Paul J. Burke

Pandemic Influenza Storybook

Storyteller: David P. Burke

Location: Masachusetts

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My father, Paul J. Burke, grew up in Waltham, Massachusetts. He was a senior in high school during the 1918 pandemic flu event. Paul had a part–time job selling snacks on railroad trains. These were local trains and during that time, there were not many cars on them. Sometimes he would work a train going through the station at Fort Devens. Fort Devens was a recruit training base. Paul remembered that sometimes the platform of the railroad station at Fort Devens would be stacked with the coffins of recruits who had died from the flu. My father did not get sick nor could he explain why his parents allowed him to work the trains during the pandemic.