That Sad Depression
Eddie, the Cheerful Cherub, disposes of the pall of gloom, with a few well chosen words
J. E. MARCH
THE depression is officially over. Josephus McDermott, the black gentleman cat who reports at my house for meals, has learned to like olives. Josephus McDermott is in some sort a friend of mine, and I take great pride in his judgment.
So the depression is officially over.
A great many people will become intensely annoyed on reading this announcement. A great many people have become so convinced of the depression that the thought of it is a great comfort to them. They regard it as their own private, personal depression, and they get a gloomy, soulsatisfying, covenanter sort of joy out of it. These people will be annoyed. The real, dark and gloomy, four-square determined depressionists. the back-to-the-wall last ditchers, will probably write to Maclean’s and complain about having their depression rudely walloped by an unthinking writer fellow. I know it is cruel and maybe a trifle harsh to say this, but if that fat rascal of a black tomcat can eat olives, the depression is over. Yes, indeed. I cannot allow Josephus McDermott to outgame me.
It was a splendid depression. I cannot call to mind a better or more serviceable depression. You knew there was a depression. By gravy, a man couldn’t step outside his house without being told about it ! A really efficient, hardworking depressionist could spread more blue ruin in five minutes than you could scrape off with a shovel in three weeks. A hard-working depressionist just loved to talk about it. Many an evening I’ve rolled wearily home almost converted to the belief that it was a sin to eat, drink or be merry; and often I have felt that the bailiff was only one leap away.
T)UT I was popular. Yes, indeed! It seemed that people crowded around me on street comers, in armchair restaurants, and in my house just to tell me the latest bad news, and they were so happy being miserable. I used to look at these people and w'onder how they knew so much I knew they couldn’t know. They thought I was listening.
So I was popular.
I’m not popular now. I should say not. The morning after Josephus McDermott ate the olives I said “blooey” to a group of dignified citizens gathered on our station platform. They were agreeing that the depression was terrible, just terrible. They didn’t have a fact between them, and they were hearty, well-seeming citizens of the grapefruit, ham-and-egg-for-breakfast variety. I broke my silence in the presence of these depressionists and said “blooey.” The 8.30 was just coming around the curve, so it was 8.29, and now you know the very minute I became unpopular.
They said I was undignified. They were annoyed because I had said “blooey” at their depression.
These men, who had never in their lives suffered from a shortage of pork spareribs, were annoyed. They made me feel like the neighborhood goat when he found that the succulent silk nightie was disguised w'ood pulp. They made me feel rather low,, but I stuck to it. They don’t like me any more. Didn’t I tell them the truth and ruin the perfectly good morning gloom? I most certainly did. I say it again. “Blooey” to the depression. I am an outcast now, and most of these depressionists weigh more than I. They have thicker skulls. I am sure of that.
So I have been going around making myself offensive. My friends regard me as unorthodox. I am suspicious of some of rny friends, especially the ones tending toward the lowest in depressionism. They seem just a trifle sympathetic. I am, it appears, just one thing more for them to be sad about.
As a matter of fact, I know they are suffering with onetrack minds and no switchbacks. They are dotty. I say they are dotty for the sake of frankness and so there will be no future misunderstanding. They are suffering from the national inferiority complex, and the curious part of it is they are thoroughly enjoying themselves in their own sad and sorrowful way. They actually like thinking about hard times, falling credits, wrreck and desolation. It makes excellent bridge table conversation, and it annoys cheerful fat men who are trying to read their evening paper on the commuters’ special. It does, indeed. It was the most conversational depression in the history of mankind.
Something ought to be done about it. I said that something ought to be done about it to the financial editor of a newspaper. My knowing this financial editor doesn’t mean a thing. You will understand that financial editors are only newspapermen who happen to know numerous bankers and stockbrokers. They are still newspapermen and therefore are never personally financial except for a few minutes on
pay days. It is w'ell to explain this point. I said to this financial editor:
"Why not print a piece admitting that Canadians are mighty lucky? You might admit the fact in an insinuating sort of manner, so that the people will begin to think they thought of it themselves. You could tell them they are still buying automobiles, radios, houses and twin beds, also that a clear majority are earning; that men, women and children have more courage, initiative and luck than other and lesser peoples—all this in the best country so far discovered. Point out that a dollar will buy more than it ever would within the memory of man —provided you have the dollar.”
