FICTION

STACPOOLE JR.

JOSEPH DWYER April 1 1934
FICTION

STACPOOLE JR.

JOSEPH DWYER April 1 1934

STACPOOLE JR.

JOSEPH DWYER

ONE SUMMERY day I’m talking to Mac McTavish whose business is teaching golf to the natives of our town and trying to bear up under the strain, when along comes a young man named Stacpoole. This Stacpoole‘s business is going to school, because he is not yet eighteen, and there is no earthly need for him in the business world, and he will be lucky to find a spot when the school is sick and tired of him.

McTavish and I are talking about things in general, especially economics, and it is a very edifying conversation; but this young man. Stacpoole, butts right in as if it is of no consequence what we are talking about, and says it is time for his golf lesson although he doubts if he will learn anything.

This boy talks fresh, but he always manages to smile when he talks and doesn’t mean any harm; and as he is a nice-looking kid with a square jaw and black straight hair that he doesn’t bother to comb, and is a well-set-up youngster who participates in all sports, he is pretty popular, especially with the opposite sex. And the fact that his pater is sitting well financially is no drawback, because even the very young members of the giggly group are now aware that financial assets are a prime necessity to peace of mind.

McTavish replies to the boy that he must take the bad breaks with the good and I will join them for a round, and it will be good for my game because I will be able to watch the boy in action and find out what not to do. Mac is only joshing, of course, because the boy not only talks a good game but plays a good game and is club champion, and the only reason he isn’t provincial junior champion at the time is because he forgot to wake up in time the day they played for it the year before.

So we start out, and the ¡race is so hot with these two fellows that 1 play slightly over my head and shoot an eighty-five, which is the best I ever shot, eighty-eight being my low mark hitherto, and generally I bust into the nineties and sometimes crack wide open and slip over a hundred.

But it only goes to show what fast company can do for a man, because McTavish and the boy. Stacpoole. don’t force but just play a free and easy game and McTavish cards a seventy-four and Stacpoole a seventy-eight. Naturally 1 don’t try to beat these people for the same reason I don’t try to jump over the clubhouse, and the result is. exactly

what was expected, a new record for Shanahan, who is me.

This young man, Stacpoole, would shoot an even better score than he does but he is a great guy for puttering about, and one time he will putt like Diegel and on the next green try to put English on the ball. Once he took his mashie and played a carom off a tree and found the green with it. because he saw Walter Hagen do it in a moving picture and if Hagen can do it so can he.

McTavish bawls this kid out at every tum and tells him he will never amount to anything in golf, business or anything else; but it is easy to see that Mac is secretly proud of him, and rightly so because it is Mac who taught the Stacpoole everything he knows about the game, and also the boy’s father and mother.

Well, we are walking back to the clubhouse after I have set myself this new record, and McTavish is telling young Stacpoole he should stick to one putting stance and quit fooling around, because the provincial junior championship is due next Saturday and he'knows a man who will lend him an alarm clock.

The lad is absently knocking off dandelion heads with his number four iron, and when McTavish is all through with his lecture about attending to the business of golf, the young Stacpoole says:

“Did you know that father says ‘No?’ ”

McTavish says quickly:

“Says ‘No, you can’t play in the provincial tournament?’ Why not?”

But this Stacpoole shakes his head in a disgusted manner and says:

“Can’t you ever forget golf? Says ‘No, I can’t marry Geneva May !’ ”

I am slightly amazed by this boy’s trend of thought, but my amazement is as a hole within a hole compared to that of my friend McTavish, judging by the look on his face. And he then explodes:

"Marry Geneva May ! Have you gone crazy? Here it is less than a week before the championship and you come out with a crack like that, and you not eighteen yet!” And he talks on for several minutes.

But the Stacpoole boy just waves his hands at him and laughs and walks over to the clubhouse verandah, where

there is a bit of femininity who is surrounded by two or three males of the junior section. She is Geneva May Martin, I recall, who just a couple of years ago was practically a babe in arms, but it seems that a guy can hardly tum around these days before the generation coming behind is all grown up and passing him.

