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Welcome to stuff you missed in history class A production of I Heart Radio. Hello and happy Friday. I'm Tracy B. Wilson, and I'm Holly Fry. This week we look back at the 1918 flu pandemic, which we had already been an episode on back in twenty fourteen. It's not something we have ever done before. I don't think, like gone back and just revisited an entire episode. We've updated stuff before. We've talked about stuff and unearthed, but just sort of revisiting a whole topic based on new experience was kind of a new thing.


Yeah. Um, I originally intended that we would spend a little time in that episode, just kind of checking in because we've gotten lots of questions from listeners about how we're doing. I feel like when we recorded that episode at the very beginning of the pandemic, I felt like I was in, you know, relatively good spirits. I'm very, very fortunate in a lot of ways. I was already working at home. I already had a home office that was a dedicated working space.


So a lot of adjustment that people had to make in their working lives if their jobs allowed them to work from home. Like I didn't have to go through that adjustment period. Right. I already had it. But then the stretch of time, I will just call it from October to mid-January, that was not great. Like, there are a whole lot of people we would normally see that time of the year who we did not get to see.


We had to cancel all of those trips. That's when it gets a lot colder and darker in Massachusetts. Things I'm a little partially, I think thanks to the fact that I was like, OK, I got to get on this exercise bike because sitting here doing nothing is making me feel bad in my body and soul. Right.


So I feel like I have returned to lot more generally coping place. Recognizing that, I just I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to be in a more relatively coping place here at the tail end of February 20 21. I'm embarrassed to say I'm great. Yeah, I still love being home all the time. Obviously, I don't love all of the things that played out last year. But in terms of my personal life, yeah, this has been a delight here is I mean, everybody's experience of of being home, like everyone has different stressors, right?


Folks who are, you know, maybe at home with small children and they're trying to work while also trying to homeschool small children. Like that's a whole level of stress. What's been weird for me, a lot of people have talked about how isolating it is to have, you know, not as much contact with other people. What's been weird to me is never being alone because that I love I love my spouse. He's great. Before he and I got together, I had been intentionally single for like seven years.


And being alone and independent was still really important to me. So, like, for example, instead of having some kind of a bachelorette weekend, I went to Maine by myself in February and never being alone has been weird.


Yeah, I could see where that would be tricky for you. I still feel like there's a part of me that is self-centered enough to make everything about me. And I'm like, I hexed the world by saying too many times I wish I didn't have to go to.


Yeah, New York, L.A., wherever, because I traveled so much for work and I could just be with you all the time. Yeah. I wish was granted. So I'm sorry.


To the world this week there has been a tweet floating around on Twitter that's like what's the thing you did in February that you think personally caused this? And it's all kinds of stuff. Like people have had all kinds of like random things where like I decided to sign up for voice lessons or write. I decided to for the first time start saving for a vacation. Like all kinds of random decisions that people made. They're like, that's how I feel like I jinxed the entire world.


Yeah. I just promised Mr. Burns the cat that I would find a way to spend more time with him.


No, it's working now that we're done with, like, our updates about how we're doing working on these episodes. Wow was a frustrating experience in a different way than I like. When I was making a list of things that we were going to talk about, I was like, we're going to talk about math. We're going to talk about ventilation. We're going to talk about Palletize. I didn't expect to find so many things that felt like parallels in terms of like a lack of preparedness and a lack of cohesive plan and a lack of everybody being on the same page about whether it was even a serious thing that needed to be dealt with or not.


Right. And I kept being like, we the we made the same mistakes in 1918. We're make we made them again. We made them then and we made them again. That's really frustrating.


When the pandemic was first starting, I kept seeing mostly historians and medical historians talking about exercising caution in trying to look at the 1918 pandemic as like a forecast of how covid-19 was going to go, because there are very different social and economic factors in play.




And a lot of the thread was about like how bad the pandemic was with bad translating to how many people died. And so one of the things that just became so frustrating to me was just sort of a lack of a sense that like that the deaths are one aspect of it. The the year long fear and chaos and loss is like also a measure of how bad the pandemic is. And, man, we've done a lot of the same things during covid-19 as happened in 1918.


Yes. I mean, I have my uncharitable takes on why.


Oh, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, it is it's it's frustrating in a way. I understand it in some ways why there is a perception of like, oh, but we know better now so we don't have to pay attention to that. You know, I think for a lot of people that they're like, yes, but that what happened then can't possibly apply to us now. It was so long ago and people were much stupider.


But that's one of the ways I did actually feel like our earlier 2014 episode on the 1918 pandemic was like not totally off the mark, because I remember talking in that episode about like they thought they knew what we were doing. We also think we are new knowing what we are doing. This could happen again than, you know. Yeah. Seven years, six years later, a pandemic happening again. Here we are. Here we are. I, I feel bad at how much I have enjoyed.


I mean, I there have certainly been people in my life. I have not had any immediate people in my life past. I have had friends of friends and family of friends past, which is heartbreaking. But I, I have so many things that were on my list that I wanted to do that I'm finally getting to like work through them. And yeah, it's also been you know, I cannot recommend if you have access to it in any way, this is a great time to dig in on therapy.


