A few years ago we were enjoying a University High School
reunion. A middle-aged man went to Walt, my son, and said,
"Give this snapshot to your mother and say I thought
she’d like to have it because she saved my life the night of
our senior party."
Here’s what happened about 40 years ago:
Walt and about 25 other U-High seniors were having a wiener
roast and hayride at our farm. They’d built a fire on big,
flat rocks in a creek.
Chub hooked the wagon to the tractor. Nancy threw on several
armloads of dry hay and drove down to the picnic spot where the
graduates had just finished a freezer of fresh strawberry ice
cream. They gathered their belongings and piled onto the wagon.
Nancy pulled the load up the driveway to a pasture gate near the
swimming pool; the floodlight was on so they could see to open
I was with two mothers, who were waiting in our living room to
take students back to town. We heard the tractor and the singing
as they came near. As Nancy pulled into the pasture a girl
screamed, "Nancy! For God’s sake, stop the wagon!"
We didn’t hear that from indoors, but suddenly Walt burst in
yelling, "Mom! Quick! David’s stopped breathing!"
We hurried out to where a boy was on the ground with a girl
checking, unsuccessfully, for his pulse. He wasn’t
breathing. I began mouth-to- mouth resuscitation coordinating
with Walt, who did CPR.
Walt said, "Mom, I’ve only read about this;
you’d better change places with me." Meanwhile Nancy,
using the pool phone, was answering questions from the ambulance
crew and directing them to the farm. She sent two students to an
intersection to direct the ambulance driver to our farm. Later,
she took a turn at rescue breathing.
About the time we heard the siren, David spit up something
that looked like transparent glue. His pulse returned and he was
breathing, not rhythmically, but enough that his color improved.
Some of the seniors were weeping in relief; some were too stunned
to speak or cry, and all were bewildered.
The ambulance pulled up beside the wagon. David was loaded
onto a stretcher and into the back of the vehicle. One motioned
for me to go along. With two men in front and one in the back
with David and me, we were soon speeding to University Hospital.
"What happened?" the attendant asked. I said that I
Some said David didn’t eat, didn’t feel well when he
came and had problems with asthma. Others said the girls were
throwing dry straw, and the dust might be at fault. When David
got quiet, some thought he was kidding; others thought he was
About halfway to the hospital, David retched, stiffened and
made strange, frightening sounds. I thought he was a goner. The
attendant immediately got busy and soon had him breathing again.
After a similar episode later that week, David was
hospitalized and went through tests and treatment. He now lives
out of state.
Credit goes to American Red Cross training in Life Saving and
Water Safety. I’m proud that Nancy, Walt and I could work
calmly together as an effective team during that frightening