David C. Slyck and Kemba Bloodworth

Recorded March 6, 2008 Archived March 6, 2008 01:13:20
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBX003610


A man talks about having Polio as a child that made him physically handicapped, and his experiences teaching physically handicapped children.


  • David C. Slyck
  • Kemba Bloodworth


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00:06 My name is Kimbo Bloodworth age from 29 years old. Today's date is March 6th 2008 and we're located at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and I'm sitting here having a conversation with Dave. My name is Dave slick. I made 61 years old here in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and I'm here talking to Kemba. Can you tell me where were you born and raised I was born and raised in Rochester New York, and I was born in 1946.

00:40 And you had an illness earlier in life. Can you tell me about what that was October of 1950? I was diagnosed with polio actually both my sister and I were right around the same time and

01:01 Was taken into the hospital and just asked was called minnis Municipal hospital at the time is now called Strong Memorial Hospital and I was hospitalized for approximately 6/8 months. I'm not quite sure.

01:14 And was it your older or younger sister when you're younger? Okay, and do you still have contact with her? Yes, I do. And what is y'all's relationship? Like it was really rather unique those were both polio survivors. And so we kind of understand each other because we both of us have lost the use of part of Berlin.

01:41 And so we just have a very unique repair unique Bond and can you tell me that about the public? How old were you I just went for my sister had just turned three and from what I understand and I don't know there's some parts. I do want to remember but I understand that my grandmother. I was looking at my grandmother's house. My father just recently died.

02:10 And she called me for breakfast and I didn't come downstairs.

02:16 Random

02:18 I guess I was taken into the hospital at day and you spent six to eight months in the hospital. And then what was it like after?

02:29 I'd rather tell about what it's like during okay during please.

02:35 Actually, I was put in an iron lung.

02:39 Because my lungs had collapsed.

02:42 And then it

02:47 At some point

02:51 I had my

02:53 Stupid

02:59 And my mother sign a paper.

03:05 Is there a difficult? Okay, we can take we can take our time.

03:11 Papers that they can do whatever they need to do.

03:23 Very little chance of living

03:27 I think they said I wouldn't live.

03:32 And at one point they literally stretch me out on the table.

03:39 What no anesthesia

03:42 Go to my throat.

03:48 And ottoman

03:52 Does Hibbett give me anesthesia my lungs were totally collapsed? Okay?

04:05 It was difficult time evidently. But my mother is sign this paper saying they could do whatever they needed to do without contacting her.

04:13 I got the disc.

04:22 Anyway, obviously I survived I can remember.

04:27 I'm up more than one occasion this kind of funny in a way. They would put me in this hot tub once. I put a lot of polio patients and tracheotomy with pop out of my throat.

04:42 The fish it out and take it back in.

04:49 That was a very

04:53 I just

04:55 Show me I remember very first.

04:57 First one

04:59 Okay.

05:03 And what is your earliest memory of polio?

05:09 There were some things I do remember which was very good my sister and I did put a spinal in the same room.

05:19 And I remember climbing somehow throwing some sheets over toward her crib.

05:26 Ernie's crabs for the things

05:29 She tied it up and the nurses came in and Chris got us out.

05:40 I remember a woman.

05:43 Louise Maxwell, who is a nurse

05:47 We scar wees Mama cuz I didn't say Louise and her husband was Jim Papa Jim.

05:54 Play very special people.

05:58 This is over 50 years ago.

06:02 The interesting thing is

06:04 They are still in contact sister.

06:15 Anyway, that's

06:18 Something to remember

06:22 I remember nothing else to talk at all.

06:27 And my uncle would come in.

06:31 And I would put my hand over my drink out of me.

06:40 That's going to blow my horn.

06:43 Sound of some sort I don't even remember what it was.

06:50 Because my vocal cords.

07:01 So I remember that.

07:09 And

07:11 I really don't know in many ways. I don't remember a lot about that time for you. They're young applesauce or something. I mean, I knew it. I remember knowing it and sometimes not eating it.

07:31 Or they would switch it to a different in on some days. They give you ice cream or sometimes able to switch it around. So make sure you got the medicine. So how long were you unable to speak?

07:45 I don't remember.

07:48 It was for a few years at least you know, what year were probably at the year or year-and-a-half?

07:57 I remember going to school. I remember I know I know I was speaking by.

08:04 Oh probably six seven years old at least by 6 years old must have been especially strange for a child who you know was just learning to speak anyway, and then and then couldn't speak for a while and I really thought much about that, but

08:24 Imagine

08:29 Play I know my voice was different.

