Weekly newspapers, the Lake County Bee and the Clear Lake Press, both published in Lakeport, the Kelseyville Sun and the Lower Lake Bulletin, kept Lake County’s estimated 5500 residents informed with the hard news and the social news columns. Lake County’s day to day life unfolds in the antique social media. Routine reports of property sales, cattlemen in town on business, and relatives visiting each other are interspersed with flu cases and flu deaths. Red Cross volunteers reported on making clothing for soldiers in combat and for European refugees, and on making gauze anti-flu masks. The newspapers convey a sense of Lake County fighting influenza on its own. Relatives, friends, neighbors and nurses cared for patients at home. Overwhelmed caregivers begged for volunteer nurses. Doctors like Walter Fearn, Henry Stipp, J.B. Baker, county health officer Murdock Craig and Calistoga’s Walter Blodgett coped with the crisis as best they could. Local newspapers printed Surgeon General Rupert Blue’s “Advice on Flu” that recommended avoiding crowds, covering coughs and sneezes, getting fresh air, eating wholesome food, and wearing masks. In October Dr. Craig advised people to avoid public gatherings for a week. Although the moving picture show, churches services and schools closed for few days, some folks doubted the need for concern. The Lake County Bee scoffed, “There is no epidemic of influenza here, nor of anything else unless it is fright. The Board of Health acted on the theory that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that a majority of the people of Lakeport wanted them to take the action they did.” The social news tells the other side of the story. People came to Lake County from cities to avoid the influenza. Social customs changed as small unostentatious weddings and outdoor funerals became the norm. Masks became fashionable.
“In the past, the city had tried three different times to get a road tax and failed for several reasons. We didn’t want the money to go into the general fund; we wanted it to go into the roads. The third time that we tried, it passed because we focused on the roads. That required a 2/3 vote, and it was close.” He chuckles at the thought. “It’s been three years since it went into effect. Before that, our average road repair maintenance budget was approximately $200,000 annually. In the last two years, we’ve spent $2.5 million each year. And we did that. We, the people of Clearlake, did that. We’re proud of that.”
“Life was different in the ’60s here,” Russ begins. Clearlake Highlands was a going concern. In the summertime, it was busy on Lakeshore Drive, with people walking up and down. Austin’s Beach was full of people. Back then, cruising Lakeshore was a big deal. Have you ever seen ‘American Graffiti?’ he asks. “The Highlands was like that back then.”
Middletown wasn’t always a quaint, quiet, small town. One hundred and fifty years ago it was a mining town, filled with rough and tumble characters, crooks, gamblers, and murderers. I found this piece in the book English, written by Middletown historian Bill Wink, and had to share it with The Bloom’s readers. English shares the […]