The Way We Were, Passover, and other striking similarities

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As a break to all the vital announcements and pronouncements day to day in the last three weeks, we have all started to watch some movies on TV for a mental break...

Oh, look! Here are three unusual characters prancing around with a little girl, arm in arm, speaking loudly in each other's face!  And then a huge world of midgets swarming around and filling the screen.  This was The Wizard of Oz.  Wonderful times.  And in view of the current 'social distancing' rules, looking back at how we all interacted with each other... is rather shocking.

The Way We Were

Top photo above was taken in my favorite pastry shop in Winter Park about two months ago.  Here we were crowded and nearly shoulder to shoulder.  Amazing!  We loved it.  A lot of fun!  If we have to continue staying away each other much longer I think we will have a spate of psychological problems on top of the pending economic ones, which now seem to be looming larger.

Here are some of the folks in the first photo above three days ago, outside Croissant Gourmet in the median:

While outside is a nice spot to be on a good day and we have a lot of those in Florida, it will get hot and muggy soon and air conditioning would be great.  But, only three are allowed inside at any time for take-out.  Things are getting tough for the defiant.  We may have a mandatory mask edict coming soon here in Florida.  What will happen if it snows?


I wonder if it occurred to a few others that the medical team modeling COVID-19 were warning with great solemnity that THIS week the deadly effects of the virus would strike us.  Most have been waiting for the worst, cowering in fear that we too would be struck.  Much as the Hebrews were told to mark their doorposts with the blood of a slaughtered spring lamb in order to be 'passed over' by the wrath of God who killed the firstborn of Egypt, it seems we all have been hoping to be spared as well!

Other Similarities of COVID-19 to the European/Asian Black Plague

  • According to Wikipedia, the Black Death of October 1347 arrived in Sicily with nearly all the sailors infected or dying from infected rats who were transported via the Silk Route from 'eastern Asia'.   COVID-19 has been traced to Wuhan, China as the source.
  • In Venice, the authorities imposed a quarantine (a 40 day isolation) on the boats docking there but the rats made it into town and spread northward all the way to the northern Europeans.  Cruise ships have been put on quarantine and sailors on warships have been infected.  Even those arriving on airplanes from infected areas have been quarantined for two weeks.
  • Italy was the first European country to absorb the infestation.  Their population was decimated and the continent was met with repeated bouts of the plague.  Italy was the first country to report high levels of morbidity and now it is reported that the United States was initially infected from those traveling back and forth to Europe, especially from Italy. 
  • The rumors of a "Great Pestilence" had circulated in Europe.  In fact in the early 1340's the disease had taken hold of China, India, Persia, Syria and Egypt.  Iran has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19, but China is reporting very few deaths per capita.  Warnings of a pandemic hitting the United States were circulating as late as last year and were foreshadowed by medical academics for several years now.
  • It was reported during the Black Plague that one could go to sleep at night and be dead in the morning.  COVID-19 is also a fast working disease that can incapacitate and kill quickly, over a matter of days with weak underlying conditions.
  • The Black Plague was slower to spread than COVID-19 as it took over a year or two to fully affect Europe.  We don't know exactly how long the current virus has been in our midst but it may be that millions of people carried it out of China as early as November of last year, which means the infection spread much quicker despite our modern sanitation, etc.
  • The Black Plague was most effective in the large cities of Europe, striking the port cities of Marseilles, Venice, Tunis, London, and then Lyon, Paris, Rome, etc.   The current virus has hit the port cities of the United States before the interior.  New York, New Jersey, Miami, Los Angeles, and Seattle first experienced the deleterious effects.
  • Those not infected in Europe during the Black Plague could not understand nor treat the disease.  The healthy avoided the sick, doctors did not treat patients, priests would not perform last rites, stores were closed.  Fleeing to the countryside did not help much as the plague struck animals as fast as humans.  Now we are 'social distancing' as this has proved effective.  Large gatherings are prohibited throughout the world, including worship services and sports events, theaters, and other venues where large numbers congregate.  We do not see evidence of transmission from humans to animals but the reverse is theorized originating in 'wet markets' in Wuhan, China.  While the large dense urban areas have seen the worst cases, initially people tried to move away to country estates or second houses outside the area.  There is no doubt that decentralization is an effective strategy against the spread of the virus.
  • It was thought that divine retribution against mankind was the reason the Black Plague was released and a religious fervor spread to include even self-flagellation as a sign of penance for sins.  We know that this is a disease that can be prevented to some degree and even 'cured' by a possible medical vaccine.  The only flagellation evident is between news organizations and politicians blaming each other!
  • The Black Death ravaged the world for almost 20 years until the early 1350s and made recurring visits every 5 to 20 years.  Hopefully, this COVID virus will be stopped soon and medical treatments made available readily in order to stop deaths and inoculate the living against future infections.  We pray that the mortality does not reach anywhere close to the 1918 influenza pandemic.
  • During the 1918 Spanish Flu, masks were issued to public safety personnel, including police.  Mass hysteria was feared.  Citizens were told to stay away from congested areas and to protect themselves in their homes.  Office workers were instructed to wear masks during the workday.  We are seeing the same strategy now.
  • Nurses and other medical personnel were spread thin fighting the Spanish Flu and an act of Congress approving $1 million in Oct. 1918 was required to enlist more nurses.  We have seen a scarcity of medical doctors and nurses throughout the world as they try valiantly to combat COVID-19.    
  • Mass transit conductors did not allow passengers to board trams without facemasks during the Spanish Flu.  The trend in the United States is to order all citizens to wear masks everywhere they go outside of their homes. 
  •  Unlike any previous pandemic, technology has allowed many of us to keep working and communicating.  If not for televised and cable news, social media via the internet, texting, email, and video streaming, we would be even more isolated and feel cut off from the world around us.  We are fortunate that we have modern means to keep in touch with minute to minute news in this country and around the world.  We can have doctors assess our symptoms through video interaction.  Has our sacrifice been that great to ward off such a potentially catastrophic event?

