In the winter of 1919-20, the Spanish Flu epidemic that had begun in January 1918 was still rampaging around the globe; by the end of 1920 it would kill as many as 50 million people worldwide. Although Pleasanton was still a farming town with a population of fewer than 500 residing within the town limits (1100 if one counts unincorporated parts of the township), it was still vulnerable to the outbreak--in part because of the town's position on a railway line.
The end of January brought a fresh outbreak, and Pleasanton's government and citizens responded with the best tools at their disposal. A safe and effective flu vaccine would not be developed until the 1940s, so the primary response was to minimize contact, keeping people out of enclosed public spaces such as schools and theaters.
Pleasanton Times, 31 Jan. 1920
SCHOOLS CLOSED BECAUSE OF FLU
NEARLY 150 WERE ABSENT WHEN ROLL WAS CALLED MONDAY MORNING
CHILDREN URGED TO STAY HOME
YOUNG DAUGHTER OF MR. AND MRS. A.B. SILVA DIES FROM PNEUMONIA
That influenza is more prevalent in this community than it has been since the beginning of the present epidemic is the assertion of Dr. J. Hal Cope, who stated yesterday that a number of new cases had developed since last week.
When the local grammar school convened last Monday morning for its week's work, 145 pupils were noted as absent. It is surmised that most of the pupils were kept home by parents who feared that the youngsters might be exposed to the disease by contact with other children. A consultation between the principal of the school and the board of trustees resulted in the dismissal of the classes for an indefinite period. The children were warned to go home and remain off the streets and other public places until all danger of contagion was over.
Charles Chicazola, proprietor of the Lincoln Theater, voluntarily closed the doors of his playhouse this week, declaring that he was a believer in the "Safety First" plan, and would not be instrumental in spreading the epidemic by permitting people to gather in his theater.
Whether or not the situation is deemed serious enough to warrant the closing of churches and other public gatherings remains to be seen. The Board of Town Trustees will meet Monday night, and it is probable that some action will be taken at that time on the report of the town's health officer.
First Death Occurred Yesterday
The first death within the limits of the town of Pleasanton occurred yesterday morning, when Loretta Silva, young daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Silva, passed away at the home of her parents on Second street.
Death was due to pneumonia, which came as an aftermath of influenza.
Deceased was 11 years old on the 29th day of last December and was a pupil in the Fifth Grade of the Pleasanton grammar school. She was an exceptionally bright child and was a favorite with all who knew her. She leaves behind her mother and father, a younger brother, Lloyd.
Funeral services will be conducted at 11 o'clock this (Saturday) morning at St. Augustine's Catholic church, interment at St. Augustine's cemetery.