It is the second day that Shades Cahaba and other schools around the state have been shut down due to the state of emergency declared by Alabama Governor Kay Ivey. Coronavirus COVID-19 has been quickly spreading around the world and is now in our community. To help slow the spread of the coronavirus we have been asked to actively participate in social distancing. Staying at home, not visiting with other people, or being in large crowds. The idea is that if we avoid public spaces and generally limit our movement, the virus will be slowed, and our healthcare system will be able to better handle the situation. 

I was working on another episode when I remembered a conversation that Sheryl Summe and I had when I interviewed her in episode 12. This is not the first time that Homewood, and the rest of the nation, has participated in social distancing. During the hot summer months of the 1930s and 40s, infantile paralysis struck thousands of children each year nationwide. Three different highly contagious polioviruses began with cold or flu-like symptoms and could permanently paralyze or kill infected children.

The disease hit its peak in the U.S. in 1952. It was at its worst in Jefferson County during the 1930s and hit epidemic proportions in 1936. As a parent, I can only imagine how terrified parents were that their children would be crippled by the disease or, worse, die from it. 

Parents would do their own version of social distancing. Not letting their children play with others or the lucky ones would be left at rural camps such as Camp Winnataska for the summer. But children are ingenious and have their own priorities. Here is my conversation with Sheryl where we talk about it.