Lauro Halstead, age 18, 1954-55, New York
I came down with polio in the summer of 1954 at the age of 18. I was in an iron lung for 1 to 2 weeks and had significant paralysis of my right arm and weakness of the other three extremities. I was hospitalized for approximately six months.
This picture was taken sometime in late September or early October, 1954 on the occasion of my first outing from the rehabilitation hospital in White Plains, New York. I remember seeing the fall colors and thinking how glorious it was to be alive. Not shown is the manual wheelchair which I used for the first six months.
This picture was taken in the summer of 1955 approximately one year after my initial illness. A local man heard that I had played the trombone (and to a lesser degree, the baritone) for many years before polio. He was interested in the healing power of music and organized this rag-tag group to play at various senior centers, etc. in the area.
I don’t remember how long I played the baritone that I’m holding in the photo, but, for some reason, I gave it up in favor of playing the piano with my left hand. I regret that I stopped playing the baritone because I could have been playing in bands and orchestras all these years. On the bright side, at the suggestion of a musical friend, I resumed playing the baritone three years ago and am now playing with three local groups. Last year, I had the pleasure of playing with an amateur group at the Kennedy Center in a Christmas concert.