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Medicine Back When

A story by Lois Keating Learned



In the late 1930’s and 1940’s, when I was a child, medicine was practiced much differently than today. For one thing, doctors made house calls. Perhaps there were more doctors per capita than there are today. Now, doctors not only have the large cost of their education, but also the exorbitant charges for malpractice insurance and thus have large practices with a limited time for each patient. In our town of under 8,000 people there were two doctors – Dr. Smith and Dr. Breed. Dr. Smith was on his way to retirement and Dr. Breed was being groomed as his replacement. They had a small office in the basement of the local hotel, which was situated conveniently in the center of town. Dr. Smith, the image of the old family doctor, white hair and all, did a good job, but always seemed a bit dictatorial. He’d say, Now do it this way… or You must take this medicine… , whereas, Dr. Breed who looked a bit like Clark Gable, was much more appealing and you just wanted to please him. He’d quietly suggest treatments: Now I think this medicine would help your condition. Or, Perhaps if you try moving around a bit rather than just lying In bed, you might recover more quickly. Dr. Breed loved to play golf and he really brightened up the course with his colorful slacks – some were even stripped! When he wore these garments or a flashy sports coat to make house calls, his appearance alone would help the patient improve. I recall one Sunday he even came in a cutaway! Perhaps he’d been part of a wedding ceremony. I don’t remember the reason for such finery, but it sure made me feel much better! Ah, another reason for The Good Old Days!

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 Clark Gable,cutaway,dictatorial,house calls,malpractice insurance
  Garden City, Long Island, NY
Jun 19 1940


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