Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Wednesday's Child: Louis Frederick Guyette

        Louis Frederick Guyette was born on July 25, 1917, a little more than three months after the United States entered World War I, in Brockton Hospital, Brockton, Massachusetts. He was the son of Felix Louis Guyette, a shoe operative, and Sarah Webster. He was their second child but their only surviving one (Felix and Sarah's first child, a son named Peter, had passed away in infancy from meningitis the previous year).
        During his short life, Louis resided with his parents at 51 Taber Ave, Brockton. Louis' uncle (Felix's older brother) Nelson also lived with them for a time.
        In the spring of 1918, the Public Health Service received a report from Kansas stating that there had been an unusually high number of severe influenza cases. At the time, influenza was not a reportable disease but the surprisingly high number of cases led Kansas to do so anyway. In May of that year, cases were being reported among young military men in Europe. Most recovered but some wound up developing a severe case of pneumonia and dying. Before long, influenza had spread to the civilian population. From there, cases began being reported in Asia, Africa, South America and further through North America. Influenza made it's way to Massachusetts in late August when a group of men in Boston were reported to have it. Before long, influenza had spread across the state, including Brockton. The death toll in both Brockton and the state rose rapidly. Among the victims was Louis' aunt (Felix's sister-in-law), Rose Hattie (Doucette) Guyette, whom passed away on October 4, 1918 after contracting pneumonia. She was 28 years old.
        During the pandemic, it was recommended if not demanded that citizens across the country wear gauze masks in order to protect themselves against infuenza. However, public officials did not realize at the time that influenza was a virus and that the masks offered no actual protection against it.  Quarantines were imposed in order to help prevent the spread of influenza. Buildings, such as churches, closed. Many services, such as the telephone and telegraph systems, mail delivery, and garbage pick-up, became unavailable across the country due to the large number of people out sick.
        The number of reported influenza cases began going down in November of 1918 as did the death toll, allowing for people to come out and celebrate the end of World War I, which officially ended November 11. Despite this, influenza still remained prevalent in Massachusetts throughout the spring of 1919 before finally beginning to subside in the following summer.
        Louis was preceded in death by his uncle (Felix's brother), Brockton police officer John Baptiste "George" Guyette, on November 29, 1919, when George was fatally shot through the heart by Pasquale Catrambone at 160 Summer Street, Brockton while responding to call of domestic violence.
        Louis passed away the following year on March 15. He had been attended to by Dr. H. J. Lupien since February 29. The cause of death was stated to be acute nephritis; perinephritic abscess contributed.
        Louis was interred two days later in Calvary Cemetery, Brockton.

Copyright © 2015, David J. McRae

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