Could everyone write one simple essay about something that once happened in Saltaire…that they saw or were a part of…and put it on one big website? Somebody should collect a lot of stories before we all forget. Otherwise it is like a line in “On The Beach” : The history of the war that now would never be written.” -(JO'H)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Part III: Tears rolled down his cheeks... “my granddaughter has polio”

Editor’s note: the following is final section of a speech given by Mayor John Ludlow in 1954 or 1955 to a civic group about the Polio epidemic of 1954 from his viewpoint as Mayor. This may be the only extensive contemporary account of one of the most significant events in Saltaire history, one that shaped a whole generation. The only editing is the headings, which we have added, the fact that we are breaking the speech into three parts. It was delivered as one speech. For notes on the on the provenance of the manuscript, click on the “Comments” section at the bottom of the post.







Part III:


Saturday I had as my partner ex-. Mayor McManus, an expert Bridge player. His daughter appeared, talked with him, and we resumed our game. After one hand had been played, the ex-Mayor lay down the cards as tears rolled down his cheeks and he said in a choking voice "I’ve have bad news. My granddaughter has polio.” This was a 13-year-old girl who had been taken from Saltaire on Monday, had an inoculation in New Jersey on Tuesday and was proven indeed a polio case that Saturday.


We decided to have a short recreation class August 16 with the proviso that the children would definitely a get some rest each afternoon, and on August 30 we resumed full activities. During these days I kept thinking of St. Paul’s famous words “ faith, hope and charity and I must admit I did a little extra praying that we were taking the right action and that Saltaire had had its last case.

Meanwhile, several doctors told me that gamma globulin could not be considered really effective and that the only real answer to polio was the Salk vaccine, still in exploratory stage and at least two years away from confirmation.

Nevertheless, no further cases of polio developed at Saltaire. There were many cases of sore throats among the children in July and the doctors agreed many of these were probably mild cases of polio.

All of the Saltaire polio patients are making good progress but five are still hospitalized and at least three will need months of patient and constant therapy. It is in this field of therapy that the greatest progress has been made.

For reasons peculiar to myself I used to feel not overly warm towards the "March of Dimes." Having lived a little with the fear that fills in your heart when polio strikes I will never again failed to do my share to help those who so greatly help humanity.


John Ludlow, Fall, 1954
Mayor of Saltaire



Ed. notre: Thus concludes the Ludlow speech. The Ludlow speech and the polio epidemic were a lifetime ago. Please Post your comments, memories and reflections by clicking comments below.

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