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Toledo native to talk about book that chronicles polio care at Warm Springs

Susan Richards Shreve, who contracted polio in 1940 as an infant while living in Toledo, will talk about her book, Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR’s Polio Haven, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008, at 1:00 p.m. in the Ward M. Canaday Center for Special Collections at the University of Toledo’s Carlson Library on Main Campus.

Shreve’s talk is in conjunction with the Canaday Center’s Exhibit, “From Institutions to Independence: A History of People with Disabilities in Northwest Ohio,” which is on display through Feb. 27, 2009.

Currently a professor of English literature at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Shreve is the author of 13 novels and the winner of several awards for her work. Her book recalling her experience at Warm Springs, the Georgia facility for those with polio established by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1925. 

Warm Springs recalls Shreve’s arrival at the nationally known polio treatment facility in 1950 at the age of 11 and her two-year stay there. Like many residents of Warm Springs, Shreve found companionship with the other children who were being treated there.

Her book describes the experience of living at the facility, what it was like to be away from her family for an extended period of her childhood, and her coming of age while living there. During her time at the facility, she underwent several operations for an atrophied leg that resulted from the polio infection.

“I’m sitting with my legs straight out on an examining table at the Georgia Warm Springs Polio Foundation, where I have just arrived,” Shreve’s book begins. “Four doctors lean over my legs, their elbows on the table, talking back and forth. The doctors are looking for traces. Traces are the little whispers of life in muscles destroyed by the polio virus. They promise the possibility of a new future. … At Warm Springs, traces is the word for hope.” 

David Oshinsky, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Polio: An American Story, described Shreve’s book : “Susan Shreve’s Warm Springs is a gem of a book — an elegantly written, achingly powerful memoir of childhood illness in the terrifying era of polio. Shreve is more than a storyteller: She’s a master at combining history and remembrances in ways that make her characters come alive. Three words best describe Warm Springs: riveting, honest, unforgettable.”

A reception will follow Shreve’s free, public discussion.  Copies of her book will be available for sale at the event. Her talk is co-sponsored by the President’s Lecture Series on Diversity. 

For more information, contact the Canaday Center at 419.530.4480.






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