Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women's Legacy Archive: Polio oral history project, ACCN 0814

Polio oral history project, ACCN 0814

The polio oral history project is part of the Everett L. Cooley oral history collection, ACCN 0814.  

Bennett (b. 1952) discusses her family and early memories of Costa Rica. She contracted polio at sixteen months and spent a short time in an iron lung. She received treatment at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco, California. She describes her treatment, permanent disabilities, and post-polio health issues.

Bennett (b. 1952) discusses her family and early memories of Costa Rica. She contracted polio at sixteen months and spent a short time in an iron lung. She received treatment at the Shriners Hospital in San Francisco, California. She describes her treatment, permanent disabilities, and post-polio health issues.

Broadhead contracted polio at age six during the fall of 1937. She has limited memory of her hospital stay and treatment, but discusses some follow-up physical therapy and her course of recovery, including crutches and massage therapy. Ms. Broadhead discusses the onset of, associated problems with, and coping with post-polio syndrome.

Burggraaf (b. 1926) contracted polio around 1950, while in her early twenties. She was treated at a Schenectady hospital in an isolation ward for two or three weeks before being transferred by train to Salt Lake City. She discusses her treatment and therapy, along with her recovery, limitations, and post-polio syndrome.

Butler (b. 1948) contracted polio at age three in 1951. Butler recalls time spent in the hospital, details of her surgeries, and various treatments and therapies received. Butler was paralyzed in all four limbs at the time of her illness. She recovered some use of her left side. She was outfitted with full-length leg braces and crutches and has used a wheelchair in public since 1954.

Cootey (b. 1945) contracted polio at age nine. She talks about the treatments she received, which included penicillin injections, and relates her vague recollection of an iron lung. She talks about her physical condition upon discharge, which mostly affected her right side. She also discusses the effects of the disease on her and her family. She received a degree and worked as a radiology technologist until age thirty, when the effects of post-polio syndrome forced her out of the field.

Duram (b. 1939) contracted polio at age twelve in 1951. She spent ten days in the hospital and relates what she remembers of her experiences there. After hospitalization, she received physical therapy at Dee Hospital in Ogden, along with heat pack therapy, which she describes. Ms. Duram started to develop symptoms of post-polio syndrome at approximately age 40. She describes the progression of symptoms that finally led to full-time use of a wheelchair in 2009.

Edwards (b. 1939) contracted polio at age three while living in California. She relates her experiences in the hospitals, including her memories of quarantine, the nurses, brief iron lung therapy and some activities. She later moved back to Utah and subsequently had two surgeries. She relates an interesting story about participating in an MGM March of Dimes promotional newsreel with Clark Gable and Greer Garson.

Ms. Kelsch (b, 1942) and Ms. Eves (b. 1947) are sisters. Both were born in Heber City, Utah, and grew up in Provo, Utah. Ms. Kelsch contracted polio at age ten. Ms. Eves was told as an adult that she had apparently suffered from a mild case of polio while a youngster. In the interview, both women discuss family, growing up and schooling. Carol contracted polio at age ten in early September 1952 just prior to the start of her fifth grade. She describes getting sick. She was sent to the Salt Lake County Hospital where she received a spinal tap and was placed in isolation for about a week. (Her family was also quarantined for the first month of her illness; her siblings were kept from attending school during that month. Additionally, her family was instructed to burn all of Carol’s clothing and possessions). She was later transferred to LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City. She describes her recollections of the hospital conditions and her experiences. Carol’s treatments included hot pack therapy, hydrotherapy in a Hubbard tank and straight board therapy with her braces. She was paralyzed from the neck down, but gradually regained use of left arm and limited use of her right. She used a wheelchair and received outpatient physical therapy for a year after discharge. She discusses challenges in accommodation issues at school, including during college at Brigham Young University. After high school graduation, she spent three months at the May T. Morris clinic in San Francisco, California, for advanced occupational therapy. Carol completed her Master’s degree in speech therapy and worked in that career for thirty-seven years. She discusses her challenges in adapting to post-polio syndrome symptoms, which eventually forced her into a motorized wheelchair in 2005. Joy discusses various surgeries to correct orthopedic problems, and the associated breathing and mobility complications following those surgeries. Her physicians made the diagnosis post-polio syndrome, the details of which she relates.

Gray (b. 1945) was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. She contracted polio when she was nearly six years old, in August of 1951. She talks about her memories of getting sick, being hospitalized, and time spent in an iron lung. She discusses therapies and treatments used during the course of her disease, memories of various surgeries (including a spinal fusion and several muscle "transplants" that continued into her early college years) and using braces, crutches, and frequently a wheelchair in certain settings. Other topics include her schooling in Salt Lake City and at the University of California at Berkeley, the challenges and obstacles she faced throughout her schooling experiences, and her year in the VISTA program in the St. Louis area. She also relates her thoughts and perceptions about medical treatment received by polio survivors, and about post-polio syndrome as it relates to her current medical condition.

Jerominski (b. 1925) grew up in San Bernardino, California. She graduated from San Bernardino High School at age sixteen and moved to Utah for nursing school at the University of Utah. She describes her work experiences and training, principally at the Salt Lake County Hospital (2100 South State) during the early 1940’s. She graduated from the University of Utah in 1945. Shei relates her experiences working with polio patients of all ages for approximately one year. She describes using Armstrong respirators (iron lungs), hot pack therapy, feeding and caring for polio patients. She recalls certain specific patients. Ms. Jerominski’s career was as a nurse, working with newborns, at the University of Utah.

Johnson (b.1940) was born in Bremerton, Washington. She discusses her family and growing up years. She contracted polio at age eight. She talks about getting sick, going to the hospital for a spinal tap, and being admitted to the isolation unit. She spent approximately three months in St. Benedict’s Hospital in Ogden, Utah. She relates hospital conditions and treatments received, including hot packs, the Hubbard tank and physical therapy. Her legs were paralyzed and she had difficulty swallowing, which necessitated consuming only pureed food while in the hospital. She was left with a slight limp and weakness in her hands. She continued with outpatient physical therapy for approximately one year and eventually regained enough strength and ability to lead an active lifestyle. In the early 1990’s Ms. Johnson started to experience increased weakness and fatigue. She was diagnosed with lupus. Ms. Johnson received a college degree, married and gave birth to two children; she worked in the advertising industry throughout her career.

Jorgen was born in San Francisco, California. She contracted polio at age 10. She describes getting sick and her symptoms. She was hospitalized in the Children's Hospital in San Francisco, and recalls her treatment and therapy, including after leaving the hospital. She was mostly affected in her left leg, which is shorter than her right and has a "drop foot." She discusses post-polio symptoms and challenges. Ms. Jorgen's career was as a psychotherapist.

Lambert (b. 1912) was born in Alberta, Canada. She discusses her family, work, schooling and marriage. Her son, Dale, contracted polio at age 3 while living in California. Verl talks about his illness, hospitalization, the family being quarantined and Dale's treatment. She was restricted in hospital visits during Dale's 7-8 month stay. Their family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where Dale received surgery and further treatment. She discusses these as well as his schooling challenges and their work with the March of Dimes.

Larsen (b. 1940) was born in Chicago, Illinois. She talks about her family and describes contracting polio at age 6 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, along with two of her siblings. Although sick, she was not hospitalized, but was quarantined in her home where she was treated by her mother. She discusses therapies and treatments used. She emerged from the sickness with no apparent residual effects. Ms. Larsen concludes by discussing possible post-polio complications and challenges.

Masheter (b. 1946) was born in Santa Monica, California. She discusses her family and childhood. She (along with her younger sister) contracted polio at age six while visiting relatives in Wichita, Kansas. Both girls were sent to a nearby hospital for spinal taps and were admitted. She remembers receiving intravenous horse serum and then becoming violently ill for a period of time. She describes receiving hot-pack therapy twice a day and remembers being burned by the hot blankets on a couple of occasions. She describes her experiences, activities and physical therapy in the hospital. After discharge, she returned home to California, where she continued home therapy. She wore corrective shoes to age 13 for what she heard described as “weakness” in her legs, although she was very physically active in a variety of activities. She has had no residual effects from polio. Masheter completed a baccalaureate degree in Chemistry at UCLA and later completed a PhD. She taught at the University of Utah for ten years and currently is employed with the Utah State Department of Health. In 2008, she summited Mount Everest, and was, at the time, the oldest US female to so do. She has no identifiable effects of post-polio syndrome.

Moser (b. 1935) was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She discusses growing up in Cranston, Rhode Island. She entered the Children’s Hospital School of Nursing in Boston in 1953. She discusses her school program, classes, requirements, living arrangement, duties, and their uniforms.She began working with polio patients her first year of school and rotated through departments caring for patients in the isolation, acute, and rehabilitative phases of the disease. She discusses topics such as working in warm pools with physical therapists, Stryker beds, working with patients in casts, iron lungs, chest respirators, tilting beds, and applying hot pack therapy and feeding patients in iron lungs. She has retained her course manuals from the time and reads a few sections on specific care for patients. She graduated in 1956 and stayed in full-time nursing until 1963. Ms. Moser is credited with starting the first US all children’s recovery room at Boston Children’s. She later worked as a nurse volunteer in various activities, including administering polio vaccines to school children. Ms. Moser married and raised two children.

Ogden (b. 1944) grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She discusses her family. She contracted polio at age seven. She recalls being sick with a sore throat, getting sicker, and being taken to the hospital for a spinal tap. She developed difficulty breathing, was transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Boston and was placed in an iron lung for about 24 hours initially. She thereafter was in and out of an iron lung for short periods of time as was needed. She was in the hospital for a total of three weeks and recalls the care she received there. Therapies included hot pack treatments and, having lost the ability to swallow, therapy to regain that ability. In addition, she received speech therapy to relearn how to properly make certain sounds. She came home from the hospital with smaller muscles and weakness on her left side, for which she wears a lift in her left shoe. She had also lost the ability to properly cough, sneeze and laugh. She engaged in self-administered physical therapy at home to retrain and regain those lost abilities, a process that took many years. She discusses the challenges of returning to school. Ms. Ogden studied and earned degrees in mathematics and works as an actuary. She is married and gave birth to one child.

