A front page weather story in the July 14, 1921, edition of the News Tribune spoke of a welcome rain — both general showers between St. Paul and Duluth and heavier rain from Duluth to Staples. All over the state: heavy rains, good rains, light rains and just plain old … rain.
A deeper dive into this edition of the newspaper reveals more ominous accounts of the storm — including wet clothes, interrupted phone service, a newsboy awoken from a deep slumber and a temporarily paralyzed hand.
A headline on Page 2: “Girls in search of seats for ‘Daddies’ get millinery wet.” This brief newsy bit tells the tale of women en route to a matinee of the play at the Orpheum who were caught in a heavy rain.
According to the story: “Many came unprepared and were forced to run from Superior Street, up Second Avenue East attired in baronet satin gowns and other costly and shimmering apparel. Some gathered stray newspapers in the street cars to preserve the millinery. Others faced the heavy raindrops with hats in hand.”
Between 400-500 people were reportedly turned away from the box office.
A separate story indicates that the storm interfered with phone service in Virginia and called it “one of the worst in many years.” Lightning reportedly knocked 85 telephones out of commission.
Speaking of lightning: Jack Phillips, a snoozing newsboy, was ripped from his slumber when two telephone poles crashed on opposite sides of the tracks. One smashed the roof of the street car where Phillips was resting, the other over the trolley wire — which set fire to the side of the car.
It was easily extinguished by the motorman and conductor.
Meanwhile, in Superior, the middle-of-the-night electrical storm wiped out awnings, fences, trees and shrubbery.
The lightning reportedly tore down a chimney at a house on 19th Avenue West. The bolt tore apart the stove pipe and hit the owner’s hand, temporarily paralyzing it.
Once upon a time in Duluth is featured on the podcast "News Tribune Minute."