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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Train Ticket to No-Diphtheria-Town

What a wonderful effort to teach 12-year-old William Roberts about the series of immunizations he was going to get. William was the son of Edward and Lucy Roberts; Edward worked on the railroad. No doubt, this vaccination card, designed to look like a railroad ticket book, connected for young William as well as his parents.

This was one train ride they were going to make sure their only son completed. So it was scrupulously heeded and preserved, and now we have the opportunity to admire and learn from it today.

Cover Copy:

on the
Health Road


Backside of Booklet Cover:

The Journey may be started from the
following points:
Your Doctor's Office
The School Doctor's Office
Diphtheria Prevention Clinics

Ask your patents to let you take
this trip

Name William Roberts
Address 69 Main Street
Age 12
School Hackettstown

The following white pages are connected, accordion style, between the green covers.

1st white ticket page:

"The Conductor on this trip, the physician, will record the date of arrival as each little traveler reaches the various stations in his journey. When No-Diphtheria-Town is reached, the doctor, teacher, or nurse will sign the ticket which will show that the traveler has reached the end of his interesting trip."

2nd white ticket page:

"Station No. 1 Arrived MAR 20 1929

I have reached the first station because I have had my first treatment of toxin-antitoxin. Now I must have two more to reach

3rd white ticket page:

"Station No. 2 Arrived MAR 27 1929

Now I'm at Station No. 2. I've just had my second injection, one week after my first. It doesn't hurt at all. Traveling this way is real fun."

4th white ticket page:

"Station No. 3 Arrived APR 3 1929

I'm almost there! Today I had my third treatment. This is my last. Just one week ago I had my second treatment. Honest, I'm feeling fine!"

5th white ticket page:

"Station No. 4 Arrived FEB 24 1930

Hurrah! I'm in No-Diphtheria-Town! How do I know? Why, it's now six months since my last toxin-antitoxin treatment, and the doctor says I'm safe from diphtheria."

Diphtheria is a dangerous illness of the upper respiratory tract. In the 1920s it infected over 100,000 people (mainly children) in the U.S. and killed over 13,000 (mainly children). About half way through the decade vaccinations became available, along with a massive public awareness and education campaign. The Roberts booked their young son on a one-way ticket that might have saved his life. Science was beginning to replace quackery.

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