Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #219

…George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of  industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life…

captains of industry

 “That damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him,”  George Eastman recalls the events.

  “And I was across the country, oh what kind of wife can I be!?” She is distraught. “Why didn’t he let us know he was coming home? I would not have gone away in the first place.”

 “He is upstairs. The hospitals are full. Here, put this on, we don’t need anyone else sick.” He hands her a mask.

 “Is it that bad? I mean if the hospitals are full, that would be thousands.”

“Didn’t you read the papers in California?” George asks like she came from another planet.

“No, had no time, just heard talk of us winning some big battles in Europe.”

11,000 are dead in Philadelphia alone.”

 She hangs her head. “That is why the streets are deserted isn’t it?”

“People are afraid to talk to anybody. And poor Harv, he was shaken badly when he came home, only ten men survived on the Navy ship he crossed the ocean in. He was putting together a story when it got him.”

“Oh, my God – I want to see him,” she rushes to his side.

“You may not recognize him, lost a lot of weight, and he sleeps all day, it’s all I can do to get him to take in fluids, but I think he’s getting a little better.” George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak camera, a captain of the photographic industry, reduces himself to nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life. “The good news is that he has made it past the first day. Most people who die go fast, mostly younger too.”

“He’s got a strong heart… oh, Harv I am so sorry I wasn’t here for you, can you ever forgive me?” She kneels beside their bed, sobbing, not expecting an answer.

“Do you think I would die without being able to ask my partner why she abandoned our magazine, to be a movie star no less?” Harv Pearson’s speech is slow, but lucid.

“I can’t hug you, you rascal, but when I can, look out.” She looks back at George, mouthing a hearty, ‘thank you’.

MeanwhileThe Spanish influenza leaves as quickly as it had struck, erasing thirty million lives along the way, in time to allow dancing in the streets when the Armistice is signed and the Great War ends on November 11th.

  The balance of power has shifted… for now.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Colorized photo shows the German delegation, as they arrive to sign the Armistice provisionally ending World War One, in a train dining car outside Compiegne, France. (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

Episode #219


page 204 (end ch. 11)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

… “It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests…

Pandemic

Writer/director JOHN DRYDEN

As Harv and the ship commander chat, the subject turns from boats sinking, to young men dying.

“What do you think about some medical experts’ assertion that troop and transport ships are to blame for the outbreak of Spanish influenza?”

American Troops Embarking, Southampton, 1918 by Sir John Lavery

“What do I think? As far as I can see, we are damned if we do or damned if we don’t. If we don’t have a million American troops at Argonne, we are not going home right now.” Admiral Sims speaks about an enemy more invisible than the submarine. “I would avoid interviewing the crew. Keep your distance if you do.”

“Good advice. I hear that IT is killing one person a day onboard. That’s pretty scary.”

“We have twenty sailors in sick bay as we speak. I’m told they are bad off.” He takes off his cap, running his hands through his graying hair. “And we are only one day out to sea.”

“It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests.

“Did you hear that crewman?” he speaks to the helmsman. “Make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Everyone is to be confined to their deck and avoid physical contact with each other. And tell them not to cough!

“We will figure what to do about the mess hall later. Do you have an idea on how to handle the mess hall, to feed 200 men, scattered all over this boat?”

All suggestions would be welcomed.

“Are there any crewmen who have successfully recovered from the influenza?”

“Two, I believe, but I don’t think they want to get sick again.”

“That is the idea. They can’t.” Rear Admiral Sims looks at Harv like he has lost his mind. “No really, we did an article on disease specialists and one of the things they were working on was figuring out, why once a parson has contracted an illness that they seem to be immune from getting sick from that same disease.”

“I see, so they can mingle with the crew!” He gets it. “You would make a great officer, Pearson.”

“I am a little too old to join the Navy.”

“That may be true, but I lost my First Officer to the sickness and I am hereby appointing you second in command.”

“I’m not very fond of uniforms… no offense intended.”

