The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: 1948 Page 1 of 2

Grab a Sandwich

“Jim,” I hissed. “Krieghoff! Krieghoff!”

Bargain hunters Jim and Greg discover that honest folk are always getting gypped

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, June 12, 1948.

“We’ll stop,” announced Jimmie Frise, “in this next town and grab a sandwich.”

“Jim, we haven’t got time!” I protested vehemently. “We’re half an hour late now.”

“It won’t take five minutes,” reassured Jim. “I’m hungry.”

“Jim,” I groaned, “please be reasonable. The auction sale starts at 2 pm. It’s nearly one o’clock now, and we’ve got a good 50 miles yet to go.”

“Won’t take five minutes,” said Jim, comfortably patting the steering gear.

“It’ll take more than five minutes, just to find a parking space,” I growled.

“Not in this next town,” declared Jim. “They’ve got parking meters. Plenty of room.”

“Do you want those Krieghoffs, or don’t you?” I demanded bitterly. “How do you know those paintings, won’t be the very first thing auctioned off?”

“Aw, you don’t know country auction sales,” com- forted Jim. Things like paintings and ornaments come last of all. In fact, we’ll probably have to sit around. on the lawn until six or seven o’clock tonight before they get around to the junk.”

Junk!

Last night, an old auntie of mine had telephoned me to read a little notice of an auction sale being held on the old Masterton farm back near the village where she had spent her girlhood. The little country weekly paper reported the notice of the action sale of the implements and household effects of the Mastertons, the last of whom had died.

Among the items listed were “framed pictures.”

“When I was a girl, Greg,” said my old auntie, “old Mr. Masterton – that’s the grandfather of the one who died last month used to be famous for the paintings he bought. All over the county. And I distinctly recall that four of his paintings were by this fellow with the Russian name…”

“Krieghoff?” I cried.

“That’s the name,” said my auntie.

Which accounts for Jimmie and me being en route, in the middle of the week, to a remote village to attend an auction sale. Kreighoff was a Polish artist who made Canada his home in the 1840s and painted the rural Canadian scene. Today, little paintings of his a foot square sell for $1,000 and $2,000. His larger paintings can’t be bought for any price. They go to National Galleries.

“Jim,” I warned, “you’re a very foolish guy to set a sandwich up against four Krieghoffs.”

“If they are Krieghoffs,” said Jim, “there will be buyers from all over North America there. And we’ll have about as much chance of getting them as of flying to the moon. Those guys will bid thousands.”

“Look”: I reasoned grimly. “My old auntie just happens to remember something from her girlhood. Do you suppose any of the Mastertons know what they’ve got? There hasn’t been a Masterton interested in pictures for three generations. I bet those paintings have been up in the garret for two generations, to make way for Varga calendars and Petty girls.”

“There’s always a chance, of course,” agreed Jim. “Krieghoff painted an awful lot of pictures. Some of them are lost. Others keep turning up now and then.”

“Look, Jim,” I pleaded. “Get cracking. Put on some speed. Let’s whip through here…”

“Sandwich,” said Jim.

We were coasting into the outskirts of the small town.

In a moment, we were entering the main street business section, and the neon sign of a cafe shone redly ahead in the bright noon day. The street was pretty solidly lined with parked cars. But I noticed at once the parking meters. A car length distant from one another, the meters were sturdy small poles, four feet tall, on the top of each of which was a meter, the shape of a piece of pie. In red, the word “Violation” showed on the meter until, on your parking your car opposite a vacancy, you put a nickel in the slot, turned the knot and the word “Violation” disappeared. And you had one hour to park for your nickel.

Not far from the cafe, on the opposite side, Jim found a vacant space and whipped into it. I put the nickel in the meter and turned the knob.

“You didn’t need to put a whole nickel in,” admonished Jim. “You can put one cent in, and that’s good for 10 minutes. We’ll only be 10 minutes.”

“I’ll gladly pay a nickel,” I assured him, heading across the street, “for this five minutes!”

We dashed into the cafe. We found two seats at the front counter, and by a special way of smiling at the waitress, we caught her eye and gave our quick orders, a ham sandwich and a glass of milk each. She hustled away.

“Those parking meters,” said Jim, relaxing, “are great idea. They have revolutionized the whole parking problem in these small towns. In the old days nothing could deter the local merchants from parking their own cars in front of their shops. Then, all the kids used to park half the day. And farmers from out of town come in for one of those rambly, easy-going, long, chatty shopping trips; and park all day: smack in the busiest part of the street.”

“They’re a good idea, all right,” I agreed, glancing back in the cafe to see if the waitress was in sight with our sandwiches. We could hear sounds of laughter and gay conversation from behind the kitchen partition.

“There’s quite a racket to them, too,” said Jim. “When you see two or three vacant spots, get out and glance at the meters. Some of them have still half an hour to go. Somebody else put in a nickel and only parked half the hour. So you pop in there for free!”

“Heh, heh!” I said. “What some people will do for half a nickel.”

“You don’t get rich any other way,” assured Jim. “Look out for the nickels and the dollars will look after themselves.”

“Unless,” I suggested, glancing up at the cafe wall clock, “you buy Krieghoffs at five bucks and sell them for 2,000!”

The clock said 1:12.

Our waitress came swishing from the kitchen, but with no sandwiches.

“Look,” I called, “we’re in a terrific hurry…”

“We just run out of ham,” explained the waitress soothingly. “One of the girls has just popped across to the store for some.”

“But, look, what else have you, ready!” I cried. “We’re late for a very important…”

“Now, now, the ham’ll be here in a minute,” scolded the waitress prettily.

It was exactly 1:17 when the sandwiches and the milk were slid before us.

It was 1:21 when we faced the cashier. It was 1:22 when we bounded across the road to our car and found a parking ticket summons fastened to our windshield wiper.

“What’s this?” exclaimed Jim, examining it.

“For violation of the parking limits,” I read aloud. We looked at the meter. In red, the word “VIOLATION” stared at us.

“But look here,” expostulated Jim. “We haven’t been 15 minutes…”

“Come on, come on,” I snorted, opening the ear door. “Argue about it later, but let’s get cracking.”

“Now, hold your horses,” backed Jim. “We’ve got to look into this. How do we pay it? How much are they going to soak us in this gyptown?”

A passerby, in best small town spirit, overheard our heated discussion and came to Jim’s aid. “Something wrong?” he asked.

“We put a nickel in this meter, not 20 minutes ago…” began Jim.

“Is this the meter you parked in front of?” asked the townsman. “Sometimes the local smarties, when they want to park, just push a car a little way ahead and so occupy a paid-for space…”

He nimbled back one car and looked at the meter.

This one,” he smiled, “has 40 minutes still to go.”

“You mean the guy who owns that car,” I gritted, “just shoved us forward and took our space?”

“And then the town cop,” explained the local, “comes along and sees you parked in front of a violation meter.”

“What’s this ticket going to cost me?” demanded Jim.

“A dollar, I think,” consoled the townsman.

“Where’s the cop?” shouted Jim indignantly.

I was starting to perspire all over.

“Jim!” I commanded sternly.

But Jimmie was off down the street to the corner, where he could see the town constable in conversation in the shade.

It was 1:30 when Jim returned to the car with the policeman. He was a very genial policeman.

“I know the man who owns this car behind you,” he said, “and he’s a very honorable man. He wouldn’t do a trick like that.”

“Is his wife honorable? Are his kids honorable?” countered Jim. “How do you know who’s driving the car?”

“I don’t think anybody would do a trick like that,” said the cop. “Not in this town. What I think is more likely, you gents were a little longer at your lunch than you imagine.”

“We were not!” I declared hotly. “We are both witnesses to the fact that shortly after one o’clock, we deposited a nickel in this parking meter…”

“In A parking meter,” corrected the constable.

“Jim,” I hissed. “Krieghoff! Krieghoff!”

“If you want to be rude,” said the cop, “you can come up to the town clerk right now.”

“Can we pay you?” said Jim reaching to his pocket.

“I don’t accept fines,” said the policeman stiffly. “Go up that side street half a block, and you’ll see the municipal offices. Go in there…”

“Can’t we mail it?” I wailed.

“Yes, you can mail $1 with the ticket. It says so, if you’ll read it,” snorted the constable.

“I HATE being taken for a sucker!” said Jim, sliding in to his seat beside me. “I’m going to run around and fight this out with the town clerk or the JP.”

“Not now, Jim,” I pleaded. “On our way back.”

