To Bethlehem

“She dreamed of Lizzie in South Korea at the 38th parallel where she spots Joe, sprints over to him, and says, ‘Look, you’ve got a daughter on the way. You should be there.’”

Man and woman

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Sage had been on the Greyhound for almost 20 hours by the time she arrived in Seattle. Louisa had sent a telegram to Walter’s eldest sister, Ethel, to make arrangements for Sage. Aunt Ethel was a professor of education at the University of Washington, and she had connections. She met Sage at the station, and from there they drove to a coffee shop on First and Stewart.

“What happened, Sagey?”

“I’m worried about Ma and Pa and the farm.”

“I mean the baby! How could you be so stupid?”

Sage bowed her head and began chewing her fingernails. Ethel reached her hand into her pocketbook and emerged with a tiny metal object, which she slid across the table to her niece. Sage wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to focus on the ring.

“What’s this?”

“Oh, girl, don’t be so naïve,” Ethel began, as she lit a cigarette. “It’s 1950! If you can’t be wedded before that baby comes, at least you can appear to be.”

Sage slipped the ring on her finger and held the calloused hand up in the air with her elbow just off the Formica. She steadied her hand there for a moment, held it out and studied it as if it were a ghost mingling amid her aunt’s cigarette smoke and steam from their cups of coffee. Sage’s fingers were muscular from having milked cows for most of her life, but the fit was loose.

“It’ll fit you soon enough,” Ethel said, as if reading Sage’s mind. “Oh, look at the time! I have a meeting, so I’m just going to have to drop you off. Copasetic, Sagey?”

 

Three bedrooms and a lavatory occupied the entire second floor of the Bethlehem. The two larger bedrooms could accommodate four mothers-to-be, and the smallest room was a nursery. It held perambulators, two cradles, one twin bed, and shelves of diapers neatly stacked. Flora, the proprietor, led Sage to the west bedroom. On the left side of the room, a woman’s personal belongings were meticulously arranged on the shelves above the twin bed: a pile of Mademoiselle magazines; a Gray’s Anatomy textbook; perfume bottles; hat boxes; Sears and Roebuck catalogues. The beige wallpaper with tiny teal paisleys seem to clash with the braided calico-colored rugs on hardwood floor. One mahogany chest of drawers, a small table with two chairs, and the closet, Flora informed her, she would have to share with her roommate, Lizzie.

In the parlor was an upright piano, two cocoa-brown mohair sofas, four velvet green chairs, ferns, a coffee table, a radio, shelves of books, and a trunk. The bay windows looked west onto 15th. The olive-colored walls held portraits of Gertrude Stein, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, a group of marching suffragists, and some of Flora’s ancestors. Flora motioned to Sage to take a seat.

Betty Florenstein – or, Flora, as she preferred to be called by her lodgers – was a single, childless, philanthropist, and an old colleague of Aunt Ethel’s. After retiring from UW, she volunteered at Seattle’s Florence Crittenton Maternity Home, but she couldn’t align herself with their called-by-God-to-save-the-girls philosophy. So, shortly after the war, Flora opened her own home for those who needed abutment without gospel. The name, Bethlehem, was a misnomer, as Flora’s home lacked any religious affiliation. In the Biblical town of Bethlehem, a child was born to one mother, an evanescent father, and a few trustworthy advocates. Seattle’s Bethlehem echoed this sentiment.

“Cooperative living,” Flora began, “is the cornerstone of my house. I feel that inactivity precipitates loneliness and depression, so I hope that you’ll involve yourself. We don’t use surnames here – privacy is crucial – and, it goes without saying that conjugal visits are forbidden. We all run this house together, Smitty, too – you’ll meet him soon enough. Furthermore, historically my residents have a lower rate of recidivism, mostly because of our weekly discussions on various, relevant topics: putative fathers, pandemic illegitimacy, and the like. Tonight’s topic is Illegitimate Pregnancy: A Bit of Bad Luck or a Blessing in Disguise? I trust you’ll be in attendance, Sage?”

“Yes, Ma’am Flora,” Sage replied dutifully.

“Splendid. Now, Sage, embrace your stay here as an opportunity. Look at me, sweetheart. You’re going to have a baby. You do understand that, don’t you?”

