Yellow Fever Ward

February 5, 2020

An On-Line Publication of the Anonymous Anything Society  


   For most of my youth, beginning in the late 1920s in small town America and in most everywhere else in the world, childbirth was nearly always facilitated by midwives and or family members.   The numbers of deaths of the newly born and mothers as well, was horrific.

  I cannot speak about the general population, but by the time I came into the world (1927), three of my aunts, two of whom were sisters of my father and one who was the wife of my Uncle John, died, along with three newly borne infants, during childbirth. 

   Twin boys born to my paternal grandmother died of whooping cough within weeks of their births and twin boys born to my maternal grandmother died of smallpox. My mother and her two brothers, my uncles Robert and Byron Phillips, had terribly pocked faces. 

   As a consequence of his refusal to inoculate their children, my grandmother, Dora Hill Phillips, left my grandfather. He died later, alone during a cold winter night of what a coroner declared was alcohol poisoning.  By then, Grandmother Phillips had joined our household.

    When my Brother Donald was 16, he somehow contracted Typhoid Fever.  We never knew of any contact he had with a person who carried it. The family physician told my parents there was little chance of Donald’s survival. Their dedication was heroic. My parents wrapped him in wet sheets to help quell the fever and plied him with home remedies around the clock. He did survive and returned to finish his senior year in high school. In the meantime, chicken pox, mumps and tonsillitis were rites of passages for me and all the children of that era.

  -Phil Richardson, Storyteller and Observer of the Human Condition.


Our unending thanks to Jim Bromley, who programs our Archive of Prior Commentaries

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