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Phillip Tutor: Shutting down Alabama, then and now

Fort McClellan influenza

Soldiers at Anniston’s Camp McClellan during World War I wear masks intended to help prevent the spread of influenza. The virus killed millions of people worldwide in a pandemic between 1918 and 1920. Credit: Photo courtesy of Public Library of Anniston-Calhoun County

D.C. Cooper, Oxford’s mayor, asked the city’s schools to close, and they did. J.L. Wikle, Anniston’s mayor, shut down everything he could: schools, churches, saloons, pool halls, vaudeville theaters, movie shows and restaurants. When the churches considered reopening, the local pastors’ union said no. That’s how bad it was.

Oxanna, that short-lived town between Anniston and Oxford, had one church; it closed. Out in the valley, Alexandria shuttered its school and churches. Camp McClellan, barely a year old, was locked down.

Phillip Tutor — — is a Star columnist. Follow him at