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The gift of gifts

Here’s an ad from the April 29 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that offered a free guide with every Parker Pen.

After reading this, I wanted to know: who was Princess Rostislav, and did she actually write a “Guide to Correct Social Correspondence”?

It looks like “Princess Rostislav” might refer to the first wife of Prince Rostislav Alexandrovich (1902-1978), who was born Princess Alexandra Pavlovna Galitzine. The prince and princess were married in 1928 in Chicago, and were divorced in 1944. The National Portrait Gallery has photographs of the princess that were taken in 1922, when she was 17.

I have no idea whether this is the princess in question, or whether she actually did write a guide to correct social correspondence. I could find no reference to the guide anywhere, except in a reference from another ad in a Vancouver newspaper. If she had actually written such a guide, she would have had plenty of time to revise and republish it, as she passed away in 2006 at the age of 101.

Prince Rostislav, a nephew of Nicholas II, the last Czar of Russia, probably considered himself lucky to be alive and married to anyone: he escaped being assassinated by the Bolsheviks when German troops freed him in 1918. After he and the princess divorced, he went on to marry Alice Eilken and then Hedwig Maria Gertrud Eva von Chappuis; she married Lester Armour, who was almost certainly not a prince (at least not literally).

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When she wasn’t looking

The March 13 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this syndicated cartoon that today would seem deeply creepy or possibly even grounds for an assault charge (not to mention a medical malpractice suit):

It was difficult to find much on Ed Reed on the Internet, as searches tended to turn up references to a football player named Ed Reed and to Edward Tennyson Reed, a British political cartoonist. I did find an obituary for him, which stated that he grew up in Paris, Texas and that he continued to produce cartoons until his retirement in the mid-1980s. He wound up buying and living in a house in England that formerly belonged to Queen Elizabeth’s great-aunt.

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Memory blank after fall

Here’s an article from the March 13 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a teenage girl who escaped a pursuing man. I noticed it because it contains rather sloppy writing.

I’m reasonably certain that Mrs. George Hallam did not say, “My daughter had left the home of Mrs. Dobson, 1347 Pape Ave., and had only to walk around the corner to reach the home of Mrs. T. O. Fowler, 53 Chilton Rd., where she was going.”

When I looked up the addresses in the 1936 Toronto city directory, I discovered that the article writer didn’t get most of these right either. There is no Balsam Avenue in East York, and there wasn’t one in 1936 either; the directory does list a George Hallam at 225 Gamble Avenue, which is in the right neighbourhood and sounds about the same as the non-existent 226 Balsam. There was also nobody named Dobson at 1347 Pape. The article did have the right address for Mrs. T. O. Fowler, so one out of three was correct.

I looked in some later directories, and found a May Hallam in the 1944 directory. She was living on Strathmore Boulevard, which isn’t all that far away from Gamble Avenue, so I assume that it’s the same person as in the article. So, happily, it looks like she recovered from her injury.

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Famous model killed

Here’s a sad bit of filler from the February 11 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Google searches for more information led me down an odd rabbit hole. It turned out that the model for the Paris statue of Joan of Arc was an 18-year-old girl named Aimée Girod. Unfortunately, she did indeed burn to death in her apartment, but the references that I found (here, here, and here) claimed that this happened in May 1937.

So now I’m confused. Either a different woman, claiming that she was the model for Joan of Arc, was also unfortunate enough to burn to death, or all of the sources available to me today on the Internet have her date of death wrong.

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Seeks career

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the February 11 1936 Toronto Daily Star of a boy from New Zealand who was hoping to have a career in motion pictures.

As it turned out, Ronald Sinclair (1924-1992), whose given name was Richard Arthur Hould, had not one career but two in the movies after landing in San Francisco at the age of 12 (not 14 as stated in the photo). Between 1936 and 1942, he appeared in 16 movies as a juvenile, including playing young Scrooge in the 1938 version of A Christmas Carol. In his first films, he was billed as “Ra Hould” before taking his stage name.

After serving in World War II, Sinclair started editing films in 1955, working extensively with independent filmmaker Roger Corman. Beginning in the mid-1980s, he worked as a dialogue or ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) editor, working on the first two Die Hard movies among others, and continuing at this task on various projects until the year that he passed away.

