Abington Journal

This Week in Local History: Sub-zero temperatures are nothing new

1968 — Below freezing temperatures were the top news that week, with a photograph of large icicles taking up more than half the front page. Underneath ran the headline “Old timers recall the real cool days.’

“While Scranton officially records piddling low readings of minus four to even, residents from Fleetville to Chinchilla have declared no less than ten, and often in excess of minus 20 degrees,” read the article.

“Most Abington readings, although not blessed by the watchful eye of the United States Environmental Services, Bureau of Weather, have been running from 10 to 20 below at night during the coldest spells.

“Was it colder back in the ‘old days? Well, maybe, say some old timers, but none can recall what a ‘real’ cold temperature might have been then, although most residents over 65 readily declare that the snow was always deeper.

“Alberta Zeigler, who operates the A&Z Restaurant on Depot Street in Clarks Summit, says she can’t go ‘way back’ but does remember one cold morning in the early 1940s when the thermometer dropped to -22 degrees.

“That figure sticks to her mind, she says, because it was the morning that the old movie house on State Street burned down.

“Residents of Brookside in Dalton, who take some kind of adverse pride in how cold it gets there because of the creek running through that valley-like area, always claim an average of below 20 when it might be 12 to 15 below at Browning’s store in the heart of town.”

The article went on to describe increased business at local garages (due to cars not starting in the cold) and fuel providers, before circling back to temperature comparisons.

“John Lucas, Lily Lake Road, Dalton, who has been managing the Huber Farm since 1940, made a comparison of this cold spell with what he believes was a worse one just about eight years ago, when temperatures were sub-zero for a straight week.

“He said that week he burned one ton of coal, the normal being one ton a month.”

The piece ended with a report from Maurice A. Miller, Edella, “who lives in the home his great-grandfather built in 1832.” Miller reported his back porch thermometer’s coldest reading during the spell was negative 10.

“However, he says, back in the 3os, East Benton would have had to be the coldest spot south of the Arctic Circle.

“Someone out that way reported a bitter minus 35 degrees.”

This photograph of icicles hanging from a home on Clermont Avenue in Clarks Summit provided a front-page illustration on January 18, 1968 of the sub-zero temperatures reported in the Abingtons that week.
https://www.theabingtonjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/web1_ABJ-LH-0117-1968.jpgThis photograph of icicles hanging from a home on Clermont Avenue in Clarks Summit provided a front-page illustration on January 18, 1968 of the sub-zero temperatures reported in the Abingtons that week. Abington Journal file photo

Compiled by Elizabeth Baumeister

ebaumeister@timesleader.com

Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.