The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

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Demonstration

By Greg Clark, August 31, 1940

“Look at that,” exclaimed Jimmie Frise under his breath.

Across the street, a brand new light blue car was pulled up at the curb and a man and his wife were circling slowly and daftly around it while right behind them, an eager expression on his face, another man, obviously a car salesman, followed them close.

“We ought to be pleased somebody has enough money to buy a new car,” I submitted.

“I hope they don’t buy that one,” said Jim. “I had one of those in 1930. Of all the lemons I ever owned!”

“That’s a pretty good make of car now,” I corrected. “In 10 years they can improve a car a lot.”

“The makers of that car,” stated Jim, “are not interested in making cars. All they’re interested in is making money. I like a car made by people who have all the money they want and who therefore go in for making cars.”

“Nobody ever has enough money,” I disagreed. “Just because man has a hundred million dollars, do you think he will quit? Never. He will dig in with fresh zest to see if he can have as much fun making the second hundred million as he had with the first. Don’t ever delude yourself with the idea men will get tired of making money.”

“I hope he doesn’t buy that car,” said Jim anxiously, as we watched the neighbor get in behind the wheel of the light blue beauty, while his wife and the salesman got in the back seat.

“What the dickens has it got to do with you?” I demanded. “Relax, brother.”

“There is really only one car on the market,” stated Jim. “I’ve got my second one now …”

“Oho, Jim,” I scoffed, “not that thing you drive! That’s not a car that’s a truck. You don’t …”

“I suppose,” said Jim, bitterly, “you would recommend the make of car you drive? When two weeks after you bought it, you were threatening the people who sold it to you that you would drive ’round the streets of Toronto with a big sign on it, “This Is a Lemon’.”

“Every new car takes a little time to break in,” I confessed. “I admit I was a little hasty about that car. It’s certainly okay now. But that poor old lawn mower of yours. Why, Jim, there isn’t a week goes by that I don’t hear you cursing and moaning about your car…”

“Just a habit,” cut in Jimmie. “Just a habit. A man gets into the habit of cussing out his car. It’s only a trick for covering up his own neglect of the car, not getting the little things attended to greasing, tightening up and so on. I tell you, a car has to be a good car to stand up to the treatment I give it.”

“It seems to me,” I said, “your car has been in the repair shop twice in the past three weeks?”

“Well, it’s a year old.” explained Jim, “and just nicely broken in. It needed the clutch relined and then the other day I heard a kind of whine in the rear end. They put in a new bearing or two. That’s nothing out of the way at the end of a year. Why, the car I had in 1930 of that make across the road there, had to be torn apart and entirely rebuilt with spare parts in the first six months I owned it.”

Selecting a New Car

“The wise guys tell me,” I stated, that the sure way to get a good car is this: Inquire around the garage as to which make of car had the most grief last year. Then buy one of that make this year. The makers having suffered a severe lesson one year go the limit to ensure a good car the next year.”

“There they go,” interrupted Jim. The lovely car across the road gave a grind or two of new and unaccustomed gears and slowly moved into action. Smooth as a canoe, it crawled into speed and vanished, so fresh and graceful, up the street.

“Just like a bride,” mused Jimmie. “A man with a new car is a man in love.”

“Selecting a new car,” I mused too, “is like marriage. For better or for worse. You make your choice. And what comes of the match depends not only on how you treat the car, but what the car has in it. Like wives, lots of cars can be treated terribly and still stand up and play the game. And others, no matter how you pamper them, are forever cranky and forever letting you down.”

“Let’s watch for them coming back,” said Jim. “We can tell by the expression on their faces. Gee, I hope he doesn’t choose that car.”

“Why not?” I insisted.

“Because,” said Jim. “I’ve got an idea. You know who I bought my car from? He’s one of our gang that plays pool at noon…”

“Aaaaaahhh,” I exclaimed. “So that’s how you select your car?”

“It’s as good a way as any,” growled Jim. “Anyway, I was just thinking it would be a nice thing to turn him a little business. If these people come back with a look on their faces that means they aren’t decided yet, I’m going to phone Sam to come right out with a demonstrator car.”

“Kind of nervy, don’t you think?” I submitted.

“I’m a good neighbor,” retorted Jim. “I see a neighbor trying to choose a new car. What more decent thing could I do than give him the benefit of my experience?”

“Yes, and throw a sale in the direction of one of your pool-shooting friends,” I added.

“Well,” said Jim, “business has been bad lately, and Sam hasn’t been able to put his mind on his game. There is no use playing pool with a man whose mind is depressed. If I can cheer the guy up …”

Around the corner came the light blue car. Slow and pretty, she crept up the street in that stately pace we subject new cars to. She halted across the street and the three sat in her, considering. The salesman talked eloquently and took out a little book and read from it. The wife kept squirming around viewing the inside from various angles. The husband in front kept playing with the gadgets and shifting the gears and opening the glove box in the dash. Turned on lights. Tooted the horn delicately.

“Pssst,” hissed Jim. “It’s no sale, I can tell. If it was a sale, the wife would have been in the house by now to telephone her friends.”

“Let’s watch,” I muttered,

The salesman got out and lifted the hood. He persuaded the husband to get out and come and look in. But the husband walked around to the back, opened the trunk and stared in.

“No sale, no sale,” whispered Jim excitedly “When a man looks like that into the trunk compartment, it’s no sale. I’m going in to call Sam.”

And Jim dashed in and I heard him at the telephone. Across the street, the little drama played itself out. The wife sauntered up the walk and stood looking back at the car thoughtfully. The husband stood slightly aloof while the salesman perspired and indicated, with his finger point, special passages out of his little black book. Then Jim came out.

“Sam isn’t at the shop and he isn’t at home,” he groaned. “I bet he is somewhere shooting pool.”

“I’ve got it,” I offered. “Why don’t you demonstrate for Sam? With your car.”

Jim’s eyes lighted. He half started across the lawn.

“Wait,” I cautioned. “The decent thing would be to let the other poor devil depart in peace.”

So we sat gloating on the steps until the salesman of the light blue car finally and reluctantly got in, sat talking with the door open, shut the door, talked through the window, started the engine, continued to talk, let in gear, and went on making his final sales appeal, and at last lurched off and the husband started up the walk.

“Well,” called Jim cheerily and loudly, arresting him. “So it’s a new car for our street, hey?”

“What did you think of that one?” called the neighbor, whose name is Mr. Beevins.

“Pretty!” said Jim, “and you both looked mighty nice in it. But did you like the engine?”

“It all seemed a little stiff and wooden,” said Mr. Beevins, walking back down his walk and we walked down ours to meet him. “I like a car with a sort of lithe feeling, a sort of sinewy feel, if you get me.”

“Exactly,” agreed Jim. “Have you ever tried a So-and-So?”

Naming his own make of car.

“I’ve been in them. That’s a good car,” Mr. Beevins said. “But I had my mind on something a little less expensive.”

