Saturday, November 8, 2014

High School Years

I loved high school. We got to choose elective classes which was wonderful, I always picked choir or chorus,and orchestra and art classes, and English classes like creative writing. The first couple of years were pretty normal, by junior year things changed. The summer before I had met a cute fella that lived down the street, first major crush. Of course he totally ignored me. By summer, I had passed my life saving tests for swimming and was teaching a class at the YWCA. So I rode my bike there in the morning, then out to College View, a suburb of Lincoln, to help my grandparents with lunch. Then home, and by evening I baby sat with the neighbor kids til late evening. So when junior year started, I was pleased to have tap dancing as my elective sport, and debate for English, neat teachers, fun classes , all was just about perfect. until the day I got a blinding headache at school. Not something I ever had. Went home and to bed. A few days later, went to the bathroom and could not get up off the toilet so had to call mom for help. They found I was running a high fever. The diagnosis was polio, which was at that time a big epidemic. The hospitals were full so the folks set up a hospital bed in the living room and kept me there. The first 6 weeks required laying on boards to keep my back straight, real comfy but better than the next step, hot packs devised by Sister Kenny. Mom would put them in the pressure cooker, pick them up with tongs and put them on my back to loosen it up. In a few days they stopped that as it was boiling my blood. Therapy was no picnic either, after things have not moved for months, they don't want to. But we worked at it. In the mean time I was doing classes at home with an intercom system. I got to talk to the kids at school and take part in classes. We had an exchange student from Belgium that year, he came to the house to see who was on the other end of the box, nice meeting him. His name was John and his uncle was royalty in his country. Well, the year went on, and one day I heard the doc tell mom they were going to get a wheelchair and help me learn to get around with that, the legs were not doing too well. I was not happy about that, and my sisters started coming down at night and helping me stand up by the bed. When the doc came back and saw I could do that, they fitted me with a long leg brace and crutches and I became mobile again. Sort of. At least by fall I could do well enough to go back to school. So my senior year, dad went back to high school to get his GED. We graduated together at Pine Wood Bowl. About half way through the year in Chemistry class, I got to know a kid named Dick. I was walking to school and home, about 18 blocks, carrying books and my violin. So when he pulled up beside me one afternoon and asked if he could take me home, I said yes. We started dating, what sort of dating we were allowed then, which was visiting each others houses for supper with parental watching. Plus 2 sisters that hung over the bannister and giggled at us. By the end of the year, we were talking about a future. I started to the U of N, and he went off to basic training in the Air force. College was a challenge, lots of distance between buildings, and I was not fast enough to get to class on time. I struggled the first semester, and dropped out. No motorized wheelchairs of accommodations for handicapped were available then. After a short time, I found a job at a new store opening in down town Lincoln, and rode the bus to work everyday, that was a fun job, at Hested's Jr department store. And I had a paycheck, which was helping put away money for a wedding and future. But down the road a few months, I fell going down the stairs to their basement and crunched the metal brace into my ankle, messing it up big time. Took a big cast to make it start healing. So I was married when Dick came home on leave and I wore a white cast with my white wedding dress. It was still a nice wedding, have pictures stashed away to this day. After the wedding, we loaded up the car and headed to our first base, in Amarillo Texas.

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