Spring makes demands

Here’s an ad from the April 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention because of a parenthetical comment.

I love this parenthetical comment. Canada Dairies milk is preferable!

The Toronto city directories inform me that Canada Dairies lasted until 1950. The 1951 directory lists Donlands Dairy at that location.


Who bought candy store

Here’s one last item from the December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, which has turned out to be an excellent source of material. This is from the Personals section:

I was curious, so I looked up the Toronto city directories from around 1921 to see if I could find out who Jean was. I didn’t have any luck.

Here’s the residents of 88 Givens Street in the years that I searched:

  • 1917 to 1922: Peter Bennett
  • 1923: Racco Iafrate
  • 1924: William Roberts, butcher
  • 1925 and 1926: vacant

I suppose that the Personals entry could have been some sort of code, or perhaps Jean was the wife of one of the residents in this list. Sadly, I’ll never find out.

Nowadays, Givens Street is known as Givins Street: the changed name first appears in the 1947 city directory. According to Google Street View, 88 Givins looks to have been updated sometime since 1931. I can’t tell whether it has been rebuilt or just remodelled.



The December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for a newly-opened chain of cleaners.

I love the use of capitalized words for emphasis. And they used exclusive English formulas!

Spick & Span Cleaners hit the ground running late in 1931: the 1931 Toronto city directory does not list any locations, and the 1932 directory lists all 36 locations shown here. The business more or less thrived, despite being started in the depths of the Great Depression; by 1939, 27 stores remained in business, and the company had spawned one imitator, Spick & Slick Cleaners at 2388 Bloor West.

The firm persisted at least into the late 1960s. In 1955, there were 27 stores in the chain, but their numbers started to gradually dwindle after that. In 1960, there were 23 branches; in 1965, there were 13. There were also 13 branches in 1969, the last year for which I can access the online Toronto city directory. A Google search turned up no reference to the chain, so I do not know when they went out of business.


Here is value

Here’s an ad for a restaurant from the December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. The restaurant featured a full course dinner for 50 cents:

Sparfel’s New English Grill was the brainchild of Joseph and Louis J. Sparfel. Joseph arrived in Toronto first, taking over the Hotel Florence at 30 King West in 1930. His brother first appears in the 1931 city directory as co-manager of the grill.

Sparfel’s New English Grill last appears in the 1935 directory. By then, the brothers had shifted their responsibilities: Louis is now listed as the sole proprietor of the grill and the hotel, and Joseph was now managing the Blackstone Restaurant, located in the basement of 112 Yonge Street.

In 1936, the Oxford Hotel is now at 30 King West, Joseph is involved with the Blackstone Restaurant and with the Normandy Restaurant at 12 Queen East, and Louis has no listed occupation. Louis didn’t give up, though: by 1938, he was running the Claridge Restaurant, while Joseph was still with what the directory called the Black Stone Restaurant. In 1940, they were both still at their respective posts, and Margaret R. Sparfel was working as a cashier at the Blackstone; presumably, she was Joseph’s daughter.

I was curious, so I kept going. In 1945, Louis does not have a listed occupation, but Joseph was now the manager at Chez-Paree Limited, a restaurant at 220 Bloor West. This restaurant was successful: by 1955, Joseph was the general manager there, his son Roland was manager, and Louis was working there as a cook.

A Google search for the Chez-Paree restaurant turned up a Twitter thread on it, including a copy of a menu. The restaurant lasted until 1969, when the building it was in was demolished.


Announced his engagement

Here’s an item from the photo page of the December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring a couple that were about to be married.

Unfortunately, the couple separated after only four months, and neither of the two had a long or happy life.

Horace Liveright (1884-1933) was a publisher and stage producer. He was a founder of the Boni & Liveright and Modern Library publishing imprints, and he produced a successful adaptation of Dracula in 1927. Business failures and alcoholism led to death by pneumonia in 1933, and Wikipedia claims that only six people went to his funeral.

Elise Bartlett Porter (1899-1947), who used the stage name of Elise Bartlett, appeared in a production of Show Boat in 1929. Mr. Liveright was Ms. Porter’s second husband; she had married actor Joseph Schildkraut in 1923. She had apparently so enchanted Mr. Schildkraut that he proposed on the day that they met. They divorced in 1930. Like Mr. Liveright, Ms. Porter drank heavily, dying of delirium tremens in 1947.


Speed flier plunges to death

Here’s a series of photographs from the December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a pilot who had passed away in a plane crash.

