Labrador History - 4.1 EARLY 1956

Mary TaylorChapter 4
DAWNING OF THE LIGHT: 1956-57

4.1 EARLY 1956
January 1956 was the beginning of a momentous year, for me and many others, although there was no hint of it at the time. At first I was very busy, and it was later, especially in the fall, that the hand of God began to work in a remarkable way.
The year started with the arrival of two new babies, a girl on the 7th and a boy next day, and then the pace picked up! An urgent call from a family in Pinware, whose two year old boy was having what appeared to be seizures set me off on another trek. The parents wanted me to come and see him, so I suggested they bring him as far as possible by dog team, while I would try to meet them by boat. There wasn’t much snow, for it was quite mild, but they managed to get him as far as L’Anse-au-Diable.
At the other end I did what I could January is a difficult month water travel because the water is very “heavy” (near freezing) ice can form on the bow of the boat. Raymond Flynn, the postmaster, said he would try it as he had a large boat, and with Stewart, our handyman, he rigged a piece of canvas over the front if the boat. We set off. The dangerous part of the trip was round Armour, where the lighthouse was situated, and which could dangerous at any time of year - especially in winter. The sea was calm that day, thankfully, so we had no problems. After going mound the Battery, the hill with steep cliffs between L’Anse-au, “, and L’Anse-au-Diable, we arrived in L’Anse-au-Diable a couple of hours after we left Forteau.
On arrival I found that, although the child had a high fever, he had no further seizures, so I gave him a tepid sponge bath and some aspirin. Just as I was about to leave an anxious mother arrived with a little five-year-old girl. The girl had an open area above her right elbow that had been draining pus for some time, and was running a low-grade fever. I suspected osteomyelitis and decided to take her with me too, if the parents were agreeable. They were. A quick lunch and off we went in the boat with our two small charges. The little fellow had settled down and had no more seizures, for which I was thankful.
By this time the wind was picking up and Raymond felt it would not be safe to go round the point by boat, especially as it would soon be dark, so we decided to stop for the night at L’Anse-au Loup. The children stayed with relatives, whom I told to call me, if necessary, at the home of Mrs. Anne Barney, where I always stayed when I went to L’Anse-au-Loup for clinic.
In the meantime word had got around the settlement that “the nurse was in town” and any thought of relaxation went out the window! It was difficult for people to get to the station in Forteau, so the arrival of the nurse was a good “chance” for them, and they made the best of it. I got down to the business of seeing patients right after lunch and was busy all evening, ending up with two more candidates for a trip to Forteau. The first was a six-month- old girl with abdominal cramps and vomiting. Fearing an intersuseption (a condition where the bowel becomes blocked as one piece pushes itself inside the other,) I decided to take her to Forteau for observation. It turned out this was not the serious case it might have been, but I wanted to be sure. The second patient we took with us was a boy of five with a very swollen, hot and tender left knee. The number of patients for transfer to the nursing station was rapidly growing!
The sea was still too rough the following morning, so we decided to go by dog team, even if this meant a long haul over very rough terrain. There was not much snow coverage, although there was some in patches, and the new road was now partly constructed around Crow Head, a cliff on the opposite side of the bay from Forteau. We used two dog teams, the two babies in a “coachbox” with me and the older children following in another. A “coachbox”, filled with quilts on top of a small mattress, is surprisingly comfortable and the passenger sits at one end supported by pillows. We sent many of our mothers and babies home in this manner.
The going was rough over the partially constructed road but otherwise the journey was not too bad, and we got a warm welcome at the station. I had sent a message to Olive and Christine, the two staff members at the station who had replaced Pearl and Winnie when these had left earlier that fall (Pearl had got married in October,) so they were prepared for our arrival. It was wonderful for me to be “home” again and hand my small charges into their capable hands. Before long the children were snugly tucked into beds and cots and I was enjoying a welcome cup of tea. It was time to relax after a long and tiring journey, and the children seemed none the worse for the ordeal.
All four cases did well too. Little Willie had no further seizures and his condition was not as serious as I had first thought.
Baby Mary responded to treatment, although she gave us some moments. The older two children (Joan and Norman) were r the same room, under strict orders to remain in bed, but this is “ for children when they start to feel better. One day I heard a cry and found Joan in great distress because Norman had been trying to steal her candies. She had almost fallen out of bed on to Dr bad arm, but fortunately I got there in time! Both children recovered and soon went home to their families.
A burden for these souls remained and, while I still held Sun- School each week and the children responded well, I longed for more.
That winter Rev. Peter Macaskill held some special services at church, and stayed at the nursing station. It was an opportunity share the burden, and we had some great chats about spiritual lings, praying that the Lord would send someone to help those to Vhom I had witnessed about the Lord Jesus and my faith in Him.
Teaching Sunday School I used a flannel graph to illustrate Bible stories, taught parables and sometimes, by way of a change, told a story with a moral. One of these was a story about a little girl nose family was poor (the children could relate to that) and who .J been given a handmade doll, stuffed with straw - it was all ey could afford. A naughty little brother, full of jealousy, had stolen this and the girl was very upset. She did not know that he had stolen it, of course. The boy buried the doll in the garden but, when his mother questioned him, denied having taken it. His conscience bothered him at times, but he kept it to himself.
One day, several weeks later, the little sister was in the garden when she saw a patch of seedlings coming up in a peculiar shape. It reminded her of something and as she looked closer, she saw the shape of a doll! So she dug it up. Sure enough, there was her doll, but not of much use to her now. The straw had some seeds in it and in the damp earth they had sprouted! Moral of the story; “Be sure your sin will find you out!” [Numbers 32:23]
Others helped in the Sunday School and, after the flannelgraph lesson, teachers would take a class and question the children on the lesson and teach them a Bible verse, which they recited the following week. I had the older girls in my class, and enjoyed my time with them.
Before he left, Peter suggested we should hold a service each week in the United Church, and made the suggestion to the congregation. He asked for volunteers, and Uncle Joe said he would light the fire each Sunday, while my school teacher friend agreed to help with the lesson, for which we used a flannelgraph of John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” (which Peter lent us.) He gave out the hymns, I opened and closed in prayer, and one of our Sunday School teachers played the little organ. We were all set. These services continued all winter and those who attended seemed to enjoy them. I continued to pray, however, that the Lord would send someone to preach the Gospel full-time and that those who felt their need would be saved.
Meanwhile medical activities continued unabated.
Towards the end of January I had another forceps delivery. I worried when a patient in labour made slow progress and was tired, sometimes making it necessary to apply forceps to help the baby into the world. God gave me the wisdom and strength to do so when necessary. There were more sick babies in the winter, as usual. A teenage girl with acute appendicitis was sent to St. Anthony by plane. A twelve-year-old boy fell and cut his upper lip and fractured his chin, so he also was transferred to St. Anthony. It was a busy winter!
We had three deliveries in February and four in March, one of who surprised us with twins! Married to the R.C.M.P. officer in Red Bay, Joan was a tall well built woman and I did not realise she was expecting twins until the first one was born. Staff often helped out and that night Christine, our cook, was on call. She was with me and when I said, “There’s another one!” she looked as if she was going to faint! Fortunately for me she didn’t faint, or I would have been in a fix! The first baby, a boy, was soon followed by his little sister. They were quite big babies for twins; the boy weighed about five pounds and the girl just over four. When Joan sent a telegram to her husband in Red Bay telling him they had twins, he thought she was kidding! They did very well and soon went home. A few years later, Joan sent me a photo of the children, which I still have amongst my prized possessions.