AIDS Adds to Epidemic History

Nancy Peterson Walter's letter brought back some old memories that were tucked away in my mind all these years. I lived in Chicago in the summer of 1948. That was my last summer in elementary school. I remember not going to the beach or any other crowded public place. I remember having to rest every afternoon for at least an hour. I remember quarantines.

There were quarantines for everything--mumps, measles, scarlet fever, etc. I remember when a cousin came down with scarlet fever, his brother was visiting our home and could not return home until his brother recovered. At that time my uncle could not go to work, and he and my aunt had to stay in the house until their son recovered.

When I had some contagious disease, (measles I guess), my father went to work, but everyone else had to stay home and no one came to visit. I was kept in a dark room to keep from having eye damage. The QUARANTINE sign was on our door. I remember the toys I played with while sick were thrown away when I was well. I hated those times. They were very frightening. Those times were when I was younger though.

The polio epidemic was much worse. I guess almost everyone knew someone who died or was crippled, or did contract polio. In my first year of high school a very popular young man died. The whole school mourned and I never forgot him or his family. That was 1949. A girl I knew got polio and was hospitalized. No one went to visit her except her best friend; she went every day and kept the rest of us posted. Months went by and she recovered, but now I realize how lonely she must have been and so many like her. We were all so afraid of that terrifying illness.

I read in the paper of the Gramm-Rudman Law bringing many budget cuts. But the cuts in immunizations for school children frightens me. I work in the medical field and I know how important those immunizations are.

I pray that we never return to those dark days of epidemic in the United States again, but the possibility always exists.



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