“This town will be closed up by the time we pass down,” said Jim firmly.

And despite my sighs, groans and muttered curses, Jim drove around to the side street, spent five minutes finding a parking spot on this non-metered street: only the main street is metered. And it was 1:40 when he left me to go into the municipal offices to fight the good fight for human rights and justice.

It was 2:10 when Jim came out, red and exhausted, to find me white and exhausted, glaring in the car.

Jim had lost. The clerk had said that Jim should have put his brakes on and locked the car, if he didn’t want to be shoved ahead from his paid meter.

“What kind of a world is this?” begged Jimmie.

“Anything for a nickel,” I muttered.

Which reminded me of the Krieghoffs.

We arrived at the Masterton farm at 3:15. The auctioneers were still out in the barnyard, working on the implements and barn fixtures.

Out on the lawn were piled all the domestic treasures of the Mastertons of three generations. Chairs, sideboards, tables, mattresses, beds, chinaware. Ladies of the county were circulating amidst the piles, appraising. There were about 15 pictures, including oval framed enlargements of gentlemen in sidewhiskers and ladies with set jaws. There was a steel engraving of “The Stag At Bay.” But there were none that even remotely resembled Kreighoffs.

I asked a knowing-looking lady if there were any Mastertons in the crowd. She took me over to an aged gentleman who was a brother of the late owner of the farm.

“Yep,” he said, “there was a bunch of oil paintings once. Stacked up in the attic they was. Pretty dim little things, about so big. Dim, and dark. Not much to look at. Dirty, I guess they was.”

He held his hands out to show how big they were. Exactly Krieghoff size.

“What happened to them?” I said hoarsely.

“A feller selling patent medicines came by here, Oh, maybe 15 years back,” said the old-timer, “and my brother traded him all them pictures – there must have been a dozen of ’em in the garret – for two large bottles of sciatica liniment.”

“The pictures,” I swallowed, “for liniment.”

“Yeah, ye see,” said the old timer, “when you get sciatica, you ain’t much interested in art.”

“Somebody,” said Jim, as we headed for the car, “is always getting gypped.”


Editor’s Notes: Cornelius Krieghoff is best known for his paintings of Canadian landscapes and outdoor life.

“Up in the garret” is slang for “up in the attic”.

Alberto Vargas and George Petty were well known in the 1940s for their pin-up art, often available in calendars.

The parking meter was invented in 1935, but must have been not well known enough in 1948 requiring Greg to explain what they were and how they worked.

5 cents in 1948 would be 68 cents in 2023. $2000 would be $27,250.

Sciatica is pain going down the leg from the lower back.

Bird in Hand

The whole cavalcade halted violently, everybody bailed out and levelled their field glasses.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, April 3, 1948.

Greg gives Jim a few lessons in the sport of bird-watching

“I won’t go!” announced Jimmie Frise.

“It’s the greatest sport in the world,” I assured him.

“Under no circumstances,” cried Jim flatly, “would I go! It sounds to me like the silliest, stupidest, vapidest, most infantile…”

“Go once,” I declared, “and you’ll wonder why you’ve been wasting all your life on sissy sports. Bird-watching, in another 10 years, will have 10,000,000 followers in North America. It’s sweeping the continent.”

“Bird-watching!” breathed Jimmie contemptuously.

“Some call it birding,” I informed him.

“Birding!” simpered Jim, puckering up his mouth. “Tatting. Crocheting. Birding!”

“Look:” I submitted. “I’ll take you out for a day’s bird-watching, and I’ll guarantee at the end of it you’ll be more exhausted than you’ve ever been with all your hunting and fishing in all your life.”

“Who wants to be exhausted?” snorted Jim.

“One thing at a time,” I reminded him. “You were trying to make out it is a sissy, old maid’s sport. I tell you, bird-watching is a strenuous sport, if you want it strenuous. On the other hand, if you just want to wander along country side roads, avoiding the bush and the swamps, that’s okay, too. But you won’t run up much of a score.”

“Score?” cried Jim. “Is there a score in this pretty game?”

“Certainly,” I explained. “This IS the game. It is to see how big a score of different species of wild birds you can run up in the one day. You compete with your friends who are out in the country with you. Or you can join a club of field naturalists or just a club of your own friends and connections. And then you try to beat the experts in that club.”

“It still sounds piffling to me,” muttered Jim.

“Okay” I changed direction. “What does any sport give you? What does golf give you? A day in the open air, zestful exercise, the company of your friends; and a little competition.”

“But golf calls for skill,” protested Jim.

“What do you think bird-watching calls for?” I exclaimed. “A great deal more skill than swinging a club. You’ve got to have physical skill to work your way, with economy and energy through thick swamps, dense bush, hill, cliff and valley. And you’ve got to have skill of eye and mind to identify the bird when you see it. With your field glasses.”

“How many birds are there?” asked Jim.

“Fifteen billion, by the last census,” I replied, “in North America.”

“I mean, how many different kinds?” said Jim, trying not to look impressed.

“In North America, 700 different kinds,” I informed him. “Around 500 different kinds in this particular section. But if you were to become a real expert, you might see 250 in your lifetime. So far, although I’ve been looking at them for 30 years, I’ve only seen and identified 170 kinds, from eagles to hummingbirds.”

“Gosh,” murmured Jim. “I had no idea. Heck, I don’t know more than a dozen different kinds, a crow, a robin, several kinds of duck, a hawk…”

“What kind of hawk?” I queried.

“Well, a hawk!” cried Jim. “Isn’t a hawk a hawk?”

“Certainly not,” I asserted. “There are 22 kinds of hawks. See? You talk about skill in golf. All your life you’ve been seeing birds out of the corner of your eye. You’ve never even looked at them. They’re creatures of beauty, mystery, charm. Most of them are HARD to see. It takes skill and intelligence.”

“And a lot of time,” complained Jim.

“Well, you spend a lot of time on other recreation,” I reminded.” But golf is limited by the season. So is hunting. So is fishing. Any sport you like to mention has to be given up at some season of the year. Bird- watching, on the other hand, is an all-the-year-’round game. These clubs and gangs of bird-watchers – you’ll find them in every city and town, centered around the schools or the sportsmen’s clubs – are out hunting from January 1 to the next December 31. They get a far bigger kick out of running up a score of 20 different birds on a February day than 100 on a May day.”

“You mean,” demanded Jim, “that these nuts go out in the dead of winter?”

“Certainly,” I gloated. “That’s the point. If it’s fresh air and exercise you want, a day in the country, with your friends, and with hunting as the object…”

“Queer hunting,” protested Jim.

“You mean you don’t kill anything?” I asked. “That is its chief charm. Do you know, doctors and psychiatrists are recommending bird-watching to bored and worried people all over the world?”

“The trouble is, I’m a dub,” explained Jim. “I don’t, know more than a dozen or so birds to start with. What equipment do you need?”

“Well, everybody’s a dub, when they start golf or bridge or fishing,” I pointed out. “All the equipment you need is a pair of field glasses and a pocket field guide to the birds, so you can identify them when you see them.”

Jim stared moodily out of the window. April is a funny time of year. Too early for golf. Too late for skiing. Too soon for fishing. Too muddy to start on the garden.

“I’ll go,” he announced grimly.

So, at 7 am, which is early for a Sunday anywhere, I tooted outside Jimmie’s; and he emerged in his old hunting clothes and boots, with an old pair of army field glasses around his neck and a paper bag of sandwiches in his hand. We drove to a suburban cross-roads where our particular party was to rendez-vous. There were five carloads, and the hunting party consisted of two bank managers, a fur dealer, a university professor of history, a locomotive engineer, three brokers, a plumber, a doctor, two mechanics and one poet. They were all dressed in dowdy old clothes and hunting boots. The only things they had in common were field glasses hung around their necks, long peaked caps and paper bags full of lunch.

I introduced Jim to the gang. One or two of the party had already started to score. You can pick up plenty of wild birds right within the city limits. The history professor, for instance, had detoured through a city park on his way to the rendez-vous, and he had scored already – song sparrow, bluebird, chickadee, sparrow hawk, pheasant, flicker, downy woodpecker, junco, blue jay and winter wren.

After a short palaver as to where we would all meet for lunch, in case any of us got lost chasing will o’ the wisps, we piled into our cars and the procession started away from the suburbs at a nice slow pace. You don’t race, bird-watching. Everybody is watching.

