Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

…I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget…

Inspiring words, among other accounts, pass by the desk of the President of the United States. These are his people, the people of Herbert Love’s world and he could not be more proud. So moved is he that he breaks from his long-held tradition and leaves his handicapped Ida in the care of Major Walter Reed. The imitable and nearly invisible V.P. Garret Hobart (a lame duck by most accounts) is entrusted with Washington D.C.

I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget.”

Time to Remember-001And so he does, while rushing off to the state capitol of Florida, with most of the Washington press corps tagging along. “The gratitude of this nation will not be a mime’s cheer.” William McKinley is not just a decent man. He is forward looking in his direction, yet he seldom ignores the needs and the desires of the few. This is an important quality for a country that is expanding nearly as fast as its rapidly improving sectors of communication and travel.

In less than two months there will be a presidential election of 1900, so this trip to Florida may do wonders for McKinley’s patchy Southern support. Herb Love does not have a widely public personae, so his best friend cannot garner him support, only Love’s little slice of the Panhandle and not much more below the Mason-Dixon Line.

But this September of disaster and the related stories of heroism and triumph over adversity, may well translate into popular votes in November.

Speaking of popular, the Republican nominating committee and attending convention had decided that the office of vice-president needed upgrading. They choose Spanish-American War hero and current governor of New York state Theodore Roosevelt, to replace the ignoble Hobart, who was merely a crony of first term financier, Marcus Hanna. So it’s out with old and in with that “damned cowboy”. In political circles, that is a term of endearment.

Enough of back-door politics though.

There has not been a preponderance of “full dinner pails” in the South since the Civil War, though steady progress can be seen.  But in the wake of the hurricane, whose fury should have been given a name that progress has been set back.

As it turns out, it is not too late to cash in on the workings of the Love complement, as reported by Harv Pearson and spread nationwide by everyone’s source for news: large sheets of thin paper with black ink printing on it; singular to each city, bound by unwritten rules of fairness and confidentiality. Because of the efforts of hurricane heroes and revealing reporters, the sitting President should receive a beaucoup bump in popularity. Luck and timing is a politician’s greatest ally.


Alpha Omega M.D.

welcomehome

Episode #116


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 115

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #115

…Broken limbs are set, deep wounds are stitched, virus and bacteria are thwarted; lives are saved, fears allayed, souls preserved by an experienced old man, a dedicated chemist and a Negro child…

NEWSPAPER-man

Newspaper Man

What this grouping of Floridians has accomplished, is amazing.

Quincy Reporter-001     And because of Harv Pearson, those days will not go unnumbered. Perhaps the most compelling story that readers of the Quincy Reporter and those other newspapers picking up the story courtesy of wire service access, is that of a retired German doctor and his young black assistant. While local hospitals were awash with disease and confusion, this retired immigrant doctor converts a university gym into an oasis of organization and healing. Without all the instruments and gadgets of their professional counterparts, Siegfried Endlichoffer efficiently knifes through the nonsense with the calculated precision of the Kaiser Wilhelm, whom he had left behind in his native hinterland.

And there at the doctor’s side, the most unlikely nurse one could ever imagine; Alpha Omega Campbell, formerly Alfrey, coming of age in a hurry, applying the volumes of medical tidbits related to him over the previous three years.

Ziggy-001Harv Pearson is witness to this incredible healing team. Mention must be made of druggist Jacques Francoise, who goes so far as manufacturing medicines on the spot, using whatever ingredients he can lay his hands on, supplementing those he had pre-prepared. He and Alpha take turns carrying out the triage-inspired orders from Doc Ziggy, some of which comes from the unspoken chemistry between the three.

on-the-scene     Broken limbs are set, deep wounds are stitched, virus and bacteria are thwarted; lives are saved, fears allayed, souls preserved by an experienced old man, a dedicated chemist and a Negro child,’ pens the journalist, for the record.

‘Sadly, though fortunately not tragically,’ he continues,Willy Campbell, father of young Alpha, as well as Jacob Haley, a simple teacher, have succumbed to exhaustion. They used their last gasp of energy in a tireless retrieval of sick and injured from the field of destruction. They tarried until nearly everyone within saving distance–was.

‘My hat is off to these men and the prayers of all, who they have touch with their kindness, go out to them this day.

‘Be proud you people of Quincy, Midway and Tallahassee, for your sons and daughters, husbands and grandfathers have acquitted themselves most excellently!’


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Young A.O.-001

Episode #115


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #114

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #114

…When it comes to avoiding bad weather, it is wiser to duck a one-two punch, than stop it with your face…

Acting Secretary of Agriculture Herbert Love and his bride Phoebe have seen more than Sec. of Ag-001enough devastation before they can reach the major Gulf of Mexico port that once was Galveston. The flattened buildings and depopulation are not very out of the ordinary for a storm such as this. You need to know what it looked like before, to understand the devastated after. But as a presence, the Presidential Train and all its trappings are comforting still, though the Loves are not exactly well known.

