Green River Star -

By Stephanie Thompson
People Editor 

Clipping brings back memories

 

File Photo

Carmen Tune dances at a Golden Hour Senior Center event. Tune was one of many children who struggled with Polio in her youth.

For a Green River resident, all it took to bring a few memories of a terrible disease she had was looking at an old newspaper clipping.

Carmen (Trujillo) Tune, recently received a letter in the mail from her brother Pat Trujillo, who lives in New Jersey.

In the letter was a newspaper clipping from 1946. This newspaper clipping was a photo of Carmen and her brother Pat. The clipping read "There's good reason why Pat and Carmelita Trujillo of Rock Springs are contributing their pennies to the March of Dimes fund this year. The two youngsters, children of Mr. and Mrs. Patricia Trujillo, were polio victims last summer and the infantile paralysis foundation aided in their treatment. Their brother, Benny, was also stricken, but died. Pat, who is seven in shown holding the March of Dimes contribution box, while two and a half year old Carmelita drops her pennies in it."

It was a short passage surrounded by numerous bigger articles in that newspaper clipping, but Tune can recall some of what led up to that photo being in the paper.

Tune said she, and her brothers Pat and Benny all had polio.

According to the Mayo Clinic's website http://www.mayoclinic.org, polio is defined as "a contagious viral illness that in its most severe form causes paralysis, difficulty breathing and sometimes death.

Unfortunately, Tune's brother was one of those who died.

"Benny died," Tune recalled. "He was four. It was sad, but I'm glad we were OK."

Carmen may have had 11 brothers and sisters, but the loss of her brother hit the family hard. She said even though she was only two at the time she could still recall how scared everyone was, especially since she and Pat also had polio.

Carmen can recall her and Pat's own polio struggles.

"It was hard for us to walk," Carmen said. "Our mother rubbed our legs several times a day. I don't know how she did it."

Back then, when a child was struck with polio they were called "a poster child," but since three children in one family got the disease they were called "the poster children." Carmen said she doesn't know why. She just remembers that's what everyone called them.

According to the March of Dimes website http://www.marchofdimes.org, it's first poster child was Donald Eugene Anderson, who was born Oct. 1, 1940. Anderson's before and after photos were on the March of Dimes poster encouraging residents to donate money to treat polio. Anderson's before photo showed him standing in a hospital bed with a neck brace and arm splint. His after photo showed him walking quickly; and the poster simply said "Your dimes did this for me!" On the bottom of the poster it read "Join the March of Dimes" "Fight Infantile Paralysis." This poster became the first symbol of the March of Dimes fight against polio.

It was common for this foundation to use photos of those stricken with polio on their posters. This is why Tune and her brothers were called the poster children.

The March of Dimes paid every penny of the treatment Tune's family received.

"I strongly believe in the March of Dimes," she said.

As for the treatments Tune and her brother Pat received, Tune couldn't recall what they were.

Pat could recall a little bit and said they would give them pills every day. Pat recalled being in the hospital for at least three months and being concerned about all of the school he was missing.

He remembered his father coming to visit him and Tune every day, but his mother couldn't visit because she was pregnant and fighting a kidney infection. Pat said his father wasn't allowed in their room. He would look at him and Carmen through a glass window. Pat said no one was allowed in the room except for the doctor and the nurses because the polio was so contagious. All of this occurred at the Rock Springs Hospital.

Both Pat and Tune are thankful for surviving the disease and leading healthy lives.

According to the Mayo Clinic's website, those who survived polio can often have post-polio syndrome, which usually starts around 35 years after they had polio.

Those who have post-polio syndrome can have symptoms including, muscle and joint weakness and pain, fatigue and exhaustion from minimal activity, muscle atrophy, breathing and swallowing problems, sleep disorders, cognitive problems, depression and mood swings.

Tune is active at the Golden Hour Senior Center on a daily basis, including special events and line dancing.

"I'm able to line dance thank goodness," Tune said.

Pat has also led a good life and became an arch bishop at a Catholic Church in New Jersey. Both know how lucky they were to survive the disease and not have and post-polio syndrome symptoms. Carmen is now 72 and her brother is close to 80.

 

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