Putting Love on the Line
By T. R. Torkelson, Signs of the Times, September 1973

A North Dakota blizzard was howling outside Dr. Thompson's office one night. About nine o'clock, the phone rang. "Can you come out to my place?"

Tony Sebastian was on the other end. "My boy is running a high fever and is unconscious. Its impossible for us to get in to you. Do you think you could make it out to us?" "I'll do my best."

The doctor glanced out the window. "But this storm scares me. Never had it so bad where I came from." Stopping at a tavern on his way out of town, he got three men to go with him. "I may need you," he said, "to shovel me out of the snow." About halfway the men gave up exhausted. The drifts kept getting deeper and deeper. So the doctor left his car with the men and got a farmer to saddle him a horse for the rest of the journey to Tony's. The doctor did his best for the boy, but he saw toward morning that unless he could get him to a hospital under intensive care, survival would be hopeless. He thought of Ed, the county commissioner. Maybe he could get a crew out and clear the road.

"Don't think I can," said Ed, sleepily answering the phone. "But, I'll try." Imagine the doctor's surprise, when he got his patient out to the main road about sunrise, to find the doctor's car ready and waiting, and to learn that the road all the way into town had been cleared. Later at the hospital, the crisis past, Dr. Thompson thought of Ed again and rang to thank him and the road crew for what they had done.

"Don't thank us," said Ed. "We had nothing to do with it." "Who did then?" asked the doctor. "Well," he said, "you've got to know the people around here to understand what happened. When they heard you ring me on the party line, they knew something must be wrong and they listened in. Every able-bodied man and boy along that road went to work shoveling and plowing snow. That's how it got done.

"You see, we live out here in God's wide-open country, where the coyotes howl and the wind blows free. And when anybody's in trouble, we all pitch in and help. We call it 'putting love on the line.'"

How desperately society needs old-fashioned love like that today, and the healing influence of neighbors who care..

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