I have found myself thinking of my father even more than usual since the Covid-19 pandemic started...like every time I wash my hands. My father was a very thorough hand washer, and he made sure we knew how to wash ours as well: soap and water, palms and backs, between each finger and above the wrist. For my whole life I thought he just didn't like his hands to be dirty.
But since the pandemic started, and the constant reminders to wash our hands, I've wondered if his habit had roots in instruction he had during the 1918 pandemic.
My father turned 8 years old in 1918. Now I can imagine that he might have had lessons on thorough hand washing in school. It could have been at home, but I think a school teacher would make more of a lasting impression. He also was never without a handkerchief...they were what I learned to iron on...but all men carried handkerchiefs, right?
Here's a public health poster from that pandemic that might tell us why all men carried handkerchiefs: