Don’t Get It

Don’t Get It February 13, 2007

I have spent much of my free time the over the last week serving as research assistant in the Social Studies efforts of my 8-year-old, Sammy.

Sam had to do a project on an ancient city, including a timeline, and one other assignment. He could choose between making a model of the ancient city and writing a newspaper article as if he lived in the city during an important time in history.

Venice was the choice.


I do not know.

I didn’t even know that he knew Venice was a city. And I am not absolutely certain, but I do not think that when I was eight I said things like, “I’m really interested in Venice because of the system of canals in the city.”

Strange child.

My greatest fear in all of this was that Sam, having chosen Venice as his city, would also insist on making a model of the ancient city. I was trying my very best to envision how we might make a canal and successfully transport it in the van all the way to school.

To my great relief, Sam chose instead to write a newspaper article . . . because he thought it was so interesting that half the city of Venice died in 1629 from the Black Plague. Sam was deeply intrigued, for example, that if you get the Plague your fingers will turn black and rot off.

(Quality education. That’s what I am celebrating tonight. And, you know, come to think of it, I’ll bet we could have come up with something resembling a canal . . .).

Nevertheless, Sam worked very hard on his article, keeping the Washington Post close at hand while he wrote, just to make sure he got the newspaper style correct. Sam even included a few pictures, shown below, with captions he wrote for ease of understanding (just in case you couldn’t tell that all the people lying around in the background were actually dead).

My favorite line in the article is reflected in the title of this blog entry, but I’ll let you make your own judgements because Sam gave me permission to reprint his article here. Enjoy . . .

The Venice Post

Wednesday, June 19, 1629
Half of Population Dead from Plague
City Struggles to Survive
By Sam Butler
Piney Branch Third Grader

VENICE, June 19.

Venice Hit by Plague
The city of Venice has been hit by the Plague. So far in this plague, half the people in the city have died. People are dying, people are losing their houses and all the leaders are leaving the city. Venice has been a very rich city because of trade with Asia. The leaders of Venice are worried that the city will grow poor because of the Plague.

Spreading of the Plague
The spreading of the Plague started because of rats and fleas who came to Venice on ships. If infected animals bite you they have germs and the germs make you sick and have the Plague. It can spread from one person to another if you touch each other or cough on each other.

How You Know You Have the Plague
You know you have the Plague if you have a fever, chills, diarrhea, headaches, and swelling. If you get the plague you have a 50% chance to live, so don’t get it.

How Venice Responds
To try to stop the Plague, the city is handling cleaning of the city, blocking off neighborhoods, setting up special hospitals and burying the infected dead with lime. Unfortunately, not even these actions are helping to stop the spread of the disease.
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