Anna Clift Smith

The September 18 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo of Anna Clift Smith, who appears to be handy with a rifle:


Besides being an artist and markswoman, Ms. Smith was also a writer. While living in Van Buren Point, New York, in 1905, she wrote a book about her experiences, appropriately titled Van Buren Life.

Reed Library at the State University of New York at Fredonia owns the copyright to this book, and has created a website about her and her writing. A transcript of her diary can be found here. She passed away in 1946.


Alaska to New York by canoe

The September 18 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains a photo of Albert Voight, an intrepid middle-aged man from Los Angeles who was planning to travel from Alaska to New York by canoe:


Google searches for Albert Voight turned up a couple of other newspaper references to his journey that appeared at about the same time, but no word on whether he actually made it. Oh well. (Mostly, searches turn up references to Jon Voight, which aren’t helpful.)


Walter C. Brown

The September 18 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a picture of a rather stern-looking gentleman who was the author of a novel that was about to be serialized in the paper:


Walter C. Brown did not become famous enough to merit a Wikipedia page, which is the modern-day definition of notoriety. And the Goodreads page for Walter C. Brown is a bit confusing, as there was more than one of them:

  • There was one who was the author of  “Tower of Peking – 4 Tales of Oriental Menace!”, which was probably our Walter. (Our Walter was seemingly willing to indulge in cultural stereotyping.)
  • There was one who was the author of “Print Reading for Industry” and other presumably useful drafting and design books.
  • There was yet another one who was the author of “Lizards of the Genus Emoia (Scincidae) with Observations on Their Evolution and Biogeography (Classic Reprint)”, who could have been either of the above Walters, but I kind of doubt it. (I’m waiting for the movie version of this.)

“The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories” is listed in this Goodreads article, and is also available online; it contains a story by our Walter C. Brown, and a brief bio. He wrote a lot of pulp fiction in the 1930s and 1940s, some of which was adapted into early television shows in the 1950s.


Bucky to marry

The May 18 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of Bucky Harris, player-manager for the Washington Senators at the age of 29, and his bride-to-be:


Bucky Harris (1896-1977) was traded from the Senators to the Detroit Tigers after the 1928 season, and became mostly a full-time manager for them until 1933. He then went on to manage the Boston Red Sox, the Washington Senators (again), the Philadelphia Phillies, the New York Yankees, the Washington Senators (yet again), and the Detroit Tigers (also again). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager in 1975.

Harris and the former Miss Elizabeth Sutherland were divorced in 1951. She passed away in 1978; her obituary appeared in the Washington Post.

Harris apparently married again, but I can’t find any other information. The Society for American Baseball Research has an article on Harris, which goes into more detail on his baseball career.


Take to the boats

The June 13 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this photo of Admiral Sir Edward Evans testing the air raid defence of London:


Edward Evans (1880-1957) led a full and heroic life. Among other things:

  • As a young man, he became a physical fitness fanatic, walking 40 or 50 miles a day and swimming for hours in the sea.
  • He participated in two Antarctic expeditions: one in 1902-1904, and one in 1910-1913.
  • In the First World War, he commanded the HMS Broke, which, in an action near Dover, sank one German destroyer, rammed another, and forced four others to escape. This made him a popular hero.
  • From 1936 to 1942, he was rector of the University of Aberdeen.
  • In 1945, he became Baron Mountevans.
  • In 1947, he chaired a committee to establish the rules of professional wrestling in Britain.

That’s rather a lot of accomplishments.


19 strokes

The June 13 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo of golfer Ray Ainsley, who scored 19 on one hole in the 1938 U.S. Open:


The Wikipedia page for the 1938 U.S. Open provides more details: apparently, Mr. Ainsley hit the ball into the water on the 16th hole. Instead of taking a penalty and taking his next shot on dry land, he repeatedly tried to hit the ball out of the water. His score of 19 remains the U.S. Open record.

I couldn’t find much on Ainsley, but there is a PGA Tour page for him. He played in four tour events in his lifetime – one in 1926, one in 1937, and two in 1938. He made the cut in the other three events in which he played, but never earned any money.


Hanging out with J. Edgar Hoover

The June 13 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of Lela Rogers, the mother of actress and dancer Ginger Rogers:


The Wikipedia entry for J. Edgar Hoover states that he never married, but mentions that he and Mrs. Rogers attended social events as late as the 1950s.


To-day versus today

One thing I noticed a while back in old newspapers was that the words “today” and “tomorrow” used to be hyphenated as “to-day” and “to-morrow”. I have long wondered: when did the usage change?

My wife suggested that I try a more systematic search and, for the Toronto Daily Star at least, this is possible: they had a daily weather report at the bottom of page one that always included the word “today” or “to-day”.

What I discovered was that the usage change in the Daily Star happened gradually between May and June of 1938. Here’s the weather forecast for May 14, 1938, which uses “to-day”:


The weather report for May 28 uses both spellings:


By June 13, the new spelling was in use throughout the weather report:


This is not conclusive evidence, of course, since the weather was only one feature that appeared in the paper, and the Daily Star’s usage might not be the same as usage elsewhere. I haven’t been able to figure out how to systematically search the Toronto Globe / Globe and Mail’s archive yet – from what I’ve seen, it started using “today” earlier. If I can find any definite information, I will post it here.


Heeney versus Tunney

I continue to love the photo pages of Toronto Daily Star newspapers from the 1920s and 1930s. Here’s a photo of boxer Tom Heeney preparing for a heavyweight championship bout, from the May 25 1928 edition:


Tom Heeney (1898-1984) was actually from New Zealand, not Australia, but the confusion is understandable – he won the Australian heavyweight title in 1922, after having previously won the New Zealand title.

Heeney lost his bout with Gene Tunney, but life didn’t end there for him – he got married a week after the fight, became an American citizen, served in the U. S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps during the Second World War, and often went fishing with his friend Ernest Hemingway.

Gene Tunney (1897-1978) retired as heavyweight champion after his fight with Heeney. Impressively, he was never knocked out, and was only knocked down once, by Jack Dempsey in the famous Long Count fight of 1927.


Golf champion

The May 25 1928 Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a female golf champion:


I did a search, and could find out very little about Manette Le Blan, other than that she eventually became Madame Robert Thion de la Chaume.

YouTube has brief footage of the 1928 championship, which appears to have been played on a rather hostile course.