This is a story told by my grandmother, Osa Callie Beekman McKinley. It was told to me by her when I was a young man and confirmed by my aunt, Alberta Beekman McKinley.
My aunt Alberta, who her friends called Berta after her dad, Albert, was in her teens at their home in the small village of Marshall in Highland County. It was founded by early Scottish settlers of which my Beekman family was one of the earliest.
In those days mothers would put babies on a blanket for a few minutes of sun each day. She told me it was a way to get vitamin D, I think.
Well, an eagle flew down and picked the baby up by its talons to fly back to its nest to feed its hatchlings, most likely. Eagles were more plentiful in the 1920s. Even today, they are known to pick-up small dogs and carry them off.
This called them both into action. Grandmother ran after the dirty bird, waiving her apron and yelling, and Alberta did the same. They must have scared the bird, causing it to drop her in the yard. It was low on take off and when the baby was dropped it was not harmed.
That baby was Kathryn Beatrice (McKinley) Ransdell, my future mother. It is obvious what would have happened if the bird had not dropped the baby. This story would not have been written. I would not have been born, nor any of my siblings or children, in fact, my grandchildren would have never existed. In fact, all my nieces and nephews would have been born to others, but only half related to this writer who would not have existed. This page of works would have been just another blank page in the ream of white paper.
This entire story reminds me of a famous Christmas story, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. With the actor General Jimmy Stewart and the angel Clarence. You know the plot. Stewart got into trouble and attempted to kill himself and the angel. Clarence saves him and he gets a wish that he had never been born.He gets his wish and all the good in his life would have never happened — no family, no wife, no children. He was miserable and begged the angel to be restored, which restored all his good in life. The story ended with a happy ending.
My story also ended happily. My mother survived the eagle flight and I was born and thus this story is written.
Even to this day, eagles fly over the Marshall, which is only about two miles from the lake. If you Google eagles and Rocky Fork Lake you will find that eagles can be seen on a road near the South Shore road near the dam and McCoppin’s Mill. So I would still watch small animals and babies in the area.
Maybe you can imagine your life without your mother. This is reason to love each precious loved one.
Editor’s note — Ransdell, a former Rocky Fork Lake area resident, said he wanted this letter published because he still has relatives in the lake area and is hoping one of them will contact him. Some of his relatives’ surnames include McKinley, Beekman, Surface and Dick. He can be reached at 502-655-7731.
Charles David Ransdell