Rambling Over Coffee: Dr. Couney - the guy who pushed to save preemie babies with incubators - had to display them at carnivals & fairs

Sometimes I'm just reading random news articles and boom!  Suddenly something interesting pops out at me and I think to myself, "How did I never know that???"  and that happened yesterday.

I saw an obituary for a woman who passed away after a long and apparently wonderful life, at the age of 96.  However, had it not been for her father and a man who believed babies born premature could be saved... she would not be alive.

She was born premature, less than two pounds, in 1920.  She had a twin that passed right away and the doctor's told her family to hold off on a funeral because this baby would die soon too.  Her father said "Well, she's alive now and we've got to do something for her" but back then nothing was done.  From some quick research I did after this piqued my interest, I read that her father had seen the "incubator babies" on display at Coney Island while he had been on his honeymoon.  He thought of them and decided that is where he would bring his daughter to find help.  The only help available at the time!   He gathered her tiny body into a warm towel and took a cab to Coney Island.  Dr. Couney obviously saved her life as the baby the doctor's said would die from being born too early did not pass away until she was 96 years old.

I gathered a couple stories with sources at the top of them that I read personally when looking for more information about this topic.

Here is a short blurb about one of the "incubator babies" to start - I've only used parts of it but you can read the whole article from the AP source listed:


MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) — Lucille Conlin Horn weighed barely 2 pounds when she was born, a perilous size for any infant, especially in 1920. Doctors told her parents to hold off on a funeral for her twin sister who had died at birth, expecting she too would soon be gone.

But her life spanned nearly a century after her parents put their faith in a sideshow doctor at Coney Island who put babies on display in incubators to fund his research to keep them alive.

Horn was among thousands of premature babies who were treated in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney. He was a pioneer in the use of incubators who sought acceptance for the technology by showing it off on carnival midways, fairs and other public venues. He never accepted money from the tiny babies' parents but instead charged oglers admission to see the babies struggling for life.

Horn and her twin were born prematurely. She said in 2015 that when her sister died, doctors told her father to hold off on a funeral because she wouldn't survive the day.

"He said, 'Well, that's impossible. She's alive now. We have to do something for her,'" Horn said. "My father wrapped me in a towel and took me in a cab to the incubator. I went to Dr. Couney. I stayed with him quite a few days, almost five months."
Couney, who died in 1950 and is viewed today as a pioneer in neonatology, estimated that he successfully kept alive about 7,500 of the 8,500 children who were taken to his "baby farm" at the Coney Island boardwalk. They remained there until the early 1940s, when incubators became widely used in hospitals.

He also put infants on display at the World's Fair and other public venues during his career. There's no estimate on how many still are alive today.

As the babies 'graduated' and had gained enough weight and grown big enough to go 'home' they received a graduation diploma.


A "Graduation Diploma" for a premie cared for at the Baby Incubaators Exhibit at the New York World's Fair, 1939-1940, signed by Dr. Martin Couney and his head nurse Louise Recht.

The man behind the saving of the babies....  

Photograph of Martin Couney from the New York Worlds Fair, 1939.


Martin A. Couney was educated in Breslau and Berlin, he received a medical degree in Leipzig, and in the 1890s he went to study under the tutelage of Pierre Constant Budin of Paris.

