Throwback Thursday—102 Years Ago Today— October 29, 1918
1918 AND 2020: PANDEMIC YEARS
To us, the coronavirus has made 2020 feel like no other year before it. But way back in Mohonk’s 49th year, on the cusp of its first half-century, the Mountain House faced another deadly pandemic: the 1918 flu. We looked back into our Archives to see what records we could find about life on the mountain 102 years ago, when—just like today—the whole world grappled with a devastating virus.
In those days, Mohonk produced a weekly bulletin. Our Archivist Nell Boucher sent us some highlights, referencing what was then called “the Spanish flu” as the only country reporting on the virus was Spain (other countries were operating under wartime press censorship). On October 12, 1918, the Mohonk Bulletin reported: “Spanish influenza not yet seen at Mohonk but ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’” Tellingly, just one week later, the bulletin indicated “Seven cases of Spanish influenza are all quarantined and receiving medical attention.”
Nell sent us a page (pictured above) from the final edition of that year—October 29, 1918 (back then the Mountain House closed each season in November until the following summer.) The words of the bulletin speak to the difficulty of the times. Bear in mind that not only was the flu raging across the world, but World War I, known then as “the Great War,” would end just 12 days later on November 11, 1918.
The year is referred to as “… a season fraught with problems and obstacles, overshadowed throughout by the tragedies of the greatest of all wars, and closed amid the nation-wide scourge of a dread disease.” And the bulletin’s closing line reads today with the same heartfelt urgency as it did when first written 102 years ago:
“That next season may open in a greatly changed world, we fervently hope. If, however, a shadow still hangs over humanity, no less cheerfully will Mohonk accept its share of the work of lifting that shadow.”
None of us know when the shadow of the coronavirus will lift. But we do know that we must all continue to do our best to keep each other safe. May the Mohonkers of 1918 be an inspiration to keep us going in our own time.
The Masked Golfers of 1918?
Nell also sent us this intriguing picture postcard. If you zoom in, you can see that everyone is masked except the gentleman who’s lined up to swing. And they even have their masks fully covering their noses and mouths—a requirement, too, in the Mountain House today. While we can’t be 100% sure that this dates from 1918, Nell can date it between 1916 to 1930. Our Golf Cottage (seen in the background), underwent an addition in 1915 that is visible in the postcard image. And the white border around the image was a picture postcard style used up to 1930. So it seems quite possible that our golfers are masked because of the 1918 flu pandemic. The next time you join us on the mountain, take a trip down to the Spa display case, where you can see artwork from this very picture postcard.