Rubella Jill


Ft Bliss Texas – Part Two

From Wikipedia, “There was a pandemic of rubella between 1962 and 1965, starting in Europe and spreading to the United States. In the years 1964-65, the United States had an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases. This led to 11,000 miscarriages or therapeutic abortions and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome. Of these, 2,100 died as neonates, 12,000 were deaf, 3,580 were blind and 1,800 were mentally retarded. In New York alone, CRS affected 1% of all births. In 1969 a live attenuated virus vaccine was licensed. In the early 1970s, a triple vaccine containing attenuated measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) viruses was introduced.”

Staring at myself in the mirror, tears running down my spotty face, getting rashier by the second. I call Ray.  “It’s German Measles”.

“Don’t get upset. It could be something else. Let’s get you to the doctor. Then check at school and see if any kids have it.”

I scream, “It’s fucking German Measles!” My mind empties. I can’t focus. My heart slams against the mesh of my lungs, vibrating the rash all over me, burning my skin, my eyes. Sucking my tears dry. I wade through the weekend making calls for help. Nobody can. The principal says “your student Bobby’s sick. His grandfather, who’s a doctor, said he’s come down with Rubella.” I moan. Why did he have to be in my class, the only pregnant teacher in the school?

”The base clinic says, “Come in Monday for a Gamma Globulin shot. It’s all we’ve got.”

I reply trembling, “Let’s do it.”

I sit in the waiting room. Looking up, away from myself, I see several obviously pregnant women surrounding me. A scene from a recent “Monkey Virus Infects the World” movie flashes before my eyes. I jump up to the desk. “I can’t stay here.” I whisper. The whole place ‘ll panic. I’ll get stoned. I mouth “German Measles.” They grab and isolate me in an examining room. Typhoid Mary! Another blow. They jam in the needle of gamma globulin. I cry, “What good will it do?” They don’t know. Maybe stop the rampage? Maybe nothing?

I  falter, check into abortions; only legal in two states, New York and Arizona. I can’t do it. I’m too late, too far along, too far away. The doctors try to be reassuring, “all the big stuff is developed by three months, except hearing.”

Living on base, finishing out the school year, preparing to leave Ft. Bliss, all is a blur, a void. My first child, that happy experience we haven’t really planned for, has taken a turn of foreboding.

Ray studying the stock market at Ft. Bliss

It’s 1967. In the next few months our lives change drastically.  The first decision is Ray’s. Taking the lead from my father, a very successful investor, he’s been studying the stock market, during his years of armed service preparing for a short internship on Wall Street and the ensuing SEC exam. A family friend has offered him a job in Daytona Beach, Florida with the prestigious firm, Merrill Lynch, pending his successful completion.

A bout of morning sickness makes me fully aware of my pregnancy in all its glory and distress. Being of strong body and positive nature I keep my apprehensions at bay and concentrate on a healthy beautiful baby. After a short visit home with our families on the Gulf Coast we cross the state to begin our new life and find a sweet house in a family neighborhood half a block from the beach. I find an OB/GYN who tells me not to worry my pretty little head about the German Measles epidemic. Everything will be fine. I want to remain in the sheep-following stage of the 50’s, wanting to believe the “Doctor knows best”, and ask no more questions.


Cars on Daytona Beach

Although student protests are beginning, first over segregation, then over the war in Viet Nam, Texas and Florida lag behind. The schools in Florida are just beginning to integrate. The medical community lags too. At Halifax Hospital where my son is born on Oct. 21, fathers aren’t even allowed on the Obstetrics floor. They have to wait in the lobby downstairs. I’m given a shot of painkiller as soon as the labor is strong and regular. No one asks me if I want it. Natural childbirth is out of fashion with the advent of strong painkillers. My one question about the possible damage to the fetus is answered with, “We’ll do a hearing test along with the other birth assessments.”

Next Time – Child Birth


JURY SUMMONS for the Shawn Tyson Murder Trial


March 20 – Back from Costa Rica and after a few days I’m able to attack the 2 month pile of mail. Glaring in big red letters is JURY SUMMONS March 20 8 am.” Oh shit! That’s today. I’ve missed it by hours’. First I’m kind of glad. I fill out the back with my usual excuse: ‘Just returned from Costa Rica where I live for six months a year and received the summons too late. Sorry.’

March 21 – I read the Sarasota Herald Tribune and realize I would have been one of the prospective jurors for the trial of Shawn Tyson, accused of murdering British tourists J. Cooper and J. Kouzaris. Because of the huge media blitz in the notorious Brit tabloids this trial is being watched around the world and Florida tourism is not happy.

Thoughts rush and tumble through my mind:

  1. I would have liked to be on this jury. Not like my last experience as a juror, which was a typical whiplash scam.
  2. They’d never have chosen me anyway: A. I don’t believe in capital punishment. B. Too pro black with my experience teaching in the black community and having close black friends.
  3. The trial could last a really long time and I’d miss a visit from my California/Costa Rican boyfriend who’s already got a ticket to Florida for the Wannee Festival.

March 22 – Headline reads “Witnesses could present obstacle.” The jury is seated, but prosecutors asked questions like: “What do you think about a witness who receives benefit for testifying?” What? I turn the page and there they are – four witnesses who have already received something for their future testimony: avoided 10 years in prison, received a reduced charge, received a housing waver to move to a safer home or avoided being charged as an accessory. What again? Isn’t this bribery?

from Wikipedia: “The bribe is the gift bestowed to influence the recipient’s conduct. It may be any moneygoodright in actionpropertyprefermentprivilege,emolument, object of value, advantage, or merely a promise or undertaking to induce or influence the action, vote, or influence of a person in an official or public capacity.

Hmmmm. So this is our democratic system and a right to a fair trial? I always knew this happened – plea bargaining – but this is going too far. Sounds like our judicial system has gone the way of our political system.

And the other murder here in Florida will be the subject of my next blog (which I’ve neglected way too long) – unarmed and black Trayvon Martin being gunned down by neighborhood watcher George Zimmerman. And he’s still not been arrested because of a self defense charge. Huh? Martin only had some Skittles and a bottle of iced tea on him. At least this one has lots of protests.