Comment: Those Swine Flu Masks Sure Remind Me of the 1919 Influence Pandemic

Gee, I don’t mean to be funny, but I hope they aren’t recycling those masks from the 1919 Influenza Pandemic.

They wore similar masks in San Francisco and San Mateo. (The opera was closed, schools, too) People flocked (flocked? you know what I mean.) I don’t have the accurate numbers although the SMC Health Dept  “may”–I think I wrote them at one point, and i I can find the reply I’ll post it).

In 1919, though, nobody wanted to wear the masks. Nobody believed they would save them from the deadly influenza which came back from aboard with the soldiers in WWII. Statred on the East Coast then moved West. Thank goodness, here in the Bay Area, we were hit the least.

They were ugly, too, the masks, and definitely unfashionable for the fashionable woman although some newspaper ads showed women in working clothes wearing a pretty hat and the ugly mask compared to a pig snout. 

(Today I talked to a doctor in Burlingame. He said he thinks they make the masks better today. At least you can paint and put sequins on them. He also said swine flu and influenza pandemic were very different but I was there when a patient called to find out if it was okay to take a cruise to Mexico and stay on the ship. It was decided that anybody who got off the ship could get it and give it to everybody on the ship.)

OOPS: I was not around in 1919, okay? But you can find info in the old papers and there are a couple of excellent books I have cited elsewhere on this site that mention all parts of the country, including the usual power grabbing—-in San Francisco and San Mateo.

I don’t know if the similarities are real but isn’t anybody more original these days? The Influenza Pandemic (which means worldwide, took the lives of millions, more than 20 million). And it wasn’t the old people who died. It was young. Turned out the silly masks protected nobody.

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About June Morrall

1947 - 2010
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