“Pshaw,” said Jim, “it’s only $100 or so more, and you get more than your money’s difference, I can tell you.”

“I’ve got four or five salesmen coming tonight,” said Mr. Beevins. “I’m not being stampeded. I’m going to try them all and take the one that sells itself. No salesmen for me. I’m letting the cars do it.”

“Why don’t you include a So-and-So?” suggested Jim, enthusiastically. “Now, you know what sort of a man I am. You’d know about how I would treat a car. Yet that So-and-So of mine has given me the most marvellous …”

Jim stopped and turned abruptly for his side drive as though suddenly smitten with an idea.

“Hold on a second,” he called back to us. “You’ve got five minutes.”

“There’ll be another salesman in about 10 minutes,” said Mr. Beevins to me. “I’ve got them coming on the half hour and the hour.”

“I think he’s going to let you try his car,” I suggested.

“Oh, no, no,” protested Mr. Beevins starting back up his walk.

“It’s not a bad idea,” I submitted earnestly. “After all, you don’t buy a car on its looks.”

With a roar and a rattle, Jim backed his old So-and-So out the side drive, showing how lithe and sinewy it was.

Before Mr. Beevins could retire into his house, Jim had backed in a large, agile curve and was talking out the window.

“Hop in here and take the wheel Beevins,” cried Jim, heartily. “It won’t take five minutes. You’ll get a better idea of the smartest car on the market today from driving this old bus than from all the specially oiled and selected demonstrators …

“I’ve got another salesman coming in about seven minutes,” protested Mr. Beevins.

“Just around the block,” said Jim.

So Beevins got in behind the steering wheel and I got in back.

“From the purely disinterested angle of a satisfied user,” said Jim, as Beevins stepped on the starter cautiously and fumbled at the clutch.

Beevins was not at ease. He gripped the steering wheel and puckered his face. He started to turn the corner to go around the block.

“No, no, straight on,” cried Jim, startling Beevins into keeping on up the street until we came to the highway.

“Just run her a piece out here,” said Jim, his arm affectionately along the back of the seat, “and let her out. I want you to feel a real sinewy car. As one neighbor to another, hey?”

He laughed gaily but Beevins just sat with his face puckered anxiously, humped over the wheel.

“Okay, we’re clear,” said Jim, “step on her.”

Too Much Neighborliness

Mr. Beevins stepped very reservedly on the gas and we got to forty. I haven’t been in Jim’s car lately, and I didn’t know it had so many sounds. It had a loud roar, a sort of base note, over which rang a dozen lesser tunes, of rattles, clunks, clicks, hisses and buzzes. Something tinny was loose somewhere and it kept a sort of faint clanging note going.

“Don’t pay any attention to the noises,” shouted Jim, cheerily. “That’s just the way I neglect it. But wait till you get her up around 60. The smoothest perform …”

She was going 40 when suddenly there was a bump and a horrible grinding sound which at the same time dragged the car to an agonized stop. Mr. Beevins steered her shakily to the shoulder of the road.

“It sounds like the rear end,” I submitted.

“I think a wire gave way,” said Jim. “Ignition.”

We got out and Jim lifted the hood while I got down and looked underneath. I could hear something hissing. The big dirty iron housings looked hot.

Mr. Beevins looked at his watch.

“The salesman will be at my house,” he said, “and my wife will be fussy about me being there.”

“Just a minute,” said Jim, “I want you to feel this baby at 60.”

“I’m afraid I’ll simply have to get back,” said Mr. Beevins. Traffic was whistling past and Mr. Beevins raised his thumb in the time honored signal.

“Now, just a second, Beevins,” pleaded Jim. “I’ll get this right in a minute. Don’t fret. We’ll be on our way home in five minutes.”

But Beevins went ahead thumbing and suddenly a small, sleek, low, racey seal brown car swooped to a stop just a few yards beyond us and Beevins ran towards it.

“Thanks, all the same, Frise,” he waved back. “This is the same make of car the salesman is waiting to show me…”

And he patted the seal brown stranger car’s top affectionately as he slid inside.

And like a bird taking off, that small sleek car swept almost soundlessly into motion and vanished like a streak up the highway homeward.

“That’s gratitude,” said Jim.

“You can carry neighborliness too far,” I pointed out.

“I hope he gets what he deserves,” said Jimmie. “Any man who buys a car on the appearance of it fresh from the factory …”

“I suppose,” I agreed, “that he ought to ride in all the neighbors’ crocks and choose the make that is the least wrecked.”

“What’s the matter with this?” demanded Jim hotly. “This is no crock. Apart from rattles …”

“And at the moment it won’t go,” I recalled to him.

So 100 yards up was a garage and came down and looked at us and diagnosed that the rear end had gone.

“It can’t be,” cried Jim. “I had the rear end overhauled less than a week ago.”

“Well,” said the garage man, “the rear end is gone.”

So Jim had it towed away downtown to the garage that does all his work. And we rode in the front of the towing truck as far as the front steps where we sat until dark and saw Mr. Beevins decide on the light blue one his wife had liked best right from the start.


Editor’s Notes: It was common in those days for car salesmen to come to your house to demonstrate cars, rather than go to them.

Plymouth Ad – 8/26/33

August 26, 1933

It was not too common for Jim to use his characters in advertising, but this example from 1933 is even made to look like a “Birdseye Center” comic, with “Advertisement” labelled in the small print. Jim also identifies his association with the Toronto Star Weekly, presumably since this advertisement could be used in other publications, and possibly for copyright purposes.

All Aboard!

August 29, 1942

During World War Two, hitchhiking was common due to gas rationing. Not giving a ride to servicemen in uniform if you could was considered very rude and unpatriotic.

Touts

By Greg Clark, August 24, 1935

“If,” said Jimmie Frise, “we could only think of a racket.”

“Mmmm?” said I.

“The only people making money nowadays,” went on Jimmie, “are people with rackets. Plain ordinary business no longer pays. You have to have a racket.”

“Oh, I know lots of plain businesses that are doing all right,” I corrected. “Stores, restaurants, nice little factories.”

“No, you don’t,” stated Jimmie. “They look all right, maybe, but they are worried sick, they haven’t any money, they can’t collect their accounts. They’re worried sick.”

“Maybe so,” I said.

“But the boys with the rackets,” gloated Jim, “Ha, they’re doing all right. By rackets I don’t mean anything illegal. I mean legal rackets. Schemes by which you can shake down people in distress. The greater the distress, the easier the racket.”

“Such as?” I inquired.

“I don’t like to name any,” said Jim, guardedly, because he knows I sometimes quote him. “But when people need money badly, they can always be soaked. Or when people are afraid of failing or losing their business, they can always be taken for a ride. Strange as it may seem, when the world is poorest, the pickings are easiest.”

“It doesn’t make sense,” I protested. “Nobody has any money these days.”

