Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #331

…A double barrel dose of help: Kenty Johnson has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge…

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A.O. is taking his new lease on life in, in the spirit in which it is presented. Even as he watches familiar landmarks pass by as they ease up to his Virginia Street address. He is thinking about the future.

Maggie is waiting on the front steps of their house. What a welcome sight. There too are daughters Alpha, Laura and Zillah and their families. Maggie is seated in a wheelchair, one and all waving a hearty ‘welcome home’.

“Thank you, gracious Lord,” he proclaims tearfully.

But that isn’t all. There are other familiar faces.

“What’s Kenty Johnson doin’ here?”  Dr. J. Kenty Johnson is with his son, himself a newly minted doctor.

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“I needed a reliable source of information about your situation and Kenty came to mind. He filled in the particulars of your life, practice and such. AND he mentioned that his son was looking to make a difference in the Tallahassee community. And did we say that he fresh from medical double-barrelschool? A double barrel dose of help: Kenty has money saved up and Kenty Jr. has the fresh blood of knowledge.

One month ago, Alpha Campbell would have been bloated full of irrational pride, having suffered in silence for the better part of a decade. He was determined to find a way out of their money struggles and did not need outside help.

We all know what path that led him down.

“Well boys, don’t you think it is time we roll up our sleeves?”

Upon hearing Dr. Alpha O. Campbell utter that inclusive statement, his nurses who were hiding in LBMH for fear of their lives, come sprinting out the front door.

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LBMH

Somehow, Laura Bell Memorial Hospital looked whiter than normal that day… From down the street, a car streaks to the emergency side entrance, a man screams out, “My wife’s water just broke! Please help!”

“Scrub up, you Johnsons; we have a baby to deliver… Edwina will get you gowns and get her to the second floor…”

… The LBMH wing for whites.

(The End of the Beginning)


 

Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #331


page 312 (end Ch. 19)

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 316

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode # 316

…Well, he said that you had a reputation for helpin’ girls like me, you know, white girls not affording no more children and a husband out at sea….

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Out at Sea by Hans Breeman

“When did you notice that somethin’ wasn’t right?” Campbell had put his stethoscope to her lower belly earlier and came to an early conclusion. He wants to peel away the layers of her previous treatment. “And why did you come to me, ‘stead of Doc Wright?”

Well, he said that you had a reputation for helpin’ girls like me, you know, white girls not affording no more children and a husband out at sea.

  “Really… all the way from Jacksonville and he knows ‘bout a little ol’ black doctor in the Panhandle. Did he tell you I ain’t got a wing at my hospital for white folks? My doctor friends don’t think I have the right to fix up whites. I reckon you all must have different colored blood under that pale skin; Blue blood Confederates are you?” A.O. knows that the lies he was told as a youth, was that slaves were inferior to their white masters. He has left much of that emancipation baggage behind, though the memory of being rushed across the railroad trestle still is fresh in his 20th century mind. The saying of that time was, ‘Once a slave, white-folk-bingo-001always a slave.’

How ironic it is. White folks have the money to pay for his services, but they cannot occupy a single bed at LBMH. House calls and services rendered at FAMU Hospital do not put a dent in the $250,000 mortgage, now a mighty anchor tied around his ankle. His beds are occupied by people caught in the margins of society.

“You have to help me Doc Campbell, my baby ain’t movin’, I know it.”

  “Do what’s right Mr. Campbell!” Enter Mrs. Mary Gray. She had been mulling around in the background, watching her daughter, Audrie Franich, twisting A.O.’s arm in an attempt to bring this nightmare to an end. “My little girl needs some way out of this mess.”

          Mary Gray’s tone was not at all kind, downright demanding. It was like she was making a deal with the Devil; the only way out, but distasteful none-the-less. She appears to not have much use for black folk, though it may be a fruitless prejudice, especially in northern Florida. But unavoidable does not translate into acceptance.

“Go in and see Nurse Lillie and tell her to take you to Room 205.” Down and down the slippery slope. A.O. Campbell has a soft spot for folks that have seemingly nowhere else to turn.

