//Reporters pocket book: How my dad, 106, survived the opposite pandemic – the Spanish flu

Reporters pocket book: How my dad, 106, survived the opposite pandemic – the Spanish flu

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My father, Ed Palkot, has a novel perspective on the present coronavirus pandemic.

He is sheltering in place now in his suburban New York house. And he is 106. He survived the final main world ‎pandemic.


That one contaminated 500 million individuals around the globe and killed some 50 million, 675,000 within the U.S.

‎American cities had been particularly hard-hit, together with Pittsburgh, Penn. Town of simply over half-a-million on the time noticed 4,500 deaths from the virus and 24,000 reported instances. And Dad was one in every of them.


Edward Palkot with his mother Mamie and father John.

Edward Palkot together with his mom Mamie and father John.
(Greg Palkot)

Edward was 5 years previous. In accordance with him, he most likely contracted the “dreaded disease” from his “playmates.” Not like the present COVID-19, the Spanish flu hit youthful individuals tougher than the aged.

“Those who drank whiskey escaped the flu,” Dad remembers his mom Mamie suggesting, “those who did not, succumbed.”   

In truth, Dad’s mom and father had been effective. Ed, the one baby on the time, received the eye.

Pittsburgh’s mayor reluctantly adopted steering from Pennsylvania authorities to shut public areas, so the virus got here with a vengeance. Town scrambled to arrange makeshift hospitals. Individuals crowded in, struggled to breathe, their lungs filling with liquid. There have been no respirators then.


Edward Palkot with caregiver, Tina

Edward Palkot with caregiver, Tina
(Greg Palkot)

Dad’s “dear” mom fortunately determined to maintain him at house, offering him with “careful nursing.” His room was easy however cozy, warmed by a fuel area heater. Edward was attended to by the Palkot household GP, Dr. Frederick. Home calls then value a lordly sum of two {dollars}. It was value it. “His skillful treatment,” Dad remembers, “saved my life.”

Others in Pittsburgh weren’t so fortunate.  

On the Spanish flu’s peak, individuals had been dying within the metropolis on the fee of 100 a day.

“The procession of horse-drawn hearses seemed to continue endlessly,” he mentioned. A lot of the wakes had been at house, not funeral properties.  “You learned of a death by a wreathe at the door — purple for older people, white for the young.” 

When the dying fee elevated, Dad recalled, simply plain flowers had been used.

After per week or so, Edward recovered. In truth, after a number of weeks the worst of the Spanish flu had handed by means of town. 

Greg Palkot and his father, Thanksgiving 2019

Greg Palkot and his father, Thanksgiving 2019
(Greg Palkot)

The perfect remedy to get the remnants of the flu out of Dad’s lungs? In accordance with trusted Dr. Frederick, taking part in exterior. Mom Mamie was “perplexed,” little Ed was “elated.”

Quick-forward a century or so, and Dad is now residing by means of one other pandemic, COVID-19. Actually lots of of instances throughout his house. He is getting by with the assistance of household, together with my two sisters close by. And maybe most significantly proper now, hard-working caregiver Tina, who lives with him and just about performs the function of Dad’s late mom.

What are ‎his emotions concerning the coronavirus? He thinks it is severe, for positive. He follows it on-line and watches protection on TV, however he is assembly it head-on. After I known as earlier this week, his telephone did not reply. I used to be involved. After I known as again later, he answered.  

“I used to be out taking a stroll with Tina,” he confided. “It was a stunning day.”


And does Ed Palkot assume the U.S. will get by means of this pandemic prefer it ‎managed to get by means of the Spanish flu?  He thinks ught about it for a second and replied, “I hope so … I hope so.” As all of us do.

Thanks for sharing, Dad