Reflections: Pests, rodents and other health hazards in my early years


A fly got in my house the other day – a rare happenstance because my doors don’t open that often nor are there that many flies here in town.

I went after that little buzzard and nailed it but it set me reflecting on growing up on the farm where flies were many and frequent. Of course, there was no air conditioning and my sisters and I were in and out the doors- causing the usual reprimand “make sure the screen door is shut.”

Flies got in and I wonder if you recall those sticky strips that were hung from the ceiling or center light and the flies got stuck on them. My mother didn’t use them very often as it just looked unsanitary – we used the fly swatter – often- and sometimes fly spray – which smelled – bad.

I also remember drinking from the tin cup on the side of the pump at our well- the well went deep, cold water but in light of what I read today with so many chemicals and other dangerous elements in the water – I wonder how we stayed healthy.

Then, it wasn’t just us, everyone had a pump and a well – and before that generation, people got their water from other sources that today would be scary to me.

That’s what progress is about.

Then again, maybe that water was more pure than ours today- because they didn’t have the danger of chemicals or other toxins being dumped.

I also remember mice- I was deadly scared of those scurrying mammals.

My folks used the usual mouse traps- I don’t recall being over run by the little rodents and farms were a likely place for them to reside. I do recall one time when my sister accidentally stepped on a tiny mouse, causing its demise but being the student of biology that she was she immediately put her schooling to use and dissected the little thing – just to see if everything was as she learned.

By the time I was a parent- I was singing the same song- shut the screen door – tight, but then again, there aren’t as many flies in town but if even one of them ventures in my house, it is in for a short run.

On another timely topic- with Hillary Clinton becoming the first female nominated to be President of the United States, i recalled a piece I read about another woman being the first nominated to this post. I found a February, 1973 Morrow County Sentinel in which there is a length story about the nomination of Victoria Claflin Woodhull to the position in 1872. One story described her as “Mrs. Satan for President.”

On polling day in 1872 she was in a New York Jail on obscenity charges. One of ten children, she was born September 23, 1838 in Homer, Ohio.

It was the year of the coronation of Queen Victoria – which prompted her name. The family left Homer shortly after their grist mill burned within days of the father taking out an insurance policy. They fled to Pennsylvania where he was again run out of town and they then moved to Mount Gilead.

It was here at the age of 16, that Victoria married Dr. Canning Woodhull.

The couple who had two children, moved to San Francisco. She became a candidate of the Equal Rights Party in 1872 – fifty years before the Constitu-tion was amended to make women eligible to vote nationwide.

She was the first woman stockbroker on Wall Street and the first woman to testify before a congressional committee and to address Congress. Her speeches attracted thousands of people as she spoke on behalf of the poor

and was a critic of marriage laws. She brought controversy when she expressed sympathy for prostitutes and supported free love and birth control. She received only a few thousand votes in her 1872 campaign – winning a second term was President Ulysses Grant, also an Ohio native.

Woodhull died in 1927 at the age of 88. According to news accounts she remains popular in Homer where a plaque honors her.

I will return to my usual format next week.
Plus a look at the first female nominated for President of the United States

By Evelyn Long

The Sentinel

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