Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Pools

Before Jonas Salk formulated a cure, polio was a scourge of the young for thousands of years and in major outbreaks in Europe and the U.S.  When Franklin Roosevelt contracted the disease he searched for something that would make his legs work, as he was born in a family that expected great things from him.  He found Warm Springs, Georgia for its warm mineral waters.  He subsequently became a bit of a pied piper for other polio sufferers and put the area on the map.  He also fell in love with the secluded town and surrounding forests. 

He built his own getaway and made dozens of trips here while serving as governor of New York and later, President.  He continued to use the pools although he was not cured by the waters, but he and the hundreds of other sufferers felt the buoyancy of the water relieved them of their disease, if only temporarily.  

The pools have survived in much the way they were when FDR was here.   

Here you can see FDR's stunted legs.  The power of the man made this a central hub for polio victims in the first half of the 20th century.  

The changing rooms.  

The only remaining springs gush into this receptacle.  You are free to splash around and wash your hands here.  The waters are a natural 88 degrees. 

It is not hard to imagine dozens of kids, young adults and therapists splashing about and having fun here at the pools.  They were united by a bond that included a President of the United States.  It is said that FDR was an enthusiastic bather who enjoyed the kids games that were played here.  

Today the place remains a somewhat haunting reminder of man's march toward better health.  It is also a reminder that regardless of one's standing in life, rich or poor, or the myriad other differences in oursleves, that there is always hope and the possibility that the guy hanging onto the rim of the pool next to you is the most powerful man in the world.

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