January 1st…A horrendous blizzard blasted snow throughout southern Minnesota on Thursday January 14th, 1954. That was the day this little Norwegian Farmer’s Son was born. Later in life, I was told that the country doctor who delivered me into this world had “flown” over ice encrusted roads in his brand new Buick in order to get to the hospital in time to see my “coming out party”. That fine physician was Dr. Lewis Hanson. Dr. Hanson had been born with a cleft palate and I often pondered if that was the impetus that gave him the desire to become a doctor to help alleviate the sufferings of others. The latent effect of Dr. Hanson’s cleft palate subjected him to having a very distinct, nasaled voice pattern that scared me as a little boy. From time to time, when I needed medical attention, I was one very recalcitrant young man as Mom would drag me to the doctor’s office in Frost, Minnesota. Even though Doc’s mannerisms were a bit rough and his speech gave me the chills, Doctor Hanson was quite revered in our area as a dedicated servant of health and wellness to the farm families of Faribault County who tilled the soil for their living.
Well, true to form, I was an ornery little cuss even at birth. And as such, I had to be delivered into life with an instrument known as the forceps. With those medical “shoe horns” locked over my skull, Doc Hanson yanked me from the warmth of nine months within my mother to the frigidity of new life and Winter. In the process of his yanking, those forceps did a “mangle job” on the left side of my face. The incident resulted in a substantial injury to my left eye. My dear mother, Clarice, said that my baby’s face was was “quite a sight” for some time until the swelling subsided.
To this very day, my left eye is weak and cannot take direct sunshine very well. To protect it, I often squint that eye to where it’s almost closed. My father used to tease me regarding the deficit in that eye by saying, “Elliott, I can always tell when you’re either really tired, or really angry, because your left eye pulls over sideways and disappears into your head”
I guess you could say that my very birth was the “first adventure” of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.