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Marked activity indicated

The April 25 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included these three renderings of new upscale houses in the Forest Hill district:

When looking these houses up in Google Street View, I discovered that 112 Old Forest Hill Road and 128 Forest Hill Road are still standing.

The house on Ava Crescent was actually at 7 Ava, not 10. The 2009 Google Street View photo clearly shows this house; by 2019, it had been torn down and a new larger house put up.

The Toronto city directories might have inadvertently caused this problem. The 1931 directory lists Alfred A. Walker at 10 Ava Crescent, not 7. The 1932 directory is confusing: it lists Alfred A. Walker at 10 Ava and Alfred E. Walker at 7 Ava. The Names section of the directory lists Alfred A. as the president of the Hudson-Essex company at 10 Ava, and lists Alfred E. at 7 Ava with no listed occupation. By the 1933 directory, Alfred A. is listed at 7 Ava. He is there in 1937 as well.

Either the city directory didn’t have the address correct, or Mr. Walker was living at 10 Ava for a bit before finally settling in at 7 Ava. I’m not sure.

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Wife found shot

Here’s a photo from the April 25 1930 of tragic news – an actor’s ex-wife had just been found shot dead.

Guy Bates Post (1875-1968) played Omar Khayyam in the stage and film productions of Omar the Tentmaker. He appeared in Broadway productions from 1901 to 1934.

Post was married four times, but it was his third wife, Adele Ritchie, who was mentioned here. The two were married in Toronto in 1916 and were separated for nearly three years before divorcing in 1929. After the divorce, Ms. Ritchie became director of the Community Players theatre group in Laguna Beach, California, where she met and befriended Doris Miller, a set designer nearly 23 years younger.

(There may be trigger warnings in this paragraph.) When she was replaced as director and Ms. Miller was invited to a social event to which Ms. Ritchie was not invited, the two got into an argument that ended with Ms. Miller being shot. Ms. Ritchie, feeling remorseful, attempted to stop the flow of blood from the wound before shooting herself.

Mr. Post married for the fourth and final time in 1936. This time, it worked out: he and his new bride, actress Lillian Kemble-Cooper, remained together until he passed away.

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Frail slip of femininity

The front page of the April 25 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this portrait of a 17-year-old girl accused of being an accomplice in a bank robbery:

An accompanying article stated that 17-year-old Kathleen Boyle, termed a “frail slip of femininity”, and her brother-in-law robbed a bank:

A search revealed that the Toronto Star and the Historicist website both have articles on this robbery. Ms. Boyle and her brother-in-law, Cecil Irving, were found guilty of the crime. Ms. Boyle was sentenced to two years less a day in reformatory and was deported back to her native Buffalo on release. Mr. Irving was treated more harshly: he was given 15 years in prison and three sets of 10 lashes as his punishment.

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Charming camera study

Here’s a photo from the picture page of the April 25 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman starring in an upcoming movie.

Mary Lawlor (1907-1977) had been appearing in Broadway shows since the age of 15, when she had a role in The Passing Show of 1922. She married baseball player Lyn Lary in 1931. (His nickname, probably uncoincidentally, was “Broadway”.) Ms. Lawlor’s stage career ended at about this time, which suggests that she gave it up to raise the child that the couple had together.

The movie referenced here is Good News, which was based on the musical of the same name. The film was in black and white except for its ending, which was shot in color; the ending is now lost.

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Record winning voice

Here is an ad from the April 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a soprano who was about to perform at Massey Hall.

Florence Austral (1892-1968) was born Florence Mary Wilson; she took her stage name to honour her native Australia. She was discovered singing in a choir in Melbourne, and she went on to perform in Berlin and Covent Garden in London, among others. She started becoming afflicted by multiple sclerosis in 1930, and the disease forced her to retire in 1940.

There are a number of recordings of her on YouTube, including this performance of a piece by Wagner.

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Graduating woman dentist

The April 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a woman who was about to graduate from the dentistry program at the University of Toronto:

I looked Ms. Manchester up in the Toronto city directories. The 1928 city directory still lists her as a student and living at 70 Edgewood Avenue, but the 1929 directory lists her as Helen J. Manchester, dentist, living at 70 Edgewood and with her practice at 1519 Gerrard East. (The middle initial will become relevant.)

Ms. Manchester remained in her practice for many years. The 1945 directory also lists her as living at 70 Edgewood and working at 1519 Gerrard East. By 1955, she had moved her dental practice to 245 Coxwell, and the 1967 directory still lists her as working there and living at 70 Edgewood.

However, the 1968 directory shows a change. She isn’t listed under Helen J. Manchester, but the streets section of the directory lists Helen J. Bowman living at 70 Edgewood; she is not listed as having an occupation. I think it’s too much of a coincidence that a woman with the first name and initials “Helen J.” bought a house from another woman with the same first name and initials, so my guess is that Ms. Manchester – now Ms. Bowman – got married and was enjoying a well-earned retirement after nearly 40 years of looking at people’s teeth.

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Afternoon musicales

Here’s a photo and ad from the April 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for an upcoming musical event.

Miss Lillian Garfield may have won wide recognition in 1927, but whatever fame she had did not survive the years. A search for her turned up nothing. She appears to be lost to history.

I did find a reference to Signor Ferrari-Fontana, though: Edoardo Ferrari-Fontana (1878-1936) was an Italian tenor whose career included singing at the Metropolitan Opera in 1914. He moved to Toronto in 1926. He must have thought, at times, that it was a long way, career-wise, from the Met to the Robert Simpson Company, Limited.

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How much do you know (part 2)

A couple of years back, I found a section in a 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star called “How Much Do You Know?” The April 20 1927 edition of the paper had the same feature, so I would assume that this appeared regularly in the late 1920s.

Here’s the questions:

The answers appeared on page 8, as promised. Before you look at them, determine how much you know!

Question 9 was the most startling to my more modern eyes – it would be extremely inappropriate today to refer to someone as “one-eighth colored”.

The noteworthy people mentioned in questions 3 and 6:

  • Joseph Lister (1827-1912), a British doctor, is often considered the founder of modern surgery. After reading papers by Louis Pasteur, he realized that airborne microorganisms could cause infection. He used carbolic acid to sterilize his surgical tools, thus significantly reducing infection.
  • Émile Coué (1857-1926) was a French psychologist who popularized the use of autosuggestion as a method of improving mental health. Followers of the Coué Method repeated to themselves, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.”
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The young Polish tenor

Here’s a photo from the April 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a singer from Poland who was just starting out on his career.

Jan Kiepura (1902-1966) became successful enough over the next few years that when he returned to his native Poland in 1934, he was able to build a hotel that cost three million in US dollars to put up. He also started introducing himself before performances as “The Great Kiepura”, because why not?

Sadly, he was not able to enjoy his fame in Poland for very long. Kiepura had a Jewish mother, and he and his wife, soprano Marta Eggerth, were forced to emigrate to the United States in 1937 to get away from the Nazis.

Kiepura passed away in New York in 1966. His widow passed away in 2013; she outlived him by over 47 years and she never remarried.

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Latest addition to the ranks

Here’s a photo from the April 20 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a film actress who was about to become an independent producer.

Corinne Griffith (1894-1979) was widely considered the most beautiful woman of the silent film era. She started being the executive producer of her movies in 1924, when she produced three box office hits.

By this time, she was earning $10,000 a week, much of which she invested in real estate. By the time of this photo, she owned properties worth about half a million dollars.

Her film career did not survive long in the age of sound, as apparently she had a nasal voice. But this didn’t stop her from becoming even more successful: after retiring from movies in 1932, she became an author and businesswoman, and she continued to invest in real estate, including buildings on all four corners of Wilshire Boulevard and South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.

In later years, she made speeches calling for the repeal of the income tax, and once testified in divorce proceedings in 1966, for reasons that were not clear, that she was not Corinne Griffith but her younger sister. When she passed away, she left an estate valued at about $150 million, making her one of the wealthiest women in the world.