(Lera Lynn music featured on True Detective)


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode # 316


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #310

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #310

…They’ve been after what we got for years, given up by now I ‘spect, seein’ they got the other Negro doctors to turn they backs on my hospital…

LBMHLettie goes to the back storage rooms and basically spends the ensuing half-hour praying, pretending like she was having difficulty. She tries the patience of the men in the lobby.appointment-book-001

          “Do you need help? I know a little about filing.” Essington will do anything to get his hands on the evidence. “What’s in that box?” He turns it around to see 1952 written on the side.

          “Well I’ll be switched! I’ve gone by that box a hunred times.”

          The book in question is not on top, but not on the bottom either. If he would have sniffed January 24, the smell of a fresh pink eraser lingers, as well as the warmth of brand-new fingerprints hidden from the human eye.

          “This is it, officer. We can go.”

          Lettie Golden has done her job.

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Sinclair Clavitt is doing his, laying out the facts and ramifications of consistently breaking the law. “You white-onlyare going to have to stop these abortions. They are going to watch you like a hungry gator watches a bullfrog.
And you will not treat white folk without havin’ a white wing in that hospital of yours. They have been lookin’ the other way, I swear, but with this flap about the Sanders girl, that will stop. I know enough about your, well, for the lack of another word, enemies, that if they smell blood, your blood, you best check your back.”

They’ve been after what we got for years, given up by now I ‘spect, seein’ they got the other Negro doctors to turn they backs on my hospital.

Image result for they're always after me lucky charms “That might be true, about some, but some others that you actually trust, may be quietly working against you.”

“What you talkin’ about?”

“Have you seen your son-in-law lately?”

“You mean, Franklin, no? But Laura says he’s been really busy.”

“Word has it that he’s been selling off your property.”

“We’ve got to pay some back taxes, not to mention you and Mr. Moore, keepin’ you busy too.”

“If you’re working at keepin’ us busy, now’s a good time to stop,” sound advice from Sinclair Clavitt. He has taken to the 65-year-old, doing his level best to make the doctor’s last years golden. His senior partner, R. Worth Moore, specializes in courtroom action, leaving the foot-soldierly duties to the younger man. But a day like today, he could do without. “Okay, Alpha, I’m going to trust you on this. You know what’s at stake. Just make sure you look both ways when crossing the street.”

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Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #310


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #303

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #303

“Curtis, is that you? What did you see?” Curtis did not answer the doctor’s question because he did not know what he saw…

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It is not long before Curtis pulls up on Virginia Street. Rather than trying to raise the older woman to her feet, he runs to the front entrance, but he finds the door locked. He peers through the only window that does not have a drawn shade. There is no one at the front desk. There is always someone at the front desk.

“Don’t you be fretting’ Miss Edwina, I’ll go around back.” Curtis knows these grounds like the back of his hand and he knows Doc never locks the back door while somebody is in the building. He happens upon nurse Lilly, who is wrapping something in a small bag. Doc Campbell pokes his head out of the door.

lbmh3-001 “Put that in the cooler with the others fetuses. We’ll take care of them tomorrow.” He is startled by a glimpse of his driver, just ten feet away. “Curtis, is that you? What did you see?”

“Miss Edwina Stevens is out front, she hurt her leg bad.” Curtis did not answer the doctor’s question because he did not know what he saw.

“I’ll be out there quick.” A.O. turns to whisper to Lilly, “You finish packing Missy, oh and unlock the front door.” He then runs to the front of the clinic, bloodstained white lab coat and all.

“Help me get her a wheel chair, Curtis; it looks like her ankle is broke.”

“The door is locked, Doc,” he says while A.O. proves him wrong.ball-chain-001

“Take her Room 2, Curtis; she will be spendin’ the night.” He turns edgily toward his wife’s friend, whose brittle old bones are giving out one after another.  “I will be in to put a splint on your ankle in a minute, Edwina. Take two of these for now.”

The doctor heads down the hall toward the back. His other patient is waiting for the final touches to the procedure that ended her baby’s short life. The grief she is beginning to feel, will shift to unwelcome baggage, uncomfortable feelings that she will carry around, like a ball and chain for the rest of her life.


