Dr. E. A. Crouse 50 Year Review
Posted By: Tammy (email)
Date: 9/4/2015 at 14:07:07
Dr. Crouse Gives Review of 50 Years As A Physician
On the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary as a physican in Grundy county Dr. Crouse read a paper relating some of the early experiences of his practice during our pioneer days. The fiftieth anniversary was observed with a large gathering of old friends at Grundy Center on March 10th, 1922. The paper read by Dr. Crouse on that occasion is printed below, as it tells in his own words of much of his active life among Grundy county people:
"I graduated in medicine in 1870, March 11th, at the University of Pennsylvania, and just fifty years ago today since I first rode into Grundy enter on horseback from Waterloo, where I visited a few days with my cousins, coming there from Carroll county, Illinois. It was on a Friday, too, and a deep snow on the prairies.
"I knew only one man in Grundy Center, Jake Slifer, whom I had met in Waterloo. There were two doctors here, one of whom I was in partnership with for one year. He moved to Nebraska and the other did not do any business during 1873.
"Grundy Center was a small hamlet without street lights or sidewalks. There was a fence around the court yard to keep the cows from browsing in the court house. The country was sparsely settled with the houses small, homely and uncomfortable and uncertain distances apart, and to prove this assertion, I certainly can give you may honest opinion.
"One night I was called to see a sick child. We were having somewhat of a blizzard and I had to stay all night, sitting in a wooden rocking chair. To keep warm, I kept on my overcoat and kept up the fire in a small sheet-iron stove.
"The roads were primitive--a few bridges over the streams, and during the summer season most of the sloughs were without bottom. The only satisfaction was when the ground was frozen during the winter and we could drive in most any direction, taking the most direct course across the prairies, and coming only occasionally to a fence near some lonely prairie shack. Will say I have driven between 300,000 and 400,000 miles with horses. Have owned and driven 35 to 40 horses, and many of our trips were long and tiresome. I have refused only twice to respond to country calls on account of bad roads and weather.
"Two experiences with my man of driving several miles into the country after two of our old-fashioned snow blizzards, taking some hours to make the trips, upsetting the cutter and having the horses down in the deep snow several times, we left the team until we returned, and we had to wade through the deep snow nearly a mile.
"Another time, being alone in the night, I got off the track, there being no road and the ground covered with snow, I had to drive quite a while until I came to a house and found the track.
"On all of these drives, the thermometer was several degrees below zero.
"Another trip in the night and alone, I had to walk and lead by team for a mile or more to keep in the road, and 30 degrees below zero.
"The coldest day I ever drove was 40 degrees below zero. I have had but three accidents in driving all of these years, in one of which a team was drowned in high water, resulting from melting snow in March. I waded out of the cold water which reached my chin. It was a cold bath for one who could not swim.
"During the greater part of the year of 1873, there were only two doctors in Grundy county; Dr. Penfield, who lived near Conrad and who only last year was called to his reward, aged about 90 years, and myself. Counsel was not so easily obtained as now. Very few specialists, only two surgeons available, one in Waterloo and one in Marshalltown, within our reach. We were, therefore, thrown upon our own resources and ability, and without the assistance of trained nurses, now, happily, available. Will compare the difference between then and now by the following:
"The old-time practitioner used to call in a horse and buggy, and his apparatus consisted of a thermometer, two hands, two eyes, and a sixty horse-sense brain. The modern specialist calls in a 48 horse-power limousine, accompanied by a nurse assistant, technician, and a trunk full of apparatus. He, too, has a thermometer, two hands and two eyes but the horse power is in the limousine.
"Hospitals were few in number and only in the large cities. We were denied the opportunity and use for the benefit of our patients. I have seen some very excellent work done in private homes.
"With our serious work, we have had some funny experiences. The husband of a patient who had been seriously will but was convalescent, inquired of me, "Doctor, do you think my wife will get well?" and on being assured that she would, said, "Doctor, I would sooner lose my best cow than my wife."
"In the early days we did not get the fees nor make such good collections as we do now, and never were so fortunate as the story tells of a certain doctor, an Irishman, who was famous both for his skill and the love of money. He had a very profitable patient upon whom he was in daily attendance. She was bed-ridden from rheumatism, and during the physician's visit she invariably held in her hand the one-pound note for his fee. As he tip-toed into the room one morning, he saw that she was dead, and reverently approaching the bed, he lifted one of her hands in which she held the usual crisp bill. 'Poor soul,' he signed, as he gently detached and pocketed the money, 'she was sensible to the last.' The old lady may have been sensible to the last, but sometimes we doctor in trying to say and do our best, call forth the ridiculous.
"But remarkable as it all is, we sometimes must take off our hats to those we consider not our equals, and I repeat one incident as a possible word of advice to the younger members here present.
--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 14 April 1932, pg 6
Grundy Documents maintained by Tammy D. Mount.
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