Church of Good Luck
And Museum of Good Luck
Billiken Stories
THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 2 No. 1 May 1907 (pages 28-29)

While Billiken Slept

By Sara Hamilton Birchall
Author of "The Book of the Singing Winds"

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

One spring morning when the brook had just yawned and taken off his white night-gown of ice, when the little green grasses were just beginning to think of coming up, and the sap to run in the trees, the Nasturtium Girl woke up very early and felt lonesome.

Billiken was having a morning nap, and only grunted when she whistled down his hollow tree, so she went to ask the squirrel to play with her. But she found Chippie tucked up in a round ball, with his long tail curled round his nose, and not even a black eye showing.

She went to find the field-mouse, but he was so far away in his burrow that she grew tired of walking so long in the dark.

And she went to see the big white owl, but he was hidden in some hollow stump and she couldn't even catch a glimpse of him.

Then she tried the brook, but he was so light-headed with waking up that he gurgled and tumbled over himself, and wouldn’t pay any attention to her.

So she said aloud, "Isn't there anybody to play with me?"

And a little voice said, "Mew!"

"Puss! Puss! Puss!" she called, and the little voice said "Mew-w!" a little louder.

And there were all the little kittens coming out on the pussy-willows to play with her, in their little gray coats.

So they played and they played and they played, and had such a good time that you can't think how happy they were. They never remembered how late it was getting until the south wind came laughing by.

Then — puff! All the little gray kittens grew up into yellow cats, and the Nasturtium Girl flew away.

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

[END]

THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 2, No. 3 July, 1907 (page 346)

Billiken's Umbrella

By Sara Hamilton Birchall
Author of "The Book of the Singing Winds"

LOOK: Here is a little white toadstool on the north side of the fence. Do you want to know what it is for?

To eat? Oh my, no!

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

Caption: HOW WAS HE TO GET HOME?

Once-upon-a-time, Billiken, the fairy, was out gathering honey for supper, and it began to rain. He sat under a leaf a little while, when presently, a big drop fell, splash! beside him. So he thought it was time to go home.

But how was he to get home without wetting his wings? Well sir, he thought and he thought. And then he spied a little bit of a toadstool, like this, close by.

"Oho!” he said. "I know what I'll do!" and he pulled that little toadstool right out of the ground, and held it over his head for an umbrella. Then he flew home, and didn't get wet a bit. And that was the very first umbrella that ever was.

And one day, do you know, Little-Boy went to fairyland, and stayed so long it began to rain. So the fairies made him an umbrella from a black toadstool — a big magic umbrella, so he went home all dry, too. Then Little-Boy taught his papa how to make umbrellas, and presently all the grown-ups had them, and forgot they didn't always know how to make them.

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

But eat them? Eat an umbrella? My, my, how funny that would be!

[END]

THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 2 No. 4 August, 1907 (pages 468-469)

Billiken in the Nasturtium Vine

By Sara Hamilton Birchall
Author of "The Book of the Singing Winds'

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ
Caption: I THINK SHE GAVE HIM A KISS

A story? A fairy story? Why, of course! I'11 tell you about the little Nasturtium Girl and the time Billiken went to sleep.

Well, once-upon-a-time there was a little fat elf named Billiken, playing out in the sunshine with a great blue butterfly. They played and they played and they played, until the big blue butterfly grew tired and flew away. So Billiken curled himself up under a grass-blade and went to sleep.

And when he woke up, it was raining! And there wasn't a toad-stool within half a mile of his grass-blade! And his mamma had put a pair of clean wings on him just that morning!

"Oh-me! Oh-my!”" he said. "Whatever am I going to do now?"

"I'll lend you an umbrella if you'll come over here," said a little voice. So he looked around, and there was a pretty little Nasturtium Girl peeping out at him from under a big leaf. So he scampered over between drops, and the
Nasturtium-Girl gave him a drink of honey from her long-necked pitcher. Then she escorted him to the 'way-up-high seat, just under one of her big green umbrellas where they stayed till the rain was quite over.

Oh yes, of course he said "Thank you" before he flew away, and I'm not quite sure, but I very much think the Nasturtium-Girl gave him a kiss too.

