CHILDHOOD DOCTORS

By Bill Grosboll
October 14, 2007

Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor for my ‘three month’ check-up and it got me thinking about how times have changed. Before going back into the past let me relate a couple of my recent encounters with the medical profession. Being relatively new to the area, I didn’t have a regular doctor so I would just go to a clinic whenever I got hurt on the job but when I began having trouble with my breathing; they referred me to a specialist. It was during my first or second visit that the doctor asked me if I had a family doctor to which I replied “no”. He then walked over to that ‘Kleenex’ box that they keep on the counter and removed one of those clear, thin disposable gloves and applied a dab of lubricant to the old index finger. This is a pretty good indicator that he intends to put that finger someplace where the sun never shines. Now, if he had just put a stethoscope to my chest or had gotten a tongue depressor when he walked over to that counter, he may have been in business. I immediately replied that I would consider his offer and let him know at a later date. He stood there with lubed glove and decided that my response meant that he wasn’t going to need it and therefore removed it. Whew!

Remember the old television series ‘Rawhide’ with Gil Favor as the foreman and Clint Eastwood just getting his career started as Rowdy Yates? One of Mr. Favor’s lines, either at the opening or closing of the show was “Head ’em up and move ’em out!” which meant ‘get those cattle moving’. That is kind of what I think of the medical profession today. Today the first thing asked for at the doctor’s office is your insurance card, not what is your problem and why are you here to see the doctor and they seem to run us through as a herd of cattle. Maybe it’s just me! When I was a small child in Petersburg, there were three doctors that I can remember, Dr. Scott, Dr. Plews, and Dr. Moulton. Dr. Powers was the only dentist I can remember. Dr. Scott had his office at a house where the Menard Medical Center is, or was the last time I was in Petersburg. Dr. Plews’ office was in a small white house next to T. C. Terhune’s car dealership, which later became the Petersburg fire station. Dr. Moulton’s office was located a block north of downtown, near Derry’s Hardware. You notice I don’t use many street names? That’s because I don’t know them. When I was a youngster directions were always given to existing businesses or people’s houses. There were a few basic directions like, ’the main drag’, the west side of the square, the south side of the square, the north side the square, and Snake Hollow. By using these as starting points, you could find any business in Petersburg and that is still how I navigate. I apologize for getting side tracked but one memory always brings others to mind.

Mom and Dad always used Dr Scott as their doctor, for what reason, I do not know and it was their choice so I’m not trying to be bias here. You’ve got to remember that the first time I met Dr. Scott; I was just emerging from my mother’s womb (probably much to her relief). He delivered me at home, which in itself, is unusual compared to today. Later on, as I got somewhat older, Dr Scott would still make house calls, even out to the farm. House calls were pretty common in that day and I can’t honestly say that house calls are a thing of the past, but I do know they are a rarity. You must remember that the automobile was severely lacking in comforts and dependability in those days, so for the doctor to venture out on a cold winter night says a lot about his devotion to the profession. Medical treatments were somewhat limited in those days. Penicillin was the wonder drug of that era and if penicillin, castor oil, or Coca Cola couldn’t cure the illness, it was going to be up to the body’s immune system to be the cure. For you youngsters, Coca Cola was originally marketed as a medication and since kids liked to take it, they decided to broaden the market. If a doctor had said that he was going to put me on antibiotics, Mom would have responded “anti-what?”. I broke my leg when I was two years old and have never had a problem with it since, which tells me that Dr. Scott was pretty good at setting bones and making casts. Most childhood diseases such as measles just ran their course. Three day measles weren’t bad but regular measles took a week or longer to get over. Three day measles were great for getting out of school!

All in all, I’m glad to see the improvements in the medical profession. I just feel it’s not nearly as personable as it was in those early years. My thanks go out to all those doctors who have kept me going for all these years (never burn your bridges behind you!). Somehow, I feel like I just ‘burned’ one!

 

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