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Episode #303


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #301

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #301

…The white father shakes A.O.’s hand like it is covered with slime, offering the doc only a limp and halfhearted appendage. “No one can find out about this, you understand?…

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braceT LFT“Oh, my dear, sweet, glorious Lord, have mercy on this ol’ man. You have given us so much, blessed us ‘seedinly, but it still ain’t enough. I have to help out those poor young girls that is wit child and no accounts for boyfriends or husbands. An’ there’s some bad ones out there callin’ theyselves doctors that’ll be butcherin’ them girls. They be best off wit someone who can care proper for ‘em.

“Now I ain’t askin’ for any trouble. I’ma goin’ to need your devine pretectin’. There is folks that would love to visit me in jail.”

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It had been a long day at the hospital for Alpha Campbell. There has been a big run of the flu making it rounds through Tallahassee’s 1952 growing population. It isn’t the killer variety that killed millions back in 1918, but it transmits very well, too well and he has all he can do to make it back in time to meet a late night patient at his clinic. He is tired and hungry, but there is an extremely anxious father in his waiting room, with an equally nervous daughter, soundly pregnant, in tow.

“I don’t want to lose my baby, daddy. Can’t I raise it at home?  Okay, I’ll get a job then and findmy_little_girl1 a place of my own.”

          “You are goin’ to graduate high school, Missy and that’s that. There ain’t a man, well a good one anyhow, in Duval County who’d marry a whore with a baby.”

That last phrase was uncalled for. There are many girls in the South who do not complete their secondary education; most of the time, people of the town neither notice nor care. Women stay home, raise a family, while their husbands go out and win the bacon.

At least that was what it was like before the Second World War. ‘It is hard to keep them in the home, once they’ve built a battleship’. Missy’s mother was one of those women in the shipyards of Jacksonville. Missy’s father, having lived through that, will not have his little girl doomed to factory work. She is going to have an abortion, finish high school and hopefully marry a good man who will take care of her, so she can raise him handfuls of grandchildren… someday.

“I’ll need to keep Milicent four days.”

“It’s Missy, doctor.” He is getting names mixed up. Milicent was the name of his first abortion patient, years ago.

“Oh yes, Missy. So, come back on Thursday, you can take her home then.”

“Thank you, doctor.” The white father shakes A.O.’s hand like it is covered with slime, offering the doc only a limp and halfhearted appendage. “No one can find out about this, you understand?

The common threads that tie every one of these illegal procedures together: ‘No one can find http://www.dreamstime.com/-image2615801about this.’ ‘Bring your affairs to Doc Campbell in Tallahassee and he will keep things private.’ Sure, that claim is not exclusive to abortion, not with venereal disease and mastectomies out there, but when a white girl shows up at the back door of LBMH, odds are that she is pregnant, though not for long.

“Oh, yessir, you can count on that.” A.O. has no intentions sharing nature of his less-than-legal sideline with anyone, including family. Only his nurses, like Lilly Chevis, know the extent of the doctor’s circumnavigation of the laws of the state of Florida and she is none too comfortable with her involvement. She and Lettie Golden will continue to help out, driven by their loyalty to a truly good man.


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Episode #301


page 285

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #296

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #296

…The Negro community in Florida will look back at what A.O. Campbell has done with great pride, and the promise that success is there for all who are willing to work hard…

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New Jersey was memorable for A.O. Campbell, after making the longest house call in his career. He delivered a healthy baby girl for his daughter Angela and it was nice seeing Camille Diaz again. She was so happy to be a grandmother, a tailor-made fit for a loving woman. It makes him wonder what it would have been like if she had been a part of his life. One thing for sure, she would make do with a lot less than Maggie Lou.

   He returns to Florida with a dark cloud overhead. His hospital has turned into a money pit and he has lost perhaps his greatest asset, his lawyer and friend, James Ferrell. His wife, Abbey and sister Agnes were with James to the end, trying to get him to pull through, but the antibiotics were no match for lungs filled with mucous. He used some of his last conscious moments to write a note to A.O. Campbell.Image result for watching you

Scribbled on a scrap of hospital paper, the one line read:

Be careful, Alpha. I think they are watching you. Call R. Worth Moore, he knows.

