There is no question that Polio was a bad thing and it made life more difficult for all its survivors. However, unlike
most major crippling diseases this one may have given as much in return as it took away.
SLAP MY WRISTS AND SHUT MY MOUTH, BUT BARE WITH ME.
I have implied, as have many others, that Polio survivors are a breed apart, but maybe they were just normal
humans given not normal opportunities at an age when the words impossible and acceptance had little meaning.
All of the survivors grew up when disability was a dirty word and very few accommodations were made for us.
We adapted and our best proved more than adequate.
I have met a lot of Polioer's and I am no more different from any of them as anyone is to the general populous. So, I
am not trying to blow my horn nor bring out pitiful feelings, but I am going to note some things that have happened in my
life that Polio did not stop.
When I was young I rode my grandfather's goat since we could not buy a pony.
As a youth I enjoyed walking in the woods. It was not uncommon for me to strap on my hatchet and leave in
the morning not to return until dinner, covering six to eight miles in the woods without trails.
In college I obtained a BS and later an MS, walking that Atlanta campus with everyone else. I worked my
way through graduate school as an independent consultant as I took a full load.
As a young adult I owned six motorcycles. My two favorite bikes were a HD Sportster 1000 XLH and a MotoGuzzi 850 TT.
In my motorcycle days I would bungy cord my crutches on the side, strap a backpack on the seat
and do a little traveling. One of the most fun was a trip to Daytona Beach for Motorcycle Race Week.
In my day (how many times have you heard that one) muscle cars were in and I was into them. I owned
a 396 Chevelle, a Bricklen, three Vettes one of them a 427 L88, and a 400 GTO. I even placed in modified class at the drag strip in the GTO.
Through the years I have flown over 750,000 air miles and I have walked through every major airport in the U.S.
As technical representative for a vendor I have work trade shows in Anaheim, Philadelphia, New York, New Orleans, Atlanta and London.
As a Service Manager for system integration I have managed an organization of 50+ specialists in the U.S. and
satellite operations in five other countries.
In a customer blitz campaign I visited 17 customers in 9 states in 10 days.
During a business trip I explored the entire San Diego Zoo and took some of the best photos of my life.
At one time I took flying lessons until I could take off and land unassisted. Then I stopped because it was more
expensive and less fun than motorcycles.
I have visited Europe for fun a couple of times. These trips included walking through all the rooms of the Heitleburg
Castle, a museum walking tour through Amsterdam (which included the red light district), and walking the village of Bruse in Belgium.
On my honeymoon, prior to getting married, I walked the hills of San Francisco, explored vineyards in Napa Valley and
rode horses in black sand at Fort Bragg.
As a sailor I have manned the tiller strapped to the rail during a freak thunder storm on the open ocean.
Try to close your eyes for a moment and disregard that a Polio survivor did these things. Where can be seen the
image of crippled or disabled or handicapped? We did not see them. Sure we had to adapt but who doesn't in life? Think
about this one. About one person out of every 200 million in the U.S. becomes President of the U.S. but the average for Polio
survivors is about one in every 5 million.
All of us had obstacles but we got around them.
All of us had more than our share of opportunities but we took advantage of them.
All of us faced crisis through our lives and did a good job dealing with them.
Some of us face new problems now but we know what to do about them.
So, give me a .....
..... but NOT .....
Please pardon my grandstanding but sometimes I have to look back at some successes to realize that
things are not bad now and that more successes will come.
There is another thought that comes to mind. FDR began a public awareness of the disabled and brought those
people out from behind closed doors. Then Polio survivors carried the torch further by bringing to light the public
value of the handicapped and the need for a little consideration of our physical needs. Some of the advantages we
MSer's and other limited people have today is in part due to Polio survivor efforts.
So, to summarize my Polio experiences:
I like where I have been,
I like where I am,
I would not change anything,
It is who I am.