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Not-so-good old days
Twenty-first century readers sometimes hear our ignorant peers express the desire to return to the times before Ebola, Aids, Mersa and other deadly disorders. They are so rare as to warrant news coverage each time they appear. What those folks forget is that people got sick and often died of diseases that today are barely mentioned, or are not considered as lethal as they were not so long ago. These items, which appeared in the Norway (Oxford County, Me.) Advertiser 80 years ago, provide us a glimpse in that era, not much more than a decade before penicillin became commonly available to civilians.
January 28, 1933:
Suoma A. Mackie
Suoma A. Mackie, seventeen year old high school student, died early Saturday morning in the Monmouth Memorial Hospital at Long Branch, N.J. She had been in the hospital less than three days with blood poisoning which spread from an infected tooth. She was an honor student in the Long Branch high school, a member of the Junior Woman's Club in Long Branch and a member of the Congregational church in Bridgton. Since childhood, her home has been with Mr. and Mrs. Charles P. Saunders of North Waterford.
She was beloved by a large circle of friends, both in Maine and New Jersey. The funeral was held Sunday afternoon at the home of Mrs. Fred P. Saunders, in Bridgton, and attended by her four sisters, three brothers, and a large circle of loving friends. There were many beautiful floral tributes as well as the comforting words spoken by three of her minister friends, Mr. Brandon and Mr. Bull of the Oxford County Larger Parish, in which she had been such a helpful worker, and Mr. Sherman, who received her into membership of the Bridgton church.
Mrs. Carrie Learned McAlister
After an illness of about two weeks of flu and pneumonia, Mrs. Carrie Learned, wife of Floyd McAlister, passed away, Jan. 14, at the home of her parents. She was born in Waterford, Sept. 20, 1912, and was the youngest daughter of Willis L. and Bertha (Holden) Learned.
Mrs. McAlister has always lived at home until her marriage in 1929, when they made their home in East Waterford. Mrs. McAlister is survived by her husband; her parents; two sisters, Maud, wife of Stanwood P. Nelson of East Stoneham; Josephine, wife of Roland N. McAlister of Fryeburg; and a small brother, Willis Preston, besides several aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends, to mourn their loss.
Funeral services were held at the home of her parents, Tuesday, Jan. 17th, at 2 o'clock, conducted by Rev. W. I. Bull. The floral tributes were many and beautiful. She was laid to rest in Elm Valley Cemetery, in South Waterford.
February 10, 1933:
Mrs. Hubert Mader and Infant Daughter Victims of Pneumonia
Mrs. Hubert Mader, 24, died of pneumonia at her home, Monday, February 6th, her year and seven months daughter, Irene Idella, having been buried the day before.
She was the daughter of Guy Strout and Mamie Lombard Strout. Her mother died when she was only an infant and she lived with her grandmother, who passed away, January 1932. She was married to Hubert Mader as Mamie A. Lombard, September 30, 1930, whom she leaves behind, also her father, Guy Strout of Westbrook and two aunts, Mrs. Lottie (Charles) Griffin of Skowhegan and Mrs. Minnie (Charles) Curran of Brewer, who are at the Lombard home at present. Funeral services were held Wednesday at 3 p. m. and interment was in Mountain View cemetery, Leach Hill, Casco.
February 17, 1933:
Death of Mrs. Ruth (Kneeland) Young and Son
Mrs. Ruth (Kneeland) Young passed away at her home in Bridgton, following an attack of pneumonia. She had been gaining and hopes were held out for her recovery. The case is an unusually sad one, as her young son died at about the same time, in the Maine General Hospital in Portland, following a mastoid operation.
Mrs. Young was born in South Waterford, March 5, 1906, the younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Warner Kneeland, and lived here until about fifteen years old. Several years ago she married Carlton Young of East Waterford, who survived her. She is also survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Warner Kneeland, a sister, Alice, wife of Earl Marr, and by four children. Both bodies were brought to Waterford, Sunday, and interment was in Elm Vale cemetery.
And gentle readers, these were not uncommon in any issue of the newspaper only 80 years ago. They are merely random selections. Although there are quite likely still people living who remember their unfortunate teen friend who died from an infected tooth, the newlyweds or the mothers and children who coughed to death within hours of each other — all to conditions that today are quite curable.
These were not isolated examples. Each weekly issue of the paper bore as many or more deaths of all ages.
We note that several deaths were brought on by pneumonia, infection and blood poisoning and were such common fatal disorders that they were noted only in passing. In 2013, we are so blasé, that the term "miracle drug" isn't even used to describe penicillin anymore. But to the Mackies, the Learneds, Kneelands, Youngs, Maders and the McAlisters, it certainly would have been a miracle had their loved ones survived. And who can doubt that the heartbreak of their survivors was every bit as moving as the death of a loved one is today — these feelings haven't changed.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.