By Rebecca Lane Boyles
A day or two ago I called my sister to check on her and see what was happening about the covid-19 virus where she is in Maryland. During the conversation, we talked about the similarities between it and the Spanish Flu of 1918. She reminded me of my Grandmother Pearl (Billingslea) Daniels’experience with the Spanish Flu.
Pearl Billingslea - 1916
She had been to Little Rock and was returning home on the train. She felt fine when she started her trip home. At some point she started feeling bad and soon was running a high fever and had full blown Flu.
She said she must have become unconscious as she came to on a litter at the New Augusta Depot. They had placed her alongside several other litters. She didn’t know if the people were alive or dead. Some were moaning and crying others simply laid there. Her older brother came and got her, took her to the house where she and her family were quarantined.
My Grandmother said it was the scariest thing she had ever experienced.
This is also a scary time for us too, but we need to keep a few things in mind. In 1918 there were no broad-spectrum antibiotics, or anti-viral drugs. All anyone could do was treat the symptoms, quarantine and hope for the best. In 1918 themain sources of information on the flu were newspapers with stories often days old before they finally reached us. Today with TV and internet we live in a world instant information. As more is discovered about the virus, we will become better informed as to ways to avoid it. Yes it is a very scary time for us but we will get through it. I for one intend to self-quarantine and social distance myself as much as possible. That worked in 1918 and will help again today.
For more on the Spanish Flu in Arkansas see: https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/flu-epidemic-of-1918-2229/