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Stomach bug from Christmas past
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I remember how the Southern Standard almost didn’t get printed a few Christmases ago thanks to an ill-fated company party.

Now, let me point out the presses not running would be an historic event. We’ve been around since 1879 and, as far as I know, we’ve missed just one edition. That was back in 1929 when the place burned down. However, back in 2009, all that kept the presses running the day after Christmas were two staffers who weren’t able to attend.

Before you get all wild in your theories of what kind of party it was, let me point out this was a totally non-alcoholic gathering at my house on Christmas night. We sat around playing games and eating finger foods. The idea behind the party was a conversation in which it was pointed out no one ever does anything on Christmas evening. Everything about Christmas seems to be on the lead up and in the morning. It’s like Christmas evening is sometimes forgotten. So, with that in mind, we held a Christmas party at my home.
There was just one issue – my son, Henry, then just 2, wasn’t feeling well. He had been under the weather that week but not in a million years did we realize he was carrying the plague of plagues.

Anyway, we had a good time at our inaugural Christmas night party. Everyone patted Henry on the head as they left and everything seemed fine … until.

The first hint that anything was wrong was my oldest son, Jack, who began getting sick and doing all the nasty things people do when they’re sick. A few hours later, the phone started ringing with people who were at the party the night before reporting similar symptoms. My mom, who hadn’t been at the party but had seen Henry the day before called and reported it hit her too.

One by one, family and friends were reporting the illness, leaving just me, the iron horse as the sole survivor.

“You’re going to have to put the paper together,” I was told, given the fact James Clark was out of state visiting relatives over the Christmas holiday.

Not to brag, but I was prepared to do so single-handedly. Fortunately, one of our composing people did not come to the party so I figured I could just find her some news and we’d get the thing to the press and out the door. That is, until I felt the rumbly in the tummy a few minutes later.

“That’s not good,” I muttered as I felt my entire gut begin to contract. The rest, well, you don’t want to know the rest.

Anyway, the bug proved to be the most overpowering illness I’ve ever seen. Anyone who had been in contact with Henry became sick. It was 100 percent contagious and it laid everyone out for 48 hours.

Fortunately, Charlie Johnson was not feeling well the night of the party and didn’t come. He was able to pull enough news together and get the paper out.

Our inaugural Christmas-night party was our last Christmas night party.

Standard reporter Duane Sherrill can be reached at 473-2191.