 

When Sage’s mother, Louisa, suspected that Sage’s August period had never come, she confronted Sage. “Tomfoolery, Sage Marie! What will people say when our only daughter looks like our herd? What am I supposed to tell them? That your Pa and me suspected you were in heat, so we called the man from Artificial Breeder Cooperative and he brought over a suitable sire!? Is that what I’m supposed to say? The ABC man came?”

 

Sage was their only daughter, and Walter and Louisa depended on her to help them with their Montana farm. The work on their dairy farm suited her. In her broad shoulders and sturdy build, she felt repose in the certainty of that world. It was a solemn communion with the land and the animals. Sage and Walter rarely spoke about anything but the farm, yet the farm epitomized all that was tacit between them. Walter and Louisa were proud of their daughter. Up until that summer of 1950, 25-year-old Sage had never caused her parents any grief.

 

Although Sage’s head practically ruptured with unknowns: “recidivism,” “putative,” “pandemic,” she did get that she was having a baby. She and Louisa had selected numerous bulls together from the Artificial Breeder Cooperative list. And she’d seen that ABC man come and go so often, she knew the sound of his trailer from two miles away.

“Yes, Ma’am Flora,” she whispered.

Flora reached into the truck and materialized with two pamphlets. “Let’s start with these,” Flora said cheerily as she handed them to Sage.

Grudgingly, Sage took the literature. After she read the words, “Your Changing Physique” and “Paramount Prenatal Care,” Sage dropped her head into her hands and began to sob. She felt as if every cell in her body wept. Even the tiny baby, she thought to herself, must be crying. Flora patted her shoulder. “There, there, darling. Let it out.”

 

Sage’s roommate had been a pre-med major at UW when she found out that she and her boyfriend, Frederick, had conceived.

“In those few first days after the conception,” Lizzie described, as she helped Sage transfer her things from her suitcases to drawers and shelves, “when my belly felt like tiny bubbles were popping, I had an epiphany, like this was my true calling. I came to Seattle from Boston, you see. I met Frederick in Organic Chemistry, and we fell head over heels. This is how I see it: People who are in love are privileged to have sexual intercourse, married or not. You see, what I’ve got here is a legitimate pregnancy. And it’s a boy, I’ll tell you that right now. My goddess sea is brimming with son! What about you? Did you love wisely?”

 

Sage met Joe Peterson in high school. After they graduated in 1944, Joe was shipped off to war. Sage, along with the whole town of Simpson, were all relieved when Joe returned on September fourteenth of the next year. The military had convinced Joe that if he stayed in the reserves, he would benefit greatly: He’d earn $100 monthly, and he’d be serving his country. Because his meetings were in Havre, Montana, he decided to relocate there.

“We weren’t officially going together, but I liked him an awful lot. But, the Marines in reserves were the first called to Korea. That’s when Joe hurried to our farm and asked if I’d wait for him … ” Sage trailed off. “Tell me about the other girls here,” she asked, changing the subject.

“Well, Martha’s the only other girl here now, but do not pay that girl any mind!” Lizzie warned.

“Oh, yes, Martha. I met her this afternoon.”

 

Earlier that day Aunt Ethel dropped Sage off at the two-story taupe house. There was no sign advertising the home, just a house like all the others on the block in Seattle’s central district. With a suitcase in either hand, Sage ascended the stoop. Before she reached the porch, Flora opened the door. Sage hadn’t time for so much as a how-do-you-do when the telephone rang and Flora excused herself to answer it. Sage stepped into the foyer and dropped her suitcases. A visibly pregnant woman coming from the second floor immediately took notice of Sage’s ring.

“What are you doing here if you got a man?” chided Martha, “Did you step out on him or something? That’s it, you’re a tart?”

Sage, startled, merely shook her head.

“Look,” Martha continued, “I didn’t come here to make friends. I’ll be rid of this thing soon enough, and I’m leaving and never looking back.”

 

After hearing the story, Lizzie said, “Martha’s a special case, Sage, that’s all.” Lizzie began to explain, but prevented herself from going into detail.

 

Lizzie displayed her confidence in many ways. For instance, most days before any of the other girls stirred, Lizzie had taken her curlers out, parted her hair down the middle, scooped it off her face with two decorative combs, and had perfected her cosmetics. Sage, in contrast, wore her shoulder-length chestnut-brown hair pulled back in a nondescript.

That next morning, Sage stumbled into the lavatory, not noticing Lizzie leaning close to the mirror and applying powder to her face.

“Oh, pardon me,” Sage said, but paused with interest.

