From Mulberry Memories, Vol. 1, No. 7, September 2011, from Jerry Fickle by way of Sue Bryan Conley, Mulberry High School graduates.

This special issue of Mulberry Memories is dedicated to Robert Dieter, Don, John, Tom and Norma Fleischhauer, Steve Garriott, Jim Felix, Marge Kay Gaylor, Lois Click and others that had mild cases of polio.

Sue Bryan Conley:

During the fall of 1954, Mulberry experienced a polio epidemic. I feel very fortunate that I did not get polio. A neighbor whose farm abutted our fields had three sons and a 3-year-old grandson with polio. John Fleishhauer died and his brother Tom needed a platform shoe to walk. Their older brother Don had a mild case. Another neighbor lost their son, Bob Dieter. The night before Jim Felix got sick I played with him. Eventually Jim would wear a back brace.

To stem the epidemic, the school was closed for a few days and all children were given gamma globulin shots. It took one day to give the shots and the hallway outside the gym was the site. Everyone was weighed. Girls on one end of the hallway, boys on the other. Girls lifted their dresses and someone pulled down their underwear enough to expose their cheeks. Boys dropped their trousers and pulled their own underwear down. There was no curtain between the girls and boys area, so we could see the whole process.

The amount of gamma globulin given was determined by your weight. I remember Dick Gray, a classmate of mine, grousing because he had to have two shots, one in each cheek. I don’t think anyone got polio after all children were given the shot. Another victim was Marge Kay Gaylor. She used leg braces and metal crutches with arm cuffs to walk around. We thought that those who recovered from polio and went on to lead active lives had put polio behind them. Now we know about post-polio syndrome, returning muscle weakness.

Jane Bryan Decker:

I started Purdue about the twentieth of September. I think I was still at home when the first cases of polio were diagnosed as I remember promising Mother that I would go to the Health Service if I didn’t feel well. I worked with Marge Kay Gaylor at the Dairy Bar that summer and I think that I worked with her after Labor Day. I remember walking into my English Composition class and a boy from Stockwell whom I did not know until I started this class asked me if I knew that Bob Dieter had died the night before. I told him that I had not heard. I had played poker for the first and only time in my life with Bob at the county fair only one month before.

Since I had no classes one afternoon during the week, I took the bus to St. Elizabeth Hospital and visited the patients. Tom Fleischhauer and Jim Felix were in a 4 or 6 bed ward and Marge Kay Gaylor was in the same area as I visited with all of them. I don’t remember how many times I visited them but several times before some or all of them were released. John was finally transferred to St. Elizabeth Hospital from St. Joseph Hospital, a small building in the hospital complex, for contagious diseases. He was on a respirator and as his stay continued the nurses would come into the room and take off the respirator. His doctors wanted him to try to breath on his own. He didn’t want them to remove the respirator and would get upset until it was replaced. John and Sandy Cash Gaylor had dated some during high school and she visited him. John had someone in his family buy Sandy a Christmas present which I think she received after his death. Most of my high school class attended John’s funeral and his classmates carried the many flowers from the funeral home to the flower car.

The Mulberry Reporter – September 23, 1954

Mulberry Hit by Epidemic of Polio: Six Cases Hospitalized

Polio struck Mulberry last week and claimed as its victims six boys and girls. Afflicted with the disease are Tom and John Fleischhauer, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Ross Fleischhauer, Kay Gaylor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Gaylor; Robert Dieter, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Dieter; Stevie Garriott, son of Mr. and Mrs. George Garriott, and Jimmie Felix, son of Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Felix.

All the patients are in St. Elizabeth Hospital and St. Joseph’s Contagious Hospital, Lafayette.

The disease apparently began its work in the Fleischhauer home about two weeks ago when first one boy and then the others became ill. Donald, 28, was the first to become ill. His brothers, John, 19, and Tom, 17, then became ill and were taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Lafayette, after test showed they had polio.

Kay Gaylor, 16, was the next to fall victim. She is now in the St. Elizabeth Hospital. Steven Garriott, small son of Mr. and Mrs. George Garriott, and a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Ross Fleischhauer, was taken first to Clinton County Hospital, Frankfort, and then later transferred to St. Elizabeth.

Jimmie Felix, 12, and Robert Dieter, 14, were among the last to contract the disease. The Dieter boy is said to be in fairly good condition and an iron lung is ready for him if he needs it.

In order to combat further spread of the Disease, Dr. Bruce Work, county health officer, ordered all churches closed last Sunday and public meetings cancelled. Emmet Miller, principal of the Mulberry School said that the high school softball team had cancelled its games with other teams in the county.

