Humour in "Shiretown Items"
St. Croix Courier
March 16, 1939
Picking on this Column
Why does the printer always choose this column when he makes an error? We seldom see any in others parts of the paper. Is it because we read our own column with a more critical eye, or is it because our writing is so much worse than that of other scribes? There were three printer’s errors in this column last week. “Nuthatches,” was printed “mithatches” an excusable mistake, “Dumb” was printed “bumb” which was not so good. Image a crow sitting in a “bumb trance.” Rather silly, what? And in the item “Skilled Workmanship,” a whole line was omitted from the manuscript in the first sentence, spoiling both the composition and the meaning. The previous week, “fatuities” was printed “futuities,” (a new word for Webster). We have kept no record of errors over the past few months, but a few we can recall from memory are “reported” for “reputed,” “dome” for “home,” “degree” for “decree,” and several minor mistakes of little consequence. How annoying printer’s errors must be to the editor, when even an amateur reporter is disturbed by them! A lady whose house we frequently pass, has some beautiful blooming plants in her window. We had thought of writing a little item about the display, but recalling a recent comment by the editor on printer’s errors in which he referred to the omission of the letter “l” in a report of an exchange of plants, we feared to take the chance. In case the letter “l” were omitted, it would be so easy to insert the word “and” and change the spelling of “blooming” to suit. Then we would indeed have been in trouble!
St. Croix Courier
October 19, 1939
Principal Makes Discovery
Last week being fire prevention week, appropriate talks and exercises were held at the schools. For the benefit of visiting officials a fire drill, in which the schools by constant practice have become proficient, was carried out. The principal also thought it would be nice to demonstrate the quickest methods of for extinguishing a blaze. A bon-fire was built in the yard, and when burning briskly one of the extinguishers was brought out and found to be empty. A second was tried with like result. The third one appeared to be empty also but on being given a vigorous shake it exploded, fortunately without any serious casualties. Next a can of never fail, sure death powder was dumped on the blaze. It had the effect which might be expected from a wet log. The fire sputtered momentarily then for a few minutes hissed in a sing-song meditative sort of way. Directly however it was burning as briskly and merrily as ever, but could not withstand the final and good old-fashioned treatment of two or three buckets of water. A story is told of a man caught on a camping trip with matches that would not light. Preparing for a similar trip on the following year he was determined that the unfortunate experience should not be repeated. Consequently before packing his box of matches he scratched each one to make sure it was a good one. Perhaps some similar expedient might be adopted in regard to he apparatus for fire prevention at the schools!
St. Croix Courier
Successor Found—In taking a walk about town recently I passed an old house which is occupied on one end, but has the other part, which is quite dilapidated, standing vacant. Across the wide storm door of the unoccupied part, in bold but juvenile letters were printed the words, “The Best Room.” Now there, thought I, is a youngster with a harmless sense of humor—a writer in embryo for “Shiretown Items,” of the not so distant future. And I hope that when these eyes have grown dim with age and this palsied arm, can no longer hold aloft the torch, he may still be here, whoever he may be, to take over and carry on.
St. Croix Courier
This unfortunate reporter having been confined to his home last week with a severe cold and all the delightful complications that attend this pestiferous plague, of necessity missed the regular meeting of the Kiwanis club and in consequence is unable to give the usual eye-witness report. A few gleanings obtained since from various members are somewhat conflicting, and may not be too reliable. By a remarkable coincidence the regular pianist was absent from the meeting with exactly similar symptoms to those of the reporter, and the musical part of the program was conducted by volunteers. The first contestant played Beethoven. Beethoven lost. After several others had taken their turn at the piano with varying success, but without disastrous results, the star performer, of the evening whose name we shall not disclose, but whom for the purpose of future reference we shall designate “the captain,” advanced on the instrument. Rolling up his sleeves, and passing his fingers thoughtfully through the locks of grey, he took his place on the bench with the air of an old master. Running his fingers lightly, if somewhat unmusically, over the key-board he groped for “The Lost Chord.” Crash! Not a tremendous, soul-stirring chord, but a rending and splintering of wood and iron! The bench collapsed into a dozen pieces and he captain was cast full length upon the floor! The lost chord was never found. I had difficulty in getting details on the speaker for the evening. My first informant told me that eh subject was “Weights and Measures,” and said the talk was given by H. Stickney, chairman of the hose committee, whose epicurean taste has been responsible for the fine variety of menus being followed of late. He said the chairman felt that altogether too much food was being consumed and explained that it had become necessary to ration the members of the club according to age, weight, waist measurement and general capacity. Being a little doubtful about this report, which was told with tongue in cheek, I inquired further and learned tha the talk was given by the President, W. J. Rollins, who, as a registered druggist knows all about weights and measures.
