I don’t think I will ever grow tired of pictures from the photo page of 1930s newspapers. Here’s another photo from the April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, this time of two tennis players in mid-game.
Bryan Grant (1909-1986) and Lester Stoefen (1911-1970) were quite likely the men’s tennis doubles partnership with the greatest height difference in history.
Grant, who was 5’4″, was nicknamed “Itsy Bitsy the Giant Killer” or just “Bitsy” for short. His specialty was retrieving balls hit by much larger opponents and wearing them out. He was ranked in the United States Top Ten a total of nine times between 1930 and 1941, and played seniors competitive tennis well into the 1970s. He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1972.
Stoefen wasn’t just six-foot – he was 6’6″. He won three Grand Slam doubles titles with George Lott in 1933 and 1934. He turned pro in 1934, and started a series of head-to-head matches against fellow professional Ellsworth Vines in 1935, winning one and losing 25. He passed away from cirrhosis of the liver in 1970.
Here’s another item from the photo page of the April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, this time featuring a former millionaire who had fallen on hard times.
It’s accurate to say that Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933) lived life large. Among other things, he was:
A newspaper proprietor, co-founding the Financial Times and John Bull, among others.
A member of Parliament for the Liberal Party between 1906 and 1912, and an independent between 1918 and 1922.
A speculator who made a fortune in Australian gold mining shares, which enabled him to live a lavish lifestyle, including a number of mistresses discreetly stashed away.
A tireless pro-war propagandist during the First World War, making over 300 speeches on behalf of the war effort, and becoming enormously influential as a result.
A swindler, whose fraudulent Victory Bonds scheme led to his being imprisoned in 1922 for five years, which effectively ended his career.
Reuben Bigland was a businessman from Birmingham who joined forces with Bottomley in 1913. Together, they organized sweepstakes and lotteries based in Switzerland that were suspected of being dubious. In 1921, Bottomley sued Bigland for libel and charged him with blackmail and extortion; Bigland was acquitted, and the facts revealed at the trial led to Bottomley’s eventual imprisonment.
If Bigland had actually offered a cottage and a pound a week for life to his former enemy, he wouldn’t have needed to provide them for long: Bottomley passed away a little over a month after this photo appeared. His obituaries stated that he was a man of considerable natural ability ruined by greed and vanity.
Here’s a photo from the April 20 1933 of the newly appointed United States ambassador to Mexico.
Josephus Daniels (1862-1948) was a newspaper editor in Raleigh, North Carolina, for many years. During the First World War, he was Secretary of the Navy. His undersecretary was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which eventually led to Daniels being appointed an ambassador when Roosevelt became president.
Daniels was also a white supremacist and segregationist. In 1900, he was a driving force behind the North Carolina state legislature’s passing of an amendment that disenfranchised African-Americans in the state and denied them political power for many decades.
The April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a column titled “Boners” that I assume was a collection of witticisms:
Perhaps humour changes over time, but my first thought on reading this was: huh? This is supposed to be funny? But, then again, perhaps it makes sense to never go into the water until you have learned how to swim. Heh heh heh!
Obviously, I couldn’t do a Google search for a humour column named Boners, as the results would reference a more modern use of the word. So the origins of this column – which appears to have been syndicated, given the copyright – will have to remain a mystery.
In 1933, it was harder to get a divorce than it is today. It was rare enough that the April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star used a report of a divorce as a bit of filler on one of its pages:
I was hoping to be able to locate the Geleffs in the Toronto city directories to find out what happened to them, but I had no luck. The 1933 and 1934 directories listed three family members named Geleff living at 35 Davies Avenue and a confectioner living at 202 Queen East; none of them were named Katherine or Anastas. Searches for similar last names turned up nothing either. Whoever these people were – and however they spelled their name – I hope they had happy lives now that they were apart.
The Toronto Daily Star newspapers of the 1920s and 1930s featured daily columns titled “Men’s Police Court” and “Women’s Police Court” that summarized the results of the daily court cases. For instance, the Women’s Police Court section of the February 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star told the story of a man who returned home from work only to find that eight people, almost all strangers to him, were having a party there:
I tried to trace Robert Perryman, the man who had the unwanted houseguests, in the Toronto city directories. It appears as though the article had his address wrong – the 1933 directory lists nobody living on Commercial Street, but does list a Robert Perryman at 77 Commissioners Street in Toronto’s docklands district.
