A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. An Encounter with Magic.

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In the Flatbush district of Brooklyn, I had a patient with rheumatism of the ankle and knee whom I had to visit in an apartment three flights up. I had seen a colored phone-operator here, and one night as I came down the last flight of stairs, I noticed that he was reading a book about 14 by 20 inches in size. Inquisitively, I asked him what he was reading, and he replied it was a book on Magic.

I learned he had many other books hidden away among the papers in the small space he had to work in. He seemed to be posted on all the ancient and modern literature of philosophy, tricks, and esoterica.

He showed me the picture of a fiery-eyed black man with a turban about his head and a flowing robe over his shoulders, the man who wrote the book he was reading. He said this man was the greatest necromancer, prestidigitator, or Magic Man in the world.

He himself had no address, but just wandered about. “Why,” he said, “I have travelled all over the world, and required no money. I just returned from India, worked my way, am out of money, and so work here to get a little start and study Magic. I’ve been interested now some ten years, and when I am perfect I can get all the money I want. You can get anything you want if you work The Law, but always be sure you don’t get mixed up with Black Magic. Work by The Law, the White Magic, for if you work the Black, yo must pay. It will always get you.”

Some years later, I was about to board a trolley car in front of the Strand Theatre on Fulton Street, Brooklyn, when a colored man accosted me with, “Hello, Doc. You don’t remember me, do you? I’m the telephone operator you met over here some years back.”

We stepped back, and he said he made good. He did not want for anything. And he certainly looked it: well-dressed, chipper, and bright. He had another man of color with him to whom he introduced me.

It occurred to me to ask him about a problem I was working on then, as to how he thought it would come out. He took me to one side in the poorly lighted street, thought a few minutes, and said, “Yes, Doc, you’ll come out all right in your present plans, but you must be guarded about Black Magic. Be sure and work White Magic. A Magic Man who knows his business must not let people know that he knows all. Just work the straight game, and all will go well.”

However, He did not object to my purchasing two tickets for the show whose door we were standing before. He and his friend went in, and I considered my philanthropy a while and finally went my way.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracted cholera and hooked his uncle up with testicular juice; here are his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hung out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter, landing him at Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he lost his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he traveled south during the World War and became a DuPont physician who was present for a mass industrial accident; here’s his description of complications involving his patients and practice; here’s his take on syphilis, polio, avoiding impositions, and the nature of success; here’s his description of making a coats-of-arms lantern-slide lecture; here’s his encounter with the Gaekwar of Baroda; here’s when he hung out with a hard-drinking Know Nothing Mason; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. In Which the Doc’s Experiences with a Hard-Drinking Know-Nothing Mason Leave Him Bewildered.

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I do not really remember having taken a real vacation. My work in some form, or of some kind, was in my mind when I started, or it would crop up afterward and occupy most of my thoughts. The nearest to a real outing, perhaps, was son after I joined the Masons.

I used to visit many different lodges, and it was during these visits, in Brooklyn, Jersey, Harlem, Mt. Vernon, etc., that I ran across Richard Corbett. He was a well built, dark-haired, wiry man who, everybody said, was very temperate, never drank at all. I learned he used to be the coachman for the Vanderbilt family, managed their traveling when they were going abroad, etc., although he never mentioned it unless pressed.

He was well acquainted in all the lodges, and would if necessary vouch for us wherever we went. He hailed from Copestone Lodge, had been a member for years, was young for his years.

The Masonic lodges in New York are so abundant that one can go to a different one every night in the week. There are what might be called a plumbers’ lodge, a carpenters’ lodge, a rich man’s lodge, a common sailors’ lodge, a professional men’s, an actors’, and a printers’ that meet afternoons; a Spanish, a French, Norwegian, German, Greek, Italian; a Jew and Gentile. And so a Mason can meet all kinds of people, and make friends – or not – for good, for Masons are supposed to treat everyone alike in the lodge; outside you can use your discretion.

This man Corbett took a notion to me, and time and again invited me to his country house in Newfoundland, N.J. One rainy Saturday afternoon, on receiving a letter, I accepted.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he travels south during the World War and becomes a DuPont physician who’s present for a mass industrial accident; here’s his description of complications involving his patients and practice; here’s his take on syphilis, polio, avoiding impositions, and the nature of success; here’s his description of making a coats-of-arms lantern-slide lecture; here’s his encounter with the Gaekwar of Baroda; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

On arriving at the country station, I found Corbett all dressed up in what I should say was a hostler’s uniform, with a whip in his hand, greeting me as I got down from the train. With his whiskers trimmed and waxed, he reminded me of Dr. Parkhurst, and I so greeted him. That pleased him wonderfully.

