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Ages ago, Ponce de Leon sought renewal of youth in sun-drenched Florida where summer spends its winter vacation, but his quest was futile because be hunted for mythical waters, which, by their virtues, could lift the mantle of extreme maturity from shoulders where it bad rested for score of years.
Signor de Leon, a veteran of innumerable birthdays, still possessed the impetuosity of youth. He demanded immediate results. Like Aladdin, he wished to rub a wishing lamp and have his dearest desires granted. He could not wait until the morrow or the morrow's morrow. He wished the feebleness and on-rushing senility-the products of many years of active life upon this earth-to be washed away like a coating of dust. What had been decades and decades in the making, Ponce de Leon would have dissipated as quickly as a child collapses a toy balloon with a pin prick.
Gold was gold to de Leon. He was not attracted by the glow and luster of less valuable metals. So in profound disgust, he sailed away from Florida's fair shores to shake hands with death. For Florida offered strength, vigor, robustness and the revived spirit of adolescence in an unusual form. Ponce de Leon and his cavalcade of aged courtiers and adventurers missed finding the Prize because they did not recognize it in its subtle disguise.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans and many of our overseas cousins annually find in Florida renewed strength, he had vigor and well-being, which the Spanish searchers of more than four centuries ago overlooked. The most equable temperatures of any dominion under the sun, a land blessed with a preponderance of smiling skies, a country which is far removed from the icy blasts of winter, a territory free from heat prostrations and the evil effects of extreme proximity to sunshine's furnace room, Florida is a land of refuge where old age can lengthen its span of life by a half-dozen or a dozen or a score of milestones by accepting its opportunities in the nick of time.
In traveling the most of the 55,000 square miles which compose Florida's expansive map, your writer has seen the working of modern miracles-adventures in life salvage and suffering surcease such as no other section of the New World can guarantee. Invalids by the hundreds have journeyed to Florida to die in the land of sunshine—and have remained to live and regain their health and strength. "The state of merciful and miraculous recoveries"-it is but an appropriate name for Florida which by the power of her climate and healthy environments has healed and mended where medical science north of freezing weather had failed.
If the Carnegie Institution or the Rockefeller Foundation or any other philanthropical establishment took upon itself the duty of rewarding our various states for their annual consummations in the rescue of human lives, Florida would list at the forefront among the successful candidates. For Florida is the best prescription known to modern medicine for many of our ills and ailments. Cures have been worked more wonderful than any wrought by drugs. Victories have been won in saving lives which seemed lost. The outstanding accomplishments of skilled surgery have even been eclipsed by the achievements which climate has effected in our most southerly state.
Now, please do not read between the lines of this article and infer that Florida is a state where accredited doctors starve and where dentists and nurses have to turn to day labor as a means of livelihood. Sicknesses occur in Florida as elsewhere. The notifiable diseases run their course there as elsewhere. Pests appear. Pestilences, sometimes, develop. But the alleviating influences of equable climate, the disinfecting advantages of pure sunshine and the healing effects of properly attuned weather take the crucial sting from these ailments of mankind. The mortality rate in Florida is low. The all around health record is high. Statewide statistics show, in some instances, a large number of sick people. In the main, most of these are invalids from other states who have migrated to Florida as America's most efficacious health resort. Serious disease and sickness are rare among the Floridian families of high standards of living which have resided in the Peninsular State for some years.
Florida is a factory for the rejuvenation of youth. By this, it is meant that a decrepit old man is changed overnight into an active college athlete. Do not imagine that our grandfather who hobbles about today with a cane or crutch can journey down to Florida and go out and run five miles along the beaches as soon as the inimitable tinge of climatic revampment improves his tissue, texture and thinking powers. Such transformations are not worked in a minute or a moon's age. But few months in Florida will restore your venerable relative to the ruggedness of health which he boasted before his birthdays passed the half century mark. His appetite will return, his walk will be brisk, he will sleep nine hours every night, he will take interest in fishing, golf, horseshoes and amusements. He will forget about his former aches and pains.
Roger Babson says that the longevity of the average American could be extended at least ten years if he were to spend his winters in sunswathed Florida far from the reign of snowdrifts, icicles and violently fluctuating temperatures. A moderate, equable climate is an efficient breeder of longevity. Coughs and colds, throat diseases and pulmonary troubles are chiefly the products of sections and cities where the thermometer undergoes gyrarations as remarkable as those of a circus acrobat. More deaths result from the capers of the mercury in your front porch thermometer than from any other single cause—viewing the American mortality records in their broad-faced aspects. In the land of stabilized temperatures—the sun is the scientist which has accomplished these results—diseases of the nose, throat, lungs and respiratory tract are minimum. Man in such a climate gains protection from one of his greatest enemies.
