Labrador History - 5.6 STAN

Mary Taylor5.6 STAN
Dogs! What would we have done without them? What would we do with them? Like cars later, they were good in themselves and dangerous when mishandled. Over and over again nurses saw evidence of that.
One day early in the new year (1960) we saw a little boy who was bitten by one of his father’s huskies. He and a brother were getting firewood up in the woods, when the one dog with them went for young Bobby as he walked past, grabbing his leg. The older brother knocked the dog off, knocked him out actually, grabbed young Bobby and headed for home, and the nursing station. The dog followed later but had to be destroyed - once they have tasted blood these dogs cannot be trusted.
Bobby had several nasty bites that had to be sutured, and he got an anti-tetanus shot and a course of Penicillin injections. The dog, it turned out, was sick with distemper, so we were not exactly without anxiety at the time.
Quite a number of the sled dogs got distemper that year, so the Department of Health sent vaccine, with which we were to immunize the healthy dogs, but not before a large number had died. I had the task of immunizing the dogs, a tricky business obviously, as they can be quite vicious. Working in the front porch of the nursing station, we muzzled the dogs to prevent them biting us, and got on with the job, no small task given the size of the creatures.
My time was limited and the landscape vast, so I showed Cecil Davis of L’Anse-Amour how to inject dogs in the leg, and let him practise on some of our dogs, so he knew what to do. He went to L’Anse-au-Loup and immunized the dogs down there for me, saving me a lot of time. Cecil was used to animals as he and his wife kept cows for years. Several people kept some cattle, but these were a bit of a menace as they were allowed to roam freely in the community. Of course, I may be biased because they used to eat my cabbage! Bulls roamed freely too and one once nearly gored my friend Stewart Hancock’s father.
I went down to Capstan Island to immunize dogs too. I showed one of the fishermen, “Uncle” Victor, how to do injections and, later, someone from the Department of Health came to finish the job.
It was only a month later that we had another little boy come to us because of dog bites. He was only five and was very frightened, poor little thing. A young dog had attacked him in his own porch, after he got home from the store with his aunt. He had a deep bite on the forehead and there was a piece of skin missing, so the doctors in St. Anthony took a flap of skin from his leg and sutured it to his forehead. We had him in the nursing station for daily dressings when he came home, and he was with us for a week. His aunt, however, had gone into shock and I had to admit her too!
We saw Olive’s father that winter too, for an axe slipped when he was fixing the nose of his komatik, and he ended up with a deep wound on his foot. One of a generation that didn’t like to bother medical attendants, he wasn’t going to come to the nursing station, but rather “do it up with turpentine.” His daughter Ethel, however, prevailed on him to come in (she was working at the nursing station) which was just as well as the periosteum, covering the bone was involved, and he needed an antibiotic to prevent any infection.
That winter we had a lot of sick children. One girl, the fourth child in her family, was born normally but had blue spells three days later. Two weeks later she was back with what I thought was a brain haemorrhage, as she had a stiff neck and was crying a lot. In St. Anthony she was diagnosed as having hydrocephalus or “water on the brain” and lived about a year. It was very sad.
Other children that winter had pneumonia, and at one point in March we had ten children under the age of six in the nursing station. As the staff slept upstairs, their crying at night often disturbed us, or at least it did me, because my bedroom was over the used the most for children. It was also a problem keeping them amused when they began to feel better, and we had the usual ties, colouring books, etc. Some children were very sick indeed I required a lot of care, keeping us quite busy, but my girls were very good, even if it meant a lot of broken rest for the nurse. It was fortunate for us there was only one delivery during that time.
Medical work and the gospel continued to overlap, and many “setbacks” resulted in souls coming to Christ. Stan, for example, was saved after his wife had a miscarriage. Now she came in to have her first baby. Because of high blood pressure and that miscarriage the previous year, I transferred her to St. Anthony when she was making little progress in labour. The weather was not good, and it was most fortunate we were able to get a plane in to pick her up. Once again this was in answer to prayer and her baby girl was born by Caesarian section.
