The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1936 Page 1 of 5

Paris to the Moon

July 11, 1936

This illustration went with a story by Henri Danjou about rockets and their potential uses. The illustration by Jimmie shows the fanciful idea from the 11th century that suggested one could fly to the moon with a flock of geese.


November 7, 1936

Grape Nuts Ad – 08/29/36

August 29, 1936

This is part of the series of “Ernie Energy” ads created by Jim for Grape Nuts.

$10 Reward

After a while we never even noticed the trailer; in fact, it didn’t feel as if we had one at all…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, August 22, 1936.

“Roger Babson says,” said Jimmie Frise, “that in twenty years, half the population of America will be living in automobile trailers.”

“Think of that,” I said.

“Right now,” went on Jim, “hundreds of thousands of people know no other home than their cabin trailer. They come north. in summer. They go south in winter. It is the life of Riley.”

“Cramped quarters, though,” I suggested.

“What is the modern home,” demanded Jim, “but a place to sleep? A cabin trailer is as good as a ten-roomed mansion. Millions are living in apartments not much bigger than a cabin trailer. As a matter of fact, the cabin trailer is the logical conclusion towards which we have been marching for years.”

“First we were nomads,” I said, “then we moved into caves. Then we built cities. Then we fortified them and put walls around them. Now we are becoming nomads again.”

“That’s it exactly,” said Jim. “Nomads. From dust we came – unto dust we return. Fifty years ago, the home was the foundation of society. The bigger the home, the bigger you were in society. Fifteen, twenty-roomed mansions all over the world; even in Toronto. Now they use them for auction sale houses, or office buildings.”

“They had larger families then,” I pointed out.

“Somewhere about thirty years ago,” said Jim, “something serious happened to the humane scheme. We began to stop having families. We began building apartment houses. Bungalows. Then the motor car came along. And then the trailer. In another twenty years, real estate won’t be worth fifty cents. To own a house will classify you with the old order of things. In fact, houses will be so cheap, you can own houses all over the place, in various cities, in the north, south, east and west; just to store stuff in.”

“How about gardens?” I asked.

“We can have an annex trailing behind the trailer,” said Jim, “with a portable garden in it. The world will consist not of cities but of highways. Vast cities now flourishing will be torn down to make parking areas. If we want to do business with a man, we don’t telephone him. We just move over next door to him. Neighbors, like. And when the business is complete, move on.”

“How will we keep track of one another?” I asked.

“That will be one of the chief charms,” said Jim. “We won’t be able to keep track of one another. That’s what has made us all so sick of the world the way it is. We are all so kept track of.”

“But suppose I want my shoes repaired?” I begged.

“What will you want shoes for?” asked Jim. “You don’t have to walk any place. But suppose you did want your shoes repaired. You just sit on the steps of your cabin trailer until you see a cabin go by with ‘Shoemaker’ printed on it. You hail him. He stops. Backs in beside you. Repairs your shoes. And away he goes.”

To Be Free and Mobile

“How about milk? And bread?” I demanded.

“We have the thing backwards now,” said Jim, “with us nailed down to a house for the convenience of the milkman. In the new order of things, the milkman will have his dairy in a central location, and we drive around for the milk.”

“Ah,” I cried, “so something will be fixed?”

“Certainly,” said Jim. “But not the people. The people will be free. Heavenly free. But the services will be nailed down. We are now the slaves of the system. We will make the system our slave.”

“But,” I said, “suppose the milkman wants to be a nomad, too?”

“Then he can’t be a milkman,” explained Jimmie.

“Oh, well, it will be just the same as it is now,” I protested, “somebody is always the goat.”

“But a few goats,” said Jim, “are better than a hundred million goats.”

“It looks to me,” I assured him, “as if we were gradually slipping back into the past. We are becoming nomads again. In due time, as the thing progresses, we will be right back where we started – in the cave.”

“It would take a brave man,” declared Jim, “to say that the world is better to-day than it was. My feeling is that we are all, the whole human race, just taking a tumble to the fact that we have been gypped. That civilization, as they call it, has been a hoax, an imposition, and we are getting rid of it. For five or six thousand years, we have been patiently submitting to this idea that we should all settle down and begin to die before we have ever lived. As soon as we can walk, we are snatched up and sent to school to learn all the rules of settling down and being a slave. All through our youth, we are drilled and trained in the art of going nowhere and settling down. The great idea in life, it seems, is to be not seen and not heard. The absolute ideal of civilization is to go through life as if you had never lived.”

“By the way,” I cut in, “how would the kids go to school in this caravan civilization you are expecting?”

“I doubt if there will be any kids,” said Jim. “But if there are, there won’t be any schools. Anyway, what would there be to learn? We won’t need to know anything, in the days to come, except to count the change whenever we buy gas. And anybody can teach a kid to count.”

“It certainly doesn’t sound like much of a civilization,” I stated.

“Who says it has to be?” demanded Jim.

“But my dear fellow,” I exclaimed angrily, “where are we heading? What is our goal?”

“We will head,” said Jim, “wherever we please; our goal will be any place in the world. We can stay still or we can move, just whichever we feel like, at the moment. We will be free, compact, mobile; instead of nailed down, enslaved, burdened, chained. Everything we acquire these days is another nail, fastening us to the earth. In the days to come, when we live in cabin trailers, we won’t have room to acquire anything. Life will be reduced to the essentials.”

“And those essentials?” I asked.

“Bed, frying pan and the pursuit of happiness,” pronounced Jimmie in the American manner.

Harbinger of the New Age

“Personally,” I said, “I have never owned a trailer. Not even one of the baggage-carrying kind.”

“We ought to join the parade,” said Jim. “We ought to own a trailer. How ridiculous for us to load our cars like baggage trucks whenever we go for a trip, when all we have to do, to be perfectly comfortable and roomy, is to hitch a trailer on the back and load our baggage on it. Thousands do. But we, in our stuffy, old-fashioned way, load up our cars with baggage and bird cages and clumsy boxes of provisions, until we have to sit on our edges for a hundred miles.”

“If we were getting a trailer,” I said, “we might as well get the real thing. A cabin. It would dispose of this business of hotels, and cottages, and camps. Think of being able to have a little house on wheels and go wherever we please, for as long as we please. For instance, we might want to go to the Lake of Bays. In order to go there, we have to do one of three things: rent a cottage, reserve a room at a hotel, or go on speculation to find a camp site where somebody, will let us camp.”

“Property,” said Jim. “All of it.”

“Whereas, with a cabin trailer,” I pointed out, “we just go home and throw into it a few things we need. Then dangle along. And when we see the place we like, pull off the side of the road, and there we are.”

“A cabin trailer,” said Jim, “costs a bit of money. But you can get a good ordinary trailer second-hand for very little. In fact, there are places you can rent them for fifty cents a day. Now, I do not propose to be left amongst the minority, when this big change comes. I want to join the caravan at the start. I like to be in the forefront of these new things. I will gladly split with you the price of a good trailer, and we can do our first experiments right away.”

“How about this week-end?” I asked. “Let’s put your punt and my tent and a few bags of duffle aboard an open trailer and just go. Anywhere. And see what it feels like. No plans. No nothing. Just mooch.”

“I know a trailer I can get for $15,” said Jim.

“Buy it,” said I.

And Thursday Jim drove proudly into my side drive towing behind him the harbinger of the new age.

It was a very simple and dignified vehicle. Two-wheeled, with springs; painted, substantial; it was a trailer for trailing loads. Jim demonstrated the patent attachment for coupling the trailer to the back of any car. You dropped a bolt down, and then stuck a safety bolt through the bottom – secure, snug.

“Where will we keep it overnight?” I asked.

“I hoped you would keep it here,” said Jim, looking around my drive and garden.

“I’m afraid I couldn’t keep it in the side drive,” I said, “and it wouldn’t go through the gate into the yard, and anyway it would cut up the lawn.”

“I have no room in my place,” said Jim. The kids all around would be hauling it about.”

Joining the Parade

We pondered the problem. Finally Jim suggested we store it overnight at the garage a few blocks away where we got our gas and odds and ends.

“I have to charge a dollar a night,” explained our old friend the garage man, “or my place would be full of these things and nothing else.”

