Now over 184 years old,The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) continues in its mission to “motivate people to improve the quality of life and create a sense of community through horticulture.” The first Flower Show was in 1829 at the Masonic Hall on Chestnut Street, where the well-known Christmas favorite, the poinsettia, was introduced. Over the decades, the event has grown dramatically to become the nation’s grandest Flower Show, attracting 250,000 visitors annually over an eight-day period. In 2012, the PHS will takes visitors on a whole new trip with Philadelphia International Flower Show themed: “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha.”
This year’s show will introduce a tropical experience that blends next stage digital technology with the natural beauty and rich culture of the islands and more. The islands will be celebrated in showcase gardens that highlight flowers, landscape, performances and art.
“This is a Show that will appeal to anyone who enjoys excitement, fantastic design and a full-tilt experience,” said PHS President Drew Belcher. “Whether you’re a Show veteran or a first-timer, you’ve never seen a Flower Show like this.”
New motion graphics will transform waterfalls into lava flows and sculptural forms into breaking waves. As visitors enter the hall, they will be transported to a new world, one with a multidimensional sensory experience amid a canopy of tropical flowers that rival the Pacific paradise. “We look forward to sharing the natural beauty of of our islands, as well as our Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit of our people, on the East Coast,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. “The week of events will expose attendees to the richness and diversity of Hawaii, and we hope they are encouraged to visit us after experiencing and learning about our special place.”
Other major exhibits will include floral volcanoes, cut-bamboo designs, surf shacks, Hawaiian vistas and a tribute to the memorial garden at Pearl Garden. Towering palms, green walls and a tropical plant canopy will immerse guests in the Hawaiian rainforests. A 25-foot-high waterfall will splash down into Pele’s Garden, an island of exotic flowers and plants where performers will conjure volcanic flames and the Fire Goddess.
The 2012 Philadelphia International Flower Show “Hawaii: Islands of Aloha” runs from Sunday, March 4 to Sunday, March 11, 2012, at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th & Arch streets. For information and tickets, visit theflowershow.com. For behind-the-scene stories and previews of the Show, visit the Flower Show Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.
Congratulations to Donna Coln Browne, 63, and Lowell Browne, 55, who exchanged vows before friends and family on Sept. 24, 2011. The couple, married in a civil ceremony last summer, celebrated with an intimate reception at The Chestnut Hill Hotel Bombay Room in the city’s northwest neighborhood.
Donna was elegant in a stunning, grey silk floor length gown. The bodice and hip area was beaded with silver bugle beads with a modest train. The back detail was completely beaded and bugled from top to bottom. Her adorable granddaughter, Jahanna Watts, was the happy couple’s flower girl.
Donna is a former parochial elementary school teacher in Philadelphia. She was also a vice principal of an elementary school for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Ga., and the owner of the architectural company, Konceptual Design, for 18 years before retiring and becoming a realtor.
Lowell is a graduate of Neumann College. His occupation is central to this relationship’s beginning. The couple met at The University of Pennsylvania Hospital where Lowell is a phlebotomist. Donna recalls, “We met at his workplace when I needed to have blood drawn. I gave him specific directions on how to do his job. Make certain the suture is very tight, use a certain brand needle for they are very sharp and don’t hurt me. I am going to give you one chance and one chance only to stick me,” she explained.
Special family members and guests sharing in the special day included Donna’s mother, Mrs. Marie Coln, a retired special education teacher for the School District of Philadelphia, son, Jonathan Watts of Philadelphia, eldest son, Michael B. Green of Washington D.C., niece, Veda Acosta, nephew, Frank Acosta, special guest and “ third hand,” Julia Valentin, Harriet and Joe Reynolds Rigby, Dolores Shepherd, Barbara Wallace Lynne, Donna Carter, Sojourner Watts, George Butler, John Matthews, Tanisha Newby, Valerie-Clayton Coles, Billy Knox, Debbie Meekins, Anne and Scott Workman, Tenia and Jay Taylor, Charles Young, Betty and Billy Golden, and Betty Spann.
Lowell’s mother was out of the country in his native Liberia, and both remember their late fathers fondly. Lowell’s guests traveled from New York, Ohio, and Connecticut for the special occasion. Donna shared “There was no proposal. He merely told me ‘We should get married. We need to take care of one another for, if I can’t get up one day you can help me. And if you can’t get up on day I will take care of you. I think that is a good thing so let’s do it.’”
The couple danced to the classic “With this ring I promise to always love you” by the Platters.
Congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple!
For almost 150 years, the Philadelphia Zoo has been a place for generations of families to experience wildlife, and the Zoo has worked for decades to preserve habitats and endangered species around the world. The second annual Global Conservation Gala focused on the plight of orangutans and other highly endangered species, while celebrating the efforts of local and international conservation heroes.
The evening’s event, held at the Marriott Hotel Center City Ballroom, was themed “The Year of the Orangutan” in honor of the endangered condition these great apes are in. According to the event’s program, “On Borne and particularly Sumatra, orangutans are under severe threat, and without intensified action, it is possible they could be gone from the wild before 2025.”
The recipients of the 2011 Conservation Awards included the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (Global Conservation Prize) for its groundbreaking work in the conservation of the Sumatran orangutan, including habitat preservation, education, awareness-raising and field research. Hugh G. Moulton received the “Conservation Impact Award” for his lifetime commitment to regional open space conservation, including his many contributions to the preservation of Erdenheim Farm. The Emerging Conservation Leader Award was bestowed on W.B. Saul High School teacher Jessica McAtamney for her commitment to advancing the concepts of sustainable fuels and agriculture through education.
“At Saul, I actually feel as though I’m a part of something, and I feel like I need to do this,” said Isaiah Nelson, a 15-year-old 10th-grader studying environmental sciences. “As soon as I saw this school I knew I needed to go here because I felt like I could create something new out of this world; be able to create a much greener and better environment so that way we can sustain all our wildlife and all our people within it.”
As one of the region’s foremost conservation organizations, the Philadelphia Zoo is home to nearly 1,300 animals, many rare and endangered. The Zoo, fulfilling its mission of conservation, science, education and recreation, supports and engages in conservation efforts to protect endangered species around the world.
“At America’s first zoo we’re working to reinvent the zoo experience in the 21st century for the animal and from the visitor perspective,” said Vikram H. Dewan, Zoo president and CEO. “Because being first is not only about chronology, but it is also about preeminence: first in creativity and innovation, first in impact and performance, and importantly, first in the hearts and the families of our region.”
The Philadelphia region’s leading family destination, the Zoo welcomed more than 1.2 million visitors last year. “We need to support our great institutions like the Zoo, and that’s what tonight’s all about,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “It is an incredible zoo, and we appreciate the great work that they do and the joy they bring to many children, and those that are young at heart.”
It’s a city so strong in its desire to survive that it outlived Hurricane Gustav to make a comeback that continues to welcome visitors.
And today, visitors to Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s state capital whose name literally means “red stick,” can still enjoy its old Southern beauty, Creole and Cajun cuisine, and all-around good time.
To begin with, the architecture reflects African-American and Caribbean styles, with large balconies and many doors. Its international heritage is also reflected as the locals often revert to variations of the French language in everyday conversations.
Today, Baton Rouge’s rich cultural tradition can be seen and heard in zydeco, blues and Cajun music. In fact, the famous Baton Rouge Blues Festival takes place annually and is something not to be missed.
And the city offers a rich look back into the history of African Americans. Visitors can tour slave cabins and plantations, Civil War battlefields and civil rights landmarks. The state capitol and the makeup of the legislature offer testimony to the success African Americans have had during their rich Louisiana history.
Astute visitors can view its ever-present representations of a slave era, as well as other points of interest, such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Statue in the downtown area. There’s also McKinley High School, which was the high school for African Americans in Baton Rouge and surrounding parishes before integration. Additionally, there’s Mt. Zion First Baptist Church, where nightly meetings were held by African-American citizens in support of the boycott of June 1953. By the way, that boycott was so successful that it served as a model for the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955.
Baton Rouge also acknowledges a number of its famous native sons. For example, there’s Joe Brown, lightweight champion of the world until he retired in 1970, and Cleo Fields, the youngest man ever to be elected to the U.S. Congress. Louisiana’s first African-American governor and many others.
Aside from its famous citizens, Baton Rouge boasts many cultural activities. Tourists might consider visiting the Southern University Museum of Art, which contains a collection of over 2,000 pieces of African and African-American art. Four galleries are dedicated to the display from major art-producing regions of Africa, including Mali, Nigeria, the Ivory Coast, Cameroon and the Congo.
