Rubella or Rubeola?
Contagious Red Dots
At age 14, at the end of June, having completed my Grade Nine, I returned to our home base half way between Spalding and Daphne. Dad, Mom and my two siblings were ahead of me by four months and by the end of June Dad had cultivated and seeded several of our 320 acres minus the poplar bluffs and acreages designated as grasslands for future harvesting of hay. The hay was needed as feed and bedding for livestock yet to be purchased. When we moved to Melfort we had sold off our existing stock and Dad had rented our fields to a neighbour. I never knew the details of their agreement. It must have been amicable as I don’t recall any squabbles.
Our short stay at the Experimental Station had begun when Dad had accepted an offer to work as Animal Husbandry Foreman at the Experimental Station near Melfort, Saskatchewan. At first this arrangement worked well, but soon he found he didn’t like to be second in command. His disquiet increased when the Superintendent who had hired him was relocated to another research station. He and the new Superintendent were soon at odds and it became clear that there could be no workable détente. Dad packed us up and back we went to our own farm, except me. I stayed with family friends in Melfort in order to complete my Grade 9. Two of my subjects had been Latin and Typing and these have definitely paid off through the years. By September Mom had resumed teaching at Sunny View School just a couple of miles north of our farm. She left behind a very nice row house provided for each of the Foremen on the Farm at that time. On the other hand she came back to familiar territory with her many friends and relatives.
Come fall it was decided that I and Doreen, my best friend from before Melfort, would board with another set of family friends while we attended high School in Spalding for Grade Ten through to Matriculation - Grade 12 in Saskatchewan. Both of us were thoroughly spoiled by our generous hosts Lester and Ella. We spent weekends at our respective farms at which time we did pitch in to help with chores. There were always lots of those available. Both of us had started to date by this time so besides chores there were boys. We soon learned that not all of them were as awful as our brothers.
The Spalding High School was one room – one room for Grade Nine to Twelve, and the Principal taught all subjects. His sons attended classes with us. The sons were bright, a little introverted and set a good example for the rest of us without being smug about it. One of these examples related to preparing for tests and final examinations. These fellows studied regularly. While Doreen and I might have been spied on Lester and Ella’s back porch vigorously cramming for term or final exams, they were enjoying batting flies to each other or playing catch or racing each other on their bikes.
Having survived birth, whooping cough, loss of tonsils and adenoids, chicken pox, blood poisoning and severely frost bitten legs, two moves in two years, and four different residences in that same period I had rather hoped that I’d be spared any more inconveniences, at least for a while.
Yet, on a fine day early in the spring of my Grade Ten, I fell ill, became feverish and was soon covered with red dots from head to toe. Oh no! It was the measles. Measles were not viewed as something particularly dangerous back then, stay home until the dots recede and maybe miss a week or so of school. I was quarantined to my bedroom, displacing my sister to the living room couch, and looked after by Martha, a sister of our neighbour down the road. As far as I know my parents did not consult a doctor, certainly not for something as mild as measles. For more than a week my nose bled copiously. I became quite weak and found it difficult to get out of bed by myself. I stopped caring about anything and ate very little, most of it in soup form. Of course I couldn’t read as I had done when I whiled away my time surviving blood poisoning. Even day dreaming, which I was very good at, didn’t bring the usual satisfaction. Mother was back teaching and father was out in the fields. However they were certainly there for me in the evenings and on weekends. My room was kept dark at all times, as it was recognized even then that measles could endanger one’s eyesight. Eventually I eased back into health. The dots were down, I started eating solid food and could wander off into the yard doing odds and ends and collecting eggs. I had been absent from school for a whole month. However I was worried about my eyesight. I was seeing double. Would this correct itself?