Rural Missouri - July 2020 - 48

"What an

awful time

that was ..."
Zalma woman's
memories recall life
during 1918 pandemic
photos courtesy Deborah Horn

It might be fair to say that if Lottie James Bollinger were
with us today, she'd likely see some similarities between
the uncertain times of nearly 100 years ago and the present day. Born and raised in Zalma near the end of the 19th
century, Lottie was a descendant of a North Carolina family
that was the namesake for Bollinger County. Before she
bought the abandoned Will Mayfield College property in the
mid-1940s and restored it to become the El Nathan Home,
she lived through one of the deadliest pandemics in human
history.
In the mid-'70s, toward the end of her life, Lottie began
recording some of her memories of her early years in
Bollinger County for her granddaughter, Deborah Horn.
"There are many wonderful stories, somewhat like Laura
Ingalls Wilder, of her childhood and young adult life," says
Deborah. "The stories begin with her earliest memories in
the late 1890s."
The first stories Deborah transcribed were Lottie's
descriptions of life during the 1918 influenza pandemic,
also known as the Spanish flu. In her memories of how the
sickness swept through her community, there is some hope
found in the tireless efforts of friends, family and local physician Dr. Azra Kirkpatrick to help each other survive.

by Lottie James Bollinger | info@ruralmissouri.coop

I

t was November 1918. I was three months pregnant
with Charles Jr. Mother and I had been to Cape
Girardeau to visit friends and have the girls' pictures
taken at a photographer's studio. Evelyn, normally

48

RURAL MISSOURI | JULY 2020

a very active tomboy, was subdued. When combing her
curls, I noticed the back of her neck was too warm. Mother
said she was just warm from the excitement but I feared
otherwise. The flu was everywhere. The day we left Zalma
to go to Cape, only a few of our friends and family were ill.
Now, I was worried Evelyn would be the next victim.
When we got into Zalma, only Charles was at the station
to meet us. He carried Evelyn to his office at the bank and
went looking for help. He finally found a young man, Oran
Slagle, who was still healthy. They got a team and buggy
at the livery stable and Oran drove us home. He helped
us indoors, brought in wood and fixed a fire in the stove.
Genie had found their dolls and couldn't understand why
Evelyn was not interested in playing.
I had to carry water from the barn because the cistern
had a leak. As I pumped water, I began to cough; a dry
hacking cough. I was so tired and weary, I went to bed
early. I woke up hurting all over. Every bone seemed to be
breaking into small pieces. It was Sunday, but no one in
our house was going to church. I could see Charles was
feeling poorly when he left for town early that morning. He
wanted to catch the doctor before he started his rounds.
Charles came back at noon and fell into bed bemoaning
the terrible pains. He said, "Doc didn't get in last night.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick will tell him when he comes."
Dr. Kirkpatrick came the next morning. By this time,
few of his patients were able to greet him. I had reached
the 'stupor' stage. I knew things for a short while and suddenly would pass out. I heard Doc say, "Charley, help me
to bring that other bed up here. I want to move this one."



Rural Missouri - July 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - July 2020

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Rural Missouri - July 2020 - Contents
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