Oh, the changes in these days

Published 3:48 pm Tuesday, October 2, 2018

At the end of last week, Donna Sue and I traveled to Mexico Beach where we would join many from our family in the celebration of my brother, Keith’s 70th birthday. I can’t tell you how weird it feels to have a brother who is 70 years old! 

Oh, how the times have changed and nothing says that better than the conversation Keith’s mother and I had regarding the day he was born. Oh, by the way, she’s my mother, too. LOL

Although the most comfortable place in the condominium at Beacon Hill on Mexico Beach was the living room with air conditioning, momma was sitting on the screened porch just outside. I decided to join her as the light breeze squeezed its way through the screen and moved the hot and humid air around just a little.

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I saw momma was in a contemplative mood and, since it was Keith’s 70th birthday, I asked her, “What time of the day was Keith born?”

Momma was only seventeen years old in September, 1948. She had been married eleven months and Keith was due in November. Daddy made the living by “toting” ice. Electric refrigerators were not so common in those days and many homes still had ice-boxes.

He would get up at 3:00 every morning and momma got up with him and sent him off to work having cooked Daddy a breakfast. How about that schedule? Momma would, then, go back to bed.

On the morning of Tuesday, September 28, 1948, she felt a little strange. During the morning she visited with the downstairs neighbor and, as she climbed the outside stairs to their apartment in Pelham, she began to have pains. When Daddy got home from work in mid-afternoon, she asked him to take her to Dr. Brim, whose office was on backstreet, Pelham.

The shots he gave her to hold back the birth did not work and he moved her to a newly constructed back room. A premature Keith was on his way and was born at 7 months at about 10:00 that night. If Keith were born in 2018, he would have been routinely sent to the NICU unit, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. As the title says, “Oh, the Changes in These Days.”

Momma continued to relive that day 70 years ago. Not only could Keith not tell time and did not know he was too early, he developed pneumonia. It didn’t look good.

The baby was wrapped up and not even weighed. There was no need and who knew what would happen. Momma went to another room at the doctor’s office and Daddy went home because of work the next day.

When he arrived at Dr. Brim’s office the next day, the doctor said something like, “The booger is still alive. Go to the Health Department and get the incubator. The incubator was described by momma as a rectangular, wooden box made of plywood and filled with blankets. It had a hole cut out at one end for a 25 watt light bulb! That was the incubator.

Momma had been ordered to rest in bed at the doctor’s office for ten days. Keith gained strength and one day the doctor came in and told momma that he looked okay and that he was going fishing. He left for four days.

In every cloud there is a silver lining. There are many in this cloud. First of all Keith lived. Momma’s health was restored and the weather was warm enough that Daddy sold enough ice to pay the doctor’s bill when momma and Keith left for home. The entire bill? $250. Did I mention that the times they have a-changed?