I was born December 18, 1931 youngest son of William (Jimmy) & Gladys Johnson, with two older siblings, in a small southern Saskatchewan town. In November of 1934 I had fallen while playing at the town Tennis Courts with some other children, my brother and sister had to carry me home. Our family Doctor diagnosis was a sprained ankle, later it was obvious to be more, At that day and age the term was Infantile Paralysis.
I do not recall having a fever or being in much pain, though the end result was that of leaving my right leg shorter then my left and I also when again started to walk, walked on my ankle. I started school at the age of 6 plus. My school years were no different then others in our town, though handicapped I was able to participate in most activities associated with elementary school, Ball, Gym.
One business man in town a Mr.Jas. B. Smith a garage operator and GM dealer but most of all a Shriner. His grandson was a good friend and class mate of mine. Some things that stand out in my recollection about Mr. Smith was that be was a large man who smoked cigars with a baby's bottle nipple on the end, he was mayor and had large drainage ditches dug, I do believe because his business was flooded one spring. I owe my ability to walk in comfort and with out aids (for some 46 years) to Mr. Smith, the Shriners, friends where we stayed, and my Mother who took in laundry so as to enable us to journey to Winnipeg. I underwent surgery at Shriners Winnipeg Hospital, where the cord in back of my foot was lengthened, followed by a second operation fusing the ankle. After being confined in casts, many of which I broke one way or another, I then was promoted to a knee brace to my and a raised shoe one and a quarter inches.
In 1942 I had a re-examination and was told I no longer required the brace. Due to a weak ankle I also gave up the raised shoe. At this time I was also a member of the school hockey team playing in the defence line, this was achieved by the local shoe maker and myself mounting my old brace on to my skate and using an ankle support.
One time, later in life, I was skating in our yard with my son. After, when we entered the house Sharon asked how did Dad do skating, the reply was "he doesn't skate too well but he falls real nice"
Some talk of bad treatment in hospital or teasing by their peers. These things I do not recall. I had a number of friends at school and was able to hold my own and did fairly well in class. My father had called me "Dot and Carry One". This now would be considered unacceptable. One thing that I do hold resentment about is that I had to repeat grade 4. It was not because I failed the departmental exams, since I passed with high mark. I attended school out side the province for too long, for this end I did not hold any trust in the system and only completed my grade 8. Back to more pleasant things, while in hospital Shriners would come and take us for tours of the city. We all had great fun tearing up the ward, getting into trouble for pulling the smaller kids behind our wicker wheelchairs on their tricycles with no peddles, they were to exercise. At the rear of the hospital was a yard and you could watch the S.S.Strathconna on the Red River. A bridge that turned in the centre to allow it to continue up river. Access to the yard was by a long ramp. Many a cast bit the dust due to upsets descending at a speed really not recommended. Oh yes, one other thing that I did not like isolation each time I was admitted, I remember one little fellow, he would lay in his crib and sing "You Are My Sunshine" all day or so it seemed.
After leaving school in 1949 I worked as a farm hand. That winter I went east to Ontario and worked in a Brass Foundry till March staying with my sister. The damp weather at Sarnia did not agree with my leg as I had a lot of pain. In March I returned and was employed by a farmer at Lafleche, I worked around the southern part of Saskatchewan on farms, even did a little farming myself by the US border as a renter working off the use of machinery and the profit was my salary. Did not do too good at that but was single and tried it a second year.
In 1959 I became employed by the Provincial Government, at the Geriatric Centre Regina. I married Sharon in April of 1960, we had two children: a boy, Edwin and a girl, Margaret. At work the Superintendent and I did not get along so due to classification wound up washing pots and pans for a year, then transferred out to Public Works.
I transferred to the Legislative Building during the Ross Thatcher regime and in 1967 transferred to Kelsey Institute. I worked at many building sites in Saskatoon, in a one man building, if something was not done right you looked in a mirror and gave yourself hell. But most of my service was at the Court House on Spadina Crescent, this was where I was in the capacity of General Maintenance Mechanic. When the Devine Power of Saskatchewan looked down upon me and said "Thou Shalt Retire Or Though Shalt Be Fired" I retired.
July I was working for the Abilities Council overseeing renovations at Louise Avenue. But I was no longer a Supervisor that did not need to work himself. This was my downfall in October 29, 1988 my legs collapsed and I broke the tibia and fibula of the right the patella of the left, the later I did not realize till I tried to descend from the gurney in emergency,
Things that we were called are embedded in our memory many hurt but some had no malaise, but were even word of encouragement. The catch phrase now being that something is not politically correct. For others to determine what is or is not removes our choice of consent and so one of our common liberties, following is a exerpt from a post polio newsletter from southern Arizona and expresses my feelings in the matter.
POLITICALLY CORRECT by Millie Malone
Is it my imagination or is the "politically correct" contingent getting ridiculous? I read the other day that Halloween costumes were being criticized for "political in correctness". It seems that a gypsy costume is a slur against an ethnic group, a pirate costume condones violence, and I suppose a ghost costume would violate the civil rights of a person who is really "physically disadvantaged" in a big way. I suppose now Santa will have to be portrayed as slim athletic so as not to make fun of obese people. What next?
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