“A funny bunch,” announced Jim, as we fell in the rear of the parade.” They look like a bunch of crap- shooters.”

“Or deer-hunters,” I agreed, “or hound men going out for a fox. You see: it doesn’t matter what the game is…”

Half a mile up the road, the lead car spotted a bird hunched on a low tree off in the field. The whole cavalcade halted violently, everybody bailed out and levelled their field glasses. It was a migrant shrike. Everybody took out their score cards and entered the shrike. Jim studied the bird long and carefully; and then I showed him its color print in the little field guide.

“Never saw it before!” he stated with surprise.

“Oh, yes you have,” I assured him. “You never recognized it before. Up till now, it was just a bird of some kind. Score one, Mr. Frise.”

We dropped a little behind as I pointed out song sparrow, blue bird, junco, a pair of mourning doves rising off the road, their lovely flight so shy and wild; a chipping sparrow and a phoebe. “Just little flutters along the roadside,” marvelled Jim, “unless you stop and take a look.”

He levelled his glasses through the car window at each of them; and then took pleasure in hunting them up in the little book.

“Well, I’ll be jiggered,” he muttered, as he took out his score card and marked them down.

We overtook the main party, where they had all bailed out to identify a large hawk beating and soaring over a field some distance away. It turned out to be a red-tailed hawk, and Jim was amazed to discover, in his field glasses, that it had a red tail!

So we proceeded, by main road and occasionally turning off side roads, to do the concession square, and so back to the main road. We added savannah sparrow, tree swallow and a beautiful little sparrow hawk to our score. Jim was profoundly impressed at the comparison between the tiny, robin-sized sparrow hawk and the huge red tail he had seen a few minutes before. Both hawks! He pondered, scoring his card.

The caravan wandered up the highway, off the side roads, with distance increasing between cars from time to time as something caught the eye; and then closing up again into a compact convoy. At a dense swamp, we all got out and entered the cedars to look for some long-eared owls the history professor had seen in there the week before. But we found none.

We were about two hours out from the city when we got detached from the convoy. I had stopped the car to let Jim see a kildeer plover. He had seen lots of them before; but never through field glasses. When we took up the chase again, we came to a backwoods crossroad; and the other cars were nowhere in sight.

As we sat cogitating, something compact, brown and swift flashed across the road a few yards away. “A woodcock!” shouted Jim.

“A jack snipe,” I corrected.

“A woodcock!” insisted Jim, with newborn authority. “I guess I know a woodcock when I see it. I’ve shot plenty of them.”

I turned the car along the side road, and we coasted slowly, watching out the windows into the brushy swamp. A hundred yards down, I stopped and we got out.

“What do you say?” I suggested. “Let’s go in and try to identify it.”

“That’s my idea,” declared Jim. “That’s real bird-watching.”

So we left the car and slipped as cautiously as we could into the underbrush. Underfoot, the first hepatica, the barely open anemone. We kept close together and thrust, yard by yard, into the brushy willow and alder, watching every foot of ground ahead. We came to wet spots that we had to circle. We encountered cedar patches, which we wove through. We worked east, we worked west: but nary a woodcock nor even a jack snipe did we see; nor any other bird. And we were sweating and our legs ached. And we decided to go back out to the car.

Which we did. And when we reached the road, there was no car! We walked back to the corner. No car. We walked the full concession, with heavy feet. No car. We hailed a passing farmer in a truck and asked him had he noticed a yellow car.

“Not on the sixth line,” he confessed.

Had he seen a convoy of five cars full of bird-watchers?

“Bird what?” he asked suspiciously.

“Our car must be stolen,” I pleaded. “Could you give us a lift, while we look around?”

He drove us slowly along the side road, up and around the concession. He took us to his farm house, where we put in a call to the county constable.

“If it’s stolen,” said the constable, “they can’t get out of this area without having been seen by one of the gas stations, I’ll call you back in 20 minutes.”

We sat drinking tea with the farmer and his wife.

“What were you doing in there?” the farmer asked, cautiously.

“We’re b…”, I stuttered, “we’re naturalists.”

“Ah, bugs and things,” said the farmer, much relieved. The phone rang. It was the county constable.

“We’ve located your car,” he said. “It’s been abandoned. It’s down on the fifth line.”

So the farmer drove us down to the fifth line.

And there was our car, exactly where we had left it! It seems, when you go bird watching you can get badly turned around. What is more, you can cross a road without being aware of it. For the farmer had driven us, in his truck, entirely around the concession in which we believed we had been hunting.

“You get sort of,” said Jimmie, “sort of hypnotized by…uh…”

“Bugs and things,” agreed the farmer, gently.

We got into the car and drove back to the highway: and thus to the lunch hour rendez-vous by a stream, where we found our five carloads of fellow bird watchers deep in their paper bags.

The professor of history had a score of 48, the locomotive engineer 47, and all the rest in the forties. They all wore the relaxed and cheery air of men who had been thoroughly washed out by wild fresh air. Their legs spread out, heavy and tired. They munched their sandwiches. The winners looked cocky and proud. The losers looked subdued and defiant.

No money had changed hands. Nothing was killed. The hunt was ended. The friends were sprawled about, aware of one another.

“You’ve got something,” admitted Jim, in a low voice, from behind his ham sandwich.


Editor’s Notes: Tatting is a technique for handcrafting lace.

Hepatica and Anemone are in the buttercup family.

Any of the bird types can be searched for if you are interested.

Juniper Junction – 02/25/48

February 25, 1948

Juniper Junction – 07/28/48

July 28, 1948

This was the last Juniper Junction by Jim to be published in the Family Herald, though it was not the last one. There was one more after this published in the Montreal Standard, and I do not know why is was skipped in the Herald.

Air of Suspicion

“She had her pocket picked,” explained one of the earlier arrivals.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, February 21, 1948.

Jim and Greg discover that curiosity can be – costly – even for a couple of old newspapermen

“Hey! A fight!!” exclaimed Jimmie Frise, snatching my coat sleeve.

Across the street, in the downtown noon hour rush, a sudden swarm of people was gathering.

“Come on!” cried Jim, excitedly.

We ducked through traffic to be in on the on the kill. Now, while it has been my privilege as a newspaperman to have occupied one of those extra front box seats reserved for the press for most of the main events of the past quarter-century, such as wars, riots, earthquakes, fires, coronations and funerals, the fact is, unless I’ve got tickets, I never can get close to a good extempore ruckus. My legs are too short to get me there quickly; too short to let me look over the heads of those who got there first. It was the same here.

“What is it, Jim?” I shouted eagerly, as we found ourselves part of the swirling crowd.

“It’s not a fight,” reported Jimmie, from above. “It’s some old lady…”

By the time we had wiggled and wedged our way deep enough into the fray to discover its cause, the crowd was already breaking up. At the core of the excitement were a policeman and a little old lady.

“She had her pocket picked,” explained one of the earlier arrivals in reply to our question.

“You’re sure,” the policeman, with his little notebook poised, was asking her, “you’re perfectly sure you didn’t leave your purse in on any counter, in the store?”

“Perfectly,” said the shaken little old lady. “Perfectly. In fact, before I came out the revolving doors, I paused inside and looked into my handbag and opened my purse to take this car ticket out…”

“And,” questioned the cop kindly, “you didn’t then drop the purse, inside the store?”

“To take the ticket out,” explained the trembling old lady, with a deep breath,” I did not remove the purse from my handbag. I then stepped through the revolving doors and immediately the two men bumped into me, pretending they were trying to crowd through the doors. I felt a push and a shove. I felt my handbag jerked. When they passed, I found my handbag dangling open, like this, and my purse had been taken.”

“Well,” sighed the big policeman, heavily, “it certainly sounds like the work of professional pickpockets. Could you identify the two men?”

“I think I could,” quavered the old lady.

“Then would you be kind enough to come with me up to City Hall? It’s only a step…” said the cop.

From amidst the diminishing crowd, the two started up the street, the cop tenderly escorting the little old lady so as to make it clear to passersby that she was not pinched.

“Did she lose much?” I asked one of the better informed of the hangers-on.

“She said there was $15 in her purse,” advised the commentator.

Jim and. I turned disappointedly back across the street towards the office.

“Fifteen bucks! I scoffed. “All that excitement for 15 measly bucks!”

“I don’t know,” mused Jim, thoughtfully, as we mounted the stairs to the office. “Fifteen dollars to that little old lady might mean a lot. It might be half her monthly income. It might be half her old age pension or widow’s allowance, maybe.”

