Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR's Polio Haven
Just after her eleventh birthday, Susan Richards Shreve was sent to the sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. The polio haven, famously founded by FDR, was “a perfect setting in time and place and strangeness for a hospital of crippled children.” During Shreve’s two year stay, the Salk vaccine would be discovered, ensuring that she would be among the last Americans to have suffered childhood polio.
At Warm Springs, Shreve found herself in a community of similarly afflicted children, and for the first time she was one of the gang. Away from her fiercely protective mother, she became a feisty troublemaker and an outspoken ringleader. Shreve experienced first love with a thirteen-year-old boy in a wheelchair. She navigated rocky friendships, religious questions, and family tensions, and encountered healing of all kinds. Shreve’s memoir is both a fascinating historical record of that time and an intensely felt story of childhood.