Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Fulcrum 1951-Part One

This story has four parts that I want to share with you.  It was a story that changed all our families lives not only at the time that it happened, but for the rest of our lives.

The summer of 1951 was so much fun.  All five of us kids--me the oldest at 10, clear down to Ruthie just about two years old--had played at Grandma's house in Tooele, Utah.  We would chase the chickens, run through the orchard sneaking a fresh peach or apricot, and listen for the train that lumbered down the tracks just a quarter of a mile from the house.  Sometimes we would put a penny on the rails and then after the train had clattered away till we could no longer hear it, would hurry down to the rails and try to find the flattened treasure.

But September brought the end of play and time for school, so just before Labor Day we packed up our old Buick and took the long trip back to our ranch in the mountains near Yellowstone Park.  The few days at home before school started were filled with getting school clothes ready, and maybe a trip into Cody--twenty five miles east through the treacherous Shoshone River Canyon.  Since the school supplied all the essential paper and pencils, we would beg for a box of Crayolas, the kind that had 48 different colors.  The box of eight that the school furnished just wasn't that exciting. Then the day after Labor Day, with little Ruthie waving bye, we took our lunch pails and hurried down the mountain to catch the school bus (Actually Willard Rhoads' nice large station wagon--his ranch was at the eastern end of the bus route), and soon we were immersed in a new year of learning.

Little did we know that in just two weeks we would face a turning point in all our lives.  We would change from being carefree children to ones who faced pain and heartache.  Our Mom and Dad, once so carefree suddenly turned sad and look years older.  That was the year of the Cody polio epidemic.  The middle of September, Ruthie started getting sick--just the flu, my Mom thought.  But her conditions worsened, and finally my folks made the 25 mile trip through the rugged canyon to the hospital in Cody where she was diagnosed with polio.  Her health rapidly deteriorated and the doctors gave my folks little hope that this small child would survive the night.  Mom sat watch at her bedside holding her hand and looking for the telltale blue in her tiny fingernail, and praying for mercy for her young sweet daughter.  And somehow Ruthie made it through those dark hours, hanging on to life by a thread.  

Part Two will be published next Tuesday, May 28th.

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