Medical column

A regular feature of Toronto Daily Star newspapers of the 1930s was a syndicated column from Royal S. Copeland, M.D. Here’s the beginning of his column from the February 4 1935 edition:

When Royal S. Copeland (1868-1938) wasn’t busy writing newspaper columns, he had a day job: he was a Senator from New York, a position he held from 1923 until his death. He graduated from medical school in 1889, becoming a homeopathic physician, and was the mayor of Ann Arbor, Michigan, from 1901 to 1903.

Before becoming a Senator, his most noteworthy achievement was becoming president of the New York City Board of Health in 1918. He was given credit for keeping the city calm during the influenza pandemic, and introduced the concept of air conditioning to the Senate while he was there. He reportedly passed away due to overwork following a longer than usual Senate session.


Gives evidence

The February 4 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for Fruit-a-tives, a “fruit liver tablet”:

The ad included a testimonial that included a sworn statement, apparently made before a notary, and on file in Ottawa. I wonder if anyone ever asked for it?

I looked Mrs. Grace Sansone up in the Toronto city directories. The 1935 directory listed Samuel Sanson working as a barber and living at 233 Melita; in other years, his name was listed as Sansone, so I think that the Fruit-a-tives company did have the name right. There was also a Grace Sanson in the 1940 directory, working as a ward aide at the Toronto Hospital for Consumptives and also living there; this might have been someone else.

Samuel Sanson or Sansone continued barbering into the 1960s. The 1962 directory lists him still working as a barber and living at 233 Melita. The 1964 directory lists him with no occupation, which presumably meant that he had retired. The 1965 directory, however, lists Grace as the widow of Samuel and living at 233 Melita.

233 Melita Avenue is a semi-detached house near Dupont and Christie; it looks pleasant enough.

Fruit-a-tives seems to have been used for a variety of purposes; besides clearing up Mrs. Sansone’s pimples, it was apparently also a laxative. A search yielded references to a 1931 pamphlet entitled Secrets of Health and Long Life and a medical handbook from about the time of the First World War.


Back at classes

The February 4 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this enigmatic bit of filler:

This was confusing. Why were doctors declining to comment?

A search of the Toronto Daily Star archives yielded this article from the February 2 edition, which provided an explanation:

And on February 5, the paper had this to say about young Mr. Griffin:

A Google search for Murray Griffin revealed that he played in the Canadian Football League for a number of teams in the 1930s and 1940s, winning the Grey Cup with Ottawa in 1940. Presumably, whatever was wrong with him in 1935 had no long-term effects, at least not for a few years.


25 years ago a circus clown

Here’s an item from the photo page of the January 31 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Billy Merson (1879-1947) was a music hall performer, songwriter, and manager of the Players Theatre in London. He wrote “The Spaniard That Blighted My Life”, which Al Jolson once performed, and which Merson himself performed in 1935 in this video.

There are a number of other Billy Merson recordings and videos on YouTube, including this one of him singing “Desdemona” in 1927.


The Catalina Kid

During the evening and night of January 15 and 16, 1927, a 17-year old Toronto boy, George Young (briefly mentioned previously in this blog here and here), became the only finisher of a 22-mile swimming race between Catalina Island and California. His feat earned him the nickname “The Catalina Kid” and made him famous.

To say that the Toronto Daily Star was following Young’s exploits with great enthusiasm would be an understatement. The January 31 1927 edition of the paper contained five articles, one photograph, and one ad referencing young Mr. Young.

First, there was an article in which William Wrigley Jr., the chewing gum magnate who sponsored the swim, asserted that nobody but Young could have done it. Mr. Wrigley claimed that the young man would soon be worth $100,000:

And there was this photograph of two of Young’s family and his trainer, on their way to join him in California:

And there was this article about a dispute between Young and his competitor and former friend, Bill Hastings:

George Young apparently had William Wrigley’s yacht at his disposal:

And there were articles written (or perhaps ghostwritten) by Young and Hastings themselves:

And, finally, there was an ad stating that Young would be making personal appearances at theatres in Toronto:

Sadly, life did not go as well for George Young as he and others would have hoped. He married another distance swimmer, Margaret Ravior, in 1932. They had a son together, but, as the January 22 1934 edition of the Daily Star recounted, he died shortly after birth:

Young and the former Ms. Ravior eventually divorced. The ups and downs of Young’s life are described in detail in this Maclean’s article from 1949. He passed away in 1972.


When baseball was young

The January 31 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a column that appeared to be a regular feature in the paper (I’ve seen it in other editions). It was one of the earlier examples of a frequently-employed theme in baseball writing – namely, that baseball was much better back in the day than it is now.

In particular, note the complaint about modern (i.e. 1927) gloves being like “divan pillows”. (For a sample of what a 1927 glove looked like, see this photo of pitcher Walter Johnson’s glove.)

The Baseball Reference website, the definitive on-line source for baseball statistics, has an entry for the 1883 Boston Beaneaters mentioned in this article. It lists twelve players on the team, not eleven – but one only appeared in fourteen games, so he likely wasn’t with the team for the full season.

I also found information on the two players quoted:

  • John Morrill (1855-1932), nicknamed “Honest John”, served as player-manager for the 1883 team for part of the season. His career as a professional player extended from 1876 to 1890. He hit 16 triples in 97 games in 1883.
  • Joe Hornung (1857-1931) played professionally from 1879 to 1890, and was considered one of the best outfielders of the 19th century. He had a habit of shouting “ubbo ubbo” whenever he got a hit or made a good play; this became his nickname.

John B. Foster (1863-1941), the writer of the article, was a sportswriter, the secretary of the New York Giants from 1913 to 1920, and editor of Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide.


Honeymoon Bridge collapse

The front page of the January 26 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of an ice jam that had collided with the Upper Steel Arch Bridge at Niagara Falls, known popularly as the Honeymoon Bridge.

The edition also contained an article (partly shown here) and additional photographs of the bridge, which had been closed to traffic that day for fear of structural damage.

The next day’s edition, on January 27 1938, included pictures of the heroic efforts that were being made to attempt to save the bridge:

Unfortunately, the efforts were unsuccessful – the bridge collapsed later that day. The January 28 1938 edition contained a photograph of the now-collapsed bridge.

The bridge was demolished over the course of the next three months. A new bridge, with higher abutments, was started almost immediately; called the Rainbow Bridge, it was completed in November 1941. It still stands.


Friend of the Maori

Here’s a photograph from the January 26 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman from New Zealand who was familiar with the culture of the indigenous people of that country.

The Encyclopedia of New Zealand website has an entry for Bathia “Bathie” Stuart (1893-1987). After losing her husband to the 1918 influenza pandemic, she became a vaudeville and musical comedy artist in her native New Zealand, creating a show that included Maori women. The women taught her Maori songs and dances; she used this knowledge to become a New Zealand cultural ambassador in California, where she eventually relocated. She also appeared in movies, including The Adventures of Algy (1925).

She eventually expanded her cultural endeavours to include tours of North America. She also became a filmmaker, producing travelogues of most of the countries in the South Pacific area. For her efforts, the New Zealand government awarded her the Queen’s Service Medal in 1986.