Monday, June 27, 2011

HEROES OF THE NORTHLAND; part 4 of 4; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1929

Yet not one of the 379 mothers died who had their babies at the Outpost last year. No doubt this was partly due to the regular visits which each nurse finds time to make to all of her prospective mothers. She can not neglect this phase of her work for she dare not risk having a needlessly complicated case on her hands later. Often she can prevent such trouble but if it is apparent that she can not, she may at least be able to get the mother in advance to a more distant hospital, where there are doctors.

Keeping in touch with each case intimately the nurse knows when to expect the mother at the Outpost. And woe to the husband if he neglects to bring her in time! Sometimes, of course, the patient arrives only to find the little place full. Then there is nothing for the nurse to do but give up her own bed.

Although the nurse is sometimes on duty twenty-four hours a day caring for the sick, she manages, somehow, to hold an occasional clinic for physical inspection of all the babies in the community or to teach a class of mothers how to keep themselves and their families well.

As population becomes denser some of these nursing homes have developed into small general hospitals themselves. At Bengough, just fifteen miles above the United States boundary, a little one-room cottage with three beds, established as an Outpost in 1922, has been replaced by a small hospital with thirteen beds and a staff of three nurses. Most of these enlarged stations are in the prairie wheat belt, however. Several of the Outposts are in the southern part of the Province.

On the other hand, there is Carragana, in the untamed, unconquered bush land of the north. Carragana is twenty miles from Prairie River and the railroad, and sixty-five miles from the nearest doctor. A handful of ex-soldiers of the World War are there, trying to scratch a living from the soil despite a short growing season. Their wives are as true pioneers as any women who ventured west in prairie schooners three-fourths of a century ago.

Imagine what the Outpost means to them.

"I am certain that you saved my life when my baby was born," a Carragana mother recently wrote the Red Cross nurse. "You took me in when I had no one to help me. I would have written to thank you before but didn't have a cent for postage.

"I went harvesting last fall for seventy-five cents a day but it ruined my health and I can't do very much now. I spend all I can earn to buy food for my five children, for I can't bear to see them go hungry. They scarcely had bedding of any kind until we got the flannelette you sent us.

"The clamor from my little family now is all 'how soon will Santa Claus come?" But I am afraid he won't come at all as crops are frozen down here and times are so very hard."

This is reality is a cry in the wilderness. It is one of many. And it explains why, if you were to push through the bush land to Carragana today you would see a Red Cross flag flying above a little log cabin.

Friday, June 24, 2011

HEROES OF THE NORTHLAND; part 3 of 4; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1929

These things happen. And when they do, who meets the emergency? Who takes care of the mother in childbirth, when not even a midwife is available? And who takes care of the accident victim who will die within the next hour or two unless he can get expert care?

The answer is, the Red Cross Outpst--Saskatchewan's own invention, since duplicated in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Australia, Poland and Germany. There are now forty-four in Canada, fourteen of them in Saskatchewan. You find them in such places as Cut Knife, Lucky Lake, Wood Mountain, Nipawin, Rabbit Lake and Carragana. In each instance the local community furnishes the building and pays part of the annual deficient, each year taking over more of the burden if possible. The Red Cross furnishes a well-trained nurse, the equipment, supervision and the rest of the deficit. Patients are charged $3 a day and pay as much of the bill as they can.

The Outpost hospital may be a neat little cottage, built according to plans furnished by the Red Cross, or it may be nothing more than a log cabin or the bare little shack which once served as a makeshift community hall. In one instance it was a railroad caboose, which followed miners in a gold rush.

The Outposts average seven beds but often have eight to ten patients. They are primarily for maternity and emergency cases. Each little hospital is in charge of a Red Cross nurse who is midwife, first-aid expert, community authority on how to bring up babies, public health worker and sympathetic friend in time of trouble. Stationed all the way from thirty to one hundred sixty-five miles from the nearest doctor, as in most of the Outposts, she must be able to deal with any emergency.

"Today," one of them recently wrote a friend, "we had a christening, a death, an operation, admitted three new patients, discharged two old ones, treated six in all and turned one away from lack of room."

Comforting a mother whose baby lies dead in the next room, rejoicing with another over the arrival of a fine new son, convincing a farmer with acute heart trouble that he simply must not pitch hay today, telling an expectant mother what she should eat and bandaging a boy's leg which had been cut in a mowing machine--all these are everyday tasks for the Red Cross nurse.

