Lowell in World War One: January 14, 1918 to January 18, 1918

This is the 40th weekly installment of my Lowell in World War One series which commemorates the centennial of the entry of the United States into World War One. Here are the headlines from one hundred years ago this week:

January 14, 1918 – Monday – American liner sunk. US steamer Texan sends out SOS after being struck amidships, perhaps by an iceberg. How coal conservation will affect Lowell. Lowell began to “Storrowize” today as a result of the drastic orders laid down by Massachusetts fuel administrator James Storrow. Most businesses will open at 9 o’clock and close at 10 o’clock each day. Plan big addition to St John’s Hospital. A new building four stories in height will be built next spring on Bartlett street. Sister Mary Clare, the superintendent of the hospital, explained that the new building will be used as the main outpatient department with the entire top floor given over to operating work and ex-ray service.

January 15, 1918 – Tuesday – Fuel administrator urge President Wilson to declare Monday legal holiday for 10 weeks as a means of conserving fuel during the coal shortage in the eastern states.  Lowell Storrowizing and sorrowizing. The second day of early closings found the city in a fairly well established routine with the added challenge of a good-sized snow storm which kept the Bay State street car people extra busy. Condemn compulsory health insurance. The commission on social insurance voted nine to two today against the system of compulsory health insurance advocated by Governor McCall. The proposal called for the extension of free dispensary service in larger cities and of a system of group insurance for employees of industrial plants. In rejecting the report, the commissioners urged that preventing efforts to prevent disease were more important than compensation of victims of illness.

January 16, 1918 – Wednesday –  Factories may not open till 9 o’clock. Unless the coal shortage in New England is relieved soon, factories and industrial plants, many of them engaged in government work, may be included in the 9 o’clock opening order issued by fuel administrator James Storrow. Texan, reported sunk, is safe. The Navy Publishing Company sent a letter to the city council apologizing for erroneously listing F. H. Rogers as surviving the sinking of the USS Jacob Jones when Rogers was lost with the ship.  Attempt to kill the Bolshevik premier. Four shots were fired at an automobile carrying Premier Lenin through the streets of Petrograd. Lenin escaped injury but a member of his party was wounded slightly.

January 17, 1918 – Thursday – Congress moves to halt fuel order. Protests against order closing factories for five days and making Monday holiday pour into White House. Business men throughout land object to Garfield’s drastic order. Closing order includes even munitions plants. Senate investigating committee calls Garfield for examination. Local mill strike is threatened. Firemen employed at all of Lowell’s mills are threatening a general strike because mill agents continue to ignore their calls for higher wages. Due to the lack of others with the same qualifications, a strike by these firemen would most likely close down the Lowell mills entirely. US commissioner of conciliation D W Benjamin arrived in the city today to help mediate the dispute.

January 18, 1918 – Friday – Closing order issued by fuel administrator in force today. Garfield refuses to heed Senate request for delay. Declares action necessary to relieve coal shortage and release coal for ships now held at ports. All factories, with exception of munitions plants, closed for five days. Monday holidays begin January 21. Industrial Lowell has mid-winter vacation. Industrial workers roamed the streets today, shopping, reading bulletin boards, and not sure what to do with themselves after their sudden time off from work. The most cheerful news of the day was that the Cartridge company has been exempt from the shutdown and would resume operations this evening. Since thousands of Lowell people work there, the loss of wages would have been a big blow to the city. The Newton Manufacturing Co will also resume its operations Monday.