Olive and Charles Part II of A Short Romance
Olive Lillian Barber was born in 1901 in a sleeply little hamlet in Eastern New York. She was born to Lysander Leroy Barber and Emma Adell Barber, (sssshhush) first cousins. Olive never really felt at home in Bliss New York. It was a place named after her Great Grandfather, Sylvester Bliss. The family had moved several generations previously from Barber Pond Rhode Island where the familiy had been for a few hundred years. They diffinitely had bragging rights, but somehow Olive never felt at home. To start with she renamed herself. Her mother had let her cousin pick her name. Olive Lillian. And at an early age she renamed herself Peggy. As the last of Lysander Leroy's children by his third wife... Olive suffered little. The best schools, the best playmates, nice things to wear. Olive suffered little. Still as she matured she longed for things she couldn't have in Eastern New York. A real career, adventure, something besides the dull satisfaction of having things given to you. The reward of earning your own way as a woman in the early 1900's.
It was hard for Peggy to stay in a small town environment but there were distractions. Big cities like Buffalo were not far away, Bliss had its own series of celebrations include Uncle Barber taking kids for hay rides dressed up more as Uncle Tom (blackface included) than Uncle Barber, and there was always, always the amazing beauty of nature. When people think of New York they think New York City and miss Niagara Falls and Castile's own Letchworth State Park. Letchworth is considered the Grand Canyon of the East with falls stretching for miles.
With all this beauty there has to be a beast. The flu Pandemic of 1918 killed discriminately. Leaving the old and very young, but gutting the energy and life of young adults. Peggy's sister Lucy was one of those to succomb to the disease. In October of 1918, Lucy past from life. In the days of no antibiotics and spotty medical care it was common for the very young to die, but in the early 1900's not so common for a vibrant healthy adult. It is not known if this is why the family had a strong connection to Dr Green's Sanitarium, but it must have played on Peggy's drive to go out and see the world. Life could be so short, it must be lived.
Dr Green's Sanitarium
The term for a hopital was sanitariumIn in the early history of mass administered health care. It is no wonder that these places quickly gained the reputation of places of torture and death. Some of the first health care institutions focused on one or two diseases. Tuberculosis (TB), Leprosy, and mental illness became synonyms for a one way ticket to the sanitarium. Dr Green's Sanitarium took on extra duties to counter balance the stark reality of the business of mass administration of health care and death. During at least one war it became a gathering place for volunteer workers to assist in the medical support of the war effort. During World War One they took on the duties of wrapping care packages and bandages for the United States Troups in France. Peggy's sisters helped. Volunteering was popular as a way to get together, socialize, and assist our young boys in uniform. Peggy couldn't help but pitch in. Research has not shown if it was a common practice to encourage wounded soldiers to focus away from the horror of war, or just Peggy's practice. She included her name and address in at least one bandage roll that was sent to the front lines in France. This one roll would change her life forever.
Part III Finale to A Short Romance - in about a week.