Limping Through Life: A Farm Boy's Polio Memoir
By Jerry Apps
248 pages, 48 b/w photos, 5.5 x 8.25
E-book now available
A Midwest Connections pick for April 2013 from the Midwest Independent Booksellers AssociationFamilies throughout the United States lived in fear of polio throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s, and now the disease had come to our farm. I can still remember that short winter day and the chilly night when I first showed symptoms. My life would never be the same.
- from the introduction
Polio was epidemic in the United States in 1916. By the 1930s, quarantines and school closings were becoming common, as isolation was one of the only ways to fight the disease. The Salk vaccine was not available until 1955; in that year, Wisconsin's Fox River valley had more polio cases per capita than anywhere in the United States. In his most personable book, Jerry Apps, who contracted polio at age twelve, reveals how the disease affected him physically and emotionally, profoundly influencing his education, military service, and family life and setting him on the path to becoming a professional writer.
A hardworking farm kid who loved to play softball, young Jerry Apps would have to make many adjustments and meet many challenges after that winter night he was stricken with a debilitating, sometimes fatal illness. In Limping Through Life he explores the ways his world changed after polio and pays tribute to those family members, teachers, and friends who helped along the way.
Jerry Apps has been a rural historian and environmental writer for more than forty years. He has published fiction and nonfiction books on many rural topics, including Ringlingville USA, , Horse-Drawn Days, Old Farm, and Garden Wisdom for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. He is a former county extension agent and professor at the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Jerry and his wife, Ruth, divide their time between their home in Madison and their farm, Roshara, west of Wild Rose.