So I point my thumb and observe to McTavish that I am looking at the youthful Geneva May who is on the boy’s mind; and it is easy to see that Mac is not pleased about it, because as far as he is concerned the world revolves around a golf course and all else is futile.

But if a young fellow is going to trip over himself into what he thinks is love, it is awful apt to be over a person like Geneva May. For she is a very gay young frill, with laughing eyes and laughing mouth and kind of auburn curly hair, and olive skin that looks to be made of satin. She is a little thing, too, and it is easy to see that all the young guys in every direction will stand on their heads if she snaps her fingers, or single-handed fight this sea serpent if she desires it which is swimming around British Columbia and other wet spots of the world.

Although Geneva May is so well blessed with looks, she somehow manages to be a very natural young fimmle from what I hear, and doesn’t copy any of the dames she sees in the talkies or pick up an accent like some of her sex who visit Europe for two weeks. But Geneva May’s chances of going to Europe are remote, for her pater doesn’t meet with any big breaks in business and is as thin in the pocketbook as the Stacpoole boy’s pater is padded.

So McTavish is talking very harsh to himself, because he cannot understand a young guy acting like that. Yet he. too, is chased after some by the young peaches he teaches, but he is not interested because several years ago he met a pretty madam who he is giving golf lessons to, and since then he has eyes for no other woman under the sun. For this madam is now Mrs. McTavish. and she spends a lot of time drawing lines which he must toe, and they have a very young family of which they are both proud, and at every opportunity McTavish will talk about them, being two boys who are healthy and not left-handed.

While we are standing there practising chip shots against the side of the pro shop and I am feeling pretty good about this eighty-five I shoot, a middle-aged guy with a proud stomach comes prancing out of the locker room with a big cigar in his mouth, and he has rosy cheeks and wears a cap and has legs like Torchy Peden, the bicycling gentleman.

He strikes me as the sort of taxpayer who always knows where he is going, or if he doesn’t he looks as if he knows, and walks along determined, and if anything gets in his way there wäll be a collision and he will win. So he is a good businessman and can produce collateral no end in case he needs a loan, which, of course, he never does.

He keeps looking to left and right in a gruff manner, and finally he spies McTavish and comes over with no loss of time.

“McTavish,” he says, “I have something to say to you in private, immediately.”

So McTavish, who is a very smooth guy who hates to take orders, says:

“Get it off your chest right here, Mr. Stacpoole, because I know what’s coming and so does my friend, Shanahan,” wherewith he introduces me.

OTACPOOLE nods coolly and says:

^ “Then the boy has told you about this young Geneva May person?”

“He told me he asked you if he could marry her and you said ‘No’*,” McTavish replies.

"Certainly I said ‘No’,” the big party thunders. “What is the younger generation coming to? What in the name of all that’s holy has got into that young whippersnapper to contemplate marriage and he won’t be eighteen until Friday? Marriage!” he yells and looks around as if he would like to bust a couple of window’s with his niblick.

The thing is preposterous! He wasn’t fooling y’ know,” he says to McTavish very earnestly. “He’d do it if he got a chance. He s a stubborn young devil. Full of romanticism.”

Personally, I don’t care what your son does after Saturday, Mac replies. “I want him to win that junior title and then go on and take the amateur. I’d hate to think I ’ve been working all this time for nothing. The kid is a natural golfer, and I d be pained to think he’d lose interest in the game over a girl and a very young girl at that. But I don’t know what I can do about it. Have you got any ideas to cover a situation like this, Shanahan?” McTavish says to me.

I reply quickly that I don’t understand women old or >oung, and I don t understand guys w'hen they come under their spell; that it’s only horses that I have a slight smattermg of knowledge concerning, and frequently, even in that field, I am badly fooled and can’t solve my own problems let alone other people’s.

