It is often said that cats have nine lives, that they are lucky enough to escape from danger again and again. Here is a science fiction tale about how one such lucky escape by a cat led to a discovery that was able to change the course of people's lives. The problems stemming from the discovery also make interesting reading.
Somebody someday will make a study of the influence of animals on history. Among them, Mrs. Graham's cat should certainly be included in any such study. It has now been definitely established that the experiences of this cat led to the idea of quick-frozen people, which, in turn, led to the passage of Zeritsky's Law.
We must go back to the files of the Los Angeles newspapers for 1950 to find the story. In brief, a Mrs. Fred C. Graham missed her pet cat on the same day that she put a good deal of food down in her home deep-freeze unit. She suspected no connection between the two events. The cat was not to be found until six days later, when its owner went to fetch something from the deepfreeze. Much as she loved her pet, we may imagine that she was more horror-than grief-stricken at her discovery. She lifted the little ice-encased body out of the deep--freeze and set it on the floor. Then she managed to run as far as the next door neighbor's house before fainting.
Mrs. Graham became hysterical after she was revived, and it was several hours before she could be quieted enough to persuade anybody that she hadn't made up the whole thing. She prevailed upon her neighbor to go back to the house with her. In front of the deep-freeze they found a small pool of water, and a wet cat, busily licking itself. The neighbor subsequently told reporters that the cat was concentrating its licking on one of its hind legs, where some ice still remained, so that she, for one, believed the story.
A follow-up dispatch, published a week later, reported that the cat was unharmed by the adventure. Further, Mrs. Graham was quoted as saying that the cat had had a large meal just before its disappearance; that as soon after its rescue as it had dried itself off, it took a long nap, precisely as it always did after a meal; and that it was not hungry again until evening. It was clear from the accounts that the life processes had been stopped dead in their tracks, and bad, after defrosting, resumed at exactly the point where they left off.
Perhaps it is unfair to pull all the responsibility on one luckless cat. Had such a thing happened anywhere else in the country, it would have been talked about, believed by a few, disbelieved by most, and forgotten. But it happened in Los Angeles. There, and probably only there, the event was anything but forgotten; the principles it revealed became the basis of a hugely successful business.
How shall we regard the Zeritsky Brothers? As archvillains or pioneers? In support of the latter view, it must be admitted that the spirit of inquiry and the willingness to risk the unknown were indisputably theirs. However, their pioneering -- if we agree to call it that -- was, equally indisputably, bound up with the quest for a fast buck.
Some of their first clients paid as high as $15,000 for the initial freezing, and the exorbitant rate of $1,000 per year as a storage charge. The Zeritsky Brothers owned and managed one of the largest quick-freezing plants in the world, and it was their claim that converting the freezing equipment and storage facilities to accommodate humans was extremely expensive, hence the high rates.
When the early clients who paid these rates were defrosted years later, and found other clients receiving the same services for as little as $3,000, they threatened a row and the Zeritskys made substantial refunds. By that time they could easily afford it, and since any publicity about their enterprise was unwelcome to them, all refunds were made without a whimper. $3,000 became the standard rate, with $100 per year the storage charge, and no charge for defrosting.
The Zeritskys were businessmen, first and last. Anyone who had the fee could put himself away for whatever period of time he wished, and no questions asked, The ironclad rule was that full payment had to be made in advance.
Criminals were the first to apply for quick-freezing, and formed the mainstay of the Zeritskys' business through the years. What more easy than to rob, hide the loot (except for that all-important advance payment), present yourself to the Zeritskys and remain in their admirable chambers for five or ten years, emerge to find the hue and cry long since died down and the crime forgotten, recover your haul and live out your life in luxury?
Due to the shady character of most of their patrons, the Zeritskys kept all records by a system of numbers. Name never appeared on the books, and anonymity was guaranteed.
Law enforcement agents, looking for fugitives from justice, found no way to break down this system, nor any law which they could interpret as making it illegal to quick-freeze. Perhaps the truth is that they did not search too diligently for a law that could be made to apply. As long as the Zeritskys kept things quiet and did not advertise or attract public attention, they could safely continue their bizarre business.
