Monday, April 2, 2012

Adieu, I Do, Achtung! & The Weekly Death and Disease Lists

Detroit Free Press, August 23, 1901 (enlarge)
When the pleasure cruise steam yacht "The Adieu" left the port of Detroit in August of 1901 for a fortnight of mirthful relaxation and adventure, two men with ties to Eloise dotted the passenger log of upper-crust attendees. What perils they left behind at the great asylum soon joined them en route to Buffalo as nearly the entire passage was marred by storms and rough sea.

So turbulent were the waves that all the cabin windows were battered and smashed out and the front of the pilot house washed away in the surf. The passengers on the ship were constantly inundated with the soaking spray of the steep, churning waves and were at times forced to disrobe for fear of drowning under their weight if the vessel capsized.

By the time they reached Buffalo seven passengers abandoned ship and found other means of passage back homeward. G. S. Wilcox, one of the Eloise civil servants aboard returned in due time while Dr. R. J. Baskerville, also affiliated with the County Asylum, was the last of the party to return angry, disappointed and leery of further sea travel.

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If there was one thing the old newspapers could hold high over the current rags it was their bluntness with the facts. The "special" and "slow" folks of our day were known then as feeble-minded idiots. There was no slur intended and the readership took none. All privacy and political correctness was set aside and details, though oft incorrect at the onset of information, was harshly factual. Thus, finding a weekly Death List in the archival troves wasn't too surprising though morbidly amusing just the same. Not so amusing were the plethora of childhood deaths and fatal common ailments which are regularly treated today with relative ease and, for the most part, minus the deadly complications.Charles Hedka, Robert Pound and Christian Struble were culled from the Eloise entries of the death rostrums. 

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