Budin had been a pupil of E. S. Tarnier, a leading Parisian obstetrician who pioneered in efforts to improve the survival of prematurely born infants. The early attempts begin following the immense loss of life in France from military action and months of famine during the siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). In 1878, Tarnier visited an exhibition, the Jardin d'Acclimation, and came across a warming chamber for the rearing of poultry, devised by M. Odile Martin of the Paris Zoo. He asked the zoo keeper to build a similar box, sufficiently ventilated and large enough to hold one or two premature infants. This was done and the first warm-air incubators were used at the Paris Maternité Hospital in 1880. In a report presented to the Academy of Medicine of France in 1895, the following note appeared:
The minute and delicate care which these weakly [prematurely born] infants require, especially in winter, to protect them from the cold is so great that till now most of them have died ... since Doctor Tarnier introduced ... the ingenious contrivance, called a "couveuse", a large number of these infants have been saved.
In 1888, Pierre Budin began to publish articles describing his experience at the Maternité Hospital with the care of premature infants. Through the influence of Madame Henry, formerly chief midwife at this hospital, he established a special department for "weaklings" at the end of 1893. Budin also was appointed to the Clinique Tarnier in 1898 and, under his tutelage, these two hospitals in Paris became the first centers in the world for specialized studied of premature infant care. In ten lectures to his students, published in 1900 (as the book titled Le Nourisson), Budin enunciated three basic problems in care of the prematurely born:
  1. Their temperature and their chilling.
  2. Their feeding.
  3. The diseases to which they are prone.
The Tarnier incubator (improved with a "Reynard regulator," a monitoring device which activated an electric bell to warn against overwarming) was used by Budin to solve the thermal problem. He advocated human milk feedings to solve the second problem by nursing at the breast of the mother or wet nurses when possible. If the infant was unable to suckle, milk was hand-expressed in a trickle into the mouth, fed by spoon into the mouth (or into the nose by means of a special "nasal spoon"), or introduced directly into the stomach by intermittent gavage. Budin began the practice of weighing the infant before and after feeding to calculate the amount of milk taken in 24 hours by infants of different birth size. From this, he concluded that a premature infant should "... take, in general, a quantity of milk equal to or a little more than one-fifth of its body weight" each day.
Proneness to infection was the risk stressed in the third of Budin's considerations. Following a severe epidemic of respiratory infections among premature infants at the Maternité hospital in 1896, Budin became convinced of the importance of special precautions. In the same year, he proposed the following plan for a special unit:
  1. Grouping together the healthy premature infants;
  2. Isolating the sick and suspect infants;
  3. Separating the web nurses' babies from contact with the premature infants;
  4. Establishing a milk room where "sterilized" milk could be heated;
  5. Keeping the bottles of sterilized milk cool in summer in an ice chamber;
  6. Providing a toilet and dressing room for wet nurses where they were to "...wash their hands and face and don an overall" before ministering to their premature infant charges.
These guidelines for the care of feeding of premature infants were adopted slowly, and with very little modification, throughout the Western world.

The spread of these ideas was spurred on through the curious circumstances which grew out of Budin's request that his young associate, Martin Couney, exhibit the newly-modified Tarnier incubator at the World Exposition in Berlin in 1896. Budin armed the young man with a letter of introduction to Professor Czerny, an illustrious obstetrician. Couney hit upon the idea of placing live premature infants in the infant incubators and asked Czerny's help to obtain the babies. Czerny sent him to Empress Augusta Victoria, the protectress of Berlin's Charity Hospital, who agreed readily: the premature infants were considered to have little chance of survival. Couney brought six incubators and an entourage of Budin's nurses to the exposition and named the exhibit "Kinderbrutanstalt." The notion of a "child hatchery" caught the imagination of the Berlin public and soon there were ribald songs about the exhibit in the beer halls and night clubs. Couney's exhibit was located in the amusement section next to the Congo Village and the Tyrolean Yodlers; it was a huge success, always jammed with people. Several batches of infants were reared at the show and, according to Couney, "there were no deaths." During the exhibit, a London promoter by the name of Samuel Schenkein visited Couney and invited him to repeat the show in London the following year at the Victorian Era Exhibition to be held in Earl's Court. Couney agreed.

Coffee Themed Pajamas....

It's a lazy Saturday morning... (at least for a few minutes more until the family wakes up).  I've got my coffee in hand and I realized I had the old 80's tune "Coffee in bed...."  playing through my head.

That led me to think about the scene in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's characters had met and slept with each other and he wakes her in the morning with coffee he had gone out to get and tells her he had to milk a goat to get it...)  and that made me think about coffee pajamas. (Um, no, she wasn't wearing any of course... it's just what I thought of next.)

And that is what led to this mornings post on Coffee Talking!

I think I've done a post on coffee themed pajamas and coffee pajama pants once before (?) but it was a long, long time ago.  So I clicked over to Amazon (because I'm an affiliate and because their search engine is so freakin' easy to use - and I'm a sucker for free shipping)  and I found a few jammies I thought were kind of cool.

I also chose some that came in a variety of styles and sizes.  Including 2XL, etc.  So... something for everyone!  Because what coffee lover wouldn't love coffee pajamas?  Everyone would.