Next day, we called and picked her up and proceeded to load up for the journey. We piled in bags and tent and blanket rolls and tent pegs: Jim added more bags and quilts, and boxes of supplies; and still there was lots of room. Too much room. Everything slid around in the trailer. So we added a few things we didn’t intend to take, such as back rests for the boat, cushions, grass rugs, and anything else we could find around the house to take up space.

“Aha,” cried Jim. “The complete caravaneers. The citizens of the future, foot-loose and free.”

And putting a few of the delicate items such as fishing rods in the car, we manoeuvred out of Jim’s drive, backwards, and set forth upon our journey.

It is a little difficult to back up these trailers. It is also a little tricky rounding corners and taking curves. This one we got had a habit of weaving from side to side whenever we turned a curve. But as Jim pointed out, what could we expect for $15?

Inside of ten miles, however, just nicely outside the city, we were exclaiming that we wouldn’t even know we had a trailer attached, so smooth and free did we run.

For the first hour or so, we both had the five-minute habit of turning and looking back to see if our trailer was coming with us. The sense of pride in a trailer must come from the same source as the feeling a small boy has when he gets his first pants with pockets. It is a sort of all-here feeling; a complete, self-contained feeling. Our nomad ancestors felt that way when on the wide deserts, with all their worldly goods aboard a camel or two.

But presently the novelty wears off, and we cruised along, talking about where we would go, and not caring.

“When evening comes on,” said Jim, “we will start looking for a spot to stop.”

Mile after mile, we sailed along. And certainly, you would never imagine we had a trailer on at all. In fact, we no longer felt the trailer waggling on the curves. It was as if it had got into its stride.

Another car snored past us, pulling a trailer so like ours, both Jim and I cried out: “You’d think it was ours, boat, bags and all.”

“Funny how people all do the same things,” said Jim. “Even to roping on a boat with the same knots.”

A Dreadful Thought

We put another thirty miles behind. We pulled into a gas station for gas and both got out and watched the lady fill her up. Please, reader, observe this. We both got out. Both stood watching the gas station lady fill our tank in the rear of the car with gas.

We paid. Got back in. Drove about four miles up the road when suddenly I felt a curious prickling sensation in the back of my neck. I slanted my gaze around to Jim, at the wheel, and saw on Jim’s face a curious look of horror. He took his foot off the gas. He swivelled his gaze around to me.

“Did you,” he swallowed, “notice whether the trailer was on, back at that gas station?”

“Jim,” I gasped, “the same dreadful thought just struck me this instant. It was NOT on.”

We stopped the car on the road shoulder. Both very reluctantly got out and raised our eyes to the rear of the car.

The trailer was gone.

“It was gone,” said Jim, “back there at the gas station when we stopped for gas. And we didn’t notice it was gone.”

“Jim,” I cried, “that must have been our trailer that passed us, the one we said was exactly like ours.”

“Quick,” said Jim, “after them.”

And at full speed, we raced north on the highway, watching at every village and every gas station for our trailer, in case they had left it to be located.

But though we drove at breakneck pace until dark, we neither overtook the finder of our trailer nor did we see it at any stopping place.

“Either somebody is trying to find us,” said Jim darkly, “or else they are not trying to find us.”

“What,” I asked, “is the status of a trailer left ditched on the roadside? Is it finders keepers?”

So Jim and I located a hotel and had to borrow pyjamas, razor and so forth from the proprietor. And we walked about until midnight, in the village, watching traffic. And we saw many trailers, both cabin and baggage. We slept badly and woke early and continued our journey northward, watching at every camping place and along the shores of every lake, but saw no trace of our trailer, until we had to turn around and head back for home, sans trailer, sans tent, sans bags and blankets and everything.

“In the new era,” I said to Jim, “they will have to invent some better form of attachment for trailers or life will be very precarious indeed.”

Jim reached into his pocket.

“I wasn’t going to mention it,” he said, “but I forgot to put this in.”

It was the small safety bolt for securing the trailer to the car.

“I’ll put up the reward,” assured Jim. And the reward is $10.

Editor’s Notes: Roger Babson was an American entrepreneur, economist, and business theorist. He was a popular lecturer on business and financial trends.

“The life of Riley” means “living a luxurious or carefree existence.” The expression comes from a popular song of the 1880s, “Is That Mr. Reilly?”, in which the title character describes what he would do if he suddenly became wealthy.

50 cents in 1936 would be $10.75 in 2023. $15 is $323. $10 is $215.

All This Frittering

The fish fought hard, leaping, diving and jerking…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 25, 1936.

“To tell the truth,” said Jimmie Frise, “I’m getting a little tired of this week-end business.”

“My dear boy,” I said, “on a day like this?”

“On any kind of a day,” stated Jim. “We work like maniacs all week. Why? To get away over the week-end. Then we drive like maniacs for two hundred miles. Why? To reach some distant point, where we work like maniacs again to enjoy ourselves a few hours Saturday evening and part of Sunday up until about three p.m. Then like maniacs we drive home again, two hundred miles. Why? To be on time to start work again like maniacs for the next week.”

“It does sound funny,” I confessed.

“It is funny,” said Jim, not laughing.

“But isn’t this swell?” I asked, looking around at the ripe fields wheeling past the car windows, the bright summer sky, the sense of being alive that filled the whole earth. “Suppose we didn’t work like maniacs, but only took life lazily all week and then took the week-ends lazily, sleeping all Sunday, would that be any better?”

“How,” said Jim, “about working like maniacs all week, week-ends and all? How about working like maniacs straight ahead for ten years? In ten years you and I could make enough jack to retire for life.”

“And die,” I suggested, “of over-exertion the year after we quit?”

“Nonsense,” scoffed Jim, who was driving; “that’s one of those notions set at large by the big shots to keep a lot of us from trying to be big shots, too. Look around you. Look at the people that are having the good time. Everyone of them are birds who had enough sense when they were young to realize that the only way to really enjoy life was to work like fury and gather in the dough. And then they could coast.”

“It’s the old problem,” I sighed. “To enjoy life as you go along or to toil in the vineyard and store up treasures in heaven. Or your fifties.”

“My fifties,” said Jim, “are creeping pretty nigh.”

“You’ll still be fond of fishing.” I assured him.

“And Russian pool,” sneered Jim, “and horse races and sailing and rabbit shooting and duck shooting and poker and…”

“I don’t know anybody,” I laughed, “who has as much fun as you.”

“It’s just frittering,” declared Jim heatedly. “Frittering, that’s all it is. I play pool in a pool room. I go to the races and stand in the jam. I have an outboard motor. I go down around Lindsay to shoot a few rabbits. I go and sit in a frozen bog in at lake where the ducks have been shot off forty years ago by the millionaires who used to own it. Do you know what I could have, if I worked and saved my dough?”

“Stomach trouble,” I said. “A sour puss. A mean disposition.”

“I could play pool,” said Jim, “in a swell club, with a marker in a white coat standing by to hold my cigar butt for me. I could sit in the members’ enclosure at the races on an ornamental bench, with nobody standing in front of me. I could own a yacht, a sailing yacht, and go on cruises down the St. Lawrence.”

The Whole Secret

“Would you invite me?” I asked.

“Instead of frittering a Saturday,” said Jim, with an expression so hard that I knew my old friend, if he ever changed, would invite a far better class of people than I on his yacht, “instead of dashing down to a swamp near Lindsay to shoot maybe one rabbit, I could go to the Rockies on a six-weeks’ hunt for grizzles and mountain sheep and moose. Or maybe on safari to Africa after big, dangerous game.”

“Look at Hemingway,” I said. “Hemingway used to just be a plain newspaperman like us, working on The Star Weekly, and he started to work and wrote novels, and now look at him. Shooting elephants.”

“Lions,” said Jim. “And for duck shooting I could take a month in December and go down to the Gulf of Mexico to an exclusive club and shoot a thousand mallards.”

“By the time you had made enough money to do all this,” I explained, “you would be changed. You wouldn’t want to do anything so silly as shoot and fish and go to races. You would only want to do something sensible, like building a bank or buying a mine or a railroad.”

“You can’t take out of a man,” said Jim, “the things the Lord put into him first.”

“That’s the whole secret,” I agreed. “And the Lord put little pleasant things in us, like wanting to be happy and fish and go motoring in the country like this. Or shoot rabbits. If the Lord had put into us the desire to shoot lions or sail yachts He would have fitted us up with the steam for making big money.”