Your writer has seen invalids come to Florida on stretcher and in wheel chairs. Several months later, he has played golf with these same persons. He has noted marvelous cures of rheumatic complaints. Sunshine in time puts the seat into sciatica and gives gout the gate. One basic reason for the remarkable cures which are worked in the land of palms and palmettos is because the people live most of the time out-of-doors. Florida is the state of screened dining and sleeping porches. Doors and windows are wide open or ajar twelve months in the year. Pure air is everywhere. Even the stores and shops, business establishments and factories have open-faced entrances and airy exposures.
You will walk for blocks through some of Florida's towns and cities and not find a single solid store front. The majority of them are nothing more than extendable metal screens or steel-barred curtains which are pulled into place each evening at closing time and opened wide again the following morning.
On all sides, healthy recreation in sunshine and shade invites you to taste their joys. In amusement parks, old and young, rich and poor, toss horseshoes, play rogue, shuffleboard, bowl on the green or sit under moss-festooned trees and play dominoes, cribbage, chess, checkers and various card games out in the open with foliage-studded ceilings overhead. Twelve hundred miles of salt water frontage and 600 varieties of fish provide opportunity for every branch of maritime sport. Tropical jungles and palmetto scrub intrigue nimrods and expedite field sports. There is not a pastime or physical diversion of a warm weather climate but that has had its devotees in Suniland.
You can acquire and retain the acme of physical health in Florida. Climate is the best health insurance that runs in that southern state. And despite that people from every state in the country throng there daily, outbreaks of contagious and infectious diseases introduced from other sections of the country are very rare. Florida is a melting pot where our physical ailments are filtered away. If we will but live lives of moderation and fortitude south of the snow line, we can markedly extend the span of our years and day by day enjoy conservative pleasures such as no other locality fords. But you cannot run wild without a rudder or pilot in Florida any more than you can in Michigan, Alaska or Arkansas. If you will but capitalize on the climatic overtures of Florida and use them for your personal benefit, America's total of healthy grandmothers and grandfathers will be vitally increased. The scythe of Father Time will become coated with rust and his annual harvest will be scant as grass on a drought-stricken stock ranch.
Let us take the time to study a few of Uncle Sam's health reports in order to ascertain where Florida stands as a statistical center of well-being and freedom from physical suffering. To begin with, it is notable that the Florida State Health Department, with headquarters at Jacksonville, cooperates actively with U. S. Public Health Service in the control of disease and the improvement of our sanitary living conditions. For example, Florida is fighting one of the most determined sieges against malignant mosquitoes which have ever been written into history. This pest of the biting insect world is being backed toward oblivion in a state which teems with lakes, rivers and inland waterways which provide ideal conditions for its multiplication.
Mosquito control campaigns have been conducted successfully in many sections. By drainage drives and by the distribution of oil and other preventives on waterlogged breeding grounds, the swan song of the buzzing mosquito is being sung. The state authorities have made arrangements with public garages all over Florida to save the oil which they drain from the crankcases of motor cars. The oil is used to rid mosquitoes from those neighborhoods. It is spread over contaminated water by state and county workmen. Experiments conducted by the Government in the Mississippi Delta country have demonstrated the efficacy of the use of aircraft for fighting mosquitoes from on high. Powdered poisons are scattered from airplanes speeding over lakes, ponds and puddles. These poisons when diluted in water spell extinction to existent mosquito larvae and their adult parents. Unquestionably, airplane campaigns against mosquitoes will be instituted in Floridian swamps and marshes close to towers and cities in the future.
The following data are taken from the health records registered in Uncle Sam's archives for the leading towns and cities in different states. They are most flattering to Florida and show that the Flamingo State is the healthiest in the entire country so far as total cases of illness and disease and all around mortality records are concerned. Take the matter of whooping cough for instance, an infantile complaint which sometimes includes adults among its long list of victims. The latest records of the U. S. Public Health Service show that there were 18 cases of whooping cough in Tampa and 8 in Miami. These 26 cases are insignificant as compared with the 942 cases in 20 California cities and 2,181 cases in 35 Illinois towns and cities. For the same year, 43 towns and cities in New York State report a total of 2,854 cases of whooping cough.
Residents of Miami reported three cases of typhoid fever during a recent twelve months. During the same period, 20 California cities suffered from a total of 86 cases of typhoid fever, seven cities in Georgia recorded 30 cases, 29 Illinois cities listed 159 cases and the leading cities of New York State registered 224 cases of the same disease. Florida is also remarkably free from tubercular patients. West Palm Beach during a recent year recorded 21 cases while Miami and Tampa were wholly free of this disease. California had 875 official cases of tuberculosis, Illinois, 359, and New York, 1,487 for the same period. Kentucky, Louisiana, and Maryland were the only other residential states which had records as remarkable as Florida in freedom from tuberculosis of the human family.