Shortly after that, the Ferrell legacy fell into the lap of the Ferrell women. Neither James nor Cyril Odz were able to produce a child and the Ferrell grocery chain, the pride of father John, was bought out by Food Fair a more national company. Why is it that a good longtime family like the Ferrells dies on the vine and the stinkers like the Lewis and Wilson clans reproduce like vermin?

The Campbells are hanging in there, but again without a male heir. With A.O. into his sixties, his empire an extension of John Ferrell – via Maggie Lou, there is a perceivable end to a historic dynasty. The Negro community in Florida will look back at what A.O. Campbell has done with great pride, and the promise that success is there for all who are willing to work hard.

 

LBMH-001 Success does come with a price tag. That and .75 cents gets you a ride on the bus to Panama City. That and $252.50 gets you a mortgage on a hospital. Unless he lives to be 88 years old, he probably will not see that debt retired. The plan was to pay it off in ten years, but that was contingent on other doctors, black or otherwise, working out of it.

And that did not happen. So on January 23rd of 1951, at the age of 62, when some lucky Americans retire with a pension, Mr. J.L. Lewis recommends Doctor A.O. Campbell for active staff appointment at A&M Hospital. His family simply needed the money. Vacant lots and run down houses do not pay the bills. Even the lots on Campbell Lake go unsold. Real estate taxes are gobbling up rental revenue.

 

Communist witch-hunts, yet another foreign war, blatant racism and back-stabbing friends, can be summed up with one word: inhospitable.


Alpha Omega M.D.

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR

Episode #296


page 280 (end ch. 16)

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #292

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #292

… It is so ironic that James Ferrell occupies room 209 at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, not the hospital he fought so hard to save…

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Down where the rubber meets the road, nearer to God than Alpha Centauri, James Ferrell clings to life Image result for where the rubber meets the roadafter a ghastly battle with pneumonia. He had been working himself harder than ever, warding off the ever increasing blows being thrown at Doctor Alpha Omega Campbell. In his attempt to maintain A.O.’s flawless reputation, which has become a full time chore, Ferrell put his own health at risk. Having a physician for a client should be a good thing, but in this case, the doctor is not in the house.

He is in New Jersey to visit brother Hosey. No – that was the company line. Angela Ophelia Diaz is expecting any day, nine months pregnant with a certain Florida doctor’s second grandchild. He had not completely severed his ties with mother Camille Diaz, the woman who took him under her wing when he really needed it, and has been checking in from time to time over the past thirty years. He was motivated by his overriding sense of responsibility, being the pregnant girl’s father and all and not having financially supported either of them… other than an occasional birthday present.

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Meanwhile, his attorney was juggling real estate in an effort to keep Laura Bell Memorial Hospital afloat. Legitimate revenues are not paying the bills, other than the rental properties, and even some of them have fallen into disrepair. Roofs need roofing, broken windows remain broken, and tenants are becoming untenable.

It is so ironic that James Ferrell occupies room 209 at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, not the hospital he fought so hard to save. Lilly Chevis is at his side, personally attending to him as a representative of LBMH, helping to make the 70 year old man as comfortable as possible.

He was always stopping by the clinic, making sure the bills were being paid and keeping track of the patient register. There have been whispers about late night visits by mostly young white women. He suspects that abortions comprise the bulk of those calls.

Ferrell has been dying a little bit at a time, with the knowledge that the doctor will be indefensible somewhere down the line. The racial climate leading up to 1950 has been spiraling downward. It is becoming fashionable to flaunt the differences between whites and blacks. Whites feel they can be openly hateful and blacks are becoming increasingly vocal in protesting injustice, which has a polarizing effect that trickles down to the otherwise ambivalent. Unfortunately for people of color, the law comes down on the side of prejudice and that can scare the best of lawyers.


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Hanging by a thread by Do Ho Suh, textile and thread sculpture

Episode #292


page 275

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