Describe what you remember
about the fear surrounding polio epidemics:
Summer struck terror in families in the 40's when I was growing
up. Terror struck our family in August of 1949 when my uncle, Dr.
Byron Merkel, suggested that he thought I could possibly have
polio. I had a spinal tap that confirmed the diagnosis, and
checked in to Blank Hospital in Des Moines where I spent the next
I was 10 years old, but told myself I was not going to cry and
spend my energy instead on getting well. My mother rarely left my
side, and my uncle stayed with me several nights. I was in an
iron lung for a week, and ran a fever during that time of
107--yes, you read that right! My bones are scarred from that
fever as I found out years later when I broke a leg skiing.
I'm now 68 years old and in perfect health. My involvement has
improved over the years until now I am almost symptom free.
Somewhere in the archives of WOI TV there may be a kinnescope of