Posted by Richard Naumann on Oct 29, 2019

The Putnam Rotary Club invites you to a very special Rotary meeting and speaker program on Tuesday, October 29th at 12 noon at the Inn At Woodstock Hill.

Polio survivor, Nick Marshall will be our guest speaker.
Nicholas Marshall survived polio and transported the Putnam Rotary Club members inside the world of the polio epidemic in the 1950s.
He was asked to be the club speaker Oct. 29, in honor of World Polio Day, which is the “flagship” of Rotary International and Rotary’s Polio Plus, according to Putnam Rotary Club President Richard Naumann.
Sixty-six years ago, Marshall said, he found his “10 year old self” inside the polio epidemic centered in Providence.
Because his generation was taught to “press on,” he said, “you’d think I’d have gotten over it, but no. I have flashbacks. It was clear to me I still had demons to erase.” And so he agreed to speak.
His first flashback, he said, was to a playground when he was 10. His right leg would not follow instructions and he fell. He knew instantly what it was. With a sense of “suspended fear and guilt,” he went home to tell his mom.
His second flashback was a hospital hallway looking through to a glassed-in room and seeing his 7-year-old brother, Richard --- well seeing his brother’s head --- sticking out of an iron lung. Marshall didn’t realize that was his last visit. His brother died within a week.
This third flashback was “the tape” --- yellow tape wrapped around saw horses when his entire neighborhood in North Providence was quarantined. He said he remembers feeling “isolation, and surprisingly, ostracism.”
At the time the vaccine invented by Dr. Jonas Salk was in limited supply. Marshall and his younger brother both received the vaccine because their brother Richard had died of polio.
While he still has lingering effects from the mild polio he contacted, he said had it not been for the vaccine, his case might have been more serious or might have killed him.
The emotional toll, too, follows him to this day. He said his mother carried it around in her heart for the rest of her life. His family moved out of the North Providence neighborhood to “escape the memories.” 
He calls Salk one of his heroes, along with caregivers and the Rotary, as well as his childhood friend, Pat, who had been crippled by polio but always found a way to be a sandlot kid.