Learning From The Past

I was reading through the news the other day and some young reporter said something like, “Do any of you know anyone who has the Corona Virus?” “See, it’s not such a big deal.”

Well, let me tell you a story about my family. Back at the turn of the century, My grandfather and his family emigrated from Germany to Boston. They had sponsors and jobs waiting for them when they arrived.

Prussmann 1 copy

My grandfather, Frederick, is the little boy seated on the bench. Next to him is his younger sister, Katchen.

They moved in down the street from my grandmother’s family, and in no time at all, Grandma Honey, (Whose name was Mary) became best friends with Katchen. During their youth, my grandfather who was one year older said he fell in love with my grandmother.  They married shortly after they both finished college.

Katchen met and married a wonderful man named Raymond.

Katchen 2

The young couples spent a lot of time together. Soon Katchen’s husband was called to war and left his young wife Home with her family, and pregnant with their first baby.

Kachen (2)

She was so beautiful and the sweetest and kindest woman one could hope to know. So said, my grandmother.

Kachen 1 (2)
Then, the Spanish Flu Pandemic hit in the winter of 1918-1919. The family attempted to keep Katchen in isolation, but the young couple made a fateful decision. Raymond snuck in to see his wife.

kachen 3 (2)

*A note was written by my grandmother as she recalled that terrible time.*
My grandparents were devastated, to lose Katchen like that, as well as her baby. Decades later, my grandmother still wept telling the story.

Raymond and Katchen didn’t think she would catch the Flu from him and die. They did not listen to the older folks who begged people to avoid each other. The Spanish Flu spread like wildfire.

Raymond’s life was ruined, and he never recovered from what he had done to his beloved wife.

Wikki Writes: “The Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 flu pandemic, was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. Lasting from January 1918 to December 1920, it infected 500 million people—about a quarter of the world’s population at the time. The death toll is estimated to have been anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million, (675000 people alone died in the  USA) making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.

So yes. I have known someone who died in a Pandemic. She died at the tender age of 21. My mother never got to meet her father’s sister. I never got to know my Great Aunt Katchen. And yet, I do know her a little. Her death made me value life, but also respectful of illness.

So please people, this is a serious Pandemic illness. No one is immune to it.

So the next time someone asks if you know of anyone who died in a Pandemic you can say, “My friend’s Great Aunt died, as well as her baby.”

The virus does not care who you are. Young or old, it will get you.

Stay healthy, stay safe, follow the rules. We can get through this!

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