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How did your life collide with the headlines in 2007?
Iraq, the subprime crisis, Facebook, immigration, oil prices - 2007 had no shortage of hefty headlines. We'd like to hear about how these and other major news events of the past year affected you. Where did your life collide with the news in 2007?

What's your holiday performance story?
The office talent show, the neighborhood caroling posse, the school pageant ... At holiday time we often sing, dance, and dress as shepherds. Did you bloom in the warmth of your audience's adulation, or freeze up like the snowman you'd rather be building? Did your holiday performance change your life or that of someone close to you?

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Broadcast Date: April 16, 2005
Polio Oral History Project © 2005
International Rehabilitation Center for Polio at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

Name of Interviewee: Edna Hindson
Name of Interviewer: Anna Rubin
Date of Interview: April 8, 2004

Rubin: Today is Thursday, April 8th. This is Anna Rubin interviewing for the Polio Oral History Project. Could you please state your name and address.

Hindson: Yes. My name is Edna Ray Hindson, and my maiden name was Edna Black.

Rubin: Thank you. Do I have your permission to record this conversation?

Hindson: Yes, you most certainly do.

Rubin: Thank you. Edna, could you please tell me when and where you contracted polio?

Hindson: I contracted polio January 24th, 1946, as best as we can know. That was in Lake City, Florida, or it could have possibly been in a small community north of there called White Springs, Florida.

Rubin: How old were you at the time?

Hindson: I was six years and ten months old.

Rubin: Did anyone else that you knew at that time have polio?

Hindson: A neighbor across the street did come down with some symptoms and even to this day also has a slight limp.

Rubin: Was that a confirmed case of polio, to your knowledge?

Hindson: I'm not really sure, but it seemed obvious, you know, that he went through the same symptoms and all that I did.

Rubin: Was he ill before you were?

Hindson: It's been too long ago. I can't remember.

Rubin: Was there ever any speculation as to where you came in contact with the virus?

Hindson: There is some reason to believe I could have brought that in from Stanton, Virginia. My family had just returned to Florida after living in Stanton, Virginia, during the war years, and they did have some cases there, so perhaps I brought it to Florida. We'll never know.

Rubin: How long prior to contracting the polio were you in Virginia?

Hindson: Since I was six years old, five and six years old, that's awfully hard for me to give you a correct date on that. That's just about the best I can do on that.

Rubin: That's fine. Can you tell me what you remember about becoming ill with polio?

Hindson: I remember my first memories are of eating candy, something like gummy bears or gummy fruit, and becoming very ill, but was still able to attend school the rest of that day. Then I had nausea at night, I had a pain in my neck, severe pain, fever, muscle spasm. Those are the memories that I have.

Rubin: At what point were you actually diagnosed with polio or did you get medical attention?

Hindson: I did get medical attention, but I think that went on-that is referred to in my scrapbook of my illness with polio, a journal that my mother kept from 1946 to 1951. She does give the date better than I can with this interview, but she lists exactly the days and when I had the inner isolation at St. Luke's Hospital. But I would say it was within a week or a week and a half I was diagnosed.

Rubin: Do you recall that experience?

Hindson: Being diagnosed?

Rubin: Yes.

Hindson: Vividly.

Rubin: Could you describe it, please?

Hindson: Vividly. I was taken to Jacksonville. Well, first, the night before I went to Jacksonville I had called my mother during the night and needed help getting to the bathroom. As she was helping me walk to the bathroom, my legs collapsed and I couldn't get up. So they knew the next day that I needed to be tested for the polio virus and was taken to Jacksonville, St. Luke's Hospital there, and was isolated from my mother. I had never seen nuns before, and that terrified me. I had a spinal tap, which I really thought I was being tortured. So they didn't really have time to slowly introduce me to what hot packs were going to be like, and what different examinations were going to be like, and separation from my mother.

Rubin: Tell me what that was like from what you remember, your own memories of that initial separation.

Hindson: As a six-year-old child, I did not know when I would ever see my mother again. She was not allowed to come into the hospital. She could sit on the outside of my window in the rain, in the cold, and just out in the environment. It was pretty horrifying. She couldn't get to me when I was nauseated or when I was having diarrhea, and they were so busy they couldn't come to me, you know, immediately. But my mother had to look through the window and see me struggling on my own. It was pretty terrifying, especially when she just had to leave me at night to get some rest and I was left alone in the dark with the pain and the hot packs and the strangers coming and going.

Rubin: Would she stay at your window all day?

Hindson: Yes, she would. She would stay right there at the window. They did have a little patio where she could put a chair, but she stayed there and she tells about that in the journal, my scrapbook of my illness. Where it says my illness, it was my illness, but it actually was her journal that she wrote from the point of view of me.

Rubin: Do you know what inspired her to keep that journal?

Hindson: You know, I really don't. And I'm puzzled why she chose to write it from my point of view. I think it shows extreme empathy.

Rubin: Could you feel her empathy from your hospital bed?

Hindson: Absolutely. I don't know how other children with polio coped being separated from their parents like that. I know that my mother, due to her vigilance, made it much easier on me than other people that I have talked to.

Rubin: You mentioned that it was particularly busy in the hospital. Was there a large epidemic at that point?

Hindson: I believe there was. They did the best they could, but it seemed to me as a child that they just could not come in when I needed them to come in. And when they did come in, it puzzled me that they would take away my books or anything that was given to me, sent in to the hospital for me, because they burned them. They were so afraid that they might spread the virus. But they were, I remember, extremely busy, could not come in when I really needed help.

Rubin: How long was it, if you recall-and we can certainly look this up in your scrapbook, too-but how long was it that you were in isolation?

Hindson: It seemed to me like several weeks. And then when I was moved to another hospital, I was once again placed in isolation just to make sure, you know, that my virus was not active.

Rubin: During the transfer between hospitals, were you allowed to see your mother?

Hindson: Yes, she traveled with me, and that was pretty terrifying, too, because they started transporting me when I was asleep, if I remember right, and I woke up just as we were going over a huge bridge. I remember opening my eyes and thinking, well, I died. You know, it's funny now, but it was not too funny back then, because you feel so insecure already, that any change of environment frightens you because you don't know what's coming up next.

Rubin: Then did you look up to see your mother?

Hindson: Yes. She was right there by me, right there by me making arrangements. In the journal that she wrote I see this whole page in the hospital, February 15th, 1946, and that was my first day out of total isolation. I could see the other children in the ward, but I couldn't interact with them.

Rubin: Once you came out of isolation, were you able to visit with your mother?

Hindson: Yes, and it freed her up a little bit because she could spend time with me and yet go back to Lake City to be with other family members and to try to continue teaching in White Springs. Then she would visit like on weekends or midweek, and she kept the date that she visited and our interactions, all the times that she was able to come.

Rubin: Were there other children at home during this time?

Hindson: Yes, I had two sisters at home.

Rubin: How old were they?

Hindson: Let's see. One would have been eight and one would be ten or eleven.

Rubin: So you're the youngest?

Hindson: Yes.

Rubin: They were not affected by polio?

Hindson: No, we don't believe so, not physically. Emotionally I'm sure they were.

Rubin: Can you explain that?

Hindson: I received so much attention from my mother that I feel like that left deep scars that even in adulthood did not heal, especially with one sister. So polio does more than just physical damage; it does emotional damage.

Rubin: Did that affect your relationship with your sister?

Hindson: Yes, it did, because I could always feel how she resented the time that I took away her mother from her. And she shared with me as an adult how she felt. Now, the other sister didn't react that way, so you never really know how people are going to react to a family member having an illness.

Rubin: The one who reacted more severely, was she the oldest or the middle?

Hindson: The middle child.

Rubin: And the oldest one seemed more accepting?

Hindson: More accepting. She wrote little stories for me and made cards and played her accordion and seemed to accept why my mother spent so much time with me.

Rubin: When you spoke to your middle sister in adulthood, she was still bitter at that point?

Hindson: I don't know if we could describe it as bitterness. She felt cheated out of her mother during hard times. She related to me that she was alone in the backyard one time just crying, and a neighbor came over and tried to comfort her, and she shared with the neighbor how I'd kind of taken our mother away. So that touched me, because I didn't realize how hard that was on her.

