Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Between the lines March 2013

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BY PAUL REID odetovagspictureweb

As promised folks, I have delved into the Vancouver Archives, both online and off, to bring you the following glimpse into our community’s glorious past.

It’s December 10,  1924, and the Vancouver Vagabond’s Club is celebrating its 10th Anniversary. The Vagabond’s Club, remember, was started by Collingwood’s very own John Francis Bursill, who was a well-known writer at the time. It was a typical Gentleman’s Club, for men only.

Wikipedia teaches us that a gentleman’s club is a members-only private club of a type originally set up by and for British upper class men in the 18th century, and popularised by English upper-middle class men and women in the late 19th century and early 20th century. We know that our Vagabonds (Vags) would exchange poetry and other writings, many of which are still in the Vancouver Archives.

So, it’s 1924, and as pictured above, the Vags have come together to celebrate (wives too) at Spencer’s Restaurant. What a wonderful shot, a beautiful momento from that night, taken by Stuart Thomson (Vag Thomson?) and courtesy of the Vancouver Archives, online.

I actually located the poem, left, first, before I came across the picture. It was typed, old school, on a yellowing, frail peice of paper–nearly 90 years old, along with hundreds of others down at the Archives. The poem is related to the picture, in that it was written especially to be read out at this lavish affair. You will see that the poem and the picture really do go well together, so I am glad that I could stumble upon them both and could put one and one together.

ODE TO THE VAGS DINNER

Held in Spencer’s Restaurant
December 1924

Some bunch! Some gang! So you are the Vags?

With your chairs drawn up, in your glad rags.

An aggregation I wouldn’t miss;

Vags sitting down to a feed like this.

Kidding yourselves you’re dyed in the wool.

Kidding yourselves as you play the fool.

Wher’ve you been? Say, what’s your claim

To our Fraternity’s honoured name?

Never hit the ties nor rode a rod,

Nor ditched at conductor’s surly nod.

You! Vags?

Look at your china and silver plate.

Everything right bang up-to-date.

An’ you claim friendship with such as we,

Knights of the Open, footloose and free?

Straight pan-handlers from door to door,

Bumming some –and swiping more.

You – Vags!!

Shades of the boys that hit the grit;

Leather of lung and hard of mitt.

Box car Jimmy, Overland Red.

Spike Mc Murdo and Two thumb Fred.

Seats of our pants for a serviette,

Fingers for forks, we use ‘em yet.

YOU, VAGS?!

Come over here in a first class car.

Foot on the rail of the smoke room bar.

Feed in the diner – dinner at eight.

Side door pulman, me and my mate.

Robbing a roost at the side of the track.

Dodging a cop, or hitting back.

Judging by you and your towney looks,

There ain’t a one of you uses his dukes.

A bunch like you, with claims on we,

God forgive me! I hate to see.

Hobo and Vag, they sound darn good;

But you, you’ve dragged our name in the mud.

YOU … VAGS????

From Box Car Jimmy

C.P.R. Switching yards.

Freight No 3. Eastbound.

Car number. 1009478

X      His monikor.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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