Library Collections: Document: Full Text

What Is Impossible?

Creator: Grace K. Townsend (author)
Date: October 1933
Publication: The Polio Chronicle
Source: Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation Archives

Page 1:


"What One Fool Can Do, Another Can"


Is there a victim of poliomyelitis living who has not been repeatedly told by well-meaning relatives and friends that "So and So had infantile paralysis and look what he's done. If he can do it, you can."


Those who have had years of experience with polio agree that no two cases are alike. Each must make his own individual re-adjustment so as to live his life as normally as possible. It seems to me that he must take inspiration rather than actual pattern from those who have made the adjustment successfully. I feel that because one has made himself a lawyer, it does not necessarily follow that another can, but he too can be successful in his own line.


Here at the Foundation a number of polios are employed. Arthur Carpenter, the resident trustee, and Fred Botts, the business manager, get about with the aid of crutches and braces, the craft teacher uses canes, and several other patients, in wheel chairs, do office work. Some of the patients are studying while here through correspondence courses or under tutors. Upon their return home they will be more advanced in their studies or fitted for some vocation.


Edwin Hicks of New York writes, "I am making more use of a correspondence course in accounting that I took while at Warm Springs than I am of all my college work." He believes teaching and office work are the two professions most suitable for parals.


Another from that state finds that there is always a call for coaching high school students, and some calls for private teaching of handicapped pupils who are unable to attend school. His hobby of teaching leathercraft is also a valuable asset.


Francis Dunford founded a school of tutoring in St. Louis in 1926. This school has grown until now a faculty of twelve teachers gives individual instruction in grade, high school and college subjects. Mr. Dunford says, "As an undergraduate I had not planned or visualized the school, but merely forged ahead in the belief that I needed all the education I could obtain in order to help compensate for the physical handicaps, and in the silent though real hope that I could find something to do in the teaching line." A girl in Illinois has taught in a college by being carried to the various rooms by students.


Among the many who have been successful is a Kansas girl who has found that the shorthand and typing she taught herself has been very worthwhile. A number of others have done well in short-story writing and in the magazine subscription business. A Brooklyn boy has developed his talent for music until he has accomplished much as a pianist. Bill Gibson of Oaklyn, New Jersey, is a successful cartoonist and illustrator in spite of his handicap. An Indiana girl has built up quite a business painting greeting cards.


I believe that in working to return to active life the polio must adjust his mental attitude as well as seek physical recovery. A sense of humor is invaluable and an inferiority complex must be taboo. In making one's way it takes a great deal of will power but it is all well worth the effort.


Frederic Elton, District Director of the New York State Rehabilitation Bureau and editor of the "Rehabilitation Review" says, "Ability demands respect and not sympathy. Abilities have productive values. In this way only can disabilities be subordinated."


One of our alumni says, "My idea is to live as much a normal life as possible and if it kills you, at least you have had a darn good time."