City officials of Los Angeles, and particularly members of the police force, enjoyed a period of unparalleled prosperity. Lawyers and other experts who thought they were on the track of legal means by which to liquidate the Zeritsky empire found themselves suddenly able to buy a ranch or a yacht or both, and retire forever from the arduous task of earning a living.
Even with a goodly part of the population of Los Angeles as permanent pensioners, the Zeritsky fortune grew to incredible proportions. By the time the Zeritsky Brothers died and left the business to their sons, it was a gold mine, and an inexhaustible one at that.
Next to criminals, the majority of people who applied for quick-freezing seem to have been husbands or wives caught in insupportable marital situations. Their experiences were subsequently written up in the confession magazines. It was usually the husband who fled to Los Angeles and incarcerated himself for an appropriate number of years, at the end of which time his unamiable spouse would have died or made other arrangements. If we can believe the magazines, this scheme worked out very well in most cases.
The sins of the fathers may be visited on the sons, but how often we see repeated the old familiar pattern of the sons destroying the lifework of the fathers! The Zeritsky Brothers were fanatically meticulous. They supervised every detail of their operations, and kept their records with an elaborate system of checks and doublechecks. They were shrewd enough to realize that complete dependability was essential to their business. A satisfied Zeritsky client was a silent client. One dissatisfied client would be enough to blow the business apart.
The sons, in their greed, over-expanded to the point where they could not, even among the four of them, personally supervise each and every detail. A fatal mistake was bound to occur sooner or later. When it did, the victim broadcast his grievance to the world.
The story appeared in a national magazine, every copy of which was sold an hour after it appeared on the stands. Under the title They Put the Freeze on Me! John A. Monahan told his tragic tale. At the age of 37, he had fallen desperately in love with a girl of 16. She was immature and frivolous and wanted to "play around" a little more before she settled down.
"She told me," he wrote, "to come back in five years, and that stared me thinking. In five year I'd be 42, and what would a girl of 21 want with a man twice as old as her?"
John Monahan moved in circles where the work of the Zeritskys was well known. Not only did he see an opportunity of being still only 37 when his darling reached 21, but he foresaw a painless way of passing the years which he must endure without her. Accordingly, he presented himself for the deep-freeze, paid his $3000 and the $500 storage charge in advance, and left, he claimed, "written instructions to let me out in five years, so there'd he no mistakes."
Nobody knows how the slip happened, but somehow John A. Monahan, or rather the number assigned to him, was entered on the books for 25 years instead of five years. Upon being defrosted, and discovering that a quarter of a century had elapsed, his rage was awesome. Along with everything else, his love for his sweetheart had been perfectly preserved, but she had given up waiting for him and was a happy mother of two boys and six girls.
Monahan's accusation that the Zeritskys had "ruined his life" may be taken with a grain of salt. He was still a young man, and the rumor that he got a hundred thousand for the magazine rights to his story was true.
As most readers are aware, what has come to be known as "Zeritsky's law" was passed by Congress and signed by the President three days after Monahan's story broke.
Seventy-five years after Mrs. Graham's cat feel into the freezer, it became he law of the land that the mandatory penalty for anyone applying quick-freezing methods to any living thing, human or animal, was death. Also, all quick-frozen people were to be defrosted immediately.
Los Angeles papers reported that beginning on the day Monahan's story appeared, men by the thousands poured into the city. They continued to come, choking every available means of transport, for the next two days -- until, that is, Zerisky's Law went through.
When we consider the date, and remember that due to the gravity of the international situation, a bill had just been passed drafting all men from 16 to 60, we realize why Congress had to act.
