By Allen Hamrick
In today’s modern world of high tech, big money and power, very little is thought of from our past Clay County history. Today, we seem to have lost the sparkle in our eyes for something new; getting a fifty dollar bill doesn’t have the same “I’m rich” feel as it used to. We have the ability to instantly reach out to people with just the touch of our fingers or lose ourselves in the crazy world of gaming where one can ride out your fantasies through a made up character. Games can be as simple as driving a race car or as complex as being a warrior or assassin on a bloody battlefield, and all can be played in the palm of your hand. Let’s face it, life is just not simple these days, and it seems that it is getting worse. Cell phones are the life source for millions, if not billions, of people, and without them, owners’ hearts stop and they cower in corners sucking their thumbs for fear of what to do next.
Just what was life in the tough times like? Many experts say the world is a lot more complicated now than when humanity faced the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Hmm, I wonder, because despair has no preference of rich and poor. Viruses killed back then, and they kill now. There were 500 million worldwide deaths in the 1918 pandemic and approximately 675,000 of those were in the United States. Considering the population of then and now, there is quite a bit of difference. The amount of deaths in the United States during the Spanish Flu was as catastrophic or more so as compared to today.
There is only one person that I know of that was here during the Spanish Flu pandemic and that is 102 year old Leona Varrella. She was born in 1918 during a time when families faced the worst nightmare they would ever face. It was a battle the rich and poor alike too often lost to the unseen foe. Tough times for sure, but people made it somehow and without all the high tech we have today. It may once again come to the point that families have to revisit the ways of the ancestors. I can remember my Grandma and Grandpa not having a television, just a radio. They went to bed when the sun did and got up when it come up over the horizon. It was life; they had no idea what was going on in the world except for the newspaper that, after reading, was used to line the outhouse and start fires. Friends and family would come by occasionally, but their focus was on getting food, storing food, work, maintaining a home and getting ready for winter. Other than that, it was church for Grandma and the woodshop for Grandpa.
That was how life went until the day they passed, and they were happy. No TV, no cell phone, no fancy cars, no having to know the world’s problems, they had enough of their own at home. Grandma always said, “Don’t live in other peoples’ shoes until you can fill your own.” In this week’s paper, there will be photos and stories that were of life a time long gone in Clay County. There are faces and names you may recognize, and hopefully, stories you will enjoy reading. These were times when life was tough but simple at the same time. There will be sports photos, ads and stories from a time gone by. Enjoy the look back.