The folks in Nebraska still talk about that night when three pairs of twins were born at the Little Innocence Hospital back in 1931. Three pairs of prospective parents descended on the hospital just as the latest storm of the Dust Bowl barreled down on the facility, choking it off from the outside world.
First to arrive was police detective Miles O'Hara and his wife. As he was so familiar with the area, O'Hara was able to get there safely despite the hellish conditions with low visibility. They were soon joined by the other two sets of expectant parents. Luckily for O'Hara, he left his 1928 Porter touring car in a secluded area of the parking lot - otherwise it would have been struck by both of the other cars as they blindly arrived at the hospital.
Mr. and Mrs. Orwell arrived in a second-hand Stutz Bearcat that had seen better days, while John Hooker and the Missus had an old flivver that probably needed more medical attention than Hooker's wife.
The Orwells and the Hookers had been traveling together across an America deep in the grip of the Great Depression. They were part of a jalopy caravan hoping to find a better life in California.
The maternity ward quickly became a madhouse for young doctor Marc Welby, who was caught unprepared for this chaos. But he was a true professional and handled each emergency with aplomb and a gentle bedside manner. (What kept him going was his dream to one day leave his land-locked state and head to California himself. There he planned to get a boat and sail the ocean. But even with that dream on a continuous loop in his mind, still he focused on each of the three new mothers and helped them bring their new lives into the world.
It was bad enough to be shepherding three women through childbrith during a dust storm; quite another when it turned out that each of the three women were expecting twins. Still, Dr. Welby kept the chaos under control and soon welcomed six new babies into Toobworld.
But no situation is perfect. The trouble lay in the nursery where a frazzled Nurse Tacky was trying to catalogue each baby for the records. It proved to be a daunting task for Tacky and she soong got confused, eventually accidentally switching the babies unknowingly. It proved to be a tragedy of epic proportions, but one which was never discovered by the trio of couples even as they held their babies.
Had the hospital's personnel department bothered to check, it should have been obvious that Nurse Tacky would make such a mistake. The eccentric looniness displayed by Tacky was par for the course in her family - her sister was Grandmama Addams from New York state, as a matter of fact.....
A few days later, each of the families departed the hospital - the O'Haras back to their nearby home while the Orwells and Hookers continued on their journey to California - with no fixed plan on where they would end up.
Not that anybody at Little Innocence Hospital knew, but as it turned out, the Orwell family settled near San Diego while the Hookers moved to an area known colloquially as "L.C."
Many years later, Helen O'Hara arrived in L.C. under the alias of Sarah Mitchell and almost gave herself away when she saw a young policeman who looked just like her brother Frank. She soon found out that he was one of the Hooker twins from that night when her brothers were born in Nebraska. Striking up a conversation with the cop (whose name was Thomas Jefferson Hooker, although he preferred to be known by his initials), Sarah (aka Helen) learned that he had a twin brother who looked nothing like him.
Although she never did get the chance to meet TJ's brother, she was convinced that he would prove to be the natural-born son of her parents. And maybe even resemble her in some way....
But it was not something which she had the time or the inclination to pursue. Her mother may have passed away, but it was something her father didn't need to know, now too late to make any difference in any of their lives.
Helen figured that in this baby mix-up back in 1931, this was how it played out in the distribution of those infants at Little Innocence:
ORWELLS - An Orwell and an O'Hara baby
HOOKERS - A Hooker and an O'Hara baby
O'HARAS - A Hooker and an Orwell baby.
As you can see, the O'Haras didn't even get one of their own children in the mistaken delivery. But they raised those two babies with the same love they would have shown their own children.
They named the Orwell baby "James" and the Hooker baby "Francis" after her father and his mother respectively. But as they grew up, the boys preferred to be known as "Jim" and "Frank".
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Coming up next: "Frank's Place"