I am really not old enough to appreciate the decade of the 60's. I know is was marked by John Kennedy's presidency and assassination, the birth of the civil rights movement, Woodstock, and the beginning of the Vietnam War.
My love of the 60's hinges around the treatment of fractures of the lower leg back in those days. Physicians were much less willing to rush into surgical treatment of fractures due to the risk of infection and lack of modern day pain relief drugs. Instead, many lower leg fractures that would be treated with surgery today, were treated "conservatively" then. Conservative treatment often involved an incredibly painful fracture reduction session followed by months of confinement in a heavy plaster cast.
Pictures of Casts From The 1960's
Unfortunately, we don't have many pictures of women or men in casts from the 60's. What photographs we do have are often grainy and lack the spontaneity of pictures taken today with cell phones. And from the standpoint of this blog, locating people who broke a leg in the 1960's in order to understand the back story of their injury is extremely problematic since they are probably now in their 60's or 70's.
Nevertheless, today I have four stories about women who broke a leg during the 1960's. Let me introduce you to them.
Margaret was a senior in high school when she had a ski accident. A Richmond, Virginia native, Margaret and her family took an annual ski vacation to their favorite Virginia ski resort; Wintergreen. Wintergreen is located about an two hours north of Richmond. In January of 1969, Margaret was on the difficult 'Cliffhanger' ski slope when she hit a patch of ice. She fell breaking her left tibia and fibula cleanly just above her boot top.
The ski patrol got Margaret off of the slope and to the small resort infirmary where her family was told the leg was broken.
Back in the 60's, many American's had health care sponsored by their employers through health associations. Margaret's dad, a US Treasury employee, was a member of Group Health Association - an organization that provided health care to Federal Employees. Group Health, as it was known, provided affordable health care through a limited number of treatment facilities around the country.
Unfortunately for Margaret, the closest Group Health facility was back in Richmond. So Margaret's leg was left unset and placed in a splint and ace bandage at the infirmary. She endured a two hour drive back to Richmond over rough mountain roads.
Once at the Group Health facility in Richmond, Margaret and her dad waited six hours to be admitted. In the early hours of the following morning, her leg was set and placed in a full leg plaster cast. She wore the cast for 10 weeks. Her recovery from the injury was complete.
Margaret enrolled at the University of Virginia the following year. This was the first year women were allowed at UVA. She later earned a law degree at Virginia.
Today, Margaret is in her late 60's. She is a well respected attorney for the US government.
I know little about Sherry's background.
In March of 1962, a Denver Post photo of a 13 year old Sherry wearing a plaster walking cast was taken. The picture below - now owned by Getty images - is iconic in the cast community.
At the time the photo was taken, Sherry was a 7th grader at Lake Junior High School in Denver Colorado. The Getty photo caption indicated that Sherry broke the same ankle three times in the space of 5 months. There is no mention of how Sherry accomplished that feat. I do know, however, that she was a member of her junior high school gymnastics team.
Last week, I stumbled upon a second picture of Sherry from Getty images. This picture was taken five years after the first photo was taken.
Sherry is now 18 years old. Sherry is sitting on the same sofa she sat on in the original picture. The background story tells us that, in addition to the three broken ankles, Sherry also broke the same leg a few years earlier and now has broken her foot. Again. no mention of how these injuries occurred.
I have searched and searched for current pictures of Sherry. There are 3 or 4 women on social media with same name as Sherry and in the same age category. None of the pictures of these women seem to match Sherry's picture from 50 years ago.
I will keep looking.
Melodee grew up in Dallas, TX. In 1968, she was a junior in high school when she broke her leg falling down stairs during a class change.
At the time of the injury, Melodee was a society girl. She had a collection of expensive clothes, wore her hair in a stylish bob, and was a debutante.
By the time Melodee was a senior, the girl had transformed into a classic hippie - a metamorphous many teens in the late 60's underwent. She smoked weed. Partied non stop. Had sex with her teachers - both male and female. Protested the Vietnam War. And, in general, didn't give a shit about anything.
Melodee spent three years in Europe after high school where she learned Italian. She eventually attended college and became a teacher.
Fast forward to today. Melodee lives in Vail, Colorado. She is the mother of twin girls who are now grown. She is an artist and a musician - a member of the hippie generation 50 years after Woodstock.
Lorraine is a prolific author. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and book author. She lives on Long Island New York and is currently in her mid 70's.
In 1967, Lorraine was a 28 year old reporter for an upstate New York newspaper called 'The Knickerbocker'. She slipped on a patch of ice and broke her kneecap. She spent what she calls a 'miserable' 12 weeks in a full leg cast.
One interesting point about Lorraine. At the age of 21, she had a baby girl. Worried that motherhood would derail her promising newspaper career, she gave the baby up for adoption. Within weeks, she regretted the decision but quickly learned that in the US at that time the identify of a woman who adopted a baby is kept totally secret. Lorraine spent the next 20 years of her life, trying to find the daughter she abandoned. In 1981, they were finally reconnected.