Today’s post is from a new book I’m editing for Barbara Kersey called, “Was I Ever Lucky”. It’s a memoir of her life in Windsor thus far.
After you read this story, you will certainly agree that Barbara was one lucky little girl.
When I was five and newly arrived in Windsor, the Board of Health, or its equivalent, started a program to immunize children with a general vaccination. This was in 1925 and seemingly this program had never been done before.
The program took place in the schools. Students lined up – class by class, and a doctor pricked each child in the arm.
The same needle was used on every child.
There were about five of us at Prince Edward School who almost immediately became seriously ill. They wanted to hospitalize me (as the others were) but I screamed so much that I was allowed home to have a doctor come every morning to care for me.
At first, Dr. Trimble, a very nice young doctor near the school was called but as he was already ill himself with TB, he didn’t have the stomach or strength to deal with such a seriously ill child. Dr. Brockenshire, who had an office near our house at Parent and Erie Street, was called next and declared he was up for the task.
First, a big slash was made on the back of my upper left arm and they did what had to be done. Afterwards, every morning for months, Dr. Brockenshire would arrive with his black bag, take my temperature, and then kneel down beside me at the edge of the bed. He would take out his tweezers and begin pulling and pulling a great length of what looked like dressing for a wound from the large opening in the back of my arm and then repack the opening with new gauze.
The chairman of the Board of Education would come by the house frequently, promising to cover all medical costs. I missed school for a whole year so was older than my peers when I finally returned.
Soon after my ordeal, a law was passed and each vaccination required a new needle.
Dr. Brockenshire left family practice shortly after this incident to become an orthopedic surgeon. In later years people said he was brilliant but gruff.
He was never gruff with me.