Mrs. Grundy: Scuppernongs, muscadines in season

Published 12:02 am Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peeping through my Venetian blind, I could see in the distance Miss Cora, picking scuppernongs and muscadines from the arbors around Covington Hall. She usually makes a pie from the fruit, as well as sweet juice.

Sweet autumn clematis still lingers around “the Dimple of Dixie.” I hate to see it go. Alas, how quickly beauty fades.

Seen at David’s were Jimmy and Keron Donaldson, whom I’d last seen on a bus tour with Betty Mitchell, “the Travel Queen.”

I hear tell that Eva Maloy, one-time teacher at Church Street Elementary School, had successful surgery for blood on the brain and is recuperating. Her home address is the Gardens at Calvary, 7595 Moon Road, Apartment 3l6, Columbus, GA 31909. Eva is currently in rehabilitation and under the watchful eyes of her son Sam and daughter Ann. Eva and her late husband, Samuel James “Jim” Maloy, retired to Auburn more than 10 years ago. Jim is buried there.

Seen at Chen’s were Wayne and Angie (Baker) Sasser, Joyce Leddon and her sister, Jimmie Nell (Bess) Stewart, with Jimmie’s son, Dale Stewart, Jeremy McMath and his family, and Brent and Kathy Bozeman and their family.

Sanctuary flowers at First Baptist last Sunday were given in memory of Mamie Wahl, who taught at Pleasant Home School and rang in the Irene Hines Hand Bell Choir of First Baptist.

The Andalusia High School classes of 1963, 1953, 1943 and 1933 should be organizing for homecoming Oct. 5, if they want to attend the assembly and be in the parade. They have only a month left to plan. The younger classes of 2003, 1993, 1983 and 1973 will be honored with skits in homecoming assembly.

In searching for the oldest living retired teacher at A.H.S., I have been told that it might be Virginia (Anthony) Broughton. Can anyone verify this? Louise Yeargain was suggested last week.

The oldest living graduate known is Lucille (Williams) McGraw, widow of Auburn McGraw.

Charlotte Rogers, soprano in the First Baptist Adult Choir and teacher at W. S. Harlan in Lockhart, beautifully repeated her solo, Geoffrey O’Hara’s “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked,” in morning worship this Sunday past. She had sung it the previous Sunday in the Baraca Class and had done so well that a request was made for her to sing in morning worship. She was accompanied by Sonja Crigger, wife of the minister of music, Dwight Crigger, and teacher of music at the Greenville school.

Dan Shehan, who retired to Savannah, Ga., 10 years ago, has given me permission to share an essay of his, “My Polio Story.” Mr. Shehan is active in Savannah with polio survivors and belongs to their organization. Each member was asked to write his own story and share with others.

The essay is in quotations.

“I had just finished the fifth grade at Parker Elementary School in Panama City, Florida. I was 10-years-old and loved to spend my summers with my maternal grandmother, Lilly D. Everage, in Andalusia, Ala. She lived alone in the old family home, but several of her children had homes nearby; and one owned a grocery store a block away. I would walk to the store in the mornings and get the food she planned to cook that day. If it were peas or butterbeans, I would help shell them. In the afternoons I would walk to one of the theaters, pay twenty-five cents, and sit through the showing several times.

“One Wednesday morning (Aug. 5, l953) I awoke with a stiff neck and terrific headache. As the day progressed, I began to feel very weak. The next day I could hardly get out of bed or stand up without help. I was admitted to Andalusia Memorial Hospital. My parents, Comer and Helon Everge Shehan, were called; and they drove up to Andalusia from Panama City (Fla.). Dr. Parker told them that he did not know what I had but would like to observe me for a couple of days. By Thursday evening I could not move, and my breathing had become very shallow. My parents would not wait; and, against the doctor’s wishes, my dad carried me out of the hospital, placed me in the back seat of the car, and drove me to Pensacola, Fla.

