers!”

March 3, 1928

In 1928, the stock market craze was still in full swing.

We Get an Offer

By Greg Clark, March 10, 1928

It all started with Charles and me going down in the elevator with old Mr. Milligin of the business office.

He is not really old. But he has spent so many years sitting at his desk, never moving, that he seems old.

And now he is leaving us for a business of his own. Stepping out for himself. At his age.

But he seemed, as he stood there close to us in the elevator, to have recovered his youth. He beamed at us.

“He is starting too late,” said Charles, as we stepped out onto King street.

“Too late how?”

“He spent the best years of his life working for others; now be finds he should have been working for himself.”

“Oh, he’s been happy in his way,” I said.

“At that job!” demanded Charles.

And when we thought of Mr. Milligin and his job, sitting at a desk, never moving, year after year, we both shuddered.

“I think we both ought to start now,” said Charles.

“Start where?”

“Start looking for a business of our own – something solid, substantial. Something we can call our own.”

“As for instance?”

“Well, let’s start in some business and work our way into it and launch out for ourselves – bonds, stocks, manufacturing, agency – anything.” said Charles.

“Why not let’s start a newspaper of our own?”

“Too costly,” said Charles. “But we could learn the bond business and then, to launch out for ourselves, all we need is a little office.”

We walked on in silence. The thought was very sweet in our minds. No more worrying. No more digging for things to write.

“How do you go about getting a job?” I asked. “How did old Mr. Milligin go about getting his job?”

“Well,” said Charles, “the simplest way is to watch the papers for advertisements and answer the ones that seem to be what we are after.”

“The papers don’t carry that sort of ad.”

“Well, let’s look.”

So we drew in out of the traffic on Yonge street, and in the shelter of a tobacco store window opened up The Star and found this ad staring us in the face:

A position demanding executive ability of a high order, with knowledge of banking, is vacant. References
necessary. Apply Box 1234, The Star.

It seemed too perfect to be true.

“Gosh, Charles, it seems to be us!”

“Salary Must Exceed $10,000”

“Us,” said Charles. “What do you know about banking?”

“My dear boy.” I replied heatedly. “I have had a bank account for nine years. And what’s more, mine is a current account and my wife’s is a saving. So I know practically all there is to be known about banking. What else is there to it?”

“And what about executive ability of a high order?” demanded Charles.

“I was adjutant of my regiment for months. It that isn’t executive ability I’d like to know what it is.”

“Ah,” said Charles, “your orderly-room clerks did everything. All you did was sit on a horse and sign your name.”

“Don’t let’s fight. Charles. Let’s consider this ad. I’m for answering it.”

“We can’t both get the one job.”

“But we can both apply, and may the best man win.”

“And then,” said Charles, “which ever of us gets this job he will work the other into the business at the earliest opportunity.”

“Right!” said I.

“Box 1234,” said Charles. “Better make a note of it. I will keep this paper.”

We walked on.

“I think,” said Charles, “the way to write this application would be to intimate that if you knew more about the job you might consider it. You know the sort of tone.”

“Personally,” I said, “I think the go-getter kind of application is what is needed in this instance.”

“Go-getter!” snorted Charles. “The business world is fed up to the teeth with them!”

“No. It’s the standard way of applying. All I have to do is make it the go-gettingest letter in the pile.”

“Well,” replied Charles, “there is no use of both of us employing the same method. You do yours and I’ll do mine.”

“And may the best man win.”

“Right,” said Charles.

We returned to the office, and at the opportune moment, when all the editors were out and none of the other boys too handy, we carefully wrote out our applications.

“Dear Sir:
“What you want, I have got.
We are looking for each other.
I have never failed at any job yet.
My jobs have got bigger and better always.
Having exhausted the possibilities of my present situation I am now prepared to join your organization.
Salary does not interest me.
Opportunity does.
I await your convenience for an interview.

“I don’t like that respectfully,” said Charles.

“It’s go-getter,” I said. “Polite, you know. Suave.”

“Look mine over,” said Charles

“My Dear Sir:
I am ready to consider an offer for my services and, if you wish, will discuss the matter with you any morning this week after ten o’clock, except Thursday.
The salary, by the way, would have to exceed ten thousand dollars a year to be interesting.
Yours faithfully.”

“H’m!” said I.

“You see the difference?” asked Charles.

“Quite. But ten thousand dollars, Charles?”

“Quite,” said Charles.

It was with a distinct tingling sensation in our limbs that we signed our names with a flourIsh to these letters and sealed and stamped them.

“Give me yours and I’ll run downstairs and turn them in at the letter department,” I said.

“Not on your life!” exclaimed Charles. “We’ll mail them. Do you think we want to advertise our plans?”

So we put on our coats and went forth to mail our letters with singing hearts.

By the most curious coincidence, who should be in the elevator again, as we boarded it, but old Mr. Milligin!

We studied him, at close range, with a new Interest, a fellow-feeling. He seemed like a man setting forth on a journey, eager, almost gay. His greeting to us was cordial, genial, as compared with the brief monosyllable he used to give us in the old days, whenever we were not too busy to notice him around the office.

“When do you leave, Mr. Milligin?” I asked, as we reached the ground floor.

“To-morrow,” said he. “To-morrow’s the day.”

And he felt everybody was congratulating him.

