Albert Gitchell, an army cook assigned to Camp Funston in Kansas, United States, is generally held to be the earliest known case of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic, although it is likely there were cases before his.] The local doctor Loring Miner of Haskell County (also in Kansas) alerted the US Public Health Service as early as January of 1918, but apparently little attention was paid. After Gitchell’s case, the virus spread rapidly throughout Camp Funston, with 522 cases reported in the nest two days, By 11 March 1918, the virus had reached as far as Queens in New York City.
Because America was fighting in World War I at this time, with the frequent movement of men and material between various camps and the battle front, the disease quickly spread from Camp Funston (which was a major training base). By April of 1918, influenza was an epidemic in the Midwest abd East Coast of the United States, as well as some French ports. It then quickly spread to the Western Front, and then to the rest of France, as well as Great Britain, Italy, and Spain. In May, it reached Wrocław and Odessa, far to the East. When the war ended, newly released prisoners of war and demobilizing military forces spread it to other nations – North Africa, India, and Japan reported cases in May, China in June and Australia in July.
Although the effects of the Depression had been gaining momentum since Black Tuesday, on October 29, 1929, and several smaller banks had already fallen, the collapse of the Bank of the United States kicked things up a notch or two. The Bank, at that time the third largest bank in New York City (and twenty-eighth in the United States), sent shockwaves through the economy after a run on its savings began at its Bronx branch on December 10, 1930.
The panic that led to the run on the bank caused it to fail when it did (although it quite possibly would have collapsed even without this, although not until months or even years later) – and the collapse of the bank led to runs on other banks, which led to more collapses. The Great Depression deepened after 1930, and in many countries, did not end until the wartime economies of World War Two changed the playing field again.
About 200 protestors gathered outside a bowling alley in Orangeburg, South Carolina to demonstrate in favour of the civil rights movement and in opposition to the Vietnam War. After the demonstration moved on to the South Carolina State University campus, police intervened. Accounts of what happened next varied – the police have always claimed that they were returning fire after being fired upon, but no other witness to the events has ever corroborated this, and the majority stated that the police fired first, and so far as can be determined, the protestors were not carrying any firearms.
In the chaos that followed, three African-American teenagers – Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., Delano Herman Middleton, and Henry Ezekial Smith – were shot dead by police. At least 26 other protestors were injured. Although nine police officers faced charges as a result of the shooting, all were acquitted. On four occasions since 2003, the South Carolina state legislature has failed to hold a vote on whether to mount an official investigation into the killings.
It seemed an innocuous end to an innocuous year – or as innocuous as a year can be during the Trump Presidency – but as always, the tides of history were in motion beneath the surface. While most of the world partied to celebrate the end of a year and hope for a better new one, the Chinese government quietly informed the World Health Organization of an outbreak of a novel coronavirus in Wuhan…
…this would prove to be significant in the year to come.
Ben Folds’ song “2020”, was released in episode 12 of his weekly livestream “Saturday Apartment Requests” on June 13, 2020. It begins by reflecting on how much simpler life seemed on New Year’s Eve as 2019 slipped into 2020, and goes to provide an excellent summation of the sheer craziness and awfulness of the year 2020, and how many aspects of it hearkened back to earlier historical events, such as the global Influenza Pandemic that began in 1918, the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and the violence and racism that the Civil Rights Movement fought against throughout the 1960’s.
It is not a cheerful song.
Nandi Bushell was only 10 years old when she took to Twitter to challenge Dave Grohl to a drum battle playing his song “Everlong”. The English girl was a huge fan of Grohl’s work, and in the tweet, she also expressed her desire to jam with Grohl and the rest of Foo Fighters.
Grohl accepted the challenge, and duly recorded a version of “Everlong” on his daughter’s drum kit, challenging Bushell in turn to record a version of “Dead End Friends” by Crooked Vultures. When Bushell did, Grohl conceded that she had beaten him – in round one.
Round two kicked off when Grohl wrote and recorded an all new song in tribute to Nandi and her excellent drum playing. His daughters provided backing vocals for the song.