Diptheria, Measles and TB! Oh my!

My mother recalled the quarantines of her own youth:

She remembered having diptheria when she was about 3 years old and an official coming and tacking a pink quarantine sign on the front door. She couldn’t go out of the house but she didn’t remember it affecting anyone else.

She remembered that when she had measles it was important to keep the blinds shut, as there was a danger of blindness. She recalls being sick in bed and the first steam shovel was rolling down the road to a new mine, and she was so excited to see this novelty, but her mother only let her watch for a moment, because it was not good to allow light to hit her eyes.

She remembered that her brother had gone to a TB sanitarium when he was six years old and he was there for a year. This had happened before she was born, but she saw pictures of him from that time, and remembered how forlorn he looked.

She remembered that a girl she knew in high school was sent to a sanitarium for a year, too, and eventually recovered. She heard that a couple of her mother’s brothers died from TB, and another was sent away to a sanitarium, but being already an adult at the time he moved on from there after he recovered and never returned home.

When she was in grade school she remembered an itinerant family arriving in town for a while, and their three children came to school and had lice, and had to hang their coats on hooks away from the other children’s coats. She remembered getting lice once and her aunt washing her hair with kerosene in the laundry sink to get rid of them. And she remembered a lot of kids having ringworm, and having a bandage on their heads for this reason. She said they didn’t tease the kids with ringworm, but knew to stay away from them until it was cured, as it is highly contagious.

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