Spokane and the Nation: The Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919

Headline: “Flu Puts Curb on Gang Doings for Hallowe’en”

Source:  Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 29, 1918, page 1

Subject:  Halloween activities limited

Synopsis:  Police, parents, and the health department were responsible for preventing public gatherings on Halloween in an effort to curb the influenza epidemic.  The soaping of windows was an activity that the police wanted to have people try to prevent because women did not have the time to clean the windows afterward since they were busy helping with the flu epidemic.

Notable Quotations:

• “The police have been instructed to nab any youth who thinks the soaping is a good stunt and tries it.”

• “Young America is going to have a dismal Hallowe’en this year.”

“Flu Puts Curb on Gang Doings for Hallowe’en”

Police and Health Departments to Combine Forces on Holiday.

            Young America is going to have a dismal Hallowe’en this year. As the date of that festival of mirth and mischief approaches, it becomes apparent that not only the police, hereditary enemy of the small boy on this night of nights, will take a hand to curb his activities but that the health department will sit in on the question as well.

            Owing to the influenza epidemic, all public gatherings, large or small, are prohibited. Dr. J.B. Anderson, health officer, says that this regulation also applies to small boys on Hallowe’en and that the “gang” for once must stay at home and be lonesomely good.

            There is one form of Hallowe’en mischief which lingers in the mind of the police as being particularly offensive. That, according to Commissioner J.H. Tilsley, is the soaping of windows. The police have been instructed to nab any youth who thinks the soaping is a good stunt and tries it. With housewives fighting the influenza epidemic, relieving influenza sufferers, helping the Red Cross and doing their best to set out three square meals in these days of Hooverization and soaring prices, they have little time to wash windows and the commissioner is bound they will not have to.