Polio Place

A service of Post-Polio Health International

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Selma Harrison Letter to her Grandmother

Selma Harrison (Calmes); 1948, age 8; Long Beach Memorial Hospital, Long Beach, California

I found this letter recently. Like so many post-polio patients, I'd deeply buried memories of polio. When I saw the last sentence - "I can stand up now and walke (sp)" - a rush of memories came back.

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Twelfth Birthday Party at Lincoln General Hospital

Nancy Baldwin Carter; 1948, age 12; Lincoln General Hospital, Lincoln, Nebraska

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A Divine Assignment

Jean Hartley; Hawaii

Through the years friends have suggested,“Why don’t you write a book?” I was reluctant to stir old ghosts of the past - the traumas of surgery and hospitalization, ugly shoes, and disappointments. Most of these negative associations were the results of distorted early experiences. They were velcroed labels that stuck to my identity that I didn’t want to relive.

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Soonja Cho; mid-1950s; Seoul, Korea

My story with polio began when I was one year old, and my leg was paralyzed.

At that time, it was the beginning of the Korean War and my family had to flee our home. To escape the advancing North Korean army, we traveled from Seoul to Pusan in the very south of Korea. It took us many months because our family had to walk the entire distance, over 200 miles. We could travel only at night. My older sister carried me. If we could have gone by bus, the trip would have taken about 5 hours.

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Hubbard tank

Marny Eulberg; 1950; Aberdeen, South Dakota

In the fall of 1950, as part of a story about the ongoing polio cases in the community, the Aberdeen Daily News published a photo of me in a Hubbard tank.

The warm pulsating jets of water and the ability to move my legs in ways I could not on land felt great! Time in the Hubbard tank was also a nice break from being wrapped in the smelly hot wool blanket “hot packs” used for the rest of the day.

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Poem by Richard L. Daggett

Richard Lloyd Daggett; 1954; Rancho Los Amigos, Los Angeles, California

I wrote this poem in May - June 1954, when I was finally able to sit in a wheelchair and walk short distances. I was thirteen years old. Before polio I was left handed, but my left hand was no longer strong enough to hold a pen or pencil. I had to learn to write with my right hand. The school teacher at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital knew I liked poetry and encouraged me to compose poems as an exercise.

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Brochure from The Medical College of Virginia Hospital

Vera Moore; 1952; Mobile, Alabama

At age 14, I traveled to Mobile, Alabama during the Summer of 1952. When I began limping and within a few days could no longer walk at all, the doctor expected homesickness on the occasion of my first time away from home. It was polio.

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IBM 1620 Model 1 Scientific Computer

Joe Drogan; Atlanta, Georgia

Upon graduating from high school I began to worry about how I’d make a living in the real world as a polio survivor. I was a decent car mechanic but realized it would be a lifelong challenge to work in that physical of a profession. A doctor at Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children had said I was the most ingenious person he’d ever met. I could have created tools that would have helped me do the work, but it still was probably not the ideal career choice.

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Sabin Oral Polio Vaccine Record

Charles Quimby; 1963; Glenwood Springs, Colorado

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Occupational Therapy

Saul Morse; c. 1952; Toledo, Ohio

I was 21 months old when I came down with polio in Brooklyn, New York. I have few memories of that time but know I was in an iron lung for about six weeks and my parents were told not to expect me to survive. I was kept from family and sent to a hospital for rehabilitation. That took almost two years . During this time I saw my parents and grandparents on weekends but was not allowed to see my older brother for extended periods.

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