Monday, July 13, 2015

Another amazing StoryCorps story …


If you have never listened to NPR’s Morning Edition you’ve missed the wonderful segment where they feature conversations taped by “ordinary” people in America. This is a StoryCorp project, a non-profit organization that records these stories, airs them and then archives them at the American Folk-life Center at the Library of Congress.. It gives credence to the fact that our country is eclectic, to say the least.

The man that you see here holding one of “his” babies is Dr. Martin Couney. He was a pioneer in the field of incubators but the medical establishment scoffed at the idea. So Dr. Couney took the matter into his own hands and every summer for 40 years (from 1896 to the 1940’s) he funded his work by displaying premature infants (kept alive in incubators) at a Coney Island side show, charging 25 cents per person per viewing.

The parents of the babies didn’t have to pay for medical care and many of the children survived. One of the survivors is a 94 year old woman named Lucille Horn and it is she who Story-Corp interviewed and recorded along with her daughter. She was born in 1920 and was so tiny that her parents were told there was no hope of her surviving. Her father didn’t let it go at that … he wrapped her in a blanket and took her to Coney Island and to Dr. Couney’s infant exhibit where she lived for the next 6 months.

"How do you feel knowing that people paid to see you?" her daughter asks in the interview and her mother says it is OK because she is alive today because of it. She also tells about going back to the show many years later and watching the good doctor still saving babies. When she told him who she was he turned to a young man standing in front of one of the incubators and told him that “this is how your baby will grow up”.

Dr. Couney died in 1950, shortly after incubators like his were introduced to most hospitals. It makes you wonder how many other children would have survived if those in the medical field had not turned a blind eye to his project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Comments:

Blogger ellen said...

Oh, my goodness Ginnie..I have never heard this before. Fascinating and yet so unreal by today's standards. It is a miracle we old folk ever survived! Thanks so much. xo, Ellen.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

You have to wonder why there was such resistance. There often is though.

5:05 AM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

I love Story Corps and this one was really good. I have learned so many things about people that I never knew.

5:59 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

God Bless that man.

8:42 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

Fascinating bit of history there. Thanks, Ginnie...:)

11:35 AM  
Blogger possum said...

You share such interesting stories.
Thanks!

4:26 AM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Yes, I do listen to NPR and Storycorps is one of my favorite segments. i had not heard this one before reading your post, Ginnie.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

Interesting about the incubators. I am glad that medical science has made much headway in the last several decades. Thankfully.

6:07 AM  

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