1959: Little Girl Burns Herself In Slayton

Ruth Claussen, who burned herself very badly in 1959 after playing with matches, would be 58 if she’s still around today.

"Don’t play with matches" may be the theme of this story, but it does seem awfully cruel to put the blame first, even before telling the story.

I mean, the poor kid already had "extensive, possible third degree burns." Referring to it as "giving herself an early birthday gift she isn’t enjoying very much today" just seems to be adding insult to a very severe injury.

2 Responses

  1. Ruth Claussen Arndt

    Still around (in Scandia MN) and soon to be 61…strange to see MY event blogged about. I have a copy from the Slayton paper, but never saw this one. My twin Rand said he remembers not having a very good birthday that year either (no party) but I’m sure there was and presents and cake for the family (7 other siblings). He’s the one who sent this to me. Mom always said I got “spoiled” in the hospital; spent 56 days there and gots lots of cards and toys,etc. Scars on back of legs are not too visible.

    1. Fifty-six days in a hospital! I think you probably deserved to be spoiled in there, with the awfulness of the injury. Glad to hear you got through it, though; kids can be surprisingly resilient.

      I chose to feature this story on the blog because it did seem to be very hard on you! That was very typical of the news style at the time (and for a very long time prior to ’59) and you can see the same sort of thing in pretty much every newspaper of the era. These days we would cover it much more sensitively.

      A few other trivial newspaper things, on the off-chance that you’re interested: 1. Your twin’s name isn’t mentioned, though he’s referred to. We’d be sure to have the name in if we wrote this now. The name of the electric shop is also not mentioned. 2. Your mother is referred to as Mrs. John Claussen. This practice was prevalent in the Globe at least up into the mid-1980s, if not further, and some older women still prefer to be denoted this way today. 3. The name of the diner who rescued you isn’t in there either. Now that could be entirely deliberate–he or she may not have wanted to be mentioned. Still, I’m curious.

      I can’t imagine how awful the whole thing must have been, and how painful for you and scary for Rand. Glad to hear from you and I’m especially glad you recovered well!

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