A personal look back at other crises


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The novel coronavirus has left some feeling as though the world is navigating uncharted territory, but older generations have also handled public health crises.

I turned to someone very close to me for some perspective, my dad.

In the late 1940s and early 50s, the poliovirus was spreading and haunting American families, infecting, paralyzing, or killing tens-of-thousands of children. There would not be a vaccine until 1955. 

“We were quarantined, and on the front door of our home was a poster with a skull and crossbones on it,” remembered my dad, Dick Pigott.

Going back to another generation, the 1920s, my dad’s mom, Mary, was engaged to my grandfather, Charlie. Then scarlet fever struck.

Their huge wedding was reduced to just their parents to prevent any spread. Little did they know what would happen next.

“They immediately left on their honeymoon in New Orleans and while they were there, Black Tuesday occurred, which was the stock market crash that started the great depression,” Pigott recalled.

In another instance of a health crisis, World War I had just ended in 1918, but the Spanish Flu had only begun. The flu would kill 675,000 Americans.

“I mean, people were just dropping left and right. So, as we sit here now, I’m wanting to go out to a restaurant and have dinner and feel like I’m really deprived. There’ve been some terribly shocking events,” Pigott said.

My dad, who just turned 80, has a piece of advice. “So I think one thing is to be grateful for what we have and then try to do what you can for other people.”

My dad believes this may be tougher on the current population because, back then, “more” people were accustomed to tougher lives and adversity.

Oh, one more piece of advice from my dad — don’t touch your face. He always tells me that, even before the pandemic!

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