Rubin: How did that make you feel when she expressed that to you?

Hindson: It made me feel like there was nothing I could have done about it or nothing I could do to change the history of that. I was sorry she felt that way, but we needed to move on.

Rubin: Do you feel she was able to move on?

Hindson: No, I don't, and she even developed problems later in her life, coping problems, and she died at sixty-one. We're not really that sure about the cause of death, so what part polio played in that, I don't know.

Rubin: That's interesting. So were your sisters ever able to visit you at the hospital?

Hindson: Yes, they were. Once I was moved to Hope Haven they were able to visit. In fact, they would come and entertain. We've got a record of that in this journal that my mother wrote about when they visited, and what they did, and what songs they sang to the children in the ward, and what dance they did or what accordion piece they played. So they did take an active part in visiting me. But, also, my middle sister also saw the dolls that I received, the cards, the letters, the flowers. So we can kind of flash back and try to feel what she felt.

Rubin: That's very empathetic of you to be able to look at it in that light.

Hindson: Even when I was in Warm Springs, they were able to visit some, but I would become so emotional when they did visit, that the hospital at Warm Springs did not encourage them to visit very often.

Rubin: I'm interested to hear about your move to Warm Springs and discuss that, but before we get there, how long were you hospitalized altogether?

Hindson: Let's see. I'm having to refer to the journal, myself. Actually at the hospital, or having to go back and forth for checkups?

Rubin: Actually in the hospital.

Hindson: Actually in the hospital. I would say about a year and a half.

Rubin: Do you have any particularly fond memories of that time, of that year and a half?

Hindson: Of the year and a half, fond memories. Yes, I had a birthday party when I was at Hope Haven, and the radio station even became a part of it with interviews over the air. I was able to have a canary when I was at Hope Haven, which is most unusual now, and birthday parties. I remember one episode that was a joy but also a sorrow. My mother's home economics class came over in a bus. I'm not sure if it was for a birthday or just a visit. They sang songs on the front yard of the hospital and all the children were able to come to the window and listen to them sing. They sang Bells of St. Mary's, and I had tears, but I think they were tears of joy and happiness, but also tears of sadness that I couldn't, you know, be back home. But that was a pleasant yet unpleasant memory, too.

Rubin: Do you have any particularly bad memories of being in the hospital for that year and a half?

Hindson: At Warm Springs the first few nights were a nightmare because they didn't have room to place me in the children's ward. They placed me in a teenager ward, and I don't know why but they delighted in tormenting me, you know, grabbing the back of my wheelchair and making fun of me when I cried because I was separated from my mother. They just took great joy in antagonizing me, and I was just really puzzled because I had done nothing to them. So that was pretty hard times for me. I really didn't know, a typical six-year-old, seven-year-old, I didn't really know if they were telling me the truth why I was put there. I thought maybe I had done something terrible and I was being punished.

Rubin: Just so I understand the sequence, you went from the initial hospital to Hope Haven, and then to Warm Springs.

Hindson: That's right.

Rubin: How long were you in Hope Haven before Warm Springs?

Hindson: Let's see.

Rubin: You can be approximate; we don't need exact dates.

Hindson: February, March, April, May, June. About five months. Then our family had a trailer and we went to the beach, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, for a little break before I had to go to Warm Springs.

Rubin: Did your entire family deliver you to Warm Springs, or how did you get there?

Hindson: Just my mother and two sisters.

Rubin: Do you remember that journey?

Hindson: I definitely remember that journey and the separation.

Rubin: Can you describe them?

Hindson: Oh, let's see. I vividly remember I had an argument with this sister that we've spoken of. My mother said to me, "You know, what's happened to you? You used to be a sweet little girl, and look at you now, talking to your sister like that." That's frozen in my mind, because, you know, then we were separated. Let's see. Dolls that I was given Mother thought would be best if I gave those dolls to my sister. We did not have many toys or any toys at Warm Springs. That always puzzled me. You played with what you had, you know, what your parents brought you in your own bed area. There was no equipment on the grounds to climb and swing. They had the walking bars once you got a brace. But I just remember the tremendous separation. I also remember my father knew how much I loved Coca-Cola, and he would have delivered to that ward for me to go and have a Coke in private. I had a case of Coca-Cola delivered, I believe, once a week or every couple of weeks, so I would have Coke. Plus he would not allow me to be just kept in a bed like so many of the other children. He got doctor's orders where I could get in a wheelchair and just travel all over that huge campus at Warm Springs. And I perhaps had too much freedom as a child because I did go places that I probably, you know, should not have gone. Rubin: Can you give examples of that?

Hindson: Well, I would go in all the different wards and in the room with different people, older people. Today we wouldn't think of letting a child do that, but so many things were just kept secret back then. But I was in and out of areas that I had no business going and I would hang around the pool area, even though I was not having much therapy there at all. But I was just looking for things to try to keep my mind active and try to find something fun to do. But, you know, I cannot remember the name of a single child that was in that ward with me, because I think I spent most of my day wandering around that huge campus.

Rubin: And that was a special privilege that you had?

Hindson: That's right. The other children didn't have that.

Rubin: How is it that you had access to that privilege?

Hindson: I think my dad spoke to the doctor and wanted to know would it be harmful if I did that, and they felt like, no, it wouldn't. I would just go back to the ward late afternoon or night, but I spent most of my day just wandering around.

Rubin: You mentioned that you went to places that you shouldn't have. Were you involved in things you shouldn't have been?

Hindson: Well, let me think. What can I say? Let's don't get into that too much. Let's just leave it like I should not have been in areas where I did go. But as a child I knew-I didn't know any better.

Rubin: Did you see things that were disturbing to you?

Hindson: I did. I would go by where the iron lungs were and just look in, or I can't remember if I looked in the glass area or if I opened a door, but I would see the iron lungs, you know, people in iron lungs. To tell you the truth, I don't remember too many of them. There were like four or five, and I would think Warm Springs would have had more.

Rubin: Did you talk to them?

Hindson: No, I was a little afraid to go in. You know, the noise of the motors, and their heads sticking out of this metal contraption, and the odor.

Rubin: What was the odor?

Hindson: An odor of alcohol, perspiration, kind of like my memories of my hot packs; baby oil and hot blankets, steam.

Rubin: And no nurses ever shooed you away?

Hindson: You know, I don't ever remember that, even when I was being very naughty. They just were too busy to pay much attention to me. I remember some family members visiting brought me some oranges, and after they left I was so frustrated, I took those oranges and smashed against walls. And the walls at Warm Springs were painted white, the brick walls, and that was a very naughty thing to do, but nobody seemed to much care or notice my destructive behavior. I would spend a lot of time in the lobby. They had scrapbooks with old Christmas cards and Easter cards in, oh, maybe five or six scrapbooks, and that was part of my routine every day, to go to the lobby where people were checking in for out-patient, and visit with people and look through those scrapbooks that I just thought were wonderful with the little pop-up cards and all. But that's how I occupied my time.

Rubin: So you spent most of your time alone.

Hindson: Exactly.

Rubin: And most of your time not receiving any kind of treatment.

Hindson: Very little. I think my mother remembers things differently than I do. I personally felt like they were not doing that much; I was just being housed there. It was always, "Well, when you get your brace, when you get your brace." But I had to wait and wait and wait for that brace. I would go by the brace shop just about every day, and I'm sure they got tired of me coming there asking if my brace was ready, because I wanted to go home.

Rubin: Do you think that it was a situation where the brace actually wasn't ready, or do you think that it was more that physically you weren't ready for the brace?

Hindson: I think they, frankly, did not know what to do with all of us. They were so backed up, and back then people were put in the institutions or hospitals and they didn't really have daily treatment; they just-this was what they did back then. You know, with orphanages and TB [tuberculosis] and everything else, you separate the person from their home and you put them in a hospital. And actually the hospitals didn't do that much. I remember very little water therapy; maybe once or twice. I just remember doing a great deal of wandering around. Mother mentioned about school; I don't remember any school. Maybe as a child it was not what I pictured as school, with other children and a book and a lesson. I remember going to the library and there were no books for children, and I kept asking, you know, "Don't you have some books with pictures in it?" Because I didn't read at that time. Mom and Dad did hire someone to write letters for me, and maybe that's what they considered schooling.

