As the Corps of Discovery, captained by Lewis and Clark, toiled up the Missouri River in 1804, they anchored at many Indian villages. In the councils that followed they harangued the natives to behave; gave medals to men they considered influential; and spoke of the new Father in Washington who would provide for his red children.
They then boarded their keelboat and sailed away—while the Indians returned to their centuries’ old way of life, as if nothing had happened. But appearances deceived. For in those lonely meetings, with those numerous natives, a new nation began developing awareness of what four decades later would be known as Manifest Destiny—that the nation, then but a handful of states east of the Mississippi, was destined to become a coast to coast empire of many states.
Early morning, 1 July, 1863, Confederate infantry under General Hill collided with Union cavalry under General Buford. Their conflict catapulted the two armies into the full-scale battle neither Generals Lee nor Meade wanted at that place, at that time. The result favored the North and doomed the South. Things aren’t always what they seem. Small events can have exponential results.
We know that the Dionne identical quintuplets were born two months premature 28 May, 1935—at the time the only known quints to survive infancy. The five together weighed 13 pounds, 6 ounces—an average of 2.7 pounds each—but not evenly distributed.
The attending physician had them wrapped in cotton sheets and old napkins at birth. And for the critical 24 hours after kept their flickering bodies alive by keeping them in a borrowed wicker basket, placed by the open door of the kitchen stove. By removing them one by one every two hours to massage them with olive oil; and by feeding them a spoonful of water sweetened with corn syrup, later strengthened by a drop of rum.
Who was the famous city doctor with advanced medical credentials to respond to the greatest challenge of his career, knowing exactly how to save quints who really had no chance to survive? Well, it was no famous city doctor from a famous city hospital. It was a country doctor who had spent 25 years in the backwoods of Ontario, Canada, ministering to mill workers and lumberjacks: a shy man, who stood barely 5 feet tall, with a large head that wore a 8 ½ sized hat.
The day preceding his burst into fame he hit the wall in a personal crisis, realizing that 25 years of medicine, in primitive conditions, had left him unknown, financially bereft and in poor health. Only to find himself, 36 hours later, famous Dr. Allan Roy Dafoe, renowned for his superhuman effort in keeping five premature infants alive in the first critical 48 hours so they would all live to adulthood. Reader’s Digest, 70 Most Unforgettable, 288-295
Things aren’t always as they seem. Dr. Dafoe proved: you can be significant without being famous or popular; you can be highly-skilled though only modestly educated; and your life-experiences can often grant the equivalent of a Post-Doctorate in crisis management. End Part II