Labrador History - 7.4 TRANSPORTATION IMPROVES

Mary Taylor7.4 TRANSPORTATION IMPROVES
A characteristic of medicine on the Labrador was the willingness of everyone to help, regardless of the situation, and there were times the boats and planes of others were called in to play when the regular mission plane was grounded.
Typical of this was a situation back in May 1961, when Tadmitted a five year old girl with a broken leg and we could not get the Grenfell plane over. Ellen was the same little girl Mona had been called to the day after I left the previous fall, who at that time had fallen down the basement stairs. This time she was playing down in the stage where the fishing equipment was kept, and was sliding down a pile of flour sacks. She fell and broke both bones in her lower leg. She seemed to be always getting into mischief.
I tried to get the mission plane to come for her but the weather was bad and ice conditions were not good for landing. The Anglican minister was in the area at the time with a small plane so, as soon as weather conditions permitted, he flew Ellen over to St. Anthony. We had little Ellen in quite often that summer. She was an active little girl and frequently had to have her cast re-enforced. She liked to sit out on a rock near her home and swing her legs, rubbing them against the rock surface, which did nothing to help the plaster cast.
Later, in early 1964, the Anglican minister helped once again, when I had a sick baby from Capstan Island. She had pneumonia. It was a Sunday morning, already a very sad one, for it was the day the bodies of two who had been killed on Belle Isle, in a tragic accident, were flown back to Forteau for burial.
The baby got worse as the day wore on and I had to give her oxygen. The Anglican minister was in Forteau at the time and he agreed to take the baby to St. Anthony, with myself going along to look after the baby, giving her oxygen during the flight. Sadly the little one died that night, and I returned the following day with the little body. It was a very sad time. There were two funerals the same day, one in Forteau and one in Capstan Island.
The Department of Transport helped from time to time as well.
In late 1963 a young man from L’Anse-au-Loup, working with the Department of Highways, had a bad accident in Red Bay. Frank was with a crew building the road from Red Bay to Pinware (at this point they were working just beyond Pinware) and was repairing one of the tractors, having turned it on its’ side to work underneath, when it slipped. It trapped Frank’s hand but, fortunately, his companion was able to lift the tractor enough for him to get the hand out. There was a Department of Transport plane in Red Bay at the time and the pilot brought the patient to Forteau, even though it was quite foggy. It was too foggy to proceed to St. Anthony right then, but the mission plane picked him up next day.

Bert Joyce and his plane at Flowers Cove. February 1983.

Bert Joyce and his plane at Flowers Cove. February 1983.

 