Stacpoole, senior, is not impressed by my little speech; but he sits down on the lawn roller and chews his cigar very vigorously and seems to give himself up to deep thought.

i uu Ie are ^iere ^le laughter and noise from the i ubhouse verandah, where the young people are congregated, attract the attention of this Stacpoole and he spies his son and heir.

There he is now’,” senior barks, and throws his cigar away hastily although it is hardly smoked at all but appears to be slightly damaged by chew'ing.

I know what I 11 do,” senior remarks brightlv. “The summer holidays are starting, so I’ll get junior out of the ci v. That s w hat I 11 do. He’ll go up to one of those summer camps for boys somewhere away up in the bush, and that

will help him forget this young female person. The marriage is out of the question anyway.” he says, “even if he were old enough. Those Martin people—who are they anyway? No standing in the community. The man’s business amounts to nothing. If a boy is going to marry, he should marry up, not down. The idea !” Then Mr. Stacpoole adds:

“Look, McTavish, today is Monday. You work with the boy’s golf on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. That will keep his mind off this girl, and after he plays in the competition on Saturday I’ll shoot him up to a camp I have in mind; and not only that but I’ll cut off his allowance, starting today, and forbid him the use of the car. Thus he may come to his senses by the time he’s ready to go back to school, and there’s an end of it. And now,” he says after he has disposed of the problem in the manner of a big businessman, “McTavish, I’d like you to show me why there is a fade on all my drives and I am losing valuable yardage. There must be a reason. otell me what I am doing wrong.”

So McTavish proceeds to show Stacpoole what is wrong, and it turns out that his stance is fine except that his left arm is not straight enough, the V’s of his hands are not in line, he doesn't keep his head down, he is standing too far in front of the ball, and when he finishes his swing he gives the impression that he is waving at a guy in an airplane. It strikes me that this Stacpoole may be a big businessman, but he will have a difficult time shooting an eighty-five.

McTavish seems to take a certain amount of delight out of telling this senior Stacpoole all these things, and it is funny to me to see his big pupil’s face get red. But there is nothing the man can do, because McTavish will not stand for an argument and there is no other teacher of golf around who can carry a candle for Mac.

While the lesson is going on and I am an innocent bystander, the son comes galloping off the verandah, and he has the charming Geneva May in tow. The two of them just go galloping past. The boy yells “Hello, dad,” at his sire, but by the sound the old boy utters there is no word in the English language which is meant to salute such a young person who has such foolish intentions.

The two young people tear over to the first tee and begin to play together, and by the way this Geneva May smacks the ball I see she is also gifted as a player of the grand old game. She steps into the pill so lustily and yet with such rhythm that I am flabbergasted that so delicate a young frill can bust the apple for so great a distance. I notice that when she plays her second it is with beautiful timing, too. and her brassie shot is trickling on to the green, which means she is

there in two; and I blush to remember that no less than three strokes are required for me to go to that same destination. even though I slwxff me a new record.

While 1 am contemplating this remarkable feat a fourth person joins our circle, and it is a very large and fussy person although maybe with a good heart underneath it all. This jx'rson turns out to be Mrs. Stacpoole, and it is time for her golf lesson right after her husband is through, or even before lie is through, depending on whether she is in a hurry or not.

SHE DOESN’T require an introduction to talk but starts playing chip shots with me, and says that it would be more fun for both of us if she goes up the line a little and chips back to me and I chip back to her ad infinitum — which, I discover, is a Latin phrase and very doggy.

Well, there we are chipping back and forth, but on the very first chip of this Mrs. Stacpoole it is evident she has little acquaintance with control, and although she is not a left-hander she acts very much like one. Therefore, when her fifth shot plops down on the senior Stacpoole’s neck while he is intent on getting some wrist action into his drive it is quite a surprise to him, although it isn’t one-tenth of a surprise to me.

The way the old guy yells when he is hit, you would think it was a Mills bomb that he stops instead of a teeny-weeny golf ball that would not hurt a flea but is at the mercy of every I larry, Dick and Tom that desires to take a slap at it.

