A gift of $150 from son Wesley allowed Violet to buy a new piano, but it didn’t come with a bench. Wes decided he would build one and got their gas powered saw and planer running. He wasn’t at it an hour when he burst through the door saying, “Mom I did it, I cut off my fingers”, three fingers on his left hand were gone. Violet was in her words “thunderstruck”, she wrapped his hand in clean dish towels and told Orrah Jr. to get a boat ready. Just about then, a neighbor that lived near Kettle Falls came along with a group of three people, all were drunk including the neighbor, however, he seemed to sober up quickly when he saw Wes with his hand all bloody and bandaged. He told the others to get out of the boat and Violet and Wes got in and he ferried them to Kettle Falls and from there to International Falls by plane. After getting Wes settled into the hospital, Violet walked across the bridge to Fort Frances, took a cab to five-mile dock and borrowed a rowboat. From there she rowed it under the railroad bridge to Kelses Island where Orrah and Floyd were working and staying on their steamboat. They took the steamboat back to Fort Frances and walked across the bridge to visit Wes in the hospital. They couldn’t save his thumb and the first two fingers on his left hand; all that was left were stubs.
Orrah Jr. had to take the three inebriated folks to Kettle Falls using Wesley’s small boat. The woman stood and fell out of the boat. As Orrah was helping her back in, her husband jumped up staggering to help when he fell overboard, half swamping the boat. Orrah leaned heavily on the other side of the boat because both were hanging on one side of the tippy little boat, then the big heavy brother-in-law also started to get up, and that is when Orrah picked up an oar and commanded him to sit in the bottom of the boat. After getting the woman in the boat, he helped her husband get in on the other side. Violet thought it a very close call, as they were far from shore, and that they all could have drowned.
Wesley was in the hospital for ten days. He boarded a train to Rocky Inlet, where they could pick him up with the steamboat. Wes was feeling very bad about losing his fingers, but while he was on the train he met a man that had lost his whole hand. Wes considered himself lucky. At home, Wes was visited by friends. Some were a bit discouraging, suggesting that he give his accordion to a sibling, though none of them wanted to play. Wesley’s brothers and sisters stood by him and they would say “don’t let anyone discourage you in what you think you can do, you will play again”. Violet and his dad rallied to his defense and after the stubs healed he began to play again and Violet thought better than ever.
It was in the spring of 1953 when Orrah took Orrah Jr. with him to timber cruise for a logging contract of their own, so they could supplement their trapping with extra funds. They were in the big woods when they heard what they thought sounded like a porcupine grunting. They were wrong. Up in a big White Pine tree was a sow with her cubs; she was sitting on a set of limbs shaped upward like a large pronged fork. She suddenly started to come down like the tree was greased and hit the ground snorting loudly, Orrah later related that she “moved like lighting and was roaring like thunder”. Orrah Jr. thought that his dad would never get his pistol out, so he unsheathed his knife. The bear slowed at about fifty yards to get her bearings, Orrah steadied the pistol on her as she was coming forward aiming below her head and shot her through the heart, all during the ruckus the cubs sat up in the tree squealing like pigs. Orrah Jr. was concerned about the cubs but his dad told him not to worry because as the sow would start to spoil they would come down from the tree and feed on her.
Next up, Violet was glad they had quit eating bear meat, they didn’t get the logging contract, and talk begins about heading out west to British Columbia.