Minor Events

This post copyright 2014 by Doris McCraw







“The minor events of history are valuable, although not always showy and picturesque.”  Mark Twain.

I find the above quote by Mark Twain to be applicable.  It is little things that add up to the rather amazing whole.

If Dr. Susan Anderson’s father had not moved to Cripple Creek, Colorado  in the 1890’s, she would not have gone back there after medical school. When creating a practice in that town didn’t work out she eventually went to Frazier, Colorado where she met the woman who would write her story “DOC SUSIE”.

WSStratton 11008875.jpg
Winfield Scott Stratton

Winfield Scott Stratton, Cripple Creek, Colorado’s first millionaire, came up from the ranks of the prospectors. Through his influence and financial ‘support’, many miners and mine owners owed their livelihood to him. The Labor strike of 1893-94 ended with the miners having an eight-hour day and pay of $3.00 per day.  After his death in 1902 the miner/labor union lost the strike in 1903-04. Were the two events tied together? Again Twain’s idea of ‘minor events’ holds some weight. For more information on the event:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cripple_Creek_miners’_strike_of_1894

In 1930 my father was born at home 3 months premature. He weighed 2 lbs. 9 oz. To keep him warm and alive they placed him in a shoebox on the oven door. They also gave him a shot of whiskey every hour. Those actions probably saved his life.  Something so minor as a shoebox, whiskey and a warm oven made all the difference.

When Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in the United States to graduate medical school, was accepted into Geneva College in New York, it was considered a joke. She chose not to see it that way and graduated in 1849. http://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/elizabeth-blackwell/

The next time you look at history, be it personal or national, take a look at the minor events. See where their story leads you. You might be surprised.

Follow my haiku post five days a week at: http://fivesevenfivepage.blogspot.com

Below is the link to my non-fiction piece on the first state film commissioner in the United States included in this book.

“Film & Photography on the Front Range” can be purchased online at: http://www.amazon.com






26 thoughts on “Minor Events

  1. Who’d have thought that placing a newborn in a shoebox on an oven door and giving him whiskey every hour would have saved the infant’s life? Nowadays, premature babies are placed in incubators and sometimes given too much oxygen which causes them to lose their eyesight. Maybe they should do it the way it was done before.


    1. Abbie,
      He was 6′ 2” by the time he was thirteen and weighed 175. The biggest issue in the end was a heart murmur that slowed him a little bit, but not much. Doris


  2. Doris – I always learn something from you and love doing it. Great post and thanks for sharing. I’m glad your grandparents figured out what to do with their premature baby boy or you wouldn’t be here today. 🙂


    1. Erin,

      I have thought of that often. I do know it was common practice back then to keep the baby warm and their systems stimulated but doing it the way my family did…fascinating. Doris


  3. I’ve heard of using the oven to keep babies (of all species) warm, particularly since they didn’t have central heating in those days. Whiskey was also used a lot as a sedative. Maybe keeping him quiet helped with his healing and breathing. When my sister-in-law was dying of cancer they gave her morphine to help her breathe easier. Perhaps the whiskey has the same effect?

    Small coincidences can have such big results. I met my DH on the only blind date I’d every gone on, we found a wonderful house/horse property because we missed a turn and we weren’t even looking to move. Serendipity has certainly played a large part in my life.


    1. Kate,

      The whiskey obviously worked, but I hadn’t realized that it was used other than what we knew in the movies.

      Small events do make all the difference when we take the time to look.
      Thanks for stopping and commenting. I learned something. Doris


  4. Little can definitely be built upon, bit by bit, Doris. Winfield Scott Stratton sounds like the charismatic kind of person who nurtured better things to happen- even if it took a while for him to achieve good results.


    1. Nancy,

      He is a fascinating character. He did much to build the mining industry in Cripple Creek and gave generously to Colorado Springs, but died, while still very rich of alcoholism.

