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. We will also recount the events occurring in the war on that day. So, check back each day for new editions.
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TODAY IN PHILADELPHIA – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 1916
Rain is expected throughout the area today and tonight. The temperatures will be warmer with the high about 39° and the low 18°. Theodore Roosevelt arrived in this city at 4:00pm today to speak at the National Conference on Immigration and Americanization being held by the National Americanization Committee. T.R. wore a slouch hat and “specs” and was full of the pep he is famous for (shown below). He was greeted by a huge crowd at Broad Street Station. The waiting assembled yelled out their greetings and pleaded for a short speech right then and there. He shook hands and exchanged pleasantries with those he recognized. As he moved through the crowd he was asked how he felt and replied “Bully, Bully”. Mr. Roosevelt will speak this evening at the Metropolitan Opera House. That meeting is open to the public.
At the morning session of the conference today delegates debated the need to make immigrants into real American citizens. There were arguments for more educational opportunities which would help aliens become part of American society. This education must teach immigrants to adopt American values and leave behind the traditions and language of their former country. It was asserted that the English language be taught and that reading material be of proper American subjects and not include anarchistic and immoral ideas. Most importantly all the speakers asserted, there must be no hyphenated Americans.
In crime news, when Magistrate Collins took the bench this morning at the 11th & Winter Street Station he heard the sounds of “Mother Machree” being played on the violin from the cell room. He asked that the prisoner playing it be brought in first. Old John O’Donnell, 75 years old, thin as a rail and with a long white beard limped in. The Magistrate asked him his story. O’Donnell said he was arrested last night for intoxication. He told the judge he has been in a struggle with “John Barleycorn” for many years.
He said he was brought to America from Ireland by his parents when he was 10. When older he went west and struck gold in Nevada but the riches and his youth were wasted on drink. He worked in western towns playing the fiddle for a meal until someone took offense to a song he played and shot him in the leg partially crippling him. Judge Collins asked what song he was playing and O’Donnell answered “Home, Sweet Home”. He then took up his fiddle and began to play the song. Eyes became misty. Not just those of the other prisoners but even the grizzled bluecoats and the Judge himself. When the song was over Judge Collins said “Well that was worth money” and handed Mr. O’Donnell some cash. A collection was taken in the courtroom and the policemen, prisoners and spectators all contributed. Judge Collins then sent Mr. O’Donnell on his way.
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