Smooth winning baseball pair

Here’s a photograph from the September 20 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of two members of the Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team.

By the time of this photograph, both John Frederick “Sheriff” Blake (1899-1982) and Johnnie Heving (1896-1968) were on the downside of careers that had included time in the major leagues.

Blake pitched a total of ten years in the majors: a brief trial with Pittsburgh at the age of 20, eight years with the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies from 1924 to 1931, and periods of time with both St. Louis clubs in 1937. He had trouble finding the strike zone: in his year as a Maple Leaf in 1934, he walked 130 batters in 229 innings.

Blake pitched in the minors until he was 40. The Society for American Baseball Research has a detailed article on him.

Heving played in the major leagues for eight seasons: one at-bat with the St. Louis Browns in 1920, as a backup catcher for the Boston Red Sox in 1924 and 1925, and again as a backup catcher for the Sox and then for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1928 to 1932. He hit only one home run in his entire major league career.

Heving then played in the minors until 1939, including two more stretches with the Maple Leafs, and became the player-manager of the Salisbury Giants of the class-D North Carolina State League from 1940 to 1942. After the war, he managed the Tallassee Indians of the Georgia-Alabama League in 1946, putting himself into 11 games at the age of 50 (and batting .364 while doing so). In 1949, he managed the similarly-named Tallahassee Pirates of the Georgia-Florida league, which was the last of his career in baseball.

Dance tomorrow night

Here’s a photo from the September 20 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for an upcoming appearance of a popular orchestra.

This was apparently the first time that there was dancing at Maple Leaf Gardens!

Eddy Duchin (1909-1951) was originally a pharmacist before joining the orchestra for the Central Park Casino nightclub in New York as its piano player. He became popular and took over the leadership of the orchestra in 1932. Regular radio broadcasts boosted his popularity and record sales.

In 1938, Duchin released a version of Louis Armstrong’s “Ol’ Man Mose” in which vocalist Patricia Norman sings the word “bucket” in such a way that it sounds like “fuck it”. Naturally, Duchin denied any vulgarity, but the controversy caused sales of the single to zoom: it sold 170,000 copies at a time when 20,000 copies was huge. (YouTube has the song here – when I listened to it, I found that what I heard depended on what I was expecting to hear. It can be interpreted either way.) The record was banned in Britain.

When the Second World War broke out, Duchin became a combat officer in a destroyer squadron. After the war, he was unable to regain his former popularity. He died of leukemia in 1951. In 1956, a movie of his life, The Eddy Duchin Story, was released; his son, Peter Duchin, also a bandleader and piano player, criticized the movie for heavily fictionalizing his parents’ lives.

Aid Elgin West candidate

Here’s a photograph from the September 20 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a federal Liberal Party candidate with the (Liberal) Premier of Ontario and the federal Liberal leader.

Wilson Mills (1882-1955) did indeed win the Elgin West by-election, which was held four days after this photo appeared. The by-election was necessary because Mitchell Hepburn had resigned the seat to move to provincial politics. The Elgin West riding was merged into the Elgin riding after this, and Mills won the election in the new riding in 1935 and 1940.

Mills retired from politics when he chose not to run in the 1945 election. When not in politics, he was a farmer and apple grower. He seems to have been associated with nothing particularly memorable or scandalous.

Collecting cups early

Sometimes, I run into a dead end: I find an interesting picture but never learn what happened to the person in it. Here’s an example from the September 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I searched for everything I could think of, but I could find no reference anywhere to Miss Ruth Pfeiffer, champion cup collector of New Jersey. I wonder whether she kept the cups all her life.

Will be marchioness

Here’s a photograph from the September 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who was about to marry a British peer.

The woman in this photograph was born Dorothy Isabel Westenra Hastings in 1899. She married George Francis Hugh Cambridge (1895-1981) in 1923. At the time, he was the Earl of Eltham, but he became the 2nd Marquess of Cambridge later in 1927 when his father passed away. He became a director of a banking firm in 1929, becoming the second member of the British royal family to pursue a career in finance. (Though he was a distant member of the family, being a great-great-grandson of King George III and a nephew of Queen Mary, the consort of George V.)

The couple had one daughter, but no sons, which meant that his peerages became extinct when he passed away. The Marchioness of Cambridge, as the former Ms. Hastings became, passed away in 1988.

Starts suit to break will

Here’s a short article from the September 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a widow who was left out of her late husband’s will and was suing:

A search revealed two related articles from the New York Times in July 1927:

  • One in which Ms. Sears, the nurse, intended to reject the $1,000,000 fortune left her. This article reported that the late Mr. Aldrich was separated from his widow.
  • An article from the next day’s paper in which Ms. Sears decided to accept the money after all, possibly planning on splitting it with his mother. She had apparently met the late Mr. Aldrich eight months prior to his death.

I also found a photo of Ms. Aldrich from 1923.

Quits channel after 13 hours

Here’s a short article from the September 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who had to abandon an attempt to swim the English Channel.

After her unsuccessful attempt to swim the English Channel in 1927, Millie Hudson (1902-1966) attempted to swim the Strait of Gibraltar in 1928 but had to give up due to choppy waters. She travelled to Toronto to compete in the Wrigley Marathon swim in 1928 and stayed in Canada for six years, working as a coach and journalist.

During and after the Second World War, Ms. Hudson worked as a journalist. She became the first female member of the Sports Writers’ Association in 1949; she was the only woman in the association until 1955. She passed away in 1966 only ten days after travelling to Blackpool to report on amateur swimming championships.

Manufacturers Life promotion

I’ve always been fascinated by photos of people who have just been promoted to new jobs and whose employers wanted to announce this fact in the daily newspaper. For example, here’s one from the September 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I’m also always fascinated by the fact that business attire hasn’t changed much for men in decades: business suit, white shirt, tie. Of course, modern employees don’t have to wear a suit as often, but it looks the same when they do.

I traced S. M. Thompson in the Toronto city directories. The 1935 directory lists Sanford M. Thompson as, sure enough, an assistant treasurer at Manufacturers Life; he was living at 91 Humbercrest Boulevard. By 1945, he was a treasurer and living at 107 Humbercrest (which was the same house as before, just renumbered). In 1955, he was now vice-president and treasurer, still at Manufacturers Life, but had moved to 64 Baby Point Road. The 1965 directory lists him without an occupation; presumably, he had retired.

Swims eight miles, saves boy

Here’s a photo from the September 11 1934 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a girl who rescued herself and a young boy from a sinking ship.

The SS Morro Castle caught fire on the morning of September 8 1934. Many of its passengers were soon forced into making an unpleasant choice: either leap into the ocean or burn to death. Out of 549 passengers and crew, 135 were lost. The wreck of the ship was close enough to Asbury Park, New Jersey, that beachgoers could wade out to it; it became a destination for sightseeing trips.

Ms. Knight’s accomplishment, described in the caption above, was impressive, to say the least: it would have been hard enough to swim eight miles to shore even without a seven-year-old boy on your back. Searching for information on her on the Internet turned up nothing, which is not surprising given that she had the same name as a famous singer. The swimmer and the singer were 27 years apart in age; it’s possible, but unlikely, that one went to see the other perform.