We posted our letters and then I said:

“Charles, I think we ought to have a cup of coffee and talk this matter over. This is one of the most important days in our lives.”

Over the coffee cups it all seemed like a dream.

“Imagine, Charles, in a little while one of us may be sitting in a strange office in a building we now do not even know, with strange people depending on our words.”

“Possibly,” said Charles.

“If I get the job I will not rest, Charles, until I have got you in with me.”

“Most businesses do not carry many men at ten thousand a year.”

“Anything is possible. This is a great year. A boom is coming. There is opportunity for men like you and me, Charles.”

“One thing I do know,” said Charles. “If I take this executive work on it will be a great relief to be free of writing. I think I will even have a rubber stamp to sign my name.”

“What kind of an office do you like. Charles?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“I like dark furniture, with a bright rug on the floor, and potted ferns about,” I said. “Not too many pictures on the wall, but good ones. I’ve got some at my house that I think I will bring down.”

“You think you’ve got this job?”

“No, Charles, I think you’ve got it.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Well, I have a feeling, ever since I mailed that letter ten minutes ago, that neither one of us has got it. I sort of feel as if both of us had it. I don’t know. It’s just feeling I have. Maybe running into old Mr. Milligin again in the elevator was an omen. I felt a curious feeling when we stepped on the elevator with those letters in our pockets, and him standing there beaming.”

“It was curious,” admitted Charles.

On the Lap of the Gods

Neither of us did much work for the rest of the afternoon. We separated but we could not help thinking of each other, and being writing men, in the habit of constructing things in our minds, we devoted a lot of time to building up advance stories in the imagination as to how we would accept the job, with what modest assurance we would step into our now responsible posts, and how we would begin the task of working the other of us into the business to the undying gratitude of the other. Friendship is a nice thing. It is like a little bonfire in the heart that dies down to embers and flares up with fresh fuel, but never goes out.

That evening Charles phoned me to say that he wished I had not put that respectfully in.

“It’s all right, Charles. The more I think of that letter the more I like it. I can recite it off by heart.”

“I think I should have put fifteen thousand in, instead of ten,” said Charles.

“We should be getting that.”

“No, Charles, it doesn’t pay to be too grasping. This job is only a means to an end. I can see us taking trips to Europe and so forth in another ten years. And on our own money, Charles.”

“We would stay at the Savoy again,” said Charles.

“And fish in Norway.”

“You go to Norway,” said Charles, “and I’ll go down to Vienna.”

“It would be a pity to separate when we were having so much fun.”

“No Norway for me,” said Charles. “Well, old man, until to-morrow.”

We got to the office early.

But early as we were, Box 1234, which we carefully examined as we entered the office was already cleared.

“The box has been cleared,” I whispered to Charles as I sat down at my desk.

“So I noticed. Our letters will have been delivered by now.”

“We’re on the lap of the gods,” I whispered.

How curious the office seemed as we sat there looking about the familiar scene. Jimmie Frise grinning at his drawing board. The editor tearing open his mail with the familiar violence.

It was kind of sad. The old office would miss us. We had been there so long.
The phone rang and George the office boy called me.

“Mr. Harris wants you on the phone,” said George.

Mr. Harris is the business manager.

“Oh, Greg,” said Mr. Harris amiably at the far end of the phone. “I’ve got a couple of most interesting letters here on my desk from you and Charlie Vining.”


“You are applying for old Mr. Milligin’s job? Is that right?”

I do not even remember saying anything to Mr. Harris.

I hung up in a daze and staggered over where Charles was eyeing me.
“We’ve applied …”


“We’ve applied … for … old Mr. Milligin’s job!”

The familiar little sounds of the office broke clear and sharp on the silence.
“Perhaps,” I said, “we had better stick to writing.”

So we wrote this.

Editor’s Note: You can see the makings of the Greg-Jim story format in this article a few years before they got going. Greg is partnered here with fellow reporter Charles Vining.

$10,000 in 1928 would be about $146,000 in 2019.

Greg mentions in his experience that he was an adjutant. He was appointed assistant adjutant of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles in August 1917, and adjutant in April 1918.

“Bunk!” Says Henry

January 14, 1928

This illustration was included with a story by Charles Vining  on the development of the “new” Ford car, the Model A. For 20 years the Ford Motor Company produced the Model T car. Henry Ford felt that this was the perfect car, so it did not need modifications to its style. It was more important to improve production so it could be sold at a lower price. However other car companies would make more luxurious (and more expensive) cars and introduced the concept of model years (where cars would change styling to encourage replacement). Henry Ford eventually had to give in to this market demand, and as the article stated, production of Model Ts stopped in May 1927 to focus on the Model A, which was introduced in October 1927 and first sold in December 1927. The article is an interview with Henry Ford dispelling the myths around its design, including:

  • They had to design the car in the May-October time frame in a panic to come up with something new (Ford claimed that it had been planned for 6 years).
  • That Henry Ford put on some overalls and did a lot of the work himself (people at the time loved the idea of Henry Ford as a self made man and liked to believe this would still be true. He had engineers to design it and the modern styling was left up to his son Edsel.)
  • The rest of the article deals with other rumours about how the price was determined ($710), how much was spent on production, and other plans for the future. But by this time, Ford (the company) was just like any other company with a bureaucracy to handle everything.

So all of the rumours were “bunk”.

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