By Ed Stozek
For the Herald
Radio was an integral part in the lives of rural and urban residents.
When my parents got electricity on their farm in 1954, a brown tube radio was purchased for $20 and it replaced the old existing battery-operated radio. As a result, more time was spent by our family listening to CKDM.
“CKDM-1230” officially opened its radio station, Jan. 5, 1951. The station’s slogan, “A community radio station service for 96,000 Manitobans,” was very appropriate.
In 1955, the radio dial tuned to 1050 kHz. Daytime power increased from 250 to 1000 watts. In June 1957, CKDM made its final move to “730 on your radio dial.” In 1958, CKDM, “the heart of Manitoba,” broadcast a wide variety of programs 24 hours a day. News updates occurred 48 times per day.
My older sister recalled rushing home from school to listen to CKDM for news updates on the fate of a missing person near Dauphin. That story captured the attention of many radio listeners.
On the afternoon of Nov. 1, 1957, the missing person’s daughter realized that her mother was missing. The farm buildings were searched and neighbours were contacted. The RCMP arrived at 3 p.m.
The 75-year old missing person was of slight build and weighed 95 pounds. She was last seen wearing a short gray man’s jacket over a blue dress, brown cotton stockings, low felt type boots and a gray bandana.
“A call for volunteers was sent by radio appeal and 300-400 of them searched the immediate vicinity by flashlight until 11:30 p.m.” (Nov. 7, 1957, Dauphin Herald)
Eventually one thousand volunteers, RCMP, three dozen members of the 70th Field Battery, the Civil Defense and four aircraft from the Dauphin Flying Club joined in the search for the missing person.
The organization of the many volunteers took shape on Saturday when a concentrated methodical travel of more likely and accessible routes was made under a civil defense plan organized by Clifford “Bounce” Weir, who took over command of the air observation. Vic Gosman of the Manitoba Good Roads branch provided ground and air maps of the district.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoon small groups were making “probe” searches of specific areas under the direction of the RCMP. Major William McGowan of the 70th Field Battery relieved Mr. Weir on Sunday afternoon as tactical director of up to 300 volunteer and reserve army men.
Police dog Tiny was brought in from Saskatoon. as the Dauphin detachment was temporarily without a dog. The police dog from the Ste. Rose was unavailable as the handler was on holidays.
On Monday and Tuesday, along with Tiny, approximately 75 men divided into groups and went over some of the previously searched areas. After searching further afield, footprints were discovered at Harold Lake about 1-1/2 miles south from the farm.
The all-out search was suspended at noon Tuesday when the last of possibilities, Harold Lake, had been tracked completely around its perimeter. Approximately 70 miles of road and more than 15 square miles of land were searched on foot and a much wider area by plane.
On the fifth day, one of the neighbours, who lived three miles from the missing person’s farm, came home and found the elderly woman in a weakened condition.
After taking her into the house, she called for an ambulance. Suffering from fatigue and hunger, the elderly woman’s condition at the Dauphin General Hospital was reported as fair that evening.
At that time there was nothing definite to go on as there was no indication where she spent five days and nights in temperatures that dropped tas much as 12F below freezing. It was understood that she was without shelter and food the entire period.
Many organizations and private individuals were thanked for donations and preparations of food and coffee. Local businesses also contributed flashlights, batteries, cigarettes and chocolate bars.
Several years later, when I was old enough to appreciate the old brown tube radio, I spent many hours listening to CKDM.
The news reports of the escape of fugitive Percy Moogey from the Stony Mountain Penitentiary in 1960 was something that I followed.
That’s another story.