Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #109

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #109

…John Ferrell can hardly contain his jubilation, but this glee will fade when the steady stream of balloons comes to an end.

City Park New Orleans

There, and anxiously waiting at the rescue staging area at City Park in New Orleans, waits John Ferrell. The balance of his group has located the harried and distressed Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club. The girls have been denied the opportunity to sample the potential pleasures of their trip, having contracted all manner of local disease. There is certainly no shortage of suffering in any category of humanity.

Fifty or more miles from the devastated delta, John has watched three balloons float silently in. Each successive disembarking leaves him disheartened, no James or Abigail among the rescued. He does notice that most of those arriving are his age or older.

He finally summons the courage to ask about them, getting the attention of a middle-aged woman. “Did you meet the young married couple on your cruise? Their names are James and Abigail Ferrell.”

Even though she is still recovering from the scary, yet spectacular flight, she responds kindly, “If they are the youngest passengers, sir, they should be on the last balloon.”

“They’re alive???!!!”

“Oh my, yes… I just feel sorry for the three lifeboats taken by the storm….. About thirty poor souls did not have a chance….. God rest their souls.”

“Many thanks to you, good Madame — for the news of my son and daughter, I mean.” He can hardly contain his jubilation, but this glee will fade when the steady stream of balloons comes to an end.

The balloon pilots convene on the makeshift tarmacadam, speaking demonstrably, and fingers pointing to the northwest horizon. It seems the military has a better handle on weather conditions than the Weather Bureau, probably because they stay in constant radio contact. Forming dark clouds are the object of their concern.

John brazenly horns in on the air-soldiers, asking, “When are the other balloons coming?”

“We just talked to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Those clouds movin’ in,” he points, “wiped out half the barracks there an hour ago. Twisters don’t make for good flyin’ weather, sir.”

John almost said something ignorant, ‘Can’t you fly over the top of them?’, but the grocer thinks his science through and reconsiders, “Will the boat be safe in a storm?”Aftermath-001

“It’s stuck pretty good in that delta mud, but a stiff wind might blow it over…”

  “What?”

   “…or a good rain may flood it back into the river. Say mister, would you help us tie down our rigs here?”

Not really. It makes more sense to panic, but as hopeless as the situation appears, he has overheard whispers of those rescued. “Alligators”, is frequently heard. He becomes determined not to allow his children to become the ancient beast’s next meal.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Medicine Bluff at Fort Sill by Barbara Vaupel

Episode #109


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #106

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #106

…”The next time we get decent warning before a blow, will be the first time.”…

And no sooner than the temporal needs are restored to those who have fortunately endured, which nearly all Floridians have, relief crews are assembled to aid in whatever way possible. Phoebe Love organizes the Gadsden/Leon contingent, able to gather the majority of the disbanded Gadsden County Anti-Slavery Society, especially those involved in liberating the Campbells four years ago. Main man Willy Campbell, Hillside Joseph, Harv Pearson of the Quincy Reporter, liberation specialist Jacob Haley and of course John Ferrell, who favors the chance to get anywhere near New Orleans.

Doctor Ziggy has joined up for medical support, likely in short supply, with, going on twelve year old, Alfrey along side. Apothecary Jacques Francoise has emptied his shelves to aid them in dealing with disease and infection.

Bleaker Brothers-001The now Famous Fabulous Flying Bleaker Brothers would surely have added their skills, but they are working the Virginia State Fair followed by the Ohio State Fair; for all their talent, they unable to juggle their schedule.

The rest have been absorbed by the Washington relief train, selfishly diverted to Florida by Herbert Love. But any questioning the stopover is lost in the spirit of volunteerism.

“I am so sorry we did not issue a storm warning’” Love apologizes, perhaps unnecessarily, to the group, while holding fast to his wife, “something, anything that would have saved lives.”

Quincy Reporter-001

“Hurricanes are devilish, Herb. The next time we get decent warning before a blow, will be the first time.” Quincy friend and historian, publisher Harv Pearson has seen and reported on many storms in his long career and though none packed the wallop of 8 September, he knows how fast a tropical storm can explode into a hurricane and ways to predict are slow to improve.

