I’ve had to laugh several times lately as we’ve all whined (more than once) about the cold weather this winter. And then, quite truthfully, I’ve wanted to cry, remembering the stories my grandfather and my great-grandmother told me about another winter, the winter of my grandfather’s 20th year.
It was November of 1919 in the sleepy little town of Comanche, Texas. It had already been a horrible year as flu ravaged the land, leaving (as my great-grandmother told me) not enough well people to bury the dead, one of whom was her infant grandson.
And then…in a month not even known for being a heavy winter month here in Texas today…a slow rain began to fall, as did the temperature. An old article from the Comanche Chief says it best…
All wires down, leaving the city without telephones, lights, or electric power. Several months may be required to restore normal service, managers state.
Ice-laden and broken wires, trees and poles present unusual scenes- paper published under difficulties.
“Perhaps the greatest destruction to property ever wrought by the weather so far as the annals of local history record took place within a few hours in this section during Thursday night and the early hours of Friday morning. A slow rain which froze as it fell formed heavy coatings of ice which brought down telephone, light, and telegraph wires in tangled masses.
“Trees were broken down by the score. There is not the sound of a telephone or an electric light in the town. Plants depending on electricity were tied up. Installation of gasoline engines made it possible for this issue of the Comanche Chief and Pioneer Exponent to reach its readers.”
I’ve had the negatives for the following photos* for years. In fact, along with some that I have from the Desdemona oil boom, these are some of my favorites.
The following photo is one that I found in my grandfather’s things. I have no idea who would have given it to him. You will, of course, notice that the streets of Comanche are still unpaved at this time. Much worse than the cold (to me) would have been coping with the mud and the dirt!
*I actually own quite a lot more of the photos that show destruction in the town of Comanche. That file seems to elude me at the moment. When I find it, I will add those photos to this article.