Sixty years ago, polio was one of the most feared diseases in the world.
Each year, warming weather brought polio season. Late summer was “polio season.” Public swimming pools were shut d
own. Movie theaters urged patrons not to sit too close together. Insurance companies sold polio insurance for newborns.
In 1952 alone, 60,000 American children were infected; thousands died; many thousands were paralyzed.
My aunt was one of the lucky ones; she might have been the girl in this photo. She eventually learned to walk without crutches, but the leg never grew again, and she wore orthopedic platform shoes and heaved through the house like Hephaestus, or through the school where she taught the next two generations