St. Croix Courier
Aug 29, 1940
A Mexican Headache
At the regular meeting of the Kiwanis Club last week Wm. Quin of Fredericton and St. Andrews was the guest speaker, and was listened to with great attention and pleasure by a nearly full attendance of the members. As a preface to his talk Mr. Quinn said he was not an orator, nor a speaker without terminal facilities, and placed an Ingersoll watch on the table to prove it. He said he proposed giving a short talk on his travels but could not hope to compete with the story of “ups and downs” of his friend Mr. Jones (who sat next to him at table) [this would be the husband of our own Marjorie] which he had read with much pleasure in the courier last winter. Mr. Quinn was not only a pleasing after dinner speaker but a fine table companion as well. He kept up a lively conversation during the supper with some seriousness but with plenty of “that comfortable type of humor that tickles without scratching.” He confined his travel talk to an account of a trip he made to Mexico about three years ago. Much like some of the hunting and fishing trips we have been on, it seems tha the finest part of a trip to Mexico is the getting home again. In fact, Mr. Quinn said, Mexico was a good place to stay away from. The great mass of people are half-breed descendants of Spaniards and Indians and have all the bad qualities of both races, with few of their good points. The co8untry is hot and dusty and the native liquor, pulque, made from the juice of the maguey (a species of cactus) though potent, is most unpleasant to the palate. Mexico City, where Mr. Quinn made his headquarters, is about one and a quarter miles above sea-level. The speaker said he had a headache all the time he was there but did not state definitely that it was caused by the high altitude. (We hope it wasn't from the pulque.). there are points of interest in Mexico of course, especially to students of ancient history, and the speaker described his personal impressions as he was taken on the grounds. He made a visit to the newly discovered pyramids of this country which had been buried in sand for many years. He said they were higher than the famous pyramids in Egypt and generally supposed to be older. He want to a play spoken in Mexican. The show was to start at 8:30 and actually began an 10:20. He left at intermission, 1:30 am. He said with the exception of their meals and bull fights the Mexicans never started anything on time. To this listener the speaker’s description of his visit to a bull fight was the highlight of the talk. The drama consists of three acts, 1. Baiting the bull (done by men on foot with bright colored cloaks), 2. Wounding the bull (done by men on horseback), 3. The finishing touch done by a man on foot. These performers have their special titles, the matadors, the toreador, and one other “dor,” which I cannot recall. The speaker said their skill, speed, agility and courage could not be approached by participant in any other line of sport. He told something about the Mexican army, which as far as he could learn was made up in about equal numbers of private and generals. He gave a sketch of the effervescent politics of the country. He noticed across by the wayside and was told it marked the spot where a political offender on being moved from one prison to another had complained of sore feet. He was given what they called the sure cure by the guards. In the past 35 years only one president had finished out his term-the rest had, either been shot or skipped the country with the contents of the treasury. Specimens of Mexican handicraft were passed around—a flagon, modelled from native clay, (which he regretted was empty), a beautiful panel picture done in needlework with colored silks, and pieces of Mexican money. Mr. Quin now owns a cottage in St. Andrews and spends his summers here, and is sure to receive many invitations in the future to speak to the Kiwanis club. Mr. Reevey, Kiwanian from Saint John, was at the meeting, and extended the greetings of the Saint John Club.
St. Croix Courier
I was much interested in the item in Calais Briefs about the Eagle and his dusky-feathered companion. . . . The food of the eagle is principally fish, which under necessity he can capture for himself. He prefers to have his dinner handed to him on a platter, as it were, however. All who have spent much time around the shores of rivers and lakes in the summer have seen the interesting act put on by the eagle and the fish-hawk, the later doing the fishing only to lose most of his booty to the watching enemy. I have thought of the cormorant as a possibility in the case of the black bird in question, as he lives on fish and is an expert fisherman. In China and Japan these birds are kept in captivity and are used to capture fish for sale on the market. A ring is placed around their neck so they can’t swallow the fish, and they are cast overboard at the end of a long strong line. Our observer made no mention of ring or line, so perhaps that lets the cormorant out. Another doubt is that the only species of cormorant likely to be seen here in the winter is practically as large as an eagle. A smaller species nests along the shores o Maine in the summer but winters in the south. The eagle will eat dead fish found on the shore or scraps of fish and meat thrown out as garbage. The raven feeds on small shell-fish, garbage, eggs and nestlings of other birds. Though only about six inches longer from tip of beak to tip of tail, it looks twice as big as a crow. It is a “lone wolf” and a great coward, often being seen being chased by a single crow, probably after robbing the latter’ nest. The surest way of telling a raven from a cormorant is in their mode of flight. The raven in flight looks like a crow, only bigger, while the cormorant flies like a black duck, long neck stretched out ahead and feet trailing behind. I consulted my friend the poet on the item as he also knows something about birds. He said he thought that should a raven through circumstances be obliged to share a meal with an eagle, his uncanny wisdom, which is similar to that of the crow, would prevent the misfortune from occurring a second time. A couple of days later he handed me a few lines entitled “the Eagle and the Raven” with apologies to Edgar Allen Poe, which, should the reader still be interested may found as the net item under that title.
The Eagle and the Raven
Can it be that such a craven
As the common Northern Raven
Has been flirting with an Eagle
Just along the Calais shore?
Did the Eagle, slyly cheating,
Steal the food his friend was eating?
And this sinful act repeating,
Fill his maw and beg for more?
While to heaven he went a-flitting
Did he leave the Raven sitting
On a chilly block of ice
Just along the Calais shore?
Does the Raven sit there dreaming
As the Eagle flies a-screaming,
And the sunlight throws his shadow
The hills and waters o’er?
Yes, the Raven still is sitting
On the ice he still is sitting,
But his new-found friend—he’s quitting—
Quote the Raven, “Nevermore.”
St. Croix Courier
Shiretown Items—Dude Ranch Opening. NB’s one and only “Dude Ranch,” more correctly known as Chamcook Holiday Camps was formally opened on Saturday, June 28th, about one hundred invited guests being present at the noon luncheon. Many others, drawn to the spot out of mere curiosity enjoyed the afternoon’s free entertainment consisting of a rodeo staged by forty cowboys and cowgirls. (Major Hugh A. Green president) “one of the visitors asked a member of the staff where the bridle paths were. She replied, ‘over there’ with a wave of her graceful arm. ‘And where is the golf ground?’ ‘In there,’ said she, waving the other graceful arm in the opposite direction. ‘And where is the tuna fishing’ said the visitor. ‘Out there,’ replied the little lady, shading her eyes with one hand and using a pretty finger to point in the general direction of Nova Scotia. The visitor may not have been entirely convinced but was forced to admit that his guide knew all the answers. he was even heard to remark that her acquaintance might be worth further cultivation. (enterprise may put Chamcook again on the map)
St. Croix Courier
Exceptionally high tides last week drove dozens of rats from their accustomed haunts beneath Doon’s wharf, and they afforded considerable entertainment for those who happened to be around he water-front at the time . the tide completely covered the wharf and some of the rats were cut off from shore. They climbed to the tops of posts where they spent an uneasy half-house with the water lapping a few inches below them. As far as could be seen there was no loss of life.
St. Croix Courier
July 16, 1942
Our Pet Peeve
Most movie fans can develop sufficient will power and concentration to ignore the person who chews gum with a snap, the “loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind,” or the clever person who explains the picture in advance. But when the sweet little thing just behind sitting with legs crossed, starts to kick the back of your seat in an attempt, which always fails, to keep time with the music there then are only three sensible things to do: 1. Leave the hall and demand your money back, which seems rather drastic; 2. Move to a different seat, which is not always possible; 3. Reach down and grab the offending ankle, which certainly should prove effective. But do we do any of these things? No, we sit there and suffer in silence and leave he hall with frayed nerves and crotchety temper, and on the way home snap impolitely at our wife if she had the temerity to mention how much she liked the show. But alas! Before many days the names of some of our favourite stars appear on the bill-board. We reason that both provincial and federal governments derive a nice revenue from the picture industry, and hat the boys who own the theatre must live. The neat little foot that offended all unwittingly, is forgotten and when the lights dim and the sound comes on, we are once again there in our favorite place.
St. Croix Courier
August 6, 1942
One finds some interesting characters among the fishermen and boatmen who gather daily or nightly about the public wharf at high water to talk over the day’s catch and consider prospects for a possible haul on the next half tide. Their life is a combination of hardship and indolence, and whether so in reality, it is a fascination existence to contemplate from the side-lines. They are mostly a good-natured bunch, with fun and wit, and some stories but very little obscenity. I asked one fellow how he had done lst week. His answer was very expressive. I said it reminded me of the quantity of cotton Muley Graves had raised on his farm. But the remark was lost on him as he had not read “The Grapes of Wrath.” I saw two men mending a net by the side of the wharf. I said I had read in Scripture that there were two town called Tyre and Sidon, at one time prosperous sea-ports but now chiefly noted as places for the drying and mending of nets. I wondered if this might be one of those towns. “It might be either one,” said the older man, “I’m pretty tired and I guess Bill could stand a drink of cider.” They always have a ready answer. I remarked one day that the new tax on liquor would probably reduce sales somewhat. “Oh! Not much” said one chap, “it is only the first pint that will cost more.” To illustrate his point he told of two tramps finding a pint of hooch by the side of the railroad. They sat down on the bank and consumed it leisurely. After it got to working good one said he thought he would buy this railroad. “You’ can’t buy this road, Bill,” said the other. “What’s the reason?” “Because I won’t sell it to you!”
St. Croix Courier
Fat Man’s Race
In conversation with some old-timers the othe day we got talking of local sprinters of the past. One man present could recall when Harold Stickney and Henry Swift were the to-notches at the hundred yard distance. In m own youth Walter Stickney led the field with Charlie Richardson next, while Fannie Black, a girl psriner, andmyself came next in order. The caretaker of the Public Building here who was present, said he saw qutie a race one morning last summer between Walter Stickney and John Ross. These now coruplent gentlemen met one morning before seven o’clock just under the window where Herb was shaking out his dust cloth. After a few preliinary remarks about the wether John said he understood that Walter used to be quite fast runner in his youth. Walter opined that he still could beat any one of his size or age (waist 48, age 65). So they proceeded to the head of the nearby public wharf (to avoid traffic as they expressed it) and stripped to pants and shirt braces and socks. They tried to assume the crouch, considered the most correct and fastest pposition for a start, but their mutual embonbpoint interfered, so they decided on the semi-erect style which was at least more comfortable. At the word “go,” after a count of three, they wer off, elgs flying and arms flapping. At the thirty yard mark, John measured his full lnegth (or width) on the wharf. These gentlemen little thought that they had a spectator to the juvenile performance and had some great explaining to do when they got back. They both claimed the race. John said Walter got the start of him him but tripped him as he attempted to go past when he got up speed. An attempt will be made to match the pari again this summer to defintely decide who is the faster man.
