Information

Was Halloween Cancelled During the 1918 Flu Pandemic?


“Witches Must Beware,” declared the Baltimore American on October 31, 1918. The Maryland city’s health commissioner had placed a ban on public Halloween events, instructing the police chief to prevent people from holding “carnivals and other forms of public celebrations.” The United States was in the midst of the second, and most deadly, wave of the 1918 influenza pandemic. And that meant Americans had to curtail their usual Halloween revelry.

In the early 20th century, revelers did not knock on doors to trick-or-treat and Halloween was in general less of a child-centered holiday than it is today. Adults dressed up and held private parties or joined celebrations in the street. Meanwhile, young people—especially boys and young men—spent the night pulling pranks and vandalizing their neighbors’ property. This might mean stealing neighbors’ gates and building a bonfire with them, or stopping a train by laying a fake stuffed “body” on the tracks.

READ MORE: The Great Depression Origins of Halloween Haunted Houses

Bans Established Due to Fear of Virus Spread, And Respect for Flu Victims

WATCH: The Spanish Flu Was Deadlier Than WWII

During the pandemic, cities banned or discouraged these traditions to reduce transmission of the virus, and also to be “respectful of those who might be sick or have lost loved ones,” says Katie Foss, a professor of media studies at Middle Tennessee State University and author of Constructing the Outbreak: Epidemics in Media and Collective Memory.

Cities that had already placed bans on large gatherings might issue separate statements reminding people not to break them on Halloween, says J. Alex Navarro, assistant director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and one of the editors-in-chief of The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: A Digital Encyclopedia. Even if cities didn’t ban Halloween events outright, they might encourage people to tone it down.

READ MORE: Halloween Costumes Through the Ages: Photos

Officials “admonished parents to tell their kids: We know you’re going to go out and do these pranks and these tricks and be loud and rowdy,” he says; “but keep in mind there are lots of people who are convalescing at home and trying to get their rest, and who aren’t going to be able to go out the next day and fix all the damage that these rowdy kids have caused.”

In Spokane, Washington, Navarro says police were supposed to take away Halloween masks if they saw people out wearing them. While wearing cloth flu-prevention masks was encouraged or mandated in some western U.S. cities, Navarro says officials probably saw Halloween masks as dangerous because revelers commonly passed these homemade masks around, taking turns wearing them.

READ MORE: When Mask-Wearing Rules in the 1918 Pandemic Faced Resistance

Sporadic Halloween Revelry and Mischief Reported

In many cities, it appears most people heeded officials’ bans or warnings regarding Halloween. “Hallowe’en revels lack the spirit of previous affairs: Urchins make dismal effort to revive classic forays on ash cans and fences,” reported the Buffalo Express in a headline the day after Halloween in 1918.

Still, reports of revelry differed between and even within cities. On November 3, the St. Louis Globe Democrat reported that Halloween “passed by this year without the usual gay parties and merrymaking among the youngsters, by the edict of the health commissioner.” Yet a couple of days before, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had described a completely different Halloween night in the Missouri city.

“Influenza bans seemingly did not blight Young America’s observance of Halloween in St. Louis,” the Post-Dispatch reported. “The police report the usual number of street lights extinguished and the usual number of bread boxes overturned.” More dangerously, someone had shot a woman in a car and sent another bullet through a woman’s bedroom window.

Confined Residents Were Itching to Get Out

The day after Halloween, The Birmingham News ran a headline claiming “Halloween Ghosts Are Noisiest That Ever Pestered Birmingham.” The Alabama paper speculated residents had been itching to get out after “almost a month of confinement” due to the pandemic, and may have been motivated by the news that World War I was drawing to a close.

“This night was more gloriously observed and property was more thoroughly devastated than at any time since the Magic City has sported a charter,” the article reported.

That same day in Texas, the Dallas Evening Journal ran a headline claiming “Halloween Celebration In Dallas Unusually Rough and Boisterous.” That night, a two-year-old suffered burn injuries, an eight-year-old sprained his ankle, someone struck a 14-year-old in the head with a bottle, and there were multiple injuries from drivers hitting people with their cars. There was also theft: young people stole a horse, a car, a piano and multiple tires off people’s cars.

The flu pandemic continued after Halloween, stretching past Armistice Day on November 11 and into 1919. It remains the deadliest flu pandemic ever recorded, killing roughly 675,000 people in the United States and up to 50 million people worldwide. Some experts estimate that it infected a third of the world’s population, or about 500 million people.