He had a horse and buggy waiting, and we drove away till we came to a road house. He said he was going to take me to the Sanitarium up on the hill and introduce me to the doctor there. But he stopped at the road house first, and ordered a couple of drinks. He did not pay for them, but made a note on an old piece of brown paper he had in his trousers pocket.

Arriving at the Sanitarium, he introduced me to the doctor, and asked me to excuse him while he got a prescription from the doctor. In the meantime, I explored the institution.

Then we drove on – and on – and on. I asked where his house was, and he replied that that house in the distance, which we soon passed, was his son’s residence. We kept on till we came to a place where a lot of horses and wagons were arrayed about what I would call a bunch of shanties, an expression from my boyhood days.

Here we were at the outskirts of the other end of town. As we entered one of these huts, he introduced me to the washwoman, cook, or housekeeper, and we went on up a small flight of stairs into a small room. Starting to wash up before supper, he told me this was his room, and left me to set on the bed or a box, the only furniture there was.

We had supper consisting of some bacon and ham and eggs, toast and bread and rolls, and coffee. After this he slicked himself up in his room, and we started off in the dark for to entertain me, I suppose.

We came to a grocery store, a regular country store, where a few men were gathered about  tall coal stove. Corbett began telling them some stories, and showed them some stunts in jig dancing. We stayed here a half an hour or more, and then, with the lantern with which he had provided himself at the store, we started for what I later learned  was a road house.

We entered at the bar room. But as he found I did not drink, he sent me in to the next room where the women and children were about the fire getting ready for bed. The mother had an infant in her arms, preparing for the same. It seemed to be an everyday occurrence for me to go in there and sit down and merely look on.

Soon Corbett came in, however, and asked me if I could play the organ, or any instrument. I told him I could play gospel hymns – that was my limit at the time. He said, “We had a fiddler engaged, but he hasn’t arrived, and we must get busy.” To my surprise, he said it didn’t make any difference what I played, and hymns would do.

Going out into the next room, a country parlor it was, I started “Jesus, Lover of My Soul.” Corbett sang the words part way through. But seeing I could do my part, he went to the bar, and soon young and middle-aged men came in single file, marching, and sat down in the chairs already arranged.

Corbett then gets up in the middle of the room and tells them that this is the Know Nothing Club – those were the days before the 18th Amendment – and explained why it was so named, etc., etc., made quite a nonsensical, but connected, speech. Then they all filed out to the bar again to my playing “Old Hundredth,” which was asked for.

Corbett goes upstairs, dons some women’s clothes that he finds, comes down again as the men and boys file back to their seats. He now gets up again while the men talk a little among themselves, social like, and begins a funny dance and tells me to play. This goes on till some disappear, the crowd getting less and less. Some are lying about drunk, I suppose.

And curious as it may seem, there was a middle-aged man that sat next to me at the organ who did not visit the bar so much as the crowd – 20, perhaps, in all – and he calmly said that he “only drank pepper.” Whether it was pepper and water, or ginger ale and pepper, I forget, but he said he had trouble with his liver, and Dr. Katzenback of New York (my old professor in the Polyclinic) had so advised him.

It got to be 2 o’clock. One or two were lying on the floor. And Corbett was full, but did not stagger, and talked fairly reasonable, when the bar-keep came to me and said, “Can’t you induce your friend to go home? I always have this trouble with him.”

I realized long afterward that the saloon-keeper took the money out of the pockets of those who lay about insensible, and Corbett sometimes interfered with this part of the game. He went with me, however, with his lantern, back through a small woods to the shanty.

And as we prepared for bed, I sat on the box, mediating the thought: “This man is crazy, and I have got to sleep alongside of him.” But there was no way out that I could see. There were no trains out of that town till Sunday night, and this was Saturday.

Corbett was up early in the morning, said I could sleep on, as he had to attend to some horses. After his return and breakfast, he changed his clothes, put on a black suit with a Prince Albert coat, and said, “I will go out and get the rig, and we will go to church.”

I recollect that we had a finer horse and a finer buggy than those of the day before, and that we ran over a big snake on the way. He stopped at another road house to get a bottle of something, had to go on the quiet to a side door, and with this we went to a Methodist church.

All seemed to know him. He was an usher, and tried to get me up to a front seat, but I refused. He pointed to a young man sitting near us with a little boy and said, “That is my son, but we don’t speak.”

After the service he introduced  me to the minister. We then got in the buggy, stopped at another road house, and finally landed at a farm house, where we went in, sat down with the old farmer, and drank some of the contents of one of the bottles, leaving the other with the farmer.

Now he said we would go to the lake – forget the name. On the way, he got out and hailed several autos. Some of the people he seemed to know, and from one he stopped he got a match.

The people he expected to find at the lake hadn’t arrived yet. So we came back. On the way there was a Standard Oil pumping station, and while ehe attended to something about the rig, I tried to get in the Pumphouse to look around, but there was no admittance, the keeper said. Corbett then comes up and accosts the watchmen, and we were easily admitted. We went through, and were told the oil is piped there from Kansas City, if I remember correctly.

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It is now nearly train time Sunday night, and I would not stay over. As we were waiting, Corbett begins to write a note on some letter paper he has in his packet, and said, “I wish you would take this note to my daughter, Mrs. Kelly, in the Bronx tomorrow, and also pay up my Lodge dues for me.” He hands me the letter and, as he seals it up, $2.00.

I said, “You wrote your daughter at the farmhouse” – as he did. “Well,” he said, “she might not get it and I want this to go.”

I was really glad to get on that train. He introduced me to a man going to New York, and all the way I tried to pump this man about Corbett’s peculiarities, or sanity, but it was no use. Of course, I did not ask directly. I did manage to make a apology to the lady at the shanty, to the effect that I was from his Lodge, as if I had come out to look after him.

After considering a few days in New York, I decided I would take to the letter to his daughter. When I handed it to her, a young woman, say 30, she remarked, as I told her it was from her father, “Why I just got a letter from him.” As she read it, she seemed to find nothing important in it.

I then took a chance and said, “Well, I don’t know anything about the letter’s contents, but I think your father should be advised that he better stop drinking,” also telling her I was from the Lodge.

“Drinking!” she said, “why my father doesn’t drink.”

I said, “He can drink more whiskey straight, and talk sense, than any man I ever saw.”

“Well, well,” she said, “so that’s it. He is acting peculiar.”

I left.

I paid his dues at the Lodge, and when I told the secretary about my experience, he wouldn’t believe me.

Long afterward it became known, for the next time I saw him he stepped into my office, sat down, and not a bit abashed, said “I am No. 45 at Wards Island. I can get out any time I want to, have charge of the entertainments up there.”

And so, I was told, he would come to the Lodge occasionally and for a long time no one was the user. But in time it got about, and I never learned what became of him. It was said about the Lodge that the reason he could get out was that he was not dangerous, and also that he had a pull through the Masons, but this latter I do not believe.

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. The Doc Meets Shrimant Sanpatrao, the Gaekwar of Baroda.

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I, an unknown American, once met the Gaekwar of Baroda, a native Indian state, Prince Shrimant Sanpatrao. It was said his income was $18,000,000 per annum.

He was stopping at the Grand Hotel on Broadway and 30th Street. Handing my card to the woman clerk, she said, “Room 30, first floor.” I said, “Did you phone, and did he say to come up?” (I did see her telephone.) “No,” she said, “he left word that anybody at all who wanted to see him should be sent up.”

On going up and knocking, a voice called out, “I”m taking my bath. Try again.” I didn’t try there again, but went to a restaurant where he was to dine this evening, on Eighth Ave. near 46th St.

Handing my card to the attendant, a Hindu with turban and costume of chintz, he soon returned and led me in. It was a plain place, and the seats and table in the front seemed to be empty.

Behind ordinary screens, one of which the lady attendant pulled to one side, the Prince, a handsome, coal-black, curly-white-haired man of medium height, arose and said, “I am entertaining my friends,” and, in a polite introductory manner, as I sat down on a settee which was pulled up near his, “What can I do for you?”

His friends were all black or brown women and men. They bowed, but remained seated, about a dozen all together.

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I replied that we would like him to pay us a visit, as we understood he was a  Mason. He replied in perfect English, “I am very sorry, but early tomorrow I sail for England. I knew President Roosevelt, and visited Mr. Bryan in Nebraska, and I would be pleased to visit you but for the fact of my departure. When you come to London, come to see me or my brother. You will also be welcome in India.”

