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


Fair skies with cool breezes from the northwest are in the forecast for today. The high will be near 70° with the low tonight about 56°. The city dog pound will hereafter be operated in conjunction with the Women’s Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. After consultation with Mayor Smith today representatives of the Society agreed to take control of the facility at 31st & Clearfield Streets. The Society has agreed to abide by the recent city ordinance that all stray dogs be put to death in a painless manner. Previously the Society would sell or give away stray dogs for free.

Tonight Jenkintown will celebrate its local hero, John Fred Charlton, captain of the vessel S.S. Silver Shell. Captain Charlton just arrived home Saturday morning. The S.S. Silver Shell is the first American ship to sink a German U-boat. The vessel is a tanker whose crew included U.S. Navy gunners. The battle took place on May 30th during a period of heavy rain. Captain Charlton was struck down with a severe case of rheumatism and was resting in his cabin. At 6:00am a strange ship was sighted and the captain was carried to the deck to take command. The German boat fired 39 shells only a few of which did any damage thanks to Captain Charlton’s maneuvering. The S.S. Silver Shell returned fire. Its 25th shot hit below the conning tower and an explosion occurred. The U-boat disappeared under the water.

John Fred Charlton

Captain Charlton’s only disappointment on his return home was to find his house quarantined because his little daughter, Katharyn, is ill with diphtheria. Thankfully doctors expect the child will make a full recovery. Charlton, who is originally from Sweden, said this afternoon “We are in this war to win and we will win, there isn’t any doubt. But to win we must do everything in our power to help the Government”.

This evening a parade is planned starting at 7:30pm with city officials and Captain Charlton riding in motor vehicles followed by Boy Scout troops and social, business and fraternal organizations. The parade will conclude at the ball park on Walnut Street between West and Greenwood Avenues. A number of local dignitaries will speak and a costly wrist watch presented to the Captain. A band will provide musical entertainment.

In national news, the New York Draft Board has granted an exemption to John d’Ovonzo an Italian living in the United States. Mr. d’Ovonzo’s cousin told the Board that Mr. d’Ovonzo could not report because he was in jail in Connecticut. Upon further investigation it was learned that d’Ovonzo was in fact in prison and is scheduled to be hanged on November 9. The New York Board immediately granted d’Ovonzo an exemption from reporting for duty.