by Judy Zeck
A version of this article first appeared in the Middletown Valley Citizen.
There are some years in history with more than their share of momentous events. In 1918, nations around the globe were in the midst what was then called the "war to end all wars." At the same time, a deadly pandemic was sweeping the world. The two fed off each other, with the movement of troops contributing to the rapid spread of the disease. The pandemic lasted one deadly year from January 1918 to January 1919. Scientists still study the virus to understand why it was so contagious and so often fatal. It reportedly infected 600 million people worldwide, from remote Pacific islands to deepest arctic regions, killing an estimated 50 million.
The Middletown Valley was not immune from the impact of the war, and it was certainly not immune from the influenza pandemic. The local effects of these two momentous events can be traced through the diary of a 14-year-old girl named Carlotta A. Hays.