Newspaper Archive of
Walsh County Press
Park River , North Dakota
January 18, 2012     Walsh County Press
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January 18, 2012

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PAGE 8 THE PRESS JANUARY 18, 2012 The Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: Conclusion By David Larson for The Press PARK RIVER, N.D. --Atter New Year's the news was mixed: nor- mal life began to compete with the epidemic. School remained in session. The school board finalized plans to rent the Thompson Building for a gym. The building, according to the report, provided a "roomy basket- ball floor" and could accommodate spectators. (You might look at the building and compare its size to today's high school court.) The Gazette's correspondents continued to submit epidemic reports. On January 10th, some of the news was the same old stuff: 13 correspondents listed three deaths. But the same issue called people's attention to two high basket- ball games at the gym. The girls' and boys' teams were hosting Lakota. Correspondents on the 17th, ten of them, reported four deaths from in- fluenza, but the local news noted that the home game with Langdon would be called at 7:30 sharp. The number of deaths reported in the various newspapers did not re- ally diminish until the later part of January. The Gazette listed 4 deaths from around the county on the 17th and on the same day the Grafton News and Times listed 8. The next week the Gazette mentioned two flu deaths, a week later only one. On January 16th the paper mentioned that Dave Johnson was up and around. Park River had been without an undertaker for a month and a half. The epidemic was waning. Then the next week's issue the Gazette reported no deaths from pneu- monia-for the first time since October. The flu correspondents begin slowly to disappear from the columns of the Gazette, in mid-April only four reported; there were cases of flu and pneumonia, but no deaths. The epidemic was over, but the .flu persisted, and people still died from the disease. Even in March the newspapers list affected families, but the very fact that the papers were willing to list the number of victims indi- cates that the disease was on the decline. Many students still missed school because of the flu, and even another death. Harry Craig, age 15, a high school student, died at the end of March. School was let out for his funeral at the Presbyterian Church. But the school stayed in session The deaths continued to diminish. A farmer in Cleveland Township died in early May. Toward the end of the month an old woman in Lamp- ton died, having never really recovered from the flu. A week later a reader needed to really dig through the newspapers to find that Colin and Cyril Parkes were severely ill with pneumonia, but doing better. The influenza epidemic at its peak dragged the community to the verge, but only to the verge, of disorganization. Business continued to function (there were no reports of businesses being entirely closed). Somehow even newspapers that depended on flu-ridden typesetters were able to get themselves through. Where neighborhoods were incapacitated, those like Mr. Fee, who remained healthy, held the neighborhood together. Amidst all the death and illness there must have been some panic and despair, but none of it appears in the newspapers. Only twice did the slightest hint of it emerge. Rev. Parkes of the Methodist church preached about "these days of anxiety and uncertainty" in early December. At the height of the epidemic, in mid-December, a letter, "Fear and Flu" appeared in the Herald. The anonymous author stated that the fear of influenza is creating a panic. A doctor had seen "scores" of men women in the pre- vious week who are suffering from fear of influenza, not the real thing. These were an extreme newspaper reaction to the epidemic, a tacit ad- mission of the unmentionable panic of the preceding two months. The disease seems to have disappeared from the area by the spring of 1919. The reportage for 1919 mentions several flu victims, but they were those who had fully recovered from the earlier attack. Private Carl Lindgren was one of the lucky ones. He returned home in June, 1919, having survived the flu during a six-month stay in an army hospital. In early 1920 the flu returned, though in a much less ferocious form. The Walsh County Farmers' Press [successor to the Park River Gazette, and predecessor to the Walsh County Press] reported prominently on the front page "City Board of Health orders Ban on Public Gatherings." City physicians reported 17 cases of influenza in the town, all of them mild. This was the first time that the public had been given a figure concern- ing victims. The American Legion dance was cancelled, as was the Lyceum program, but the situation was so mild that the ban didn't extend to the local schools. A nurse was employed, though, to send home any non-healthy students. The ban lasted only a week The flu outbreak of 1918 slammed the entire county; the reprise in 1920 was a hit-and-miss phenomenon. At the same time Park River lifted its ban, neighboring Edinburg closed its schoo for a week. The Lawton Notes of February 13, 1920 read like old times: flu, and pneumonia were spreading around, Mrs. Wischer was dead and half a dozen others were "up with the flu." The Flom family of Edinburg lost six members within a month. Then, in March, it was the turn of a woman from Whitman and then another from Medford Township. And then the deaths were over. In the years following there was mention of"la grippe". "La grippe" was the old euphemism for influenza. The renewal of the term in the 1920s may have indicated that the disease was back in its old form, se- rious, but non-fife-threatening. Pneumonia remained a common killer, but after 1920 it was no longer linked with influenza. An interesting side note to this whole story: Walsh County lost 47 sol- diers in World War I. About half of them died in action "over there," but no fewer than 17 area soldiers died of pneumonia following an attack of influenza. LATE-LATE FROM PAGE 1 died at age 67. There will be no services in the Presbyterian [Federated] Church for the next two Sundays owing to the work of laying the new hard- wood floor and installing the new pews. The basketball boys defeated Inkster 20-8. Victor Reinertson was the big scorer with seven field goals and a free throw. The girls elected Elsie Mills as captain. Oth- ers on the team are Harriet Mills, Bemice Church, Edith Kreitzberg, Lois McPherson and Jessie Farup. They will play Grafton and Lankin. Admission 25 for each game. Ole Neste will become the pro- prietor of Gilbert Thompson's meat market. POSTAL Postcards-3 cent in- crease to 32 cents Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.)