Rubin: You would dictate the letters?

Hindson: That's right. And those letters are in the box of scrapbooks that I sent along, and you will also see the letters from the people that were to write the cards and they would say how busy they were and they just really didn't have time to be with me. That's more of what I remember.

Rubin: Were things different at Hope Haven? Did you receive more regular kinds of therapy or treatment?

Hindson: I received more care because I was required to stay in the bed there. So I had, you know, my meals brought to the bed, I had bed baths, I had contact with other children. I had to, you know, be in that area; I was not allowed to wander around. But I received more care. Now, I did have a physical therapist that visited and worked with me at Hope Haven, and I don't remember any of that at Warm Springs.

Rubin: How is it that you ended up at Warm Springs?

Hindson: My mom and dad tried to locate the very, very best services for me, and they thought because the President of the United States [Franklin D. Roosevelt] had been there, that this must just be the top one. So I guess so many people came from all over the world and the nation, that they were so crowded that I did not have that much treatment that I remember.

Rubin: So in some respects you may have actually received less treatment at Warm Springs than you might have elsewhere.

Hindson: Yes, that's right.

Rubin: Did you ever meet the president while you were there?

Hindson: No, he died--let's see. A year before. 1945.

Rubin: That's correct.

Hindson: I had polio in 1946, but he was still very much a part of Warm Springs, even after he died. They had this huge dining hall for the adults, and they tried to continue some of the traditional things they did when he was there, or when he visited.

Rubin: You had mentioned that you were fairly naughty. Were you ever punished for any of the tricks that you were up to?

Hindson: I was punished at Hope Haven because the doctor had said that very soon they would let me be in a chair. So I think that very night or the next day I thought, well, I'm going to do it on my own, which is part of my personality, I'm afraid. So I talked someone into pushing a chair up to my bed and I did get in the chair, but became very dizzy, you know, from being prone so long. I got in trouble about that. I also got in trouble about my loud mouth. When I'd been in isolation so long, when I first got out I wanted to visit with everyone in that ward. So they punished me by moving my bed in a hallway until I could learn to tone my voice down.

Rubin: So you were placed in a hallway away from others?

Hindson: Right. They rolled my bed there and, you know, they never touched me or anything, but they just said, "You have got to learn not to be shouting to people at the end of the ward."

Rubin: How long were you in the hallway?

Hindson: You know, I have no idea. But they were very good to me there, they really were.

Rubin: When you got yourself in the chair, what was the punishment for that?

Hindson: I was just scolded and then I was told, "Do you have any idea what would have happened if you had fallen and broken a bone and you would not be able to go on to Warm Springs?" And, you know, just make-I never liked to be corrected as a child anyway, but that was enough. I didn't try that till I had help after that.

Rubin: Can you describe how polio changed things for your family?

Hindson: From that point on, my family, in any activity that we did, they had to take me into consideration. If they went on a trip, they had to think about wheelchair or crutches or steps. It had a tremendous affect on my family. My mother and father tried so hard not to make me an invalid. You know, we lived in a two-story Victorian home here in Lake City, and if I needed something upstairs, they tried to encourage me to do it on my own instead of asking my sisters to do it for me. My parents were so wise in getting me ready for the real world. I started driving, practicing driving earlier than most young people. They encouraged me to, if I wanted to and felt like it, to walk home from school and don't accept rides from other people, and if I needed a ride, to call them. How else did it affect the family? I think my mother's focus turned to what can she give me to help me cope better in life. And then she made the other sisters take part in this, too, because we started having accordion lessons and they had to start taking dance lessons and elocution, orchestra. I think she was trying to find a talent that I had that would help me compensate, but my sisters were drawn into this, and I'm not so sure that's what they wanted. It was expensive for my father. Financially it affected my family. Socially it affected my family. You know, most parents enjoy seeing their child walk across the stage to get a diploma or to perform, and I'm sure that their heart broke whenever I had to go up on the stage or come down an aisle with other children and they had to see me limping with the brace.

Rubin: Can you describe more the social effect that it had on your family?

Hindson: The social effect? Well, that would have definitely been part of it, is having to see me trying to cope with being different around other children. Help me a little bit.

Rubin: I was just wondering if it had an impact on your parents' social life as well. I didn't know if maybe friends may have rejected them or-

Hindson: No, no, I think quite the opposite in this community. Quite the opposite is they were sympathetic, caring, cards, letters, invitations. I think the part that would have affected my mother and father in a social situation would be having to adjust to having a child that was different, but they tried their hardest not to make me feel inadequate.

Rubin: And the financial impact on the family?

Hindson: Tremendous, tremendous. In the scrapbook that I sent to you with all the correspondence from my father to the national foundation, he's almost apologizing that he has to seek help, because he was an attorney. And he told me years later that he paid back the foundation, but at that time he had just so many pressures, that he had to ask for help.

Rubin: And that was difficult for him?

Hindson: Very difficult. And, of course, with the money pouring in to me, it meant that my sisters perhaps couldn't have that new pair of shoes or that dress or things they wanted.

Rubin: And that may have affected them socially.

Hindson: Exactly.

Rubin: Was your family in the upper class of the neighborhood that you lived in?

Hindson: Well, that's, of course, very relative, but in this community we were highly respected and we had a nice home, and I would say we were upper-middle-class.

Rubin: Your father's position as an attorney, did that help in seeking the placement at Warm Springs and some of the other privileges that you had?

Hindson: I'm sure it must have. He was also very active politically. He was the state attorney for this district, and he traveled in the different cities in this area, so he was very knowledgeable about the political system and how to get things done.

Rubin: You went into the hospital at six and you celebrated your seventh birthday in the hospital.

Hindson: Right.

Rubin: Tell me how this affected your schooling. You mentioned that there wasn't really much schooling.

Hindson: That was where the major paralysis took place, was in my educational endeavors. I could just barely write my name when I left Warm Springs and was placed in third grade. No, I spent two weeks in second grade, just enough to make me aware of how far behind I was. And then the next year-let's see. I went back to White Springs to try to catch up a little bit and then was placed in third grade, not being able to read, just being able to write my name, and from that point for years I felt terribly inadequate. In fact, even today I freeze up sometime when I have to spell a word or write because of that missing those early years in school.

Rubin: But you were able to catch up and keep up with your peers?

Hindson: Right. Around seventh or eighth grade, my parents finally let me stop having tutoring in the afternoon, which they insisted upon, I think, like, fourth through sixth or seventh grade. While other people were out having fun and doing things, I was going to tutoring after school. But it kind of leveled off around seventh, eight, or ninth, and then I became-I was on the Honor Roll off and on in high school; not every year.

Rubin: Describe your physical condition as you progressed. Am I correct that you did not require an iron lung?

Hindson: No, I did not require one.

Rubin: Were you initially paralyzed completely?

Hindson: Three-quarter body is what they called it. My left arm was the only area that felt like it was not affected. But I never could really see what they were talking about with my right leg and right arm, but it evidently is weaker, even now when I have tests. But I seem to have pretty good use, you know, all those years with my right leg and my arm. My back was definitely affected. But it started out three-quarter body, and then gradually it came back and when I was at Warm Springs, once I was placed in my brace, they also gave me a back brace and hip pads and full-length crutches, and I used those off and on until I went to college. Then I decided to stop using crutches and corset back brace and the hip pads and just use my brace. That was the peak of my physical condition.

Rubin: The college years?

Hindson: Yes, college years.

Rubin: Your decision to not use some of those appliances was your own, or was that a medical-

Hindson: No, that was my stubbornness.

Rubin: Can you explain that choice of yours?

Hindson: Well, as a teenager, using the crutches developed my upper body, where my arms are out of proportion to the rest of my body, and that bothered me. So I thought, well, if I just walk with the brace, you know, my muscles will go down a little bit. And they did, but I'm still very muscular upper body.

Rubin: When you began third grade, you were using crutches, a back brace, and a leg brace, is that right?

Hindson: That's right. Full-length leg brace, a hip pad, a back corset, and crutches.

Rubin: How did the children react to you?

Hindson: You know, they were very kind to me.

