Scarlet Fever!

The house on Paradise Road, Aberdeen, Maryland.

The house on Paradise Road, Aberdeen, Maryland.

My grandfather, S. Lee Bowman, returned from World War II in 1946 to marry Gurnice Stephens of Mt. Pleasant Orchard, outside Havre de Grace. The first several weeks of their marriage were spent separately: as soon as they returned from a honeymoon in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains, my grandfather came down with scarlet fever. Quarantined in his mother’s home on Paradise Road outside Aberdeen, my grandmother spoke to him through the window.

About the same time that my grandfather was infected, penicillin was discovered as a treatment for the disease. Before antibiotics, infectious disease required seclusion within your house for several weeks. Bedding was destroyed (remember The Velveteen Rabbit?). Illness was scarring, could exact lasting damage such as loss of hearing, and was extremely risky for the caregivers around you. Read this scarlet fever quarantine story from Massillon, Ohio. Vaccination dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, the risks of many quarantine-worthy illnesses. Read my post about vaccination here.

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.