David

David

The "Good Old Days" were not always that good and it's amazing how much things have improved just in my lifetime.

The time was the early 50's.

David was the fastest kid in our gang, even faster than his sister and she was really, really fast. He could run faster, climb higher in trees, jump all the way across the stream in the woods and he always made sure everybody got to play and nobody picked on the little kids.

One summer they called off the carnival, shut down the theater, canceled the 4th. of July parade and closed the swimming pool.

And David wasn't there anymore. His sister cried a lot. She even hit one of the kids one day.

Fewer and fewer kids showed up at the playground.

One night Mom and Dad sat us down and told us that David had polio. We knew about polio, my great aunt had it when she was little and one leg was shorter than the other. She had to wear special shoes and a metal brace on her leg and a cane we had all learned to fear. He was in the hospital but I really wanted to go see him.

We all dressed and I got in the car and Dad drove us into the city to the hospital. When we got to David's room it was filled with really big cylinders with people inside and just their heads sticking out. They were all lying on their backs looking up at a big mirror. The tanks made wheezing noises with a clunk then a whir then whoosh then clunk then ...

David's mom and dad and his sister were there and all stood up when we arrived. David smiled but it was all crooked. He was drooling and his sister reached over and wiped his face. As the tank went whoosh David said "Hi". Then a pause and when the tank went whoosh again he said "for coming o...", pause, clunk, whir, whoosh, "...ver".

His dad explained that the machine was breathing for David and when it went whir it pulled air in and when it went whoosh it was pushing the air out. David could only talk when it was pushing the air out.

I looked at David and all I could say was "Wow, that's neat!". He smiled again but his mom cried.

His dad said that he was getting better and they thought he would be able to leave the tank (it was called an Iron Lung) one day soon. I said I couldn't wait for him to get home and I'd tell everybody that he'll be back soon.

A nurse came by and said it was time for his bath and exercise and so we all said goodbye for now.

David died a few days later and he didn't get to come back.

A couple years later Dad took us to Doc Jerry for the first Polio Vaccine trial and David was one of the last kids in the US to die from polio.