Herb Love delivers a reassuring speech to those very ready to receive; those who cannot find hope in their circumstances and see him as an answer to earnest prayers of intercession. Beside the presence of the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and a trainload of goods, tents and fresh water, the most tangible evidence that the survivors of the Galveston/Houston area can hold on to is the promise of the Army Corps of Engineers. They are planning to erect a seventeen foot high seawall between them and anything the Gulf of Mexico can dish out.

In addition to a concrete wall, which is designed to manhandle nature, Love tells them about establishing a network of observers for the purpose of reporting climatic conditions, both in the United States and without. The region’s scientific community of countries are banding together, including those unfriendly on other levels, such as Cuba and Mexico; or the misunderstood, including the Bahaman Islands and the British West Indies.

(Sam Rabin Art)

When it comes to avoiding bad weather, it is wiser to duck a one-two punch, than stop it with your face.

Down in New Orleans, they can tell you something about taking two blows on the button. And just ask the good folks of Greater Tallahassee, who have spent the past number of days living and breathing something could have avoided and remained mainly ignored or neglected. But they did not, standing tall in a world where humanitarianism is becoming a lost art.

The Levee at Canal Street

Sure, John Ferrell had a vested interest, a personal agenda, as did those concerned about the well-being of the Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club, but what this grouping of ordinary everyday people has accomplished is amazing.


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Episode #114


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #113

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #113

… Residents of Gadsden County will read Harv Pearson’s accounts and count their blessings, realizing that they were merely grazed by a storm…

Image result for close call

Recovering from the Great Storm is an ongoing theme.

The same can be said for the rest of the Leon/Gadsden detachment, having set up a temporary clinic in the gymnasium at Tulane University. From all accounts, local hospitals are beyond capacity, breeding grounds that form germs and bacteria not seen here, ever. Isolating the stranded Tallahassee Women’s Club from these strange strains is seen as the sensible thing to do, as agreed on by Ziggy and Jacques. Young Alfrey is getting field training as a nurse, carrying out orders of the doctor and dispensing the medicines from the apothecary.

Willy Campbell and Jacob Haley have teamed together, joining other squads of men searching for survivors of the consecutive calamities. Sadly they overlap, with combinations of dead and injured commingling.

Quincy Reporter-001Harv Pearson has taken his journalistic independence to the streets, gathering stories of tragedy and heroism to send back to his Quincy Reporter. Residents of Gadsden County will read his accounts and count their blessings, realizing that they were merely grazed by a storm, whose right arm reared back like a boxer, only to deliver a knockout haymaker punch to the west.

But not all that Harv encounters is gloom and doom. As he roams the French Quarter, Bourbon and Royal Streets, sounds of an interesting style of music echoes through the taverns and eateries, melodically resisting the prevailing somber tones. Harv writes, ‘This “Jazz” seems to be a combination of dixielandjazzAfrican and European folk music, with dashes of blues, Dixieland and Ragtime. Improvisation and spontaneity are trademark styles of musicians, who know and live their music; a form of music like none I have ever heard.’

He continues.

‘New Orleans has grown to near 300,000 people, resilient types, who bravely shrug off adversity, all the while embracing the richness of their culture. Some would call it excess, but as I see it, these Orleanians have perfected optimism and made it their own.’


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Aftermath-001

Episode #113


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #112

…This has been a day for the ages…

Day for the Ages-001

The crew of the River Queen lowers a rope ladder.

“Hurry now,” urges Captain Longfellow to his remaining passengers.

“Aren’t you coming?” they ask their newfound friend, forged by strife. You learn a lot about people in times like this.

“My job is the safety of my passengers.” Phileas Longfellow lives up to his name, as does Catfish Albert Wright: “And everybody knows a captain must stay with his ship!”

Freighter

The Conquistador

So, as in the style of Noah, two by two the remaining couple dozen passengers of the River Queen are ferried to the foreign vessel. Speaking in a combination of three or four tongues, Catfish Al convinces the Conquistador, a colorful, aromatic freighter, loaded with coffee beans and rum, to drop its anchor and ride out the pending storm, pointing out the hail of lightning and accompanying roar of thunder.

Funnel clouds Fierce winds and torrential rains pummel the Delta once again. Barely a week has passed since the hurricane, now a squall of a different breed attacks from the northwest. Though sparing the immediate vicinity, a pair of funnel clouds can be seen, traveling in tandem to the east. For the privilege of escaping the worst, pecan sized hail rains down on them, accumulating by the inch before they begin to melt.

    Upon seeing welcome sunlight to the west, Catfish Albert Wright doffs a new Sombrero Catite, a spanish hat obtained in a fair game of chance during the storm. He bids adieu.

“If you ever come Tallahassee way, please grace us with a visit,” insists John Ferrell.

“You know, I might just do that. I have been around Old Man River for too many years now.” Al reflects on his life. “Do you have any lakes or rivers for my boat?”