Then he handed me his card, and as I departed, he sat down. I noticed he and his guests were eating what appeared to be rice and tapioca. There were no meats on the table. All of those present were dressed in ordinary American or English costume, with no hats on.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he travels south during the World War and becomes a DuPont physician who’s present for a mass industrial accident; here’s his description of complications involving his patients and practice; here’s his take on syphilis, polio, avoiding impositions, and the nature of success; here’s his description of making a coats-of-arms lantern-slide lecture; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. The Doc Puts Together a Coats-of-Arms Lantern-Slide Lecture.

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In my spare time, as the Democratic Convention was holding sway in New York, an idea struck me, suggested but he coats-of-arms of the different states displayed along Fifth Avenue, for so few seemed to know anything about them.

The idea was to get up a steropticon lecture on these coats-of-arms. I began by writing to the governors of the various states for copies of the coats-of-arms of their states.

One governor’s secretary out West replied that he would refer me to the Adjutant-general’s office. His letter read as if he had never heard of a coat-of-arms, and suspected such belonged to the militia.

Some of the information could be obtained in books, but I wanted the up-to-date information. After much hard labor I succeeded in obtaining the required material.

Finding a good lantern slide maker, and finally a first-class artist, I obtained a set of beautiful colored slides of every state and territory, together with their seals, and the colored flower of every state that had one.

I even started to make slides of foreign countries, but I saw there would be no end to that, so I discontinued it.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he travels south during the World War and becomes a DuPont physician who’s present for a mass industrial accident; here’s his description of complications involving his patients and practice; here’s his take on syphilis, polio, avoiding impositions, and the nature of success; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

But I had interviews with the consuls in New York, for, as is often said, everything can be found in New York, and at any price, if one will look long enough. So the interviewing of these representatives of various countries was tedious, but interesting, work.

Each nation employed help from its own country. The French consul had French girls and men; the South American consuls, Spanish; Denmark, Danish; Finland; Finns. The Dominican Republic had black natives, as well as a sailor-dressed man in the office as interpreter who spoke bad Spanish as well as English.

It was an interesting study. In the Nicaraguan office, a pretty Nicaraguan girl behind the glass window opening told me the consul was out to lunch, so I would have to wait. I said to her, “Where did your country get its name?” She replied, “From the greatest Indian chief in the whole world.” I said, “Why, they told me that Guatemala had the biggest Indian chief in South America.” She very curtly replied, “It ain’t so. Nicaragua has the greatest.” She spoke “good English.”

There sat waiting here a young native, poorly dressed in sailor clothes, and when the consul finally came in, walking past us with some friends into the inner office, he kept us waiting some time. The boy said, in good English, “This man doesn’t know business. If he wanted to sell bananas, which we raise, he could sell a lot if he did business like an American.” The boy said the consul was just talking foolishness with his friends in Spanish, for we could hear them through the partition.

At the Peru office it was quite different. It was a big office, many rooms, all hustle and bustle. My card was immediately answered by the appearance of the consul in person. To my question he replied, “Yes, sir,” and turned me over to a clerk who showed me a typewritten description of his country, its resources, the history of its coat-of-arms. When the consul came back from the room to which he had retired, he said, “We are a rich country, rich in minerals, and the only one where Palladium Tungsten is mined. Come in any time, or telephone. At your service.”

The Danish consul’s office was a contrast, pretty well up to date, but both the men and the women working there were slower in the movements. The consul went and cut the coat-of-arms, the only one he had, out of a book. It was a loan, and I returned it later. he also gave me the coat-of-arms of Iceland, in which he reminded me that Denmark had an interest – a kind of superficial interest, he gave me to understand, for it is an independent kingdom.

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And so it went. One could spend months going around in this way. The Argentine Republic was a good deal like Peru in its snap, but, in my case at least, the office did not live up to its promises – and much of what they said it seemed to me was mere braggadocio. Yet we know it is a wonderful country.

The British consul was very painstaking, but he was not accurate. He made a personal sketch of the coat-of-arms for me, and was a good amateur artist.

But if finished the coats-of-arms of the United States, and gave some lectures on them, with illustrations. Trying to get engagements for this lecture reminded me of the efforts of Joe Norcross, the minstrel singer, who chased Keith’s day after day pursuing promises of forthcoming contracts that were seldom kept. But Joe was used to it, and after a time would land a contract for a whole year on the road.