“She was a nice little old body,” I admitted. “Funny how crooks always pick on the helpless or the old.”

“I’m not thinking so much about the crooks,” continued Jimmie, thoughtfully, as he prepared to sit down to his drawing board. “I’m thinking about us. And about all those people who went rushing like mad to crowd and jam around that poor old soul.”

“What’s wrong with that?” I challenged. “Natural curiosity. It’s human nature to be curious about excitement of any sort.”

“Yeah,” muttered Jim. “Curiosity. But the minute our curiosity was satisfied, we scattered like leaves in front of a broom. We hadn’t the slightest interest in the poor old woman, the minute we found out what had happened. In fact, as we walked away, you were disgusted that she had lost only 15 bucks.”

“What more could we have done?” I demanded indignantly. “The cop was with her, wasn’t he?”

“You and I,” declared Jim levelly, “might have offered to escort the old lady up to City Hall for the cop. That is one little thing we might have done. No old lady likes to have to walk up the street in company with a great big cop. We know that. The cop knows that. He would have welcomed the suggestion from us. But OH, no. Away we run, the minute our vulgar curiosity is satisfied. Do you know what we are, we are common multitudes? We’re just grown-up URCHINS.”

“Oh, now!” I protested.

“No sympathy, no concern, no fellow-feeling for our neighbors in life,” accused Jim, with mounting feeling. “That old lady might have been our mother or wife or mother-in-law. She’s somebody’s mother. Suppose these darn pickpockets had attacked some dear old lady in our own immediate family… eh?”

“I guess we…” I began humbly.

“We’re supposed to be intelligent guys,” declared Jim, rising. “But we take no more real, personal interest in affairs around us than if we were visitors from Mars.”

Jim stood looking out the office window for a minute then turned and took his coat off the chair back and started to put it on.

“What are you going to do?” I inquired.

“I’m,” announced Jim, “I’m going over and see what has happened about that nice old lady. I’m going over to City Hall and see if there’s any little thing I can do…”

“Awfff,” I protested; but got my coat on, too.

And with a growing sense of worth and importance, we walked up street to City Hall.

Around the back and into the corridors, we found the detective bureau. The halls were filled with the usual shiftless and wistful crowds that frequent police headquarters. Friends, doubtless, of the unfortunates detained within.

Having been a police reporter in my boyhood, I know many of the older cops who have been relegated to jobs such as doormen, guards and desk-sitters. At the detective office gate, I found my old friend Finnegan and explained to him that we had come out of a sense of public duty, to see what had happened to a dear little old lady who had had her pocket picked.

“Och, she’s inside now,” cried Finnegan, “looking through the rogues gallery – the picture albums, you know? Them pickpockets are easily identified. In a few minutes, we’ll have the suspects. And then there’ll be a lineup…”

“A lineup, eh” breathed Jim eagerly.

“Youse boys can get into it,” suggested Finnegan cheerily, “Was you ever in a police lineup? We put the suspects in a line with 10 or 11 innocent men, like your yourselves. And the victim picks the suspect out from the innocent.”

While Finnegan was talking, the door opened, and the little old lady, now quite happy and reassured-looking, came out with her policeman and a couple of detectives. We lifted our hats respectfully to her out of our excessive and growing sense of public duty.

“How long will it be before …?” I asked Finnegan.

“I seen Halloran and Mulcahy, a couple of the plain-clothes detail on pickpockets,” replied Finnegan, “go out of here 10 minutes ago like fire engines. They may be back any time. The old lady apparently identified somebody from the pictures.”

In fact, we had hardly anytime to wait. The detectives had taken the dear little lady across to a private office to wait in comfort. And Jim and I had hardly exchanged more than a couple of boyhood reminiscences with Finnegan when there was a scurry of excitement down the dim and gloomy corridor, and in strode Halloran and Mulcahy, the plainclothesmen, each hustling alongside them an indignant character whom they held by the elbow.

“That’s them,” said Finnegan.

As they passed us at the desk, I got a good look at the suspects. They were alike but two peas. Small, thin, gaunt, with large adam’s apples. Seedy, but sporty. They had large dark eyes, wide with apprehension.

Them dips,” remarked Finnegan, “all look alike.”

Action started immediately. Out came a sergeant and commanded Finnegan:

“Organize a line-up!”

“You two?” inquired Finnegan, as he rose.

“Delighted,” we chorused.

Finnegan went down the thin corridor and started coming. In a couple of minutes, he came back with eight assorted characters he had backed up in the halls: hangers-on. City Hall clerks, men on their way to pay their water rates, travelers, sightseers.

“Line up, here gentlemen,” he commanded, putting Jimmie and me at the head of the column. They always like 12 men in a lineup, including the suspects.

The sergeant emerged from the inner sanctum and signalled. We filed into a big, bare room with a low platform along one side of it. On the platform, with Halloran and Mulcahy beside them, stood the two suspects, earnestly swallowing at their adam’s apples, and their eyes twice as large as before.

“Line up any old way, gentlemen,” directed the sergeant. “Now, Mulcahy, put them two in among: One in number 3 position and one in number 9.”

Jimmie and I were in positions Nos. 7 and 8. And I assure you it was a thrill to see the suspect ceremonially shoved alongside me by Mulcahy.

“Everybody stand steady, now,” commanded the sergeant.

The lights went out; at the same instant, powerful floodlights came on, from a long bracket overhead. We were bathed in light, like actors in the footlights.

We stood blinking, and heard doors open and the sounds of people entering the room.

“Take it easy, now, Mother,” we heard the sergeant saying. “Just sit down here, now, easy, and cast your eye over these gentlemen. Do you recognize anybody…?”

I heard my neighbor in the lineup let his adam’s apple go clunk.

The lights were blinding. Suddenly, for no reason at all, I began to get the shakes. What a silly thing to be doing! Standing here, offering myself to the gaze of a frightened, bewildered old lady.

The lights were hot. I began to perspire. Suppose somebody were out there, in the impenetrable dark of the room, who had seen me, that time, back in 1925…!

Good heavens! Suppose, by one of those freaks of fate, somebody should happen to be there, among the spectators, who, despite my years, might recognize me as the young fellow who, away back in 1919…!

My mouth was dry. My hands were clammy. My eyes, narrowed against the glare, were twitching. If ever a man looked like a criminal …!

Vaguely, I could see that they had brought the infernal old woman close up to us. And she was slowly walking along the row of us, peering intently up at our faces.

She paused, I saw with horror and still worse shakes, straight in front of me.

“My, my, my,” she said. “I would never suppose such a kind gentleman as this could be a criminal…”

“My, my, my,” she said, in a high voice. “I would never suppose such a kind gentleman as this could be a criminal …”

“No, no, Mother!” came the sergeant’s good-humored voice. “These are all just passersby, except one or two. Are you SURE you don’t recognize any of these as the men who robbed your purse?”

“They all,” sighed the little lady helplessly, “all look like honest gentlemen to me. No, I don’t see anything like them.”

I heard my neighbor’s adam’s apple go clunk again.

Bang off went the glare lights. On came the soft, normal room lights, and quietly and a little abashed, we all filed out of the room,

“Okay, boss?” inquired the two seedy, sporty characters, anxiously.

“Okay, boys,” agreed the sergeant. “Sorry to have disturbed you.”

“It’s okay, boss,” they assured him, and led the procession of us out into the dark corridor and thence into God’s free air in the streets.

“Whew!” whuffed Jimmie.

“Whew to you!” I agreed. “I got so scared…”

“Man!” cried Jim. “Does your past life ever race past before your eyes!”

I reached inside for my hanky. My exploring hand encountered a curious flatness.

“JIM!” I yelled. “My wallet! My wallet’s gone! I’ve been pock-pick …”

We raced back in to my old friend Finnegan. He got out his pad. The details were written down.

“Now, when,” demanded Finnegan, “did you last notice you HAD your wallet?”

“Well, ugh … er … um …” I declared categorically.

At any rate, out rushed Halloran and Mulcahy again.

We waited until 5 pm. And since then – that’s two days ago – there has been nothing further to report. As for matters of public concern, Jim and I haven’t even mentioned them. This is strictly a private world.

Juniper Junction – 04/21/48

April 21, 1948

Comes the Revolution

“As a matter of fact … we did put on a little burst of speed. I remember now.”

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by Jim Frise, January 31, 1948

“See,” snarled Jimmie Frise bitterly, “what I’ve got!”

