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By close margin

Here’s one last posting from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, about a family that came perilously close to dying of asphyxiation.

The “too long, didn’t read” for this article: James Blackley, despite being so badly gassed during World War I that he could no longer work, managed to stagger next door to summon help from his neighbour. This saved his family’s lives.

I looked James Blackley up in the Toronto city directories, since I’m morbid that way. The Streets section of the 1933 directory listed James C. Blackley and his father-in-law, James Ridley, at 80 Kingsmount Park Road. They had recently moved in, as the 1932 directory lists the address as vacant.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Blackley moved straight back out again: the 1934 directory lists him at 53 Norwood. (James Ridley is not listed there; I’m not sure what happened to him.) The 1936 and 1939 directories list him at 49 Enderby Road.

I didn’t find him in the 1940 and 1941 directories, but the 1945 directory lists a James C. Blackley at 4 Norwood Terrace. This might be someone else, or he might have lived to the end of the Second World War despite being disabled by gas in the first one. Either way, he qualifies as a hero.

I couldn’t find any references to either of the children (Donald and Bernice) in the directories. There is an F. Donald Blackley in the 1940 and 1945 directories (in the latter, he was listed as on active service), but this isn’t likely the same Donald as in this article, as he would have been 16 in 1940.

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Song of the rails

As I’ve mentioned before, the Toronto Daily Star used to include a column on its editorial page titled “A Little Of Everything”. It always started off with a poem, and then included what presumably were editorial comments. Here’s the start of one such column, from the September 26 1932 edition:

The column writer clearly was not a fan of the Group of Seven. As I’ve also mentioned before, I’m not knowledgeable about poetry, but I fear that I thought this poem was dreadful.

I searched for Elspeth Clarke, and found this PDF document: it revealed that she was the wife of a civil engineer who had surveyed railroads and highways in British Columbia. It also contained an article by her titled “Bread Alone”, which describes their difficult life living in a remote area.

Mrs. Clarke passed away in 1962 at the age of 72; her husband lived for nearly two decades as a widower, passing away in 1981.

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A high-pressure broadcaster

Here’s a photo from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a deep-sea explorer.

William Beebe (1877-1962) was a biologist, ecologist, explorer, and author who was famous for his scientific writing for popular audiences. He was a demanding employer, but he would sometimes reduce stress among his staff by decreeing that everybody should take several days off because his birthday was approaching, regardless of whether it actually was.

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Cancel installation plans

Here’s a bit of filler from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about cancelled ceremonies.

The installation ceremonies were cancelled, but Henry John Cody (1868-1951) went on to become the president of the University of Toronto without them, serving in this role from 1932 to 1944. He was an Ontario MPP from 1918 to 1920, serving as Minister of Education from 1918 to 1919.

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Became suspicious when songs ceased

Here’s a short article from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a man who apparently tried to end his life while intoxicated.

I was curious, so I traced Molson Keating in the Toronto city directories. In the 1932 directory, he was working as a driver for Eaton’s and living at 71 Ritchie Avenue. I continued looking him up at two-year intervals, and he lived a wandering life:

  • 1933: labourer at Eaton’s, still at 71 Ritchie.
  • 1935: no listed occupation, 1188 College.
  • 1937: barrel man at the Rondon Hotel, 256 Indian Road.
  • 1939: cleaner, Parliament Buildings, 767 Lansdowne.
  • 1941: cleaner, Parliament Buildings, 24 Wallace.
  • 1943: not listed – perhaps he was overseas.
  • 1945: salesman, Halls Dairy, 198 Margueretta.
  • 1947: yardman, Builders Flooring & Millwork, 29 Brunswick.
  • 1949: employee at Builders Supply, 81 Argyle.
  • 1951: no listed occupation, 20 Maple Grove.
  • 1953: no listed occupation, 234 Brock.
  • 1955: no listed occupation, 329 Brock (listed as “Moley”).
  • 1957: janitor, Recording and Statistical Company, 329 Brock.
  • 1959: no listed occupation, 12 Shirley.

He is not listed in the 1960 directory, and there was no listing for his widow.

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Son of sultan is captivated

The September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two separate pictures of the son of the sultan of Morocco with a child’s toy. The first picture showed him captivated by a yo-yo:

And this picture shows him with a toy car:

The little boy grew up to become Hassan II (1929-1999), who became King of Morocco from 1961 until his death. He was considered an autocratic ruler with a very poor human rights record.

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Cup stays in Canada

Here’s a photograph from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian woman who had just won a golf trophy.

Searches revealed that the cup was for the Canadian women’s amateur championship, and that Ms. Kirkham, whose home course was Forest Hills in Montreal, was the first Canadian to win the trophy since 1926.

I couldn’t find out much else about her, except that she won some other tournaments in the 1930s and that she was leading after the first round of the 1936 championship. I don’t know what happened to her after that.

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Ginger biscuits and dates

Here’s a photo from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a British postman who was hoping to swim the English Channel.

Alas, Mr. Cliff’s diet of ginger biscuits and dates did not get him across the English Channel. The Channel Swimming Association website provides a complete list of successful channel swimmers, and his name is not on it.

The list of swimmers revealed some interesting information:

  • Lots of people (comparatively) are doing it nowadays. There were 43 successful solo swimmers in 2020, and 48 in 2021.
  • By comparison, only 14 swimmers had ever achieved the feat at the time of Mr. Cliff’s attempt.
  • The first successful channel crossing was achieved by Matthew Webb in 1875. It was 36 years before anyone did it again.
  • No one made it across in 1932. In 1933, Ethel “Sunny” Lowry (discussed in this blog here) was successful.

Searches for W. J. Cliff turned up nothing, partly because searches for “cliff english channel” returned references to the White Cliffs of Dover. Mr. Cliff appears to be lost to history; presumably, he went back to delivering the mail.

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This modern youth business

Fair warning: this blog will be spending the next few days in the world of September 26 1932, as I found a lot of interesting things in that day’s Toronto Daily Star. For example, here’s a photograph of an actress who apparently was good at handing cash customers the low down on this modern youth business:

Binnie Barnes (1903-1998) was 29 at the time of this photograph, so I guess she still qualified as a modern youth. Born in London and one of 16 children, she appeared in a short film in 1923 and worked as a chorus girl, nurse, and dance hostess before starting her British film career in 1931. Her filmography indicates that she moved to Hollywood late in 1934.

She was married twice; the second marriage, to film producer Mike Frankovich, lasted over half a century until he passed away in 1992.

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Here’s looking at ya!

Here’s one final photo from the June 4 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Joan Marsh (1913-2000) had two careers in the movies. She was a child actress in silent films from 1915 to 1921. She started appearing again in films in 1930, mostly in supporting roles.

Her last film was in 1944; she eventually became manager of a stationery shop. She appears to have been involved in nothing particularly noteworthy or scandalous, which I guess is a good thing.