October 5th, 2015

Orphan Trains

child on trainI would guess that many of you, like me, had never heard of the orphan trains until the publication of Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Since its publication in 2013 it has been a surprise hit and a book club favorite. It tells a story about a little-known but important part of American history: the Orphan Train Movement.

Founded in 1853 in New York City, the Children’s Aid Society committed itself to the “placing out” of children from the slums of New York City to rural America. Between 1854 and 1930, 150,000 children would ride the so-called orphan trains. The goal was to move destitute children from New York City and other large East coast cities, to the Midwest where it was thought they would enjoy a better way of life. The children boarded the trains carrying all of their possessions in a cardboard suitcase. At each stop the children would disembark where interested citizens would make their choices. If a child was not chosen they were sent on to the next town. Despite the Society’s best efforts, some children suffered. Though they tried to keep siblings together, often brothers and sisters would be separated. Some felt abandoned and lonely and were viewed by their adoptive families and communities as outsiders. In the worst cases they were treated as slave labor and physically abused. But for many it was a blessing and they were adopted by loving families.

On Wednesday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m., award-winning author and member of the National Orphan Train Historical Society, Donna Aviles, will speak at the Perryville Branch Library. As the granddaughter of an orphan train rider, Ms. Aviles has a very personal connection to its history. The presentation will include a discussion of the Orphan Train Movement and a recording of the reminiscences of an Orphan Train rider as he recalls his experience travelling from a New York orphanage to Kansas.

Will you join us on October 14?

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May 11th, 2015

NMTC Science Café: People, Ticks, and Lyme Disease

Deer tickI was chatting with a patron recently about an investigative report on how little is spent on Lyme disease prevention and research.

This is an important topic to me as I have been treated for Lyme disease after finding the bull’s eye bite plus the flu-like symptoms and severe headache. When I started to search for facts about Lyme disease, I found some eye opening information.

Ron Hamlen, PhD., Vice-chair, Lyme Disease Association of Southeastern PA, Inc., sent me some information compiled by Dr. Daniel Cameron, a researcher and expert on tick-borne diseases.

Here a few quick facts about the seriousness of Lyme disease:


– Ticks have been around for 15,000,000 years and the first case was described 5300 years ago.

– CDC reports 300,000 new cases/year, that’s 822 cases/week

– It is the fastest growing disease over HIV, Breast Cancer, Hepatitis and Colon Cancer

– Research funding is only $21 million compared to Hepatitis ($200 million), Colon Cancer ($288 million), Breast Cancer ($674 million) and HIV (3005 Million)

– The Elisa test used is only 35-50% accurate, the disease is usually misdiagnosed because it exhibits symptoms similar to other diseases. Fewer than 50% people remember being bitten by a tick or even noticing a rash.

– 40% of Lyme patients end up with long-term health problems. If left untreated, 60% patients have arthritis with severe joint pain and swelling

– Some Lyme disease patients are as disabled as people with Congestive Heart Failure and have as much pain as post-operative patients

If you want to learn about Lyme disease, come to our NMTC Science Café: People, Ticks and Lyme Disease with Ron Hamlen, PhD, Lyme Disease Assoc. of Southeastern PA. We will have an informal discussion led by Dr. Hamlen, May 19, 7:00 pm at the Elkton Central Library.
If you can’t come to the program but are still interested in this topic, go to NIH, MDHM or CDC (as per links below)

Did you know dogs can contract Lyme disease, too?

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