NEBRHeritage-L ArchivesArchiver > NEBRHeritage > 2004-11 > 1100478968
From: Bill <>
Subject: Stories at Eleven, 14 November 2004, Vol 8 #33
Date: Sun, 14 Nov 2004 19:36:08 -0500
Stories at Eleven
©) Bill Oliver
14 November 2004
Vol 8 Issue #33
Good Evening Nebraskans and all Ships at Sea,
This week my thoughts are a bit like the “rambling wreak from Georgia
Tech”; all over the “field”, much like James Joyce’s writings.
The term quarantine means: to separate and isolate to prevent the spread
of disease. This includes bacterial infections, viruses, funguses, and
parasites (both internal and external). Back in the 1930s the County
Health Department used to issue signs which were posted on entrances to
houses. They were quarantine signs for communicable diseases. These were
large signs ... large enough to be read from sidewalks ... placed
outside the home to warn people about the presence of deadly and/or very
contagious diseases. Measles, Chicken Pox, diphtheria, typhoid fever,
and Scarlet Fever, each had their own color and for the “life of me” I
can’t remember which color belonged to which disease; though I will
attempt a couple of them from memory.
Quarantine signs were common and posted in front of homes in cities,
towns, villages, and even farms across this land from the mid1800s until
the middle of the 20th century. They were characterized with large bold
headlines with warning that removal would result in prosecution.
Diphtheria and scarlet fever were lumped together as “throat distemper”,
yet had different colored notices; blue-gray for diptheria and scarlet
for scarlet fever says my memory. Diptheria was much feared with
thousands of cases reported each year, with large numbers of deaths.
Scarlet fever was also a feared and deadly childhood bacterial infection
characterized by an extremely high fever and unique red rash. The
extremely high fever caused the death of my older brother in 1933.
It was unfortunate that scarlet fever and diphtheria were often linked
with poverty or unsanitary conditions. As a result, quarantine posters
did play a part in limiting the spread of these diseases, but they also
perpetuated the stigma by identifying who had the disease emphasizing
isolation rather than education. Typhoid fever immunization was required
for our family to join my Father overseas before World War II. As I
remember, the posters for typhoid fever were a light purple.
In the thirties [1930s that is], there were relatively few families who
owned cars, so there were few garages. With so little traffic on our
streets we were seldom disturbed playing “stick ball” in the streets. In
the winter we could play “hockey” with old brooms and a pet milk can.
There were alleys to play hide ‘n seek. Out front there were slate
sidewalks for roller skating or riding home made scooters.
For many years following World War II, it was a rare event to experience
a sighting of our National Bird, the Bald Eagle. Along the shores of
Lake Erie today there is a return of the bird. Perching high on a tree
top they are a majestic sight. It is a lucky sight ... luckier if you
sight a pair. They do travel in mating pairs. Often, with wing spans of
six or more feet, the sight of them soaring high above captivates a
person. Their screech vibrates excitement, like the sound of bagpipes.
And this brings me to say that Veteran’s Day was this week. Courthouses
closed, Government offices closed, there was no mail delivery, and many
small cemeteries, with the help of volunteers, put flags on the known
graves of Veterans. I learned that the place where my Father is interred
doesn’t do that for Veteran’s Day. When asked why they didn’t; the
answer was that they have more than 35,000 people buried in the
cemetery. They only place flags at grave sites for Memorial Day. I
mentioned that there had never, despite my request each year, been a
flag placed at his grave even on Memorial Day. Their answer was that I
was always welcome to place one there myself. They “always have extras
at the office” and I could pick one up. Or, I could volunteer to place
flags on Veterans’ gravesites for them, and they would even see if I
could be assigned my Father’s section. Gee, I guess I could. After all,
Dad was “one of the few” and very Proud of it.
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-wi nv-wa-do-hi-ya nv-wa-to-hi-ya-da. (May you walk
in peace and harmony)
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