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Attracted more attention

Here’s a photo from the photo page of the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, of a young woman who attracted more attention at Belmont race track than anyone else:

A search didn’t turn up much, though I did find a reference to a New York Times article that stated that Ms. Coe was to be honoured at a party on the eve of her wedding.

I also found her Find a Grave entry, which informed me that, in 1934, Ms. Coe married Commendatore Leonardo Vitetti from the Italian embassy. She had three older brothers and outlived all of them, passing away in 1987 at the age of 77.

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Foils thug

The June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo and an article about a man who prevented an armed robbery of his service station.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to definitely locate Henry Bingham, the heroic gas station attendant. (“Gas station attendant” appears to have been a hazardous occupation.) The 1931 directory does not list him, and the 1931 and 1932 directories state that the occupant of 1213 Dufferin was John A. Whitten, a bricklayer.

The 1932 directory does list a Henry Bingham who was working as a carpenter and living in Scarborough. If this was the same man, I don’t blame him for moving far away from gas stations and thugs with guns. He wasn’t in the 1935 directory, which I checked at random, so perhaps he just wandered on down the road somewhere.

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Sharp newsie

Here’s an article from the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a 17-year-old boy who sold papers and magazines at the corner of Bay and Richmond:

Out of curiosity, I traced Max Brandwein in the Toronto city directories. He wasn’t listed in the 1931 directory, but I did find him later. At roughly five-year intervals:

  • 1937: no listed occupation (this doesn’t necessarily mean that he was unemployed, of course)
  • 1942: employee, CPR
  • 1947: news agent, CPR
  • 1952: no listed occupation
  • 1957, 1962: waiter, Ford Hotel
  • 1969 (the last year for which I have access): no listed occupation
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Pulls gun, chases wife’s friend

Here’s a short article from the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that featured a bit of society drama:

Cornelius Vanderbilt IV (1898-1974) spent his life caught between a rock and a hard place. Because he became a newspaper publisher, he was cast out from the high society into which he was born. But because he came from a wealthy and privileged background, he didn’t fit in with ordinary people either.

Vanderbilt (who was often referred to as Cornelius Vanderbilt Jr., and whose family and friends called him Neil) served in the First World War as a driver. (He got the post because he knew how to drive a Rolls-Royce.) After the war, he started several unsuccessful newspapers, and made an anti-Nazi film titled Hitler’s Reign of Terror in 1934. It was the first anti-Nazi film ever made.

Vanderbilt was not lucky in love: he married a total of seven times (though his last marriage lasted from 1967 until his death). The Mrs. Vanderbilt mentioned in this article was wife number two: she was Mrs. Mary Weir Logan when she married Vanderbilt in 1928, and she had obtained a divorce from Mr. Logan a half an hour before their wedding. (Mr. Logan later became penniless and eventually committed suicide.) The couple divorced in August 1931, shortly after she had been spotted in the company of Mr. Arno. She passed away in 1984.

Peter Arno (1904-1968) created cartoons and cover pages for The New Yorker from 1925, the year that the magazine was founded, until he passed away. Vanity Fair magazine has a long article describing Arno’s life, which was apparently not dull.

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The most liberal terms in Toronto

Here’s an ad for a furniture store from the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Having the most liberal terms in Toronto did not affect the Rotstein Furniture Company’s longevity: it remained in business until 1961 at its 567 Queen Street West location. It was family-owned throughout, with various members of the family in charge over multiple generations.

I looked up 567 Queen West on Google Street View. I’m not sure whether this is the original building: the decorations on the main entrance appear old enough, but the upper floors look remodelled.

A Google search for the Rotstein Furniture Company turned up a 1928 ad in Yiddish, but nothing else. I find it fascinating that this company has a very small footprint in the history of Toronto, when the Burroughes Furniture Company, just down the street, is much more memorable. The Burroughes company had more than one store, and their building at Queen and Bathurst was more interesting, which are probably factors. Interestingly enough, both firms left the Queen and Bathurst neighbourhood at almost exactly the same time.

While I’m mentioning the Burroughes Furniture Company: I was a bit confused by some of the historical references to its location at 641-647 Queen West. The official site for the Burroughes Building and this site claim that King Sol, a sporting and camping gear retailer, took over the location in about 1950. But the Toronto city directories list Burroughes at the location in 1961, and list the site as vacant in 1962. What’s going on?

A little bit more digging revealed the answer. A NOW Magazine article from 2002 mentioned that King Sol was closing its Queen Street location after 53 years in business, and briefly interviewed Ira Meiteen, the store manager. The implication was that King Sol had been at Queen West all along. But the 1958 Toronto city directory shows Merchandise Mart of Canada, King Sol’s official business name, at 552-554 Yonge, with Harold Meiteen as its general manager; Merchandise Mart of Canada doesn’t appear on Queen West until 1963. My guess is that the other sources referenced the NOW article and assumed that King Sol had been at the Queen West location throughout all of its history.