The Zeritskys, of course, were among the first to be taken. Because of their experience, they were put in charge of a military warehouse for dehydrated foods, and warned not to get any ideas for a new business.
n. the state of being connected; relationship
(combining form) overwhelmed or afflicted by disease, misfortune, horror, grief, etc.
a. placed or enclosed in or as if in an ice case
a. in a state of hysteria; emotionally disturbed 歇斯底里的
vt. pass the tongue over 舔
ad. afterward, late
a. back, rear
a. of sth. done to continue or reinforce an initial action
n. a report sent to a newspaper, etc. by a correspondent
n. the act or an example of disappearing
vt. save from danger
n. a short sleep, usu. at a time other than one's regular sleeping hours
v. make or become free of ice or frost; thaw
a. not fair or right; unjust
a. having or bringing bad luck; unfortunate
n. a principal villain; an extremely wicked person
ad. beyond doubt; certainly
a. going beyond reasonable limits
n. the act of storing or the condition of being stored
n. (usu. pl.) sth. provided for people to use. 设备，设施
n. a noisy quarrel or dispute
a. large in amount
n. the return of money paid; a repayment 退款；归还
n. information given out to get public attention 宣传，广告
n. an undertaking, esp. one that is difficult or involving risk; a business firm
n. a weak complaint 牢骚，怨声
n. a charge for a service or a right
a. inflexible, rigid
a. a main support
n. goods (esp. private property) taken from an enemy in war, or stolen by thieves
a. worth admiring; arousing wonder and approval
n. an enclosed space or a private room; a room set aside for a special purpose
hue and cry
the pursuit of a suspected criminal with loud cries in order to raise the alarm; loud public outcry 追捕犯人时的叫喊声；（表示反对的）叫嚷
n. an action or activity that is against the law or a failure to do what the law requires
n. the amount of sth. gained, esp. stolen goods
n. the condition of being anonymous 匿名
n. the act or process of enforcing; putting into force 实施，执行
n. representative of a government agency
n. a person running away from justice, danger, etc. 逃亡者
a. against the law
ad. in a diligent manner; carefully; industriously
a. strictly odd or queer in appearance or style; fantastic
a. too great to be equaled 举世无双的
vt. terminate the operation of (a commercial firm, etc.) by assessment of liabilities and appropriation of assets for their settlement 清算
n. a small ship used for pleasure trips
a. requiring great physical or mental effort; difficult to accomplish
n. a person who receives a regular payment, not wages, from a government, company, or patron
n. a regular payment to a person of a specified sum of money which is not wages
n. the size or amount of one thing when compared to the size or amount of another; (pl.) size or extent 比率，比例；大小
a. existing in such large amounts that it can never be finished or used up
a. of or relating to marriage
n. admission (of one's weakness, fault, sin, etc.) 坦白；忏悔
vt. confine or imprison 幽闭；监禁
a. ill-natured, ungracious
n. a wife or husband
n. a plan for doing sth.
vt. inflict (punishment) for (wrongdoing); avenge 降罪于，惩罚
n. the work to which one's life is devoted; most important work of one's life
n. extremely careful; with great attention to detail
n. the act of checking again; verifying
a. clever in judgment, esp. of what is to one's own advantage
vt. fail to satisfy; displease
n. a selfish desire to get more and more of sth. 贪婪
v. make or become larger
n. a complaint or cause for complaint, esp. when one feels one has been unfairly treated
a. not mature; not full-grown
a. not serious or sensible in content, attitude or behaviour 不严肃的，轻浮的
vt. see or realize in advance
n. a usu. slight mistake
vi. (of time) pass by
a. inspiring fear or dread
n. a person whom one loves
n. a statement that one has done sth. wrong
n. news or information which is passed from person to person but has not been proven to be true
n. a large fridge in which supplies of food can be stored at a very low temperature; deep freeze
a. required by law; compulsory 依法的；强制性的
vt. block or clog up (a passage, street, etc.)
n. the act of carrying (goods or people) from place to place
n. the elected law-making body, e.g. of the US 立法机构，如美国国会
n. a house or building where merchandise is stored
vt. cause to lose water 使脱水
Phrases & Expressions
in short; to sum up
as far as
to the distance, point or degree that
as the first of several possible examples
make or become dry
stop dead in one's tracks
stop very quickly or with great force
be bound up with
be closely connected with or related to
first and last
always and chiefly
put in the right place or out of sight
come slowly to an end; grow slowly less or weaker
on the track of
looking for, trying to find
earn/make a living
in addition; also
be caught in
be involved in
to the point where
to the extent that
spend time playing, fooling or joking instead of being serious or working
marry; begin to live a stable life
take with a grain of salt
accept or believe only in part
be approved or accepted
Fred C. Graham
John A. Monahan