Sweetheart of the A.E.F.

Here’s a photograph from the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an actress who was about to retire from the stage.

Elsie Janis (1889-1956) might have been in poor health at the time of this photograph, but she went on to become, among other things, a songwriter, a screenwriter, a production manager, and the first female announcer on the NBC radio network.

During World War I, Ms. Janis had regularly performed overseas for troops stationed behind the front line, thus earning the “sweetheart” nickname given here. YouTube has, among other things, a brief documentary about her, a short feature from 1926, and a comic song from 1912.


Makes glider flight

Here’s a photo from the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who had just completed a successful glider flight.

Maxine Dunlap Bennett (1908-c. 1977) became the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States when she flew for 50 seconds, well exceeding the qualification requirement of 30 seconds. She then became president of the Bay Region California Gliding Club.

She married her flight instructor, Donald Templeman, later in 1929; they divorced in 1933. She then married Joe Bennett in 1934. After their marriage, she did all the flying in the family, because why not?


Is ninety to-morrow

Here’s a photograph on the front page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who was about to turn 90.

As usual with listings like this, I went to the Toronto city directories to indulge my morbid curiosity: how many more birthdays did she get to have? The answer appears to be about three. The 1929 directory lists Margaret Sintzenich at 552 Balliol and she appears in the 1932 directory at that address. (In the latter, she is listed as the widow of Maurice.) She does not appear in the 1933 directory.

552 Balliol Street appears to be a nice semi-detached house in the Davisville neighbourhood. It looks like it hasn’t changed much since Ms. Sintzenich celebrated her 90th birthday there.


Unique photographic record

Here’s an entry from the photo page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that I saved because, basically, WTF?

I venture to guess that this prison, wherever it was, wasn’t really into trying to rehabilitate its inmates. I hope that the prisoners at least got to change directions during their exercise period.


Most beautiful debutante

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the May 6 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman who was honoured as America’s most beautiful debutante.

Ms. de Acosta went on to appear in some Broadway plays in 1930. (Though Playbill’s entry for her is a bit suspicious, as I doubt that she appeared in two separate plays whose opening night was September 29, 1930. I suppose that it could have been a twin bill.) The New York City Public Library Digital Collections includes a photograph of her in one of these roles.

She married George Trowbridge Elliman in 1931 and passed away in 1989.


Former Canadian bantam champion

Here’s a photograph from the March 8 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian bantamweight boxer.

Jackie Johnston (1905-1990) was slated to compete for Canada in the 1924 Olympic Games, but was disqualified because he was two pounds overweight. He was quoted as saying that he ate too much on the trip over to Paris, but had a good time. After he left boxing, he ran a wine store, because why not?

The caption of this photo mentions Playfair Brown, a boxing promoter. A photograph of him and his wife also appears in this day’s paper:

Playfair Brown operated the Shamrock Athletic Club and was a boxing promoter in Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s. He had an unusual first name (who would name their child “Playfair”?), so I was able to trace him in the Toronto city directories:

  • He appears in the 1929 and 1939 directories as a sports promoter.
  • He later had a second career as an investigator.
  • He last appears in the 1955 city directory, at 103 Edgewood Avenue; the 1956 directory lists his widow at this address.

Smart, new lighting fixtures

Here’s an ad for lighting fixtures from the March 8 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

When I looked up A. L. Wynston Jr. Limited in the Toronto city directories, I discovered that the firm remained in business for many years after this ad. The 1944 directory lists the firm as located on the first floor of 590 King West, and the 1949 directory has them on the first floor at 251 Spadina.

In 1959, the firm was called Alwyn Lighting Products (“Alwyn”, of course, was created from the first part of “A. L. Wynston”). By the 1969 directory – the last year that I can access – the firm was back to being called A. L. Wynston Limited, but its business was “import export factoring”, and its location was Mr. Wynston’s home address of 400 Walmer Road, apartment 723. This suggests that the business was winding down (and, sadly, that Mr. Wynston was probably winding down).

Searches on the Internet didn’t turn up much. The Toronto Public Library has one of the company’s catalogues in its reference library, though its year isn’t specified. And there are various references to Alwyn art deco lights, usually from the 1930s; some people are offering them for sale.