08:32 I know you didn't mean to make this interesting because I want to talk to someone I haven't talked to in a long time and I'll recognize my voice and then

08:42 So I'm wondering what effect that had on my voice. The other thing is I've lived over overseas like in Germany and Okinawa in it, and I could never pick up foreign languages. I don't know whether or not that my late talking also had an effect on my ability to learn foreign languages about time machine to The Cribs you and your sister and what did it mean to have her there with you for some of the time?

09:19 I was just playing reassuring that.

09:23 That that you was at her and that she

09:30 Again, it was at that bind it and it really what it's done is help to create between us a special bond who are some of your favorite people in the hospital during that time. Louise Maxwell.

09:48 Where's the doctor dr. Goldstein?

09:56 Good night for quite a few years after I would have to go for First Wok quarterly checkups and then

10:08 And semi annual check-up, but I saw Dr. Goldstein and he he was very instrumental in my life.

10:18 I'll try to that I can't say I can't really remember people at that. There was a country western singer that I met. I remember he was in the hospital. He was older and older patient. I don't know what his name was, but I remember that.

10:40 And of course my relatives.

10:44 How did having polio at such a young age affect you in their adolescence?

10:56 I felt different.

11:03 And oftentimes

11:06 I don't see any adequate foot, but I felt that I couldn't do but maybe with an adequate but I felt that I couldn't do things.

11:13 That other people did.

11:19 Although it usually didn't stop me from doing things.

11:25 But one of the things that it that did happen.

11:30 Did I started to abuse alcohol?

11:36 I know you probably a fairly early age.

11:44 And that continued for quite a few years.

11:52 Cuz I'm glad the same alcohol free now.

12:02 So high

12:05 I used alcohol as a

12:10 Means of being accepted

12:16 And

12:23 Although I didn't drink every day went up virtual Drinker. And so that really affected my life quite a bit.

12:35 As far as Indian relationships with other people

12:45 I had a lot of good actually did have a lot of good friends.

12:49 I love friends that were also physically handicapped.

12:56 Which may have helped point me to my career?

13:00 Okay, I want to talk about the career in a moment, but the friends that you had that were handicapped. How did you meet them? Okay, and my sister Force being physically handicapped.

13:19 We went to different schools. I ended up going to

13:24 I guess you'd say the regular regular high school and everything. My sister ended up going to school primarily for handicapped youngsters.

13:35 And

13:39 Zoo accident with some teachers that she had that I got to know and

13:46 I ended up as a teenager.

13:51 Driving other handicapped kids

13:55 Did I was able to drive to and from various events?

14:04 In particular you they had this handicapped adult recreation center. And so after I got my license after I was into my adolescence are actually I guess you want to die alpha 16 17 years old. I would transport other handicapped kids to and from these meetings. I mean, that's not what I would think many sixteen-year-olds would do with their time. Do you think you did because of the polio or because of your relationship with your sister?

14:35 Like where did that interest come from two just to help other people.

14:45 When I was first going well when I first went to school with my first couple years. I want this primarily school with handicapped youngsters until about any was third grade.

14:57 I just

15:00 Stop being in the hospital in that and there were so many kids with was polio at the time and plus other people who had such things as spina bifida and muscular dystrophy.

15:14 But when you're in at it, it's like when your teacher you hang out with teachers when you're in the military hang out with the military when you're handicapped to hang out with handicapped.

15:26 And so a lot of it was from that.

15:30 And how did it? Okay. So and one of your coping mechanisms was alcohol early morning and how do you think you are when you stopped alcohol or no? It's like though. I was 50 years old when I stopped. So, how did okay. So, how did have him polio affect you as an adult?

15:51 Both positive and negative one and a few other drugs now and then as a coping mechanism

16:06 I'm on the positive side.

16:12 Help me in my career as a special education teacher.

16:19 Because I could often times.

16:22 Work with kids

16:27 Who were handicapped and throughout the my career?

16:34 I've had a lot of parents come.

16:38 And mention the fact that

16:41 Their kid

16:44 Respected me for things I did things that I was able to do.

16:58 In that aspect has been very positive.

17:03 It also gives me

17:05 I think just a different perspective.

17:10 In terms of

17:12 Not just handicap. It's all goodz.

17:17 Because

17:19 Oftentimes

17:21 Students

17:23 Have hidden talents are hidden.

17:29 Getting things that you can't

17:32 They they can't do it over the pencil and paper.

17:36 Or something like that, but they they can demonstrate their knowledge in other ways.

17:42 And I thank

17:46 Do the physical handicaps that I have?

17:49 It helps me see.

17:56 See some of these things. Can you tell me about maybe two stories when you were able to see?

18:06 To like that that greatness and a child and that you're proud of

18:17 Or the weather will one was just a couple years ago. I had some kids who were absolutely failing these tests and ever pencil paper task.

