Family struggled through scarlet fever, diphtheria |

Family struggled through scarlet fever, diphtheria

Immigrant Stories
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Vera Diemoz

Vera Diemoz was born Vera Montover. Her parents emigrated to western Colorado from northern Italy in 1908. The family struggled through some difficult times. Here Vera describes the family’s worst hard time.

Diemoz: In 1925 I lost my two sisters to scarlet fever and diphtheria. We all had it, everyone except my mother and my brother and my dad. It was awful hard. We were quarantined for 30 days. We couldn’t have anybody come in, and we didn’t have a telephone to call for groceries. Mr. Ping was our mayor. He came over and stood outside by the road and asked us what he could do for us.

He called up the telephone company and asked that a phone be installed in our house. When the telephone installer came he couldn’t come in so he mounted the phone on a piece of board outside and handed it through the window. My brother took it and hung it on the wall. Then we had a way to communicate.

We would call Mr. Ping or our friend, Mr. Thompson, and they would go get our groceries and bring them to the house. They would always bring us a sack of candy. We looked forward to that.

Gallacher: Were other people getting sick?

Diemoz: Oh, yes, there were other people in the community that had it. We were quarantined right away so I think there were only two other children at our school that had it.

It was a terrible time, and I still have an ache in my heart from it. We couldn’t have anybody come in to our house. The mortician couldn’t come in. So my mother dressed my little sister for burial. I helped her. We laid her out on the couch. And then the mayor and another fella came over with his pickup. They couldn’t come in so I had to help carry the casket out and put it on the bed of the truck.

And so then when my other sister died three days later it was the same thing. I helped mom dress her and I helped carry her casket out. My brother and my dad went up the hill to the cemetery while mom stayed with us kids. They had to stay quite a distance from where they were buried. They couldn’t get near anyone, and people from the community couldn’t come for the burial for fear of the sickness.

That has stayed with me all these years. That is why I always say “love your children” because to see a little child taken from you in that way is a very sad thing. I cannot go to a child’s funeral to this day.

Gallacher: How old were you?

Diemoz: I was about 14 years old. It was sad. It was very, very sad. I felt so bad for my mother. She was pregnant with my baby sister at the time. But like she said, “Life has to go on.”

Gallacher: How did you get through that?

Diemoz: We all just stayed close together and held hands and prayed. My mother always had us kids pray every night before we went to bed and we thanked the good Lord for what we had every morning when we got up. Mother would always make sure that we did.

But it’s like they say, “The Lord doesn’t give you a cross any heavier than you can carry.”

Gallacher: Well that was a very heavy one.

Diemoz: Yes, that was a heavy one. I told mother at the time, “God didn’t do right by taking those two little girls away from you.” And mother said, “Now, we can’t condemn God for this. It is just one of those things that happens.”

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