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Quarantine!

At one time this word was heard quite often around Texas. I was recently reminded of
this fact by my son. He went to work for the County of San Saba the first of September.

About the first of October while visiting him, he told about helping to clean out one of
the old county barns. Going through some of the things stored there, they found some
old signs from 1940 stating:

“Anthrax Quarantine!
$500.00 Fine For Moving Livestock in or out of San Saba County.”

In 1940 $500.00 was a Lot of money.

San Saba wasn’t the only county under Anthrax Quarantine at that time. Many other
counties in central and south Texas were also under quarantine for Anthrax. Some
people said that the disease was brought into Texas by cattle imported from Mexico. By
the 1950’s most of the Anthrax had been eliminated from the US and Mexico. A herd of
cattle can be wiped out by Anthrax in a matter of weeks.

At one time the only people likely to be infected were butchers, farmers/ranchers,
sheepherders, wool handlers, and veterinarians. Now, since some mad scientist has
developed a method of producing the Anthrax spores by the billions in a laboratory, we
are all at risk of getting Anthrax.

So, what can we do? Probably the best thing you can do is try to build up your body’s
immune system, take vitamins, eat healthy meals, get plenty of exercise and fresh air.
This may not keep you from getting Anthrax, but your body will be in better shape to
fight it off if you do get it. At the first sign of any flu like symptoms see your
doctor for medication.

Anthrax wasn’t the only thing being quarantined in the 1940’s. In 1946 mother and I
rode to Cleburne with dad one morning as he came to work so that we could spend the
day with my grandmother. A couple of my aunts and several of my cousins were there.
One of my uncles, who had recently gotten out of the service, was there and wasn’t
feeling very well.

A doctor came out that morning to see my uncle and soon left. After lunch I was playing
in the front yard with my cousins when a car with some writing on the side stopped in
front of the house. A man got out of the car and started toward the house carring a large
cardboard sign. About halfway to the house he stopped and looked around at us children
playing in the yard, ages ranging from 4 to 7 years of age. Some younger children were
in the house. He finally went on up to the house and tacked the sign on the wall
near the front door and left.

On the way home that evening I asked mother who the man was that put the sign on the
house and what it was for.

That was the county doctor, she told me, and that was a quarantine sign that he had put
on the house. My uncle had polio.

Today I can just imagine what that county doctor was thinking as he saw all of the
children playing in the yard of the house he was getting ready to quarantine for
polio. So far, after 55 years, none of us have had the polio.

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Reccomended reading

Texas Tales
Life on the Farm