Builds record plane

Here’s a photograph from the March 8 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an aircraft manufacturer who had just built the world’s largest and heaviest airplane.

Despite his French-sounding name, Claude Dornier (1884-1969) was actually from Germany, not Switzerland: he was born in Bavaria, the son of a German mother and a French father. As a young engineer, he joined Luftschiffbau Zeppelin, which, as you might guess, manufactured zeppelins. His abilities attracted the attention of none other than Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, who made Dornier his personal scientific adviser.

In 1940, Dornier gave in to political pressure and joined the Nazi Party; his firm manufactured aircraft for the Luftwaffe. After the war, he was classified for denazification purposes as Category 4, which was a Follower (Mitläufer). People in this category were loosely, and somewhat controversially, defined as those who did not participate in war crimes but were involved with the Nazi regime.

After the war, Dornier went back to making aircraft for Germans who were not Nazis. He was inducted into the International Air and Space Hall of Fame in 1987.


A perfect permanent wave

A few days ago, I posted a blog entry about an ad for a hairdresser offering a permanent wave. In the March 8 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I found another one:

Tracing the history of W. C. Kennedy Hairdressing proved interesting and a little complicated:

  • The 1929 Toronto city directory lists Charles W. Kennedy as the proprietor of Kennedy’s Hairdressing Parlor, with locations at 231 and 718-718 1/2 Yonge Street. It also lists William C. Kennedy working for the same firm. Both Kennedys were living at the Windsor Arms Hotel.
  • The 1930 directory has no listing for Charles W. Kennedy, but lists W. C. Kennedy as the president of Kennedy Hairdressing Parlor and living at 2 Sultan Street; this was such a new apartment building that it didn’t have a street listing yet. (It still stands.) Kennedy had expanded his chain of hairdressing parlors – there were now locations at 231 Yonge, 718 Yonge, 2511 Yonge, and 1156 Danforth.
  • Unfortunately, tragedy struck at this time. The 1931 directory lists Olive M. Kennedy as the widow of William C. Kennedy and living at 718 Yonge. She was now the proprietor of the chain of hairdressing parlors, which were at 231, 718, 1508, and 2511 Yonge.
  • In 1932, Mrs. Kennedy scaled back to just one salon, the Kennedy Beauty Salon, at 707 Yonge.
  • By 1934, she was operating the Kennedy Beauty Salon and the Kennedy School of Beauty Culture out of the 707 Yonge location.
  • In 1935, she had moved to 1409 Yonge and joined forces with someone named R. J. Gilroy to operate Kennedy’s Beauty Salon. She also operated Kennedy’s School of Hairdressing at 2 Pleasant Boulevard, which was around the corner from 1409 Yonge.
  • By 1937, their hairdressing firm was Kennedy-Gilroy Limited, with Russell J. Gilroy as president and Olive M. Kennedy as secretary-treasurer, located at 1409-1415 Yonge. There was also the Kennedy School of Beauty Culture at 707 Yonge, with Edith C. Eves as the proprietor.
  • Kennedy-Gilroy remained in business at least until the end of the Second World War, as they are listed at 1409-1415 Yonge in the 1940 and 1945 directories. I didn’t trace them after that.

Childs no longer

Here’s a photograph from the March 8 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of restaurant magnate William Childs, who had just lost control of the restaurant chain that bore his name.

At its peak in 1925, the Childs Restaurants chain included 107 restaurants in 29 cities and served 50 million meals every year. But, starting in 1927, Childs imposed his vegetarian preferences on the chain’s menu, which proved unpopular. He resigned as president in December 1928 and was forced off the company’s board on March 7 1929, the day before this photo appeared in the paper.

After leaving his company, Childs opened a restaurant near his home in Franklin Corners, New Jersey, that was still in operation as of 2009. He also opened two old-world themed restaurants in New York, called Old Algiers and Old London. He passed away in 1938.

The company re-introduced meat to its menu after Childs’ departure, along with alcohol after Prohibition was repealed, but it lost money after being granted the hot dog vending license for the 1939 World’s Fair. Childs Restaurants went bankrupt in 1943 but continued to operate through the 1950s with a smaller number of restaurants.

In 1955, the company went into hotel management and renamed itself the Hotel Corporation of America. The company’s remaining restaurants were sold in 1961.