At first the school was not closed, but by Monday of this week, so many parents had become alarmed over the situation that about 160 children were out of school that day. Mr. Miller did not have the authority to close the school, this lying within the province of Township Trustee, M. E. Kleinsmith, who was out of town over the weekend.

When Robert Dieter became afflicted with polio, Dr. Work then ordered the Mulberry School closed on Tuesday. It is reported that the State Board of Health was not in favor of closing the school, so the board sent an emergency shipment of 8,000 cubic centimeters of gamma globulin, a polio preventive and ordered a mass inoculation of all the pupils.

The mass inoculation took place Wednesday morning at the school building with Dr. Work, Dr. Robert Kiohne of Lafayette, who has taken over temporarily the practice of the late Dr. Nelson Combs, and Dr. Forest Babbs of Stockwell giving the shots. After the mass inoculation, it was decided to reopen the school on Thursday.

Gamma globulin can be given to children only by the written consent of their parents. Mr. Kleinsmith reports that 390 were inoculated Wednesday, of which 260 were school children and 130 preschool children and teachers. It is estimated that about seventy-five children had previously received gamma globin elsewhere.

The three doctors were assisted by Mrs. William Krammes, county health nurse, Mrs. Myrna Olson, Mrs. Everett Scheirer, Mrs. J. J. Clendenning and Mrs. Helen Smith and Miss Julia Faust, both of Frankfort, all of whom are registered nurses.

Robinson’s Rexall Drug Store and A. Weaver & Sons furnished lollipops to all the children after they had been inoculated. Churches in Mulberry will not hold service Sunday, but the pastors will hold a service from 9am to 10am Sunday over station WASK, Lafayette.

As we go to press today – Thursday – we understand that Kay Gaylor will be transferred from St. Joseph’s Contagious Hospital, where Jimmie Felix, Stevie Garrott and Tom Fleischhauer are already patients. Bob Deiter and John Fleischhauer remain in the St. Joseph Hospital, the latter being in an iron lung.

As a preventive measure, all of the pupils of the Washington Township School at Jefferson were inoculated today – Thursday – with gamma globulin. This precautionary measure was taken because of the closeness of the two communities of Mulberry and Jefferson.

Dave Weaver:

Not a big deal but Tom Fleishhauer’s platform shoe was not due to polio. He was run over by his father in a trackertrailer (could have been a truck) accident as a small child and damage to his leg made it necessary to wear the platform shoe. He wore the platform shoe as long as I knew him. He impressed me as he played basketball and softball with a built up shoe. I admired his toughness and guts. I never heard him complain about the shoe.

Sue Bryan Conley:

Nancy Lehr McKee also said that the platform shoe was a result of an accident. Can anyone confirm that Tom had polio. I remember Marilyn Lucas telling about tutoring Tom so he could graduate with his class. I thought that he was recovering from polio.

Jean Snyder Barton Hufford:

I was teaching at Mulberry High School that year. I had Kay Gaylor in class. In fact she got sick in my class and I took her to the nurses room. She later went to see Dr. Combs and to the hospital. I was pregnant with Sharon at the time and Dr. Combs gave me the shot. I went into the office and Dick Dieter walked out the back office to go to the hospital. I laid down on the same table and got my shot. We were thankful that Sharon was born healthy in March following the polio episode.

Lots of memories that year. Ruth Felix has some stories, you should talk with her.

Danielle Click Knowles:

My mother, Lois Click, was also a victim of the polio epidemic. We lived out pass Shady Acres in what was called Hamilton. She was helping the Sharp family who had also been a victim. She fell to the disease in October 1954, and was rushed to the hospital and was placed into an iron lung. My oldest brother, Leroy,was in high school and my younger brother, Richard, was in elementary school. My mom made a visit home at Christmas for the day and then returned to the hospital. She spent several summer in Warms Springs for rehabilitation. She made an effort to walk with leg and back braces but eventually gave in and spent the rest of her life in a wheelchair. She did not regret this choice and she had a full life. She died in 1999 at the age of 82.

Joan Wagoner Cover:

Would anyone have a copy of the poem that was published in The Reporter after we had those “gg” shots. I don’t remember who composed it and it started out, “Twas a dreadful day when we went down to the gym and stood around.”

Sue Bryan Conley:

I don’t remember the poem, but Marjorie Lawrence might have been the author. I think she self-published two books of poetry.