“Since we are going to spend the next eight days on the bridge, I am going to need your help, if you are wearing a uniform or not.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Influenza WWI

Episode #213


page 200

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #212

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #212

…Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office…

“The Last Victory” by Roy Grinnell.

far from the glamour of the movies, Harv Pearson has witnessed the wonder of America’s contribution to the Great War, Col. Billy Mitchell in particular. On one day in late September, watching from the ground, he sees the sky above is filled with allied Related imageairplanes, spanning the horizon and headed for Saint Mihiel. They will total 1400 or more, he learns from Mitchell and quite a sight to see at that.

The sound of all those rotary engines will forever echo in the recesses of his mind. War produces sights and sounds that no peacetime event can and places a stamp on the human souls therein.

It also helps when you are on the winning side and thanks to American contributions, i.e. the air war, submarine warfare and fierce ground assaults. An end to the Great War can be seen.

Rear Admiral William S. Sims

Battles will continue to be fought and armistices forged, but Harv has had his fill, saying his goodbyes at his P-E J Paris office, leaving a skeleton staff to tie up the many loose ends. Personally, he is thankful that they had not lost any of his rotating reporters to the war, which is not the case for other news organizations. In fact, they are the only journalistic presence not to lose a correspondent.

For his last assignment, Harv is going to go back to the U.S. on a convoy ship, under the command of Rear Admiral William S. Sims. Sims has been at it for longer than most anyone, coordinating the transport of war materials, then troops since back in ‘15. He too is making his final voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Historical Image

USS Chesapeake Bay (DD61)

He has a wealth of stories to tell, many of them end with the sinking of one of many defenseless civilian ships. Until the Navy was allowed to convoy, a safety net surrounding as many as 10 supply ships, millions of metric tons is lost to U-boats… and the bottom of the ocean.

Were there an American naval presence around the English Channel, John Ferrell may be preparing to become the father-of-the-bride for Maggie Lou.

“How many ships have you been on that have been struck by a torpedo?” asks Harv after they have been under way for a day.

“8 too many, Mr. Pearson,” he relates with a stare straight ahead; he refuses to think about what is below the waterline of his boat, leaving that vigilant task to his around-the-clock submarine spotters. “If a cat has nine lives, I don’t want to use up that last one”

“It helps that we are traveling on a destroyer, does it not?” Harv is looking for reassurance, wanting to avoid John Ferrell’s fate at all cost. He had a bird’s eye view then and that impression haunt him long after the last shot of this horrible war is fired.

“Well yes, 5 of the boats I was aboard that got hit were civilian and before 1917. I guess the odds eventually even out.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #212


page 199

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

…the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will…

During a day of work in early September at Florida A&M Hospital, an institution that he has helped to grow, from modest beginnings to respectability, A.O. attends a staff meeting concerning the sudden outbreak of influenza. Miss Virginia Hilyer supervises a stable of promising young doctors at this mostly black college facility and she is determined to get a handle on the cause of this spreading calamity, utilizing research labs to isolate what they think is an offending bacteria.

She says there is reason for alarm. Not only is this strain deadly, but it kills in a single day, taking down those considered the strongest, vital men and women in their 20’s. It has migrated out of the Orient, as do most flues, making a devastating stopover in Spain, leaving but a small percentage of its population untouched, before making port at Boston in late August. It seems that the increased coming and goings across the Big Pond, with the war as the cause, has provided the disease a virulent conduit… and it is spreading like a wildfire in the jack pine forests native to the Florida panhandle; tinder dry underbrush feeding sappy needles, fanned by Gulf breezes.

“We are seein’ our first cases already and I’m not takin’ any chances. We are closing off the top floor. It will serve as an isolation ward for the whole county. I lost my mother to the plague in 1914 and I won’t be repeating New Orleans’ arrogant mistakes!” Miss Jennie, as she is known, is also on staff as one of the top career nurses in the nation, dedicated to the care of others, even to the expense of her own personal life.

       No better example for a young physician than she; listen, attend, heal are her watchwords. And do not think that any of these qualities is lost on A.O. Campbell, who grew up watching the sternly skilled hands of Doc Ziggy work minor wonders, forever laced with compassion and kindness.

