The Work of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise

Tag: Christmas

Christmas Crush

Before the astonished eyes of the attendant we skidded forth off the escalator.

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, December 18, 1937

“So help me,” said Jimmie Frise devoutly, “I’ll never get caught in this last-minute Christmas rush again. So help me.”

“Millions and millions of people all over the world,” I informed him, “are saying the same thing, this same minute, in a hundred different languages.”

“So help me,” declared Jimmie firmly.

“You said it last year,” I stated. “You will say it next year. And so will all the other millions and millions.”

“Never again, so help me,” reiterated Jim, fiercely.

“There wouldn’t be any Christmas,” I said, “if there were no Christmas rush. That is what Christmas has come to mean. A time of crowding and gathering and jostling. A time of joy and weariness, of feasting and visiting. Of buying and selling.”

“Yeah, commercialized,” accused Jim.

“No, not commercialized,” I corrected. “That’s an easy sneer at Christmas. But suppose Christmas were nothing more than a holy day on the calendar, can you imagine how it would go by? Just as unremembered as any other holy day. Do you recall what you did on Good Friday three years ago? Certainly not. But you can remember what you did three, five, ten Christmases ago; who was at your house; how the children acted, especially the youngest one. You can count back. You can count back ten Christmases, when your youngest girl was three. And close your eyes, and there you can see it, as clear as if it were yesterday. Why? Because that was the year she crashed the Christmas tree in her new scooter, or something. And then, bit by bit, the whole dear, tender picture returns to you, and you’ve got something. A memory.”

“That’s all very well,” protested Jim, “anybody can get sentimental over Christmas and try to gloss over the evils of it. But I say, this Christmas crush is getting tougher all the time. And believe me, I’m through with it.”

“Tougher?” I cried. “My dear boy, nowadays it’s nothing compared to what it was a couple of thousand years ago, the day all this is supposed to commemorate. Don’t you remember that it was so crowded there wasn’t any room at the inn, and Joseph and Mary had to find a manger, in a stable?”

“Aw,” said Jim.

“Crowded?” I continued. “The streets jammed with people from miles around, and donkeys and camels, their bells tinkling and their drivers shouting and complaining and the inns roaring with trade and all the little shops filled with fighting people, trying to get waited on. Crowded? And detachments of Roman soldiers down from Jerusalem to help the tax enumerators do their work, and them in all the best billets in the little town. And the government men turning the front rooms of the inn into offices to work on their tax rolls, and outside, all the lineage of David lined up in queues and wanting to be away home again about their business. Crowded? Jimmie, Christmas has to be a kind of panjandrum, in memory of that day.”

“What Have You to Get?”

“Well, we’ve succeeded,” agreed Jim. “And Christmas has become the worst-tempered season of the whole year. Everybody tired and worried over money, and shopgirls so gaunt and white looking, and delivery men sloshing through the night, and factory girls working overtime, and store keepers dizzy for want of rest, and everybody’s nerves on edge and ready to crack any minute.”

“Fine,” I exulted. “Glorious. Instead of camel drivers shouting, we have car horns yelling impatiently, and instead of Roman soldiers lounging around keeping the crowds moving, we have extra police on duty. It’s a perfect representation.”

“Have you finished your shopping yet?” demanded Jim, grimly.

“No, siree,” I assured him. “I’ve still got a few things to get. And I’m proceeding with it in the spirit of the season. I’m going to be shoved and pushed and tramped on, and camel drivers are going to shout me out of the path, and Roman soldiers are going to thumb me on my way imperiously. I will rub shoulders with all my brethren, poor and rich. I will see, thrust close to mine, faces I have never seen before, thousands of them, my brothers in life. I will be full of pride and contempt and anger, all of them warm, healthy feelings. I will be conscious of my own importance, as I am pushed around by people far beneath me in money and clothes. That too is a nice sensation. There will be a great hum and roar of low sound, the sound of a multitude, and to men, so afraid of being alone, that great sound is always curiously comforting. There will be buying, selling, choosing, selecting, deciding. There will be possessing.”

“What have you to get?” inquired Jim.

“I haven’t the faintest idea,” I assured him, “which is another grand part of the whole business. That glorious aimlessness with which the multitude wander through the stores and along the streets, undecided, indecisive, at a loss, bewildered. That’s the true spirit of Christmas, too.”

“That’s what makes me so mad,” disagreed Jim. “Me trying to go direct to the ladies’ glove counter and having to fight my way through a solid scrimmage of people who don’t want to go anywhere, or else don’t know where they want to go. That vacant stare, mixed with weariness and crankiness, that’s the expression of Christmas.”

“Wouldn’t it be dreadful,” I argued, “if at Christmas, everybody went trimly and smugly and smartly direct to what they wanted? How cold, practical, chilly, the whole business would be. No, Jim, it’s that complete breakdown of everything sensible and reasonable that makes Christmas what it is, the pinnacle of the year.”

“Well, if you don’t know what you want,” said Jim.

“Oh, I know roughly,” I explained, “that I want something for a boy of thirteen something for an elderly lady and something for a man, a tie or a cigarette tray or something casual.”

Everything Seems to Bulge

“We may as well go together,” said Jim, wanly. “I’ve got to get something for two of my girls and some other odds and ends. When you have somebody with you, it doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Come along,” I said.

And we entered the downtown streets which, even at nine a.m. are already congested and which, by four p.m. are just a hopeless slow tangle. Where do they come from? Are all the offices and desks and work benches abandoned, these last few days before Christmas? Is everybody shopping? The pedestrian traffic is trebled and the wheel traffic at least doubled.

Everything seems to bulge. The streets are congested, the windows are congested. Doorways are not wide enough and from the wagons and trucks parcels project perilously. People cannot pass one another, even in straight walking, but have to pause and bunt and wriggle around. At every doorway, there is confusion.

Nobody seems to have his mind on what he is doing, a general uncertainty prevails. People are all looking up, looking left, right or down. Their mouths are slightly open, as if listening to something inside them. They halt suddenly, turn around and return the way they had come. They burst into little trots. At the intersections, they impatiently attempt to cross against a red light, change their mind, stand dreaming, and then, when the green light comes on the people behind have to push them to get them started.

Jim and I got into the tide and drifted with it, storewards.

“How about an air rifle for that boy of 13?” said Jim, helpfully.

“No,” I said, “he got one two years ago. How about one of those nice needlepoint vanity cases for your girls?”

