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 is the second of ten “heatless” Mondays ordered by the Federal Government to conserved fuel. But today’s shutting of factories and businesses to conserve coal, oil and gasoline had nothing to do with conservation. Snow did the government’s work today. A blizzard struck Philadelphia and the surrounding region beginning yesterday and continuing into today. So far 11 inches are reported. Enormous snow drifts pushed by 40 mile per hour winds have virtually shut down the city.

Ships on the Delaware are stuck in the ice. Ice flows in the Schuylkill are being measured at 14 inches thick. Railroad traffic, including the movement of coal into the city, is almost at a standstill because of snow on the tracks and the relentless winds. Today’s high temperature will only reach 25° while the low tonight will be near 11°.  This January alone, 22.3 inches of snow has fallen on the city.

In other news, shown below are Robert Hazlet, 18 months old and Selma O’Neill, 1 year old. Just a short time ago these two fat happy children were near death, suffering with pneumonia. They were brought to Woman’s Hospital, 22nd & North College Avenue, by their fathers who begged for help. The children were so ill that other doctors had told the men their babies would most probably die. But Dr. Eleanor Jones, who is in charge of the children’s ward, would not have that. She took up the children’s cases and invented a way to save them. An asbestos bed!

Robert Hazlet and Selma O’Neill

First Dr. Jones called for a plumber and the hospital engineer. Then she procured 2 iron cots, some lengths of hot water pipes, 2 asbestos sheets and an empty room. The asbestos sheets were placed under the bedsprings on the cots and turned up at the head and feet. The plumber and engineer connected the pipes to the hot water heating system and ran them beneath the cots. The children were then placed in the beds being enveloped by the asbestos. The room temperature was kept absolutely even and regulated by the hot water pipes.

Dr. Eleanor Jones

After a few days the pneumonia was driven out of Robert and Selma. The asbestos bed therapy had never been used before. When asked about this unusual procedure Dr. Jones merely stated “Well, the children’s lives had to be saved, didn’t they?” No better answer could be made by this ingenious and devoted woman.