“Thank you for taking me off the hook, Harv, but I promise you folks that, from now on, we will find a way to predict the path and intensity of hurricanes, storms of tropical nature. There are over six thousand casualties in Galveston alone. 6000 Texans no more and John Ferrell here does not know if two members of his family are alive or not. I imagine that every one of you have been directly affected somehow.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #106


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #105

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #105

… Their riverboat got washed up onto Delta mud, very early into the storm surge and no one can get to it at least until the enhanced tide recedes…

Democrat-001

The Tallahassee Democrat is emerging as the print voice of Florida’s capitol city. It is in no way aligned with the political party of the same name. It is inspired rather by the inspired notion of government for and by the people; elected or replaced on the merit of their service.

    The young editor, freshly graduated from Florida State’s School of Journalism and the son of the paper’s owner, Fulton Allanson III. That would make his son, Fulton Allanson IV. He is filled with optimistic idealism and a deep love for the city of his birth, education and vocation. He has promised himself to be a defender of the truth, therefore the people who buy their newspaper.

John Ferrell is a contemporary and friend of Allanson the third. He has made it to a room filled by typewriters and people pecking them furiously; in a glassed-off office, on hand to deal with a story of regional and global ramifications.

        The younger speaks to John’s questions about New Orleans. “The storm slammed the Mississippi Delta hardest, at the mouth of the Gulf. That is not a heavily populated area, but there were several river boat cruise ships out and they did not fare well. We obtained one ship’s manifest lists your son and daughter, adopted Smythwick… I mean, well James’ wife, you know.”

“Yeah, I do, but can you tell me what happened to their boat? Tell me straight now.”

It got washed up onto Delta mud, very early into the storm surge and no one can get to it at least until the enhanced tide recedes. There is no method of transportation able to navigate the shallow water and insufferable muck. Whoever stayed with the ship, not tossed out or foolhardy enough to board a lifeboat, is likely still alive.”

“When can you find out of the fate of my children?” pleads Ferrell to the elder Allanson.

“We have our hands full here, John,” he reminds, but we happen to have a correspondent in the Delta region and he is already checking local connections there. He followed James and Abbey around for a while, then covering the Tallahassee Junior Women’s Club outing. He’s got to find out their fate as well, somewhere in Louisiana.

Mississippi River Delta

“Agnes was supposed to go on that trip, but she has not been feeling well, since the wedding that is.”

“Yes I noticed.” The Allansons had attended, knowing of which he speaks. “She should be happy she stayed behind. The rest of those socialite girls will not be straying far from the Panhandle any time soon.”

Any survivor of this most radical atmospheric outburst will count their blessings.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #105


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #103

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #103

…John Ferrell’s  next visit uncovers three adults, one toddler and one Campbell, still in the company of potatoes, carrots and glass jars filled with a homemade assortment of preserves…

45f2e-knock-me-down-with-a-feather

I am going to check on Siegfried and Frieda, and finally ride on into town.” The plan is sound, the only way they will know what happened.

   “Do not forget Laura and the baby. Ask if they need anything from the store.”

  John is taken aback by his wife’s reference to Laura Bell’s child. He did not think she knew and now wonders what else she knows. There are more pressing matters, but it kind of makes him say, “Hmm…..”

Joseph had indeed stood fast with the livestock, saddling John’s jumpy mount in double rainbow-after-the-stormtime.

“Do your best to restore some order here, Joseph. I have a feeling we can number ourselves among the fortunate. And make sure you keep an eye out for looters. If a state of confusion reigns, those who think they are above the law may take advantage. You know where I keep the rifle. Make sure you clean it, using it only as a last resort. But we must protect what is ours.” There is a hint of anxiety in his voice, fearful what he may find in Tallahassee proper.

