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Mexican president talks

To give you fair warning: this blog will be spending the next few days in the world of July 5 1929, as that day’s edition of the Toronto Daily Star was a rich source of material. To start off, here’s a photograph of the President of Mexico that appeared on the front page of that day’s paper:

Emilio Portes Gil (1890-1978) was the president of Mexico at the time of this photograph, and was a comparatively youthful 38 years old. But what this photo caption does not tell you is that he was effectively a puppet president.

Some background: in the 1920s, the Mexican constitution did not allow anyone to run for president for consecutive terms. However, there was nothing stopping anyone from becoming president, taking a break for a term, and then taking over again. So two men, Alvaro Obregón and Plutarco Elías Calles, decided to support each other and basically take turns as president. This would have worked out well for both of them, except that Obregón was assassinated in 1928 shortly after becoming president again.

This left Calles in a bit of a pickle. He couldn’t be president again, because he had just been president. So he tried the next best thing: he ensured that the man who was appointed president in Obregón’s place would do whatever he wanted. Three men took turns in this role of puppet president between 1928 and 1934; Portes Gil, pictured here, was the first. In the meantime, Callas wielded power behind the scenes, and was given the nickname of “el Jefe Máximo”, or “the Maximum Leader”.

After handing over power in 1930 to the next puppet president, Portes Gil served as Minister of the Interior and was Mexico’s first representative at the League of Nations. He retired from politics in 1936, and then did nothing worthy of mentioning in his Wikipedia article until he passed away over forty years later.

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Arrived in Toronto

Here’s one last photograph from the June 30 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

A search for Miss Chrystothemis Papaynides turned up absolutely nothing. But this is because a search for Mrs. Stephen Ayton revealed that her surname was actually Papagiannides. She seems to have normally been known as Chryssa.

The search didn’t reveal whether she was successful at marathon swimming. I found a Find a Grave entry for her, which showed that she passed away in 1992 and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery. She outlived her husband by nearly two decades.

I also found that the Aytons had left a legacy: a scholarship that is awarded annually through the All Saints Greek Orthodox Church on Bayview Avenue. It was still being awarded as of 2020.

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Popular baritone

Here’s a publicity photograph from the June 30 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

A search for J. Barrett Maus turned up nothing, partially because there is a contemporary musician named John Maus who was born in 1980.

So I went looking for J. Barrett Maus in the Toronto city directories. I found out that he might have been leading a double life – or, more accurately, that he had a day job. The 1932 directory lists a “Barre H Maus” as a musician living at 512 Jarvis, and the 1933 directory lists him under his correct name as a vocal instructor at the same address. But the 1932 directory also lists a John B. Maus at that address and working as a sales manager at W. K. Buckley Limited, and the 1933 directory lists him as the general manager at General Health Remedies Limited. It’s possible that two separate people named J. Barrett Maus and John B. Maus were living together at the same address, but I’m going to make the reasonable assumption that they were the same person.

Going forward, I found J. Barrett Maus in the 1935 directory at apartment 10 of 91 Wellesley, working as a vocal instructor. His presumed alter ego, John B. Maus, was at the same address with no listed occupation. The 1936 directory doesn’t have a listing for either one of them, so I assume that he or they pulled up stakes and went looking elsewhere for work.

Going backwards, I found a listing for a John B. Maus at least as far back as 1925. But the 1931 address and occupation for this man were different from those of John B. Maus in 1932, so I have no idea whether they are different people. I like to think that, at about the time of this photograph, Mr. Maus decided to follow his passion. It’s not always possible to do this, and it was especially difficult to do this in the depths of the Great Depression. But at least he got to sing on the radio.

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Sweetheart of the rodeo

Here’s one more photo from the picture page of the June 30 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, this time of a young woman who was proclaimed to be Sweetheart Of The Rodeo.

A search for Maudine Creason didn’t turn up much. I found a photograph of her and a man named Marvin Hostler choosing workers for the Works Progress Administration in 1935. I also found her Find a Grave entry, which stated that she became Maudine Moss and passed away in 1972 at the comparatively young age of 63. (Her husband, five years older, outlived her by two decades.)

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Solely dependant

Here’s another photo from the June 30 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Josephine Dunn (1906-1983) appeared in many films and Broadway theatre productions in the 1920s and 1930s before retiring from acting in 1938.

She had four husbands, of which Clyde Greathouse was the second. She and Greathouse divorced on October 26 1931; I could find no record of whether she actually received any alimony.

Her fourth marriage, to Carroll Case, lasted for 43 years until he passed away in 1978. Case was the son of Frank Case, who owned the Algonquin Hotel in New York, the home of the famous Algonquin Round Table.

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Demure, old-fashioned look

Here’s a photo from the June 30 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress wearing a dress that nowadays might be called “retro”.