“No, they’ve got all that stuff,” said Jim. “Could you get your boy one of those metal hammering outfits?”

“He’s got one,” I replied. “Say, I saw some of the swellest ski outfits the other day for girls. Little helmet things….”

“No, no,” cried Jim. “They’ve got so much ski stuff. I think that’s what keeps the snow away. I wish I had boys to buy for. They’re so much easier to choose for than girls.”

“Don’t kid yourself,” I assured him. “I can go right through a department store without seeing a single thing fit for a boy, and every place I look, I see something a girl would just love.”

“You wouldn’t think so,” said Jim, “if you had girls to look after. It’s just the other way round, as a matter of fact. The stores are simply bursting with stuff for boys, but there hasn’t been a new idea in the line of Christmas presents for girls in the last ten years.”

Going With the Current

 “You certainly are cockeyed, Jim,” I assured him, as we joined a great herd and charged across an intersection, bunting and shoving.

We arrived at the big stores. What had been the Niagara rapids of traffic here became Niagara Falls. Clinging together like mariners wrecked, we went with the raging currents, timidly daring to steer a course, whenever an eddy permitted, towards the elevators but ending up at the escalators instead. Trying to catch the up one, we were inexorably forced on to the down one, which took us to the basement, and there, by skillfully pretending not to want to reach the elevators, we succeeded in arriving there and caught one almost empty which took us to the seventh floor before we could battle our way free. By putting on an expression of joy as if the seventh floor were really seventh heaven, where we had been trying to get for years, we had hardly any trouble getting to the stairs, and we walked down three flights to the sporting goods department. Jimmie and I find one thing about the sporting goods department. In case we do get marooned there, we have something to look at.

“Roller skates,” cried Jimmie. “The very thing for your boy.”

“The very thing for your girl, you mean,” I corrected. “Anyway, they can’t roller skate in winter.”

One of the young temporary salesmen they have at Christmas, one of those boys with the expression of a mischievous wire-haired fox terrier in his eyes, overheard my remark.

“Let me show you, sir,” he said, “the latest thing. Here’s a floating power skate, a ball-bearing, knee-action roller skate that is so pleasant to use, a boy will ride on it winter, summer, in the rain, at night, all the time.”

Very skillfully, like a cowpuncher herding steers, he manipulated us out of the swarming traffic into a kind of pocket. And he handed us each a very fancy looking roller skate.

“A kid,” said the enthusiastic young salesman, “will be asking you for messages to go, if he has these skates, see? He’ll be out in the fresh air, taking easy, natural exercise all day long. They’re like velvet. They’re soundless, smooth, like floating in a canoe. Like blowing along on the wind. In fact, I’m saving my money to own a pair of those skates myself. sir.”

We examined them. They just looked like roller skates to me.

“I’d be having,” I said, “to buy new rollers, new wrenches, all the time. They’d leave marks all over the hardwood floors.”

“Just sit down here, sir,” said the young man. “Just sit here one second.”

I am always glad to sit. So is Jim. We sat. The young man squatted down and skillfully snapped a skate on to my foot.

“See?” he cried. “Modernized. A patent device. It just snaps on. Nothing to fall off or work loose. Just a second.”

He snapped the mate on.

“Now, sir,” he said, “just stand up on those.”

I stood up, cautiously, the young chap holding my elbows to steady me. He rolled me a foot or two.

“Did you ever,” he demanded, “feel anything so airy, so smooth, as the action of those skates?”

I took a couple of cautious slides, holding to the counter edge. It was certainly an eerie sensation. Floating is the word. I shoved myself pleasurably along the counter. When I turned, also cautiously, I saw that Jim had been outfitted with them and, being more leggy than I was trying a few slow curvy strokes with them, amidst the crowd swerving past.

“Slick, eh?” said Jim, whirling over to me and doing one of those skating carnival halts.

“How much are they?” I asked.

“I didn’t ask,” said Jim, and we looked for our young man, who, in the true spirit of Christmas, was already waiting on somebody else, letting us soak, as it were, on our skates.

“I think I’ll get a pair,” said Jim.

“I’d imagine they’re pretty high,” I said, “Did you ever feel anything so smooth?”

Watching for a Break

Holding each other, we took a couple of slides along the counter. We came to the main aisle. Jim was being a little too expert and his weight carried us out into the driving storm of doggedly moving humanity.

“Hey,” I said, missing my grab for the counter. “Hey.”

But how was anybody to know we were on wheels? We held fast to each other, as the thick, packed throng moved us pleasantly away, waiting for an opening or else a chance to seize hold of a pillar.

We had become involved, however, in one of those solid swarms that slowly shuffle, hour by hour, through the great stores these final festive days, and, since we were so tightly packed neither Jim nor I could stoop down to undo the skates from our feet, and since it would have been ridiculous to try to explain to the uninterested people pushing from behind or leaning back against us in front, we just let matters ride, until we got a break.

“Don’t struggle,” warned Jim quietly. “If we upset, we might start some kind of a panic. Take it easy.”

We took it easy. The ones behind shoved, the ones ahead laid back, and there, as snug as steers in a cattle car, we moved effortlessly along.

“Jim,” I confided, “this is an idea. I bet we could sell this idea to the big stores. Roller skates for rent, to make Christmas shopping easy.”

We rolled once around the sporting goods and twice around the toys. A couple of times, I thought I saw the chance to climb over small children and get a grip on a counter edge, but Jim’s grasp on my sleeve prevented me.

“Jim,” I said, “try to signal that young brat that is waiting on us.”

But the tide set out to sea and we started leaving the sporting goods.

“Jim,” I muttered, “turn your toes a little to the right, and try to steer us to the side. We’re getting out of the sporting goods into the hardware.”

We both turned our toes right, but it made no difference. We were just lightly and easily rolled along, at the pace of the throng.

“One thing,” said Jim, “we can’t fall down and be trampled to death.”

“Hardware passing,” I said. “Linoleums next.”

We slowly rolled through the linoleums, past the coconut matting into the hooked rugs.

“Watch for a break,” I advised, “and see if you can make a grab. Once we get out of the crowd, we can fall down and take them off.”

But through the hooked rugs we slowly floated, and suddenly a dreadful presentiment assailed me.

“Pssst,” I hissed, “the escalator!”

“I’m afraid,” said Jim, “we’re for it.”

