‘I will die in these footwear.’ Ga. girl loves footwear — regardless of polio’s results : NPR


Shirley Duhart was two years outdated when she obtained polio in 1950. She talks to her physician, Dale Strausserher, about her love of footwear. Although she struggled to stroll, footwear turned essential to her.



It is Friday. And right here on MORNING EDITION, meaning it is time for StoryCorps. In 1950, Shirley Duhart obtained polio. She was solely 2 years outdated on the time. And though she struggled to stroll, footwear turned essential to her. She got here to StoryCorps with Dale Strasser, her physician for the previous three many years.

SHIRLEY DUHART: I used to be raised in excessive poverty in Vine Metropolis, Ga., and it was a segregated space on the time. However although my mom labored lengthy hours, the neighbors have been very caring and seemed out for us. And also you dare not create an issue since you knew you have been going to must reply for it when your mom got here house. However I feel loads of that additionally drove my independence…


DUHART: …To attempt to be as little of an issue as I might be. In the future I used to be within the yard enjoying. And impulsively, I stated, mama. Mama, I am unable to stroll. They realized it was polio, and he or she was very fearful as a result of that was the pandemic of the time. After I was younger, just a little woman, I had the full-length iron brace, and I wore the high-top oxfords.

STRASSER: And people aren’t actual trendy footwear.

DUHART: These will not be trendy in any respect. They seemed like army boots, virtually. Then slowly, I improved some. And once I was within the eighth grade, we purchased some little pumps. A whole lot of the neighbors got here out on the porch – stated, oh, Shirley obtained on some gown footwear. It was type of like a giant occasion as a result of that was a detailed neighborhood.

STRASSER: And the way did that make you are feeling?

DUHART: It made me really feel that I had just a little little bit of management over my state of affairs, contemplating I could not management the truth that I did have that illness.

STRASSER: I do bear in mind from our very first encounter, I steered in a diplomatic method that you just actually ought to contemplate another footwear that would offer just a little extra stability. Effectively, I heard in no unsure phrases that these footwear weren’t going to be modified.

DUHART: And also you heard me, and also you’re most likely my longest doctor that I’ve had. I needed folks to see extra than simply my incapacity.


DUHART: I needed them to see a complete particular person and a trendy particular person, an individual with a contented spirit. , I assumed that we have been all architects of our personal life, and all you could do is simply make up your thoughts and go for it. However since perhaps 20 years in the past, I am not as cell, and all these cute, little footwear do not match fairly in addition to they’d earlier than.

STRASSER: However I do know your persona. You are going to stay in cost.

DUHART: Oh, sure. That is the best way I’m. Do not let anyone else outline you. Outline your self. And you recognize, I am 74, however I hope to dwell to be 95. And I will die in these footwear.


MARTIN: That is Shirley Duhart and Dale Strasser in Atlanta. Their StoryCorps interview is archived within the Library of Congress.

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