Norman Sloop Recounts Memories of the Polio Epidemic

The B-26 Norman carved by hand during WW2.

By Susan Shinn Turner

Ask Dr. Norman Sloop how he’s doing during the COVID-19 quarantine and he’s got two words: “Bored stiff!”

That’s not exactly true.

He’s using his free time to write his life stories on the computer, encouraged by his nephew, whom he and his late wife, Mary, raised.

He’s completed 22 stories so far, he says. “I’ve enjoyed putting it down.”

He recently got rid of his herd of his cows. They went to a family member in Virginia. He misses them, as he’d been “messing with” cows since he was a teenager. They also kept the weeds down, he notes.

He had his nephew pull down from the attic a B-26 model that he carved as a child during World War II.

The war years also brought another quarantine during the polio epidemic, Norman says.

“At least we children had each other to play with,” he says. “I don’t remember if the adults were quarantined. I think not.”

His father still went to work as paymaster at China Grove Cotton Mills, while his mother worked at a building and loan that was being liquidated. In the meantime, children could not attend Sunday School or church. Or the movies. Not going to the movies was a big deal, according to Norman.

“On Saturdays, we’d go see serials at the old State Theater, where PPT is now,” he says. “I saw Frankenstein and other movies.”

The movies may have scared him, but so did the polio epidemic, he says. “It scared the crap out of us to know we’d end up in an iron lung. It was nothing to play around with.

“So I guess you could use the word ‘quarantine.’”

Norman was still able to collect paper and cans for the war effort, and check out books from the library. He also says that as far as he remembers, he went back to school when the time came.

 

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