“More than you can count, though I must say that you would raise a few eyebrows and spook all the livestock with that contraption.”

“Wait ‘til they see my motorized bicycle.”

riverboat    About the time the hugs and handshakes have been exchanged, a peek of the setting sun shines on the shifting silhouette of the River Queen. Considerable rainfall, collect by all the tributaries upstream, has swelled the great river above the silt line.

“Look! She’s moving!” James noticed. Cheers and applause overspread the freighter. Phileas Longfellow waves out the window of his bridge, having built up enough steam to set the huge paddle-wheeler to motion.

“What a triumphant moment!” John Ferrell embraces his children.

This has been a day for the ages.


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Legends-001

Episode #112


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

…I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins  messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur…

The Wright's-001

They make their way over, not around endless fingers of lowland, occasionally gaining open water, finally expansive open water, with grassy land a hundred or more yards to the starboard.

For no apparent reason, they suddenly knife inland, down a narrow path of water and a gauntlet of tall marsh grasses. Just as suddenly, up pops the Mighty, Mighty Mississippi.

“Pilot Town!” Catfish Al points and yells to a pile of twisted wood that used to be a village.River Queen-001

“The River Queen!” John Ferrell blurts.

They also spy the listing boat, longing to be freed from the soggy silt, washed into the river from farmland upstream. Shipping has resumed on the river, but they can only get so close, without risking going aground themselves.

Without a word, Catfish Al circles around to the higher port side of the vessel, then navigating to the starboard. They are greeted by the crew.

”Who are you? What is that craft? Where did you come from?” Each has their own query.

“Me, Albert Wright – and he, the father of the newly marrieds.”

“My name is John Ferrell and I am here for James and Abigail. There may be another bad storm coming in from the north.”

“At least it won’t be a typhoon.” Captain Longfellow is thankful for that. “We were wondering why the balloons stopped coming.”

“We can ferry you to one those ships sailing upstream.” He points to an example, a ship flying the flag of Brazil or Argentina or some South American country.

Freighter

”We’ve been helplessly watching those boats for hours, didn’t imagine a nifty skiff like this to come along.” He looks sideways at Al’s invention.

John is anxious to see the kids, but cannot help quizzing the inventor of the clever craft, “Albert Wright… Wright… Your name sounds familiar.”

  “I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur.

“No, I was thinking of the Wrights over there in Mobile.”

 “Nope, no relatives in Alabama that I know of.”

  “How did you get the nickname, Catfish?”

  “I guess I don’t look like an Albert…?”

“Father!” James and Abbey look down the side of the River Queen.

The crew lowers a rope ladder.


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Episode #111


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #110

…”I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools…

While everyone else fearfully looks for possible shelter, John Ferrell asks anyone who will listen, “Do you know anyone who will go into the Delta?” Not many even seem to listen. Those who do, shake their head no.

He is reduced to entreating a person who looks like a bum/hobo looking sluggard, feeding pigeons on a bench along Bayou St. John. He asks him the same desperate question.

“Catfish Al,” he spits out.

John is taken aback by a response that is a possible answer.

The ragged man simply points to a rickety pier, with a strange craft lashed to its warped gray wood. An interesting chap tends to what looks like a flatboat… with what looks like a motorcar engine and fan blade mounted at the rear.

John Ferrell approaches with caution, not knowing what to make of it. He musters the courage to ask, “Mr. Catfish?”

pilot town“Close enough,” Al responds. “What do you want and why aren’t you runnin’ for the hills like the others?”

“I need to find a way to, I think they said, Pilot Town?”

“Yes, Pilot Town, a delta settlement, down the Great River Road. Hear tell the hurricane wiped it out.”

River Queen-001   More news than John really wanted to know. “I guess… I don’t know… but I do know my son and his wife are stranded on the River Queen.”

“Yea, I heard she’s mucked up.” Catfish Al is nonchalant in his account of what he knows. “I told those balloon guys I would help, but I think they think I am peculiar, so they put me off, the fools.”

“The balloons are grounded and I need to find a way to get to Pilot Town. Can you get me there?” he asks, now cautiously optimistic.

“Let’s go……….” he extends his hand begging for a name.

 “John. John Ferrell.”

  “Come on stranger John, sit yourself at my feet and grab those handles on either side.” Al pulls goggles over his eyes. “I wanted to outrace that northwester anyway.”

Al spins a blade, attached by an axis to a now noisy motor. After casting off tethers, he leaps to a high seat, increases power and away they go, skipping across the water like a skillfully tossed flat stone. They whiz up the bayou, meeting the waters of Lake Pontchartrain at a speed rarely achieved on land or sea.

“Keep your mouth shut!” Al shouts over the roar of the exposed engine and the whir of the blade.

No sooner than John turns to ask, “Why?” a swamp bug splats against his cheek. “Oh.” He scrapes the remains away.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pilot Town-001

Episode #110


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