No comfortable ambulances with their patients roll up to the hospital door here. The "ambulance" is apt to be a dog sled, a canoe or a farm wagon. In one instance an expectant mother came to the Outpost on a railroad "speeder" car, which, incidentally, proved none too speedy. The first baby born at one of the Saskatchewan Outposts rode home behind a yoke of Herefords and another had his first ride behind a dog team.

Monday, June 20, 2011

HEROES OF THE NORTHLAND; part 2 of 4; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1929

Many another story like this might be found in the experiences of the frontier people of Saskatchewan, but little by little civilization is pushing medical service nearer to the distant outposts. The Saskatchewan government has built a modern little hospital up in the wilderness at Ile La Crosse, 300 miles still farther north, to serve some two thousand prospectors, hunters, traders, fishers and Indians, who are scattered through a wide area of scrub timber and lake country. It is the northernmost hospital in this great province of Saskatchewan. Dr. F. G. Amyot, has had his adventures, too. One night not so long ago a messenger hurried to Ile La Crosse by canoe to report that the plane of Flying Officer A. F. MacDonald, of the government air service, had crashed near Dillon Village, seventy-five miles away. The pilot was reported near death. Twenty minutes later Dr. Amyot was in a canoe heading out into one of the north's most treacherous large lakes in absolute darkness. A high wind was whipping the water until those who saw him start were certain he could never get across. But Dr. Amyot had been one of the best canoeman in Canada during his college days.

His companion baled continually throughout the night, and when morning came the water was still so rough that the spray of the canoe hid the shore for minutes at a time, but they landed safely.

Crossing another large lake the doctor finally arrived at the scene of the accident. He found the aviator with broken ribs, a broken ankle, deep cuts, many missing teeth and severe burns from the fire of the wrecked plane. Although Dr. Amyot had been without sleep for twenty-eight hours he immediately set about making, temporary splints,  dressing wounds, and feeding his patient. Four days later the doctor returned to his little hospital, frost bitten and sick himself.

These adventures are only two of many which doctors of this wild northland could relate. Others, just as exciting and often more tragic, could be told by the wives of the pioneers who are pushing across these new frontiers. To farm folks in the United States such dangers may sound like fiction, but they are grim fact to the stout hearts who are out there trying to subdue the wilderness.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

HEROES OF THE NORTHLAND; part 1 of 4; by Carroll P. Streeter; 1929

A blizzard was on the way in northern Saskatchewan.

And because he felt that it would be no mere flurry, Verner Johnson drove his dog team up to the cabin of John Littlewood near Foam Lake, 120 miles from civilization with the intent of putting up there until the storm was over.

But just as Johnson arrived, Littlewood hurried out to meet him with disturbing news.

His daughter, Rose, had acute appendicitis, it seemed certain, and must be rushed to a hospital at once.

Hospital? There wasn't even a doctor for two hundred miles, not until you reached Prince Albert. And besides, the only way you could get over the first hundred and twenty of those miles was with dogs. Racing that far against time was a man-sized job at any time, and with a storm rising it seemed impossible, even though the driver was an experienced frontiersman and though his leader, Prince, was known as one of the best dogs in north Saskatchewan.

Nevertheless, a few minutes later Johnson was on his way with a heavily-bundled, frightened girl on his sled, praying that Providence would grant her time enough to reach that distant hospital.

They were bound for Big River, a little settlement at the end of steel on the most northerly branch of the Canadian National Railways. Half way there the storm caught up with them. A heavy fall of fine snow, driven by a gale which seemed suddenly to come out of nowhere,hid the few landmarks there were. Soon Johnson could scarcely see beyond his team, then the stinging flakes made it impossible for him even to keep his eyes open. He was lost, yet he must keep on going somewhere. Fortunately, Big River was home for the driver and his dogs, and maybe Prince could find it. In that hope Johnson, depending on the trail sense of his dogs, stumbled along, head down, as best he could.

Many hours later a weary team and driver plodded up the main street of the little village to the depot.

A spare engine was hooked to a caboose and the little "special train" rushed the girl to the Prince Albert hospital in time for an operation that saved her life. The heroic incident was officially recognized when the Right Honorable W. L. Mackenzie King, Premier of Canada, publicly awarded Johnson a certificate of the Royal Humane Society of Canada, and put a silver collar around Prince's neck.

Friday, June 10, 2011

NOON-TIME MELODY; part 5; by Myar Hansen; 1937

“Now don't get excited, Susie,” Paul tried to sooth her. “There's no chance in a hundred that they'll be out your way. I just thought I'd give you a little free advertising.”

“Oh!” Susie drew out the exclamation faintly. “But isn't there some kind of a reward?”

“A big one,” Paul said hurriedly. “The Banker's Association will--”

“I'm so glad!” Susie cut in.

