“Considerable excitement is now on as it is reported a case of smallpox in our village.”
The Little Falls Historical Society has developed this special page on its website to serve as a repository for written work, artwork, photographs and other materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The goal of this project is to create a collective body of work that will serve as a historic record of how individuals, families, government, schools, businesses and other organizations are dealing with disruptions in their daily routines due to COVID-19. Future generations will be able to better understand how our community responded to this crisis.
You may submit any creative work electronically that reflects how you, your family, and friends have been forced to make changes in your everyday lives. Look inward for ideas.
You can submit written work such as short essays, journal-like entries, and poems. You can also submit artwork and photographs.
The submissions we publish will
- Be polite.
- Paint a real picture of daily life in Little Falls.
- Be heartfelt expressions of what it means to live in Little Falls today.
- Express personal feelings and experiences. Please do not write about what others are saying or doing. We want to hear your story.
- Not contain political statements. No finger pointing or assigning blame. Let history assign blame.
- Please do not submit anything about yourself or others that is too personal for others to read or see.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for about a year now, and our lives have changed many times over. We have been subjected to quarantines, wearing masks in public, and not seeing friends and family for unseemly long periods of time.
However, there have been other times in Little Falls history where major health problems have arisen that have had a significant impact on everyday life throughout the community. Some of these are chronicled in the timeline below.
February 16, 1832
July 5, 1832
“The undisputed Asiatic Cholera is extending over our country, one case is reported in Little Falls. An ordinance for the protection of our village was passed. It ordained that no boatman or other person shall land or set ashore from the Erie Canal. No inhabitant shall let a sick person in the house, Inn, etc. without a certificate from the village president and physician stating the person is not affected with cholera.”
January 16, 1890
Olga, young daughter and only child of Dr. and Mrs. K. A. Bushnell, died at her home of malignant measles. An immense beautiful monument, fashioned after a recent photo of Olga and her dog, adorns the family burial plot in Church Street Cemetery.
January 21, 1890
People scoff at the idea that anyone has had the genuine Russian influenza. Every man who has had a little cold flatters himself that he has the fashionable disease. Whether you call it “La Grippe”, “influenza”, plain “grip”, or a matter of fact cold, one has profound respect after wrestling with the critter awhile.
February 3, 1890
The mortality rate in New York State for the month of January was the highest ever recorded. Little Falls ranked second in the state with a death rate of 43.76 deaths per 1000 people. The worldwide flu pandemic killed over one million people.
(Note: The population of Little Falls in 1890 was 8,783.)
May 2, 1913
“Health Officer Dr. A. B. Santry reported that the small-pox epidemic in Little Falls has ended. Sixty cases were placed in strict quarantine, and guards were on a vigorous watch at each house so others might not be exposed. The epidemic has cost Little Falls more than the 1912 textile strike.”
August 15, 1916
“The Health Board has “put lid down” on the city as it discourages visitors during the summer months, especially those who come from places affected by infantile paralysis (polio.) Residents were required to report to the board all incoming visitors to the city, and any violation was deemed as a misdemeanor.”
September 2, 1916
“It was hoped that Little Falls would escape the infantile paralysis, but that was not the case. An eight year-old local boy seems to have contacted the disease in Syracuse, and was diagnosed here and has died. Several families in the neighborhood who had been exposed are under a strict quarantine.”
March 6, 1936
The annual report for 1935 by Little Falls health officer Dr. George Eveleth showed there were 526 cases of contagious diseases in the city, including 260 cases of German Measles, 187 cases of measles, 25 cases of tuberculosis ( 5 fatal), 27 cases of pneumonia ( 14 fatal) and 16 cases of scarlet fever.
LWB note: Several of the above are childhood diseases which have been largely eradicated through vaccinations.
April 16, 1955
Doctors in Little Falls do not yet have any of the Salk vaccine, nor do they know when it will be available or how much they will be able to obtain. They expect to be governed by a system of priorities even when the vaccine is obtainable.
LWB note: Dr. Jonas Salk of the University of Pittsburgh developed the vaccine that, together with the later developed Sabin vaccine, eradicated polio (infantile paralysis).
The Little Falls Historical Society is accepting story submissions for 2021.
Please follow the submission guidelines and send us your story for 2021.
- How are people around you responding?
- How has this crisis impacted you and your family?
- What has been the most difficult thing for you personally about this crisis?
- What are your biggest concerns right now?
- What brings you joy or comfort right now?
