July 15 1936


July 15 1936


A CERTAIN Mr. Birge, of Toronto, spent a few days in Montreal recently and returned with _ awesome respect of hotel service in the metropolis.

Having concluded the business which took him there, Mr. Birge decided that it would be nice for his wife and himself were he to invite some of their friends down to their suite at the Windsor.

They came, among them several well-known hockey figures and their wives.

Conversation was sparkling and Mr. Birge was feeling that everybody was happy to be there when suddenly he realized that he had run out of cigarettes.

He went to the telephone and called Room Service. He ordered cigarettes. Then, feeling that it was rather too bad that the whole machinery of the hotel should be set to work for a mere package of smokes, he added facetiously “and a piano.” Host Birge then hung up hastily to avoid any possible snappy comeback.

Five minutes later there was a tap on the door. There stood a bellhop bearing, upon a tray, the package of cigarettes. Behind him were two rather hard-looking men. Mr. Birge was slightly perturbed. But only for an instant. They were not house detectives. They were just a couple of huskies wrestling with a piano.

It has recently come to light that an eminent Winnipeg surgeon, who might best be known for the purpose as Dr. T., is a great lover of music and an admirer in particular of the renowned Italian maestro, Arturo Toscanini, until recently conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Not only did the doctor never miss a note of one of Toscanini’s broadcasts, but, strange though it may appear, he actively assisted in their production. It was his custom to lock himself up on Sunday afternoons with a radio and mild refreshments, and proceed to conduct the Philharmonic by remote control through a two-hour programme. The orchestra, under the inspired batons of Dr. T. and Toscanini never lost a beat although the doctor often lost several pounds in the course of an afternoon’s vigorous conducting. Our Montreal observer, who told us in a recent issue about seeing a camel in the streets of that city, informs us that he has been inundated by friends with stories of the strange incidents they have witnessed in that city. One man related that while he was strolling through the downtown district one Saturday afternoon, he beheld an express van approaching. Two small boys on the side walk thought they would jump on behind, but no sooner had they done so than with ear-piercing yells they let go and fell back on the street. Greatly surprised our friend took a peek at the back of the van as it drove past. To his astonishment he found that it contained a large cage in which was a rather mangy-looking lion, sorrowfully licking its chops.

Another man related that once while walking along St. Catherine Street, which Montrealers delight to think is like Bond Street and Fifth Avenue rolled into one, he noticed a man in the window of a large department store arranging a dress on a wax model. Having fixed it to his satisfaction, the shopman stood back to admire his handiwork. Apparently the tout ensemble was too much for him, for suddenly, to the amazement of the passer-by, he rushed forward, threw his arms around the model and embraced it passionately. Then suddenly realizing his public position he fled behind the window screen.

Thousands of listeners over Radio Station CHSJ, in Saint John, can testify to this incident. A local firm was sponsoring a “Professor.” You wrote in your letter (accompanied by the carton cover of a herbal remedy) and in it you asked the “Professor” questions concerning the future, love, trips, the whereabouts of lost jewellery, and whether the money you recently loaned to a certain party would ever be repaid and when. The “Professor” was on twice daily. This time he had just concluded prognosticating the future for the evening broadcast and concluded thus: “Our time is now up. Don’t forget that we’ll be back on the air tomorrow at-—.” Here he hesitated, then in an audible aside to the station announcer: “What’s the time of the noonday broadcast?” In spite of the welter of misgivings about one-man street cars, it seems that some of these one-men still have time in their multiple duties to render a personal touch to their public service. We were going down town in Toronto last week on a Harbord car when we suddenly remembered an appointment in lower Bay Street and stumbled up front to get a neglected transfer.

Two or three days later it seems we boarded the same car on a townward trip. A large woman in front of us rooted through her reticule for silver.

We deposited our ticket and stood there forbearingly while she reopened her bag to plow her change and tickets back and unsteadily clutch at a transfer. As the one-man operator drove off down the street he held out another transfer over his shoulder.

“Here, you’d better have one, too,” he gently admonished. “You forgot about it the other day, you know.”

We thought the Toronto Transportation Commission ought to hear about this sort of thing and dropped warmly in on “Cy” Clancy, the Commission’s publicity director. We thought it might give him a new thought for those sermons on T.T.C. that he posts in the middle of his cars.

“Ah,” he modestly demurred, “you are the kind of person that nobody can forget.”

There was no real use in getting sore about this so we stayed to ask a few questions.

You, too, may have wondered how a driver-conductor can correctly clock incoming transfers in rush-hour throngs. It often seems that he hasn’t the chance to tell a transfer from a Chinese laundry ticket.

“Not at all,” said Mr. Clancy, who has an answer to everything.

The doors open at a seething intersection. Citizens assail the steps and slowly bulge into the vestibule. Some one presently flails his way inside and the conductor looks at his transfer and the notches in its side. This sets a model for that intersection and Mr. One-man can now freely garner transfers while merely noting that they’ve notches in the same place as the first.

Some time ago we lived next door to an elderly spinster who cherished a canary. On those spring Sunday mornings we would often loll about over the window-sill languidly sniffing the lilacs. Often as not we’d look down to see Mistress Spinster in her lush garden communing with her pet. She was—so help us—engaged in teaching him the alphabet.

“A,” she’d pronounce, “Come, Dicky—A!” and tap smartly on his cage.

Once in a while Dickie would let fly a warble that remained very much the same for “G” as it was for “A” except possibly more impatient.

This was no doubt a very stupid canary, however, and it’s really interesting to watch how knowing some of our cumber friends can be.

A man in Windsor, for instance, has a handsome big German Shepherd. Apparently he figures if the dog can’t be self-supporting it can at least be self-serving, for he taught it to go down to the comer grocery, gain admittance and fetch home its own tin of dog-meat.

This seems plenty smart enough in itself but that’s not all. The amused grocer has often offered his canine customer a tin of peas or com or something but the dog will accept no substitutes. He sits there expectantly with drumming tail until he gets precisely what he came for.