SCRAPBOOK - PAST & PRESENT
By L. Scott Swanson, Editor Straitsland Resorter
After spending 15 hours helping a mother deliver a baby that
arrived at 4:42 a.m. Doris Reid and another nurse-midwife set
out on horseback to return to their quarters in the hills of
Kentucky in the 1940s. On the way home, they made three sick
calls and also gave postpartum care to another mother with a
two-day old baby.
They finally arrived back at the midwives quarters at about 10:30
a.m, longing for "a glass of water, a bath, food and a bed."
In her book, "Saddlebags Full of Memories" Reid wrote,
"The only worthwhile compensation for such hard, long hours
is knowing you have been of service to someone in a time of need.
That is the rent we pay to God for the privilege of living on
After paying rent for 86 years, Reid died Saturday. She had a
heart attack on the previous Tuesday, but friends say she was
still telling jokes on the day she died.
"She used her life right," said Luise McKenna, one
of Reid's longtime friends.
Stan Elya, her brother in-law, said of Reid, "She always
thought about everybody else. She always wondered how everybody
else was doing. She never worried about herself."
Gail Cole, Reid's friend and neighbor for more than four decades,
said, "She's always been a giving person. The only reason
that my husband would let me stay up here with the three kids
without a car during the summer was because the county nurse
lived next door."
Reid received her Registered Nurse degree in 1936 from Traverse
City State Hospital. Later, the Frontier School of Midwifery
in Wendover, Kentucky offered her a scholarship to earn a Certified
Midwife degree. She completed the degree in 1943 and spent six
years in the Kentucky hills treating and caring for people and
teaching other nurse-midwifes. In her book about the experience,
she recalls house calls on horseback, emergency calls in the
middle of the night and crossing flooded streams to bring help
to people in need.
A member of the Burt Lake Christian Church since 1929 and a deeply
religious person, in her book Reid recalled one of her patients
calling out to God while in labor. Reid said that when the woman
would have a labor pain, she would cry out, "Lordy, Lordy,
pin a bit of grace on my soul." At one point in the delivery,
the woman asked Reid if she was praying for her. Reid replied,
"Yes, I am praying for the baby, you and myself." Reid
said that apparently satisfied the woman because a short time
later the child was born.
On another occasion while Reid was teaching, one of the student
nurses who was supposed to be observing left the delivery room
twice. Reid had to retrieve her and told her that if she didn't
stay in the room she wouldn't receive a good grade. Later, Reid
asked the student nurse why she had left the delivery room. The
student nurse told her, "I never believed in God until now."
Reid said she believed that you can't work delivering babies
and be an atheist.
When Reid returned to Burt Lake in the 1950s, she was northern
Michigan's only Certified Midwife. In 1951 she became a public
health nurse for District Health Dept. #4 and retired in 1973
as nurse coordinator and nursing supervisor. In 1992, the Heath
Department dedicated its new building in Cheboygan as the "Doris
E. Reid Center."
Linda Cassar, Reid's niece, said Reid loved being a nurse. "She
loved caring for people. Even after she retired from nursing,
when people got cut or hurt themselves, they would call and come
over to her place."
Cole said being a public health nurse suited Reid. "She
could be on the road. She could assist many people in many different
ways so it was never a dull job."
In addition to her job, Reid had many hobbies. She was an avid
hunter and fisherman. She and her twin sister, Dorothy, went
to Canada and Alaska on fishing and hunting trips.
Elya said Reid had taken up hunting and fishing as a little girl.
"(It was) before I knew her, and I met her in 1941 after
I began dating her sister."
Reid and Dorothy both shot moose on the same day.
Reid also liked to garden. She had a big tractor she named, "George."
She and George raised yellow tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables.
One year she and George pulled the church float in the Fourth
of July Parade.
A voracious reader, Reid never stopped reading and learning.
A couple of years ago she was seriously ill and in the hospital.
Friends and relatives weren't sure if she was going to pull through.
Reid was reading in the hospital and someone asked her about
it. Reid replied, "You don't want me to die ignorant do
Cole said Reid was known for her sly wit and honest opinions.
Reid's home was the site of the first annual Burt Lake Corn Roast
and Chicken Barbecue, now an 80-year tradition. Reid was a member
of both the Burt Lake Christian Church and the Burt Lake Community
Club and helped with the Corn Roast for decades.
In recent years, Cole, McKenna and Reid would often go into town
together on Friday mornings. Their routine was to have breakfast
at Michael's Restaurant, then go to the bank and then go shopping
at Ken's Village Market.
"Our Friday mornings will never be the same," Cole
"She's going to be missed," McKenna added.
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