The ups and downs, and a shot in the butt.

I tried to think about something light-hearted. But all I could come up with was Diphtheria. Yep. Diphtheria. We don’t hear much about it these day. I thought about it this morning because I was reading a little piece on Elisha Otis. Of course, we all know Elisha Otis. At least, any of us who have listened to the mediocre sounds of elevator music — that prerecorded background blah, meant to provide a bland, soothing atmosphere as we traverse up and down and back again. But he didn’t have anything to do with the selection of musical fare. No. He is the guy who actually invented the elevator, back in the 1850s.

He lived in Yonkers back then. He fine tuned the system of the Lift, as they call it in England. And he also created a safety device that prevents elevators from falling if the hoisting cable fails. We can all thank him for our trips to the tip top floors. By 1854, he had the finished product.

Not too many years later, he caught Diphtheria and died. I wasn’t exactly sure what the disease was. I thought it was intestinal, to be honest. But low and behold, it masks as a cold. Highly contagious. It causes, and I quote, “inflammation of the mucous membranes, formation of a false membrane in the throat that hinders breathing and swallowing, and potentially fatal heart and nerve damage by a bacterial toxin in the blood. It is now rare in developed countries because of immunization.” (CDC). Otis died in 1861. He was only 49 years old. Who knows what else he might have invented had it not been for the brush with that old Diphtheria.

But, as the CDC mentioned, immunization has saved most of us from this peril. Just as the safety cable in the elevator keeps us from crashing to our death. Do we absolutely need it? Of course not, so long as we are okay with dying a horrible death, decades before our time. Or crashing, stories and stories, before our floor comes up.

There’s a new photo going around lately. It shows a cute, healthy girl, with braided blond pig tails. She stands there, in her wholesome, smiling way, pointing to her T-shirt which reads:

Spoiler Alert: Jesus Wasn’t Vaccinated.

Of course, the anti-vaxxers are spreading this photo like wildfire. But let’s consider the logic. Jesus didn’t drive cars either. Or use electricity. Or ride in a motorboat across the water. Spoiler alter: Jesus had to walk. And then there’s the thing about the life expectancy when Jesus was around. It was about 25 to 30 years, without those vaccines.

So what is the point?

Granted, Jesus has never called me on my cell phone and chatted it up. But I’ve been taking my chances with vaccines. So far, it has worked out. Not to mention, for all of my friends and family, that I’m aware of. I’ve know multitudes of people who have stayed on the side of caution and taken the shots. Not a one has died from such a thing, nor have they developed Autism. The Russians are probably fueling this campaign against vaccinations too. To try and decrease our numbers, incrementally. Since dropping a bomb is out of the question for now.

So today, I’m with Otis. It was his birthday, by the way. (Born August 3, 1811 in
Halifax, Vermont.). But I’m with him. I’m taking the elevator with the safety cable.


“Kelly was a seaman, and his life on the water followed a strict routine, which meant observing all the safety rules that had been written in the blood of less careful men.” – Author Tom Clancy, Without Remorse


“For safety is not a gadget but a state of mind.” -Eleanor Everet


“The safety of the people shall be the highest law.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher born in 106 BC