- What changes have you personally experienced (physically, mentally, emotionally or psychologically) since this crisis began?
Artist during the pandemic
A Grim Milestone
It has been a year since the COVID-19 pandemic first reared its ugly head and began to take its awful toll on all of us. It is perhaps time to take a step back, take stock of the data, and reflect upon the pandemic’s impact.
The March 1, 2021 COVID-19 statistics are staggering.
Total COVID cases in the United States are over 28 million and deaths now exceed 500,000. New York State has gone over 1.5 million cases while deaths are closing in on 50,000. Closer to home, Herkimer County has had over 4500 confirmed cases and 106 COVID-19 deaths. We may never know how many cases or deaths, if any, have occurred in Little Falls itself, but most people reading this likely know of at least one person or family who have been directly impacted.
It is difficult to understand why some people choose to question these numbers. No one benefits from either over or under reporting cases and deaths. Politics simply do not matter.
Overall, with only 5% of the global population, America has absorbed around 20% of both COVID cases and deaths. In summary, the United States, New York State, Herkimer County, and our community have been incredibly hard hit by this pandemic. It is not the purpose of this posting to point fingers, history will eventually assign blame where it belongs.
Suffice to say, we have all been greatly impacted. Our hearts ache for our country, for the families that have lost loved ones, and mostly for those who passed away, often alone and frightened.
An elderly friend told me in a phone conversation that “for folks our age, this is probably how it’s going to be.” Sad.
The pandemic’s toll on our young children will be immeasurable.
Remote learning works best for those families with the resources to provide their kids with proper technical support and parental motivation. But what about kids who are less fortunate? Those without easy computer access and who most benefit from positive adult contact and nutritional assistance provided by schools will suffer the most.
Did it have to be this bad? Let’s all hope that better days are ahead.
One year later
When the first cases of the novel coronavirus were detected in Wuhan, China in late January 2020, little attention was paid to the “Chinese Problem” until the first cases appeared in Washington State and California. The optimist thought the problem would be over in short-time, and most pessimists figured it would be over by summer. Little did we know!
One year later, there have been over 100 million cases world-wide and 2.3 million deaths.
The United States has been the worst performer: 26.5 million cases and 456,000 deaths. Part of this bad rap may be due to more accurate counting versus that done in large countries such as India, China, Brazil, and Russia. Closer to home, Herkimer County, which includes Little Falls, has had 4,282 cases, 94 deaths, and an infection rate of 6.85%.
This terrible pandemic raging across the globe, has affected all our lives in so many ways. Little used or new words or phrases have crept into our everyday vocabulary: Covid-19, social distancing, virtual learning, “mask up”, contract tracing, herd immunity, quarantine-in-place, living in a “bubble”, and Zoom meetings.
I am in my mid-eighties and do not particularly like change in my life.
But changes did happen BIG TIME! And over a relatively short period in time. First came uncertainty. Other than family, I avoided people before social distancing became the norm. No more visits to stores including grocery stores. In reflection, I found that going into stores was, in part, a social event – one would see friends and acquaintances you would not ordinarily see. This experience is gone. I don’t go into grocery stores – one can order on-line and have them delivered, or for pick up outside the store. I love looking at all the grocery items on the computer and click “add to cart.” The same for prescriptions. Use the “Drive Through” or have the script mailed to my house. Then there was attending mass. Initially there were many cancellations and then restrictions in numbers allowed inside the church. So, Sunday mass became a TV event.
Shopping for almost everything has changed. I found one can find about anything you need on Amazon.com and have it delivered to your home sometimes overnight or in a day or two with no delivery cost if you have Amazon Prime. Many other retailers have followed suit, even local ones. Successful businesses have navigated the pandemic by changing the pattern of their business plan. Restaurants, when indoor seating was banned, switched to outdoor seating and take-out meals and home deliveries. I have found several great new restaurants where I could order and enjoy different types of food.
Of much concern was how to interface with my medical providers. Doctor’s offices and other medical facilities are where “sick people” go, so they were places to avoid. Most of my “visits” were audio or visual (which went surprisingly well), and I only went in person, particularly to specialists, when I felt having the doctor examine me was necessary.
Once the pandemic hit in full force, I was no longer able to engage in many of the activities I enjoyed.
I no longer was able to visit the Historical Society or do research requests at Holy Family Parish. Fortunately, I was able to gather enough research data to keep me busy at my computer and writing for long periods of time.
