Compiled by AFRO Staff
April 12 was the first time in our recent memory that churches were closed throughout the land on Easter Sunday. Our first time, but not the AFRO’s. A search through the AFRO Archives yielded short pieces from 1918 when the land was beset by a similarly debilitating flu. Take a look at the timeline coverage.
On Oct. 10 churches in Catonsville were closed by order of the Health Commissioner. The sick list was large in Easton, Md. where churches remained closed, as they were in Wilmington, Del; but Wilmington’s flu was not as bad as it had been the week before. But many were still sick.
The very next day on Oct. 11, the headline was ‘City in Grip of ‘Flu’’; 36 Reported Dead in 2 Days. Ban placed on public funerals; attendance limited to family and immediate relatives. Local physicians overloaded with as many as 125 patients. Druggists ready to drop – working from 8 a.m. to two or three in the morning. Morgan College Closed. Saloons are still open.
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A week later on Oct. 18, the headline was ‘Influenza and Pneumonia Claim Many Victims.’ The Health Department has given up the attempt to catalog and file the number of deaths. Journalists had to get their figures from undertakers’ slips rather than the official slips. Very little abatement if any has been noticed as the disease enters its second week. Nurses are at a premium.
Never before in its history has Provident Hospital been so taxed for accommodations. The need for a colored hospital large enough to supply the needs of the city and well equipped for all emergencies has never before been felt so keenly. There was the unknown man found unconscious over a saloon at the corner of Lexington and Arch street. It was not possible to rouse him sufficiently to learn his name.
Undertakers rushed. The 21 undertakers of the city are doing their utmost to handle the cases in the city, but the shortage of caskets and the inability of the cemeteries to dig the graves as fast as necessary hampered them considerably. One enterprising undertaker made a coffin himself and varnished it rather than disappoint a customer who relied on him. Almost impossible to get caskets for children.
On Oct. 24, the headline was ‘Flu Not Abated at Crisfield.’ A few days later on Oct. 30, the paper read Flu knocks out Cumberland and an “air of depression pervades the entire city.” Names of prominent citizens were listed. Churches and schools had already been closed three weeks because of the Spanish influenza. Rev. R.F. Coates, pastor of the Woodville charge has been busy securing subscriptions to the Fourth Liberty Loan.
A service flag had been raised at John Wesley M.E. Church to honor the soldiers from that town.