Influenza in 1928

While the influenza epidemic of 1918 was the deadliest in recent history, there have been other flu epidemics in Toronto. The December 22 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe was published while an epidemic was in full flood.

The main story on the epidemic stated that 25 new victims had been admitted to hospital, and three people had died:


This wasn’t as bad as Grand-Mère, Quebec, in which there were 1000 to 1200 cases of a “mild variety” of grippe that had closed all the schools:


This day’s paper included two public-service ads related to the flu that were placed by life insurance companies. The first was from Ontario Equitable:


This ad reminded readers that, at the first sign of a cold, you were to start to fight as though your very life depended on it. The ad doesn’t seem to distinguish very well between colds and the flu.

And here’s the ad from Sun Life:


Both ads suggested the importance of keeping your bowels open. For people for whom this was an issue, Grove’s Bromo Quinine offered a solution:


I found links related to Grove’s Bromo Quinine at the National Museum of American History and Weird Universe. It was on sale until at least the 1960s.

The makers of Ovaltine offered another option:


Eventually, I will write a long article about Ovaltine: it’s been marketed in a number of ways, of which this is just one.

Finally, the makers of Veno’s Lightning Cough Syrup offered a remedy:


Veno’s Lightning Cough Syrup had been around since the Victorian era, and was originally known as Veno’s Lightning Cough Cure. I found a blog that described this medicine in more detail.


The Spanish flu

The October 17 1918 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was published during the peak of the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide.

Naturally, the Daily Star had several articles and ads related to the flu. In Toronto, fifteen people passed away that morning, and 530 patients were in hospital with the disease:


An additional 28 people had passed away from influenza or flu-related pneumonia the previous day:


Over 50,000 cases had been reported in New York City, with a total of 5000 dead:


The Ontario government had put out a call for volunteer day or night nurses to help tend to influenza victims, which would have been quite hazardous duty indeed:


An insurance company offered influenza coverage as part of its Special Sickness policy:


Massey Hall was closed for the epidemic, but the Alexandra theatre contended the play The Kiss Burglar provided enough joy to kill the flu:


The Kiss Burglar had opened on Broadway on May 9, 1918 and closed on August 3 after exactly 100 performances.

Last but not least, the makers of C.C.M. bicycles seized the opportunity to point out that a bicycle was a good way to avoid crowded and potentially contagious streetcars:


The First World War, and especially 1918, was one of the most difficult times in modern history. I wonder whether a future blogger, writing in 2118 or 2218, will look back on the era coming up as being equally difficult, given the impending climate change crisis.


The Hoo-Hoo Club

The December 22 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe contained this article:


I love the very idea of the Bojum of the Supreme Nine of the Concatenated Order of the Hoo-Hoo.

I was reluctant to search for “Hoo-Hoo Club” on Google because I was afraid of what might turn up, but the results turned out to be safe for work. The Hoo-Hoo Club is a fraternal service organization for members of the forest products industry. The order is still in existence today, but most of its clubs are inactive.


Unfortunate placement

The July 19 1929 Toronto Daily Star contained an ad and an article that didn’t go all that well together:


I suspect that the owners of Canadian Colonial Airways would not have been happy to see their ad right above an article describing a plane crash.

Canadian Colonial Airways was formed in 1929, and was rebranded as Colonial Airlines in 1942 before becoming part of Eastern Air Lines. An airline timetable images site has a large collection of timetable covers for this airline.

I found one reference to Floyd Banghart in an obituary for his nephew. This article mentions that Banghart served alongside Billy Bishop in the First World War.


High Park Mineral Baths

The May 20 1939 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice:


A Google search turned up a number of articles about the High Park Mineral Baths (nicknamed the “Minnies”). Torontoist and a Historic Toronto blog both provide a detailed history, and the Toronto Public Library has a number of photographs of the baths. BlogTO mentions the baths as part of an article on the history of High Park.

The baths were originally installed in 1913 as a part of the High Park Sanitarium, a facility that was affiliated with John Harvey Kellogg‘s Battle Creek Sanitarium. The sanitarium closed around 1922, but its owner, Dr. William McCormick, kept the mineral baths open. By 1924, they had expanded enough to host Olympic swimming and diving trials. The pools were closed in 1962 when part of their land was needed for the Bloor-Danforth subway.


Much-married people

The December 3 1945 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained articles and pictures of famous people who had been married multiple times and were about to become married again.

The first pair of articles, grouped together, were about the latest marriages of some notoriously famous people:


Tommy Manville (1894-1967) was the heir to the Johns-Manville asbestos fortune, and was famous during his lifetime for marrying a total of 13 times to 11 women. Before he met Ms. Campbell, he had been married seven previous times:

  • When he was 17, he married Florence Huber, a chorus girl, five days after meeting her. His father annulled the marriage, so he married her again. His father then cut him off financially, so he worked in his father’s company’s Pittsburgh factory to make ends meet. The couple separated in 1917 and divorced in 1922.
  • In 1925, he married his father’s stenographer, Lois Arline McCoin. One month later, his father died, he inherited $10 million, and he apparently took off: they were divorced in 1926 on the grounds of desertion.
  • He married Avonne Taylor in 1931, and they separated after 34 days.
  • He married Marcelle Edwards in 1933; they were divorced in 1937.
  • His marriage to Bonita Edwards in 1941 lasted two months.
  • His marriage to Wilhelemma Boze in 1942 lasted five months.
  • He married Sunny Ainsworth in August 1943; she had been married four times previously herself. They were separated after eight hours, and divorced in October 1943.

