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A Family With Polio from the Heart of An Eight Year Old Part 5
by Marijo Phelps
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This week I was going to Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Leo’s place in Slinger, Wisconsin. My Mom and sister, Colette were still in Denver getting treatment for her polio and Dad was the only one at our home in Rochester. I wish I could be with him but his Mom was too old to take care of me all day while Dad worked, so I was traveling all over Wisconsin from cousin to cousin.

Aunt Jeanette took me upstairs to show me my bed. Right in the middle of the bed was the neatest stuffed dog. It was a cocker spaniel just like my best friend’s dog. Cheryl lived two doors up the street from our house and I loved her Frisky.

I looked over my shoulder to my Aunt Jeanette “Whose dog is that?”

“It’s yours Marijo”

I got the biggest grin and hugged Frisky tightly to my chest. “Thank you, thank you!” I remembered when my sister first got polio 3 years before and Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Leo had gotten her a big stuffed fox. She had that fox with her all the time she was in the hospital for nine months and he was sitting on her bed at home right now. I sure was glad that my Aunt knew we kids would love stuffed animals.

The room was really hot. Nobody had air conditioning back then except for some of the very well to do people we knew. We sure didn’t. We didn’t even have a little fan, just slept with the windows open and our beds pulled in front of them hoping to get a breeze. It could be midnight and 90 degrees out and the radio said it was 90% humidity too. We stuck to the bed sheets, we stuck to chairs, especially those with the plastic coverings. Get out of the bath tub and before we got totally dry we were wet again from sweating. And we all still had to take naps in the afternoon so we wouldn’t catch polio.

My cousins at this house were Danny and Joey. They were fun for boys but they were boys and younger than I was by several years. By this time I just wanted to be home and in my own bed.
Aunt Jeanette took me shopping. I saw a baby bottle that would be perfect for my sister. We both had life sized dolls that wore a size two toddler and we didn’t have bottles for our babies. I had a little money Dad had given me before I left Rochester and I knew where I would spend part of it.

“Aunt Jeanette, I want to get that baby bottle for Colette’s big doll.”

“OK, we could even mail it off to her. Do you think she’d like that?”

I thought that was the best idea yet. No, we didn’t have our big dolls with us but this would be a great surprise. “Oh, can we?”

We got the bottle and packaged it up taking it to the post office to send to Colette.

A few days later I was taking my nap, which means I was tossing and turning in the upstairs bedroom trying to get quiet until it was time to get up. I heard feet on the steps and there was my Aunt with a box in her hands. “This came in the mail for you, Marijo”
She had scissors with her and handed them to me with the box. It was from my sister. I tore it open to find a juice sized baby bottle for my big doll. I couldn’t believe that Colette and I had the same idea for a gift the very same week. I asked my Aunt if I could fill it with cold water. We did just that. Then I had cool water to drink during my “nap time” in the hot, upstairs room. I offered some to Frisky but he didn’t want any so I drank it all myself.

I know, a child psychologist would have had a ball with that one and me eight years old. But it was way before sippy cups were invented and it sure tasted good to have a cold drink of water during my nap time at Aunt Jeanette’s, and know I had a bottle for my big doll, Joey, when I finally got home to him.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

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