The final stage of radio

Here’s an item from the photo page of the January 7 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Lucrezia Bori (1887-1960) was a lyric soprano, but was also a great fundraiser: in 1932, at the peak of the Great Depression, she organized a committee to raise money to save the Metropolitan Opera. She retired from singing at the Met in 1936.

YouTube has a number of links of her singing, including this one of Ms. Bori and Joseph Bentonelli singing La Bohème in 1937. (Trivia note: the symphony orchestra in this performance was conducted by Otto Klemperer, the father of Werner Klemperer of Hogan’s Heroes fame.)


Pictures from U-boats

The January 7 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained articles about an upcoming silent film commemorating the Zeebrugge raid of 1918.



It’s worth recalling that 1918 was as recent to the readers of this paper as 2013 is to us today!

Searches on YouTube for this film are a bit inconclusive, but I think you can see it in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Zeebrugge raid didn’t work, by the way: the blockade ships were put in the wrong place, and the Germans were able to get their submarines through at high tide. Oh well.


Teeth $10.00

Here’s a dentist ad from the January 7 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Those teeth look kind of gross, actually.

Dr. Boyle appears in Toronto city directories up to 1927. I don’t know what happened to him after that. One clue is that the 1925 directory lists his home address as well as his work address, but the 1927 directory does not – this suggests that he moved out of town. The 1928 directory doesn’t provide a listing for his widow, which supports this hypothesis, I think.


Insomnia cure

Here’s a fun bit of filler from the January 5 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


“You are getting drowsee-ee-ee… So Sleep-ee-ee…”

The trick might have been to play the record over and over again, I suppose. Good night, all.


Mother of actress sues

The January 5 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this brief blurb about a somewhat dysfunctional mother-daughter relationship:


Lisa Kirk (1925-1990) went on to have a long career in theatre and television. She passed away from lung cancer despite being a non-smoker, which seems like horrible bad luck. I could find nothing on what happened to her mother’s lawsuit.



The January 5 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported on unusually mild weather that winter, blaming it on Russian atomic testing.


I looked up the weather records for December 1949 and for the winter of 1950 to see whether the temperatures had been unusually mild. I discovered that December 1949 had been warmer than usual: there were five days with a high temperature above 10C, and only one stretch that was unusually cold (December 6 to 10).

The first part of January continued the trend: January 3 had a high of 13.9C, and it was 11.1C on the 4th. There were additional mild days: it was 13.3C on the 13th, 11.7C on the 26th, and a startlingly warm 16.7C on the 25th. After that, things settled down a bit: there were no days in February above 3.3C, and the high temperature on February 20 was -16.1C. So the Soviets’ influence on the weather must have worn out by then.


The Housekeeper’s Daughter

I am fascinated by the ads for old movies – they’re the olden-day equivalent of clickbait. Here’s an example from the January 3 1940 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


They’re hinting that the housekeeper’s daughter is up to something, I guess.

The Housekeeper’s Daughter (1939) is a comedy film with a rather convoluted plot involving gangsters, poison, journalism, fireworks, and alcohol. Whee! YouTube has the whole movie (at the time that I write this), if you’re curious.


50 years married

Here’s a notice in the January 3 1940 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that commemorated a couple that had been married for fifty years, and had gotten married on New Year’s Day 1890:


As usual with these, I looked the couple up in the Toronto city directories to morbidly see how long they stayed alive. It turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Hunt had just moved to 301 Gilbert Avenue, as Jesse (not Jessie!) Hunt appears in the 1941 directory but not the 1940 one at that address. (The city directories, sadly, are sexist: they only list the head of the household, usually male.)

Mr. Hunt appears to have been a survivor: he appears in city directories at that address as late as 1960. I have no idea whether his wife survived along with him, or whether he had become a widower. I didn’t trace him after that; for all that I know, he is still there.

According to Google Street View, 301 Gilbert Avenue is a small but nice-looking house. It has a tree and a garden.


Traffic deaths in 1969

Lately, Toronto residents have been justifiably angry because a number of pedestrians have been killed by drivers on Toronto’s streets. The plan to reduce road fatalities in Toronto does not appear to be working: according to Toronto police records, the fatality rate has been steadily climbing, with 66 people killed in 2018.

But, back in 1969, the fatality rate was far worse, if the December 30 1969 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was to be believed:


There were 151 people killed by vehicles in 1969, two short of the record set five years earlier. The article doesn’t indicate how many of them were pedestrians or other drivers.


A versatile artist

The January 2 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo:


Georgia Backus (1901-1983) was a triple threat: she acted in, wrote, and directed radio plays. Later in 1930, she was named dramatic director for the Columbia Broadcasting System radio network. She was also part of Orson Welles’ repertory company. Her career ended in the 1950s, when she was blacklisted.