Saturday, 11 March 2017

1885 - The Town Tramp

In the fall of 1885, a Spectator reporter was given free rein to fill some space in the paper when needed with some creative writing. Hence, one reporter, adopted the name and persona of The Town Tramp.

The experiences of The Town Tramp were, more or less, real and they contained some sly observations about human nature as he recorded his experiences walking about downtown Hamilton.

On September 3, 1885, The Town Tramp made an appearance in the Spectator with a column which included his views on insurance salesmen, the appearance of a beautiful home on Jackson street, on the use of the newly (block) paved James street north by heavy vehicles and an interview with the driver of a horse-drawn Hamilton Street Railway car:

“Cheek has brought him on his way”

-      S. S. Ballad (improved)

“Cheek, or to put it more elegantly, assurance, is a most important qualification for a professional traveler, although The Town Tramp is doubtful of the truth of the popular belief that gentlemen of his profession never attempt to travel on anything but their cheek. Assurance, undoubtedly, is a good thing, and report of the Canada Life Assurance company, published a short time ago, it was evident that hundreds of people in Canada thought life assurance most desirable. A few shares in the Canada Life ought to assure anyone a competence in these days of large profits and small expenses.

“N.B. – This is no attempt to equal the interesting story style advertising adopted by Horner’s Sure Cure firm. The Canada Life men will be just as much surprised that The Town Tramp knows anything about assurance as the reader will be.

“One Sunday, not too long ago, The Town Tramp stopped in his afternoon walk to look at a delightful lawn and handsome residence on Jackson street west, near the corner of Park street. The house is constructed on an artistic plan, the prevailing tone being dark and harmonizing beautifully with the emerald of the lawn, and the dark green of the vines and rare trees. Mr. Hills has a beautiful home, and has arranged the grounds as to compel the admiration of the most prosaic beholder. The Town Tramp felt quite grateful to the owner for going to so much trouble for his benefit.

“It came to the notice of The Town Tramp that since the block paving has been laid on James Street North, many heavily loaded vehicles which formerly passed between the Grand Trunk railway station and King street by way of Macnab street now take the James street route. They cannot be blamed for taking the best road, but the paving is likely to suffer.

“ ‘Do you see that little horse there in the Wild West show picture?’

“ ‘Yes.’

“ ‘Well, that’s a regular photograph of a horse I drive on the King Street East car. Why, I’ve passed that picture sometimes when I wasn’t thinking and started to yell at the little Frenchy, as if he was right there.’

“ ‘That’s queer,’ said The Town Tramp.

‘ ‘Oh, we have lots of queer things happening on these cars,’ said the street car driver.

“Just then, a lady came along James street, about half a block off, she hesitated, looked at the car, walked on toward it, eyed the driver very hard, and let the car go by.

“ ‘Didn’t that lady want this car?’

“ ‘No; there’s half a dozen women go through that performance along here every afternoon, but I’ve got so’s I can tell pretty near when a woman does not want to ride. There’s some of them, though, let you drive right along, and never look at you till you’ree swinging by, then they’ll shove up their nightshade or wave a bag or something and get hoppin’ because you can’t stop the car right up. They’re the aggravatin’ ones. It’s hard on cars and hard on horses to do that kind of work. Now, a man never does that. If he wants a car, he makes his mind up and holds up his hand at the same time, mostly in time for me to see it, and else hops on while the car is going. Then again, I’ve seen women get in the middle of a crossing while I was a block off, wavin’ parasols like mad, and run down to meet the car. But after they’ve done it a few times and had to walk back to the crossin’ they get worse than the other kind, and look sour if it don’t bring the hind steps just on the crossin’. Women is queer.

“ ‘So they are agreed The Town Tramp. And so are preachers. He knew one once, and a good man too, who made him walk the carpet for going on a Sunday excursion, who afterward preached a powerful sermon on the wickedness of visiting friends on Sunday. The day was too sacred for that.’”




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