Catching help for Dan’s club

Here’s a photograph from the May 19 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a catcher who was about to join the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team.

San Harshaney or Harshany (1910-2001) had spent the previous four seasons with San Antonio of the Texas League, which was affiliated with the St. Louis Browns. He played well enough in the 1937 season to earn a brief callup to the Browns, getting one hit in 11 at-bats. The Maple Leafs were not affiliated with the Browns, but they needed a catcher and the Browns wanted to move him up a level (San Antonio was class A and Toronto was class AA), which is why he was in Toronto in 1938.

After his arrival in Toronto, Harshany batted .227 in 68 games, serving as a backup catcher. He then appeared in 11 games for the Browns. 1939 was his best season: he batted .328 in 44 games for the Maple Leafs, which earned him a mid-season callup to the Browns. He had one more at-bat with the Browns in 1940, which ended his major-league career.

Harshany went off to fight in the war and played the 1946 season in the Browns organization. After that, he was a player-manager in various low-level minor leagues in Texas. He last played in a minor-league game in 1954, when he was 44 years old.

Poet, change your tune!

As I’ve mentioned before, the Toronto Daily Star used to publish a poem a day on its editorial page as the lead entry in its “A Little Of Everything” section. (Most of the rest of A Little Of Everything seems to have been the Daily Star’s editorial stuff sounding off on current events or attempting to tell jokes.) Here’s the poem from the May 19 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I’m not any judge of poetry, but I enjoyed this one more than most that I have seen: this poet appears to have a sense of humour.

A search in the Toronto city directories revealed that “Karl Andrews” was almost certainly a pen name – there’s nobody with that name in either the 1938 or the 1939 city directory. The 1938 directory lists Mrs. Elizabeth Board living at 263 Rhodes Avenue, and the 1939 directory lists Thomas Leanon as the owner and resident there. Cross-checking revealed that Mr. Leanon worked as a car washer, which might be the sort of job that a poet might take when not writing poetry; you never know. But my best guess is that Mrs. Board wrote the poem and used a male pseudonym.

Searching in earlier years revealed that Mrs. Board had relatively recently become widowed:

  • The 1936 directory lists James Board as working as a labourer and living at 116 Broadview Avenue.
  • In the 1937 directory, Mrs. Elizabeth Board is listed as the widow of James and living at 261 Rhodes Avenue as a boarder.
  • In 1938, she appears to have moved next door and become a boarder of Mr. Leanon – he is listed as the owner at 263 Rhodes in 1937 and 1939, but is not listed in 1938 (he probably wasn’t home when the city directory person came around to enumerate).
  • In 1939, she had moved again, to 44 Lewis Street.

Moving forward five years: the 1944 directory still lists Thomas Leanon as a car washer and living at 263 Rhodes. Mrs. Board is still listed also – she is living at 348 Ontario Street. I didn’t trace them after that.

Pope’s envoy to Franco

Here’s a photo from the May 19 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of the newly appointed papal representative to Spain.

Gaetano Cicognani (1881-1962) had previously been the papal representative in Peru and Austria. He remained the papal representative in Spain until 1953. He was then elevated to the College of Cardinals. He doesn’t appear to have done anything particularly memorable.

His brother, Amieto, became a cardinal in 1958. They are the last pair of brothers to simultaneously serve as cardinals.

Reported Nazi victim

Here’s a photograph from the May 19 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who was allegedly kidnapped by the Nazis in New York.

Ignatz Theodor Griebl (1899-unknown) was a doctor, specializing in obstetrics, who immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1925. He was also the head of the German spy network in the U.S., and he fled to Germany in May 1938 on the S.S. Bremen to escape prosecution. He reportedly became a physician in Vienna.

He was interviewed by the U.S. Consulate in Berlin in September 1938; he hoped that the interview would lead to the release of his wife, who had been arrested as part of the same espionage trial.

Griebl was arrested in Austria in 1945. Charges were dropped against him in 1950. A search turned up a photograph of him from 1943.

Gayest spot in town

Here’s an ad for a nightclub that appeared in the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I looked up Bill Beasley and Club Esquire in the Toronto city directories. Their history goes back to at least 1929: that directory lists William Beasley as the proprietor of the William Beasley Company, who were jam manufacturers. William R. Beasley, who would eventually become the proprietor of Club Esquire, is listed as a clerk there; presumably, he was William’s son.

