The Dionne Quints freakshow
From http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/book/may28.html: May 28, 1934, Corbeil, Ontario, Canada, between 3 and 6 am: During the dark days of the Great Depression, the Dionne quintuplets were born two months prematurely to a poverty-stricken young French-Catholic farming couple, Oliva and Elzire Dionne. They were to become part of a family of 13.
The girls, Annette, Cecile, Emilie, Marie and Yvonne, became the first quintuplets to survive infancy. Each weighing no more than 0.9 kilos (2 pounds), they were put next to a stove in their family's simple farmhouse to keep warm, and mothers from surrounding villages brought breast milk for them.
The unusual occurrence, combined with the Dionne family's poor background, made them the sensation of depression-era Canada and even inspired three Hollywood movies. Dr Allan Roy Dafoe, the doctor who delivered the babies, also became an international celebrity.
In 1935, the Ontario government took the quints from their parents, making them wards of the state, and placed them in a hospital-cum-tourist attraction called Quintland where they were exploited for commercial gain by many individuals, local businesses and national and multinational corporations. The sisters were the nation's biggest tourist attraction -- more popular than Niagara Falls. By the time of the girls' tenth birthday, about three million gawking tourists had visited the 'theme hospital. The Ontario government and local businesses alone made an estimated half billion dollars off the quints.
In 1998, the survivors tried to find out what happened to around $1 million that disappeared from a trust fund set up for them when they were taken from their parents. On a brighter note, the sisters finally won four million dollars as compensation from the Ontario government, though far less than what the government had received in taxes from Dionne-oriented exploitation ...
Categories: science, children, science