Posted by: patwogan | August 25, 2008


When I was six years old, I contracted Scarlet Fever.  At the time, the only “miracle” drugs were aspirin and castor oil.  Scarlet Fever was considered highly contagious, It was not known how I had been exposed to it as I had the first case reported in Montgomery County that year. 

Because it was such a serious disease at the time, the County Health Doctor came and posted a bright red sign on the door announcing that the house was under quarantine.  My mother was pregnant and could not be around me so she and my dad changed places with my grandparents and they came to live in our house and take care of me.  I don’t know how long the quarantine lasted, but I know it was several weeks.

My parents came to see me every evening and we visited through a closed window.  This must have been after I was past the worst part of the disease.  I remember sitting on the window seat and talking to my mother.  I really missed sitting on my mama’s lap and having her hug and kiss me.  I loved Grandma and Grandpa and they took good care of me, but nothing could really replace my mama. 

My Grandpa’s brother was a Kansas University educated medical doctor.  He was a very well respected physician in Independence, but to me he was Uncle Doc.    He visited me every day and when I was finally over the disease he directed my grandparents to fumigate the house.  I don’t know what they used to do this or how it was done, but I do know my books all had krinkly pages afterwards because they had been wet.  I remember the house smelled funny, too. 

I also remember the day the doctor from the health department came and removed the quarantine sign from the door.  It was a great day because my mama and daddy were able to move back home and be with me.  I am sure it was as great a day for them as it was for me!  Grandma and Grandpa went back home and I am sure it was a great day for them, too.  That little house by Glencliff was pretty small compared to their house.  They were probably really glad to get back home to their normal routine. 

It seemed to me that almost immediately after Mom got home she had to go to the hospital to get my new baby brother.  I had returned to school by that time and really missed her.  She was in the hospital ten days with the new baby and I felt totally abandoned. 

When she came home, I definitely did not want to leave her each morning to go to school.  (I probably didn’t like the idea of the new baby being their with her while I was gone.)  But every morning Dad took me to school as if nothing were changed. 

Every morning at school, I got “sick”.  The school would call Daddy and he would come and get me and take me home where I rapidly recovered.  This went on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Finally on Friday, Daddy didn’t take me home.  We stopped by Aunt Bess’s house and she gave me a dose of the cure-all castor oil.  Now castor oil is NASTY and if you weren’t sick before, it would make you sick, believe me!

That dose of castor oil must have been a real cure because I didn’t get sick at school again.  Somehow I came to terms with the new baby and knew my Mama still loved me.  For one thing, she was angry with my Daddy and Aunt Bess for giving me castor oil, even though she probably knew something had to be done.  I am sure everyone knew what was going on and knew that drastic measures had to be taken.   

I am grateful to all the doctors who created the truly miracle drugs we have today.  I am also thankful that my children were able to be vaccinated against the dangerous diseases that took the lives of so many people in the past.



  1. 1. Wonderful story
    2. Amazing writing style, simply amazing!

  2. I bet you all were going stir crazy when you were quarantined. It is so interesting to read this and to think about how things were “back then” compared to today. I loved this glimpse into your past, Mom!

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