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ
Caption: “THE NASTURTIUM GIRL GAVE HIM A DRINK OF HONEY FROM HER LONG-NECKED PITCHER” [END]

THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 2 No. 6 October, 1907 (page 719-720)

Mr. Cricket and His Flute

By Sara Hamilton Birchall
Author of "The Book of the Singing Winds"

Of course you know that the fairies come up and dance in their fairy rings every moonlight night. Of course! Everybody knows that, except the people who don't have eyes for fairies, and they don't count.

Well, they have to have a band to play for them, and maybe you wouldn't believe me if I told you that that fat, black, old Mr. Cricket was one of the band, would you?

Well, then, I'll tell you the story about him.

You would? Really?

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

Once-upon-a-time he was a slim little elf in a red coat and green cap, and he used to sit on a moss-cushion and whistle on a grass-flute. And all the fairies loved to have him play for them to dance by.

There were Billiken and the Nasturtium-Girl, of course, and Twillikens and Buff, and Tip-toe, and Fiddlekins and Toots and Pug and Queet, and all the Sweet-pea children, and dozens and dozens more. When the moon came up, big and yellow from the other side of the world through the grasses, the fairies all gathered from star-swing, and earth-palace and flower-chamber for a hands-all-around dance.

Billiken had the end of the chain, and began the fairy-song:

“Oh Moon,
Mr. Moon,
When you comin' down?
We're all ready,
An' the wind walks steady,
Oh Moon,
Mr. Moon,
When you comin' down?”

And Mr. Cricket whistled the accompaniment, as he sat under his toad-stool, while the rest of the band joined in. Oh, they had merry times on moonlight nights when they had their dances!

But by and by he began to get old, and being out nights made him have rheumatism, for he was not like the fairies that eat nothing but dew and honey and live forever.

So the King put his flute on his shoulders forever so he wouldn't have to carry it in his rheumaticky old hands. And the Queen gave him a warm black coat to keep him dry and cozy from the dew.

And Mr. Cricket played in the band ever after, so when you hear him tuning
up about sleepy-time, you'll know the fairies are going to dance.

[END]

THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 3 No. 3 January, 1908 (pages 386-387)

Nubbles and the Queen’s Supper

By Sara Hamilton Birchall
Author of " The Book of the Singing Winds "

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ

MY, MY! Fairies are just the busiest folks in all the world, and you thought fairies didn't have anything to do but play all day?

Sometimes they have to water the grass and flowers with their little dew-jars, and sometimes they have to tell the flowers when to open, and wake them up in the spring, and sometimes they have to keep the Fairy Queen's palace all spotless shining white, and sometimes they have to mend a butterfly's wing, and sometimes they have to take a lost bug home, and sometimes they have to come and tell children stories so they will be happy all day. Oh, there are millions and millions of things for the fairies to do.

Of course, they don't all do the same things. The bees are honey-makers, and the ants milk the little green fairy cows and the fat bumble-bee makes yellow corn-bread — if you look right closely, you'll see baskets full of it on his legs — and some of them do one thing and some another. But they all are as busy as busy can be.

Fairy bread is made up in the Daisy Bakery, where you can see the flour spilt all about any summer day, and Mrs. Ant is the baker. The bees bring the honey to every fairy's door in the morning, but Mrs. Ant never gets through her baking until afternoon, and one warm day she had just taken the last loaf out when her oldest boy, Nubbles, came in.

"You're just in time. Nubbles, dear," she said. "I want you to take this loaf down to the Fairy Queen's palace, and you shall have a drink of honey when you come back."

So Nubbles took the loaf, went down the stem of the daisy-tree, crossed the grass-bridge, scampered down the grass-road, and what do you suppose he found where the back-door ought to be? Why, he found Little-Boy, sound asleep under a rose-bush, right square on top of the palace back yard. Well, sir, Nubbles didn't know what to do. He tried to crawl under, but there wasn't room. He tickled Little-Boy's nose with one feeler, but Little- Boy put up his hand in his sleep, and nearly knocked Nubbles over, so he ran around and around, and didn't know what to do.

