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The Spanish Flu

The Spanish Flu of 1918 and 1919 was the Covid pandemic of its time.


Like Covid, older people and people with certain medical conditions were most at risk, but unlike Covid, healthy young people in their twenties were getting sick and dying within days. The flu wiped out entire families and left many children, like Dutty, as orphans. 


It was really scary. And lonely too. People wore masks, schools were closed and kids were cut off from family and friends. Not many people had phones, and even those with phones couldn’t call their friends because operators were needed to make the connections. They weren’t allowed to work because they couldn’t gather during the pandemic. There was no internet, no video games, no cell phones, no videos, no TV or even radio. Movie theaters were closed, and libraries too. You had only the books in your own library to read and reread.


So, the world had just come out of the first World War, the war to end all wars, and then the pandemic that came from who knew where? Most agree it didn’t come from Spain, so how did it get its name? It’s a mystery, but one theory is that the Spanish were more accurate and truthful in their reporting the number of deaths in their country.


Worldwide, the pandemic killed almost one third of the population. More U.S. soldiers died as a result of the flu than were killed in battle. People didn’t travel, farms couldn’t harvest their crops without workers, and the economy suffered. Money was scarce because of it.


These were dark, mysterious times where every kind of rumor spread like the flu. In Dutty the Un-Invisible Boy, Auntie Rose believed the spirit world was the source of this evil, and with no school, kids suffered from isolation, loneliness and depression. With no friends, and bad people as guardians, it’s no wonder Dutty could believe that he too was cursed and made invisible.


By the summer of 1919 the epidemic was over, and people cautiously began to try to live normally again. That’s where the story of Dutty, The Un-Invisible Boy begins.

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