Bert Joyce helped out a lot. In fact, his plane was in God’s service and for that he used it. One particular case stands out as an example of his plane being used indirectly to lead a soul to Christ. This was John, Bertha’s husband.
Early in March 1962 John came into the clinic suffering from an eye infection involving the iris, not a simple case. I admitted him and called St. Anthony for advice. The doctor prescribed treatment for him and, while he improved enough to go home, the problem got worse a short time later. I decided to send him to St. Anthony and Bert Joyce, in Forteau right at that time, agreed to fly him across the straits in his plane. John had been quite opposed to the gospel and, with others, had tried to hinder the building of the gall in L’Anse-au-Loup, so I wondered how he would react. I explained to him very carefully that if he did not receive treatment immediately, he might lose his sight. He was only too happy to go with Bert.
John was treated in St. Anthony for a while and, fortunately, his eyesight was saved. In due course he was ready to come home and it happened that, once again, Bert was in the right place at the right time, this time St. Anthony, so he agreed to bring John home to Forteau. John asked Bert about payment for the trip.
“You don’t owe me anything, but I would like you to promise to come out and hear me preach sometime,” Bert said.
“Perhaps I will,” John replied. It was to be three years before he kept his promise.
From time to time I would see John at his sister-in-law’s home at English Point and asked him to come to a gospel meeting, but he never did at that time. Then Bertha started to attend the meetings at L’Anse-au-Loup and John was not far behind her. Bertha got saved at home one day while John was at a funeral in English Point. Reading her Bible and the promise in John 3:16 that, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” she saw that Jesus meant her as one of the “whosoever’s.” She knelt by her bed and asked God to save her - and He did. John got saved three days later.
Bertha told me that although they did not attend meetings until just a couple of weeks before they got saved, they would listen from their bedroom window to the gospel being preached in the open air. Then she and John looked up the verses that were being read, to see if these were in their own Bible! They found they were. They also found, like I did, that doing the best they could and going to church would not take them to heaven, unless they trusted Christ for themselves.
When John started going to the meetings his friends told him that if he got saved they would no longer go fishing and hunting with him. He got so troubled about his condition before God, however, that he did not care. Sometimes there is a cost in following Christ for friends, or even loved ones, may be opposed to the stand we take. Jesus said, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” [Matthew 10:361
One night a friend asked him to go to the gospel meeting with him, and as they walked into the hall the people were singing, “There is a story sweet to hear, I love to tell it too.” He thought it was the sweetest thing he had ever heard. George was preaching the night John got saved. He got saved after he got home, reading the verse, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” [Romans 10:13] He took God at His word and trusted Christ to save him there and then.
Bertha had some doubts for a while after she got saved. She went next door to tell her sister-in-law and the Devil whispered, “You are not saved.” The verse that settled it for her was John 5:24, “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life”.
That spring of 1962 things eased up a bit, although in July I had a total of thirty-seven inpatients, including a number of sick children, and we had five deliveries. The first was a patient from L’Anse-au-Loup who had a little girl, and the next was Olive, who had another girl. It was nice for the two women to have each other for company.
Things came in a bit of a rush, later that month, and at one point I was glad of Mona’s help. One of my antenatal patients in L’Anse-au-Loop was overdue, so I brought her to the nursing station to induce labour. Next day I got up early and gave her a dose of Castor Oil, hoping that this would start labour. Later that same morning a patient came in from L’Anse-au-Clair - in labour! Now I had two of them, for she was progressing rapidly and the first patient started too!
Mona was living in Forteau at the time and, as I was afraid the two women would be ready for delivery at the same time, I sent a message asking her if she would come and help me. Mona, thankfully, came as soon as I sent for her, and a good job too. Alma, the first patient, progressed rapidly and soon delivered a fine baby girl. I cleared up as quickly as I could and was soon ready for the s9cond delivery, but it wasn’t fast enough. The patient didn’t wait for me! While I was washing up Mona delivered the baby, a lovely little girl, and both mother and nurse were very happy with the outcome.
One of the children we had in that summer was Stewart’s four- year-old son, who got some cod gall in his eye. Hollis and a friend were playing on the beach when they got hold of a cod gallbladder and started squirting each other. That was how some of the gall got into Hollis’ eye. I washed out the eye with normal saline and called the doctor in St. Anthony for advice, after which we put drops in his eye every few hours, and kept it patched. There were a lot of children in that time, so I had to put him in a cot with another little boy from L’Anse-au-Loup. They would play together happily for awhile and then have a scrap like all boys, and after a week he went home. The eye, I am happy to say, was saved.
