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Carl Webb’s ‘Beautiful Shape.’ How come?

Note: due to some mistakes made in interpreting the information contained in the hundreds of comments on Cipher Mysteries, I’ve made a few changes in the following post  …

A famous all round athlete and wrestler named Clarence Weber operated a large physical culture business in Melbourne where he and his partners instructed people in their methods and trained them to become teachers themselves. One of Weber’s partners was a man whose body was very robust. Very Strong. His body a beautiful shape. A real wedge shape. Broad shoulders. Narrow hips, Well-formed legs and he had the calves of a ballet dancer. Obviously a man of considerable strength and who was known to do his athletic gyrations on Glenelg Beach.

He was not Carl Webb however – his name was Reg Shorthose and it wasn’t in 1948.

State Library Victoria – Physical Culture in Melbourne with Weber and Rice

John A Rice, one of the partners in Weber and Rice.

Clarence Weber wrestled well into his forties, eventually retiring aged 45. His second wife Lavinia was a well-known physical culture advocate (who later became a politician and one of the first female members of State Parliament). Weber and Rice (and Reginald Shorthose in Adelaide with the name Weber, Shorthose, and Rice) ran a successful business. It was a shock to all when Weber died suddenly at his home aged 47. The businesses that featured the Weber name ran for years after his passing in 1937.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/list/162164

~~

Clarence Weber (1882 – 1930) had four daughters by his first marriage and two in his second and given both his and his second wife’s passion for physical culture, it would not be surprising if one of their daughters decided to set herself up in the same business. What would be surprising would be if it was her number Webb wrote on the back of the Rubaiyat.

The following courtesy of Clive:

“The Age”   4 Mar 1931, Page 5:

“Physical Culture, Instructress available, classes, clubs. British or
Swedish systems.  Fully qualified, English Diploma,

Rhythmic dancing.

Write or ring, Wilson, Seacombe Gr, Brighton,  X3239

All we need to know is if one of Weber’s daughters married a Wilson, or Wilson had Webb in her classes.

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205829055?searchTerm=x3239

Clarence Weber

 Clarence Alfred Weber

Clarence Weber Champion all-round athlete, National health educator, Australasian wrestling champion 1906 – 1926, Victorian Health & Strength College, Weber & Rice, Partner in Adelaide Physical Culture College.

From what I (misca) can tell, the Weber & Rice outfit taught people their methods and trained them to become teachers. Once they were trained a certain amount of the money they earned went back to the main company. So, there were many teachers. It would be interesting to find out who Wilson is but the link might very well be his daughter Muriel.

Given the proximity of the addresses, is it possible that Dorothy and Charles had met Muriel? They were living at 274 Domain Road in 1941…She was at 279 Domain Road in the 1943 census. {thanks misca}

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/35419183?searchTerm=physical%20culture

The above notes that more than 2,000 people attended the 23rd annual demonstration of physical culture and dancing by pupils of Weber Shorthose and Rice on 25 March 1936.

Reg Shorthose

https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/212162665?searchTerm=Reg%20Shorthose

SAMSON OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Reg Shorthose Has Twelve Inch Chest Expansion

(By ‘B. O. Lande.’)

20 October 1915

Meet Mr. Reginald Gordon Shorthose.

You may possibly be in South Australia one of these days, and seeing a lithe figure going through athletic gyrations on the beach at Glenelg on a Sunday morning, with girl and men companions, you might be curious to enquire into his identity.

It is Reg. Shorthose, South Australia’s Strong Man, lifelong friend of the late Clarence Weber, whose one purpose in life is physical development.

It is said that a man is as young as he feels, but there are few who at 50 years of age can jump over motor cars and ropes 7ft. 6in. high, and also provide thrilling gymnastic stunts just for the fun of the thing.

REG.’ SHORTHOSE says that he is faster now than ever before in liis life. And he has been at the work since he was 18 years of age.

This mercurial figure portrays youth to a marked degree, and there is more energy underlying his 50 summers than is depicted.

He would sooner miss his meals than disregard a long practice of having a mile brisk -walk and then a

run over a similar distance every day.

His height is 5ft. 5in and weight 10.8. Yet he has a chest expansion of 12 inches, with biceps 15 inches’, thigh 22 inches, and calf 14 inches.

‘Strange to say, when 1 first went in seriously for physical development 1 grew 4 inches, 1 featured stretching exercises,’ says Mr. Shorthose.’

Weber and Rice.

Weber and Rice exhibition shows promoted women and men, boys and girls (including their own family members). Women and girls had large roles to play in the performances of the Weber and Rice troup, with some feats of strength though the focus was on gracefulness and demonstrations of jiu-jitsu as representations of female physical culture.

