Betty  Smith

“Before school, there had to be vaccination. That was the law. How it was dreaded! When the health authorities tried to explain to the poor and illiterate that vaccination was a giving of the harmless form of smallpox to work up immunity against the deadly form, the parents didn’t believe it. All they got out of the explanation was that germs would be put into a healthy child’s body. Some foreign-born parents refused to permit their children to be vaccinated. They were not allowed to enter school. Then the law got after them for keeping the children out of school. A free country? they asked. You should live so long. What’s free about it, they reasoned, when the law forces you to educate your children and then endangers their lives to get them into school? Weeping mothers brought bawling children to the health center for inoculation. They carried on as though bringing their innocents to the slaughter. The children screamed hysterically at the first sight of the needle and their mothers, waiting in the anteroom, threw their shawls over their heads and keened loudly as if wailing for the dead. Francie”


Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
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A Tree Grows in Brooklyn A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
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