Now, back in January of 1918, that there was a real winter.
Any old timer who wants to scoff at weather as it is this month in the Calumet Region, and who actually lived in the region in 1918, has a right to brag.
Because back in January of 1918 there were 42.5 inches of snow in 31 days. And three feet of that snow actually fell within 10 days.
A hike back to the pages of the Lake County Times, forerunner of The Hammond Times, for that month shows Jan. 7, 1918 headline reading:
"Raging Blizzard Holds Region in Bondage. Existing Weather Records Broken."
THE FRIGID column tells of 40 miles-per-hour winds and complete tie-up of transportation facilities with the added note, "Even Autos Are Useless, Trains Stalled, Intenrbans Are Dead."
The next day's edition tells of residents and businessmen digging out with "Snow waist high along main thoroughfares."
Then, on Jan. 9, the headlines say, "New Blizzard Is Headed This Way from West. Storm Is To Eclipse The Other."
On Jan. 10, the woes of the blizzard were multiplied with residents, business and industries alike facing a coal famine.
Nine out of 14 coal yards were reported out of the fuel with the remaining five taking orders for as much as two weeks ahead.
"Women carry coal in bags, baskets and even baby carts," the reporter reported.
AGAIN, on Jan. 11, 1918, the headlines screamed, "Blizzard Blasts Local Traffic, Hopes Anew." It was at this point that the scribes counted up three feet of snow in 10 days, important enough news to keep the then bogging-down world war contained to lesser headlines.
The following day, Jan. 12, the new headlines still carried the words "Savage Blizzard Grips Region. Gale's Ferocity Breaks All Records. Cities Buried in Snow Drifts."
"Never in the history of Lake County, at least since it became a part of civilization, have such scenes been witnessed," scribed the scribe.
Following a milk shortage "scare" on Jan. 14, the Jan. 15 paper noted, "30,000 Men in Lake County Are Idle, Shut Down of Plants Storm Echo."
It noted steel production at a standstill as Washington officials ordered coal rushed to the region and commented on "five years fall of snow in 10 days."
On Jan. 16, a reporter found an old-timer and quoted, "Jacob Schloer, the veteran Hammond shoe dealer says that the last storm to compare with the one just over was in 1884 when his store was destroyed by fire."
The digout account stated "Citizens armed with shovels from kitchen stove size to long handled spades dug their way in gangs of 10, 15, 20, and 25 through the center of streets drifted four feet deep.
"One saloon keeper didn't bother to open up. His beer was all frozen solid."
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