Escape when lightning kills boy

The July 5 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a photograph and brief article about a tragedy in which a teenage boy was killed by lightning.


Out of curiosity, I tried to trace Mr. Murray and his business in the Toronto city directories. There might be a story here somewhere, but I have no idea what it is:

  • 212 Coleridge Avenue is outside of the Toronto city limits, so the city directories do not list the family of the unfortunate Howes who had just lost their son.
  • The city directories for 1927, 1928, and 1929 do not list any business at 422 Greenwood Avenue. The nearest business is Price & Smith, brick manufacturers, at 458 Greenwood.
  • 1266 Danforth Avenue was the business address of the hairdressing salon operated by John Murray’s wife, Margaret. The Murrays actually lived at 12 Mountalan Avenue; the 1927 and 1928 directories list John there, but do not list his occupation.
  • In the 1929 directory, Margaret Murray is listed as living at 1264 Danforth, above her hairdressing salon. John is not living there, and the streets portion of the directory lists the resident as “Murray Margt”. “John Murray” is a very common name, so I can’t determine for sure where he was.
  • But, by 1932, John Murray is living at 1264 Danforth, and his occupation is “salesman”. The street directory lists the resident as “Murray John”. Margaret’s business is still running at 1266 Danforth, and is now called Peggy’s Hairdressing Salon.
  • In 1935, things are the same as in 1932, except that John Murray’s occupation is not listed. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t have one, of course.
  • In 1936, the Murrays have moved away from 1264 Danforth, and Peggy’s Hairdressing Salon is now being run by Maud A. Egginton. The East Toronto School of Hairdressing is now also at that location. I couldn’t trace the Murrays after that.

One possible interpretation of all of this is that the trauma of poor Noel Howe’s death caused the Murrays to split up for a time, after which they later reconciled. But there could be dozens of other explanations. We’ll never know; all I know for sure is that living through a lightning strike that killed your assistant would have been a horrible experience.

422 Greenwood Avenue does not exist any more – the TTC Greenwood subway yard is there. 1266 Danforth Avenue is now a Thai restaurant.


Irving and Norma

The July 5 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of actress Norma Shearer and her husband, movie executive Irving Thalberg.


Irving Thalberg is yet another famous person who appeared in this paper and later died young: he passed away from pneumonia in 1936, at the age of 37, after returning from a vacation in Monterey, California. He had previously suffered a heart attack at the age of 25 due to overwork.

Norma Shearer (1902-1983) was a Canadian by birth, growing up in Montreal. She was eventually nominated for five Academy Awards. She retired from movie making in 1942.


Joan McSheehy

The July 5 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a woman who had just won two swimming events at a race in Long Island.


Joan McSheehy (1913-1948) competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, finishing fifth in the 100-metre backstroke. Footage of the 220-yard backstroke that she won at Jones Beach can be found here.

She later married, becoming Joan Huffman, and passed away at the age of 34. I could find no details on how or why she died so young.


Amelia Earhart in 1933

I probably spend far too much time looking at the photo sections from 1920s and 1930s editions of the Toronto Daily Star, but I keep finding interesting things!

For example, here is a photo of aviator Amelia Earhart from the July 5 1933 edition:


Of course, Earhart is now famous for having disappeared without trace in 1937. But she was famous before that. By the time this photo was taken, she had achieved the following:

  • In 1928, she was the first woman to fly solo across the North American continent and back.
  • In 1931, she set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet when flying an autogyro.
  • In 1932, she completed a solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. She won a Distinguished Flying Cross for this feat.

Ms. Earhart has a Toronto connection, by the way: she visited her sister there in 1917, and stayed on to work as a volunteer at Spadina Military Hospital. During the 1918 flu epidemic, she worked night shifts there, and eventually caught the disease herself, which left her with sinus problems that lasted for years.


She was too good

Here’s one more photograph from the July 5 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. This is of motorboat racer Helen Hentschel.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out too much about Ms. Hentschel, other than that she was from New York. I did find two other stock photos of her:

  • Competing as Miss RC 2 in 1926, when she won the Class B outboard races on Lake Templin in Germany. Her average speed was 28.7 mph.
  • Competing as Miss Circuit Rider in the President’s Cup in 1927.

The young Gordon Sinclair

If you’re like me and grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, you will remember Gordon Sinclair as a panelist on CBC’s Front Page Challenge. At that time, he looked like this (photo taken from the History of Canadian Broadcasting website):


By way of contrast, here is how he appeared in a photograph in the July 5 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Daily Star employed Sinclair as a travel reporter. During that time, he was sent around the world four times.


Canada’s Olympic hopes

The July 5 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of two women who were slated to run in the 100-metre dash in the upcoming 1928 Olympic Games.


Myrtle Cook and Ethel Smith wound up collecting gold in Amsterdam: they were half of the relay team that finished first in the women’s 4 x 100 event.

Cook captained the relay team, and her time of 12.0 seconds in the Olympic trials tied the world record for women in the 100 metres and was not beaten until 1932. She became a sportswriter in Montreal, and remained a member of the Canadian Olympic Club, running the hospitality suite for the 1976 Olympic Games. At that time, she was 74, but was still fit enough to run a lap of the track after the events finished at the Olympic Stadium. She passed away in 1985.

Besides being part of the relay team, Smith earned a bronze as a solo competitor in the women’s 100 metre event. She was from a poor family, and had to leave school in the eighth grade to work in Toronto’s garment district. She retired from competition in 1929, and passed away in 1979.


Dare-devil conquers Niagara

The July 5 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained photos of a man who had successfully gone over Niagara Falls in a rubber ball of his own design.


The Daily Star didn’t have his name quite right: he was actually Jean Lussier, and he was 37, not 34, when he went over the falls. After surviving the plunge, he sold bits of the rubber ball as souvenirs; when the ball ran out, he sold bits of rubber tire instead. He died of natural causes in 1971.


Lucky Lord Lloyd

The July 2 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of Lord Lloyd, who apparently had narrowly escaped assassination:


George Ambrose Lloyd (1879-1941), 1st Baron Lloyd, was a British politician who worked alongside Winston Churchill. I could find out nothing about the assassination attempt, so I have no idea who would have wanted to kill him. At the time of the attempt, he was opposed to home rule for India and had early suspicions of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, but I’m not sure whether either group would have wanted to do him in.

Wikipedia has an article on the history of St. Bees school, which was founded in 1583.


19-year-old ruler

The July 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had this brief article about the 19-year-old ruler of Morocco.


Mohammed V of Morocco was actually 20 at the time of this article, if Wikipedia is to be believed. He held the title of Sultan of Morocco until 1953, when the French forced him into exile on Corsica. He got his old title back in 1955, and when Morocco became independent in 1957, became the country’s first King. He reigned until his death in 1961.