One of the most troublesome parts of the pandemic is being separated from many friends and family members who live long distances from Little Falls. I have not seen my son or young granddaughters up close and personable since Thanksgiving 2019. Thank God for Facetime! My daughters live relatively close by, so we are in a “bubble” together and most of my other contacts are by phone. And I’m on the phone a lot!
One year after the onset of Covid-19, effective vaccines have been developed, production ramped up, and vaccinations happening in a haphazard manner throughout the country and the world. Older people, like myself, and essential workers came first. At the time of my writing, about 4 million people in the United States have been vaccinated, with newly elected President Joseph Biden having a goal of having 100 million doses (50 million people) completed in the first 100 days of his administration. Problems continue to pop-up with poorer nations lagging in vaccine availability, major surges in infections after holidays or major events, and new, more transmissible variants (mutations) of the virus showing up around the world – UK, South Africa, Brazil, Russia.
So, where do we go from here? I think there will be a new norm. What that will exactly be is unknown at this time. But, in time we will beat Covid-19 like we did infantile paralysis (polio),measles and other contagious diseases. Good luck Little Falls, good luck New York State, good luck America, good luck world!
A Recent Stay in the Hospital Under the Guise of Covid
I recently entered the hospital with a fever of 104 degrees. I was immediately treated as though I had Covid 19. My children could not come in with me. I was semi-conscious. The Dr. ordered Covid and flu tests, x-rays of my chest and left leg, (which I had cut on glass), bloodwork and an EKG. I had a tetanus shot, was receiving iv antibiotics when a doctor protectively peeked in and said they were preparing a room for me upstairs. About six hours later, I was taken upstairs to that room.
The room had about a 2-inch vertical slit in the window to see the outside.
There was an eight-inch, accordion style, metal reinforced plastic exhaust pipe drawing air out of the room as fast as it came in from the air conditioner, making it very warm. There was one bed by that window. After a while I realized that there was a computer on a roll-around cart (battery operated, of course it died!), a 2 drawer stand with phone and a stand that could go across the bed. On the other side of the room was a laundry bin, stand and a phone. Both nurses had PPE on. They think I’m a Covid patient, I thought.
I was told by the other nurse that I was being labeled a POI and marked independent. I asked what these meant. First, I was a person of interest (suspected of having Covid). She told me independent meant that I could get out of bed myself and use the toilet. I think they were trying to reduce their exposure. I have to tell you the first time I did get out of bed, not being totally “with it” I nearly pulled the iv unit out of the wall! Realizing it was plugged in, I staggered over to the outlet and unplugged it. I made it to the bathroom on wobbly legs as I still had a fever. This was about 2:30 am.
The shift nurses who came in donned PPE and took it off when they left, placing it in the laundry bin. That laundry bin never left the room. Usually a nurse came in donned with the PPE, only when the iv antibiotic bag ran out. They took my temperature, blood pressure, pulse, answered questions and went over by the door, took off their PPE and left. Sometimes I had to ring for them because the door was shut and they could not hear the alarm when the antibiotics ran out. They definitely restricted their time spent in my room.
A doctor came once a day and explained what they were doing for me and why.
A full day after I was admitted, an infection manifested in my right leg. This could have been an answer for my high fever, but my test results had not come back. But now medicine could be used to target this infection so my fever finally, slowly diminished.
The curtain was drawn that separated me from the other side of the room. I have many allergies so dietary called me to try to accommodate these. They called the phone on the other side of the room so it had to be brought to me. Now that was going to have to be sanitized along with everything else in the room. The room was never swept or mopped for the entire time I was there (3 days), nor were the bed sheets or pad changed. I began to realize that these people were only trying to help me the best they could and keep themselves safe at the same time. It’s a lonely spot to be in, for all of us.
I had a tv to watch, but didn’t do much watching.
I found it was too dark and wanted to adjust the color but didn’t have the strength. I was glad to have my cell phone and called by family.
In the bathroom, someone had placed a sealed plastic package that had a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip and mouth lubricant, and mouth wash. There was also a comb and two packages of disposable washcloths already soaped! There was toilet paper on the dispenser. I had everything I needed. Fortunately, I could take care of myself after the first 12 hours. I remember one kind nurse fluffed my pillows, another brought me a battery- operated personal fan. She said I could take it home with me. Oh, another disposable.
I was told I could go home once my fever was down but I had to quarantine because my test results had not yet come back. I told everyone that if I had Covid, I’d be in very bad shape as I am what you would call a compromised patient.