Her husband, who in later life was to become a pillar of strength to the little assembly at English Point, was saved the previous year at the time she had her miscarriage. Stan was born at English Point in September 1936. He worked on the Forteau River as a guide during the summer months for ten to twelve years where he saw a lot of drinking. There was a lot of drinking at English Point in those days too. They used to make “moonshine” there. Stan drank himself and used to play the accordion for dances.
One day he and a group of fishermen were going over the falls in a boat when the boat capsized and they were all thrown into the water. However they were all able to get to shore safely. He felt that God was speaking to him at that time.
My teacher friend used to pick up the guides after they finished work and take them home. One day when he came to pick them up he told them that there was a little boat at the wharf. It was the M.G.M., the little missionary boat. He said that there was to be a meeting that night in the old dance hall in Forteau. Stan decided to go and he heard the Gospel clearly preached that night. He took some tracts that were given him at the door but did not get saved at that time.
When George came back and started having meetings, Stan’s mother and two sisters got saved, and later his father and brothers. They were praying for him. He went to meetings occasionally after the little mobile hall was erected at English Point and he realised that the Gospel was right. One night he went into his Grandfather’s old house and heard the Christians singing, “For you I am praying” and this spoke to him again.
By this time he was married and his wife was expecting her first baby. She started to lose and we sent her to St. Anthony. The plane landed on the bay ice to pick her up. George took her to the plane in the snowmobile. He asked Stan to go to the Gospel meeting that night, which he did. The text on which George spoke was “Because there is wrath beware, lest he take thee away with his stroke; then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.” [Job 36:18] That really spoke to Stan and after the meeting, he knelt down by one of the little chairs in the hall and accepted Christ as his personal Sayiour.
There were quite a number saved in that little hall at English Point over the years. One of these was Edward John Flynn, whose wife Charlotte, had been saved earlier. This is his story:
The Gospel came here to Forteau Labrador in 1956 My wife attended the first meetings and was one the very first to get saved but I did not go and I wasn’t interested until about 1958.  I was boarding at the time at the home of Mr Earnest Trimm s of English Point a small community near Forteau where I was teach ing school
“I was invited to go to the gospel meeting at L’Anse au Loup by Bob Trimm. He said, ‘We will go down tonight to hear Uncle Joe Hancock and Arnold Belbin testfying.’
We went down with Mr Campbell in his car and it was my first gospel meeting I was ever to.  He preached on John Chapter 3, “Ye Must Be Born Again.” Mr Trimm never went again but during the next few months I made several trips down to the meetings and became very interested as time went on.
“I remember one night on our way to L’Anse au Loup, about six miles, the Christians who were travelling with us used to sing hymns. One particular night they sung the hymn, “She Only Touched the hem of His Garment” and that hymn certainly troubled me a lot.  It was the means of making me realize the wonderful power of Christ, the one I needed. One night I went to the meeting.  When the meeting was over the preacher would always ask if anyone had a hymn they wanted sung. I wanted one sung but I didn’t know if I was supposed to ask so I waited until I got home to my wife Charlotte.
 “We were in bed when I got the courage to ask her about the hymn 103, “She Only Touched the Hem of his Garment.” She got out of bed and found the book. I read that hymn as well as many others that night and about 4 o‘clock in the morning I got my Bible and wrote down on one of the pages that I was saved. It was sometime in October 1958. The next morning I knew I wasn’t saved so I tried to rub the writing off the page but I couldn’t because the page was too thin.
“After that I was serious about being saved.  I used to drink at different time.  When I drank I used to go over to Buckle’s Point to get Warren and Harold Roberts to sing some hymns. Wallace Buckle was there once. My brother father and myself were drinking when I met Wallace and I had a half bottle of wine left and I threw it away and went with Wallace because only a short while ago he had gotten saved and I knew he has something that I needed and didn’t have.
“There were three things that were hindering me from being saved: my parents, job, and friends but thank God that didn’t stop me. I put my moonshine can away, no more beer in the home-  I wanted to be saved. February 1, 1959 was a stormy day but the evening it cleared up. Mr Campbell was in Forteau, I was in English Point. About 3:30 p.m. Mr Campbell came to English Point on a team of dogs. He knew I wanted to be saved so he had a gospel meeting that night at English Point, there were only 13 people there and I was the only unsaved person attending.
