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'A lot of people were scared': Survivor of
1940s polio outbreak finds much familiar
about COVID-19

Original Article

Posted By: Imright, 3/29/2020 3:07:41 PM

SAND SPRINGS—Just hours before the paralysis struck, Carol Hammans had been running and playing with her usual abandon.“That’s what baffled my family,” she said. “That evening I’d been playing with my cousin in my front yard. And there was no sign that anything was wrong.”But the next morning, when Hammans woke up and suddenly couldn’t walk, the reality sank in:The 3-year-old girl was seriously ill.To this day, more than 75 years later, Hammans still doesn’t know how she contracted the virus that resulted in her being hospitalized for six years of her childhood.

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Reply 1 - Posted by: snakeoil 3/29/2020 3:28:42 PM (No. 362060)
I remember those days. No clue about how it was caused. No cure. No vaccine. No effective treatment. But we death with it. FDR was not quarantined. Life involves taking chances.
14 people like this.

Reply 2 - Posted by: tsquare 3/29/2020 3:51:30 PM (No. 362089)
1950. Polio stalked. Over 50k cases, over 3k deaths, on half of our current population. Source unknown, no prevention, no cure but to ride it out. It was a scary time for parents, especially. Still, we went to school, people worked and played...yes even outside. Out all summer long, enjoying the ice truck and fragments of ice that fell in the dirt road. Ice cream trucks. Getting dirty. Escaping on my bike for adventures away from home.
23 people like this.

Reply 3 - Posted by: JHHolliday 3/29/2020 3:55:49 PM (No. 362094)
I had polio in 1950. There was really no effective treatment. I was lucky to survive with no bad aftereffects, Was in a ward with a kid in an iron lung. Hearing that thing hissing away all night was pretty traumatic for an eight year old.
29 people like this.

Reply 4 - Posted by: JL80863 3/29/2020 4:03:23 PM (No. 362104)
My thanks to #1 and #2. I remember those days as well. I also remember parents with great strength of character, grandparents and relatives who loved us, going to church and praying and having great freedom. Nobody would harm a child because everyone looked out for and protected children; friends, neighbors, total strangers. Criminal justice had meaning.
17 people like this.

Reply 5 - Posted by: Calico Al 3/29/2020 4:40:33 PM (No. 362148)
I'm 89 and remember those days well. I had about 10 friends who had the disease. Some had gotten it when they were quite young and others while in there teens. One in particular was a star athlete in our high school. Thank God for Dr Salk and his Salk Vaccine.
28 people like this.

Reply 6 - Posted by: DVC 3/29/2020 4:54:45 PM (No. 362160)
This was JUST before my time, but there were still some people getting it when I was alive, early 50s. I had several classmates in HS who had a shriveled leg, braces, thick shoe and walked with the arm-brace type of aluminum canes. Bad stuff. Killed a lot of people. Lots lived out their lives in iron lungs, although usually not that long.
13 people like this.

Reply 7 - Posted by: DVC 3/29/2020 4:56:21 PM (No. 362162)
I know that there was sure as heck no whining about 'taking the vaccine' when the polio vaccine came along!
24 people like this.

Reply 8 - Posted by: EJKrausJr 3/29/2020 5:01:14 PM (No. 362168)
You dealt with it every year. The March of Dimes dealt with it. It was the days of the iron lung. It wasn't until the Salk and Sabine vaccinations that the scourge of polio went away. The country wasn't shut down. Same for the measles, mumps, chicken pox. We dealt with it
18 people like this.

Reply 9 - Posted by: bamboozle 3/29/2020 5:06:02 PM (No. 362173)
It was called infantile paralysis because of its targeting children. We had the March of Dimes collecting money every year for research.
15 people like this.

Reply 10 - Posted by: momoftwinteens 3/29/2020 5:26:46 PM (No. 362190)
I talked to my 86 year old mother and she remembered how my uncle, her baby brother, contracted polio when he was 6. Scary times but he went on to do 2 tours in Vietnam on a mine sweeper and, when he died in 1991, was working for the CIA in Washington DC. Lessons to be learned from that generation.
17 people like this.

