Friday Fun Facts - 1/18/2013

Here are this week's Friday Fun Facts about Diana Gabaldon's books.

1) This is a portrait of Dr. Benjamin Rush (1746-1813), painted by Charles Willson Peale in 1783, only a few years after Lord John's meeting with Rush in ECHO:
Word spread through the people round them that Grey was a friend of Franklin’s, and he was much hailed in consequence, eventually being conveyed by insensible degrees through the crowd until he found himself face-to-face with Benjamin Rush.

It wasn’t the first time Grey had been in close proximity to a criminal, and he kept his composure. This was plainly not the time to lay his nephew’s situation before Rush, and Grey contented himself with shaking the young doctor by the hand and mentioning his connection with Franklin. Rush was most cordial, and shouted over the noise that Grey must come to call at his house when they both should be at leisure, perhaps in the morning.

(From AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 58, "Independence Day". Copyright© 2009 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.) 
Dr. Rush was a prominent physician, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence.  In 1803, he provided medical supplies for the Lewis and Clark expedition.  According to Wikipedia, these included
fifty dozen of Dr. Rush's Bilious Pills, laxatives containing more than 50% mercury, which the corps called "thunderclappers". Their meat-rich diet and lack of clean water during the expedition gave the men cause to use them frequently. Though their efficacy is questionable, their high mercury content provided an excellent tracer by which archaeologists have been able to track the corps' actual route to the Pacific.
I wonder if Claire encountered him during her time in Philadelphia?

2) This is a Kewpie doll from the 1960's. Look here for a better view.
He lifted the blanket slightly, exposing tiny Joan’s sleeping face, and smiled--as people always did--at sight of her comical quiff of brown hair, which came to a point like a Kewpie doll’s.

(From THE FIERY CROSS by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 1, "Happy the Bride the Sun Shines On". Copyright© 2001 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
From Wikipedia:
Their name, often shortened to "Kewpies", is derived from "cupid", the Roman god of beauty and – as Eros is the Greek version of Cupid – erotic love. The early dolls, especially signed or bisque, are highly collectible and worth thousands of dollars. The time capsule at the 1939 New York World's Fair contained a Kewpie doll.
Here's an article about the history of Kewpie dolls. I had no idea they'd been around for 100 years!

3) This photo shows fossilized teeth of a cave bear from Romania.  I think it's similar to the one Father Michael showed Jamie in THE SCOTTISH PRISONER:
He plucked a discolored chunk of what looked like ivory out of the clutter on the shelf and put it into Jamie's hand. It proved to be an enormous tooth, long and curving to a blunt point.

"Recognize that, do you?"

"It"s the tooth of something verra large that eats flesh, Father," Jamie said, smiling slightly. "But I couldna tell ye is it a lion or a bear, having not had the advantage of bein' bitten by either one. Yet," he added, with a discreet sign against evil. "But as I havena heard that there are lions in Germany..."

The abbot laughed.

"Most observant, mo mhic, a bear is just what it is. A cave bear."

(From THE SCOTTISH PRISONER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 19, "Quagmire". Copyright© 2011 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

This is a reconstruction of what a cave bear might have looked like. Click on the photo for a bigger view.  They were comparable in size to the largest modern-day bears. According to Wikipedia,
The cave bear (Ursus spelaeus) was a species of bear that lived in Europe during the Pleistocene and became extinct at the beginning of the Last Glacial Maximum, about 27,500 years ago.
Many cave bear fossils have been found in caves in Central Europe, so it's plausible that Lawrence Stern would have encountered them during his travels.

4) This photo shows what a smallpox vaccination scar looks like.  I never had a smallpox vaccination, and so I was baffled when I first read the scene in OUTLANDER where Claire sees Geillis Duncan's scar:
For I hadn’t stood frozen at the revelation of Geilie’s pregnancy. It was something else I had seen that chilled me to the marrow of my bones. As Geilie had spun, white arms stretched aloft, I saw what she had seen when my own clothes were stripped away. A mark on one arm like the one I bore. Here, in this time, the mark of sorcery, the mark of a magus. The small, homely scar of a smallpox vaccination.

(From OUTLANDER by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 25, "Thou Shalt Not Suffer a Witch to Live". Copyright© 1991 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)
Smallpox was highly contagious and often fatal. According to Wikipedia,
Transmission occurs through inhalation of airborne variola virus, usually droplets expressed from the oral, nasal, or pharyngeal mucosa of an infected person. It is transmitted from one person to another primarily through prolonged face-to-face contact with an infected person, usually within a distance of 6 feet (1.8 m), but can also be spread through direct contact with infected bodily fluids or contaminated objects such as bedding or clothing.
No wonder the sailors aboard the Gloriana were so alarmed at the thought that smallpox had broken out on board ship!

The photo above (from the CDC) shows an infant covered with smallpox lesions. When I look at this picture, I can't help thinking of the baby infected with the disease who was tossed overboard in DRUMS, or Jamie's elder brother Willie, who died of smallpox at the age of eleven. Not to mention the many millions of real people who died throughout history from smallpox. I'm glad we live in a time when this horrible disease has been eradicated!

5) The photos above show a couple of different species of grasshoppers found in North Carolina. Look here for more pictures.
I shuddered in memory. A cloud of the nasty goggle-eyed things had come whirring through, just at the end of the barley harvest. I’d gone up to my garden to pick greens, only to discover said greens seething with wedge-shaped bodies and shuffling, clawed feet, my lettuces and cabbages gnawed to ragged nubbins and the morning-glory vine on the palisade hanging in shreds.

“I ran and got Mrs. Bug and Lizzie, and we drove them off with brooms—but then they all rose up in a big cloud and headed up through the wood to the field beyond the Green Spring. They settled in the barley; you could hear the chewing for miles. It sounded like giants walking through rice.” Goosebumps of revulsion rose on my shoulders, and Jamie rubbed my skin absently, his hand large and warm.

“Mmphm. Was it only the one field they got, then?”

“Oh, yes.” I took a deep breath, still smelling the smoke. “We torched the field, and burnt them alive."

(From A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES by Diana Gabaldon, chapter 16, "Le Mot Juste". Copyright© 2005 by Diana Gabaldon. All rights reserved.)

Here's a video of a grasshopper-infested field. After watching this, I don't blame Claire one bit for being furious enough to torch an entire barley field full of them!

I hope you enjoyed these Friday Fun Facts! Look here to see all of my Friday Fun Facts blog posts. And please stop by next week for more!


Gay Wilkins said...

I have a small pox scar. Most of the people in their sixties will have them. My father had small pox when he was a teenager. He said that everyday they burned all of the linen and dishes he had used. When he was better they burned his bed. The only people allowed in his room were people who had had small pox.

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