“Don’t be silly,” scoffed Jim. “The banks are fuller of cash than they have ever been. A larger percentage of people may be out of work. But the great majority of the people, all those tens of thousands of people living in all those long, long streets of comfortable homes we pass every day, all those tens of thousands who still ride to work in crowded street cars and congest the main streets with motor traffic every morning – all those people have plenty.”

“Isn’t there a depression?” I wanted to know.

“They call it that,” said Jimmie. “But as a matter of fact, people are merely holding tighter to what they have. I know a man that makes stationery. He tells me there has been an enormous Increase in the consumption of those little black notebooks men carry in their pockets to itemize expenses in. Enormous increase. I know men that used to leave a dollar tip for the waiter when they took their family downtown to the hotel for Sunday dinner and even forgot to feel big by the time they walked out the door. Now they leave 15 cents and carefully itemize it in the little black book. To tip, 15 cents; like that.”

“How disgusting,” I agreed.

“In the good old days,” went on Jim, “people threw their money around because they knew there was lots more where that came from. But, all of a sudden, everybody got scared. You’ve seen chickens suddenly take fright, haven’t you, and seen them start running all ways for cover, when there was no apparent reason for It? Well, that’s what happened to us. We’re human, just like chickens. A few years ago we got one of our periodic frights over nothing. Everybody ran indoors, locked and barred the door, and now we are hanging on to our possessions grimly in the dread fear that somebody, maybe the man next door, is going to try and take it from us. Everybody has plenty. We are merely clutching it tighter than usual.”

To Loosen Things Up

“Then how do you racket it away from them?” I inquired.

“By scaring them further,” said Jim. “By showing them ways to make their money safer. And so doing, take it from them.”

“I can’t think of any racket along that line,” I confessed.

“Neither can I,” said Jimmie. “But I wish I could. I’m tired of working for my living. I’d like to be one of those fellows that just sits in a swell office and thinks.”

“All the stories I’ve read,” I submitted, “about racketeers shows that they started with a little racket and then worked up to the bigger rackets. For example, a big millionaire bootlegger started as a book salesman. Don’t you know any little rackets? Haven’t you heard of any ordinary little everyday rackets around the poolrooms or race tracks?”

“Ah, yes,” laughed Jimmie. “Of course. Touts, you mean.”

“What are touts?”

“Well, for instance,” explained Jim, “there are six horses in a race, see? The tout works fast. He selects six sappy-looking individuals and approaches each one. He asks each one for a match. Then he starts in and tells them he is the brother of the jockey riding one of the horses in the next race. He gives each sap a different horse. He tells them the horse can’t fail, because they are letting his brother win the race in order to get married.”

“Well?” I prodded.

“Naturally, one horse has got to win that race,” said Jim. “And when the race is over, the tout rushes to the man he gave the winning horse to, and generally, the sap is so delighted, he gives the tout a ten spot. Or maybe more. I knew a tout once that used this old gag and the man he tipped off bought him a $2 ticket on the horse in gratitude. The horse won and paid $150 for the $2 ticket. Nobody was more amazed than the tout.”

“Jim,” I said reflectively, “that sounds to me like a real racket. It is merely telling a story, that’s all. You tell a story to six men. I bet you and I could make a nice thing out of touting. At last you can start making something out of the race tracks, which have been costing you plenty for years.”

“Touts,” explained Jimmie, “are a rather low grade of bums.”

“All the better,” I cried, “If two respectable-looking fellows like us went in for it, it would raise the standard of touting and we’d make a lot more money. We would be brokers, not touts. Just like the brokers, we would recommend certain investments in horses, and as the brokers make money out of the buying and selling of stocks, we would make our money out of the gifts of grateful people to whom we gave the right tip.”

“But you’d be giving the wrong tip,” cried Jim, “to half a dozen others!”

“Once,” I continued, “we have mastered the technique of race track touting, we can go into it on a larger scale.”

“I think we ought to look into ways and means of making easy money. Not for the money’s sake, but to loosen things up. The more we shake people loose from their money, the sooner money will start to circulate and hard times end. Let us go into this thing on good moral grounds.”

“All racketeers do,” said Jim. “Meanwhile, let’s go out of town to the races. Nobody would know us.”

“I could wear my yellow vest,” I pointed out. “It gives me a very horsey look.”

One Sportsman to Another

“By Jove,” cried Jim. “I’ve got it! You be the owner of a horse. I’ll speak to the saps and tell them that the gentleman with me, in the yellow vest, owns the horse. I’ll tell each one you own a different horse, see? You can be standing off a little to one side, keeping your mouth shut, with your mouth kind of clamped tight, and a beady look in your eyes, like horse owners have. And you can stand sort of gazing across the race track, as if you hadn’t a friend in the world, and didn’t want one. That’s the way horse owners look. And I’ll step aside in each case, borrow a match, and then tip him off that my friend, there, you, in the yellow vest, are about to clean up. It’s in the bag. It’s all arranged with the stewards and the jockeys and everybody. It’s your turn to win, see?”

“Jim, how perfect,” I said. “And people wouldn’t have the nerve to give you, the friend of the owner, a mere five spot.”

“I’ll laughingly tell them,” said Jim, “to buy me a ticket for the tip. One sportsman to another, you know. In that way, my dear boy, we will have a winner in every race.”

Thus we went out of town to the races.

My yellow vest, which I bought for beagling by mistake, certainly gave me a beautiful horsey look. I bought three cigars and hung my field glasses over my neck and threw a raincoat over my arm.

“You look like the Agha Khan himself,” cried Jim triumphantly, as he received me into his car for the drive.

The first race, we did no work, because Jim said it would be better if we just paraded up and down in the crowd, letting everybody have a good look at me, while he kept his eye peeled for saps. He could pick the saps out by the way they looked at me. If they gaped sort of respectfully at me, Jim knew they would be easy suckers.

“Boy,” he murmured to me, after we had made a couple of grand tours of the big lawn, crowded with race goers, “the place is full of saps. You ought to see the way they are gaping at you.”

“I notice it myself,” I said, removing the cigar and waving it about.

When the first race was over, and everybody dispersed after feeling their various disappointments, Jim started to work. He led me to the upper end of the lawn.

“Up here,” he said, “I saw a well-dressed guy that looked as if he had never been at a race in his life before. But his eyes were popping with excitement. And when he saw you, his mouth fell open.”

“Did he look as if he had money?” I inquired.

“No, he was one of those obscure, half shabby sort of men, who are the kind that carry $200 in their pocket all the time.”

“Find him,” I directed.

And it was no trouble finding him.

Moodily standing with one elbow on the picket fence, a gentleman of middle age was carefully studying his program. He was biting the end of a pencil and frowning.

As we drew near, I could see he was aware of us, and was watching us out of the corner of his eyes.

I stepped along the fence a little way, and Jim sauntered over to him to borrow the match. The gentleman gave Jimmie the match and then they started to converse. I could feel them both looking at me, and when I turned, waving my cigar, to stare boldly up at the grandstand, as if wondering how many fools were betting my horse to-day, I caught a quick glimpse of the man, who was listening wide-eyed to Jimmie. And he was staring straight at me with his mouth slightly open.