Rubin: Had they known you in kindergarten prior to the polio?

Hindson: No, because I went to White Springs for my first grade, or the few months that I went there. So when I entered third grade, I really didn't know the children there. But I have no memories of extreme cruelty. Now, out of Lake City at a swimming place, children would be curious and stare and come up and ask me what's wrong with my leg, but I don't remember anything real cruel.

Rubin: Was the class prepared for your arrival? Do you think the teacher spoke to the children about you, the new student, and explained your situation?

Hindson: I think so. I'm guessing, I don't really know. But, once again, I've mentioned about the naughty child. It was so important to me to please my parents when I first entered that third grade, but was terribly frustrated because I was so far behind. We would have spelling tests on Fridays, and I know it was so important to do good on that because those marks on paper meant nothing to me, that I cheated. I had a little spelling book opened up in my lap so I could copy the words down, and I couldn't make a good grade on my spelling test. Well, the teacher caught me and took me outside and talked to me about how bad that was. So, you know, being so far behind forced me into doing some things that I should not have done and at a very crucial time in my life as a child.

Rubin: Were you able to play sports in school?

Hindson: Not really. That didn't work out well, but I was able to play sandlot baseball in my neighborhood. My neighborhood friends would run-I would hit the ball and they would run for me, so I played baseball that way. Hopscotch with my crutches. But it didn't work out well at school for me to take physical education, so whenever I was old enough to get into band or some other activity, I did that instead of going to P.E.

Rubin: You had mentioned that your family accepted some help from the March of Dimes.

Hindson: Right.

Rubin: Were you involved as a child in the March of Dimes?

Hindson: I went with my mother when she presented the film. She didn't make a big show-and-tell out of me; I was just in the room. She would introduce me, but she never made a big-you know, "Walk up to the front. Let them see how pitiful you are." She never did that. But I did go with her when she went to Live Oak and Jasper and Gainesville. Well, I don't know about Gainesville, but even state conferences. If I wanted to, I could go.

Rubin: Did you like going with her?

Hindson: You know, I did. I enjoyed being with her and watching her and knowing how proud I was that my mother is in charge of this meeting.

Rubin: Tell me about her role in the March of Dimes.

Hindson: Oh, now, I'll go by my memory. The documents I sent you will tell it better than I can. She was the local chairman for the March of Dimes and the national foundation here, regional, state, and even at national level. The journal I sent you, there's a picture of her with Helen Hayes and Basil O'Connor, and she did receive numerous awards for her work with the national foundation.

Rubin: So that was a very high-level position that she held.

Hindson: Yes, it was; very high level.

Rubin: Had she been involved with that organization prior to your experience with polio?

Hindson: No, not really. She was more active in the Women's Club, the Garden Club, Girl Scouts. She was involved in many different organizations. She was the leader in this community. But once I had polio, she directed all of her efforts towards that, you know, to the vaccine development.

Rubin: Edna, I'm going to pause briefly just to turn the tape over.

Hindson: Good.

[Begin Tape 1, Side B]

Rubin: So your mother was, as we were discussing, a national figure in the March of Dimes.

Hindson: Yes.

Rubin: Were you ever a poster child?

Hindson: Several times she had my picture made, but I never was awarded that honor. But I have some very cute pictures of me with one leg in a brace, the other leg with a roller skate, if that's possible, carrying books in a Brownie outfit. But I never was awarded that honor.

Rubin: Were those activities that you actually partook in, the roller skating and going to the library and all that, and Brownies?

Hindson: Well, I did, but not the way it was staged.

Rubin: What was done with those photographs?

Hindson: I believe they're in the trunk of items and scrapbooks that I sent to you.

Rubin: Were they used for publicity?

Hindson: No, I don't think they ever were.

Rubin: They were just taken just for you to have?

Hindson: To submit, to submit for poster child, but I was never a poster child that I'm aware of.

Rubin: Do you think that one reason you may not have been a poster child was that perhaps your mother didn't want you to be?

Hindson: No, I don't. I think she would have liked that because she's the one that made the appointment for the photographs and the one who staged them. She must have, or otherwise she would not have staged it.

Rubin: The reason I ask is you had made mention earlier of her being very careful when you attended the infantile paralysis meetings not to, as you said, parade you in front of people as the poor, pitiful child.

Hindson: Right.

Rubin: So I just was wondering if in that same line of thinking maybe she was wanting to keep your dignity as well.

Hindson: Right, but I think she was. I think she was trying to show this kid can skate. This kid can carry books. This kid can be a Brownie. I think that's what she was trying to say. In other words, it's not the poor little pitiful child; it's this young person has had an illness, and now she's back from it, and the March of Dimes, what you do with the March of Dimes is helping her. Mother was always focused on the prevention of, with the Salk [vaccine] and Sabin [vaccine]. That was her real focus, is "Let's get money to get this disease over with."

Rubin: It's interesting, I've certainly spoken to many, many polio survivors through this project, and many of them who were poster children have felt that they were exploited.

Hindson: Oh, really?

Rubin: Yes. And, you know, I'm just thinking out loud here, but I do wonder if the March of Dimes selected children who people would feel sorry for.

Hindson: You know, I bet you're right. I bet you're right.

Rubin: For the purpose of generating-

Hindson: Right. They didn't want the image mother was projecting.

Rubin: Just an interesting thing to think about.

Hindson: Yes, it is.

Rubin: So she was involved in the March of Dimes and you were sort of as you wanted, but you weren't pushed into being-

Hindson: No. If I wanted to go, fine; if I didn't, fine.

Rubin: Do you remember your mother's crowning glory with the March of Dimes, if she has a moment that really kind of captured all of her efforts?

Hindson: I know she was thrilled meeting with Helen Hayes. That and, I may be wrong, but I sent you a medallion and I have an idea that was presented to her. I don't know the facts back of it; it could be in those letters that I forwarded on to you about all her different activities. But I would think those two.

Rubin: How long was she involved in the March of Dimes?

Hindson: I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to tell you that. She stayed very active in all community clubs and everything in some way or another up until she entered a nursing home.

Rubin: So that was a lifelong commitment for her.

Hindson: A lifelong commitment.

Rubin: Is there anything about your mother's involvement, anything else you would want people to know?

Hindson: I can't think of anything right now.

Rubin: Your father supported her involvement?

Hindson: Yes. He was an amazing man.

Rubin: Why don't you talk a little bit about him.

Hindson: All right. He was a lawyer here, and when my mother was with me doing these different stages, different hospitals and all, he was at home seeing about my sisters and trying to keep the house running. An attorney. Encouraged my mother to get out in the community to try to make a difference in this community, and she certainly did. She was made Florida's Mother of the Year. I'm turning in a book right now to make sure I give you the correct date. She was Florida Statewide Mother of the Year in 1961. She was the first woman to enter the University of Florida. I'm switching over to my dad now. My dad was city attorney, a state attorney, he was the first Florida public official to resign to volunteer for World War II service. He served as a military justice court marshal in that office. He was given a certificate from the State Board of Governors for fifty years' bar service as an outstanding attorney. He was a wonderful father. He sacrificed so my sisters and I could have all these enriching trips to Jacksonville for orchestra, and all the lessons that mother encouraged us to be in.

Rubin: Did he treat you differently than the other children?

Hindson: Let's see. Did he treat me differently? I don't think-I think he tried to treat us the same, but I think I was his worry. I think he worried more about me than he did the other girls. And I was desperate to please him. That was what kind of stopped me being a rebellious person, is I just didn't want to do anything to displease him because of all the sacrifices he and mother had had to make, and especially dad, financially, for my sake.

Rubin: Can you describe those sacrifices a bit more?

Hindson: He had to give up his wife and see about my sisters while she was outside the window or traveling back and forth to Jacksonville for my care. The financial sacrifices. He had to be concerned about what would become of me. You know, should he set aside special funds for me early enough? He never knew if I'd be able to be independent or not. He wanted the girls, my sisters and I, to have camps. He would sacrifice new suits or clothes or cars so we could have experiences at camp during the summer, because he felt like it was very important for me to be exposed to different people and learn to get along with different people, and learn to do for myself at camp, in travel, and not become someone that's just going to be at home and everybody gets to wait on all the time.

