Does any one remember the little 'slotted' cards that schools used to hand out every school term? Children were supposed to bring the cards back to school filled with dimes supplied by their parents. The campaign was started and promoted by President Roosevelt. It was called the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes raised money for the fight against polio. The March of Dimes paid for the multiple surgeries that I had as a child. I owed the fact that I was able to walk with just a funny little limp to the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes had sent a letter to my parents requesting an update and a picture of me. My parents did as requestd and received a letter back that I had been chosen as a "Symbol of Hope" for their approaching campaign.
I thought that the photograper would show up to take the pictures and that would be that. I figured I received the honor because I was a tall blonde, and tall blondes make for good campaign pictures. I didn't give the ramifications of having my picture run in all the papers any thought. After all, I was learning what boys were about, and that takes a lot of concentrated learning. A girl whose parents had been given a prognosis of "she will never be able to walk" was shown in all the national papers, in the arms of a boy, dancing in the New Year. Those pictures caught, the attention of a television show producer, which caught the attention of the local paper, which caught the attention of the school paper, which caught the attention of some local prominent persons. All from a short letter my parents had gotten from the March of Dimes. The quiet girl had to learn to stand up in front of a group of strangers and let herself be noticed. That was a learning experience too; one that would serve me well when I was older. An interesting aside here: When my high school decided to focus on the "Symbol of Hope" spotlight they researched and found that there were four of us attending the school that had dealt with polio. What's odd is none of us knew any of the others. We were all comely, quiet, good students, and embarrassed that our names and faces were being set apart from the general population. I remember thinking that one of the girls was exceptionaly beautiful, but she never lifted her face. She always walked with her head down. One of the boy's was beautiful too, but you would have been hard pressed to get him to speak. When the fanfare was over we each merged into the school and never acknowledged eachother when we passed in the hallways. I understood that then; it seemed the right thing for us to be/do. I find it incredibly sad now.
My biggest challenge during this time was accepting the fact that I was a Senior in my Junior year. I was going to graduate high school in three years. All my friends would be going back to school the next fall. I would be going where? It left me feeling at a loss. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, or what goals I should be setting for myself. Up until that time my goal had always been "get through this one more time" so I could go back to being with my family.
After talking it over with my parents we decided that I wasn't feeling ready to tackle the world all on my own. I enrolled in a local college and continued to live at home. I tackled college like I had tackled high school and stretched to keep the 4.0 average. I didn't know any other way. There were boys/men swarming everywhere. My parents had posted a notice on the bulletin board at our church that any servicemen that were lonely were more than welcome to share a family atmosphere and a home cooked meal. So not only were there young men that were in college, there were young men that were in the service. There were young men all over the place! But one of them stood out. He was in the Navy. He had joined the coming and going boys in our household when he went up to my mother at a skating rink, introduced himself, told her about his aspirations when he was out of the Navy, and asked if she would please introduce him to her daughter. My parents fell in love with him. My siblings adored him. And he and I married when I turned 18.
I have to be honest here. I most likely would not have married that young if I had felt the freedom to experience sex. Our society at that time really frowned on females that had sex outside of marriage. Boys had more freedom to explore, but I have yet to find an answer as to who they were to explore with if girls weren't allowed the same freedom. A grand conundrum! There was no way that I was going to be able to experience what my body wanted if I wasn't married. So I married the sailor that everyone loved.He was such a good man! He was such a sweet man! But we had the beginning from hell. Our wedding night was filled with pain like I never would have imagined. Frankly, if I had know that it was going to hurt that much I might still be a virgin. But thank goodness, I had no idea. The pain was so severe, but I was used to pain and I was used to dealing with pain by staying quiet. I never told him. There was something magnificent too, underneath all that pain there was something so exciting, so wonderful, so magical that I kept that to myself too. But the pain had the upper hand and the next morning when I woke up I knew I was in trouble. My new husband rolled over to make love to me and found me covered with huge hives. That was when I told him how much pain I was in. My sweet husband bundled me up and took me to a doctor. The doctor examined me and filled me with medication to deaden the pain and swelling. He said that it was all part of the POLIO (didn't they always say that?). Then he got an evil smile on his face and said, "I think you may be allergic to your husbands sperm."