Archive for October, 2014

26th October
written by Richard

A number of quite prominent San Diegans attended a seance given by Elsie Reynolds in a room at Dr. Barnes’s residence; Friday evening . . . a lady spirit was materialized and came into the audience to shake hands. A lady present, at an opportune moment, seized the spirit around the waist with one arm and clinched its wrist with the other hand. The spirit shrieked and attempted to tear itself away. . . . The seance ended abruptly.  –San Diego Union, January 20, 1889.

The religion of “Spiritualism” claimed millions of followers in the United States and Europe in the nineteenth century. Believers included Mary Todd Lincoln who hosted seances in the White House to reach her departed sons Eddie and Willie. Spiritualist demonstrations could also be entertaining, profitable for the “mediums,” and more often than not, fraudulent, as San Diegans would discover in the summer of 1888: The Spooks in San Diego

A Victorian era séance.

A Victorian era seance.

22nd October
written by Richard
A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

A postman wearing protective gauze. National Archives.

In the fall of 1918, San Diego children skipped rope to a popular rhyme:

I had a little bird

Its name was Enza

I opened the window

And in-flew-enza

In the last weeks of World War I and in the months that followed, an influenza outbreak swept the world, infecting a billion people and killing as many as 50 million. It was one of the deadliest pandemics in history. In San Diego the scourge reached epidemic proportions . . .

Read the story of The Spanish Flu.