May not be heard again

Here’s an article that appeared in the December 31 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, one hundred years ago today. It reported sad news:

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) was an operatic tenor. He was one of the first singers to be recorded, which turned him into an intenational star, performing at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, among others.

Unfortunately, his habits of smoking cigars and never exercising, along with a rigorous performing schedule, caused his health to break down. Suffering from pleurisy, he appeared to be recovering by May 1921, but allowed himself to be examined by an unhygienic doctor while recuperating in Italy, which caused a relapse. He passed away in August 1921. The Daily Star article shown here proved prophetic: he never performed again after 1920.

YouTube has a lot of Caruso’s recordings.


Christmas in 1920

The Toronto Daily Star did not publish an edition on Christmas Day one hundred years ago, so advertisers that wanted to wish their prospective customers a Merry Christmas had to do so in the December 24 1920 edition. Here’s the ones that I found:

Mayoral candidate Sam McBride placed an ad that appeared on the front page of this edition:

Despite the non-partisan tone of this message, Mr. McBride still lost the 1921 mayoral election to Tommy Church. (In those days, municipal elections happened every year on New Year’s Day.) He did eventually become mayor from 1928 to 1929 and then again in 1936, passing away while in office.

The Toronto Globe did publish an edition on Christmas Day 1920, but it didn’t contain many ads. The front page did contain a Christmas wish from the Globe:

Both papers included this ad from Eaton’s on their back cover:


Only kind person need apply

Here’s an ad from the Personals section of the July 24 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

July 24 1

I don’t blame Box 210 Star for wanting a kind person to look after their little girl. Wouldn’t you?

The same Personals section also had this:

July 24 2

It might not have been practical – the locations might not have worked out – but I’m hoping that the newspaper found some way to match up Box 210 Star with Box 146 Star.


More looking for someone

The Personals section of the July 22 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads placed by people who were looking for someone that they knew five years before.

July 22 2

For the first entry, I looked up 119 Clinton Street in the 1914, 1915, and 1916 Toronto city directories. In those years, the inhabitants were (in order) Arthur E. Atkinson, Mrs. Sarah Grimes, and William Somerville. I suppose that one of them could have been nicknamed Gartley, or perhaps Gartley didn’t live there long enough to get an entry in a city directory. Oh well; a dead end.

For the second entry: I thought it peculiar that Mr. L. H. Christie would mention his name twice in the ad. This is an extra expense, since the Daily Star charged per word. Perhaps he was a pseudonym: the 1920 and 1921 directories list John Johnson as the resident at 3 Pembroke.

A search in the 1915 directory on Dunn Avenue yielded Alex A. Reid, who lived at 215 Dunn; this could be the right Read or Reid (or perhaps not). There was no Nellie Reid in the 1915 directory; there was one in the 1916 directory, but she was also in the 1917 directory, so it’s probably not the same person. (There were two Nellie Reids in the 1918 directory.) Another dead end, unfortunately; perhaps sleuthing using the Toronto city directories is not as effective as I would have hoped.


33 or 23

Here’s an entry from the Personals section of the July 20 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

July 20 1

The same ad ran in the July 21 edition. In the July 22 edition, it was corrected to this:

July 22 1

I wonder how long it took the young man to find out that there had been a typo in the ad. It ran in three more editions after this one – presumably, the young man had a limited budget, gave up on matchmaking through the Personals, or met somebody.


Looking for someone

Here are three entries from the Personals section of the July 19 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that might be said to have a common theme – somebody looking for someone.

July 19 1

Going through these in order:

  • The 1920 Toronto city directory lists Frederick W. Prior, an electrician, at 34 Dartnell Avenue. I have no idea whether this is the correct Fred Prior – but, then again, neither would anyone reading this!
  • The correspondent in listing #2 had a lot of life happen to him if he was already widowed and retired at 45. Life was harder in 1920, but still.
  • I looked up 12 Clarence Square in the 1920 and 1921 city directories, and its occupant was someone named Fred Legg. Perhaps A. H. was staying with Mr. Legg, or perhaps Mr. Legg chose to use these cryptic initials to communicate. The 1920 city directory would have been no help: there was a Mary Wyllie listed there, but she was a widow.

This leads me to wonder: how effective was the Personals section? What were the odds that Fred Prior or Miss Mary Wyllie would actually be reading the Toronto Daily Star on that day, let alone that he or she would be reading the Personals? I suppose that I can imagine somebody randomly searching through the paper, idly reading the Personals, and then becoming somewhat surprised to be mentioned there by name.


I will not be responsible

I’m still continuing with my exploration of the Personals sections from the July 1920 editions of the Toronto Daily Star. Here’s a couple of entries from the July 12 edition.

July 12 1

Doing them in reverse order: I had noticed before that older Toronto city directories were somewhat racist. Non-white businesses or residents were simply referred to by their nationality or were ignored altogether. This was true of the laundry at 828 Bathurst Street – the 1920 and 1921 city directories just listed it as “Chinese Laundry” with no mention of the owners. And Sing You, Yin Wah, and Mark Long Ark were not listed in the 1920 directory. 828 Bathurst was listed as a Chinese laundry in the 1925 directory also, but it wasn’t there for long: by 1928, this building and the ones around it had been replaced by St. Peter’s Church.

As for the first of the two entries: Andrew Tait, of 15 Bedford Road, did have an entry in the 1920 city directory. He didn’t have a listed occupation, which doesn’t necessarily mean that he was unemployed. He remained at this address until at least 1928; I didn’t check him after that.


Please write again

Here’s an entry from the Personals section from the July 9 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

July 9 1

I looked in the Toronto city directories for 1920 and 1921, and didn’t find a Mr. Stewart at 95 Crawford; the resident was listed as Mrs. Elizabeth A. Crookshank. There was a Thomas Stuart at 105 Crawford in 1920, but that’s probably not the same person.

However, I did find a Minnie Green in the 1920 directory, a stenographer living at 131 Drayton Avenue. If Mr. Stewart had thought to look in a convenient Toronto city directory, would he have found her? She wasn’t in the 1921 directory, so maybe he did.


You will not find me here

Here’s a cryptic pair of entries from the Personals column of the Toronto Daily Star in July 1920. First, this entry from July 7:

July 7 1

And this response, from July 8:

July 8 2

This seems like something out of a spy novel, but perhaps they were just needing wood to build a house.


Personals from 1920, part 4

Here’s a Personals ad from the July 6 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that is somewhat heart-wrenching.

July 6 2

I hope that the poor widow with five children was eventually able to keep her family together.