Uncle Bert’s defining moment


From: Orlin Brommer

A few weeks ago, I read about a three-year-old Australian girl who was lost but was watched over until morning by a very old, deaf, family dog. The story reminded me of a lost child in our part of Western Buffalo County, Wis. After reading an article about the local ordeal in the Cochrane Recorder, I asked relatives and neighbors about the incident that happened, also in April, 66 years ago.

One evening while playing in the farmyard, three-year-old Linda and her two dogs, Sandy and Shep, wandered away from their family and home. In 1952 there were few organized responders. The local fire departments and other willing volunteers began combing the hills, valleys, and carefully checked the creek near her home. Bloodhounds from who knows where were located and began searching a few hours after her disappearance.

A neighbor, Patty, 10 at the time, still remembers accompanying her mother to search central and watching all the flashlight beams sweeping the landscape up and down the valley.

All worried that Linda might be in the wide deep creek nearby. County officials and an estimated 700 volunteers searched during the cool night. Sometime after daybreak, Uncle Albert was the first to spot Linda, Sandy, and Shep, huddled together for warmth, in a hollow made by the roots and trunk of an aged, tall, friendly tree.

The predetermined three-note signal from automobile horns resounded cheerfully through the hills and valley, “She’s been found. She’s been found. She’s been found.”

Many would think that Uncle Bert is not one to write about. But like all of us he has a story. Like most from farm families, he had a non-descript childhood. Later, his family cooked a little moonshine and his brother-in-law, the mayor, sold the stuff. Bert began his lifelong love of Chevy six cylinders by doing his own repairs on his milk truck. He would purchase a kit from Sears and Roebuck anytime any of his engines needed an overhaul. After living in a large, vacated one-room school with sheets for room dividers, he built his family a lovely new home. He retired as a cabinetmaker for a local contractor.

I loved to hear Uncle Bert tell about pulling his own abscessed tooth. Well, at least a tooth next to the abscessed one. He consumed a little too much of Yahoo’s painkiller, and once numb, he pulled the wrong tooth. The following day he had two very sore spots in his mouth and needed to visit the dentist. It was best to hear Bert tell the story while he was wearing his bib overalls. As he was getting to the best part of the story he would yank the pliers from their pocket and twist them around in front of the listeners while pulling phantom teeth from the air for dramatics. Years later he would laugh at himself and run his tongue around the bottom of his mouth where the two teeth were missing after he and the dentist each pulled one.

I suppose the tiny girl and her dogs would have been found anyway, but little did my uncle realize that a cool spring morning would be one of his defining moments. He is gone, many years, and not many remember his few moments of fame. I hope your defining moments and my defining moments have a happy ending like that of Uncle Albert and little Linda.


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