What if he should tire of me?

Here’s an ad for Lux Toilet Soap from the May 26 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Like other Lux ads of this era, this ad is oddly specific: it claims that 686 of the important 694 actresses in Hollywood use Lux, including all stars. It then claims that “9 out of 10 Screen Stars” use Lux. Oh, well – you can’t expect copywriters to have fluency with numbers.

Aileen Pringle (1895-1989) was an actress who lived a life of privilege: she was born into a wealthy San Francisco family and then married the son of a wealthy British-Jamaican landowner before starting her film career. This might have been why she was noted for her apparent disdain of her fellow actors and of her chosen profession: apparently, in the silent movie Three Weeks (1924), lip readers can discern that she told co-star Conrad Nagel, during a romantic scene, “If you drop me, you bastard, I’ll break your neck.”

On the other hand, Ms. Pringle successfully cultivated friendships with a number of writers and artists, including H. L. Mencken, who became a lifelong friend. She apparently had “wit, a keen intellect, and a sparkling personality”, which are obviously good things to have. She spent her later years in New York, living a comfortable life.


Where the maples grow green

As I’ve mentioned before, the editorial page of the Toronto Daily Star used to include a section titled A Little Of Everything. This section always started off with a poem.

Here’s the poem that appeared in the May 17 1927 edition:

Like James MacGregor, who appeared in this newspaper five years later, Mr. Lynn was clearly of Scottish heritage.

Since the paper published his address, I looked him up in the Toronto city directories. He is listed in the 1927 directory at 423 Crawford and as a clerk at Art Metropole, a firm that sold supplies for engineers, architects, and artists. Some other family members lived there, as there were listings for Dorothy, Mary, and Mina Lynn. The 1928 directory listed all of them plus a new member, John Jr.

Subsequent directories indicate that the family moved around a lot:

  • The 1929 directory only listed some of the Lynns at various locations, which suggests that they were moving at the time that the city directory was being compiled.
  • The 1930 directory lists Dorothy, John, John Jr., Mary, and Mina at 86 Concord Avenue. John Senior had no listed occupation.
  • 1931 lists Dorothy, John, John Jr., and Mina at 162 Indian Grove. John Jr. was now listed as John S. Lynn. There is no listing for Mary; presumably, she got married.
  • By 1932, the family had moved to 106 Chelsea Avenue, but there were listings for Dorothy, John S., and Mina only.
  • In 1933, Dorothy, John, and Mina were listed at 221A Roncesvalles Avenue.
  • In 1934, Dorothy was the only one that I could find; she was back at 86 Concord Avenue. In 1935, she was at 1994 Queen West; I didn’t trace her after that.

“John Lynn” is a common name, so I don’t know for sure what happened to the author of this poem. But the fact that John and John S. were listed in 1931 and only John S. was listed in 1932 suggests, sadly, that John Sr. had left the land where the maples grow green – unless he travelled to Loch Lomond to find his childhood sweetheart.


Awarded a huge contract

Here’s a photo from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of the president of a construction company.

George McNamara (1886-1952) was a successful entrepreneur by 1927, but this was his second career: from 1906 to 1917, he was a professional hockey player. He and his brother Howard were known as “The Dynamite Twins” because of their powerful bodychecks. In 1914, he was a member of the Toronto Blueshirts of the National Hockey Association, which won the Stanley Cup.

McNamara’s career was ended by the First World War when he, along with a number of other players, became part of the Corps of Canadian Railway Troops. He served with distinction, being promoted to major by the end of the war. After the war, he coached the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to the Allan Cup before he and Howard founded the construction company that bore their name.


Famous Canadian prima donna

Here’s a photo from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian soprano who was about to perform in the city.

The Canadian Encyclopedia has an article on Winifred Lugrin Fahey (1884-1966). Born in Fredericton of what the article describes as “United Empire Loyalist stock”, Ms. Lugrin Fahey performed and taught in Toronto from 1920 to 1944. She seldom performed outside of the country, though she was well-received after a recital in New York.

The article states that she was “a woman of immense enthusiasm and charm”. Which is good.


Havoc is feared

Here is a short article from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that contained a report that Mount Vesuvius was threatening to erupt.