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Miss Universe 1931

The June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two photographs of the winner of the Miss Universe 1931 pageant. This photo appeared on the front page of the paper:

And this photo appeared on the photo page:

This Miss Universe competition is unrelated to the modern Miss Universe pageant. This older competition was also called the International Pageant of Pulchritude; it was in existence from 1926 to 1932 with one last event in 1935.

There is a French Wikipedia entry for Netta Duch√Ęteau (1910-1994), who was 20, not 17, when she won her crown. She became a stage actress in her native Belgium, and eventually moved to Monaco.

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Quadruplet girls born

The June 14 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported that quadruplets had been born in England.

The Good quadruplets were the first to be born via Caesarean section.

Internet searches yielded the following links to the Good quadruplets:

  • Newsreel footage of the Good quadruplets’ christening.
  • Footage of the quadruplets at the age of two.
  • Footage on their sixth birthday (no sound).
  • Bridget Good, one of the quadruplets, and her older sister Susan got married on the same day.
  • A brief BBC article and video on the quadruplets’ 70th birthday in 2018. At this time, three of the four were still alive; Bridget had passed away in 1984.

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Saves girl in lake

The June 14 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief article about a girl who was saved from drowning:

Out of curiosity, I traced the people mentioned here in the Toronto city directories.

George Fowler is listed in the 1948 directory as working as a janitor at A. D. Gorrie and Company and living at 69 Mitchell Avenue. By 1950, he was working as a clerk there, which I assume is a step up.

He is missing from the 1951 directory, but reappears in the 1953 directory as a storekeeper for B. A. Oil and living at 64 Sorauren. By 1961, he is working as a parts clerk at B. A. Oil and still at 64 Sorauren. Violet Fowler is also listed at 64 Sorauren and working as a clerk at Gestetner, so she successfully made it to adulthood.

Percy Koretsky, the man who saved Violet Fowler’s life, was in a family fur business, and remained in the fur business at least as late as 1961. In 1948 and 1955, he was living at 614 College; in 1961, he was at 45 Gardiner Road in Forest Hill.

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Our name

Here’s an ad from the June 8 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:

I noticed this because of Mr. Pennock’s somewhat dour expression and because his firm used lead in their paint. Lead paint is now known to be toxic; Canada and the United States have banned or strictly limited the use of lead in paint since the late 1970s.

The firm of B. A. Pennock & Son had not been in existence since 1900, but this is only a slight stretch of the truth: Bernard Pennock is listed as a painter in the 1901 Toronto city directory. He set up shop at 932 Dovercourt in about 1920.

He and his son had just decided to go into business together at about the time of this ad, however, as the 1935 directory lists Bernard A. Pennock as the president of the Irish Canadian Athletic Association Club. The 1936 directory lists B. A. Pennock & Son, with the son being Lorne B. Pennock.

The Pennocks, father and son, continued in business together until about 1948. At this point, B. A. Pennock passed on, and Lorne moved into 932 Dovercourt and continued the business, first under the B. A. Pennock & Son name, then on his own. He is at 932 Dovercourt in 1955, but by 1960 had moved to Etobicoke.

The Google Street View photo of 932 Dovercourt shows that it is now a house. But it’s a detached house in a neighbourhood of mostly semi-detached houses, and it has a driveway to the left. You can easily see how this building could have housed a painting business.

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Mysterious disease victim

The June 8 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this article about an actress who had become sick while filming in Africa.

Edwina Booth (1904-1991) sued MGM for over a million dollars, claiming that she had been provided with inadequate protection and clothing during the filming of Trader Horn. (During filming, she caught malaria, suffered from sunstroke, fell out of a tree, was cut by elephant grass, and may have caught schistosomiasis.) She reportedly settled for $35,000, which was a large sum of money in those days (and isn’t that small of a sum these days).

Unfortunately for her, no major studio would employ her after this. She appeared in some low-budget movies in 1931 and 1932 (the last of which was Trapped in Tia Juana). It took her six years after that to completely recover from her time in Africa.

Following her recovery, she stopped appearing in public. She became involved in the Mormon church, devoted herself to good works, was married and widowed twice, and tried never to mention that she was once a movie star. Rumours of her death appeared several times before she actually passed away in 1991. A Utah history site has a more detailed biography of her.

As for Trader Horn: it was a success when it was finally released in 1931, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. YouTube has a trailer for the movie; I couldn’t watch all of it, as there was too much footage of animals being killed or injured, not to mention all of the crude cultural stereotypes.