Snake Oil and other Hucksters

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Chapter Twelve


‘What am I doing in Boston in January.’ asks Dr. A.O Campbell
of himself, not particularly waiting for an answer. Had he bothered
to respond aloud, he would have said: I’m back at my Alma mater,
Boston’s – College of Physicians and Surgeons for a symposium on
the Spanish influenza and related infectious virus and bacteria, or
something thereabouts, likely less formal.

It is the first time he has returned to the school since graduating
in 1913. Every five years or so, doctors are required to demonstrate
that they are staying current, in a field that is progressing as fast
as any sector of post war America. There was a time when, thirty
or more years ago, when medicine was less technical and more
speculative, with certain practicing doctors graduates of dubious
institutions. Snake oils and herbs were used to treat diseases and
illnesses with nondescript names like, consumption and the rickets.
Anesthesia consisted of either biting down hard on a rag or a bottle
of whiskey.

So in the interest of science, young Dr. Campbell, about to
celebrate his thirtieth birthday, chugs up the East coast, which sports a
blanket of fresh white snow from about Washington north. Floridians
are not used to this kind of cold, never seeming to be prepared for
these type conditions, even a doctor who should have better sense;
his teeth will chatter until he is able to purchase something more
substantial than a summer suit of clothes.

____242 Gwendolyn Hoff

It was not the most exciting three days he will spend in 1919, but
it was nice to stroll around the granite buildings again. As discussions
go among physicians, this gathering is useful, as well as fruitful.
There are ideas to be exchanged and the experiences in the field to
be related. Doctor A.O. Campbell had as much experience on the
front line as anyone there, but the entire group is still shaken by the
epidemic, having fought the same disease tooth and nail, from every
conceivable angle. A good doctor will learn every day of his or her
career. That is what makes a good doctor.

But three days at university is enough and since he was in the
neighborhood, A.O. had suggested, sort of invited himself, to visit his
older brother, Hosea in Atlantic City. “My place ain’t much to look
at, Alfrey, saw the picture of your digs, not bad.”

Atlantic City 1920

“That  matter, Hosey, I told mama that I’d see you. It
would make her feel better. She blames herself for you runnin’ off to
Jersey.” Amanda Campbell will die without having seen her 38 year
old son again.

“Okay, Alfrey, I live on Melrose Avenue, ask anyone fo me, they
knows where I’m at.”

“Some time around of A.O.’s graduation, the Boston – College of Physicians and Surgeons was absorbed by Tufts University. I wrote most of this book before the advent of the Internet.”


Snake Oil and other Hucksters

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