PajamaGram Women's ‘I Need Coffee' Pajamas


Women's Printed Minky Fleece Pajama Pant


A Gazillion Reasons Not to Get a Dog or a Cat

Today one of my on-going projects was to continue to paint the kitchen dining area.  As I was taping it off I got to the bottom of the window ledges, which in our home are only about 10 inches off the floor.  I'm not down there very often and certainly not in the space "behind" the kitchen table.  But the dogs are.  Especially the long haired Golden mix dog.  It's where she lays while we have dinner and she's hoping maybe it's a night where we are serving steak or pork chops and she and her sister get to share the excess joy of meat when we are finished.

While I apply paint tape to the white window trim I see where the oils from her coat have rubbed up against the white paint and made it an ugly brown.  Ah, lucky me.  It's time for me to go around to the 4 huge windows in that room and scrub all the trim work and baseboards.  Again.    As I do about every few months or so. 

All part of the joys of having dogs.

And that is how this post was born.

We have two dogs and two cats. (And sometimes fish, hamsters, snakes, hermit crabs, etc.) But mostly dogs and cats.  Our dogs are 5 years old now and our cats are 14 years old.  

As I finished taping I thought about the friends and family of mine who have expressed an interest in having pets but don't yet.  I pictured them standing in front of me and I said to myself as if I was talking to them;  "The idea of a dog or a cat is sometimes better than having a dog or a cat."

I was taping off window trim to paint the wall when I saw I needed to scrub baseboards and window trim again - where the dog lays

Since I had my cellphone with me I snapped a picture of the window trim I will be scrubbing tomorrow and then got the idea that I should just walk around the house, looking around and brainstorming some things that people might not think about when they are making the decision to get a dog or cat.....

Things people DO think about (usually) and take into account might be:

  • The cost of dog food and cat foods along with some toys and snacks
  • Vet bills - including any required annual shots
  • Walking the dog
  • Feeding the cats and dogs
  • Cleaning the kitty litter box

And sometimes that is as far as the thought process goes.

So this post is to help point out just a FEW of the other things you should probably consider...  

Things people MIGHT NOT take into account when deciding to bring a dog or cat into their home:

Cats and dogs rub up against walls as they walk around them - which leaves oils to discolor them.

I found a dog goober! Luckily our current dogs aren't bad at this and aren't slobbery breeds either. But when they come home from dog kennels they sometimes have kennel cough or a 'dog cold' and sneeze and wheeze for a week or so (even when they are vaccinated against it).

One of our cats loves to rub up against this particular corner! This is the wall trim where she rubs daily.

DOG HAIR.  Prepare to vacuum EVERY DAY or at LEAST every OTHER DAY.

Doggy beds and other doggy things take up space - make sure you have a place for them.

Kennels for puppy-hood, kennel training (potty training) and etc. Ours are grown now but LOVE their stupid kennel so we have to keep it up for them. It's their safe and happy place. It's an eye-sore but they would be sad if we took it down.

One of our dogs LOVES to slide down next to this couch and rub against it. The last couch she liked to use her nails on it! This one just has to go through discoloration as she loves to lay there - resting against it.

One of our cats LOVES to sit on the chair under the formal dining room table. I have to use a sticky roller to get the hair off. We never use this formal set except a few times a year... and it's easy to clean luckily. Now... when the cat had a urinary tract infection and got little blood stain dots all over.. not easy to clean.  You are warned.

Oh look! Someone ate too fast, threw up their cat food this morning and ate it again. Leaving just the nice stain for me to clean.

The deck. The poor, poor deck that we have to repaint every year because the dogs (large dogs) nails gouge it when they run and leap off the dog or run back to the deck to come in from being outside playing. Poor wood.

Cat door.  Mandatory for a private place to keep your cat box if you want to keep it 'out of the way' and out of peoples noses AND especially if you have a dog who considers the kitty litter boxes a place to grab a special 'treat' when no one is looking. Yes, they really do. We put ours in the laundry room with a small pet door the cats can get through - the two dogs cannot.