“Right there,” said Jim sharply, “I disagree. It is all a case of taking the easiest course. You and I could make money as easy as any broker or shirt maker. But we would have to work. We’d have to give up all these silly week-ends. We’d have to sell our rods and guns and stuff. We’d have to buckle down.”

“With a goal in view,” I agreed, “I could work as hard as any man.”

“All my life,” said Jim, “I have smiled at these big shots who work like fools, scorning the little amusements of life. But now I am beginning to think the smile has been on me. How many fish have we got this year for all the trips we’ve taken?”

“It’s been an off year,” I admitted.

“It’s been an average year,” stated Jim. “I bet we haven’t got forty trout apiece, and so far about fifteen bass apiece.”

“I nearly got a muskie week before last,” I reminded him. “Remember the fellow who got that twelve-pounder just ahead of me? If he hadn’t been there I’d have got that muskie.”

“We fished trout every week-end in May and June and bass and muskies ever since,” said Jim. “Do you realize that if we had the spondoolicks we could go to places where we, could catch forty trout in an evening and fifteen bass in one hour?”

“It would be illegal,” I pointed out.

To Be Big Shots

“What would we care, if we were big shots? No, sir. Down where we can get on our frittering little trips everything we want has been gone years ago. But out in the distant places, far beyond the reach of anybody but the rich, there is everything we want. Grizzlies in Alaska. Lions in Africa. All the wide sea to sail in. Lovely, strange countries we will never see. Secret, lovely places like Greenland; and we feel excited going to Muskoka in January. Places that make you cry just to look at them, like Rome. And we get a big kick out of Niagara Falls.”

“I guess the ones born in Rome don’t cry,” I supposed, “and when they get a picture postcard of Niagara Falls they put it up on the wall and keep it for thirty years.”

“You have been filled,” declared Jimmie, “with the bunk that is taught by the big shots for the purpose of keeping you happy and out of the running. Suppose we all tried to get rich? How would the big shots like that? So they teach us to sing ‘There Is No Place Like Home.’ And they go to Africa.”

“Jim,” I accused, “you’re a Communist.”

“I am only sore,” said Jim, stamping on the gas and shooting the car recklessly past a string of slow-goers, “at all this piddling around and never getting anywhere. I’m sick and tired of it. I feel as if I never wanted to go on another week-end. I feel like cutting out all this trifling and getting down to work. I’d like to have about two hundred thousand dollars.”

“How could you make that,” I inquired, “in ten years?”

“By working,” said Jim. “And saving. And putting every cent away except what I really need to live on. Capital is the secret. Capital begets capital. Money works. The more I saved the smarter I would get at making it. The more money I had the more I would mix with men who make money and they would inspire fresh ideas in me. I could think up marvellous advertising art. I could presently found a company for producing advertising art of a new and sensational kind. The money I make I would invest in other companies that I would know, from my wealthy friends, were money makers. We’re saps.”

“I could write novels,” I submitted, “and movie scenarios. I’ve heard of men making a hundred thousand dollars out of a movie scenario. Two of those and I’d have two hundred thousand. And in less than ten years.”

Jim drove in silence, with a fierce expression on his face. I sat thinking of writing two movie scenarios.

“All right,” said Jim suddenly. “I’m set. I tell you, this is the last trip. If it weren’t for you I’d turn right around now and go back home and head straight for the office.”

“Don’t mind me,” I assured him. “If you really are convinced, Jim. I would be only too glad to join you. These great resolutions come like this. It’s a sort of spiritual thing. You suddenly see things clear and plain. Turn at the next corner.”

“Are you with me?” asked Jim, his face strained with the depth of his feeling. “Do you feel as I feel? Are we fools? Shouldn’t we cut out all this frittering and get down to work? Shouldn’t we make hay while the sun shines and be free men, in a few years, to go where we like, to the ends of the earth, to where there is fun and beauty and life?”

“Turn at the next cross-roads, Jim,” I said breathlessly.

Seeing a Great Light

“What a sap I have been,” groaned Jim, shifting restlessly and gripping the steering wheel with excitement. “Don’t ever speak to me of week-ends again,” he cried. “Don’t ever try to show me a snapshot of a fish.”

“I’m changing, too,” I reminded him. “Not more snapshots.”

We came to a cross-roads. Just a country concession road. Jim put out his arm to warn the long parade of week-end traffic. He swung the car into the little dirt road. “Take your time,” I warned. “No gap in traffic in sight yet.”

“Here’s a car coming out,” said Jim. And he drove his car a few rolls farther down the dirt road to let pass a gaudy-looking green car that was coming out to the highway.

But the outcoming car halted and a man stepped out of it.

“Are you going in to Camp Cumfy Duck?” asked this gentleman, who was sunburned and jolly looking and wore a linen cap.

“No, sir, we’re not,” said Jim politely, but in the manner of a man who knows his own mind.

“Sorry,” said the linen-capped gent, eyeing our fishing tackle and gear. “Going fishing?”

“No, sir, we’re not,” said Jim, in the same presidential manner.

“I’ve come away,” explained the tanned gentleman, “with the favorite lure of the head guide at Camp Cumfy Duck, and I was hoping you were headed in there to save us a nine-mile drive back. Ever been to Camp Cumfy Duck?”

“Never,” said Jim, as if the interview were now ended.

“Greatest muskie water in Canada,” said the genial fellow, heartily. “You look like a couple of sports, or I wouldn’t mention it. Wait a second.”

He skipped around the back of the car and lifted the lid of a rough box leaking ice water.

He hauled forth a, muskie of at least twenty pounds. It was jade green. It was barred with deep shadows of darker jade. It was square-built and powerful. Its immense jaws were fanged with pearly white scimitars. Its baleful eye was proud and fierce, even in death.

Jim got out one side of the car and I the other.

“How much?” asked Jim.

“Twenty-one pounds,” said the sportsman, and his partner, a lean man, got out and joined us at the back of the car.

Out of the ice packing our new friend drew forth five more muskies, eight- pounders, ten-pounders, twelve-pounders.

“All taken,” he stated proudly, “on the Tipsy Giggler. A very sporting bait. Single hook.”

“Very,” Jim and I both agreed, hefting the fish. “Very,”

We laid them out on the grass by the roadside. We admired them and measured them. We lifted them up and laid them down.

“Camp Cumfy Duck?” said Jim. “I never even heard of it.”

“You never hear of the good places,” said our friend. “The only places you ever hear of are the ones that have to be heard of or else nobody would go, since the fish are all gone.”

“That’s true,” said Jim, as if seeing a great light. “By jove, that’s a fact. You said it.”

“As a matter of fact,” I said, “we were looking for some likely spot to spend the week-end. I wonder would there be room at Camp Cumfy Duck for us?”

“My dear sir,” said the new found friend, “I’ll give you a note to the proprietor!”

So while Jim and I lifted the fish reverently back into the ice box the man in the linen cap wrote a note on a scrap of paper.

And down the side road we drove, eight bumpy, swampy miles, to a pleasant old summer hotel on a quiet reedy lake where islands and patches of rushes showed where the muskies rolled and fed of an evening.

We had a quick supper. We shoved off in a skiff. We coasted past the first patch of reeds. I in the stern, Jim in the bow, casting. With Tipsy Gigglers.

“There was really no use turning back,” said Jim, “not when there were muskies so handy. But this is good-by.”

Jim sped his lure like a bullet deep into a pocket among the rushes. I cast mine high and true across the far end of the reed patch. We started to draw the lures home. A sound like a calf falling in the water attracted my attention to Jim’s lure, where an enormous boil in the water indicated trouble.

“Sock him!” I shouted. Jim socked. A huge crocodilian form of jade green leaped tumultuously out of the reedy water.

“Jim,” I roared, “It’s the fish of your life.”

I felt a violent jag at my rod. I looked. Another vast boil in the water appeared just about where my lure would be. I struck.

Out, waggling heavily from side to side, came another monstrous muskie, his jaws agape, to flounder with my Tipsy Giggler dangling from his lip.

“Farewell,” roared Jimmie. “Hello!”

And of the perils we met and mastered, the dreadful rushes of those simultaneous fish, their dives into the reeds, their leaps high into the air on the end of our fragile lines, the times they went under the boat, the times they sulked and the times they raced, I will not detail; because matters of this kind are of interest only to those who wield the dainty four ounce casting rod in the face of the tiger of all fishes.

