19 April 2019

Published April 17, 2019 by rochellewisoff

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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit. 

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson


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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


Dora never took “no” for an answer. As a wife and a balabusta extraordinaire, she kept her Bronx apartment in immaculate order. With her children she was a rough taskmaster.

            She doted on her eldest son, a docile, studious boy. “Always your head’s in a book—destined for greatness.”

            She kvelled when he exceeded even her expectations.

            After his City College graduation with a Bachelor of Chemistry degree, he informed her he had set his sights on law school.

            “Lawyers are a dime a dozen, Jonas,” said Dora Salk. “Go to medical school. The world will thank you for it.”

Yiddishkeit Glossary:

balabusta – homemaker

kvell – burst with pride, to boast (What? You never kvelled over your kids? Say it isn’t so. 😉 )


*Remember Polio? If you don’t, Jonas Salk is the man to thank. I, for one, am grateful for those times I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into Dr. Cohen’s office for polio shots. A stick in the arm beats Infantile Paralysis any day of the week. 😉


97 comments on “19 April 2019

  • This strikes a chord Rochelle as the discoverers of insulin – which my son is reliant on to live – did a similar thing, refusing to patent it in order to make it available to all. Unfortunately our modern pharma companies don’t seem to share that same ethos…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Iain,

      The pharma companies are certainly out for the money these days, aren’t they? I didn’t know about the discoverers of insulin refusing patent. I know millions whose lives literally depend on that kind of humanitarianism. Thank you for sharing that with me. Love to you and your son.



      Liked by 2 people

      • If you want to get into conspiracy theories, many in the diabetes community think the reason we are still waiting for a cure is because big pharma would stand to lose so much money if insulin was no longer required that they are deliberately blocking research. Not sure I believe it myself, but it does make you ponder…

        Liked by 2 people

  • A good dose of historical fiction there, Rochelle. Also, it was quite fantastic of the good doctor not to have patented his vaccine. Don’t think the modern pharmas would do anything like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I remember when the Salk Vaccine came to my school. I was in first or second grade. Long lines of us in the cafeteria, some crying because they hated needles, others joking and laughing. Me? I was a bit nervous, but also excited to thing this was going to help make me safe from the dreaded polio.

    Great story as always, Rochelle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Josh,

      Would I murder a woman in the snow? I might, however…never mind. I actually wept over the research. Ever hear of polio, boys and girls? Ever hear of measles? Oy…we won’t go there, will we? At any rate, Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

      • I missed the polio summers by a generation, but my dad talked about it. Every May, somebody would get sick. Then maybe another. Always children. They would be gone for weeks or months or forever. Sometimes they would live their lives in an iron lung, or with braces, or in a wheelchair. Nobody knew what caused it, why people caught it, or what to do about it. Salk changed all that. Did you know the first three people to get the vaccine were Salk and his family?

        Liked by 1 person

        • All of Dr. Salk’s team vaccinated their own children first. That was a leap of faith indeed. I was born in the midst of the epidemic. My brother and I are lucky that polio passed us by. I hated the shots…in fact fought them tooth and nail. I’m grateful now for every needle.


  • A great story, although very little fiction here. Dr. Salk was, indeed, a great man. I wish more doctors in this day and age had the same ethics. It seems to be all about money today which puts so many people at risk because they cannot afford the outrageous costs today. Keep educating us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jan,

      Of course the fiction is that I can’t verify the words between mother and son. 😉 Ethics? We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics. It’s all about the money. Crazy times we live in. Thank you, m’luv.


  • Dear Rochelle,

    A wonderful piece of history, this. And perfect timing with all those crazy anti-vaxxers making a foolish ruckus. I had no idea he didn’t patent it. What a wonderful humanitarian. So many peeps in the pharmaceutical industry could learn a thing or two…

    Shalom and lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      It’s sad that the pharmaceutical industry has become more about big business (and annoying TV ads) than truly helping people or curing disease. On top of that you have the anti-vaxxers whom I hold personally responsible for the current measles outbreak. Really? Oy, see what you did? 😉 Well you know how I feel. Thank you for such a lovely comment.