In the meantime, his visit next uncovers three adults, one toddler and one Campbell, still in the company of potatoes, carrots and glass jars filled with a homemade assortment of preserves. The cool damp shelter is meant to be a change from the tropical climate above, like the icebox above them in the kitchen. It makes for good sleeping weather, which they are, all snug in their blankets and in the absence of light, obviously oblivious to the new day.

Read About It

“Ziggy?” John whispers gently at the slumbering doctor. “Ziggy… don’t get up. The storm has passed, nothing serious to worry about, just downed trees and lots of rain.”

San Luis Lake has swelled up to the boards of the docks, whose boats have been deposited on this north shore. The waters of the lake are awash in grasses, leaves and branches.

“Vere did za storm come ashore?” Ziggy asks the critical question about any hurricane making landfall. And it was not just a tropical storm.

“I cannot be absolutely sure, but from where we are sitting, it looks like to the west, I guess I will find out, going in the town presently. Our telephone is on the blink.” It is amazing how easily a society can be spoiled. They have had the Bell invention for less than a year, yet it has become a sixth and seventh sense. “If you would, check on my girls… at the estate of course. I should be back late afternoon, can I get you anything?”

“Have you any veal? I am getting sick of rabbit stew.”

“Too much of a good thing my friend? I’ll see what we have in the cooler, if we have a cooler that is.”

 Disaster is about pulling together.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“After the Storm” by Tom Thomson

Episode #103


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #102

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #102

Chapter Six

A FRESH ONE HUNDRED

…“The line is dead,” John Ferrell laments, in a vain attempt to retrieve some news as to the extent of the storm now passed/past…

Hurricane-001

Torrential rain, straight-line winds, hurtling debris;  Gadsden County  endures ten hours of the worst conditions that this planet can produce, a force so strong that thirty miles of continent cannot subdue it. The “storm of the century” arrives in the last months of the 19th Century’s last year.

John and Martha Ferrell did spend the night huddled in a closet, with Agnes, listening as one by one, south and east side windows blow in, sometimes with a projectile, sometimes by the sheer force of the sustained wind. Their house of stone stands sturdy. Neither they nor it know what has hit them. Daylight will reveal more than they want to see.

One thing they do see, trees previously having hidden it from sight, is the Endlichoffer chalet. They were no doubt brave, but now lay horizontal for their trouble. As a testament to Ziggy’s carpentry skills, his wooden structure passes the earnest test. One can only assume that the morning finds the occupants fine as well.

What the eye can see, the mind can only imagine. The two fastest vehicles for communication, the telegraph and the more recent invention telephone, depend on wires suspended on poles. It is unlikely that those poles are standing, as those with a telephone find out.

“The line is dead,” John laments, in a vain attempt to retrieve some news as to the extent of the storm now passed/past. He was hoping that his friend at the Tallahassee Democrat, the area newspaper, could shed some light on this apparent disaster. Did the damage extend east to Tallahassee proper, or did in fact strike to the west, perhaps threatening the lives of his son and daughter-daughter-in-law, perhaps on their way back from New Orleans.

And to think this was a glancing blow.

“I am going to check on Joseph. He probably stayed in the barn to keep the animals calm. Then I am going to check on Siegfried and Frieda, and finally ride on into town.” John’s plan is sound, the only way they will know what happened.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #102


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #101

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #101

… Out of nowhere, the shallow based ship pitches to the port side, tossing passengers about like rag dolls…

Robert Irwin Oil

300 miles to the west of San Luis Lake and into the dark of night, a happy couple is about to wrap their wedding holiday in grand style, with a riverboat cruise into the Mississippi River Delta. The stern-wheeler is outfitted for delight, restaurant and jazz bands dotting the large decks.

James and Abigail have previously digested the city of New Orleans through the eyes (and stomach) of youth; such are the sinfully rich pleasures by those who may well be aligned with the “dark one”. It is no place for the feint of heart or those who easily blush. Neither are they so innocent, but for being accustomed to a more sedate lifestyle. Their eyes have been sufficiently opened wide.

It is about time to return to normal.