St. Croix Courier
May 20, 1943
A ratehr startling incident occurred in our kichen a few das ago. An unbreakable glass which had been washed and set on the sinkboard to drain suddenly exploded with the noise of a large fire-creacker. The remais, after the explosion, lost all appearance of glass and resembled coase snow. My scientific friend explains the matter by stating that some disturbing factor in the life of the glass, possibly constant washing in hot water, had suddenly reached the point wher ecrystallization took place—that is, the glass returned to its origianl form. I was spekaing of the incident to a group of men, among which was a man (you know the type) who, no matter how good a story you tell can always go you one better. He said that during prohibition days he was invited to a friends’ hous to sample some home brew. The friend poured out about four fingers of a ratehr clody liquid in a water glas and passed it to him. He took a sniff and remarked that it smelled goo. After the customary “here’s good health,” he started to bend his elbow. But before the cup of cheer, or death, had reached his lips it flew into a thousand pieces with a violent explosion, most of the liquor going on his wite vest, which he was affectign at tht etime. His feelings at first were of alarm, but soon of unconscionable relief when he thought of what that stuff would have done to his stomach when it could shatter a thick water glass. He expected that his nice vest would be burned full of holes but after a little soap and water it was as good as new. You see there was no cause for alarm. Just another case of sudden crystallization—glass returned to its original form.
St. Croix Courier
Sept 9, 1943
It’s Still a Mystery
I know of quite a number of cases where a man who had been out on a racket had the misfortune to lose his artificial denture. Occassionally we read of someone losing his hat, though perhaps not under exactly similar circumstances. Butwhat I think is more unusual is for a man to arrive home minus his shoes! A young man here, who had one evening been imbibing too freely, recently had that sad experience. On dressing next morning he first learned that his shoes were missing. They were not about the hosue so he slipped on an old pair of rubbers, having no other shoes, and started up street to investigate a search. He remembered loitering in a store doorway for a while during the night and called there to explain his misfortune to the clerk. The soliticious clerk had not seen the shoes but promised to make inquiries and render all possible assistance in their recovery. He did. Within an hour the young man received a half dozen telephone calls from person swho had learned of his loss and had found a pair of shoes. He rean bout town examining the collection of worn-out brogues which had been hunted up for the occasion and shown to him in great seriousness. But of course in time he becme suspicious and refused to answer any more calls. The shoes were finally found on the door-step of a maiden lady, whose character is beyond reproach and who has long since reached the age of discretion. How they got ther eis a mystery as the young man claims he never was near the place in his life. He sys the experience has been a lesson to him however and in the futurre he will never drink anything stronger than lemon extract.
St. Croix Courier
Gymnasiums Past and Present
A discussion at Kiwanis last week in regard to the re-opening of the gymnasium owned, and formerl operated by the Boy Scouts association, just naturally set my mind travelling far down the avenues of the past. The first gym I can recall was located in the hall over “Mulligan’s” foundry. I don’t remember much about it, being too young at the time to be admitted to membership. But two older fellows, Eddie Coakley and Ned McGrath, to whom for some time I had been offering a sort of her-worship owing to their kindness to a msall boy, di doccasionally invite me in to watch the proceedings. Tehre was one fellow in the club who was as strong as an ox but just as clumsy, and evidently during his boyhood training the first part of the injunction “Mens sana in corpore sano” had been woefully neglected. In a word he was a wee bit simple. The rest of the boys, or young men as they were, took ivery advantage of this fact and had plenty of fun with him. When he made a lift, from one hundred nd fifty to two hundred pounds would be added to the recorded weight. When he tried the running broad jump, the tape measur ealways showed that he was about two feet ahead of anyone else. Even the scales in some mysterious manner added about 75 lbs. to his weight. And he swallowed it all. Encourage by the others he soon, in his own opinion, became the boxing champion of the club. He had a blow, his own invention, which he called the “pivot.” He would swing clumsily all th way around on one heel, arms extended at the sides like human semaphores. His opponent, having plenty of time, would step in so that the back of the big right paw as it came around would strike him on the shoulder. He would then fall to the floor—down for the count—and his seconds would work over him with wet sponges, smelling salts and apparently as a last resort a mouthful of hard liquor in an effort to revive him. It usually requird the second and sometimes the third mojthful before the defeated gladiator opened his eyes. As a climax to these sparring fiascos a time bomb in the shape of a bag of flour, and one of the boys impersonating the clock, was arranged at the endge of a trap-door in the ceiling. This bout was to definitely decide the club championship. The ring was marked off with chalk dirctly beneath the trap-door. If I remember rightly “Gull” Bolger was opposing the pseudo-champion on this occasion. The participants were stripped to the waist and weighted in with gret ceremony and solumnity. It was found tha the claimant to the title was two onces overweight, but “Gull” waived all lsuch minor technicalities and the bout was started. After five or six rounds with indierent results, even the famous “pivot” having failed to produce the usal knockout, the man of ox-like qualities took on a worried look and his torseo was glistenign with sweat. He was then manoeuvred directly under the trap, the signal was given and down came the floru! The unfortunte simp was nearly smothered and needless to say never boxed again. I never did know who dumped the flour on that never-to-be-forgotten occasion. I wonder if he is still in the land of the living1 What a joy it would be to get a letter from him.
St. Croix Courier
Sept 14, 1944
Speaking of accordions, a boatman here was telling me of a fishing trip on which this box-like instrument played a prominent part. While “toot” Wren was here on his annual holiday this summer, he was anxious to have a day off in th eriver hand-lining for haddock. He interviewed an old-timer who claimed to know the exact spot where this delectable fish could be caught and who affored, at a price, to make all arrangments for the trip. A boart was engaged and the party set sail or atarted the motor, to be more correct. As his equipment, the old-timer took along an accordion and a pair of field glasses. Having reache the mouth of the river the boat was run off with Niger Reef block and the Kirk steeple directly in line. The old fellow adjusted his binocular and started up the river. At length when the McRoberts Hosue came into view he gave the order to drop anchor, declaring that they were now direclty over a school of haddock. Hooks were baited, lines were cast and soon the dog-fish in unlimited numbers were rolling over the gunwale—but never a haddock. After an hour of this the old fellow in order to save his face suggested a tune on the accordion. The others said it would have to be good to pay up for the poor results in fishing. After a few preliminary flourishes he opened up the accordion and produced four quarts of Montreal beer! Dog-fish and haddock were forgotten and as the beer gurgled down four dry and thirsty throats all were agreed that it was the nicest playing accordion they had ever seen or heard.