See all pandemic coverage here.


The Pandemic And College Football: A Look Back At The 1918 Season

The possibility of holding some form of the 2020 college football season during a pandemic has sent folks scurrying to research the 1918 season. That&aposs when the Spanish Flu outbreak ravaged the World. The flu, which came in multiple waves from 1918-1919, killed more than 675,000 in the United States.

Not only was there a deadly pandemic in 1918, but World War I was still winding down. According to a report in the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, 18 schools did not play football in 1918 because of the flu and the war.

While there were some who felt college football should completely shut down because of the pandemic, President Woodrow Wilson felt that football added to the overall morale of the country. As a result, football teams were created at various military posts around the country and actually played against established college teams.

“It would be difficult to overestimate the value of football experience as a part of the soldier’s training,” President Wilson wrote in a letter that was eventually published in 1919.

Many schools were not able to play until late October or early November. The annual Army-Navy game was not played. Many schools played only three or four games.

One of the teams that played almost a complete schedule in 1918 was Georgia Tech, coached by the legendary John Heisman. The Golden Tornadoes, as they were known then, played a seven-game schedule with six of those games played at home at Grant Field.

And despite the threat of the flu, fans turned out at Georgia Tech. The photo that accompanies this story is of an undetermined 1918 Georgia Tech home game that was taken by a student, Thomas Carter, who graduated in the 1920s with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. It’s clear that the vast majority of the spectators in the photo were wearing masks in what published reports said was the peak of the flu in October and November.

Georgia Tech, which had won the national championship the year before, did not start its season until Oct. 5. And when it started playing there was no slowing down the Golden Tornadoes. They beat Furman 118-0, The Oglethorpe 11th Calvary 123-0 (in a game that was stopped after the third quarter), and N.C. State 128-0.

In fact, Georgia Tech outscored its first five opponents 425-0.

Heisman, as you might recall,  was never bashful about running up the score as his 1916 team beat Cumberland 222-0 in the most lopsided game in NCAA history. Georgia Tech led that game 126-0 at halftime.

The biggest game of the season came when Georgia Tech, 5-0 and on a 33-game winning streak, went to Pittsburgh to play the Panthers of Pop Warner, who had a 30-game winning streak. Pittsburgh won 32-0 at Forbes Field before a crowd of 30,000. The game was played to benefit military charities.

That game was on Sunday, Nov. 23. Five days later, on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Georgia Tech closed out its season with a 41-0 win over Auburn at Grant Field.

A Georgia Tech game that was scheduled with Pennsylvania was cancelled when the Spanish flu went through Philadelphia.

There was a Rose Bowl after the 1918 season, but back then it was called the Tournament East-West game. With so many teams lacking players because of the war, the game was scheduled between two military institutions that had fielded team, Great Lakes Navy of Illinois and Mare Island Marines of California. Great Lakes Navy won 17-0. The MVP of the game was George Halas, a future Hall of Fame coach of the Chicago Bears.

According to records 25,000 attended the game.

So here we are, about 115 days from the start of college football season, wondering if the games of 2020 will, in fact, be played. And if the games are played, will there be fans in the seats? And if there are fans in the seats, would they be willing to wear masks as they did in 1918?

We certainly don&apost know. We just know that the world has changed a lot since 1918,


Coronavirus: Impact on churches ‘not seen since Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918, says priest of COVID-19

The main Protestant denominations – which also organise on an all-Island basis – also urged southern congregations to observe Irish government guidance to refrain from any gatherings of over 100 people, which was also thought to have a significant impact on the Presbyterian, Methodist and Church of Ireland services in that jurisdiction.

Despite no official restrictions on church services in Northern Ireland, anecdotal evidence suggests numbers of people attending may have been down significantly – with many churches promoting the risk-free alternative of following services by web-cam or radio.

Fr Edward McGee, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor, said his church had not been this level of disruption to services since the Spanish flu in 1918.

Four out of six dioceses in Northern Ireland cancelled all masses, he said. Those that cancelled were cross-jurisdictional, following southern government guidance on gatherings of over 100 people. Only Down and Connor and Derry Diocese held masses as normal but Dromore, Armagh, Clogher and Kilmore cancelled all services.