Around that time we took possession of “the red jeep”, a vehicle we used as an ambulance. The jeep, which St. Anthony provided for us, had two seats in front and one long seat in the back. When we needed stretcher space, this rear seat was removed and the stretcher put in at an angle. It may not have been an ideal ambulance, but it was much appreciated none the less, for it made quite a difference when we transported patients by stretcher. Prior to this we sometimes used the back of a truck! The jeep was also very handy for my public health visits and was used for transporting freight.
It came in handy that fall, when a fisherman in L’Anse-Amour, the little settlement near the lighthouse, had an accident while weighing herring. He had fixed a cable at the top of a pole and, on sliding down, hit his side across the edge of a herring barrel. When I received the emergency call I set off in the red jeep. He had been carried to his room so, after I had checked him and given him something for pain, he was brought downstairs again, this time in a quilt because the stairs was too narrow for the stretcher. I took him up to the nursing station and had him transferred to the hospital in St. Anthony, for it was obvious he was hurt quite badly. He had a fractured pelvis. Fortunately the plane was available to pick him up, and the story ended happily. 
We had a lot of sick children in the station too, for it seemed the epidemic which had started earlier in the year, was to continue for several months. We had eleven children in during September and seven in October.
We had several deliveries that fall, including “Uncle” Pierce’s wife, Rose, from L’ Anse-au-Loup, who was brought to the door of the station one night at the end of October. Her eighth child at eleven pounds, this was her second son. Such was the crowd in the station that I had to move out a patient who already had had her baby, to make room in the maternity ward. Rose was in the nursing station when I first arrived in Forteau and it was she who had gone home to L’ Anse-au-Loup when I made my first trip to Red Bay.
That fall it was very icy with not much snow coverage on the ground, so several people fell and injured themselves. One of these was Elsie, a little girl from L’Anse-au-Loup. She had gone to a neighbour’s house to borrow a little suit for her mother to use as a pattern, so that she could make one like it for her little boy, when she tripped over a stump in the cabbage garden and fell, breaking her leg. I was busy at the time so was not able to fetch her, but Raymond Flynn, the postmaster, kindly brought her on a stretcher in his car. They laid her on the back seat and brought her up to the nursing station.
When I examined her I found that she had broken her leg just above the ankle, so I immobilized her leg as best I could until I could get her to hospital. We had to wait three days before the plane picked her up because the weather was stormy, and when Elsie finally did get to St. Anthony, X-rays revealed she had multiple fractures of the long bone. She needed surgery - a frightening prospect for a twelve-year-old girl. Although she healed well, she missed school that winter, and was housebound most of the time. On fine days her sisters took her for rides on a komatik, but it was the following April before she got the cast off.
The same month Elsie came to us, I admitted a man with a broken foot. He did not slip on the ice but jumped onto a plank of wood outside the door, while he doing some construction work, and the plank flew up and hit his foot. We were unable to get him to St. Anthony at the time so sent him to the hospital in Blanc Sablon, Quebec for X-rays. The doctor there put his leg in a cast.
One day I saw a young girl with a badly infected toenail. She had been soaking her foot in warm salt water and I had been keeping an eye on it, but it was not getting any better. The toenail
would have to come off. I had watched the doctor doing this several times, when he had been over for clinic, but did not relish the job myself. It had to be done, however. I injected the area with local anaesthetic and removed the offending nail, and in the end didn’t have too much trouble after all.
George and Mona being in the Lord’s work moved as the Lord sent them, and as opportunities for the Gospel presented themselves, and at the end of August they moved to Flower’s Cove for the winter. Flower’s Cove, in Newfoundland and across the Strait of Belle Isle from Forteau, was visited by the brethren on the M. G.M. some time earlier. At that time they found one woman who had previously trusted Christ as her Saviour, and whose husband trusted Christ while they were there.
Some time later Bert flew in and dropped off two men from Red Bay, who had recently trusted Christ themselves. Bert left them there for a week and they went from house to house telling of their new-found faith. When Bert flew in to pick them up he found they had had meetings in one of the homes and five others had trusted Christ! I think they were there for two or three weeks before they finally got home, because it was March and the weather was quite stormy. This was quite an encouragement for the two young men.
At first Mona and George lived in a little trailer, where I visited them at one stage. Later, at the beginning of November, they moved into the downstairs bedroom and kitchen of a partly finished new home which Dudley, one of the young Christians, was building. He was planning to be married in the spring. Meetings were held in the unfinished upstairs part of the house that winter, and Dud’s brother got saved too. So the Lord kept on working.