Sylvia Sidney (1910-1999) was just starting a career in movies and television that lasted until 1996, when she played Grandma Florence Norris in Mars Attacks!. In 1973, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams. She also appeared in the pilot episode of WKRP in Cincinnati.

She was married and divorced three times; one of her ex-husbands was future What’s My Line? panelist Bennett Cerf. When not acting, she wrote two books on needlepoint and raised pug dogs.

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Charming young miss

Here’s one last photo from the picture page of the June 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

As always with a photo like this, I’m looking at it from a more modern perspective, thinking that no parent nowadays would want a photo of their child in the newspaper. But, at the time, I assume that Mr. and Mrs. T. Burt were proud of their child and wanted to show her off.

I looked up the Burts in the Toronto city directories. In the 1930 directory, Thomas C. Burt is listed as a salesman for Harvey E. Dodds and living at 229 Davisville Avenue. (There is an apartment building there now.) By 1935, Mr. Burt was a salesman for Eaton’s and had moved to 4 Miranda Avenue.

He remained at Eaton’s for all of the time that I tracked him, rising to section head by 1945. In 1952, he was still a section head, but was now living at 61 Dequincy Boulevard in North York. (This house has been remodelled since the Burts lived there.) In 1955, he was at 27 Wentworth Road. (I think this is now 27 Wentworth Avenue, but I’m not sure, as the 1955 directory doesn’t list Wentworth Road/Avenue in its Streets section.)

I never found any references to Marilyn Burt in the Toronto city directories, though I did find references to someone of that name in some society pages of the Daily Star in the late 1940s. I checked the city directories up to 1955, but I didn’t check every year, so I just might have missed finding her.

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Interesting camera study

Here’s another item from the photo page of the June 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. This was a studio portrait of a man who was considered an interesting camera study.

I looked up J. J. Kelso in the 1930 Toronto city directory. Not only was he there: his name was in bold face. He was listed as Superintendent Children’s Aid Branch, Parliament Buildings, and his home address was 96 Albany Avenue.

Searching in later directories revealed bad news. The last year that Mr. Kelso was listed at his post was 1934. The 1935 and 1937 directories list him at 96 Albany (as John J. Kelso), but with no occupation, and the 1938 directory lists his widow, Irene M. Kelso.

96 Albany Avenue still stands – it seems to be a nice enough house.

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Reported betrothed

The photo page from the June 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star is turning out to be a useful source of material! Here’s another photo from that page, of a princess rumoured to be betrothed to a prince:

As it turned out, Princess Maria and the Prince of Asturias did not get married after all. From the princess’s point of view, this might have worked out for the best.

Alfonso, Prince of Asturias (1907-1938) has been mentioned in this blog before. He renounced his rights to the Spanish throne in 1933 when he decided to marry a commoner, Edelmira Sampedro y Robato. At this time, he was given the courtesy title of Count of Cavadonga. He eventually divorced, remarried and divorced again, and moved to the United States. In 1938, shortly after stating that he would be happy to become the King of Spain if someone asked him to (no one did), he died in a car accident from internal bleeding, as he was a hemophiliac. The driver of the car, Mildred Gaydon, was charged with manslaughter but eventually freed.

By the time Princess Maria Francesca of Savoy (1914-2001) finally got married, Alfonso had already passed away. Her groom was Prince Luigi of Bourbon-Parma; they married in 1939 and had four children. Except for being interned by the Nazis during the Second World War, nothing particularly memorable happened to her. (Her husband doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page of his own!) She stuck around until the dawn of the 21st century, outliving her husband by over 34 years and her former alleged betrothed prince by nearly 63 years.

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Riding in ancient gilded coach

Here’s a photo from the picture page of the June 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that features a princess in an ancient gilded coach.

Princess Elsa Lichtenstein (1875-1947), born Elisabeth von Gutmann, was already a widow when she met Prince Franz of Lichtenstein in 1914. It was something of a May-December romance, as the Prince was more than two decades older than she.

The prince’s older brother, Prince Johann, who had been ruling Lichtenstein since 1858, disapproved of his younger brother’s new flame. Despite this, the two married secretly in 1919 and remarried openly in 1929 when Franz succeeded his childless brother as ruler.

The Princess remained the first lady of Lichtenstein until 1938, when three things happened more or less at the same time:

  • Her husband abdicated in favour of his grandnephew.
  • Her husband then passed away.
  • Neighbouring Austria was annexed by the Nazis.

Since the Princess had been born Jewish before converting to Roman Catholicism in 1899, she prudently fled to exile in Switzerland, where she passed away nine years later.

Maria Theresa Walburga Amalia Christina (1717-1780), the woman that Princess Elsa was portraying, ruled the Habsburg empire from 1740 to 1780 while giving birth to the last fourteen of her seventeen children. She was, technically, the last of the Habsburgs: she was succeeded as ruler by her eldest son, Joseph, who founded what became known as the House of Lorraine. The second-last of Maria Theresa’s children was Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France.