“Down and Connor is entirely in northern jurisdiction and did not cancel, but we have said there is absolutely no obligation on anyone to attend the liturgies,” he said. “In fact we have strongly advised anyone with any concerns to stay at home.

“These are extraordinary times. This has never happened before, certainly in my lifetime. I think the last time for such an incidence would have been during the Spanish flu.”

‘Spanish flu’ swept around the world in 1918 infecting about a third of the global population and causing some 50 million deaths. In Ireland it was linked to some 23,000 fatalities.

Even though there are no restrictions on churches in Northern Ireland as yet, there were reports of churches of various denominations here either closing yesterday or suffering significant drops in attendance.

At Drumbeg Church of Ireland in Dunmurry, the morning service would normally have seen up to 150 people attending, but only just over a third of the normal numbers turned up – 55.

A Church of Ireland spokesman said: “Many Church of Ireland parishes in the Republic will have cancelled or rearranged services ordinarily attended by 100 or more people.”

Bishop Michael Burrows, the bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, requested that all normally scheduled services in his diocese would be cancelled, which covers 146 places of worship.

Methodist Church spokesman, Rev Roy Cooper, said they had been similarly impacted.

“In those southern congregations which would exceed the 100 people, they did not open for worship instead they endeavoured to find alternatives for Sunday worship,” he said.

“One church which did not open offered a prayer walk in the area of the church other churches whose numbers exceeded the 100 worshippers were encouraging members to watch or listen to a religious service on the radio or television.”

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland said it too had advised southern congregations not to assemble in numbers of over 100 people, in line with government guidance.


Here's what happened when students went to school during the 1918 pandemic

This isn't the first time leaders have struggled with deciding whether to keep schools open in a pandemic.

During the influenza pandemic in 1918, even though the world was a very different place, the discussion was just as heated.

That pandemic killed an estimated 5 million people worldwide, including 675,000 Americans, before it was all over.

While the vast majority of cities closed their schools, three opted to keep them open -- New York, Chicago and New Haven, according to historians.

The decisions of health officials in those cities was based largely on the hypothesis of public health officials that students were safer and better off at school. It was, after all, the height of the Progressive Era, with its emphasis on hygiene in schools and more nurses for each student than is thinkable now.

New York had almost 1 million school children in 1918 and about 75% of them lived in tenements, in crowded, often unsanitary conditions, according to a 2010 article in Public Health Reports, the official journal of the US Surgeon General and the US Public Health Service.

"For students from the tenement districts, school offered a clean, well-ventilated environment where teachers, nurses, and doctors already practiced - and documented - thorough, routine medical inspections," according to the Public Health Reports article.

The city was one of the hardest and earliest hit by the flu, said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian and director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. He was a co-author of the 2010 Public Health Reports article.

"(Children) leave their often unsanitary homes for large, clean, airy school buildings, where there is always a system of inspection and examination enforced," New York's health commissioner at the time, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, told the New York Times after the pandemic had peaked there.

Students weren't allowed to gather outside school and had to report to their teacher immediately, according to Copeland. Teachers checked students for any signs of the flu, and students who had symptoms were isolated.

If students had a fever, someone from the health department would take them home, and the health official would judge whether the conditions were suitable for "isolation and care," according to Public Health Reports. If not, they were sent to a hospital.

"The health department required families of the children recovering at home to either have a family physician or use the services of a public health doctor at no charge," the Public Health Report article said.

The argument in Chicago for leaving schools open for its 500,000 students was the same: keeping schools open would keep the children off the streets and away from infected adults, the reasoning went.

If social distancing was helpful then, it would have been made easier by the fact that absenteeism in schools soared during the pandemic, perhaps because of what one Chicago public health official called "fluphobia" among parents.

"The absentee rate was so great, it really didn't matter" that schools were open, Markel said.

Part of Chicago's strategy was to ensure that fresh air was circulated. School rooms were overheated during the winter so that windows could remain open at all times, according to a 1918 paper by the Chicago Department of Health.

The paper concluded that an analysis of data showed that "the decision of keeping the schools of this city open during the recent influenza epidemic was justified."

And in New York, then Health Commissioner Copeland told the New York Times: "How much better it has been to have the children under the constant observation of qualified persons than to close the schools."

Markel, who with other researchers pored over data and historical records in looking at the response of 43 cities to the 1918 pandemic, isn't as convinced.

New York "didn't do the worst, but it didn't do the best, either," Markel said, adding Chicago was slightly better.

