Childhood

Eleanor’s life started out rocky. When she was just two years old, she got polio and was paralyzed from the waist down. The doctor’s advice to Eleanor’s family was that she should not move her legs at all. However, Eleanor’s father went against this and put her on a tricycle and put rubber bands on her feet to make her legs move as he pushed her tricycle throughout the house. Eleanor’s mother administered the Kinney Treatment of putting hot packs on Eleanor’s legs and stretching out the muscles. Eventually, the paralysis subsided. She believes that maybe her father disregarding the doctor’s orders, and all of the prayers for her recovery, saved her legs. Eleanor grew up in a religious household and still holds onto those values today. 

After Eleanor recovered from polio, her maternal grandparents moved in with the family. Eleanor remembers spending many nights during the week watching baseball games with her grandfather, Eddie. Eleanor and Eddie did many things together such as playing rummy, checkers, and catch. Please watch the video below to hear a story of how Eddie helped Eleanor finally get to ride a bike.

 

Eddie, Ira, Eleanor, Jill, and Switfy (dog) in 1946. 

Eleanor was also close to her grandmother, Mattie Ann. Mattie Ann was a great seamstress; she embroidered pillow cases and made doll clothes. Please listen to the link below to hear about one of Eleanor’s Christmas memories that involves her grandmother.

She was a very social child and spent many days visiting different neighbors. The summers were very exciting for Eleanor because her family would go to stock car races, baseball games, and Long Beach Island for vacations. Eleanor was a tomboy growing up and she enjoyed playing with the boys. 

Baseball field behind Eleanor’s house, in Trenton, where she played as a child. 

Eleanor got to experience many things early in life. One of her favorite things was spending time with her dad while he was at work. Since he worked on the first floor of their home, Eleanor was able to see him much of the time. Sometimes she was even able to go with him when he was out measuring buildings to determine heating requirements; Eleanor got to carry his ruler and feel special. She credits this part of her life as the reason that she is able to interact with a variety of people.

Photo of Eleanor as a young girl in 1947. Eleanor’s mother knit the sweater and made the beanie as a birthday present. 

Eleanor was also in Girl Scouts which not only shaped her childhood but also her adult life. Please click here to read more about Eleanor’s experiences in Girl Scouts. In 1947, Eleanor’s mother started a Girl Scout troop that eventually had over 60 girls. Eleanor was able to join it when she was ten years old and stayed in the troop until she was eighteen years old. Eleanor has a love of camping that started as a young girl. She continued to camp until she was no longer able to physically do so. She recalls many summers spent at Camp Wanda; Camp Wanda was a Girl Scout camp. Her parents, with the help of many other volunteers, helped to set up and take down approximately 30 tents each summer for several years. 

Photo of Camp Wanda. 

Eleanor has many stories from her childhood. One of her favorite memories is from Christmas Day when she was five years old. Please watch the video below to hear this hilarious story.

Eleanor got one of her childhood dogs, Bootsy, when she was seven years old. One day, her dad wanted her to tag along with him to get a haircut. It turned out that he wanted her to go with him because the barber’s dog had puppies. Bootsy was only three weeks old and she was so small that she was not able to keep up with the rest of the puppies and eat properly. Eleanor named her Bootsy because she had one white paw. Bootsy went everywhere with Eleanor; when Eleanor would visit people, Bootsy went with her and would wait outside until Eleanor came out. One time, Eleanor got lost camping and Bootsy was able to lead her back to the camp site. She was a great dog!

Photo of Eleanor and Bootsy in 1950.

All photos courtesy of Eleanor Adams.

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