Dick Bennett:

I remember going to the hospital to see John Fleishhauer… he was in an iron lung, and I remember how scary it was. They had rigged up a projector by him so he could watch cartoons, which he liked. We all thought he would get better, and had no idea how serious it was until his death.

Steve Conarroe:

Kay Gaylor came through an experience in the “iron lung” in the hospital and went with us on our Senior class trip to New York. Herb Stewart and Jim Delph carried that wheel chair every place you could imagine including up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.

Several of us played in a softball game the very night he was infected with the dreaded disease. We were terrified when we got the news to come to the hospital that night. Bob Dieter played right field that night. Some of the others in that game were Carl Yoder, Bob Krammes, Dick Bennett, Dave Roessler, and others that I can’t remember.

I remember everyone’s concern about just what was this disease and why were we all getting shots. At that time we did not even know who all was taken into the hospital or really what their condition was. Hard to remember and hard to forget.

The shots, curfew, and blockade of Mulberry still stay in my mind. Incidentally, I spoke with Kay and have a picture of her that is not too old. She looks great and we would have loved to have her and that smile at the reunion.

Nancy Lehr McKee:

Although I was in my first year of nursing school at I. U. Medical Center in 1954, I remember very well the polio epidemic that hit Mulberry that year. However, I do not remember that Tom Fleischhauer had polio. The built-up shoe that he wore was necessary because of an accident which occurred when he was a small boy. His dad backed a truck over his leg and I remember Tom telling about the incident by saying that one person picked him up and another person picked up his leg. Obviously, the leg was severely injured and he was probably lucky that he did not lose it.

Tom never seemed to be adversely affected by the injury, however, as I remember that he played basketball with a built-up basketball shoe. I do remember that his sister, Norma, did have polio and had problems with postpolio syndrome much later on.

Dale McKee and I remember going to Lafayette to see John Fleischhauer when he was past the acute phase of his polio. I remember he was on a portable respirator at the time and he was trying to exercise his hands by squeezing a small rubber ball. It was such a sad time for all the families who lost loved ones during that time, for those who suffered permanent impairment, and for the whole town.

Everyone was afraid of the polio virus in those days because we weren’t sure how it was spread. Do you remember when all the public swimming pools were closed during the summer months because public health officials thought it was either contaminated water or just close contact among all the children that caused the epidemic? I also remember working in surgery at Riley Hospital as a nursing student during the summer months when there were no tonsillectomies or adenoidectomies done because it was thought that these surgeries made children more susceptible to the polio virus.

Polio Claims Life of Robert Dieter

Thursday, September 30, 1954

Polio brought to an end the life of Robert Eugene Dieter, who was just entering into a period of teenage happiness and activity in his home, his church and his school, when he was stricken by the dread disease on Monday of last week. The last of seven in the community to be stricken, he was taken to the St. Joseph Addition of the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette on Monday.

Taking a turn for the worse, he was place in an iron lung last Thursday night. Pneumonia developed and his condition changed at 5pm on Friday. At 7 o’clock that evening he died from bulbar polio coupled with pneumonia. Robert was 15 years of age.

A sophomore in Mulberry High School, he was a member of the school band and of the softball and basketball teams, two sports he enjoyed. He was active in the Trinity Evangelical and Reformed Church and in 4-H work.

Robert was the son of Eugene and Irene Lecklitner Dieter and was born in Tippecanoe County, August 25, 1939. His parents survive along with a brother, Richard Alan, 10, the paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dieter of Rossville, the maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Meigs Lecklitner of Mulberry and his paternal great-grandmother, Mrs. John Huffard, also of Rossville.

The funeral service was held at 2pm Sunday at the Keinsmith Funeral Home, the Rev. John E. Westermeyer officiating. Burial was in the Fair Haven Cemetery.

Polio Is Fatal to John Fleischhauer

Thursday, December 23, 1954

John Nathan Fleischhauer, 19, of Mulberry Route 1, died in the St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, Sunday morning following an illness of more than three months.

The youth, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ross L. and Opal Ruch Fleischhauer, was stricken with polio on September 16, and was one of five persons in the immediate family to suffer from it, all at the same time. Severely stricken, the youth was confined to an iron lung or respirator throughout this illness.

He was born in Clinton County Hospital, Frankfort, February 5, 1935, and attended school at Mulberry. At the time he became ill, he was employed by National Homes, Lafayette.

The deceased was a member of the St. Luke Evangelical and Reformed Church and belonged to the National Guard unit at Lafayette.

