Progress Club hears about 1918 influenza


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WILMNGTON — The Progress Club met Aug. 3 at the Cape May Campus Center. Thirteen members answered the roll call “where have you traveled this summer?” (not counting Kroger).

The club entertained five guests: Susan Henry, Connie Townsend, Kitty Warner, Jean Singleton, and Jane Walker (if one was seeing double, it was because Jean and Jane are identical twins).

Suzanne Madison gave a program on the effects of the 1918 influenza which became known as the “Spanish Flu”. It was later determined the virus was of avian origin. The first known victim was a soldier from Kansas stationed at Camp Devon, Massachusetts.

The disease quickly spread from military camp to military camp, populated areas to populated areas, then throughout the world, in four successive waves. The estimated deaths were possibly as high as 100 million people.

The history of the flu in Wilmington was documented in the Wilmington News Journal. The first article appearing 9/23/18 headlined, “To Escape the Influenza, You Must Not Kiss”!

On that same day, Dr. Frank Peelle, health official, closed two rooms of the Main School building as a precaution. By Oct. 2, 41 people, including two Red Cross nurses had died at Chillicothe’s Camp Sherman, followed by 251 community cases. Chillicothe closed all schools, theaters, churches, and public meetings. Clinton County municipalities quickly followed suit.

Suggested remedies: “Take a TBS. of baking soda, dissolved in half a glass of water, go to bed and stay there” and take a “Potion (of) Sulphate of quinine, thymol (thyme herb), oil of peppermint and wintergreen, keep (your) feet dry, keep in the open air, and avoid congregations of people”.

Wilmington bans were lifted 11/4, only to have a new surge in early December. By 12/17/18 “Off Came the Lid” trumpeted the Wilmington Journal.

Progress Club President Judy Sargent thanked Susanne for a fascinating presentation. Jane Allemang, Becky Miller, and Cathy Hadley were congratulated on their recent birthdays.

Hostesses were Ann Kuehn and Mary Ellen Krisher. The lunch was catered by McCoy’s.

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