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Archive for July, 2017

“Colossus of Roads,” Montreal Gazette. July 31, 1938. Page 08.

The Colossus, really the Grim Reaper, astride a highway bears the legend: “Careless Driving Accident Toll.”

Art by John Collins.

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“Smoking
was another problem turn-of-the-century child savers like Kelso and
institutional officials like Chester Ferrier, the longest serving
superintendent of the Victoria Industrial School, linked to boys’
deviant character. A careful study of the boys under his charge led
Ferrier to believe that tobacco use was overrepresented among
delinquent boys. According to the Superintendent, 60 per cent of the
in mates of the Victoria Industrial School were smokers. Ferrier
objected to the use of tobacco by boys since he was convinced it had
detrimental effects for what he called their “moral power.”
Tobacco use was, in his words, “destroying, and making criminals
of more of this class of boys than the saloons. It weakens the moral
power of the boy, so that the cigarette fiend readily yields to
temptation.”

Like truancy, the deception
associated with smoking worried justice officials most. According to
the Committee Appointed to Investigate the Present Juvenile
Reformatory Schools of Ontario, “younger and older, they [would]
commit acts of deceit or theft for the sake of a smoke – even a
butt.” Ferrier thought the level of dishonesty allied with
tobacco use would inevitably lead deviant youth down a path of
habitual criminality. He argued that the various stages smokers
passed through in concealing and furthering a smoking habit
contributed to their deviance:

Deception [was] resorted to in
the incipient stages of this habit. He must hide from his parents,
for a time at least, this harmful indulgence. He takes his first
smoke in secret. For this purpose he finds companions who are already
addicted to the habit and have taken their first downward step. He
thus becomes deceitful and untruthful.

Ferrier
continued to moralize about the evils of tobacco long after boys were
paroled from the Victoria Industrial School. For example, Tom M. was
a former in mate whom Ferrier worried would be brought back to the
institution as a result of his smoking habit. Tom was fifteen when
admitted to the School for vagrancy. Staff described him as a robust
boy who was illiterate. Ferrier received word that after being
released from the institution Tom was wasting his hard earned money
on tobacco. Concerned that smoking would lead to Tom’s return to the
institution, the superintendent wrote a letter to him warning of its
dangers:

There is one habit which you
have very badly and which will be against you so long as you indulge
in it, and that is the use of tobacco. In a statement that Mr. U
furnished some months ago as to the money he had spent for you, there
was an item of $4.50 for tobacco. That seems such an extraordinary
thing that I could scarcely credit it.

But the cost of smoking was
not the only pitfall Ferrier saw for paroled boys. The use of tobacco
also brought boys into contact with other smokers who were invariably
undesirable characters from the dangerous classes. Ferrier told Tom
he was, “very much afraid that if [he] came to Toronto and still
continue[d] [to smoke he would] very soon get into trouble.” To
break boys of their deviant habit Kelso offered them substitutes for
cigarettes and rewards for quitting. While traveling to Toronto a
delinquent boy who was destined for a foster home incessantly begged
Kelso for a cigarette. Not wanting to contribute to the boy’s
delinquency, Kelso stopped at a local store and purchased a supply of
chewing gum as an alternative. After six months Kelso bragged the boy
had not returned to smoking. When placed in a foster home, Kelso
reported, another of his charges promised he would not go back to
smoking or chewing tobacco. For discontinuing his smoking habit this
boy was rewarded with a watch. Kelso and Ferrier lamented, not the
harmful chemical effects of nicotine on the body, but the injurious
impact smoking had for the character of youth. Since scientific
inquiry into the ills of tobacco on the body was still several
decades away, Kelso and Ferrier were concerned with other injurious
elements of consumption. Smoking was a bad habit or vice that was a
precursor to immoral character: habitual tobacco consumption brought
boys into contact with deviant others; to support their habit they
whittled away their income; and deception was required to conceal
their conduct from parents.