      It is true, bit by bit. I just wish more folks would understand the small pieces of history that made the big ones possible. It is also true in writing and telling the stories. Thanks for your insight. Doris


  5. My grandmother gave a sick parrot whiskey and an oven, but when she put him in the warm bath, he died. All this because she sprayed him with bug spray on a cold March day and gave him pneumonia. The whiskey was my dad’s idea.
    You’re right about small events that change your life. Even bad events take you to a place of learning and improving. Everything in life is a lesson.
    I really enjoyed your blog. It was a very unique and interesting subject.


    1. Thank you Sarah. I appreciate you kind words and support. Life is a constant lesson, we just have to pay attention and learn them.

      The story of your grandmothers poor parrot, wow, what a story. Doris


  6. Great piece of history as well as a reminder about minor events making a difference. There is so much we don’t know, which Paul Harvey tried to rectify with “the rest of the story” on his broadcasts. Isn’t it fun that we can add these minor events to our characters in our stories? Enjoyed your post Doris.


    1. Thank you Neva. I always loved Paul Harvey’s “the rest of the story”. To me that was where you really learned.
      I also agree that the minor events define our characters. It is something I think we writers and storytellers sometimes forget. Doris


  7. I love your story about your father, Doris. The warmth of the oven makes sense. It’s the whiskey that surprises me most. Who would’ve thought? Obviously, your grandparents did. And good they did so, because it worked. The small things indeed.


  8. Doris, amazing information. A shoe box? A shot of whiskey? Isn’t it amazing how ingenious people were back then? And now modern society has come to point where we have to have labels on lawn mowers that tell you not to put your foot under the mower while it is running.
    Love your posts, Doris.


    1. Thank you Sherry, your kind words made my morning. I have always found the story of my fathers birth fascinating. He is non longer with us, but the memories linger on. Doris


  9. The shoebox and whiskey memory is fantastic … the shoebox and oven door come across as early incubator. Whiskey? Why not? I’ve kind of looked at the minor events as threads in the tapestry of life. Your posts are always fun to read.


    1. Mike,

      I belive the minor events are the warp and woof of those tapestries. Without them the work would not hold together.

      Thank you for the kind words and encouragement. Doris


  10. Doris, you never fail to enlighten, and you’ve done so once again! Thanks for sharing both personal and national history with us, providing a great education in both of life!


    1. Thank you so much Gayle. I confess I love sharing national and regional history. It is so fascinating to me. The whiskey story is just one that begs to be told. Doris


  11. What a great post Doris! I read the links and could not believe the impression the early mining strikes had on later incidents of the same kind. I had never heard of Winfield Scott Stratton until this post and I find him to be fascinating. As to warming the baby on the oven door, I know that was used a lot to keep infants alive. My husband was born to a teenage girl out of wedlock who birthed him in her aunt’s kitchen and let him lie there. Fortunately for Ralph, the aunt came in, took stock of the situation, tied off the cord and put him in a shoebox on the woodstove oven door. Had it not been for her quick thinking he would not have lived, as he weighed only 2 1/2 pounds at birth. The aunt called a local midwife who lived close by and she hurried to tend to the infant. They got him the 30 miles to the nearest hospital, where he was put in an incubator and not expected to live. He stayed there for 6 weeks. The mother who birthed him didn’t want anything to do with her baby so her aunt (who had prayed for a baby for years) adopted him. I also know of a local family when I was growing up who had a preemie and put the baby in a basket hung over the stove. Although their intentions were good, the baby suffocated from too much heat before help could arrive. Thank you for such a well-written post!


    1. Linda,

      What a story about your husband. The miracles we all have in our lives we tend to forget until someone brings them to light again. I have always cherished the story of my father. The will to live is strong in some folks.

      I am glad you enjoy my postings on history. Stratton is a very fascinating character and he had a huge impact on the area. So many stories…sigh.


  12. Great post, Doris. What a shame our history textbooks include so much about laws and wars and so little about the lives of people who built the country day by day.


    1. Kathy,

      I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think that is why I want to share what I find. Of course research and telling it is like a drug…I can’t get enough and I am so happy when researching and writing.



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