In 1957 and 1958 the world and the United States suffered the Asian Flu Pandemic. When this illness hit our family it left a profound memory with me. The radio, television, and newspapers were full of daily articles on the illness. My memory is very vivid as to the conditions our family endured at the time. (In order to give an accurate description of the impact of this pandemic my Google Search provided background details.)
The 1957 Asian Flu Pandemic (sometimes called Asiatic Flu) spread from China to the rest of the world during 1957 and 1958. There were over two million deaths worldwide. The United States suffered seventy thousand deaths. The first wave peaked in October and deaths were mostly school children, young adults, and pregnant women. When the schools resumed classes in the fall it allowed the disease to spread profusely through the close contacts in classrooms. A second wave hit the elderly population in late winter.
Our family, like most others, brought the disease home from school. It hit the youngest children first as it progressed from person to person on a daily basis. Within a week everybody in the family was seriously ill except for myself. There were no screams of pain or agony, but the eerie silence was overwhelming. Homes with five young children are only quiet in the middle of the night. To walk into the house and have near silence indicated how really bad this illness effected everyone. Just when Dad thought he was going to get around it, he too found himself bedridden.
The weather outside was pretty cool with a lot of overcast days. When things were really quiet in the house it felt good to get out in the brisk, fresh, air of autumn. The silence lingered outside also. The yard was completely empty except for our animals. It was the only time I can recall when you could ride our neighbors horse and no one was there to share the ride with you. It seemed like the world was engulfed in gloom.
It seemed like forever at the time, but everyone recovered and their strength returned. Our family was only one of millions who survived the Asian Flu. We had no long term effects from it. Like most Americans we resumed our normal lives.
The American children of today grow up without flu pandemics………..may they never experience that kind of gloom and silence in their homes.