But we got them. We got them. Jim gaffing mine, holding his doggo meantime then I gaffed his. And we shook hands a score of times and shouted and sang, and rowed back to Camp Cumfy Duck, vowing never would we leave it for any lesser kingdom of the blessed.

And when, long after gutting and icing our great fish, we retired to bed hoping for tomorrow, I said to Jimmie:

“Look here: how about this frittering business? This conversion? Going after big money?”

“Fate,” said Jim, sleepily, “must have overheard us.”

Editor’s Notes: As has been established elsewhere, Jimmie likes playing pool, specifically Russian Pool.

“Spondoolicks” is slang for money.

$200,000 in 1936 would be $4,280,000 in 2023.

Gaffing in fishing is a secure with a hook. “Doggo” at the time meant “keeping quiet, in hiding”, but it does not seem to fit how Greg is using it.

This story was reprinted in Greg Clark & Jimmie Frise Outdoors (1979).

It’s a Pleasure!

July 18, 1936

The Nicest People

“No trouble at all to take him along,” said Jim. So the fat boy climbed into the back…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, July 11, 1936.

“This trip to North Bay,” said Jimmie Frise, “is going to cost us money.”

“Just the gas and oil,” I declared.

“Plenty more,” said Jim. “I’m a little shy right now.”

“Then let’s stay at home and economize,” I agreed.

“Stay home,” snorted Jim. “And economize! There are people who have been staying home and economizing all their lives, and where are they?”

“Still at home, I suppose.”

“At home is right,” pronounced Jim. “Poor dismal creatures, staying home and economizing all their lives, what for? I think it is almost blasphemous to live like that. Staying home and economizing. They only go through life once. They will never have a second crack at it. It’s wicked, that’s what it is. Like hiding their lights under a bushel.”

“All right, let’s go to North Bay,” I suggested.

“What I was working up to,” said Jim, “was this ‘room in a car’ stuff. You’ve seen the ads in the papers? Room in a car going to North Bay for share of expenses.”

“Is that a fact?” I exclaimed.

“Sure, every night, ads in the papers,” said Jim. “Some ads are for people wanting a ride in a car. Others are people with room in their cars to spare. The passenger pays half the expenses, it’s a cheap trip, and everybody is happy.”

“You’d have to be careful,” I pointed out, “of the passengers you got. You might get some dreadful people.”

“Oh, the mass of mankind are pretty decent people,” said Jim. “It’s only among the better classes you get the mean ones, and the better classes don’t take rides in other people’s cars for half the expenses.”

He wrote out the ad. Room in a car going to North Bay, for two passengers. Then his telephone number.

I was still at supper when Jim walked in to say he had our passengers already.

“They live only six blocks away,” he said. “A man and his wife. Middle-aged or maybe elderly.”

“Swell,” said I.

“And lovely sounding people,” said Jim. “It was the lady I talked to. Perfectly simple and gentle. They say they are old hands at this form of travel. They never travel any other way, except in strangers’ cars.”

“And half the expenses?” I asked.

“Half the expenses,” said Jim. “It’s a wonder we didn’t think of this years ago. We’d be in a lot of dough, if we had.”

“What time do we leave?” I asked.

“We pick them up at nine sharp,” said Jim. “That will get us into North Bay about mid-afternoon, daylight saving time.”

Such a Kind World

At eight-thirty a.m., Jim arrived in his big schooner at my place. I had reduced my baggage to one haversack. Jim’s was one small club bag.

“I see you have the old boat all dolled up,” I observed.

“I did tidy it,” confessed Jim. “I mean, after all, we are selling these people something, and it is only right we should give them a little service.”

We drove to the address and found a nice little bungalow, and as we stopped, an elderly gentleman came out the door and walked down to us smiling in a friendly way.

“Gentlemen?” he said, shaking hands. “Are we your passengers?”

We leaped out to help with the baggage. “My wife is just strapping up the bags,” said the old chap, whose name was Mr. Bird. “Just come and sit on the veranda a moment. It won’t be a moment.”

We sat. Inside were sounds of packing and quick walking. A dear little plump lady presently appeared, flushed and eager.

“Mrs. Bird,” said Mr. Bird introducing us.

“Mercy, gentlemen,” said Mrs. Bird, “I’m afraid I’m keeping you.”

“Not a tall, not a tall,” said Jim.

“What a lovely big car,” cried Mrs. Bird, looking out at Jim’s 1928 scow, shining at the curb.

“Lots of room,” smiled Jimmie.

Mrs. Bird returned into the house and continued the sounds of quick footsteps and paper rattling and things bumping. Minutes went by, while Mr. Bird chatted with us about his various adventurous trips in the cars of strangers.

“It’s really very wonderful,” he said. “So much kindness in this world, if we only look for it. Now, to think of you two gentlemen giving us room in your lovely car all for a few dollars of a share of the gas and oil? People like us who cannot afford cars, and couldn’t drive them if we had them, being privileged to ride great distances. It’s wonderful.”

“Maybe so,” said Jim, “but it is a business proposition, and we are glad to have you share our expenses. We have more room than we need. I think it is rather wonderful to be able to sell that space. To very nice people, too.”

“Thank you, thank you,” said Mr. Bird, deeply moved. “But my good friends, I am afraid Mrs. Bird is delaying you.”

“Not a tall, not a tall,” cried Jimmie. “Can we help her any way?”

“No, no, no,” said Mr. Bird. “She is just putting the finishing touches on her packing. You know the ladies!”

We laughed pleasantly, and waited, and still the quick footsteps galloped around inside, and the rustling of paper and the thudding of things. And at last, after quite a few minutes, Mr. Bird all flushed and eager, came to the door bearing two heavy bags which we seized from her, and carried to the car. Then she came out with another bag and a big brown paper parcel.

“I do hope,” she gasped, “we haven’t too much baggage.”

“Not a tall, not a tall,” cried Jim. “After all, you have to sit in the back with it.”

“I have just a couple more little packages,” she said, “but it is such a roomy big car, my!”

She came out with three small packages tied up in paper. We stowed the stuff neatly.

“Plenty of room,” said Jim. cheerfully. “Any amount of room.”

“I should say so,” cried Mrs. Bird, getting in the car. “Come Daddy, sit beside me.”

Mr. Bird got in, his thin old legs stretched luxuriously.

“Why, there’s oceans of room,” cried Mrs. Bird. “I wish I had known how big your car was gentlemen. I do wish I had.”

“Have you more stuff?” asked Jim, pausing as he was about to get behind the steering wheel. “If so, it won’t take a minute to gather it up.”

“It’s my little grandson I was thinking of,” gasped Mrs. Bird, all flushed and eager. “Why, we’d have plenty of room to take the dear little chap. How stupid of me, not to have thought of it.”

“Does he live near?” asked Jim.

“It’s on our way.” said Mrs. Bird, delightedly. “Oh, do you suppose we could?”

“Of course we could,” cried Jim heartily. “Nothing easier. Whereabouts does he live?”

She named a street. It seemed to me to be away over the other side of Parliament street. Away east. I looked at my wrist watch. It was nine-thirty.

“Why, I guess we could drive around that way,” said Jim.

“It’s really on our way, isn’t it?” said Mrs. Bird, so sweet looking and eager and flushed. “Only a step off Yonge St. for a big car like this. Just a minute until I go in and telephone my daughter to get the little man ready.”

Jim did not tell the kindly little soul that we had been planning to go out Dufferin St. the back way and save all that Yonge St. muddle.

But it just five past ten when we arrived at the address Mrs. Bird gave us. And there a big fat boy with a suitcase and a bundle was waiting on the front steps.

“Now, it’ll be no trouble at all,” cried Mrs. Bird, as she stacked the suitcase and bundle on the rest of the gear. The fat boy squeezed himself heavily in between Mr. and Mrs. Bird, and they put their arms around him.

“We’re off,” cried Mr. Bird, happily.

And into the familiar muddle of Yonge St. we drove and entered that log jam for the long drive to North Bay.

From narrow parts of Yonge St. we debouched into wide parts and from wide parts back into narrow parts, and Aurora, Holland Landing and Bradford were swept astern. Our passengers, though packed a little snug prattled happily, the grandparents and the fat boy. It was when we snored up the last of the hills heading for Barrie that I gathered from the conversation in the rear that something was brewing.