Acting Like an Owner

In a few minutes, Jim left him and came back to me. We started to walk along in search of more suckers.

“How did he take it?” I asked, out of the side of my mouth.

“Like a lamb,” said Jim. “He wanted to meet you, but I said you didn’t care to meet people. I explained you were the typical horse owner. But he’s going to bet and bet big. I laughingly told him he ought to buy me a two-dollar ticket for the tip.”

Time went fast. By the time the bugle went, to call the horses out for the next race, we had only got two more prospects, one of them a fellow who wanted to split a $2 bet with Jim, and another who just looked at Jimmie all the time Jim talked and never said a word one way or the other.

“Once we get on to this thing,” said Jim, “we can work faster. Anyway, there are only five horses in this race and we’ve got three of them planted.”

“It’s no good unless we have them all covered,” I pointed out.

“I know, I know,” said Jim.

We got a place back a bit where we could watch our contacts, especially the moody gentleman in the corner, the one who wanted to meet me.

The horses lined up. They were soon off. A race with one bet on it is exciting enough. But touts must get a great kick out of having six or seven bets in one race.

Jim cautioned me to show no excitement. Horse owners never get excited. They just stand stolidly, chewing their cigars and occasionally taking a brief glance through their field glasses. I did that.

“Paraboy, Paraboy wins,” shouted Jim.

That was the horse we gave to the gentleman down in the corner.

“Let’s go right down,” I said.

“No, no, I’ll take him oft to one side,” said Jim. “Because if you are the owner of Paraboy, you should be in the steward’s paddock in a minute, leading out your horse.

“Oh, oh,” said I, backing away.

Jim pushed through the crowd.

I saw him work his way to the corner.

I could not see the moody gentleman. He had suddenly vanished.

I saw Jim pushing rapidly back towards me through the slow moving and woe-begone throng.

“Did he skip?” I asked scornfully.

“Skip?” said Jim. “Look where I’m pointing.”

I looked. Jim was pointing into the winner’s paddock where they were unsaddling Paraboy.

“Why,” I said, “he’s in there.”

“Sure he’s in there,” said Jim. “He’s the owner of Paraboy!”

“Jimmie,” I said, “this yellow vest awfully hot. I think I’ll go around behind and take it off.”

“Better than that,” said Jim, “let’s get to heck out of here altogether.”

So we drove home along the lake, admiring the big homes and yachts of the gentry.


Editor’s Notes: The Aga Khan mentioned in this story was the grandfather of the current Aga Khan.

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

Grape Nuts Ad – 8/24/35

August 24, 1935

Jim created a series of advertisements for Grape Nuts cereal featuring “Ernie Energy”.

“Pig-Skin” Peters Leaves for his New Training Camp

August 20, 1927

By 1927, people were attempting to swim across Lake Ontario, and Pigskin Peters was going to attempt it too. He returned in the September 3 strip a failure. It would not be accomplished until Marilyn Bell did it in 1954.

Painless Cure

By Greg Clark, August 14, 1943 (and August 15, 1936).

While Greg was away as a war correspondent in World War Two, it was not uncommon for the Star Weekly to reprint an earlier story, with a new title and new drawing by Jim. The text would be edited (usually shortened), and perhaps a reference to the war would be added. This story appeared under the title “Cure for Lumbago” in 1936 (illustration at the end). The text that was removed in the 1943 version is underlined below. The text added is in bold italics.

“My uncle,” said Jimmie Frise, “has got the lumbago.”

“They say it’s very painful,” I said, “if you really have it.”

“How do you mean?” asked Jim.

“Well, of course,” I explained, “lumbago is one of the swellest fake ailments in the world. It is one of those diseases that are hard to diagnose. A man can pretend he has lumbago periodically for 30 years and escape an awful lot of hard work. And nobody can catch him at it. Even doctors are fooled.”

“H’m,” said Jim.

“There is only one way to tell if a man really has lumbago,” I informed him. “A medical officer showed me, in the army. We had a dreadful outbreak of lumbago in our regiment one time. Somebody knew that lumbago was hard to diagnose. So he passed the word around among the real lead-swingers of the regiment, and we had as high as 30 very serious cases of it.

“The medical officer was nearly crazy. The only thing he could do for lumbago was excuse the lead-swingers all parades and working parties; and the whole 30 of them lay around the billets playing red dog and penny ante. Suddenly, he had an idea. He had all the lumbago cases paraded before him, one by one. As each man, with drawn face and cautious step, came in front of him, the medical officer dropped a sheet of paper and asked the sufferer to pick it up. Each sufferer, very suspicious, slowly and with agony bent over and picked up the paper; then quickly straightened.

“Now in lumbago, it doesn’t hurt to bend down. But it hurts like blazes to straighten up. The whole 30 all made the same mistake. So the M.O. gave each of them two number nines and a dose of castor oil and they were all on duty parade the next morning.”

“We ought to tip off everybody to this diagnosis,” said Jim. “I wouldn’t wonder if there were thousands of guys faking lumbago all over the country. Especially when there is any heavy lifting to do.”

“Oh, it’s useful for lots of other things.” I said. “It isn’t only hard work. I know plenty of men who suffer from lumbago terribly every Sunday morning, and it is worst just about time to dress for church. Others get a pang of it when their wife wants them to accompany them over to Sister Emily’s or some other such place where you sit around all evening listening to a lot of family complaints.”

“We’ll do a lot of good,” agreed Jim. “revealing this trick about bending down. In real lumbago it is easy to bend down and hard to straighten up. Fake lumbago, they bend down in agony and straighten up quickly. Is that it?”

Uncle Horace’s Attacks

“Then there is cupping,” I said, “You get a good thick glass, the kind peanut butter comes in. You set fire to a little bit of paper in the glass and then pop it against the small of the back of the sufferer. The instant you slap the cup against the hide, the lighted paper goes out. But a vacuum has already been created in the glass sufficient to suck up the flesh under the cup like half a golf ball. You go all over the lumbago area, overlapping each cupping until you have applied suction to the whole area. This is an old-fashioned cure and a dandy. Anybody can do it.”

“But what has it to do with fake lumbago?” asked Jim.

“Well,” I showed him, “all you have to do is be a little clumsy and let the burning paper fall on the small of his back. And he lets out a yell, leaps to his feet and all his lumbago vanishes without the need of any treatment.”

“My uncle,” said Jim, “is a very fine man. A pillar of the church. A county councillor. But he does get the lumbago around haying time. And harvest generally.”

“H’m,” said I.

“His wife, Aunt Minnie,” said Jim, “wrote and asked if I wanted any clover honey. In the same letter she mentioned Uncle Horace had the lumbago very bad. I don’t suggest there is any connection. But I’m awfully fond of clover honey. She’d give us each a couple of big pails of it if we went down.”