I worked hard over this financial editor. “Let your motto be,” I said, "Wallop the depressionists.”
But this editor man said :
“Holy cats, Eddie, I gotta eat.”
A Little Spot of Sunshine
IT WAS immediately plain to me how deep a grip the late depression had on the people. It was all very sad, but l was not impressed. I was fed up with the depression. I determined to do something alxiut it myself. The late depression did not depress me worth a hoot. I was a little spot of sunshine in a dark world. I sold depression short. My friends still think I am a menace. I am not a menace. I liave merely recovered from my hangover after the national mental millionaire party. I’m a safe and sane victim for Government bond salesmen. I’m emancipated. I am even prepared to present the National Museum with samples of mining stock certificates gathered in those dear, mad, optimistic days when people bought mining stock certificates mostly. I now appreciate, for the sake of the pretty pictures printed on them, and because they were optimistic. I think the National Museum should have my collection.
I do not think there is a more complete collection of worthless mining stock certificates in Canada. Surely there could not be two of us in this fair Dominion. 1 should hope not.
I’ve recovered. Josephus McDermott cured me. He learned to like olives.
1 even contend that much can be done with the haughty manner in which the citizens of that dear republic to the south treat our money.
Much good has already come of it. Why, one week-end recently a friend of mine who owns a big car came along with his wife and said, "Pile in, folks, and well run down to Lake Placid.”
So we piled in, and somewhere in New York State the wives got hungry. Wives will get hungry right in the middle of a State. They said they wanted food. So we stopped at one of those places where they desecrate hot dogs by putting chili sauce on them.
We had Western sandwiches, and the hot-dog man said :
"Brother, we don’t take Canadian money.”
He said this in the voice usually reserved for use when talking to stockbroker pals on visitors’
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That Sad Depression
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day in some of our leading institutions.
I said he was mistaken. I said:
“Brother, keep your shirt on, you do take Canadian money.”
The hot-dog man was annoyed. He said he’d be this and that if he would. We could take ninety cents on the dollar or he would call a New York State policeman. So he called a New York State policeman. He stuck his head out the back door and yelled, "Hey, Wilbur.” Wilbur was the New York State policeman. I said I wanted him for a witness. Wilbur was surprised. He thought he was going to arrest somebody. Then I bet the hot-dog man he would take Canadian money. He bet $10. Wilbur held the bet.
I offered the hot-dog man a five-dollar gold piece, and before he was halfway through his first howl Wilbur handed me the money. The New York State police have a fine sense of justice.
We paid for the sandwiches and some gas with the hot-dog man’s ten dollars, and went to Lake Placid.
The hot-dog man was very sad. He looked like a man who thought something peculiar had happened.
Wilbur got his motor cycle. He escorted us down the road. He said they had several valuable things in New York State, and he thought he’d keep an eye on them that week-end.
Smoke Shag and Drive Her
THEN there was my friend, the outdoor man. I do not know this outdoor man’s name, but he was a hardy sort of outdoor man. He was, I found, a woods boss, and he looked as if he might be all right to take along when arguing with depressionists of the rougher and more ready type. I met this man in the smoking room of a Montrealbound train. He was, as I say. a hardy outdoor man, and he was suffering from a stroke brought on by meeting friends in Ottawa. He was not used to meeting friends in Ottawa, and the shock apparently had been too much for him. He was, he said, as tight as a drum and would I mind picking him up off the floor. I picked him up off the floor several times between Ottawa and Montreal and he said he would never drink such floor-lovin’ liquor again.
