History Repeats Itself

Someone asked me if I really think history repeats itself, and my answer was, “You bet I do! In fact, it’s repeating itself as we speak.”

Our country has been fighting a virus called Coronavirus-19. Looking back in history, I find that we had a serious outbreak of a virus 100 years ago, the flu epidemic of 1919 and 1920. This “pandemic” swept the world and killed an estimated 50 million people. And, the “Swine Flu”, in 2009, infected 500 million people around the world.

History is repeating itself with today’s Corona virus, but let’s hope, and pray, that it doesn’t reach the seriousness of those previous epidemics.

A Frisco story: During the 1919-20 flu epidemic, Frisco’s doctors were busy making house calls and treating patients. This was a farming community, and patients were scattered. Our doctors had patients, not only around Frisco, but around Little Elm. The problem was that there was no telephone connection between the two towns. Doctors had no way of hearing from patients in and near Little Elm. The Rose family came to the rescue. They lived equidistant between the two communities and had a Little Elm phone as well as a Frisco phone! They graciously opened their home to the doctors so they could station themselves there to answer calls from both towns and could go from there to make their house calls. 

Then, a positive way that history is repeating in the world of health care – house calls. Medical house calls were common in the old days, and they have made a come-back in recent days. We have found, and have used, a local house call service called “Dispatch Health.” They came to our home and did a great job of checking and testing us medically. 

Another repeat. In 2009 the “Swine Flu” infected 500 million people around the world. So, history is repeating itself in dramatic ways as we speak!

Now to a controversial item – global warming. Signs show that our world is indeed getting warmer. The question is how much of the warming is man-made, and how much is nature-made. Let’s see if it has ever happened before.

A search of the records shows that this old world has, in the dark ages, gone through times of heating and cooling. There was the “Little Ice Age” from 1645 to 1850 BC. Then, there was the “Medieval Warm Period” from 900 to 1300 AD. Its effect, though not harsh, affected mostly the northern portion of the globe – Greenland and the Scandinavian countries. So, we see that history has, again, repeated itself. 

A different kind of repeat. We have always tried to keep in touch with each other, especially our “loved ones.” Let’s look at how we have done that. In the time from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, some sent telegraphs, but the most common way to get a message to someone living away was to write a letter or postcard. At that time, postage for a letter was two cents. Airmail, when it came along, was about a dime. During WWII many spouses and sweethearts wrote to their serviceman or woman every day, so letter writing flourished.

I was one of the many servicemen who served overseas during WWII and can vouch for how anxiously we waited for mail call to see if we received “a letter from home.” I was overseas when our second child was born and received the first word of our daughter’s birth by a very short telegram. I could hardly wait to hear more of the details which came about a week later by mail – a very welcome letter.

Today, history is repeating itself. We’re talking, or sending messages and pictures, to our “loved ones” by cell phone, sometimes many times per day, which some will say is more than enough.

And, our methods of calculating have changed drastically. We have come a long way from the abacus, an ancient calculator used by the Chinese as early as 500 BC. Named the “Java Abacus”, it had colored beads which students clicked to add, subtract and multiply.

History has since repeated itself many times. First came the old hand-cranked adding machines, then the Friden electric calculators which almost played a tune as they galloped along while calculating. In more recent years we proudly welcomed the little hand-held calculators, considered a real breakthrough in its day. But, today we have sophisticated computers which will make difficult and lengthy calculations in the blink of an eye. 

Another repeat: Where do you go to find the answer to technical questions? Do you still have your set of Encyclopedia? That’s where we turned for answers for many years, but no more. Gone is the annual encyclopedia salesman and his bulky merchandise. Our bookshelves are now empty.

 History has repeated itself regarding our search for information. Answers are now found by turning to our trusty computers and asking Google or some other search engine service. Just “type here to search” and go from there. Someone there knows the answer.

Next, lets discuss photos. Where are the hard copies? For many years we bought film and loaded it in our box camera, which we called a Kodak. Then, after snapping all the pictures of our babies, our sweethearts etc., we unloaded the film and sent it off to get it developed. After a week of anxiously going to our mailbox, here came our photos – hard copies that we could look at, proudly show to our friends and place in albums. Then, for a time, movies and slides became popular. No hard copies there, so we turned to a new process called Polaroid which produced hard copies straight from the camera.

History had repeated itself, but while we were still playing with Polaroid, someone invented digital cameras and attached the feature to cell phones. Here we go again – no hard copies to be had without a great deal of work and expense. So, what do we do? The world is wide open to inventors.

Do you have a garden? In past years everyone who had a plot of ground, large or small, planted a vegetable garden. During WWII they were called “Victory Gardens.” Delicious produce from the gardens was harvested and eaten with the surplus being preserved. There was a saying, “We eat what we can. What we can’t we can.”

Again, history has repeated itself. Gardens are becoming popular once more. At Parkview, the independent living facility where we live, a garden has been planted in the courtyard. 

And, last, the luxury of having groceries delivered to your door! Just call the grocer to place your order, then sit back and wait for delivery. I remember, in the 1930’s, when City Cash Grocery, one of Frisco’s two grocery stores, had a delivery service. Of course, we have always had delivery of milk, and, for a while, bread, but not for a full order. 

So, once again, we see history repeating itself, and in a good way. Let’s hope for many more of the good, and a lot fewer of the unpleasant repetitions in the future.