It’s safe to say that Sinclair, or Hould as he then was, did achieve his dream of a film career. But he could not have imagined, as he was leaving the H.M.S. Makura in 1936, that one day he would be editing a film titled The Maltese Bippy.

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On a bicycle for two

Here’s a photograph from the November 14 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of two British industrialists on a tandem bicycle.

William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield (1877-1963) made a fortune selling Morris motor vehicles and then proceeded to give lots of it away. The grant mentioned here was used to found Nuffield College, the first co-educational college at Oxford.

Unfortunately, the contract to build airplane engines mentioned in this photo caption didn’t work out. When given the contract, Nuffield claimed that his factories could produce 60 Spitfires a week. But, by May 1940, when airplanes were most needed, they hadn’t produced any. When Lord Beaverbrook was placed in charge of aircraft production, Nuffield was fired.

On the other hand, Nuffield offered to give an iron lung to any hospital in the British Empire that wanted one; over 1700 took him up on his offer. So I guess you win some and you lose some.

Harold Bowden (1880-1960) set his sights a little lower in life, possibly because he was a second-generation industrialist: his father, Frank Bowden, founded Raleigh Bicycles in 1887, after a health scare prompted him to take up cycling. The younger Bowden seems to have been a capable steward of his father’s company: he was awarded the Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1929, and he got his own page in the Cycling Weekly’s Golden Book of Cycling in 1938.

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On eve of better times

Here’s an article from the November 14 1936 Toronto Daily Star featuring an interview with a retired Canadian banker.

John Aird (1855-1938) joined the Canadian Bank of Commerce in 1878. The 1879 Toronto city directory lists a John Aird as a clerk – I’m assuming that this is him:

I would guess that William Aird was his father. Mr. Aird rose from the rank of clerk to become president of the bank from 1924 to 1929. His grandson, John Black Aird, was the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario from 1980 to 1985.

When not doing banking stuff, Mr. Aird became the head of a royal commission on radio broadcasting, called (not surprisingly) the Aird Commission. In 1929, the commission recommended the founding of a public broadcasting network. This didn’t happen until 1932, when the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission was created to form what became the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In the article shown here, Mr. Aird predicted that better times were ahead, provided that there were “no international complications to disturb world affairs”. It’s probably just as well that he didn’t live to see the Second World War.

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Viking Revellers

Here’s an ad from the November 14 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for an upcoming radio broadcast:

It seems a shame that the Viking Revellers were only allotted 15 minutes for their show. There’s not a lot of revelling that you can do in that short of a time period.

A search for Viking Revellers turned up nothing relevant. I discovered that Roy Locksley was a trumpet player and had an orchestra, but I didn’t find a lot of details.

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Ark for 1938

The photo page for the November 14 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this fascinating picture of a man who was building a giant ark.

A search for “William Greenwood ark” turned up several references to Mr. Greenwood and his preparation for an impending flood. Weird Universe has an article on him, which mentioned that Mr. Greenwood had been building an ark since the 1920s (other sources say 1920), and had predicted an impending deluge in 1928, 1932, and then 1938. In 1942, the city of Olympia burned his ark, claiming it was a fire hazard; he promptly built a smaller one, and predicted a 1952 flood. He passed away in 1958 at the age of 91, surrounded by the animals that he hoped to save with his ark.

Other links to Mr. Greenwood and his ark can be found here, here, and here. (The last link requires either a subscription or disabling your ad blocker.)

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For the world’s heavyweight championship

Here’s an ad that appeared in the October 14 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I was a bit confused by this, until I realized that the world’s heavyweight championship mentioned here was for wrestling, not boxing.

Dean Detton (1908-1958) was world champion from September 1936 to June 1937, losing his title to former football great Bronko Nagurski. He retired from professional wrestling in 1951 and ran a bar in California. Sadly, he hanged himself there in 1958.

I couldn’t find a Wikipedia entry for Fred Grobmier, but I did find this page in wrestlingdata.com. During his career, he was known as Fred Grebmire, Fred Grobmeier, Fred Grobmier, Fred Grubmaier, Fred Grubmeier, Fred Grubmeyer, Fred Grubmier, and Fritz von Mier. He was nicknamed The Iowa Cornstalk, perhaps because nobody knew how to spell his name.