Category: Vintage Canada

Ruth Lowe-The Canadian Gal Behind “I’ll Never Smile Again”

A few months ago, my mother sent an article over to me via email and said “I think you might like this for you blog”. I opened it up and it was a small article on a Canadian woman named Ruth Lowe (who I had never heard of). It was a very interesting read about her life, her famous song “I’ll Never Smile Again”. and how she played a BIG part in Frank Sinatra’s success.  Indeed a perfect post to share with my readers and today friends…..is that day.

Meet the beautiful Ruth Lowe.

ruthlowe I will never smile again

Ruth lowe vintage image

And now please take a moment to acquaint yourself with her song “I’ll never smile again” (Link to video).

Ruth’s Earlier Years:

  • Born in Toronto, August 12th, 1914 to US-Canadian parents.
  • They moved to California when she was very young and she lived there during her early teens.
  • The family returned to Toronto with only the piano after her fathers grocery business went sour during the depression. The same piano that Ruth and her sister Mickey had learned to play on.
  • After her father died, Ruth quit school at 16 and found a job in the ‘Song Shop’ where she demonstrated sheet music on the piano. This trade was called “Song Plugging” and if customers liked what Ruth played (plugged) they would take it home to learn.
  • During her evenings, Ruth played in a very intricate two piano act with her friend Sair Lee at various nightclubs.
  • One day while at the store, Lowe heard that the famous all-female Ina Rae Hutton Orchestra (The Melodears) needed a piano replacement for their 1935 appearance in Toronto. She got the job and so impressed Hutton that she ended up touring the United States with the orchestra for a few years after (Source).

Here is a clip from 1936 “Doin’ the Suzie Q”, that I believe should feature Ruth on the piano. Can we also take a moment to be in awe of Ina’s outfit…wow! (Video Link)

How the song “I’ll Never Smile Again” came to be:

While traveling with the Melodears in 1938 in Chicago, Ruth met Harold Cohen a music publicist and fell madly in love. They were married and lived happily until a year later Harold died tragically during surgery*. Ruth returned home to Toronto devastated and during this grief she penned “I’ll Never Smile Again”.

Lowe told the Toronto Daily Star in 1940 that the ballad “seemed to fill my head and guide my fingers as I picked it out on the piano (Source)”.

Here are the sad words Ruth Lowe wrote:

I’ll never smile again until I smile at you
I’ll never laugh again what good would it do
For tears would fill my eyes
My heart would realize that our romance is through
I’ll never love again I’m so in love with you
I’ll never thrill again
To somebody new within my heart
I know I will never start to smile again
Until I smile at you
Within my heart I know
I will never start to smile again
Until I smile at you.

Song Success and Frank Sinatra:

Life went on and Ruth found herself working as an accompanist at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she passed on the sheet music to the song to Toronto composer-conductor Percy Faith. Percy would later record the song for his CBC radio program ‘Music By Faith’. The Song made it’s official Debut!

It was not till a few months later though when the famous Big Band leader Tommy Dorsey was performing at the 1939 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) that Lowe (who wanted to take her song to the next level) took matters into her own hands. Lowe waited — acetate recording in hand — by the musicians’ tent for her friend, a guitarist with the band, who arranged a meeting with the New York bandleader at the Royal York Hotel (Source).

One year later Dorsey who liked the song and thought it had some merit, decided to test out on a ‘Coming-Out’ number for Frank Sinatra, who had joined the orchestra as their new vocalist.

Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey 1940s vintage image

The recording, of “I’ll Never Smile Again,” was released on May 23rd, 1940 (as heard in the version I posted above).

Frank Sinatra Ruth Lowe and Tommy Dorsey
Frank Sinatra, Ruth Lowe and Tommy Dorsey. Source: National Post (& Tom Lowe Sandler)

The Song was a SUCCESS! It was No. 1 track on the very first Billboard sales chart in 1940 (seen below) and it propelled Sinatra into Super Stardom that would carry on for decades.

Lowe told her son (Tom Sandler) that the timing — it was the beginning of the Second World War — was key to her success. “It was a song that spoke to everyone in the country,” he says. “Their loves were going to war and most of them weren’t coming back” (Source).

