JOHN AND HORACE DODGE DIED IN THE LATE STAGES OF THE SPANISH FLU IN 1920.

SETTING OUT FROM DETROIT TO NEW YORK BY LUXURY TRAIN ON A BITTERLY COLD JANUARY 2, 1920, JOHN AND HORACE DODGE EAGERLY QUAFFED A NUMBER OF GLASSES OF SMUGGLED CANADIAN WHISKEY AS THEY LOOKED FORWARD EXPECTANTLY TO THE FUN AND CAMARADERIE OF THE ANNUAL AUTOMOBILE SHOW IN MANHATTAN. LIFE WAS GOOD AND GETTING BETTER. THE DODGE BROTHERS, SINCE LEAVING THE FORD MOTOR COMPANY SIX YEARS EARLIER, ROSE TO BECOME THE FOURTH LARGEST AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURER IN THE NATION. THE COMPANY WAS ON TRACK TO REACH THE 500,000 VEHICLE PRODUCTION MARK THE NEXT SUMMER. THE CUMULATIVE TOTAL UNITED STATES AUTOMOBILE PRODUCTION REACHED 9 MILLION VEHICLES THAT VERY YEAR.

UNBEKNOWNST TO THE BROTHERS A DEADLY H1N1 VIRUS LAY IN WAIT FOR THEM IN THE CITY. DESPITE THEIR RELATIVELY YOUNG AGES THEY SUFFERED FROM LIFESTYLE INDUCED AND OTHER INFIRMITIES THAT RENDERED THEM PARTICULARLY SUSCEPTIBLE TO THE VIRUS. A CASE OF TUBERCULOSIS HAD SCARRED JOHN’S LUNGS AND DIABETES WEAKENED HIS IMMUNE SYSTEM. HORACE HAD A HISTORY OF LIVER PROBLEMS, CIRRHOSIS. THUS COMPROMISED, THE DODGES WERE UNABLE TO RESIST THE RAVAGES OF THE VIRUS. JOHN DIED IN NEW YORK ON JANUARY 10, 1920 AT THE AGE OF 55 AND HORACE DIED IN FLORIDA ON DECEMBER 10, 1920 AT THE AGE OF 52.

THE DISEASE, WHICH SURFACED IN EARLY 1918, INFECTED 500 MILLION PEOPLE KILLING 50 MILLION OF THEM. THE MAIN CAUSE OF DEATH WAS A BUILDUP OF FLUID IN THE LUNGS, LITERALLY DROWNING VICTIMS IN THEIR OWN FLUIDS. THE RAPID SPREAD OF THE VIRUS WAS ATTRIBUTED TO WARTIME TROOP MOVEMENTS DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR AND THE WARTIME SCARCITY OF DOMESTIC NURSES. THE WARRING PARTIES KEPT A TIGHT LID ON PUBLIC INFORMATION CONCERNING THE VIRUS IN ORDER TO KEEP IT FROM COMPROMISING THE WAR EFFORT. ONLY SPAIN, A NEUTRAL COUNTRY PUBLICIZED THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE – HENCE THE MONIKER “SPANISH FLU.” THE GENERAL SUPPRESSION OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE VIRUS CARRIED DEVASTATING RESULTS IN THE UNCONTROLLED SPREAD OF THE DISEASE. INTERESTINGLY, MICROSCOPES SUFFICIENT TO PINPOINT AND OBSERVE THE VIRUS WE’RE NOT AVAILABLE UNTIL THE 1930S.

 

 

 

 

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