This outdoor man was an anti-depressionist. I liked him because he was an antidepressionist and had a grouch against all governments of whatsoever kind in this basically sound Dominion. He had, he said, surveyed the situation. He waved a toughlooking fist at me and said the Canadian people would just have to learn to smoke shag. I took it that he was using a figure of speech. I knew it was a figure of speech because only people fortunate enough to be equipped with copper tubing instead of ordinary throats can smoke shag. They would, he said, have to come to it and like it, and I could take it or leave it. We were, he said, headed for hardpan, and that was a good thing. A man could brace his feet on hardpan and start for somewhere. We would, he said, just have to smoke shag and drive her. “Smoke shag and drive her,” he said, “and you can’t beat us.”
And as for governments, every town a man went into was so full of politicians and
civil servants that it was hard to keep from falling over them. They were, he said, so thick they were caulkin’ one another. Now when a woods boss speaks of caulks he means those sharp steel brads with which river drivers equip their boots before bringing the logs downstream in the spring, and when he says that people are caulkin’ one another he means that they are crowded so close together they are stepping on one another’s feet.
I said I knew a lot of people I’d like to see caulked. The outdoor man was not interested in people I knew. He said that these politicians and civil servants he spoke of should be culled. A good many other people should be culled out too, he declared, and put to doing something useful. I agreed with him. This woods boss was a hard and husky-looking man, so I agreed with him. By the time we reached Montreal we had organized to close up several governments and put people to smoking shag and drivin’ her. He was going to make a speech in the concourse at Windsor Station, urging people to get right down to shag. I prevented him from making this speech. I was afraid the police in that station would not understand the outdoor man’s figures of speech. I have since been sorry. It would have been a good speech.
A Modern Missionary
T OFTEN quote the outdoor man to my
depressionist friends. I tell them that Canada is fundamentally as sound as a nut. and that all we need to do is to talk less gloom, smoke shag and drive her. I know now why the paintings and pictures of the early missionaries always create such an impression of sadness. These paintings and pictures nearly always look sad, and I have often wondered about it. The sad look comes from mental persecution by the heathen. A full measure of determined heathenism is discouraging and tends to create a sad suspicion that the heathen are satisfied with their dark and sinful ways. I realized this while endeavoring to convert the depressionists. Listening to some of these depressionists argue makes even me feel queer, so I know what made the early missionaries look that way.
I have one convert, and his success is a great encouragement. It is, indeed. This convert was once a travelling salesman out of a job, and, believe me. there is nothing worse in the way of a depressionist than a travelling salesman out of a job. I told this salesman about smoking shag and drivin' her. This salesman said he would try anything once. He said he’d smoke shag. He did. He asked the sales manager of one firm for a job forty-three times. This sales manager threw him out forty-two times and then put him to work. The salesman said he noticed the manager was weakening after the thirty-fifth assault. He said he knew then it was all over but drawing his advance expenses and packing the samples.
This salesman says he is going to preach my doctrine in the highways and byways. Something tells me a great early missionary was lost when he took to selling dress goods.
“Smoke shag, and drive her.”
Folks, line up with Josephus McDermott, the woods boss, the travelling salesman and me.
A Substitute for Ice
SIMPLE chemical method for cooling ^ bottled drinks on picnics is used by Robert M. Pierce, a member of the laboratory staff of Universal Pictures. When Mr. Pierce goes camping, for example, he doesn’t bother with ice, but always takes some ordinary photographer’s “hypo,” mixes it with water, and cools bottled drinks in the water.
This chemical, hyposulphite of soda, dissolves so fast that it draws heat from the water, just as melting ice freezes the ice
cream. Laboratory tests show that two parts of water with one part of granular hypo cools water from eighty-three to fortynine Fahrenheit in three to five minutes.
Hypo costs five cents or less a pound. Take a bag on your next outing, cool the drinks, put hypo-cooled water in your icebox, and laugh at the ice man. The hypo can be recovered, as good as new, by evaporating the used solution down to the concentration where it crystallizes again.— Chemistry And You.