Reply 11 - Posted by: Namma 3/29/2020 5:44:28 PM (No. 362209)
Not only was there polio, but the fear of a nuke bomb hitting the USA. But we still went to school. Did not stop us from attending church, and jumping into the station wagon, going to the drive in m backing up the station wagon putting the tailgate down and watching a movie at the drive in Oh, and Mom made loads of pop corn. We went on living. Then the vaccine came out, and we lined up for sugar cubes with the vaccine in the cube. scary times for our parents, who went thru a lot more then this.
11 people like this.

Reply 12 - Posted by: Timber Queen 3/29/2020 5:45:55 PM (No. 362212)
My brother-in-law contracted polio in the early 50's before the vaccine. He was nine years old. He said he was running across the street to his friend's house and collapsed. He said his legs just suddenly gave way. His condition was severe. His parents were told he may not make it through the crisis. He was hospitalized for three years and walked out with braces when he was twelve. He joined the Air Force when he was 18. He served as a flight mechanic in Thailand during the Vietnam War. He married and had a daughter and a son. He was tireless in volunteer work. His hips started going bad in his early 60's and had a hip replacement. It went really bad. He had several more surgeries, each more invasive than the last. The post-polio syndrome reared its ugly head. He went back to canes and had a beautiful collection, mostly gifts from his many friends. The surgeries took a huge toll and he had a fatal stroke only a few weeks before his 69th birthday. He survived the Polio crisis, but Polio claimed him in the end. He met my sister when I was 12. He was my big brother. He was an inspiration because he led an exemplary life. I think surviving Polio marked his soul to always do good for others. His funeral Mass was standing room only. We will have many more like him when this crisis is over.
17 people like this.

Reply 13 - Posted by: caljeepgirl 3/29/2020 8:00:37 PM (No. 362335)
Ah, yes. I can still remember those trips down to the local high school parking lot to receive my 'sugar cube' of vaccine in a little paper cup....everyone gladly partook and with great relief! I was fortunate as I was not born until right after the peak, so I only remember one friend of mine whose dad had partially recovered from the disease and used a cane but could not drive and was mostly housebound.
3 people like this.

Reply 14 - Posted by: lakerman1 3/29/2020 8:17:49 PM (No. 362351)
if you want to read about an important person, in the fight against polio, google Sister Kenny. She was an Australian self taught unlicensed nurse who fought the medical establishment, world wide. physicians were applying casts to the legs of polio victims, which was exactly the wrong thing to do. sister Kenny offered hot compresses, and sort of invented the field of physical therapy. I knew two people who were saved by the Sister Kenny approach. I knew other people who were permanently damaged by casting. And on a personal note, my parents owned a farm near Erie, Pa, sold it in November, 1950, to an Italian family, who had a pretty daughter, Theresa, my age. (11) In July, 1951, Theresa contracted the worst form of polio, and died one day later. I always felt a wee bit guilty about her death.
4 people like this.

Reply 15 - Posted by: FL_Absentee_Voter 3/29/2020 8:55:32 PM (No. 362368)
Like #13, I was fortunate - born in 1956. Never really grasped the magnitude of the problem because when life opened up with the start of school in 1961 there wasn't one - just one kid in the class who wore braces and used crutches for some reason that we didn't talk about. Carried the shoulder scar from the vaccination (never understood how all the other injections didn't leave marks but that one was permanent). Lined up for the sugar cube with the drop of red liquid in it. Thank you, Dr. Salk. I can't imagine what it used to be like.
3 people like this.

Reply 16 - Posted by: Lawsy0 3/30/2020 12:15:46 AM (No. 362500)
Before 1949 in our neighborhood, there was one family with 3 members affected by polio. Also, in another state my future brother-in-law and his sister had light cases of polio in their teen years. The neighbors and the in-laws all survived with no lingering effects. However, it was very scary for all of us (one neighbor was in an iron lung).
3 people like this.

Reply 17 - Posted by: Lawsy0 3/30/2020 12:18:26 AM (No. 362501)
I meant to add a huge thank you for doctors Salk and Sabin, who worked on vaccines for polio.
6 people like this.

Reply 18 - Posted by: bamboozle 3/30/2020 2:38:39 PM (No. 363098)
Dr Salk developed the first injected vaccine. Dr Sabin developed the attenuated live virus vaccine which was given on a sugar cube. There was some controversy back in the day as to which one was the best.
2 people like this.

Reply 19 - Posted by: Folsomguy 3/30/2020 7:04:39 PM (No. 363299)
I vividly remember taking those dimes to school each week to stick in their space until the page was filled. I think each page was a dollar.
2 people like this.

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