Remembering times of polio


It’s crazy how much we forget in our lifetime and even crazier how many of the crazy things we remember. Amid the hype and protection measures that are given about coronavirus, nobody seems to remember the polio epidemic. This was brought into my memory after talking with my cousin, who got it when she was 4, I would have been 6 at the time. We were not permitted to go near her house because she was “sick” but no other explanation was given other than we were to avoid large gatherings of people, couldn’t go swimming, couldn’t go to the parks or even to the wading pool at Marion Park across the road from the fairgrounds.

I remember more clearly, however, my years at Northern Michigan University in Marquette from 1952 to 1956, when I worked part-time as an orderly at St. Luke’s Hospital. So well I remember the iron lungs and sometimes having to pump them by hand when the power went out. The student nurses volunteered to do this because they thought it was good for bust development. Yes, it’s even crazier the things one does remember at 85 years of age.

But I also remember that even back then, another recommendation was to get plenty of sunshine and fresh air.

Don Giesen



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