Thursday, August 21, 2008

Visible Scars: Upper Left Arm

Smallpox vaccination, when I was six or seven, so 45 years ago. It was not a shot; the doctor scraped a half-inch circle of skin on my upper arm, then they put a little plastic bubble over it. In the next couple of weeks, it scabbed over (they told us that was what real smallpox looked like).Eventually when it healed, the plastic came off and over the years the scar changed from a puckered circle to a faint white splotch.

This was when we were living on Charleston Air Force Base, and I also remember the polio vaccination. A van came around in the neighborhood and we went in and got a sugar cube with some brown liquid on it, and that was the vaccination. It seems like maybe we had to take several doses over time, because I recall waiting for the truck to come back.

I never really thought about what polio was or why it was bad, but I did about smallpox. That people's whole bodies would be covered with sores like the one under that plastic bubble. Over the years I followed the news about scientists who were eradicating smallpox around the world, one village and one person at a time and I was thrilled when they succeeded.

There were few vaccines at the time, so I suffered through the mumps (which I got when we were visiting Grandma and Grandpa Harris in Indianapolis), the measles and the chicken pox.

By the time we moved to Panama, apparently a lot of inoculations had been developed because we got all kinds of shots - tetanus, typhoid, typhus and probably some more. My arms ached for what seemed like weeks.

I wish they'd put all medicine on sugar cubes.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Seen through a glass darkly

I distinctly remember that Woodstock ended on my 16th birthday, except, as it happens, it didn't. And the turning point year of 1968, which I thought I recalled so clearly, I was in Panama, only 12 years old, and almost certainly blissfully unaware.

So I wrote down a calendar and I'm putting it here to help me remember, or at least distinguish between memories and wishes.

August 17, 1956, my birth
1957 1 year old
1958 2
1959 3
1960 4
1961 5
1962 6 start 1st grade
1963 7 2nd grade
1964 8 3rd
1965 9 4th
1966 10 5th
1967 11 6th
1968 12 7th
1969 13 8th
1970 14 9th
1971 15 10th
1972 16 11th
1973 17 12th
1974 18 started college

School years:

1st 62-63
2nd 63-64
3rd 64-65
4th 65-66
5th 66-67
6th 67-68
7th 68-69
8th 69-70
9th 70-71
10th 71-72
11th 72-73
12th 73-74

So now some of my autobiographical ramblings will fit into the timeline of this particular blink of an eye.