AUGUST 28, 1948
HYDE PARK, Friday—It is curious how quickly your interest—which may have centered in the affairs of the world—suddenly narrows down to an individual if anything goes wrong. Early yesterday morning I heard that my grandson, Curtis Boetiger, had polio out in Los Angeles. There has been an epidemic in California and the hospitals are full and the Naval hospital in Corona, which I visited during the war, is taking in cases and he was sent down there.
There are times when I am grateful beyond measure for the long distance telephone. There are many times when I wish that insistent little bell could be stopped because it interrupts when one is busy with something else. But in the case of illness it is marvelous to be able to call someone and find out immediately what is wrong.
I first called my youngest son, John, because I did not know my daughter was in Los Angeles. Out there it was not yet eight o'clock but he had already heard the news and could tell me that they hoped the case would be a very light one. Later my daughter called, but unfortunately I was over at the library receiving a portrait drawing of my husband in black and white done from a photograph. The young Cuban artist, Orlando Acosta, won a scholarship in a Cuban art school through this picture which he has now donated to the library. I tried to be very appreciative but my thoughts were far away. I was anxious to get back to my cottage for further news. I was sorry to miss talking to my daughter but delighted to find she was in Los Angeles and that she was, as always calm and courageous. One cannot help having a sinking of the heart when the dread word "polio" is spoken. But more is known about the care of those who are stricken and one hopes that the bad results which were almost inevitable in former years may at least be lessened today.
Curtis is a fine young man and he will make a good fight not only for himself but for his mother's sake. It will be four or five days before we know much more, so all one can do is to wait and pray and think how many other people are going through the same kind of thing in all the areas where epidemics rage. It is curious how the summer brings these epidemics and how they seem to skip about the country. Perhaps someday all the research that is being done will bear fruit and we will know the cause and be able to protect people against it in just the way we do for smallpox and diphtheria.
These are occasions when one is made double conscious of the value of research and experimentation. I know some people who feel that no animals should be used in the search for preventive serums but I think anyone who thinks about it really seriously will be glad that there are such things as monkeys actually reared for this purpose and that their use has already advanced scientific discoveries.