Well, he proceeds to talk very tough to his spouse and even hints that her upstairs mechanism is not in apple-pie order. I am all ready to hear some appropriate remarks hurled back at him, but, although Mrs. Stacpoole is a formidable-looking girl and quite a talker, she gives herself over to laughing so heartily that she has no strength left to answer him, and finally has to sit down before she falls down from lack of stamina.

She keeps asking me if it isn’t the funniest thing I ever saw between going into hysterics; and I am forced to agree that it is one of the funniest, although all I get for trying to be agreeable is a dirty look from Mr. Stacpoole.

Well, when Mrs. Stacpoole is a trifle recovered from her attack of humorics she says:

“Why don’t you and me play a round together, Mr.—”

I told her “Shanahan,” and she says: “Yes, of course, Mr. Shanahan. We may as well play, because I can see that my husband has so much to learn about the game he will probably be here the rest of his life.”

So I agreed, and we proceed to play for the round sum of a Continued on page 70

Continued from page 15—Starts on page Ik

.

dime a hole, which Mrs.

Stacpoole insists upon or she can’t bear down in the pinches, and I

spot her six strokes _

after telling her about

this eighty-five I had been shooting.

Although Mrs. Stacpoole is very erratic with her woods and irons, she is one of the deadliest people I ever saw on a green, and the way she plops them in from every angle she couldn’t do any better with the aid of a funnel. She is also a great believer in the art of conversation, and is a well-informed woman on no end of subjects, and is a good listener, too, and as pleased as Punch about this new record I set for myself. Altogether it is with a large amount of difficulty that I finish thirty cents in pocket, which is then blown in for chocolate milk shakes.

It is plain to me that Mrs. Stacpoole is a grand old sport any way you look at her, and it seems a sad state of affairs that she should have tied up with an old geezer like Stacpoole, senior, who looks to be all business and very little pleasure. She gets to talking about Stacpoole, junior, and talks around to the subject of Geneva May, and admits that this youngster is a very pretty little girl and a fine specimen of a golfer.

After a while I have to go back to town to shoot a man a game of pool, and I don’t get around to the golf course again until the next Saturday, which is the day the provincial junior title play commences. Young Stacpoole is the hope of the golf club, including McTavish, the Mr. and Mrs. and very likely Geneva May.

I am talking to McTavish before the boy tees off quite early in the morning, with a little sleep in my eyes, and McTavish

says he doesn’t have much confidence in the kid because he played rounds with him on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and if ever he saw a love-smitten dodo this Stacpoole, junior, is it. So he gave the boy a lay-off on Friday, he says, because it is the boy’s birthday and maybe the rest will do him good and win him the title, although he is not banking on it.

But the way this young man, Stacpoole, starts out he doesn’t look to be off his feed, for he calmly knocks off a seventy-six to win the medal. And at that he was robbed on three of the heart-breakingest putts imaginable; the kind that fool around the lip of the cup and then fall away so slowly a guy ages ten years.

After watching this exhibition, McTavish comes over to me and remarks that he can’t understand it, because the boy played miserable golf all week and he can’t believe this is the same young fellow.

But the Stacpoole, junior, is no flash in the pan, and in the match play he proves to be a very steady customer. He takes his first opponent seven and six with some of the prettiest golf a man will bump into during several moons. In his second match, the kid lie’s up against is a smooth-stroking youngster who extends him to the fourteenth. On that one the Stacpoole is lying on the far side of the rolling green when his back-spin doesn’t stop his pitch soon enough. He’s fully thirty-five feet away, but he coekily makes his stroke without lining

up his ball or figuring the roll on a green so tricky the flag is covered with teeth-

__ marks of people who

tried to eat it. And he eases the pill in cleanly for an eagle three!

