Polio Place

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An Education

Doris Jones; Saint Louis, Missouri

My photograph was in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch when I was 11 years old. Taken for a March of Dimes fundraiser, I am pretty sure the photo was staged. I am shown playing with my dolls, but I always preferred to play with my model airplanes and chemistry set, or put together jigsaw puzzles.

The March of Dimes paid for my braces, the wheelchair and some of my bills at St. Anthony’s Hospital on Chippewa Street, St. Louis. There I had physical therapy and managed to stand using my braces. Even though I practiced on parallel bars at St. Anthony’s and at home, I never walked more than across the room. I was happiest when they just let me use my wheelchair, and I have used one for the last 65 years.

I received an education without a lot of effort. The schools were on their toes and doing what they could to be sure I got one.

I was tutored at home (and in the hospital wards) from grades 3-8. We lived in the Webster Groves School district, and they made sure I had a tutor. Her name was Mary E. Moore. I remember that she tried so hard to teach me how to diagram sentences. It finally all made sense to me in high school Spanish.

When I entered high school (Riverview Gardens, St. Louis), they arranged for all of my classes to be on the main floor. There was one step to get into the building, but the taxi driver from Laclede Cab, who drove me to and from school each day, assisted me in and out of the building.

The students were very accommodating and friendly. I was on the yearbook staff and in the pep club (sort of an honorary cheerleader). When I was completing my junior year the counselor asked if I was going to college. I asked if he thought I could, and he said, “You are in the National Honor Society.”

Four years later, I graduated from St. Louis University with a BS in Commerce. In 1957, the Commerce building had an elevator and was “on the level,” so I just rolled in and went to my classes. My father dropped me off on his way to work, and I took a cab home.


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