“All through the meeting I was saying to myself ‘Lord Save Me.’ When the meeting was over he asked if anyone had a hymn they wanted sung and then he nodded his head to me and I told him “Almost Persuaded.” The hymn was sung. The few that were at the meeting left and I stayed behind.  I told him I wanted to be saved and I wanted to be saved now. Mr Campbell said, ‘We will pray.’ So we knelt down and he said, ‘You pray.’
“I did, I thanked God for sending his son into the world to save sinners. Realizing I was a sinner on the way to hell I asked the Lord Jesus Christ to save a miserable sinner like me and there kneeling by the chair February 1, 1959 around 8:45 p.m. I got saved. I rose from my knees, took Mr Campbell hold by the hand said, ‘George, lam saved.” He said, ‘Let’s go find your wife. ‘And we did.”
Charlotte said to me after that, “So we were a happy family. We raised five boys and one girl - all saved but two boys.”
George got some encouragement that year after working alone most of the time he was in Labrador, when Andrew Bergsma joined him in the field. Of Dutch descent, Andy was a wonderful preacher and an able teacher. Other preachers came from time to time to teach the young Christians more about the Bible, and how to live the Christian life. One of these was a man named Fred Holder. He held a series of meetings for teaching ministry, and Ethel, who was working at the nursing station at that time, and I walked across the bay ice some nights to attend the meetings. Sometimes the North- em Lights would be visible, especially on clear frosty nights. They are a magnificent sight.
There were a number saved in L’Anse-au-Loup by 1960. If there were special meetings held there during the winter, we would travel to L’Anse-au-Loup by snowmobile, a distance of eight or nine miles, singing hymns and choruses all the way down and back. We enjoyed doing so, and it helped to take our minds off the narrow rod around Crow Head, which was treacherous when the roads were iy. A conference was held over the Easter weekend, when various speakers came and held meetings for three or four days. The local Christians were busy baking for days and no one went hungry. A baptismal tank was installed in the L’Anse-au-Loup Hall and from time to time a baptism would be held. This was much warmer than the old method of baptising in the sea!
Red Bay, about fifty miles from Forteau, experienced the same blessing and a number of people had been saved. George and Bert had gone there together in the winter of 1958, as mentioned previously, and held meetings in the Orangemen’s Hall. Among those saved were “Uncle” John and “Aunt” Irene Leydon, a young man (John) and his Dad on the same night, John’s mother-in-law a couple of months later, and his wife in the fall.
When the brethren were no longer permitted to use the Orange Hall, they met in the house of a local fisherman, Jack Hilliard.
Jack and his wife were both saved at that time, and several others trusted the Saviour during the summer and fall, including “Aunt” Meme Hilliard, a widow whose husband died shortly before she came to the Saviour. She lived with her nephew and his wife, both of whom had got saved the previous March.
“Aunt” Meme was one of twins who had been born blind. Born on Seal Island, as infants she and her sister Clara had been taken to the orphanage in St. Anthony by Dr. Grenfell, because their mother could not care for them. Later he sent them to the Canadian Institute for the Blind in Halifax where they learned Braille. After leaving school they returned to St. Anthony and later worked in the Industrial Centre at the Mission House in Red Bay, where Miss Minnie Pike taught them to weave. “Aunt” Meme later married George Hilliard and settled in Red Bay. They had no children.
The first baptism in Red Bay was held in a pond that summer. As others were saved they were baptised, some in the Hall at L’Anse-au-Loup in the winter, and others in the pond in Red Bay in the summer. Bert’s wife and family had come to live in Red Bay in the fall of 1958; Emily kept quite busy with four children. Jane, a young girl who had been recently saved, worked with her for six or seven years, helping out. Later Jane came to work at the Forteau Nursing station as cook.
An assembly was formed in Red Bay in the fall of 1959; a building having been purchased from Pentecostals who were no longer working there. It was a small building but adequate for the purpose.
The summer of 1960 we had a number of deliveries, one of which was Olive’s. She and Wallace had returned to Forteau in April. Olive came in one morning in early labour, and the same evening an old lady died. This eighty-two year old lady from Red Bay, “Aunt” Hazel, had been very ill, having fallen and broken her hip a couple of weeks previously. She was laid out in the room across the hall from the maternity ward - so life goes on, one little one coming into the world and one older one leaving.
