The Spanish Influenza, 1918

Two stories about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic from my family:

My mother’s mother, Cora Braun, was 30 years old in September of 1918 when the Spanish Flu appeared in Buffalo, New York. Her most vivid memory was of a day when she watched from her front window as the funeral processions began at dawn and continued until dark, all day long with no interruption, no gap between them, one after another. By Christmas, more than 2,500 people had died in the city.

In Little Valley, New York, my father’s father, Clair Winship, was stricken. He was a man of few words, but in 1963, at his 50th wedding anniversary celebration, he told this story about his struggle and his wife’s devotion. “What saved me was that I could sweat,” he said. “I sweat’d until the sheets were yellow. And for three days and three nights, Abbie never left my side.”

I didn’t want to lose those memories.


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