Monday, July 28, 2008

Rh factor, the picture book

As I get used to this blog, I have decided to try to make Monday a day for excerpts of works in progress. Personally, it encourages me to work. Also, feedback is always appreciated.

Since I did the reading of Doctors Jane and Alexander yesterday, I am putting an excerpt from the picture book I am working on about my grandfather.

The reading yesterday went well--small audience, but it gave me a sense of where the show is. And the actors did a great job--I'm lucky to know so many talented people.

The main conundrum left, I think, is how to involve my grandfather more/dramatize his arc. The problem is a lack of data...there's much less found text about him then, say, my Mom, who I can interview at any point.

But I'm thinking about it...

Anyway, here's a excerpt from a picture book I am tentative titled My Grandfather, the Blood Doctor

“Your grandfather is a very great man,” people would tell me, growing up. Even my own doctor, Dr. Poch, told me that. My grandfather had made a great discovery, something that saved a lot of lives: the Rh factor.

I was very proud. Even though I wasn’t sure what exactly the Rh factor was. Something to do with blood.

My grandfather’s name was Dr. Alexander Wiener. That was the name that was on his books, or in articles about him, or even in a cartoon about him I had once seen in a school magazine.

I called him Pop Pop Al. I liked to sit on his lap in the living room, when I visited him in Brooklyn.

My Mom called him Dad.

When I was little, I was scared of blood. When I saw blood, I used to feel a little bit like throwing up. Once, my doctor needed to take some blood of mine for a test. I cried.

To make me feel better, my mother told me what it was like to be the daughter of a blood doctor.

“When I was your age,” she told me, “my sister Barbara and I used to play in my father’s laboratory all the time. In our house, we had the rooms in which we lived upstairs and the laboratory downstairs. Sometimes, we would come to visit Pop Pop downstairs, and he would give us his empty serum boxes. We attached ropes to them and played a game we called Elevator. We would fill the boxes with toys and pull them up and down the stairwell.”

“What’s serum?” I asked.

“Blood is made up of serum and plasma,” explained my Mom. “The plasma is what looks red, but the serum is clear. Pop Pop would separate the plasma from the serum in his laboratory. He used something called a centrifuge, which would spin test tubes full of blood round and round.”

“Gross,” I said.

“I thought it was really interesting,” said my Mom. “It would spin so fast. Sometimes he would send the test tubes full of serum to the hospital. That was what the serum boxes were used for.”

“And you played with those?”

“Not the ones that had been used, of course, that wouldn’t have been safe. Just the empty ones no one had used yet.”

“There were some women in his lab who worked as his assistants,” my Mom continued. “They were always very sweet to us. They would play with us, during their free time. Sometimes, Pop Pop tested their blood, when he was doing experiments.”

“They must have hated that,” I said.

“No, they didn’t mind. They wanted to help. They didn’t seem scared at all.

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