Another popular point of interest is the River Road African-American Museum. An African-American Heritage Tour nearby includes a visit to a cemetery, a monument to the Black Civil War soldiers, and much more. The River Road African-American Museum is also the first Louisiana member of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
You might also decide to visit several of the plantation sites, most notably the Laura Plantation, a French–Creole style property built in 1805. Laura is notable because of its exceptional bricklaying work of West African slaves that can still be seen on the premises. American scholar Alcee Fortier first recorded the West African stories of Compare Lapin at Laura. These were later discovered by Joel Chandler Harris and are known today as the Br’er Rabbit stories.
Next, the Oak Alley Plantation, considered the “grande dame” of plantations because of its structure and design, should be seen. Oak Alley was built entirely by slave labor and exemplifies the skill and craftsmanship of the enslaved workers.
There’s also Magnolia Mound Plantation, circa 1791. Today, it emulates a working plantation. “Beyond the Big House” a tour detailing slave life on the plantation, is offered by special request and features a slave quarter house, a field where slaves raised crops, and much more.
Actually, although my visit was rather short, I was amazed at how much material there was for me to see and how much could be crammed into a relatively small amount of time. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone in this warm and welcoming town.
Mark Twain wrote about it. William Warfield sang about it. It’s been the subject of everything from paintings to political debates, but to thoroughly enjoy all it has to offer, Baton Rouge really is best experienced first-hand.
Positioned some 50 miles off the coast of Florida, The Bahamas is a 100,000-square-mile archipelago made up of some 700 islands.
Afro-Bahamians first arrived here from Bermuda as freed slaves looking for a new life. Today, Afro-Bahamians are the largest ethnic group in the Bahamas, accounting for nearly 85 percent of the country’s population.
When you think of this lovely island chain, several major islands usually come to mind, notably Grand Bahama Island and Nassau.
Grand Bahama Island is the second most popular tourist destination in the Bahamas, where you will find long stretches of deserted clean white beaches, inviting hotels, one major casino, seasports and much more.
At the center of the island lies Freeport, where much of the action can be found, although the lack of too much action is exactly what draws visitors here. Tourists are mostly lured by the tranquil surroundings, nearly deserted beaches and luxurious hotels And for those who fancy nature, Grand Bahama is also home to one of the oldest underwater cave systems in the world, at Lucayan National Park.
One the other side of the coin is Nassau, a blend of the old and the new where most tourists flock for more exciting adventure, and where something seems to be happening day and night.
Nassau has been the centerpiece of this island nation since the shipwrecking days of Blackbeard the pirate.
Prized for its safe harbor, Nassau continues to display its Victorian mansions, cathedrals, weatherbeaten 18th-century forts, and popular Straw Market, where bargains are always at hand and where vendors refuse to take “No” for an answer.
We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on Cable Beach, where many luxury hotels line the sandy beach and where you can stroll up and down the soft, white sand and see homes that belong to the rich and famous. Strain your eyes just a little bit more and you‘ll see Paradise Island, home of the now-famous Atlantis Hotel.
But we preferred the Cable Beach area, known for its Crystal Palace Casino, its great places to dine and super-shopping. Many of the hotels offer several dining spaces both indoors and out , which are quite good. However, one day we were told to take a short taxi ride to find some delicious native food. That’s when we ended up at Oh, Andros, an authentic island restaurant with local cuisine (and tiny prices) too good to pass up.
However, if and when you grow tired of the beach and the food — Ha! — take a stroll and discover some of what else Nassau has to offer.
Nassau is a busy hub of international commerce and finance, and probably the most cosmopolitan city in the islands.
Your sightseeing should definitely take in the great view of the island atop the hand-carved, 66-stepped Queen’s Staircase, fascinating because it was not built, but carved out of coral-based sandstone at the end of the l8th century.
Want to see more of the island’s illustrious past? Then don’t miss Fort Charlotte, the largest in the Bahamas. Built n 1788 under the governorship of Lord Dunmore, it is picture-perfect for the adventurous, featuring a moat and dungeons.
And certainly never to be overlooked is the Junkanoo Museum, dedicated to that colorful musical and infectious festival when Bahamian culture explodes in masks and sounds. If you missed the festival in December, you surely won’t want to miss the Junkanoo parades that are held in conjunction with other special celebrations such as Independence Day on July 10. So plan ahead!
Thelma Wright, former Black mafia “queenpin” who was once rumored to be the most powerful and dangerous Black woman in Philadelphia, has authored “With Eyes From Both Sides – Living My Life In and Out of the Game” (CreateSpace, $15). This gritty memoir invites readers into Wright’s life as she discreetly ran a bi-coastal drug empire that her husband left behind after his murder.