Research showed that cities who implemented quarantining and isolation, school closures and bans on public gatherings fared the best, he said.

"The cities that did more than one" of these measures "did better. School closures were part of that contribution," Markel said.

Public health experts, including Markel, are quick to point out that Covid-19 is not influenza, which was a well-known disease in 1918. There is still a lot to learn about the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19.


The 1918 flu caused Halloween cancellations across the U.S., and it could happen again

On the list of traditions cancelled by the coronavirus pandemic , Halloween might be next on the cultural hit list.

Los Angeles County, for example, has led the charge by issuing formal guidance that recommends against trick-or-treating and bans outright haunted houses, festivals and other traditional festivities that would fall under current COVID-19 health guidelines, according to the county's public health department.

The decision is history repeating itself: During the 1918 influenza pandemic, "Halloween parties in general, as well as other social functions attracting large numbers of people (were) discouraged" by LA health authorities, according to an October 30, 1918, Los Angeles Times report.

The fall of 1918 was the second and worst wave of the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed between 50 million and 100 million people worldwide.

"Not only was the peak of death right before Halloween, but they were still experiencing pretty severe waves," said Carolyn Orbann, an associate teaching professor in the department of health sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The highest death rates occurred from October to December, possibly due to a deadlier strain of the virus and crowding in hospitals and military camps.

"In most places in the United States, by October 31 of 1918, conditions would have been grim," said Elizabeth Outka, a professor of English at the University of Richmond and author of the book "Viral Modernism: The Influenza Pandemic and Interwar Literature."

"A lot of things were shut down: stores, schools, churches," said Outka. "There was widespread disruption and a widespread sense that public gatherings were not a good idea."

As the flu ravaged the globe, many U.S. cities saw the need to restrict or ban Halloween celebrations.

'A kill-joy of Halloween's usual festivities'

"Oct. 31 — noiseless Halloween! Never heard of one?" wrote a reporter for a local newspaper in Santa Ana, California. "Well, San Francisco is going to have one tonight, Chief of Police White announced this afternoon. Noise disturbs influenza patients, he declared—and San Francisco has thousands of cases.

"The board of health's order forbidding parties, further acts as a kill-joy of Halloween's usual festivities."

San Franciscan authorities weren't the only municipal leaders to throw water on denizens' appetites for spine-tingling chills and spirits.

Latrobe, Pennsylvania, banned all "Hallowe'ening" over concerns that celebrating "might be the means of spreading the disease which is claiming so many lives in other parts of the country," said Burgess J. E. Peebles, as reported in the Latrobe Bulletin. Peebles added that he would integrate plainclothesmen into the police force but trusted everyone would comply so that arrests wouldn't be necessary.

St. Louis's health commissioner shut down Halloween parties, football games and other public gatherings.

The city of Rochester, New York, thought any "fun should be curtailed." The night's "revels (lacked) the spirit of previous affairs," Buffalo journalists reported. Denver anticipated a quiet night as well, as the city banned parties where "ducking for apples, pinning a tail on a donkey while blindfolded and other amusements and features" were usually enjoyed.

With war in mind, some cities banned traditions that would have wasted food. "I saw a report from Missouri where I guess normally they would throw dry corn into each other's houses," Orbann said. "It said, 'the price of corn is too high for us to scatter the dry corn.' So the kids scattered the white fuzz that comes off of cattails around ponds."

Though cities banned public gatherings, some people still threw house parties. "People weren't flaunting rules," Orbann said, "but instead working within existing rules as they were understood at the time."

The costs of carrying on

Witnessing the horrors of the 1918 flu didn't mean that gatherings "weren't happening as we see with (COVID-19)," Outka said.

"In 1918, there were stacks of coffins, stacks of bodies, grave diggers were just exhausted and more and more overrun," Outka added. "But nevertheless, there is this sense of an invisible enemy that makes it hard to — if you're not sick, or if somebody in your house is not — to remember how incredibly dangerous this is. . People desire normalcy."

Dallas saw "unusually rough and boisterous" celebrations during the Halloween of 1918, according to a Dallas Evening Journal report.

"Members of the Dallas police and the attendants at the Emergency Hospital are breathing sighs of relief at the passing of Halloween with its din, noise, pranks and accidents," the report began.

"The police squad wagon was kept on the run making investigations, and the ambulance and Emergency Hospital staff had an unusual rush of business." Crowds of mischievous boys wreaked havoc police received false reports and accidents left both people injured and cars damaged.