“We?” I said suspiciously.

“Anyway,” said Jim, as a patriotic duty we should give Uncle Horace a hand with his harvest, lumbago or no lumbago.”

“The only thing we might have to do,” said Jim, “would be to lend a hand for an afternoon with the barley, probably. Or maybe oats.”

“Agricultural labor,” I stated, is what drove my family into the city three generations ago.”

“I don’t suggest you do any work,” said Jim. “But it might be fun to try out these tests on Uncle Horace.”

“You don’t suspect a county councillor of deceit,” I demanded.

“The only fault I have to find with Uncle Horace,” replied Jim, “is a certain nighness. He’s a little nigh. He reverences a dollar bill with devotion that is touching.”

“I can think of worse ways of spending a summer afternoon,” I said, “than sitting under a shady elm on a farm with a pitcher of iced tea beside me, watching you forking sheaves on to a wagon. Count me in.”

Our arrival at Aunt Minnie’s was timed exactly right. Lunch was just ready when we drove up to the kitchen door. There was cold pickled ham and lettuce; potato salad with little green onions in it; hot biscuits and clover honey; hot tea or iced tea; and Aunt Minnie had a plate of mint sprays to crush around the lip of the iced tea glasses, which were the old-fashioned kind that hold a pint.

We went in and saw Uncle Horace laid out in his bed. He is a lean and weather-beaten gentleman. His hands crossed peacefully on his chest, are big, capable hands. But there was a look of patient suffering in his eyes.

Applying the Test

“Jim,” he said, “it was mighty kind of you to come down at a time like this. And bringing a friend, too.”

“Ah, Aunt Minnie knows the trick,” said Jim. “Clover honey.”

“What would you like me to tackle, Uncle Horace? The barley, is it?” asked Jim.

“Well, the way I look at it,” said Uncle Horace, pushing his moustache back as if he were going to address the county council, or close a deal, “a hired man costs so much. And a pail of clover honey is worth so much. It all works out even.” “you can’t get a man around these parts for love or honey, let alone money, and I don’t know what I would have done if you two hadn’t shown up.”

“It’s a small field of barley,” said Uncle Horace. “By dark, you could mow the whole thing. Then I have your Cousin James and his family coming down for the week-end. They are hearty eaters, but I figure they can get the whole crop into the barn for me. It’s a wonderful thing, Mr. Clark, to have relatives like mine. Especially when I am such a martyr.”

Aunt Minnie showed us the wash bench, basin and soft water pail.

“What do you think?” murmured Jim.

“We’ll try him out, after lunch,” I replied guardedly. Both systems. I didn’t like the sound of that word martyr.”

And after a wonderful two-helpings lunch, with three of clover honey and six tea biscuits, we walked into Uncle Horace’s bedroom on the ground floor.

“We’ll just help you up,” I said, “to sit here at the window and see us off.”

I then dropped a dollar bill on the floor, folded up.

“Careful, lads,” said Uncle Horace, extending his long legs out of the bed and moving very, very cautiously. He had two or three twinges in the process of getting his back off the bed and his heels on the floor. But with Jim and me on either side, slowly taking the weight, he got into a standing position and gasped heavily.

“I can manage now,” he said. But I knew he had his eye on the dollar bill.

Jim stepped over to the chair at the window, and I moved back and shook the bed quilt aside.

And Uncle Horace, bending very quickly picked up the dollar; and then, with every symptom of intense agony, slowly and with fierce groans, straightened up

“Did either,” he gasped, his face white and his eyes bulging, “of you lose a certain sum of money?”

Jim and I felt in our pockets and shook our heads.

“Well,” said Uncle Horace, painfully hitching himself towards the chair, it must have fallen out of one of my pockets.” Though I can’t imagine me losing my faculties to that extent just yet.”

He eased himself into the chair. Jim and I saw him comfortable in front of the window, and left him.

“The real thing?” asked Jim as we went around toward the barn.

“He sure has the real thing,” I agreed. “”He bent down as quick as lightning. But he straightened with intense agony. I never saw a man suffer more for a dollar bill.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” mused Jim. “A dollar bill would make Uncle Horace forget anything. Suppose he grabbed for the dollar bill. And then remembered suddenly he had the lumbago and groaned coming up.”

“He’s a marvellous actor,” I said, “if he hasn’t got lumbago. I hadn’t the heart to suggest the cupping cure, after seeing his face.”

“Then,” said Jim, “it is an act of charity we are doing, helping him with his barley.”

Purely As An Observer

I know nothing about the agricultural life.

My ancestors before me must have exhausted themselves so completely trying to wrest a living out of the soil that they used up even the instincts which normally might have been passed on to me. So it was purely as an observer that I accompanied Jim into the stable, saw him lead out three fine heavy horses, their sides shining like fresh peeled chestnuts. …their bellies and limbs fat and full of flesh. Jim stood them in the shade and bridled and harnessed them. Drove them cleverly to the lane where the big binder was standing ready. Expertly backed them on to the trees and fastened the traces. Walking slowly around them to see where every collar and every strap lay not too loose and not too snug. Slipped his hand under the bands. Slapped and patted the friendly beasts.

“What gorgeous horses, Jim,” said, from the rail fence where I perched.

“Uncle Horace knows his horses,” agreed Jim.

“They’re like lambs,” I admired.

“They are bred to be like lambs,” said Jim. “Nowadays, there are really no bad horses any more. The first principle of breeding is to eliminate all vice. In the past 40 or 50 years Canadian farmers have been breeding to an ideal horse, so they choose only the horse free of vice to breed from. It is as if, in human breeding, we only allowed good-tempered and quiet people to have children.

“That would be a swell idea,” I said, “for some of us. But why did we have such wicked horses in the army?”

“Ah,” said Jim, “those were riding horses you mean? They breed riding horses for style and courage, not for gentleness.”

“I have never really got over my experience with horses in the army,” I told Jim, as I walked along beside him to the mower. “What horses did to me in the war I have never quite eliminated from my character. My self-esteem is only about half what it would be normally, if it hadn’t been for the way horses threw me and bucked me and stepped on me.”

“You’d be a tough egg, then,” said Jim, “if it hadn’t been for horses.”

I watched Jim mount the seat of the big binder. I walked along as the huge machine, its paddles thrown out of gear so they did not operate during the drive down the lane, clattered and banged and rattled. Jim was like a Roman charioteer, reining the three magnificent rippling horses. They bent into the harness so willingly. They plodded so knowingly down the lane. They wheeled, almost without any directions of Jim’s voice or reins, into the barley field through the gate.

“Yee,” called Jim, sitting proudly on the binder seat, lifting the reins high, and gazing with the pride of a landowner across the glistening harvest.

Behind, I walked in the fresh springing stubble of the barley. Ahead, the great paddles whirled and the sheaves rolled out. We came to the end of the first swath. Jim yeed the beautiful beasts around on a five-cent piece, as it were, their chins across the fence, making the turn.

