Interviewee: Everett Jensen
Interviewer: Kate Scott
Date of Interview: August 8, 2007
Location of Interview: Spirit Lake, IA
Run Time: Approximately 40M
Biographical Data Form
Oral History Release
Newsletters: Iowa Polio Survivors (Spring 2007); Nebraska Polio Survivors (Summer 2007)
Everett Jensen was born in 1933 in Sioux City, Iowa. He was the eldest of six children. In 1952, the year Everett caught polio, there was a massive flood in Woodbury County. At the time, he was working as a foreman for a construction (roofing) company blowing sheet rock and siding for homes. He recalls going to a church youth picnic in Cherokee where they ate watermelon from Texas and swam in the local gravel pit. The following day he woke up with a terrible headache. When his parents noticed he was not getting better, they took him to the doctor in Ida Grove. The spinal tap proved Everett had polio.
In his oral history, Everett recalled, “I had hardly any movement in my arms or legs…very little. And, well, my arm joints and stuff froze up on account of not moving until they got me out of the iron lung. Well, after four months, they closed down the hospitals and sent everybody to another hospital or to Iowa City. What there was left of us. We lost a lot of patients. We would go to sleep at night; they would be there. The next morning, they were gone. We’d ask what happened to them, and they would say they’d moved them to another room. Which, was correct; but it was the morgue. There was a lot of loss there.” Today, Everett and his wife, Betty can say they have done more than the average couple. The proud grandparents have traveled the world and visited Hawaii, Israel, and Jamaica among other destinations. Everett also noted the ways in which polio has helped him grow in his own faith.