Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Summer 1912

Another important event for all of us is associated with that year. This was romance, the marriage of Dr. Little and Ruth Keese (L.M.K.) after three years of happy association. They were married by Mr. Jesse Halsey at the assistant doctor’s house, and the union of two persons so beloved by everyone was hailed with joy. The wedding was one of the simplest and most beautiful I ever witnessed, just a small gathering of friends brought together informally in the little room decorated with spruce boughs and yellow-leaved birch branches. Ruth Keese, in her familiar blue linen gown, and Dr. Little, in well known tweeds, entered the house together and after chatting with guests came forward with joined hands to stand before Mr. Halsey when he entered in his clerical gown to perform the short ceremony. In the dining room, Mrs. Grenfell had prepared a beautiful table for the wedding feast, to which all members of the staff contributed. Then, after congratulations and best wishes to the newlyweds, we left them.

Another exciting event of that summer was the arrival at St. Anthony of a beautiful three-masted schooner with a party of Mrs. Grenfell’s friends aboard, bound for a trip down the Labrador coast. The ship, donated to the Mission by Mr. George B. Cluett of Troy, N.Y., and built with special reference to its requirements, had been chartered by Mr. W.R. Stirling of Chicago for a Labrador cruise, and this was her maiden voyage. At Boston, she had taken on a cargo of Mission supplies, and her stop at St. Anthony was to deliver them as well as to pay a social visit.

Mr. Stirling’s small party, which included his daughter, Miss Dorothy Stirling, Miss Harriot Houghteling and other friends of Mrs. Grenfell, spent their time on shore, and St. Anthony was gay until they sailed away after a brief visit, taking Dr. Grenfell with them as skipper for the northern voyage. One can imagine the enjoyment of such a trip under the Doctor’s guidance and the thrilling anticipation of possible hazards from icebergs or shoals along the uncharted coast.

For my own part, the hazards of a voyage on the George B. Cluett became my most notable experience of the following year, 1912. In late June, with other Mission personnel—doctors, nurses, collegians going north for a summer of volunteer service—I sailed from Boston for St. Anthony on the schooner instead of taking the conventional route by rail and steamer. The voyage was uneventful, but the last day our calm security vanished as we faced threatened disaster from fire, shoals, fog, heavy seas and finally near collision with an iceberg, a twenty-four-hour experience which, in detail, would be worth telling.

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