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Jack Dura

Contributor, Dakota Datebook
  • In 1954, North Dakota and the rest of the nation were in the home stretch toward a safe and effective polio vaccine, but cases crept up that summer and fall, and polio fundraising drives sought money to help patients, who were mostly children. A survey found that Americans feared polio second only to the atomic bomb.
  • Last month we heard about the triumph of the Salk polio vaccine. Polio was a dreaded disease that could paralyze and even kill, and children were the most vulnerable. Before a vaccine, little could be done.
  • North Dakota is small and sparsely populated, but it has drawn a range of music acts over the years, some of them multiple times, with memorable shows. Some of those concerts have had attendance larger than some of North Dakota’s major cities.
  • “The Black Death,” as the bubonic plague was called, swept Europe in the mid-14th century and killed millions of people. Hundreds of years later, North Dakota also grappled with plague.
  • Polio vaccinations were in full swing in the summer of 1955 in North Dakota. A team led by Dr. Jonas Salk at the University of Pittsburgh developed the vaccine after years of philanthropy through the March of Dimes. Polio was the most dreaded disease of its time, and could paralyze and even kill children. The public welcomed Salk’s vaccine with open arms.