Though the virus people are dealing with now is new, the fatigue caused by the crisis is not. A reporter for The Birmingham News in Alabama wrote that "after almost a month of confinement and smarting under the bitterness of a closed city ordinance, all of Birmingham 'cracked under the strain' and went 'Halloweening.'"

"This night was more gloriously observed and property was more thoroughly devastated than at any time," he added. "Ghosts by the thousands swarmed through the streets."

One night of fun might have been part of the price some paid for increasing mortality. Fatalities from the flu peaked in November, which was reportedly the deadliest month of the pandemic — though largely due to Armistice Day on November 11, which marked the signing of the armistice between the Allies of the First World War and Germany and temporarily ceased warfare on the Western Front.

Halloween during (another) unprecedented pandemic

That Los Angeles County's restriction on traditional celebrations occurred in 1918 as well is "somehow comforting," Orbann said, since that pandemic eventually ended.

As we approach Halloween, "everything that is a large gathering is likely to be on the table," Orbann added.

And we might look to the safer choices of the past when considering how to celebrate Halloween this year.

"Based on my research of 1918," Outka said, "it certainly seems like a reasonable thing to do something different for Halloween this year, even though I love the holiday and I think it's really great.


  • Spanish flu wreaked havoc across the world, killing 50million people globally and around 200,000 in UK
  • In the UK, many schools were closed, buses and trains were cancelled and mines had to close
  • Like Boris Johnson last year, Prime Minister David Lloyd George also fell ill and was treated in Manchester

Published: 16:22 BST, 23 March 2021 | Updated: 11:03 BST, 26 March 2021

One year ago today, a sweeping national lockdown was imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

In what is the biggest crisis since the Second World War, businesses have had to shut their doors, schools were closed and thousands of Britons have lost their jobs.

But a little over 100 years ago, the Spanish flu pandemic also wreaked havoc across the world, killing at least 50million people.

In the UK, many schools were closed, buses and trains were cancelled and people were advised to self-isolate if they caught influenza.

And in an eerie echo of how Mr Johnson came close to death last year after catching coronavirus, the Prime Minister in 1918 – David Lloyd George – became seriously unwell with influenza.

Below, MailOnline looks back at how Britons coped with a pandemic which ended up killing more than 200,000 people in the UK – after the First World War had taken more than 800,000 soldiers' lives.

A little over 100 years ago, the Spanish flu pandemic also wreaked havoc across the world

Prime Minister David Lloyd George's 'attack of influenza' which could have killed him

In September 1918, Lloyd George, who had been Prime Minister since 1916, fell ill with Spanish flu at the same age – 55 – that Mr Johnson was struck down by coronavirus.

With Britain still engaged in war with Germany, the PM was on a tour of Manchester and was set to give a series of rousing speeches and attend events.

However, he had to cut his plans short because he became so unwell.

Speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme about the pandemic, historian and author Catharine Arnold said Lloyd George was a 'very forceful' man so initially 'pushed himself on' when he began to feel unwell.

But the PM then became so ill that his schedule had to be scrapped and he needed to be cared for in a makeshift room in Manchester town hall.

Last year, there were few updates about Mr Johnson's condition when he caught coronavirus.

The seriousness of the situation only became fully apparent when it was announced he had gone to hospital.

In September 1918, Lloyd George, who had been Prime Minister since 1916, fell ill with Spanish flu at the same age – 55 – that Mr Johnson was struck down by coronavirus

A further update then revealed he had been admitted to intensive care.

In 1918, there was far less detail about the PM's condition.

Officials were worried that, if it were announced that Lloyd George was seriously unwell, it would be a huge propaganda victory to Germany.

Ms Arnold said: 'They made up a bed for him in Manchester town hall and they got a top doctor in.

'He immediately said: 'I think he's got Spanish flu, don't tell anyone.'

'Quite a few people thought he was a goner. Basically if it had got out that the PM was mortally ill, it would have been a huge propaganda victory to the Germans.'

David Lloyd George became so ill that his schedule had to be scrapped and he needed to be cared for in a makeshift room in Manchester town hall

Despite the lack of detail in official pronouncements, Lloyd George in fact needed the help of a respirator to breath. His condition was later described by his valet as 'touch and go'.

Ultimately though, like Mr Johnson, Lloyd George did survive his ordeal.

