Randy Willis

“Gatsby hesitated, then added cooly: “He’s the man who fixed the World Series back in 1919.” FScott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby 
 
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Seven weeks before 1919 began, World War I ended. 
 
In 1919, Norman Saurage discovered the secret of making my all-time favorite coffee in Baton Rouge. He named it Community Coffee. 
 
In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, authorizing the prohibition of alcoholic beverages. 
 
In 1919, an influenza pandemic carried on, killing 675,000 people in the United States.
 
In 1919, Congress approved the 19th amendment to legalize women’s suffrage. The next year my seven-year-old mother received the right to vote when she came of age.  
 
In 1919, Arnold Rothstein paid members of the Chicago White Sox to lose the World Series deliberately 
 
In 1919 my all-time favorite sport’s hero, a baseball player, was born, Jackie Robinson.
 
And in 1919, my all-time hero was born, my father, Julian “Jake” Willis.
His biography—Fall, 2021. 
 
Randy Willis
 
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Nick tells Gatsby, “You can’t repeat the past,” Gatsby replies, “Why of course you can.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby 
 
http://www.threewindsblowing.com 
http://amazon.com/author/randywillis

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Randy Willis

The last time I saw Lady Bird Johnson was at the Headliners Club in Austin, Texas. This inscription is on the inside cover of her book, Wildflowers Across America. She had it hand-delivered to me at my home in Austin. The Texas bluebonnets in bloom this month remind me of her.

Note to Randy Willis from three generations of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s family: Lady Bird Johnson, Luci Baines Johnson, and Nicole Nugent Covert.

Randy Willis #randywillis

http://threewindsblowing.com

The Spanish Flu 1918 / Randy Willis

The Ole Willis Place

She was beautiful, charming, and graceful.

That would all fade within hours after exposure to the 1918 flu pandemic.

She was my Great-Aunt Eulah Rosalie Hilburn Willis. She died from the 1918 flu pandemic, aka The Spanish flu, on February 6, 1919. She was only 34.

Her daughter, Flossie Willis (the baby in the wagon photo), was my cousin and friend until her death in 1985. She told me her father and mother’s story, and I included in my book Destiny last year.

The plague lasted from January 1918 to December 1920.

It emerged in two phases. In the late spring of 1918, the first phase, known as the “three-day fever,” appeared without warning. Few deaths were reported. Victims recovered after a few days. When the disease surfaced again that fall, people had lost their fear of it, but this time it was devastating!

It is estimated that 500 million people or one-third of the world’s population became infected with the influenza virus. The number of deaths was estimated to be between 50 and 100 million worldwide, with about 675,000 occurring in the United States. Nearly 200,000 Americans died from the “Spanish Flu” in October 1918 alone.

In the United States, about 28% of the population of 105 million became infected. Today, that percentage could even be higher since social distancing is far more complicated.

The United States had been caught unprepared in 1918 for the outbreak partly because advances in bacteriology made many Americans believe they could control infectious diseases. At least that’s what the experts told the people.

The influenza epidemic of 1918 has been overlooked in the teaching of American history—until now.

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Photo: The Ole Willis Home Place, August 5, 1906, located near Amiable Baptist Church (near present-day Longleaf, Louisiana), on Barber Creek.

My Great-Uncle Robert Kenneth Willis Sr. (1877-1951) has the reins in his hands. Robert’s first wife Eulah Hilburn Willis (1884-1919), is in the backseat. She died in the influenza pandemic of 1918/19.

My Greatgrandmother Julia Ann Graham Willis (1845-1936) is holding a catfish and is standing next to the wagon. Robert and Eulah’s baby girl Flossie Litton Willis (August 5, 1905 – September 1985) is held by an unknown lady. Flossie told me before her death that this photo was taken on her first birthday.

The story of Eulah Hilburn Willis may be found in my novel Destiny https://www.amazon.com/Destiny-Randy-Willis/dp/1792724470

Eulah Hilburn Willis is buried in the Lecompte Cemetery in Rapides Parish, Louisiana.

Be safe…

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Randy Willis
www.ThreeWindsBlowing.com

Robert Kenneth Willis

Randy Willis #randywillis randywillis

For my four Grandchildren on Christmas Eve 2019 | Randy Willis

Randy Willis Grandkids Eyes

He was born in a little—known town in the country. He was fetched up by his parents in another village known for its unblemished lambs. Folks said nothing good would ever come out that hamlet.
 
He worked with his hands in a carpenter shop until he was thirty. The next three years He traveled as a country preacher.
 
He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never commanded an army. He never owned a home. He never went to college. He never traveled more than a couple hundred miles from the place where he was born.
 
While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. One friend denied him; another betrayed him. Most of His other friends abandoned him. The politicians rejected—the religious folks even hated him.
 
He was turned over to his enemies with a kiss. He went through the mockery of a trial—then nailed to a notorious prisoner named Barabbas’ cross between two thieves. His executors gambled for his only possession—his coat.
 
When he died, he was laid in a borrowed grave. He would not need one of his own for you see the next Sunday mornin’ He rose from the dead!
 
Today as we look back across the centuries and examine the evidence we must conclude that all the armies that ever marched, all the ships that ever sailed, all the governments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned and all the presidents that ever lead combined have not had the influence on mankind of that one Country Preacher.
 
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“I’ve learned much from seeing the world through the eyes of my grandchildren, for you know, it is written, “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~ Randy Willis
 
Excerpted from Destiny and Three Winds Blowing, two novels by Randy Willis.