The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1933 Page 1 of 3

King of the May

I started playing, “Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May.” “Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la,” cried Jim, starting to hippetty-hop around the pole

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, April 29, 1933.

“This here Hitler, now,” said Jimmie Frise, scratching at his drawing board, “how do you explain him?”

“He is a romantic,” I replied. “If you ever heard a German band, you will understand Hitler.”

“But lookit here,” said Jim, “didn’t we knock that heroics stuff out of the Germans? It took the whole world to do it, but you would think they’d take the hint. Why don’t they just knuckle down to being a nice country people like the Germans in the fairy tales.”

“All you can beat up,” I said, “is one generation. You beat up a man. And what happens? His son takes boxing lessons.”

“You mean?” said Jim.

“I mean,” said I, “that Hitler is the leader of the generation that wasn’t in the war. That means everybody up to thirty years of age. The generation of proud kids who had to swallow defeat, financial ruin, unemployment, revenge. So they have been taking boxing lessons, to kill time.”

“And now?” said Jim.

“Now Hitler is the boss of a few million handy adults who say, “Aren’t we supposed to live, aren’t we the children of the past, the Old Gods, the romance, the racial spirit expressed by our poets, musicians, Goethe, Wagner?”

“I like Wagner music,” said Jim.

“Did you ever hear the Love-Death from Tristan?” I asked. “Or the Fire Music from the Valkyrie?”

“I suppose so,” said Jim. “I always know Wagner music because it makes me get up out of my chair and conduct an imaginary grand orchestra! With augmented drums and trumpets!”

“Well,” I said, “that’s Hitler. You’ve got Hitler right there.”

“They say,” said Jim, “that he is going to discard everything, just as thoroughly as the Bolsheviks did; and then, instead of introducing the New, he is going to revive the Old.”

“It has never been done,” I remarked.

“But it ought to be,” said Jim. “We have thrown, away all the old things and traded them for a lot of shoddy, machine-made new things that don’t last. I’d like to see somebody come along and revive a whole lot of the old things. Here it is nearly May Day, and instead of having the whole community dancing around the maypole, all we will have will be a few agitators trying to hold a parade, and a lot of police making sure they don’t.”

“And Morris dancers on the green,” said I, “and floral dancers galloping through the streets, with musicians, in and out doorways.”

“No wonder there are people discontented with life the way it is,” said Jim. “If we had some of the old things, everybody would be happy, working off their steam in harmless joy.”

Let’s Have a Maypole

“There is nothing we can do about it,” said I.

“Certainly there is!” cried Jim. “We could have a May Day celebration out in our neighborhood, and maybe from that start who knows how it might spread. “Let’s have a maypole!”

“Where?”

“In that little park up the street from my place,” said Jim. “A maypole, with a hundred ribbons, and all the young people dancing around it!”

“Not a bad idea,” said I. “We’d have to get permission from the parks department.”

“Bosh!” cried Jim. “Must people get a permit to be joyful!”

“Then, the music?” I asked.

“Tabers, dulcimers, flutes, zithers and horns!” cried Jim, leaping to his feet.

“It would be easier,” I said, “to get a radio and run wires out to it in the park.”

“Never!” shouted Jim. “You can play a fife, you Orangeman! We’ll have you play the fife, and then all the children and youths can sing, as they swing around the maypole. Music enough!”

Jimmie was all worked up.

“What would they sing?” I asked. “We would need to rehearse this, because I can’t imagine the youth of our time dancing around the maypole and singing ‘Underneath the Harlem Moon.'”

“We could rehearse,” declared Jim. “We’ve got several days before the first of May.

And that is the way it started.

After supper, Jim and I went up and had a look at the little park, and we picked a spot where we could set up a nice maypole. There were a lot of youngsters playing baseball, lacrosse and tag in the park.

“They’ll quit that soon enough,” said Jim, “when we put the maypole up.”

“To-morrow evening we ought to try it on them,” I replied.

So Jim and I went back to his house and started to work on the maypole. Jimmie thought red, white and blue would be good colors for the ribbons, while I favored green, white and yellow. Jim thought a clothes prop would do for the Maypole, but I thought we should go out in the country and get a good big pole that would not pull down too easily. We compromised by adopting red, yellow and pink ribbons and fastening them on a pole we took out of Jim’s rose arbor. It was not very tall, but it would do for a rehearsal.

“Now,” said Jim, “you go home and practice on your fife.”

The next evening, about the time the children came out for a bit of play and about the time the young people began to stroll along the streets to escape helping with the dishes, Jimmie and I carried the maypole over to the park and I dug a little hole into which we set the pole and braced it up with earth and stones. A crowd of children and large boys came and stood around watching us, to Jim’s delight.

“What is it, mister?” the kids asked. “A goal post?”

“No,” said Jimmie, “it’s a maypole. Would you like to dance around it?”

“Aw, I’m in the second book,” replied the boy Jim addressed. “I got out of the kindygarten years ago.”

“But next Monday will be May Day,” said Jim. “It is the day when all through the ages everybody danced and sang for the return of spring.”

“Is it a holiday?” yelled several boys.

Jimmie shook out the ribbons on the pole.

“Now while this gentleman plays the flageolet,” said Jim, “let us all see how it feels to hold one of these pretty ribbons and dance in and out around the maypole.”

Jim nodded to me and I drew out the fife and tuned her up.

The boys somewhat shamefaced took ribbons and stood around while I started a party tune on the fife.

“Altogether now,” cried Jimmie gayly, “here we go round the mulberry bush, tra-la, tra-la, tra-la!”

People started coming over to the park from the sidewalks. A number of young people, youths.

A few of the boys started awkwardly hopping around, while others stood still. A couple of larger boys dropped their lacrosse sticks and grabbed half a dozen ribbons and, yelling in cracked voices, tra-la, tra-la, began to muddle the thing up. I blew hard on the fife.

“Easy, boys!” cried Jim, “nicely now, nicely! No rough stuff. In and out, inside one and outside the other.”

But the spirit of the larger boys was weightier than Jim and my fife both, and in about thirty seconds, everybody was wound tight into a heap around the maypole and crowding around it they knocked it over. Jim was in the bottom of the heap.

By this time a quite goodly crowd was assembled, and people were running from all directions into the park.

Jim got the pole up again and the ribbons unsorted.

“Now, young people,” said Jim, “the idea is to dance in and out of each other around the pole, then when we get all wound up, reverse and start unwinding again, you see? Winding and unwinding. For the spirit of old England! For the spirit of Robin Hood and King Richard the Lion Heart!”

Jim invited several of the pretty girls and tall young men to take hold of ribbons, and form a circle, and he signalled me to start again.

“In and out, round and round!” chanted Jim, dancing in the lead.

“Hey, Mike!” shouted a gentleman bursting through the crowd, “git away from that!”

And he grabbed a little red-headed boy that was one of the dancers and hauled him out.

“What are you trying to do,” shouted the gentleman, “making my kid dance to them party tunes!”

“Play an old English tune,” said Jim.

So I started, “Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May.”

“Tra-la, tra-la, tra-la,” cried Jim, starting to hippetty-hop around the pole. But it was too complicated, and in a few jiffies everything was tangled up again, and the pole fell over.

“Hey, guys,” yelled a voice, “how about the ball game?”

A lacrosse ball hit Jim on the neck. Several boys in the crowd started pulling at the ribbons.

“Hey, guys, club colors!” cried a voice.

“Our side red and yellow, your side yellow and pink! Tie it around your arms!”

Jim made a grab but the may pole started off through the legs of the crowd, ribbons and all.

“Just a minute!” shouted Jim, holding up his hand. “Just a minute, friends! How about Merrie England! Listen! Can’t we revive a sweet old custom without having a gang of hoodlums smash everything all up?”

“Who’s a hoodlum?” demanded a neighbor, stepping forward. “Did you call my kids hoodlums?”

“Wait a minute,” pleaded Jim, “all we are trying to do – with Hitler bringing back the old customs to Germany – an attempt to do something besides a lot of Communists holding meetings – give us a chance–“

“Ha, so that’s it?” cried the man, and several others backed him up. “I thought these ribbons were a funny combination. Communists, are you?”

“No, no!” shouted Jim above the din of kids starting to form teams and young girls and men laughing.

“What’s this about Hitler?” the gentleman demanded loudly. “Are these German colors?”

“No, no, Merrie England! St. George and Merrie England,” shouted Jim. “This is a maypole, we are trying to rehearse for May Day. Give us a chance.”

“Our kids have enough distractions from their school work,” announced another man loudly, “without people starting riots in the public parks.”

“This was just a little innocent dance–” began Jim.

“Dancing, is it?” interrupted still another neighbor. “Well, you can just take your public dancing out of this, in times like this; you’ve got your nerve, me trying to hold my kids down as it is–“

I reached in and tugged Jim’s coat tail.

We beat a decent retreat, leaving the ball game and the lacrosse game somewhat brightened by sundry bandages of pretty ribbons, and groups of elders and youths standing conversing in the park.

Sitting on boxes, we recaptured the dear old days of yore

So we went down in Jimmie’s cellar and there, sitting on boxes, with my fife, we recaptured the dear old days of yore, with music and songs, until Jim’s daughters hammered on the floor upstairs with their heels and told us they had to do their homework.


Editor’s Notes: Adolf Hitler just became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933. The Reichstag Fire took place in February, and the Enabling Act (which gave Hitler dictatorial powers) was passed in March. At the time of the article, the clampdown on other political parties was underway, and many commentators in the rest of the world were trying to figure out what was going on, and what the Nazis were doing. It was still very much unknown at this time.

May Day is an ancient spring holiday, but it was also chosen as the date for International Workers’ Day by the socialists, communists and labour activists.

Morris dancing and Floral dancing are traditional English customs, as are the traditional instruments Tabor, Dulcimer, Zither, Fife, and Flageolet.

Underneath The Harlem Moon” was a popular song written by Mack Gordon in 1932. It has a lot of racist lines, the linked article has more information on why it might have been popular with Black audiences as well.

Carols

“Louder,” said Jimmie in my ear

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, December 16, 1933.

“There’s an idea!” shouted Jimmie Frise, jamming on the brakes and bringing our car to a stop. In the night, grouped under a street light in the quiet residential neighborhood where we live were four men.

They were singing Christmas carols.

“Now,” said Jim, “that’s more like! Singing. The waits. There’s a dear old custom for you.”

We wound down the car windows and listened to the four voices singing “Good King Wenceslas.”

“It’s better,” I said, “than a cornet. A cornet wakes all the babies in the block.”

“This,” said Jimmie, “would soothe a child. Even a sick person would love to hear such sweet melody in the night.”

We sat in silence until the little choir concluded the rousing old tune of “King Wenceslas.” Then they dispersed, in four directions, to call at the doors for the artist’s reward.

“Let’s wait and hear them again,” said Jimmie. “I love to hear men singing. Not that new fangled jazz stuff. But a kind of barber shop quartet singing old songs.”

“I’m in no hurry,” I admitted. So we eased back and waited, while the dark figures passed from door to door.

“You know,” said Jimmie, “there is no music in the world as fine as a quartet of men singing old-fashioned songs, like ‘Sweet Adeline’ and ‘Way Down Upon the Swanee River.'”

“Yet I don’t care for these concert quartets,” I submitted.

“I know what you mean,” said Jimmie. “Singing deep sea songs, with silly choruses about the sea, the sea, the sea, the sea, THE SEA, in an enormous bass voice, with all the tenors and the baritones repeating the sea, the sea, the sea, the SEEEAAAA!”

“Precisely,” said I.

“Well, all I can say,” said Jimmie, “in these days of sob-sissy tenors, and wuh-duh-duh husky baritones that would have got the hook at any burlesque show when we were boys, nobody knows the beauty of a quartet singing ‘Sweet Adeline’ on all the street corners, under the arc lights, all the way home.”

“The trouble nowadays,” I pointed out, “is that we are all listening to singing, but none of us sing.”

“And the important part of singing,” added Jim, “is not the hearing of it, but the doing of it.”

