Brasstown felt the effects of COVID-19 in a huge way last week. Thankfully, no one has the virus, but due to an abundance of caution the Folk School decided to suspend classes, dances, concerts, and events until April 18. You can read more about their decision here.
All the discussion about the spread of the virus set my mind to thinking about the great flu of 1918.
I remember learning about the 1918 pandemic in school. I believe it was in a middle school history class. When I was well into adulthood two things made the stark reality of the event come alive for me.
One was my own bout of the flu in 2009. I truly thought I was near death’s door more than once during my illness. As I laid on the couch and suffered I wondered how in the world people survived before having access to fever and cough medicine.
The other event was visiting the Proctor Cemetery for the first time and noticing the headstones of family members who died within days of each other from the flu.
In 1918 The NC Board of Health offered the following advice about the flu:
“Influenza and What You Should Know About It,” Bulletin of the North Carolina Board of Health, 33:5 (1918), pp. 38–39.
How and Where Influenza is Spread
- By careless spitting, coughing, sneezing, and using the same drinking vessel or towel others have used. The disease germs are carried in the spittle and in the little drops of secretion from the nose and throat.
- In crowds and public gatherings, churches, schools, picture shows, business houses, fairs, circuses, trains, or in any other places where people congregate. Soda fountains are especially dangerous if they do not supply individual sanitary cups and sterilized spoons.
How to Keep Away From Taking Influenza
- Keep away from crowds, especially indoor gatherings.
- Avoid people who cough, sneeze and spit without holding a handkerchief over the nose and mouth.
- Do not use common drinking cups or towels, and keep away from the soda fountain that does not supply individual cups and sterilized spoons.
- Keep the bowels open. Snuff Vaseline up the nose three times a day. Gargle mouth and throat and rinse out nose with warm salt water, using a level teaspoonful of salt to a glass of warm water. Sleep and eat regularly. These are very important.
- Keep in the open air and sunshine as much as practicable and have good ventilation in the home and office. Sleep with your windows open.
- Wash your hands before eating and never put your unwashed hands in your mouth.
- Do not give the disease to others—when you sneeze or cough always bow the head and cover both the nose and mouth with handkerchief.
Symptoms of Influenza and What to Do if You Take It
- In most cases a person taken with influenza feels sick rather suddenly. He feels weak, has pains in the eyes, ears, head or back, and may be sore all over. Many patients feel dizzy, some vomit. Most of the patients complain of feeling chilly, and with this comes a fever in which the temperature rises to 100 degrees to 104 degrees. In most cases the pulse remains relatively slow.In appearance one is struck by the fact that the patient looks sick. His eyes and the inner side of his eyelids may be slightly bloodshot or congested. There may be running from the nose, and there may be some cough. These signs of a cold may not be marked; nevertheless the patient looks and feels very sick.
- If you have any of the above symptoms, go to bed at once and send for a doctor and follow his directions explicitly.
- If you cannot obtain a doctor at once, stay in bed with plenty of cover to keep you warm, open all the windows and keep them open, take medicine to open the bowels freely, and take nourishing food, as milk, eggs, and broth, every four hours.
- Allow no one else to sleep in the same room. Protect others by sneezing and coughing into cloths which can be boiled or burned.
- Stay in bed until a doctor tells you it is safe to get up; or, until you have been without a fever for at least four days.
What To Do After Recovering From an Attack of Influenza
- Influenza is a treacherous disease. If one is fortunate enough to escape pneumonia during or immediately following the attack, the lungs and respiratory system are frequently so inflamed that tuberculosis develops. The heart is overworked and needs rest. Therefore, do not return to work or leave home until you have regained your strength, whether it is a week or a month.
- If complete recovery does not take place within two weeks, have your family physician carefully and thoroughly examine every vital organ and function of the body. Follow instructions the doctor may give you after such an examination.
Taken from NC Digital Collection.
Some of the advice given by the NC Board of Health is similar to the advice they are giving today about social distancing.
Unless folks lived in cities or towns I doubt they would have even heard about the bulletin much less read it. While in today’s world we can follow the hourly progress of COVID-19 as it reeks havoc in most areas of the world.
Drop back by tomorrow to hear from a survivor of the 1918 Flu Pandemic who lived just over the mountain from me.
Come cook with me!
MOUNTAIN FLAVORS – TRADITIONAL APPALACHIAN COOKING
Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, August 23 – Saturday, August 29, 2020
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley
Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.
Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.