This Mr. Perryman worked as a nightwatchman at McColl Frontenac and lived in a house on the premises. There’s also a listing for Robert Perryman at 55 1/2 Sumach Street. Harold Perryman, who worked as a fireman at McColl Frontenac, also lived at 55 1/2 Sumach; this suggests that the two Perrymans were brothers and that Robert divided his time between the two residences.
Since the article doesn’t mention a brother or other relative, the unwanted bash probably happened at 77 Commissioners. This seems quite a distance for a group of party crashers to travel, but who knows. (Here’s what 77 Commissioners looks like today.)
In the 1934 directory, Robert Perryman was now listed at 77 Commissioners and 249 Booth, with Harold also at 249 Booth. By 1935, the two Perrymans had severed their connection to McColl Frontenac, and were working as labourers and living at 249 Booth. In the 1936 directory, they were both at 65 Logan; the 1938 directory lists Harold but not Robert.
If you’ve stopped by this blog before, you probably know that I like to post articles and then look things up in the Toronto city directories. So I was pleasantly surprised to find an article in the February 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about looking things up in the newly-released 1933 Toronto city directory!
The first part of the article points out that Gertrude Aalto and Alex Zyzda were the first and last names listed in the directory:
I looked in the 1933 directory myself and, sure enough, these were the first and last people listed:
The second part of the article mentioned people with the unfortunate names of Joseph P. Deady and Mrs. Segna Boring:
Sure enough, Mr. Deady and Mrs. Boring were in the directory too, as promised:
However, I have an advantage over the writer of this article, as I can look into the future that he or she could not yet see. Out of curiosity, I looked for all four of these people in the 1938 directory:
Gertrude Aalto was gone, but the first people in the directory were now Emma Aalto (widow of David) and Oscar Aalto.
Alex Zyzda was now a butcher and grocer, living at 80 Argyle.
Joseph P. Deady was still at 201 Sorauren, but had changed jobs: instead of being a TTC conductor, he was now a waiter at the Royal Cecil Hotel.
Mrs. Segna Boring was, alas, no longer listed.
And, just because, I went forward all the way to 1948 to see if our two remaining stalwarts were still there:
Joseph P. Deady was still at 201 Sorauren. He was now an employee at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
There were now three Zyzdas in the directory. Alex was still at 80 Argyle and still a butcher and grocer. Mike Zyzda was also at 80 Argyle and working at Massey-Harris; I assume that he was Alex’s son.
There was also a William Zyzda at 146 Shaw. I could check the directory in earlier years to see whether William and Alex were related, but I kind of like the idea of a totally unrelated person named Zyzda showing up in the city to take over as the last person in the directory.
In the February 22 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, the owners of the Murray’s restaurant chain decided to attract attention by creating an ad that took up an entire column of a page. I’ve included it here; I’ll meet you at the bottom of the ad!
Digging around in the Toronto city directories revealed that Murray’s was based in Montreal. There were actually seven Murray’s locations in the 1933 Toronto city directory, and there were approximately five or six locations in all directories right up until 1969, which is the last year that I can access.
Murray’s existed in Montreal up until 2009. The Montreal Gazette has an article on the closing of the last Murray’s.
In the 1930s, the Toronto Daily Star used to include a column on its editorial page titled “A Little Of Everything”. This column always started with a poem. As you might expect, these poems varied widely in quality from actually quite good to trite doggerel.
I’ve included the poem from the February 22 1933 edition because it included drawings and because the name and address of the poet was provided at the bottom.
But here’s the catch: when I looked up 628 Crawford Street in the Toronto city directories, no one named Ralph Gordon lived there. The 1932, 1933, and 1934 directories all listed Fred W. Utley at that address. There was a Ralph W. Gordon in the 1933 directory, with his listing in bold face even, but he was at the Canadian Bank of Commerce and lived at 45 St. Clair Avenue West.
I have no idea what is going on – did Mr. Utley use a pen name when creating this poem and diagram? The 1933 directory listed no occupation for him, but the 1929 directory listed him as an elocutionist. So I guess he was interested in words and how they sound, which might mean that he wrote this. But I wonder whether Mr. Gordon read the Star, and whether he was surprised to see his name in the paper when he was on his way to work at the bank.