Interviewee: Ronald Reichert
Interviewer: Linda Armitage
Date of Interview: 11/15/07
Location of Interview: Hiawatha, IA
Biographical Data Form
Oral History Release
Photographs: 1) Ron in the sand playing with his little brother after polio hospitalization; 2) Ron at Jamestown School; 3) Two classmates at school; 4) City pool closed after polio outbreak, Ashton, SD; 5) Ron in wheelchair; 6) two photographs of Ron (2007)
Ron Reichart was just a toddler when his father suffered a post-surgery pulmonary embolism and died at the age of 26. After the funeral, Ron and his mother went to South Dakota to visit family. “My mother liked the country and needed to have the support of her family. This was something new and a place to forget our recent family tragedy,” said Ron. Eventually, his mother remarried and they relocated from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to a farm in Ashton, South Dakota. In August of 1946, when Ron was about eight years old, his mother called the doctor and asked him to visit the farmhouse because Ron was running a fever of 103 degrees. He was also complaining of headaches and a sore neck. The doctor told his mother, "I’m afraid Ron has polio, but we won’t know for sure until we get him to Aberdeen." They trekked the thirty miles to Aberdeen where Ron was admitted to a polio ward. “After we got there,” Ron reflected, “we later found out that there were about thirty of us in isolation at one time.” The next day, he could not move his head from side to side. He could not move up or down. He could not move his arms. He could not move anything other than his tongue. “I was totally paralyzed. I remember thinking, my God, I am going to die,” said Ron. Ron remained at the hospital in Aberdeen for about one year. He was discharged the third week of May in 1948.