Storyteller: Velva Kiser Breeding
I was born in the spring of 1916 and I can only recall some scant memories of the 1918 pandemic, but I remember what my parents told me about it. At the time, we were living in the Wilder Coal Camp in Russell County, Virginia, where my father was employed as a miner. Many of the miners and their families in the camp had fallen ill with the 1918 pandemic flu. The local doctor, Dr. Beckner, came to our house by horseback and asked my father, who was not sick with the flu, to go to the bootleggers in the area and bring back some moonshine so he could treat the sick miners with it. The moonshine was mixed with honey or sugar and given to those who were ill to drink. There were also several other home remedies, like garlic salves, but I really can′t remember them all. One thing that does stand out in my mind is the fact that my mother was an excellent seamstress, and that she sewed day and night making the white shrouds for “laying people out” (burying in) at the time. There was some belief that these garments would speed a person′s arrival into heaven. Healthy men were kept busy building pine boxes (caskets). No one in my family fell ill with the flu. However, they were all real busy helping those who did.