It was 1918. Millions died world wide. From the worst flu epidemic up to that time.

Now 100 years later. A flu epidemic of huge proportions gripping the United States. Not as devastating as the 1918 epidemic. Affecting more than normal, however.

The flu vaccine this year only 10-30 percent effective. A new flu bug. N3N2. The vaccine ineffective against it.

California hit bad. The hospitals full. Giant camp like tents being set up in parking lots to accomodate the sick. Nurses being brought in from out of state. Hospitals already full beyond capacity turning away ambulances.

Persons over and below 65 dying. The young normally can handle an attack and survive. Yet 40 under 65 have already died this year. The year is not yet a month old. Last year, 9.

The 1918 flu epidemic hit Utica. I was not born yet. The family has told me of relatives who died. There was a significant relative who did not die. My grandfather.

He was dying. My grandmother attempted the only recourse left her. She prayed. To Saints Cosmas and Damian. Saints revered by immigrant Italians.

The Saints were twins, physicians and martyrs.

Every year on the last weekend in September, a feast honoring Cosmas and Damian was held in Utica. Still is to this day. My grandmother told the Saints she would march in the procession on the Sunday morning of the feast barefoot the rest of her life if they saved my grandfather’s life.

She did.

My grandfather recovered. He lived to 94.

I have a specific recollection of the feast and Sunday morning procession. My grandmother permitted me to join her when I was small.

I wore shoes, however. She, barefoot as promised.

My grandmother carried a candle. A big one! Three feet high and 3 inches in diameter.

Some years, not easy.

I have my grandparents’ wedding picture hanging in my living room. My grandmother was a sleek beauty. Thin. By 1918, she had 7 children and the years showed bodywise. She was a typical Italian grandmother. Short and obese.

The walk and candle were hard for her. Some years, the sweat poured from her. She persevered. Never missed the feast till her late 60’s when she developed heart problems.

Tomorrow could be a significant day in American history. Budget or no budget. A confrontation. Who will blink? Will anyone blink?

Key West weather continues to be cold. The high today projected at 60 degrees. The low tonight 53.

An emotional story on page one of the Key West Citizen this morning. Photos, also.

Two Vietnam veterans meeting again after 53 year. Willie Powell, Houston, Texas and Ray Gutierrez, Key West. They had fought together shoulder to shoulder in the jungles of Vietnam.

They discovered each other last year on the internet.

Powell was in on a cruise ship with his daughter. The two men spent the day together.

I don’t know what it was. The way the story was written or the essence of the story itself. Whatever, the story brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, the Chart Room and Tavern ‘n Town.

The Chart Room great! Good crowd, interesting people.

Things a bit confusing at first. A very lovely young lady standing on one side of me and a couple seated on the other. Turned out all three had roots in Cape May, New Jersey. Their conversation was running through me and over me till the young lady moved to an empty seat next to the woman.

Eventually, I was allowed into the conversation.

The young lady is Morgan. Extremely beautiful. No exaggeration. Twenty six years old. Recently moved to Key West. Her mother already living here.

Morgan bubbly. Well educated. She has a Master’s Degree. Geography. Started working two days ago at the Naval Base at Boca Chica. She is employed by the federal government. Excellent starting salary and benefits.

Turned out Morgan knew me. She has been reading this blog quite a while.

The couple were Ed and Yvonne. Now residing in Charleston, South Carolina. Run a beach bar. For 30 years. Three grown children.

They have been visiting Key West twice a year for 15 years.

Now looking to buy. They started looking this trip. Ed and I spoke about Key West real estate, the value of living in Key West, etc.

It was time to eat. I headed out to Tavern ‘n Town. Lucky to get a seat at the bar. Enjoyed prime rib again. Getting to be my diet dinner. Only the meat and au jus sauce.

Guaranteed fun night this evening. Dinner party at Donna and Terri’s. Eight of us. Large stone crabs!

My book. Irma and Me. The hurricane and Louis. Forget me not. Available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and kobobooks.com.

Enjoy your day!