We could hear the dull rumble of the escalator. We tried to thrust out of the throng, but with nothing to grip with but our hands, all we succeeded in doing was irritating people whose arms we clutched, and they glared at us haughtily. Slowly the throng thickened, packed, pressed together and leaned hard over, in the general determination to get to the escalator. It was hopeless. When your turn comes to the escalator, you take it, willy nilly. We took ours.

Clinging to the fat rubber rails, we kept upright. I tried to raise one leg in order to unfasten one of the skates, but my knee bunted the lady ahead of me in an undignified fashion and she turned and hissed–

“Don’t get fresh!”

So, swiftly, inevitably, we reached the bottom of the escalator without having any time to plan or organize our arrival. And on the shining steel plate which bottoms all escalators our feet rolled forth and our helpless hands had to let go the fat rolling rubber railing and, ingloriously we skidded forth before the astonished eyes of the attendant and such shoppers as had enough interest left in life to bother looking.

The attendant helped us take the skates off. He did not, as I suggested to him, suppose we were trying to steal the skates.

“Not a tall, not a tall,” he assured us. “Things like this are happening all the time during the Christmas rush.”

So we took the skates slowly back to the young temporary salesman, who had not noticed our absence, and told him we would think the matter over.


Editor’s Notes: This story serves as a reminder to anyone who bemoans that Christmas has become commercialized. Long before Charlie Brown complained about the commercialization of Christmas in 1965, people were complaining about it even earlier.

Old roller skates were metal and had to be strapped to your shoes. Since “one size fits all”, you needed a skate “key” to adjust the length to fit to your feet, and tighten and lock it.

High Life

He came from behind and pushed the box between my stilts…

By Gregory Clark, Illustrated by James Frise, December 8, 1934

“How,” asked Jimmie Frise, “do little short men like you manage to do your Christmas shopping? How do you catch the attention of the salesgirls?”

“As a matter of fact, Jim,” I replied, “you have touched on a very sore spot. We small people don’t talk much about our size. It’s a sensitive subject. And I may say we all observe the approach of Christmas with a good deal of misgiving. It is strenuous enough pushing and shoving your way through the stores even if you are six feet tall and weigh 200 pounds. But when you are handicapped!”

“We ought to get the stores to advertise,” said Jim, ” ‘Small people do your Christmas shopping early.'”

“Better still,” I enthused, “let us ask the big stores to set aside a certain week, in the month before Christmas, as small people’s week. It would be a swell idea.”

“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday,” said Jim, “would be ‘small folks’ days’ and the doormen at the entrances of the stores would respectfully stop all large people from coming in.”

“And Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays,” I finished, “would be large people’s week.”

“And the doormen,” reminded Jimmie, “would respectfully stop all small people from going in on those days, so as not to be a nuisance to the large people by getting tangled up in their feet all the time and stumbling over them.”

“Well, I hardly think that is a polite way of saying it, Jimmie,” I protested. “But the idea is a dandy. We ought to take it up with the big stores right away.”

“I’d hate to be short,” said Jim.

“It has its advantages,” I demurred. “For example, in sleeping car berths. And in wars. Small people are usually quicker than big people. They are handier around the house, too. A great big man must be terrible bother around a house, lumbering around and making everything creak and wearing out the furniture.”

“You take elevators,” I said. “I hate getting into a crowded elevator. It is the most undignifying thing in the world. For one thing, nobody makes room for a small man. Yet when a big man comes charging at crowded elevator, everybody moves over, with uneasy little smiles, like patting a big dog, and squeezes to make room for him. Sometimes, I try to get in an elevator first, to get a good place. But sure as fate, some great big man gets in after me, turns his back and pushes his large anatomy right into my face. If I wait, to escape that indignity, I have to wiggle and squash to try to get in at all.”

“I never noticed those things,” said Jim. “After this, I will try to stand edgeways to any little men in the elevator.”

“And street cars,” I continued. “One reason I have worked and toiled in this world to make money was to own a car so that I would never, never have to ride in street cars. The way they shove you aside as you try to get aboard. The way they push and shove you, once you are in. I have had tall men rest their evening papers on my hat. I have had tall girls rest their elbows on my shoulder. Too lazy to hold on to the strap or rail above them, these big people just sag in the crowd, and let their swaying and lurching be taken up by the lesser people. And, naturally, by the law of ultimate consumption, it is us smallest people who take up the slack.”

“You move me deeply,” said Jim. “I had no idea.”

“I don’t like sport,” I said, “because big men stand up in front of me at the crucial moments of the rugby or hockey game. I may say I never saw a goal scored in my life.”

“Mercy,” said Jim.

“Motor cars are all made for big men,” I declared. “Golf sticks, telephone booths, mirrors in hotel bathrooms, counters in lunch rooms, are all made for big men. There are stand-up restaurants in Toronto, over which just my head shows. I wouldn’t eat there for a thousand dollars. Seats everywhere, seats in street cars, hotels, church, are all made for big men, so that my feet dangle in the air. I don’t go to church. If I try to buy a ready-made coat, and have it shortened in the tail so that my feet show, the pockets are slung so low down I have to bend to reach them.”

“The advantages in this life,” said Jim, “are all on the side of the tall people.”

“Agreed,” I admitted bitterly. “A big man is showered with respect and honor wherever he goes. He gets waited on immediately in stores and restaurants. He has his path cleared for him wherever he goes. The world pays respect and honor to big men, no matter who or what they are. Whereas a little man has to conquer the world, like Napoleon, before he can win the world’s respect.”

“And not always then,” put in Jim. “But what are you going to do about Christmas? Why not just do your shopping early? You small people know your own difficulties. Why don’t you act on that knowledge?”

“Because I don’t think it is fair,” I stated. “Because I have my rights, just the same as any two hundred pounder. Because I have as much right to be waited on in a store as any policeman in captivity!”

“Why don’t you use stilts?” asked Jim. “Just make a pair of stilts that would lift you up to about seven feet tall. I bet you would have no trouble doing your Christmas shopping then.”

“Jim,” I gasped, “what a peach of an idea …”

The Secret of Success

“The only trouble would be carrying your parcels on stilts,” said Jim.

“I could have everything sent,” I said, “All I would do would be to carry my stilts until I got to the department where I wanted to buy something. Then up on my stilts, make my purchase and then dismount. I wouldn’t even have to pay money. Just have the stuff sent c.o.d.”