The morning I was leaving, the nurse told me to ring for her when the antibiotics ran out, so I did. Another woman, in a mask, opened the door and told me the nurse would be there soon. She closed the door and I heard her remark, “Oh, she’s cute” (meaning me.) It made me think. What kind of ogre or troll did they think had been isolated in the room? Laughter, they say is the best medicine.
When I left the hospital, security was called so no one tried to use the elevator. Visitors had just been allowed into the hospital, two to a patient. Security put up signs that the elevators were being cleaned and could not be used for a time.
Why am I telling you this?
This is the way I was treated as a presumed Covid patient. Some of that was by accident, some by necessity. I found laughter where I could, but truly, it was a despairing situation. I did not like the waste of resources, because I knew I did not have Covid. The medical people did the best they could and followed protocol as best as they could. I am so glad they took good care of me while protecting themselves. The results of my tests came back, the day after I left the hospital, all negative! That’s good news for me and the staff of the hospital. How fortunate we all were, this time.
My Changed Life
My husband passed away just as this covid quarantine was beginning.
He was well liked in Little Falls and is the reason I live here. I was a farm kid. I am thinking that the isolation on the farm was helpful in adjusting to the isolation now. I miss my husband and families’ company, hugs and kisses, though. I turned to what I know. I sewed projects that had waited. I researched my daughter-in-law’s family tree. Being a History teacher for over forty years, I researched items I never had the time for before. After teaching thirty seven years in public school, I was teaching, two days a week, History and Writing to people wanting to get their high school diploma . I do miss that interaction. I miss the Historical Society meetings and DAR meetings and the people involved. I don’t go into stores much. I order my groceries online and pick them up outside.
My father and mother lived through the Flu epidemic of 1918, but my father’s uncle died. He was only 26.
The Historical Society and DAR have given me an idea for a new project. Both organizations have been responsible for setting markers remembering people and events. My great Uncle Dominic doesn’t have a grave marker. His actual grave site is questionable. But I am going to try to place an headstone closest to the site as I can. This isolation, then, has led to reflection and hope that our lives on the other side of this pandemic will be one of greater thought and action for our future, without forgetting the past.
Every year, I have grand plans to make the most of the best days
Frankly, I hate winter. Autumn too, (it comes before winter). But spring and summer, oh yes! Every year, I have grand plans to make the most of the best days. This year: plans not so grand. Layoffs, furloughs, families scramble to make ends meet. A cloud of disease blew in from nowhere, it seems. Missing the usual fun. No Diamond Dawgs. No Cheese Festival. No Canal Days, family at the new picnic table after the parade. No parade here or anywhere for that matter, and I love parades. City pool closed. Tubing on West Canada Creek sounds like bliss, but shuttle bus on the way back, packed in with other people. No way. We’ll stick to the house and the yard.
We put in a square foot garden. It’s easy to manage, even in a dry season like this one so far. Weather forecasts change by the hour: thunder storms, we’re waiting. I heard about water restrictions near Albany, but it’s only early July and what’s this Sahara dust cloud?
Signs on the highways urge us to be New York Tough. I’m proud to do that.
That’s the down side. We adapt. Signs on the highways urge us to be New York Tough. I’m proud to do that. We learn phrases like “social distancing” and “flattening the curve”. We navigate Zoom conferences and other no-contact ways of doing business. We wave to neighbors across the yard but we keep our distance. And Little Falls, being Little Falls, creates an instant drive-in movie theater near the empty baseball field, runs a peaceful Black Lives Matter educational event, launches a caravan of cars on Main Street honoring our High School seniors. It’s summertime. We make the most of the best days.
What brings you joy or comfort right now?
In these dark days it is difficult to step back and reflect, harder still to find joy and comfort and to muster a sense of gratitude.
The pandemic news can bring one to the depths of despair, taxing our ability to cope. Such facts make the necessity for “turning the channel” even more important. Although the “joy of the ordinary” has been taken from everyone’s lives, we can renew our gratitude for small pleasures that can help us turn that channel and may become a new “joy of the ordinary.”
For me, continuing to take daily walks, (accompanied by mask and social distancing, of course) either in town or in Little Falls’ surroundings is a hel
pful channel changer.
