My Aunt Muriel has given me permission to post an e-mail of some of her memories of my dad (Mac to everyone).
When I first met Mac I hadn’t even known my future husband (Mac’s brother) for long. I had a date with John one night when he called saying he had to cancel. His mother had just received a call saying that Mac had been rushed to the hospital paralyzed and unable to breathe. Of course polio was immediately suspected.
Many months later when I accompanied John to visit Mac and Nancy (about 50 miles from my home), Mac was in an iron lung and he was difficult to understand. As time went on, he was able to speak more coherently and later go without the iron lung for short periods. He could speak by gulping air, called frog breathing. We visited them many times and never did I dread going there because we always had good visits and lots of laughs. Mac had a wonderful sense of humor and had his share of stories to tell. One in particular comes to mind. Nancy took him out while she ran errands and he sat in the passenger seat while he waited. He had chains under him which were used to lift him, and a bar in front of him (before seat belts). Some little black boys came up and peered in at him. Finally one of them said, “hey, Mister, what’s the matter – are you in jail?” Mac told them that he had polio, to which the little boy replied, “didn’t you get your shot?” Actually, the Salk vaccine came out shortly after he contracted polio. Mac always got a kick out of things like that.
Scott and Sue were very young when this happened, but fortunately Nancy had a teaching degree, although at the time she was a stay at home mom. So she became a teacher in a nearby elementary school. Mac followed sports, the stock market and had many interests. Fortunately he was given an electric typewriter and since he could only move his head, he learned to type using a mouth stick. He actually became quite proficient at it. Nancy took him to many sporting events, up to visit his mother frequently, even down to visit us outside of Washington, DC. Then they toured Washington and places weren’t as handicapped accessible as they are now.
My father said many times that what amazed him was when Nancy would instruct the kids to do something, if they didn’t move in a timely manner, Mac would say “did you hear your mother”, and boy, did they move completely forgetting that he couldn’t have done a thing.