Polio: A Crippling Affliction now Largely Forgotten

A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

As my father contracted polio, or poliomyelitis as it formally known, at a young age, it is one of the crippling diseases of which the McCleland family is well aware. Before the advent of vaccines in the 1940s, this scourge could not be prevented and the treatments bordered upon the barbaric. About 10% of the victims ultimately succumbed to it. Fortunately, my father’s malady was less severe as it only affected one foot. Nevertheless, one leg was shorter than the other which precluded normal sporting and other activities.  

This is the chronicle of that devastating disease, now largely forgotten.

Main picture: A polio patient in an iron lung in 1938

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The Future is E-Government

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Maybe governments employ computers to process and record transactions and store data but by a large measure, the mindset is still 19th century. At best, their current practices are still in the mid 20th century mode. What will it take to bring it in line with Best Practice?

 Pictures: All of them are photographs of Port Elizabeth 100 years ago. The main picture was taken outside the Edward Hotel in Belmont Terrace

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Lost Artefacts of Port Elizabeth: Octagon Café & the Bathing Pavillion

Octagon Cafe on Humewood beach

Many of the buildings constructed nowadays have little to recommend them. Being merely rectangular blocks, they do not enhance life through their aesthetic appeal. Maybe this is acceptable for industrial buildings but for structures along a beachfront, the bar needs to be set higher. Two buildings of yore met that criterion: the Octagon Café and the Bathing Pavillion. Sadly both are no more.

 Main picture: The Octagon Cafe on the Elizabeth Promenade

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: The Donkin Lighthouse

Signal Ball at Donkin Lighthouse in 1860s

Being in such close proximity to one another, I have often considered this lighthouse and the adjacent pyramid as being contemporary structures. Nothing could be further from the truth. This blog, largely based on the 1986 thesis by Jon Inggs, provides the historical detail from the conceptualisation to the erection of the Donkin Lighthouse.

Main picture: Signal Ball at Donkin Lighthouse in 1860s

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WW2’s Unusual, Amazing and Sometimes Ironic Statistics

Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war

In all respects, WW2 was a war of superlatives. From the number of people killed to the quantum of destruction of civilian property, it easily outranks all previous wars combined. Of all other wars, it was truly waged on an industrial scale.

This blog presents those statistics that will amaze, astonish and often make one reflect on why in the mid 20th century, man’s primal instinct was still to murder, annihilate and plunder.

Main picture: Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war

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A Haunting Reminder of the Horrors of WW1

Tin Tommy#01

The horrors of WW1 are unspeakable. Knowing that their chances of survival were minuscule once “going over the top”, unhinged many a Tommy. Even those who were terror stricken, had to face another enemy apart from their warped minds, a tribunal for desertion or failing to obey an order if they failed to display an appropriate martial ardour.

Such were the terrors of an inhumane war. To commemorate this suffering, Martin Galbavy has created a “tin” statue as a tribute to the soldier’s bravery, their torment & the suppression of their demons.

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Port Elizabeth of Yore: Swimming

Swimming

Swimming in the 19th century must be understood against the backdrop of the conservative mores of that era. This resulted in a flurry of rules to prevent men and women swimming together. By the end of the century, attitudes towards “mixed swimming” were more relaxed.

This blog chronicles the saga of sea swimming in Port Elizabeth from its first attempt at the breakwater in 1866, the construction of the first swimming pool in Port Elizabeth and finally to swimming at Humewood.

Main picture: Swimming facilities at the harbour breakwater beyond the surf boats

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