Other survivors include two brothers, Donald and Thomas, the latter a senior in Mulberry High School, one sister, Mrs. George D. Garriott of Mulberry, and one nephew Stephen G., all of whom were stricken with the disease, but who are recovering; the paternal grandmother, Mrs. Amada Fleischhauer of Mulberry and the maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Ruch.

Funeral services were conducted Tuesday at 2pm at the Kleinsmith Funeral Home, Mulberry, with the Rev. John E. Westermeyer, pastor of St. Luke Evangelical and Reformed Church, officiating. Burial was in the St. Luke Cemetery, where military rites were conducted by the Lafayette National Guard unit at the graveside.

Neal Gaylor:

I had left school and joined the Army on January 25, 1954. After completing 16 weeks of basic training, I found I was on my way to a three year hitch in Germany, arriving there in mid June or about the time the Class of ‘54 were on their trip to New York City.

It was in mid September that I received a letter from my folks that Kay was in the hospital with polio. It was the first time that I experienced home sickness as Kay and I were always very close. I was advised to contact the Red Cross about getting an emergency leave. When they checked into it and they determined that Kay’s case was not life threatening, I was denied the leave.

A year later I had re-enlisted and received a 35-day leave back to the States. I arrived in Mulberry in mid-March. I had not told anybody that I was coming. My sister Beverly picked me up at the Lafayette bus station and drove me to Mulberry. Mom was cooking at the school. When I walked in, the surprise almost caused her to faint. Someone was sent up to get Kay from her class. She started crying just as soon as she saw me. We just stood there hugging and crying.

After a few days at home I needed to go to Fort Benjamin Harrison pay center in Indianapolis. On that morning, Dad let me borrow his green and yellow Buick. Kay skipped school and went with me. We headed south on a gravel road towards Fickle, I believe that’s what it was called. We were driving along laughing and talking. You had to drive over the railroad track, just before intersecting with Highway 28. I wasn’t paying attention and started up without looking either way to see if a train was coming, and wow, there it was. Later Kay and I swore we heard the engine tick our back bumper. I was so shook up that I pulled over and sat until the shaking stopped and then we just started to laugh. Of course, we never told the folks until years later.

The thing I remember about that time was my family and some of the others telling of the way they were treated as outcast. People were so afraid of their children getting polio. My brothers and I had paper routes in Mulberry for many years. Brother Bill told how he threw the paper on a family’s porch and the lady of the house came out with a broom and swept it off the porch and told him not to leave the paper anymore.

I guess the families that were affected were drawn closer together. Sandra and I have stopped at John Fleischhauer’s grave sight. I remember him as a very happy young man, a lot like me. We spent a lot of time together up to about age 14. Then we had drifted apart. One thing I remember about him, was the time we had to put on boxing gloves and fight. I don’t think either one of us were into it and with a lucky punch I caught him right in the Adam’s apple. He couldn’t talk and was sore for several days. Shortly after that, boxing was banned in school PE.

Sue Bryan Conley:

My husband remembered a polio scare in West Virginia. He doesn’t know exactly when it occurred, but knows it was before 1953. The advice then was to keep the children inside between 1 and 4 PM to avoid contracting polio. He remembered grousing about not being allowed to play outside.

Ruth Felix had a mild case of polio which left her with a raspy speaking voice. She said she no longer could sing in the church choir.

Frances “Fran” Fitzgerald:

I remember going to the hospital with a group of girls — Mary Ann Krammes Martin, Mary Helen Bailey, Jane Combs Heavilon, Joan Bobb and myself — with a birthday cake for Marge Kay Gaylor. I think her birthday is in October. She was in an iron lung and I remember thinking at the time how lucky I was to have been spared this disease. We used to give Marge Kay rides to Rainbow etc. It was a very scary time for everyone.

Barb Pierson Seager:

I think there were others who had light cases of polio, not sure who they all were, perhaps they will identify themselves.

Per the ‘gamma’ shots: the liquid was so thick and that’s what made it hurt!!

Remember also that we could not go to the movie theater or the swimming pool, and of course not any ballgames. That probably was the first time young kids in our town learned the real meaning of the word “fear,” we felt it at least. The death of our youth from polio was very emotional, as for most of us it was a first time realization that we were not immortal.

Ruth’s Nightmare

by Ruth Felix, August 2011

Jim Felix—His polio started with a bad back ache. Dr. Combs had died and we had to take him to a Lafayette doctor. Jim asked to lie down in the doctor’s office as his back hurt so. When the doctor examined him, he said, “Thank goodness your neck and back aren’t stiff.” He gave him a shot and said, “I think you’ll be alright. Stay in bed.”

