Eight fined $50

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article about eight people who were in court because they had been caught driving while impaired.

From this article, I learned that the going rate for driving while impaired in 1952 in Toronto was $50, which is equivalent to $479.86 in today’s money. While this isn’t that small a sum, I can’t help but think that drinking and driving was far more socially tolerated in 1952 than it is today.


Wed on the isle of Capri

Here’s a brief article from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about the marriage of British singing star Gracie Fields:

Gracie Fields (1898-1979) was famous in 1930s Britain as a singer and actress. During the Second World War, she was married to Monty Banks, a citizen of Italy; to keep Banks from being interned as an enemy alien, the couple went to North America. Fields performed regularly for servicemen during the war, sometimes enduring air raids.

Ms. Fields was a widow when she met Mr. Alperovic, as Mr. Banks had passed away in 1950. Her Wikipedia page claims that she thought of Mr. Alperovic as the love of her life, and that she could not wait to propose to him, which she did on Christmas Day 1951. The marriage lasted: the couple remained together until her death.


Male pilots only, please

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads for the Royal Canadian Air Force: one for men, and one for women.

Men were given the opportunity to become pilots:

Whereas women were only given the option of serving in the RCAF Auxiliary:

Sure, identifying and detecting approaching aircraft and working as a triangulation table operator were useful tasks and even essential ones. But I am sure that there were women who would have welcomed the opportunity to become a pilot if it had been available to them.



Here’s an ad from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a company that offered personal loans.

I crunched the numbers on the loan amounts and costs, and the rates of return were 16.7% and higher. That’s a pretty good return on investment, I guess.

The Personal Finance Company kept opening branches over the next few years – the 1956 directory lists 24 branches. But it appears that they might have overextended themselves, as they weren’t listed in the 1957 directory.


The popular Video-ettes

Here’s a promotional photograph from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a couple who made music with bells:

Google searches turned up very little on either Art and Mabel Guinness or the Video-ettes. It didn’t help that a man named Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness beer empire in the 18th century. Just in case, I checked the Guinness family Wikipedia page to see if the Art Guinness in this photograph was a descendant. He appears not to be.

I did find this reference to the Video-ettes in a Bowmanville newspaper in 1950. This article stated that the Guinnesses were from Toronto, so I looked them up in the Toronto city directories. Sure enough, the 1952 directory listed Arthur M. Guinness as an entertainer and living on Bessborough Drive in Leaside; the 1955 directory had the same entry. But then, like many entertainers before and since, he got a day job: he was listed as an employee at the CBC in 1956, and then was working as a sales rep in 1957. By 1962, he was president of McLean Merchandise Sales.


1952 Oldsmobile

I have been spending a lot of time in the 1930s lately, but I recently looked up the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star and found a lot of stuff there, so we will be in 1952 for the next few days!

The first thing I noticed when looking at this edition was that there were a lot of ads for the new 1952 Oldsmobile. First, there was an ad for the Oldsmobile itself:

Then, there were a number of ads from automobile dealers who were inviting you to see the new Oldsmobile for yourself. Presumably, this was a coordinated effort. (I’m trying the WordPress image gallery feature again – click on an image to view it more completely.)

And, last but not least, there was a photo of the new Oldsmobile near the back of the paper:

The references to the Oldsmobile reminded me of this 1931 promotional cartoon, which included the song “In My Merry Oldsmobile”. The song was originally written in 1905.


Would not force lefties to change

Here’s a bit of medical advice from the July 15 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.


The conclusion of this article includes this:

Few mistakes will be made if parents follow the law of averages and teach all youngsters to use the right hand. Those who rebel are the “lefties” and should not be forced to change.

Wikipedia has an article about bias against left-handed people that is interesting reading. In 1932, only two percent of Americans wrote with their left hand, with the number rising to 7 1/2 percent in 1946, 9 percent in 1968, and 12 percent in 1972. However, many other countries encouraged or forced the use of the right hand, including the former Soviet Union, in which all children wrote right-handed.

Nature and the Journal of Neuroscience have articles on the effects of switching hands.


Name change

The front page of the August 13 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a fascinating article about a lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Army who was left $250,000 in his aunt’s will, provided he changed his surname.

Here’s the picture of the late aunt, the home she lived in, and Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Murray Dalziel McNaughton, who was being asked to change his surname to Leslie (his aunt’s surname).


There was also an article that went into more detail.



Naturally, I was curious: did he go through with it? As it turned out, he did: there is a Wikipedia page for his son, Andrew Leslie, who was himself a lieutenant-general in the army. The page mentions that his father changed his name to obtain the inheritance. Lt. Col. McNaughton, later Leslie, became a brigadier general, so the name change didn’t hurt his career any.


Autumn Leaves

For years, the Toronto Daily Star ran a column on their editorial page called A Little Of Everything. This column included a daily poem.

I haven’t read many of the poems, but I assume that they vary widely in quality (I’m not a very good judge of poetry). One that I saw in the November 21 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a melancholy quality, which matched the time of year that it was written:


Because the Toronto city directories allow me to do this sort of snooping, I looked up B. H. Warr. He appears in the 1952 directory as Bertram H. Warr, and he worked as a caretaker. A few years later, he moved to a different company, where he served as an elevator operator and then as a night caretaker.

There was also a Mary M. Warr at the same address; I have no idea whether this was his wife, his sister, his mother, or some other relative. She worked as a stenographer and later as a private secretary. She appears in the 1952 and 1957 directories (I checked every five years), but not in the 1962 directory.

B. H. Warr continued on, though – he appears to have retired sometime between 1962 and 1965, as the 1965 directory just lists his home address, not his occupation. He was in the 1969 directory, which is the last one that I have access to. So he had at least 17 years after he wrote this poem to enjoy the autumn leaves, as well as all the other seasons.


Honest Red’s

If you live in Toronto, you will almost certainly have heard of Honest Ed’s, the giant bargain discount store that existed until relatively recently at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. But did you know that there was an Honest Red’s at one time?

The November 21 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad from Honest Red’s:


Honest Red’s was a new business at the time of this ad – it did not appear in the 1952 city directory, as the College Variety Centre and Seabrook Florist were in the space. It did appear in the 1953 city directory.

By 1955, Honest Red’s was at 924 College Street only; 926 College had been taken over by Bedford Men’s Wear. By 1957, Honest Red’s was no more, though the city directory did list two separate businesses named Honest Ned’s.

As for Honest Ed’s? It had an ad in the paper too:


Honest Ed’s was probably entitled to point out that it was “often imitated, but never duplicated”.