And while Paul's mouth dropped open in astonishment, she went on to explain.

Paul whistled finally. “Gee, that's great! I'm going to put it over the air!” He started to hang up the receiver and then called again: “Susie! The next record I play is for you. Listen for it.”

Mr. Reynolds tried to ask him what it was all about. “Listen in,” Paul said hurriedly and opened and closed the glass studio door.

He put his mouth to the microphone.

Here's a rare treat for you radio listeners. Here's news so hot the police don't know it yet. Are you listening, police?

The two masked men who help up the County Trust Company this noon turned their sedan off the main road at the Corners, ten miles above here on U.S. 7. They took the road that leads past Aunt Carey's place.

Aunt Carey, previously warned by this station that they were coming, kept out of sight as we advised. But first she took a bagful of large-headed roof nails and sprinkled them all over the place. Uncle Carey got out his double-barreled shotgun and loaded it, just in case.

The black sedan came thundering past just about as soon as they were finished. Aunt Carey says she heard distinct reports like shots as tires blew out. Then there was a crash. She says Uncle Carey didn't need his shotgun because both of the men were unconscious under their car upside down in the ditch.

Are you listening, police?

The two men who held up the County Trust Company this noon are now locked in the Carey's root cellar. Better go get them, but look out for nails in the road.

Complete details will be found in this afternoon's edition of the News.

The next recording on this noon-time melody program is by the Casa Loma orchestra: “Name the date, Sweetheart”...

Monday, June 6, 2011

NOON-TIME MELODY; part 4; by Myar Hansen; 1937

He put the music back on.

Gosh, if only he were not tied down here with his broadcast, he'd go out and chase around looking for those holdup men himself. Probably everyone with cars in the twenty mile area reached by this station, were already out cluttering up the roads. That ought to show the state police authorities that they should come alive and put in a radio car system for their troopers.

Just about then another bright idea hit Paul. Mr. Reynolds might get sore—but Aunt Carey's would come in for a lot of free publicity. Besides, he'd be keeping interest up in Station WACX. Too, he'd be doing a good deed by getting some of the curious off the main road and leave it free for the police.

He spoke into the microphone again.

Here's more news of the holdup. The two robbers are believed to be the same pair who held up the Lamoille Bank last week.

I have a special message for Aunt Carey, up past the Corners. Everybody knows Aunt Carey who cooks those wonderful chicken dinners. Gosh, I'm getting hungry just thinking of them.

Are you listening, Aunt Carey?

The holdup men are supposed to have turned off the main road in your direction. Keep out of sight, as these robbers are desperate and would think nothing of shooting to kill if they thought you recognized them and would warn the people. Keep out of sight!

It was scarcely five minutes later that Paul saw Mr. Reynolds motioning to him again. “Quick. A phone call! Party says it's a matter of life or death!” cried Mr. Reynolds.

Paul recognized Susie's voice immediately. She sounded strangely agitated.

“Paul, it's about those holdup men,” she began.

Friday, June 3, 2011

NOON-TIME MELODY; part 3; by Myar Hansen; 1937

The tourist business for them had dwindled to nothing; nobody was going out of the way to look for a tourist home, or a chicken dinner either. About ten meals on a Sunday to people who had been there before, was the best they could do. It wasn't enough to pay the interest on the mortgage, let alone pay off the principal.

It was enough to make anybody sick, Paul kept thinking, as he sat at his desk. Especially when he now had charge of the radio station and was getting twenty-eight dollars a week—enough, as he'd pointed out time and again, for two people to get married on. But Susie still insisted that they'd have to wait until the mortgage was paid. Which, to Paul, seemed like forever.

“Well,” he said out loud and then started another record.

If there were only some way of getting people to go out that way, getting them to stop at the farm again. Paul had racked his brain without result. There didn't seem any way at all.

Suddenly an unusual noise broke the studio quiet. Paul turned and saw his boss, Mr. Reynolds himself, waving his arms at him from outside the glass door, and holding up a slip of paper. It must be pretty important, Paul thought, to get Mr. Reynolds so aroused. He went over and got the message. He read it, and he too began to feel the excitement.

He stopped the music abruptly, spoke into the microphone.

Here's a special news flash. The County Trust Company has just been held up by two masked men. Mr. Rollins, the cashier, was slugged over the head with the butt of a revolver when he tried to put up a fight. The teller, the only other person in the bank, was forced to hand over more than five thousand dollars in currency. The two men escaped in a black sedan.

Look for further details in this afternoon's edition of the Daily News.

He put the music back on.