First billboard Chart 1940
Source: Billboard

After this success, Ruth was approached by Sinatra in 1942 to write a closing song for his radio program. The song she wrote was “Put Your Dreams Away”, which would go on to become  Frank’s Signature Song (Video Link).

After Frank…

Ruth married Nat Sandler and happily settled into married life and kids in Toronto. She continued to write songs and play the piano, but her day’s of traveling with orchestras and pushing for her music to be produced were behind her.

In 1955 one of the most popular television shows at the time, “This is Your Life,” devoted a full segment to Ruth Lowe. She was loved that much by the public.

This is your life tv show

Ruth passed away on January 4th, 1981 at the age of 66. In 1982 her 1940’s “I’ll Never Smile Again” received an honorary Grammy and in 2003 she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

In the end Ruth’s greatest tragedy ended up bringing her career success and a place in history. The only thing left is for Ruth to have greater distinction in the Canadian music world. Her son Tom is pushing for her to receive a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and to also be acknowledged by the Junos (The Canadian Grammy’s). I could not agree more and I do hope it happens sooner then later.

Thank you for the music Ruth.

Liz

*Other sources have said that Ruth’s husband died after 2 years of marriage.

Vintage Photo Tuesday: Visiting Niagara Falls, Canada

Vintage Photo Tuesday is back for 2017! And as mentioned in my previous post ‘Come Visit Canada! Vintage Travel Posters‘, I will be doing a much bigger focus on Canada for a lot of the vintage content that you will see on the blog this year. And in case you missed the “Why?” it’s because Canada is celebrating 150 years as a country and so I think that is a good enough reason to celebrate all year-long. Don’t you agree?

Greetings from Niagara Falls

Today’s VPT is on Niagara Falls, Canada. Known for its magnificent Falls and awesome wine country, Niagara is a must visit for all travelers to Ontario (I’m pretty sure my family has taken ALL my German relatives there throughout the years). But like any town, anywhere it has its vintage roots and for today’s VPT, I will be exploring some of those images from my favorite era’s, the 1920s to the 1960’s.

Vintage Greyhound Niagara Falls Poster
Source: Allposters

1920’s Frozen Falls in the dead of winter. Apparently the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) use to commission vehicles to take you directly to the Falls.

1920s Niagara Falls in the Winter vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

1921 Aerial View of the Horseshoe Falls and the City of Niagara (It does NOT look like this anymore. The Falls yes, but the Town no).

1920s Niagara Falls Aerial View vintage image
Source: Historic Niagara digital Collections

The Royal Tour 1939: King George VI & Elizabeth at the Niagara Parks Commission Administration Building.

1939 Royal Tour king george and elizabeth Niagara Falls Canada vintage image
Source: Historic Niagara digital Collections

Hotel General Brock where the King and Queen had dinner during their Royal visit. First opened in 1929, it was the first high rise built in Niagara and has hosted many other famous individuals. Like: Walt Disney, Shirley Temple and Jimmy Stewart. It is now known as the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls and has maintained much of it’s vintage glamour.

Hotel General Brock Postcard

Visiting in the Summer and needed to cool off? Then you would have checked out the Niagara Falls Cyanamid Swimming (seen below, 1940’s). The pool was owned and operated by the adjacent Cyanamid Company’s giant Niagara plant and was once a popular swimming area.

1940's cyanamid pool niagara falls
Source: nflibrary

Volleyball by the Cyanamid Swimming Pool (now closed).

 cyanamid pool niagara falls vintage image
Source: Niagara Falls Review

Visiting the Falls is a year round activity, sometimes involving having to dress up in your winter best to capture the perfect picture. Circa 1940’s.

1940's Niagara Falls Vintage Image 2 ladies and a man
Source: The Journal of the Dead Beats Society

1953 – Picnic by the Niagara River below the Falls.

1950s Niagara Falls vintage picnic image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

1960 – Or you can picnic in front of the Falls (I’m not sure if you can even get this close anymore?).

1960s vintage picnic image at Niagara Falls
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Need a closer look? Put some money in this binoculars and in a second you will be transported to the roaring power of the Falls.

1960s vintage image at Niagara Falls Canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada

There is so much to see and do that you must stay the night.