A Cold Reception

The shadowy figures of the carol singers were still humbly and hesitantly passing from door to door up the block.

“So much that is old is dying,” said Jimmie sadly. “We are removing all our roots out of the solid earth. We no longer play lusty games. We sit in grandstands. We no longer sing. We listen to the radio.”

“These lads here,” I said, “are probably Englishmen. They are likely unemployed. Maybe they can’t afford cornets and musical instruments. But likely they have sung carols over home, down the streets of old towns, like Stow-on-the-Wold, or Glastonbury, or St. Erth.”

“Or,” said Jimmie, remembering the glimpse he had, when he was a lad and a soldier, of a sweet far old land, “Winterbourne Bishop, or Newton Valence, or Pocklington.”

“In these towns,” I went on, “these men have sung carols, down crooked old streets, with lights in leaded windows glowing, and for their singing, the door would open, and they would be handed out sixpence and shortbread and porty wine.”

“And what do they get here?” asked Jim, peering out of the car up the chilly street, where the singers were coming now, slowly, rejoining into a group. “They might get a crack of the door open and a dime handed out in a cold hand. Or they might get nothing. I hear they are making great strides in the study of heart disease. I guess one of the things that is being corrected nowadays is the soft heart.”

“Here they come,” I said.

The four carol singers, all in a group. with hands in pockets and heads down against the winter wind, came walking by.

I stuck my head out the car window.

“Aren’t you going to sing some more?” I called to them.

They halted and looked at us.

“No,” said the tallest one. “Not any more.”

“Don’t they want you to sing?” called Jim.

“They said they didn’t hear us,” said the tall one, who had a bass voice. “When we called at the doors, they didn’t know what we wanted. I says, ‘Something for the carols?’ And they says, ‘What carols?'”

“Didn’t you get anything?”

“Not so far,” said the tall one. The others just pulled their necks down into their collars, and looked impatient to be off.

“Maybe you didn’t sing loud enough,” I suggested.

“The radio drowns us,” said the tall one, adding apologetically, for his companions, “a thing I didn’t think of.”

Appreciation is Curious

“Well, let’s be going, George,” said one of the others dryly.

“Wait a minute, boys,” said Jimmie. “Us two liked your singing. We’ll gladly pay you for it. How would you like to sing that ‘King Wenceslas’ for us once more?”

“If there’s something in it,” said the tall one. The others reluctantly grouped themselves around him. Lifting his hand, George sang a key. They sang:

“Good King Wenceslas looked out

On the Feast of Stephen

When the snow lay all about

Deep and crisp and even;

Brightly shone the moon that night,

Tho’ the frost was cruel,

When a poor man came in sight

Gathering winter fuel.”

Quietly they sang, with Jim and me sitting in the car and they standing on the kerb in the night. Strange how quickly tears will spring to the eyes at the call of certain old words, though all about us the facts of life touch never a pool of them!

They sang softly, but without spirit, because it was strange to be standing on the kerb of a great city, singing into the window of a car to two men, while other cars hissed by and people, passing, paused to stare. And their hearts were not in it anyway.

But appreciation is a curious thing. Maybe they saw the tears in my eyes in the street light. Maybe they saw the way Jimmie stared through the windshield. But in the second verse, they seemed to get a grip of the ancient song. They didn’t have good voices, as voices go. Their words were sung with quaint accents. But there was a simple breathlessness in their feeling.

When they ended on the last queer chord, Jim and I dug down and gave them some money.

“Thank YOU,” said the carolers. “Thank you very much!”

“I think we could give the gentlemen “The First Nowell’,” said George, the tall one, heartily. And eagerly they closed together again, setting themselves the way all good singers do.

“The First Nowell the angel did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay,

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep.

Nowell, Nowell, Nowell, Nowell.

Born is the King of Israel!”

How they sang! How they fled the voices all sweetly in together. How they held the last Nowell, harmonizing it, moulding it, coloring it!

Taking the Gents On

By this time, a number of people who walked past had halted and listened and crept back. A little gathering was forming. A car ran by, slowed and backed and the doors opened for the people inside to hear the better.

They finished “The First Nowell’ and stood embarrassed, wondering whether they should go now. But a lady who had come back to listen asked:

“Didn’t I hear ‘Good King Wenceslas’ a little while ago?”

“Yes, mam.”

“I wonder …?” she said. So the lads grouped together again and gave ‘Good King Wenceslas.’

There were fifteen of us by the time they ended. George took off his hat and everybody put something into it.

“You see,” said Jimmie, as George leaned over to say good-night to us, “if they can hear you, they love it. The trouble is, to be heard. There should be more of you. A regular choir. With lots of strong voices.”

“Ah, it’s hard to say,” said George, shaking his head.

“Well, now, my friend and I,” said Jimmie, “are both very fond of singing. Old-fashioned singing. If you will get in the car with us, and we could go to a neighborhood where we aren’t known, we’d be glad …”

“Jimmie!” I hissed.

“We’d be glad to join our voices, just to show you,” said Jim.

“Do you sing?” asked George.

“Well, we know the tune, and we can sort of hum with our mouths open,” said Jim. “You know, Doo-doo-doo-de-doo-de-dum, da-de-dad-de-tum-tum.”

George looked doubtful. One of the smaller ones, the tenor, I think it was, cried:

“Take the gents on, George, a ride in the car will do us good anyways!”

So we loaded the four of them in the back seat and drove five or six blocks north, and parked up a pleasant side street with those nice $7,000 homes on it, where young married people live, with small children’s sleighs and hockey sticks on the verandas waiting for the morning.

“I am sorry,” I explained to George and the boys, “I don’t sing at all. I have a loud voice. But there is not much tune in it, if you understand.”

“It will attract attention, anyway,” interrupted Jimmie. “That’s all we need. You fellows can do the singing, after we have added our volume to the music and attracted people from their radios. Understand?”

Artistry Runs Wild

“Yes, sir,” said George. “Personally, I think it’s a splendid idea. First rate.”

We walked up a few doors and grouped under a street light.

“Now, we’ll do ‘King Wenceslas’ first,” said George, “as these two gentlemen seem to know that tune the best.”

He held up his hand. Sang the key.

“Good King Wenceslas looked out

On the Feast of Stephen …”

It was fine. I could sing the first few words, and then I resorted to daw-de-daw-daw-daw. You know. Like in church.

“Louder,” said Jimmie in my ear.

I let it out. My voice was trained in the army. At Napier Barracks, near Cheriton, when I was a raw recruit, I had to stand by the hour roaring commands at a drill sergeant standing scornfully a quarter of a mile off. He saw possibilities in my voice, and made the most of them. It is, if I may say so, loud.

“Let her out all the way,” shouted Jim in my ear.

I let it out all the way.

Jim was doing pretty good himself, although the only way he recognizes the tune of “God Save the King” is when everybody stands up and takes his hat off.

George and the boys were resolutely singing, with George standing apart, beating time for us and patting one hand in the air as if to signal me not so loud.

But certainly we were attracting attention. Doors opened. Lights went on in upstairs windows. Men and women even came out on the verandas.

“That’s the stuff,” cried Jimmie in my ear. “They’re coming!”

Though I am not a singer. I can appreciate the inspiration it must be to artists to behold response.

The third verse, I really shook loose the barnacles of the years that had been gathering in my lungs, the wrinkles and crows feet, the dust and ashes, and I gave them the old stuff, the real old roar that once upon a time could be heard all the way from Mount St. Eloi to Villers au Bois. Of course, I did not know the words of the third verse, so I had to resort to daw-daw-daw, interspersed with dee-dee-dee.

When you sing, or otherwise engage in a wholehearted artistic endeavor, you are temporarily blinded to what is going on around you. You see this in a bird. It pours out its whole soul, deafened to any other sound around it. Caruso must have felt like that as he leaped into the passionate arias of “Pagliacci” or that’ excited bit in the “Barber of Seville.” I must say I did notice some confusion amongst my fellow-singers. All but Jimmie. He stood right by me, apparently singing for all he was worth, but of course I could not hear him, because I had, what you might say, turned it on.

Maybe the Crooners are Right

By this time, all the houses were lighted, veranda lights were snapped on. Groups of people were not only assembling on the verandas but were coming out on the sidewalks. It was a triumph indeed.

It seemed to me, as I let go the last line of the third verse that there was a sort of scuffle amongst George and his pals, and the next thing I knew, I saw a man with a golf stick in his hands, and iron, a niblick, I think they call it, with a thick, twisted iron head, crouched down and advancing on me with cat-like tread.

I cut that last, choice chord of the last line, I cut it right off. Jim had me by the elbow and we were bounding, in long easy strides, down the street toward the car.

Jim slammed me in and leaped to the wheel. I saw, far up the street, the vanishing forms of what I take to have been George and his pals. They were running.

So Jimmie drove rapidly away, in the other direction, and after twisting and turning around several blocks, we slowed down and Jimmie gasped.

“Well,” he said. “It didn’t work!”

“You shouldn’t have encouraged me,” I said, miserably.

“I had no idea you had such a foghorn,” said Jim.

“Was it pretty awful?” I asked.

“Honestly,” said Jim, “I never heard such a noise in my life!”

“It’s funny,” I mused, “what a little encouragement will do to a man.”

“I guess every man,” said Jimmie, “thinks he can sing, deep down in his heart.”

“I can sing,” I protested. “But you said what we needed was loud singing.”

“Maybe the crooners are right,” said Jim. “Perhaps the popular taste these days is for that wuh-duh-duh stuff, that snuggle singing.”

So we went back to my house and up to my den where I have one of those old music boxes with the big steel discs with holes punched in them, that I got from an old relative of mine, and we spent the evening playing “The Mocking Bird” and “Darling Nellie Grey.”


Editor’s Notes: Sweet Adeline and “Old Folks at Home” (also known as “Swanee River“) were songs from 1903 and 1851. When they were complaining about the song with “the sea, the sea, the sea,” it was likely “By the Beautiful Sea” from 1914.

A $7,000 house from 1933 would be $139,000 in 2021, though you could not find a house in Toronto for that price.

Metal disc playing music boxes pre-dated phonographs, where you could swap out the discs with different songs.

Fifteen Years!

“On Armistice Eve, when the city hall square in silent and deserted, the Boys, in their old khaki, with their tin hats over their eyes, with braziers winking, come back for an hour or two, to bivouac around the steps in a sort of old boys’ reunion, in answer to the call of memory”

By Gregory Clark, November 11, 1933.

At the cenotaph in front of the city hall in Toronto there are wreaths and people and bands.

From the windows of the busy buildings high about, the faces of girls watch down. The street cars push respectfully through the gathering throng.

Then comes the Silence. And everybody is quite proud of it. It is a fine Silence. In the midst of it, Big Ben tolls with an unfamiliar tone, deep and fateful. We hold ourselves consciously, as full participants in this Silence. We feel deeply moved by some ancient, profound instinct. We try to concentrate our minds, but in the Silence our minds wheel in great circles, frightened, aimless.

This cannot be all. Some of us have queer and pagan notions. One of our fancies is that on Armistice Eve, when all the city hall square is silent and deserted, the Boys start to foregather around this tall white pillar of remembrance.

In their old khaki, with their tin hats over their eyes, in battle order, with braziers winking, the Boys come back for an hour or two, while they may, to bivouac around the city hall steps, a sort of old boys’ reunion, in answer to the call of memory.

And if we have eyes to see them, we can see them, in the November night, a glow about them, as they pass and repass in the braziers’ uncertain light, joking and laughing, the way they used to be. It is impossible for us to remember them with mournfulness. When an old soldier calls up a tender ghost in memory to mourn with him, lo, the ghost is full of life and laughter, and in a moment, instead of the remembered one being brought forward from the past, it is the shadowy one who has carried us backward with him, to the past. It is a curious thing.

But I know an old lady who, at eleven o’clock every Armistice Day, holds a private service in her own room.

She takes a photograph in her two hands and sits ready with it.

When the hour arrives, she sits, her old head tremulous, staring steadily into the eyes that look so boldly out of the photograph at her.