St. Croix Courier
What did Paul Say?
The mention of Brig Nancy, Capt. Paul, in the last item may recall to older folks an amusing true story handed down from those far-off days. It seems that a clergyman in one of our churches here at that time had been accustomed to engage passage to Saint John from time to time with the said Capt. Paul in the good ship “Nancy.” One Sunday mornign before church he sent his gardener down to the dock to interview Paul and arrange for a passage to Saint John next day. After faithfully carrying out his errand the gardener returned to attend the mornign service. Perhaps because of late hours the night before, or possibly from the effects of a dry and long winded sermon, the gardener went sound asleep in his pew. The preacher was expounding about the Apostle Paul. To emphasize a particualr point he exclaimed: “What did Paul say?” The gardener, unnoticed by the parson, stirred uneasily in his seat. Again in a louder voice the speaker roared: “and what did Paul say?” The gardener, only half awake by this time, called out to the consternation of all, “He said he wouldn’t take you again till you paid him for the last trip!”
St. Croix Courier
Jan 18, 1945
A Christmas Story
Christmas stories generaly spear previous to the annual festival, but as this one is somewhat different from the usual variety it may fit in now just as well. Most of these stories relate to the Christmas spirit, but this one concerns Christmas spirits, usually called Christmas cheer. A gentlemen who lives some distance from the source of supply, after doing some errands about town on the day before Christmas, found that upon proceeding to make the most important purchaes of the day he had come away from home without his ration book. He trudge home and related his misfortune to his wife. She hustled around and got his coupons which he stuffed in a pocket and startd out again. Arriving at his destination he boldly gave his order and passed in his ration book. The clerk on looking over the book said he was sorry but it didn’t entitle him to any liquor. The customer declared he hadn’t bought anything all month and consequently must be entitled to what he called for. The clerk, evidently believing in the modern axiom that the customer is always wrong, then said: “It doesn’t matter what you’ve bought or haven’t bought, all I have to go by is the book and it doesn’t entitle you to any liquor.” The ruffled customer then expressed his opinion of government in general and clerk in particualr, emphasizing his remarks with some choice expressions picked up in France durign the first world war. The clerk, who was also in that scrap, came back with something just as good. He passed the book out to an interested garageman who, was waiting to be served and asked his opinion. After looking the book over the latter handed if back saying: “of course you are the boss here can do what you like but he would get service if he came to me—I think the book is all right.” The irate customer, thinking he detected a slight twinkle in the garageman’s eye, asked the clerk to give him his book. On close inspection it was found to be his book of gasoline coupons!
St. Croix Courier
Feb 15, 1945
Reading the Label
The cleverly written item, “It pays to read the label” in last week’s Calais Briefs was expecially amusing to us down here as we can tell a story of who got into difficulties by reading and believing the label. We were glad to learn also that “Fly Dope” is good for something as it certainly, at least any that we have tried, is no good to repel the abominable black fly, the bane of all inland fishermen. Last summer the owner of one of our summer homes was having some painting done and ordered a quart of turpentine at the hardware store. A bottle was delivered and left on th ekitchen able. A little later it wa notice dby the maid, unwrapped, an found to be, according to the label, a fine brand of Scotch Whisky. It was removed to the wine close, or wheever such precioous goods are kept in this particualr cottage, and later in the day discovered by by a guest at the house who was a bit out of sorts and thought that a good drink, properly prepared, was just what he needed. He mixed the drink and downed it in one gulp. Although this gentleman had had a long experience with all kinds of liquors he admitted to himself that he had never tasted anything quite so bad before. And soon he began to feel even sicker nd more distressed. Just then the hostess arrived to whom he complaiend of feeling ill. “what you need is a good drink,” said she. “I though so myself,” said he “but after taking one I feel much worse than before.” “I’ll mix you one that will do the trick” said she, and it nearly did. Another generous dose of the same turpentine, clerely camoflaged, poured hastily “down the brook” was nearly sufficient to murder even a man of strong constitution let alone an unfortuante hwo at the moment considered himself an invalid. The hostess became alarmed, sniffed the bottle, discovered the error, called in the medico, and then got the hardware dealer on the wire. I have no record of her remarks to the latter but can believe she said plenty and left him in no doubts in regard to her opinion of any man who would send out such a poisonous tasting sbustitue in a bottle labelled “Fine Old Scotch Whiskey.”