1950s vintage image motel in niagara falls canada
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Across the street from the famous falls is the lovely ‘Oakes Garden Theatre’. Constructed in 1936, designers capitalized on the contours of the landscape to create a curved pergola overlooking a central amphitheatre. Rock gardens, lily ponds and shrub borders have been created around formalized gardens, with attractive ornamental iron gates (Source). Here are 2 friends visiting in 1949.

oakes garden theatre niagara falls 1940s vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Still standing today is the Skylon Tower. It’s door’s opened to the public on Sept 31st, 1965 and  was inspired by the Space Needle Tower in Seattle, Washington. It is Niagara’s tallest structure, measuring 520 feet above ground level and 775 feet above the base of the Falls.

Skylon Tower 1960s vintage image
Source: Clifton Hill

Even the stars liked to visit the Falls, like everyone’s favorite blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe.

1950s marilyn monroe visiting niagara falls vintage image
Source: Library and Archives Canada

Lastly, over the years many people who visited Niagara Falls wanted to go down the falls in a barrel or some other contraption. Some tried, very few succeeded. In 1956 Woody Woodpecker was in a film called ‘Niagara Fools‘ about the pitfalls of going down those falls (click on the image to watch the cartoon).

niagara-fools-c2a9-walter-lantz

 

Like what you saw? Then check out a more detailed breakdown of Niagara Falls History, HERE.

Question time: Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? Did you enjoy it? If you have not been there, does this post make you want to visit?

Liz

Come Visit Canada! Vintage Travel Posters

Happy New Year! We made it to 2017 and I just have this wonderful feeling that its going to be an awesome year. One of the cool things happening in Canada this year, is our 150th Birthday, yes Canada is turning the big 1-5-0 and she is still looking good (even better if I may say). I’m excited this year to get out and explore more of my beloved country and share my adventures with all of you. So stay tuned!

For today’s post we will be exploring beautiful Vintage Canadian Travel Posters & Advertising.

Vintage 1920s Canadian Travel Poster

Join us in British Columbia.

vintage british columbia map cover
Source: Ebay
Whistler vintage poster
Source: Ebay

The water is nice at Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta ( BTW Friends: I will be doing a ‘Vintage Travel to do list post on this hotel next week).

1920s Chateau Lake Louise Vinta
Source: DiMagio

The Mountie and the Rockies, iconic Canadian symbols.

Canadian Pacific Vintage Poster with Mountie and rockies
Source: Pinterest
Vintage Canadian Travel Poster
Source: Pinterest

Saskatoon, is the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. There was also a song written about it in 1915, as seen in the sheet music image below.

Vintage Travel Poster Saskatoon
Source: Collections Canada

Here is what the song sounded like. So very Ragtime!

Vintage Manitoba travel advertising
Source: Click Americana
ontario vintage travel poster two women on a dock
Source: Made Man

Cruise the Great Lakes of Ontario.

canadian-pacific-great-lakes-cruise
Source: Allposters

You MUST go to Niagara Falls when you visit, it’s breathtaking!

s-fleming-niagara-falls-ontario-canada-new-york-usa
Source: Allposters

The poster is correct, Quebec is truly a Winter Wonderland.

Quebec Vintage Travel Poster
Source: Pinterest

My dad attended Expo 67 in Montreal.

montreal expo 67 vintage poster
Source: Pinterest

Head to the East Coast to discover a truly charming part of Canada.

Canada East Coast Travel Poster Vintage
Source: Pinterest

Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia Calling - Digby Pines vintage photo
Source: Collectors Weekly

Known world-wide for the beloved and spunky character, Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island will truly delight.

vintage Prince Edward Island advertising
Source: Pinterest
vintage new brunswick travel advertising
Source: Pinterest

‘Canada’s Happy Province’. This slogan from a 1965 ad for Newfoundland and Labrador made me giggle. I guess the rest of Canada’s provinces are grumpy and unwelcoming?

newfoundland-labrador vintage travel poster
Source: I desire Vintage Posters

Canada also has 3 Territories: Yukon, Northwest Territory and Nunavut.

Yukon vintage travel poster
Source: Pinterest
lantern-press-yellowknife-nw-territories-canada-northern-lights-and-orca
Source: Allposters

 

For more vintage travel posters, check out my blog post ‘See Canada by Train-Vintage Advertising‘.

Question Time: If you have travelled in Canada, where were your favorite places?

Liz