Polio

By Donald Joy

It is now about 6 weeks since I discovered this fascinating website. In that time I have been working my way through the Article List, reading every article and all the accompanying comments and responses. In fact I've been reading it as though it were a book, I'm sure the editor will have noticed this from the incidence of my postings. (Hope I'm not becoming a pest). One thing I have become aware of is the frequent mentions of family members being stricken with that awful disease POLIO.

My Father contracted this disease when he was just a child, fortunately he was one of the luckier ones who managed to survive this. He was left with a permanent limp and when he was tired this became more pronounced, but he never let it interfere with his life. For many years he worked for the Bata shoe company at their factory in East Tilbury. He cycled to work and back daily for all of these years, from our home in Pound Lane, Laindon. His journey took him through Laindon, Langdon Hills up to the Crown, down South Hill, then up again through Horndon on the Hill, across the A13 all the way down the narrow country lane to East Tilbury and work!

Did I ever hear him complain? Not that I recall. I wonder would this be the work ethic we could expect today? How many others have a story to tell of a family member who was unfortunate to have contracted this vicious disease and to then overcome it, as did my Dad, a man to be proud of. 

This page was added by Donald Joy on 20/09/2015.
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Don is absolutely correct. I had one classmate who had survived polio and spent some years in an iron leg brace and one cousin who limped very badly. Those are simply the one's I can remember. Of course it was not only polio. It was common for adults to suffer from rheumatism. Some only found it annoying when it rained (most of the time in the English climate!), some, such as my father, were partially crippled and in some sort of pain most of the time.

Rickets was common and had afflicted one of my classmates. His surname began with a B so, in an all too typically cruel schoolboy manner, he was referred to as "bandy B---." Top of the mothers' horror list for their children was diptheria followed by pneumonia. Much of the time one did not survive these killers. Particularly the former. Then there were other lesser scourges such as scarlet fever. At six years of age I spent over five weeks in St Andrews hospital in Billericay with this disease. No wonder life expectancy has increased by about twenty years. At least in the western world.

By Alan Davies
On 20/09/2015