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 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 1917
There will be mostly clear and fair skies over the city today and Sunday with gentle winds from the west. The temperatures will warm somewhat with the high today reaching 56° and the low tonight near 39°. Sunday’s high will reach 64° with a low of 41°. In order to save coal by limiting the use of electricity all electric signs in the city must be turned off at 11:00pm.
State senator James P. “Sunny Jim” McNichol was buried this morning after a High Mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The crowd of mourners was so great that it spilled into the streets surrounding the edifice. The high and the low were there to pay their respects. Men of wealth and power sat and knelt next to laborers and the poor who came to say goodbye. Every man of public and political life in this city turned out to pay tribute to the deceased.
United States Senator Boies Penrose, whose name was often hyphenated with Mr. McNichol because of their relationship in Republican Party politics, sat staring at the coffin in deep meditation. Two of Mr. McNichol’s fiercest political opponents, Congressman William Vare and his brother state senator Edwin Vare sat in the pew behind Senator Penrose. Then followed row after row of state senators, representatives and judges. After the Mass the assembled mourners traveled to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery where the unadorned, simple casket was carried by Mr. McNichol’s six oldest sons, three of which wearing the uniform of the United States Army, to their father’s final resting place.
In football today, at Franklin Field before a crowd of 20,000, the red and blue of Penn decisively beat Michigan’s eleven 16 to 0. The star for the Quakers was Howard Berry who not only had a great day running the ball but also had an interception and contributed to the scoring with 3 field goals and one point after touchdown. In other scores, Navy walloped Villanova 80 to 3, Lehigh defeated Pennsylvania Military College 34 to 7, LaSalle downed St. Joseph 6 to 0 and up in New Brunswick, Rutgers (shown below) beat the Marines from the Navy Yard 27 to 0 [Editor’s Note: sitting in the front row, 2nd from the left is Paul Robeson, who played left end. Robeson was the first African-American to play football at Rutgers. He was named All-American in 1917 & 1918. He played 4 sports and earned 15 varsity letters. He also excelled academically graduating 2nd in his class and being elected valedictorian].
Petrograd has fallen to the Bolsheviks. Reports are that the army has deserted Primer Kerensky who is now in hiding. Petrograd had suffered through days of fighting but negotiations between the Maximalists, moderate Socialists and Bolsheviks has resulted in a new ruling coalition. Supposedly Trotsky and Lenine are now in control of the city and the government. To the south in Moscow, 7000 military cadets and 3000 troops are besieged inside the Kremlin by an army of 18,000 Bolsheviks. Reports are that heavy artillery is now being brought in to batter down the ancient walls.
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