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Manchu goes modern

Here’s a photograph from the June 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Chinese ruler who apparently preferred to wear a business suit.

Wikipedia refers to this gentleman as Puyi (1906-1967). The photo caption above doesn’t mention that Puyi was installed as a puppet ruler (and eventually emperor) of Manuchukuo by the Japanese, serving in this role from 1932 to 1945. He had already been emperor of China between 1908 and when he was forced to abdicate in 1912, so he was not unfamiliar with the role.

While a puppet emperor, he apparently did everything that the Japanese told him to do, including making slavery legal. He also had his servants beaten and took a number of lovers while his wife was busy battling her opium addiction. So it’s safe to say that he was not a particularly decent person.

He was tried as a war criminal after the Japanese were defeated, but was spared execution because Mao Zedong decided that a live former emperor turned commoner was more useful than a dead emperor. He served ten years in prison, and apparently his time behind bars changed him, turning him into a kinder person. He married again in 1962, and passed away five years later.

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Makes yacht trip

Here’s a photograph from the June 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young man who was going to sail around the coasts of France and Spain:

Woodburn S. Thomson served on a number of Canadian Navy ships during the Second World War, rising to the rank of Lieutenant. He eventually moved to the town of Ayr in the county of Waterloo, passing away there in 1989.

I found an obituary for his wife, who passed away in 2005. She is buried next to him in Ayr.

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Some swimmer!

Here’s a photograph from the June 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian swimming competitor.

I couldn’t find a biography of Margaret Hutton anywhere, but I did find a few things:

  • At the 1934 Commonwealth Games, Ms. Hutton won gold medals as part of the 4×110 freestyle and 3×110 medley relay teams.
  • In 1936, she was quoted as saying that bathing trunks are here to stay.
  • A photograph of her from 1949 is in the City of Edmonton archives. The caption states that she is a champion swimmer from California; perhaps she had moved there by the time of the photo.
  • She was elected to the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1999.
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Will live in Sweden

The front page of the June 1 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of the wife of the United States ambassador to Sweden.

Lawrence Steinhardt (1892-1950) served as the United States ambassador for a number of countries, starting in 1933. His tours of duty:

  • Sweden, 1933-1937
  • Peru, 1937-1939
  • the Soviet Union, 1939-1941
  • Turkey, 1942-1945
  • Czechoslovakia, 1945-1948
  • Canada, 1949-1950

While serving as the ambassador to Turkey, Steinhardt helped numerous Jewish refugees and downed American pilots make their way to safety. He passed away on March 28 1950 when his plane crashed in Ramseyville, Ontario, becoming the first American ambassador to perish on the job.

Mrs. Steinhardt, pictured here, was born Dulcie Yates Hofmann. She passed away in 1974.

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Action plus!

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.

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To aid one-time enemy

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.

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Arrives in Mexico City

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.

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Prodigious poundage

Here’s an item from the photo page of the April 20 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring a young boy who was quite large.

I did a search for Jules Tewlow, and found a number of results that might or might not refer to the same person as the one in this photograph:

  • A birth record for Jules Sylvan “Nick” Tewlow from 1927.
  • A photograph of him from 1931, when he was already noticeably large.
  • A better reproduction of the photograph above, from Getty Images – this mentions that he is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Tewlow, which becomes relevant when looking at:
  • The marriage announcement for Jules S. Tewlow and Miss Eleanor M. Turel from the New York Times in 1964. This Jules Tewlow was also the son of Frank Tewlow.
  • There were a number of references to Jules S. Tewlow related to newspapers and digital publishing, including this article from 1993.

I have no idea whether all of these references to Jules Tewlow are to the same person. I could find no photographs of an adult Jules Tewlow, so I don’t know whether he was still unusually large.

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Humour, 1933 style

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.

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Grants decree nisi

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.