The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Breaking News

History

September 11, 2013

Polio and Pinky McDonnell

It was the year 1949. The entire City of Clinton, like many communities, was periodically going through the terror of “polio” or poliomyelitis, or Infantile Paralysis as it was also called. During the 40’s and 50’s, this plague scared the wits out of the county, because, even though it’s incidence was not high, it left behind in its wake small children sitting in wheel chairs or with braces on their legs. Movie theaters everywhere advertised to “Give to the March of Dimes!” However, the scourge struck close to home in my hilltop neighborhood near St. Mary’s, in 1949, when young Teresa McDonnell succumbed to it and became paralyzed. We had feared the illness all summer during an epidemic and were beginning to feel relief as November’s chill set upon us, but it struck anyway. Our parents began making us talk to friends Leon and Dick McDonnell from across the street, for fear of contagion.

 

I clearly recall the day that Teresa’s brother, Tom “Pinky” McDonnell had the painful spinal tap which verified the disease and then he walked out of his home and got into the waiting ambulance that would take him to Iowa City. He never walked again, and could hardly move after that. It brings tears to my eyes just remembering the image of that courageous football and basketball player, the robust young man only 20 years of age, who was a hero to all of us in the neighborhood. His sister would recover; he would not. Both of them were red-heads, and that was researched as a possible factor, but it could never be proven to be a cause.

 

Teresa spent just two months in the hospital and remembers all of it vividly. For a few weeks she was paralyzed, and one day a nurse gave her a glass IV of tomato juice with a clamped straw. She could barely swallow. The nurse left her unattended for a moment with it unclamped. Soon the red liquid was squirting all across the bed. These patients were totally helpless. Sometimes they went for therapy to the pool. She recalls the board on which they were strapped being immersed in a pool. A fellow invalid fell off once, and Teresa had to help save her. Another day a fellow patient, a young boy, was taken to therapy, but he never got there, dying along the way. Finally, Teresa could again move. She had (barely) been able to breathe on her own, so she hadn’t needed the iron lung which constantly stood outside of her room. She was allowed to go on an outing to a party that Christmas, but she didn’t have a winter coat, so a nurse lent her a fur coat.

Text Only
History
  • Johnny Appleseed Road Show-3 [Duplicate] Exhibit on real Johnny Appleseed will hit the road CINCINNATI — If you picture Johnny Appleseed as a loner wearing a tin pot for a hat and flinging apple seeds while meandering through the countryside, experts say you’re wrong.They’re hoping that a traveling exhibit funded by an anonymous donation to

    July 21, 2014 8 Photos

  • Rastrelli's Rastrelli's restaurant a cornerstone in Lyons District Pete Rastrelli (1900-1966) came here to work for Marcucci’s as a candy maker in 1926 after learning the trade at businesses like Curtis Candy Co. in Chicago.In Clinton, he met and married a nursing student named Ida Baldacci. Ida was an orphan from C

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mourning millions: EU leaders mark WWI centennial

    At a site where their countrymen once slaughtered each other with machine guns, artillery and poison gas, the leaders of Britain, France, Germany and other European nations commemorated the 100th anniversary of World War I and vowed Thursday to preserve peace on the continent.

    June 27, 2014

  • Tour de France marks World War I centennial

    Before sunrise on June 28, 1914, a pack of cyclists set off from Paris on the 12th Tour de France. Hours later, an Austrian archduke stepped out in Sarajevo and was assassinated in the street, igniting the carnage of World War I.

    June 27, 2014

  • 6-11-14 McEleney photo A closer look at the McEleneys' history Leo and Emmett McEleney started their business in 1914. Now, 100 years of service to the community has been accomplished. They started with Jeffery automobiles, and it was their mechanical prowess (Emmett) and business sense (Leo) which really helped

    June 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • 6-11-14 McEleney's page 1 McEleney's celebrates a century

    Somehow it seems fitting that Emmett McEleney was born in 1886 the same year Carl Benz completed the Benz Patent Motor Car, considered to be the first true automobile. The world was a very different place when Emmett and his brother, Leo, started a

    June 11, 2014 9 Photos

  • Puget Sound anchor might be from 1792 expedition

    Experts will examine an anchor recovered from Puget Sound north of Seattle to determine if it was from one of the earliest ships to explore Northwest waters.

    The anchor was found six years ago by sea-cucumber diver Doug Monk, who formed Anchor Ventures with amateur historian Scott Grimm to bring it to the surface. It was in Admiralty Inlet off Whidbey Island.

    June 10, 2014

  • Fashion History of Lingerie-57 [Duplicate] Corsets to Wonderbras: museum takes on lingerie NEW YORK (AP) -- From a 1770 corset to a 2014 bra-and-panty set in lacy stretch silk, the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology has put the focus on lingerie and ladies foundation garments in a new exhibition. In about 70 pieces, "Exposed: A

    June 10, 2014 21 Photos

  • World honors D-Day's fallen 70 years later

    Gone are the screaming shells, seasick soldiers and bloodied waters of 1944. On Friday, a sun-splattered Normandy celebrated peace, with silent salutes, tears and international friendship marking 70 years since the D-Day invasion helped change the course of World War II and modern history.

    June 6, 2014

  • WW I trenches unearthed at Camp Dodge JOHNSTON -- Archaeologists hired to dig at World War I training trenches on the Iowa National Guard Base at Camp Dodge have uncovered several artifacts dating to when the United States entered the war: rifle shell casings, a machine gun suppressor fr

    May 29, 2014