William Lindsay Gresham was a cult writer; one of those authors who owe their success to the prestige of their failure. Ruined and ill, he ended his life at age 53 in a New York hotel room. His novel The alley of lost souls (Sakhalin), published in the mid-1940s, was made into a film by Edmund Goulding and featured Tyrone Power in the lead role. This year the remake by Guillermo del Toro when we have the information.
It is a macabre tale, wrapped up in the cruelty of one of the many traveling monster fairs that became popular in North America during the first half of the last century. An atrocious spectacle where biological deformations were exposed to the sight of a morbid public.
This comes in handy because, inside Coney Island’s Luna Park amusement park, there was once an attraction that included a display of premature babies. Said like that, it can be creepy. But if we take into account the scientific reason that justified the exhibition, everything that was sinister goes to the background.
The result was encouraging thanks to the work of Dr. Martin A. Couney, an untitled Polish physician who dedicated himself to saving the lives of premature babies who made their way into his incubators; Very rudimentary machines compared to the current ones, which Couney called peanut roasters because of their similarity to the devices that were used to roast peanuts.
At the beginning of the last century, facilities for premature babies were scarce in American hospitals. So much so that most preterm births had a deadly effect on newborn babies.
You have to put yourself in the time. At the beginning of the last century, facilities for premature babies were scarce in American hospitals. So much so that most preterm births had a deadly effect on newborn babies. Faced with this setback, many of the parents found a miracle at the Coney Island fair, because, although their babies were exposed as an attraction inside the incubators, they managed to save their lives. Being born early was no longer a tragedy.
Another detail to keep in mind was that Dr. Martin Couney did not charge them for it. The attraction was advertised at a price of 25 cents; money that people gladly paid. Since 1903, and for forty long years, this geek trade fair was the only hope to save the lives of premature babies.
It seems that Martin A. Couney discovered the incubator at the 1896 Berlin World Fair. Shortly afterwards, he emigrated to the United States where he would put his attraction into practice, announced with a poster where he had written: “Everybody loves babies ”. To reinforce the propaganda, he hired a handsome man named Archibald Leach to serve as a hook by shouting the slogan: “Don’t pass the babies, don’t miss them.” In time, Archibald Leach would change the name to Cary Grant.
A whole story to be taken to the cinema; a potential film that serves as an example when confirming how the environment is one of the essential parts of living beings. For this reason, beings born before their time lose their relationship with the environment from the moment they leave the placenta. This is where science comes into play, in this case with a scientific advance such as the incubator, coupled with the arts of a fairground charlatan who, without being a doctor, dedicated himself to saving lives by taking advantage of the morbidity of the public.
Martin A. Couney, the Incubator Doctor, died in 1950 at the age of eighty, ruined and forgotten, in the same way that William Lindsay Gresham did. But unlike the writer, Dr. Couney owed his failure to the prestige of his success. Since the peanut roasters were working, all the hospitals set up incubator rooms. With this, after World War II, the fair for premature babies ceased to exist.
The stone ax is a section where Montero Glez, with a will to prose, he exercises his particular siege to scientific reality to show that science and art are complementary forms of knowledge.