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  • feedwordpress 09:01:41 on 2018/11/09 Permalink
    Tags: , Florence Sabin, , immunology, , Necropolis, New Orleans, , , ,   

    “Francie, huddled with other children of her kind, learned more that first day than she realized. She learned of the class system of a great Democracy.”*… 

     

    yellow fever

    Engraving from a series of images titled “The Great Yellow Fever Scourge — Incidents Of Its Horrors In The Most Fatal District Of The Southern States.”

     

    Some people say New Orleans is haunted because of witches. Others say it’s haunted by vampires, or ghosts, or all those swamps. But if you were around between 1817 and 1905, you might say the city was haunted by death. And that death, in large part, was caused by yellow fever.

    Yellow fever was fatal. It was gruesome. And in epidemic years, during the months between July and October, it could wipe out 10 percent of the city’s population. Eventually, it earned New Orleans the nickname “Necropolis” — city of the dead.

    Yellow fever didn’t just kill. It created an entire social structure based on who had survived the virus, who was likely to survive it and who was not long for this world. And that structure had everything to do with immigration and slavery…

    The insidious way in which illness can shape society: “How Yellow Fever Turned New Orleans Into The ‘City Of The Dead‘.”

    * Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

    ###

    As we get our flu shots, we might send healing birthday greetings to Florence Rena Sabin; she was born on this date in 1871.  A pioneer for women in science; she was the first woman to hold a full professorship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and the first woman to head a department at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.  Relevantly to today’s post, at Rockefeller she founded the cellular immunology section, where she researched the body’s white blood cells reaction to tuberculosis infection.

    400px-Florence_Sabin_in_Rockefeller_lab source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:46 on 2016/11/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Graveyard Day, , , Necropolis, , railway, trains,   

    “When you’re dead, they really fix you up”*… 

     

    For 87 years, nearly every day, a single train ran out of London and back. It left from a dedicated station near Waterloo built specifically for the line and its passengers. The 23-mile journey, which had no stops after leaving London, took 40 minutes. Along the way to their destination, riders glimpsed the lovely landscapes of Westminster, Richmond Park and Hampton Court — no mistake, as the route was chosen partly for its “comforting scenery”, as one of the railway’s masterminds noted.

    How much comfort a route gives passengers isn’t a usual consideration for a train line. But this was no normal train line.

    Many of the passengers on the train would be distraught. The others — those passengers’ loved ones — be dead. Their destination: the cemetery.

    In operation from 1854 to 1941, the London Necropolis Railway was the spookiest, strangest train line in British history. It transported London’s dead south-west to Brookwood Cemetery, near Woking, in Surrey, a cemetery that was built in tandem with the railway. At its peak, from 1894 to 1903, the train carried more than 2,000 bodies a year.

    It also transported their families and friends. Guests could leave with their dearly departed at 11:40am, attend the burial, have a funeral party at one of the cemetery’s two train stations (complete with home-cooked ham sandwiches and fairy cakes), and then take the same train back, returning to London by 3:30pm.

    The pairing of grief and efficiency may seem a little jarring. It did then, too…

    For the full story, hop aboard at “The passenger train created to carry the dead.”

    * J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

    ###

    As we struggle with our sugar hangovers, we might recall that today is Graveyard Day– or more politely, All Hallows or All Saints Day– a Christian celebration of all saints, “known and unknown.”

    “The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs,” Fra Angelico (c. 1423-4)

    source

     

     
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