My most vivid memory of the polio scare
was of things left unsaid. I remember a phone call to my mom--the "phone
tree" was all abuzz with news of Fred Hachett Jr. falling ill. Fred was
my age, in my class at school & church. He was ill with a high fever and
a stiff neck. The Doctor feared it was polio. My mother finished her
conversation and went on to call another mother. There was no
panic--only a controlled and reserved fear controlled as only those
'50's "June Cleaver" mom's could do. After the call all that was said
was that Fred Jr. was ill and at the hospital. No one said the
word--Polio. Later my parents said I wouldn't be going to the swimming
pool or the movies or skating rink for awhile. After that there would be
whispered fears among friends - it was the first time I ever heard the
words - iron lung. Fred Jr. was all right - the mass vaccines were
ordered to be given out at the armory - all school children should go.
But the loudest words were the ones not spoken - everywhere the unspoken
words - "Please, not my child!"