“There’s no such thing as failure; there’s just giving up too soon,” once said Dr. Jonas Salk. In the early twentieth century, polio devastated many communities around the world, prompting closures and quarantines connected to outbreaks, gripping communities in terror. One determined team of scientists led by Salk ended this nightmare for the nation and the world with the development of a polio vaccine.
George Stuart Benson was born on a farm in Dewey County in far western Oklahoma in 1898. His education was one of hard work on a dry, dusty farm on the Great Plains and the local public schools. As a young man, he enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater (which is now Oklahoma State University). After a couple of years, he transferred to Harper College just across the state line in southern Kansas. This new college would soon lead Stuart on a path to Arkansas, where he became a noted leader in education.
Panic, confusion, illness, and quarantines have haunted humanity for thousands of years as communities grappled with disease. Among the deadliest scourges humanity faced was perhaps smallpox, which left 300 million in its centuries of existence. Though once dreaded, it has since been wiped from the face of the Earth, never to return. Its eradication showed how determination, experimentation, and education could overcome any health crisis.
When the world is in the midst of a pandemic, it may seem trivial to talk about freedom of information.
It is instead highly relevant to the situation at hand.
August 1959 was a difficult time for one North Arkansas community. The mine that had long been the focal point of the community of Cushman closed, forcing many men out of work and beginning a decline for the community as it struggled to find new ways of maintaining its economy. The cause for the collapse of one community’s economy was the mining of one almost unheard-of metal: manganese.