But not until a floating experience that will cap what has been a glorious beginning to married life. With innocence mostly intact, they plan on making the most of this evening preceding their return to the real world.–

–The boat is fully loaded this 8 September Friday night, with one hundred other eager cruisers ready to leave the dock. The lot of them are equally ignorant to what is about to come, including the crew, who navigate in the artificial light of beacons. They cannot see the swirling mass of weather above their heads.

If ignorance can be used as an excuse, then the fact that they were miles downstream, when they had no business leaving the dock, may be ignored.

Out of nowhere, the shallow based ship pitches to the port side, tossing passengers about like rag dolls. The Ferrells are dislodged from their dinner seats.

“Hang on to me, Abbey!” James protects his bride from unexpected and unknown forces.

“What’s happening?” a clueless question shared by all.

“I don’t know, but it looks like we’ve come about, heading back to the dock.”

The paddle-wheeler has indeed turned around, driven more by wind and water than steam. In fact, it feels like they are one giant surfboard, riding the crest of a fifteen foot high surge. They are propelled northward with the water, not gaining one knot of speed or foot of distance between them and the wave.

James leads Abbey to the lifeboats, thinking it an option, then thinking twice. Upon seeing an overturned lifeboat crash against the west bank, they grab life jackets.

“Put this on. We are heading for the middle of the ship.”

Getting past a panicking mob proves to be a challenge, with no two people going in the same direction, let alone looking like they have a plan.

The crew’s directions are not clear, more used to light chop or the wake from passing ships. Storm surge from a hurricane is completely another thing. The Captain and helmsman find the rudder has no effect. “Let’s get as far inland as we can,” is the Captain’s only hope for survival.

James and Abbey gain the main ballroom, lashing themselves to one of the support beams. They hang on for dear life in each others arms, their future teetering in the balance, looking now like a mere distant horizon.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Hurricane-001

Episode #101


page 92 (end Ch. 5)

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #100

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #100

…Ziggy has seen this cloud formation before, some twenty-odd years ago…

“Tell Ziggy to watch the skies, fo storms, Isa mean,” Willy warns his son.

The only time a boy cares about the weather is when it forces them to stay indoors, which is where the doctor awaits his protégé, not with black bag and stethoscope, but with carpenter satchel and hammer. “Bring that board vith you ven you come up, Alpha,” directs Ziggy from the balcony at the head of the stairs, “ve’ll be building Maggie za new bed.”

Retirement has offered anything but rest and relaxation for the Endlichoffers lately.  Thanks to neighbor Ferrell, Laura Bell and Maggie Lou are permanent residents at their lakeside chalet. Throw in a Negro youth, hungry for knowledge and thirsty for things unavailable under any other circumstances and you have a formula for keeping one on the young side of the street.

From Ziggy’s point of view, he actually feels younger than whence these changes started. There is a perceivable get along in his giddy up.

For Frieda, aside from a drop in the average age of her household from 65 to 40, having Laura Bell around for help and friendship has proved to be the elixir of youth as well. For a barren woman, with no hope for lineage of her doing, the occurrence of this instant family is a true gift from God. If you don’t think so, go ahead and be the one to tell her that Laura and Maggie are not her daughter and granddaughter. They are family.

That is why she has given over her sewing room for Ziggy and his neo-grandson to reconstruct.

The joyful task of making Maggie a room of her own takes most of the day, one that has featured the formation of some ominous looking clouds on the horizon. These are not the clouds that form nearly every afternoon about this time, cumulus varieties that deposit a seemingly same amount of rain. Angry and unfamiliar are they, descending on the Panhandle as quickly as a solar eclipse, and nearly as dark. What little light shines through the coming bank is jaundiced, all the while swirling like a tempest in a teapot.

Storm cellarZiggy has seen this formation before, some twenty-odd years ago. Experience tells him begin to batten the window shutters. He calmly gives orders to the rest, without letting on to the urgency of the moment.

The decent of the Endlichoffer household into the root cellar completes his task of welfare and gives away the seriousness, if the gusting winds had not already.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #100


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