Rubin: Both your parents sound quite remarkable.

Hindson: They were absolutely remarkable. It's almost like my family was selected to have someone with polio because they could cope with it.

Rubin: Do you think in your sisters' experiences with your parents were as remarkable as in yours?

Hindson: What's that again, now?

Rubin: Do you think for your sisters that your parents were as special as they were for you?

Hindson: Yes, I think so. The middle sister that we've discussed kind of resented all of it. I think she wanted Mother's attention more than she got. I know one time she shared with me that it was Valentine's Day and my sister had made up a little bouquet or some little gift to give to her, and Mother was having a meeting at her home. My sister came in and called my mother out to the side and said, "I've got this little gift for you." And my mother says, "You know, can't you see that I'm very busy right now? Thank you very much." And that hurt my sister a lot. Perhaps she didn't choose the right time to do it, but I think she faced a lot of that. So whenever you do give service to the March of Dimes or Red Cross or whatever, even though you are a wonderful mother, you've still got to be careful about those precious moments.

Rubin: And your older sister, is she still living?

Hindson: No, she died at sixty-one, also.

Rubin: Was her cause of death less mysterious?

Hindson: It was a combination. She had become an alcoholic, plus she had scleroderma, which is an autoimmune system disease. So that's rather tragic that both of my sisters died as young as they did.

Rubin: Yes. Were your parents still living when your sisters died?

Hindson: My mother was still alive, but she was in Dowling Park, and her mental condition was such that we couldn't share with her that my older sister had died. That was extremely hard on me to go and know I could not get comfort from her from losing my sister. Then this sister, the middle sister, dies in a rather mysterious way in January before my father died in May. So he was aware that he had lost two daughters by death, and he'd lost his wife by mental condition.

Rubin: Difficult.

Hindson: Very difficult. I think that's why he just kind of gave up at the end.

Rubin: I'm going to turn now from your family and talk a little bit more about you and your high school years. Tell me about the effect that polio had, if any, on your thoughts for yourself and your future and what you might be capable of doing.

Hindson: Right. I was very concerned about this and I was also concerned about people trying to project what I could handle. I know my father wanted me to try working in a bakery here one time, to see if I could decorate cakes. And then another time he wanted me to try working at a jewelry store to see if I could polish jewelry. And I'm thinking, "I don't want to do any of this. I'm going on to the university." But I could see his concern, because the universities were not ready for someone with a disability like mine, or many other disabilities. So I was concerned and I'm sure my family was concerned about "What is going to happen to Edna?" I was just catching up academically. Fire drills were a nightmare in high school. Carrying books, I did have a little boyfriend, but the big problem that came up was that I needed to realize that there were people out, away from this community, that had already made up their minds what I would be able to do. Would you like for me to go ahead and talk about Girls State now?

Rubin: Sure, yes, that's fine.

Hindson: Or do you want to ask some other questions?

Rubin: Well, I have many questions, but that's fine.

Hindson: All right. Well, one particular area in my high school years was I held student government offices every year and was known to be a very active person in high school. I had many friends and belonged to many clubs; very active and all. And no one really seemed to care too much whether I wore a brace or not. Then I was elected to go to Girls State my junior year, I believe it was.

Rubin: Would you explain a bit what Girls State is?

Hindson: Yes. Girls State is an honor that you have to be nominated for and voted on by your faculty in your high school and your classmates, and you are allowed to go to Tallahassee with all the girls from all over the State of Florida to learn about government. You learned about city government, county government, your state, and if you work very hard, you can run for governor or attorney general or secretary of state. And then if you're excellent, you get voted on as one of twelve in the State of Florida to go to Girls Nation. Well, I was nominated and voted on locally by my high school, and I was all packed and ready to go, the papers, everything was ready, and the official from Girls State called my parents and said they wanted a conference. And I was not invited to the conference. They discussed that they did not think that I should go, that they thought that the alternate should go because they thought it would be too hard on me physically, there was walking involved, and how would my parents feel about just, you know, letting me stay at home. My dad, being an attorney, said, "Oh no. Nuh-uh. No. She was elected to this, and she's going." They said, "Well, now, we need to let you know, we're not going to drive her to the Capitol. We're not going to drive her where she needs to go. She's going to have to go like all the other girls go, or we're going to send her home." And my dad says, "You just don't worry about her. We have taught her to solve her own problems. She'll figure out a way." So I went on to Girls State. I was selected an officer at every level. At the top level I was attorney general for the State of Florida-for Girls State, of course-and I was nominated for Girls Nation, one of the twelve best. I did not receive that honor, but I was nominated for it. Well, upon my return home, my parents says, "We want to talk to you a little bit. How did you get to the Capitol?" I said, "Well, there was a highway patrolman parked outside the dormitories, and I just went up and asked him would he give me a ride. And then different times I would ask people to take me back or whatever I needed." And my mom and dad said, "We knew you'd figure it out. That's what you're going to have to do for life. You're also going to have to learn to stand up for yourself or you're not going to make it in this life. If you're determined to go to university, you're going to have a lot of battles to fight." I wrote about that experience, and I think you're going to have that in the trunk that I sent. I have my notes that I made when I spoke to the American Legion. Now, the American Legion is the sponsor of Girls Nation, Girls State, and Boys State, and I had to speak to them about my experience here locally. And I took that opportunity to let them know just what I thought about that. I pleaded with them to do what they could at the local level to never let the delegation go to some girl's house or some boy's house and prejudge what that person with the disability could do or could not do. Now I'll get off my soapbox.

Rubin: Well, that must have been a very powerful experience, both to have been through and, you know, it sounds like your parents empowered you to really, to take care of yourself and accomplish what you wanted.

Hindson: They did, right. Guess what? Years later, after I was married and had two children, there was an article in the Tallahassee paper, where I lived at that time, that American Legion had denied a boy named Scott Tree [phonetic] to go to Boys State because he had a limp. And, of course, I contacted the newspaper and told them my side of this situation. I could not help that young man, even after all those years, and that was like 1967, '68, '69. So a senator was contacted from St. Augustine and told what the situation was and he says, "Well, that's okay, I'll let him be my page for the session of real government." And I, of course, wrote to the paper and I said, "Are we trying to teach people to march? Are we trying to teach them government? And how many of you American veterans can walk without a limp due to your war injuries? And yet you're trying to judge what young people can do?" So, as you can tell, that was a very sensitive part of my life and I'm glad I could do what I could, but that got me prepared to work at Lake City Community College with the new ADA [Americans With Disabilities Act] and having to visit all the instructors off and on to remind them of the new laws, that they were not to prejudge, they were to see, well, how can you perform that task? So, once again, I'll get off my soapbox.

Rubin: Oh, no, I like you on your soapbox. A few sort of technical questions. You mentioned that you lived in a two-story Victorian home.

Hindson: Right.

Rubin: Were you able to continue living on the second-floor bedroom, or did your own family make accommodations for you?

Hindson: No, they wanted me to go right ahead, use the handrail, use anything I needed to get upstairs. And if I needed something downstairs, well, go downstairs and get it.

Rubin: And you were able to do that?

Hindson: I was able to do that. But I'm sure if all those years they had just pushed me around in a wheelchair and had done it for me, I would have not have been able to face what I did at university or Girls State or anything else.

Rubin: At your high school were there similar obstacles?

Hindson: Oh, my goodness, yes. My parents and I and the counselor, we'd sit down together and I would not take courses in sequence, which was rather crazy. I don't know if this was exactly what happened, but something like this. I might have had to take chemistry in eighth grade and eighth-grade biology my senior year, which doesn't make any sense because, you know, your lower-level courses are getting you ready for your higher-level ones. But my course sequence was planned to try to prevent me from having to go from the basement, first floor, you know, lobby area-first floor, second floor, third floor. I did it, but it took some pre-planning, which I'm glad I had that practice before I hit university.

Rubin: So that system worked and it basically kept you on the same floor or level.

Hindson: As best as possible. I did the same thing in my religious life. It's rather funny. Mom and Dad and I would look for church that had Sunday School on a lower level. So one year I might be doing the catechism at the Presbyterian church, and the next year I might be just using the New Testament at the Baptist church; whatever church had it's-but that was good because I learned about different philosophies and religion.