Just then Billiken came trotting down Daisy Lane on his pet beetle, and he took a straw and tickled Little-Boy's nose.

"Ker-chu!" said Little-Boy, and opened his eyes.

"Hello, Billiken!" he said. "Was that you tickling my nose?"

"Well, I should think so!" said Billiken. "Why, here you are lying right on top of the fairy queen's back door, and Nubbles can't deliver the bread for her supper."

Up hopped Little-Boy and looked, and sure enough there was Nubbles trotting around, trying to find where in the world the back-door had gone to.

"Well, did you ever!" said Little-Boy.

"No, I never!" answered Billiken. "Come on. Let's have a game of romps!"

And off they went to fairy land.

[ILLUSTRATION]
DRAWN BY FLORENCE M. PRETZ
Caption: "HELLO BILLIKEN, WAS THAT YOU TICKING MY NOSE?”

[END]

THE CANADA WEST
A Magazine of the Sunset Provinces
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 4 No. 3 July, 1908


The Right Angle (a monthly editorial feature)

By Herbert Vanderhoof

BILLIKEN

Billiken and Canada-West readers are old friends. For more than a year the little gnome with his infectious grin has been a welcome guest in thousands of Canadian homes. It was in this magazine, and to Canadian readers, that he made his first public appearance, but he existed even before that as a little plaster cast in the possession of his creator, Florence Pretz, the artist.

Now in the States he has become the idol of the hour. Newspapers have taken him up, and the public generally are buying him right and left. In the accompanying picture Briggs, the New York cartoonist, shows Billiken and the American Presidential candidates at a baseball game.

He is as popular in the West as in the East. Under the heading, "Chicagoans Worship Billiken, the Good Luck God," the Chicago Sunday Tribune devoted a whole page in a recent issue to the manikin and his young creator, Miss Pretz. The latter is, in her own way, quite as odd as Billiken himself.

As a student in the Kansas City schools she puzzled her drawing teachers by evolving Japanese ideas out of her own original little head. They could not understand how or where she got the secret of an alien art, and they often questioned her, "but," as the Tribune says, "Florence Pretz, whom her friends called 'Tinker Bell,' only gave the gay little smile she was noted for and kept on with her drawings. She had the strangest collection of mud animals of any of the children in the clay modeling class, among them queer little beasts which were never heard of in natural history books, but which were strangely like hieroglyphic animals. Then one day 'Tinker Bell' thought of Billiken. ‘There never seem to be any really good-natured looking idols,' she said. 'There ought to be one to express all the new doctrine about smiling.'

"'Wear a smile,' 'Keep smiling,’ 'Come and take a smile with me,' she repeated to herself while she was modeling, and pretty soon Billiken was evolved.

"'He is the god of things as they ought to be," said Miss Pretz, as she set him up for her best girl friend, after getting him cast in plaster. 'There, smile for the lady, Billy.'

And Billy, duplicated and re-duplicated in plaster casts, has been smiling ever since. He grins at care-worn business men from the tops of massive desks, at chattering school girls from a corner shelf in a cozy den, and at the hurrying crowds from the windows of arts and crafts shops — and they all stop and smile back at him. This is the secret of his popularity — the smile he provokes”.

[ILLUSTRATION]
Caption: “Billiken today is a popular idol in the United States. It was in this magazine in May, 1907, that Miss Florence Pretz's manikin made his first bow to the public, and he has continued to entertain our readers at intervals since that date. Briggs, a famous cartoonist, caricatures Billiken and the American Presidential Candidates at a base ball game.”

So our Billiken — the fat little elf who took shelter under the toadstool in "Billiken's Umbrella," who flirted with the Nasturtium Girl in "Billiken in the Nasturtium Vine," and who was blissfully ignorant of the sudden transformation of the pussy willows in "While Billiken Slept" — our gnome has become public property, the present day craze. But we have a feeling of proprietorship in him because we knew him first. Sara Hamilton Birchall, poet and author, had told us all about him, and had explained his queer capers. With Miss Birchall as guide, did we not peer down his hollow log, and peep under grass blades to find him in his native haunts long before the Americans ever heard of him? Surely.

And we, too, smiled with Billiken, because we could not help it.


