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The Life versus The Fee

By Alan R. Yurko, CPCC, Sc.

Johnny Gruelle's 13 year old daughter, Marcella, was killed by a fatal vaccine reaction. The public school she'd been attending had been routinely inoculating children without informing the parents.* Seven doctors were called in to make pronouncements on her death. Six determined the cause of death to be vaccine-induced and the seventh declined to comment. Interestingly, the seventh doctor was also head of the school board and a staunch advocate for vaccination. Marcella's death was not an immediate reaction. She died a very slow and subtle death. In the months after her unconsented inoculation she became lethargic and lost her appetite. Marcella became feverish, fatigued and hypotonic (loss of muscle control) as her body and nervous system fought hard against the poisons forced into her bloodstream. At the end, she was as limp as a ragdoll.

A successful writer and illustrator, Johnny Gruelle also created dolls. Shortly after Marcella's death*, he created a doll somewhat different than the rigid, clay or composition ones of the time, such as the Kewpie doll and others which had erect postures and healthy demeanors. Instead, and in fitting tribute to his daughter's untimely demise*, he designed a doll which was limp and lifeless. Raggedy Ann, was marketed by Marshall Field in 1920 and is one of the richest pieces of Americana over 80 years later. Raggedy Ann's limp and lifeless body was and is indeed a fitting tribute to Marcella, and to all vaccine damaged children, as well as a symbol of the long history of senseless and tragic deaths and disabilities associated with vaccines.

As an illustrator, Gruelle had a long association with a magazine called Physical Culture. This came to an end in May of 1921 when asked to illustrate an article dealing with vaccinations. The cartoon shown here, along with his postscript, was Johnny's response to this assignment, which turned out to be his last for the magazine.

Raggedy Ann, whose name is taken from the James Whitcombe Riley poems, Little Orphan Annie and The Raggedy Man, is as American as apple-pie. Ironically, it is also a symbol for over 80 years of children's deaths. Little did many of us know, that as we played with Raggedy Ann as children, that we were really just practicing for when we'd get our very own real, limp and lifeless vaccine-injured and killed babies.

1.) Flynn, Barbara, Letter to State Epidemiologist of New Jersey, Jan. 10, 2001: pg.2
2.) Tuleja, Tad, The New York Library Book of Popular Americana, 1994; pg.315, Stonesong Press Inc.
* 3.) Hall, Patricia, Johnny Gruelle: Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, 1993; pg.87-92

To help give this article on vaccination the desired punch, the editor sent the manuscript for illustration to John B. Gruelle. whose clever and effective work is familiar to the readers of this magazine. We were not, however, prepared for the surprise and shock contained in the little note which Mr. Gruelle sent us along with the single drawing which he delivered. It seems to us that this is the time and place to reproduce Mr. Gruelle's little note, which we have subjoined to the cartoon. Further comment is unneccessary.

Feb. 28, 1921
Dear Mrs. Williams,
Having recently lost our only daughter through Vaccination (In public school, without our consent), You may realize how terribly HUMOROUS the Subject of vaccination appears to Mrs. Gruelle and Myself. Of the seven physicians called in on the Case, six pronounced it in emphatic terms MALPRACTICE. The seventh did not commit himself, being at the head of School Board and a firm advocate of Vaccination.
Sincerely, Johnny Gruelle

* Some Editorial Comments and Corrections

Please note reference 3 in the article above, repeated here:
"* 3.) Hall, Patricia, Johnny Gruelle: Creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, 1993; pg.87-92"

This fine book is still available from and perhaps other book sellers. It contains many pages of information on Raggedy Ann and the doll's creator, Johnny Gruelle. Using the book as a reference we are adding a couple corrections and some clarifying comments.
  • Marcella received two smallpox inoculations. The first was authorized by Marcella's mother. The first left no scar, thus the School Nurse deemed the inoculation ineffective and gave the second inoculation without asking permission. Marcella's health decline followed shortly thereafter.

  • The discovery of the doll that was the initial inspiration for Raggedy Ann has given rise to more than one legend about how it was discovered. Likely a simple doll that gave rise to Raggedy Ann was found by Johnny in his grandma's attic perhaps before Marcella was born.

  • The depiction of Raggedy Ann occurred before Marcella's death. On page 101 (... Raggedy Ann and Andy) there is an 8 panel cartoon story with a child dragging a doll that is similar, or identical, to Raggedy Ann. This cartoon was published in February 1911.

  • Page 104 of the reference has a copy of the doll's pattern, both side and front views. It also shows the filing date for a patent on the doll's construction of May 28, 1915 and a granting of the patent on September 7, 1915.

  • Page 105 shows a copy of filing for a trade mark on June 17, 1915. The trade mark, Raggedy Ann, was registered November 23, 1915. It also states that "The trade mark has been continuously used in my business since June 5th, 1915. The trade mark is applied to the dolls by affixing a label bearing the trade mark."

  • Marcella died on November 8, 1915. Thus Raggedy Ann was not created in response to Marcella's vaccine-related death. However, from page 92, accounts tell that Johnny Gruelle treasured the Raggedy Ann doll belonging to Marcella as the only possession of Marcella's that brought him comfort in the days after her death.

  • From this, we conclude the doll remains to this day an apt symbol of children's suffering following vaccination.

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