La Verendrye becoming more than a half-way house?

Hopefully, the new $12.5-million addition to our hospital will help improve our doctors’ reputations because until now, so many patients are being sent away for treatment by outside doctors, probably having superior training and equipment.
A fellow I know quite well was saying how a local doctor had decided against more blood transfusions for my friend’s wife—and was surprised to discover later that her condition had improved. He wondered why.
Her husband had an answer for the doctor: the power of prayer!
More and more we keep hearing about the inability of our doctors to bring about cures unless the patient leaves town for more expert assistance in outside hospitals and clinics.
In my own case, I have become very unhappy with local treatments—and I could go on and on!
But then, to make our home-towners feel better, I have to report that two specialists, from outside cities, disagreed on my walking problem. One said my back was at fault while the other said my ankle—and yet both are specialists.
Should I go running around the country to obtain a third opinion, or just wait to find out whether our newly-enlarged hospital can help me? And will it attract some top doctors?
Apparently, the main idea is to turn our beloved old La Verendrye hospital into something more than merely a half-way house. In accomplishing that, our patients can remain in their own hometown instead of travelling hundreds of miles and forcing relatives into long trips they would prefer to avoid, especially in cold weather.
We’ll have to wait and see the results—and whether all that expense only gave us another painful experience.
I can well remember the day that La Verendrye opened and replaced two older hospitals managed by leading physicians here. This occurred early in the Second World War when all us high school students were escorted in wonderment around the beautiful new La Verendrye.
And many of them have known it very well since!
So we look on our more than 65-year-old shelter as a very essential asset for our community—while trusting we can keep it going through this new century with all its problems.
• • •
From time to time for lack of something more catchy among issues of the day, this column will go back when country music held sway for people of my generation, including, apparently, our late publisher, R.A. (Bob) Cumming.
He rarely rejected any poetic or melodic submission among letters to the editor.
So he published “Rhymes of the Times,” a booklet of verse which went out on the town’s 75th anniversary. It held some great poetry sent to the Times and was much appreciated.
The following are excerpts among probably a couple hundred poems that Big Bob preserved for us:
A number like the first one, “Alberton Falls,” deals with local spots and conditions. Very imaginative and erudite, this was written by Frank Longmore in 1896 and reprinted in 1922.
Close to it there was “Where the Rainy River Flows” under a pen name, the “Eyewood Knocker,” who sent in enough poetry to establish a fan club.
His last verse: “When I get the final summons and I’m cached beneath the snows, gosh I hope it isn’t winter time when Gabriel’s trumpet blows. Cause I couldn’t ride to answer it, the ground gets so darned froze and I’d have to spend eternity where the Rainy River flows.”
There also was “Fort Frances Hockey Boys in Verse”:
“Oh hockey ’tis an Oirish game. Ye play it wid a stick. I hope ye’ll understand it, too, unless yer head’s too thick.” The poet here used names of players some will remember: Scott, Kelly, Bo Creasy and Art Torseth, with Nicklin as referee.
There were a couple poems about gardeners and dogs. And the First World War was not overlooked in this book, either, with “The Maple Trees at Vimy.”
Big Bob’s book may still be available. Check at the Times office.
• • •
A history program last Tuesday showed shipbuilding at Lunenberg, N.S. where the famous Bluenose Racer came from, and it aroused memories of Port Arthur shipyard (Thunder Bay) in the mid-Second World War years before I was recruited by the RCAF.
This was a great difference in lifestyle, I’ll admit.
Along with Frank Thorn from here, I was accepted as a night-time welder and we “burned rods” for 12 hours, mostly above decks but sometimes high on the radio mast.
Our foreman, Milt Haney, started us off as “improvers” with armsful of steel “skids” to be welded to the main deck for safe walking.
Our boats were steel unlike Lunenberg’s preference for wooden vessels like the famed “Bluenose.” But then again, ours were made to chase and sink the German submarines terrorizing the Atlantic.
Before long we graduated to deck seams, which required three or more “passes” of weld and might run 50 or more feet long—and take all night to finish. Some would crack wide open if not done right (i.e., if welded full length in one pass by someone anxious to catch a dice game early).
We learned that other steel boats being built in the U.S. Kaiser-Fraser shipyard were sinking when their welds split because its welders were piece workers who were working too fast and going the full length of their ships right along.
So Canadian inspectors arrived to check on our work but found nothing wrong with our methods.
I don’t know how many Algerines, as our ships were called, we turned out. Someone said there were 90 made at Port Arthur. Before I left to go into uniform, we had a contract at Steep Rock Iron Mine in Atikokan to build dredges to empty Steep Rock Lake.
A Fort Frances welder, Art Leger, was making these and wondered if I would assist him, but I declined. My welding days were done.
• • •
It’s said that walking is the best exercise you can get, but I am thinking of three postmen who all died many years short of retirement age—and maybe our winter weather was at least partially responsible.
All seemed healthy enough right along, but there probably were other factors involved in their early deaths.
Each would go striding cheerfully along every morning, hello-ing everyone they met or at least passing out cheerful nods. Their walking usually would be brisk, too, and not that of men in failing health.
You might have pointed to any one of them and suggested others should follow their good examples. We don’t suggest that often anymore because of their strange lack of longevity.
But what was happening when your mailman was setting such a good example, especially if walking means as much as we were always told?
• • •
When I suggested recently that many owe it to themselves to buy a farm, it turns out the reverse idea may also be practical for some! Because I’m now getting calls from readers who want to sell farms.
Mind you, this always has been the case for some as farming became too expensive or physically strenuous.
Right now there’s a farmer at La Vallee, just across the railroad there, who wants to show you around. This is Clarence Haak, who sounded on the phone like someone I’d like to know better, but that’s about all I can tell you.

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