STUMP » Articles » Memory Monday: First Week of July 1918... and the Heat Wave of 1911 » 9 July 2018, 06:22

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Memory Monday: First Week of July 1918... and the Heat Wave of 1911  


9 July 2018, 06:22

First, on the heat wave.

From the New England Historical Society:

The 1911 Heat Wave Was So Deadly It Drove People Insane

The July 1911 heat wave killed thousands of New Englanders and sent many over the brink of madness.

During 11 hellish days, horses dropped in the street. Babies didn’t wake up from their naps. Boats in Providence Harbor oozed pitch and began to take on water. Tar in the streets bubbled like hot syrup. Trees shed their leaves, grass turned to dust and cows’ milk started to dry up.

In every major northeastern city, the sweltering heat drove people to suicide.

On July 4, temperatures hit 103 in Portland, 104 in Boston (a record that still stands), 105 in Vernon, Vt., and 106 in Nashua, N.H., and Bangor, Maine. At least 200 died from drowning, trying to cool off in rivers, lakes, ponds and ocean – anything wet. Still more died from heat stroke. The 1911 heat wave was possibly the worst weather disaster in New England’s history, with estimates of the death toll as high as 2,000.

To be fair, cold tends to kill more (and faster) than heat.

But it got REALLY hot.

In Hartford, crowds gathered around the Thermograph near City Hall to watch as it fluctuated between 110 and 112 degrees in the shade. At Colwell’s store in Cumberland, R.I., the thermometer hit 130. A farmer in Woodbury left his field when the temperature reached 140 degrees in the sun.


Let me see if I can find this in the 1911 Brewster Standard.

This is all I could find on the heat:

I also found this ad:

No comment.

Let’s get back to 1918. Again, no indication of the Spanish flu pandemic yet, but there’s all sorts of things going on.


Everybody makes a big deal about stuff like Ted Talks and The Great Courses/Teaching Company.

But there has long been an adult education/enrichment movement in the U.S.:

Chautauqua (/ʃəˈtɔːkwə/ shə-TAW-kwə) was an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers, and specialists of the day.1 Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is “the most American thing in America”.2

Seriously, Ted Talks are just a continuation of the Chautauqua movement.

Here’s an ad in the 5 July 1918 paper:

Yes, it’s basically about the Great War.

I want to point out the small punch holes in the paper, which is obvious how they had archived the papers.


I was just chatting with Stu, reading out the 1911 paper to him, and commenting on how many typos were in the paper… and he told me that those were the galleys.

I think he talked with some of the library/historical society people when he did his initial research on Croton Falls history – evidently, some of the archived papers had gotten burned up in a fire… but somebody later found the galleys in the attic of one of the old newspaper employees and used that for the digital archive. The galleys, unsurprisingly, had lots of errors in them.

But I’m pretty sure the 1918 papers aren’t the galleys. Not just because there were not that many typos, but the paper itself showed a lot of damage.

I’m gonna show you some of what I’m looking at.

That’s not all the damage — in this one issue of an 8-page paper.

But I think that’s enough to show you.

Before the war, I didn’t see damage like this.


There are the War Savings Stamps:

And the Liberty Loans:

And there’s one GIVE THE GOVERNMENT MONEY FOR THE WAR piece that I noted:


Just a couple items popped out at me.

The sugar regulations:

And a three-mile-long army truck convoy:


Visit the soda shop:

…phosphates? what?

a little recipe:

Soda Fountain Phosphate

2 oz of syrup, your choice of flavor
10 oz carbonated water
2 to 3 shakes of acid phosphate (1/2 to 1 teaspoon)
Put all the ingredients in a glass, stir, add ice, and you have a 12 oz old fashioned soda fountain “phosphate”. (adjust syrup and acid phosphate to suit your taste)

uh… is that like Dr. Pepper?

On Acid Phosphate in Soda:

For over 70 years, the “phosphated soda” ruled the soda fountain and then in the late 1950s the Phosphate disappeared. Fifty years later Acid Phosphate, the ingredient that made the phosphate unique, has returned.

The tongue tingling sensation and dry tart flavour are what make Acid Phosphate distinct from other soda acids, like citric acid.

Acid Phosphate is more than just diluted phosphoric acid, it’s actually a partially neutralized solution made with salts of calcium, magnesium and potassium. The solution has a pH between 2.0 and 2.2, or about the same as fresh squeezed lime juice.

Some of the most popular soda fountain drinks included the Cherry Phosphate and Chocolate Phosphate, while the local saloon touted the Angostura Phosphate as the perfect remedy for the previous day’s excesses. There are literally hundreds of phosphate style drinks that haven’t been tasted for decades, waiting to be rediscovered.

Acid Phosphate can be used in cocktails to enhance the sour character. Because most cocktails use lemon or lime juice to balance sweetness, there is a tendency for many drinks to taste similar because of the fruity character of the citrus juice. Acid Phosphate is a perfect way to change the character of a drink.

Hmmm, sounds like Dr. Pepper to me.

Here’s an interesting one – the bank ad had its graphic upside down:

That inspires confidence.

Finally, a naked man to sell gasoline:

Seems to me that we don’t have enough naked men selling gasoline in our times.

Maybe it’s just me. But gas companies… consider it.