Rubin: So your school made accommodations. They allowed you to take courses out of sequence in order to allow you to-

Hindson: Yes, they did, which I don't know if they'd let you do that now, or if they should let you.

Rubin: Interesting.

Hindson: There was more flexibility here than there was at the university, of course.

Rubin: Why don't you tell me about the university.

Hindson: University; big time nightmare. First off, they don't want you there. They let you know that they are not equipped for people with disabilities. And my scores were kind of borderline; I don't know if that's based on intelligence or academic problems or what, but anyway.

Rubin: Or based on taking your courses in an unusual order.

Hindson: Could be, could be. But from day one it was tough. It was really tough. Registration, you know how you had to get your schedule of class-or you used to-get your schedule of classes from your counselor at the college. Then you had to go over to the gym, where there's registration. And then you had to walk around the gym and sign up for classes, the schedule your professor has recommended you take, they're closed. So what you have to do is you have to go back to his building and get another one signed, and by the time you get back to the gym-do you get the picture? It was just a nightmare. So, registration would start things off wrong right there. Then there was a problem with parking on campus. My parents had done a good job making me learn to drive young-no problem parallel parking or anything else-but if there are no parking places, big problem. So I had to start working with the traffic office, and they were not too willing to change the old way of doing things. Then they were concerned other people would misuse it, so I had to get a physical every semester before registration to certify that I was still disabled. That didn't sit too well with me, and we finally got that changed. No handrails. Once I got a schedule, I had to figure out how to move from this class over to across campus to another class and get in my seat, you know, by the time that you were supposed to be there. Things were stricter during the fifties, too. We're talking 1957 now. My big nightmare class was chemistry, where you had the outside terrace area with steps going down leading to the lab. No handrail. And then when you got into the auditorium, there were no handrails in this large area, so if you didn't get there soon enough, you were going to have to walk upstairs holding on the back of seats to get to a vacant seat. But there were just numerous things. There's a good part. I was in a sorority. They were very good, very kind to me, but I found out soon I'm not really a sorority person. I was more of a dorm person, and I ran for office there and served on the student government there.

Rubin: What were you studying in college?

Hindson: I started out as a nutrition major, and quickly decided I did not want all that chemistry involved, partly because of the walking situation. So I switched to child development, did some work in that in elementary education. And then I fell in love and married a young attorney, and dropped out of school my sophomore year. But I went back and worked for my degree gradually until I got it in 1965. My degree was elementary education with a minor in psychology, certification in special ed in the area of mental retardation. My master's was in reading. I did that in 1973, '74, '75, right around in there.

Rubin: Wow, no stopping you.

Hindson: I hope not.

Rubin: So tell me about the young attorney.

Hindson: The young attorney. He'd already served his time in the military during the Korean War, and had gone to University of Florida in law school and finished that, passed his bar exam. We met and fell in love, and I was all of eighteen and married at nineteen. We had thirteen happy years together, and he died of a heart attack at thirty-nine, after we had adopted two boys whose parents had died. The parents were clients of my first husband. He served with honor. He was the county attorney in Perry, Florida, where we lived for a while. Then he was with the Department of Revenue as a deputy director. Then before he died, he moved to the Attorney General's Office and he met with the cabinet for the State of Florida in a very important position, very close to the time that he died.

Rubin: Your choice to adopt children, was that because of the circumstances of these particular two children and your relationship to them, or were there other issues with pregnancy related to the polio?

Hindson: You know, I never became pregnant. I was checked and they didn't know why. My husband was just not the type, and back then you just didn't go for all the tests and things, so when the opportunity came up, it was just overnight and we were just not prepared at all for this. But the father of these children had died one year and then the mother had died the next year. I was finishing up my degree at Tallahassee, came home one weekend, and had two children.

Rubin: How old were they?

Hindson: Two and three. [Laughs]

Rubin: My goodness.

Hindson: Can you imagine the shock? It was awfully hard there for a while.

Rubin: Did they adjust?

Hindson: They did adjust, we all did, but it was a tremendous problem to start out with, because their mother was an alcoholic and they had been given inconsistent care and the children were not well emotionally or physically. My husband and I were not prepared to handle two children that had been through that. I thought I knew everything. You know, I had my degree in early childhood education. I found out I didn't know nothing. But we made it, and they're grown now. One of them is the cabinetmaker here in Lake City, and one of them is the correctional officer.

Rubin: Is he local, also?

Hindson: Yes, both of them are local.

Rubin: And do you have a-

Hindson: Grandchildren?

Rubin: Yes.

Hindson: Yes, I have three grandchildren. I have one that's twenty-one, I have one that's eighteen, and I have one that's sixteen. It feels like I have that right.

Rubin: Any girls in there?

Hindson: I have two girls, one boy.

Rubin: That must be nice.

Hindson: Right. I understand that my granddaughter believes that she's expecting, so it's one of these we're just kind of waiting to see, so I could be a great-grandmother here.

Rubin: My goodness. A couple of other things just to touch on some points that you mentioned. It sounds like your university experiences were very difficult in terms of accessibility and acceptance.

Hindson: Exactly.

Rubin: My question is-and I meant to ask you this about your high school, as well-were there other disabled people on campus?

Hindson: You know, I don't remember. The only person I remember is the student who was blind, and that was kind of a funny thing, funny but sad. I was walking by the library one day and I heard "tap, tap, tap" back of me, but it didn't mean anything to me because I had never been around anyone with a cane. And this blind student ran right into me, you know, with the cane. We both almost fell. But that's the only memory I have of anyone with an exceptionality. I just don't believe they were there.

Rubin: Did you consider yourself someone with a disability?

Hindson: I did, but I was not going to let it stop me from doing what I wanted to do. What I didn't want to do was to work in that bakery, you know, we talked about, or work in a jewelry store. I wanted to be professional like my sister.

Rubin: In your high school, were there any other polio survivors that you knew of?

Hindson: No, I don't remember.

Rubin: When did you first meet somebody else who'd had polio?

Hindson: When did I first meet someone else that had polio? Gee, I never thought about that. Well, at Warm Springs.

Rubin: But those relationships were not long-lasting, is that right?

Hindson: No. I guess after I returned to Lake City. I got a phone call and she said, "I don't think you know me, but I had polio such-and-such a year, and it'd be nice just to get together and talk about our problems getting shoes and brace repair." I said, "That's a great idea." I can't even remember her name now, but I guess that would have been my experience.

Rubin: How did she find you?

Hindson: I think just word of mouth, that someone said, "Did you know Edna Black? She had polio and she wears a brace." They must have given her my phone number. See, I was away from Lake City for nineteen years, because when I married I moved to Perry, Florida, and then I moved to Tallahassee. Then I waited a few years after my husband died to get my master's degree and then I moved back here. I think that was the first time I had ever really had a heart-to-heart talk about our unique problems with shoes and braces and fatigue.

Rubin: When you started dating, and I imagine you dated people prior to your attorney-

Hindson: Yes.

Rubin: Was the polio an issue for you at that point?

Hindson: Locally it was not. Locally I guess from the third grade on, it was just not a novelty anymore and I was treated pretty much like everyone else. Back during the fifties you might date someone on a Friday night, someone different on a Saturday night; it was just a golden age. It's not like today. At the university it was different. I remember I dated, but I remember one person that I dated, we were with a group in a car and he said, "I want to ask you to do something." He said, "Would you mind wearing a normal shoe on one foot so I can just see your normal foot in a high-heel shoe?" As you can imagine, that ended that relationship that night. I could tell he could not accept who I was. It was best to get out of that. I dated a German pilot who was stationed at Eglin Air Force, and evidently in Europe they don't pay as much attention to body beautiful as they do here in the United States. It didn't faze him at all that I had a limp or wore clunky shoes. But my freshman year is when I started going with my husband-let's see. In February of my freshman year. Then after that, of course, I didn't date anyone but him.

Rubin: Was the polio an issue for him at all?

Hindson: Not at all. The only thing I've thought is his father had a hair lip, and I think he had learned to try to look at the person instead of a physical disability.

Rubin: Were you self-conscious?

