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Spring Brings Memories of 1913 Flood


This article appeared in the Journal Herald on March 22, 1979



By Roz Young, Columnist, author, former teacher, chronicler of foibles


     This is the week when old-timers talk about the flood.  I am not one of those, naturally, but I talk anyhow.  Our family had just moved out of the flood area up to Ridge Avenue and took in 15 friends.

     Houses had no gas or electricity.  The only place to cook was just inside the furnace door.  Those were the days of coal furnaces.

     One day somebody knocked on the front door.  “I’m from the Red Cross,” said the man on the porch.  “I understand you have three babies here.”  That was true.  One was only three days old.  “How would you like to have a stove?”

     Gosh!  What a blessing!  The kerosene stove had two burners.  Mother cooked on it until the flood was over and everybody went home.  Nobody ever came to take the stove back.

     IN 1981 THE NATIONAL American Red Cross will celebrate its centennial.  Local chapter 62 will celebrate, too.  “You know how many people save everything,” said Charity Earley the other day when she dropped in at the office.  “About this time of year they decide to clean attics, basements and closets.  This year, if anybody finds any Red Cross memorabilia of any kind, we would love to have it for display at our centennial birthday party.  Red Cross posters, old programs, uniforms, buttons, insignia, newspaper clippings, that kind of thing is what we are looking for.

     “We will pick them up.  Please call 222-6711, extension 58.”


     ANOTHER FLOOD NOTE: Lou Lingler came from Hamilton to work at Delco not long before the flood.  He lived at the YMCA, the building which is now the Municipal Building.  The morning of the flood he made his way with some difficulty to the Delco plant, only to find it was closed.

     By a roundabout way he went back to the YMCA.  By that time water was covering the streets.  He grabbed his camera and took this hitherto unpublished picture just as the water in Ludlow Street began pouring into the basement of the building.  The railing you see is still standing on the Ludlow Street side.

     Lou sallied out into the streets.  At Second and Main Streets he saw an old Speedwell stalled.  He stopped, found water in the carburetor, dried it out and got the car started.  The owner gave him a cigar for his help.  Lou does not smoke.  He watched the chap drive south on Main Street.  When he got to Fourth Street had to abandon the car.

     Lou managed to get a train out of Dayton and arrived late in the evening in Cincinnati.  He went to Foucar’s saloon at Fountain Square for some strengthening medicine and the free lunch.  When the people in the saloon learned he had come from flooded Dayton, they gathered around to hear all the news and Lou became in instant hero.  The bartender, whose name was appropriately Booze, took him home for the night.

     LOU’S BROTHER Sherman lived in Hamilton at the time, working for the Champion Coated Paper co.  His sister Caroline Hammerle, a teacher, also lived there.  Both were on the east side of the river.  The flood washed out four bridges so that nobody from the east side could get over to the west side.  Sherman, who was 20, made a kite, tied messages on it and flew it across the river.  People on the other bank picked up the kite, tied messages on the tail and Sherman pulled the kite up and retrieved the messages. He had a glorious time all day acting as chief communicator for people worried about their friends and relations.
     The space adjacent to the NCR auditorium was vacant in 1913 just as it is now.  To house NCR workers and their families who were flooded out of their homes, NCR put up 64 tents with wooden floors, electric lights (from NCR’s generators) and a little yard.  Plank sidewalks were constructed throughout the camp.  Residents of the camp ate in a large dining tent.  The camp was operated from shortly after the flood began in March, 1913, until October.  The roof in the foreground of the picture is the top of the NCR auditorium, which is one of the few buildings still standing at the plant.

     Speaking of the NCR auditorium, Dick Murphy says it will be in the news again shortly when final disposition will be made of the building.  He thinks you might like to know that one of the architects of the building was Stanford White, who was murdered by millionaire Harry K. Thaw the opening night of the old Madison Square Garden, a building for which White was also the architect.

     NCR did hire the firm of McKim, Mead and White for the designing of the first part of the auditorium, but the building was started in 1911 and White had been eliminated from the firm in 1906.  I wonder why the firm kept his name.  You remember what White did, of course.  He used to take Evelyn Nesbit to this apartment and push her in a red velvet swing.