18:27 And it had to do with geometric shapes and things.

18:32 And we walked around the school.

18:39 Are they take a look at that? There's a rectangular prism. There's a summer they knew the concepts. They knew what they were.

18:48 But just being able to take these kids and walk them around the school. They were able to point out these these Concepts that on pencil and paper they have failed.

19:07 Another time

19:09 I can remember that I was doing the 6th grade at the time and

19:18 Some kids are doing some experiments.

19:21 And they failed. I mean they failed miserably at the experiment.

19:28 And yet I ended up giving him very high marks.

19:34 Not for what they didn't do.

19:38 Because they were able to tell me what they did do.

19:43 And

19:46 I thought to myself.

19:49 Absolutely fabulous

19:55 The project

19:57 But they came in and they would would tell me here's what we did to in his only learned.

20:05 It wasn't what I had anticipated.

20:08 But yet.

20:14 Does learning process was there?

20:17 Did you have someone that was able to offer you that as a child a teacher?

20:24 Yes.

20:36 Probably first off.

20:39 My mother

20:47 She had

20:49 Shortly before my diagnosis polio

20:54 My father died

21:03 She was just a very strong-willed person.

21:10 Then it was

21:12 And neither just met with family members my grandmother.

21:17 Who won?

21:21 Didn't baby me she made me.

21:26 Do what I had to be done and if I fell off my bike and cut my knee.

21:33 Okay, my fine get back on the bike and go.

21:38 In OverWatch Sunday often

21:40 Uncle Mill

21:45 Who?

21:48 Was little like my father.

21:53 And

21:59 He would.

22:01 Are small businesses stoker boiler and stoker businesses call industrial still going fairly strong are cold heat for houses and it take me on the job cuz I was a little kid so he'd say I want to climb inside that boiler and see and sew

22:25 Did you get yelled at for having me climb inside the boiler? But again, he didn't baby you treated me.

22:36 A lot like a I don't like a normal person.

22:40 I guess I'm normal. I don't know.

22:44 So I did and I had some very strong teachers came in that aspect. Could you talk a little bit about your specific physical handicap and how that's affected you and how other people have perceived you maybe I'm actually

23:02 Almost total loss of my right arm.

23:06 And them and also my shoulders.

23:11 My left arm my upper muscles are very minimal.

23:18 And I have scoliosis of the spine. I got a darn strong legs up.

23:26 And in so that that is primarily what

23:36 Residual effects of of polio

23:42 And so did that sort of happen over time that it got worse and worse. Well, actually for many years ago, I better and better but then about

23:52 I got three or four years ago. I've been I was diagnosed with post-polio syndrome.

23:58 And that is a slow deterioration of the muscles of the neurons because for many many years.

24:09 They overcompensated.

24:12 For lack of muscle

24:17 I'm so

24:22 So now I'm getting weaker.

24:25 And can you?

24:28 Can you tell me what does it mean now for you to get weaker? Like?

24:39 The one-armed I can use.

24:45 I can no longer lift above my shoulder level which of course I could before.

24:54 Why you like to do Woodworking and things like that very difficult for me to use something like a hammer or any tools now to pick things up and move them.

25:08 The right about profession like to write on a chalkboard. We don't have truck work now but white board up above my head above my shoulder level.

25:21 So there

25:24 Slowly I'm losing strength in the one arm.

25:28 Then I can use.

25:31 How does that feel?

25:34 Slow I don't think about it a great deal.

25:41 And I still am I go camping. I ride my bike. I do. I like to hike.

25:51 The scariest part and there is some parts that are that I do get a few.

26:01 Things on the internet the post-polio news letters and things because of the fact I had what was called bulbar polio which affected the lungs

26:15 It can and has been a number of instances where all of Sonia long is virtually give out that hasn't happened to me yet. Hopefully it will not but that that that that's a little bit scary to me. But as far as this physical other physical things, I mean I

26:38 I'm able to work.

26:43 I go camping quite a bit. I drive my truck in the motorhome and and I like to do I like to go place. I love to travel. So I do what's your favorite place that you've been?

27:02 I got to say the Netherlands. I love the Netherlands. I lived in Germany for 7 years and did a lot of traveling in that area.

27:13 And so I

27:18 So that's why I

27:20 I got to think that that that was one of my favorites and in the states one of these I've done twice now and I hope to do it again as I've gone out on the Lewis and Clark Trail and went out to Fort Mandan and I gave tours I volunteered their last year and then two summers ago and gave tours at Fort Mann very cool. And this summer I'm taking my motorhome. I'm going to go out to Idaho. And again, I'm going to do a lot of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

27:55 One thing that interesting happened last summer.

