Chicken pox, whooping cough, English and German measles, and mumps were a rite of passage in the life of young families in the 1940's.

Then there were the isolation hospital diseases, which were so dreaded ? these were diphtheria, meningitis, scarlet fever, TB and Infantile Paralysis. These could mean spending months in hospital for the disease to run it?s course. There was infantile paralysis during this period, and schools and pools were closed to reduce the rate of infection. Many people of our age still walk with a limp, having one leg shorter than the other as a result of infantile paralysis.
My story is of measles, chicken pox and whooping cough. We were four children in the house .. my sister Minnie and I, and our two cousins Rachel and Helen. Their house in South London had been hit during an air raid, so they and Auntie Margaret spent eighteen months living with us at Stroud.

One by one we went down with chicken pox, so the living room became the hospital ward where we had beds on the sofa, the bed settee and the two easy chairs pushed together. This saved a lot of running up and down stairs, also the fire could be kept going to keep us warm.

Then we came down with measles, and when we finally recovered from that one of us caught whooping cough! As I was asthmatic, the doctor recommended that I go to a friend?s house to avoid contact.
I remember walking up the hill from our house (Stroud was all hills), with Mum and Dad and seeing signs on gateways saying ?No Hawkers No Circulars No gypsies?. I
stayed with these friends for about ten days, then came home… and of course got whooping cough.

Ray's memory is of taking the 11+ exam which decided which level of schooling you were eligible for, and getting meningitis the day after. Meningitis was a disease which warranted isolation, so Ray was taken off to hospital where he stayed for three months. Initially he had to stay in bed lying down, and as the ward was divided by glass walls the nurses could see if anyone sat up! The girl in the next bed had polio, and was in a cast for a long time. When she needed treatment it hurt so much that she screamed, and Ray can still remember that vividly.

Imagine being in hospital for three months, and having not one visitor, and even if there was a visitor communication was through a glass wall. What would you do all day lying on your back when there was no TV, probably no radio to listen to, and no one to talk with?

This page last modified on Saturday, September 02, 2017

© Copyright M.& M.M.O.Dealy