Detroit History: “Mind-Rotting Repulsive Filth!”

“Mind-rotting repulsive filth”… that’s how some local Pillars of Society described the crime comic books many Detroit kids loved to read 60 years ago.

In 1951, Detroit Police Commissioner Harry Toy was shocked and outraged by what he called communist teachings, sex and racial discrimination that infested kids’ favorite reading material.

Distraught parents blamed teens’ bad behavior on the cartoon murder-and-mayhem while the city’s campaign to clean up local newsstands went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Get the whole story in this edition of Joe Donovan’s Detroit History Report:

  • Bob Gallagher

    Hey Joe! Listened to your short story on Harry Toy and Comic Books et al. Harry Toy was my great-uncle as his sister was my grandmother. Harry died in 1955 which is the same year I was born so I never met him. However, he was certainly a topic of discussion in my younger years. In researching hiim via the internet I have found quite a few interesting things about “Headline Harry” who was the D.A. in Detroit and eventually became a Supreme Court Justice in Michigan. On another interesting point, I actually lived in the Wheeling WV area for quite some time. Went to West Liberty College which is now West Liberty University and plsyed trombone for the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra for 10 years. Back to Harry Toy, you may find him to be a good historical topic for future reference. As I read, he was the D.A. who put away the infamous “Purple Gang” and I believe he and Henry Ford completed their 33rd Masonic Degrees about the same time. He was a Captain or Lieutenant in WWI and I actually have a letter or 2 of his that he wrote to family when he was in France in WWI. I have a formal photo of Harry and Henry Ford at a Masonic gathering as well as hios formal photo as a Supreme Court Justice. In any case, thanks for writing and reporting about “Uncle Harry”. SIncerely, Bob Gallagher

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