Inside The Crystal Dome

By Monty McDannald

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

polio vaccine2

 

The air was musty and stale and breathing was difficult. There were several other kids also under the dome. I had spent a few minutes down there splashing around, spitting water at the other kids and having a grand time. I looked up through the top of the plastic dome and could see people swimming on the surface above and the blue sky and clouds above that. 

The dome had been secured at the bottom of the deep end of the Crystal Pool in Houston. Oxygen was pumped into the dome through a rubber hose creating an air pocket that allowed us to breathe underwater. It was a thrilling experience for a boy of eight years in 1952.

I swam out from under the dome to return to the surface for some fresh air. A line of kids was waiting their turn to go down. The experience was a little scary, but I got back in line to go again. We spent hours doing this over and over.

Dangerous, you ask? Sure, but this was before people worried about things like liability issues. 

I don’t think my parents knew what I was doing at the pool or they might have objected. My friends and I spent many days there during the summer months. 

Unfortunately, there was an especially virulent and mysterious disease that occurred mostly in the summer months. No one knew what caused the disease or how it was transmitted. There was no cure at that time.  

I remember the devastation and horror rendered by this disease on those that were unlucky enough to be stricken. Children were especially susceptible. Many were left with paralyzed limbs or other physical deformities like shrunken arms and legs. I saw a newspaper article showing chilling pictures of a facility on Montrose Boulevard that had breathing machines called Iron Lungs for those not able to breathe on their own due to damaged lungs. Also, some people who got the disease and recovered had a recurrence in later life. This disease had a name: polio.

All parents were worried about their children at that time. Since there were no other remedies available, my parents and other parents figured that getting plenty of rest was essential in fighting off the disease. Therefore, my parents required me to take a one-hour nap every day. I hated that.

A little later that summer, authorities closed all of the public pools in Houston, as they had decided that the disease was transmitted in swimming pools. That ended this fun feature of my summer activities until 1955 when Dr. Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine that eradicated the threat of polio. Dr. Salk’s vaccine was replaced by a more effective oral one in 1962 developed by Dr. Albert Sabin.

Lately, I’ve read about anti-vaxxers who didn’t believe in vaccinations for various reasons and are refusing to vaccinate their children for polio and other diseases. Polio, as well as other diseases are beginning to make a comeback in the world which is a real threat to everyone. If today’s anti-vaxxers had lived through the polio epidemic and seen what horrors it caused, I doubt that they would feel like they do.

 

April 2022 Issue

El Ojo del Lago - Home Page

For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

 

Pin It
The Dark Side Of The Dream By Alejandro Grattan-Dominguez, Arte Publico Press 434 pages $11.95 US Reviewed by ROB MOHR (Initially published in The
Inside Alzheimer’s Disease By Michael Cook   As family members and friends, we can research A.D. and find out the facts and the implications
The Ghosts Among Us By Fred Mittag Catherine the Great (1729-1796)   Catherine was both a lusty and a brilliant woman. She excelled in all her
The Ojo Internet Mailbox (Wherein we publish some comments about our previous issues.)   VIEW FROM THE SOUTH SHORE Barbara Hopkins I lived in
The Woman Who Thought She Loved Men By Zofia BarisasReviewed by Rob Mohr   The heroine reflects, “While my mind dwelled on bitter-sweet memories
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
  VICTORIA SCHMIDT   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. 
    MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING   Column: Profiling Tepehua   Website:   Settled in Mexico 13 years ago.  The
  KEN MASSON   Column: Bridge by the Lake   Website:   Ken Masson has been playing, teaching and writing about bridge
  ALEJANDRO GRATTAN-DOMINGUEZ   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Wrote/directed first movie about Mexican-Americans, Only
 Find us on Facebook