“Stook it up,” Jim shouted gaily to me pointing back along the swath of the sheaves.

“I never stook barley,” I shouted back. “I promised my old great-grandfather.”

Jim whoaed the three-horse team. They seemed actually to smile with a kind of harvest joy, those horses.

“How would you like to drive?” asked Jim,

“Are you a mind reader?” I replied. “Jim, if I could drive those horses even for two or three turns of the field it would restore the self-esteem I lost in France 20 years ago.”

Jim swung down off the seat.

“These horses,” said Jim, “could mow this field without anybody driving them.”

“Upsadaisy,” I said, springing into the high seat.

“Just hold the reins,” said Jim, “and let them do it.”

“Yee,” I said, “giddap.”

And without even a lurch, the three beauties curved and rippled their magnificent rumps before me and their heads bobbed, their black manes rose and fell, their ears flopped and twitched and signalled, and beside me the great paddles whirled and the wheels bumped and the seat swayed on its soft springs; and I was, after four generations, a husbandman again, a reaper of harvests, a bringer-in of sheaves.

Barley Field Jigsawed

But I hardly had time to feel the full bloom of age-long and forgotten sentiments. Some day I would like to mow a field, just to see if my instincts are really dead. About one third down the field, when I was just beginning to feel that thrill of achievement which comes to us even when we first ride a bicycle, the team stepped, I am reliably informed by Mr. Frise, into a bees’ nest. The same curious creatures who topped off for us our delectable lunch also served as a cure for lumbago.

With a couple of snorts, the gentle but massive ton and a half of glossy horseflesh writhing and rippling before me, suddenly backed, swerved and reared.

“Whoa,” I roared, seeing Jim out of the corner of my eye bending over sheaves some distance back of us.

But even the best-bred horses do not go for bees. The next thing agricultural science should develop are stingless bees. Paddle wheel whirling madly, wheels bumping and clanking, bars jerking, seat leaping perilously, we tore down the field, curving this way and that; losing all sense of geometry, coming to a fence and turning only when we had to.

I could hear Jim shouting directions, but above the noise of the binder I could not hear whether he was saying to pull on the reins or let them use their own good sense. But since a few bees zoomed around me, I thought he was saying to let them run. Anyway, I do not believe it would be humane to force poor dumb animals to submit to bee stings. Frankly, we did four diagonal and otherwise various swaths with the binder before Uncle Horace leaped the fence and caught the off-horse by the head strap and brought us to a stop.

“Get off that,” he roared at me

I got off it, quite willingly.

He climbed without lumbago into the seat He stood up and surveyed the barley field, all jig-sawed. His beautiful horses were standing as quiet as lambs.

“I’m very sorry, sir,” I said.

“Stch, stch, giddap,” said Uncle Horace.

“It was a bees’ nest,” said Jim, who had arrived.

“Yee,” said Uncle Horace, leaning forward to grasp the reins better and straightening back without even a grimace.

So Jim and I went to the side of the field and watched him once around; and as he did not notice us when he went by, we proceeded back up to the house and sat in rocking-chairs with Aunt Minnie in the kitchen. And she made us iced tea again; and after due consideration we decided to leave before supper. Aunt Minnie gave us each not two but three pails of clover honey; and in deference to my feeling for her tea biscuits, she did me up a dozen in a bag to take home, too.


Editor’s Notes: Lumbago is lower back pain, and was a more common term in the past.

Red Dog is a gambling card game, Penny-ante refers to very low sum bets.

A Stook is a stack of grain to keep the grain off of the ground.

The Great Exhibition Bursts Its Bounds Eastward

By Greg Clark, August 18, 1923

The Next Big Expansion of the Toronto Exhibition is To Be Eastward To Strachan Avenue Where Monumental Gates Will Front Magnificent Automotive and Electrical Buildings.

A Cleveland man wrote as follows to the National Exhibition authorities:

“Gentlemen: At our club the other day, a discussion arose on the truth of advertising and one of our party said:

“‘Why, look at the advertising of the Toronto Exhibition. They have a bird’s eye picture of what they claim to be their grounds. There isn’t such fair grounds in the world.’

“Needless to say, he had never been to the Exhibition, and I, as a regular visitor took him up on the matter, and assured him that no advertising pictures could do justice to the great size and beauty of the grounds. So I am bringing him with me this year.”

The Ex. is going to lay for that man. They are going to show him. For even one convert, out of the millions who pass through the gates of the great fair, is valuable, since his doubting will make him all the greater booster.

Strange to say, it is Torontonians who are the Exhibition board’s sorest trial. Not one of them in ten knows, for example, that the Exhibition is the largest annual world’s fair in the world. People all over the States, in England and France and Japan know it. Other nations put on as great or greater shows at long intervals, temporary and passing shows. But the people of Toronto and Ontario take the great Ex. for granted. The men behind it don’t, though.

The men who each year give chunks of their million dollar time to the successful presentation of the great fair know what this annual festival of industry means to Canada.

For forty-five years it has grown in their hands, bit by bit, piece by piece, expanding, brightening speeding up, a building added here, a boulevard added there, crowding and bulging its confines while the succeeding boards fought with city councils and councillors and prominent citizens for backing.

But they have given up the piecemeal expansion.

In the possession of the board of the Exhibition is a plan of expansion for the next fifty years. In blue prints and architects’ drawings, in statistics and tables of figures, the board has laid down before it a definite, ordered plan of expansion for the National Exhibition which enters the future one half a century, accounting for the removal of all old buildings as their day ends, working definitely to a finished institution of roads and parks and garden and buildings which no temporary world’s fair, in the wealthiest community in the world, can touch.

The plan is made. They are working to it already. The Coliseum and the Pure Food buildings, opened last year, were the first steps in the gigantic new scheme. Why they are placed as they are, why they are built in certain shapes and colors, will not be evident for many years. But they are part of a whole.

The next steps in the plan will probably be made for 1925. And they will be more spectacular and evident.

They are the extension of the Exhibition grounds, already vast enough to create doubts in strangers’ minds, a distance of 1,300 feet eastward to Strachan avenue.

The entrance via Strachan avenue or Bathurst street is at present unimpressive enough. In a couple of years, this east entrance will be the most monumental the authorities can conceive.

Beautiful stone gates, in a great ornamental wall all along the east boundary of the grounds, will open into wide boulevard stretching straight west into the heart of the grounds a distance of 1,300 feet, halting in a square in front of the Coliseum.

On the lake side of this grand boulevard will be the proposed Automotive Building to house all motor industries, from cars and trucks to the smallest accessories.

Opposite it, on the north side of the great entrance will be the Electric and Engineering building.

And surmounting this building will be one of the features of the whole Exhibition, the Hydro Tower, just one base of glorious light day and night. The tower will be one hundred and eighty feet high, built in delicate yet massive proportions, studded with myriad electric lamps of great power, with reflectors and mirrors and moving patterns, leaping up in the sky to bear witness to Canada’s power development.

