Submitted by: Kay Cunningham


A Doctor in the Making

Chapter 4


We love you, grand old Texas,
With all your hills and dales,
Your ranches and your prairies,
Your old-time Spanish trails;
We love you for your history,
Your men and women, too;
For deeds of noble valor
They did while making you.
Oh, sing of mighty Texas!
So grand, so great and free;
The best old State of forty-eight-
Home State of you and me.


            With the above sentiment in my heart, I did not stay long in Norman, Oklahoma, where my old-time friend French Amos was teaching in the State University. He showed me the town, with all the results of sand and wind storms. Among other places, he took me to a spot which once had held a home, but was only a pile of ruins. He told me a tornado had blown the house down a short time before, killing twelve of the fourteen people in it. It was too much for me.    

            Just before the Santa Fe train came through again, I wrote this little verse to French:

I came with brightest hopes and trust;
I leave with tears and sighs.
No mortal man could stand this dust
Unless he had glass eyes.

            "I am going back home," I added, "and make a doctor of myself." And so I did. I left on the Santa Fe, came back to "grand old Texas," and read medicine at Eagle Springs that summer under Dr. J. W. Cook, my brother-in-law, who had married my sister Ellen several years before.   

            In the fall of that year, I spent a delightful week in Chicago visiting the World's Fair, with its many wonders. That Fair was to me the most wonderful I have ever seen, though I have attended all the others since. My boyish simplicity, of course, added the zest of novelty, so that everything was a revelation. After visiting the exhibits of the different countries, and viewing the forty beauties represented as the most beautiful girls of the respective nations, I boarded the train for Atlanta, Georgia, traveling by way of Cincinnati and Chattanooga. I arrived in Atlanta one Sunday with a little star in my left lapel, to show that I was from Texas.     

            A policeman stood near the station, and I asked him how to find a boarding place close to the Medical College. He looked at my star and said, "I see you're from Texas. I read where they burned a negro out there yesterday. Now, young man, if you've come here as a Texan, expecting to create a disturbance around here, you'll certainly find plenty trouble. We don't want any rowdies or desperadoes coming in here from other states to disturb the peace of our community." I assured him I was not there as a lawbreaker; that I was there to attend medical college; that Texas boys were just as fine as those of Georgia or Alabama, and that I expected to take first honors in my class. However, I did not make that last statement to anyone except the "cop."    

            I had many and varied experiences during the two years I boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Crabb. Such experiences are common to all medical students, and I will not go into detail. However, I will mention the dissecting of a negro who had been hanged for killing a white man. We had no rubber gloves, and it was some time before we could rid our hands entirely of the odor which we carried about with us as a result.  Besides dissecting, we had lectures on anatomy, chemistry, general medicine, obstetrics, gynecology, and skin diseases, with clinics on all these branches. The first day I was there, I saw thirty-four cases on eye, ear, nose and throat treatment on all of our patients, and the follow-up of operations that had been done.     

            Dr. Calhoun was a fine, tall, gray-haired man-and a grand speaker. He had patients from all over the South, including Texas. Dr. Love taught physiology, which I had studied intensively and had taught in college, so I did not have to take that branch. Anatomy, however, was the most intricate and difficult study we had. It was very ably taught by Dr. W. S. Armstrong, an elderly gentleman and a fine teacher and surgeon.    

            Theory and practice of medicine was taught by Dr. W. S. Kendrick and Dr. H. V. M. Miller. Dr. Kendrick had studied abroad and was well versed in the various branches of medicine. He was exceedingly helpful to the students, holding clinics twice a week, showing the patients to us, and allowing us to examine each case and to outline the treatment. He also urged us to study the various diseases from our textbooks, which at that time were mostly on the practice of medicine. Dr. Miller was along in years and had been a United States Senator. He was a brilliant man and an eloquent speaker, frequently quoting the classics, especially Shakespeare.    

            At that time we did not know the cause of yellow fever or malaria. We had yet to learn that they were conveyed by the mosquito. Our instructor told us, however, that yellow fever would not invade certain altitudes-he would stake his reputation on that statement. When there was an epidemic in the lowlands he assured the people of Atlanta that it would not reach that altitude. He did not know how the miasmal poison originated or how it was spread, but he was certain a higher altitude meant immunity. This corresponded with the fact that yellow fever mosquitoes do not breed in the higher regions. Mosquitoes do convey the disease from one person to another by biting the one who has fellow fever, malaria, or dengue.     

