The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—I came home from Warm Springs, Ga., and the 20th anniversary celebration of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis with a feeling of great hope. I was delighted that the foundation looks upon its present achievements not as an ending, but as a beginning, and my hope is that it will succeed as well in the next 20 years as it has in the first.

I remember well the beginning of the foundation, and sometimes it seems just a short time ago. So much has been accomplished in 20 years. Through an appeal that reached the hearts of fathers and mothers, the people of the United States, through the March of Dimes, have made it possible for the foundation to finance research and to give scholarships—7,000 of them—to young promising students so they could train for their specialty in science and care for polio patients.

It was through one of these scholarships that Dr. Jonas Salk became a virologist, so it seemed especially fitting that he should be the one finally to give us the vaccine that has practically removed the fear of crippling paralysis.

No vaccine is, of course, 100 percent effective. Some individuals will not react to the Salk vaccine, but by and large the drop in crippling paralysis since children have been vaccinated with it has proved the vaccine almost 99 percent effective.

Now there is enough vaccine for everyone, and over and over again the doctors who spoke at the Warm Springs ceremony stressed the fact that everyone should be inoculated with it.

Parents, of course, wanted their children to be first to get vaccine, because children are more apt to get polio. And when the vaccine was scarce, the older people could not have it.

But now older people are being asked to take it, for cases of crippling paralysis have been known among people in the upper age bracket. Dr. Leona Baumgartner told me she had one case of polio in a woman 80 years old!

Fathers and mothers should not fail to get their inoculations, because in many cases it is harder to retrain a crippled older person to a new life than it is to retrain a crippled child.

I think my husband would have been very happy to see the new and complete plant now serving the patients in Warm Springs. The rehabilitation area for patients who, despite their handicap, have to learn to do their own cooking, as well as other areas for rehabilitation exercises, were most interesting.

I was fascinated by one simple little arrangement. For a polio victim who has the use of only one hand, mixing anything in a bowl is difficult because the bowl moves as its contents are stirred. So in the kitchen there has been arranged a shelf that pulls out when it is to be used.

This shelf has holes for different sizes of plastic mixing bowls. The bowls fit snugly in the holes so that they do not move when the stirring is done with the good hand.

Little things like this make it possible for the handicapped person to manage household chores, and in some cases the inventions would be useful in the kitchen of the average housewife.

The inspiration for all this work has been Basil O'Connor, to whom everyone owes a debt of gratitude.


(Copyright, 1958, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 8, 1958

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.