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Quarantine, When my Grandmother Was a Child. . .


By E.L. Alexander

My grandmother, Esther, was a child in the 1920’s. This was a period of time when contagious diseases frequently decimated communities. When I was kid, in the 1970’s, I got measles, mumps and chicken pox ALL, in third grade. I missed two total weeks in a row that year, and one additional for the measles (my mother called them the HARD measles, because German Measles, or Rubella, weren’t as hard). My mother took wonderful care of me when I had these hard diseases and they were not easy. My mom said we were not allowed to watch TV or read, because when she had measles as a child, she had them in her eyes, and it could lead to blindness. We did not get significant vaccines until we were in high school, except for Polio.

When grandma was about 10 years old, her two brothers, herself and her other relatives all came down with Diphtheria. Now, kids today get a Diphtheria shot when they are babies and children. In grandma’s day, they had to be quarantined. My grandma’s dad, Henry, had to take care of all three of them. They had a sign posted on their door—I cannot find one from Nebraska, where she lived, but this is the wording from one in Pennsylvania:

1920’s Quarantine sign for DIPHTHERIA Measures 7 by 10 inches. Made of thin cardboard. Nice condition. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Health DIPHTHERIA These premises are under state quarantine No person shall be permitted to enter, leave, or take any article from this house without written permission from a legally authorized agent of the Department of Health, excepting physicians and trained nurses in charge of the sick. No person other than those authorized by the Department of Health shall remove this placard. Any person or persons defacing, covering up, or destroying this placed render themselves liable to the penalties of the law. Act of the General Assembly approved June 28, 1923 https://www.kuenzigbooks.com/pages/books/17180/ephemera/1920s-diphtheria-disease-quarantine-sign-pa-dept-health/?soldItem=true

All they had to treat themselves was gentian violet—a natural herb solution with which they painted their throats to ease the severe symptoms of Diphtheria. Great Grandpa, Henry, could not leave, either. He was the ONLY person allowed to care for them except for the visiting public health doctor. Neighbors, friends and probably the church brought them food. This is a description of Diphtheria from the Mayo Clinic:

Diphtheria signs and symptoms usually begin two to five days after a person becomes infected and may include:

• A thick, gray membrane covering your throat and tonsils
• A sore throat and hoarseness
• Swollen glands (enlarged lymph nodes) in your neck
• Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
• Nasal discharge
• Fever and chills
• Malaise

Left untreated, Diphtheria can lead to:

• Breathing problems. Diphtheria-causing bacteria may produce a toxin. This toxin damages tissue in the immediate area of infection — usually, the nose and throat. At that site, the infection produces a tough, gray-colored membrane composed of dead cells, bacteria and other substances. This membrane can obstruct breathing.

• Heart damage. The diphtheria toxin may spread through your bloodstream and damage other tissues in your body, such as your heart muscle, causing such complications as inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Heart damage from myocarditis may be slight or severe. At its worst, myocarditis can lead to congestive heart failure and sudden death.

• Nerve damage. The toxin can also cause nerve damage. Typical targets are nerves to the throat, where poor nerve conduction may cause difficulty swallowing. Nerves to the arms and legs also may become inflamed, causing muscle weakness.

If the diphtheria toxin damages the nerves that help control muscles used in breathing, these muscles may become paralyzed. At that point, you might need mechanical assistance to breathe.

With treatment, most people with Diphtheria survive these complications, but recovery is often slow. Diphtheria is fatal 5% to 10% of the time, according to the World Health Organization. Rates of death are higher in children. ~end Mayo Clinic citations

If you believe, in any way, shape or form that there is something Republican or Conservative “freedom” conveying about breaking quarantine rules and that we have never faced this as a nation before, then you are utterly wrong. And this is JUST ONE contagious illness that we have now overcome due to vaccines. This lack of trust in our government—now supported by a rogue president who propagates conspiracy theories as a rule because he is paranoid, is NOT AMERICAN.

My Grandfather, Alexander Weisgerber, fought in World War II, as a Sargent with a tank destroyer unit in a fox hole in Germany. His OWN grandparents were German. They were immigrated Germans, (he was a first generation American). He married my grandmother, Esther, who survived Diphtheria, because we had a public health department that quarantined them and then she married Alexander and he survived the war, and my mother was born and then they had ME!!!! So, what are my basic points, here, if you weren’t following? Immigration and quarantine are good. Immigrants fight evil for their country. Public Health is important. Neighbors should help each other. These protestors are full of absolute shit and they are NOT PATRIOTS—they are TERRORISTS!!!! Don’t fall for their bullshit. Be a patriot and fight the malignant narcissist in Washington and his constant gaslighting by him and his sycophants.

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