The next morning when I went into the shop (in-home hair salon), I heard they had taken John and Tom Fleischhauer to the hospital with polio. When I went to the post office everyone was talking about it. I told them Jim was sick and I was worried.

At noon, Jim got up to go to the bathroom and could hardly walk. He said, “Last night the doctor said, ‘Thank goodness your neck and back aren’t stiff’ but they are now.” He got back in bed and asked for me to read to him about Jesus on the cross. Of course, I couldn’t. I read him something, but I don’t remember what.

They said they had taken Marge (Kay) Gaylor to the hospital with polio. I called the doctor and told him. He said to take Jim to St. Joseph Hospital (contagious). Mel came home and we took Jim to the hospital. They did a spinal tap and confirmed polio. We couldn’t even go into his room. One day his leg fell out of the bed and I had to get the nurse to put his leg back. They thought we should get a private nurse as he had bulbar and spinal polio. No nurses. A miracle the next day — the bulbar had cleared up.

When the temperature was gone they moved them into St. Elizabeth Hospital. Jim was put in a 4-bed ward with Tom and John and another man. Jim felt better being with the Fleischhauers. One day they had a hot pack on Jim’s back, and the nurse put a thermometer in his mouth and went out. Jim being a tease put the thermometer on the hot pack, then back into his mouth. When the nurse came back to take his temperature, she said, “I’ll be back.” Then she came in with a syringe with a big needle. Jim hurriedly confessed what he had done. Of course, she already knew. They all had a good laugh.

All the churches and the school had closed. Mulberry was a ghost town. When I went uptown for groceries they told me I didn’t need to come up. They would bring the groceries and put them on the porch. I didn’t realize that they didn’t want me. That was OK. I would have been afraid also.

They had church services on the radio. The ministers said the 12 year old boy said he was afraid, then he prayed and wasn’t scared anymore.

I had to take Jim to the therapy department to be measured for a brace. We thought it would be a corset type but instead they put a bandage around his head and hooked him up and made a hard plaster brace! It was up in back of the head to the lower spine — worn 24 hours a day. It was torture. Ruined some of his clothes.

Bob Dieter was admitted and put in an iron lung. He died. That was so sad as we were good friends with the Dieters.

Jim came home a week before Thanksgiving. He was home tutored. The Fleischhauers and I went 5 days a week for therapy. John F. died — another sad day.

A friend from Morocco that had been on therapy had gone to Warm Springs, Georgia, to the National Polio Hospital. President Roosevelt had had polio and started the hospital. We made reservations and left in July. We flew to Atlanta where a Warm Springs car met us. Another adventure.

Warm Springs was a lovely place. Jim was there until the day before Thanksgiving. He was so home sick. He said, “It was another institution.”

They took off his horrible brace. Put on a corset, crutches and used 20 pound weights to stretch his spine — 2 times daily, 20 minutes at a time. They told me to be careful not to drop a weight as it could break his neck. What a thought! People said it probably seemed like a dream. I said, “NO — a nightmare.” We went back to Warm Springs 8 or 9 times. Jim used his corset and crutches for years.

Jim went to college, married Jan Mollenhour, adopted a 3-day old girl, Janell. He retired from NCR on disability. He died in 2003 from complications of polio. Mulberry missed Salk vaccine by nine months. I cried as it was so close. Thank God for the vaccine as others are spared a dreadful disease.

The Mulberry Reporter – September 23, 1954

Polio Patients Show Slight Gain

Mulberry’s polio patients show a slight gain, it is reported. Stevie Garriott, Tom Fleischhauer, Jimmy Felix and (Marge) Kay Gaylor are in the St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, the later three undergoing therapy treatments. John Fleischhauer is still confined in an iron lung in the St. Joseph addition to the St. Elizabeth Hospital.

The Mulberry Reporter – November 25, 1954

Miss (Marge) Kay Gaylor, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Gaylor, who is undergoing therapeutic treatment at the St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette for polio paralysis, spent the last two Sundays at the home of her parents and brothers. She is also spending Thanksgiving Day at home.

