Posts Tagged ‘Health’
Below is a V-Mail from this day 69 years ago. Sometimes, what I can learn from one casual line in these letters simply astounds me.
This V-mail was sent to Alex via the Fleet Post Office in New York on January 26th, 1944. Sylvia sent it from her family’s home on Jerome Avenue.
Cookie was [sic] to the doctor’s today – and she weighs almost 22 lbs. and is almost 30” tall. For a seven ½ month old baby, she’s a little horse! She can take plain milk now – no more formula! Hooray!! The sterilizing of bottles keeps up for another few months. Slowly I’m to start her on chopped foods – she’s to get cottage cheese three times a week. I’m to return in 4 weeks and that’s when she’ll start getting her Diptheria injections. And baby, am I scared of that. I wish you were here to hold my hand- or to hold Baby while she gets the needle. Your mother and Edward were here today – and mom brought Cookie two dozen fresh country eggs. Wasn’t that sweet and thoughtful? And it’s so timely, because it’s the end of the month, and it’ll be a week before the check arrives. Your mom is very thoughtful, honey. She and everyone else is well. They’re all going to an affair for infantile paralysis this Sunday. You remember, the drive is on again and it’s the President’s birthday ball too. Mom watched Adrienne clap hands in two languages and then she sang her a little Hungarian rhyme and Adrienne clapped hands at that too. (cont’d) Sylvia
Unfortunately, I don’t have the attached continuation of this letter but this one page alone is full of so many interesting details. The check arrives at the beginning of each month. Adrienne will eat cottage cheese three times a week! She will get multiple Diptheria injections. Alex’s mother brings fresh country eggs. Where was she coming from? I love the idea of Adrienne clapping in “two languages,” and clapping along to a Hungarian rhyme.
The mention of the “drive” and President’s ball refers to the origination of the March of Dimes. In 1938, Roosevelt created the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. According to the FDR Library website, “To increase awareness of the campaign, radio personality and philanthropist Eddie Cantor took to the air waves and urged Americans to send their loose change to President Roosevelt in ‘a march of dimes to reach all the way to the White House.’ Soon, millions of dimes flooded the White House. In 1945, the annual March of Dimes campaign raised 18.9 million dollars for the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis…” The Birthday Balls helped raise financial support that led to a polio vaccine. “Although the Birthday Balls ended in 1945 with the death of President Roosevelt, both of their legacies live on in the March of Dimes.”
This is an amazing example of how a nationwide movement, spurred by one inspiring leader, can have an enormous effect. Even when many Americans awaited the checks at the beginning of each month for their survival, as Sylvia did, people attended these balls. Even immigrant families in Brooklyn donated what they could to finding a cure for Polio.
The organization continues today to promote infant health: http://www.marchofdimes.com/
Eleanor at FDR Birthday Ball at the Statler Hotel in Washington DC, with Red Skelton, William O. Douglas, Lucille Ball, John Garfield, and Maria Montez. January, 1944. FDR Library Archives, NPx. 72-18:325
Happy Mother’s Day!
I really mean that. I like to think that I refrain from giving in to commercially based holidays but once they arrive I can’t help but get swept up in the mushy family love fest. There is so much to say about mothers that I’ve decided to make this week Mother’s Week on the blog. Over the next week I want to pay some true respect to mothers, grandmothers, and women in general. But while it might get pretty corny soon, allow for some of the skepticism included in today’s post.
My mom is pretty great, if I do say so myself. Her numerous professional, academic and personal achievements are certainly what I admire her for the most as a woman and a role model. But it might also be mentioned that she is a three-time cancer survivor. Today, much more than in years past, it struck me that Mother’s Day has become a vehicle for talking about breast cancer. Today, even the Yankees were batting with pink bats and wearing ribbons. Because it seemed so much more prevelant than ever before I began to wonder about what it means. Are we, as a culture, more comfortable talking about illness on a national level? I hate to be too cynical but I don’t think this is the case. Our “discussion” of breast cancer is still painted pink and made as feminine as possible. The talk about finding a cure is couched among words like faith, love and hope. These words are fine in their own right. Everyone can use faith, love and hope every day of their lives. But breast cancer is consistently linked with the domestic, not the scientific. (I will add that I’ve seen some sassy and creative breast cancer awareness slogans of late that I quite like.) Are cancer rates rising to such a degree that when anyone in the country thinks of mothers they also think about cancer? Or is this solely a product of excellent branding of the Susan G. Komen foundation? Whatever it is, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in the deaths of American women (I won’t address the disparities in mortality rates based on economic class and race). For now, I’ll just say get mammograms and stay healthy, ladies.
Celebrating mothers can be traced back to the most ancient civilizations but – according to our reliable friends at Wikipedia - it was Anna Jarvis who is credited with “creating” the holiday to honor mothers in the United States. Woodrow Wilson made it an official holiday in 1914. Ms. Jarvis herself, however, soon came to deeply regret the commercialization of the holiday and vocally criticized the greeting card industry and the people who bought those greeting cards. This is what I find most interesting: Mother’s Day is the most popular day of the year to dine out (National Restaurant Association). What does this say?
Moms still do most of the cooking. So when it is their day off, we all go out to eat.