The most ironic aspect of the current pandemic is that no modern scientific medical breakthrough has been able to quell the spread of the virus.  We are basically told to stay away from each other!  There is really nothing 'high tech' about this edict from the medical community.  This is what eventually slowed the spread of the Black Plague and stopped the Spanish Flu.

Preventatives are being developed/tested at this moment to treat early signs and lower the chances of morbidity.  The final irony is that, if proven medically sound through agonizingly slow testing, we will have had at least a simple answer to COVID-19 in a malaria drug used for over 50 years... that could have been administered worldwide at the very beginning!


So I leave everyone with good wishes and a nice snappy tune to keep the spirits up...  enjoy, because you may never hear a ditty like this in a similar venue for several months or years to come(!)

here is another version for a replay!

whoa!  people eating dinner together, dancing, AND listening to this song!!

one more with Ray Coniff and a tribute to Frankie boy.  check out the crowd:


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Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello John - a bit of a different journey than I might expect but well-worth the read.  

Apr 12, 2020 06:32 PM #1
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hi, Michael Jacobs I had found a photo of the morning gang in my phone and was amazed at the close quarters.  I had taken another picture recently and compared.  I also had the thought of Passover being a similar modern deathly threat of the virus to many of us.  The other research was built on a few obvious similarities and then I dug a little deeper.  I had to end on a bright note!!  Thanks for looking into my rantings...

Apr 13, 2020 05:01 AM #2
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, John, for sharing this historical perspective.

Be safe and have a good week.

Apr 13, 2020 10:44 AM #3
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Perspective is always important, and history is a great way to see it.  Wishing you a great week ahead. A

Apr 13, 2020 12:44 PM #4
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi John Henry, Florida Architect - I have been watching Youtube on both of these plagues.  Things are different but things are the same.

Apr 14, 2020 07:53 AM #5
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hello Roy Kelley  Glad you liked some of the history of these pandemics!

Hello Ron and Alexandra Seigel  Thank you for taking a look at the historic breakdown.  I still can't believe that over 800 years after the Black Plague, we are told to pretty much do the same thing now that quelled the outbreak back then.

Hi Grant Schneider It is pretty interesting how both started in the 'far East', affected Italy first and then port cities, etc. and that we just need to stay away from each other in order not to get infected.  hmmm

Apr 14, 2020 11:35 AM #6
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