The Mulberry Reporter

Neighbors and friends gathered at the Eugene Dieter farm Saturday afternoon and combined about 25 acres of beans. Those furnishing combines were Harold Clark, Jr., Clarence Arvin, Floyd Bolyard, Jr., Robert Seager, Harold Neal, Kenneth Mills, and Gerald and Ronnie Wainscott. Trucks and labor were furnished by Leo Bryan, Kenneth Mills, Robert Seager, Emmet Miller, Doyle Burns, Maurice Ruch, Harvey Smith, Harold Clark, Sr., and Morris Fickle. Gasoline for this project, which was completed in two hours, was furnished by William Yoder.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 1954

School notes by Mary Helen Bailey:

Next Thursday, Oct. 28, will be (Marge) Kay Gaylor’s birthday. Let’s don’t forget her since she is in the hospital. Let’s all send cards to her.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 1954

School notes by Mary Helen Bailey:

The basketball team started practice last Friday. Tom Fleischhauer is greatly missed.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 1954

BOBBY DIETER MEMORIAL POLIO FUND IS SET UP

As a memorial to Bobby Dieter, who died recently from an attack of polio, a memorial fund has been set up. A sum of $79.25 has been turned over to Ora O. Hawkins, who was the 1954 chairman for the Madison Township March of Dimes.

Previously a check for $10 was given to the polio foundation by the members of the Trinity Evangelical and Reformed church school.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to the memorial fund can give it to Mr. Hawkins, who will see that the money gets to the Polio foundation.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 7, 1954

Greater Supply of Gamma Globulin Is Made Available

Gamma Globulin, for the prevention of paralytic polio, measles and infectious hepatitis, will be available on doctors’ prescriptions through regular medical supply channels after October 1, 1954, it has been announced by Lederle Laboratories Division, American Cyanamid Company. Heretofore the protective blood fraction has been allocated by the Federal Office of Defense Mobilization to local departments of health for use in polio epidemic areas only. The processed supply of gamma globulin available to physicians this year, though still very small, is approximately twice as large as last year’s supply.

In a report to physicians sent out this summer, Dr. Kenneth S. Landauer, Assistant Medical Director, National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, points out that “gamma globulin is the only proved weapon now available to physicians for prophylaxis against paralytic poliomyelitis.”

“The basic scientific evidence established in 1951 and 1952 field trials that gamma globulin can prevent paralytic polio has recently been not only reaffirmed but strengthened, so that its usefulness seems even greater than we formerly believed,” states Dr. Landauer.

Failure to understand the limitation of gamma globulin accounted for public confusion during the summer of 1953, when it was made available as a public health measure, says Dr. Landauer. “As a result of the mode of distribution, the 1953 use of gamma globulin for mass or group prophylaxis against poliomyelitis was only in rare instances correctly timed for maximum effectiveness,” Dr. Landauer writes. “In many communities it was not given until after the peak of a poliomyelitis epidemic had already passed. Adverse reports on its use were therefore scientifically meaningless. Data collected in the 1951-1952 control studies still stand as valid, reliable and undisputed.”

While the use of gamma globulin in polio is comparatively new, the agent has a long history of usefulness against measles— in offering temporary immunity and in reducing the severity of an attack of the disease. The lifting of restrictions on the sale of gamma globulin this year will make much more available for measles.

Since gamma globulin is extracted from human blood, the supply will always be limited. Lederle processes gamma globulin through arrangements made with large hospitals throughout the East. No donated blood from the Red Cross or other agencies is used by Lederle.

Not to be confused with the polio vaccine now undergoing trial in this country, gamma globulin may perhaps be described as a grab bag of temporary immunity. It is that part of human blood which prevents an individual from catching some infectious diseases twice. It carries the antibodies developed to combat a disease during illness. Even a light case of infectious hepatitis will produce antibodies. Most adults have antibodies against polio and measles in the gamma globulin of their blood because they have had light cases of these diseases some perhaps without knowing it. When the gamma globulin from a thousand or more different individuals is pooled together, the pool is certain to contain antibodies against polio, measles and infectious hepatitis.

Collection and distribution of gamma globulin is an organized way for the immune to lend immunity to individuals who have no antibodies of their own. As long as the borrowed antibodies remain in the blood, they will prevent or reduce the severity of an attack of the disease against which they were originally manufactured. But after five to eight weeks, the borrowed antibodies pass out of the blood. The main use of gamma globulin then, is to safeguard against an epidemic or a threatened exposure in the immediate future.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 14, 1954

School Notes

A lot of students have been visiting our polio patients at the St. Elizabeth hospital in Lafayette—Little Stevie Garriott, Jim Felix, (Marge) Kay Gaylor, and Tom and John Fleischhauer. Don’t forget to send cards and letters to them. It helps pass the time, you know. Their parents report they are getting along very well, but there is still a lot of therapy and lying in bed for them. We sure think of you a lot, kids, and we’ll be very glad to see you all back.