The title isn’t decided until Monday, and Stacpoole takes the winner of the lower bracket in the final by nine and eight. There wasn’t anything to it. The boy acts so carefree and confident that McTavish says he can't figure him out at all. On the short seventh, after hooking into a trap, he has the nerve to play a trick shot that McTavish showed him, and he had the gallery slapping each other’s backs. He’s lying on the steep bank of the trap to the left of the green and the ball is almost impossible to hit cleanly, so he turns his back to the green, uses his spade mashie and plays the shot over his shoulder to drop it two feet from the pin. The match ends on the tenth when he sinks one that Sandy Somerville himself couldn’t improve upon.

The gallery promptly crushes around and hands the kid enough compliments to make his head resemble a blimp for the rest of his natural existence. Mr. and Mrs. Stacpoole finally crash through and fall upon the new champ like he was a long lost son instead of a worry they see too often. Poor little Geneva May couldn’t get within a yard of the hero on account of Mrs. Stacpoole’s girth.

And is the senior Stacpoole proud !

“My boy,” he booms, “you’ve sure got the stuff that makes champions. You played beautiful golf all day long. Keep on like this and you’ll take the Amateur and the Open in your stride. Am I right, McTavish?” he yells. “The boy drives like Compton, he putts like Dutra, and Kirkwood himself couldn’t have played that trick shot any sweeter.”

Then the Mrs. Stacpoole shoves him aside and kisses the offspring.

“It was wonderful, Winchester,” she emotes, speaking the young fellow’s secret name before all those people. “It’s easily seen you take after my side of the family. You’ll certainly get a nice present from your father for this.”

That’s where foxy papa takes the cue by the horns.

“You bet you will,” he assures junior. “I’ve made arrangements for you to go to a swell summer camp tomorrow as a reward. It’s a wonderful place away up north. You’ll like it fine, and you’ll be a lot better off there than in the hot old city, Winchester. You’ll be able to keep on with your golf, too.” Then he glances meaningly at the shy and sweet Geneva May, w’ho is blushing like a rose bush.

It is then the Stacpoole, junior, winks openly at the girl friend and looks his father straight in the eye.

“It’s okay, pop, if you say so, I guess,” he says. “But if anyone comes right out and asks me, I’d say it’s a heck of a way to spend a honeymoon.”

T FORGET to look for the expression on -*■ McTavish’s face because there was a lot of confusion between Stacpoole, senior, almost choking to death from half-swallowing his cigar, and Mrs. Stacpoole furnishing the gallery with one of the finest exhibitions of hysterics since dear old lady Smithers, the ex-champ, passed away.

When the parents partially recover composure, Stacpoole, junior, don’t wait for the queries regarding when and where. He puts his arm around Geneva May and calmly explains:

“Sure. We were married across the border on Friday. I thought I’d give myself a birthday present for being eighteen. We had to do some fast travelling to get back here that night, but we made it—didn’t we, Geneva May?” And the little girl nods very happily. “And it’s a swell place where we went,” the boy says. “They never let red tape come within a mile of a marriage ceremony.”

Then Stacpoole. senior, raves and storms and wants to know’ where junior got the money, since he had his allowance cut oft.

But the son only smiles and refuses to say anything more.

Well, things are unsettled for a few days, and Stacpoole. senior, even talks about having the marriage annulled. But when somebody points out that he and the Mrs. were in their ’teens themselves when they made the jump, he cools down a trifle.

In fact he cools down so much as he gets to know little Geneva May that he seems to become a different person entirely; finally going so far as to set the youngsters up in a bungalow down the street from the parental

roof. And he begins dragging "my daughter! in-law” into the conversation so often that | he makes himself a pest.

But to this day Stacpoole, senior, isn't aware that it is a guy named Shanahan who lent the kids his rickety roadster on the Friday after he shoots that eighty-five of fond memory.

And also he don’t know that they were staked by none other than that grand old actress. Mrs. Stacpoole. senior, who had been sweet on Geneva May for a daughterin-law, so she told me, for a long time.