Tuesday, 13 May 2008

By-Liner No. 1

You find the most interesting collectibles at country estate auctions, including copies of The By-Liner from the 1950s.

The prize for a two-hour wait at a Corneil's country auction in Little Britain, near Lindsay, was The By-Liner, Vol. 1, No. 1, from April of 1951, complete and in excellent reading condition.

This By-Liner, which included a program of events for the Toronto Men's Press Club's By-Line Ball, held April 14, 1951, at the Royal York Hotel, recalls another era of newspaper men and women.

An era when newspaper legends mingled with the greenest of journalists after hours at flourishing press clubs and special events, with the occasional royalty, sports and other celebrities at the bar.

(The second By-Liner from May 1952 includes the classic photo of Jimmy Durante and Ted Reeve nose to nose at the press club.)

In April of 1951, H.E. McCallum was mayor of Toronto and his welcoming message is on Page 4. A full-page message from Wessely Hicks, president of the TMPC, is on Page 6. There is also a greeting from Ruth Honderich Spielberg, president of the Toronto Women's Press Club, on Page 8.

On Page 7, the first paragraph in a story by J.V. McAree reads: "Fifty years ago there were six daily newspapers in Toronto. Today there are three."

The six: The Globe, Telegram, Star, News, Toronto World and Mail and Empire. The three: Globe, Telegram and Star.

That same lead today would read: "Fifty years ago there were three daily newspapers in Toronto. Today there are four."

in 1951, the Toronto Men's Press Club was only seven years old, but already a maker of legendary newspaper tales, involving giants of the business, sports and entertainment celebrities and the occasional royalty.

The first By-Liner captures the mood of the day, with columns by Frank Tumpane, Alex Barris, Bruce West, Ted Reeve, Cay Moore, Milt Dunnell, Marilyn Bell, Jack Karr, Art Chambers, Greg Clark, Scott Young and Byrne Hope Sanders.

The Toronto Sun wouldn't rise for another 20 years, but a few of those newspaper legends would still be around in 1971 to contribute to the success of the tabloid.

Ads in Vol. 1 of The By-Liner also revive memories of another era, including a Maple Leaf Stadium ad announcing the 1951 baseball season opener, Eaton's, Simpson's etc.

Reading the first By-Liner makes us nostalgic for By-Liner Balls, with Patty Conklin's Midway, dancing, a stage show, Firefighters' Awards, the crowning of a Miss By-Liner etc.

And for a time when flourishing press clubs and after hours camaraderie of reporters, photographers, columnists and editors were the order of the day.

The By-Liner, Vol. 1, No. 1 would be the perfect donation to a Canadian media museum - if we had one.

Or we could hold a TSF auction for Volumes 1 and 2.

Any bids?

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