Guest Post: Grand Aunt Hilda and the Influenza Pandemic of 1918

The Stofferahn family history is a wake-up call. U.S. leadership needs to act fast to avoid another 1918.

A family’s history points to the danger
of today’s coronavirus pandemic.

by Curt Stofferahn

I’ve been thinking of Grand Aunt Hilda this past week.

Graphic for Guest PostsThe discovery of hot spots of coronavirus (COVID-19); the announcements of meeting, convention and tournament postponements; colleges and universities cancelling face-to-face instruction in favor of online instruction and postponing reconvening until two weeks after the end of spring breaks; and repeated reminders of the Trump administration’s miserable failure in dealing with the outbreak – they all reminded me of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and how my Grand Aunt Hilda was a victim.

Influenza Pandemic of 1918, Iowa & South Dakota

I learned about Grand Aunt Hilda when we were children visiting my grandparents. When we discovered a trunk in the storeroom with portraits of relatives in it, I asked Grandma about one in particular, a charcoal portrait of a lovely young woman who looked vaguely familiar. She went with us to the storeroom to look at the portrait, and with some melancholia said that it was my grandfather’s sister, Hilda, who had died in the pandemic.

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Raisins to the Rescue

Jump. Run. Walk. Ball. Throw. Catch. Milk. Baby… Mother.

Work. Play. And Remembering That Very First Day.

Dick. Jane. Wow.

It’s been a long, long time.

This card and about half a dozen more were hiding at the bottom of a box in our basement for who knows how long. I’m guessing they languished there or in a different one in my mother-in-law’s storage space for years. She taught school for more than 30 years, so that’s probably where they came from.

Images and sensations of the two-room schoolhouse in Medora, N.D., where I completed 1st through 4th grades under the guidance of, first, Mrs. McCusky, then Ms. Anderson, swept through my head when I found the cards. They were the two teachers I had over those four years.

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…from their limping…

Year to year, knee to knee and back to knuckles, there’s a moral to this gobshite’s tale.

An Irishman, Coupla Knees and a Backhanded Blessing

We all limped hurriedly toward the doors of Sanford Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Walk-In Clinic.

An oxymoron if ever there was one. Continue reading “…from their limping…”

Colorado Rocky Mountain Luck

Good fortune comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes travels in a little Mazda pickup. Where it’s headed after a few months is anyone’s guess.

The Border Brothers & One of the Best Stories Ever

“What the fuck, man!”

The other redhead leaned in to look closely at what I held gingerly between my thumb and forefinger.

“I been lookin’ for one of those my whole life!” he exclaimed.

I chuckled.

“No, I’m serious!” he said, actually getting upset now. “My whole fuckin’ life.”

He paused, took another good look, then started counting with his forefinger. “One…two…three…four. Ah, man!” He took a step back.

“An’ you’re seriously tellin’ me you’ve never even looked for one before?”

“Never,” I assured him. His face was boiling.

“Beginner’s luck?” I said sheepishly, shrugging my shoulders. “I am part Irish.”

He harrumphed, stepped forward again, took another look.

“Fuckin’ A!” he exclaimed. Then, “Well…” –slapped me on the back – “my whole goddamned life … I guess…. Guess I’ll just hafta keep lookin’.” He backed up, bent down and started looking through the patch of clover again.

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Ridin’ the Vortex ‘Til the Wheels Fall Off

Does it qualify as “living” when all you do is run to your car, into the front doors of your destination, back to your car and, finally, into your house, no pauses or sidetracks?

Cold enough for ya?

Yeah, it’s been cold up this way the last coupla days.

So cold that 0° sounds – and feels – downright balmy.

I mean, it’s so cold you can throw a cup of water into the air and it’ll turn into a cloud of crystals immediately. As one media type pointed out a couple of days ago, nearly every TV news outlet in the state will demonstrate that little maneuver while we’re in the midst of this freakin’ cold vortex thingy. Too ugly out to go out and find real news.

Let’s just say it’s “triple-dog dare ya” cold. Think Flick in “A Christmas Story.” Come to think of it, we might have just stumbled upon a new phrase for expressing how cold the weather is – “We’re Flicked!”

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North Dakota Moves to Weaken Bakken Crude Conditioning Rules

Five years after Casselton’s near miss with exploding oil cars, the North Dakota Industrial Commission is loosening rules for testing Bakken crude set to ship by rail. What do YOU think?

Industrial Commission Actions Come on 5th Anniversary of Casselton Explosions

Five years after railroad cars carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded near Casselton, N.D., the N.D. Industrial Commission is weakening rules for conditioning oil destined for railroad transport.

The irony is so thick it cuts like Jack the Ripper’s blade through London fog.

But this ain’t London, folks.

It’s our own backyards.

Too Close to “An Ink Spot”

Rory Peterson, who runs the Hardware Hank in Casselton, was spot on when he commented recently to The Forum News Service about the explosions five years ago.

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