“With Eyes From Both Sides” however, Wright takes us beneath the surface of the fast lane into the real. The product of a middle working class Black family, Wright attended St. Maria Goretti High School and was a star athlete as a child. Life was never difficult for her, and she came from a stable and loving, two-parent home. Wright’s story is not your typical tale of abuse or abandonment. In fact, it was the strength of good parenting and strong family ties that saw her through her darkest days. Through her vivid recollections, we gain recognition of the heart behind a woman whose “crazy love” for others blinded her to the cold reality of the underworld she was a part of.
Wright’s story of being able to get out of “the game” is not one many can tell. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, female incarceration continues to grow. While 36 percent of females were incarcerated in 2010 for violent crimes, drug offenses were the most prevalent, accounting for 26 percent. Although Wright has considered doing a reality series about Black mafia wives, she stresses the importance of recognizing “the game” for what it is. Though readers may be fascinated with the glitz the drug cartel represents, Wright wants individuals to understand that this life is tragic and is a world cluttered with deceit and continuous loss.
“There are really roads, highways to this life, with fast lanes and slow lanes and some with banked curves and circles around which we are driven,” reveals Wright. “My story is a warning for women who think that the fast lane is the road less traveled, and therefore the best one to take. It is a cautionary tale for the inquisitive, middle-of-the-road wanderers, who stumble at the fork, wondering what it might be like. But above all, it is a prayer for women all over the world who wish to know the truth of the matter. If you are in the ‘game,’ get out, because it will destroy you.”
“With Eyes From Both Sides – Living My Life In and Out of the Game” is available online at Amazon.com.
FALL WEDDING FESTIVITIES
On Oct. 1, friends and family watched as longtime sweethearts LaShaye Yvonne Salters and Joshua Kyle Lee said, “I do,” at an elegant ceremony held at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The festivities continued at a beautiful reception held at the Park Avenue Banquet Hall where guests were treated to a spectacular candy station and a delicious soul food dinner.
The happy couple has two children.
The atmosphere was festive and reflective of the holiday spirit at The Club Viri Viginti Annual Christmas Party. The affair, held at Drexelbrook Catering Hall on Sunday afternoon, is a special gathering for members, their wives and widows of members gone but not forgotten. Club president Louis DeVaughn, there with his lovely wife, Elaine K. Evans-DeVaughn, said “This holiday affair is always enjoyable because the members are great friends.” He quoted from Viri Virginti’s principles, “If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man should keep his friendship in constant repair.” And so they do!
The Viri Viginti Club of Philadelphia has been in existence since 1914 and is believed to be the oldest African-American social club in the state of Pennsylvania. In 1914, 20 young friends came together to form a club and enjoy friendship and began meeting on a regular basis. The gentlemen had difficulty selecting a name for the group until Mary Williams, eldest daughter of member Charles Williams, suggested the Viri Viginti, which is the Latin phrase for “twenty gentlemen.”
The traditional roster of 20 members remains intact today. The officers serving with president DeVaughn are vice president R. Joseph Wade; secretary Robert Murphy; treasurer Charles Wright; and entertainment chair James “Jimm” McKee III.
Other club members are: Robert Bembery, Frank Eaverly, Clarence Faulcon, Robert “Bob” Gorgas, Robert King, Charles K. Manns, Richard Martin, Arthur Matthews, Charles Mitchell, Frederick Miller, Robert Murphy Jr., Leonard Ricks, Lloyd Wallace, Andre Wilson.
Spouses and partners in attendance, looking especially lovely, included Roberta Bembry, Elaine Evans-DeVaughn, Barbara Gorgas, Jacqueline Faulcon, Doris Matthews, Deborah McKee, Jean Miller, Lloyd Mitchell, Mary Murphy, Ann Ricks, Cynthia Wade, Melanie Wright and Sibyl Wilson.
Wives of deceased members included Christine Lindsey and Eula Williams Cousins, as well as Alithia Wright, mother of member Charles Wright.
Sadly, club member Rosamond Lindsey passed earlier this last year and was greatly missed.
Highlights of the event included a cocktail reception and a delicious luncheon buffet and holiday cake following the invocation by Fred Miller. The room was beautifully decorated with ivory linen with traditional red and green accents. In addition to beautiful floral centerpieces and a mantel decorated with Christmas ornaments, greenery and lights, a glowing fireplace added to the ambiance.
Kudos to Clarence and Jacqueline Faulcon, who did a wonderful job leading the group in prayer and Christmas caroling. Louis is a dutiful president and even supplied a keyboard so no one would miss a beat.
