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Friday, June 12, 1942
in What's New In Town
W. J. Sidis
The present accepted account of the origin of vaccination is that a Dr. Jenner discovered it in England in 1798. There is a contradiction somewhere, as George Washington appears to have gone through this treatment just before the retreat to Valley Forge (1777). It was a form of treatment advocated by Rev. Cotton Mather of Boston, and first administered in this country by Dr. Zebdiah Boylston, of Brookline, in 1721, when there was a smallpox epidemic in Boston. The first vaccination hospital ever set up anywhere was in that period, on Aspinwall Avenue in Brookline, and endowed by the Aspinwall who gave his name to that street. And this was over seventy years before it was discovered, according to official records! Anti-vaccinationists can also point to the fact that their side of the question was also first promulgated in Boston, and was supported largely by officialdom of that time. They stirred up mob violence, not only against Dr. Boylston, but against his patients; in November, 1721, a bomb was thrown into a patientís house, but the iron grating on the window caught and pulled out the fuse. Dr. Boylstonís house is still standing, on the slope of Fisher Hill facing the old Brookline reservoir. It is a square yellow house, and stands somewhat back from the street which still bears the doctorís name.
The three municipalities of Boston, Brookline, and Newton, come together at two different points. The northern junction is on the Highlands Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad, and close to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir pumping-machine buildings. The southern junction point of these three municipalities is in open country, a few hundred feet off Lagrange Street, which runs from the far end of Brookline into West Roxbury, cutting through a corner of southern Newton on the way out. The fact that the cities of Boston and Newton, between them, completely surround Brookline, accounts for there being two junction points instead of one. Each junction point is also a junction of three counties―Norfolk, Suffolk, and Middlesex.
Another important Boston invention was the rubber heel. It may be passing out now from temporary lack of material, but its importance and utility still remain. And so, whenever you walk, it may be Boston that is cushioning your steps and making walking easier on your feet.
The first probation system was in Massachusetts, and was originally applied only to children. In 1878, the Boston courts adopted a regular probationary system for criminal cases without regard to age, and the Commonwealth adopted this arrangement in 1880, some years ahead of any other place.
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