“Morning, Sage. Say, you want to add some city to that country face of yours?” Lizzie asked to Sage’s reflection in the mirror.

“Ma always said, ‘Good girls pinch, bad girls rouge,’” Sage replied stoically.

Lizzie turned from the mirror, poked Sage’s belly, and asked, “Which one are you?”

Sage lowered her head and began gnawing at her fingernails.

“Sage? Really, you mustn’t be so serious,” Lizzie implored. “We’re in this together,” she continued, “Think about it: We each got two hearts now. Know what that means?”

Sage thought for a moment, “Four hearts?” she replied reluctantly.

“Ha! There you go, Sage, good one.”

 

The third day at the Bethlehem, Sage awoke to Martha hovering over her.

“Morning, Montana,” Martha said sweetly, “Do something for me? I’m in my confinement period, and today I’m especially haggard. I’m supposed to go with Smitty to the market and then help him with supper. Take my place?”

It was unusual for one of the girls to accompany Smitty anywhere. People knew him around the neighborhood, and knowing him meant knowing how he earned his wages. Smitty made it his mission never to argue with one of the girls, so when Sage said she’d go with him, he didn’t object. They walked in silence for a few blocks, then Sage, who supposed that Smitty was old enough to be her father asked. “You got any children, Smitty?”

“Just one, Ms. Sage. Well, God got him now. Henry. My boy Henry.”

 

As Smitty described it to Sage, the news that Henry had perished in the war tore up the family. His mother died six months to the day after they received the telegram from the Coast Guard. Smitty was alone. One morning he woke with a start. He felt as if God himself was shaking him by the shoulders. He left the house, and started knocking door-to-door. He had long since lost his job, and the landlady threatened him with eviction.

“It’s because of Henry that I met Ma’am Flora,” Smitty said, smiling.

“How do you mean?” Sage asked while selecting some eggs.

On April 12, 1945, after having rapped on some fifty doors, he arrived at Flora’s, who was in the initial stages of opening the Bethlehem. “It was four in the afternoon and Ma’am Flora was havin’ tea,” Smitty recollected. “She invited in. Then the radio. Lord have mercy, Ms. Sage, I’ll never forget it.” Smitty and Flora sat together through the evening, listening to the news coverage of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sudden death from a cerebral hemorrhage.

 

At the store’s checkout, a middle-aged woman whispered to her companion and pointed to Smitty, “I know that boy. He’s from that home for jiggered-up girls. Must be one of the girls with him now,” she smirked.

“She doesn’t look pregnant,” the companion retorted.

“Oh, pish-posh! I know it. That girl’s from that erring and wayward home!”

“Do you suppose she’s wayward or erring?” the companion snickered.

Wayward because she’s with child, and erring because she’s with a colored!” Sage could still hear the flood of laughter as she and Smitty exited the store and proceeded down the sidewalk with their groceries in hand.

Sage slouched in worry. How could people be so cruel, she wondered. Those two ladies had rubbed Sage’s nose in shame, and now she was choking on it.

“Oh, Smitty, I think I’m gonna be sick … ” But before Smitty could respond, Sage vomited into the neighbor’s hedges.

 

“That damn Martha,” Lizzie spit, upon hearing the news of Sage’s trip to the market.

“She pulled that same ruse on me my first week here. Sage, don’t take it to heart. Martha, well, she’s got hate in her … When she was living in Moscow, she was forced. You know, someone muscled her.”

“You mean she’s a Red?” Sage asked, dumbfounded.

“Idaho, Sage, Idaho.”

“Oh, right.”

 

“Ms. Sage, what you mean by crackin’ an egg into one bowl, then slidin’ it into another?” Smitty asked, perplexed. It was Sage’s first day of kitchen duty, and she had her own ways of doing things.

“This is the way it’s got to be,” Sage answered. “I don’t want to spoil this cake batter with no baby chicks, or worst – a rotten egg. So, you crack first, check it, then add it in.”

“Who taught you that, girl?”

“Didn’t you have any chickens around your home, Smitty?”

“Naw, just a heifer,” he answered, as he poured oil into the hot skillet on the stove.

“Well, that’s something you and me got in common. Gosh, I’m mighty homesick. I even miss getting up at 4 a.m. to feed our herd. First with the alfalfa, then the milking, and mucking stalls, all of it I miss, I tell you. But I’m preaching to the choir.”

“Naw, you got me all wrong, Ms. Sage. We didn’t have no cows. Just my Aunt Clara.”

“Your Aunt Clara?” Sage chuckled as she poured the cake batter into a baking pan. “We had a cow named Clara. She was an old girl, died.”

“Oh, you never did meet a hateful creature like Aunt Clara in your life,” he said, placing a slab of meat onto the skillet. “Every time that woman came to our house, she’d find some reason to take Borax to someone’s mouth!”

Sage indicated for Smitty to move away from the stove and slid the baking pan into the oven. “Surely that ain’t so!”

“Hateful, I tell you. Hate full. My brothers and me, we thought up some fifty ways of harmin’ that woman,” Smitty confessed.

“You know what we did with our Clara, Smitty? We had her put to slaughter, then we ate her. And all that winter, eating our fine steaks, we’d say, ‘Thanks be to God – and Clara – for this divine food.’”

 

Later that evening, with everyone seated at the table and silently eating, Sage looked up at Smitty and said, “Good beef, Smitty.”

“Yes, Ms. Sage, good beef,” he smiled. “Thanks be to God.”

 

Flora encourages residents at the Bethlehem to work part-time jobs. These positions, she insisted, were thought to bolster a woman’s sense of self. Lizzie accepted a position at the Door of Hope daycare center at Swedish Hospital because she thought the experience with other people’s children would help her with her own. Sage’s Aunt Ethel suggested that she inquire for work at Ma Bell in the Smith Tower on James and Second. Although Sage worked only 16 hours per week as a telephone girl (for $1.14 per hour), in some ways the wire work strained her more than her farm chores. She much preferred the quietude and general complacency of the herd to the often brash customers at Ma Bell.

“The days are long, mostly because I’ve got no energy. I’m just so dog-tired all the time,” Sage began to explain to Lizzie one day when she came to escort Sage to lunch. The sky was a calm baby blue and the seagulls flew nonchalantly overhead as the two girls strolled north on Second Avenue. “And we get an awful lot of party-line complaints. Today a dreadful lady phoned and said, ‘Mr. Beacon has been blathering on the line for twenty minutes, and I need to make a call to the YMCA.’ Then I asked her, ‘Well where are you calling from now?’ ‘Oh, from my neighbor’s, Mrs. Austen.’ ‘Well, then, why don’t you just make that important call now? Here, let me connect you.’ And I cut her off, and patched her through.”

“No fooling, Sage? Good, you’re asserting yourself. Perhaps you could suggest that Ma Bell change the name from party line to strife line,” Lizzie joked. “You know,” Lizzie continued, “Whenever my nerves get jangled, I just remember this: Jesus Christ made Seattle under pressure.”

Sage, never having known Lizzie to get religious, gave her girlfriend a queer look.

“It’s a way of memorizing the order of these downtown streets, south to north. See? JCMSUP,” Lizzie beamed. “You just have to remember that the streets are paired,” she continued. “O.K. the Smith Tower’s on James, and see, there’s Cherry ahead. Next comes Columbia Street.”

“Say, are you going back to Boston with your baby?” Sage asked, assuming that Lizzie planned on keeping her baby.

“No, there’s school, there’s Frederick. Seattle’s my home now. Marion Street! What about you?”

“I reckon I’ll get back just as soon as this is over. We got the farm, you know.”

“What do you want, Sage?” Lizzie asked. Sage ruminated for a half block. No one had asked her what she had wanted. What a perfectly common question. Now, what’s the obvious answer, Sage asked herself. “There’s Madison Street,” Sage yelled, finally getting the order to the Seattle streets.

“Look, in the end you’ve only got yourself to count on, “ Lizzie said. “Take me, I got this promise ring from Frederick,” she patted the ring which dangled from a chain around her neck, “but he’s still at UW and I’m here, so I’m not holding my breath,” Lizzie admitted, as she slipped her hand in the crook of Sage’s arm. Sage squeezed Lizzie’s hand and turned her head west, toward the Puget Sound to catch the breeze on her face.

By the time they reached the diner on Pine Street, together, in unison, they had called out the remaining streets: “Spring,” “Seneca,” “University,” “Union,” and “Pike.” Sage felt under pressure. Should she give her baby away? Keep it? Marry Joe? Perhaps, Sage thought, the answer is pairs. The paired streets had a function, and now Sage had to figure out the function of the pair she was becoming.

 

On Halloween night the girls and Flora awoke to screams. Martha had been alarmed from sleep by her thoroughly soaked bloomers. Blood.

