PARTNERS OF THE HEART

 
The next time you hear the term blue baby  (a congenital heart defect: tetralogy of Fallot) or if the word conjures up images of a small child that is actually blue.. …the lips and nails (cyanosis) can turn pale to dark if not enough oxygen is getting through the extremities due to poor circulation through the heart; here’s a medical cardiac history milestone to beat them all.
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Dr. Helen Taussig, pediatric-cardiologist, coined the phrase blue baby ; endearingly calling her little patients with this tetralogy this, in desperate need for a corrective surgery, watching most of her young patients die in infancy and early childhood.
 
The first successful surgery to correct this congenital heart defect, tetralogy of Fallot, was in 1945. Dr. Thomas Blalock performed the surgery at John Hopkins Hospital. Blalock was a busy doctor and hired a man to help him, for not much pay.
A little known aspect of this important medical breakthrough was a black man named Vivien Thomas, from New Orleans, father of 2, who couldn’t afford to go to college, but would stand at Blalock’s side for many decades working in the medical field, performing, testing, researching. Thomas worked alongside Blalock with his experiments, dedicated to the art of healing…and received no recognition until 1976.
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It was a medical breakthrough pediatric cardiac life-saving procedure, and a miracle some would say. Drs. Blalock and Taussig were lauded around the world for this pediatric-cardiac procedure. Parents brought their ailing children from around the world to the doctors for the surgery. Thomas worked part time as a bartender to support his family, all the while assisting the cardiac surgeries that were increasing.
 
Jim, the tyke in plaid pictured below, was one of the first babies to ever survive this congenital heart-condition and procedure. The Blalock-Thomas-Taussig Anastomosis for Tetralogy of Fallot was performed on him in late 1947 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. He lived a successful, healthy life…and of course lived to see the PBS 2002 production on American Experience, Partners of the Heart. Following that, there was the 2004 Emmy Award film produced Something the Lord Made. 
It’s not often someone you know is written in human history in such goodness.
Books abound on the doctors, the procedure, the history.
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When Jim was hospitalized in 2011, doctors in Cincinnati would make special efforts to come down the halls of the cardiac unit to see this adult patient who had had a Blalock Anastomosis performed on him as a baby. The good young doctors had learned about it in medical school, but there’s been much advancement in this surgery that the procedure is no longer performed (too old-fashioned now, one doc told me).
There he was, smiling at the doctors as he’d done since a toddler, a modern-day miracle one more time.

CINCINNATI PRESIDENTIAL OVERLOAD

In another place in ‘real president’s-time’, a U.S. President lasted a mere 30 Days, 12 Hours, 30 Minutes in Office.
And he had a collective of women to help him get into that office.

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HARRISON MOURNING CLOTH

Shortest serving First Lady, to 9th U.S. President William Henry Harrison of North Bend, Ohio….Jane Irwin Findlay Harrison Whiteman (a long name and story) went to the White House in February, 1841, for her father-in-law’s inauguration, in place of Harrison’s wife, Anna, who felt it a long arduous journey from North Bend, Ohio.

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ANNA SYMMES HARRISON minus her unattractive headwrap

 

Jane Irwin Findlay Harrison, William and Anna Harrison’s recently widowed young daughter-in-law (son W.H.Harrison, Jr. died in 1838, after a long illness commonly known then as the drink); and mother of their grandchildren, was just the right person to go along with the new President Harrison, her sister-in-law Anna Harrison Taylor of Virginia would come too.

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JANE IRWIN FINDLAY HARRISON WHITEMAN

On a peculiar role Jane Harrison would find her life as both maternal and paternal aunt to future president Benjamin Harrison. Jane  and her sister Elizabeth’s first cousin Mary Anne married another Harrison son, Carter. Jane I. F. Harrison Whitman’s sister Elizabeth Ramsey Irwin (1840-1850) married Wm. H. Harrison’s other son, John Scott Harrison and bore their son, Benjamin, 23rd U.S. President.

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Young, vivacious Jane, also a niece and foster daughter of Cincinnati’s Mrs. James/Jane Findlay (The Market People, whose husband James was buddies with Pres. Wm. H. Harrison), who at 73, escorted Jane Harrison and Anna to Washington for the soirees, dinners, parades and all the formalities we have come to expect with a Presidency, arrived for all the bells and whistles attached to such celebrations.
Both Jane’s and Anna’s stays in D.C. in 1843 would be tragically brief; the President succumbed to ailment (current theories are septic shock) on April 4, 1841. In the official Presidential Deathbed Portrait  we see two young women mourning this death. One woman is Jane the daughter-in-law, alongside her is W.H.H. daughter, the Mrs. William H. Harrison’s first lady’s namesake, Anna Harrison Taylor.

