NON-APPEARANCE of Beverley Baxter’s London Letter in our December 15 issue caused such a stir (our telephone operators are just shadows of their former selves) that we simply must refer to the matter.
On page twelve of that issue, in the top right-hand corner, there appeared an announcement explaining that Mr. Baxter’s dispatch, sent by airmail, had not arrived, and that we were compelled to go to press without it—for the first time in nearly five years. The announcement was three inches wide and four inches deep. The heading, “SORRY, But the London Letter Didn’t Get Here,” was in heavy black type, and to us the entire statement stuck out like a large boil on one’s nose.
We suppose we ought to feel flattered that so many of the complainants did see, in this column, a ten-word statement that the London Letter would be found on page twelve. But they didn’t see the big announcement. They didn’t have time to see it. The instant they turned to page twelve, and saw Mr. Baxter wasn’t there, they dived straight for the phone, telegraph or letter pad.
We KNOW that we, under our own signature, on page two stated that the London Letter would be found on page twelve. We had every reason to believe it would be. We knew the date on which the dispatch was airmailed from London. We did allow for delay. We just didn’t allow enough. Nor could we take back our words, because this page goes to press ahead of the page we keep till the last minute for the London Letter.
Being honest, we’ll admit that there were a few readers who gleefully informed us that the issue minus Mr. Baxter was the best one we’ve put out in five years. All we can say is that we wish they had been operating our telephone switchboard during the days following that issue’sappearance. That’s all we can say.
The London Letter is definitely on page fourteen of this issue.
•At soldiers’ concerts, where the audiences are made up of the younger generation, recitals of “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” and “The Cremation of Sam McGee” always get a big hand. It doesn’t surprise us to learn that the name of the author is not so well known to those around the twenties, for he has written very little during the many years he has lived abroad. But in the case of older folk, mere mention of the name of Robert W. Service will light up their eyes. Now, Service is back in Canada—driven from France by the German occupation. When he landed, a newspaper interviewer expressed surprise that Service had so mild a face for a man who had written such fullblooded stuff as the Yukon ballads and “The Trail of ’98.” We don’t know who the interviewer was. but we are grateful to him. for as a result of his surprise there appears on page nine of this issue of Maclean’s an article by Robert W.
Service, and its title is “So I Have a Mild Face!”
#The versatility of Leslie McFarlane is for us a constant source of surprise. For our Christmas issue, Mr. McFarlane wrote a long poem, “Canadian Christmas, 1940.” It created such an impression that it was broadcast over a national hookup, and requests for local broadcasts came from various sections of the country. In this issue, on page ten, there is a short story by Mr. McFarlane, in totally different vein. Its title is “Hungry Fighter,” and it’s a biff-biff-bang tale of the prize ring. We’d be only mildly surprised were Mr. McFarlane to walk in some day with an article on “How to Play a Harp.”
• If on seeing the title to Clara Wallace Overton’s short story on page five you should wonder what on earth a Be-Still Tree is, we can tell you that it looks like a yellow oleander but isn’t. It grows in the British West Indies, and, for fictional purposes at any rate, it does odd things to people from northern climes; such people, for instance, as Anne Wilson, who got rather bored with a busy husband and went south in the hope of running into Romance.
•I-ooking back over the past few years, we find that we have devoted much less space to the City of Toronto than would seem to be justified by the number of people who live there. The fact that Maclean’s is published in Toronto, for geographical reasons, has caused us to lean over backward in demonstrating that we edit this publication from a national point of view and not a local one. On page sixteen of this issue, we deal with a subject which enters the daily life and routine of hundreds of thousands of Torontonians —the street car system. It is operated by the Toronto Transportation Commission, and the story Philip A. Novikoff has to tell will, we think, interest people in other communities as well as those who use the T.T.C.
•There is a neat piece of whimsy on page fifteen—“Achilles and Willie,” by Matt Armstrong. We haven’t any doubt that you will recognize the characters. Mr. Armstrong is a newcomer to Maclean’s, but last April he won the Women’s Canadian Club Literary Award, and he has sold a number of stories to other publications. Born in Scotland, he came to Canada in 1910. He tells us this about himself: “I tried, with a little success, to write short stories in the evening after hiking hydro and telephone poles during the day. Hopping from town to town made this extremely difficult. Now, having added a wife and two girls to my personal household, I find it easier to stay on the ground in the water pumping station of the Dunnville Public Utilities and write while working.”
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