Following the meal, the floor was opened to dancing to tunes played by Julius Brown and led the group to all the line dances, including “the wobble.” He even inspired the caterers to join in, in the background!
It was another milestone for a great group of friends during this very special season.
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The Metropolitan Philadelphia Area Chapter of the Continental Societies, Inc. also enjoyed a festive holiday luncheon at the Drexelbrook Catering Facility on Sunday. Members collected donations of hats, gloves, scarves and canned goods for families in need. Also joining the festivities were Continental Guys, Advisory Board members and family.
• • •
Happy Birthday to one of my dearest childhood friends, Valerie Jamison. Have a great new year, Val!
NEW YORK — Oscar de la Renta takes longer to create that small, fits-in-your-hand bottle of perfume than one of his elaborate embellished ball gowns. It’s just the nature of the business.
The process is similar, starting with an inspiration that comes from the gut, quality materials and fine workmanship, but de la Renta says he’ll continue tinkering with a perfume until he’s fully satisfied. There would be no point in rushing when he has the luxury of time, he explains.
While de la Renta takes care to say that even with his clothing designs, he doesn’t follow — or set, for that matter — the “trends,” he still operates on the fashion calendar that dictates the grinding, grueling pace of five collections a year. (Add to that the children’s line the company just announced it’s launching.) There is always a hunger for “new” and a need to be relevant in the moment, he observes.
In the beauty business, however, there aren’t the same demands, so even though the hypothetical canvas is so much smaller, the process has few restrictions other than to create something lovely and lasting. “Fragrance — I look at in a different way than fashion,” de la Renta says. “It’s so unbelievably intimate in a person’s life. When you discover the right one, it’s like getting married: You don’t change on a whim.”
His newest is Live in Love, a classic scent with notes of ginger, orchid, hyacinth, muguet and jasmine, set against a base of white woods and musk.
The house bought back its fragrance licenses three years ago (the licenses were owned by another company at the time) to give the perfumes more of a synergy with its fashion reputation as a top-tier label, explains Alex Bolen, company CEO (as well as de la Renta’s son-in-law). Each of the seven scents currently in production has to be elegance and luxury in a bottle, Bolen says.
De la Renta jumps in at this point in a joint interview to note that, however beautiful the bottle may be, it won’t sell a perfume. Neither will the packaging, name or ad campaign. The juice has to connect to the wearer on a much deeper level, he says, so much so that it becomes part of her identity.
“You shouldn’t change your fragrance when you don’t smell it anymore. That’s the wrong way to think about it. You shouldn’t be able to notice it. ... That’s when a fragrance is a true success.”
Still, he says, he likes the stories of how the newest name and campaign evolved.
For the name, de la Renta was in his workroom in the heat of the summer and noticed the tattoo on the arm of one of the employees: Live in Love. “It was so obvious, so extraordinary. It’s what I wanted to say. No one had used it, which was surprising, but that’s the secret of life — sometimes the answer is so obvious.”
When it came time to introduce the fragrance to the public, he wanted to find the right spokesmodel. He laid out print ads of all the competition, stripped off the names and took a hard look at whose image he could choose to stand out from the crowd. He saw only one that he wanted.
Back in the 1950s and ’60s when de la Renta was starting out, the trend wasn’t celebrities; every designer who was anyone used an illustration of the chicest, most glamorous woman. That’s who he wanted again — and that’s the raven-haired, pen-and-ink “model” who looks back at you underneath the tagline, “The new fragrance for women created by a man who adores them.”
He explains, “I want you to remember the fragrance, not be able to identify Penelope Cruz.”
This isn’t de la Renta being nostalgic for the good old days, though. In addition to the new children’s line and the presentation of his bold, colorful pre-fall collection this week, de la Renta is also the one who came up with the idea for a just-opened exhibit about the artist Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute in New York.
At age 79, retirement is a dirty word. He likes to quote a friend who says, “to rest is to rust.” — (AP)
Today it is virtually impossible not to know someone who has a family member, loved one or friend who has not faced some type of medical issue.
I cannot imagine anyone who does not know of someone that has had high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, heart maladies or kidney issues. Some of you have had to struggle with that dreadful Alzheimer’s disease that causes one who knew you well to have no memory of who you are. Others have watched cancer take a devastating toll on a loved one; then there are health problems so rare that they have descriptions but no names.