He had a fever for a week and needed several months of recuperation but was well enough to lead the British delegation at the Treaty of Versailles in the summer of 1919, which officially brought hostilities with Germany to an end.

Pictured: The Daily Mail's coverage in September 2019 about David Lloyd George's 'attack of influenza'. He had a fever for a week and needed several months of recuperation but was well enough to lead the British delegation at the Treaty of Versailles in the summer of 1919, which officially brought hostilities with Germany to an end

How schools were closed – hundreds of children were kept at home as virus gripped parts of nation

Although there was no centrally imposed lockdown like those seen across most of the world in response to coronavirus, steps were taken at a local and regional level to try to slow the spread of Spanish flu.

The first wave hit Britain in May 1918, with the first recorded case in Glasgow. Within weeks, the virus had spread southwards before appearing to peter out in the summer.

Much like with the second and third wave of the Covid-19 virus, Spanish flu then returned – in October 1918 - and spread alarmingly fast.

In response, hundreds of elementary schools were closed, although schools in London only shut their doors if staff absences made it impossible to keep them open.

There was no nationwide order to close schools during the Spanish flu pandemic, but many did close their doors amid outbreaks in parts of the country. Pictured: Young women wearing masks to guard against influenza

In Aberystwyth, Wales, most schools were shut from December until January 1919.

In Manchester, the city's education committee agreed to shut all schools on the advice of Dr James Niven. Niven was Manchester's Medical Officer of Health.

Speaking on a BBC Radio 4 programme about the pandemic, historian and author Catharine Arnold said there was 'no doubt' that Dr Niven's approach saved 'many, many lives'.

The medic also warned people to avoid public gatherings, said that flu sufferers should be kept warm in a ventilated room and warned that sick people should not return to work except under medical advice.


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“The disease is characterized by a sudden onset,” stated United States Surgeon General Rupert Blue in September 1918. “People are stricken on the streets or while at work. First there is a chill, then fever with temperatures from 101 to 103, headache, backache, reddening and running of the eyes, pains and aches all over the body, and general prostration. Persons so attacked should go to their homes at once, get into bed without delay and immediately call a physician.”

Influenza casualties during this deadly year included: Boston Globe sportswriter Eddie Martin, the secretary of the local chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and one of the official scorers in the 1918 World Series Philadelphia-based baseball writer Chandler Richter, son of The Sporting Life editor Francis S. Richter and former Federal League umpire J.J. McNulty.

Among ballplayers, often recently active, the flu took: Cy Swain, a minor leaguer from 1904 to 1914 who slugged 39 home runs in 1913 Larry Chappell, a big league outfielder for the White Sox, Indians and Boston Braves between 1913 and 1917 catcher Leo McGraw, a minor leaguer between 1910 and 1916 catcher Harry Glenn, a minor leaguer from 1910 to 1918 who spent time with the 1915 Cardinals minor league pitcher Dave Roth, who played between 1912 and 1916 and minor league pitcher Harry Acton, who played in 1917.

But when the 46-year-old O’Loughlin passed away on December 20, 1918, the reaction in the baseball community and among fans of the sports was shock and sorrow. Sports pages in newspapers across the country made note of the sad fact that the man who had ejected 164 men during his time in the majors was finally called out.

O’Loughlin died at his Boston apartment, where he was working in the offseason for the Department of Justice, after a short illness from influenza. His wife, Agnes, who had also been seriously ill with influenza at the time, survived him. His entire $25,000 estate was left to his widow.

O’Loughlin umpired in the American League from 1902 to 1918 while working the World Series in 1906, 1909, 1912, 1915 and 1917.

Hall of Fame umpire Billy Evans (pictured above) worked games with Silk O’Loughlin, and said the two became close friends. (National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum)


The costs of carrying on

Witnessing the horrors of the 1918 flu didn't mean that gatherings "weren't happening as we see with (Covid-19)," Outka said.

"In 1918, there were stacks of coffins, stacks of bodies, grave diggers were just exhausted and more and more overrun," Outka added. "But nevertheless, there is this sense of an invisible enemy that makes it hard to — if you're not sick, or if somebody in your house is not — to remember how incredibly dangerous this is. . People desire normalcy."

Dallas saw "unusually rough and boisterous" celebrations during the Halloween of 1918, according to a Dallas Evening Journal report.