As it turned out, while Mount Vesuvius experienced regular volcanic activity between 1913 and 1944, it didn’t erupt in 1927. The next significant eruption was in 1929.

In 1944, Vesuvius experienced a major eruption, which destroyed three villages as well as several aircraft belonging to the 340th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Air Force. The volcano has not erupted since – which is perhaps just as well, as 600,000 people now live within its danger zone and about three million live close enough to be affected.


Convocation address

The front page of the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of an American literary critic who was about to deliver a convocation address in Toronto.

William Lyon Phelps (1865-1943) taught what was considered the first university course on the American novel. He led a busy life: besides teaching, he had a radio show, wrote a daily newspaper column, and published a number of books and articles.

Unfortunately, he was also something of a sexist, at least on the subject of music, as he was quoted as saying: “Music is essentially the manly art… In the entire history of music, in all times and countries, there had never been a woman able to write first-rate music.”

McMaster University was still in Toronto at the time that Mr. Phelps delivered his convocation address, but the university administration had just decided to move the university to Hamilton. The move happened in 1930.


Athletic film actor charged

Here’s a photo from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actor who had been charged with murder.

Paul Kelly (1899-1956) started his career as a child actor, appearing in starring roles in Vitagraph silent films starting in 1911. He was convicted of manslaughter in the death of Ray Raymond after the two had gotten into a drunken argument over Kelly’s affair with Raymond’s wife, Dorothy Mackaye.

Kelly was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, serving 25 months. Ms. Mackaye, who had attempted to conceal evidence of the affair, was sentenced to one to three years and served 10 months.

One of the conditions of Kelly’s release was that he not get married for 18 months after being let out. After this period expired, he and Ms. Mackaye married. They remained together until she died in a car crash in 1940.

Kelly’s film career survived his time in prison (and an initial condition of his release that demanded that he work as a clerk for $30 per week). It was estimated that he had performed in over four hundred roles in his lifetime. One of his roles was playing Clinton Duffy, the warden of San Quentin prison; this was where Kelly had served his time.

(By the way: I just noticed that this is post number 1500 on this blog – I’ve been doing this a while! Thank you for reading, or stopping by, or just passing through.)


The best play during 1926

Here’s a photograph from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Pulitzer Prize winning playwright.

Paul Green (1894-1981) won the Pulitzer for In Abraham’s Bosom, which ran for 200 performances on Broadway between December 1926 and June 1927.

In the 1930s, he created historical dramas best suited for outdoor performance, which he called “symphonic dramas”. One of these, The Lost Colony, written in 1937, is about a colony established by Sir Walter Raleigh on Roanoke Island in 1587. When the colony site was next visited in 1590, it had vanished.

The Lost Colony has been performed every year in North Carolina between mid-May and mid-August since 1937 (except for 1944, due to the war, and 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Over four million people have seen it.


Trisecting any angle or arc

Here’s a photograph from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a high school teacher who apparently had claimed to have solved a problem whose solution had eluded the great mathematicians of the past.

Searches turned up nothing on Bertice C. Hastings or his method, except for other copies of this photograph and – oddly enough – a digitized copy of the 1904-1905 yearbook from the State Normal School of Kansas, which listed Mr. Hastings as one of its alumni. He is listed as belonging to the class of 1885, which matches up to this photo caption.

Wikipedia has an entry on the problem of trisecting any angle or arc using only a straight edge and a compass. A French mathematician, Pierre Wantzel, proved in 1837 that this was impossible. Which, presumably, is why Mr. Hastings has left no footprint on the modern Internet.


Remarkable aquatic prowess

The photo page from the May 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included a picture of a seven-year-old girl who was predicted to become a swimming champion:

Dorothy Wihr, who competed as Dorothy Dodson when she married for the first time, did become a champion athlete, but not as a swimmer. Between 1939 and 1949, she won 18 national titles in javelin, discus, and shot put, including 11 consecutive javelin titles. She competed in all three sports at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, becoming the last female athlete to do this.

After her athletic career, she remarried, and she and her husband moved to Florida. She passed away in 2003. The World of Early Amateur & Youth Sports in Chicago website has a long article on Ms. Wihr and her accomplishments; I’ve quoted from it here.