At age 95, Lucille Horn often reflects on her long, full life, with a husband and five children, and how it might not have happened if not for the renegade doctor who put her in a Coney Island sideshow when she was just days old.
Horn is among thousands of former premature babies whose lives were saved in the early 20th century by Dr. Martin Couney, a pioneer in the use of incubators who sought acceptance for the technology by showing it off on carnival midways alongside freak shows and fan dancers.
“Life Begins at the Baby Incubator”, read one of the signs at his displays”, essentially a ward with babies in glass cribs, that drew huge crowds at world fairs, on the Atlantic City boardwalk and Coney Island’s Luna Park. Couney invited desperate partents to bring their premmies, and he paid for their care with the 25 cents he charged for admission.
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