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December, 1918. The nation is in the midst of the flu epidemic. My grandmother Florence and her sister Doris are both living in Boston, far from home–Billings, Montana. Doris caught a cold and wrote about it to Mama. I have the reply; it’s a letter from Mama and clipping from page 2 of the Billings Gazette. It provides a glimpse to us, 89 years later, of what surviving the flu was like. Including how, exactly, Vick’s VapoRub works.
The letter, dated Dec 10, 1918, begins thus:
Dec 10, 1918.
Both your letters came today. I was sorry to hear of Doris’ cold and also worried. Why didn’t you use the Vaporub as I told you? I have never known it to fail to break up the “flu” and it has also cured pneumonia. It is just as it is spelled Vapo rub, Doris asked once how to pronounce it.