“You certainly could see what was on sale,” admitted Jim. “One of my troubles is seeing what is for sale.”

“I’m going to patent this idea,” I cried, “and then sell it to the big stores. They could have a department near the main entrance, the stilt department, where stilts would be hired out for a normal sum to all short people. They could then hobble about the store, making their purchases as easily as anybody.”

“That would lose you the whole advantage,” argued Jim. “The first thing you know, big people would get tired of being crowded out by little people on stilts and then they would begin using stilts, and where would you be? No, sir. Use the stilts yourself and see how it works. In this life grab every advantage you can think of. That’s the secret of success.”

Jim assisted me in making the stilts in my cellar. We used seven-foot lengths of what the timber dealers call two by two. Three feet from the ground we nailed on two cleats for my feet to rest on. When we got them done that far I mounted the stilts and wobbled around the cellar.

“Hooray,” cheered Jim. “They’re perfect. And you’re a natural born stiltsman.”

It was exciting. We then put some fancy trimmings on them, such as pieces of rubber from an old tire, on the bottoms, and we put linings of more rubber on the cleats so that my feet would not slip when I was “up.” as they say in the racing world. I gave them a nice coat of varnish and set them to dry.

“I’ll come shopping with you,” assured Jimmie, “in case you want any of your parcels carried.”

“You’re the sort of partner,” I thanked him heartily.

I went home early two afternoons and did some practice on the stilts. By taking several small boys along with me I pretended I was showing them the fun of stilts. And by letting all of them try the stilts I was able to work in a lot of showing-how, which gave me plenty of practice until I became, if I may say so, quite handy.

We chose Friday afternoon for the shopping day.

“Make it the most crowded time of all,” said Jim. “It will be a real test of your genius.”

When we arrived at the main entrance of the big store, I carrying the stilts and nobody paying any more attention to me than if it were an umbrella I was carrying. Jim drew me aside.

“Look,” he said, “are you really going ahead with this stunt?”

I was amazed.

“Because,” said Jimmie, “people will think you are nuts.”

“Jimmie,” I retorted, “during these three weeks everybody thinks everybody is nuts. This is Christmas month. Anything goes.”

“Well, I warn you,” he sighed.

But he came with me. We walked through the soaps and the magazines. We passed the purses. We drew near the jewelry, I carrying the stilts at what soldiers call the high-port.

Invention of the Ages

“What are you going to get first?” asked Jim.

“Three pair of silk stockings,” I said, “in a gift box.”

The stockings counter was just a midway. Just a veterans’ reunion. Just a fight. Women were three and four deep around the counters, they were wedged one in beside another and, standing on the floor, I could not see the top of even a tall salesgirl.

“Now, Jim,” said I, “let me show you something.”

Standing well back from the melee, I mounted the stilts. With the skill of an old hand I waddled forward toward the stockings counter. Now I could see right over the heads of four rows of ladies, and up into my face stared not one but eight or nine salesgirls. Their expressions were wide-eyed and delighted. In an instant that tired Friday afternoon look vanished. Life became interesting to them once more.

I waddled down the counter, looking at the piles of stockings with the prices set in cards above them. Three of the girls left their customers and followed me anxiously.

“How much are those with the frilly top?” I asked.

“Eighty-nine cents,” said all three girls.

“May I have three pairs, please? Send them c.o.d. and in a gift box,” said I giving them my address.

Forty or fifty indignant female customers were by now glaring angrily up at me. Up, I say, and I mean up. I now realize the feeling a tall man must have in a theatre line-up or in a crowded elevator. It is a swell feeling. I felt like thanking Heaven.

“Yes, sir,” said the girl who had got her book open first.

“Thank you,” said I dropping easily off the stilts and resting them on my shoulder like a skier.

Jimmie, who had been concealing himself behind a pillar, came out sheepishly.

“Well I never,” said he.

“Jim,” I cried, “it’s the invention of the ages. I never in my life shopped so quickly or was treated so politely. You can have no idea of the power, the authority, the ease it gives you to be standing looking down on everybody. Especially a mob of indignant women.”

“I imagined you’d be mobbed,” said Jim.

“Now for the toy department,” said I.

We went up the elevator to the toys. Such a pandemonium you never saw. Dolls were my first concern, so I mounted my stilts in the rear of the mob in front of the doll counter. Most of the crowd thought I was one of the clowns hired to wander about the toy floor, and they laughed merrily while I waded in and gave my order for a nice fat doll. It didn’t take one minute to complete the deal. Then I hopped down and rejoined Jim.

“Try it, Jim,” I begged him. “Get up on them and try them.”

“I can see all right,” replied he.

“Now for ladies’ gloves,” said I.

“Main floor.”

The congestion was terrific.

“You’ll come to grief here,” said Jim. “Better wait until early to-morrow morning and order your gloves from the ground level.”

“I know the color, the size and the price I want,” I retorted. “Just stand aside watch.”

I mounted. I moved through the crowd. Two or three ladies elbowed my legs as I passed them. But as usual the salesgirls, seeing me towering above the throng, greeted me with sudden bright and interested glances.

“So,” I thought to myself, “this is the eye the tall boys get, is it?”

Speaking in a deep voice that fitted my height, I ordered the kind of gloves I wanted, the girl held them up for me to see, and I was in the act of leaning slightly forward to look at the quality of the leather when one of those boys they hire only for the Christmas rush, shoving one of those large boxes on wheels which you never see except during the worst of the Christmas rush, came from behind and pushed the box between my stilts.

Naturally it was impossible to foresee such a contingency. Not knowing what was spreading the stilts, I dropped off backward and fell into the parcel wagon the boy was shoving. There were a number of parcels in the little wagon, but not enough to prevent me falling deep into it. The boy, being a new boy and anxious to hold his job, kept right on pushing through the crowd, while Jimmie, appearing beside the wagon, said to the boy:

“Go right ahead, boy, deliver him.”

And over by the south elevators, where the crowd was not so thick, Jim helped me out.

“Get my stilts,” I insisted. “I’m not through.”

“You’re through,” said Jim, handing the boy a quarter.

“Did you, by any chance,” I asked icily “pay that boy to upset me?”

“I would spend far more than a quarter for an old friend,” said Jim.

“You’re jealous,” I cried, “You’re just jealous, because I was higher than you. Now I see through it all: you tall people are just childishly jealous of anybody taller than you.”

“You looked like a sap,” said Jim.