By now, Mr. Manville’s modus operandi was entrenched: he would meet an attractive young woman and propose marriage to her right away. He continued this with Ms. Campbell, proposing five minutes after meeting her. When she turned him down, he pursued her for six years before she finally agreed to marry him.

Sadly, Mr. Manville and Ms. Campbell may actually have had a marriage that would have lasted – they remained married until she was killed in a car accident in 1952. Her death caused him to go back to his routine of repeated marriages, as he married three more times after that. He is estimated to have spent a total of $1.25 million on marriage settlements.

Peggy Hopkins Joyce (1893-1957) was as notorious as Manville – she was famous enough that songwriters such as Cole Porter and Irving Berlin used her name in their lyrics. Before marrying Mr. Easton, she had married four previous times:

  • She married millionaire Everett Archer Jr. in 1910, but this marriage was annulled when he discovered that she was underage.
  • She married lawyer Shelburne Hopkins in 1913; she left him four years later.
  • She met J. Stanley Joyce in 1919; he paid for her divorce from Hopkins in 1920, and married her two days later. Apparently, she locked herself in the bathroom on her wedding night and refused to come out until he wrote her a cheque for $500,000. She left him later that year.
  • She married Gösta Mörner, a Swedish count, in 1924; she left him later that year and divorced him in 1926.

She remained single for the next nineteen years before agreeing to marry Mr. Easton. Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last either – they were divorced sometime before 1953. She married again later that year, remaining married until her death four years later.

This paper also contained a photograph of movie star Bette Davis about to become married for the third time:


Ms. Davis was apparently attracted to Mr. Sherry because he had never heard of her and was therefore not intimidated by her. The two had a daughter in 1949, and they divorced in 1950; she then married Gary Merrill, her co-star in the movie All About Eve.

There was one final marriage-related article in the paper. It was about people who were not famous, and it is very saddening:


I could find out nothing about Mrs. Hemmerle on Google – I hope she had a good life after her divorce.


Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription

The March 31 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this rather brief ad:


The modern lettering in the ad conceals the fact that Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription is quite old – it was created by Ray Vaughn Pierce (1840-1914), a graduate of the Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati and a member of the House of Representatives in 1879 and 1880. He was the author of The People’s Common Sense Medical Adviser (1888), which is available at both the Internet Archive and Project Gutenberg.

I found a number of articles on the Favorite Prescription:

  • The Skeptical Inquirer has an article about Pierce and his various patent medicines.
  • The Biofort blog has an article about the Favorite Prescription. It points out that some of the herbs in it could dampen sexual appetite and could also induce menstruation, thus serving as a way to induce abortions in pregnant women.
  • The National Museum of American History has a more recent bottle of the Favorite Prescription, which apparently dates from 1949.

The most interesting thing about Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription (to me) was that The Ladies Home Journal analyzed it in 1902 and determined that its ingredients included alcohol, opium, and digitalis. Dr. Pierce sued the magazine for $200,000 and removed these ingredients from the product; when the magazine could not reproduce their initial sampling, they lost the suit and were forced to pay up.


Humanity uprooted

The March 31 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice of an upcoming book serialization:


Maurice Hindus (1891-1969) was born in Belarus and moved to New York in 1905. He worked as an agricultural labourer and then earned a degree in literature in 1915. Humanity Uprooted was one of a series of books based on trips to Russia on behalf of Century Magazine. Some critics say that this book was overly sympathetic to or naive about Soviet Russia; presumably, this means that the gulags were never mentioned.

If you’re curious, Humanity Uprooted is available for download at the Internet Archive.


May weather extremes

April in Toronto is unpredictable – you can have anything from sunny and warm to major snow and ice storms. Usually, by May, the weather has stabilized a bit. But some years are exceptions.

On May 30, 1929, the Toronto Daily Star reported that Toronto was in the midst of a heat wave:


According to the weather records that I was able to look up, the high temperature for May 30, 1929 was 32.8C, or 91F. So the all-time record was not broken that day. The weather stayed warm for one more day, reaching 29.4C on May 31, but a cold front came through the next day, with the high temperature only reaching 15.6C.

May 26, 1961 went to the other extreme, as it had snowed the previous day, and there was a strong risk of frost that night:


This had actually been a rather sudden reversal, as the high temperature for May 25 was 26.1C. I’m not quite sure how it managed to snow on May 25, as the listed overnight low was 9.4C, but the records that I have indicate that yes, it did snow on that day. (It also rained a total of 19.6mm on that day, so I guess a system was blowing air in from the north.)

Gardeners in the Toronto district, at least, dodged a bullet, as the overnight low went down to 0.6C – close, but not right down to the freezing mark. (Outside of the city, farmers and gardeners might not have been so lucky.) The high temperature for that day was only 8.3C, but the temperature rebounded to seasonal shortly after. On May 28, the thermometer reached 24.4C.


Poor King Gustav

Newspaper typesetters of the past clearly had access to a handy supply of odd little bits of filler, which they could use to fill gaps in pages. The April 22 1925 Toronto Daily Star included this item:


King Gustav V (or Gustaf V) may have had a brief attack of stomach trouble in 1925, but he went on to live a long life: he died in 1950 at the age of 91 after reigning in Sweden for nearly 43 years. He played competitive tennis for his country under the alias “Mr. G”.