~~

Paul Lawson said of Carl Webb ‘His body was very robust. Very Strong. His body a beautiful shape. A real wedge shape. Broad shoulders. Narrow hips, Well-formed legs and he had the calves of a ballet dancer. Obviously a man of considerable strength. Strangely enough there were no body scars or signs of hard work. The hands didn’t show any signs or callouses you would expect from handling tools. They were quite smooth.’ 

… Who did gym in the early 20th century in Melbourne?

We did baby ….

Weber and Rice were very successful in the body-building business and they also dabbled in a little mental healing to go along with it. Weber himself was very well-known as a wrestler as far back as 1904 when he was unfortunately beaten in a match put on by Wirth’s Circus by a man named Button Singh when Singh applied a sleeper hold that rendered Webb unconscious and inflamed the crowd to such a degree that Singh was last seen exiting the tent flat out still wearing his wrestling togs.

Physical Culture in Melbourne with Weber and Rice

Barnett’s building. Journal of the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects, Vol. 36 No 4 (September – October 1938). p 131

 

1940s women’s physical education class

~~

 

43 Comments Post a comment
  1. J #

    Interestingly, I’ve just commented to Misca over on Ciphermysteries, that if x3239 was a Melbourne number, it is for a physical culture teacher in Brighton, who often needed assistance with her children. Clarence Weber died in 1930 but was from Brighton. It could be one of his sisters or even his widow, his former student, Ivy Mitchel! Misca has spotted one of his siblings over at Bromby Street! Gideon Haigh also writes about Clarence Weber in “A Scandal in Bohemia” about the life and death of Charlie’s contemporary, Mollie Dean.

    November 2, 2022
    • J … Have you spotted a Melbourne directory with X3239?

      November 2, 2022
      • Jo #

        No, but here’s an ad from Trove:

        https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205829055?searchTerm=x3239

        It’s an ad for a physical culture instructress called Wilson, living at Seacombe Grove, Brighton (Victoria) – rather a nice address, near the beach!

        There are number of other ads, seeking help with children, or selling prams etc.

        November 2, 2022
        • misca #

          WILSON. Not Muriel Jean Weber Pete!

          November 3, 2022
  2. Jo, this is truly lovely stuff .. you may have provided a couple of answers for problems that have been besetting a lot of people for many years … Now all we need is for Misca to link Jessica to Ms Wilson.

    November 2, 2022
  3. Clive #

    See https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/205829055?SearchTerm=x3239.
    Someone named Wilson, Seacombe(?) Grove. Most of the ads. with X3239 were in 1943, it would seem.

    November 2, 2022
  4. misca #

    Just to be clear/correct. I spotted the listing on Carl Webbs/Dorothy Jean Webbs’ 1943 electoral roll a while back. They were living at their Bromby address. On the same page, below theirs was a listing for a Muriel Jean Weber and she called herself “physical cult. teacher”. Which seemed unusual and her address was 279 Domain Rd. (Close to where Charles and Dorothy had been living before they moved to Bromby.)

    Muriel Jean is not Clarence’s sister. She was a daughter of his. He had at least ten children! The family (many of them) lived in Brighton. As an aside, she never married but I believe she had an important life partner. She lived an extraordinarily long life (1909-2006). 96!

    The second Jo made her comment…The penny dropped!

    I don’t think that the phone number is of much significance apart from the extraordinary co-incidence of it being the same as “sister Thomsons”.

    The most interesting thing is that it gives us a possible answer as to how SM’s body might have been “achieved”…We have speculated about this for a long time with suggestions of him being a circus worker, involved in the ballet, etc…

    His being a possible “physical culturist” fits quite nicely.

    November 2, 2022
  5. misca #

    The first image you show of Clarence with the snake, is also on his tombstone. You can see it here:

    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/162547358/clarence-alfred-weber?_gl=1*1kdlh48*_ga*NjM2OTk3NzM0LjE2NjE3MTM4OTI.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY2NzM4MTA3MC4yNzIuMS4xNjY3MzgxOTUxLjE0LjAuMA..

    November 2, 2022
  6. misca #

    From what I can tell, the Weber & Rice outfit taught people their methods and trained them to become teachers. Once they were trained a certain amount of the money they earned went back to the main company. So, there were many teachers. It would be interesting to find out who Wilson is but the link might very well be Muriel.

    iGiven the proximity of the addresses, is it possible that Dorothy and Charles had met Muriel? They were living at 274 Domain Road in 1941…She was at 279 Domain Road in the 1943 census.

    November 2, 2022
  7. misca #

    More than 2000 people attended:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/35419183?searchTerm=physical%20culture
    cal culture and dancing by pupils of
    Weber, Shorthose, and Rice at Wests
    Olympia last night.

