Boothbay Region Elementary School

Words of Comfort

Part 2 in a series by BRES fourth graders
Mon, 04/27/2020 - 8:30am

    Boothbay Region Elementary School fourth graders are sharing their hopes and concerns with the community through “Words of Comfort.” BRES teachers Kathy Hartley and Jennifer Lassen got the idea from renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma’s “Songs of Comfort.” The teachers hope to encourage a connection between students and the community through adults’ responses to them in the following issue. Part 1 ran in the April 23 edition and is online. If you would like to respond with your own Words of Comfort, email them to:

    My name is Alexander Hughes,

    I am 9 years old and a swimmer. This year was my fourth year year as a Dolphin swimmer. I went to the All-star swim meet. In these last few weeks I have been doing some things: cooking, relaxing, playing video games, planting flowers, fishing (we caught something odd – 4 sticks and 2 leaves), but we still had fun! I am feeling great as long as I don’t have the coronavirus. I am sad that I can’t go swimming. I don’t like the coronavirus. It’s horrible! I would like to hear some of the elders in our community share some things about your childhood and maybe tell us some advice to help us get through this pandemic.

    My name is Gigi Blake and I'm 10, which means life's still a lot of waiting.

    But I've never had to wait like this. Not knowing where life is going can be scary. I'm scared. Which means I'm drawing 24/7. But there's always joy, always hope. This can be a time of reflection for the world. To not be able to have something you want, and realizing you can be happy and enjoy life without. I decided I wanted to tell the honest truth and not be poetic because, right now I don't feel poetic. I feel weird all over. Sometimes it feels not real. Sure it's on the news, sure the store is out of toilet paper, sure I can't be within six feet of everyone, but it seems un-real. And now we notice the small kindnesses all over the world … and they don't seem so small anymore. To end this letter I'd like to reach out to our pros (the senior citizens) and (humbly) ask for advice on the behalf of us kids: How are you feeling about this? What's your advice? And to tell us your hardships when you were our age. The most important thing to remember is even though we're alone in our own homes, we're all facing COVID-19, and we really are all in this together.

    Hi, I am Ryleigh Campbell,

    I am 9 years old. Me and my sister built a fort in the woods and we brought my guinea pig outside since school has been out. I also have ben riding my bike a lot and baking with my mom. What makes me me is I like to laugh and I like to play and have fun. My concerns are if this will ever end or if it will keep going on and on forever. My emotions are a little happy because my mom makes sure we are safe and she does my work with me, but I’m sad at the same time because we can’t see people or friends or go to school and my mom won’t let us go in stores. My ponders are it might be good for us to stay inside like my mom says so that maybe this will go away and then we can be around people and friends and can go back to school. But I don’t know if people are doing that because my mom says we only need to worry about us doing the right thing. I don’t know if others are. I miss being able to be at school with my friends and teachers and running around and playing.

    Response: A polio survivor’s story 

    Mark Patek, father of Gifted and Talented teacher Emily Higgins, has vacationed in Maine for decades and spent his college summers working on boats. For the past few years, Patek has spent his summers in Boothbay Harbor. 

    My experience with polio:

    In 1950 when I was a 7-year-old and in second grade, I do not remember being aware of there being a worldwide polio virus epidemic or even knowing anything about polio or even if I had heard about it.

    One day in early December I was out playing with some of my friends in some undeveloped land behind our houses and we discovered that a very shallow pond in a wetland had a layer of ice covering the water so we went out onto the ice and began to chase frogs we could see swimming under the thin ice. I broke through the ice soaking my shoes. That was when I probably picked up some poliomyelitis, the virus that causes polio since it was known to be most often found in dirty or polluted water. At some point I probably touched my mouth with the hands that had taken off my wet shoes.

    About two weeks later, I woke up one morning with a sore throat and was not able to turn my head. My doctor or parents apparently must have diagnosed the problem as bulbar polio since I was soon in a private room in the Rochester, New York hospital.

    I spent the next two weeks in the hospital. Since the polio virus had attacked the muscles in my neck, I was not able to swallow food and had to be fed directly into my veins. This was done by sticking a needle in my arm or leg. Then a tube was attached to the needle and the other end under a bottle of sugar water and other nutrients which flowed into my body through the needles.

    By the end of two weeks (including Christmas), I could swallow again so could begin eating and start to begin strengthening my neck.

    Then around Jan. 1, 1951, I was transferred to Rochester’s Convalescence Home for Children where I stayed for the next two months. I do not know if I was considered contagious, but I did have curtains around my bed in the large dorm room shared with other kids.

    I remember that I had a little radio next to my bed so I could listen to shows like Gene Autry and Sargent Preston of the Yukon and I also listened to the popular songs of the day such as “If I knew you were coming I’d’ve baked a cake.” My parents and grandparents would visit me.

    I had to wear a neck brace.

    At some point I was allowed to leave my bed, probably in a wheelchair, to go to the bathroom and then to attend movie nights with other kids. We saw some of the shows like “The Three Stooges.”

    I did have to do schoolwork. It would probably been workbooks sent from my school.

    I remember being happy that I was recovering and would be able to go home. Some of the other kids there had worse problems and could not look forward to going home in the near future.

    Shortly after my eighth birthday on Feb. 24, I could go home and return to school. I think I still had to wear my neck brace for a while. I was very lucky and was able to fully recover. The only long-term problem was that since I missed the two and a half months of second grade when they introduced cursive writing, I have always had messy writing. (At least that has always been my excuse.)

    The polio epidemic continued for a few more years until a vaccine was developed in 1952. Eventually as the vaccine was provided around the world, polio was eliminated in all but a few places. Since it does still exist, if children stop getting vaccinated, it could return as another epidemic.