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.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #111


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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 #108

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #108

…Tossed onto the sprawling mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors…

Aftermath-001

Father Ferrell had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.

At least they are still alive.

Tossed onto the mud like a toy, fully three hundred yards from permanent water, at a staggering 20 degree angle, the River Queen boasts many survivors. But it is horribly out of place at its present semi-dry dock. It may take the spring flood waters to naturally return it to sufficient buoyancy.

Until then, James and Abigail wonder, how on earth rescuers will negotiate the swampy wild, especially considering the pockets of quasi-satisfied alligators; scavenging the dead fish and distressed wildlife. Those who chose a lifeboat that did not stay upright, meet the same repulsive fate. So distasteful is the scene, not even the biggest, toughest, manly man is able to stomach it. In fact, the crew has closed all exterior deck to passengers. They have food and water. A radio will be their contact with the outside world.

80 Days

“I know this isn’t how you expected your cruise on the Queen to end, but things may have turned out much worse,” relates Captain Phileas Longfellow. His foreknowledge of a spectacular rescue effort has him choosing his words carefully. He asks of already shaken cruisers, “How many of you have read the book, Around the World in Eighty Days?” About one-half of the seventy-five hands are raised. “Jules Verne is my mother’s favorite author, the inspiration for my first name. I do not consider myself an equal of Phileas Fogg, but we will soon have something in common with the fictional balloonist of globetrotting fame..”

They are given a firm clue of what is in store. For folks who have never been higher than the fourth floor of a big city building, the thought of ballooning is more than a stretch.

“I can see that some of you may be afraid of heights, but I have been told that it is the only way we are going to get out of here. Those of you who know you have a problem with heights, please come forward and we will match you with people who are not. Remember it is the only way we can get back to New Orleans.”

James and Abigail look at each other. Newly wed, they have much to learn about each other. This topic is one that has eluded those celebrating their golden anniversary.

“I have jumped from the loft in our biggest barn,” Abbey says proudly, speaking of her short term role as a tomboy.

 “I have a tree fort in the tallest oak on Hillside Estate.” James describes his prowess as a boys-boy.

Captain Longfellow describes the operation further. “The Army Air Corps, stationed at Fort Pickens… that is at Pensacola… are sailing twelve balloons from their aerial observation unit. They will begin arriving here in when wind conditions allow, needing a southeast quartering direction for optimum flying. Beside the balloonist, they hold six people. The flights will be spaced fifteen minutes apart. The crew will stay with the River Queen.

Age before beauty“The only bad news is that your baggage will have to wait for salvage operations. So make sure it is labeled and at the staging area at the rear of the ballroom.

“Lastly, as close as we can do it, we are going to evacuate according to the age of the individual or the average age of a family grouping. This is at my discretion–so ladies, please refrain from exaggerating your age–opposite to what you are used to.”

‘Well I never’, is the consensus common comment of women truly over 35, secretly hoping to pass for 45 or 50.

“That would place us on the last balloon,” laments the undeniably youthful Abigail. In the meantime, they have a ringside view of one of the most amazing rescues in the history of this low-lying country.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Phileas Fogg & Passepartout

Episode #108


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #107

…John Ferrell is most relieved, having thought he would be on his own in his search for the newlyweds, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease…

Aftermath-001

“The animals knew what was comin’,” suggests Willy Campbell, with affirming nods throughout the swaying railroad car he was seated (the 1st-not the last). They too had noticed the strange lack of wildlife as far back as the Ferrell wedding, one week ago. Not to mention domestic creature behavior in the final days.

 “Perhaps that is the answer, yes I declare it is; local weather observers, reporting directly to the Weather Bureau on a daily basis. From Maine to Montana, the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico; temperatures, cloud cover, rainfall… by God even “Bossie’s” milk production or the sudden disappearance of songbirds.

 “Willy Campbell, this is the very reason that you are my right-hand man. You inspire some great ideas.” Love then goes over to Alfrey Campbell, picks him up from his seat next to Doc Ziggy, telling him, “Your daddy is quite a guy, isn’t he?”

The pre-teen merely nods his head. Love can see that the boy’s interest is not in the affairs Related imageof his father. It is the elderly doctor who has captured his imagination. Ziggy plugs the gap in respect by stating, “Let’s hear it for, Willy Campbell, za finest a man can be!”

Applause accompanies the exhortation, embarrassing the former neo-slave. John Ferrell rescues him by asking of Love, “What will be our route?” eager for a stop near the Mississippi Delta.

     Herb Love had anticipated the needs of the Florida group, suggesting, “I think it would be a good idea for your entire contingent to get off at New Orleans. The rest of the train is stocked with aid for Galveston: doctors, food, tents and the like. So if it is all right, I would like to drop you off at New Orleans Union Station and pick you up on the way back through.”

“New Orleans is my town, Herb,” states Jacques Fransoise, as a point of information.

“You have been in Quincy so long; I forgot you hail from Louisiana. Well that is perfect, you all have an experienced guide and with a bag full of medicine thrown in.”

  John Ferrell is most relieved. He had thought he would be on his own in his search for James and Abbey, alone in a strange city renowned for its crime and disease.

At least he will not be alone.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Dog predictor-001

Episode #107


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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 #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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