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Local farmer, actor makes return to stage after accident

The dimple on Ed Bolton's right cheek is evidence of his serious farm accident five weeks ago. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Five weeks ago Ed Bolton was working on his hobby farm outside of Park Rapids when something went horribly wrong.

It was around 2 p.m. Bolton was planting beans.

He was using a Handyman Jack. According to the manufacturer, the maximum load capacity is 4,660 pounds at four feet, but the jacks are tested to 7,000 pounds of pressure.

"The jack handle hit me in the face with the full force of the load I was lifting," Bolton recalled Monday.

Today (Wednesday) he will reprise his role as Inspector Closely at Long Lake Theater's performance of "The Last Resort."

"Everyone was pretty astounded" to learn Ed was returning, son Bruce Bolton said. Ed had been involved in the script reads for "The Last Resort" with the cast members at the time of his accident.

His understudy stepped into Ed's s role for the production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" that was under way at the time.

"I hope I do well," Ed Bolton said of his debut.

Compared to his last five weeks, even a "boo" from the crowd probably couldn't dampen Ed's spirit.

The retired English teacher and farmer used his cell phone in the field that day to call for help.

His brother rushed him to the Emergency Room of St. Joseph's Area Health Services in Park Rapids.

"I don't think I lost consciousness, but I was dazed," Bolton recalled.

"I passed out in the ER." He'd hit an artery in his neck and was bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig.

He was raced to Sanford Health by ambulance where his jaws were wired shut.

Doctors then performed surgery to place six titanium plates in his face under his gums.

"The doctor said my upper jaw was broken loose from my skull," Ed matter-of-factly recounts. "My lower jaw was broken in two places."

He was hospitalized for four days. The wires holding his jaws came off.

The weekly "Bolton Coffee" klatch, held at various area farms, took place that Saturday in the Fargo hospital.

Ed remains on a "no solid food" diet. His first meal will be mashed potatoes. He can celebrate with that stick-to-the-ribs meal after "The Last Resort's" last curtain goes down Friday night. Hold the ribs.

He'd love to sink his teeth into a nice juicy steak, but that will be awhile. Meanwhile he's sinking his teeth into re-memorizing his lines.

He took pain pills for the first couple weeks. His right cheek has a pronounced dimple in it. Both cheeks are still swollen, but should go down, he said.

"It's a little uncomfortable," he admitted. "I can't open my mouth very wide but the doctor said my bite is just fine."

He's been subsisting on a blender diet.

"I've found a lot of things I can put through a blender," he chuckled, using a little milk for liquid. He blends chicken and other proteins into a sludge he can digest. He can mash Jell-O and eat that.

Ed admits to getting a bit envious at all the treats in the food line after church, but confines his intake to coffee. He's maintained his weight and strength throughout his recuperation, he said.

"It sounds like I gotta really go slow," he said of the doctor's advice on food intake. Meanwhile his doctors in Fargo have released him from future checkups unless he has a problem.

A regular member of the theater's summer cast, Ed says he's not worried about projecting into the audience, even with his mouth partially immobile. He'll even perform one song. When cast member David Overly was unable to perform the last week of the production, Bruce tapped his dad to step back in.

"I'm going to give it my all," Ed promised.

And even if Ed flubs his lines today, he deserves a "standing oh," (not an "owww.")

Just don't tell him to "Break a Leg" before he goes onstage.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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