Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Doctor in Town

One of our favorite family activities when we lived in the old abandoned high school was playing board games. Among other children we preferred “Monopoly”, but with Mom and Pop our favorite game was “Clue.” We all became adept at stratagems, such as calling out items in our own hands to determine the murder, murder weapon, and murder room, without tipping off the others.

“Miss Scarlett with a knife in the Billiard Room.”

One evening while the four of us were playing Clue on our dinner table in the center of the room that was kitchen, dining room, living room, and bedrooms, Mom fainted and fell from her chair.

A doctor had just moved into town, and lived in Ed McMillen’s old house. After his wife, Myrtle died of cancer, Ed moved into an attic room and rented the rest of his house to the new doctor. Pop sent me to hurry and bring back the doctor.

I ran as fast as I could and banged on his door. It was about seven in the evening, and he answered the door immediately. I told him to come quickly, my mother was unconscious.

The doctor told me to contact our family doctor, and have him take care of Mom.

We didn’t have a family doctor. The only doctor in the area was old Doc Huntley, and he lived in the country on Mountain View Road towards Manchester, over five miles away, and had been retired for years.

I ran back home to tell Pop the doctor wouldn’t come.

Without a word, he stood up, and walked quickly out the door and down the street to the doctor’s house, with me running behind. When he reached the house, Pop banged on the door, and then threw it open. The doctor was standing just inside, and Pop barked out, “My wife needs a doctor.”

“I’m not her doctor.”

“Get your bag.”

The doctor didn’t move, so Pop looked around and spotted a black bag on the table. “Is that your bag?”


Pop grabbed the bag with one hand, and the doctor’s arm with the other, and pulled him out the door and up the street to our home without saying another word. Pop walked fast, holding the shorter, slightly built doctor under the doctor's arm, and it seemed to lift and propel him forward as they went. I could barely keep up.

Pop pulled the doctor into our one-room home, and finally let him loose when they reached Mom, still lying on the floor. The doctor checked Mom’s pulse, and her eyes, and her chest with his stethoscope, and said: “She’s OK. She should come around soon.”

He propped her legs up, and made her comfortable, and soon her eyes opened, and Mom started to sit up.

The doctor told her not to sit up yet, to just stay down and relax, and then told Pop that she didn’t seem to be sick, that she must have fainted.

Pop asked what to do next, and the doctor said probably nothing, just let Mom take things easy for a couple of days, and see how it went.

Pop asked the doctor what he owed him, and the doctor shrugged his shoulders, so Pop pulled out a five dollar bill. The doctor still didn’t do or say anything, so Pop put it in his bag, and handed the bag to the doctor.

Without another word the doctor left.

A couple of weeks later Pop was in McMillen’s General Store, where the widower Ed, Ralph and his wife Sadie, and Lloyd McMillen all worked. Pop asked Ed how the new doctor was doing, and Ed said that he had moved out and left the area. Apparently he never had any time to himself, day or night, when he wouldn’t be interrupted to make a house call or take care of some emergency. Being the only active doctor within forty miles was too much of a strain, so he had decided to go back to the city and work in a hospital.

Pop asked if Ed had found a new tenant, and when Ed said he hadn’t, Pop negotiated a lease for us on the spot. Within a week we had packed all our meager belongings and moved them into the Ed McMillen house, and parked our trailer nearby next to the clothes line.

Being in a real house again was nice, and quite a change after living a year and a half in the trailer in Lawndale, Carpentaria, Newhall, and Fosters Park, going to two schools in the First grade, and then living in the abandoned high school for three years.

All in all though, my brother Ron and I had enjoyed our travels and the adventure of living in a large abandoned high school. I think Mom was the most appreciative of moving into a real house. We now had a kitchen, dining room, living room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom, instead of areas within a large room. We had a normal hot water heater, instead of water lines running through the firebox of the old wood burning cook stove. Mom had an electric stove, and an oil-fired heater instead of using the wood cook stove for cooking and heat too.

Civilization had overtaken the Combs family.

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