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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, December 30, 2018 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

Stay at St. Joseph taught young patient life lessons

A hot Sunday afternoon in October; the year was 1950. I was 9 years old. In the third grade at St. Paul's just down the street. I was doing what I often did, playing a spirited game of touch football with neighbor kids in the vacant lot next to our house. Suddenly I went down, like a switch got turned off. No energy, my head was spinning, I felt like I was burning up. The other kids had to help me to the porch and knocked on the door to alert my dad there was something wrong with me.

The next day he called our family doctor, John Nill, who came to our house. Doctors did that back then. I was lying on the couch, too sick to make it into my bedroom. He kneeled down to examine me.

He gently touched my face. It felt like it was on fire. My neck was stiff and I couldn't turn my head to face him when he asked me to. The pain was excruciating.

He got up and went into the other room to talk to my dad. He was talking very softly, but I could hear him.

“Jerry,” he paused. “I'm afraid I have some bad news.” He looked my dad in the face, put his hand on his shoulder. “I think your son has polio.”

My dad just stood there with tears rolling down his cheeks. Dr. Nill embraced him and the two just stood there in the silence for what seemed to be a long time.

An hour later I was in an ambulance on my way to St. Joe Hospital and the beginning of my week in hell.

It began with a spinal tap, a procedure in which they take fluid from your spine. It hurt a lot. I was admitted to the polio ward for children. I had my own room.

That evening I learned I wasn't as sick as I thought I was.

I hear them still. Screams of agony wafted through the night, making their way down the hallway. Polio robbed you of your mobility, paralyzing arms and legs. Breathing, too. Right outside my door, in the hallway, was what to me looked like a coffin. My nurse explained, “That's an iron lung. There's a boy in it. He can't breathe and it does his breathing for him.”

She was an angel sent from heaven to work in hell. That's how I viewed her. That's what every single nurse, doctor, technician, assistant on that ward was. An angel. My angel told me more. “He was a football star at Van Wert High School in Ohio. Those visitors are his parents and siblings and friends.”

Other kids were in wheelchairs, on crutches. Some ended up with one leg shorter than the other. I was lucky.

I did physical therapy as I gradually got better. Some of it was in the pool. When I was released, I felt guilty.

When I got home, there was a big sign posted on our door: “Warning. Do Not Enter. Quarantine.” In big red letters. I felt dirty. Ashamed. As if I had done something wrong. Like I was branded.

It was an awful disease. No one had a cure. No one knew what caused it. Polio did more than leave victims looking as if they'd been in a war zone. It killed.

It was called an epidemic, like a plague sweeping across the land.

I learned at an early age that you can be on top of the world and in an instant be in hell. I learned to be grateful; someone else has it worse. And I learned that compassion, caring for one another, is the strongest medicine of all.

And for that I thank the angels at St. Joe Hospital.

Terry Doran

Fort Wayne

Immigration injustices cry out for reform

Thomas Jefferson said, “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”

Asylum decisions have become incredibly complicated since World War II when the impact of U.S. world supremacy became foremost in recognition of the calamities created by destructive governments. In this role, asylum grants became responsive to remedies available under U.S. law and moral legacies.

In my more than 40 years facilitating the integration and assimilation of immigrants, many of whom are refugees and asylees and having lived overseas more than four years, seeing blatant popular repression, I have known both the realities of oppression and the living success of the liberty of American freedom.

Beginning with the Muslim ban, the Trump administration and its various agencies have conducted an onslaught of repressive actions that have abridged those many blessings of our legacies, often exaggerating and misrepresenting fiscal and economic issues and, at last, promoting unlawful changes that fit their destructive intent.

The 9th Circuit decision affirms what many of us thought in declaring the asylum decision constellation of actions simply unlawful.

I believe this ultimately will begin to focus our efforts on what is referred to as “comprehensive reform.” This cannot occur in the absence of a forward-looking problem-solving effort, driven by lawmakers in consultation with experts in immigration and immigrants themselves.

International cooperation with border states is critical as well as facilitation by United Nations and the Organization of American States.

Where education and economic needs interface, those entities must partner for solutions, especially where American jobs are affected. The comprehensive immigration blocked by the House in 2013 was the last great plan we hoped for; it has all the frameworks of solutions, anticipating generous public discussions on updated situations, especially in the Mideast and Asia.

The illegal and destructive process that created the proclamation and the new rules proposal must be stopped with every means of resistance that can be mustered, especially as it destroys any credibility in the decision-making ability of the current administration. Broken laws hurt real people but, more importantly, they damage the very ability of our democracy to progress.

Hubris is not good policy.

Frederick C. Gilbert

Fort Wayne

Reviewer showed herself resistant to themes in Eastwood film

The review of “The Mule” (Weekender, Dec. 14) was a statement of the reviewer's political views.

For me, the movie reinforced the differences between the world of the '50s that I grew up in and the world of the '90s in which my daughter grew up. The relationship between Earl and his family, especially with his granddaughter, was a huge theme throughout this movie but ignored by reviewer Katie Walsh. Earl may not be a husband/father role model, but he is far from unenterprising.

The stereotypes between groups depicted in the movie, including the traffic stop of a minority begging not to be shot, are true to our current times. Clint Eastwood's Earl Stone was a man much like my own father; he knew when to keep his mouth shut (something that a current senator from Hawaii wished all white men knew). When he gave advice, Earl was an equal-opportunity advice-giver.

A bizarre, offensive debacle? Totally unwatchable? Completely irresponsible? Anti-capitalistic theme? Not!

This movie's message is that people are multi-dimensional (except maybe the dancing girls) and that identity politics is doomed to failure (at least one can hope). Earl has an awakening, makes amends and actually displays the selflessness he missed showing to his own family with the needy who cross his path.

I give this film a thumbs up! Walsh has missed a lot of history; she should try talking to some elderly white men, especially in their late 80s to 90s. She might understand them better.

Diane Jones

Fort Wayne