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Elderly Aunt Jane Findlay returned to Cincinnati, living at Broadway and Arch Street—hosting a lively family and social life that whirls the mind of any reader seeing her list of visitors.

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JANE IRWIN FINDLAY

Anna Harrison Taylor, the president’s daughter, would return to Virginia, living in her father’s birthplace until her death.

Two years after Harrison’s death, in 1843, John Quincy Adams would come to Cincinnati, after much polite begging in written invitations…to lay the Cincinnati Observatory Cornerstone in anticipation of the soon to arrive German Merz & Mahler telescope Ormsby McKnight Mitchel would personally buy and retrieve back to Cincinnati in 1845; it’s why we named it MT. ADAMS. The Irwin and Findlay families were on hand for this Cincinnati milestone, making history was in their blood.

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PRESIDENT JOHN QUINCY ADAMS

35-year old Jane I. F. Harrison married prominent Cincinnatian Lewis Whiteman; she died in 1847 of the that melancholic and most mean of diseases, tuberculosis.
She’s buried in Spring Grove Cemetery…as is her Aunt Jane Irwin Findlay and Lewis Whiteman, and her children.

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With even the casual reader we see, maybe 3 degrees of separation between these Cincinnati people and history.  And I didn’t even touch the Cincinnati’s President Taft.

 

 

It’s In The Cards

Some stuff you might not know.
And it’s sure not political.
 
It’s MAGIC!
 
That first job.
We all had one.
 
In 1966, my first job was at the U.S. Playing Card Company, Norwood, Ohio.
 
I was 18 and didn’t know dit-squat or even pinochle.
I was entering the University of Cincinnati part time.
I walked up the street from my grandmother’s house
and applied at the world famous U.S. Playing Card Company.
 
I dreaded getting up at 7 a.m.
I dreaded working with the nosie-body ladies transplanted from Kentucky and Appalachia (like my own grandmother) to Norwood, to work at the huge factories (Ford Motor Co., Globe Wernicke Furniture, and U.S. Playing Card).
Those ladies scrutinized every paisley and bell-bottomed outfit I’d wear to work. They ‘tsk-tsked’ everything all day.
 
The company had an archive on the premises….and I’d wander the halls leading to it gazing over framed 18th century French decks of cards with Harlequins, witches, medieval symbology. The bookshelves in the archive lined with magic books in other languages, books on the Occult, Books on Witchery and Voo Doo.
Stunning…and that is a tasty collection today, still owned by the company.
 
I hated the scratchy, dusty velour drawer-pull Bridge sets.
I despised the Canasta sets…
 
Do not ask about the Samba decks. Don’t.
 
The gold-flake paint on the Aladdin decks, bound for Las Vegas filled our nostrils, eyelashes and hair until we looked like the Midas family walking out the door at 4 o’clock. Our fingertips glowed!
 
I hated the stamps….the mini-decks, the guys staring when I’d have to go thru the printing department.
 
My skills repairing stamping machines was profound. I could push that ‘stop’ hammer like nobody’s business..and who’d wait for the mechanic Jimmy….I’d do it myself.
 
We younger women would hang on the same 3-person stamping machine as best we could. Sometimes we’d put our names and addresses in a deck, if we knew it would be traveling overseas….and not Las Vegas, or Air Force One or Viet Nam. Yes, we got letters back. I still have one, from some guys in Scotland who worked at a potato factory. Go figure.
 
The cafeteria was a pale-mint green, in a window-less, basement environment nearly out of “Oliver Twist’!
Our ‘time clock’ was also from Charles Dickens…dated around 1915, way after the founding of the USPC.
 
I hated it yes, but time will have its way with you after so many decades….and the magic, the cards, the superstitions…they’re still on board…and now, as fate would have it..the ladies from Kentucky, now mostly gone, who ran those cello machines, fanned the card decks out for inspection, and generally kept the place going….
the U.S.Playing Card Co. moved to Erlanger, Ky. as fate would have it.
I think those ladies would clear the decks.