A Terrible Disease

In the 1950s, Margaret (Tinius) Walker (left) was a polio poster child for the St. Louis March of Dimes.

This story by Margaret (Tinius) Walker is on Page 76 of Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades by Jim Merkel. To buy a copy, go to https://merkels-books-and-things.square.site/


I got very sick with polio when I was three. I was burning up with an extremely high fever, and I was so sick, and in severe pain. I just remember waking up in the middle of the night and walking to the
doorway of my mother’s bedroom. I cried out, “Mom, Mom,” and then I blacked out and fell because I couldn’t stand anymore. The next thing I remember is hearing my mom and dad panicking. They
grabbed me and put me into a blanket, and lay me on the floorboard of the car, all the while panicking and getting upset.


We went to Children’s Hospital, and they refused me. They said they were full. Then they took me to St. Anthony’s Hospital, and they accepted me. Everybody was terrified they would get polio back then,
because they thought it was contagious. I woke up in an iron lung, and I was terrified. If I looked up with my eyes, I would see a mirror. I couldn’t turn my head or anything, but I couldn’t turn anyway. I was like a rag doll, so weak that I couldn’t move anything. And there were things hooked up to me. All I remember is a bunch of tubing, maybe four in each of my legs.

Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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