Guemes, The Island We Love
Islanders may look back on the past twelve months as the “lost year.” We reminisce about activities postponed and remember people who have passed without the opportunity to celebrate their lives. We may feel a sense of grief for what we’ve lost. Yet the act of remembering those beloved people and cherished activities helps to keep the memories alive and gives us hope for better times ahead. We can also learn from history.
A century ago, another pandemic ravaged the world. According to the CDC, it’s estimated that about 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with this virus over a two-year period. The number of deaths was estimated to be at least 50 million worldwide with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Vaccines and even antibiotics were not available then. History tells us that interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations on public gatherings were helpful but practiced inconsistently. Those interventions still apply today as we navigate through the current COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to advancements in science, we now have vaccines that give us hope.
We can remember Guemes Island’s past by reading archived issues of The Evening Star and The Guemes Tide. Ten years ago, in the “Looking Back” section of the February 2011 issue of the Tide, we learned that islander R.E. Woodburn and his sister, Ruby Myrtle Woodburn Kack, “succumbed in the ravishes of Spanish Influenza” in 1920. That issue also reminded us that it “rained cats and dogs” for record-setting rainfall that January, but thanks to the raising of Edens Road by 12 inches the previous summer, the valley was still passable. That was before beavers moved into the valley. Does any of this sound familiar?
History reminds us that we’ve been there before and we can once again get through the difficult times.