He held up a blue paper.

“A summons!” I exclaimed. “You haven’t had one for years.”

“For 10 or 15 years!” barked Jim. “I’m the most cautious driver in the city. In the province! I always drive the same. I’m the sample of the good, steady, law-abiding citizen…”

“What’s it for?” I interrupted.

“Speeding,” protested Jim. “Travelling at a rate in excess of 30 miles an hour. Approximately, it says here, approximately 40 miles an hour. What is approximately? See? The guy couldn’t even figure out what speed I was going.”

“Where was it?” I interrogated.

“You were with me!” cried Jimmie. “You’re my witness. It was last Thursday morning. Remember? Going up that slight slope along the Lake Shore Drive near the canoe club. Remember?”

“By golly, Jim,” I said warmly, “nobody would speed there. Everybody in town knows there is a speed cop at the top of that hill.”

“Everybody but strangers,” agreed Jim. “All of us who live in the west end know that speed cop. He’s been stationed there for the past eight or 10 years.

“Certainly,” I confirmed. “Do they think we west-enders are crazy? That speed cop is put there to catch strangers from out of town and people who live in other parts of the city. Jim, there must be some mistake. No resident of this part of town is going to deliberately speed past a cop he knows as well as he knows every traffic light on the route!”

“As a matter of fact,” ruminated Jim, “if you’ll think back to last Thursday, we did put on a little burst of speed going up that slope. I remember now. In fact, I recall looking at the cop, when we passed him, to see if he had noticed.”

“You did speed?” I questioned.

“In the interests of good driving,” declared Jim. “In the public interest. In the interest of traffic itself, which this cop is supposed to superintend. Don’t you remember? There was an old schooner of a heavily loaded truck struggling up the slope. At about 10 miles an hour…”

“Ah, yes, I do! I do!” I cried. “An old, lobsided truck, with ramshackle furniture piled on it.”

“That’s the one,” concurred Jim. “It was obstructing traffic. It was holding up the whole stream of businessmen traffic, heading downtown. So all I did was move out and pass it, at the speed necessary to keep the traffic stream moving and close up the gap created by this anti-public-interest truck.”

“Then,” I announced triumphantly, “the fault is not yours. The fault lies with that speed cop for failing to observe the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

“We’ve got him,” gloated Jim. “That cop is a robot, an automaton. He doesn’t use his brains. He doesn’t observe anything. He just fixes his mind on a car and times it with his stop-watch…”

“How could he?” I cut in. “Even there, we’ve got him! To time a speeding car, he has to pick it up with his eye at a certain spot, see? And then clock it until it passes him. You didn’t start to pass that truck until we were part way up the hill. Okay: he simply saw you going faster – for that 100 yards necessary to close up the traffic gap – and make a wild guess that you were going 40. That explains the ‘approximately’. He could see you were going more than the standard 30. So he just guessed…! Jim! Let’s fight this case! Let’s go to court. Let’s make an example of that speed cop!”

“Aw,” said Jim wearily.

“Come on,” I pleaded. “Jim! I’m your witness. I’ll go with you. We’ll fight this case. In the public interest!”

“It takes so long,” groaned Jim. “A whole afternoon wasted. It’s so much easier just to go and pay the 10 bucks, in the lineup.”

I studied Jim in shocked silence.

“So much easier,” I breathed bitterly. “A whole afternoon wasted! My dear man, is justice and freedom to be flung away, all for the sake of convenience? Are the things our fathers fought for, across 100 centuries to be chucked away by us for the sake of an afternoon? Are we to submit, without a struggle to the imposition of a police state upon us?”

“A police state?” demanded Jimmie.

“A police state,” I assured his gravely, “is already well established upon us. It already exists. And unless we rebel, it will gradually enlarge its hold over us.”

“Police courts,” complained Jim, “are so long and dreary and dragged out.”

“Precisely,” I triumphed. “That’s part of the scheme, don’t you see? They make it so unpleasant to attend court that the public gradually falls into the habit of accepting every summons, no matter how unjust, pleading guilty, throwing away their hard-bought liberty, in order to go and line up in the police court clerk’s office and pay the fine automatically. In other words, we are suborning INJUSTICE!”

“You can’t beat the cops,” sighed Jim.

“We’ve beaten the cops,” I cried, “across 2000 years of British history! What were the cops, 1000 years ago but the bailiffs and bullies of the local lord? What were the cops, 100 years ago, but the semi-military hirelings of the gang in power?”

“The cops today,” corrected Jim, “are the employee of the municipality – of us.”

“Yet,” I vociferated, “you are going to line up at a wicket and pay 10 bucks because some robot of a speed cop – who didn’t use his own eyes – issues you a summons? Your employee!”

“If we go to court,” argued Jim, “and don’t win, it will be 10 bucks and costs – maybe 14 bucks.”

“Jim,” I said, restrainedly, “sooner or later, somebody is going to lead a revolt against this vicious and dangerous system of making it easy to pay your fine and hard to plead your case. I tell you, if you’ll come in on this with me, we’ll make history with this case. We’ll lead the revolt. When I’m called to the witness stand, I’ll make a speech that will ring all over this country. The reporters will take it down…”

“They’re tough in police courts,” interrupted Jim. “They don’t go for speeches.”

“I’ll make a speech,” I exulted, “that will wake the people of this country to the danger they’re in. We’ll inspire thousands of our fellow-citizens to fight their cases in court, instead of tamely lining up at the police court clerk’s wicket. We’ll jam the police courts so they’ll have to hold night sessions. We’ll have every police magistrate in the country yawning. We’ll force all these frisky speed cops to have to come and sit in court, hour after hour, waiting their turn, like us. We’ll upset the whole apple cart. There aren’t enough magistrates or enough cops or enough court rooms in the whole country to handle the traffic, if once we poor dopes wake up and start calling the bluff.”

“It would be kind of fun,” reflected Jim, cautiously.

“They’ve built up,” I pointed out, “a very handy little system of taxing the public through summonses that are never contested. If everybody, in the name of justice, demanded a hearing, instead of tamely lining up at a wicket, by George, it would create a situation that would make a cop pause and reflect before he starts flinging his summonses around!”

“Let’s see,” checked Jim. “I haven’t had a summons of any kind in 12 years or more. I am, by that fact, demonstrated to be a law-abiding citizen. On this occasion, in order to close up the traffic, in the public interest, I …”

When’s the summons for?” I cut in. Jim studied the blue paper.

“Tuesday,” he said. “That’s today! This afternoon. 2 o’clock, it says.”

“We’ll probably have to sit,” I admitted, “until maybe 5 o’clock. But we’d better be there on time, just in case.”

I stood up and buttoned my coat, loosened my shirt collar and tried out my vocal cords for public speaking.

Jim and I had a quick lunch, during which we went very carefully over the case, confirming various points of evidence, such as the time, the kind of day it was, the curve of the road, the absence of any other traffic moving against us at the time.

We arrived at the City Hall well ahead of 2 o’clock, and just for the sake of inspiration, passed down through the lower corridor where the police court clerk’s office is located. There, as usual, was the melancholy queue of citizens, lined up to pay their fines without protest, without argument, with no consideration of justice. There were well dressed men and poorly dressed men, and of all styles and characters. And I thought: what a tragic thing this is to submit so tamely to impositions and outrages to spare us which our forefathers gave their very blood.

Convenience! Comfort! A little time saved! Ah, for trifles have the mass of men so oft peddled their birthright!

“Just look, Jim,” I muttered, “how gloomy and sullen they all appear. I tell you, they are ripe for revolt. We’ll lead them!”

“Just look how gloomy and sullen they all appear. I tell you, they are ripe for revolt. We’ll lead them!”

Upstairs, the gloomy, battered old police court room was already pretty well filled by the time we got there. A constable guarding the door asked us our business.

“We’ve got a summons for speeding,” I informed him calmly, “which we are going to fight.”

The door constable looked at us as if we were lunatics, but let us pass. We selected a seat in the second row of the gallery and took off our overcoats for a good long stay.

Already, the court room was filling with police, clerks and lawyers. Its dingy expanse, decorated with massive bench and oversize brass lighting fixtures of a more pompous bygone day, seemed heavy with much lost breath over the years. I noticed that by far the majority of my fellow-citizens in the benches around me were shabbily dressed. There was hardly a well dressed per son in the whole company. Where were the well dressed? Ah, out there in the lineup at the wicket, I suppose. Who, I thought to myself, who will rally the well dressed? It is they, they, who are treasonable to our liberties. I recollected the retreat to Dunkirk, in 1940, and how, as I fled from village to village and town to town, all the well dressed had already gone, leaving only the shabby behind. My most tragic memory …!