“Because you have always been used to looking down on me from a height,” I said. “Jim, I think this is mighty small of you.”

“Let us stay the way the Lord made us,” said Jim. “The expression on your face, up there on those stilts, was ridiculous. You thought you were a duke or something.”

“Jim, I felt good,” I admitted.

“It takes years,” ended Jim, “to grow the way we are. A sudden change ruins us. If you keep your feet on the ground I’ll help you with your Christmas shopping. I’ll come along and lift you up so you can see what’s on the counters.”

“Very good,” said I. But the pavement seemed stiflingly close.


Editor’s Notes: Buying something c.o.d., meant “Cash on Delivery”. The store would sent the item to your home, and you would pay full price on receipt.

This Is It!

By Greg Clark, December 21, 1946

“How,” demanded Jimmie Frise,”is your Christmas spirit?”

“As good as the next fellow’s,” I replied guardedly.

“I mean,” expanded Jim,” “have you got the true spirit of Christmas? Or are you just one of those people who go along on the Christmas bandwagon because they can’t escape?”

“Jim!” I expostulated very shocked. “You shouldn’t say things like that. To vast numbers of people, Christmas is the most holy day of the year.”

“It certainly doesn’t look like it,” declared Jim. “It’s far from holy for what looks to me like about 99 per cent of the population. It’s the business peak of the year. More cash registers clang during the four weeks before Christmas than during any other four-month period of the year. More people are exhausted as the result of sheer acquisitiveness on Christmas Eve than on any other day of the year.”

“I know, I know,” I protested. “Anybody can see that we have made a carnival out of Christmas instead of a holiday. Holiday means holy day. But how else would you celebrate Christmas?”

“Well, millions among us DO regard Christmas as the most sacred day of the year, and act accordingly,” said Jimmie. “But millions more of us can’t hear the church bells because of the racket the kids are making in the living-room or because of the hustle and bustle in the kitchen while the turkey cooks….”

“I think,” I submitted, “that the great majority of those of us who look upon Christmas as a carnival rather than a holy day still have a consciousness deep in our hearts as to what it is all about. All this giving of gifts. All this gathering of the family all this feasting and merrymaking.”

“I doubt it,” muttered Jim.

“Look here,” I demanded, “what are you getting at? What is all this leading up to?”

“Well,” said Jim, in that sweet humble air he adopts when he is about to take us both for a ride, “as a matter of fact, I was just wondering if the good old Christmas spirit had affected you to the point that you might be willing to make a small sacrifice…”

“Of time?” I queried. “Or money?”

“Neither, really.” Assured Jim. “One of my nephews from the country – just a kid, he is – got the bright idea this Christmas of making a little money by selling Christmas trees off the farm. They’ve got a big swamp full of spruce and balsam, you remember?”

“That’s a good swamp,” I agreed. “Full of rabbits.”

“So,” went on Jim, “he came up to the city and rented a vacant lot, he and a couple of chums. And they’ve cut about 300 dandy little Christmas trees, and have brought them up by truck to this vacant lot. And these past three days, they’ve been selling like hot cakes.”

“Good for them,” I applauded. “I like to see the farm boys exhibiting a little initiative.”

“A Swell Idea!”

“Now here’s the point,” pursued Jim. “They had no idea business would be so brisk. So they want to go back down to the farm tonight and spend tomorrow cutting another couple of hundred Christmas trees. And my nephew asked me if I would be kind enough to stand guard at their vacant lot tomorrow.”

“Why, Jim,” I admired, “what a swell idea!”

“All we’d have to do,” hurried Jim, watching me narrowly, “would be to get on the job good and early and…”

“How early?” I cut in.

“Oh, 8 or 8.30,” supposed Jim. “Maybe even later. Nobody goes out buying Christmas trees first thing in the morning.”

“How about during the night?” I demanded. “Don’t they have to leave somebody on guard during the night? Isn’t there some danger of kids coming around during the night and snitching a few trees?”

“Aw, we could stroll around a couple of times before bed time,” said Jim. “And anyway, there will be a cop on the beat.”

“Jim,” I submitted warmly, “there is something about Christmas trees that appeals to everybody no matter how cold-hearted he may be. I never pass one of those vacant lots crammed with little spruces and balsams, brightening the drab streets of the city with their unexpected little forests, that I don’t slow down and envy the guys who are living there, even for a few hours or a few days, amid the charm and mystery of the woods, there in the heart of the city.”

“It’s the Christmas spirit,” enthused Jim, obviously relieved at my reception of his idea.

“Has your nephew got one of those little shacks on the vacant lot?” I inquired. “You know, a little shelter to…”

“Not yet,” explained Jim. “They’ve got a good big brazier we can sit at. It won’t be cold. They’re going to bring planks for a little shack when they come back with more trees tomorrow night.”

“Aw, well, it’s just for the one day,” I reasoned. “Jim, I think it’s a sweet idea. I’ll be very glad to help out your young nephew. Is it the one we met last winter, rabbit hunting?”

“The same boy,” assured Jim.

“A fine kid,” I said heartily. “I’m glad to see he’s got some get-up-and-go to him. When do they leave for the farm?”

“They’ve left already,” announced Jim. “I just got a telephone call to say they were leaving and asking if we could go out right away.”

“Jim,” I cried, “let’s go!”

On the Job

Personally, I have always envied shopkeepers, especially hardware store keepers and drug store keepers. Those are happy men. There they stand amid their mysterious treasure all heaped about them. Mysterious drawers, secret bins; and all about them piled up and heaped high, the riches of their merchandise. I pity all those who have to stand behind counters and dish out groceries and drygoods. Everything they’ve got is out in the open. The customer can see for himself. But in a hardware store or a drug store, there is a sense of the unknown, the hidden. Every request from a customer is a challenge. And you can see in the eye of the hardware man, for instance, that gleam as his mind darts across the past, his memory exploring, as he accepts the challenge and goes to work to find the thing requested. I am sorry no hardware man or druggist has ever encountered an emergency that required my assistance. Christmas trees, of course, come in the category of groceries or drygoods.

Jimmie and I drove hotly for the residential shopping street where young Lisha, his nephew, had rented the vacant lot. And when we parked in front of it, our hearts rose.

There was still a goodly supply of Christmas trees on hand, though you could see that a large number had been sold. Already half a dozen customers were standing or moving amid the trees, examining them and looking about impatiently for somebody to serve them. In the midst stood a good big brazier newly heaped with coke and sticks, and radiating heat waves on the frosty air.

