Viewing his Hitlerites

The March 5 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of Adolf Hitler, before his rise to power, viewing his “Hitlerites”:


The other man mentioned in the picture, Anton Franzen, has a Wikipedia page in German. He resigned his post later in 1931, left the Nazi party, and became a lawyer. He passed away in 1968.


Vivian Gordon

The entire photo page of the March 5 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star consisted of photographs of the murder of Vivian Gordon, a woman who was apparently well-connected to New York’s underworld.


Ms. Gordon had testified at a commission investigating the corruption in the office of New York mayor Jimmy Walker. Shortly after testifying, she was killed. Walker was forced out of office by New York governor Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, shortly before Roosevelt became President of the United States.

The Smithsonian Magazine and the History Channel have detailed articles on Ms. Gordon’s death.


Feat of strength

Something a little different today: recently, I went to the Toronto Archives to view their exhibit of Toronto photographs from the 1920s. I recommend the exhibit if you’re into this sort of thing.

Here’s one photograph that caught my attention (I photographed it with my digital camera, which I was allowed to do, thankfully):


This photo was taken by a photographer named William James in 1922. The caption: “The beach at Hanlan’s Point has long been a destination for swimmers, sunbathers, and picknickers who are drawn to its scenic beaches and sand dunes. In this image, Fred H. Beasley of 324 Ontario Street, well-known locally for his demonstrations of strength, is seen executing a balancing stunt with the help of three unidentified women.”

Because I have access to online Toronto city directories, I looked Mr. Beasley up. Unless it’s two different people named Fred H. Beasley, I fear that he was not around too long: he is listed in the 1922 and 1923 directories at 324 Ontario, a Fred H. Beasley is listed at a different address in 1924 and 1925, and his widow is listed at that address in 1926.


By no means a small man

Here’s a photograph from the February 18 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of the Vice-President of the United States standing next to a young man who is much taller than he is.


Henry Mullens (1915-1978) changed his name to Henry Hite when he was 18, and had a career in vaudeville as part of Lowe, Hite, and Stanley. (YouTube has a film clip of their act.) “Stanley” was Stanley Ross, a midget. Hite’s stage career ended in 1962 when Ross passed away.

In 1965, Hite played the monster in the movie Monster a Go-Go, considered one of the worst films ever made. His actual measured height was 7′ 6 3/4″, so the photo is exaggerating slightly.

Charles Curtis (1860-1936) has the distinction of being the first person with significant indigenous North American ancestry to become either president or vice-president of the United States. He served as vice-president under Herbert Hoover between 1928 and 1932.


One on the chin

Here’s a photo from the February 18 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Jackie Fields (1908-1987) reached the peak of his boxing career when he regained the world welterweight title early in 1932. Later that year, he was in a car accident that damaged his left eye. In 1933, he lost his title, and retired from boxing after losing a second bout that year.

After boxing, he eventually moved to Las Vegas and became part-owner of the Tropicana Hotel. The marriage shown in the photo above did not last, as he remarried while in Vegas.


Communists eat here

The February 18 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of the Workers’ Restaurant on Spadina Avenue, which had been recently denied a permit to open because “known Communists” ate there.


The 1933 Toronto city directory lists the Toronto Workers Co-operative restaurant at 184 Spadina Avenue. In the 1937 directory, the Workers Restaurant is listed at 186 Spadina. In the 1938 directory, both addresses are listed as vacant.


Worried over her studies

Here’s an article from the front page of the February 26 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that is sad and confusing:


The sad part is obvious: when an 18-year-old girl goes missing, you have to assume the worst. But the behaviour of the parents was confusing. Why did they not report her missing for two weeks? (Inspector Lundy of the Dundas Street East station was also confused by this.) And why had her parents pulled her out of private school to study at home?

Unfortunately, I never learned the answer to this. Searches in the Toronto Daily Star database turned up nothing. And there’s nobody named Gordon at 77 Castle Frank Road in the 1934, 1935, or 1936 city directories, and I couldn’t find C. F. Gordon at any other address either.

My hope, 85 years later: because there were no other references to her disappearance, perhaps her parents found her.

I did find one other reference to young Ms. Gordon by accident, when I searched for 1928 by mistake instead of 1935. Here’s a photo from the March 3 1928 edition of the Daily Star:



Problems of the modern woman

The February 24 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief notice of a church lecture:


Unmarried mothers, birth control… and race suicide? Ergh.

Victoria Demarest (1889-1982) was the granddaughter of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. She founded the World Association of Mothers for Peace in 1946, following the death of her son in World War II. The New York Times has her obituary; for what it’s worth, there’s no reference to race suicide, racism, or eugenics in it.



Here’s another photograph from the February 24 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Birdie Reeve Kay (1907-1996) was actually 20 at the time that this photo went to press.

She went on to a career in vaudeville as “The World’s Fastest Typist”: she could type at over 200 words a minute. She later opened a stenography business in Chicago, typing theses for students at the University of Chicago, presumably quickly.

The Chess History website has this biography of Birdie Reeve, including a better reproduction of the photo shown here.


Hubby slayer likes jazz

The February 24 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo of a young woman who had been convicted of killing her husband.


The Murderpedia and Malefactor’s Register websites have more information on Velma West. She remained in prison for the rest of her life, except for escaping for a month in 1939. She passed away of heart trouble in 1959.