poetry and prose about place

from the pages of an old diary – illness in the community

with 4 comments

In her diaries, my great-aunt wrote about her own health, as well as the health of others.  She was a nurse, trained at McLean Hospital in Boston, so her interest in health is not surprising.  Her diary entries are filled with her visits to the sick.  She often brought either ginger ale or ice cream with her when she visited, and these must have soothed many a sore throat and helped to get needed fluids into the ill person.

In May of 1955, a flu went through the community.  Through the diary entries, you can follow as different people become ill.  On May 6, 1955, my great-aunt came down with the flu, probably contracted as she visted the sick.  She was in bed for eleven days.  In those days, the doctor made house calls and he came twice to see her.



flu in the community – 1955

                -response to a diary entry for May 16, 1955 and entries for the previous two weeks


 Mon cloudy cold.  Katie M.

came in P.M. brought ice-cream [and] gin [ginger] ale. 

I am feeling better.  I cleaned up-stairs

some.  R.C. called too at noon.   

                                 –          A.M.W.




visited Jesse


took Madge ginger ale


took Mrs. B. ice-cream

combed her hair, made her bed


should stay away

but ginger is good for what ails you

and ice-cream soothes the throat


I’m a trained nurse

it’s expected




chills, fever 103

Doctor saw me twice



nine days, in bed

I hear comings and goings downstairs

most won’t come up, or stay

afraid of flu




better today, out of bed

puttered around upstairs

Katie came

brought me ice-cream and ginger ale

a little gossip


remedies for the flu



©  Jane Tims   2012

Written by jane tims

February 29, 2012 at 7:08 am

4 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. My grandmother was the only nurse in the rural community in which we grew up. She exposed herself to many ailments and diseases trying to care for and comfort the sick and dying. She delivered babies too. What a brave life she led, putting herself in harm’s way without benefit of modern medicines. I appreciate the memories this post calls back for me.


    Carol Steel

    March 3, 2012 at 11:42 am

    • Hi. My Mom used to tell us stories about how my grandmother (who was also a nurse) would go away to stay with local mothers about to have their babies. Perhaps she and your grandmother would have had a lot of stories to share! Jane


      jane tims

      March 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

  2. Love ginger ale for tummy upsets – always have a few small cans on hand… I’m glad we have flu shots nowadays – it’s been over twenty years since we’ve been down with it. Your great aunt was brave to go out and help others…


    Barbara Rodgers

    February 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    • Hi Barbara. I think about our nurses through the decades who continue to put themselves at risk. They must be exposed to every germ making its rounds. Jane


      jane tims

      February 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: