My memories of the polio epidemic of the early 1950’s:
Being kept away from the city (a favourite school holiday excursion) or anywhere involving crowds.
My little 6 year old playmate and neighbour, Mark not coming out to play one day as he was unwell.
My mother coming in crying the next morning and telling me that Mark had died in his father’s car, en route to the Royal Children’s Hospital, in the early hours of the morning.
Later that day, his 2 year old sister also being rushed to hospital. Polio was confirmed.
Having to stay home from school for about 3 weeks as my anxious parents regularly checked my temperature and watched for signs of polio.
Entertaining the little 2 year old neighbour when she finally came home, as she lay on a table by the window in a special body splint, lovingly made by her father.
Sometime after Mark died, his mother gave me a beautiful silver and yellow enamel butterfly brooch – a memento, she said, to remember my lost playmate. I still treasure this butterfly today – 61 years later.
Please click on the picture below to see more photographs and a video of Dianne’s “Touched by Polio” art work