FROM THE NORTH END: ONE OF THE BLESSINGS OF LIVING IN A SMALL TOWN is our mail service. The local postal workers/carriers always seem to go above and beyond and are always so helpful and friendly to the point of always brightening one’s day! I was a bit amazed this past week when I received a large manila envelope with only my nickname(Oar), last name and Burke, SD 57523-no post office box number or street address! Inside the envelope were two autographed photos of Ian Book-most likely a meaningless name to most readers. But to some readers he is well known as he has been the Notre Dame quarterback for the past two years and will most likely be next year.
How did I get these pictures? I immediately figured out that it something to do with Burke native, Sam Siler, who now resides in California. Sam plays golf with Ian Book’s dad and arranged for the pictures to be sent to me…..The Siler “boys”- Roger, Sam and Lane are nephews of our “Burke Treasure” Eunice Siler. The guys almost annually make the long journey back “home” for Dog Days. We always look forward to seeing “The Siler Boys” each Dog Days as they tend to “liven up” the town for a few days!
THIS CORNER HAS WATCHED THE SOUTH DAKOTA LEGISLATURE FOR YEARS, although not as up close and personal as I did in my “working years.” Those Very Important Persons(mostly by their own admission) seem to always come up with a few zingers that cause most folks to think..”WTH????” When I read HB 1235 I scratched my head and muttered, “WTH?” HB 1235 basically makes it illegal to require immunizations as an entry requirement to school or college.
“Immunizations” causes me to think back to my youth when the polio epidemic was raging. I well remember a neighbor boy being put in an “iron lung” in Sioux Falls….most folks today, including our legislators, wouldn’t have a clue what an “iron lung” was…Google it up and then ask yourself if you like to spend hours/days/weeks/months in one. Perhaps the sponsors of this legislation should spend some time in one….I also remember a very good friend and several others in our community, who had contracted the virus, walking with crutches for years. Then I recall my own experience with polio when I spent most of my first grade year at home wrapped in very hot wool wraps day after day-a terrible experience, but “small potatoes” compared to being confined to an “iron lung!!!” When doctors look at my feet today they often say, “Had polio didn’t ya!” And then there’s post polio syndrome where the symptoms of the virus often return up to 40 years later.
Dr. Jonas Salk came to the rescue with his famous vaccine which almost eliminated the horrible virus at least in the USA. Dr. Salk never patented the vaccine commenting, “Why would one patent the sun?”
Many folks now in their 70’s and 80’s well remember lining up at the old Burke auditorium to get our vaccine on sugar cubes. An interesting book about coping with the effects of polio is “Normal for Me” by Mark Sternhagen, who grew up in Scotland, SD and spent much of his youth at Crippled Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls and now lives in Brookings spending much of his life in a wheel chair. One doesn’t have to look far to find his thoughts(which coincide with mine!) relative to HB 1235.
Another interesting book regarding immunizations is “Secret of the Unknown Fifteen” which tells the story of fifteen graves discovered in Sioux City below the Floyd Monument when Interstate 29 was being built. Bulldozers uncovered the fifteen graves during the construction of the interstate. The little book details the search of the lives of the men, women and children buried in the graves. Both of these books can be found in our local library.
Author Jack Broome, originally published in the Burke Gazette on February 12, 2020