Oniri J. Silverthome, chairman of the Ontario Board of Censors of Motion Pictures, which is made up of one woman and four men, including Silverthome, is a slender, well-groomed man of 53 with an unlined pink face, straight black hair that is silver at the temples, and an energetic, friendly, offhand manner.
He is a moderate moviegoer. When he goes, he chooses pictures other members of the board have censored. If prodded, he remembers a few he liked, such as Ben-Hur and The Alamo, but says: “You can’t take kids to the movies any more. I still think movies are for entertainment. I used to go to the movies to laugh. Ma and Pa Kettle. It was corn, but l liked it. That’s all gone now. We don’t have any comedies any more.” He’s far more enthusiastic about home singsongs of such old favorites as Down by the Old Mill Stream with his wife at the Hammond organ.
For years he played an instrument made out of a washtub and a single string, but turned it in on a store-bought model called a boom bass, which turns the performer into a kind of one-man band, with cowbells and an old auto
horn. He reads little, prefers books that he describes as “sordid,” which startled me, until he explained that he means realistic books about people who won their way from humble, earthy origins by two-fisted effort.
Although he liked Lolita and Peyton Place, he prefers biographies; actually, he doesn’t read many books of any kind. Never standard classics. He likes musical stage productions, and takes them in when he’s on trips to New York. TV has scarcely any hold over him. Perry Mason is the only hour-long program he watches. He looks at some half-hour westerns, likes sports broad-
casts and some documentaries, but has never watched an old TV movie. All in all, TV will never rate with driving his powerboat around Sturgeon Lake where he has a cottage. “I practically live in my boat.”
Silverthome was born in the village of Teeterville, Ont., one of five children of strict Baptist parents. He went to a two-teacher village school, did his lessons by lamplight on a slate, played the clarinet in the village band, was made to go to church twice on Sunday, young people’s meeting on Monday, Mission band on Tuesday, prayer meeting on Thursday. He took his senior matriculation, went to Robinson’s Business College in Waterford, Ont., and became a commercial teacher with Shaw Schools. Later he opened his own business college in Collingwood.
One day he remarked casually to a distant family connection, Mitchell Hepburn, "When you’re premier, I want a job from you.” Hepburn said, “I’ll remember that.” He did. In 1934, Premier Hepburn wired that he wanted to see him, and appointed him to the board.
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