Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ones That Mother Gives You Don't Do Anything At All

When you walk downstairs into the basement of the Allen County Museum, try not to get too  distracted by the iron lung (which is a terrifying thing in person, by the way.  Just thinking about being trapped inside a giant fishbowl with this noisy machine breathing for me makes me claustrophobic).  And don't stare too long at the portrait of Phyllis Diller hanging over the landing, proudly declaring her to be a native of Lima, Ohio.  But when you reach the bottom of the stairs, do look left.

There's a display case hanging from the wall.  It's filled with little objects, most smaller than your finger.  It seems innocuous enough, until you read the title plate fixed to the top of the case.    

Objects Removed from Esophagus, Bronchial Tree (Lungs), and Larynx 
of Patients of Drs. Estey C. Yingling and Walter E. Yingling 

The Yinglings were a father and son act, doctors in Lima who often treated the patients at the Lima State Mental Hospital.  It stands to reason that some of these objects might have been pulled from those throats, but the identifying card each object is tied to makes no mention of where the object was retrieved, just when, who, and how old they were.  There's nothing that says why they held on to and so neatly catalogued their findings.  I can only assume one turned to the other and said "Take a look at this.  Isn't this weird?"

It's an impressive collection, if only for the sheer variety.  It's amazing what some people will try to fit in their mouths.  Some of them are to be expected - lots of buttons and coins, bone fragments from steak and chicken dinners.  More safety pins than I expected.  They're all displayed open, their still sharp points glinting evilly under fluorescent lights.  For my own piece of mind, I imagine they went into the mouth closed.  There's also a handful of rusty screws and nails, mostly pulled from children.  I can only hope that they're rusted with age, and weren't that way when they went into the mouths of babes, but I wouldn't put it past a kid to think a brown nail looks delicious.

Among the stranger things in the display is half of a set of false teeth (the top half, I think), and about five inches of rubber tubing, pulled from a teenage girl.  There's nothing on the i.d. cards that says just how these objects ended up in anyone's throat, but I think, when it comes to rubber tubing, I'm grateful for the mystery.  I don't think I want, nor to I really need, to know how or why a young lady ends up with that much tubing in her mouth.

In case you were wondering, the oldest person in the display is Herbert Painter, who had what looks like a piece of T-bone taken out at the ripe old age of 83.  Thomas Hermiller swallowed a two inch screw at 3 months, which proves you really can't let them out of your sight for anything. 

And my favorite?  Well, I'm partial to the false teeth, but I'm utterly charmed by what looks to be a heart shaped plastic dog tag hanging in the corner, extracted from another Herbert, Herbert A. Norld, aged 8 months.

1 comment:

Ashleigh said...

Wow...who would've thunk it? Very Interesting!!!!