CANADA MONTHLY (successor publication to The Canada West)
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 7 No. 3 January, 1910

The Right Angle (a monthly editorial feature)

By Herbert Vanderhoof

FLORENCE PRETZ AND "ROSIE."

Of course you all know the little god, Billiken, and Miss Florence Pretz, who created him and who you recall made her first bow to the fairy- loving public in CANADA MONTHLY.

That is, you know her as far as any- one knows her. Nobody has ever found the key to Florence Pretz, the gay and sorrowful, shy and impish, merry-penciled and solemn-eyed. An elusive, dark-haired, shy little enigma whom nobody has ever solved — that's Florence Pretz. Nobody ever knew what was passing in her elfin mind until she chose to tell; and nobody ever saw her Billiken off his throne until today, when she has shown him to us, prancing in most un-godlike abandon.

Of course, there's a story.

Last year Miss Pretz shared her studio, "The Eggshell," with two other girls, a gypsy and a poet. It was an innocent and light-hearted corner of Bohemia, as studios always are when poets and artists and gypsies are young, and have dreams. The studio motto was a word of George Borrow's, the immortal gypsy:
"Life is sweet, brother;
there's day and night, brother, both sweet things;
sun, moon and stars, all sweet things;
there's likewise a wind on the heath."

There was nothing wrong with the motto, and all three girls believed it. But life isn't always sweet, even to the most determined optimist; and one night the poet came home to a glum and disconsolate household. Miss Pretz sat grimly over a much-erased drawing; the gipsy glowered at her work-bench. The "Life is Sweet" motto had turned its face to the wall and its depressing white back to the room. There were no signs of dinner anywhere.

"Who's dead?" said the poet. "And what have you done with ' Life is Sweet'?"

"Huh!" said Miss Pretz, disgustedly. "I turned the thing! I don't believe it more than half the time, anyway. I've spent this whole lovely day putting different expressions on these kids I'm trying to draw, and they insist on wearing the same foolish simper through all of 'em. About the time I rubbed out the three hundred millionth expression, I couldn't stand ' Life is Sweet ' one other minute. So I turned it wrong side out, but I can't say that it's made me feel much better."

Around the corners of the gipsy's mouth a little grin flickered, but she said nothing. The poet laughed.

"All serene," she said, cheerfully. "You'll feel better after some dinner and a story or two. I've brought home a new Lippincott's. And now I'm going to get something to eat." Presently prosperous odors arose from the absurd little kitchen, and the atmosphere began to clear.

When the somewhat dinner-mollified company nibbled idly at their crackers and cheese, the poet glanced through her magazine and chuckled.

"Here's a life drawing of you merry-merrys as you looked when I opened the door," she said, appreciatively. "Listen to this" :

ROSIE

One night a young fellow in New York couldn't sleep, and finally rising, pushed up his ground-floor window, and looked out into the street. It was about two o'clock in the morning — the time when everything in the city is at its lowest ebb. At the end of the street a nighthawk cab crawled by. A policeman appeared under the corner electric light, and passed out into the darkness. Everything was empty and still.

Presently a derelict individual came tacking uncertainly down the sidewalk until he reached the steps where the young fellow still gazed out into the night. There he plumped himself hopelessly down, and sat musing, his ragged head in his hands, dejection in every line of him.

Suddenly he spoke raucously, without moving from his grim posture:

"To Hell mit der Church! To Hell mit der Boss! To Hell mit everybody — 'cept Rosie!"

The young fellow at the window watched him curiously, wondering what his story was, and who Rosie might be. Suddenly the derelict rose to his feet, squared off his shoulders defiantly, and gesturing with shut fist, exclaimed:

"To Hell mit Rosie!" and strode away. — Lippincott's.

It was "Rosie" that she read, and the last vestige of gloom disappeared in the shout of delight that greeted the climax. When the laugh subsided, Miss Pretz reached for her drawing-board and sketched idly as she listened.

After awhile the poet ceased, and looked over Miss Pretz's shoulder, to chortle when the joke dawned upon her. For ignominiously turned on its face the studio motto lay on the board, and on the back capered a string of imps around the last straw, the final epitome of the derelict German's philosophy of life, "To Hell mit Rosie!" just as it is reproduced here. Every fat, grinning elf was nearly bursting with laughter; the joke evidently appealed to them, as much as it did to the poet.