“A relative had arranged for a doctor to meet us at the emergency room of one of the hospitals in Pensacola. It was dark when we arrived. I was placed on an examining table and told to be very still for a spinal tap. After the procedure the doctor and nurse left the room, and I was alone. My parents had not been allowed in the room. While lying there, wondering what was the matter with me, I heard a scream from another room. A little later I was put on a stretcher, placed in an ambulance, and driven to a building, which, in the dark of night, looked like an army barrack. Inside, I was placed on a small, low bed with some sort of mechanism strapped to my chest. I was very thirsty and semi-conscious, but the nurse would only put a drop of water on my tongue all along. A couple of nurses and I were the only ones in the dimly lit room. I had not seen my parents since arriving at the emergency room. I thought whatever was wrong with me must be so bad that I was being put to death!

“When I awoke the next morning, I found myself enclosed in a tank-like contraption with my head sticking out one end. I learned that it was called an iron lung. I was feeling better and had no trouble breathing, although I was unable to move my arms or legs. As I shifted my eyes to the left, I saw rain through one of the high windows. To the right I saw my parents, looking through a window at me. I could not speak or hear them. I wondered what was going on. How did I come to be in the iron lung?

“Unknown to me at the time is what had transpired during the night. After the spinal tap, the doctor met with my parents and some relatives and gave them the news that I had Bulbar polio and would be dead within 24 hours. Mother screamed! (I heard this from the examining room.) She would not accept the doctor’s prognosis. She called her brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Earl Vickery, who was a student at the University of Alabama Medical School in Birmingham. He and one of his professors flew down to Pensacola, Fla., during the night. They asked my doctor at the Escambia County Hospital if there were an iron lung in the hospital. The reply was ‘yes,’ but no one knew how to use it. My uncle and his teacher put me in the iron lung, thus saving my life!

“After a couple of weeks the iron lung and its resident (myself) were placed on a Navy plane and flown to Birmingham. The plane did not have the electrical power to operate the iron lung; so, two uncles, Norman Everage and Henry Everage, took turns, pumping the iron lung manually during the flight. When we arrived in Birmingham, I was transferred from the Pensacola iron lung to one from Jefferson Hillman Hospital. During the transfer, it was discovered that the neck seal had cut into the back of my neck. From that point on attention had to be given to healing that injury while keeping a tight seal around my neck. The doctors also told my parents that I would never be able to walk and I would be in a wheelchair the rest of my life. (Mr. Shehan not only walks, but has also lived 69 years after being told he had only 24 hours to live.) In late September, after about four weeks in Jefferson Hillman Hospital, I was transferred to Crippled Children’s Hospital next door.

“I stayed in Crippled Children’s Hospital about six months. While there I was weaned from the iron lung, using the rocking bed; and I gradually gained the use of my arms and legs. I had a private teacher for my sixth-grade studies. I celebrated my 11th birthday on Oct. 6, l953. I was given daily physical therapy and whirlpool baths. It was during one of my therapy sessions that my therapist noticed a slight curve in my spine and thus began a life-long struggle to prevent my spine from curving. The weakened muscles of my back allowed the onset of scoliosis. Before I left the hospital in March of 1954, I was fitted with an acetate jacket to prevent further curving.

“During my hospital stay my parents moved to a community near Pensacola, called Gonzalez, Fla. They had built a new house with wide doors that would accommodate a wheelchair. Again the doctors had been wrong. By this time I was walking on my own. I attended the seventh and eighth grades at Tate High School. Sometime during 1957 our family moved to Warm Springs, Ga., so they could be near me. I had been admitted to Warm Springs Clinic for several months for treatment of my scoliosis, part of which was to lose some weight. I was fitted with a different type of brace, which consisted of a corset with a steal bar on the back. On the top of the bar was a mechanism which held my chin and head. This bar could ratchet my head up, thus stretching my spine. I wore this brace until I finished high school in 1960. My ninth grade was completed at home with several different teachers, coming to my home. The remainder of my high-school years was completed at a private school, Brent Christian High in Pensacola, Fla.

“I enrolled in Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. After my freshman year I took a break and went to Houston for a spinal fusion with Harrington rods. I resumed college about a year and a half later and was graduated with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education in January 1966. It was not easy finding a teaching position in the middle of the school year, but I found one in DeFuniak Springs, Fla.. By the beginning of the next school year, I secured a position at Andalusia High School in Andalusia, the place of my birth.

