I am writing a book, a fictional musical based on an exhaustively researched true story, about Penicillin & DNA pioneer, Truro Nova Scotia born Dr Martin Henry Dawson, 1896-1945.
I feely admit it has had many tentative titles over the years - I don't ever discard older titles, merely move them on as act and scene titles. And sometimes they end up right back where they started - as the main title.
So currently the book is entitled :
security in Diversity
(the choice of the other Manhattan Project)
The illustration on the cover remains a stylized painting of a petri dish covered with a strikingly beautiful furrowed, furry, green, blue and golden penicillin-producing penicillium fungus, held aloft by some incredibly long thin arms.
If, at first and second glance, it looks rather like a very green version of the standard imagery of the atomic Manhattan Project, this is by no means a coincidence.
For that image represents the actual petri dishes & penicillium that, during the darkest days of WWII, members of the Dawson team daily held aloft before the terminally ill SBE (subacute bacterial endocarditis) patients, representing the Green Hope that their lives might yet be spared and that they should never abandon hope.
For years, the terminally ill himself Dawson faced fierce blowback from not just his colleagues in the worldwide medical and scientific worlds, but even from the all-powerful wartime Allied governments.
But then in one of those surprising turn-arounds in history, the few remaining elements of New Dealers in FDR's wartime coalition unexpectedly seized up Dawson's vision of Green Hope.
It turned out to be their last hurrah.
They embarked upon a worldwide wartime and postwar campaign of American penicillin diplomacy, that ultimately replaced the Pax Britannica with a Pax America.
They began by mass producing Dawson's cheap natural public domain penicillin, by-passing the Allied governments plans to only produce patented expensive commercially viable synthetic penicillin ( something we still have been unable to do) ---- and then only give it to lightly wounded Allied troops.
The New Dealers gave their cheap abundant penicillin to everybody and anybody dying from diseases penicillin could cure : all Allied troops and Axis POWs, all the civilians in Allied, Occupied, Neutral & Enemy countries.
But then even they lost control of Dawson's original vision.
It was taken up by the most powerful medical authority of them all : Doctor Mom.
In the Dirty Thirties and in the early dark days of WWII, relatively few moms wanted to bring children into a violent, depressing world.
But now Dawson's Green Hope promised to remove all the life-threatening diseases that had laid waste to so many happy families.
Very soon, young moms were making babies as fast as Pfizer could make Green Hope !
As a Baby-Boomer myself, I am possibly only here because of Dawson's vision.
And because of a family genetic tendency to incur dangerous auto immune reactions to minor strep throat infections, I am quite possibly only alive because his natural penicillin remains the best possible cure for strep infections.
In addition, Dawson's vision of cheap abundant (because it remained in the Public Domain) penicillin led to a kind of global Herd Immunity.
That cheap widely abundant penicillin reached into the poor and discriminated-against corners of society and the world where conventional medicine never went : knocking back the reservoirs of endemic bacteria that sallied forth to infect us all upon occasion.
Indirectly then, ten billion of us have since benefitted from Dawson's October 1940 quiet vision to treat a dying Black youth and a dying Jewish youth with a little of his Green Hope...