The court room stirred; and a ringing voice cried “Order!” A magistrate, gray and patient and small, took his seat high on the bench. And then began, like an auction sale, with all the haste and loud calling and sudden silences of an auction mart, the grinding of the mills.

For 15 minutes, Jimmie and I were entranced by the drama. But after half an hour, we were weary of the same old routine; the public health cases, the chicken yards kept in restricted areas, the dog licences, the boys playing shinny on the public streets. We looked at each other. Jim furtively glanced at his watch. After an hour had passed, I had the boldness to get up and thrust my way past the crowds up to the police court clerk’s small desk – the lad who calls out the offenders’ names – and I whispered to him.

“Can you call Frise now? F-r-i-s-e?”

“Others,” whispered the clerk, “are just as anxious as you are to get out of here. Keep your turn!”

I tiptoed back and sat beside Jim.

“Not much speechmaking here,” remarked Jim, in a barely audible whisper.

But though the court was a rumble and hum of noises, a mighty voice yelled “Order in the court!” and sundry hostile glares were levelled at us.

Three-thirty. Four pm I glanced at Jim, to see that he was asleep, his chin on his necktie. I nudged him. He woke with a grunt.

“Order!” roared the minion. “Order in the court!”

Dimmer grew the big dingy room. Fewer grew the crowd, of civilians, of police, of lawyers. Four-thirty boomed on the City Hall tower clock.

Again Jim dozed. But I kept alert, clearing my vocal cords, and running over in my mind the things I wished to say about the well dressed, the police, convenience, lineups at wickets …

“This court,” roared the minion, “now stands adjourned until 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon!”

I jerked Jim awake. The magistrate fled from the bench. All others were streaming for the doors. I hustled Jimmie to the clerk’s small desk.

“We weren’t called!” declared Jim with the anger of the newly-wakened.. “What’s the idea, keeping us sitting here all afternoon, and then …”

“Let me see your summons,” said the departing clerk wearily.

He studied it briefly.

“This,” he said disdainfully, “is for Thursday. Day after tomorrow.”

“It says Tuesday!” cried Jim, snatching the blue paper. After a close look, he snorted: “Why, the lugs can’t even write plainly!”

“Some people can’t read,” remarked the clerk, vanishing.

So we went downstairs and got in the lineup that was dwindling, too. And in about seven minutes, Jimmie paid his $10. And reached through the wicket and silently shook hands with the astonished tax collector.


Editor’s Notes: In the days before radar guns, police would use a stopwatch to measure the time a car would travel between two fixed points on the road that were a known distance apart. The car’s average speed was determined by dividing the distance travelled by the time taken to travel it.

Greg, as a war correspondent, was personally witness to the Dunkirk evacuation.

Dogs Are Only Human

By Greg Clark, June 26, 1948

Even a big and fighting Airedale can be licked by an irate lady, Jim and Greg find

“That dang Airedale!” barked Jimmie Frise.

“Fighting again?” I inquired.

“No: he jumped the fence,” growled Jim, “and scratched and kicked our zinnia bed all to pieces.”

“Aw, at this time of year, Jim,” I soothed, “all dogs are pretty frisky. Maybe it was some other…”

“No, no, the family saw him,” snorted Jim. “He just jumped the fence, glanced around the garden and saw the zinnia bed all nicely laid out. He jumped right into the middle of it and started scratching and kicking for all he was worth. Malicious damage, if ever you saw it!”

“What are you going to do? See McGillicuddy?” I asked.

“Something has got to be done,” declared Jim with finality. “That dog has become a public nuisance and a public menace.”

“McGillicuddy is very fond of that dog, Jim,” I submitted. “After all, like master, like dog. McGillicuddy is a big, rough, cheery, quarrelsome sort of guy.”

“I don’t care how big and rough he is,” snapped Jim. “I’m going up and have a showdown about that dog.”

“Look,” I reasoned. “All dogs are public nuisances and public menaces. If every dog was as tame and docile as Dolly here …”

I had Dolly on a leash out for an evening stroll. That is how I happened to walk around to Jim’s.

“Hi, Dolly!” greeted Jim.

Dolly, puffing, gave her tail a brief wag. She is a cocker spaniel, black and white. Veterinary science has condemned her to permanent spinsterhood. She used to have too much coat, so we clipped her. That made her coat grow into fur. Now she is as broad as she is long, round as a bolster and finds life pretty heavy going. But she is the gentlest, mildest, least playful little spinster in the world.

“Dolly is at least a lady,” said Jim. “I don’t suppose she ever did a mischievous thing in her life.”

“Oh, yes, when she was a pup, she chewed up slippers and things,” I admitted.

“I suppose,” said Jim, “she is the only dog for five blocks around here that hasn’t been chewed up by that dang Airedale!”

“Aw, even fighting dogs don’t fight with females,” I reminded him. “That’s one thing about dogs. They know enough to leave a lady dog alone. Lady dogs can be pretty spiteful.”

“That Airedale of McGillicuddy’s,” declared Jim, “has nearly killed every dog in the neighborhood.”

“I don’t think McGillicuddy would be bothered,” I reflected, “with a dog that wasn’t the boss of the street.”

“Terrier!” said Jim, caustically. “Airedale terrier, they call it! Why, that dog weighs 50 pounds, if It weighs an ounce.”

“It’s still a terrier,” I pointed out.

“Terriers,” countered Jim, “are small, handy dogs: not moose. I bet a true terrier doesn’t weigh 10 pounds.”

“Oh, yes,” I assured him. “A fox terrier can weigh as much as 18 pounds. Maybe an Irish terrier can go as much as 25 pounds. A good 45- or 50-pound Airedale isn’t out of the way…”

“But terriers,” complained Jim, “are supposed to be rat-killers, vermin-killers. What kind of vermin could a 50-pound Airedale find to kill?”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Airedales are used out west for hunting grizzly bears and mountain lions. They’re mighty fighters.”

“I think I’ll suggest to McGillicuddy,” said Jim acidly, “that he send his dog out to the Rockies. I’ll suggest that if he admires pugnacity, he ought to give his dog a chance, instead of letting him tear up little spaniels and house pets…”

“Aha, has he been at your Rusty again?” I exclaimed seeing the light.

“No, no,” assured Jim. “While I object to his fighting, it’s this malicious damage to gardens that has got me roused up.”

“Why don’t you report it to the police ” I suggested.

“Aw, everybody in the district,” scoffed Jim, “has reported that dog one time or another in the past year. And what happens? The cops call on McGillicuddy. He invites the cops in, and they sit around talking about he-man dogs and sissy neighbors. And then the cops come out, laughing, and waving good-bye to McGillicuddy like birds of a feather.”

At this moment, we heard barking up the street. And down came Rusty. Jim’s Sinn Fein Irish water spaniel, like a brown streak, while behind him, bellowing like a lion, came McGillicuddy’s big Airedale, Pete.

When Dolly saw them, she promptly sat down a bared her little teeth.

The two raced past, as Rusty made for the shelter of Jim’s house. Pete, suddenly distracted by Jim’s shoulder and waving arms, gave up the chase and rather indignantly paused, stared at Jim and then retreated with dignity back up toward his own house.

“See what I mean?” growled Jim fiercely. There was a fight, if Rusty hadn’t run. Did you ever see such a sullen, impudent stare as an Airedale can give you? Why, they don’t look you in the face at all. They look at your calf or your thigh or some place on your anatomy, as if cogitating whether to make a grab or not.”

“Pete’s quite a dog,” I murmured.

Rusty came out, looking a little verminous, and glanced cautiously up the street. He trotted over to greet Dolly. But she bared her little white teeth and snarled. Rusty, respectful as all dogs are to ladies backed away and ignored her.

Up the street, there was a sudden squall and yammer of dogs fighting, and down came a small black dog running for his life, with Pete, the Airedale, in large bounding pursuit.

“Awfff!” cried Jimmie, suddenly. “I’m going to deal with this business RIGHT NOW! Come on!”

“Why not write him a letter, Jim?” I suggested.

But Jim was striding up the street. I hauled Dolly to her feet and we followed.

As we neared McGillicuddy’s house, we could see him kneeling on his front steps. He was painting them. In the cool of the evening.