The 1932 directory lists both of them as jam manufacturers and the 1933 directory lists William R. with no occupation. The 1934 directory does not list William R., but lists William as the president of the William Beasley Company and a new firm, Beasley Amusements. The latter appears to have been, or become, William R.’s project – he is listed in the 1935 and 1936 directories as being with Beasley Amusements. (In 1936, he was listed as living at the Royal York Hotel.)

Club Esquire came into existence in 1937, with William R. Beasley as its proprietor; its location (not mentioned in the ad) was at the corner of Lake Shore Road and Parkside Drive. I have no idea whether the club had any official connection to Esquire magazine, which was founded in 1933; the logo in the ad was the same as the logo of the magazine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

The club also appears in the 1941 city directory, by which time the William Beasley Company had been taken over by Frank E. Beasley. Neither the club nor William R. Beasley appear in the 1942 directory, and the William Beasley Company is now the F. E. Beasley Company, makers of baking machinery. I checked the 1947 directory to see if William R. had returned after fighting in the war, but he is not listed.

I also looked up the acts listed in the ad, but couldn’t find much. There is a photograph of Mildred and Maurice from 1950, but I’m not sure that it’s the same Mildred and Maurice. Any search for Harry Stevens, M.C., is drowned out by references to Harry M. Stevens, who claimed to have invented the hot dog.

Sensational young conductor

Here’s a photo from the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a conductor whose orchestra was about to appear in Toronto.

Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985) wasn’t all that young when this photo appeared – he was 37, which I suppose might have been considered young in the music world. Born in Hungary, he was admitted to the Royal National Hungarian Academy of Music at the age of five as a violinist.

Emigrating to the United States in 1921, he became the conductor of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra from 1931 to 1936. In 1936, he was appointed co-conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra; he became the orchestra’s musical director and conductor in 1938, a position he held for 42 years. After his death, the U.S. Congress and President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that November 18 1985 would be “Eugene Ormandy Appreciation Day”.

With his eight midshipmen

Here’s a publicity photo from the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a performer who was about to appear in Toronto.

Lester Cole (1896-1962) performed on Broadway in George M. Cohan’s Peggy Ann. He appeared regularly in musical comedies and in occasional movies. The Nitrateville forum has the most information that I could find on him.

This Lester Cole is not to be confused with the screenwriter Lester Cole, who was one of the Hollywood Ten who refused to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in 1947. He was sentenced to a year in jail, serving ten months, and was then blacklisted. This probably didn’t help the other Lester Cole’s career either.

Starting Sunday midnite

Here’s an ad from the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a performer that was about to arrive in town.

The start time of Sunday at midnight was to circumvent the laws that forbade opening on Sundays: after midnight, it was technically Monday.

The Casino Theatre has appeared in this blog before – it was known for frequently featuring burlesque artists and other controversial performers. And Ann Corio (1909-1999) fit squarely into this category, as she was a well-known striptease artist.

Ms. Corio worked regularly at Minsky’s burlesque house in New York. When burlesque was shut down there in 1939, she moved to Los Angeles and appeared in movies, mostly in scanty costumes.

In 1962, she created and performed in her own off-Broadway show, This Was Burlesque. She was famous enough that she appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in the 1970s.

Will be open Sundays

Here’s an ad for a new cafeteria from the May 15 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I’m fascinated by the idea that Martin’s Cafeteria had now become Marden’s Cafeteria. I assume that the name change was for legal reasons, with the new name being as much of a soundalike as possible.

Searches in the Toronto city directories drew a complete blank. 55 King Street East is part of the King Edward Hotel, but the 1937 and 1938 directories list King Edward Securities and J. T. Eastwood & Co., stockbrokers, at that address. Marden’s doesn’t appear in the directories either, and neither does Art Fegan. (I also tried Fagan, but that just turned up an operator at Massey-Harris.) I guess they weren’t open very many Sundays.

Aunt of oratory winner

Here’s a photo from the May 8 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress whose niece was about to participate in a Canadian oratory competition.

Edith Wynne Matthison (1875-1955) was a stage actress who appeared in many Shakespeare plays and other classic dramas. She was in the performance after which Sir Henry Irving passed away in 1905. She married playwright Charles Rann Kennedy in 1898; their marriage lasted over half a century.

Swanhild Matthison wound up finishing second in the oratory competition; William Fox Jr., mentioned in the caption above, won the contest. She passed away in 1998.