"Members of the Dallas police and the attendants at the Emergency Hospital are breathing sighs of relief at the passing of Halloween with its din, noise, pranks and accidents," the report began.

"The police squad wagon was kept on the run making investigations, and the ambulance and Emergency Hospital staff had an unusual rush of business." Crowds of mischievous boys wreaked havoc police received false reports and accidents left both people injured and cars damaged.

Though the virus people are dealing with now is new, the fatigue caused by the crisis is not. A reporter for The Birmingham News in Alabama wrote that "after almost a month of confinement and smarting under the bitterness of a closed city ordinance, all of Birmingham 'cracked under the strain' and went 'Halloweening.'"

"This night was more gloriously observed and property was more thoroughly devastated than at any time," he added. "Ghosts by the thousands swarmed through the streets."

One night of fun might have been part of the price some paid for increasing mortality. Fatalities from the flu peaked in November, which was reportedly the deadliest month of the pandemic — though largely due to Armistice Day on November 11, which marked the signing of the armistice between the Allies of World War I and Germany and temporarily ceased warfare on the Western Front.


How Churches of Christ responded when the 1918 ‘Spanish flu’ killed millions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Nashville saw its first case of the “Spanish flu” in late September 1918. By November, 1,300 had died — 1 percent of the city’s population.

The influenza would kill almost 700,000 in the United States and 50 million globally. It was the worst pandemic in modern history.

John Mark Hicks | Perspective

Amid the dramatic lifestyle changes brought by the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, the experience of Christians more than a century ago is worth revisiting.

As the flu spread across the U.S. in the late fall and early winter of 1918, theaters, schools, businesses and churches closed their doors for weeks. The Tennessee Health Department advised churches to suspend their Sunday meetings for Oct. 20 and 27. No one protested, and 92 churches complied.

However, the Russell Street Church of Christ in Nashville did not close its doors. The church approached the Red Cross with an offer of help. Their building became a temporary hospital because the city hospitals were turning away people. The Russell Street members, along with the Eleventh Street and Chapel Avenue congregations, poured their monetary and human resources into feeding and nursing the poor. The influenza epidemic, as A. B. Lipscomb wrote in the Gospel Advocate, had “opened up a way for the enlargement of the sympathies of Christian people.”

As the influenza spread, the government recommended the cancellation of Sunday assemblies. The Christian Leader implored churches “to observe strictly all the regulations urged by our State Boards of Health and cooperate in every way.”

Churches in California, Minnesota, West Virginia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and all across the country suspended their regular services. Ben West of Ennis, Texas, informed the Gospel Advocate that “Sunday was the first day for twelve years that I have failed to attend service,” and then added, “We had three funerals here Sunday.” Though the church was not assembling, they were “busy attending the sick.”

Some died caring for others. The Gospel Advocate reported that J. D. Northcut, an evangelist from Tracy City, Tennessee, fell ill with “influenza followed by pneumonia” and died at the age of 43. He had given “almost continual attention to sufferers near him.”

The Campbell Street Church of Christ in Louisville, Ky., circa 1923.

M.C. Kurfees, the minister of the Campbell Street Church of Christ in Louisville, Ky., sent a letter to his members announcing the congregation’s compliance with the Kentucky State Board of Health. “It behooves us,” he wrote, “to cheerfully submit to this order and to exert all our energies in an earnest and sympathetic effort to cooperate with the benevolent purpose of our government to check the deplorable disease.”

Though churches suspended their large assemblies, they did not cease to worship. Rather, as E. D. Shelton, in Fayette City, Pa., wrote, “We worshipped God from house to house.” H. E. Winkler, of Adairville, Ky., and his wife “worshipped in our home” for three weeks. Kurfees recommended his congregants worship in their homes “as was sometimes done in the days of the apostles.”

Nevertheless, some experienced this as government interference. They resented the government’s orders to shut their doors on Sunday mornings. “We must obey God rather than man,” a few argued. J. W. Dunn of Paris, Texas, for example, applauded “one of our faithful ones” who “approached the mayor and explained to him our convictions of duty on Lord’s-day services.” The mayor consented but only if a few gathered no large meetings were permitted. At the same time, Dunn noted, “Paris has had a heavy toll.”

