1918 – A Time for Dying
One of a series of “Stories for My Great-Grandchildren”
Excerpt from “An Oklahoma Story – Growing Up on Polecat Hill”
By Ruby Beard Tuggle
All was not well with the world the year of 1918. War had drained America of her finest young men. The flu killed more people than the war. I was five years old.
Ted was the first to come down with the flu; then Henryetta, Frank, and I quickly followed. The danger that we might die was very real. We were so scared.
Mama went from one child to another, giving us medicine, feeding us, and comforting us because we were so sick.
Our hired man, Silas Hall, and Ted shared the bunk house, which was just a tent on a platform in the front yard. When Ted got sick, Mama brought him into the house so she could care for him better and told Silas he should go home. But he refused.
“I’ve got the flu already,” Silas said, “My Ma won’t take care of me like you will. She’ll let me die.” So Mama took care of him, too.
With courage born of fear, the fear that one of her children might die, she fought her own illness, and as always, she found the strength to do what had to be done. She nursed her family and Silas Hall back to health.
My Aunt Etta’s brother, Jack died of the flu. Mama took me with her to his funeral. Jack’s Mama cried and cried – she was so sad.
In a way I knew what it meant to die because I had seen animals that were dead but Mama told me that Jack had gone to Heaven and that I should not be sad even though all of us would miss him.