By Loretta Oddan – Medicine Hat, Alta.
My dad had an auction sale in 1947 with his friend Jack Heilman. They needed money to go to Vancouver to work, and for money to keep things going at home. I believe they must’ve thought they were going to get rich fast.
We lived 18 miles north of Wilkie, Sask., on a farm in the Fairyland district. I was 13 years old. We had five milk cows, a team of Clydesdale horses, eight sows and my horse, chickens, and two calves. I guess my dad thought I could handle a lot of chores.
Mrs. Marion Hielman helped milk the cows. They had to be milked before I went to school in the morning and everything had to be watered.
On Saturday my job was to clean the barn. I would hook up a horse to the stone boat and clean the manure out of the barn. When the stone boat was full, I had to take it out to the manure pile about a quarter-mile away. I did this several times until it was clean.
Doubled over with pain
Then I hooked up the Clydesdale team, Maples and Toots, to the hay rack to get straw from the stack to bed everything down. What a nice feeling when we opened the barn door in the evening, holding the lantern. There was the sound of munching and the noise the animals made. The heat from their bodies made it all worthwhile.
One of those Saturdays, Jan. 13, I doubled up with pain when I was cleaning the barn. I got back to the house and mom got me to lay down while she phoned our teacher to come. Miss Tabert had two years of nurses training prior to becoming a teacher. She phoned the doctor and he said “bring her in right away” because I had appendicitis.
Mom wasn’t well enough to take me so she phoned my uncle Jack Risling who was miles way. He said he’d be there right away.
Blowing snow resulted in the roads being closed, so he decided to take his team with our closed-in cutter. The horses had to stay on the trail of packed snow because if they stepped off, the cutter would tip over.
Uncle Jack drove from inside the cutter about halfway. He couldn’t see because of the blowing snow, so he stood outside and braced himself against the cutter. He had a horse that was recently broken in and he didn’t trust him.
I remember him telling me as he touched my shoulder that he would get me there. I knew that I’d be okay with my mom beside me and him outside driving. We got to the hospital about 10 p.m. We had left home just after dinner.
My uncle was out in the freezing cold so long his face, hands, and feet where frozen. They told me later he couldn’t walk into the hospital by himself.
I was operated on immediately because my appendix had ruptured. Uncle Jack and his son, Ronald, did our chores and took me to school for two weeks. Thank you Uncle Jack. You are my hero.