On this page we will look back at life in the city during the war years. Here we will provide the visitor with the stories making the news, what was happening in sports and entertainment, city politics, the social scene and the prominent people at the time. So, check back often for new editions. To share your family or neighborhood stories, please email PhillyWWIyears@gmail.com
TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 7, 1917
There will be increasing cloudiness this afternoon with rising temperatures. Today’s high will reach 40° with the low about 23°. Police guards have been placed around the pumping plants and reservoirs of the Philadelphia water supply. The precaution has been taken to protect against possible sabotage by German sympathizers.
The 3 story high macaroni factory of Luigi Verna at 9th & Kimball Streets collapsed today into a mass of brick and wood. Just prior to the collapse, employees felt the building begin to shake. The company’s engineer called out for everyone to leave and 32 of the workers ran into the street. Then throughout the neighborhood a low rumble and a roar was heard as the building crashed in upon itself. Police and firemen from nearby companies rushed to the scene. At first there was an eerie silence but then they heard a cry for help. It was a young woman, 18 year old Aida Cippola (shown below), the company’s bookkeeper was buried almost 20 feet down under brick and lumber.
For over an hour and a half fireman struggled to free the girl. A crowd of almost 5000 neighborhood residents stood transfixed by the firemen’s efforts. In Italian they encouraged the rescuers and prayed to God and the Blessed Virgin for the trapped girl. Finally, when it seemed all hope was lost Father Mundi of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 10th & Christian streets, crawled into the wreckage to get close enough to the girl and administer the last rites of the Catholic Church.
But the firemen did not give up. They kept digging until finally they reached the girl. Miraculously, some of the falling timber had created a canopy over Aida protecting her from the heaviest debris which surely would have crushed her. As the Firemen gently pulled her free, cries of joy and cheers echoed throughout the street and then hymns were sung in thanks to God. Tonight Aida is resting at Pennsylvania Hospital. She is in shock and suffering from cuts and bruises but is expected to fully recover.
In sports, the A’s started their spring training at Fort Pierce, Florida today. Mr. Mack brought the boys out early this morning and worked them hard all day. The morning was filled with running and calisthenics. In the afternoon the pitchers were put through their throwing routines while the fielders practiced bunting.
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