27:59 At 1 when I was at Fort Mandan in North just north of Bismarck, North Dakota, North Dakota.

28:10 A woman and her brother came in.

28:13 And she was on crutches.

28:16 But we started talking and she had Polio when she was a kid.

28:24 Here I am out in North Dakota.

28:27 She's telling me about a summer camp in, North Carolina.

28:33 Or postpone our for polio patients and it's up up in the mountains and

28:45 So here I am in North Dakota learning about it summer camp for handing or for polio patients in in, North Carolina.

28:55 And I after I got back this past August she called me. So by the way where the camp is going to happen this week. So I went and met a whole bunch of new people always similar handicapping conditions and it's interesting to a lot of a lot of them when I come a lot worse off than I am.

29:19 So

29:22 I have a question. So you you work as a teacher at Camp Lejeune and I'm curious to know what What attracted you to to work on a Marine base. That was something was intentional.

29:39 I see what the track me to work on them. But what happened was I was born and raised in Rochester New York. I never thought I'd ever leave that that was the center of the Earth.

29:50 And I happened to go.

29:55 2 a.m. Conference down in Texas and I met some people that work from a Department of Defense dependent schools.

30:05 And

30:08 I went back home and

30:11 Told my wife about it. She said that last reply so I got an application and I applied and she says once you fill me out one. Also, I filled out her an application. We didn't get a job but the following year she got a phone call and she got a job. We ended up in Okinawa Japan after 10 years in the states.

30:35 We spend 11 years in Okinawa.

30:40 We're two young daughters at the time. My son was born in Okinawa.

30:45 After 11 years are

30:49 Got got to transfer to Germany.

30:52 And

30:59 Some things happened in my life, and then I'll turn the lights on my children wife and everything and we ended up end up getting a divorce, but the school that was teaching at did not have enough students for the following year.

31:22 So I was going to be transferred so and then ended up I got a transfer to Korea Seoul Korea because really excited about in the meantime. I also applied to, North Carolina.

31:38 And

31:42 Literally the day they hit I went and had all my arrangements made to come to go to Korea. I got this email for a job offer here.

31:54 They were supposed to send trucks to pack me out and send me the career at 8:30 in the morning at 7:30 in the morning. I walked into the office and don't send any trucks to my house. I've decided I'm going to North Carolina. Ended up here. So do you what are your hopes and dreams for the future? What do they hold for you? What is the future hold for you?

32:19 I think very positive that affect I have a trip coming up to Tokyo soon.

32:25 Another trip out the Idaho. I mean that you don't personal things.

32:36 One of my goals and no retirement soon. I hope within the next couple years ago, but one of my goals is to take my motorhome and travel throughout the entire continental United States to visit every state.

32:51 And I have an idea for a book. I want to write MetaBank. Have I even started it?

32:57 So I want it for me. I want to travel and I want to go places.

33:04 I've been quite a few places, but I want to go more that that's what I want to do and you have any words of wisdom to pass along.

33:16 First of all

33:18 If you have a disability, whatever it is.

33:26 Just do what you got to do to get through it and

33:29 Not to dwell on it.

33:34 Cuz I think in my early years I felt sorry for myself or whatever. I honestly think that

33:44 Or anyone who has any type of disability just get out there and do what you enjoy live life have some fun.

33:59 I think that's that's the main thing that I would tell people just that you really need to.

34:09 Find find what you enjoy.

34:13 And

34:14 I'm going to say I I've enjoyed a lot of

34:18 My life travelling traveling overseas.

34:25 I bought and sold houses. I've

34:27 Fixed up a couple of places and I just

34:35 I can't I can't say I have a few regrets and primarily involving the alcohol in my life.

34:45 But I probably wouldn't have done too many things different.

34:50 Is there anything that you would like to say to your children listening to this when they get to hear this?

35:05 Justin I love him.

35:16 And no.

35:19 I just hope that they

35:22 I don't keep this as a keepsake.

35:25 And I just think about

35:28 Things

35:31 And get out there and give them hell.

35:34 Is there anything that you haven't said that you would like to say?

35:39 Thank you. Thank you. Both of you. This is been just an excellent opportunity for me.

35:50 Both the good and bad too. Sad and happy.

35:57 When I think about saying something very painful.

36:03 Honey

36:04 7 overall scale

36:07 I got to say my life is probably been.

36:11 Put on a scale of 1 to 10.

36:16 It's usually been about an eight two and a half. Sometimes it's then sometimes the six but for the most part I got to say is I've had a very eventful and

36:29 I'm still going to continue to have an eventful life as long as I can.

36:33 Thank you, Dave. Thank you.