42 and still winning

Here’s a photo from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a baseball pitcher who was still winning games in the minor leagues at an advanced age.

Rube Benton (1890-1937) was officially just short of 39 years old, not 42, when he appeared in this photograph. (Baseball players often lied about their ages, but all the records that I saw listed his birth year as 1890.) He spent less than a year in the minor leagues before being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds in 1910, and he pitched for the Reds, the New York Giants, and then the Reds again over a 16-year major league career. He apparently was known for his wild lifestyle; his 1914 contract contained a clause that required him to abstain from alcohol and tobacco.

After his major league career ended, Benton started pitching for the Minneapolis Millers in 1926 (a team playing at the Class AA minor league level). He remained with the Millers until 1933, playing until he was (officially) 43 years old.

Benton was involved in three auto accidents in his lifetime. In 1913, his motorcycle collided with a trolley and he suffered a broken jaw. In 1930, another accident resulted in a fractured skull and injuries to both hands; he was unconscious for three days. His third accident, in 1937, killed him.

A potentate of the East

Here’s a photograph from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an African ruler who was visiting London.

Khalifa bin Harub of Zanzibar (1879-1960) ruled Zanzibar, then a British protectorate, from 1911 until his death. He doesn’t seem to have done anything particularly startling.

The sultanate of Zanzibar only lasted for three years after this sultan’s passing. In 1963, Britain granted independence to Zanzibar, which was intended to become a constitutional monarchy under the rule of the sultan. One month later, a revolution forced the last sultan of Zanzibar into exile. Later in 1964, Zanzibar and Tanganyika united to form the country of Tanzania.

Will centralize for your convenience

The June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this advertisement for an ambitious retail project.

The Grand Central Market appears never to have gotten off the ground: either it was a casualty of the economic downturn caused by the stock market crash or it was too ambitious a project to pull off.

There is no reference to the Grand Central Market in either the 1929 or the 1930 Toronto city directory. The corner of Yonge and Severn was 835 Yonge and that building is listed as vacant. 159 Bay Street was a relatively new office building, and I could find no reference to it there either.

Your baby’s photograph

Here’s an ad from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a photographer:

According to the Toronto city directories, Thornton Johnston hadn’t been at his trade for that long when this ad appeared: he is in the 1927 and 1929 Toronto city directories as a photographer, but is not in the 1924 directory.

By the late 1930s, Mr. Johnston appears to have settled into the North Toronto neighbourhood. The 1937 directory lists him at 131 Eglinton Avenue East, and the 1939 and 1944 directories list him at 836 Mt. Pleasant. (He isn’t listed as a photographer in 1939 and 1944, which leads me to wonder whether he was doing something war-related.) After the war, he seems to have settled in at 315 Roehampton Avenue, also in North Toronto; he is listed there from 1949 to at least 1964. The 1969 directory, the latest that I can access, does not list him.

New Humber residence

Toronto Daily Star editions of the 1920s and 1930s often contained photographs of fancy new houses. Presumably, this enabled readers to imagine what it would be like to live there. Here’s an example from the June 17 1929 edition:

One thing I love about looking up things from the 1920s and 1930s is people’s names: A. Colpays Wood was designing a house for R. Home Smith. Did they address each other as Colpays and Home? Canada was still very much a British nation in 1929, so it probably was Mr. Wood and Mr. Smith.

The City of Toronto website has a biography of Robert Home Smith (1877-1935), and the Etobicoke Historical Society has a page on him. Among other things, he was the head of the Toronto Harbour Commission in 1922 when Sunnyside Amusement Park was opened and he was president of the Mexico Northwestern Railway Company.

Smith then developed large parts of the Humber valley, including the Kingsway, the Baby Point and Riverside housing developments, and the Old Mill Restaurant, as well as the house that he moved into. Sadly, he did not get to enjoy his new home for long, as he passed away in 1935. A park in Etobicoke is named after him.

Out of curiosity, I also looked up A. Colpays Wood, and discovered that his name was actually A. Colpoys Wood. The 1929 Toronto city directory lists him as working as an architect at 1167 Bay Street and living at 94 St. Germain Avenue. I couldn’t find him in some of the directories in the mid-1930s, but the 1936 directory lists him as working for Home Smith & Company; presumably, Smith was doing enough building that he needed a full-time architect. Wood was now living at 178 Eglinton Avenue East; the building still stands, though it has been a pub or restaurant for a while now.

Wood appears in the 1938 directory as an architect working for the Toronto Land Company and still living at 178 Eglinton East. But, according to his biography on the Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada website, he passed away in May of that year. This biography states that he came to Canada in 1915 at the age of 52.

Leads in aerodynamics

Here’s a photo from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young man who was Canada’s first graduate student in the field of aerodynamics.

Beverley Shenstone (1906-1979) suffered a tragedy early in life: his father, Saxon F. Shenstone, died on Christmas Day 1915. He didn’t remain in Toronto for long after this photograph: later in 1929, he landed a job at Junkers, the German plane manufacturers. He then moved to England, where he helped design the elliptical wing that was used on Spitfire aircraft.

During the Second World War, Shenstone moved to the U.S., where he ensured that American airplanes that were being sent to Britain met the Royal Air Force’s specifications. After the war, he worked in Canada briefly before returning to Britain in 1948. He was made a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 2016.

Speed demon meets death

Here’s a photograph from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a gruesome car crash:

Ray Keech (1900-1929) was one of the best drivers in the world at the time of his fatal crash. He had won the Indianapolis 500 just 16 days earlier, and he had set a land speed record in 1928 in a car named “Spirit of Elkdom”.

Wikipedia’s report of Keech’s fatal crash differs from that in the photo caption above. In the caption, Keech lost control when going around a car that he was trying to lap. In the Wikipedia description, Rob Robinson hit a pothole and drove into the guardrail. Cliff Woodbury swerved to avoid Robinson and was hit by Keech, who then hit the guardrail trying to get out of the way. The two accounts agree on what happened next: the car rolled over several times and burst into flames. The whole horrible series of events must have taken place in merely a few seconds.

She’s Miss U.S.

Here’s a photo from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a beauty contest winner.

Irene Ware (1910-1993), born Irene Ahlberg, wound up being runner-up in the Miss Universe contest held at Galveston. She then appeared in some of Earl Carroll’s shows, including the 1930 and 1931 editions of Vanities, before signing a movie contract with Fox in 1932 and taking her stage name.

Ms. Ware appeared in movies until 1940, including The Raven (1935) with Bela Lugosi, a movie that critics uniformly panned (though it apparently wasn’t her fault). Nothing particularly memorable seems to have happened to her after that – though, sadly, Wikipedia reports that she suffered from severe dementia in her final years.

Flighty secretary

Here’s a photograph from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a pilot and his secretary.

Clarence Chamberlin (1893-1976) was the second pilot to fly across the Atlantic Ocean (Charles Lindbergh was the first) and the first to fly with a passenger, which he accomplished in 1927. By the time of this photograph, Chamberlin was manufacturing and selling eight-seater airplanes; presumably, he and his secretary are being photographed in one of them.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the name of Chamberlin’s secretary. I did find a photograph of the two of them that appears to be the original of the one displayed above before being reversed and cropped. But that photo didn’t provide her name either.

Married French ace

Here is a photograph from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an American actress who had just married a French pilot.

Jean Assolant (1905-1942) has a French Wikipedia page. He was one of the pilots who participated in the first French crossing of the North Atlantic. He and Ms. Parker had apparently only known each other for 13 days before they married; their marriage did not last long. He remarried in 1934 and died in a plane crash during the Second World War.

Google searches for Pauline Parker turned up references to a girl with the same name from Australia who, with a friend, murdered her mother when she was 16. I did find an Internet Movie Database entry for a Pauline Parker who appeared in a movie in 1932; this might be the woman in the photograph above.

I also found a photograph of Assolant and Ms. Parker, which was taken in 1929.