Chicago's southwest side was a filmy, icy gray — the grayness of a cesspool that morning. Slush of a recent snowfall-turned-sloppy had been shoved by plowmen onto the curbs and over the sidewalks, against the low brick storefronts and over the stoops of the three-flats along California Avenue. Milk and tinkers' wagons, streetcars and a few automobiles dared to skate the lanes of frozen cobble and hardened mud. They found themselves on a hazardous journey. A freezing skinned the pavements early morning, giving the unclean grayness a petrified look, glistening but definitely not crystalline. Ugly, rather. December 6, 1908, had dawned, a physical nightmare. And the nightmare had a spokesperson, born that morning. Its squeals battered the darkness of the Gillis flat at 944 North California.