St. Croix Courier
March 8, 1945
Warm and Dry
Perhaps no greater disappointment can be experienced by long suffering humanity than that which is felt by a man who has learned to love the effects of alcoholic stimulants, who has looked forward to a good drink at the end of his day’s work, only to have it snatched from his hand by fortuitous circumstance. Under the present regulations, any man who likes his liquor himself and is also quite generous with his friends is likely to find things becoming quite dry toward the end of the month. When a freidn happens in to his place of subisness with coupons for a quart of wine which he offers to buy on the shares, the proposition is accepted with alacrity. While the friend was after the wine the proprietor thought it would make things more dosy for its consumption to start a little fire. He was still engaged in laying the fire when the friend returned and passed him the wine. Just then a customer came throug hthe door and the bottle was quickly hidden in the stove. (The customer probably had an excessively thirsty look). The friend went out to do some errands saying he would be back shortly. The customer’s wants were attended to and he went off. The proprietor then stepped out for a few minutes himself to return and find catastrophe. Another friend had dropped in and noticing the fire all ready to light had touched it off all innocent of the secret lying within. The proprietor arrived just in time to hear the explosion as the bottle burst and caused the fire to roar merrily. He newcomer, who had started to laugh when the cause of the explosion was explained, soon was made to fel that he was an intruder, a despoiler, and in general a public nuisance. He could offer no means of redress-money he had, but no coupons. The original friend returned and the three dry and disconsolate men sat around the stove for a while commisserating each other on their misfortune. They cursed the law’s restrictions and the war which was the excuse for its necessity. Finally the party broke up with the decision, at least outwardly expressed, that they didn’t care much for wine anyway.
St. Croix Courier
Jack and Bert, two gentlemen of leisure, sat on a bench on the public square one morning talking over their recent experiences with salmon in Chamcook Lake. While thus engaged a stranger aproached and took a set near them on the next bench. He was crrying over his arm an overcoat with along tear down the side and th epocke treipped loose and hanging. After a few moments Jack turned to Bert and remarked casually that he had missed chance at a great bargain that morning because he had no money on him—said he could have bought a real good overcoat for two dollars. Even Bert was deceived by the seriousness of the speaker, not realizing that te remark was for the benfit of the nearby stranger, and declared that there must be something wrong the coat. Jack emphasized that it was a particualry good coat, a little too small for himself, but that he would have bough tit on spec if he had had two dolars with him. The stranger, who had been drinking in the conversation, approached and insquired where the gentleman with the coat for sale might be found. “Well, if you are interested,” said Jack, “you’ll find him at ‘The Gables,’ just up the street. Inquire for Mr. Kennedy, the American Customs officer.” “What color is the coat?” asked the stranger. “Navy blue” said Jack. “Mr. Kennedy has just been supplied with a new coat and thught the old one too good to gthrow away. Of course it has brass buttons on it but that’s a matter easily remedied.” The stranger thanked him kindly and started dorthwith for The Gables.” Jack ducked for home and warned Bert not to tell the stranger where he lived. Fortunately for the vistor’s peace of mind Mr. Kennedy was not at home and the former was obliged to leave town with his badly torn coat, no doubt with many regrets at the wonderful chance he had missed!
Shiretown Items—Visits Old Home (History of William Knijff of Holland)
Having left Holland at the tender age of four years, Willem Knijff had little recollection of his native village of Lekerkirk (near Rotterdam) but it was a great and pleasant experience to visit those almost forgotten scenes of his childhood and look up some of his mother’s people. He found the home of one of his aunts and came upon her as she was working in the garden. He said: “Hello, there” in English. She raised her head, and repeated his greeting in Dutch. She advanced and carefully inspected this young man dressed in the uniform of corporal in the Netherlands Army and at length declared: “You must be Willem Knijff. Yes, I am sure you are little Willem.” No longer little, but now a strapping solder of 23 years old,  Willem was overjoyed at the greeting, and spent several happy hours with his folks. Willem’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Knijff, came to Canada 19 years ago. They lived for a short time at Grand Manan, a little while at Bayside, then moved to St. Andrews where they have since made their home. Mr. Knijff fought in the Boer War against us and often refers jokingly to the vagaries of life which can induce one to establish a home among his hoe-time enemies and find that they are good people, friendly and lovable. Those who have read the history of the Boer War written by a Dutch soldier, know that their cause was just. They fought to preserve their homes and country and we fought for gold and diamonds. As Willem had been born in Holland and had never been naturalized as a Canadian citizen he got a call from the Netherlands Army early in the war. He began his training at the Dutch Military Depot in Stratford, ON, and completed it in “England. He was sent to India, then back to England, took part in the invasion with the American air-borne troops, was attached to British Commandos at the capture of Walcheren Island, returned to England to recover from an injury sustained there and was again in Holland at the final liberation. One day while on Walcheren Island, Willem was browsing around a village with a couple of Canadian soldier sand met a native who thought he could speak English. The boys listened to a rather fruitless and disjointed harangue about some place of interest they should visit and when their informant got through Willem spoke in Dutch, saying: “If you would peak in your own language I think we could understand better what you are talking about.” The native’s eyes stuck out as he replied in astonishment: “Can you boys speak Dutch?” “Sure” said Bill, “everybody in Canada can speak Dutch!”
St. Croix Courier
July 12, 1945
I met a well-dressed stranger on the street one day who said: “Pardon me, but do you live here?” “Yes, sir,” I replied, “even in the winter time.” (Gordon and Jack please take notice) “Thank you—“ began again the stranger. “Not at all” said I,, “it’s a pleasure, I assure you.” A little discomposed, but continuing the visitor said: “Yes, yes indeed, but I just wanted to inquire if you know where Mr. So-and-so lives.” “Right at the head of this street,” said I. “I was told at the hed of King Street. Is this King Street?” “That’s right,” said I. “Well, do you happen to know if Mr. So-and-so has any wood to sell?” “I wouldn’t’ suppose so,” said I, “he is one of our prominent summer residents and if he does any business at all, which I doubt, it would be more likely to be in stocks and bonds and real estate.” “I was told by a gentleman up the street So-and-so sold wood.” “Was your informatn a stout, elderly gentleman dressed with black, soft hat, black coat and grey trousers?” “That’s right,” said the stranger. “And did he have a very sanctimonios and truthful air?” “Right again,” replied the vistor. “Was he somewhat clerical in appearance and wering eye glasses?” “That’s the man.” “Aha!” said I, “the spoofer at work again.” “Do you imply,” said the stranger, “that this gentleman was deceiving me?” “Nothing surer,” said I. “He is our local practical joker who is no respecter of person,s and sho, though never telling a falsehood to do anyone an injury,, is very careful always to void the truth except under the mot exenuating circumstances. Take my advice, sir, and look for your wood elsewhere.”
