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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Girl dies day after mother’s funeral as city’s death toll from flu rises to 181

The Spanish flu reached a Spokane orphanage with alarming speed, the Spokesman-Review reported on Nov. 17, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Spanish flu reached a Spokane orphanage with alarming speed, the Spokesman-Review reported on Nov. 17, 1918. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Five more people died of the Spanish flu in Spokane, bringing the total to 181.

Among the dead were 10-year-old Sadie Markowitz, who died one day after her mother’s funeral, and May Elizabeth Bechrer, 24, who left behind three young daughters.

Authorities also were concerned with a flu outbreak at the Spokane Children’s Home, an orphanage on Spokane’s north side. There were 50 cases of flu at the orphanage, including the matron, two housekeepers and a nurse.

“On Thursday night, the children were all healthy,” reported the home’s doctor. “Friday morning, there were 25 cases and this morning there were 46 cases. There are only two women left to handle the situation and some of the children, as well as some of the women, are quite sick.”

The orphanage was pleading for more nursing help, but nurses were scarce everywhere.

In Lewiston, a correspondent reported that 24 of the sisters (nurses) at St. Joseph’s Hospital were sick with the flu.

From the theater beat: All of Spokane’s theaters were ready to re-open after a months closure. They had called in their vaudeville players, cleaned their auditoriums and assembled their musicians.

And then their hopes were dashed.

Authorities decided to extend the ban on all public gatherings.

One Spokane movie theater posted this tongue-in-cheek notice on its box office window: “First reel – Closed by the Board of Health. Second reel – It may be tomorrow, folks. Third reel – We positively open at 1 o’clock. Fourth reel – Closed until further notice.”


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