New leading role

Here’s a photograph from the July 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.


Irene Delroy (1900-1985) was the stage name of Josephine Lucille Sanders. Her last name, Delroy, was a combination of her parents’ first names.

Digging around produced this:

  • Adlai Stevenson was her senior prom date.
  • Her Wikipedia page states that she left the entertainment business when she got married.
  • Her Find a Grave page states that the couple was divorced in 1937.
  • Her Internet Movie Database page shows her as taking on a small role in 1937, presumably after her divorce.
  • In 1972, she married again, to Girard F. Oberrender. This marriage ended in her death; he passed away in 1998 at the age of 104.

All one needs is a speed boat

Not everyone was badly hurt by the Great Depression. For example, the people in this July 18 1931 photograph from the Toronto Daily Star look like they’re having fun:


I assume that this photograph is staged, especially considering the lopsided woman-to-man ratio (either 9 to 1 or 8 to 2 – I’m not sure about the blond person with short hair near the back). And that speed boat is way too crowded and no one is wearing a life jacket!

My first thought when I saw this picture was of the song Seven Little Girls.


Puzzle number 36

In the summer of 1931, the Toronto Daily Star was including “Know Toronto” contest puzzles in its editions. Here’s the puzzle for July 18 1931:


Ooh! Ooh! I think I know this one! It’s Dundonald Street.


Current stage attractions

The July 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this collection of photos of performers appearing on the Toronto stage at that time.


Unfortunately, the Wheeler Twins, Gladys Mumphreys, and the three Marthine sisters all appear to be lost to history: searches for them turned up nothing.


Honored upon retirement

Here’s a brief article and photograph in the July 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


A gift of “two paid up shares of the firm’s stock” might not seem very generous, but Bell stock was actually reasonably expensive at that time. Here’s the closing prices for the Toronto Stock Exchange on that day:


One share of Bell stock was $139, so two shares would have been $278, which was not a small sum in 1931.

Out of curiosity, I looked Mr. Mitchell up in the Toronto city directories. It turns out that “floor man” is a euphemism: the 1931 city directory lists a Jas P Mitchell as a janitor at Bell Tel, and his address as 112 Macdonell Avenue.

I looked back, and found him in the 1891 city directory:

1891 Mitchell

So he really had been there a long time.

I also looked up how long he got to enjoy his retirement – sadly, the answer is not long. He appears in the 1935 city directory at 112 Macdonell Avenue, but the 1936 directory lists his widow, Elizabeth.

112 Macdonell Avenue still stands – it’s a small house in a leafy part of Parkdale.


Sheik supreme

The July 17 1923 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a French matinee idol who was apparently about to appear in movies in the United States.


Unfortunately, a search for Jean Devaldez turned up absolutely nothing. Either this photo caption horribly misspelled his name, or France’s “sheik supreme” didn’t go to America after all.


England’s most beautiful woman

The July 17 1923 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a woman who some people thought was the most beautiful in England.


I could find nothing on M. V. Holt or Mrs. M. V. Holt – I have no idea who she was.

By the time of this photograph, Lady Diana Manners had become Lady Diana Cooper (1892-1986), as she had married Duff Cooper in 1919. The Coopers had been part of a set of intellectual aristocrats known as The Coterie; sadly, many of them were killed in the First World War. During the war, she apparently threw wild parties to try to escape the horrors of the war, and who can blame her?

In 1924, she played the Madonna in a revival of a play called The Miracle, and toured extensively with it for years. She also appeared in two early British colour films. YouTube has footage of Lady Cooper at a garden party in the 1920s, and an audio interview of her in 1969.


Would not force lefties to change

Here’s a bit of medical advice from the July 15 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.


The conclusion of this article includes this:

Few mistakes will be made if parents follow the law of averages and teach all youngsters to use the right hand. Those who rebel are the “lefties” and should not be forced to change.

Wikipedia has an article about bias against left-handed people that is interesting reading. In 1932, only two percent of Americans wrote with their left hand, with the number rising to 7 1/2 percent in 1946, 9 percent in 1968, and 12 percent in 1972. However, many other countries encouraged or forced the use of the right hand, including the former Soviet Union, in which all children wrote right-handed.

Nature and the Journal of Neuroscience have articles on the effects of switching hands.


Elinor Glyn talks to Toronto women

Here’s an ad for Lux soap from the July 14 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring romance writer Elinor Glyn.


Elinor Glyn (1864-1943) was famous, indeed notorious, in her time: she wrote romance novels that were considered racy in that era. She popularized the concept of “it”, which apparently was a characteristic that “draws all others with magnetic force”. Whee! (Ms. Glyn explains “it” in a British Movietone News interview¬†here.)

One of her novels, Three Weeks (which, incidentally, is shorter than 9 1/2 Weeks), inspired this bit of doggerel:

Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?
Or would you prefer
To err with her
On some other fur?

Naturally, this novel sold like hotcakes, despite a savage critical reception. (It’s in the public domain now, and is available as part of Project Gutenberg.)

In the 1920s, Ms. Glyn became a Hollywood screenwriter; she gave Clara Bow the title of “the It girl”, which helped make her a star. At about the time this ad appeared, she had exhausted her finances, and she had returned to writing novels; the fee that she obtained for endorsing Lux probably helped her out. Ms. Glyn had two daughters, both of whom married baronets.


Charming camera study

The July 14 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a Toronto woman:


I’m thinking that a modern newspaper wouldn’t publish somebody’s address like this – it would violate their privacy. Even then, I wonder if poor Mrs. Waybrant wasn’t hounded by Daily Star readers.

Out of curiosity, I searched for Charles Waybrant in the Toronto city directories at five-year intervals. (Mrs. Waybrant would not have had her own entry, as the city directories did not provide separate entries for wives, and the photo only provides her husband’s first name.) Sure enough, he is in the 1930 directory at 154 Milverton, and was working as a bookkeeper for Courian Oriental Rugs. He was still there in 1935, now listed as Charles H. Waybrant.

In 1940, Mr. Waybrant was still in his job, but had moved to 559 Davisville Avenue. He was still at both places in 1945. By 1950, he was just listed as an accountant, with the location not specified, and Lionel Waybrant was listed at 559 Davisville as a clerk at the Imperial Bank; I assume that he was the Waybrants’ son.

Moving to 1955: Charles is still listed as an accountant, and Lionel is still living with him, but they are now at 224 Balliol. In 1958, Lionel decided to refer to himself as Charles L. Waybrant; they are still both at 224 Balliol. The Waybrants had split up by 1960: Charles H. is now at 22 Thorncliffe Park, and Charles L. is now at 10 Athenia Court in West Hill. They were still at those locations in 1965.

By 1969, unfortunately, there was sad news: Charles L. had passed on, as there was an entry for his widow, Stella. She was still at 22 Thorncliffe Park. So, assuming that Charles L. had not divorced and remarried in the meantime, we finally know the name of the woman in the photo above: she was Stella Waybrant. But I can never know for sure.