            Dr. Virgil O. Hardin was our professor of gynecology and obstetrics. He was most concise in his teaching, very definite in his lectures, and demanded that his exact words be memorized.     

            Dr. Willis F. Westmoreland was our instructor in surgery. He was tall and handsome, and always wore a flower in the lapel of his coat. He was an excellent surgeon and a good lecturer. The only objection I had to him was that he kept his patients under the anesthetic too long while he was talking to us and explaining the case. I was always afraid the patient would die from prolonged anesthesia. Dr. Goldsmith was his assistant, very friendly with the boys and extremely popular.    

            Our quiz-master was Dr. J. C. Johnson. He knew something of all the questions that were asked in the "green" room. Each professor had his list, and we students were "green" with fear if we were not well up on our subjects when it came time for the quiz-master's test. Dr. Johnson and his two sons are still practicing in Atlanta.    

            Dr. James S. Todd was our professor of therapeutics. He was a splendid lecturer-a former Civil War veteran who had lost one arm in the disastrous War Between the States. He gave eloquent talks on mercury, quinine and opium, the remedies that were the sheet-anchors of doctors in those days, quieting the patients and helping to overcome pain. In peritoneal infections he gave very large doses of opium and' kept the patient "snowed under" for two or three days at a time.   

            Our chemistry instructor was Dr. Jones, and he was an excellent teacher. However, I had taught chemistry and had no trouble in that subject.  

            I went to the Baptist Sunday School almost every Sun- day, for two reasons: first, because they had an orchestra and I loved music; second, because they did not seem to smell the odor or the dissecting room on me and hence gave me a warm welcome. I often stayed for the eleven o'clock service to hear the Rev. J. B. Hawthorne, a tall, eloquent preacher who was very outspoken in his opinions and was rumored to be the original of St. Elmo in Augusta Evans Wilson's novel of that name.     

            Adelina Patti, the great operatic singer, who was then about fifty years of age, came to Atlanta on tour. Antonio Galazzi was the bassoprofundo with her company. She did the opera "Martha" and sang many songs, among them "Comin' Thro' the Rye." Hers was the most marvelous voice I had ever heard. I was so thrilled that it seemed like I was lifted up to the portals of Heaven. No angel could have made sweeter music. I paid $3.00 for standing room, and I was so carried away that I didn't even need a seat.    

            Incidentally I might say that Adelina Patti, operatic soprano, was born in Madrid in 1843, of musical parents, and was brought up in the United States. At the age of seven, when she first sang in public, she already showed extraordinary talent. She made her professional debut at the age of nineteen in New York, where she attained immediate success. Later she toured the world, portraying every great operatic role known at that time, and received the highest fees ever paid a singer. Her life was long, active and happy. She died in 1919, one of the greatest singers the world has ever known.     

            Coincident with this period of my life, two great Methodist bishops came to Atlanta-Bishop Morrison and Bishop Galloway. The latter was one of the most eloquent speakers I have ever known. His voice was melodious and his appearance was dignified and commanding. Bishop Morrison was an older man, and of the emotional type, who always swayed his audience through their emotions.   

            Returning now to the description of our college routine, I shall not weary you by outlining all we had to do. Every day, except Sunday, we had classes and clinics of some kind, and we followed up each case as the patient was brought back every few days. At the Grady Hospital we visited patients in bed with pneumonia and other acute diseases, and had lectures there by Professor Giddings and his associates that were both interesting and informative.

            The examinations given at the end of the second year's session were most thorough, according to the old methods. I spent more than two hours on Theory and Practice of Medicine, alone. On that subject Dr. Kendrick was my examiner. I did not miss any of the questions, but made 100 per cent in all the different branches, receiving the highest honors ever awarded in the thirty-seven years of the institution's history. That fact was published in the Atlanta Constitution, with my picture, the day after graduation. I went on the stage for my diploma and medal weeping while Drs. McCulloch and Cartelege received second honors and Drs. Shaw and Neuman received third honors; they were all laughing. An old man asked me why the difference? I said, "Oh, mister, the responsibility is too great I must make good - I must make good!"     

            We were a happy crowd of boys when we bought tickets for home. There were thirteen in the group; it was a like a theater party. On the train we met Rev. Sam P. Jones, one of the greatest evangelists of his time. I rode with him and talked with him quite a lot. Later he came to Marlin and lectured, and he recalled the day those thirteen wild boys had boarded the train at Atlanta as young doctors just out of medical school, and what a disturbance they had created.