-5 cent in- crease to 85 cents Letters to other inter- national destinations- 7 cent increase to $1.05 Prices also will change for other mailing services, including Stan- dard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. While actual percentage price increases for various products and services varies, the overall aver- age price increase across all mailing services is capped by law at 2.1 percent, the rate ofinfla- RATES FROM PAGE tion calculated based on the Consumer Price Index. New for all customers is a three-month pricing option to rent Post Of- fice Boxes, perfect for people on the move and others who need a Post Office Box for a short time period. The price of Shipping Services will also change on Jan. 22. The overall price change for all Shipping Services is 4.6 percent, with Priority Mail prices increasing an average of 3.1 per- cent and Express Mail prices increasing an av- erage of 3.4 percent. Time ta #eliver- 1 The new mailing and Shipping Services prices are available at prices.htm. On Jan. 22, The Postal Service will intro- duce a new Express Mail Flat Rate Box. Customers can ship the box for overnight deliv- ery anywhere in the country for one price re- gardless of weight (up to 70 lbs.). The new flat- rate box is priced at $39.95. Other Express Mail changes include lower retail prices for half-and one-pound packages and commer- cial packages to local and close-in areas. Priority Mail Pricing will offer an average 6.8 percent discount off re- tail prices for customers using online and other authorized postage pay- ment methods. For com- mercial and online customers, a new, larger Regional Rate Box C (12"x 12"x 15") willbe added to the existing two sizes. The Postal Service re- ceives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its oper- ations. North naketa needs a healthy postal service that prevides timely delivery ef tile mail. In North Dakota. the Postal Service proposes to close area mail processing centers in Devils Lake, Jamestown. Minor and Grand Forks and to clo more than 75 post offices. ]'he U.S. Postal Service wants to close thousands of post offices and 252 of 487 mail processing centers around the country. Plus, the Postal Service wants to reduce its delivery standards tbr various classes of mail, which would slow mail delivery. And, it wants to end Saturday mail delivery. The bottom line: reducing service is not a good business model for fixing the Postal Service's problems. Now is the time for North Dakotans to act. Show your support for maintaining six-day mail delivery and oppose wholesale closure of area mail processing centers and post offices until the Postal Service and Congress address issues that are undermining the Postal Serviee's future viability. Let's send a message to the United Slates Postal Service and Congress that North Dakota needs timely mail delivery and service. la0000mB Visit your newspaper office by January 25 to sign a petition asking congress and the postal service to perform to your needs and expectations. Top: The hospital Hurtt worked in during her stay in Ghana. Bottom left: Hurtt performs a well baby exam on a newborn, Bottom right: Hurtt takes a photo with her Ghana host family. To GHANA FROM Hurtt spent four weeks assist- ing with deliveries and well baby exams while in Ghana in a town of about 3,000. She said that unlike in a classroom where you observe, she was thrown right into the work -- learning at the same time. Hurtt had been working at First Care Health Center in Park River since June as a health unit coordinator and a certified nursing assistant. She found that having had previous experiences in patient interaction helped, but she added, "I'm still learning." One of the patients she became most connected to was an infant who was abandoned. Hurtt said she would go to the nursery and spend extra time with the newborn when she could. She said that medical care was extremely affordable by American standards, but not necessarily by theirs. Some mothers would come in to deliver with no prenatal care because the cost of a taxi was an extra expense to some though it may only be spare change to us. In Ghana, Hurtt said, she stayed with a host family that was consid- ered to be well off. They did have electricity, however, half of the time there was running water and half of the time there wasn't. She said she got used to bathing and washing clothes with a bucket of water. Hurtt spent one week at a school in a town of about 300, which did not have electricity. "My kindergarten room was sticks and a half-enclosed gate," she said. She was working with students who were just learning English. She said one day she watched while in another classroom, the eighth grade students were learning about computers. They did not have one to learn from. The teacher was teaching from drawings. Hurtt later went online ahd PAGE 1 through Facebook told her fri'ends about this school. She found one man who volunteered to purchase computer for them. When she re turned to the states they sent it out: "It felt good doing that," Hurtt said. The town is scheduled to receive electricity by June. Many of the other volunteei's that Hurtt met were from Northern Europe or America and they were either just out of high school or still in college. She said that many of them stayed for two to three months and were either teaching or building schools. "I went by myself as a personai challenge just to do it," she said : - She added that she has been overwhelmed by the number Of people who have said that they_ have been inspired by her. "It feels so good and you're giv- ing a lot back," she said. "Anyone can do it." She plans to continue taking mission trips and assisting where she can. She is looking into differ- ent parts the world, but still loves Africa. She has been researching from Sierra Leone to South Africa to find where she can travel next. "The world is a lot bigger than whet we tend to concentrate on," she said. The biggest challenge, she said, was getting past the American mindset of how things should be. She said that when she returned fi'om her trip that while some peo- ple looked at her photos and com- mented on how sad and impover- ished the country looked, she was able to see the beauty of the coun- tryside and the happiness and love the people had for their country and each other. "They're fulfilled with the love they need," she said adding that the people are both spiritually fulfilled and have good families. "That is what was truly important." Your ad goes here. Call 284-6333 today for rates. WAYNE'S VARIE00 ' "A Store With Something For Everyone" WAYNE C. JENSON, OWNER Cavalier - 265-4488 Park River - 284-6612