"Lovely! Oh, lovely!" she cried. "Oh, Gypsy! Look here!"

Miss Pretz blushed and put her hands over it. "Don't! It's not for publication!" she protested, but Gypsy closed one long hand over both her little ones, and burst into a gurgle of delight.

"Sunshine and Shadow in the Human Heart, eh?" said she. "Reversible House-Motto. Barometer at normal, ' Life is Sweet!' — dirty weather brewing, ' Rosie'. Just what we've always needed. Up she goes beside the ' No Trespassing' sign."

“Oh, no, she doesn't," protested Miss Pretz, but she was overruled, not to say extinguished, and the tall gypsy put it up with four stout thumb-tacks while the poet held down the writhing artist with a fat sofa-cushion.

"Carried by two-thirds majority," said the gypsy. "It's going to stay."

"Oh, very well," replied Miss Pretz. "I'm only an insurgent minority, I suppose — and I'll admit it's likely to be useful."

So at "The Eggshell" "Life is Sweet" smiles down on Miss Pretz's dark head. You might drop in at the studio twenty-nine days out of the thirty, and never guess that the decorous oak frame harbors anything contraband. But on the thirtieth day, when things go wrong, as things sometimes will; when dolls are stuffed with sawdust, and the world is hollow, and the gypsy begins to quote Omar the Pagan, tragedy arises, proclaims an aggravated case of ingrowing sorrow, "turns Rosie" — and elicits a joyful grin.

[Note – it is likely that The Poet is Sara Hamilton Birchall and The Gypsy is Floy Campbell. Miss Campbell was a Kansas City art teacher who authored the 1899 book Camp Arcady: the story of four girls and some others who “kept house” in a New York flat. The Eggshell is likely the Highland Park studio where Billiken was hatched.]

CANADA MONTHLY
Edited by Herbert Vanderhoof

Vol. 7 No. 5 March, 1910

The Right Angle (a monthly editorial feature)

By Herbert Vanderhoof

TINKER BELL, OFFICIALLY MISS FLORENCE PRETZ,
BILLS NON-NEGOTIABLE

Whether the little god Billiken has anything to do with it or not, Miss Pretz declines to state, but in the Pretz household, where Billiken was first evolved from a lump of clay, there has always been a family of Bills.

There is the Bill-horse and the Bill-dog and the Bill-cat and once upon a time there was a family of Bill-canary-birds whose orchestral effects on sunny mornings were Miss Pretz 's special pride. Sometimes she has christened pets by other names on their first arrival, but they won't kick.

"Somehow when anything's been in our family a little while, nothing seems to fit its character but Bill," she says, with a humorous winkle. And Bill it forthwith is. Whether they inherit their dispositions from their immortal namesake or not, the four-legged folk of the household have much of the whimsical expression of the God of Things as They Ought To Be — witness Miss Pretz's sketches reproduced herewith:

[ILLUSTRATIONS]

The very essence of ridiculous clumsy pupdom is expressed in the fawning of the Bill-dog ravishing by his strong paw a plate of "nutriment" (food is never referred to by any less dignified term than "nutriment" in the Bill-family) from the outraged Bill-cat. And as for the spirit of scientific investigation, observe the other Bill-dog's air as he puts a cautious paw under the tail-tip of the Bill-cat in a period of comparative peace. It bodes ill for the future of that nervous pussy, who lives in a state of daily adventure beside which the life of Captain Kidd is tame, and which has given her an unholy facility in climbing trees.

In fact, the only safe harbor the Bill-cat knows is when Miss Pretz curls up at her Daily Bread-Board to "do some art." Unobtrusively he wriggles up behind his mistress, who moves forward obligingly to give him room. Presently he feels lonesome, and crawls around under the Bread-Board, where he gets tickled under the chin. The end of the maneuver is the Bill-cat sprawled across the thumb-tacked drawing, chasing Miss Pretz's pencil- point across the Bristol-board. After that — the cellar and outer darkness are filled with indignant wailings.