Posts Tagged ‘influenza pandemic’

Living History Day

July 19, 2008

The Oklahoma History Center invited me to participate in Living History Day.

From their website:

“Museum galleries will spring to life with characters from our past. Hands-on activities will allow young and old alike to explore Oklahoma‚Äôs rich past guided by interpreters in period clothing.”

I planned to read a chapter from my book about Felicia Daugherty, a woman of wealth and privilege who also served as a volunteer for the Red Cross during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. She worked tirelessly to help get Oklahoma City through the worst of the crisis. The city was brought to its knees as scores of healthy, hard-working citizens came down with influenza. As many of us have heard, history has a way of repeating itself. The H5N1 virus, or bird flu, has many public health workers asking, “Can it happen again?”

It didn’t quite work out as I’d hoped. Instead of being placed in an auditorium to do two separate readings, I ended up doing about 20-25 mini-booktalks at a table between a quilter and a cross-stitcher. They had bits of cloth and needlework for children to work on. I had only an information sheet about planning for a flu pandemic. Definitely not as eyecatching as needles and fabric. Only three tables down was a woman grinding corn into meal with a metate. How cool is that? It was a popular destination.

Since I didn’t have anything “hands-on” to pull people in, I had to rely on the old standbys: making eye contact, smiling, and leaning forward. I managed to get some history buffs to come my way, if only because they felt a little sorry for me.

Maybe I would have had more visitors if I’d been wearing an old nurse’s uniform. Or maybe I really need to get one of those metates.

jh