The boy kept saying over and over again that he wanted to see Aunt Grace and go for a swim.

So Nice About Everything

Mrs. Bird touched Jim’s back.

“I wonder,” she said anxiously. “I wonder would it be putting you out too much if we could turn in the other side of Barrie for just a minute, only a mile or so, while I see a niece of mine? Oh, perhaps not. Oh, no, no, never mind, really. I shouldn’t have mentioned such a thing.”

“Why, it would be no trouble,” said Jim. “If it’s only a mile.”

“No, no,” cried Mrs. Bird, while the boy kept repeating yes, yes in a low angry voice, “please forget it, it was just one of those passing notions. Really, I could kill myself for blurting like that. Why, you poor boys are dying to get to North Bay.”

“Not a tall, not a tall,” said Jim.

“We are making such splendid time,” said Mrs. Bird. “I should think you would want a moment’s rest, driving so big a car. Suppose we say we drop in just to say hello. It’s only a step off the highway.”

“Certainly,” said Jim.” Where is it, did you say?”

And the other side of Barrie, we slowed down while Mrs. Bird watched all the side roads.

“It’s right along here, one of these roads,” she said, watchfully. “Here it is.”

“This isn’t it,” said Mr. Bird.

“This isn’t it,” agreed the boy angrily.

“Don’t I know my own niece’s place?” demanded Mrs. Bird. “This is the road.”

We turned in. It was a bad road, a gravel side road. A few hundred yards in, it grew worse and became a couple of ruts in the sod.

“Mercy,” said Mrs. Bird. “I believe you were right.”

So we went back to the highway and kept slowly cruising along and presently found the right road, and went by it, by the speedometer, which I was now watching narrowly, three miles to the shore of the lake.

And there was Aunt Grace, and all her children, and we had a lovely family reunion, and as lunch was just about ready, Aunt Grace insisted that we stay. Mrs. Bird would not hear of it. “These poor gentlemen are trying to get to North Bay, poor boys.”

But Mr. Bird was so pleasant and Aunt Grace so insistent, and Mrs. Bird so flushed and embarrassed and eager, that Jim said he would love to stay for lunch.

And while lunch was being got ready, we all went down and watched the grandson and his cousins go for a swim. And as Aunt Grace explained, she so seldom saw Mrs. Bird, she couldn’t let her go with just one of those “take what there is” meals. So while it would take a couple of minutes longer, she was going to put on a hot meal for us. And it was two o’clock when we got everybody including the grandson back in the car and waved farewells to Aunt Grace and everybody.

And swept astern were Orillia and Severn Bridge, and Gravenhurst. And it was half way between Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, with the week-end traffic now at its height, in mid-afternoon, and everybody hot and the car going fast and then slow, and anxiously rounding slow-goers, and then going slow behind parades of slow ones that Mrs. Bird suddenly shrieked out:

“There’s Annie! Oh, please stop!”

A car was pulled off the side of the road, and three perspiring ladies of middle age were grouped around it in hot and dejected attitudes.

“Please just stop for a second,” said Mrs. Bird. “It’s a niece of mine, they’re having car trouble.”

Jim backed our car perilously against the uproaring traffic until we reached the derelict on the roadside. There were wild scenes of affectionate greeting as Mrs. Bird piled out of Jim’s car and the three stricken ladies came rushing joyously to welcome us.

“Dear Auntie Bird,” they cried.

And we all got out and it seems the car, which they called Agatha, had been giving trouble all the way from Toronto. It had heated up and boiled and hissed. And presently, on hills, it had started missing and bucking and behaving very badly indeed.

So Mr. Bird and Jimmie and I got to work to inspect the situation. The ladies went and sat on the grass, utterly worn out.

“As a matter of fact,” said Jim, after a swift inspection, “this engine is badly neglected. I should think it hadn’t ever had a valve job, and it’s an old bus.”

“They just got it,” explained Mr. Bird confidentially, “Second hand. It’s their first venture in cars.”

“I guess what we ought to do,” said Jim, “is send them back a garage man from Bracebridge.”

“I’m a little afraid,” said Mr. Bird, “they might find that too expensive. They haven’t much of this world’s goods. If there is anything I could do to save them a dollar, I would. Let me see!”

And he stood looking hopelessly at the rusted and oil-smeared engine under the hood.

So Jim and I took off our coats and held a clinic. It was bad. It had little oil. There was a leak in the radiator. By the sound of it, as we turned the engine over, it was almost seized. The spark plugs each had a nubbin of gum on the points. We cleaned and wiped. We walked across to a farm for a pail of water. Jim drained a little of his own oil to put in their crank case. But when we tried to start her up, she coughed and sputtered and conked. The ladies all gathered around anxiously and Mrs. Bird kept saying:

“Tst, tst, tst, it’s nearly four o’clock.”

“I tell you,” said Jim at last, “I guess the best we can do for you is tow you into Bracebridge, and you can have it fixed there.”

The ladies looked tragic. They looked at one another with woe-begone expressions. “You poor girls.” cried Mrs. Bird. “I wish we could tow you all the way, but we can’t. We simply can’t. These kind gentlemen have already put themselves out so much…”

I gave Jim a surreptitious kick to keep him quiet.

“We were to have been in North Bay by mid-afternoon,” I said. “I’m afraid we will have to put on a burst of speed, as it is, to get there before nightfall.”

“If you could,” begged one of the middle-aged girls, “tow us as far as Bracebridge.”

So we rigged up a tow rope of wire and rope and this and that and with only a couple of breakages, we slowly and painfully towed them in the angry and accusing traffic as far as Bracebridge.

And at Bracebridge, after a long and sweet argument, Mrs. Bird decided it would be better, rather than leave the girls stranded in a strange town, if Mr. and Mrs. Bird and the grandson stayed with them.

“We can all get in their car,” Mrs. Bird explained. “I don’t know how, but we will manage. But how dreadfully we have delayed you dear kind boys.”

We unloaded all the bags and parcels on to the garage gravel. Mr. Bird produced a little thin package of bills and said:

“What do we owe you?”

“My dear sir,” said Jim. “We contracted to take you to North Bay. We have failed. You don’t owe us a cent.”

“But I insist,” cried Mr. Bird. “I insist.”

But Jim absolutely refused, and Mrs. Bird came over with tears to thank us for all our kindness and patience. And the grandson stared resentfully at us, and all the ladies gathered round us forlornly to bid us adieu.

And we got a mile out of Bracebridge. when I said:

“Jim, it’s five o’clock, it will be dark when we get to North Bay. That means no evening’s fishing. It leaves us only to-morrow morning, and then well have to turn around and come home.”

“What do you suggest?” said Jim, slackening speed.

“Let’s turn around and go home,” I said.

“I was thinking of that,” agreed Jim.

“Let this be a lesson to us,” I said.

“It would have worked perfectly,” stated Jim, “if they had only been mean or miserable people. But they were so nice. So kind and simple. Next time, we’ll pick a load of hard-boiled eggs for our passengers.”

“The nicest people,” I concluded, as we turned the car in a side road, “are often the biggest nuisance.”

Editor’s Note: This story appeared in So What? (1937).

“Fools We Mortals~”

With groans and squeaks Jimmie’s chair collapsed.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, March 28, 1936.

“This ice going out,” said Jimmie Frise, all over Canada, all over Siberia, all over the world, this vast, plunging, crushing volume of power and force going to waste…”

“These gutters,” I added, “these rain pipes, these ditches along the roads, everywhere.”

“Waste, waste,” said Jim. “If humanity only knew how to harness all the forces of Nature, nobody would have to work.”

“In this little rushing rivulet along the curb,” I contributed, “is enough power to light all the electric light fixtures in my house.”

“We talk of horsepower,” scoffed Jimmie, grandly. “Why, there is mountain power going to waste these days in a million rivers of the world. Mountain power, in these freshets.”

“But on account of the hunks of ice,” I pointed out, “it might be a little awkward trying to hook it up to a dynamo or whatever you call it.”

“Awkward,” cried Jimmie. “Just because a thing looks difficult, we shy at it. That’s the reason mankind hasn’t conquered the forces of this world ages ago. That’s why we are still slaves.”

“Do you suppose we could get enough power out of anything to write our articles and draw our pictures for us?” I asked. “It is all very well to talk about machines freeing men. That may help out the mechanics and farmers. But us poor writers and artists will still be in the same old boat.”