News Item

Mulberry’s polio patients, (Marge) Kay Gaylor, Steve Garriott, Tom Fleischhauer and Jim Felix, in the St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, are reported to be slowly improving. John Fleischhauer was transferred Sunday from the St. Joseph’s addition to the St. Elizabeth Hospital and placed in a room with his brother Tom. John is still in a respirator.

News Item

Polio Foundation Makes Statement

It has come to the attention of the county chapter of the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis that through the county there have been some false impressions in regard to the work and policy of the Foundation. The people of Mulberry and community have every reason to be much concerned about the work of the local chapter, due to the polio epidemic they have experiences. First, let us state that no family has ever been refused aid from the local chapter. It is the policy of the Foundation, however, that before the Foundation will bear the expense of treatment or hospitalization, that other means of financial assistance such as insurance, private funds, first be applied wherever possible. This chapter to date has made no payment on cases of this present polio outbreak, due to the fact that no bills as yet have been received. We have sent word to the hospitals that we are ready to underwrite any expenses over and above insurance which involves treatment of persons from the county, where assistance is needed. Should the funds of the local chapter become exhausted, and not until that time, may we ask for and receive financial assistance from the National Foundation.

Eight thousand units of gamma globulin were used on mass inoculation at Mulberry and Jefferson. This was in the amount of $36,000. This cost was borne by the National Foundation. One-third of the funds collected are being used to perfect a vaccine which will be a preventative against the dread crippler, and killer, polio.

The National Foundation owns and maintains a supply of iron lungs, and no charge is made for the use of the lungs. The only cost is for nursing and doctor’s care, and treatments. Recently an iron lung was on a truck headed for Northern Indiana, when an emergency at St. Elizabeth Hospital involving a Mulberry patient made it necessary to have the state police contact the truck driver, who changed his itinerary and delivered the lung to Lafayette immediately.

At a recent chapter meeting of the local chapter, $1,800 was voted to pay current bills for the care and treatment of a Clinton County person. Many of these cases date back to the year 1952 and before. Your county organization is and has been constantly taking care of bills for hospital and clinical treatment of these cases.

It is well to remember that there are only 500 paid employees of the National Foundation against 500,000 volunteers who give freely of their time the year around to help in this great cause.

We are now making plans for the January March of Dimes campaign, and we will need the support of every person in this county to meet these pressing present needs, and also have funds for research, that we may lick with a perfected vaccine, the dreaded polio.

The Mulberry Reporter – October 26, 1954

School Notes—Mary Helen Bailey

Thursday night (Marge) Kay Gaylor, in St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, was surprised with a birthday party in her honor by Jane Combs, Mary Helen Bailey, Joan Bobb, Frances Fitzgerald and Mary Ann Krammes. The girls took a large birthday cake and ice cream to the hospital. Kay received several lovely birthday gifts. A special guest at the party was Jim Felix.

The Mulberry Reporter – December 1954

Marge Kay Gaylor, a polio patient at the St. Elizabeth Hospital, Lafayette, spent the weekend with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Gaylor. Kay will be dismissed from the hospital to her home within the next two weeks.

Polio Epidemic Update

by Sue Bryan Conley

Dear Mulberryites, The following is the last article about polio in the September thru December 1954 Mulberry Reporters. I rather doubt that this was well received when published. But I found it interesting and hope you will, too. To my sister, perhaps our uncle got his nickname ‘Doc’ the same way Doc Smith did. This also may explain why our father did not want us to be vaccinated for smallpox.

This is the last call for items for the polio issue.

The Mulberry Reporter – September 30, 1954

Israel Hatton wrote a column named PAST AND PRESENT

(Dictated to Mrs. Hatton)

Some people think that we are experiencing an epidemic of polio in Mulberry and vicinity. I do not think that only seven cases would constitute an epidemic for it seems that the steps already taken to prevent further spread of the disease will succeed.

There have been many real epidemics in the past in different parts of the world. Some have been continent-wide, some have been nation-wide, and some have been limited to smaller territories.

Perhaps the most destructive epidemic in modern history was the bubonic plague in Europe. It has been said that that epidemic destroyed the lives of perhaps one-third of the population. We have also read of epidemics of yellow fever, cholera and other diseases.

The first epidemic that was communitywide that I can remember was an epidemic of cerebro-spinal meningitis, also called spotted fever. This took place in Dayton and Wyandotte when I was about seven years old. Very few people stricken with that disease at that time recovered.