      Shalom and lotsa hugs,


      Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Abhijit,

      While the joke is that Jewish mothers want their sons to be doctors or lawyers, I’d have to disagree with you on this one. I think Dora did know her son in this instant. And those who sailed through childhood without polio have them to thank. Thank you.




  • I really must read to the end before Googlng all the terms 🙂
    He sounds like a great man, he could have made a fortune. Reminds me of Sir Tim Berners-Lee – if he’d patented the WWW where would we be?

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thanks Rochelle for reminding us of Dr.Salk.
    We all have to thank him for his niceness and ethics. The world is much more than merely earning degrees or money.
    Mothers have a huge role to play. We need more doctors for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Wonderful story about an exemplary scientist, and so timely. There are many, many good and ethical scientists out there and there is a lot being done on ethics, but all we hear about these days are the bad examples. I got the vaccine with a sugar cube, don’t remember a needle. The pox vaccine was with a needle, but for the first I was too small to remember and for the second a teen, so no drama there. And, both diseases are mostly gone. This should have happened with measles by now… As a kid I could very well have done without them, fever and pain, three weeks of school lost, eyes hurting…

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Gabi,

    The term “polio shot” used to strike terror into my childish heart. In retrospect I’m grateful for it. By the time I was in my early teens, I think, we got the sugar cube instead of the needle. At any rate, either way…

    Oy, Measles. I had both varieties. I remember having to be kept in a dark room and being quite ill. The mumps vaccine came out when I was 14. I asked my mother to take me to the doctor for that one. (Imagine her surprise). There was never a question when my children came along. Guess what? None of them had measles or mumps. (Don’t get me started on anti-vaxxers 😉 )

    Thank you re my story.




  • Hi Rochelle!
    A great flash about a generous genius. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know Dr Salk’s name before I read it. Thank you for your flash. Now I’ll make sure I never forget it:) I belong to the fortunate who were able to have been vaccinated in the early 60s. It’s daunting to think of how many we owe so much to…
    Hope you have a good weekend:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Margaret,

      I’m always happy to share what little Yiddish I know. 😉 Such an expressive language. Dora sounds like quite a formidable woman, but aren’t we glad that she was such a pushy mother? Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • A great tribute. Amazing to think that Jonas Salk would have been richer by $7 billion if his vaccine had been patented. Probably the biggest charity donor in history. India has not reported a single case of polio since January 2012. The method of vaccination may have changed but thanks to Jonas Salk’s vaccine the country has done remarkably well in eradicating polio.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thank goodness Jonas Salk listened to his mother! The world doesn’t need another lawyer, but it definitely needed his polio vaccination. I remember taking my son for his – such a simple act to avoid such a damaging disease. Love your scenes of domesticity that lead to greatness – they remind us that the people who perform great acts and achieve amazing things are just normal people at heart, that any of us are capable of making a difference. Lovely story, Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

  • another gem of history Rochelle, thank you. Love the scene from his childhood, and Balabusta & Kvell. I never knew his name, and here we all are free from polio. My best school friend had polio and walked with quite a limp. That was not so long ago, Thank you Dr Salk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Francine,

      Another friend shared that her sister had polio in 1953. Those of us who came through the era unscathed are fortunate. I look back on that and thank heaven for Dr. Salk. Thank you.




  • Finally catching up, and yes! We were on the very same page this week! I wonder what about this photo inspired that. I get the ghost connection that I think many found (again, still catching up), but what took you and I to vaccinations? Go see the comments on mine for more on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn,

      For me, I’d already chosen the photo when they announced on some show that it was Jonas Salk’s birthday…or something like that. An anniversary? I’m not sure. But that led me to a documentary about him and his dedication. I was in tears halfway through. I knew that somehow I had to find a story about him in the photo. Read Wikipedia. They lived in an apartment. Voila! The picture could be an apartment building. Right? Of course, right!
      With all the anti-vaxxer mishegass these days and measles outbreaks, I can see how you were led in a similar direction.
      Yeah…lots of ghosts and body parts in trash bags. 😉
      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

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