But you take advantage of this downtime. I mean, I feel like for me, I have more progress with my therapist when I am not in a moment of crisis, which is not to say you should not be turning to it when you are in a moment of crisis. It can really help get you through.


But when I'm when I'm actually in a pretty stable and and fairly relaxed place, I mean, there are always stressors in life and like work, I think, for so many of us has bled into every hour of our lives, which can be tricky to manage.


But like, it's when I'm not really, like, grappling with some acute issue that I have some, like, revelation. And I'm like, oh, this is oh, now I see why I react to certain things in this way.


I know now I can unpack that and like fix it and take a better path going forward.


So yeah, I like you. I have been very fortunate and that um, like my immediate family has been OK, my closest friends have been OK. The people I know who have uh who have gotten covid have eventually recovered, although some of them still have had some long term. Oh yes. Health things like people from my parents church and a former colleague of ours, like people I know who have died, have been people a little farther removed from my immediate circle.


One of the things that has been really hard is that so many people in my life have been going through really big stuff, both positive and negative, like people having their first baby or people being in serious cancer treatment. I mean, any cancer is serious, but like particularly dire cancer treatment, like and not being able to be with them. In some cases, they're having to go through these things largely by themselves because is not allowed at the hospital has just been so hard to feel like helpless and a lot of ways to to really want to be with somebody and support them and just not be able to be with them and support them.


So I know we've been saying this a lot, especially in our Saturday classics, but like. We so hope that people are doing as well as they can be doing. I know there's a lot that's hard to imagine doing well right at this moment in history. Even, you know, as headlines right now are about cases declining and sort of a sense of very cautious optimism that maybe we are turning a corner on the pandemic.


Still hearing from a lot of folks that this moment has actually been a lot harder than. Previously, when it was more seemingly acute, right, we are all grinding down a little bit. Like, I mean, I definitely as much as I'm like, oh, I'm great. There are definitely times where I'm just like, I would just love to run to target for this one thing I need. That's like a very minor thing. Mm hmm. But I think we are all experiencing a lot of those in addition to the more emotionally heavy things.


And we don't always we tend to to dismiss them and be like, oh, I'm being silly. That's just a stupid convenience. But all of those little things accumulate in the same grouping, right? You're still you're still getting the same pile up. Whether your stuff is is one of the little things versus one of your larger issues.


Those things are still kind of combining together in a larger ongoing, you know, just a never ending list of stuff where you realize kind of I know for me it's like I have these moments of insight and it's stupid because it's obvious where I'm just like our lives are so completely different.


Yeah. And I don't know how we'll ever. Recover. Yeah, yeah, right. I hope hope is not the right. Word, but I don't know another word to say. That I hope that as we recover from the pandemic, we are able to recover in a direction that is more equitable for everyone. Yeah. And that the kinds of horrific disparities that have happened during the pandemic, that we will reach a point as a society that we don't have those.


And the reason I don't feel like hope is the right word is because I've been working on this podcast for however many years, eight years, like I've seen the patterns that we have gotten through in society where we have not addressed the massive inequities that are going on over and over.


But, yeah, that's I hope I don't know, hope you still feel too optimistic. But that's what I want as a society, is is for us to come out of this moment in a way that is better and not as a way that's just back to the way that it was before. Right.


I understand what you're saying because saying you hope for it, there may maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I know for me when I say I hope for something like that, it seems so distant and far that it seems like I'm denying the reality that we're actually living in. Is that part of what's going on so quickly for you? Like, I'm somehow being disrespectful of the legitimate awfulness that a lot of people are surviving through, but I think you can acknowledge that and still hope for better.


Yeah, well, we know humans are capable of better.


They just have to do the work, right. All of us.


All of us. All day, every day.


But we do a lot of people already doing that work.


And I don't want to give that short short side at all.


No, no. Our thanks to everyone who is always trying to make the world a better place. There are a lot of them out there, but those are the beacon of hope for me. Um, yeah.


I mean, this has been a lot of food for thought as we go through looking at how shockingly parallel some of these things are. Yeah, you really could run some of the headlines from this week's episode today and no one would bat an eyelash or think it was.


Yeah, there's a whole enormous archive called Influenza Encyclopedia that is produced by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library. I just read that off the masthead of the website that has scans and scans and scans of articles and and and photos and all kinds of stuff from the 1918 pandemic. I don't feel like I use it as a source in that earlier 2014 episode. It did exist then, I think, but I did spend a lot of time looking at it this time around.


And continually I was like, these headlines could be running today. Um, like the the numbers of deaths at this moment are not on the same scale, because even though we are reaching the number of of 500000 deaths in the United States, that number was six hundred and fifty thousand in the 1918 flu. But the population of the US was a whole lot lower at that time. But like beyond that, the day to day things that were happening and headlines are happening over and over.


I was like, this could be today.


It's a bummer of a place to land on this. So we'll just continue to hope that people are doing OK, taking care of themselves and each other.


Yeah, as much as folks are able, I know it can be really hard. So if you'd like to send us an email or a history podcast that I heart radio dot com and you can find us all over social media I missed in history.


And we hope, folks, weekends are as restful as they're able to be. Stuff you missed in history class is the production of I Heart Radio for more podcasts from My Heart radio visit by her radio app Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.


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