The medical issues we hear about today are not limited to an age or racial group; they are blind when it comes to one’s sex or income level. Recently, I have been thinking much more about these challenges because of medical issues of family members and close friends. Particularly, I have questioned why some cure has eluded us after years and significant dollars have been involved in research. It is disheartening to think of so many lives being affected.
Often I ask myself, “Did these medical problems exist in the past?” After all, I do not recall hearing of people suffering from some of these diseases back in the day. For example, do you recall so many people with cancer when many of us were teenagers back in the ’50s? As I reflect on the medical issues that affect many lives today, I cannot help but wonder what happened to those health issues, primarily childhood issues, that affected the lives of many of us when we were children.
As a child, do you recall how concerned and protective your parents became when you were ill? While parents are concerned today, they showed considerably more concern in the past because of the absence of known cures for these illnesses. These so-called “childhood diseases” created considerable anxiety for parents. I say “so-called” childhood diseases because these can also be contracted by adults. You know from your sick days as a child, however, that there were diseases you caught but seldom, if ever, heard associated with adults.
I know many of you that recall dealing with symptoms such as a fever, deep cough, sore throat, red eyes, gray spots on your gums and a rash that covered your body. You might immediately recall this experience when I remind you of your parents placing you in a cool, dark room. This was as a result of one of the most dangerous and contagious childhood diseases. That disease, measles, is still around today and can be caught by adults. The advantage of catching it as a child, however, is that it can never be caught again; the disease provides lifelong immunity.
Do you recall having mumps as a child? If not, consider yourself lucky, because it can be painful. Did you experience whooping cough? It was a contagious respiratory infection that caused a severe, hacking cough accompanied by a breathing sound that resembled a “whoop?” Perhaps you had chickenpox. If so, the memories of the blistery rash all over your body can never be forgotten. You surely recall those itchy spots that when scratched left small marks on your body. For me, the most memorable of childhood diseases was the fungus known as ringworm, found on the scalp. I cannot forget boys being required to shave their heads when they contracted ringworm. The look of those crusty and scaly patches that appeared on the scalp was disgusting. As a remedy, mothers rubbed sulphur and molasses on the affected areas. Often the sight was so offensive that some type of head covering was used until the scalp healed. This was another of those diseases that caused affected children to stay home from school and not to go out to public back in the day.
In recent years, I have learned that some of the songs we sang as children were related to childhood diseases. Take “Ring around the Rosie” for example. Though this connection has been rejected by many scholars, it does seem plausible in relation to the “Black Plague.” A portion of it and its relationship to the plague follows:
People still get tonsillitis today, but the infection of children’s tonsils was a major problem when I was in elementary school. I suspect many of you still remember being hospitalized to have your tonsils removed. One of the bright spots of having this procedure, however, was the diet you had to adhere to following surgery. It may have included clear liquids, iced tea, ice pops, apple juice and other non-citrus fruit juices, and progressed to milkshakes, smooth yogurt, ice cream, pudding and custards. Back then, a tonsillectomy was not a simple overnight hospital stay.
Like many of you, I had a number of the childhood diseases. Three that frightened me most but I never had were rheumatic fever, scarlet fever and smallpox. While rheumatic fever and scarlet fever were strep throat-related, smallpox was caused by a virus that resulted in a fever and a blistering skin rash. I just knew, because of their names, that they were diseases with deadly consequences; in fact, they were deadly. Were you ever told you had rubella? Probably not, but like most children, you did have this disease. However, you were simply told you had German measles, which is the more common term for rubella.
Is the term “infantile paralysis” familiar to you? If you are from my age bracket, you might have heard the term rather frequently. Because this disease resulted in paralysis, you might recall the sight of little children attempting to walk with metal braces on their legs. The sight of children struggling to walk with the aid of these metal braces was horrifying to me. Hundreds of thousands of children are better off today because of polio vaccine.
Then there were those youngsters who were afflicted with tuberculosis. This was a disease that attacked the lungs. A friend of mine has pictures of youngsters wrapped in blankets in a fenced-in classroom on the roof of a school. Children were quarantined in the school environment, if they were diagnosed with TB back in the day.
As parents, we do not like to see our children sick. As a result of vaccines that have been developed over the years to combat most childhood diseases, we do have some relief. Today, however, many people are struggling to deal with many debilitating and life-threatening diseases for which there are no known cures. As we look to the future, hopefully we will be able to engage in discussions about these diseases and combine our efforts with those of the medical community to combat these diseases. We can then look to a future when our medical issues will have cures and will be buried in what will then be, back in the day.