We are fortunate that temporary relief can be found in our familiar local sites, many within walking distance. We have several choices in our beautiful little town. Our city streets and many parks, the bike trail, Moss Island and many other settings can provide a measure of comfort. Despite our ongoing collective sadness, fear and anxiety, temporarily immersing ourselves in some of our easily accessible local landscapes may offer some solace in these difficult days. This may renew our ability and resolve to face these times with confidence, hope, and faith that better days will follow.
I am a 69-year-old male and retired history teacher.
The COVID-19-induced isolation has provided plenty of time for reflection.
I look to history for parallels and inspiration. My grandparents lived through the 1918 flu epidemic, they and my parents all lived through both the 1930’s Great Depression and WW II; my father fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Most of us lived through 9/11. By comparison, the changes that my wife and I have had to make in our lives at this time are almost insignificant.
Our sacrifices are dwarfed by those made everyday by front line health care workers and other essential employees.
Look 150 miles south to New York City and its huge death count. Look at the 40 million made unemployed by COVID-19. Look at the 70,000 families who have lost loved ones who cannot even be properly mourned. My heart bleeds for these families and for our country. Me, no restaurant meals, no haircuts, limited social contact, no big deal. I do miss Yankee baseball, but no whining here.
This pandemic is disempowering, how does one help?
Donate $$ to food banks, to food pantries, help the needy. Be grateful. Follow the rules on social distancing and face mask wearing. Thank the front line workers. Show a largeness of spirit. Be productive. History will assign blame. Be kind to one another.
I am nearly eighty-four years old and live alone.
I think my time in college many, many years ago, especially graduate school, well prepared me to be self-sufficient to a degree. I love to cook and this eliminated one potential problem – lack of proper nourishment. But, I mostly loved to cook for others. Now gone! I haven’t been in a store in six weeks – my daughters in Clifton Park keep me well supplied with all my food and other needs. No more eating out – a favorite pastime of mine.
For my entire life, I have been a “social” person, whether it be with my family and friends, at work, at play, or in my community activities.
Those that know me know I love to write and talk, to educate others. Since I can’t do this person-to person, I have had to resort to technology. Thank God for the telephone, the internet, U Tube, texting, emails, FaceTime, etc. I connect with family, and new and old friends both in Little Falls and all over the country on a daily basis. But I do miss my friends at Holy Family Parish, and going to the Historical Society on a daily basis. I deeply miss our intense pitch games.
So what do I do?
I have revisited writing projects that have been “on the shelf” for several years. On one, I have amassed over 65,000 words on eighty type written pages! I’ve done some yard work, and look forward to warmer weather. The best thing though, is my daily ride. Each day I drive (with my mask and gloves in hand) twenty to thirty miles around the surrounding countryside. I much more appreciate the astoundingly beautiful area in which we live. The pandemic – it too will pass.
covid 19 bad
pure terror for all
covid 19 rules
cover nose and mouth with masks
let us stop the spread
stand 6 feet away from me
see me with my mask
the collapse is near
health, food, education, votes
we must see it all
noun: haiku; plural noun: haikus; plural noun: haiku
a Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, traditionally evoking images of the natural world.
a poem in English written in the form of a haiku.
The Covid 19 pandemic has altered our daily living in a few profound ways - Good & Bad…
We live in fear every day of one of us becoming sick. My husband has breathing issues, because of a lifetime with asthma. We are so fearful that if we did catch this virus, that he may not survive it. We start our day with this thought every morning. We struggle mentally to get past this thought and on to other thoughts of what we will do with our day. We have never woken up in fear before.
We are Retired, so how we spend our day is up to us.
Pre-pandemic, we spent most days volunteering somewhere. We would spend most of each day out doing something for someone else and return at supper time happy and tired. This is our 7th week at home and we are loving it! We have realized that we had our life out of balance. We have learned that we need to put doing for ourselves just as important as doing for others. Lesson learned.
Going to the market for us was a social, enjoyable outing that we looked forward to on a weekly basis.
We more often then not ran into a friend that we hadn’t spoken with in quite sometime. We usually would chat for 5 to 10 minute and catch up with each other’s lives and then leisurely walk away feeling happy & connected, to continue on with our food shopping until we ran into someone else along the way. Now we get panicky just entering the market. By the time we get suited up to go into a shop, we are soaked in nervous sweat with a mask sucked into our mouths. Without speaking to anyone we go with our food list in hand and shop as quickly as we can. Then head to get back into the car to wipe it, ourselves & our purchases down with disinfectant. Gone is the joy begotten from such a simple outing.