Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eradicate Polio

I saw on the news that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has declared the elimination of polio as a top priority. Once and for all. Gone. Thank you!

Like most of the world, I live in a polio free country. I don't have to worry that my child will wake up this morning gasping for breath because the muscles that work the lungs won't work. Or worse, that my child won't wake up at all.

That was not the case for the parents of Pilot Mountain School in the mid 1940's during the first wave of a polio epidemic. Their children had no protection from this dreaded disease. During the summer of 1944, when fifteen cases of polio were reported in the county per week, local officials made a desperate attempt to stop the spread. Quarantine.

Children under the age of sixteen could not leave their property. No Sunday School. No movies on Saturday morning. No summer camp. No trips to the store for candy. No playing with friends. They did stand on one side of the creek and wave at their friends on the other side - when their mothers weren't watching. But for the most part, they obeyed. They were too scared not to.

Ever wonder what the town of Hamlin was like after the pied piper drew away all the children? That was this community, childless. Joyless.

School didn't open on time in the fall because the children were still confined to their homes. When new cases dropped to one or two, officials lifted the quarantine and life began again. Wonder what the teachers said to their classes the first day of school?

We can't forget the past because that's how we understand why the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiative is so important. No town should be like Hamlin. Eradicate polio. Now.

Catch of the day,



  1. I have distinct memories of the jubilation when the polio vaccine came out. I attended school with more than a few who wore polio braces. The day when polio disappears from the world will be a great day. The Gates Foundation does great work and I applaude them. Rotary Internation also has worked and works to eradicate polio.

  2. I had several friends who had polio as young children. They have been quite ill recently with post polio syndrome, two have died as a result. Any group that works to eliminate this dreadful disease has my full support.

  3. Gretchen,

    I see you have Blue by Joyce Hostetter on your shelf. That's a great read on this topic.

    I hope you are well.

    Linda A.

  4. Linda, I read Blue last summer. I highly recommend it.