Hindson: Yes, I have been. In a way I know that deep down inside I am, because I love to swim, but I'm so anxious about just putting on a bathing suit and walking out to the pool. I want to wear a bathrobe, or I don't wear short shorts. So, of course, I am conscious that one side of my body looks like a concentration camp victim. And I have had situations, you know, in high school when I thought perhaps I didn't get to go with a certain boy or something because he wanted a person that didn't have a disability. Or we would be at a dance and I would watch everyone else dance, and I don't know what your other survivors have said, but it does hurt. You know, you would like to be out there dancing, too. And if you try to, you might fall.

Rubin: So you would go to the dances but not ever dance.

Hindson: Exactly. I would go to the dance. I had a date. Sophomore year, junior high years, senior high years, always had a date and I always encouraged my date to dance. But if you sit there and watch them dance, deep down inside you want to be there, too. Or the skating rink. You just don't want to say, "Oh, well, you just go right ahead and skate with someone else," because you do want to skate, you do want to play tennis. You don't share that with your friend. You don't want to be a crybaby. But with this interview, I think you should tell the truth.

Rubin: Do you think that as your children were growing up that your polio affected them?

Hindson: I do, and it's rather, once again, funny but sad. Once I kind of adjusted with the children and I would be able to take them out in public without them running off or anything, we were in a grocery store one day and there was a man with a brace. And my boys said, "Look, look at his leg! Look at his leg!" I pulled them over to the side and I said, "Well, you haven't noticed that I wear a brace, too?" They said, "Oh, but that's just you," you know. In other words, I was not different, but the man was different.

Rubin: Interesting.

Hindson: They no longer saw mine; they accepted it. I don't think there ever was a problem with their friends making fun of it, and I was very tuned in to watch for that sort of thing, but I don't remember that.

Rubin: Are you close to your boys now?

Hindson: We are not as close as I would have liked us to be. The first thing is I think our bonding did not take place when it should have. I have been open with both of my boys on this, because they don't feel toward me the same as I have felt toward my mother and my father. It's just-we didn't have a bonding. It was more of a "This is a duty. These boys don't have a mother and father and you are able to do this, and they need you, so just do it." And that's not the way you should go about being a parent.

Rubin: Well, it's a very difficult beginning, particularly when they're already two or three years old and had the kind of life that they did.

Hindson: Right. Now, I could lie to you and say, "Oh, it was wonderful," but that's not the truth. I have tried to be open with them about it, because I think they understand, now that they have their own children and they've had their child since they were babies, and they feel a different feeling toward their children than that interaction between our relationship. Now, we respect each other, we call each other, we send birthday cards, but that deep down inside bonding is not there.

Rubin: Tell me about how polio has affected you more as you've gotten older.

Hindson: That didn't start to be a problem until-let's see. I started working at the college in 1988 and was fine, just still using just my brace; no cane, not that much fatigue, not even sure I was into post-polio syndrome. Then I noticed walking between the buildings I was getting awfully tired. I did international programs; I took groups to Europe for credit. I did the coordination, not the instruction. I know when I took a group to Holland one time, after that flight, I just was afraid I wasn't even going to be able to get to my hotel room. And here I am the person with the tickets, trying to coordinate, and I realized I need to make some changes, because this is not safe for me and it is not safe for the people I'm conducting. You know, in case of emergency, I would not be there for them if someone had to be hospitalized or sent home. So that was kind of the beginning of my revelation that my body was definitely changing. So when I came back, I talked to the president of the college and asked to be gradually removed from so many responsibilities, and she was kind enough to do that and make an accommodation for me. Then I started using the cane, and then last year had a major setback. I had a cyst on my spinal cord and I thought I had lost the use of my right leg. That really frightened me, because I want to remain independent. It's just part of my stubborn personality. So that's when I started making arrangements to move to Oak Hammock at the University of Florida. It's a retirement center, but it's of the new-age retirement center where you'll be active. Does that kind of tell you what's happened to my body since 1988?

Rubin: It does. I have a few more specific questions about that, but I'm going to stop us for a moment just so I can put a new tape in. Hold on, please.

[Begin Tape 2, Side A]

Rubin: When was the first time that you actually heard the word post-polio syndrome?

Hindson: Oh, let's see. That would be back in like '75, 1976, '77.

Rubin: And who brought it to your attention?

Hindson: There was a publication that mentioned it and I thought, well, this just doesn't apply to me at all.

Rubin: And at that point it didn't.

Hindson: It didn't. I've had a survey; they wanted you to fill out a survey on it, whatever the magazine was or whatever it was. And I filled it out and just said, you know, I had no problem.

Rubin: But that let you know that it existed.

Hindson: That it existed. I'm not sure about the years, the date, but I thought, well, I'm going to be one of the lucky ones.

Rubin: Then did the post-polio and the fatigue that you were describing, did that cause you to have to retire sooner than you had planned?

Hindson: Yes, it did, and I did not think that would happen to me.

Rubin: At what age did you retire?

Hindson: Let's see. I retired in '95. How old was I?

Rubin: Well, let's see. You just turned sixty-five, so you were in your early fifties, almost middle fifties.

Hindson: Yes.

Rubin: Originally what had been your intention for working?

Hindson: I wanted to work until, like, sixty-two, but towards the end it was getting-I was very fatigued in the afternoon, even walking with my cane between buildings.

Rubin: As you sought treatment, did you find that the physicians that you went to understood what was happening to you?

Hindson: Not locally. I got linked with a support group, Barbara Goldstein-I don't know if you've dealt with her or not-and I called and talked to her about what was going on with me. She suggested that I go ahead and be evaluated, and I did over in Daytona Beach by a physician who is well qualified to judge. He said I was in the early stages and gave me some recommendations. That's when I thought I need to take care of my body. It is not that important, I've got my years in, I've got my retirement and my annuity; it's time for me to stop.

Rubin: Are you angry about having had polio?

Hindson: No, I don't think so. Not angry at all. I don't think I'd be the person that I am today without that. Without everything that's happened to me along the way, I could be a very different person without polio. That's not saying I welcomed it. Of course, we all fantasize-well, I fantasize and have in the past what it would be like to play tennis or to dance or to scuba dive, but I'm certainly not-I don't think I'm angry.

Rubin: What's the worst thing for you about living with polio, either now or in the past?

Hindson: You're uncertain how bad will it get. That's what happened last year and it did throw me into depression big time, big time enough that I'll share with you what I did. I don't-I haven't shared this with anyone, but I was also in a significant other relationship and doing too much-cooking, cleaning, trying to be a good partner-and it was all getting to me. Our relationship was breaking down, and I just got in my car and drove off and no one knew where I was for ten days. It was a combination of things, I know now. Fear about what was coming next. Would I be going into a wheelchair? You know, that I would not be able to have a relationship without this fatigue, just a combination of things, but I did not react well to that. But once I got back, you know, came back, let everyone know where I was, I began to kind of sort out thinking well, what is the absolute worst thing that can happen? You just get prepared for that and then you won't have to worry how far it's going to go.

Rubin: How did you come to that kind of peaceful acceptance in those ten days? What was the process that you went through?

Hindson: I just drove up the Florida west coast, just stopping and getting a motel room and looking at the water, thinking about what's happened to me in my life and how I've been able to go on, and what did I not do that I didn't start doing a pity party, and was I going to change that now? And if I felt like I couldn't be the super wife or significant other any more, was I going to be able to share with people, "Hey, look, I can't do this anymore. I'm tired. I'm going to take a nap"? And I just kind of practiced how I would react to different people in my life. Like with grandchildren, "I'm sorry, but I can't go to your soccer game. I am tired in the afternoon. I love you, but I just can't sit there on those bleachers." I just kind of rehearsed what would I say to my significant other, what would I say to children, and what would be the very worst thing that could happen, now I would have to go to a wheelchair. Well, you can still get around in a wheelchair. Does that answer?

Rubin: Yes. Did that relationship with your significant other indeed end?

Hindson: It ended as far as us living together, but we still talk every week on Sunday. We have a little conversation about "What's going on in your life?" But he also had an anger management problem, and that's not a good idea for someone in post-polio syndrome to be with someone who has an anger management problem. You have to get out of it. because you can't do a lot of things expected of you.

