November 3, 1919: Eight-year-old Loses Hand in Accident Adding to Family's Misfortune


By Margaret Leidy Harner from her book One Day at a Time: A Social History of Boyertown, PA

November 3, 1919: Little eight-year-old Wayne Frey of New Berlinville met with a serious misfortune that caused him to lose his left hand.

He was returning home from school with a number of boys who were romping in the street when a five-ton dump truck, loaded with crushed stone, passed the school at a slow speed. Frey ran directly into the path of the truck as he was pursued by another lad while playing tag. Frey was knocked down by the moving truck and the left front wheel passed over his left hand and foot. Although the driver immediately stopped the machine, the youngster’s little limbs were crushed.

Drs. Charles B. Dotterer and John Borneman were soon on the scene and gave the boy what relief they could. He was taken to the Pottstown Hospital, where his hand, that had been ground into pulp, was amputated. His mashed foot could be saved because it had been partly protected by his shoe. The evidence showed that the accident was unavoidable.

It was not the first tragedy the Frey family has suffered this year. His mother died the previous winter of diphtheria, and his father and sister were trying to keep the family together.

Wayne handled his loss well and became a respected businessman in Boyertown, an executive at Union Manufacturing Company. He became quite adept at playing baseball and card games one-handed.

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