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Look back: discreet lectures, friendly thieves and polio vaccines

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for 175th anniversary (2012) Aurora. | AurorHistorical Society

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for the 175th anniversary (2012) of Aurora. | Aurora Historical Society

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Updated: November 16, 2012 6:01AM

Aurora is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. More information is available at To commemorate the anniversary, The Beacon-News is revisiting stories from 50, 100 and 150 years ago. Here’s what Aurorans were talking about this week ...

…in 1862.

Aurora residents were encouraged to purchase the full text of a lecture on the new radical cure of spermatorrhoeas, also known as seminal weakness. The “disease” was characterized by sexual debility, general impediments to marriage, epilepsy and physical incapacity. The author of the lecture, Dr. Robert Culverwell, was said to have proved from his own experience that the awful causes of self abuse could be effectively removed without medicine, surgical operations, or rings. “It will prove a boon to thousands and thousands,” the ad promised.

Any Aurora resident who wanted to purchase the lecture needed to send six cents or two postage stamps to New York. The lecture would be sent under seal in a plain envelope.

… in 1912.

After serving 33 months in prison for stealing $700 worth of clothing from Holslag & Cole, A.E. Reeves returned to the Aurora store. Reeves walked in carrying quite a bit of cash and a business card for “A.E. Reeves, worlds’ greatest elocutionist.”

John Holslag was summoned, but he approached cautiously, fearing Reeves had returned for retribution. Instead, the two men sat down for a long chat about Reeve’s life. Reeves said he said he was compelled by an unexplainable force to commit the robbery.

“I have reformed and it has long been my desire to return to Aurora an visit the scene of my crime. I am now satisfied,” he said.

… in 1962.

More than 30,000 residents received a polio vaccine on the first day the Type I Sabin oral vaccine was available in this area. On the East Side of Aurora, 16,754 residents were vaccinated. Another 14,517 were vaccinated on the city’s West Side. More than 4,100 doses were given at Hermes Middle School and more than 5,800 were distributed at West Aurora High School.

About 70,00 Kane County residents lined up for the vaccine at 12 stations throughout the county.

In 1952 and 1953, there had been an outbreak of more than 80,000 cases in the U.S., more than twice the usual amount. Over the next 40 years, the vaccine would reduce the number of annual cases to less than 2,000 worldwide.

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