Rubin: Did you ever remarry?

Hindson: I remarried in 1979 to an Englishman, and we had a ten-year relationship, eight years of it a marriage and two years of it back and forth between here and England so we got to know each other better. That relationship did not last, either. That ended in divorce.

Rubin: Do you think polio had any involvement in that relationship?

Hindson: I don't know if it did or not. You know, people may not know this, but there are certain people that are attracted to people with disabilities. This is kind of a touchy situation to get into, but he was like that, so it did have an effect on our relationship; it kind of drew us together. I'm sure you've heard of people that are attracted to amputees. And he just happened to be attracted to my disability. But there was too much of a cultural distance, a trust problem, a truthfulness problem, and it even became very frightening toward the end. So I had to get out of that situation.

Rubin: Was he abusive to you?

Hindson: Yes, psychologically. He came here, I thought, to go to work, eventually become an American citizen or a dual citizenship, but once he came, he didn't want to work a regular job. And that didn't help my self-esteem, because I felt like I had a kept man. The reason he didn't really want a regular job-he was a very brilliant man, he was an administrative manager at Cameron Ironworks in London and used their Mayfair apartment. But when he came here, I found out that he had lied to me about the number of children that he had, and their ages. He did not want to work because he didn't want to pay his wife alimony, and it was just one lie after the next that came out. And yet when you introduce someone into the United States, you sign that you will be responsible for them for at least three years, so I was kind of stuck with it. And then even after three years passed, I thought, "We can work this out." We couldn't. It was just not healthy. And I had to go to counseling before we broke up, and then afterwards I had to go to try to get my self-esteem back.

Rubin: I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Hindson: I had to go through that.

Rubin: Tell me about the positives that have come out of the polio experience for you.

Hindson: Positives. Well, people remember you, that's for sure. You know, when you're introduced in a group, a social situation, you may not remember the other person's name, but they will remember your name because they make an association with your name with your brace. So you gather lots of friends along the way and they remember you. They remember your birthday, and that's nice. I think a positive would be whenever I did substitute teaching or just regular teaching, I had the opportunity to play a part in children accepting people that are different. They were fascinated by my brace. They liked to see how it locked and unlocked, and how do you put your shoe on. And then we talked about other disabilities. So I've been able to be used in a positive way to help others, from having polio.

Rubin: Your time at the university, would you have considered yourself an activist or the ADA issues or helping other people with disabilities?

Hindson: Absolutely. Absolutely. I stirred up more trouble there. And, by the way, see, that was before ADA.

Rubin: Right.

Hindson: I made it a point to call and point things out as best I could in a diplomatic way, and the men that worked in the parking area on campus, we tried to work together to come up with some ideas where you wouldn't have to have a physical, and they stopped doing that once they had a certification of a permanent disability. We designed a sign; we talked about handrails; we talked about what needs of different people with disabilities were. I talked to deans, I talked to instructors. Some of them, they listened to you but nothing happened, but, you know, progress is never in a straight line. You just have to do what you could do where you are at that period in time. And things gradually do change. But I definitely felt like I stirred it up.

Rubin: Were you involved in any of the ADA work later on?

Hindson: Yes. I moved to Lake City in 1975, and in 1976 communities were trying to do projects with the, what is that? Centennial? Bi?

Rubin: Yes, bicentennial.

Hindson: Bicentennial. So I called some folks and I said, "Let's make our project curb cuts," because people now can't believe they didn't have curb cuts back then, but they didn't. So we got the National Guard and some volunteers, and we started out with a small section of Lake City and we got that done. We got cement donated, and we were gradually getting curb cuts around this community as our little project. We were trying to talk to different businesses about how important it was to have-you know, where wheelchairs could get into the store, automatic opening doors, they would have more customers, that sort of thing. And, of course, on campus, with ADA, that was part of my job description.

Rubin: What do you mean?

Hindson: Well, I was hired in 1988 and I was the compliance person. So I worked with physical plant, and there was just so much money with a small community college, so we didn't try to do everything at once. I would go to them, I'd say, "Don't you think we can just do one automatic opening door this semester?" And, you know, I got bids from different companies and then we'd sit down together and let them decide which company is the one to use. We'd just try to do one project a semester, and now it just thrills me to go out to that campus and it is the correct doorknob handles, you know, the Braille on the-everything that they totally require now, we started out in a small way in 1988.

Rubin: Which was prior to the ADA?

Hindson: No, I believe ADA was coming in at that time.

Rubin: For some reason I think it officially passed in the early 1990s.

Hindson: Did it?

Rubin: I believe so, so you were ahead of your time, doing all the right things.

Hindson: Yes, I think so. I think so. I think I was already fighting some battles on that, but I was coordinator of Disabled Student Services as well as coordinator of International Programs, a regular counselor, mainly for elementary ed and special ed majors, and the ADA compliance. So that probably got that ADA title a little later.

Rubin: You've led a very interesting life.

Hindson: Well, thank you. I've tried to do what I can, you know. Do you know we won national awards?

Rubin: No.

Hindson: I developed Disability Awareness Day. I guess we were probably the first college. I don't even have my certificate handy here, but our college won twice at national levels the way we presented it. We had our gym set up with all the vendors of all the different equipment that people with disabilities need to know about. And where the person may want a van, but they just can't get around to try out all the different vans, you know, that have the lift on them, we would get the companies to bring in samples of wheelchairs, adaptive equipment. Anything you can think that relates to any of the disabilities as far as equipment and services, we had exhibit booths. And then I had wheelchair basketball brought in from Gainesville. I had the dancers from St. Augustine's, the school for the deaf and blind, which I hate that term, but that's what it's called. They performed. We had the Girl Scouts doing an awareness activity. We had other universities and colleges come to our campus to see how we did this, and how we made it fun. Then we had a motorcycle group come in, you know. We had golf cart tours of our campus to show the disabled, "You can handle this. You can't walk it? We'll drive you." But, anyway, we won twice at national levels while I was the coordinator there.

Rubin: That's a great accomplishment.

Hindson: I'm real proud of that. I was recognized by the board, by the college, and was at my retirement made professor emeritus because of my work with the disabled. So, see, there are benefits. If I had never had polio, I wouldn't have done any of this, probably.

Rubin: Edna, I am now done with my questions, but I don't know if there's anything that you might like to add either about polio or about yourself.

Hindson: I just am so excited about the project that you're associated with, and I deeply appreciate you letting me be a small part of it. I admire so much what you are doing, and I'm only seeing a little small part of this project and I can't wait to see the total.

Rubin: Are you going to come up to Washington?

Hindson: I would love to come up.

Rubin: Great.

Hindson: I would love to come up, so do keep me posted about everything.

Rubin: I certainly will. Edna, thank you so much for your time today.

Hindson: Oh, well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it, Anna.

Rubin: Take care.

Hindson: You do, too.

Rubin: Bye.

Hindson: Bye-bye.

[End of interview]


Before Polio
Epidemics, 3
Fear, 3
Ignorance, 3

Contracting Polio
Abuse, 3, 6, 10
Cost of the treatment, 11
Family finances, 11, 18
Family hardship, 11, 18
Family reactions, 4, 5, 11, 18
Family support, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 18, 20, 22
Friends and community, 11
Hospitalization, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
Iron lungs, 8
Physical therapy, 9
Procedures, 2

Living with Polio
Accessibility, 11, 21, 22, 23, 32
Anger, 29
Children, 23, 24, 27
Dancing, 26, 27
Dating, 26
Discrimination, 20, 21, 22, 23
Driving, 11
Feelings about, 26, 27
Friends and community, 23, 31
Grandchildren, 24
Marriage, 23, 30, 31
Negative aspects of, 29
Playing sports, 14
Positive aspects of, 31, 33
Pregnancy, 24
Reaction of classmates, 13, 14
Returning to school, 12, 14
Social life, 20
Swimming, 26
Work, 19

March of Dimes, 14, 15, 16, 17

Post-Polio Syndrome Acceptance, 30 Depression, 29, 30 Effect on significant other, 30 Fear, 30 Retirement, 29 Support group, 29 Symptoms, 28, 29

Roosevelt, Franklin D., 10

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