Other ministers accepted the quarantines and restrictions without complaint because they recognized one could obey both God and the government. E. C. Fuqua of Fort Collins, Colo., keenly felt the obligation to meet weekly on the Lord’s Day. “Carefully observing [government] restrictions, we feel free to meet a few brethren in a private home and worship according to the New Testament teaching.” In this way, “the assembly thus formed is not unlawful, and the worship rendered is lawful to God,” which demonstrates “loyalty to both.”

With masks over their faces, members of the American Red Cross remove a victim of the “Spanish flu” from a house in St. Louis in 1918.

J.C. McQuiddy, editor of the Gospel Advocate, also felt strongly about weekly assembly. However, this duty was superseded by mercy at times. Just as it was a matter of mercy to care for the sick at home instead of attending the weekly service, it is also merciful to forego meeting with the saints if it “would jeopardize the lives of members of not only their families, but the families also of many other people.”

McQuiddy thought it unnecessary to “assemble in large crowds to break bread in the face of the proclamation of the government.” Indeed, Christians, while meeting with a few in homes, should observe the restrictions “cheerfully, seeking to lead quiet, holy, and unblameable lives.”

JOHN MARK HICKS is a professor of theology at the Hazelip School of Theology at Lipscomb University in Nashville. He has taught in higher education among Churches of Christ for over 38 years. His most recent book is “Searching for the Pattern.” Contact him at [email protected] .


When The 1918 Flu Pandemic Canceled Halloween, Missouri Got Creative

The coronavirus pandemic has affected numerous holidays in the United States already this year, and next on the chopping block is Halloween. It’s a familiar tale: In 1918, Halloween was officially canceled due to the flu pandemic. The Oct. 31, 1918, edition of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat declared: “Even the spirits must respect the influenza ban.”

That fall marked the second and worst wave of the 1918 flu pandemic. The mortality rate was higher than that of the ongoing coronavirus spread and significantly higher than a normal flu's. The Missouri State Board of Health warned against public gatherings, and that included some holiday parties.

So how did Missourians observe the holiday during those trying times of restrictions and mandates?

Carolyn Orbann came across examples in letters and newspapers while researching the 1918 pandemic. She is an associate teaching professor in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“People [were] negotiating with the pandemic in general, over the course of that fall, in their own ways,” she said on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air. “Some people express a lot more fear about getting sick. Some people are more concerned about people that they know, or the soldiers overseas, because this is all happening in the context of World War I.”

Locals got around public gathering restrictions by hosting house parties. Orbann pointed to a letter from a young woman to her brother in Aurora, Missouri, as an example.

“She desperately wanted to have a Halloween party. And her mother told her to go and ask the authorities in town,” Orbann said.

The Aurorian described asking the town’s sheriff and doctor, who cautioned against a party. But she concluded: “Well, there was to be other parties in town, and they didn't ask, so we went right ahead on with our plans.”

It was commonplace to post about the bonfire parties in the local newspaper’s society column.

Orbann read another Missouri example, from LaPata: “Halloween masquerade party given at the home of Ms. Nellie Minor last Thursday. A large crowd was present and all went masked. Delicious refreshments served in a good time by all.”

Those masks weren’t just costume masks but likely masks to prevent the spread of the flu as well, Orbann added.

“The University of Missouri published something in the Evening Missourian October 31 … and they had a mask mandate for students,” she explained. She quoted from the paper: “The University of Missouri, and generations to come, will go the honor of being the first school to order the celebration of All Saints Eve by the wearing of masks.” She added, “So I'm assuming that means flu masks.”

Such experiences might hit too close to home for Missourians disappointed with this year’s Halloween festivities. But Orbann encouraged listeners to look for ways to honor the spirit of the holiday without creating conditions likely to spread the coronavirus.

“Human societies all over the world mark the passage of time and mark the passage of their lives through rituals, and those rituals have specific meanings,” she said. “Halloween is a way for us to kind of get into the mood for the winter season to come. It's a way to let out that nervous energy — if you're thinking about the pranks, it lets off a little bit of steam.”

St. Louis on the Air listener David Wise shared that his family has found a way to celebrate Halloween in St. Louis County.

“Our family is not going trick-or-treating,” he said. “The kids are dressed up in costumes and we’ll have candy for them at our own home. I am going to leave some candy bagged up individual sandwich bags on our front porch, in case anyone comes by our house to trick-or-treat.”

For Orbann, creativity is key. “My perspective is generally to try to adapt it,” she said. “What is the need that Halloween is serving? And how can we build a holiday in these conditions, in this climate, that will meet that need?”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.