Packer (b. 1946) was born in Preston, Idaho. She tells about her early family life. She contracted polio at age six, in September 1952. She describes what she remembers about getting sick. At home she received heat treatment, which she describes. She was taken to a doctor for a spinal tap and sent to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Pocatello when polio was suspected. She remembers experiencing pain and fever for some time, which she describes. While in the hospital, she was given penicillin. She was in an iron lung for a period of time, of which experience she has no direct recollection. After ten days she was sent to the Elk’s Convalescent Home (rehabilitative hospital) in Boise and was treated there from September 1952 to April 1953. At the time of her admission, her legs were completely immobile. She received a variety of therapies there, including stretching, resistance exercises and soaking in a Hubbard tank. She began to regain mobility by first learning to crawl. She was fitted with braces and crutches in October and received training in uses of those, including how to fall and get back up again. She describes her hospital recollections, activities and experiences. After discharge from Elk’s, she continued with exercises at home. She started a series of corrective surgeries at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake beginning at age ten, and continuing each summer until age sixteen. She discusses those surgeries and her recollections of Primary Children’s. Ms. Packer discusses post-polio syndrome, it effects and manifestations. She completed a degree in social work, married, and gave birth to three children. She has served in numerous political and community volunteer positions throughout her adult life.

Palfreyman (b. 1949) was born in Logan, Utah. She discusses growing up on a farm in Cache Valley, where she contracted polio at the age of three and was treated at home. She relates her memories of getting sick and the treatments received, including regular injections and hot packs. She was left with permanent immobility in her left leg and endured several surgeries over a number of years, which she describes. These included bone shortening and muscle transplants. Ms. Palfreyman has used various types of braces and crutches off and on throughout her life. She discusses her health difficulties during recent years and their possible connection to post-polio syndrome. Ms. Palfreyman studied nursing and received her LPN license. She worked for several years as a bedside nurse.

Toomer (b. 1929) was born in Pasadena, California. She discusses her family and schooling. She graduated from St. Monica High School in 1947, where she was on the basketball, tennis, and swimming teams. She attended Santa Monica Junior College, graduated from El Camino College, and graduated from St. Joseph’s College of Nursing in San Francisco. She discusses her school experiences and training during this three-year program. After graduating, she accepted a job at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica in the surgery department. She joined the Army Nursing Corp in April 1953, taking basic training at Fort Sam Houston before assignment to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in a variety of posts. She met and married her husband (also in the Army) and completed her Army commitment in 1955. She gave birth to a daughter in 1955. Transferred to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in 1956. Barbara contracted polio in September of that year, along with five others from the base. She was hospitalized until January 1957 and recounts her hospital experiences, physical and occupational therapy. All of her limbs were affected and for a time was immobilized from the neck down. She regained considerable use of her arms (which are now quite limited with post-polio) but her legs never regained usefulness. After a series of moves around the country, she with her family moved to Utah in the early 1970’s. Barbara has become an effective community activist, holding several paid and volunteer positions with various advocacy organizations, particularly for the disabled and disadvantaged. She discusses her interests, activities, accomplishments and continuing challenges in these areas.

VanRoosendaal (b. 1935) grew up in Eureka, Utah. She contracted polio at age four around Thanksgiving time and was hospitalized at the Shriner’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she stayed for approximately 11 months. She discusses her experiences there, including visiting her parents through a window while in quarantine, receiving daily chocolate syrup with a yeast cake tonic along with a sponge bath. When she was discharged, she came home on crutches and braces. Her mother routinely massaged her legs and back with cocoa butter. She continued in braces for approximately four years. She returned to Shriner’s at approximately age 13 for surgery to “set” her ankle by orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Pemberton. She was left with a lifelong limp and her right leg slightly shorter than her left. Mrs. VanRoosendaal describes her schooling and adult life, including her marriage and birth of four children. Mrs. VanRoosendaal discusses her current problems with post-po

Vellekoop (b. 1945) was born in Lorain, Ohio. Her parents were serving as missionaries in Indonesia when Connie contracted polio at age 18 months. She describes what she's been told about getting sick and the course of treatment, first in a hospital, then at home with the "Sister Kenny" treatment administered by her father. She was afflicted in both legs up to her mid torso. She used a left leg brace built by her father. The family returned to the US in 1953, and Connie received several surgeries in a Los Angeles children's orthopedic hospital between ages eight and eleven. She used full-length braces for years after her surgeries. She describes the surgeries and hospitalizations and She discusses post-polio challenges. Connie completed her music degree. She teaches piano and is a published writer.


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