We heard a tape of Clara’s reminiscences of a certain nurse (“Nurse Waxy”) who treated Clara badly; we could hear in her voice that she found something funny in the whole situation.
Anne read an excerpt about Clara meeting and talking with a young man in the San, and not seeing him again for 2 ½ years – she said we’d have to read the book to find out the rest of that story!
Anne said she herself had a very happy childhood, with a strong, happy, loving mother, but she missed her family members who were away in the San, and does wish her family hadn’t had TB.
This was an excellent talk which engaged people’s attention, evidenced by the numerous questions about differences in recovery, treatments, education given to children, the present status of TB, screening of immigrants to Canada, etc. And we enjoyed hearing some of her 90- year-old brother Ralph’s story as well.
All in all the Society was quite pleased with the attendance, with the facility, and with the opportunity to meet some new people.
Photo by Jan Willis
Anne had copies of her book available for sale after the meeting and members and guests had the opportunity to have the books autographed by our speaker
At the September meeting, 24 members of the Society and guests gathered at the Anglican Church Hall in Burritts Rapids for a reading of the book Clara's Rib coauthored by Clara Raina Flannigan and Anne Raina.
Anne Raina has given us her sister’s story, but really, she said, it’s the story of many people at a time when tuberculosis ravaged many, when it was just starting to be treated with penicillin.
The audience at the Church Hall was treated to an excellent presentation about a time in our history that touched so many friends and families.
Anne’s older sister Clara spent time in the Ottawa Sanatorium as a young woman in the 1940s. Bed rest meant she had time on her hands, so she kept a diary as one way to fill the time. She did recover and lived a full life. When she died in 1998 she gave Anne her diaries, a draft manuscript and audio tapes. Anne knew it was a story that should be told, so she added chapters to complete the book, but didn’t change Clara’s words. She feels it’s not sad, but a happy and triumphant story.
Seven of Anne’s nine siblings contracted TB and spent periods of time in the Sanatorium, returning home for awhile then going back as their condition worsened. Bed rest and fresh air were prescribed, as well as collapsing of the lung so it could heal; further treatment involved the removal of ribs so the upper part of the lung could be permanently collapsed. Clara entered the San in 1939 at age 12; in 1943 at age 17 she had three ribs removed from her left side, and in 1944 another four. Later she fought to have surgery on her right side, as she was not ready to die, and two more ribs were removed in 1947.
In spite of not being able to attend high school, have a riding horse or becoming a member of the working force, she had a deep faith and the ability to enjoy life. She wrote letters, kept a diary, prayed for her friends when they were dying – but she also enjoyed playing pranks!
The September 2015 Presentation
Clara's Rib, by Anne Raina
Article by Susan McKellar