California had 66 cases of small pox, New York, 69 cases, and Illinois, 52, during the same year that Florida reported only five cases. Idaho, Kentucky New Jersey and North Dakota rivaled Florida in temporary immunity from smallpox visitations. Long Beach and Bakersfield, California, had 23 cases of septic sore throat the same year that Miami and Tampa reported a total of five cases * Amsterdam, New York, had 76 cases the same year, Arlington, Massachusetts, 71 cases, and Austin, Texas, 25. The last year of record, Miami and Tampa had seven cases of scarlet fever. Twenty cities of California report 95 cases for the same period. Thirty-five Illinois cities had 172 cases and the leading cities of New York State, 22 cases.
Twenty-three California cities suffered from 482 cases of pneumonia during the same year that the leading municipalities of Illinois and New York respectively had 1514 and 3,819 cases. West Palm Beach was the only Florida city to have many pneumonia cases that same year. Its total was 23 sick and most of these were sick tourists who came from the North. Miami had two cases of mumps, the same year, whereas California cities of comparable size reported 806 cases, almost as many as the 930 in Illinois. New York State cities recorded 2,065 cases for the same period. The national roster also shows only three cases of measles in Florida at a time when California had 70 cases, Illinois, 194, and New York, 140.
The mosquitoes are probably the chief cause of debilitating illness in Florida. West Palm Beach, Miami and Tampa reported 58 persons sick with malaria during a recent cycle of our calendar. Georgia suffered with 239 cases that same year, while Mississippi had 2,136 malarial invalids and California, 43. During the last influenza epidemic, Miami and Tampa had 105 cases. Seventeen California cities cited 1.524 cases at the same time, six cities in Georgia suffered from 1,524 cases, Mississippi reported 3,909 influenza invalids, Illinois had 383 cases and New York, 4,441. There were seven cases of diphtheria when California had 101, Georgia 30, Illinois, 162, New York, 230, and Ohio, 176 cases. Florida had six cases of dengue when Georgia had 41, Mississippi 142, Texas 28 and Louisiana 15 cases. Eleven were ill with chickenpox in Florida when California had 1,264 cases. Florida had two cases of cerebrospinal meningitis when California had 46 cases, Georgia 12, Illinois 53, Massachusetts 105, New York 95.
Just to show that the foregoing statistics were typical of Florida's supremacy in health records, the writer also otters excerpts from a national survey of any other year. From that year there were 607 deaths in the United States due to cerebrospinal meningitis. The total mortality in Florida was 9, while California had 63, Illinois 70, New Jersey 60, Massachusetts 58 and South Carolina 38 deaths from this disease. Florida had a total of 510 cases of diphtheria against 3082 in California 11,504 in Illinois, 20 475 in New York, 16,237 in Pennsylvania, 16,096 in Mississippi, 1,493 in Georgia and 1,096 in Mississippi.
The comparative state figures on influenza cases for the same twelve months were as follows: California 2 565, Illinois 2,574 Mississippi 4,920, Virginia 10,973, New York 3.812 and Florida 649 cases. That year there were 84 influenza deaths in Florida as against 339 in California, 592 in Illinois, 1,624 in Pennsylvania and 767 in New York. Florida bad 994 cases of malaria the same year that Mississippi reported 121,207 cases, Georgia 2,370, Arkansas 6,360, Texas 49,241, Virginia 3,806 and Louisiana 2,306 cases.
During a year when California had 10,983 residents sick with the measles—Florida had 775 ill with the same complaint while Illinois reported 26,317 cases, New York 63,865, Pennsylvania 48,773, Georgia 1,637 and Mississippi 3,215 cases. Six deaths from measles occurred in z Florida that year and 127 in California. The latter state recorded 3,216 deaths from pneumonia for the same twelve months while the fatalities in Florida aggregated 556. New York suffered 10,605 deaths, Pennsylvania 12,090, Georgia 1,382 and Louisiana, 1,393 deaths from pneumonia that same year. Florida and Georgia had the lowest death rate of any state in the Union per 1,000 of population that same year. There were eight cases of infantile paralysis in Florida as compared with 282 in California 1,149 in New York, 678 in Illinois, 706 in Minnesota and 480 in Michigan.
The State scoreboard on scarlet fever also favors the Florida climate and location. Florida reported only 146 cases one year whereas California had 3,044, Illinois 11,328, New York 15,211, Ohio 9,166, Georgia 733 and Mississippi 538 cases. Florida had the least cases of 35 of our leading states, and had a very low death rate. California had 5,581 cases of smallpox; Florida reported only 1,351 cases, while Minnesota had 9,375 and Illinois 8,536 cases. The tuberculosis death record shows 951 in Florida, 5,427 in California, 10,719 in New York and 8,104 in Pennsylvania. There were 518 cases of typhoid fever in Florida when California had 1,171 cases, Georgia 1,294, Mississippi 5,333, Louisiana 1,253, Alabama 2,019, and Virginia 3,675 cases. Such other diseases as typhus fever, rabies in man, pellagra, goiter and other serious ailments are practically unknown in our southernmost state.
Jarvis, Justin. "Health and Happiness - Florida Twins."
Suniland, Nov. 1925, Vol. 3, No. 2. Pgs. 70 - 73; 142
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