    November 2, 2022
  8. Clive #

    Wouldn’t it be ironic, that the telephone number X3239, detected on the Code page, had nothing to do with Glenelg, but had everything to do with the Melbourne address? What are the chances?

    November 2, 2022
    • misca #

      I think this just might be the case Clive. Unless Charles wrote it down meaning to contact that particular Melbourne address in which case, the Glenelg number would be the coincidence and potentially had nothing to do with anything. Boggles the mind.

      November 3, 2022
  9. misca #

    Did you not get the post about Shorthose?

    November 3, 2022
  10. a lurker #

    Does it bug anyone else that it’s an address in Brighton, Vic, and Somerton is the next suburb to Brighton SA (and I think within the postal district for Brighton rather than Glenelg back then).
    Can’t fathom why a Vic would confuse the two, so it’s most likely just a coincidnce, but odd all the same

    November 3, 2022
    • misca #

      I agree. It looks like an odd co-incidence to me and have said as much from the get-go…The strangeness of it all is what gives one pause.

      November 3, 2022
  11. misca, yes I did, thanks, those blokes certainly liked the look of themselves.

    November 3, 2022
  12. misca #

    Weber, Shorthose & Rice were located at 41 Currie Street. In their early days, their phone number was 3230. In the 40’s, it became C 3230:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/73780282?searchTerm=Weber%2C%20Shorthose%20%26%20Rice

    Clive – Wasn’t it you that once claimed the second number was possibly for a bank on Currie Street? Can you please rehash the details around that? How did you come to that conclusion?

    November 3, 2022
  13. misca #

    Don’t forget this The Red Bull Hotel which was the located at 67 Currie Street:

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/44920761?searchTerm=%22Allan%20Roy%20Walters%22

    November 3, 2022
  14. Jo #

    Jack Keane’s Toorak Road referee, included on his service file, is also very close to Muriel Weber’s Domain Road address and Gowan Brae, 274 Domain Road, Carl and Dorothy’s address at the time of their wedding – basically a block away. From Sands and McDougall entries there may have been a barber’s shop on the ground floor.

    I think Muriel Weber was one of Clarence Weber’s daughters from his first marriage, to Lousia; she died after giving birth to their seventh child. Clarence then married Ivy Mitchell, one of his students. In Gideon Haigh’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” the family is described as being chaotic, with the parents constantly fighting and the daughters from the first marriage being subjected to Ivy’s anger. Clarence apparently had frequent affairs and followed a relentless schedule of teaching, writing, fighting and performing.

    November 3, 2022
  15. misca #

    Jo –

    I looked up the book you mentioned and it’s now a must read for me! In what context relative to Mollie Dean is the family mentioned? Was she friends with one of the children?

    There are some notes on one of the trees that I have found that suggest that this is the case; that she (Ivy) was highly critical, is referred to as a “taskmaster” and difficult to please. Muriel Jean also seems to have referred to herself more as Jean; at least while she was at school. As I mentioned earlier, she never married but had a partner and I think that she was gay…

    Is it possible that Dorothy Jean discovered she was gay/lesbian? Could that be why her family rejected her and she took off when her marriage failed? (Or maybe, even why the marriage failed?)

    November 3, 2022
    • Jo #

      Hi Misca – Clarence Weber is discussed because a character based on Mollie Dean, in a book written by one of her friends, discusses physical culture… Haigh speculated that Mollie could have been one of Weber’s students. He met with Weber’s grandson Graeme to look through his photos. (As with Charlie there’s a dearth of photos).

      According to Colleen Fitzpatrick Dorothy’s nephew said that she went to live in an LGBQTI community…

      Where was the info on Muriel Jean?

      November 3, 2022
      • Jo #

        Muriel Jean Weber was in the WAAF during WWII – one of her two files has been digitised and is available via the NAA. She was an assistant flight officer and trainer, serving in Victoria, NSW and WA. Her pre-war employment was in girls’ schools and then as an instructor at Weber and Rice.

        November 3, 2022
  16. misca #

    Lane’s Motors had a Dorcas Street address which was also quite close to Bromby. Despite his appearing on the 1942 which his parents, I wonder if he may have stayed with Charles and Dorothy while he was on leave. His parents were considerably farther away.

    November 3, 2022
    • Jo #

      Jamie & I speculated on Ciphermysteries that the roadster advertised in 1942 could have been Jack’s as it’s advertised at the end of his leave period.

      November 3, 2022
  17. misca #

    Remember this listing:

    “KEANE. — A tribute to the memory of F/O. John (Jack) Keane, who lost his
    life in aircraft accident over Northern Ireland November 29, 1943. Fond memories. —
    Dot. Greenhlll.”

