[Between 2009 and 2011, I maintained a TypePad blog, “More Fiends,” intended to update my book Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines. Those posts can still be found in the archive.org Wayback Machine, but I stopped updating that site in 2011. Because this WordPress site promotes and updates all my books, I’d like to republish some of those earlier posts.]
…all were ambulance drivers. In Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines, I portray Colin Lawson, the youngest Lawson brother, as a pathetic figure. He was lured by a patriotic call to arms to enlist in the volunteer army that fought the Spanish-American War, but was stricken with disease in the Chickamauga, Georgia mobilization station, Camp Thomas. The effects gradually worsened and deafened him, forcing him into a Michigan Soldiers Home at an early age. However, he may not have been as sad a character as I thought.
Colin Lawson was profiled twice, in 1905 and in 1906, in the Detroit Free Press. One article emphasized his claim of relation to Thomas W. Lawson (see earlier post). But the other article focused on his experiences as a breakneck ambulance driver. From the Feb. 3, 1906 article:
Just two years later, in Feb., 1908, Colin was admitted to the Michigan Soldiers Home suffering from catarrh of head and stomach, and with kidney stones. If the above article is a true characterization of Colin’s motives, he may have gone into the Soldier’s Home not only because of his own debilitation, but also to help care for the other patients. At any rate, his career as a horse-driven ambulance driver would have been short-lived. Motorized ambulances were first used in Chicago in 1899, and in 1909 they started being mass-produced.
If Colin did devote his life to the service of the sick and injured–despite his own problems–he may have been the noblest of the Lawson siblings.