          Before the sun can reach its zenith and much to Campbell’s dismay, two of the first admissions to the isolation ward are familiar to him, one ill leading the other for care. His mother-in-law and his mentor look as though they’ve been to hell and back, sweating bullets on a cool-ish late summer day.

“I’ll be caring for them, Miss Jennie—my kinfolk and such—that’s if you don’t mind?”

There is gravity to the request. “You may have to stay with them until it’s over,” she informs him, as they are led to the electric elevator, too delirious to recognize A.O.

“I’ll have them good as new in a day or so,” he thinks.

“I don’t think you understand. Them means all of them, two or two thousand. Once you are exposed, we can’t have you infecting the rest of Leon County.”

He hesitates for a moment, staring the subtle hazards of epidemic straight in the eye. It is staring back at him.

  “Would you please go to my house and tell my Maggie that her mother and Ziggy are here and I’ll be caring for them… and anyone else who is struck down.” He has made up his mind. “Tell her not to go out of the house with the baby.”

“That is sound advice Doctor Campbell, somethin’ the whole world should do, but I have a feelin’ the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Self Portrait With Spanish Flu 1919 by Edvard Munch

Episode #208


page 195

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #199

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #199

…The day I penned a letter to my dearest John Ferrell, it was the first time I had experienced the helplessness of the war,..

“I am so inspired by John’s kindness that I myself feel twinges of guilt. I see the suffering, yet continue on with my flights of fancy.”

Escapism Artist Unknown

Escapism artist Unknown

“You cannot think that, Sir James… oh yes, Matthew. If not for you and others, who write of things no one else dare have will to ponder, society would go mad with reality. Time in the theaters is one of their few escapes. If one does not let the child in us out, it dies, leaving a hardened heart.”

“So well put, Judith, I would guess that it is you who writes the words.”

“And I take the pretty good pictures,” Harv jokingly injects.

“Please forgive me, Mister Pearson, my intentions are innocent. I suppose I react too favorably to having my pride stroked by careful hands, but I feel comforted, personal vindication, you see. The day I penned a letter to my dearest John Ferrell, it was the first time I had experienced the helplessness of the war, where position and influence are thrown out the window like yesterday’s table scraps, to be fought over like the starving dogs.”

J.M. Barrie relates a tale his wife likes to tell, “My Matthew had been smitten with disease of the lungs and there were no doctors who had medicine to treat him. Then, while traveling to London, as I do regularly, I was accosted by a gang of hopeless human beings, lusting after whatever they might relieve me of.” He grabs a straight wooden stick, with a persimmon block at the bottom from beside his chair. “It was my brassie that saved me from dreadful harm!”

He tells the story often, so frequently that his wife has her line well rehearsed, “And that is the only good use for those miserable clubs that I can see.”

As in the days preceding the assault on Verdun, no one can count on prolonged periods of peace. John Ferrell receives word that his ship is leaving a day early, with worries about increased submarine activity, even to the coast of Scotland. “Damned scavengers!” They bring a premature end to the time of his life, a month of riches he will carry forth to eternity.

  “Do not let them spoil these days, John Ferrell. Hold them fast, like the smell of heather in the Highlands; until we meet in a more peaceful place.” Long soulful hugs and hopes for tomorrow.

“We will be going, as well,” Harv decides. Their launch awaits a trip to Brest, plus there is strength in numbers. They will negotiate North Sea waters and head to the cargo ship, which is loaded with whatever export goods the Scots can muster.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Haar on the Forth by Alan Reed

Episode #199


page 186

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #196

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #196

…Well, I’ll be. John Ferrell is a Scot – He must have chartered a ship with goods for his people. Now that takes guts!…

“Cargo Ship” by Lia Aminov

There is a message for you,” finally an American uniformed voice, with a Texas twist, “a John Ferrell looking for the magazine people. You guys are well known in these parts, with a German hit squad on your trail and all.”

