After World War I in the year of 1918, the Spanish Flu was an epidemic.
It lasted through 1920 and many millions of people died. During this time, my mother was pregnant with me. The doctor told my father that either my mother or I would not survive. My mother lived to be 94 years old....and I am still here at 101 years old!
There was no National Institutes of Health nor a Center for Disease Control. The high fever that accompanied the flu was treated with aspirin and Spirit of Nitre. There were no respirators or Intensive Care Units. Social distancing, although not called that, was encouraged. Schools, churches and public gatherings were shut down. There was a campaign against coughing, and sneezing in public.
But we survived!
The Great Depression followed. It began in the 1920s and continued into the late 1930s. Our country had 25% unemployment. Many foods were rationed in order to prevent hording and also to prepare for war. Sugar, coffee, meat, fish, butter eggs, rubber and gasoline had to be bought in small quantities with ration stamps. People sold apples on the street corners. Others came from door to door selling all kinds of household items.
There were no refrigerators, only ice boxes. There were no washing machines or dishwashers. There was one bathroom for the entire family. There was a small hot water tank for our family of six. It meant we had a bath once a week. A family had a radio and shared a telephone with four other families on the same party line.
Those who were employed might own a car. There were no school buses. We walked to and from school twice a day because we all came home for lunch. We never had a snow day. I was blessed that my father was a butcher. We were poor and lived in an apartment above the shop. However, we always had food to eat! School vacation was July and August. There no camps, day care, or family trips.
City parks were open with playgrounds and town swimming pools. We played neighborhood games like tag, hide & seek, hopscotch, and jump rope. On rainy days we played Monopoly, checkers, Parcheesi, and all sorts of card games.
There was no such thing as televisions, computers or hand-held games.
World War II was a terrible time for our country. We heard about the attack at Pearl Harbor on the radio. It was a time frozen in everyone’s mind. The war lasted from 1939 to 1945. Families ·and life as we knew it were disrupted. Many were killed and wounded.
The 1960s were a terrible time of unrest in our country. There were anti-war protests all over our country. There were marches and riots. Those returning from Vietnam were disrespected. We had hope with both our president John F. Kennedy and the respected civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther. However, our country experienced the loss of both through assassination .
Our world was rocked once again on 9/11. Almost 3,000 people died and over 25,000 injured. It was a terrible act of hate. However, as awful as it was, there were many examples of heroism from first responders. People gave their lives to save others. Our country pulled together in a very special way.
Now we are facing this mysterious worldwide pandemic called COVID-19. We are learning more each day, but we still do not have answers. Our country has never experienced anything like these past few months. There are so many sick and so many deaths. Our hospitals are experiencing shortages and overcrowding. Our health workers are exhausted. We have all been in quarantine, people working at home, experiencing social distancing, and wearing masks. Many social events, religious gatherings, and travel have all been cancelled. Sports are in a turmoil. Parents, teachers, and administrators are in a quandary as to what is best for our children. We have so many questions and fears. There is talk of a vaccine and hope for a cure.....but when? Unemployment is very high and the economy is in trouble. Our freedoms, health, politics and way of life has all been affected.
Will we survive?
Yes! I believe we will! For 101 years, I have trusted in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I see the good in people and the glass always as full. I have been called a “Pollyanna” and an optimist. Let us try to think of us all as Americans...no red or blue states...but all of us the color of our flag: red, white, and blue. All of us, believing “One Nation Under God...indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
I do believe God has and will continue to provide. We may not have all the answers now...but He does!
God Bless America
We will survive!
Florence L. Meyer