    I’m more convinced now than ever that this was Dorothy Jean.

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/206014339?searchTerm=%22John%20Russell%20Keane%22

    There was a suggestion that this could have been his aunt…Doris Maud (Martin) was still living at the Toolangi address with her husband. Why wouldn’t she have included her husband in her memoriam?

    November 3, 2022
  18. misca #

    Pete – You write:

    “So far we have connected a Melbourne phone number which was the same as Jessica Thomson’s in Adelaide (X3239) and which belonged to a physical instructress named Muriel Jean Weber who at one time lived in the same street and Charles and Dorothy Webb.”

    My comment:

    We don’t know that the number was Muriel’s …In fact, I think Jo posted that it was for a person by the name “Wilson”?

    I have explained that when Jo posted this listing referring to a Wilson as a Physical Cultivist, I remembered having noted Muriel Weber’s name on the 1943 electoral roll for Dorothy and Charles Webb.

    It has most likely all been chance! The phone number is a co-incidence but the possible connection to body building most likely is not.

    November 3, 2022
  19. misca .. Jo wrote ” It (the phone number) could be one of his (Clarence’s) sisters or even his widow, his former student, Ivy Mitchel! In any case I’ve changed the wording to ‘may have belonged.’

    November 3, 2022
  20. misca #

    All due respect…but Jo made a huge leap here and didn’t make any reference to my comment connecting her ad posting and Clarence Alfred’s daughter.

    Jo commented here on toms:

    “Interestingly, I’ve just commented to Misca over on Ciphermysteries, that if x3239 was a Melbourne number, it is for a physical culture teacher in Brighton, who often needed assistance with her children. Clarence Weber died in 1930 ”

    Jo – you made no reference to Clarence Weber. You made a comment about physical culture in the ad you found and I remembered that Muriel Jean Weber was a physical cult. teacher that I had researched a while back because she appeared on the 1943 electoral listing for Charles and Dorothy Webb.

    I posted that quite clearly on cipher. Evidently Pete missed that.

    Your ad reference (which had no reference to Clarence Weber) reminded me of this and I went back and found my notes that she was Clarence Weber’s daughter and I posted this on the now collapsed Cipher site.

    November 3, 2022
  21. Jo Higginson #

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/22229977?searchTerm=x3239

    Here is an ad from February 1946, which may be Ms Wilson again, this time seeking a house swap – to relocate to Kew. It includes the detail “modern, downstairs flat 3”. I wonder whether this was 29 Seacombe Grove, a stunning art deco block of flats, opposite the beach.

    Misca is correct – I provided the physical culture teacher detail for the Victorian phone number x3239, Misca made the link to the Webers.

    November 4, 2022
  22. Clive #

    Misca, I’m sure I read somewhere that the second telephone number had been traced to a bank on King William St, Adelaide. Unfortunately, I can’t remember where I read it!

    November 4, 2022
  23. Clive #

    https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/42616997SearchTerm=Mrs Wilson%2Cseacombe. See “The Argus” 18 Feb 1931 Page 8 a Mrs F. Wilson, Gladstone Ct, Seacombe Gr, Brighton

    November 4, 2022
  24. Clive #

    Re: my last post, apparently, this Mrs F. Wilson, whoever she was was one among hundreds of winners in a Rexona competition.

    November 5, 2022
    • Photo?

      November 5, 2022
      • Clive Turner #

        Hi Pete,

        Unfortunately, not-just a long list of the winners!

        Clive

        November 5, 2022
        • Clive, did the competition have a year and a name, like Miss Rexona 1935 or something?

          November 5, 2022
          • Clive #

            No, it was just entitled ‘Rexona Competition Results’ no year etc

            November 5, 2022
            • Shame that, she might have been a Kate Moss lookalike.

              November 5, 2022
              • Clive #

                You wish!

                November 5, 2022
    • Jo #

      We’ll spotted Clive! And in another SM coincidence the most famous face of Rexona in the pre war era was the actress, Jean Robertson! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Robertson_(actress)

      November 6, 2022
  25. The sly dog #

    If Carl Webb was into physical culture, developing his bod into the specimen described by Paul Lawson, we are talking about a longish term commitment to training and discipline… time away from the home outside of normal work hours. I reckon if Carl was a gym junkie and working out all the time his wife Dot would have mentioned this in her divorce proceedings along with his other limitations as a husband / respectable human being.

    November 5, 2022
  26. Clive #

    Spending his spare time in a gym would tend to contradict Dorothy’s statement that he went to bed at 7.00pm? Then again, it was her word only, as Carl wasn’t around to reply.

    November 6, 2022

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