People born in the United States after 1960 don’t remember it. Those born in the 1950’s might not remember anyone suffering from an active case of it, but we surely do remember numerous adults who carried the life-long signs of having survived it.
Agnes Call and George Washington Congleton had been married just three years when on December 4, 1881 their third child, A. Claude Congleton, was born. He would join older siblings two-and-a-half-year-old Lulu Mae and 18-month-old John Esley to complete the burgeoning family. The young couple had been living with George’s twice widowed mother, Almira Almy Congleton Burgess, in her home on Sherman Street in Healdsburg, California. But that household also included George’s nephew Harry Brown as well as his spinster aunt Cynthia Almy, and the house was getting awfully crowded.
When the United States entered the Great War on April 6, 1917, the countries of Europe had already been fighting for four long years. By the summer of 1918, the US had drafted 2.8 million men and was sending 10,000 soldiers to France every day. The human toll of the war would be tremendous and would not be limited to those killed, but would also include the multitude of wounded and traumatized, as well as those who would suffer long-term health issues, like the ones that would plague my uncle George Harris for the rest of his life.
Although the Great War only lasted 14 months for George Lindel Harris, his experiences in France would have a profound influence on the rest of his life. Read about his early years in Part 1.
George and Dorothy Taeuffer Harris started their married life in October 1922. After their marriage at the John and Mae Taeuffer home on Magnolia Drive in Healdsburg, California, they set up housekeeping in an apartment on Octavia Street in San Francisco. There they would be located near George’s parents in Berkeley and his siblings in Alameda and Oakland.
In the midst of the Great Depression the city of San Francisco transformed a shallow, useless sandbar two miles out in the bay into a man-made island and then built a beautiful glittering fairyland on top of it. But the story of the 1939 World’s Fair actually begins seventy years before the exhibition opened.
In October 1966 I turned eight years old and was attending Mrs. Naber’s third grade class at Healdsburg Elementary School. That December I came down with yet another case of what my mother affectionately referred to as “the flu bug.” I seemed to catch every virus that passed through town and would typically miss one or two weeks of school a couple of times each year. My mother had developed a procedure to ensure that I did not lag behind in my school work. She would visit my classroom every few days to pick up my assignments, bring them home for me to complete, and then return them to my teacher to be graded. Since I was going to have to do the work anyway, there would be no benefit in malingering to extend my time away from school, so I was usually back up and around in a week or ten days. But this time my flu bug wasn’t clearing up.
The tiny Italian village of Boveglio sits nestled high in the hills of Tuscany just about 15 miles to the Northeast of the beautiful walled city of Lucca. In the nineteenth century most of the residents there made their living growing olives and chestnuts. The chestnuts would be ground into a fine flour which was then used to make the bread and pasta that sustained them. It was in this pastoral medieval town that Giacinto Giorgi and Daria Ferrari would raise a family.