“In the summer after my first year of teaching at Andalusia High School, I chaperoned eight high-school students on a six-weeks tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Four of those weeks were spent at the University of Durham in Durham, England. During the next three summers I attended the University of South Alabama and was graduated in 1972 with a Master of Arts degree in English education.

“Around the year l976 I began to feel very fatigued by the end of each day. I began to become sleepy during the day. Then, one night, I realized I was having trouble breathing when I lay down to sleep. After a visit to the emergency room, I was placed in the hospital and given oxygen. By the next day I was barely conscious. My mother had me transferred to a hospital in Dothan, where I was given a tracheotomy and placed on a breathing machine for about a week. My condition improved, and I was released about a week later. I was still having trouble breathing when lying flat; so, I slept in a recliner, sitting up at night. Realizing that I could not continue like this, I made an appointment with a doctor in Houston. After his examination he said that I might have to sleep in an iron lung. He had one at the hospital and asked me to sleep in it that night. The next day I felt like a new person! The mystery had been solved, but where were we going to find an iron lung to use at home! My mother and I called several hospitals in Alabama. Someone finally directed us to Emory University Hospital, which maintained a March of Dimes equipment center in Augusta, Ga. After we contacted the office in Augusta, the March of Dimes shipped an iron lung to my home in Andalusia. This stabilized my life, and I resumed my normal activities. There was one problem with the iron lung. When I got into the iron lung, someone (usually my mother) had to close the latches on the lung; and then someone would have to unlatch it for me to get out. One day for a nap I was latched in by my mother. She went to visit a friend and forgot about me. When I awoke and discovered that she had not returned, I had to extricate myself by tearing the flexible collar around my neck and reaching out to unlatch the lung. I related the story to the mechanical engineer at the March of Dimes equipment center in Augusta. He informed me that he could modify the iron lung with the latches operated from the inside so that I could open and close the lung myself. I was shipped the modified lung in exchange for the one I had. The new iron lung gave me some independence.

“By l995 I had retired from the field of education, and one of my doctors began trying me on a bi-pap machine. It took a little time to get used to wearing the mask, but by 1997, I was using it with two liters of oxygen for sleeping and resting. I was finally free from the iron lung! Today I am retired in Savannah, Ga., and a member of the Coastal Empire Polio Survivors Association Inc. As for the iron lung, it is now owned and used by CEPSA for displays and demonstrations.”

I thank Mr. Shehan for sharing his story with us.

I also thank God for sparing his life. God obviously had a purpose for Mr. Shehan’s life. I think of the beautiful musical compositions that have come from it, at least a hundred songs, each a blessing. Gentle reader, think of what would be missing from your life today had not any single person been a part of it. It’s a Wonderful Life, indeed.

The celebration of the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens, England’s greatest novelist, continues through December.

The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Christian, movie cowboy, Roy Rogers, continues to Nov. 5.

This year is also the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, which continues several years.

Again, I ask that each citizen of Andalusia join the Covington Historical Society and pay its annual dues of $25 so as to help preserve the history of our county, whether you attend meetings or not. Mail to CHS, P.O. Box l582, Andalusia, AL 36420.

No one has yet identified Kate Head. Who was she?

Birthdays this week include those of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German novelist and poet; Count Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, American doctor, teacher of medicine at Harvard, essayist and poet.

Goethe’s masterpiece is Faust, a poem in two parts about Dr. Faust, who sells his soul to the devil for youth and pleasure. Christopher Marlowe of England also wrote about Faust in his play called The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. In France, Charles Gounod used Goethe’s story for his opera, Faust.

Goethe is to Germany what Shakespeare is to England. Goethe is considered Germany’s greatest writer.

Tolstoy’s novel, War and Peace, about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, is considered by many the greatest novel in the world.

Now, gentle reader, allow me to encourage each of us, in the manner of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, to be in his place of worship this weekend, Lord willing.

Fare thee well.