She, too, has the gift of imagination.

When the Hour strikes, it seems to her that the picture before her is suddenly suffused with life. The eyes shimmer tenderly at her. The corners of the mouth twitch in a fleeting, meaningful smile.

For that smile, the old lady will wait the whole long year.


Dear old lady, forgive me this story.

We have invested our memorial day with so much of pomp and circumstance that we are in danger of letting the drums beat without the muffling of crepe. There should be pathos in this day. Pathos for all the lives laid down for us that we might have something better, higher, nobler. There is pathos in this story now.


It is an orchard.

Never, I trust, will you see such an orchard. It is like a drawing by the artist, Gustav Dore, illustrating Dante’s Inferno.

In the twilight, while harsh small snowflakes rattle down, an unearthly light streams from a narrow strip of fiery sky along the west, and lights up the grotesque arms of the apple trees, riven and torn. The orchard is terribly plowed.

In this orchard are more than two hundred men. But you cannot see them. They are hiding in shallow ditches, in the strange furrows of the gigantic plow that has lately worked this land. In mud and slush, two hundred men are hiding. On their helmets tinkle the small dry snowflakes. Over their heads wail demons. With no tune or rhythm, some satanic drummer plays a tune with drums like thunder.

But look! Somebody is moving. There. By those apple trees. Just this side of that sprawled heap of bricks and charred timbers.

It is a skinny lieutenant, with sunken eyes.

“Sergeant,” he says, “we’ll start now. It is dark enough.”

Out of the ground crawls the sergeant.

“Come along, you,” says the sergeant.

And two more figures rise, heavy, grotesque, out of the sodden earth. These two carry shovels.

Amidst the broken and gnarled apple trees, the four figures move hurriedly, cautiously, stooping, heavy-footed.

“Are there any more since?” asks the lieutenant over his shoulder.

“Just the seven,” says the sergeant. “We could wait for the padre to come up to-morrow.”

“No,” says the lieutenant. “The padre will be busy all night back yonder. They say he has forty to look after between the old front lines alone. But nevertheless, I won’t have these boys lying out here overnight. I can’t bear that. All alone. They look like little kids, somehow, when they are like that….”

The lieutenant is going a little leery.

“Pull up, sir,” warns the sergeant, kindly.

“I’m sorry, sergeant, but to-morrow, maybe we can have the padre come up and say a regular service over them. All I want is cover over them, you understand ….”

“Yes, sir; yes, sir. Let it go at that.”

The crawling little party, struggling over the shadowy ragged earth, reach a spot where a large shell hole has already been squared away, its sides chopped off and made into a pit, six feet deep.

And in the pit lie seven forms, over each one a coarse gray blanket. You can see only the square, rough boots sticking out from the bottom of the blankets. That is for counting.

“Now?” says the lieutenant, as the four stand, like figures in the picture called the Angelus, at the edge of the pit.

“First,” says the sergeant, “you take their identity discs and personal effects such as pay books, watches, rings, and tie them up in their handkerchiefs.”

“Sergeant,” says the lieutenant, “if you don’t mind, will you do that?”

“Yes, sir.”

The sergeant slides heavily down and one by one opens each tunic collar and removes the identity discs, searches briefly in the simple pockets, makes a little heap of papers, trinkets, frayed and flattened letters, on the blanket.

It is growing dark.

The sergeant down in the pit works quickly, stooping in the gloom. He ties each bundle in a khaki handkerchief with a knot. He hands up the seven small bundles and reaches up a hand for a lift.

“Now, sir,” says the sergeant, dusting off his hands. “It is customary for the officer to say a short prayer.”

“Oh,” says the lieutenant in a small voice. “A prayer.”

“The Lord’s Prayer,” suggests the sergeant.

The lieutenant is stumped.

“Ah, yes, the Lord’s Prayer,” he says, shifting his cane to his arm and clasping his hands in front of his belt.

The Lord’s Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer! Back through his bewildered, blistered, tortured brain he scurries, seeking down long, empty aisles of memory, down forgotten corridors, scampering, frightened, seeking, the Lord’s Prayer, how does it start?

His mind is blank. Just a bare, shabby room, as if his spirit had moved somewhere else.

How does it go, the Lord’s Prayer?

Tinkling on his steel helmet, the dry small snow. Around him the three men, heads bowed, resting on their shovels, waiting.

Tinkling, far back down the long hall of his memory, from far and far away, from babyhood, here it comes, the Lord’s Prayer, sweetly, coming, coming.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,” says the lieutenant, clearly, proudly.

“I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

“If I should die before I wake,

“I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

The men bow to the shovels. The dark earth tumbles in.

They stand there, still, the sergeant and he. The satanic drumming throbs. Baleful flickers of lightning. dragons’ tongues, dance about the edges of the world.

And the skinny lieutenant with the sunken eyes does not know, until the sergeant tells him three days later, in a dry town, under the bright April sun, that he has not got the Lord’s Prayer.


Since 1920, when the present organization took Christie hospital off military hands, 26,626 old soldiers have entered its doors to stay for weeks or months. This doesn’t mean out-patients. They have from 40,000 to 50,000 out-patient cases every year. But the 26,626 brought their bundles with them. That is a lot of men. It is more than half the number that had bayonets in their hands and carried the glory of Canada as the spear-head of the Allies at Amiens in 1918. It is more than thirty regiments, line strength. And it is only one hospital in a long string of hospitals, that stretches from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

In those thirteen years, 828 have died in Christie hospital. Perhaps you don’t recall Euclid Hall. It was a special hospital, set aside in the early days for that little group of local men who never would rise again. Well, there were forty men in Euclid Hall when it was closed and the inmates transferred to Christie St.

There are six left.

The tempo increases. So far this year, Christie St. has faced the west, to watch a good man out, seventy-four times!


There are two banquets at the big hotel Armistice night. The one is a gathering of war pilots from far and near, three or four hundred of them. The other is a banquet to launch a new veterans’ organization, the University Veterans League. Sir Arthur Currie is speaking to this second crowd, and hundreds and hundreds of Varsity men from Toronto, McGill, Queen’s, Dalhousie, the west, will be there to try to recapture, somehow, the lost legend.

The legend of passion, of patriotism, of unselfish sacrifice, of loyalty, leadership, courage.

They had it. In the war they all had it, the thousands of these privileged men, educated, fine, forward reaching. There is a sort of cloister up at Varsity, a sheltered place whose walls are carven from vaulted roof to floor with the myriad names of Toronto Varsity men who died. These who came home are now, fifteen years after, holding a great banquet, their guest the Canadian whom they honor above all other Canadians, and they are seeking the lost legend.


On Armistice night, the fifteenth anniversary, they will try to pick up the torch, flung to them from failing hands…

“Who,” I asked the committee in charge of the other big banquet, the war pilots, “are your speakers?”

“We are having no speakers,” said they. “No guests. No prime ministers, mayors, celebrities. Old Red Mulock will likely get up and ask us to drink to those who did not fly home. And of course, someone will toast the King.”

“But four hundred of you …?”

“Maybe,” said the committee. “Ernst Udet, the German ace, might run up from New York. We are trying to get him.”

“Will he speak?”

“No speeches,” reiterated the committee.

Ten, five, even one year ago, Armistice had speeches about it, but now we see a thousand Varsity men from a score of different universities coming for the first time together in humility with the confessed design of trying to find something very precious they have lost.

And the pilots …

I wish I could dress up as a waiter and be your eye-witness at that banquet.

To be a pilot, remember, you had to be young and free. Maybe 17, 18, 19 years old. You could not be in love. If you went on leave to Blighty and fell in love, you were no good when you rejoined your squadron. Not a care in the world. That was what you had to have when you were a war pilot.

Look at them now. Thirty-five. Forty. Heavy. Careful. Frightened of their banker. Fifteen Armistices ago, all they knew of banks was a queer little sweeping turn they gave the joy-sticks as they eagled their way across a far distant sky.

And whatever it is they want this night, when they gather together, it is not speeches.

God rest them merry.


Chateau de la Haie was just north of Villers au Bois.

It was a great, squat chateau standing amidst park ground, with walls and a gate letting into a stately drive under tall elms.

It used to be Madame Patti’s country estate.

But then we came along and made it a divisional headquarters, with hundreds of Nissen huts, those round-roofed tin huts, in the park, and staff cars and motorcycle dispatch riders tearing in the gates and brass hats embarrassingly numerous.

The last snapshot any of the boys have seen of the Chateau de la Haie showed the poor old gates fallen ajar, grass growing rankly in the entrance, and through the tall trees, the chateau standing and lonely within.

But up on Sturgeon lake in Ontario there is a new Chateau de la Haie.

It is an old farm house, and it is the permanent headquarters of the 67th Battery, Canadian Field Artillery.

There they have annual Armistice banquets. They have frequent reunions and outings, summer, winter. All through the year, you will likely find some of the battery there. In the summer, they go in turn with their families, a club house.

The 67th was the University of Toronto battery. It recruited students and graduates and people associated with the university. They never went to France as a unit, but they were long enough together to found what is perhaps the most lasting friendship to be found in any unit of the corps that assimilated half a million Canadian men.

They started in a casual way with a reunion dinner after the war. Being a battery, they were few enough in number to be manageable. They formed a lively association. They published a humorous and happy history of the unit. Then they bought the farm.

In the secret recesses of the farm is hidden a bottle of old and good Burgundy. Safe and sacred it lies, until at last there shall be only two members left of the 67th battery to inherit the riches and tradition of the Chateau de la Haie.

And when there are only two, they are pledged to open the Burgundy and drink a toast to the memory of a hundred men who were unique in that, all rank cast aside, officer and man, they maintained the fellowship of war through the vicissitudes of peace.

They are up there to-night.


Where is the G.W.V.A.?

And all the other veterans’ associations, with their meetings and deputations and parades, their clamor for a bonus, their leaders whose names we have now forgotten so that when someone recalls them, it strikes no familiar chord?

All in one legion now.

Orderly now, front page news no more, doing a quiet, steady work, taking up cases, fighting unobtrusively and resolutely for those speechless ones who don’t know the ropes that lead to pensions, hospital care, justice.


Poppy Fund? It assures us proudly that for some $30,000 received last year from public subscriptions and tag days it expended $85,000 worth of relief by ingenious development of its funds and activities, and on its list of directors are twenty imposing names of generals, colonels and well-known civilians.

Like the sea after a storm, it takes time to settle down.

After a typhoon, you do not expect a smiling calm.

The sea is not like that, nor the hearts of men. The hearts of men are hidden, mysterious, fathomless. At the university, I bought a second-hand textbook on philosophy to save myself the price of a matinee at the old Gaiety. The textbook set forth the whole mind of man, out of all the ages. It explained all. Classified all. It was authoritative and urbane. It had the mind and soul of man set out like canned goods on the grocery shelf. The professor saw me with the textbook. “It is no good,” he said. “It is ten years old.”

This mysterious, unknown soul of man, which still defies understanding, has suffered a great storm on a more universal scale than anything it has experienced perhaps since the Ice Age.

After the storm came the long rolleth in the 1920’s, bearing us along so splendidly, in the bright sunshine after the tempest, toward some shore, we felt certain.

Then came the calm. The sea was filled with flotsam, and we discovered a thing we had not observed, so happy were we to be spared. We found, when the sea subsided, that our vessel was battered and wrecked. And there was no appreciable shore.

Well, there are signs of a breeze. To bear us along again on the normal voyage, toward that still uncharted haven.

We are busy clearing away the wreckage, setting the ship in order.

And those of us who were on deck during the last storm devoutly hope that our navigators will do their duty on the bridge, where they can see the weather, instead of working it out in the chart house with the blinds drawn.


Editor’s Notes: The photo is of the the Old City Hall Cenotaph in Toronto, which was dedicated in 1925.

The Angelus is a painting by Jean-François Millet. Greg has written the story of the officer who could not remember the words of the Lord’s Prayer mnay times. Identity discs were used for identification of soldiers in the First World War, like modern “Dog tags“.

