The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

Frank and Flossie

“If you knew our story, you’d have a good story to tell”

Paraphrased from the Broadway musical, “Bright Star.”

 

The 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and our family’s history

 

In the summer of 1918 our grandmother, Flossie Pyle, at the age of 21, accepted a teaching position at Sleeping Child School, a one-room schoolhouse south of Grantsdale, Montana. She left her parents, John and Mary and other family members who in 1916 had migrated from Jerico Springs (northeast of Joplin), Missouri, to live in Anaconda, Montana.

 

Flossie traveled over the beautiful Sapphire Mountains on Highway 38, known as The Skalkaho Road. Highway 38 is a very steep, narrow and windy road that offers breathtaking views. It is closed from November to June due to snow.  In some ways the Skalkaho Road foreshadowed the life that Flossie would live in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana and later in Southern California. She had a life filled with great joy and optimism, and at times, seasons of grief and despair.

 

As fate would have it, without knowing, Flossie traveled on Highway 38 right past her future husband’s 320-acre family farm, know as Vincent Ranch, near Grantsdale on her way to her new job at Sleeping Child School.

 

Frank Vincent met the new schoolteacher at a community dance that I am sure Flossie organized, at the Sleeping Child Schoolhouse. Flossie was very impressed by his nice shoes and fancy dance steps. Soon they started dating.

 

Flossie’s teaching career was cut short when the school closed in the fall of 1918 due to the Spanish Flu Pandemic. In the first case of what is known today as, “Safer at Home, Self –Quarantine,” Flossie and Frank had a lot of time to spend with each other.  Turns out, they did not practice, “Social Distancing and were not, “Safer at Home ”

 

Flossie became pregnant in mid-September.

 

About 8 weeks later, Frank and Flossie were married on November 9, 1918 in Missoula, Montana

 

In the summer of 1919, 33 weeks after they were married, Marjorie June was born on June 22nd.

 

My uncle Frank jokingly wrote that our grandfather, Frank Seymour Vincent; “was a victim of the Spanish Flu.” You would have had to know our Grandma Flossie to understand that joke! Flossie was what we would call today, eccentric.

 

Our current generation of Vincent’s, and many to come, owe their existence to the, “Safer at Home Quarantine” of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.

 

This biography of Frank and Flossie Vincent is in no way meant to be judgmental of our grandparent’s choices.

At the time of this writing, April 9, 2020, the world was experiencing the Coronavirus Pandemic,

the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish Flu. 

Bob Vincent

 

 

 

 

Robert Vincent, April 9, 2020

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