Polio Place

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Correspondence from the White House

Jean Fox Csaposs; 1934, 1941; New Jersey

I contracted polio in August 1931 at the age of five months. My father, an Englishman, was a chief steward on British passenger liners in those years. He had an engaging personality and often made friends with passengers. In 1934, he befriended Frederick Pond, and I evidently was the subject of one their conversations. Mr. Pond intervened on my behalf by writing to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation.

I don’t have a copy of that letter, but our family saved the letter from Mr. Pond to my father that included a letter from Fred Botts, Warm Springs business manager, offering little hope for my admittance. Why "spinal meningitis" was mentioned by Mr. Pond, I have no idea, since no one was in any doubt about my "infantile paralysis."

My parents persisted, and I have the letter from the White House signed by Grace Tully, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary, denying my father's request in a letter to the President to have me accepted at Warm Springs.

I finally visited Warm Springs in 1996, while driving with my husband, Jim, through Georgia on our way home to New Jersey from a trip through the south. It was a rather desolate place at the time, not the lively place it must have been so many years ago and that I understand it has become again in recent years.


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