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Happy 50th, 'big baby'

Helen Stewart, left, visits with Lucille Feemster on Wednesday at Feemster's home in York. Fifty years ago, Feemster cared for Stewart at now-closed Divine Saviour Hospital in York.
Helen Stewart, left, visits with Lucille Feemster on Wednesday at Feemster's home in York. Fifty years ago, Feemster cared for Stewart at now-closed Divine Saviour Hospital in York.

CLOVER -- The nurse in the old picture remembered holding the little girl like it happened Wednesday at lunchtime: "That was a big baby."

Splashed on the front page of what was then the Evening Herald, 50 years ago today on Aug. 2, 1957, was a picture of newborn Helen Stewart at the long- closed Divine Saviour Hospital in York with a nurse's steadying hand atop a scale that read an incredible 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

The caption reads, "King Size Baby."

"I was big," understated the baby, Helen Stewart on Wednesday, the day before her 50th birthday. She is now 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her weight is more than 13 pounds and 8 ounces, but how much more is her business. "Bigness, it runs in the family."

Her mother, the late Janie Mae Stewart, was a tall, stately woman. Her father, the late John Presley Stewart?

"Not more than 5 feet and a half," Helen said.

The caption to that photo 50 years ago said Helen's brother was born 10 years before. He was a shrimp.

A mere 13 pounds even.

"I remember my mother talking about how big Helen was, seeing the picture," said Helen's brother William, that 13-pounder who turns 60 next week. "People said she was one of the biggest babies ever born in York County, maybe ever."

That coming from somebody who might be the second biggest baby ever.

"Biggest anybody ever heard of," said Audrey Dulin, a friend of Helen and Helen's mother, too.

It is unclear if baby Helen was the biggest baby ever born in York County to that point, or since. But a spokesperson from Piedmont Medical Center said an average baby born this year in York County weighs between 7 1/2 and 8 pounds. Baby Helen was almost double-sized.

And get this -- Janie Mae Stewart gave birth to her daughter Helen the old-fashioned, natural way. Breathe, ladies, and be thankful Janie Mae Stewart wasn't you.

And men, buy the mother of your children a dozen roses.

Today.

It took a while to get to that hospital 50 years ago.

The funeral director who lived right down the block from the Stewarts, Mr. Black, had a hearse with a red light on top. Janie Mae Stewart was loaded into the back and Mr. Black hightailed it south on U.S. 321 for York, about 10 miles south.

"But momma always said that on the way, the tire came off," Helen Stewart said.

The hospital had to dispatch somebody to get the mother with what can be certain was one big belly. At 3:40 a.m., 13-pound, 8-ounce Helen Stewart arrived.

The nurse holding that big baby in the picture was Lucille Feemster. Now 87, she worked 41 years at Divine Saviour.

"Oh, yes, I remember that baby," Feemster said. "I helped deliver many, many, babies. No others were that big, I am sure of that. And I have that picture somewhere."

She found a copy of that picture that brought forth the, "That was a big baby."

Fifty years after she last saw her, Lucille Feemster met Helen Stewart. They chit-chatted and laughed. A friend gave Helen a copy of that newspaper decades ago, but she never saw the original picture until Wednesday. Feemster remarked how a 4-pound baby was born that same day, and she held Helen and the other baby together. And somebody, quite possibly Feemster, must have said: "That's a big baby."

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