When we drew close, I noted that he had just finished painting his verandah, a pretty Spanish tile red, and was now starting down the steps. He had the top one done.

Pete, the Airedale, was sitting on the lawn watching his lord and master. And as we drew level and paused, Pete stood up and barked at us loudly and vulgarly, as only an Airedale can. His button eyes studied us anatomically.

“Shut up,” commanded McGillicuddy, turning around. “Hey! Hullo!”

McGillicuddy is one of those big, brindled, freckled characters, jovial and hearty, the Airedale type himself. He will be friendly or quarrelsome with you at the drop of the hat. Whichever you like. He is one of those breezy obliging type. I am rather fond of McGillicuddy; but he isn’t my near neighbor, you understand.

“Mac,” said Jim, “I’ve got to complain about Pete.”

“Shut up. Get away. Sit down!” commanded McGillicuddy, and Pete obeyed. “What’s he done now?”

“He came into our garden,” enumerated Jim, “he jumped the fence, see? And after a brief look around, he leaped square into the zinnia bed and proceeded to scratch and kick it all the pieces.”

McGillicuddy looked long and steadily at Jim, with an Airedale expression in his eyes.

“No dog,” he said. “would do such a thing!”

“But I tell you,” cried Jim with sudden heat, “the family saw him. He just jumped the fence, stood looking around a minute. And then took one leap into the zinnia bed and started scratching and kicking for all he was worth. A straight case of malicious damage!”

McGillicuddy began to get a little red in the face. His freckles stood out.

“Look!” he said, “It doesn’t make sense! Why would dog do such a thing?”

“That isn’t for me to answer,” retorted Jim. “That’s for you to answer. That darn dog of yours is a public menace. He is fighting all the time. He upsets garbage pails. And he tears up gardens.”

McGillicuddy took a long, slow breath, and took a couple of strokes with his paint brush on the top step to cool himself off.

“Now, let’s be reasonable,” he said. “Dogs are only human. You can’t expect a big, vigorous dog like Pete to sit around like a bump on a log like that silly little spaniel there.”

He indicated Dolly, who was sitting rather like a bump. I pulled the leash and got her to her feet. She panted with the effort.

“Every man,” explained McGillicuddy heartily, “to his taste in dogs. I can’t see what you see in that flop-eared Irish water spaniel you’ve got.”

“I’ve got a golden retriever too,” declared Jim with dignity. “but a farmer keeps him out in the country.”

“Every man to his fancy,” agreed McGillicuddy. “But you see, I like Airedales. I like big Airedales, big, lively, spirited dogs. Sure, he fights a little; sure, he is a little rough and rowdy. But there you are!”

“I think,” said Jim levelly, “I’ll bring my golden in to town for a few days. He’s about the size of that Airedale. He might teach Pete a little lesson.”

“Oho, is that so?” scoffed McGillicuddy, suddenly roused. “Well, mister, any old time you like…”

He stepped down off the steps.

Pete, sensing his master’s ire, leaped up and jumped toward us.

Dolly, like a flash, jerked the leash out of my hands and with a small fierce feminine snarl and her lady teeth bared viciously, made a dive for the big dog.

Without a yelp, Pete turned like lightning and bounded past McGillicuddy’s legs.

He bounded up the steps. On the wet top step he skidded. On his side and rump, he slid across the full depth of the freshly painted tile red verandah and came up with a bump against the wall. Little Dolly, fairly fizzing with rage, was right after him.

Around and around in a mad, slithering scramble, the two raced and snarled and fought, the big dog desperately trying to avoid the nasty nips the bulgy little cocker was inflicting on him. McGillicuddy bounded on to the verandah and booted them both off, I caught the leash as Dolly yipped past, and Pete, all red with paint, fled down the side drive.

“Okay,” wuffed McGillicuddy from the wrecked verandah. “Okay! You win, boys. Any dog that would run from a little wee whiffet like that thing…”

“All dogs are scared of irate ladies,” I apologized for Pete.

“To heck with it!” panted McGillicuddy. “Look at my verandah! The clumsy big oaf! Chased by a rabbit, by gosh! Okay: I’ll send him out to my brother in the country. He raises rabbits.”

“Sorry, McGillicuddy,” said Jim, with stiff lips.

“To heck with it,” growled McGillicuddy, turning to stare at the mess.

We walked back down the street, Dolly fairly staggering with exhaustion.

“Dear,” breathed Jim, when we got a few doors down, “dear little Dolly!”

And with my permission, paint and all, he picked her up and carried her.

This is Jimmie Frise’s last contribution to the Magazine. The beloved cartoonist, who brought humor to hundreds of thousands of Canadian homes, died suddenly June 13.


Editor’s Notes: As indicated by the last note in the story, this was the last published Greg-Jim story. His obituary was written by Greg in the previous week’s issue. After a week off, he returned with a story called “The Young Volunteer”, about a boy volunteering to be his new partner. Greg speaks with him suggesting that it is not that easy to find a partner.

“What kind,” he asked, as we fell in step, “of adventure do you think we could have?”

“My rule is,” I informed him, “just walk along and adventure will befall you.”

The next few weeks had stories illustrated by different artists until Duncan Macpherson became the regular artist on August 7, 1948. The new stories included fictional relatives and neighbours, and continued weekly until June 3, 1950, and then became infrequent, with Greg sometimes writing stories, and other times straight up reporting. Macpherson would eventually become a celebrated editorial cartoonist in Canada. The magazine and newspaper industry was undergoing rapid change due to changing consumer tastes and competition from television. The Montreal Standard ceased publication on August 18, 1951, and became “Weekend Picture Magazine” on September 8, 1951, and shortly after changed to “Weekend Magazine”. Greg’s stories in these publications were usually not illustrated, and were the basis for many of his books published in the 1950s and 1960s.

Weekend Magazine was distributed free of charge with 9 daily newspapers across the country in 1951. Weekend offered high-quality colour reproduction to advertisers, good photographs, feature stories and recipes to readers, and a profit-making supplement that boosted circulation for the newspaper publishers. By the 1960s Weekend Magazine was carried in 41 newspapers with a circulation over 2 million, and it was the most popular advertising vehicle in the nation. Colour television and the turn away from general-interest periodicals hurt the magazine, and it got thinner each year. By 1979 it had been merged with The Canadian, and in 1982 Today, the successor supplement, ceased publication.

Juniper Junction -05/26/48

May 26 1948

Here you can see a Juniper Junction in colour, as they are meant to be seen. The black-and-white scans I normally have can be seen below.

May 26, 1948

To the Victor

By Greg Clark, March 13, 1948

Jim and Greg discover that the wily crow is getting wise to the tricks of the hunter

“Hist! A crow!” exulted Jimmie Frise.

We ran to the office window. And there, on a roof across the street, perched a crow, his back humped, his beak extended as he yelled derision down to the swarming traffic below.

Like a ragged old black hat, he leaped into the air and flapped away onward on his journey north.

“Man! The first harbinger of spring!” gloated Jim. “In a week, we can go crow-shooting. The bush lots out in the country will be alive with them.”

“What a thought!” I expostulated. “See your first messenger of spring, and immediately decide to shoot him.”

“They’re rascals,” declared Jim. “They’re murderers. They are the enemies of everything from mankind down to the smallest little infant song bird. Crows are the pariahs of the bird kingdom.”

“They are also,” I stated firmly, “the first glad heralds of spring. Hardy, bold, cunning, undefeated, they beat their way back to us weeks ahead of the robins and the bluebirds. Not like little soft birds do they wait for the balmy winds of spring to ride on. No: the crow braves the sleet and the …”

“Don’t let them fool you,” cut in Jim, grimly. “The reason they get back here early isn’t to squawk the good news to us. It’s so they can spy on the farmer and see where he plants his corn. It’s to get their nests made and their eggs hatched in good time so that their horrible infants can be fed birds’ eggs. They come early, so they can hide in the pines and watch the tender little birds building their nests.”

“Nonetheless, the farmer’s heart lifts when he hears the first crow,” I soliloquized, as we stood gazing out the office window. “The crow may have a harsh and discordant voice, but it’s music in the empty air of March. It has the note of a trumpet in it; a note of ardent and excited signal. It sounds as though the crow, from above, can spy something coming, far to the south. It’s spring!”

“Look!” interrupted Jim. “We’ve got this afternoon off. Why not let’s go crow-shooting this afternoon? We haven’t been out in the country for months. We…”

“I could do more…” I cried.