We hurried to the job.

Each tree had a small price tag tied to it. Some were a mere 75 cents, most of them a dollar, with here and there a particularly choice specimen at $1.50. After a hasty look around, I realized that Jim’s nephew, young Lisha, had inherited some of the artistic sense his uncle had. The $1.50 trees were pure Christmas card types.

“Madame?” I greeted the first lady, who had a couple of kids with her.

“How much is this tree?” she inquired sharply.

I examined the tag, which was in full view. “That’s $1.50,” I informed her.

“A dollar fifty,” she cried shrilly, “for a little old tree? Why, that’s an outrage. Anybody could go and out down a simple little tree.”

“But look, lady,” I explained sweetly, in the best merchandising tradition, it had to be cut. It had to be brought in a truck from the country. This vacant lot had to be rented…”

“Oh,” she said. “So you want to argue, do you? Well, there’s lots of other Christmas trees around this district…”

And she marched out of the lot, her two kids glaring back at me indignantly.

I saw the two ladies Jim had first approached just leaving him with their shoulders squared.

The next lady I approached had a tree in her possession. She was dragging it out toward the brazier with the air of someone who had found a bargain hidden away at the back.

“This one,” she stated firmly, “has no price tag. How much is it?”

I examined the tree. It was a little beauty. A close-packed, dense spruce, its branches standing out briskly in all directions, its top tapered and gay and light is a feather. Obviously a $1.50 type.

“That’s the $1.50 line, lady,” I announced.

“For a little bit of scrub like that!” she snapped. “Scrub that you could pick up along the roadside…”

“Sorry, madam,” I assured her. That’s a very exceptional Christmas tree…”

“It was a way in at the back, there,” she wheedled. “Among the 50-cent ones.”

I went back in among the trees. I looked on the ground. Sure enough, I found it. A price tag, folded up as though some bargain hunting woman had pinched it off the tree. I opened it. It was $1.50.

But maybe the wind blew it off. I shouldn’t be so suspicious.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” I stood firm, “that’s our $1.50 line.”

“It’s an outrage,” she shrilled. “The government ought to forbid this racket. “It’s just a racket. A little bit of scrub like this, a dollar fifty!”

I said nothing. I looked over and saw Jim standing by the brazier warming his hands. His customers had departed.

“Look,” said the lady, changing her attitude.” Couldn’t you let me have this for a dollar? I’m just a poor widow. And my little children do so look forward to a Christmas tree…”

“Just the Salesman”

She didn’t look like a widow to me. She looked like a woman regularly accustomed to bulldozing and wheedling a man by turns.

“I’m just the salesman, lady,” I stated. “The price is a dollar fifty.”

“Do you deliver for that price?” she asked stiffly.

“No, ma’am,” I said. “F.O.B.”

“What does F.O.B. mean?” she snapped.

“It’s French for ‘you got to carry it,'” I explained.

“You keep it,” she said warningly, searching her purse. “My husband will call for it. after supper.”

She paid me the $1.50 and I wrote her name on a piece of paper and tied it prominently to the fine feathery tip of the tree.

Jim had dragged a box up to the brazier and was hunched over the fire.

“It’s a cold job, just standing around,” he sniffled.

“Make any sales?” I inquired.

“No, mine were all just shopping around,” he coughed.

The late afternoon sun had gone down behind the nearby buildings. The December wind eddied around us, wafting the scent of balsam and spruce and the fumes of the homegoing traffic to our crispy nostrils.

A few people paused in passing and looked in at our display, but thought better of it and hurried homeward.

“How late should we stay?” I inquired, from the lee side of the brazier.

“Well, I suppose,” huffed Jim, “we ought to stay until the stores close and the crowds go home.”

A man and wife turned purposefully into our lot, the lady leading.

As I was on my feet, I leaped to the sale.

“Aha, the old racket,” cried the husband jovially, full of the Santa Claus spirit. “How much are the trees? Thirty-five, fifty?”

“Are these all you’ve got?” asked the lady in a quiet, menacing voice.

“Just what you see,” I assured her politely.

“They look awfully skimpy to me,” she said, leaning back. “When I was a girl, Christmas trees were beautiful.”

“We have several varieties,” I explained, “spruce, balsam, but the spruce are the prettiest.”

She walked stiffly around. Her husband joined Jim at the brazier and they engaged in the hearty kind of conversation a city man uses on what he assumes to be a country man.

“This one,” I said, pulling a nice bunchy spruce out of the pile,” is the $1.50 line. These are special…”

“A dollar fifty!” laughed the lady lightly. “I should say it IS special! That’s nonsense. I wouldn’t pay more than 50 cents for any Christmas tree. Why it’s absurd, a dollar fifty … George!”

A Cold World

Her husband came over smartly.

“This man,” she said, “has the nerve to ask a dollar fifty for this Christmas tree. Speak to him.”

George drew himself up and frowned at me.

“A dollar fifty,” he began slowly and loudly.

“Look,” I said, “I don’t own the trees. I am just a salesman. There are plenty more Christmas trees up the street.”

“Tell him who you are, George!” commanded the lady in a low voice.

“I don’t care who you are,” I said loudly. “The price of this tree is a dollar-fifty.”

“That’s the tree I want,” said the lady loudly too. “Give him 50 cents for it, George, and take it.”

George looked critically at the tree.

“Mabel,” he said, “that isn’t a Christmas tree. That’s just a piece of hedge. I want a Christmas tree that sort of…”

“We’ve been over and over that,” cried the lady angrily, “every Christmas for years.”

“I want a Christmas tree,” shouted George, “that you can see through. I want a filmy, sketchy Christmas tree, not one of these thick, stuffed looking…”

“Take this one!” warned the lady in a deep throaty voice.

George looked desperately around and laid hold of one of our 50-cent line, a poor little wispy, droopy balsam.

That’s a Christmas tree!” he grated, shoving his jaw close to his wife’s face. “That’s what WE had for a Christmas tree in MY home…”

The lady grabbed a branch and tried to snatch the tree from him.

They pulled and yanked and yelled at each other.

The lady suddenly let go and ran, stumbling out of the lot, and with fast-tapping feet turned into the home-going crowd along the street.

“Will you take it, sir?” I inquired politely.

He stood for a moment, then flung the little tree away from him.

“Aw, the heck with it!” he barked and strode out.

