On today’s episode, Karen tells the heroic story of Charity Hospital during Hurricane Katrina and Georgia covers Dell Burke and the Yellow Hotel brothel. While recording during a visit to Home Jim, Karen experienced some Zoom-related audio issues. Things will be back to normal next week.
Header Image Source: Photo by beau images / Stockimo / Alamy
"Save for the echoing drip of water in the hallways, there was nothing to disturb the sleep of the dead who lay shrouded in sheets on the landings of a stairwell, the sole custodians of Charity Hospital.
Banners made from bedsheets and anchored with bags of saline solution hung from shattered windows and railings, testament to the despair and fear of the living trapped in the crippled building for five long days by the flood of Hurricane Katrina.
"Get us the hell out of here," one said, a plea to the world outside, which was spiraling into anarchy and appeared to have forgotten the sick and injured at "Big Charity," the largest public hospital that cares primarily for the poor and the needy.
Inside, the smell of human waste was overpowering. The floors were wet and slick and littered with Latex gloves, syringes, hospital gowns and water bottles. Huge piles of fetid garbage filled doorways. Heart monitors, dialysis machines, respirators, all useless and silent, had been carelessly shoved aside. Two bloody handprints were smeared on a wall like graffiti.
In the waiting room on the first floor, those who have sought help at Charity Hospital for generations, even when they couldn't pay, could read the motto of the hospital printed in large letters on the wall.
Charity Hospital, it says, is a place where the unusual occurs and miracles happen.
In its long, storied history, that was never more true than on Aug. 29, when Hurricane Katrina delivered a devastating glancing blow to the city of New Orleans, trapping about 360 patients and 1,200 staff members in the hospital.
What transpired during the next five days was, to say the least, both unusual and miraculous..."
"Born July 5, 1888 in Sommerset, Ohio as Mary Ada Fisher, Dell Burke wasn't the only name Mary would take throughout her life and in her career.
By the time Mary was seventeen her family, which moved around frequently, was living in North Dakota close to the Canadian border. Here, Mary took up with and married Stephen J. Law for whom she then moved in with. Living with the newlyweds was also Law's sister; where both siblings were Canadian, Law often boasted that Canadian women were far superior to American women-- including his wife.
After less than a year Mary had decided that marriage and the domesticated lifestyle was not for her. Packing her bags and leaving behind her husband, house, and family Mary fled to Canada where she took the name Marie and began her career as a 'soiled dove'.
Marie's life took her all around the world. A beautiful young woman, many men tried to show her affections outside of her career however she knew what she wanted and when they became too attached she would up and leave to the next location. Marie went from Canada to Alaska. She spent some time in Montana and other states before following the oil boom-- and the men-- to Wyoming.
It was in Wyoming that Marie took her last known name of Dell Burke. With the oil boom she made home in Casper, Wyoming at the Sandbar District. Around this time prohibition was beginning and Casper officials soon began cracking down on alcohol and prostitution so, again Dell fled this time staying in Wyoming and just moving down the road to the oil boom in Lance Creek, where, at the time, the population had reached 10,000 plus.
Dell set up camp with Bessie Housley, a friend of the same profession she had made along the way. That was in 1919, by 1920 they had purchased the Yellow Hotel which set across from the train depot. With the population booming and their client list growing, more girls joined them.
Clients of the Yellow Hotel were served the best food,and even in the midst of the prohibition, alcohol with nights ending in a room upstairs. Because of what her business offered and the nature of her profession, Dell was often visited by the law for which these visits stopped after she threatened to shut down the towns electricity. Lusk, having borrowed money from her for a transformer, had yet to pay her back.
Though Dell led a life that most deemed unfit, she held herself to high standards. While she may not have been liked around town she was highly respected; her name appeared at the top of every charity list (she was a major contributor in the monument for Mother Featherlegs), she is credited with sending a number of people to college for higher education, and always she gave money where and when it was needed..."
Source: “Town of Lusk, Wyoming”