Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The 1924 Los Angeles Black Plague!

The forces were mobilized! Crews wandered around spraying different disinfectants, killing rats with bates and traps. Even hiring guys with guns and terriers flushing and shooting California ground squirrels! Crews were tearing down stables, hog farms, granaries, houses, businesses! They tore down a lot of the poorer parts of LA, like the "negro shacks"!
There were neighborhoods where the back yards were full of stored junk, lumber, trash; all rat breeding grounds.

It was a full on disaster. People were dieing of pneumonic and bubonic plague.
Scientists were locating "foci's" of plague. Norwegian and black rats plus the CA ground squirrels were the vectors.They found rat holes under restaurants, groceries, shoe and leather businesses.
This whole episode was photographed and documented. The photos are archived at UC Berkeley. It's a total treasure of Los Angeles street scenes in 1924!
My Father was 2 years old living in Echo Park. His older brother Harry had died in the 1918 flu epidemic. My Grandmother had a nervous breakdown. Her doctor, a Doctor Pahl, told her to have another child.He felt if she lost my uncle Bill, born 1917,  she would go off the deep end.
They named my father Donald Pahl.
This piece of history is stunning to me. What if my Father or Uncle were taken away by this Plague? What if my Grandfather or Grandmother came down with it?
Live was tenuous then. Penicillin was not discovered till 1928!!
My Father was asthmatic, the doctor prescribed porter beer (prohibition time here) and they burned some incense crap when he had attacks. Pneumonic plague would of killed him.
The leather business had rats under the floor!!!

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