The Christie Street Veterans’ Hospital was at the corner of Lambertlodge Avenue and Christie Street, north of Dupont Street. It was originally a factory of the National Cash Register Company, but was converted into a hospital near the end of WW1. Overcrowding at the end of World War 2 contributed to the decision to build a new hospital at Bayview and Lawrence called Sunnybrook, opening in 1948. The old hospital became a seniors’ home known as Lambert Lodge, and was eventually torn down. On the site now is the Christie Gardens Apartments and Care Facility.

Euclid Hall was a grand home in Toronto at 515 Jarvis Street. The building was originally built in 1867 for Arthur McMaster. In 1882, it was purchased by Hart Massey. The building was then bequeathed to the University of Toronto’s Victoria College in 1915. Today it is a restaurant, the Keg Mansion.

Sir Arthur Currie, was the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps in WW1. Redford “Red” Mulock was a Canadian flying ace. Ernst Udet was German flying ace.

The G.W.V.A. was the Great War Veteran’s Association, one of many groups that advocated for veterans after the war. Since the number of groups separately were ineffective, they all merged in 1925 to become the Canadian Legion.

The story of the officer forgetting the Lord’s Prayer was one Greg would often write about.

The Tired Rich

“That’s the trouble with you Perkins. you go about with your eyes shut. It was a brand new tire Perkins – brand new tire – right here !!!”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 28, 1933.

“I’d hate,” said Jimmie Frise, “to be a rich man in these times.”

“Goodness me,” I said, “right now I could do with a little riches.”

“Think of the way the rich are abused,” went on Jim. “Public speakers attacking them in no uncertain terms, everybody blaming them for wrecking the world, people sneering at them as they drive by in their costly limousines, the Reds cursing them … No, sir, I’d hate to be a rich man now.”

“Aw,” I said, “it’s just an accident if you are rich or poor. Just a matter of luck. Why should we blame people if they are fortunate. You might as well blame a guy for being six feet tall.”

“Luck!” cried Jimmie. “Accident! I’ve heard that before, and of all the ridiculous things I ever heard! Listen, my bow-legged little friend, a man isn’t rich by accident. I defy you to show me a single instance in which a man is rich except by hard labor, brains, eternal vigilance, long vision, slow amassing of pennies and dollars.”

“I’ve heard of fellows finding gold mines,” I said.

“After years of hard labor and toil, the like of which you haven’t the power to imagine,” said Jim.

“Well, how about rich men’s sons?” I asked. “They didn’t do anything for it.”

“Oh, didn’t they!” howled Jim. “I think the average rich man’s son earns his money ten times over. You don’t know rich men!”

“Well, I still think there is a lot of luck and good fortune in it,” I said. “A man thinks something up, or he gets an idea, or the market booms at the right minute or something.”

“Show me a single case,” demanded Jim. “I’ll tell you how people get rich. It’s in their nature. They are born with the gift. There are lots of industrious men that are poor. But few lazy men that are rich. How would you like to come out with me to-night while I demonstrate the difference between rich men and poor men?”

After supper, Jim came to my house and asked me if I had an old tire off my car lying around the garage.

“Yes, I have,” I said. “How would you know?”

“I am a profound student of human nature,” said Jimmie. “I just knew you were the kind of guy to have an old worn-out tire hanging up in your garage, along with a lot of other useless junk.”

A Test of Mankind

Jim carried the old tire, and it was a very old one, with the tread all worn off in spots, out to his car, and we drove down the street to a garage.

“Bill,” said Jim, “lend me some of that narrow brown paper that is wrapped around new tires.”

“Help yourself,” said the garage man.

So with my assistance, Jimmie carefully unwrapped the long narrow ribbon of brown paper off a new tire and then as carefully wrapped it around my old tire.

“What’s the idea?” I asked, as we struggled to get the paper on evenly.

“The idea,” said Jim, “is to make this old tire of yours look like a new tire.”

After we had the job done, Jim carried the tire out to the car again, and we drove to the west end of the city and out the highway in the night.

“This looks like a very mysterious experiment to me,” I said. “Are we going to find a rich man in the suburbs?”

“We are going out to find all men,” said Jim. “Out here a little way we will have all mankind revealed to us.”

We slowed down at all side roads, peering up them and at the bushes and ditches, and at length, about ten miles out, Jimmie slowed down on the pavement, drove up the side road fifty yards and parked the car on the turf.

Carrying the wrapped tire and a long piece of light rope, Jim led me back to the highway. Along the road a hundred yards or so we came to a spot where, across the ditch from the pavement was a clump of dense bushes. Jim jumped the ditch and went in and examined the bushes, and then announced, “This spot will do.”

He tied the rope to the tire. He laid the tire on the earth shoulder of the highway, with just the edge of it touching the pavement. Then, unwinding the rope, he walked back to the bushes, and crawled into them and hid.

“Come on in here,” said Jim. “The great experiment in human nature is about to begin. We are about to have revealed to us the hidden character of mankind. The secret of Croesus is about to be laid bare.”

I got into the dark and damp bushes alongside of Jimmie and we waited in the night.

Traffic was not really heavy at this season of the year on the highway. Three or four cars passed going the other way on the far side of the pavement, but presently a car’s lights hove in view and we waited, as it came sailing along at about forty-five miles, and its rapidly brightening lights picked out the tire lying on the edge of the road.

Reactions To Opportunity

As it whizzed by, we heard a yell from it.

Then we heard its brakes go on and the car slowed.

Jim gave a yank on the rope and hauled the tire hand over fist into the bushes with us.

The car came backing slowly along the edge of the road.

“It was right along here, somewhere,” cried a lady’s voice. The car came slowly past us. We could see two men and two ladies in it, all peering out the open windows.

It was a medium sort of car, not new, not old, in about the $1,000 price class. It was blue in color and neatly washed and polished.

“Maybe you were seeing things,” said a man’s voice.

“I tell you it was a brand new tire,” cried the lady’s voice. “All wrapped in that windey paper. And it was right along here. Right here.”

They back on past us. They went fifty feet back of where the tire had lain, and then the lady got out, with one of the men, and with the car crawling slowly along behind them, they came walking past us, looking in the ditch.

“That’s the funniest thing,” said the lady, in a puzzled voice. “I’d have sworn I saw a tire lying there.”

“Come on, get in,” said the driver. “You were just seeing things as usual.”

“I tell you I saw a tire on the –” And amidst the shifting of gears and the stepping on the gas, a first-class quarrel was in process as the car pulled away and left us in the night hiding in the bushes.

“There you are!” said Jim, getting up to replace the tire on the highway. “The woman sees the opportunity. But nobody believes her. Now she even doubts her own senses.”

We laid the tire in the same spot and retreated into the bushes as another car’s lights glimmered over the rise in the distance.

This was an old car. It was going a bad forty. It rattled and hummed and chattered. It almost ran over the tire, slowed a little bit and then went right on.

I looked in amazement at Jimmie.

“There,” said Jimmie, “is your poor man for you. He saw the tire. He actually started to stop. But then he either doubted his eyes, or else he thought it wasn’t worth while stopping. The poor lose all faith in their luck. They don’t believe in opportunity even when they see it.”

Another car was coming.

It was another old-timer. It had curtains.

It saw the tire and jammed on its brakes with might and main. Jim yanked the cord and hauled the tire into safety.

Then Unheeding Youth

The old car sputtered and backed dangerously up the road toward us, as a man’s head stuck out the side, directing the driver.

“It was right back here,” said a man’s voice. “Another ten yards or so.”

He had the spot right.

“Well, that’s a queer thing,” he said, in an easy way. “I saw a new wrapped tire right there, and now it’s vanished.”

“Aw, it probably wouldn’t have fitted anyway,” said the voice of the driver. “Or we might have got pinched by the police for trying to sell it. It’s just as well. Let’s go on.”

“Back up just another ten yards,” said the near man. “Distance is deceptive in the dark.”

They backed ten yards past where the tire had lain.

“Let it go,” said the near man, lazily. “I doubt if it was a tire after all. So often things that look like something aren’t really anything after all.

And the shabby old car humped up and jaggled on its way.

“There you are,” said Jim. “That’s the poor man. He has no faith in himself or his luck or anything else.”

We carried the tire back and laid it on the edge of the asphalt again.

Two cars passed without seeing it. Then came far away the low whine and hum of a fast car. Its lights were blazing, and it was boring gaily right down the centre of the road. As it whizzed past, a girl’s voice sang out. And the car took about a hundred yards to come to a stop.

Jim hauled the tire into the bushes.

Skillfully, speedily, the car backed up to us. It was a very new car, well up in the $2,000 price class, de luxe sport model. Wine red. All aglitter.

“It was a tire, Eddie!” said the girl’s voice clearly.

“Aw, the heck with it!” cried Eddie’s voice. “Let’s get on to the party. Who wants a tire, anyway? We’ve got a tire!”

And blithely, they shifted gears and raced away.

“That,” said Jim, rising from the bushes with the tire, “needs no comment. That is Youth!”

We laid the tire again.

A couple more cars went by, unheeding. Their drivers’ eyes glued to the centre of the road. their passengers sunk in the reverie of riding.

Then came the large, bold headlights of a big car.

It came with a steady, smooth pace of a big rich car.

As it sailed majestically past us, we saw it was driven by a chauffeur in uniform, his face lighted with the dashlights.

And the high, angry voice of a large fat man suddenly bellowed: “Perkins, Perkins’, slow down, you fool!”

How a Rich Man Gets Rich

The big car came to a smooth, $6,000 stop.

“Back up, back up!” came the high, irritable voice.

Jim had hauled the tire in and we held it in our laps. We could see the head of a large man projecting from the side window of the limousine, all dark blue and glossy.

“Stop here,” cried the high voice.

Out of the car stepped a fat man in a heavy ulster and a derby hat.

“It was right here,” shouted the big man in his high, angry voice. “Right on that spot.” And he pointed to the very spot Jimmie had laid the tire.

“Didn’t you see it, Perkins?” demanded the high voice testily.

“No, sir, no sir!” said Perkins, coming quickly out of his driving seat and standing on the road shoulder.

“That’s the trouble with you, Perkins,” shouted the rich man. “You never see anything. You go about with your eyes shut. It was a brand new tire, Perkins and it was wrapped in spiral paper. A brand new tire. Right here.”

“Well, sir, it isn’t there now,” remarked Perkins.

“Of course it isn’t!” shouted the rich man. “I can see that myself.”

“Maybe it was an optical illusion,” ventured Perkins.

“Am I in the habit of having optical illusions?” roared the rich man, in a choking voice. “Don’t be a d—- fool, Perkins. The tire was right here. Now it is gone. Let’s find it. Tires don’t vanish.”

Perkins stared at the ground.

But the old man, after a couple of fierce glares up and down the ditch, suddenly walked straight forward across the ditch and before Jim or I could move a leg, he was on top of us, staring down at us in the brush, with the tire on our knees.

“Here,” commanded the rich man, give me that tire!”

Jim untied the knot with a couple of left twitches. He handed the tire up. The rich man seized it, and stamped back over the ditch, and flung the tire into his limousine.

He stamped back to the car carrying the tire

“There you are!” he yelped at Perkins. “Drive on!”

And Jimmie and I were sitting in the bushes.

“Well,” sighed Jim. “What do you know about that! He knew he saw the tire. He had the exact spot. He knew tires don’t evaporate. He simply went and looked for it. And when he found it, he took it.”

“Phew!” said I, struggling to my feet.

“Now that,” said Jim, “was a rich man. No doubts, fears, or illusions. No waste of time. He just gathered that tire in.”

“I’ll say he did.”

Jim rolled up his heavy string and stuffed it in his pocket and we walked back to the highway toward the side road where Jim was parked.

“I’m laughing,” I said, “to think of that rich guy when he opens the tire and sees that old tire of mine.”

“I suppose,” said Jim, “that most things a rich man gets turn out to be junk. But there is just one thing loose in that idea.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“He won’t open the tire,” said Jim. “He’ll sell it. The surprise will be somebody else’s.”

“As usual,” I muttered.


Editor’s Notes: Croesus was the king of Lydia in ancient Greece, and was synonymous with great wealth.

Tires sold at the time would commonly be whitewall tires. New tires were wrapped in paper for shipping, to keep the white stripe clean, and for preventing the black of other tires from rubbing on the whitewall side.

$1000 in 1933 would be $19,800 in 2021. $6000 would be $119,000.

Even though this is one of their earlier stories, it is the first time I saw censoring of language (“d—–” instead of “damned”).

What a Cowincidence

Bessie munched the corn with a loud hollow crunching sound

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, September 16, 1933.

“Oh, is that so!” shouted Jimmie Frise to a startled-looking gentleman who collided with me in the office doorway as I came in and he went out.

“What the dickens!” I said to Jim. “That isn’t like you.”

“That guy,” said Jimmie, obviously flustered, “is a bum. He is a soak. He is a dead beat. He is a loafer.”

“Some of the nicest people are the unfortunate,” I said piously.

“I agree,” said Jim, instantly getting control of himself. “I dislike successful people as a rule. But that guy, after I’ve lent him I don’t know how many dollars, just informed me that I had no heart.”

“He was perhaps upset,” I said gently.

“Don’t be so sweet and tender,” cried Jimmie. “You bet he is upset. He is down and out. He is flat. He is in the gutter. I’ve lifted that guy up so many times and stood him on his feet, my hands are sore from dusting him off. I’ve got up out of bed and dressed and got the car out and driven half way across this city to save him from being evicted. And now because I am broke, too, he says I have no heart.”

“I guess it must be terrible to be up against it,” I said.

“He’s not up against it,” said Jim. “He’s down against it. Down against the pebbles. at in A mistake to try and help some people. A big mistake. Nature intended them to be failures. They were designed, modelled and constructed to fail. They are equipped to fail. And unless they fail, they are not happy. Do you follow me?”

“It sounds incredible,” I said.

“Now look,” said Jim. “That man that just went out the door would be unhappy if he were succeeding. He would be worse. His health would suffer. Nature built him to fail. He’s got to fail in order to function naturally.”

“Preposterous,” I said.

“We go along,” said Jim, “with the sappy notion that it is within the power of all men to succeed. To be good. To win. I think all the evidence points to the fact that nature, in her careless and haphazard way of breeding mankind, has no such intention at all. And that there are some men as naturally equipped to fail and to suffer as some men are naturally equipped to succeed and to be happy.”

“What an idea!” I gasped. But I saw it, just the same. And with a sinking sensation.

“Therefore,” said Jim, “when we go around picking men up out of the gutter and setting them on their feet, we are really injuring them. Making them unhappy. Making man stand up who is wholly designed by nature to lie down. It’s cruel of us, that’s what it is.”

“Why, Jimmie,” I expostulated, “you are striking right at the roots of civilization! Our whole world structure is on the basis of elevating our less fortunate or able brethren.”

“It’s swell-looking civilization,” said Jim. “Isn’t it? I suppose you are the sort of man who, on seeing a poor cow standing in pasture, suddenly is smitten with conscience. You say to yourself, ‘Ah, poor cow. Standing out there in the wind and the weather, with nothing but grass to eat. While I, I live in comfortable sheltered home, with all manner of good things to eat.'”

For Philosophy’s Sake

“I do feel sort of sorry for cows,” I admitted. “Their lives seem so frustrated.”

“So,” went on Jimmie, “I suppose you would go and take that cow into your home and feed it macaroons and ice cream?”

“A cow, Jimmie,” I said, “is, when you come to think of it, as sad a spectacle as there is in the world. If they are not intended for beef, thus dooming them to an early death, they are bound to spend their entire lives, maybe fifteen years, raising an endless succession of calves, which they hardly get to know before their infants are stolen from them, so that we may take milk from them. Slavery of the worst sort. Inhuman and monstrous slavery, to take those dumb animals and convert nature’s sublime purpose to our own selfish ends.”

“What,” asked Jimmie, “was nature’s sublime purpose as regards cows?”

“Er, ah,” I said.

“Precisely, er, ah,” said Jimmie. “Nature intended the cow to be somebody’s goat. But you, you sentimentalist, would try to elevate the lot of the cow and bring it into your home.”

“It would be interesting, Jimmie, to bring cow into our homes and observe its reactions. After all,” I said, “we are not merely philosophers, Jimmie. We are practical philosophers. We do not merely think things. We do them.”

“Your family is still away?” asked Jim.

“Yes,” I said. “Ah, me.”

“Then we could bring the cow into your house,” said Jimmie. “Where do you suggest we get a cow?”

“It is only a little way from where we live to the stock yards,” I said. “I think we could get a cow up there for fifteen or twenty dollars. Some poor old cheap cow. Some cow thrust ungratefully out of its happy home, after fifteen years of faithful and devoted service, because it’s milk is failing. Think of it, Jimmie!”

“I wish I hadn’t mentioned cows,” said Jimmie. “I didn’t know this was one of your sentimental days.”

“A poor old cow,” I said, “world-weary, infirm and bereft of all its illusions. Carted down there to the stock yards in a motor truck. Maybe we could get it for ten dollars. And after our experiments are over, we might sell it for fifteen. I intend to fatten any cow I take into my home.”

“I’ll be glad to co-operate with you,” said Jimmie, who was born and raised on the farm. “How will we get it down to your house? I don’t fancy I see you driving a cow through the residential streets of Toronto.”

“For philosophy’s sake,” I said, “I would drive anything through the streets of Toronto.”

“As a matter of fact, you do,” said Jim. “But I guess we could get the farmers we buy the cow from to fetch it down in their truck.”

We went up Monday. I need not harass you with the touching scene of all those cows we saw, but we had not been fifteen minutes at the stock yards before we spotted the cow we knew was designed by nature for the purposes of social research.

She was a dear old cow, red in color, with large flat bones projecting from her in all directions. Her bones were intended for a much larger cow.

“Her name is Bessie,” said the young man who was in charge of her.

“She looks kind of poorly,” said Jimmie. “How old is she?”

“About eight,” said the young farmer. “She’s just a poor feeder, that’s all. We thought we’d run her in as a canner.”

Taking Bessie Home

“How much?” asked Jim.

“How would fifteen do?” bargained the young farmer.

“We want this cow delivered down into the city,” said Jim. “And we’ll offer twelve.”

“Sold,” said the farmer. “What’s the address?”

“We go with you,” said Jim.

And with no more sentiment than that, this young man disposed of Bessie. Bessie who had for eight years, probably, been part of the scenery around his home, whose sweet voice had waked him in the morning.

Bessie was led on to a platform and shoved into the truck. We climbed on to the front seat and we drove down to my house and into the side drive.

“How do we get her out of the truck?” I asked. “She doesn’t look like much of a jumper.”

Jim and the farmer got the planks out of my coal bin and, with the aid of the dog kennel, two dining room chairs and a boy’s express wagon, made ramp in about five minutes, and Bessie walked down and into my garden. I could see an expression of satisfaction as she looked about at the flower beds. She started cropping the short sweet grass.

The French windows at the back were opened, and with the aid of the young farmer, Jimmie and I led, shoved and heaved Bessie in through the dining room to the living room.

Cows have an instinct about these things. Bessie did not want to intrude in my house. She had a feeling she would be out of place. It is the feeling we humans experience when we are faced with the necessity of attending government house or calling on some rich relative. I explained this to Jimmie and the farmer.

The farmer left us, after pocketing the twelve dollars.

“Now, what would a cow like to eat, more than anything else in the world?” I asked Jimmie.

“Corn, apples, carrots,” said Jimmie. “A cow loves to chew a cob of raw corn sprinkled with salt.”

“Amuse her for a moment while I run over to the fruit store,” I asked.

When I got back with half a dozen corn, Bessie was lying down on the thick rug in the middle of the living room floor, and Jim was sitting on the chesterfield looking at her.

“She likes the place,” said Jimmie. “If I know my Bessies, you will have a fine time getting her up.”

I peeled a cob of corn and sprinkled the salt shaker on it. I held it out, and Bessie, after shyly turning her head away, suddenly reached out, licked and took the cob in her mouth. I sat down beside Jimmie to watch.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” I cried. “Doesn’t she enjoy it, the comfort, the shelter.”

Bessie munched the corn with a loud, hollow crunching sound. She did not nibble off the kernels of corn, the way you or I might. She chewed it cob and all.

She chewed and chewed. She swallowed and chewed. She swallowed several times, with a far away gaze travelling around my living room, looking at the pictures of green fields, streams and trees.

Sharing Our Comforts

“Jimmie,” I said, “isn’t it wonderful to think you are entertaining a cow right in your own home?”

“It does seem strange,” said Jimmie.

“Doesn’t this prove that it is only our prejudice, our class feeling, our ignorance, that we deny to others the comforts we enjoy ourselves?”

“Wait till she gets up and starts walking around,” said Jimmie.

We fed Bessie the six cobs of corn, with salt on them, and except for a few bits dropped around on the rug, she ate it quite as nicely as an eight-year-old child would. Perhaps with more noise.

We turned on the radio. Bessie turned a slow, astonished gaze on the source of the music. She stretched out her nose and sniffed. It was jazz. Bessie, without warning, suddenly mooed loudly. I turned off the radio.

Bessie began swinging her head.

“She’s going to get up now,” said Jim, rising.

Bessie rose rear end first. It was really rather astonishing. With a good deal of effort and fidgeting, she hoisted her hind end into the air, and then, with a sort of helpless creaking and grunting, she got her front legs under her and stood up. She shook her head.

First she turned around and started into the front hall. It was dark and cool. She nuzzled the curtains on the tall windows alongside the front door. Then she turned heavily around, her feet making a clacking sound on the hardwood floor, and walked, with that curious knock-kneed style of a cow, through the pantry into the bright kitchen. She snuffed and whoofed around the kitchen and then turned and went back into the dining room.

“I don’t suppose she would walk upstairs,” I said.

“I doubt it,” said Jim. “I imagine she is older than she admits. It might strain her heart or something.”

She stood for a moment staring out through the French windows into the garden, and then she did a silly thing.

She started to walk right through the windows, glass and all!

“Hey!” I yelled.

Bessie’s forehead and horns crashed into the windows and she leaped back, dragging yard of lace curtain on one of her horns. She fell back against the dining room table which upset with a terrific sound, and Bessie wheeled and charged into the living room.

“Head her back, I’ll open the French doors,” yelled Jimmie.

But the rug in the living room floor skidded under Bessie and she went down with a loud thud, if you can imagine a loud thud, and her four legs went under the chesterfield. Meanwhile, I was chasing after her trying to explain.

As she kicked and fought the chesterfield off her, the small table with the stand lamp collapsed, and with a bellow of terror, Bessie who a few moments before had got to her feet with such slow undignity, almost leaped to her feet, and avoiding me as if I were trying to persecute her, rather than help her, dashed into the hall, out through the pantry and so back into the dining room again.

“Hey-up!” shouted Jimmie, trying to steer her toward the wide open French doors, but Bessie wheeled to the left, jumped the dining room table which lay on its side, and on arriving in the living room again, slid on the rumpled rug and with another awful crash, skidded into the radio, which folded up like paper bag.

Giving the Guest Away

This time Bessie lay. She just lay, her sides heaving. She let her neck stretch along the floor and her head rest gratefully on the cool hardwood. And all around was chaos.

Jimmie had disappeared, and when I went to the French window I found him sitting on the stone step outside, his head in his hands, laughing.

“She is lying down,” I said to him.

“She’s better that way,” said Jim. “Let her lay.”

“I guess we ought to get her out,” I said.

Jimmie got up and came in the house with me. Bessie was still lying there on the cool floor, breathing spasmodically, but heavily.

“Hey-up,” said Jimmie, taking her by the horns, and lifting her head up.

Jim pulled and I shoved from the sides. Finally, Bessie rose up, the way she did the first time, and with Jim holding her horns, we led her out the French door into the garden where she started cropping the grass as if life was just a matter of the moment anyway.

With Jim holding her horns, we led Bessie out the French door.

“I intended,” I said, “to have her for my guest for a couple of days. But under the circumstances….”

“I’d turn her in,” said Jim. “We could phone the stock yards and get someone come for her.”

While I sat in the garden and watched Bessie walk about cropping the grass, Jim went in and bargained with the stock yards. As a matter of fact, we gave Bessie away. Neither Jim nor I had the heart to sell her. The way her former owner had disposed of her without a thought was an object lesson to me. When Jimmie said he had got a man to take Bessie away for two dollars as the cost of the trucking, I told him it was just the bargain I would have made myself.

The man came in a few minutes. He had whiskers. I did not like his looks and I fear for Bessie. But you can’t think such thoughts and enjoy your roast beef.

“That experiment,” said Jim, “was worth ten dollars to me. That guy that was in the office and started all this show by saying! had no heart, wanted ten bucks. I’m going to drive down where he lives, and give it to him. Do you want to come?”

We drove down through the beautiful city, and into queer small streets with old faded houses, and in one of the most faded of all houses, we walked up two flights of stairs and into a dim room where we me the gentleman who had collided with me in the office door.

And Jim gave him the money and said he hoped he would soon be on his feet again.

Which shows at any rate that Jim is a practical philosopher.


Editor’s Notes: This is one of the early stories, where they would do weird things, just for the experience.

$12 in 1933 would be $239 in 2021.

Radio Goes Roady

September 9, 1933

This nice illustration by Jim accompanied an article by Ely Waters about cars with radios in them. Since radios back then had vacuum tubes, they could be very expensive. The first commercial car radio debuted in 1930 for $130 (almost $2000 in 2021), which could be 25% the price of a car.

I love this line from the story: “If you have a son who drives like a lunatic and every time the telephone rings after eleven p.m. you are afraid to answer it because it might be the hospital or the morgue, give him a car radio. It will cut his speed in two.”

It Must Be a Sea Flea!

August 26, 1933

Radio in the Kitchen

No longer is the radio mere novelty in a few of the rural homes of Ontario, but it is an established institution, presenting a regular galaxy of stars and entertainment

By Gregory Clark, July 15, 1933.

Into the village of Terra Nova – which lies somewhere between the desert sands of Camp Borden and the jungles of the Nottawasaga Valley – we drove and pulled up by the garage.

Over on the general store steps sat five young men. They had on faded overalls, shapeless caps and hats on the back of their heads. They wore that air of doing nothing forever that seems a gift of general store steps.

I got out of the car and walked around to the radiator cap which I pretended to be examining.

And then, very casually, I started to whistle some bars from “Stormy Weather,” the Cotton club tune which at the moment is making snakes hips from the Panama canal to the Arctic Circle.

Out of the corners of our eyes we watched.

The five lads on the general store steps tired lazy heads to look at each other. They grinned mildly.

Then two of them joined me in the tune, whistling, moving sympathetically in snakes hips motions on the general store steps.

Another softly clapped his hands to the sweet, moving rhythm of this up-to-the-minute tune.

The fourth rolled his eyes up in the familiar ecstasy of the jazz.

Hicks nevermore!

Hick towns are suddenly vanished from the face of our earth.

The same night that Cab Calloway in his Cotton club with coffee-colored Ethel Waters electrified exotic New York with “Stormy Weather,” these same boys of Terra Nova, fresh from the plow and the harrow on the lonely hills of remote and lost portion of Ontario, heard it, stilled to it, rose to it, thrilled to it, through the magic, the distance-destroying timeless, house-changing, farm-changing, style-changing, habit-changing magic of radio.

Ten years ago, those five youths, up from their solitary toil on these steps for a soft drink, might never have heard “Stormy Weather.” They might have heard it when it was old and stale in some Chinese restaurant in Shelburne or Barrie, sizzling out on a worn victrola record, when they came to town for their monthly or half-yearly bust of recreation.

In blue suits, stiff-legged, dangle-handed, they would have sat shyly, and red of face, in the cubicle of a Chinese restaurant in country town, half pickled with the bright lights, the spaciousness, the busy thronging crowds of Barrie or a Shelbourne Chinese cafe. And they would have barely heard it and at once have forgotten it.

Today, they know it, they know their popular, their classic, their artists, their humorists, their stylists of the earth and the air better than the very New Yorkers who sit in the club where these elegances are first born. For radio is a selector. And country people, with silence and space and loneliness all about them, are selective, too.

We went out all over central Ontario, down side roads up clay back roads, visiting farms and finding out what radio means to the farm.

We found many curious and delightful things. We found, for instance, that in the farm, the radio net is in the kitchen.

We found that it has transformed lonely houses into homes filled with life.

We found that lonely women, who spent all day listening to the far music of their men’s voices directing horses on distant fields, now have company all the long day, bright clever women talking about women’s affairs, music, funny talks by funny men, and talks by that heart-breaker, Tony Wons.

They see their men-folk coming hurrying across the meadows in the middle of the day to listen to some special program, some speech, debate, discussion of affairs. Or to join with the women in laughing at some favorite joker. Because in the country, they love fun.

“It seems to me,” said Adrain Bateman, whose lovely and prosperous farm lies between Bradford and Bond Hend, in little known but rich section of Ontario, “that radio must mean twice as much to the farmer as it does to the town men. For example, I can’t say how much I would miss the weather forecast and the news. It is a small thing to you. But an important, all important, thing to the farmer. Until lately there was a noon broadcast of livestock prices taken at the stock yards that same morning. That is bread and butter to the farmer; when a buyer came along in the afternoon, you knew and could refer to the current prices of stock. You can watch from day to day the prices of the very thing you are producing, stock, grain and produce.”

In Mr. Adrian Bateman’s fine home, where geraniums gleam at the windows, there are grown-up children and an old man, to whom that radio with its thousand voices, Its Amos ‘n’ Andy, its hockey games, is the difference between happiness and unrest.

“I have no doubt,” said Mr. Bateman, “that throughout the country, the younger people are much happier, much more satisfied to remain on the farm than they have been for many years. The radio in some degree restores what farm life lost when the towns and cities took such an enormous lead in the entertaining aspect of life.”

Mr. Tom Huxtable dwells somewhere in between that village of Terra Nova and the more widely known village of Horning’s Mills; although there is no harm if you never heard of it either.

“What programs do the country people like?” we asked.

“Well,” said he. “I like the news morning and night. And I like speeches on politics and current affairs.”

“And the family?”

Mr. Huxtable’s family numbers eight.

“Each member of the family has his or her own likes,” said he. “Eddie Cantor, certain orchestras. certain singers. I don’t quite follow it all, but it seems to me the average country family is an authority on all that is liveliest, newest and best on the air. You can hear a debate on music, drama or any of the arts at any fence corner, at any cross roads from one end of the country to the other.”

“You like news?”

“Yes,” said Mr. Huxtable, “and I find I know more about what is going on in Toronto and New York than the city people I talk to. They apparently haven’t time to keep up with what’s going on.”

Has Transformed Farm Life

But near Stroud, which is in Simcoe county, the family of Mr. Bert Marquis is half boys and half girls.

“We want breakfast before the news broadcast,” said one son. “But we usually have to wait for lunch until the noon broadcast is over.”

“And how about the 11 p.m. new broadcast?”

“The head man always sits up for that,” answered the daughter. “You will see lights burning all over the country now, where darkness reigned before 10 p.m. five years ago. In the winter, especially on Saturday nights when there are hockey games and Wade’s square dance orchestra, the lights burn a lot later than they ever have in the entire history of farming. One night last winter, they burned until after 2 o’clock. That was the famous five-hour game. Those who have radios invite their less fortunate neighbors over. The radio has transformed social life on the farm. Radio has brought more neighborliness into the country than perhaps all the organizations there have been for creating a social spirit on the farm.”

We encountered one farmer who said that he had a large room in his house in which, on the average winter Saturday night, ten families from the surrounding township were represented.

“Such visiting was never heard of five years ago,” and he. “The room filled with visitors, the radio going. the women-folk preparing sandwiches and coffee. Radio has created a new atmosphere on the farm.”

The storekeeper at Bond Head thought that perhaps 30 per cent of all the farmers had radios in operation.

Nat Bredin, who runs the hotel at Bond Head, says he owes radio a good deal of business, because all winter long, especially on Saturday nights, it attracted twenty to thirty farmers from all around who wanted to hear the game. And the food programs during the week draw customers for the soft drinks, the pool tables and the pleasant company of the hotel common room. The bar was abolished and hotels went lean. Now radio in making the hotel a gathering place once more.

Out Stayner way there was one farmer who resolutely refused to buy a radio.

“It is an instrument of the devil,” he declared to the various radio salesmen who called at his farm. The radio salesmen make the rounds of the country the way they cannot in towns and cities. “Instrument of the devil,” asserted this well-to-do farmer. “It is nothing but jazz and nonsense. Bringing more of that city stuff into the country. Turning all the young people’s heads. Taking everybody’s mind off the serious business of farming. No, sir, no radio for me!”

This farmer was a religious man of the type still found in large numbers on the land. One clever radio salesman took a radio out one Sunday morning. Owing to the difference between city and country time it was possible for him to get one of the big Toronto churches at 10 o’clock country time, before the farmer was ready to go to church. The farmer did not want the thing in his house but the salesman explained that he merely wanted to show that for all its faults, the radio was great instrument for good.

The farmer heard choirs lifting their mighty voices, organs resounding, deep voices intoning prayer that filled the farm house. He was deeply impressed. He was sorry he had to leave for church just as the radio minister got nicely launched into the sermon.

Front Rooms Opening Up

“Besides church,” said the salesman, “you can get the prime minister of Canada, the president of the United States, and yes, the King of England himself, discussing public questions.”

“And,” said our informant, “one month later, you could go by that farmhouse at any hour of the night, and you could hear all the jazz bands in the world lifting the roof of it!”

You know that front room in farm houses? The one immediately behind that front door that never opens? That room in used for funerals, weddings and nothing else.

But not always, since radio.

Because those who bought radios in the pre-shiver days, bought those large console or cabinet style, and naturally you could not clutter up a farm kitchen with a great big elegant piece of furniture like that. So was put either just beyond the kitchen door, or right in that parlor.

And now many farm parlors of Ontario are back in circulation again.

We saw radios on shelves, on top of sewing machines, on ice boxes, radios in chairs, on cream separators in comers, on the floor.

But the kitchen wins out by a big majority as the favorite position.

“I hope the radio commission will give us country people a set program of farm market reports,” said one.

“I wish they would give us a news broadcast at 10 o’clock at night,” said another. “Eleven is too late for farmers to stay up.”

But the great majority had no suggestions to make.

They like the same things the New York broker in his love nest likes, the same joker who jokes for Broadway gets across with the little house hidden down the narrow ways

Their speech is coming easier, since they hear so much of it in their once quiet houses all day long.

What the greatest cities have of laughter, of wisdom, of art and science they are spilling out into the sky, to fall like the rain on the bourgeoning earth.

And, like rain, like sunlight, it is making things grow in the country.


Editor’s Notes: The song, “Stormy Weather“, came out the year this was published, first played in the famous Cotton Club nightclub in New York.

“Snake Hips”, was a type of dance.

Tony Wons Scrapbook“, was a popular program as Anthony “Tony” Wons was also known as “scrapbookman” as he collected works of writing from Shelley, Whitman, and other great writers. The show was conversational in nature, like an old friend who stops by for a chat.  He often asked the listening audience “Are you listening?”

Eddie Cantor was a popular singer and comedian.

Cave Men

Softly and terribly the low moan came from the darkness ahead

In the shadows on these ghostly walls, I thought suddenly he was wearing a skirt

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July, 8, 1933

“I was out for a drive Sunday,” said Jim, “and near Bronte I hear there is a great cave where William Lyon Mackenzie hid in his flight to the United States when the rebellion of 1837 blew up.”

“It would be nice to go exploring caves,” I said.

“That must have been a great adventure,” said Jim. “Only the pioneers would know about the cave. Maybe the Indians had told the pioneers, and along came Mackenzie in the night, with the Redcoats hunting him high and low, with £1,000 on his head, and some pioneer in his little log cabin hearing a rap on the door…”

“William Lyon Mackenzie,” I put in, “was dressed as a woman at that time. You know that gas station at Trafalgar, on the Dundas Highway? Well, sir, back of that gas station is an old roughcast tavern, a hundred and thirty-seven years old. It was a stage coach headquarters, and there Mackenzie came in the night, exhausted, and they dressed him in women’s clothes and hid him in an upstairs room while the soldiers who were hunting for him sat eating and drinking down in the tavern.”

“Well, then,” said Jim, “some pioneer down the Twelve Mile Crick heard a rap on his door and there stood Mackenzie in his women’s clothes, exhausted, beaten, bitter, alone. So they took him out across the little clearing and through the bush to this great cave on the hillside of the Twelve Mile. And he hid there until the posse of Redcoats on horseback came down the wild road.”

“You make it real,” I said.

“And the troop would stay out in the road while one Redcoat rode in,” went on Jimmie, “to shout out to the settler if they had seen a man, a little, fiery man with glittering eyes, come by. And the pioneer, with all his children locked in the roothouse for fear they might speak, would shake his head patriotically and say no, he had not seen any such a man come by this way.”

“Let’s go out there,” I said to Jimmie. “Let’s visit that cave. You don’t know what we might see in there. Or meet, for that matter. It is nearly a hundred years since Mackenzie hid there. Maybe the spirit of Mackenzie would appear to us.”

“They say it is a hard cave to get into,” said Jim. “It is on an estate called Woodlands; it used to be the homestead where Sir Thomas White was born and raised.”

“I’d like to spend a night in it,” I said.

So Jim and I got overalls and flashlights and pickaxes in case of trouble, and we drove out to the lovely Woodlands farm. On the way we stopped at the tavern at Trafalgar. All the gas station men knew about it was that it was very old and that Governor Simcoe used to stop there on his journeys by stage coach between York, Niagara and London.

The gas station men took us inside. The floors are of pine boards twenty-six inches wide, and the timbers are hand hewn. Upstairs the rooms are tiny, not much larger than pantries, with little low roofs. There is a front stairs and a back stairs and a most mysterious trap door stairs. It is mostly empty now. But if you stop and hold your breath you can hear very small sounds, such as spirits would make as they came to look at you, intruding in their private place.

Where Mackenzie Hid

“What a lovely bit of yesterday!” said Jimmie, eyeing the broad boards, the little sloping ceilings, the doorframes made by hand a century and a quarter ago by Canadians.

“Is there no record of which room William Lyon Mackenzie hid in?” we asked.

But the boys at the gas station did not know about that. They only knew about Governor Simcoe, which shows they are Tories.

We went from room to room and Jimmie finally decided it was the little room on the west side, looking out over the fields-toward the Sixteen Mile Crick, which Mackenzie would have to cross at dawn on a fallen tree before he could get to the Bronte creek, the Twelve Mile, to hide in his great cave.

The Mackenzie cave is hard to find. Even to-day it would be a good place to hide from the soldiers.

As Jimmie and I went through the deep woods, filled with flowers, we began to feel the spell of the past, and several times we saw Indians and Redcoats slipping from tree to tree, watching us as we advanced to the hundred foot high banks of the Twelve Mile.

A path leads steeply down to the Mackenzie cave. A path worn mostly by a century of boyhood.

On a shelf of the steep and sheer bank of the Twelve Mile Crick, which you pass on the long bridge over the Dundas Highway, we found the Mackenzie cave.

Its entrance is just a split in the great limestone rocks. Just a huge mouth, slightly open, as if the cliff were holding its breath.

“Or as if it were smiling,” said Jimmie, as we rested at the cave mouth and peered into the dim and forbidding entrance.

At first sight, the entrance to the Mackenzie cave appears too small for a person to enter. In fact, a big man would have trouble even crawling on end like a worm. It is about two feet high and fifteen feet wide, a wide grin of an entrance.

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me.”

“Somehow,” said Jimmie, “I don’t like the way the edges of this cave-mouth turn up. It looks a little leery to me”

I shot my flashlight into the gloom and saw twenty feet in large limestone rock blocking the passage, but over it appeared the deeper shadows of an inner room.

“Look overhead,” said Jim. “Millions of tons of damp earth and rock. What if our talking and moving around in there were to dislodge some little pebble and the whole thing collapse on us?”

“William Lyon Mackenzie wasn’t afraid of it,” I said.

“He had soldiers after him, dead or alive.”

It was bright summer sunshine outside. But a cold breath came softly out of the great mouth.

“Hello, in there,” I shouted. “Anybody in?”

My voice echoed queerly.

“Let’s come out some other day with a gang of us,” said Jim. “Just in case. Suppose anything happened, who would know we were here?

“Hello, anybody in there?” I shouted. Around us lay the bright summer stillness. Inside lay shadow, gloom and chill.

“I’ll go in here as far as that rock.” I said to Jim. “I’ll see what lies beyond.”

You lie down flat and work your knees and elbows until you reach the rock. By the time you get that far the roof over your head rises, and you can stand in a stooping position.

The soft trickle of a little stream of ice-cold water makes an eerie sound as you gaze into the dim shadows ahead, still faintly lighted by the day,

An Unearthly Sound

“Come and see, it’s a big room,” I called.

Jim, being larger, had a lot of trouble but presently got beside me at the barrier of rock. We shot our flashlights ahead and their beams were lost against an extraordinary darkness.

Beyond us, twenty feet further, lost in inky dark, was a huge cavern, its ceiling and walls marbled with stalactite traceries, like dull ice, from which dripped thousand trickles of water.

The vaulted ceiling was twelve feet high, and the chamber was perhaps fifteen feet in diameter.

Along the low, rock-roofed passage, with icy drops falling on our necks, we crept, and stared at the ghostly room.

“Unless they smoked him out,” whispered Jimmie, “they never would have got him.”

My flashlight began to flicker.

“That looks like a pool there,” said Jim. “That whole chamber is floored with a pool of water.”

We were not near enough to see the bottom of the cavern, and just as we started forward to get a view of it, our hearts froze with an unearthly sound.

“Oooooooohhhhhhh!”

Jim’s flashlight clattered from his hand and went out. Mine, grasped tightly in my hands, flickered and faded.

We gripped each other. “OoooooOOOOOhhhhh!”

Softly and terribly, the low moan came from the darkness ahead.

An icy drop fell on my neck. Jim and I clutched convulsively. My flashlight, calmly, quietly, went out.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered soundlessly to Jim. Lingering, he let go of me and I heard him pawing around on the rocks.

Something went splash ahead of us.

We clinched again.

“Get your flashlight!” I whispered tensely.

Dimly, a little daylight filtered behind us and Jim started toward it, on all fours.

“Wooooo!” came the low howl.

They say in a theatre panic, it is terrible to see everybody trying to get through the one small exit. It is terrible to see two gentlemen trying to get out the same exit of a Mackenzie cave. I don’t know whether it was my elbow or Jim’s knee that caused the jam, but before we knew it, we were jammed headfirst in that tunnel, panting for breath.

“Back up!” I shouted.

“You go forward a bit!” roared Jimmie.

But backwards or forwards we were stuck.

“Don’t struggle too hard!” warned Jim. You might dislodge something and down all this would co-ome!”

Patiently we wriggled and backed and shoved and wormed, without avail.

“Jimmie, we’re stuck!” I announced hopelessly.

“We’ll have to stay here until we shrink with hunger,” said Jim. “When we lose weight, about the third or fourth day, one of us can work out.”

“And maybe we’ll have enough strength to climb that hill out there for help!”

We lay still.

“What would that be in there?” asked Jim.

“What else could it be?” I retorted.

Ahead of us we could see the glimmer of day. Our feet lay stretched behind us in that cavern filled with ghostly hooting.

Icy water dripped on our heads, our hands.

“Gentlemen,” said a voice behind us, “can I be of assistance?”

We lay stiff.

“You seem to be struck,” went on the voice. It was old and dry and soft.

“Perhaps,” it went on, “if I were to take hold of one of you by the heels and pull?”

“Yaw!” we yelled, kicking our heels frantically behind us.

A strong hand seized me by the foot. Then it caught my other foot and I felt myself being dragged backwards.

“Jimmie!” I shouted. “Hold me! Hold me!”

“Is it pulling?” demanded Jim.

“Yes.”

“All right, a ghost can’t pull,” said Jim. “Let him pull.”

The Force behind pulled and yanked, this way and that, and I felt myself giving. Suddenly the jam was broken. As I backed up, hands took hold of my shoulders.

“Don’t be alarmed, gents,” said the ghost. But Jimmie was vanishing like a groundhog out the tunnel.

“Who are you?” I gasped.

“Just a homeless man,” said the ghost. “I knew of this cave when I was a boy, so I just came up here for a day or two. It makes a good home for a hobo, doesn’t it?”

“Why did you go woo at us?” I demanded.

“I didn’t want any other residents in here,” said the ghost. “You seemed scared, so I did the natural thing.”

He located Jimmie’s flashlight and turned it on. I beheld a small, grizzled-haired man of about fifty, in ill-fitting old garments. His eyes were steel gray and brilliant. His hair was long and he had side-burns growing in front of his ears. He had a quaint look, if you understand me.

“Come into the big room and have a look around,” he said. There was a Scotch accent.

“Yoo-hoo, Jimmie.” I called. “Come on in, it’s all right.”

“I’ll stay here now I’m out,” called Jim faintly.

The little man smiled and led me into the big cavern.

Under the marbled and icy dome, with its wavering lines of stalactite drawn down the curving walls, lay a pure pool of water, six feet square. It seemed bottomless. In it you could make out sticks and logs that had been thrown in by people trying to see how deep it was.

“Did you ever see so pure a pool?” asked the little man.

“There might be some relics of William Lyon Mackenzie in there,” I said. “He was here, you know, in his flight to the States.”

“Was he, indeed?” said the little man.

“And if we dug around in that pool, might find something, preserved all this hundred years, some old papers, a pistol perhaps, some secret thing.”

“He threw nothing in there,” said the little man.

“How do you know?” I asked.

“Because I have scraped around it and found nothing,” said the little man with a whimsical smile.

I began to feel uneasy.

“Well,” I said, “it’s beautiful. It is strange and eerie and beautiful. I guess I’ll be going now.”

“Oh, stay a while. Smoke a pipe. Don’t rush away.”

The little man had such large lapels on his old coat.

“I don’t mind certain kinds of visitors,” said he.

He had a wide, grim mouth that was sweet when he smiled.

“It all depends,” he said. “It all depends.”

In the shadows cast off those ghostly walls, I thought suddenly that I saw he was wearing a skirt!

“Well, sir, I must be going,” I said huskily. “I really must!”

“Good-day to you, then,” said he. “And don’t believe all you hear. And don’t take any plugged shillings.”

He handed me Jimmie’s flashlight. I bowed down and worked out the passage, lay down and wormed through the tunnel, and all of a heap, came out to the dazzling sunlight where Jim was crouched down watching me emerge.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jim. “Who was it?”

“I don’t know.” I said.

And the fact is, I don’t.


Editor’s Notes: William Lyon Mackenzie is well known to students of Canadian history.

You Said a Mouthful!

They were magnificent. The various colored bands met in a kind of herring bone design.
There will be the greatest boom you ever saw. False teeth factories will spring up all over the earth
The dentist’s girl fainted as Jim favored us with a terrific grin

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, May 6, 1933

“What the world needs,” said Jim Frise,”is a new plaything.”

“Mmmm,” said I.

“Prosperity,” went on Jim, “is based on fresh inventions. First, we had the sewing machine. Everybody bought a sewing machine. Just about the time the world was full up with sewing machines, along came the motor car.”

“Haven’t I heard this before?” I asked.

“Not this way,” said Jim. “Well, everybody was so busy making motor ears, and all the things that go with motor cars, such as highways and garages, that everybody had money to buy a motor car, and there we had the good old virtuous circle—“

“I thought circles were vicious,” said I.

“Circles are virtuous,” said Jim, “when they create work and so enable people to buy the thing they are making.”

“Go ahead,” said I.

“Then along came radio,” orated Jim. “So everybody started making radios to make the money to buy a radio. See?”

“And now what?”

“And now,” concluded Jim, “we haven’t a new idea to work on. That’s all that is the matter with the world. It isn’t economics or tariffs or breakdown of finance. It is just that we haven’t got something new to work on so that we can afford to buy it.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Well,” said Jim, “I’ll tell you one thing. I was up at my dentist’s the other day, and he said that in ten years’ time it will be the rule for everybody, at the age of about thirty, to come and have all their teeth out.”

“Ouch!” I said, being forty.

“After a certain age,” said Jim, “our teeth not only are no more use to us, they are an actual menace to us. Teeth were all very well a thousand years ago, when we used to gnaw bones. And then we got rid of our teeth naturally. We either broke them out gnawing bones, or we had them knocked out in battle. To-day we eat soft food, so that we never lose a tooth. And we have long-range warfare, in which nobody loses his teeth unless they go with his head as well. Why, with the old bar room gone, and law and order prevailing the way it does, we keep our teeth until they poison us.”

“Do they really?” I asked.

“Say,” said Jim, “the dentist took an X-ray of one of my teeth and he found an abscess as big as a marble. You know those pains I had in my back? Well, sir, one week after I had that tooth out, the pains in my back vanished. That darn tooth was simply poisoning me to death. That’s teeth for you. They are sneaky.”

“How does this affect the world situation?” I inquired.

The Next Big Prosperity

“Why,” cried Jim, “can’t you see that the next big prosperity in the world will be the false-teeth prosperity. If we can only persuade everybody that they are feeling that way because of their teeth, and that all they need is to have the treacherous teeth taken out and false teeth substituted, there will be the greatest boom you ever saw. False teeth factories will spring up all over the earth. Dentists’ offices will occupy all the empty skyscrapers. Long queues of people lined up in the streets outside the dentist’s offices, and fleets of trucks bearing tons of false teeth to the cities. Boy, what a spectacle!”

“How long will it last?” I asked.

“The world,” cried Jim, “is not yet false tooth conscious. When false tooth production gets going in a big way the world will become false tooth conscious, and the advertising world will be called into action. There will be breakfast teeth, luncheon teeth and dinner teeth. There will be informal teeth and teeth for formal wear. There will be teeth to wear golfing, and teeth to wear at the office, small, hard, business teeth.”

“Aw, Jim,” I complained.

“You don’t realize how big business is built,” said Jim. “Just as sure as fate, once we can convince people that their natural teeth are slowly killing them, and start them wearing false teeth as naturally as we have persuaded ourselves to have our hair cut, boy, there is no limit to the way it will build up into a colossal industry.”

“I have always thought that if I had false teeth,” I said, “I would use some imagination in the matter. I think I would fancy black and white teeth, alternately set, so that your smile looked like an old-fashioned tile fireplace.”

“The girls,” said Jim, “are coloring their finger nails to match their gowns. Think of being able to have red, pink, blue teeth, to match your finger nails and gowns! Or your car, a maroon car and a lovely ravishing mauve smile!”

“Maybe you think,” went on Jim, “that it would be a short-lived prosperity. But look at all the other things the motor industry started, the tire factories, the garages, big and small, all over the land, employing tens of thousands, the highways, the hot dog stands, the gas pumps, every one of them an industry in itself. Think of the boost the packing houses got when the motor car created the hot dog stand. Think of all the gadgets you can get for your car, the road maps, the trick carburetors, the paint, every littlest thing employing somebody and making money for somebody. It would be the same with the false teeth industry.”

“I think,” I said, “I’ll invest a little money in a patent rubber bag for carrying your spare teeth with you. For example, you start out from the house in your breakfast teeth. At the office, you change into your sharp-pointed, steel-gray teeth for business. At noon you get into your luncheon teeth, bright golden yellow, to match the noon sunlight. Then in the afternoon, your conference teeth, big, buck teeth, with hard, dominating look to them. A nice sanitary rubber pocket bag will be a universal necessity.”

“I’m going to patent a tasteless enamel, in handy packages,” said Jim, “so that you can paint your teeth any color on short notice. You can start out gloomy in the morning with black teeth, but by mid-day you can be cheered all up and have bright pink teeth, or the uppers pink and the lowers paddy green.”

“By George,” I said, “you’re not so nutty as I thought you were!”

“What’s more,” said Jim. “I have the courage of my convictions. I am prepared to have my teeth all out, and start the fashion of wearing fancy teeth.”

“It’s the kind of thing that appeals to me,” I admitted.

“Would you care to go into this with me?” asked Jim, earnestly. “We could start the ball rolling. We could start the world back on the road to prosperity. Twenty years from now, we would have our pictures in the rotogravure section. Mr. Frise and Mr. Clark, the two founders of the universal false teeth era, acting as judges at a dental beauty show at Palm Beach.”

“Ahhhh,” said I.

“How about it?” asked Jim. “Let’s have our teeth out for our health’s sake, and then get some fancy teeth to start the new fashion and start biting our way as pioneers of prosperity.”

“I owe my dentist about $17 at the moment.” I said.

“Listen,” cried Jim, “when we explain this idea to some wide-awake dentist, he’s going to see his chance to benefit the whole profession, and he will pull our teeth for nothing. He’ll make us up a half a dozen sets of fancy teeth. Don’t let the expense worry you.”

“Teeth pulling hurts,” I ventured.

“Aw, you wouldn’t mind suffering a little bit for the benefit of mankind,” exclaimed Jim. “Don’t be a piker. All great leaders have suffered.”

“I’ve been feeling little low lately,” I admitted. “Maybe it would benefit me to have some of them out.”

“All of them out!” said Jim. “All or nothing!”

So Jim made the arrangements. We went and saw a dentist that Jim used to go to school with up at Birdseye Center, and, like all dentists who have come up from the country, he has a sense of humor. He took off his white coat when we called and spread himself and us around on his big chair and a couch, and we quit for the day so as to devote ourselves to the scheme.

“I’m willing,” said the doctor, “to take as my share the extraction, treatment and manufacture of fancy teeth, on condition that you chaps will wear the teeth I make you. If you do not wear the teeth I make, then I shall make you ordinary plates and charge you the usual rates, plus the cost of extraction and treatment.”

“Oh, we’ll wear them,” said Jim. “We’re used to looking queer.”

Introducing a New Era

We tossed up to see who went first into the extraction chair, and Jim won. I have a coin I got in the war with two heads on it.

The doctor called in a pretty girl in a white smock and between the two of them they did Jim up in large bib and wheeled in a gas tank and then they asked me to sit outside. I heard various groans and grunts from inside the door, and low talking. I heard things clattering on the floor, which I supposed were the teeth flying in all directions. In few minutes, the girl beckoned me in and there was old Jimmie with a grin from ear to ear and thumb marks on his eyeballs and check bones, and looking just the least little bit battered.

“These will be healed in a few days,” said the doctor, “and in the meantime, I will get busy on the plates.”

“What thoo I eath for the firth few dayth?” asked Jimmie,

“Soft foods like soup, milk, orange juice,” said the doctor. “Now, Mr. Clark?”

“Aren’t you tired?” I asked. “Surely you don’t want to tackle me right away.”

“Sure, it’s nothing,” said the doctor. “I can pull ’em all day.”

“I think I am a little unnerved by the sight of Jim,” I said. “I wonder if it would do to-morrow, when I feel a little better. Anyway, I’ve got very brittle teeth. They always break off at the roots.”

“Lithen,” cried Jim, juicily, “get intho that kthchair!”

“One of us had got to be able to speak plainly,” I protested. “To-morrow will do, won’t it doctor?”

“Make it to-morrow if you feel a little squeamish. You are a little pale.”

So I escorted Jim back to the office, where he sat speechless and sunken jawed. Then I went in and arranged with the editor to be sent out of town to London and Strathroy on urgent business.

I was away four days, and when I got home, Jim was waiting for me to come up and try on his first set of new-era teeth.

“He said he made them very simple in design,” said Jim. “Just a modest patten, but it will do for a start and give some idea of what can be done by the emancipated dental profession.”

The doctor was eagerly awaiting us, and from pad of cotton wool he produced an upper and lower set of false teeth.

They were magnificent.

The uppers were red, white and blue, slanting obliquely from right to left. The lowers were green, black and yellow, slanting obliquely from left to right, so that when the teeth were set, the various colored bands met, in a kind of herring bone design, the black meeting a red, the yellow meeting a blue, and so on, with a most arresting, glittering, prismatic effect.

First Things Always Sensational

Jim inserted them tenderly into his still sore mouth.

Then he turned and favored us with terrific grin.

The dentist’s girl fainted and we put her on the couch.

“Magnificent!” I gasped.

“Wear those,” said the dentist, “and the job hasn’t cost you a cent.”

“They taste funny,” said Jim, speaking thickly.

“Take them along,” said the dentist, “and try them in from time to time until your mouth gets used to them.”

Jim studied himself in the mirror, grinning fiendishly, and I thought his hair turned a little whiter.

“All right, me boy,” he said to me: “how about getting into the chair now while we are here?”

“Jim,” I said, “I have been thinking about this. It seems to me a pretty scurvy trick to horn in on your idea. When this thing transforms the world, when it brings back prosperity, when the factories of the world are belching forth false teeth by the train load, what a shabby little man I will appear in the eyes of posterity when it is known that I stole your idea and tried to pose as co-emancipator of mankind.”

“I thought so,” said Jim.

“How do you mean?” I asked. “I feel that you should be allowed to take the full credit for this marvellous plan of yours. Let me come along in a few weeks, when the fashion gets going. I’ll be one of your first converts. But not until you have established full claim to the revolutionary idea.”

“I thought so,” repeated Jim, looking at me with his teeth bared. I bowed my head.

We got in the elevator.

The elevator girl caught a glimpse of Jim in the mirror and she dropped the steering wheel and the car stopped in mid-flight. The girl screamed and whirled the wheel.

“Here,” said Jim, taking the wheel and bringing the elevator to the ground floor.

We went out the lobby and Jim cast smiles in all directions at the people resting on the big sofas. Several of them passed out and others covered their eyes. Out on the street we stopped to wait for traffic to let us across and a man driving a truck looked at him. Jim opened his mouth and grinned. The man, never taking his eyes off Jim, stepped savagely on the gas and ran into another car. There was a traffic mix-up and Jim, stepping forward to assist the tangled drivers, smiled upon them, and two drivers got out of their seats by the far door and ran.

“Keep your mouth shut,” I rasped at Jim.

A policeman walked over to the melee and Jim grinned at him across the hoods of cars. The cop lifted his arm and shielded his eyes, staggering back out of the confusion.

“Let’s get away.” I said, seizing Jim’s arm.

We got into my car and headed for the office.

“The first motor car,” said Jim, “created a sensation. They had to have a man with red flag walking in front of all motor cars. The first radio, I can remember the excitement, the crowds of people gathered to listen to the squawks and squeaks. Everything new causes a sensation.”

“He made those teeth too loud,” I said. “If they only weren’t set on the bias. It is that herring bone pattern that causes the fright.”

“They will get used to it,” said Jim.

But I notice this morning that Jimmie is wearing an ordinary set of ivory colored teeth.

“Where are the fancy teeth?” I asked.

“I’m saving those for formal occasions,” replied Jim.


Editor’s Notes: The rotogravure section references the special sections of newspapers where photographs were printed. Rotogravure was the printing technique for photographs, and some newspapers (including the Star Weekly), produced them. They were primarily used to highlight photos of interest that did not have to be accompanied by a story, instead just a line or two would be used.

The elevator girl running the “steering wheel”, was the manual control, looking more like a crank to move the elevator up or down. Most elevators were run this way before World War Two, as the operator had to manually line up the floors and operate the doors.

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