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Maternal Emulsion

July 2024
1min read


Like most worthy men, Dr. Parmenas Dyer, a highly respected nineteenth-century physician of Farmington, Maine, was fond of his mother, and when she died, he grieved deeply. But he cheered up a good deal when he discovered spiritualism and found that he could keep in touch with her at seances. Mother and son evidently remained close thereafter; so close, in fact, that when Dyer had himself photographed and the plate was developed, sure enough, his mother’s face mysteriously appeared on his coat—or so the doctor swore. One might be tempted to dismiss the story, except that Dyer seems to have had other peculiar powers as well. There was, for example, the case of a man whose leg Dyer had amputated who complained that the severed limb—by then buried in the local cemetery-somehow still hurt him fiercely. A trained medical practitioner, Dyer knew what to do: he dug up the leg, found that it had been laid to rest in an awkwardly bent position, straightened it out, and interred it once again. The patient never felt another twinge.

Dr. Dyer’s bizarre portrait was sent to us by Mrs. Benjamin Butler of Farmington. We continue to invite our readers to send us unusual, dramatic, or amusing photographs-at least thirty years old—that they own. They should be sent to Geoffrey C. Ward, American Heritage Publishing Co., 10 Rockefeller Plaza, N.Y., N.Y. 10020.

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