Jim hadn’t moved from the brazier.

“Jim,” I said, “how long should we stay here?”

“It’s pretty cold,” suggested Jim.

“It’s a cold world,” I agreed.

So we banked ashes on the brazier and put it in a safe place and went home, trusting to the goodness of heart and the Christmas spirit in everybody not to molest young Lisha’s trees.

And after supper, we went and bribed the old boy who cuts our grass in summer to take on the job for the morrow.


Editor’s Notes: $1.50 in 1946 is about $21.25 in 2019.

F.O.B. is a term that basically means that the seller is not responsible for shipping.

Only Twenty Days

By Greg Clark, December 3, 1938

“What the dickens,” inquired Jimmie Frise, looking up from a list he was writing, “can a father give a daughter of 20?”

“Why ask me?” I retorted. “What can a father give a daughter of seven?”

“For you it’s easy,” said Jim. “Wait until your kids grow up.”

“The older they are, the more sensible they are,” I pointed out. “You can give a young man of 20 something not very spectacular, but full of value. But with young children, you have to make a splash.”

“You have to make a splash with a daughter of 20,” assured Jim.

“Give her a wrist watch,” I submitted.

“She’s got a wrist watch,” countered Jim.

“Give her a diamond-studded wrist watch,” I offered.

“Oh, yeah?” retorted Jim. “Listen, I’ve got a family.”

“Isn’t it the dickens,” I sympathized. “Jim, there ought to be a sort of upper-class social service bureau for Christmas advice. You ought to be able to send for a woman to come into your home, a trained Christmas expert, the same as a trained social service worker. She’d come and live right in your house for a day, studying the children, examining everything they possess and figuring out what they don’t possess and what they need or what they want. And then she’d draw up your Christmas list for each member of the family.”

“Both what they give,” said Jim, “and what they get.”

“That’s it,” I enthused. “It’s a real idea. Maybe we could sell the idea to the big stores. A Christmas advice bureau, with a staff of young women to come and sit in with the family for a day, and then give expert advice.”

“Most Christmas gifts,” said Jim, “are so silly. We think only in terms of Christmas. Of winter. Of December. Now, I’ve wanted a new shooting coat for the past five years. I never can afford one in October, because I’ve spent all my money during the summer. Yet my family usually spends $12 on me, and you can get a swell shooting coat for $12.”

“I’ll bet the total of a man’s Christmas presents,” I declared, “comes to far more than that. I’ve wanted a new canoe for the cottage for years. But who would give me a canoe for Christmas? There’s the fact that it couldn’t be used for six months. There’s the problem of storing it somewhere. There’s the fact that they couldn’t hang it on the Christmas tree. So they don’t get me a canoe. They get me ties and socks and a new pipe and books, and tins of hundreds of cigarettes, and a whole raft of stuff, all of which would equal the cost of a new canoe.”

“For instance,” interrupted Jim, “my wife has been pining for a Persian rug for years. Every time we pass a store with rugs in the window, she just stops and stands paralyzed. She only wants one around $67.50 or something like that. Yet would I consider giving her a Persian rug for Christmas?”

“Why not?” I demanded.

“Because it’s for the house,” mocked Jim. “It’s something for the house, therefore it’s barred from being a Christmas present. Christmas presents have got to be personal.”

To Reorganize Christmas

“Oh, no, they don’t,” I countered, “That’s just a habit of mind a lot of us have got into. I know plenty of people who give new radios for Christmas.”

“Yes,” said Jim. “Childless couples. They can give each other things of mutual interest and value. But the mother of a family deserves something personal. Years ago, she gave up all thought of herself. In fact, the day her first baby was born, she thought her last personal thought. From then on, she has worked and schemed and planned and thought her whole life for others. Christmas is about the only time of year you can sort of square accounts with a mother.”

“You’re right, Jim,” I agreed. “In fact, there’s a thought there. Why not have a Christmas day for giving gifts only to mothers? Nobody but mothers get any gifts. The pleasure everybody else gets is in giving to mothers.”

“That would be a good idea,” said Jim, “only it forgets mothers. Because one of the greatest thrills in a mother’s whole year is the giving at Christmas. Giving for the children, giving the children a whale of a day, giving them a feast… Why, when you come to think of it, Christmas is really mother’s day, because it is the mother’s most giving day in her whole year of giving.”

“Well,” I submitted, “Christmas ought to be different, somehow. It is too seasonable. Too Christmassy. If it is going to be commercialized, and it sure is, then it ought to be reorganized on a better commercial basis. If a woman wants a Persian rug, Christmas ought to give it to her. You can give her something that will make her happy on Christmas, or you can give her something that will make her happy in June and September and all the rest of the year as well.”

“What have you in mind, besides canoes?” asked Jim.

“Well, my wife,” I said, “is always going into trances in front of antique shops. She just loves old wood. Old walnut most of all. She loves chests and highboys and even whatnots. She loves old chairs and petit point and tables, all darkly gleaming.”

“Don’t you buy her any?” asked Jim.

“No, she’s of Scottish descent,” I explained, “and she always remembers the children. Children mar and smash and batter furniture. So we are saving antiques for when our children are all grown up.”

“I love that antique stuff, too,” confessed Jim. “When I think of the kind of furniture we have to live with, all because our kids are noisy and rambunctious.”

“It’s the radio,” I explained. “You can’t imagine a radio playing swing or giving us a new chapter in the daily career of Tough Burke, the boy detective, in a living room furnished in old walnut and lady chairs, such as our grandparents lived in.”

“The dignity of life,” sighed Jimmie, “is vanishing. Our lives have now to be furnished and equipped for sudden wild leaps of boys and sudden outbursts of dancing, and tommy guns firing from behind a barricade of chesterfield cushions piled on the floor, and parties springing up from nowhere, on account of the rapid transit of motor cars, with stains on the table and sandwiches crumbling and cigarette burns on the edges of the mantel.”

“It’s a heck of an age,” I admitted, thoughtfully. “But do you know, I have a hunch that what I’ll give my wife this Christmas will be her first nice little piece of antique walnut? A gateleg table or a chest of drawers.”

“Start in a small way,” agreed Jim. “And the older your children get, the more lovely old stuff you can acquire, so that by the time the kids are grown up you will be furnished throughout with stuff that is dignified and old and graceful and lovely.”

