2009-10-23 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Winters Of Yesteryears, 1918 and 1920
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Thanks to a Mrs. Himmel and her two sons - Milford and Franklin - who posed for this historical photo under the old Iron Pier (Beach 105 Street, Seaside) in 1918 … we get a good look at how cold January was in that year. The threesome is sitting on ice surrounding wooden piling holding up the ocean pier.

A northeaster struck on January 4, and the US weather bureau recorded a low temperature of -7 degrees, which shattered existing records. The Wave noted that it was much colder in the Rockaway area; wind chill was not in vogue at the time!

On the back of the photo, written with green ink, Mrs. Himmel notes that the photo was taken two years ago (1918) and that the winter of that year was very cold. She based this on the fact that it had to be - for ice to form out of saltwater.

Stated also was that the winter storm of 1920 (February 4) was worse, and that a great portion of the pier was carried out to sea at that time.

The record shows that the temperature hovered between 2 degrees and 6 degrees, during the 1920 storm, and got as high as 20 degrees at the end.

Mr. Henry L.R. Himmel owned and operated the O.K. Bakery on Beach 105 Street in Seaside, and was Chief of the Rockaway Beach Volunteer Fire Department for several years (1901 to 1904).

This could be part of his family, or that of his son - Henry Jr. Can any old-timer provide any information on the family?

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