Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Decades before the advent of fertility drugs, the world was riveted by the birth of the Dionne quintuplets. The five identical girls became wards of the Province of Ontario shortly after their birth; they were taken from their parents and put on display in a specially built theme park called Quintland for the first 10 years of their lives, attracting more than 3 million visitors. In March of last year, the government finally apologized to the three surviving sisters for their mistreatment and paid them $2.8 million. An excerpt from The Post of May 29, 1934:
Corbeil, Ont., May 28 (AP). --
Five baby girls, the largest weighing 3 pounds and 4 ounces and the smallest a pound less, were born today to Mrs. Oliva Dionne in her farm home 2 miles from here.
Visitors found the 24-year-old mother and the babies in good condition and the father, seven years older than his wife, busy at his chores.
There are five other children in the family, the oldest, Ernest, being 7. One other child of the couple, who married in September, 1925, died.
"Oh, pretty good," said Mrs. Dionne after her French nurse interpreted to her inquiries as to how she was feeling.
"Well, do you feel proud of yourself?" the father was asked.
"I'm the kind of fellow they should put in jail," he answered.
The babies had not been weighed at the time a group of newspaper men and photographers, attracted by the report of Dr. A.R. Dafoe, the obstetrician, reached the farm.
A potato scale was produced and each of the loudly howling infants was placed on it.
The little girl identified as the oldest of the five weighed 3 pounds and 4 ounces and the two youngest registered 2 pounds and 4 ounces each. The total weight of all five was 13 pounds and 6 ounces.
The father was torn between pleasure at the unexpectedly large addition to his family and the thought of the financial burden.
He said he is going to do the best he can, but stressed the fact he is not exactly built for hard work, being 5 feet and 8 inches tall and weighing only 130 pounds. His wife is slightly smaller.
The Dionnes are buying their farm in this northern Ontario section, which is 9 miles southeast of Sudbury. There is still a heavy mortgage.
None of the Dionne children goes to school yet. The father speaks both English and French, the mother only French.
Mrs. Ben Lebell attended the mother at birth and reported all five girls were born between 4:30 and 5 a.m. Three of them arrived before the doctor did, she said.
The other living children in the family are Pauline, 11 months; Danie, 2 years; Theresa, 5; Rose, 6 and Ernest, 7.
This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com