Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Great Flu Of 1918

There has been so much in the news lately about the potential for a pandemic and the likelihood of the bird flu mutating, that it has brought dusty old memories to the fore. One such is remembering my grandfather recalling the events of his life. As a child, I would sit mesmerized for hours, as told his stories.

He was 41 years old in 1918, with a wife and 5 small children on a farm about 10 miles from the nearest town. He told me about the terrible flu epidemic, of rising before dawn, kindling the fire then going to the barn to harness the horses to the sleigh. My grandmother would get up and prepare hot tea and porridge, wrap them in blankets to keep them warm and my grandfather would put them in the sleigh.

He would then follow the same route every morning, looking for smoke rising from chimneys. If there was smoke, he knew for certain that there was someone still alive in that house, and would stop to make sure that they were still strong enough to make meals. Then it was back into the sleigh and off to the next house. If there were no smoke, he would stop as well, to see if there was anyone alive. If so, he would bring in his porridge and tea and feed them, light their fires and do what he could to help them survive another day. At the end of his route, he would return home, put the horses back in the barn, feed the livestock and go back into the house for his own breakfast and tea. In the afternoon, they would return to any of the homes where the families could benefit from nursing care and do what they could.

Many families were wiped out totally, none were spared completely. Such hardship and heartache! My grandparents and their children all survived, and I believe the angels watched over them because of their dedication to helping their neighbors as best they could.

It was a different world, a different time, with different values and ethics. I wonder how we would fare if such a pandemic were to happen now.


Beard said...

Thanks for the story Zareba,

I do not think that people have changed. Most people will shape up pretty well when the going gets tough. The real test of a person is the times we are in now when temptation is so great.

Zareba said...

Thanks Be Now. We definitely live in times that will test us all...Z