Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 20

Looking north, across the Ohio River, from Newport, Kentucky, early 20th century He's "one of the most robust men in Newport, Kentucky," his hometown on the Ohio. That's the general view of Joseph Schulkin. Yesterday, he got influenza. Today, he's dead. The water flowing by when he became ill is now, at his death, a few miles closer to joining the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois. The river rolls … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 19

Artillery fire, Meuse-Argonne Offensive At 5:30 in the morning, September 26, it begins. And this is what it's supposed to be all about. This is what we're focused on. The work, the effort, the strain, the sacrifice. Day 1 in that world, while it's Day 19 everywhere else. Boom. Orange fire and a dark object screams across the sky. Seconds later, almost four miles away, an … [Read more...]

April Trials

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Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 18

A Jackie Band near Winnekta, Illinois, 1918 News large and important. Printed in newspapers, transcribed on telegrams, written in letters. Read by thousands, read by dozens, read by one. Word is spreading about life in a world that is—like it or not, choose it or not, know it or not—abruptly new. Day 18, September 25, 1918. For the thousands... A leading newspaper in Charlotte, North … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 17

September 24, 1918 Camp Dix, New Jersey, the shadows of a sunny day Warm and sunny, one of those great fall days. You're in line. One by one, they line up. You're stepping forward, a few feet at a time. You normally train for war but today, you're doing something else. Into the wooden shed you go. They hand you a cup of warm, salted water. They bark at you: go outside, tilt your head back, … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 16

An American worker, 1918 A guy named Wiley Eastwood is a good stand-in for hundreds of thousands of Americans today, Day 16, September 23, 1918. A hard-worker, Eastwood goes to his job—earns his pay, like always—but in the late morning starts feeling weak, fevered, coughing. Lunchtime comes and goes and he's worse. Finally, he just can't keep going. It's time to talk with the boss. Eastwood … [Read more...]

Learning From the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 15

Dr. William Welch, 1918 You turn the corner and there it is. A sudden shock. The look and feel of an unknown that is total, that is capable of swallowing up everything you are and everything you're ready to do. Beyond your experience, your expectations. Beyond all there is in you. You turn the corner and there it is. On this fifteenth day, September 22, 1918, a young mother and her two young … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 14

Crouse-Irving Hospital in Syracuse, New York Two weeks on, September 21, 1918, and the remedies started flowing in. Some folks say don't let your feet get wet and watch out for signs of blocked bowels. Others assert that chewing food well and drinking lots of water is the answer. Eating onions, drinking sour milk, the list grows of what people hope will be the cure, the trick, that keeps them … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 13

Lt. Hugh Coughlin of Escanaba, Michigan It was a day of youth. 21-year old Hugh Coughlin is with his parents at their home in Escanaba, Michigan. His mother touches his forehead. He's hot with fever. His father hears him cough. A deep and rattling thickness. Mom and Dad together exchange a worried look at seeing their son. He suffers in pain. Of course, they're thrilled to have him home; the … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 12

Dr. John Hurty The phone rings at an office in the state capital of Indiana. The ringing is heard at the wooden desk of Indiana's Secretary of the State Board of Health. Dr. John Hurty. Holding up the heavy black phone to his ear with one hand, Hurty hears US Surgeon General Rupert Blue on the other end of the line. Hurty listens for a few moments, asks a question or two, and then thanks Blue … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 11

A Cincinnati barbershop, fall 1918 Just the "Grippe." Only the grippe. Don't freak out over the standard seasonal cough, fever, and aches that everyone calls "the grippe." Newspaper editors and writers are telling lots of readers today that the illness everyone's talking about is simply another outbreak of seasonal flu. They say it in Cincinnati today when one of the city's newspapers … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 10

From Boston, 1918 Among the vast reality of Day 10 come these two moments on the same day from nearly the same place in Massachusetts. In Cambridge, Massachusetts a telegraph operator tapped out a message. Seconds later, the transmission sped like a flash to South Dakota where another telegraph operator recorded the signals and wrote a note. Within an hour or so, Mrs. Arthur Neilson of Hot … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 9

John Dill Robertson He's known as "Dill Pickle" by some in his department, by some of his followers. He is Dr. John Dill Robertson, public health director for the city of Chicago, Illinois. On this day, Day 9 of the Influenza Pandemic (September 16, 1918), Dr. Robertson announces to the people of Chicago that influenza is now a reportable disease. Big deal? Honestly, yes, it is for the folks in … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 8

Blinding speed. Bewildering speed. You just can't even hope to understand the cosmic swiftness of this speed. Welcome to reality on the eighth day of influenza, September 15, 1918. Outbreaks are occurring across the world and throughout the US. Nearly all are related to war and war-making. Camp Lee in Virginia, Camp Dix in New Jersey, Camp Dodge in Iowa, and the port of Los Angeles where the … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 7

The past has a voice. https://youtu.be/7k20VFZeLKY Having received the list of influenza symptoms from the US Surgeon General, more newspaper editors approve the publishing of articles about the illness. The Philadephia Evening Bulletin reports: "Spanish Influenza Here" while smaller-town publications like the Daily Star in Marion, Ohio describe how illness has appeared in various East … [Read more...]

Learning From The 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Day 6

On this sixth day a team of public health specialists works at Fort Devens in Massachusetts. They study conditions at Devens following the prior day's report of an influenza outbreak. But before they had arrived, a group of US soldiers had left Devens, bound for Fort Upton on Long Island, New York. Carrying the sickness unknowingly with them, the soldiers prepare at Long Island to leave for France … [Read more...]

Learning From the 1918 Pandemic: Day 5

1918 Influenza Pandemic Day 5 (first entry) The first case of influenza appears at Fort Devens in Massachusetts five days ago, regarded (for our purposes on this blog) as Day 1. Similar outbreaks are occurring across the Atlantic in Europe. The Fort Devens case is the first US case inland from naval facilities in Boston. A team of experts plans to travel to Devens to examine conditions. The … [Read more...]

1918: First Entry Tomorrow

Tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 I will begin my new exploration of the 1918 pandemic and its application for Covid 19 in 2020. … [Read more...]