Perfect back contest

Sometimes I run across an article or photo that’s just plain weird. Here’s a picture from the photo page of the July 27 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that falls into this category.

I have no idea why anyone would want to enter the National Progressive Chiropractors Association’s perfect back contest. I suppose that there was a prize of some sort, and it was the middle of the Great Depression, so people were looking to make money any way they could.

I could find no reference to the National Progressive Chiropractors Association or its perfect back contest anywhere. Searches for C. H. Wood indicated that he was a leading chiropractor in California at that time; his given name appears to have been Charles.


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.


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.


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.)


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.


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.


Match sprint race today

Here’s one last picture from the photo page of the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring two champion athletes.

Frank Wykoff (1909-1980) was an Olympic gold medal winner in the 4 x 100 relay in 1928, 1932, and 1936. He later became a teacher in Los Angeles. A slogan of his, “Clean Speech, Clean Sport, Clean Scholarship, Clean Life,” was adopted by the YMCA.

Searching for Olive Hatch was difficult because the search turned up a lot of fishing-related entries. I couldn’t find any entries on a swimmer by that name, but I did find an actress and writer named Olive Hatch who was about the right age. I have no way of knowing whether they are different people or whether the caption is wrong about this Ms. Hatch’s line of work.

Wykoff’s match sprint opponent, Percy Williams (1908-1982), became famous in Canada when he won the 100 and 200 metre dash events at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Approximately 25,000 people turned out to welcome him back home to Vancouver.

By the time of this match sprint, Williams was past his prime, having torn a tendon at the British Empire Games in 1930. In later years, he became an insurance agent.

Unfortunately, Williams’ life ended in tragedy:

  • In 1980, he gave away his gold medals to the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, only to have them stolen a few weeks later.
  • Williams had been living with his mother all of his life (he never married), and she passed away in 1980 at the age of 92.
  • In 1982, Williams shot himself with a gun he had been awarded as a prize for his 1928 heroics. He left no note.

Attracted more attention

Here’s a photo from the photo page of the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, of a young woman who attracted more attention at Belmont race track than anyone else:

A search didn’t turn up much, though I did find a reference to a New York Times article that stated that Ms. Coe was to be honoured at a party on the eve of her wedding.

I also found her Find a Grave entry, which informed me that, in 1934, Ms. Coe married Commendatore Leonardo Vitetti from the Italian embassy. She had three older brothers and outlived all of them, passing away in 1987 at the age of 77.


Foils thug

The June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photo and an article about a man who prevented an armed robbery of his service station.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to definitely locate Henry Bingham, the heroic gas station attendant. (“Gas station attendant” appears to have been a hazardous occupation.) The 1931 directory does not list him, and the 1931 and 1932 directories state that the occupant of 1213 Dufferin was John A. Whitten, a bricklayer.

The 1932 directory does list a Henry Bingham who was working as a carpenter and living in Scarborough. If this was the same man, I don’t blame him for moving far away from gas stations and thugs with guns. He wasn’t in the 1935 directory, which I checked at random, so perhaps he just wandered on down the road somewhere.


Sharp newsie

Here’s an article from the June 18 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a 17-year-old boy who sold papers and magazines at the corner of Bay and Richmond:

Out of curiosity, I traced Max Brandwein in the Toronto city directories. He wasn’t listed in the 1931 directory, but I did find him later. At roughly five-year intervals:

  • 1937: no listed occupation (this doesn’t necessarily mean that he was unemployed, of course)
  • 1942: employee, CPR
  • 1947: news agent, CPR
  • 1952: no listed occupation
  • 1957, 1962: waiter, Ford Hotel
  • 1969 (the last year for which I have access): no listed occupation