“You have the habit,” said Jim, “of sort of picking at an argument, sort of scratching at it with the fingernails of your mind. Why don’t you join in with me in a conversation like this and let us get somewhere. I was saying, why don’t we start to use the power that is going to waste on all sides of us?”

“Personally,” I said, “I think we are doing very nicely.”

“By a little use of our brains,” said Jim, “we might think of some way of harnessing some force of nature, now going to waste, that would set us free forever of doing anything.”

“We can’t compete with trained engineers,” I pointed out.

“Trained engineers,” Jim stated, “are trained to believe in what can’t be done, rather than what can be done. Was Stephenson an engineer? – the man who invented steam engines?”

“That’s so,” I confessed.

“Was Newton an engineer?” demanded Jim. “The man who invented gravity? Was Harvey an engineer? the man who invented the circulation of the blood.”

“He didn’t invent it,” I disagreed. “It had been circulating all the time. He only discovered it.”

“That’s my point exactly,” cried Jim. “These tremendous forces of nature are going on all around us, wastefully, uselessly. All we have to do is see how they can be used. And we don’t need to be engineers either.”

“I wish I could think up something,” I assured him. “I have often thought we ought to have some kind of a little machine attached to our knees, a sort of generator so that, as we walked, we could charge a battery in our pocket. If everybody in the world wore a gadget like that, we could certainly store up an awful lot of electricity.”

“That’s an idea,” encouraged Jim.

To Patent the Invention

“Each day, at five o’clock,” I warmed up, “everybody would turn their battery in at the local electric station, sort of like cigar stores located all over the place. And on receiving the charged battery, the service station would hand us out a new empty battery for tomorrow.”

Perfect,” said Jim. “You’ve got something.”

“Say we each charged one volt into that battery,” I explained, “on the average. Although policemen and postmen would charge much more. We could give them bigger batteries to charge. Well, anyway, in a city like Toronto, that would be nearly 700,000 volts of electricity stored up every day, and immediately contributed to the power, lighting and heating of the city.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” said Jim, “that you are another Stephenson or a Farragut.”

“Just a simple little device,” I explained. “A small metal rod attached at the knee by a sort of garter to each leg, the two rods meeting in the middle in a small generator about the size of a walnut or an apple. It might be at little awkward at first to walk with these things on. Sort of bow-legged, or waddling maybe. But we would soon get used to it. At each step, these rods would drive the small generator, like the drive shaft, in miniature, of a locomotive.”

“Let’s patent it,” said Jim.

“I hardly think,” I surmised, “it is ready for patenting.”

“Don’t be crazy,” cried Jim. “That’s the way fortunes are lost. When you get an idea, seize it. Patent it. The real thinkers of this world are all poor men just because they didn’t protect their ideas. They let human weasels steal their stuff.”

“We have to have a working model,” I said.

“Any electrician could make it,” said Jim. “Don’t explain what it is for. Just give him the specifications. Make a drawing. He’ll never guess what it is. And there you are.”

“I’m not just sure,” I confessed, “how many steps or movements of the leg it will take to charge one volt. I was just making a supposition there, when I said one volt.”

“Now, now,” admonished Jim. “Don’t start backing and filling. The idea is what counts. I see mountainous force going to waste in spring freshets all over the world, but I can’t think up any practical scheme for harnessing it. You see vast sources of power going to a waste in the motion of the human leg. But… but, my dear boy, you see at a glance the solution of it. It is vision that counts in this world. Not the poor mechanics of it.”

“Very well,” I said. “I’ll sketch it out. Let’s see: how does a car charge its battery?”

“The motion of the engine operates the generator.”

“Then,” I said, incisively, “the motion of the leg will operate the generator, which will be supported between the knees by two rods attached to the knee joint.”

“Correct,” said Jim.

And after supper, we walked over to the corner and saw our local electrician, but when he studied my drawings, simple as they were he said they were a little out of his line. He sticks to installing fixtures and mending door bells. He thought maybe a radio man might tackle it.

“What’s it for?” he inquired.

“It’s an invention,” I explained. “A little idea of mine.”

“Little idea, huh,” said Jim darkly.

A Very Wonderful Room

“If it’s an invention,” said the electrician, “there is a man upstairs, he rents my attic, and he’s an inventor. He makes all kinds of things. I bet he’d be the very man for you.”

“Steer clear of other inventors,” said Jim, quietly. “They’d steal your idea.”

“Oh, no,” said the electrician. “This man is the gentlest little fellow. He wouldn’t steal anything. He doesn’t even want anything. Why, he has invented thousands of things, and never sold a single one yet.”

“How does he live?” I asked.

“His relatives give him so much money a month to live somewhere else,” said the electrician. “I don’t mind him. Even if he does make some awful smashes and things.”

“Smashes?” asked Jim, always interested in action.

“He invented a thing last year,” said the electrician, “for catching your dog when it runs away from you and won’t come back when it’s called. You know? He says he has so often seen old ladies frantically trying to call their little dogs back to them and the dog won’t come. So he invented a thing for catching dogs that won’t come back.”

“Mmmm, mmmm,” said Jim, interestedly.

“Yes, siree,” said the electrician. “It was a great thing. He was going to give me one of the first ones manufactured, for a month’s rent. But my goodness.”

“What,” we both said.

“The day he perfected his working model,” said the electrician, “he got me up to witness the first operation of it. My, my. I was standing in the room, by the door, see? And he sprung the trigger. And the thing caught him instead of the imitation dog he had made out of a pillow. And it threw him right out the attic window and held him suspended in space until I could go around to the hardware store and borrow two ladders.”

“Indeed,” said I.

“I like the sound of this man,” said Jim. “I think we should see him. I think he could easily make a model of your machine.”

“I’ll think it over,” I said.

But Jim was impatient. He said no progress was ever made in this world if people hummed and hawed all the time. He said if Diogenes had only gone on with his barrel idea, they would have had motor cars in ancient Greece two thousand years ago. And look how far ahead we would be now?

So the electrician ushered us upstairs two flights to the attic.

“Be careful,” he warned us. “He has an automatic door opener that works when you push the bell, but unfortunately, the door opens out. You have to reach away out, push the bell and then jump quickly back.”

Jim did so, reaching far. The attic door burst open violently.

“Come in?” said a mild voice.

And we stepped cautiously into a very curious room. The inventor sat at a desk at the far end, a small elderly little man with thin wispy whiskers, glasses resting right on the end of his nose, and a look about him as if Santa Claus had had an older brother who never had the meals Santa Claus had, nor the opportunities in life.

The room was too wonderful and fearful to take in, even in many long steady glances. Things new and old, like cow bells old and green and bright new squares of oil cloth suspended like banners from the wall, and all colors of the rainbow. There were chairs built in curious sections, like easy chairs, only they looked dreadfully uneasy, as if they might, at a sharp word, either collapse entirely or close up like a book.

“Come in, gentlemen, come in,” said the old inventor, kindly. “What can I do for you?”

There were test tubes dusty and filled with forgotten liquids; baskets of empty bottles, a weird-looking machine like a gum slot, with a pair of rubber lips, shaped like human lips, and over the slot a sign reading: “Lipstick your lips, any shade, 1c.”

There were baby carriages with engines on them and a human figure made of the stuff store window dummies are made of, and it was covered with a sort of fuzz, light blue.

“Be seated, gentlemen,” said the inventor, indicating the chairs. Jim cautiously eased himself into one of the curiously jointed chairs. Nothing happened. So I got into another, and immediately a phonograph began playing “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

I sat up, but the old gentleman, delighted beyond measure, assured me:

“Aha, you’re astonished, sir. That is my slumber chair. Adjustable to any angle. And will play any record.”

“And my friend’s chair?” said I.

“Ah, that is a masterpiece,” said the old fellow, “a masterpiece. Now, sir, just to demonstrate, will you be so good as to lift your feet and place them on the edge of my table. Please. I will not mind. Just put your heels on my desk, there.”

Jim obliged.

The instant his feet touched the edge of the table, the chair slowly began to collapse, not suddenly, but, with creaks and squeaks, gently began lowering itself flat on the ground, with the painful but certain slowness of those freight elevators you sometimes meet up with in warehouses.

Jim leaped out of the chair in time to save being dropped to the floor, where the chair subsided in complete exhaustion.