When Martha returned from the hospital a week later Lizzie, who had been knitting in the parlor alongside Sage (as she was composing another letter to Joe Peterson), jumped up to greet her in the foyer. Martha seemed vacant. She took one look at Lizzie, collapsed into her arms, and released a profound and guttural cry.

After Martha had ascended the stairs, Lizzie announced, “The baby was born into the grave.”

“I don’t understand, Lizzie.”

“Me neither. Maybe the baby was in an abnormal position.”

“No, I mean, I don’t understand Martha. Wasn’t she gonna give her baby away anyhow?”

Lizzie didn’t answer. She shook her head, folded her arms around her midriff, and trudged upstairs.

 

The day Martha left the Bethlehem, the newspaper headline read: 300,000 Chinese Swarm U.S. Troops. It occurred to Sage that this might mean Joe. Did he think about her? Perhaps he thought of her as a feeble-minded girl. After all, he was fighting in his second war. Would he return a hero and marry her? Was he injured? Dead? What about the baby? Their baby.

 

Sage never heard from Walter, but her mother wrote often. One of December’s letters read: “Sage Marie, I pray for you every day. I pray that God will lead you back to us so everything can be as it was. Trotsky sure misses you riding him. I can’t stand his cold looks, so I’ve taken to feeding him oats with molasses from Hansen’s feed. The herd’s fine. No visits from the ABC man anytime soon. We have a new farmhand. Minister Jed’s boy was becoming quite a delinquent. Minister Jed, knowing that you’re gone, asked if we could use Billy around the place. One day, though, Pa found Billy in the barn with Lilly, the butcher’s daughter. To startle them both, Pa grabbed his rifle and cocked it. The girl ran off, but Pa caught Billy. As Pa tells the story, he just stood there, aiming ol’ Bonnie at Billy. I don’t know exactly what Pa said, probably something about never touching no girl unless she was legally yours to touch. As Billy stood there buck-naked with his trousers around his ankles, your Pa shot a hole clean through the crotch of those trousers. Billy begged your Pa not to involve the minister. So it was decided: Billy wouldn’t be touching no girl he wasn’t betrothed to, Pa wouldn’t concern Minister Jed, and Billy would work the farm until you come back. People in Simpson think you’re looking after Aunt Ethel in Seattle. Mrs. Peterson says no word from Korea. May His Glory summon the angels to your side. Love, Mama.”

 

On the first day of 1951, Lizzie had kitchen duty and Sage decided to lend a hand. Sage stood at the kitchen table, kneading bread, as Lizzie peeled potatoes at the sink and Smitty tended to the stove.

“Smitty, how’s number forty-two? Lizzie asked.

“My slugger Jackie?” Lizzie nodded. “Oh, he did fine last season. But the rest of the Dodgers … why they’re just lucky to have him … ”

“Yikes! yikes!” Lizzie interrupted Smitty, “Sage! Smitty! My baby. He’s banging around in there. Oh, Jesus, right here. Come feel it.” Sage leaped over to where Lizzie was standing and set her hand where Lizzie indicated. Smitty did not move.

“I feel it. God almighty, Lizzie,” said Sage.

“Smitty, come on, give me your hand,” Lizzie insisted.

“Oh no, Ms. Lizzie, it ain’t proper.”

“Fiddle-dee, Smitty,” she said, and before Smitty could protest any further, Lizzie had snatched his hand and placed it on her belly. The three of them stood there: three hands quiet on Lizzie’s belly as if they were touching a sacred place where everything good converges.

 

At one month before her due date, Sage went to see Doctor Holmes for another appointment. He reminded her that partial bed rest was advisable. He asked her if she had found any reason to take any of her Phenobarbital pills.

“No, Doctor Holmes, my nerves are fine.”

“And the Fluid pills and Iron tablets?”

“Yes, one and six each day.”

“Any questions, Mrs. Peterson?”

“I’ve still got terrible heartburn. Is that normal?”

“Yes. Milk of Magnesia should do the trick.”

“I get these terrible pains right here in my side.”

“That’s just the baby’s feet in your ribs. So, any word from your husband?”

“Joe’s still in Korea, I presume.”

“Heading for the 38th parallel?” the doctor asked as he moved his stethoscope to various parts of her belly.

“Lord, I hope not, sir.”

The doctor hesitated at the area to the right of Sage’s navel, “I’ve got the baby’s heartbeat. Care to listen?”

