A TALE OF TWO PANDEMICS

Apr 5, 2020 by

A TALE OF TWO PANDEMICS

It’s one of the stories my Mother would randomly tell us about and up until a few weeks ago, it seemed kinda far fetched. She would tell it as I would imagine a war veteran would candidly share his combat experiences. Naturally, the last few days of the news, escalated by a quarantine, has given my memory a jolt and I am remembering bits and pieces of my Mother’s first hand experience in the Spanish Flu of 1918. (I think it’s very interesting we still label it as the Spanish Flu.) Of course, the comparisons are inevitable and since I’m home bound and you can hear a pin drop in the Texas Hill Country, I thought I’d share my memories, during this homebound time, of what my Mother told me about the 1918 flu pandemic, also known as the Spanish flu. That pandemic lasted from January 1918 to December 1920 and infected 500 million people which was about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. My mother was just about two years old at the time and she was living, along with her older brother, on a ranch in New Mexico with their parents–my grandparents. They were from an established ranching family, who had moved from the Runnels County area to the Snyder area (Texas, of course, for you foreigners). Tenacity and gumption were in their DNA, my Grandfather’s father had been in the Texas Frontier Forces which was the precursor of the famous, or infamous, Texas Rangers-which is another interesting story and if this flu thing continues, I’ll tell you all about it. But back to my grandparents on the ranch in New Mexico. With the help of “ranch hands”, my grandparents were well on their way to starting their new life when sometime around the early part of 1919, my grandfather had a horrific fall on a horse and had to be taken to the hospital in Santa Fe. Being a pioneer woman, my grandmother stayed on the ranch with her two little ones and with the ranch workers, kept the ranch operations going—that is until she started “takin’ ill”. By this time the epidemic was barreling through New Mexico. But being the determined woman she was, she kept going even tho the workers pleaded with her to go to the doctor in town. She kept going and continued to fail and when she finally got so bad, the “help” took her to the hospital where she died of the influenza just two doors down from my grandfather, who was bedridden from the horse injuries. The nurses wheeled her body on a gurney to my grandfather’s hospital room so he could view her body before they put her corpse on a train, along with my then two year old mother and her brother, Loyce, and shipped them back to Snyder to my Grandfather’s sister, Cora. And because by then, the Spanish flu was now at pandemic proportions, my mother was shuffled around to whoever was the healthiest household in their extended family. This was not uncommon at the time, families were being disrupted all over the world because no vaccine or cure was known. Sound familiar? Like so many things, I wish I would have asked my Mother more questions about that time, not that she would remember but I’m sure she heard other stories of families who were equally effected by the Spanish Flu. I guess I will be the one in the family who tells my grandson about this 2020 pandemic, or what we started out calling the Wuhan Flu, and how we had to make sacrifices like being confined in our homes and get up an hour early to shop at HEB. Or pass the time by unsubscribing to all those emails you didn’t sign up for. And, how about the agony of not being able to play mahjong with your friends so you have to play on line with bots. Oh, the disruption in my little bubble, I hope you hear the sarcasm in my voice. Believe me, I know the worry and pain caused by the Coronavirus of 2020 and my heart and prayers go out to those who are tragically affected……………. But, let’s fast forward. I hope I can tell my grandson, yes, there was the great pandemic of 2020 but our nation, which came together, rallied and learned a lot of life’s lessons. …………………………………………………………… A few years ago, a West Texas bumper sticker said, “Please, God, give me just one more oil boom and I promise I won’t piss it away”………There is always a lesson to be learned……… Please, dear God, let this be the time we finally do.

My Grandfather, Gene Warren. His left arm atrophied after his horse accident
A 1918 mask
Sister and brother, Cora Weathers and Gene Warren.
One of my favorite pictures of my Mother in her riding habit-many years after the pandemic
PIEDMONT, CALIFORNIA – CIRCA OCTOBER 1918 – Red Cross volunteers from the Piedmont Chapter of the Red Cross create masks during the Spanish Flu pandemic.
One more picture of my Mother, age 5, with Uncle Ben Weathers. If you look carefully, you can see where Mother cut out my uncle’s wife, Ruth. Mother didn’t care for her.

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5 Comments

  1. Betty Cruikshank

    Thanks DJ. That was very informative. Loved hearing about your family during the 1918 Pandemic.

    • djyows

      Thank you, Betty. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      • djyows

        Such a nice surprise to hear from you and miss our hydro sessions! What a shame you are still here and can’t visit. I want to hear how you are cocooning. djyows@nctv.com. do keep in touch no matter where you are. Fondly, Dj

  2. Linda Brown

    Enjoyed your story and pics and share your hope that folks learn lessons this time. Lessons of compassion, love, respect, gratefulness, restraint, and self-suffiency among other things. And it would be wonderful if our country relied less on China and India, etc., and returned as many offshore jobs as poss back to the U.S.

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