“That,” said the old gentleman, “is my solution of one of the nastiest problems of modern business. The person who comes into your office and sets his feet on your desk.”

“Wonderful,” said Jim, sitting down on the edge of a box.

“What is that human figure in blue fuzz?” I inquired.

“The time has come,” said the old gentleman, “in fact it had come some thirty years ago when I invented that thing, when we humans need no longer be bothered with all the fuss and fatigue of dressing. Do you realize, sir, that the average man has to put on thirty-nine different articles of clothing before he can go out?”

“You see before you,” said the old gentleman, “the perfect solution of a modern problem. It is the Asbestos Dip. Perfectly insulating. Warm in winter, cool in summer. You can set up a small tank in your boudoir. Asbestos Dip may be purchased in any fashionable color, brown, blue, tweed, and so forth. And all you do, whenever you feel like it, is dip yourself in the tank, and there you are, newly clothed for a week, or a month, whichever you require.”

“But, er, ah,” said Jim.

“I know, I know,” hastened the old gentleman. “You are thinking of the bath. But you forget that, being perfectly insulated, you neither perspire nor get goose pimples. We require baths, why? Only because our clothes cause us to exude moisture, and because our clothes being porous, with gaps, openings, slits and apertures in them, permit dust and dirt to come in contact with our bodies. Asbestos Dip being perfectly impenetrable, even by the finest dust, keeps the human body as clean and pure as the hide of a bear keeps the body of the bear.”

He explained the baby carriage, the bells, the roller skates under a curling stone for curling in the summer, the real dog which could be trained to serve as an iron dog on the lawns of old-fashioned homes, the door bell that could be so adjusted, on going out for the day, to squirt ink on all callers so that you could later know who had been to visit you in your absence: the lipstick vendor, a magnificent device which would enable young ladies, anywhere, to dress their lips simply by briefly kissing a pair of rubber lips on the slot machine.

“There would be six sizes of lips on the machine,” explained the dear old man, “representing all the standard sizes and shapes of mouths. On putting one cent in the slot and pressing the button of the size and color you want, the lips protrude from the machine, you kiss the rubber lips and presto, as simply as a rubber stamp, you have your lips perfectly rouged. Isn’t that a caution?”

And it sure was. So we got down to work, and I showed him my drawings. He studied them intently. I told him, as far as I dared, just how the little generator was to have the two small rods working, attached to garters.

Suddenly the old chap’s face lighted up.

“My dear sir,” he cried. “Of all the coincidences! Why, this is the very core of my famous invention of 1903, called the “1903 leg-action generator.’ I had the most wonderful scheme for putting Niagara Falls back where it belongs as a beauty spot. Wait till I get my model.”

He came back, carrying a little jigger with two rods and two gentleman’s garters.

“See,” he said, strapping the garters on, and suspending the generator between his knees so that the two rods were fastened to his knee joints.

“Did it work?” I asked, numbly.

“We made the dreadful discovery,” said the little man, “that the entire human race is either bow-legged or knock-kneed. The bow-legged ones had a lateral action that wouldn’t work the rods at all. And the knock-kneed ones couldn’t get the generator between their knees. Strong men, who were backing me in that invention, broke down and wept like children when we made that discovery. Still, so it goes. Nothing is ever lost. One discovery leads to another.”

We said good-day.

“Well,” I said, when we got outside, “now we can turn our minds to the ice going out.”

“Aw,” said Jim, “the heck with it. Let it go to waste. We’ve got too much power in the world as it is.”

So we went down a few stores to where they have this year’s seed catalogues spread out in the window, all the different pages showing, zinnias, nasturtiums, beets, mammoth oats, everything.

February 1, 1941.

Editor’s Notes: This story has a lot of the early 20th century notion that nature needs to be exploited and harnessed to do humanity’s bidding. It was also before it was realized that asbestos was toxic.

The various “inventors” mentioned included George Stephenson, Isaac Newton, William Harvey, and Diogenes. When “Farragut” was mentioned, I think they meant Michael Faraday. David Farragut was a United States Admiral during the U.S. Civil War.

The story was repeated on February 1, 1941. It was unusual in that they even repeated the same drawing and title.

Lights Out

November 21, 1936

Moo to You!

I lowed loudly into the moose horn. Rifle up, Jimmie wheeled as a form appeared suddenly in the bushes.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, October 24, 1936.

“Speaking of moose,” said Jimmie Frise, which we weren’t, “I would like to bag a couple of those noble beasts before my hunting days are over.”

“They tell me,” I said, “that no form of sport has as little justification as moose hunting. You find the huge brutes far from any road or railway. They weigh from 700 to 1,200 pounds, like a horse. It is impossible for the hunter to carry the animal with him. So he cuts off the horns and one or maybe two of the hams, and leaves the rest of it to rot in the swamp.”

“Well,” said Jim, “the whole animal finally rots in the swamp anyway. So what’s the difference?”

“A lot of difference,” I declared. “In the meantime, it lived. Isn’t that a difference?”

“I’m not so sure,” said Jim. “I often look at an animal and sometimes at humans and wonder if it makes any difference, even to them, whether they live or not. What I mean, is life itself interesting to them? Now you take a moose. It is born to trouble. All summer long, from the time it is born, the flies plague it. It nearly goes crazy with flies. It spends a frantic summer, hiding in the swamp and wading in the lakes and then comes winter, and the poor thing, with its long ungainly legs, is forced to plunge and stumble about in the deep snow, with the temperature at forty below. Can you say, offhand, whether life is interesting to it under those conditions? Is lite even worth while?”

“We’re not moose,” I defended. “We have no right to say. Maybe a moose finds it all very agreeable.”

“You are assuming,” said Jim, “that a moose wishes to be born. But it may be nature just forced that poor moose to exist. As if nature were some sort of a willful bully, who said, here you, exist. And then turned loose, to suffer and plunge and stagger about, a creature as ungainly and ugly and awkward as a moose.”

“I still think,” I declared, “that because moose exist, they must find pleasure in existing.”

“Yours is a cock-eyed philosophy,” said Jimmie. “A pollyanna philosophy. All’s right with the world. Personally, I don’t think it matters one way or another to a moose whether it gets shot by a hunter or pulled down in its infancy by a wolf or bear, or whether it lives on year after year, eating birch twigs and wandering about a lot of fly-infested swamps and bitter wintry glens, until, aged and infirm, helpless and starving, it finally lies down and dies, haying accomplished nothing.”

“A lot of human beings,” I agreed, “live the same story.”

“Don’t you think,” demanded Jim, “that a moose’s highest destiny is to be hunted by a man, trailed and pursued and finally outwitted, to fall quickly and mercifully to a hunter’s bullet, and then be consecrated by having its head mounted, with its horns, of which it was so proud, ornamenting, for years, the hall of some fine house, to be admired and respected by scores, by hundreds of men?”

“We don’t know our own destiny,” I said. “How can we figure out a moose’s?”

Just Like a Crooner

“That’s a far nobler destiny,” stated Jim, “than in old age falling down in a swamp and being unable to get up, and taking a week to pass away. And then porcupines come and gnaw its antlers.”

“On the Vimy Pilgrimage,” I said, “I met a New Brunswick guide who taught me how to call moose.”

“Really,” cried Jimmie.

“We had no birch bark,” I explained; “however, the guide – his name was McWhirlpool, or some such Scottish name – got some cardboard off a carton and made a moose caller out of it. It’s a little megaphone. We sat out on the boat deck, calling. The ship’s officers just thought it was somebody being specially seasick.”

“How does it go?” asked Jim.

So I made a megaphone out of some of Jim’s drawing paper and proceeded to demonstrate the art which had been transmitted to me in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

“You call moose,” I explained to Jim, “by imitating the seductive and plaintive sounds of a cow moose. In the very early morning or late evening, you hide yourself in the bushes near some spot where you have seen the footprints of a bull, and commence calling. In case there is a bull quite near, you begin by making soft calls, kneeling down like this and placing the mouth of the horn close to the ground.”

I knelt down and began. The New Brunswick guide had practically given me a diploma for moose calling, because we rehearsed every morning on deck for eight days from Montreal to Le Havre.

Beginning on a high whining note, and muffling it by putting the mouth of the megaphone close to the floor, I let it go, like this “Ooooo-wauuugh”. The ooooo very high and whiney, the waugh falling abruptly to a guttural cough.

