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Another industry

Here’s a brief article from the May 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a company that was about to set up shop in Toronto.

I was curious, so I traced Baldor Electric in the Toronto city directories. The new Toronto branch first appears in the 1933 directory at 104 Adelaide West, and is there in the 1938 directory also.

By 1943, the firm had moved to 1103 Yonge. (This building still stands, assuming that the address is correct.) It lasted until the mid-1950s: Baldor Electric appears in the 1955 directory but not the 1958 directory. William H. Cooper appears to have been the president and general manager the whole time.

In the United States, the Baldor brand still exists, though Baldor Electric is now part of the ABB global conglomerate.

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I look years younger

Here’s an ad from the May 14 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for Palmolive Soap:

Gladys Swarthout (1900-1969) auditioned for the Chicago Civic Opera Company while still a music student; she landed a place there despite knowing no operatic roles at the time. She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera Company of New York in 1929, and appeared in a number of movies in the 1930s. She is the only woman ever to have sung in front of the entire Congress of the United States.

YouTube has a wide selection of samples of her performances, including “Last Night a Nightingale Woke Me” (1946).

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Italian royalty

Here’s another photograph from the photo section of the May 14 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring the future King of Italy on a foreign tour.

Umberto II (1904-1983) became the last King of Italy on May 9 1946 when his father abdicated the throne. The hope was that the change of monarch would influence the voting in an upcoming referendum to determine whether Italy would become a republic.

While King Umberto was praised for being more moderate than his father, the transition of power had no effect – Italy became a republic on June 12 1946. Umberto left the country to go into exile on the Portuguese Rivera; while he travelled extensively after that, he never set foot in Italy again. In fact, his heirs were banned from entering Italy until 2002.

Italo Balbo (1896-1940) was a Fascist who was widely considered to be Benito Mussolini’s eventual successor. He was accidentally killed by friendly fire when Italian anti-aircraft batteries mistakenly assumed that the plane he was travelling in was British.

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A wheel gets ahead

Here’s a photograph from the May 14 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a race car that had unexpectedly lost one of its wheels.

Searches revealed that the driver’s name was likely Jack Ericson. Even today, this image is still available for sale as a poster (here and here, among others), though the date of the mishap now seems to be listed as 1937.

I could find no other information about Jack Ericson. The wheel flying off of his car appears to be all that is left of him in history.

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At end of Australia-England flight

Here’s a photograph from the May 14 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an aviator who had just made a solo flight from Australia to England.

Jean Batten (1909-1982) achieved a number of notable solo flight accomplishments in the 1930s:

  • May 8-23 1934: England to Australia (solo women’s record)
  • April 8-29 1935: Australia to England (solo women’s record; pictured here)
  • November 11-13 1935: England to Brazil (record time; fastest crossing South Atlantic Ocean; first woman to achieve this)
  • October 5-16 1936: England to New Zealand (world record)
  • October 19-24 1937: Australia to England

After all of this, she became, not surprisingly, the most famous New Zealander in the world.

In her later years, she became a recluse, living with her mother in various places around the globe. After her mother’s death, she retired to Spain. She passed away in 1982 after being bitten by a dog in Majorca and refusing treatment. She was buried under her middle name of Gardner, and her family did not learn of her death until 1987.

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Organized ball is stuck plenty

Here’s an article from the May 9 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a baseball player who had returned from the war and wanted his old job back.

Al Niemiec (1911-1995) had two spells in the major leagues in the mid-1930s, playing nine games for the Boston Red Sox in 1934 and 69 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1936. He returned to the Red Sox organization in 1937, and then was traded to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League as part of a deal for Ted Williams. By the time of the Second World War, he had been playing second base for the Seattle Rainiers, another Pacific Coast League team, for three years.

According to Wikipedia, Niemiec won his suit for a year’s employment under the GI Bill, which meant that hundreds of major and minor league players were paid despite being cut by their teams immediately after the war. In 1946, he was traded from the Rainiers to the Providence Chiefs, a team in a lower-level league, but he did not play for his new team, and his career was over at the age of 35.

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Won gold medals

Here’s a photo from the May 9 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a teenager who was a proficient violinist.

I did a Google search for Barbara Strathdee, and found that someone with that name had an Internet Movie Database entry. However, I’m not sure that this is the same person, as this Barbara Strathdee was an actress, not a musician, and was born in 1934, not 1932. This Ms. Strathdee seems to have been cast in a number of Stratford productions, some of which were adapted for television. I found a photo of her at the time of her wedding – I can’t tell for sure if this is somebody different.

To provide extra confusion, there is an artist from New Zealand named Barbara Strathdee who was born in 1941. This was definitely somebody else. And there is also a reference to a soprano from Toronto named Barbara Strathdee, who was seen as on her way to international stardom in 1959; this could be any or all of the above!

The only reference that I am reasonably certain matches the Barbara Strathdee in this photograph is this link to a series of musical performances on the CBC network in 1960-61.

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Drama, personality planning

Here’s an ad from the May 9 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:

I looked up Dress Rehearsal Limited in the Toronto city directories. It appears to have been a new business, as it does not appear in the 1946 city directory. It is listed in the 1947 directory at 41 Cumberland; Inez Pierson, who was teaching the Personality Planning course, is listed as its manager. Unfortunately, it did not remain in existence for long, as it does not appear in the 1948 directory.

Out of curiosity, I tried tracing the people mentioned in the ad:

  • I couldn’t find Anton Diffring anywhere; either his name was a theatrical pseudonym or a misspelling, or he lived out of town and commuted into the city to teach drama.
  • Inez Pierson was new in town, as she does not appear in the 1946 directory. After Dress Rehearsal Limited folded, she appeared in the 1948 and 1949 directories with no listed occupation. She does not appear in the 1950 directory.

I wonder whether Dress Rehearsal’s Repertory Company ever existed. Did they put on any shows during the fall of 1946?

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Grave world problem

The May 9 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two articles that claimed that things weren’t as good as they used to be.

The first one complained about the decline of family life in Britain:

And the second article complained about an obsession with dancing in a Soviet republic:

There were 50 posters in Kazan announcing dances, and not one announcing lectures, literary or musical evenings! Mind you, this was when Stalin was still alive, so perhaps people were reluctant to organize lectures or literary events.

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Third and final recital

Here’s one last post from the May 3 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring an ad for an upcoming cello recital:

Boris Hambourg (1885-1954) was born in Russia. He was one of three brothers who each learned a musical instrument: Mark, the oldest, played piano, and Jan, the middle brother, played violin. Boris, the baby of the family, started on piano and switched to cello. Collectively, the three played together as the Hambourg Trio.

Mr. Hambourg became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1910, eventually settling in Toronto. When not touring, he taught at the Hambourg Conservatory of Music.