“Yes, sir,” I mused, and I think that instead of a canoe I’ll start dropping hints around about that pair of early American squirrel guns that I showed you. Remember?”

“They’re probably gone by now,” said Jim.

“No, sir,” I said, “I was in looking at them only the other day. Two genuine Kentucky squirrel rifles. Can you imagine how swell they would look, suspended over the fireplace in my den?”

“Fifty dollars, weren’t they?” asked Jim, doubtfully.

“Only forty-five,” I corrected. “And anyway, if I give my wife a walnut colonial table worth $50, shouldn’t she go out of her way a little in regard to my present? Anyway, I’ve worked pretty hard this year, and I’ve given a lot of thought to my children, even if I haven’t been with them much.”

“I saw some rugs in that shop, didn’t I?” asked Jim.

“Yes, you did,” I recollected. “I noticed a big pile of them the last time I was in looking at those Kentucky rifles.”

“Let’s drop over there at lunch,” suggested Jim.

Which we did. And I am unhappy to inform you that the Kentucky squirrel rifles, once in the collection of the famous Charles Noe Daly, were gone. The dealer had disposed of them to a man in exchange for a genuine Sheffield tray and $10.

“Why,” I told him, “I was prepared to go as high as $50 for them.”

“It’s too bad,” said the dealer. “But he took them and sold them to a collector in Chicago. I hear he got $150 for them.”

“Mm, m’m,” I retired.

As I started for the door, Jim hailed me.

“Here’s rugs,” he said. And I wandered back and watched him haul and lay rugs, many of them pretty seedy looking, the good ones being all around $675.

“Come along,” I muttered.

“You go and look at colonial walnut tables and things,” urged Jim, “while I go through these.”

“I think I’ll give my wife something more personal,” I replied. “Lingerie or a house coat or something.”

But Jim went on exploring in the pile of rugs and I wandered amidst the scattered treasures, looking at them without interest. They were the usual old, plain chests, wardrobes, tables, of all sizes; antique chairs, very uncomfortable looking.

Jim joined me.

“I didn’t see anything I liked there,” he said, “at any price I could afford. Do you see anything you like?”

“Those guns,” I muttered. “Did you ever hear of such rotten luck? Imagine the guy selling them for a sheffield tray and $10.”

“Look here,” said Jim, suddenly excited. “Look at that bed!”

It was a battered, dull, knobbly little old bed.

“Isn’t that a trundle bed?” cried Jim, excitedly. “Excuse me, mister.”

The dealer came lazily down the room, the way antique dealers do. Some of the timelessness of their wares seems to enter into the bones of antique dealers.

“Isn’t that a trundle bed?” cried Jimmie, pointing.

“That’s what we call a string bed,” said the dealer. “It is laced across with heavy cord for springs.”

“That’s it,” cried Jim. “At home we called it a trundle bed. See, there are little holes for threading the rope through.”

And holding up the pieces of the old walnut bed, Jimmie and the dealer explained the primitive method by which our great-grandfathers achieved a little comfort. The sturdy four posts of the bed were mortised for the inset of the four boards that comprised the sides and ends. Then a powerful cord or leather thong was laced through the holes in all four boards, back and forth, a few inches apart, making a sort of mesh of cord. Springs, in fact.

“On top of these cords,” explained Jim, enthusiastic and delighted, “you laid a thick feather tick. Boy, what a bed!”

“Did you ever sleep on one of them?” asked the dealer, very polite.

“We had one in the attic of the farm,” cried Jim, and it was my favorite bed. I slept my boyhood away on a bed like this. My, what memories it brings back. Isn’t it a tragedy that we have disposed of all this lovely old walnut stuff, for a lot of brass and cheap plyboard furniture… How much is this?”

“That one,” said the dealer, “not being in very good shape, I can let it go, just as it is, for $18.”

“Eighty?” said Jim.

“Eight-TEEN,” said the dealer, very honest.

The Trundle Bed

“I’ll take it,” said Jim, instantly. “I’ll take it. Of all the dear old things. Just look at it. Look at this old walnut…”

And I had to help him turn the various pieces this way and that and examine them up near the window, to see the lovely grain of the wood.

“Our great-grandfathers,” said Jim, “had no other furniture but this simple, stately, unpretentious colonial, perfect in its design, without ornamentation. Then came the late Victorian era, with everything stuffed and scrolly. They traded their old furniture for bird’s-eye maple and light oak. Then came fumed oak. And all this glorious old stuff was sent to the attic or the cellar or given away to our poor relations, while we went garish and light and ornamented and scrolly, and twisty and altogether ridiculous.”

“In other words, our great-grandfathers were right,” I submitted.

“Now we are paying fat prices to try and get back,” said Jim, “some of the stuff we threw away.”

So Jim paid his $18 for the trundle bed and arranged for it to be sent home. And we walked back to work, me thinking about old Kentucky squirrel rifles and peach-colored lingerie and new ski boots for growing boys and other seasonable thoughts.

After supper, Jimmie telephoned me. In a very low voice.

“Listen,” he muttered, “have you mentioned that bed I bought to anybody at your place? Anything about the price?”

“No,” I said, truly, for I hadn’t thought of it since.

“Well, I’m in a bit of a jam,” said Jim. “That bed I bought IS my bed. It’s been in our attic for about 20 years. My wife gave it away to some social service workers only a week ago.”

“Jim,” I said.

“She got tired of it being in the attic, so she gave it away with a lot of old baby carriages and stuff.” mumbled Jim. “So I told them I ran across it in an antique store and bought it for a dollar.”

“Jim,” I repeated.

“So you see, you’ve got to be pretty quiet about it,” he continued.

“But Jim,” I said, “it can’t be your very own bed.”

“It is,” said Jim. “These social service workers probably sold it to the antique dealer because no poor family would have a feather tick.”

“But it is probably just a coincidence,” I submitted. “There are likely dozens of them around.”

“No,” said Jim. “It has got my initials carved in it with another pair of initials set in a heart.”

“Oho!” I cried.

“Shhhh,” warned Jim, low. “Some boyhood love affair that I tried to carve into eternity. I don’t even remember who B.J. was.”

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

“I was wondering.” asked Jim, “if you are still interested in giving your wife something antique for Christmas?”

“I was thinking I’d give her a Persian rug,” I replied.

“Okay,” whispered Jimmie, and hung up the receiver.


Editor’s Note: This story appeared in The Best of Greg Clark and Jimmie Frise (1977)

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