The Faces of Pandemic

The pictures below were taken sometime around 1912. On the left is my grandmother, Mary, age 15 or so. Next is her sister Alice, age 16. On the right is Mabel, age 20. They all lived in Aurora, Colorado, and both Alice and Mabel were college graduates, which was unusual at the time. Mabel was a schoolteacher and Alice would later work for the Gates Tire and Rubber Company.

Here they are again in early 1918. Mary is on the left, Mabel in the middle, and Alice on the right. Not a care in the world.

Finally, here’s an entry in the family Bible a few months later:

The Spanish flu of 1918 first broke out in Haskell County, Kansas. From there it spread overseas, where it eventually mutated into a far deadlier strain that found its way back to Boston and then across the country, reaching its peak in October and early November of 1918.

One of the unusual aspects of the Spanish flu was that it mostly killed young adults: half of its victims were between the ages of 20 and 40. So when it roared through Aurora it was mostly young people who were its victims. Alice (age 22) died on November 9. Mabel (age 26) died on November 22. William Smith (age 33), a stepbrother, died on November 28. My grandmother never got over missing her sisters.

Coronavirus won’t be this bad. Not even close. But there are faces behind the masks, and there are going to be a lot more if we don’t get our act together fast and put serious professionals in charge of stopping it. Mike Pence might be a decent guy, but he’s just not cut out for this role. People are going to die because Donald Trump cares only about his own image and appointed Pence largely to guarantee that he’d have a high-level scapegoat if things go south.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

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