The next epidemic that I remember was a small pox scare in Dayton and surrounding country when I was about 16 years old. The teachers in the public schools were ordered to call the roll of their pupils to find if they had all been vaccinated. Our principal, Prof. Reid, called the roll of our Dayton School high school department. He asked each one of us, “Have you been vaccinated?” Most of us had already been vaccinated. Then he asked, “What doctor vaccinated you?” When he called my name, I said, “Mr. Alvin Baer vaccinated me.” Mr. Baer had bought some of the virus and vaccinated people for 25 cents each. When Prof. Reid called the name of Frank Smith, Frank said, “Yes, sir, I’ve been vaccinated.” “What doctor vaccinated you?” “I vaccinated myself.” “Oh, then, it was Doctor Smith.” From then on Frank was called “Doc Smith.”

The approach of the smallpox epidemic was soon controlled and forgotten.

Many people now living can remember the dreadful epidemic of influenza. During the winter of 1917-18, we were living in Zionsville, where I was pastor of the Methodist church. Many people from childhood to old age became afflicted. Mrs. Hatton and I were fortunately spared, although we called daily among the sick. I had many calls for funerals, most of them in the homes when no one was present except the immediate family. I remember one such funeral in a home where I conducted the service in the presence of two other members of the family who were lying in nearby beds, critically ill with the disease.

January, 1918, was the coldest month on record in Indiana, yet we went everywhere where duty called up, day or night, and ministered to the sick and bereaved.

We had an epidemic of the flu when we lived at Romney. One day we called in the home of two old people who were grandparents, whose little grandson in the home of their daughter a mile or so away had been stricken a short time before with the influenza. We asked the grandparents how their little grandson was getting along. Grandmother said, “He was a mighty sick boy, but we sent for the doctor and he came and gave him an epidemic and cured him.” Of course she meant a hypodermic.

Epidemics are spread by personal contact and migrating insects which carry the disease germs.

Marilyn Wainscott Mammen:

The things I remember when polio affected our town and school:

1. I remember seeing Jim Felix in the “sick” room which was located mid way between the lower level of the grade school and the second floor. I remember wondering what was wrong with him, only to find out later that he had been taken to the hospital and was diagnosed with polio; that was scary.

2. I remember how scared I was when I learned Bobby Dieter was in the hospital and heard that he was in an iron lung. His brother Dick was my classmate, and I felt so bad for him.

3. How could I ever forget the day we went to the school for those gamma globulin shots. I remember the school gym being filled with people and having to get weighed as that determined how much you received. Then it seemed when the shot was given it took over a half minute before it was done; and afterwards, it hurt so bad that when I went home I had to sit on a pillow.

4. I also remember our family visiting Jim Felix at the Warm Springs Foundation in Georgia. We had stopped on our way to Florida. He was so glad to see someone from home.

5. I also remember the effects that polio had on Jim but how he learned to water ski in spite of his disability. I know this time in Mulberry history is one we will never forget.

Karyn Williams Lidell:

One of my memories of finding out that polio was in our community was the day after Jim Felix was diagnosed. My mother and Lois Tyrrell took Norm, me, Garrett and Morris to Lafayette to get the GG shots from a doctor. I remember being scared, screaming and hearing screams from the examining room. I thought the needle was the diameter of a quarter and a foot long! And as someone else wrote, it took a long time to be shot in the bottom. Still, how fortunate we were to have been spared.

2 thoughts on “Polio Epidemic In Mulberry 1954

  1. As mentioned by Danielle Click Knowles, I was the victim in the Sharp family. Dr B.A. Work was our family doctor and I contracted a light case of polio in my right leg (knee). I have been told by older siblings that my physical therapy to keep the knee strong was that my tricycle was placed deeply in mud puddles and if I wanted to ride it I had to peddle it out. If my siblings helped me at all they got punished. My only personal recollection was going to Dr Works office for an exam and him using a cork mallet tapping on my knees for the reflex and him telling my mother it all looked good. The one leg is very marginally shorter than the other but I seemed to recover fully as I played sports at Clinton Prairie throughout jr high and high school. Larry Sharp, sixth son of Edward and Louise Sharp born April 1952.

  2. Tom Fleischhauer was my dad. He wore the platform shoe due to an accident when he was young. Grandpa Ross Fleischhauer ran over his leg when Dad fell from a vehicle. I heard many stories of when Dad had polio and his brother John passing from it.

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