Gulp, gulp, gulp. Astounded, Sage asked, “That’s the baby’s heartbeat?” At that moment, for the first time, it registered to Sage that she and Joe were going to be parents. She was growing a tiny human being inside her body. No, not an accident, she thought to herself, no bit of bad luck. No. She was someone’s mother.

 

China threatened to enter the war if U.S. troops crossed the 38th parallel. The whole country was in a panic. In the parlor that evening after supper, Flora and Lizzie played a competitive game of chess and Sage composed letters to her mother and to Joe. Flora had the radio tuned to a mystery show: The Whistler, featuring Detective Nick Carter. However, every quarter hour a Take Cover Mock Alert signaled and whetted the girls’ nerves. “This just in from Washington,” disrupted the show, “President Truman has announced that General MacArthur has been relieved of command.”

With the radio broadcast resounding in her head, she wondered if Joe would be returning soon. Would he still be expecting her to wait for him? The more time Sage was away from the farm and her parents, the more estranged she felt from them. She was living in the metropolis of Seattle! She was earning her own wages, she had a best friend, and she was having a baby!

Before the regular broadcast had resumed, Lizzie had slipped out of the parlor. She returned with a suitcase in her hand, her Chesterfield coat buttoned to the top, and a peak-front bonnet on her head. Silently, Flora stood up to phone the cab company.

“Now, Lizzie?” Sage asked rhetorically.

“Yes, my goddess sea is brimming with son, and spitting him out!” she laughed.

“I’m coming with you. Let’s go.”

“No, Sage, it’s too risky. You escorting me wasn’t the plan. I’ll … we’ll be fine.”

“I didn’t plan for any of this, but we’re family … Let’s go!”

Seven-pound-and-eleven-ounce baby Henry was born the next afternoon.

 

Because Sage’s sleeping was compromised – the baby had dropped into the birth canal, her back ached constantly, and it was virtually impossible to find a comfortable position – she was often up at dawn, reading on the Bethlehem’s front porch. Last week she read the pamphlet, “What Does Truman Say? The Nuts and Bolts of Social Security Benefits.” The week before that she poured over an article from the Seattle Times newspaper, “How to Recognize a Communist,” and today it was another pamphlet from Flora: “Breast-Feeding: The Two Neophyte Nursers – You and Your Baby.” This morning, when the milk truck arrived it wasn’t Mr. Henley. A substitute milkman proceeded up the stoop with a bottle in each hand.

“You got yourself a fatherless babe there,” he said, gesturing to her belly. “Shame you girls got no damn sense, no damn sense I tell you!”

Sage hoisted herself up, glared down at him from the top step, grabbed the bottles from his hands and said, “Consider yourself fired.” She turned, nudged the screen door open with her elbow, stepped into the house, and kicked the door shut behind her.

 

A few days later Lizzie returned to the Bethlehem from the hospital. In a few weeks, Lizzie would be moving into a two-bedroom apartment in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, and Lizzie’s mother would be flying out from Boston to help her get settled. Lizzie insisted that Sage live with her. “We could work alternate shift and care for each other’s babies,” Lizzie mused, as if she had figured out everything for the both of them.

 

Ten days later, without incident, Sage arrived at Virginia Mason Hospital. Because she had perfected her marital story, she wasn’t fazed by the admitting nurse’s barrage of questions regarding the father’s whereabouts and her current living situation. “Alright, Mrs. Peterson, let’s get you situated. Considering the length of your contractions, that baby ought to be greeting this world in no time.” Sage was no first-time mother. Because she had aided many heifers calve, all she could think about was the baby’s position in the birth canal. Then she thought of Martha’s baby.

With the effects of the ether, coupled with the almost debilitating pain of the baby exerting pressure on Sage’s coccyx, Sage bobbed in and out of consciousness. She dreamed of Lizzie in South Korea at the 38th parallel where she spots Joe, sprints over to him, and says, “Look, you’ve got a daughter on the way. You should be there.”

“A daughter?” Joe asks.

“Yes, and she’s all ours: Elizabeth Sage Peterson. A Taurus baby, Joe, a girl soldier in pursuit of the truth, the truth, the truth … ”

“The truth is, Mrs. Peterson,” Dr. Holmes was saying, “we need you to start bearing down.”

Featured image: “The Unapproachable Woman,” illustrated by R.G. Harris, The Saturday Evening Post, February 4, 1950

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