These easterly expansions are the next steps in the fifty-year march the Exhibition has set itself. The board has had advice in its plan from the city departments from the harbor experts, from the Hydro officers, from every authority Interested in the Exhibition.

The Automotive Building will be of the greatest popular interest, because at present the Automobile industry is split is several places on the grounds, cars in one place trucks and accessories in another. The new building will house perhaps the finest automobile show in the world.

The building itself, of the greatest beauty, will be 476 by 386 feet in ground dimensions. It will have 51,584 square feet of space for autos, 30,024 square feet for trucks, and 18,110 for accessories. Its interior design will be suited to the display of such beautiful and substantial things as cars. Here the whole motor-mad world can congregate.

The Electric and Engineering building, surmounted by the flaming tower, will have unique features. For example, in the electric display areas, there will be no daylight. No windows will admit the feeble light of day to tamper with the exhibits of electrical devices and appliances. There will be whole departments given over to the “Electric Home,” where the use of power will be demonstrated in model kitchens and laundries and living quarters. Attached to the building will be a restaurant operated by electricity.

In the past, the Exhibition buildings have been built with perhaps just the least little emphasis on utility rather than on beauty and the festival spirit.

These new buildings, the entire plan as a whole, are conceived with special emphasis on the festival spirit. Utility is the first consideration. Beauty and the gala allure then superimposed with a cunning and hearty hand.

The use of white and light stone, grey and red, will dominate the finished product of the toil of these men behind the Exhibition.

This year’s Ex will be gala and gay and blazing enough. But it isn’t the final effort of the Exhibition.

They are looking not one year, but fifty years ahead.

Yet even now there is nothing like in all the world.


Editor’s Notes: This article by Greg and illustrated by Jim is in lead up to the Canadian National Exhibition, which was as very big deal in Toronto in their time. Both news stories and Jim’s comics emphasized this importance over the years.

The buildings that were already constructed in 1922 as mentioned in the article were the Pure Food Building (demolished in 1953 for the current Food Building) and the Coliseum.

The Eastern gates were not completed until 1927, and became the Princes’ Gates. The Automotive Building was not built until 1929. The Electric and Engineering building was built in 1928, but was demolished in 1972. The Hydro Tower proposed was never built.

Juniper Junction – 8/13/47

August 13, 1947

On All Fours

By Greg Clark, August 10, 1946

“I feel,” said Jimmie Frise, “a little peaked.” (He pronounced it peakid.)

“What does peaked mean, Jim?” I inquired solicitously,

“Well, kind of …” muttered Jim. “… kind of … peaked. There isn’t any other way of expressing it.”

“I know it’s an old-fashioned word, Jim,” I admitted “My own grandmother always used it. She used to say we looked peaked and gave us senna tea or liquorice powders. But I’d like to know how you feel when you feel peaked.”

“Well,” explained Jimmie earnestly, “you feel sort of … uh … peaked, like.”

“Thanks,” I said. “That clears it all up.”

“You feel,” said Jim, “sort of limp and off your feed. You feel kind of sickish but not sick.”

“Aw, Jim,” I soothed, “it’s just the heat. It’s the food we’re eating these summer days with our families away. It’s our age. When you get to be 50, you’ve got to expect to feel a little woozy now and then. A man, after all, is just a mechanism. All mechanisms get out of order as time goes by and wear and tear make themselves felt.”

“I suppose,” agreed Jim wanly.

“You take a watch or a clock,” I pursued. “You don’t expect a clock or a watch, even an expensive watch, to be guaranteed for life. You have to take it in to be overhauled every now and then. Sometimes, it gets a jolt and you have to get a new mainspring in it. But mostly, it just gets clogged up and needs cleaning and oiling.”

“I don’t suppose,” sighed Jim, “there ever was a man guaranteed for life.”

“No, sir,” I agreed. “No man is guaranteed for life. He starts to wear out in his late 30s. In his 40s, he can actually feel the works starting to squeak. And now, in his 50s, a man is entitled to feel that the guarantee was only for about 30 years at the most.”

“Don’t you ever feel peaked?” asked Jim wistfully.

“I can’t say I do,” I submitted. “The way I do, Jim, is to treat my machinery to what is called the surprise system. I remember, when I was a small boy, suddenly feeling sorry for my feet. I looked at my feet one night after I had got ready for bed, and I had a sudden flood of sympathy for them. Poor feet! Locked up all days in socks and boots. Stuck down all night at the very darkest bottom end of the bedclothes. Poor pallid feet! And I felt sorry for them in a detached sort of way, as if they were creatures apart from me.”

“Hmmm, that’s an interesting thought,” admitted Jim.

“So,” I went on, “in early boyhood I began giving my feet the odd treat. For example, in church – our church was a very dim Presbyterian church in the Byzantine style – I used to slip my shoes off and let my feet twiddle secretly down in the privacy found underneath a pew. I went barefoot every chance I got. I didn’t particularly enjoy going barefoot. But I was happy in giving my feet a little holiday from their dismal prison, year in, year out.”

“Well, what’s this got to do,” asked Jim listlessly, “with feeling peaked?”

Stomach Consideration

” A few years later,” I said, “after I had discovered my feet, I discovered my stomach. We were having a big dinner. There was cauliflower, parsnips, roast duck and a whole lot of other things I hated.”

“Duck! Ugh!” groaned Jim.

“But in my youth,” I explained, there was no question about whether you liked your food. You just ate what was put on your plate, or else! So I sat there, hating my food and feeling sorry for myself, when all of a sudden I thought of my poor stomach. I visualized it. If I was suffering, what of my poor stomach! There it was down in the middle of me, doomed for life to the dark and the humid warmth. Never could it come out, like my feet, for a breath of air or sunlight. Doomed my poor stomach, to squatting down in the middle of me to receive whatever I chucked at it. Helpless, hopeless, in the dark.”

Jim shuddered slightly.

“And I was filled,” I expounded, “with a sudden, warm, kindly feeling for my stomach. I decided then and there that I would befriend it at every opportunity. I would give it surprises. I would treat it to little excursions. And that very night, at the supper table, I surreptitiously took a dessert spoonful of my grandmother’s Wooster sauce and downed it when nobody was looking. You could feel my stomach cheer!”

“Didn’t it kill you?” asked Jim weakly.

“Kill me?” I cried. “My dear boy, that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between me and my stomach. I have never failed, all across the years, to give it a surprise at every opportunity. When it thinks it is going to get a load of the same old junk, the same old mashed potatoes, the same old overdone beef and the same old apple pie, what do I do?”

“Don’t tell me, groaned Jim.

“I give it,” I announced, “an onion sandwich.”

“Onion …” quivered Jim.

“A strong onion sandwich, with peppergrass or parsley thickly padded on top of the onion, a good slather of pepper, some salt and a dab of vinegar.”

“You should have dyspepsia,” asserted Jim thickly.