Although
the smoking habit was lamentable, newsboys created even greater
anxiety among the elite classes. Their visibility on city streets
contributed to their centrality in schemes of regulation. According
to C. S. Clarke in his expose Of
Toronto the Good
,
“you can scarcely walk a block without your attention being
drawn to one or more of the class called street boys.” Kelso, in
testimony before Commissioners Appointed to Enquire into the Prison
and Reformatory System of Ontario in 1891, stated “the
profession of selling newspapers is in my opinion pernicious right
through.” Older newsboys held considerable influence over
younger more impressionable ones. When selling papers was not
sufficient, Kelso explained, these boys would persuade younger boys
to: “break a window or unfasten doors, and would steal silk
handkerchiefs and any fancy article of clothing that could always be
disposed of.” In this way, newsboys were dangerous and visibly
posed a number of problems Kelso and others found particularly
unacceptable.

Increasing
rates of criminality among working-class boys during the late 19th
century were not only the result of dramatic increases in youth crime
and truancy, but rather incidences of deviance were amplified by
greater vigilance brought about by Toronto’s police morality
department. Increased police attention to juvenile crime helped to
create the perception of a “boy problem.” The Toronto
Police were active during the late 19th century in hunting out the
newsboys and dangerous bad boys who refused to attend school. In
early November of 1896 the police incarcerated 30 newsboys because,
in the words of a Saturday
Night

writer named “Mack,” they “had abused the means of
education which the authorities, in their wisdom, ha[d] provided for
them.” Questioning the wisdom of such coercive police tactics,
Mack asked: “who will venture to say that the boys have been
reformed by the punishment they have received?” The journalist
agreed with Howland and Kelso that incarcerating newsboys in local
gaols would have little reformative value To these boys, being held
in jail would have been quite a lark. The boys, Mack reasoned, “had
grown up wild and [would] readily adjust themselves to such a hard
and fast system.” Like Howland and J.J. Kelso, writers like Mack
worried about this unique class that required special attention, had
keen observation, and possessed an extensive knowledge of the social
world, but lacked formal education. These dangerous working-class
boys posed a threat to the established social order that needed to be
checked. “Society should uplift” newsboys, “Mack”
reasoned, if for no other reason than “in self defense.”
Evidently, threats to the gentry and established class hierarchy were
met with stiff opposition. In response, elites assembled and
disseminated strategies of control that subjected dangerous youth to
such “uplifting” (read capricious and demeaning) penalties
as confinement in adult prisons, deportation, and sterilization.

Perhaps Kelso and Howland were
less concerned with boys selling newspapers and smoking, and more
preoccupied with the potential problem city streets presented for
children and the risk street children posed to the respectable mode
of life. They understood selling newspapers to be an initial foray
into a life that could eventually spiral into habitual criminality.
As Howland testified before the Royal Commission on the Relations of
Labour and Capital: “there are hundreds of things in street life
that attract children.” Associations encountered on the streets
were considered criminogenic for young boys. David Archibald, staff
inspector of the Morality Department of the Toronto Police Force,
argued boys’ criminal propensities were developed through “the
associations that they form in the streets … They learn gambling,
tossing coppers and they get into all sorts of vice.”

Not
only did children learn the intricacies of deviant conduct from peer
associations, but the street economy also permitted them access to
the theatre. Rapidly expanding commercial amusements in early
20th-century cities were magnets for boys. For ten cents they could
view a drama – albeit from the cheapest seats. The type of drama boys
chose to view worried Kelso and others concerned with regulating the
excesses of dangerous youth. To their dismay, boys wanted to attend
only the lowest theatre, which troublingly happened to be Irish,
working-class, and lewd. But perhaps the greatest problem associated
with this crass entertainment was the potential effect it had on
young minds. J. Edward Starr, who in 1912 be came the first
Commissioner of Toronto’s Juvenile Court, feared the number of movies
that depicted, in his words, “leering villains, gun play and
crime, not to say revenge and wanton love,” giving
impressionable young minds a false and unreal view of life. Kelso was
concerned that boys would not only imitate the villain’s character,
but would, once hooked on the excitement of such drama, use illegal
means to gain admission. Low theatres, Kelso reasoned, had a “baneful
influence on growing boys.” Boys who congregated around the
theatre were known to use profane language and purposefully annoy
pedestrians. Starr considered the city space adjoining theatre
entrances “to be the breeding places of disorderlies.”

Friendships developed on city
streets also allowed boys to find excitement and financial gain. In
addition to newspaper boys, Toronto’s moral crusaders were concerned
about gangs of “young hoods” who roamed the streets with
seemingly no purpose other than to cause general mayhem. According to
former Mayor Howland in testimony before the Royal Commission on
Labour and Capital: “They were systematically organized as a
general thing, the head of the gang being a boy who was convicted
once or twice before the Police Court. They were systematic gangs,
organized for all kinds of mischief, and in a great many cases
indulged in petty steal ing.” Howland thought gang relationships
were a significant contributor to Toronto’s problem of social
disorder and considered the influence of deviant friends to be among
the primary causes of juvenile deviance.”

– Bryan Hogeveen, “"The Evils with Which We Are Called to Grapple": Élite Reformers, Eugenicists, Environmental Psychologists, and the Construction of Toronto’s Working-Class Boy Problem, 1860-1930.” Labour / Le Travail, Vol. 55 (Spring, 2005), pp. 51-54

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Adolf Münzer, Der reitende Tod [The Horse’s Death]. Charcoal on paper, 1901. Source.  

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https://bandcamp.com/stream_redirect?enc=mp3-128&track_id=4285068919&ts=1544975229&t=750551cb35ffcd297e87829f1943252e169ac54c?plead=please-dont-download-this-or-our-lawyers-wont-let-us-host-audio

July 29, 2017: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9 FM. We start with a FUTURE BLONDES remix of Oppenheimer Analysis, end with Heinrich Dressel, and in between play music by Rashad Becker, Sister Skull, Nostalgie Eternelle, TRAITRS, NOT WAVING, Anne Gillis, Media:Premonition (put out by the great Sheffield Tape Archive) and Glorious Din (with a very nice re-issue of a brilliant record). Check out the setlist below, tune in at 101.9 on your FM dial, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.plsor download the finished show at cfrc.ca or on mixcloud here: http://www.mixcloud.com/cameronwillis1232/the-anatomy-lesson-july-29-2017/

Future Blondes – “Chemical Chant – Behind The Shades” Analysis (2008)
Rashad Becker – “Dances VIII” Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. 2 (2016)
Nostalgie Eternelle – “Go And Boil Your Head!” Experiments from the Laboratory (1989)
Sister Skull – “Terrorangriff” SSEP (2017)
Anne Gillis – “Untitled #6” Aha (1984)
Not Waving – “Control Myself” Populist (2017)

TRAITRS – “Hand of Holy Fingers” Speak in Tongues (2017)
Media:Premonition – “New Rules” Cassette Releases 1991 (1991-2017)
Housefire – “Moodswing” burnthemasters (2015)
White Blackmail – “Magic” Revival (2016)
Glorious Din – “Arrival” Leading Stolen Horses (1985)
Heinrich Dressel – “The Black Radiant Sky” Sighing Melodies Thru The Graves (2012)

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“In the Afternoon Court,” Toronto World. July 29, 1908. Page 01.

“How it Looked to the Policeman / And How The Honk Honk Man Saw It –

“Honest, Your Honor, We Wusn’t Scorchin’ – we wuz goin so slow that if another copper had seen us we might a been pinghed for loitering”

Reprinted from the Dayton, Ohio, News

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Ben Shahn, “Dwellers in Circleville’s “Hooverville,” central Ohio.” 

Gelatin silver print photograph, 1938. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Transfer from the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 2011. #2.2002.3010.

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Mikalojus Ciurlionis, Funeral Symphony (V). Pastel on paper, 1903. Source

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