St. Croix Courier
Oct 31, 1946
Fortunately for the rest of us only a few people in the world can be considered confirmed practical jokers. The few who are always up to some skuldggery may be divided into two classes, those whose jokes are always harmless, good for a laugh and even enjoyed by the victim, and those whose pranks savour of meanness and often cause injury. The later are always unpopular and sooner or later become cured when the play the joke on the wrong person. We are sometiems surprisd at the person who pulls off a good one. A gentleman in town recent had a son married. For several years this man held a position of honor and trust in th town. To see him on the street in uniform performing is daily duties one would supposed that he was the very personification of dignit and decorum and the last person in the world to think of playing a pracical jokie. The wedding ceremony was performed at the bride’s home in the country. After the reception the young couple went to their separate rooms above staris to pack and change for their wedding trip. Asw the groom was removing his outer garments he suddenl heard terrifying screams from his wif’e room accompanied by a din os squawks and cackling. He rushed in and found two hens flying about the bedroom and his wife in a real or assumed stae of panic. He pacified her and in the usual sure-fire manner which all good husbands know and learned tha the hens had been shut in the suitcase and flew out in her face when she opened, it. The groom’s father was immediately suspeted as he had been seen to leave the room during the ceremony. He was accosted and accused. Rather than stand trial he admitted the chage and was rewarded for his devilment by smack on the jaw—the kind of smack that only oung brides know how to administer.
St. Croix Courier
Nov 31, 1946
A Bag of Sugar
During the summer a lady required a small amount of cement to have her cellar wall patched. There being none on hand in the stores a kind-hearted gentleman hearing of her need gave her five pounds from his own private stock. When she was leaving recently she came to his house and presented him with a bag of sugar. He inadvisedly boasted of the mater to some of his supposed friends. When they threatened to inform and instigate legal proceedings against him he began to protest that it really was only a small bag—not more than five pounds. This statement his friends apparently refused to believe and soon had him quite worried. He went one day to a hardware store to buy some nails. The dealer said that nails were very hadrd to get but thought he might locate some if the gentleman would make it worthwhile. He proposed an exchange of 20 pounds of sugar for the nails. The gentleman, who is not noted for his preciousity, which I think is the term aplied to fastidious refinement in speech, made a few unprintable remarks, and left withou the nails, more owrried than ever. If there by a any moral to this sotyr it is this: be cautious how you talk about your own affairs and alt least be sure never to exaggerate.
St. Croix Courier
Shiretown Items—Old Fire-Engine (When gin flowed as fast as water from the old hand pumpers in St. Andrews.)
One of the old hand pumper fire engines has been sitting on the square in front of the town hall for a week or two. One day I asked an old fellow who I am sure has attended hundred of fires to tell me which engine it was, No. 1 or No. 2. “I don’t know” said he, “there was always so much gin at the fires in those days that I never knew which engine I belonged to or which one I was pumping on. I generally picked the one where the bottles seemed to be circulating the fastest.” Where that liquor came from at any hour of the night, and in such quantities, was always a mystery to the younger men of the company. there was always a race and a money prize between the two engines for first water but before the hose could be run out the gin would have circulated a couple of time and every man on the pumper would be feeling as if he, single-handed, could pump that water over the moon. The old engine is quite a curio now and will be greater in years to come. It is to be cleaned, sand-papered and varnished and kept under cover for future generations to marvel at. It is made from mahogany inlaid with walnut and is really a fine piece of work.
St. Croix Courier
Resolution proposing construction of tourist bureau on King St., St. Stephen.
Bank Robbed At. St. Andrews
Don’t be alarmed folks—it happened over forty years ago. The Bank of Nova Scotia her at that time was a one-room affair with an ordinary safe tin which to keep the money and othe valuables. It was located in the room which is now the office of the Quoddy Boal co. the manger’s name was Kerr and he boarded at Kennedy’s Hotel. He was a golf enthusiast and he and Charlie Kennedy used to go out for a roudn every morning at 7 o’clock. One firne Setpember morning Herb Henderson, who was manager of the Livery Stable which stood on the stie of the present Post Office, called at the hotel as usual to drive the folfers out to the links. Mr. Kerr went over to the bank to get his rubbers but came back on the run saying the safe had been blown opena dn robbed and there would be no golf today. There were no telephones here at the time but word was quickly apread by foot messengers and within an hour a good sized copany of mena nd boys with rifles, shotguns and revolvers were ready for the great- man-hunt which lasted for several days, combing the woods for miles around, without producing the hoped for results. But local and imported detectives were busy on the job, but blues were scarce and hard to find. Local nit-wits seized upon the first real clue to implicate two St. Andrws ctiziens notwithstanding the well-known integrity and irreproachable character of the altter,. To muffle the sound several blankets and an old coat had been used to cover the safe. The coat and one blanket were proven to be the property of Foncie O’Neill while the rest of the blankets came from the lviery stable. “Yes,” said the Watsons, Pinkertons and would-be disciples of “ Sherlock Holmes. “Foncie and Herb did the job all right!” Could you imagine anything more ridiculous?
