Thursday, January 13, 2011

Polio Epidemic : Jay County, Indiana (1949)

Source: The Commercial-Review, Portland, Indiana, July 30, 1949, page 1

City Board of Health
Jay County Board of Health

Portland, Indiana
July 30, 1949


By virtue of the power vested in me by Section 409 of Chapter 157 of the Acts of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana for the year 1949, it is hereby ordered that all places of public gatherings within the corporate limits of the city of Portland, Jay County, State of Indiana, and the entire county of Jay, State of Indiana, be closed and all public gatherings in any schools, churches, theatres, halls or other inclosed place intended for public gatherings and all fairs, carnivals, circuses and all other open places of public gatherings be closed for the purpose of stopping the poliomyelitis epidemic in the said city of Portland, Indiana; and the entire county of Jay, State of Indiana; this order to remain in full force and effect until further order issued by this officer.

GEORGE G. MORRISON, M.D., Secretary, City Board of Health and City Health Officer, and Jay County Board of Health.

The polio epidemic struck the city of Portland and Jay County, Indiana so severely in the summer of 1949 that the Board of Health shut down all outside activity.  I stumbled across this notice while searching for obituaries on my last trip to the Jay County Public Library.

My father was a young boy during this time, just 5 years old.  Though it did not affect any directly in the family, the polio scare was bad enough that he remembers that his parents would let him go across the street to play with neighbor kids.  Dad wasn't in school yet, and did not go to kindergarten, possibly due to this scare.  At that time, kindergarten was not part of the school system - it was held in the basement of the public library.  The American Legion building in Portland was used as a polio hospital during this time period.  Dad did have a classmate he remembers graduating high school with who had suffered from polio as a child.

The library has a book that was details the events in Portland during this polio epidemic which I will have to check out on my next trip.

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