Speaking of cat boxes... yes they do smell. Yes you have to scoop daily or it stinks even with the crap they sell that says it fights odors.  And don't forget not only do you need a place to keep the kitty litter box, but prepare for the scatter of litter surrounding it as they go in and out.

Finding a place for your dog food bowls and water bowls.  (Cats too although our cats bowls are in the laundry room)

See my fake plant?  I cannot have ANY REAL PLANTS OF ANY TYPE because of our cats will eat it. No matter WHAT it is. He actually eats fake plants and grass too so even 'fake' decorative reeds, grass, tall grasses in vases, etc. are chewed and ate. This is the ONE fake plant he doesn't.

Sometimes rugs can never recover from stains and the cleaners used to treat them.

Not only can you not leave food on counters at night (cats WILL sneak up at night even if they never ever ever jump up during the day) but even little grease containers from a table top grill (we make bacon in ours), butter, crackers, etc are fair game.

Yes dog and cat food adds up in cost - but you also need to make sure you have a place to keep it.  Especially with big dogs.  You'll go through quite a bit of food.

No more quick last minute trips.  No more impromptu weekends away without planning for dog and cat care.  And the price of dog care (especially for 2 dogs) does not come cheap.  Having pets is actually worse than having a baby because babies are more 'instant travel friendly' for weekend trips.

EVERYTHING REVOLVES AROUND THE "OUT" SCHEDULE.  Morning time potty, breakfast, 5:30 potty, dinner time, don't forget to let the dogs out before bed!  Hurry home from errands, etc. because "we gotta let the dogs out" becomes a part of life.

A permanent indentation and fur collection spot as one of our cats LOVES to lay in this spot every day/night.

Dog nails.  Because the mailman, a squirrel, a voice in the street, a truck, heck even a butterfly - is something to get really excited about and run to the window and put our paws on the ledge and bark and bark and bark.  And big dogs nails do some deep damage.

Our black cat with really beautiful, soft, thick fur loves to sleep on our daughter white comforter.  This comforter was washed 1 week ago. She is at college though right now so the comforter is all the cats.... and she knows it! She loves to roll and snuggle down to sleep in this comforter.

Look what I found!  GREAT timing for this blog post.  A hair ball I didn't even know they deposited in the spare room.

Gotta have a place for the dogs to 'do their business' and prepare to do 'dog dootie' picking it up.  If you don't you WILL step in it and regret it.

Nails.  Either clipping yourself or taking them into be clipped and groomed.  Either way. Regular grooming is a must.

Ahhh a reminder of our dogs "puppy-hood".  CHEWING.  Even if you are home with them all the time, they have 50 chew toys, and you watch constantly they will still find ways and times to sneak in some furniture leg chewing when you aren't looking. Luckily the chew stage is over by about 1 year.

When we THOUGHT our Golden mix was done with the chewing stage I found this one day... she had completely chewed the entire bottom corner of our kitchen cupboard off!  I could find no way to fix it as it is literally part of the cupboard with our double built-in microwave and oven. So I used wood putty to mold a fake corner.

As I mentioned above, our dogs are 5 years old and our cats are 14.  That is another thing to keep in mind.  Pets live a long time.  As a matter of fact, we had a Betta Fish that lived 8 YEARS.  Some people are lucky if theirs lives 8 weeks... ours was 8 years - that's crazy long for a Betta.   And our cats are so healthy and active (still! at 14 years old!) that I'm pretty sure they are never going to die.  They are immortal.  ;)

OK!  Well now that I've given you just a FEW things to think about that perhaps you didn't consider... (and there are more, I didn't get to all of them) if you can still say "You know, I'm cool with all that..."  then YES YOU ARE READY TO HAVE A CAT AND OR DOGS!  Congratulations!  :)

You might be interested in some items related to this post available through Amazon;

The Kitty Pass Interior Cat/Pet Door for Hidden Litter Box, 7.5 x 6.5-Inch
AKC Casablanca Round Solid Pet Bed
Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer, Standard
Nature's Miracle Jaw Scoop, Jumbo (P-6008)
ScoopFree Litter Tray Refills with Premium Blue Crystals - 3-Pack

If you enjoy visiting Just the Coffee Talking, please consider using this affiliate link if you are planning to shop for anything (seriously, anything!) at Amazon. - Amazon by Coffee Talking