“Never,” I assured. “My stomach knows I am playing. It knows we are having fun. I give it the surprise treatment. I go along the street at lunch time, thinking about fried steak, home-fried potatoes, ice cream and chocolate sauce, until my poor old stomach has all collapsed with foreboding, and is lying in limp glob down in the middle of me. Then, all of a sudden, I whip into a lunch counter and send down to it fruit salad, a slice of toast and … by golly… a large glass of buttermilk. …”

“Awghh!” begged Jimmie, holding up his hands in horror and beseeching me to stop.

“I never feel peaked,” I stated finally. Because, in my opinion, feeling peaked is simply from treating your stomach as if it were just … just a receptacle.”

“I’ve heard a lot of cockeyed health ideas,” said Jim, “but that is the worst. The surprise system!”

“The secret of health,” I declaimed, “is In treating every part of your mechanism with decent consideration. Give it a surprise every once in a while. Shock it. Wake it up. Make it feel it’s a member of the community of you, not just a dumb, blind slave.”

Surprise Your Liver

Jim stared down the garden.

“My liver,” he said thoughtfully. “Now, how could I surprise my liver?”

“Simplest thing in the world, Jim,” I assured. “Get down and walk around the garden four or five times every night on all fours.”

“On all what?” protested Jim.

“Look, my dear sir,” I reasoned, “it’s only in the last couple of million years that we human beings have been walking erect. Don’t forget that for the preceding billion years we were slowly emerging from the ancient slime, we humans, and, like most other animals except birds, went on all fours. Our architecture is that of a four-footed animal. All our innards are arranged, not for walking upright, but for walking on all fours. The way our hearts are placed, our lungs, livers, stomachs everything is arranged as in a four-footed beast. I bet for the first couple of hundred thousand years that men adopted the fashion of trying to walk upright, there were an awful lot of peaked-feeling people.”

“You mean,” cried Jim, “that I should get down on my hands and knees and perambulate around the garden…?”

“Certainly,” I said. “Why not? It would give all your insides surprise. Not only your liver, but all the rest of the handiworks. Imagine! I bet none of your ancestors, for the past 10,000 years, has ever gone around on all fours. So you can imagine the sigh of relief your liver and lights would give if you started walking around in the old-fashioned manner.”

“The old-fashioned …” snorted Jim.

“Certainly, the old-fashioned manner,” I said, rising, walking over to the grass (which Jim hadn’t cut lately) and getting down on my hands and knees.

I walked about 10 yards on hands and knees. It did feel good. The grass was spring under my palms. It smelt good. I looked down and saw ants in the grass and interesting small plants hidden in the roughage. I stood up, stretched and walked back and sat down.

“Aaaaahh,” I said with satisfaction. “That feels good! I feel as good as a dog feels when it gives that big, long stretch after having a sleep.”

Jim glanced around to the left and right to see if any of his neighbors were about. He contemplated the lawn before him with an expression of doubt and worry on his face. Then he got up, walked over and got down on all fours and went about 10 feet. Then got hurriedly to his feet and came and sat down again.

“It feels ridiculous,” he snapped. “It feels demeaning, humiliating.”

“But doesn’t your liver feel better?” I inquired, “Sort of surprised?”

Jim sat up and listened.

“As a matter of fact,” he replied, “it does.”

And he got up and went over to the grass again and started crawling around on his hands and knees. He made a complete circuit of the garden plodding like a cow coming home at eventide.

“Do you know,” he stated, as he sat down again, “I believe you’ve got something there. I could sort of feel my insides moving around freely, as if they were taking up easier and more natural positions.”

“Jim,” I enunciated, “in deference to our remote ancestors, I think everybody should go around on their hands and knees for one hour after supper every day.”

“It could be a new cult, like nudism,” agreed Jim. “Wherever you looked, after supper, you’d see your neighbors crawling around their gardens, up their back steps, out to their cars. After a few months, it would be no shock at all to see a neighbor going down to the corner to post a letter on his hands and knees, with the letter held in his mouth.”

“Nobody feels better,” I furthered, “than when lying down. Think what a relief it is to lie down. Think how eased and delighted the whole body feels. The reason is simple. When we lie down, we permit our insides, which have been held up all day in a most unnatural position, to resume their proper or normal position.”

“All healthy, natural men,” agreed Jim, “love to lie back in their chairs and put their feet on the desk. That is the same thing. Taking the weight off the insides.”

“We’ve got something here, Jim,” I announced.

“Let’s go another round,” suggested Jim alertly.

So we got up and did another round of the garden, taking our time, placing our front paws and hind knees very solidly and deliberately, the way a horse or a cow does.

And just as we finished the first round. Jim suddenly jumped to his feet with low “Oh, oh!” to me.

He went and sat down.

I looked around and saw the cause of his perturbation. The neighbors in the next garden were standing watching us with expressions of astonishment and some disapproval.

Bless the Car Keys

As I, to, took my seat in the garden chair, I heard the woman say: “Why can’t they leave it alone? With their wives away, I suppose they feel they can go on the tear…”

So we both got up and strolled across to the fence and chatted amiably with them. We can’t have any unfounded rumors going about the neighborhood. We showed them that we were perfectly sober and under control.

They made no reference to our parade around the garden, and we offered no explanations. We both thought it was better than trying to explain any new health scheme. We talked of the dahlias and the asters and the other oncoming flowers of August. And then I remembered I had left the hose running back at my place.

“Jim, I’ll have to go and turn off my hose,” I said.

I went out to my car and got in. I felt in my pocket, my usual pocket, for my car key. It wasn’t there. It wasn’t in any pocket. I searched thoroughly and then realized what had happened. I had lost my car key in Jim’s unkempt grass while on all fours.

Jim was still chattering with the neighbors when I returned to the garden.

I sidled up to him and asked in a low voice: “Feel better?

“Much better,” replied Jim quietly. “Certainly surprised my liver. Or something.”

“I’ve lost my car key,” I told him. “It must have fallen out of my pocket. Would you like to help me look for it in the grass . . . ?”

Jim looked at me with delight. Then he turned to his neighbors.

“Mr. Clark,” he said, as though just recollecting, “has lost his car key in the grass. We’ve got to continue looking for it…”

And down we went crawling in the grass to our heart’s content, while the neighbors, everything now perfectly clear to them, watched us with amusement as we continued our search.

Jim found the key after only about 30 seconds of hunting. He passed me and showed it to me in the palm of his hand, but we both went right on hunting for it, this way, that way, until our livers were thoroughly surprised, our insides were properly shaken free from their unnatural upright position, and we felt we had had enough.

Then Jim cried that he had found the key, up we got, and I went home and turned off my hose.

But the moral is: If you want to surprise your liver and don’t feel like scandalizing the neighbors, just to your car key out on the lawn and then go looking for it.

In fact, the whole family could come and help. Much to everybody’s improvement.


Editor’s Notes: Senna tea is a herb used as a laxative.

Licorice powder was used for stomach pains.

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