By Margarete Minar
One hundred years ago, the heavier news stories covered in the Sunnyvale Standard were the end of World War I and the continuing effort to get through the deadly flu pandemic.
The contributions that Sunnyvale citizens made to the war effort meant that even though the war was over, the subject was still on many people’s minds. Sunnyvale citizens were among those who were wounded and killed in battle. A suggestion was made in the newspaper to create a park with a memorial to those citizens who had been killed. Additionally, Sunnyvale residents were tasked with raising a portion of funds for the United War Work (UWW ) campaign, for the purpose of boosting the morale of American soldiers abroad. Not only did they meet the quota of $1520.00, they exceeded it by more than 50%.
It was not a coincidence that the timing of the 1918 pandemic influenza (called the Spanish Flu) was connected with the war. Soldiers often experienced overcrowded quarters, poor hygiene, and sometimes malnourishment, creating the perfect environment for an aggressive flu to spread. Once soldiers began returning home, the virus spread across continents. Spanish Influenza made its way through Sunnyvale starting in the summer of 1918, with the greatest number of deaths reported in October and November. The Sunnyvale Standard repeatedly published guidelines for dealing with the infected, and quarantines were enforced with fines. By January 1919, deaths had tapered off with the hope that it had passed, but still there were victims. The paper reported the death of Adrienne Vishoot, the 8-month old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leo Vishoot, prominent Sunnyvale residents, as well as Ray McGinnis (30), who was chief of the Sunnyvale fire department.