Edited by Gerald Boerner



JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumbOver the past half century, we have seen some of the greatest scourges of history reach the point of virtual eradication. Smallpox, Polio, and Rubella have all but disappeared from the developed countries and most of the third world countries. These crippling and deadly diseases are no longer a worry for most parents. In recent years, there has been been some rebound of these diseases following an increasing numbers of more affluent parents withholding the early childhood vaccinations due to their fear of autism. Yes, AIDS is still resistant to elimination, but we hold out hope that a cure for that malady will soon be found.


But that was not the case during the first half of the 20th century. Smallpox was still a killer. But the most feared malady was the incapacitating threat to young children. Our wartime president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was stricken with it in the 1920s, leaving his legs crippled. This threat was Infantile Paralysis (Polio) and its effects could range from mild to severe disfigurement and/or death. It forced those whose lungs were effected to be placed in “Iron Lungs” to enable them to breath. I grew up in Downey and that was the location of a large hospital dedicated to the treatment of polio — Rancho Los Amigos Hospital.

Hope came during the early 1950s when Jonas Salk developed a Polio Vaccine. Children were protected and polio became a rare occurrence. After a few years, Rancho Los Amigos was re-tasked to serve as a mental hospital.

And who do we have to thank for these advances in fighting polio and other communicable diseases? The March of Dimes. It all got started when children in the late 1930s were asked to send in their spare dimes to President Roosevelt. By 1938, sufficient funds had arrived that prompted FDR to create the group that became the March of Dimes. To borrow the words of another: “Thank you Mr. President!”.

But, let’s get on with our exploration of the history and work of the March of Dimes… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3632 Words ]


Quotations Related to Polio:


“Having children made us look differently at all these things that we take for granted, like taking your child to get a vaccine against measles or polio.”
— Melinda Gates

“Nature [is] that lovely lady to whom we owe polio, leprosy, smallpox, syphilis, tuberculosis, cancer.”
— Anonymous

“When I worked on the polio vaccine, I had a theory. I guided each [experiment] by imagining myself in the phenomenon in which I was interested. The intuitive realm … the realm of the imagination guides my thinking.”
— Jonas Salk

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