When the setion men went t work in that eventful morning the discovered that the tool house had been broken open and the “umper” was missing. When this news reached “headquarters” it was immediately connected with the bank robbery. It was later learned that Frank Howe, who was doing some early morning fishing at Chamcook lake, ahd seen the pumper with the supposed section men pass there about daylight. Suspicion now centered aroudn two strangers who had been seen about town for several days. The slept in Henry Quinn’s fish camp and took their meals at ira Stinson’s restaurant. These men had disappeared and so had the hand-car. It was all a great mystery. Months later Alber tStorr, brakeman on the railwya, spotted the missing pumper from the top of a boxcar as the train was passing through the strip of woods near Rolling Dam. Evidence was also found of some one having “holed-up” in a barn in that vicinty. The excitement died down at length and the incideen with its mystery still unsolved became history.
Cherchez La Femme
Several years later the chief actor in this local drama was captured, convicted and sent to prison by the artifices of a jealous woman. Among the valuables in the bank at the time of the robbery was a $500 diamond ring. Perhaps because he was afraid to dispose of it, perhaps because he was somewhat of a Romeao, one of the robbers carried the ring in his pocket until he met his Juliet of Portland, Maine. He pressented the ring and foolishly told her its history. But alas. His one time charming Juliet soon ceased to satisfy his craving for “infinite variety.” He fell for another gal—a dame with honey-blonde hair, sky blue eyes and lots of curves in the proper places—and this fall became his downfall. His Juliet learned of his infidelity and took the ring and its story to the police. The robber Romeo was arrested and held for indentification. Henry Quinn and Ira Stinson were taken down to Portland and identified him as one of the strangers seen here at the time of the robbery and he confessed, although testifying that he had no knowlede of the whereabout of shis confederate. The other man was never found. The loss to the bank was said to be about $15,000.
St. Croix Courier
Shiretown Items—A Fishing Trip
This story is written for St. Andrews folks who have been away from home for many years and also for old-timers who, like myself, through stiffening joints and other infirmities of age, are no longer able to enjoy the delights of fishing in reality, in the hopes that it may revive some pleasant memories.
Frank and I packed our gear, about a weeks’ grub, and went out on the evening train for a two day’s stay at Spruce Hill cabin on Chamcook lake. After a hasty but substantial supper of T-bone steak and friend onions supplemented by a generous hunk from one of Ira Stinson’s superlative apple pies we made ready to try our luck at trolling on First Lake. We had brought along some live minnows captured that afternoon at the First March and started down to the boat house in high hopes.
As we approached the shore of the lake we saw an apparently unattached young lady standing there beside a canoe. Frank, at that time, was a great admirer of the opposite sex and I never have felt any aversion to a beautiful female myself, but I warned him of the onions and said we had better keep our distance. The attraction was too great, however. She was dressed in a blue sports shirt, brown slacks rolled to the knees to display her beautiful limbs, and her dainty feet enclosed in Indian moccasins. She had luxuriant brown hair and gorgeous brown eyes, a delicately moulded but firm little chin, a stubborn but delightful nose and between the nose and chin the most luscious lips any man had ever looked upon.
She started at us fearlessly but politely as we approached. By way of getting acquainted, Frank put on his best smile and inquired: “What are you using for bait?”
When she spoke her voice was soft and throaty and her conversation, though brief, was replete with nuances and inflections, including those of hands and eyes. “Debates?” she replied. “I vant no debates. I tink you better go jump in the lake!”
Somewhat stunned by her reply and seeing at the moment a husky gentleman approaching from a near-by cabin we thought discretion the better part of valor and retreated to our boat house with as much dignity as we could assume.
“Dago,” said I, as we entered. “Squaw,” replied Frank. “Didn’t you see her moccasins?”
But that was only sour grapes. As we listened to her delightful laughter and fluent conversation in French with her companion we felt that we had been cheated.
St. Croix Courier
One day when I was in the Book Store my friend Bill handed me a magazine with an article to read. It had the intriguing title “Drink Your Ulcer Away!” The article was a cheat however as the drink proposed, far from being any of thos edelightful and uplifting beverages whch immediately came to mind, was the lowly cabbage juice! Who wants to drink cabbage juice? Especially at $1.20 a quart? Life is ful of disappointments.
St. Croix Courier
A Smelly Incident
A gentleman who had been enjoying himself at a street dance, no wisely but too well, found his right of way disputed when he entered his own back yard. His oponent was a little black and white animal commony calld skunk. The delightful exhiliration of the past couple of hours had by this time faded and, as so often happens in such circumstance,s the gentleman was in a fighting mood. Who is afraid of alittle bad skunk? No sir, not me, he thought. He advanced boldly to the attack but as usual happens when man pits his wit nd skill and weapons agaisnt those of the skunk the gentleman got the worse of the combat. Compelled to admit an inglorious defeat he undressed and hung his clothes on the line. He entered his back door completely nude hoping for the best. This would have to be one of the few nights his wife waited up for him! His elaborate explantions sounded unconvcing. How could anything a nude man might say carry conviction? So many women judge a man byhis clothes. The gentleman was obliged to take his wife out to the lien to get whiiff of his clothing before she would allow him to retirie for a bath and a night’s repose. He still says he had a wonderful time at the dance.