Pandemic Memories

I had two wonderful grandmothers growing up but no grandfathers. My father’s father, Frank, died when I was too young to remember him and my mother’s father, Adam Schramm, died decades before I was born. Frank died of old age; Adam died in the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918.

Adam and Grandma Elizabeth had six children in 1918, the youngest just a baby. They lived in a house built by Adam, a carpenter, in 1900, in the Troy Hill community, a German community, overlooking Pittsburgh. My mother was 13 when her father died, her older brother was in training to become a priest, which he would be.

Grandma, a young widow, had to leave her beloved home for a smaller house in another part of Pittsburgh but with some help from her older brothers, both parish pastors, the family survived with the children becoming fine adults.

Growing up, my brother, sister and I were always told that Adam had died of pneumonia. It was only later we learned the pneumonia was brought on by that pandemic flu. About 18 years ago, my brother and I, doing genealogy work on our family, visited family places in Pittsburgh. We were invited into the Troy Hill house by its present owners, who were restoring it. With us was our Aunt Ethel, the baby when her father died.

Inside we saw the carpentry artistry of Grandpa Adam, especially with his intricate work on each of its fireplaces. We saw the bedroom where our mother and her younger siblings were born and where Adam died – and was then laid in repose in the parlor. We were then connected in a special way with our grandfather.

Sadly, my grandmother’s story is being repeated today as so many people are dying now from Covid-19. Statistics are necessary but they don’t tell the story of the great losses being experienced by so many families today. We need to pray for them and to help them where we can.

Mel Maurer

Mel Maurer is a retired Manager of Administrative Quality and Distribution for the Boston Weatherhead Division of Dana Corporation. During his 43 years with Dana, He held management positions in Accounting, Information Technology and Administrative Quality and Dsitribution. Mr. Maurer’s civic duties when working included being a member of the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce serving as Chairman of the Government Relations Division and serving as host of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Roundtable. He was also member of the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce - Government Affairs Committee and a member of the U.S. Chamber’s Public Affairs Committee. He also served as a member of the Williamson County Economic Development Showcase Committee, a member of the Tennessee Association Of Business Public Affairs Committee; a member of the Policy Board of Directors for INROADS/NASHVILLE INC. and a member of the Board of Directors of the Williamson County Heart Association. He wrote columns on government affairs for the Chamber Newsletter and the Nashville Multiple Sclerosis Association. He chaired the Williamson County Toys For Tots (T4T) Campaign and chaired the Government Relations Committee of the Middle Tennessee MS Society. In his retirement, he is a member of the Government Relations committee of the Buckeye Chapter of the MS Society and a 2007 enductee into the National MS Society’s Volunteer Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the “Faces of Westlake” in 2007. He is past president of the Cleveland Civil War Roundtable, now its Historian, and past president of the Philosophical Club of Cleveland and a member of the Titanic Historic Society. He is the 2009 Charirman of Westlake’s Charter Review Committee. He also writes articles for various organizations and speaks on a variety of topics. He has had more than 500 “Letters to Editors” printed in a number of newspapers and magazines including: Time, Readers Digest, USA Today, The Plain Dealer, The Sun Press, The Nashville Tennessean, The New Republic and others. He is also a published poet. He has hosted over 50 hours of TV shows broadcast on on cable in Cleveland and other cities in Northeast Ohio and has appeared in two plays presented by the Civil War Roundtable and one at the Huntington Playhouse. Mr. Maurer received a Bachelor of Science degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. He and his wife, Elaine, live in Westlake, Ohio. They have four children, eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter. His interests include writing and speaking on community affairs, charitable causes, history, political issues and personal experiences.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 10:38 AM, 06.02.2020