Meer sham pipe

In the 1930s, the Toronto Daily Star used to include a column on its editorial page titled “A Little Of Everything”. This column always started with a poem. As you might expect, these poems varied widely in quality from actually quite good to trite doggerel.

I’ve included the poem from the February 22 1933 edition because it included drawings and because the name and address of the poet was provided at the bottom.

But here’s the catch: when I looked up 628 Crawford Street in the Toronto city directories, no one named Ralph Gordon lived there. The 1932, 1933, and 1934 directories all listed Fred W. Utley at that address. There was a Ralph W. Gordon in the 1933 directory, with his listing in bold face even, but he was at the Canadian Bank of Commerce and lived at 45 St. Clair Avenue West.

I have no idea what is going on – did Mr. Utley use a pen name when creating this poem and diagram? The 1933 directory listed no occupation for him, but the 1929 directory listed him as an elocutionist. So I guess he was interested in words and how they sound, which might mean that he wrote this. But I wonder whether Mr. Gordon read the Star, and whether he was surprised to see his name in the paper when he was on his way to work at the bank.

Romance nipped, sues U.S.

Here’s a photo from the February 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman whose marriage was supposedly prevented by the United States government.

Martin Porkay (1890-1967) has a Wikipedia page in German. He was apparently good at finding painted-over masterpieces and detecting forgeries. He was married to women named Clementine Haas and Leonore Gräfin von Ludolf; I have no idea whether this was before or after his thwarted marriage to Ms. Carey above. He was also a second assistant director on a 1929 movie.

There were in fact two senators and governors from Wyoming named Carey who were father and son: Joseph M. Carey (1845-1924) and Robert D. Carey (1874-1937). Presumably, Ms. Carey was the daughter of the latter. The younger Carey passed away two weeks after he left office in 1937.

I have no idea what happened to Mr. Porkay’s lawsuit against the United States. When I searched for Sarah Carey and Martin Porkay together, the results that appeared were pork recipes from a more modern-day Sarah Carey. I did discover that Sarah Carey, who became Sarah Weber, passed away in 1955 at the young age of 44.

One final thought: how did Mr. Porkay and Ms. Carey ever meet? Their backgrounds seem somewhat different.

Eight fined $50

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article about eight people who were in court because they had been caught driving while impaired.

From this article, I learned that the going rate for driving while impaired in 1952 in Toronto was $50, which is equivalent to $479.86 in today’s money. While this isn’t that small a sum, I can’t help but think that drinking and driving was far more socially tolerated in 1952 than it is today.

Wed on the isle of Capri

Here’s a brief article from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about the marriage of British singing star Gracie Fields:

Gracie Fields (1898-1979) was famous in 1930s Britain as a singer and actress. During the Second World War, she was married to Monty Banks, a citizen of Italy; to keep Banks from being interned as an enemy alien, the couple went to North America. Fields performed regularly for servicemen during the war, sometimes enduring air raids.

Ms. Fields was a widow when she met Mr. Alperovic, as Mr. Banks had passed away in 1950. Her Wikipedia page claims that she thought of Mr. Alperovic as the love of her life, and that she could not wait to propose to him, which she did on Christmas Day 1951. The marriage lasted: the couple remained together until her death.

Male pilots only, please

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads for the Royal Canadian Air Force: one for men, and one for women.

Men were given the opportunity to become pilots:

Whereas women were only given the option of serving in the RCAF Auxiliary:

Sure, identifying and detecting approaching aircraft and working as a triangulation table operator were useful tasks and even essential ones. But I am sure that there were women who would have welcomed the opportunity to become a pilot if it had been available to them.


Here’s an ad from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a company that offered personal loans.

I crunched the numbers on the loan amounts and costs, and the rates of return were 16.7% and higher. That’s a pretty good return on investment, I guess.

The Personal Finance Company kept opening branches over the next few years – the 1956 directory lists 24 branches. But it appears that they might have overextended themselves, as they weren’t listed in the 1957 directory.

The popular Video-ettes

Here’s a promotional photograph from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a couple who made music with bells:

Google searches turned up very little on either Art and Mabel Guinness or the Video-ettes. It didn’t help that a man named Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness beer empire in the 18th century. Just in case, I checked the Guinness family Wikipedia page to see if the Art Guinness in this photograph was a descendant. He appears not to be.

I did find this reference to the Video-ettes in a Bowmanville newspaper in 1950. This article stated that the Guinnesses were from Toronto, so I looked them up in the Toronto city directories. Sure enough, the 1952 directory listed Arthur M. Guinness as an entertainer and living on Bessborough Drive in Leaside; the 1955 directory had the same entry. But then, like many entertainers before and since, he got a day job: he was listed as an employee at the CBC in 1956, and then was working as a sales rep in 1957. By 1962, he was president of McLean Merchandise Sales.

1952 Oldsmobile

I have been spending a lot of time in the 1930s lately, but I recently looked up the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star and found a lot of stuff there, so we will be in 1952 for the next few days!

The first thing I noticed when looking at this edition was that there were a lot of ads for the new 1952 Oldsmobile. First, there was an ad for the Oldsmobile itself:

Then, there were a number of ads from automobile dealers who were inviting you to see the new Oldsmobile for yourself. Presumably, this was a coordinated effort. (I’m trying the WordPress image gallery feature again – click on an image to view it more completely.)

And, last but not least, there was a photo of the new Oldsmobile near the back of the paper:

The references to the Oldsmobile reminded me of this 1931 promotional cartoon, which included the song “In My Merry Oldsmobile”. The song was originally written in 1905.

Front page filler

One of the reasons that I enjoy looking at old newspapers is the little bits of filler that they used to contain to ensure that columns contained no blank spaces. I assume that typesetters had a file of these on hand so that they could just slot one in when needed.

Sometimes, even the front page of the paper contained filler. For example, here’s some filler that appeared on the front page of the February 15 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Kew Beach United Church is now called Beach United Church, and still stands at its 1938 location. I couldn’t find the Toronto East Lions club in the 1938 Toronto city directory, and Eaton’s College Street is of course long gone.

New rave

The February 15 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this promotional ad for an upcoming radio program:

Internet searches reveal contradictory information on the dates of birth and death for Rush Hughes. His Internet Movie Database page lists him as 1902-1978 (but gives him movie credits that don’t appear elsewhere); the Old Time Radio Downloads page lists him as 1902-1958, and another source lists him as 1910-1958. I’m going to go with 1902-1958.

A search for Borden Hughes-Reel turned up nothing, but a search on his name revealed that Hughes was a commentator on the NBC Red radio network. His commentaries were pre-recorded and delivered to subscribing radio stations, which is probably what the ad was for.

Hughes went on to host the New York version of the radio game show Pot O’ Gold, and then became a disk jockey in St. Louis in the late 1940s. While there, he was caught up in a ratings war before moving to Chicago.