Friday, February 13, 2015

Vintage Vaccines

*Choosing to vaccinate or choosing not to vaccinate our children is a hot topic right now, because of a Measles epidemic spreading across the United States.  The measles-mumps-rubella combination vaccine debuted in 1971 and Measles was believed eliminated from our country in 2000.  

"In the decade prior to the introduction of the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) combination vaccine in the United States, it’s estimated that more than three million people were infected with the measles each year."   -from History of Vaccines

Nevertheless, both sides continue to argue and insult each other like they're still in high school.  Sad.

I am not going to tell you what to do.  I believe you have the intelligence and rational mind to make that decision yourself.

I can tell you that we vaccinate and why.

You see, I am a history buff and I've studied the diseases of the past, mostly research for a novel I'm writing which includes pandemic flu.

Another super nasty bug was Smallpox

Mozart survived Smallpox.  Several powerfully influential people in the 1700s, like Benjamin Franklin, went public with their struggles with the disease and the vaccine which worked for them.  Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1977.

Going back the Flu, the 1918 Pandemic wiped out whole villages of Alaska Natives.  One major factor was they didn't trust the white people who told them to isolate themselves from each other to stop the spread of the disease.  Well, considering that the white people (first the Russians and then the Americans) had been lying, cheating, stealing, raping, murdering, and enslaving them for hundreds of years, it's no wonder they didn't believe what they were told about the Flu. 

So, I don't blame those against vaccinations.  I can see that they've lost faith in the medical community and sometimes with good reason.  Maybe if leaders from both sides of the debate got together and talked about these things, compared research, and established working relationships based on mutual respect, the conflict could be resolved and all the children would be healthier as a result. 

In any case, history has taught me what life was like before vaccines.  I agree that vaccines are not without risk, but we've decided the benefits outweigh those risks.

Did you know the population of the United States has doubled since World War II, thanks, in part, to vaccines?  Remember, the President at the time was disabled because of  Polio

Dismiss the hysteria and avoid the arguments.  Do your own research and make up your own mind. 

*The top photo came from a blog post about the Victorian tradition of photographing the dead.  

I often complain about what short memories Americans have regarding their own history.  The Flu Pandemic of 1918 was virtually forgotten because of World War I.  And ask any young adult what they know about World War I.  You'll be lucky if they know something of it because of the movies.  Nevertheless, I do believe a memory of that pandemic plus the many other horrible diseases of the past remain in our *collective subconscious* and it comes out in a fascination for zombie movies, like   World War Z

In this portrayal, the zombies are like gigantic viruses that you can see coming for you, but can't hope to stop.

My review of  The Great Influenza  probably the most thorough historical account.  Did you know this year's seasonal flu strain mutated right after the vaccine came out, rendering it ineffective by one-third, I think.  Guess we're lucky it hasn't shown itself to be as deadly as in 1918.
Here's a film documentary which includes survivors-

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Victory Garden

Oh, how times have changed!

Seventy-five years ago, self-reliance was your patriotic duty.

Now...not so much.

But, you can hold on to the Vintage Value of Self-Sufficiency by planting your own Victory Garden.  Call it victory over whatever you want, I guess.  I still think it's cool to be patriotic though.  ;)

The history refresher lesson is this, during World War II there were food shortages which led to rationing.  Americans were encouraged to garden like never before, and, sadly, never since.  In Great Britain, it was literally a matter of life or death, as two-thirds of their food was imported before the war. 

Here is a World War II film on how to build a Victory Garden, along with modern comment on how to incorporate new, more productive methods-

And here is a link to the first episode of Wartime Farm from across the pond-

You can buy Wartime Farm from

If you've watched Colonial House, you may recognize the lady on the front as one of the historical advisors.  ;)

I've named my hobby farm, 'Westfarthing Homestead,' because, really, I'm a Hobbit at heart.

“It is no bad thing celebrating a simple life.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

Historical Snippet:   J.R.R. Tolkien fought in World War I.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

HOMEWARD BOUND by Emily Matchar

This is more of a showcase than a review, because I read about half of this book.  This is not vintage or retro or any of that.  This book explains what's at the heart of today's young women taking after their grandmothers more than their mothers when it comes to domestic roles.  The heart of it is that it's super awesome to have the choice to pursue a professional career outside the home, but it's just as wonderful to stay home and make jam, whether you're a stay-at-home mom or a stay-at-home dad.  It observes all the what-fors and withertos and controversies when your mom just doesn't understand too.  Highly recommend it if you're still scratching your head over why a successful attorney might give it all up to bake bread and homeschool her children.  Homeward Bound