It did not seem appropriate to tell Olive at the time.
Labour went well and that evening Olive had a lovely girl. She had been a good patient. Her husband had been out fishing all day so was delighted to hear the good news when he came in later.
In the same room with Olive was another woman from L’Anse-au Loup, who had had a baby boy four days earlier, her tenth child. She had nine girls at home, and was delighted when I told her she had a boy at last.
Next morning I went into the room to see how my mums were doing, and asked Olive how she had slept.
“Very good,” she replied, “Aunt Hazel hardly made a sound all night, although I thought I heard her once or twice.” Really!
“Aunt” Hazel’s body was still in the next room waiting for her family to come and pick it up and take it to Red Bay. There were no undertakers in Labrador, and the custom was that families did all the arrangements. One of the men would make a coffin and the loved one was laid out in the front room, and friends gathered to , help and support the family in their sorrow in any way they could, both financially and with baked goods. Frequently, a wake was
held each night when friends came to sing hymns.
Obstetrics is full of variety, which makes it interesting but a little alarming at times. Earlier that summer I admitted a woman from L’Anse-au-Clair, who should have gone to St. Anthony for her delivery, but could not do so because of weather conditions - it was the May “break-up” time. She went into labour and, in view of her history, I got in touch with Dr. Marcoux at Blanc Sablon who came and delivered her by forceps.
A few days after Olive had her baby I came across a thirty-four year old woman in early labour, who started to bleed. I transferred her to St. Anthony. Later a young woman in the early months of pregnancy came to see me, because she was passing blood. I admitted her for observation, as this could have been due either to infection or a kidney stone. She settled down and went on to full term.
There were plenty of children’s accidents, too. Later that summer a young girl from L’Anse-au-Loup got burns on her face and chest, after lifting a kettle off a stove and spilling the water over herself. She had several blisters. Burns are very painful and she quite shocked, so I gave her an injection for the pain and treated burns with cold moist compresses until the pain and redness went, and I could better assess the damage. When I checked her after this, the burns did not appear to be too deep but one can never tell at first, and they healed well, without skin grafts.
The following month a ten-month-old baby girl was brought into the clinic, after she had upset a cup of tea on her leg and also had a nasty burn. Poor little thing, she was very frightened. Once the pain left she settled down and did very well.
Early in August, a four-year-old Pinware boy got a nasty axe injury to his wrist. Stirling had been playing with his puppy while his twelve-year-old brother was making a windjack (windmill) at a chopping block nearby. When the puppy jumped on to the chopping block young Sterling put his hand up to take him down, just at the precise moment his brother brought down the axe. He had a nasty cut on his wrist and severed the tendon that elevates the thumb. Obviously he needed to go to St. Anthony.
Fortunately the Maraval, the hospital boat, came in and the doctor aboard checked him out. I thought the doctor might have repaired the tendon in Forteau but it had gone back too far. Stirling went to St. Anthony with the doctor, on board the Maraval, which must have been a thrill to a boy from so isolated a community.
He wasn’t the only one we sent across to St. Anthony then. Some people were better handled there, such as woman who had had a miscarriage and was haemorrhaging, or the man from Capstan Island who was having acute chest pain and other symptoms of a heart attack.
Then there were the joyous occasions when yet another generation came into being, this helping to make up for the pressures of all those accidents. Early that September “Aunt” Mary’s great niece had a baby, her first and the first of the next generation. “Aunt” Mary, who herself had assisted with deliveries several times when she lived in West St. Modeste, was very excited about this little one, and was soon holding the little girl in her arms, her great- great niece!
That year I had arranged to take a furlough as several things were happening in our family. My brother was getting married, my sister and her husband were returning from Germany, and my Dad was coming back from Australia, where he had been visiting his brother and sister. (He had also worked on a sheep station there for awhile.) I had planned to go in August but did not get a relief nurse in time, so went a little later.
I was the only nurse at Forteau, on call twenty-four hours a day, and although we were allowed a furlough every three years, I had been here for seven. There was a need for periodic medical updating.