Lowell Bayles (1900-1931) had just finished winning a number of events at the 1931 National Air Races when he decided to go for the landplane speed record. Analysis of the crash indicated that the aircraft’s fuel cap came loose and struck Bayles in the head, causing him to lose control of the plane. YouTube has footage of the crash, which is horrifying to watch.


Managing director

Here’s a photograph from the December 7 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who had just been appointed to a new position.

It’s interesting that standard business attire has not changed much since 1931. Mr. Pettis’s face and clothing look modern enough in this headshot to be from 1981 or even 2019.

As usual when I find an interesting headshot, I traced him in the Toronto city directory to see what happened to him. I didn’t go year-by-year, but I checked in at regular intervals.

  • He is not in the 1919 city directory, though some of his family were.
  • He is in the 1921 directory as a clerk.
  • In 1926, he is a managing director of George H. Hees & Son Co. Limited.
  • In 1931, he is listed as managing director of George H. MacDonald Ltd., as mentioned in the photograph.
  • In 1933, he is still the vice-president of George H. MacDonald Ltd.
  • In 1935, he has no listed occupation.
  • In 1938, he is a representative for Canada Life.
  • The 1941 directory lists him as having no listed occupation again.
  • In 1943 and 1945, he was on active service.
  • In 1946, he is listed as a field officer for the WPTB Information Branch.
  • In 1948 and 1950, he is a manager for the Range Master Company of Canada.

He is not listed in the 1951 directory. His widow is not listed, so I don’t know whether he passed away or moved.


The outlook for civilization

Here’s an ad from the November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a preacher who was about to deliver a lecture at Massey Hall.

When I read this, I contemplated Dr. Cadman proclaiming that civilization was about to meet its doom while, in the background, the 75 voices of the Harmony Glee Club harmonized gleefully.

Samuel Parkes Cadman (1864-1936) was possibly the first of the radio preachers. Born in England, he worked in a coal mine for ten years, starting at the age of 11. While working at the mine, he read enthusiastically and became interested in theology.

Upon graduating from seminary, Dr. Cadman moved to the United States, eventually founding the Metropolitan Methodist Church in New York City, and then moving to the Central Congregational Church of Brooklyn, where he preached from 1901 until his death. In 1928, he began an NBC radio broadcast that reached approximately five million people.

Dr. Cadman publicly opposed both racism and anti-Semitism, and was in favour of boycotting the 1936 Berlin Olympics. As it turned out, he did not live to see Hitler’s Olympic Games, as he passed away from a sudden attack of appendicitis less than three weeks before they started.


Glorious full length concerts

Here’s an ad from the November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a series of classical music concerts on the radio.

I wonder whether someone was given a dressing-down for typesetting “Phico” instead of “Philco” in the ad copy.

Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977) went on to have a conducting career that lasted more than 60 years. He was the music director for the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1912 to 1940.

He was married three times, with each marriage lasting 11 or 12 years:

  • Olga Samaroff (1880-1948) was an American pianist whose given name was Lucy Hickenlooper. Her agent suggested a name change would help her get more gigs, and you can’t really blame her for adopting a more European-sounding professional name. She and Stokowski were married in 1911, and she helped advance his career, apparently lobbying to get him appointed director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. They divorced in 1923, apparently partially because Stokowski was unfaithful.
  • Evangeline Love Brewster Johnson was an heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. They were married from 1926 to 1937, and were divorced at about the time when Stokowski went for a vacation with Greta Garbo in Capri. She later married a Russian nobleman named Prince Zalstem-Zalessky.
  • Gloria Vanderbilt (1924-2019) has been mentioned in this blog before (here and here). Her marriage to Stokowski was quite the May-December romance, as she was nearly 42 years younger than he was when they married in 1945; his divorce from Ms. Samaroff happened before Ms. Vanderbilt was born. They divorced in 1955. She went on to marry director Sidney Lumet and then actor/writer Wyatt Emery Cooper; she lived for over 40 years after Cooper passed away in 1978.

Nowadays, Stokowski is probably best remembered because Bugs Bunny portrayed him in a cartoon.


Craven in childbirth

The November 21 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this rather startling article about women and childbirth.

It appears that Dr. John S. Fairbairn of St. Thomas’ Hospital in London believed that middle-class British women were unwilling to suffer during childbirth and did not believe that motherhood was a duty. This apparently made it their own fault that they died more often during the delivery process. (Dr. Fairbairn, needless to say, was male.)

A Google search for Dr. Fairbairn turned up this obituary for him; he passed away in 1944. The obituary listed his medical achievements and honours but did not mention his viewpoint on maternal suffering.