Interviewee: Mary Ogren Osborn
Interviewer: Kate Scott
Date of Interview: September 25, 2007
Run Time: Approximately 25M
Biographical Data Form
Oral History Release
Get Well Cards, 1952 (Copies)
Photographs 1) Mick Boeckman in his iron lung, Wall Lake, Iowa, 1952; 2) Mary Ogren Osborn, “before polio”, 1952; 3) Dennis, Mary, Delbert, and Roger Ogren, Sac County, Iowa, “Two Years Before Polio,” 1950 (Mary, Delbert, and Roger all came down with polio); 4) Delbert Ogren and Mrs. Ralph. “Mrs. Ralph was Delbert’s private Braille teacher. Polio left Delbert’s shoulder and arm paralyzed and he no longer had the feeling in his finger tips to read. The School for the Blind at Vinton would not let him return to class because he had a physical handicap in one hand.”
Caption for Photo: Mike Boeckman (Mary’s cousin) photographed in his
iron lung in 1952 in Wall Lake, Iowa. He was one of several family
members to contract polio. Mike survived in his iron lung for ten
years. He died at the age of 17 from complications from pneumonia.
In the summer of 1952, the Ogren family attended a potluck picnic birthday celebration for their grandfather at the Lake View Community Building in Sac County. Grandpa Yohnke had four married daughters and one son. It was extremely hot, but all five Yohnke kids came to the picnic with their spouses and children. According to Mary, “within seven days after our celebration, twelve members of the five families had come down with the dreaded disease…our farm was quarantined and people were afraid to even drive past our house. My brother and I had no after effects except for some weak muscles in our back, shoulders, and abdomen. Each had one leg a little shorter than the other. The other brother was left with a paralyzed shoulder and arm. He was blind and read Braille at the time. This was a big set back because he no longer had the feelings in his finger tips to read. Out of the other four families, I had two uncles and one cousin who were crippled, and one cousin who was in the iron lung for a long time and lived for ten years in a body cast before passing away.” Beatrice Ogren, Mary’s mother, always blamed the flies for carrying the germ to their picnic. In her oral history, Mary noted, “I think it was unusual for that many people from one family to get polio.