Friday, April 8, 2011

The Children of Walker Street

The Spanish Flu killed between 50 million and 100 million people between 1917 and 1920.   It swept the globe, killing people in every corner of the world.  It was a particularly cruel plague.  Most illnesses prey on the weak.  They take the elderly and children, but the Spanish flu was indiscriminate. It killed many healthy young adults as well as the weak. It is considered to be the second largest disaster in human history and it infected 28% of the human population and killed 3% of the global population.  It killed more people than the black plague.  Enormous Flu wards were created to care for the amazing number of sick that over ran hospitals and health facilities where the sick were lined up like cattle to wait for death.

It is no surprise that the Spanish Flu left many ghosts.   I've found many ghost stories related to this terrifying epidemic.  The story of Walker Street in Historic Huntsville, Alabama is one of the sadder of these tales.  According to local legend, the Spanish Flu hit Walker street with a particular cruelty.  It took mostly children, leaving entire homes empty.  So many people died that the bodies of the dead would be left on the front porch  because there weren't enough healthy people left to bury the dead.  

The ghosts of the many children that died on Walker Street during the Spanish Flu are still said to wander the streets at night.  They've been seen singing and playing in the shadowy dark.  They sing nursery rhymes as they play and haunt the living that have been left behind.  There is a  rhyme that the children are said to have made up.  "I had a bird whose name was Enza, I opened the window and in flew Enza."  The children are said to still sing this little rhyme as they wander Walker Street.

7 comments:

Gummerfan said...

I heard about that when I went on the ghost walk. The guide said that a sensitive/medium had visited the area and said he could hear children singing something about "enza", but he had no idea what it meant. Only after further research was an obscure reference to sth son discovered. Pretty neat!

PaleMother said...

Hi J ... interesting about the epidemic. That pic is quite a sight. Imagine being so deathly sick in a setting like that.

OT:

Got another link for you. We were down with a stomach bug yesterday and I happened to catch a program on Animal Planet called World's Deadliest Towns. The episode that we saw was about hippo attacks in Africa. The host is a zoologist and what started as an episode about hippo attacks wound it's way into a tale about black magic and exorcism. The host kept repeating that he was a scientist and he wasn't down with supernatural explanations for things ... but by the exorcism at the end where a local medicine man located a sort of hippo shaped voodoo doll soaked in what appeared to be blood buried deep under a hut, the host looked pretty creeped out. He said he actually felt the figurine move as he pulled it out of the hole (the medicine man invited him to do it himself). Good TV, I suppose. They claim the rash of unexplainable, uncharacteristic & bizarre hippo attacke ended after the idol was found. It was kind of interesting, if you ever have a chance to catch it.

http://animal.discovery.com/videos/worlds-deadliest-towns-dave-witnesses-black-magic.html

Missy (& various in Transplant blog) said...

How so very sad! Makes the Black Plague seem like a trip to Disneyland in comparison to the devastation that the Spanish Flu brought.

Jessica Penot said...

Gummerfan... That's where I got this story. Good eye!

Palemother.. Thanks for the link. That sounds fabulous. Hippos are very dangerous animals. They are one of the big 5 in Africa, being one of the top animals to kill people.

Missy... It really was terrible :( The black plague was still more devastating in Europe, but it didn't get the numbers because it wasn't as global. In England during the peak of the black plague, 1 in every 4 people died of the plague.

Pam Morris said...

I always forget about the spanish flu epidemic and how very haunting and sad it was. still, I must say that the story of the "children of walker street" could make an awesome movie...

Bleaux Leaux said...

I'm really surprised by how overlooked and infrequently mentioned this pandemic is, especially in light of how recent it is (relatively speaking). The 3% figure is generally cited as being fairly conservative; some estimates put the fatalities at twice that number. There was simply no way existing facilities and technologies could cope with the scale of this disaster, and you are correct when you point out that in many cases bodies were literally ling the porches/streets. Chilling to think that something like this could happen again at any time, but as Pam points out it does make for great ghost story fodder...

Erin O'Riordan said...

I wonder if Stephenie Meyer had an idea of the supernatural stories associated with the Spanish influenza epidemic when she created the back story for her character Edward Cullen.