“Sure, they don’t want the U.S. in the war, cowards that they are. If you don’t want to wake up the watchdog, don’t pull on his tail.” Judith’s tail was tugged the first time she saw a soldier die in person.

“Let me see that.” Harv wonders what has prompted the merchant of Tallahassee to make such a convoluted effort at communication; The Merchant of Venice would be more likely.

The yellow paper reads: looking for pearson-eastman  stop  arrived scotland 10 feb stop relief supplies to perth   stop  would like to meet you there   stop   leaving for home 10 march  stop  will check dundee for reply   stop   john ferrell  stop

Well, I’ll be. John Ferrell is a Scot… isn’t he, sure? He must have chartered a ship with goods for his people. Now that takes guts! Never would have guessed.”

“What a way to top off our story: ‘Private American-Scot shares his bounties with war-torn countrymen’.”

“Good title,” Harv affirms. “I have had enough of bombing to last me the rest of my days. Time for a heartwarming story, Lieutenant, please wire this message to Dundee, Scotland,” he hands a short note to the communications advisor, “and if you could ring Bologna. We have a launch ready to cross the channel.”

   “Got some mean “fish” in those waters, sir, but I guess they won’t waste a torpedo on a launch. Good luck.”

Unfortunately, the North Sea turns nasty once they make it to England, freeing up a few days to experience a few nights of German air raids on London. “How do people get sleep around here? Work the mills by day, then you are rewarded with a 2 ton serenade by night… in a bomb shelter at that.” Judith has had it with war; the sights, the smells, the sounds.

“The winds are dying down to the north; the launch owner believes we can slip up the coast in the morning. Two days with Ferrell in Scotland and we are back on the Oscar, steaming for New York.”

“That sounds wonderful! I miss Rochester, I miss the office, I miss George, I miss our bed, I miss food meant for humans.”

“If you don’t get packed, we’ll miss our b-b-boat-t-t.” A b-b-bomb explodes above them, the latest near miss in a long line of disconcerting disturbances. You may never see seven people move so fast as this again.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #196


page 184

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

Leave a comment

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #193

…Martha Ferrell is letting her true feelings surface for the first time…

Preparing For Thanksgiving by Doris Lee

John ponders Scotish aid.

‘I wonder if he wants to go see where his family has its roots.’ She knows John is eager, knee-deep in his new project, but a look that would stop a charging bull in its tracks, halts his notion there and then. ‘No, I suppose he has better things to do… busy, busy, busy, always something,’

 Thanksgiving is the next day.

“And please do not spoil Thanksgiving dinner with too much talk of Scotland. It will be difficult enough dealing with the extra guests.” She is in the kitchen, preparing to prepare enough food to feed the Third Scottish Regiment, with Agnes’ help… as soon as she wakes up.

“Ziggy is old and alone.” John insists.

“He is not the problem. Neither is his friend, Doctor Alpha. It is who will be with them.”

Truth-001“Laura Bell and Maggie – I thought we buried that resentment years ago?”

“We buried? No, I have learned to forgive your adultery, but I may never understand your complete devotion to that child, I mean we could have paid Laura off and sent them away. Instead, they live across the lake and you spend as much time with them as you do me.”Martha is letting her true feelings surface for the first time.

There is the welcome sound of footsteps coming down from upstairs, much to John’s relief. “Agnes, darling, you’re up early, good, your mother needs help peeling the vegetables, I am going to stoke the stove. Let’s make this the best Thanksgiving ever!”John heads for the woodshed for enough fuel to cook six separate dishes and a 25 pound turkey.

“Daddy is unusually lively this morning, Mother. Did we put too much starch in his underwear again?”

“I will let him tell you himself, but suffice it to say he has a new project to work on, something to do with the war in Europe.”

“How exciting! Do you think I could help?” Agnes could use a little spice in her life as well.

“No, I mean yes, no I mean maybe.” It is hard for her to be clear, without appearing to oppose the one man whom Agnes overtly adores. “We will discuss this after dinner, when the guests leave.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

MimiEunice_60

Mimi & Eunice by Nina Paley

Episode #193


page 181