“Look!” insisted Jim. “I’ve got Doc Secord’s stuffed owl down in my cellar right now! The one on a pole, you know? We just take it out to some woodlot outside the city and set it up.”

“What a welcome,” I grated, “to a joyous creature homing from exile! To set up a stuffed enemy. And when the poor crow comes shouting, we, hiding like cowards, blast him from the skies.”

“We’ll leave,” announced Jim, returning to his drawing board, “right after lunch. We’ll get away by 1 o’clock. We’ll pick up our shotguns and old clothes and that stuffed owl.”

“The roads,” I protested, “the back roads will be in an awful mess a day like this, Jim. There’s a thaw.”

“We’ll stick,” advised Jim, “to the paved roads. Lots of good crow-shooting right along the highways.”

Thus you see how the noblest sentiment is brushed aside by the brutal authority of material considerations. Such as an afternoon’s sport.

In the first place, I must confess that this sport of crow-shooting around a decoy stuffed owl is something out of this world. Doe Secord’s stuffed owl is the handiest contraption I ever saw. The owl is fastened to the top of a pole, about an inch thick and four feet long. Three other four-foot lengths of pole, each fitted with a ferrule of galvanized tin, allow the sportsman to joint the pole together, like a fishing rod. And thus the stuffed owl is set up, on a 16-foot pole, cleverly hidden in a cedar or spruce tree in a nice open glade or swamp. The owl appears to be sitting perched on the top of the tree.

The sportsmen then conceal themselves in the underbrush nearby, and the most musically gifted member of the party starts cawing on his crow call, a sort of squawker that very closely imitates the excited yelling of a crow.

If there is crow within a mile, he immediately, and silently, comes hot-winging it over to see what all the excitement is about.

And when he sees the owl on the cedar, he just about goes crazy. His wild calling rings far and wide over the fields; and crows for miles, taking up the hue and call, come flying at top speed to mob the owl.

Of course, March is too early for the best crow-shooting. The first week of June, when the young crows are out of the nests and the parents are busy teaching the young’uns all the tricks and perils of their trade, is the peak of the crow-shooting season. Scores, sometimes hundreds of crows can be attracted by skillful calls. They circle and dive at the owl, oblivious of the barking from the concealment of the bushes. Teaching a young crow what an owl is appears to drive the normally suspicious and crafty crow right off his rocker.

“There’s a crow!” cried Jim, slackening the speed the car. “Over there …”

Against the skyline, above a distant woodlot, I could see the ragged figure of a crow flying slowly and aimlessly. A tired crow, I thought, home from a long journey south.

“Too far off the highway, Jim,” I assured. “We don’t want to risk driving in that far. And it’s too far to walk, carrying the guns and the owl.”

“They’re back!” gloated Jim. “There’ll be more.”

And sure enough, only a mile or so farther, we saw another crow. He was feeding on a bare patch of earth extruded from the frowsy March snow. As we slackened the car, he jumped and flapped away.

“How about it?” demanded Jim. “Let’s set the owl up in the next woodlot we come to. There’s enough crows right in the district to start on.”

“I kind of …” I muttered, gazing back at the figure of the crow hastening away toward a distant clump of bush.

“You’ll feel different,” assured Jim, “once the shooting starts!”

So Jim drove on another mile or so until we came to a good gravel side-road. It was one of those first-class second-class roads, if you know what I mean, that the county authorities keep in good shape even at this time of year. About half a mile down this side-road stood a fine bush with cedars and pines among its woods – a perfect spot for crows.

Jim turned the car and we followed the good gravel into the woodlot, where we selected a nice wide spot to park the car. Filled with the usual exaltation that comes over a man when he steps out of a car with a shotgun, we loaded up with the stuffed owl and the jointed pole and our guns, and walked 300 yards farther down the road to a meadow with cedars of the right height clustered around it.

Working quietly, and in the hope that no prowling crow would come by and see us, we jointed the poles together and hoisted the owl on high. Then we set the pole, well concealed, deep into the foliage of a cedar. The stuffed owl, with his glaring yellow glass eyes, perched beautifully just on the tip of the tree.

We retreated a few yards and took refuge, kneeling under other cedars. And Jimmie unlimbered his crow call.

Four, five short, sharp barks on the crow call, as if a crow had just suddenly stumbled right on top of an owl.

Then two or three long-drawn caws of alarm, followed immediately by another series of the short, yelping notes of excitement

But no crow answered; no crow came.

“Maybe …” I murmured.

“Sshh!” hissed Jimmie, going into the second movement of the symphony.

Suddenly, off to one side, a black shape hurtled past, ragged as an old umbrella, flurried as though blown on a gale. It was the first crow. He landed, teetering, on the tip of an elm 100 yards away, and gave a few hoarse caws.

Jim redoubled his clamor. He put an agony of excitement into it; and a few low, cursing sounds, as though a crow were just about to dive.

The crow, with a sharp bark, lifted and flew away west.

“Well!” gasped Jim, pausing to puff for his wind.

In the distance, we heard the crow start to call. Jim answered. The crow increased his tempo. Jim joined. Presently, we heard another crow join in. Then another, and another.

But they didn’t come any nearer. They must have been a good quarter of a mile away.

“Maybe,” whuffed Jim, resting from his labors, “maybe they got ANOTHER Owl; a real one…”

He tried again, throwing real volume into his calls. But all that happened was that the clamor in the distance seemed to multiply and increase.

“By gum, that’s it!” cried Jim, coming out of concealment. “We’ll go on down and see.”

So we disjointed our owl off his pole and hurried out to the gravel road and back to the car. Driving very slowly, with both our heads stuck out of the windows we cautiously advanced down the side road. Ahead, slightly to the south, we saw another woodlot.

“They’ve got it in there,” diagnosed Jim excitedly. “An owl, by the sound of them. We’ll sneak as close as we can in the car.”

The new woodlot stood a few hundred yards down a really bad side road running off the gravel. And as we drew near it, suddenly out of the bush nine or 10 crows exploded. And uttering wild cries, flew a couple of hundred yards farther south.

“Jim!” I protested.

But Jim had turned the car, and we were jouncing and slithering into the side-road.

“It’s only a lane…” I warned, “a mud road…”

But the call of the wild was on Jimmie. He hunched over the wheel. In second gear, he plunged the car 100 yards through mud and slush and rib-jagging ruts and pitch holes before we went into the ditch for the first time.

“Jim, not another yard,” I shouted, as he gave the engine the gun and, by a miracle, lurched us back onto the narrow miry crown.

He stopped the car, and we got out and harkened.

Three hundred yards away, not nine or 10 but 20 or 30 crows were screaming their heads off, at the bottom end of the woodlot.

“They’ve got an owl, all right!” gasped Jim. “A great horned owl!”

We scrambled back into the car. Jim-put her in low; and we scrunched 50 yards before we slewed off the road for the second ditching. He was not so lucky this time, and we both had to get out and wade through mud to get fence rails, pine branches and other debris with which to set a footing under the back wheels of the mired car. Meanwhile, the tumult down the road gathered fury and frenzy.

When Jim had keel-hauled the car back on the road, I said:

“We can walk from here, Jim. It’s only a couple of hundred yards.”

“We can drive nearer,” commanded Jim. “In their excitement, they’ll notice a car far less than us on foot.”

One hundred yards farther the car did a couple of slews, a slide and a dive, and went down to her running boards in a solid mass of porridge mud.

“There!” I declared hotly.

“Come on!” hissed Jim, seizing his musket and leading out the door.

But we had not gone 100 yards on foot through the muck and slush until a sudden silence fell on the community of crows. One instant they were all yelling. The next, not one! And, furtively, we could see their black shapes diving and ducking and vanishing into the woodlot, across the fields and over the hills. In a moment, a great hush settled on the countryside; all you could hear was our heavy breathing.

“Well…!” said Jim.

Well, we walked back to the car. And it did not take much of a glance to see that this was a job for a strong farmer with a stronger team of horses.

It was quite a walk and quite a long time on the party line telephone before we found a farmer able and willing to come to our aid. In fact, it was dusk by the time he got us hauled back out onto the gravel.

“Crows?” he said, as we handed him $5 for his hire. “Ah, crows are wily! They’re getting educated. Sometimes, I figure crows are developing an almost human Intelligence. Why, I could tell you tricks crows have played on me…”

“So can we,” said Jimmie and I both.


Editor’s Note: A ferrule can be any of a number of types of objects, generally used for fastening.

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