“That ought to call something,” said Jim, very impressed.

“You don’t call too often,” I explained. “In case there is a bull handy, you wait fifteen minutes or more after the first call. And listen. The call of a bull is very brief and gruff. It is a sort of choff. A sound, almost, like a distant axe chopping, once. But if you get no reply to your first call, you try again, still leaving the horn pointing down and fairly close to the ground, so as to muffle the sound. You make a little longer, this time. Like this: Oooo-waaaauugh-augh-augh. Oooo-eeeeee.”

“That was a beauty,” admitted Jim, getting up and closing the office windows, in case.

“It is a sound, McWhirlpool told me,” I said, “something like a bugle, something like a fire siren and something like the heaves.”

“You’ve got it to perfection,” agreed Jim. “Then what happens?”

“You listen again for a good fifteen minutes,” I explained. “In the foggy dawn or the increasing dark, it is a chilly and eerie business. You listen for the distant choff of bull. Or the crackling of the bushes as the monster comes to the call. If still nothing answers, you make another call. This time you start with the megaphone pointed to the earth and then slowly as you make the call, you go through contortions, twisting your body around until, at the conclusion of the call, the megaphone is pointing straight to the sky.”

“Just like a crooner,” said Jim, “in a snappy modern orchestra singing a blues number.”

“Exactly,” I agreed. “And McWhirlpool always made the most agonized faces as he called. Again you listen. If you hear the bull answer, or if you hear any sounds in the bushes, you wait. If the bull is suspicious, you can do two things. You can emit a couple of low moans through the horn, muffled, of course. Or even better, you can thrash around in the bushes yourself. Snapping twigs, to pretend there is another bull answering the call. That brings him. He can’t bear the idea of somebody beating him. So with a loud choff and a terrific cracking of bushes, the bull charges into the open. And bang, you’ve got him.”

“Or else you haven’t got him,” said Jim, “and then what?”

“McWhirlpool always said, you’ve got him,” I replied.

“It certainly sounds exciting,” cried Jim. “Compared with ordinary hunting, where you just see a deer and up and crack him down, this moose-calling has everything – mystery, drama, suspense, action.”

“Unfortunately,” I pointed out, “moose are vanishing from everywhere but where the rich and free can go. North of the transcontinental. Over the height of land. In Alaska. There used to be moose right around Peterboro.”

“I’ll tell you something in confidence,” said Jim. “There are still a few moose in Algonquin Park, and occasionally they stray out. This summer, there were moose in around some lakes I fished in Muskoka.”

“No,” said I.

“Yes,” said Jim. “The settlers were all excited. Two of the children on the way to school saw a cow and calf on the road. One evening, the settler where I stayed saw a huge bull wading among the lily pads across a little lake.”

“Ah,” I said, “they’ll all be gone by now. Those settlers.”

“I’ll find out,” said Jim. “The hardware man in Huntsville can drive out in half an hour. I’ll telephone him to-night. If the moose are still there, we’ll go up over a week-end and call them.”

“We can’t shoot them yet,” I reminded Jim.

“We will just call them, for experience,” said Jim, “and the thrill of it and to prove they are there. And if we take a rifle along, it will only be for the protection of life and property.”

Thus, when Jimmie telephoned me at midnight to say the moose were still hanging around the little lost trout lakes a few miles north and east of Huntsville, and it was only a five-hour drive at the most, plans were completed forthwith for the week-end. Jim would take his thirty-thirty and a camera. I would take my 7-millimetre carbine, my binoculars and a knife to cut myself a proper moose call of birch bark.

“There’ll be a story in it,” cried Jim. “A front page story.”

All the Wild World Watching

And Saturday found us steaming at daybreak up Yonge St., and by midmorning amidst all the autumn splendors of Muskoka; and before noon, passing out a rocky and rutted settler’s road to a lonely and miserable cabin on a lake where a tall and amiable settler, his wife and five children, all assured us the moose were still very much in evidence.

“You really did see a bull moose across a lake, this summer, didn’t you?” I checked up.

“Well, it certainly looked like it,” said the settler.

“And the children, I hear, saw a moose cow and call on the road?” I double checked.

“The very day after I saw the bull,” said the settler, “Reenie here and little Wilbert came rushing home from school with the news.”

Jim said he preferred to go out with me alone because of a bad attack of bronchitis the settler had that caused him to bark a great deal. The settler rented us his canoe and gave us directions for going up the lake to a creek and following the creek through three other lakes until we reached a country of spruce swamps and rocky ridges, which was the likeliest country to find moose. I cut a bark horn 15 inches long and four inches at the exit. And two hours before dark, Jimmie and I, moving with all the caution that McWhirlpool had advised, hid our canoe in the brush and took up our stand on the edge of a little lake margined with beaver meadow and surrounded with dark and forbidding spruce.

Just the act of moving stealthily induces a curious excitement. Jim and I were shaky and our voices, though whispered, were unsteady as we set the stage for action. I took post back of a log and Jim stood back of me, with his rifle ready, in case. Because everybody knows a bull moose, especially when excited, is liable to be an ugly customer. My own rifle I rested handy.

The sky was fading to a lovely color. The mysterious still little lake reflected the menacing darkness of the spruce. A sense of all the wild world watching made us shiver.

“Begin,” whispered Jim.

Setting the horn’s mouth close to the rock, I let go the first anguished cry.


Though I uttered it easily, that weird call echoed and rang and vanished across the quiet evening, and even the spruces seemed to stand stock still with astonishment.

Jim and I stared fixedly at the surrounding wilderness. Not a sound. Not even a dry leaf rattled. Not even a chickadee called.

Ten minutes passed, by the watch.

“Let her go again,” whispered Jim, turning to stand back to back with me, so as to guard all fronts.

“Oooooo – waaaaugh – augh – augh – mmmmmmmm!” I wailed through the trumpet, ending in a long drawn moan.

Again we sat immobile, our skins prickling, while the unearthly call rang across the lonely silence and vanished away in the distance.

“Psst,” said Jim, backing up against me.

Unquestionably, something on the far side of the little lake was moving in the brush. Without a shadow of doubt, something was now crashing amidst the spruce. Jim wheeled to face the same way as me, and I heard the snick of his rifle hammer as he cocked it to fire.

Silence. Silence vast and mysterious and throbbing.

“Gi-ive,” whispered Jim, “the little moans.”

“Mmmmmmm,” I lowed in the horn. “Arnnhh, unngh, mmmmmmm.”

Instantly, the distant crashing across the lake was renewed. We could hear the monster coming around the left side. Through spruce and alder and underbrush, something was coming, at an anxious, eager pace. We could hear its antlers crashing on the trees, hear the plunging of its great body.

“Don’t shoot,” I hissed, “unless it charges.”

“Take my camera,” whispered Jim hoarsely. “Get it ready.”

“Light too poor,” I answered, resting my rifle handy.

The thrashing suddenly ceased, forty yards away amidst the dense spruce. Ceased, and left us with hearts thudding in our ears and our eyes bulging with strain. I looked at Jim. He nodded.

In a confidential and almost whispered tone, I let go a low, enticing moan.

But the great bull did not come charging into the open. Instead, as we stood there rooted to the rock, we heard the unmistakable tiny sounds of something walking with stealth, with cunning, with caution known only to the wild, and coming, through the colored dusk, towards us.

A deep exhaled breath suddenly blew right at our backs. Jim wheeled, rifle up. I, after waiting a dignified instant to feel the hoist of giant antlers on my back, wheeled too.

A cow, a plain common barnyard cow, with eager and delighted expression on her countenance, was thrusting her head through the brush.

Jim laughed first. I joined later. Because the music of human laughter was a sweet and pleasing sound amidst that dark land. The cow followed us and saw us off in our canoe, mooing to us in the gathering dark as we headed south.

And the settler said it probably was his heifer that had wandered away last August in the hot spell, and he thanked us very cordially for locating it for him, which he would go and get at the earliest opportunity, maybe next week some time, if he got the chance, because he had so much wood to get in before the snow.

Editor’s Notes: The Vimy Pilgrimage was the trip made by thousands of Canadians to France in 1936 for the dedication of the Vimy Memorial. This happened for Greg and Jim that same year in the spring.

A thirty-thirty is a .30-30 Winchester rifle.

Page 1 of 5

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén