Here’s what the world of computing looked like in the late 1970s, courtesy of the June 8, 1977 edition of the Toronto Star:

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Back then, a computer was an enormous machine that was kept in a special room, and it had about as much computing power as your toaster now has.

By the way, $14,000 wasn’t a bad annual wage back then, especially for a job at which post-secondary education was not essential. Minimum wage at the time was $2.65 an hour, and when I started my first co-op programming job three years later, in the summer of 1980, I was making $190 per week.

A man talks to women

“A Man Talks To Women” was a regular column that appeared in the Toronto Daily Star around the time of the Second World War. Here’s the entry for April 8, 1940, which expresses some, um, traditional viewpoints on the relationships between young men and young women:

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George Anthiel (1900-1959) led a varied life. Besides being an advice columnist, he was an avant-garde composer, a mystery writer, and the co-inventor (with actor Hedy Lamarr) of a frequency-hopping method of ensuring that signals to radio-guided torpedoes are not jammed. (The Scientific American article on this is here.)

Anthiel also appears to have been something of a creep. He wrote a series of articles on how to detect the availability of women based on “glandular effects”, with titles such as “The Glandbook For The Questing Male”, which is seriously icky. Gizmodo has an article on this; apparently, Ms. Lamarr first approached Anthiel because she wanted information on how to increase her bust size, and the conversation apparently turned to torpedoes after she figured out that he knew nothing about enhancement.

Canada brave and free

A small news item from the April 8 1940 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

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I couldn’t find anything about the song on the Internet, but the Government of Canada website has a record of the burial site for Mrs. Tyas’s son. He is interred in the Vimy Memorial Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France.

From the “Ode of Remembrance”:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


From the April 8 1940 Toronto Daily Star:

Giving a chewable minty gum laxative to a child just seems… ugh.

For more on Feen-a-mint:

    • A 1970 commercial
    • A 1979 commercial
    •  A history of Feen-a-mint
    • A site that discusses the components of Feen-a-mint – it’s basically just bisacodyl, which is an organic compound that gives marching orders to your bowels. Carter’s Little Pills, a patent medicine that is likely to appear in these pages sometime soon, are also made of this stuff.

Important fact: there is no further laxative effect after the first three minutes of chewing.

Ice cream by tricycles

Here’s a bit of filler from the October 1, 1928 Toronto Daily Star:

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I love this article – it has both too much detail and too little. We don’t know the name of the ice cream manufacturer, or which British towns the fleet operates in, but we do know that it contains 1100 tricycles.

A search for “ice cream tricycle 1928” uncovered this site, which suggests that the manufacturer might have been Wall’s. The photographs are fascinating. (Wall’s ice cream still exists, but the brand has been swallowed up by Unilever.)


From the April 8 1940 Toronto Daily Star:

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Wikipedia informs me that a truss was a surgical appliance used to provide support for patients suffering from a hernia. They are not used nowadays; apparently, they often made the problem worse. (Fun fact: 27% of males and 3% of females develop a groin hernia at some time in their life. Reassuringly, groin hernias that do not cause symptoms in males do not need to be repaired.)

Mary Rose Thacker

From the April 8 1940 Toronto Star:

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Mary Rose Thacker (1922-1983) won the North American figure skating championships in 1939 and 1941, and won the Canadian championships in 1939, 1941, and 1942, after which skating competitions were suspended until the end of the Second World War. She went on to start a skating school in British Columbia.

The saddest part of this article is this line: “I regard my skating now as not exactly fun.”

The Winnipeg Free Press has a longer article about her, if you want to read more.

Learn to swim

From the April 8 1940 Toronto Daily Star:

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Ernst Vierkoetter (1901-1967) has a Wikipedia entry in German but not in English! He swam the English Channel in 1926 (holding the speed record for 20 years), won the first CNE marathon swim in 1927, and then settled down in Toronto to a career as a swimming instructor. His nickname was “The Black Shark Of Germany”, which is a pretty cool nickname.

The Torontoist has a long article on the 1927 marathon swim, if you want to know more.

King of pain

Here’s an ad from the August 25 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

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Not sure why they singled out baseball, but here we are. King of Pain!

Wikipedia has an entry on Minard’s Liniment. The liniment was apparently created in Hants County, Nova Scotia, in the 1860s by Dr. Levi “The King Of Pain” Minard. The active ingredients are camphor, ammonia water, and medical turpentine. Not to be taken internally.

A geocaching website has an article on Levi Minard. At the age of 52, he graduated from the Eclectic Medical College in Cincinnati, Ohio.


This is from the July 6 1944 Toronto Daily Star:

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That is a pretty good name for a toilet bowl cleaner, you have to admit.

Searches for Flusho, Flusho cleaner, and Flusho toilet bowl cleaner yielded nothing – it’s as if this brand never existed. Clearly, Flusho was, erm, flushed out of the market by Drano.