After getting the slides of the coats-of-arms made, I though I would show them first to an interested lady patient, so, since she lived in the neighborhood, I phoned her that I was coming over to show her something. She replied that she was going to a neighbor’s in fifteen minutes and would not have time. Without saying anything, I picked up my lantern and slides, was over there in five minutes.

In another five, while she was in the kitchen, I had everything set up – and a picture in natural colors of the flower of New Mexico thrown on the papered wall. When she came from the kitchen, the first thing she noticed as she entered the dining room was the cactus. It looked so natural that she at first imagined she had a new figure on her wall paper, and couldn’t understand how it happened.

Then I explained, and the long and the short of it was that she called in her neighbors, and instead of her going to them for entertainment, as had been planned, they were entertained by me. For I went through the whole lecture of 100 slides. She was so pleased that she insisted on my taking regular lecture pay for it, calling it my first exhibition.

As far as my research on the subject extended, I found that the coats-of-arms of the United States contained two things that no other countries had: a five-pointed star, and a sun. These I ferreted out to mean that our progenitors built better than they knew, for to me this means progress, evolution, and Christianity.

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. The Doc Talks Syphilis, Polio, Avoiding Impositions, and the Nature of Success.

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I had been treating for three or four years a man named Clinton, for syphilis. He was engaged to be married to a girl of his choice with whom he had become acquainted when a college student and was traveling about the country with his baseball team.

He acquired the disease in the usual manner, when on a political spree, had given it to the girl he loved and was going to marry, and I must cure her without her knowing what was the matter. I did.

He so handled the girl that, as far as I could tell, she never knew what she was being treated for.

They got married, but he seemed to be unable to make a living as lawyer in his small town of Menton, although he was a popular young man. He served in the legislature, and his father was sick of supporting him and the young lady, whom his mother was not particularly fond of because of her agnostic views and those of her family.

One day, Clinton came to my office, saying his wife had seen an ad in the town paper that an accountant, able to speak Spanish, was wanted immediately to go to Mexico and engage in the mining business. He came down for an interview to try his luck, though he was not able to speak Spanish.

He was a tall, curly-headed boy, six feet and over, and to make a shortcut story, he got the position immediately. He and his wife learned enough of the language on the way down to convince his employers.

Inside of ten years, he had made a fortune in land deals, for he was not long an accountant, but was constructing railroads, and became president of the company.

After being there a few years, the climate did not agree with him. He became suddenly sick and laid it to his old disease. But such was not the case, for in the meantime they had had a couple of healthy children, and no evidence could be found in the blood of either.

My experience has been that if the patient properly handles himself under the advice of the physician, the disease is easily curable, or kept under control, so that no one need fear it as is commonly believed.

If one member of a couple has this disease, by continual cohabiting the other is bound sooner or later to acquire it, and without manifesting any outward symptoms. Then it may remain in the system dormant, or break out symptomatically and suddenly as a skin eruption, or nervous, paralytic, or other of its various forms.

Some claim that birth control should be practiced in such cases – i.e., where there is syphilis in the parent or parents. I do not advocate birth control under any of the usual excuses, because looked at from a philosophical point of view, souls innumerable are waiting to be born. They have got to be born, and though they may be cripples, they must get through the world. Parents should take these responsibilities, or else never get married.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he travels south during the World War and becomes a DuPont physician who’s present for a mass industrial accident; here’s his description of complications involving his patients and practice; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

A few years ago there was an epidemic of infantile paralysis (poliomyelitis). Children, and some grown people, were seized with this dread disease, and many either died or remained paralyzed. The writer was assigned to a few cases connected with a church. His idea here, as in other diseases, was to first study, then work on, the blood. Out of 15 or 20 cases examined and treated according to analysis, only two remained paralyzed.

The writer visited clinics, the Willard Parker Hospital among them, where many cases were isolated and where they also worked chemically on the blood, but from a different standpoint. In this hospital, they used blood injections prepared from the blood-serum, and many other institutions and laboratories experimented along the same lines.

I recollect very well the night the reports were brought before the profession at the County Medical Society. These reports were so complicated and technical that it was difficult to understand their modus operandi, but the conclusions indicated that nothing definite was found out. And there was no hope for positive cures, or improvement in methods of treatment.

It was quite a relief when an old grey-haired practitioner took the floor and calmly said that he had experienced no special difficulty in the uncomplicated cases he ran across, not only during this epidemic, but throughout his 40 years of practice on the East Side.

He gave them a dose of castor oil in the early stages, and they recovered. So in my work, while I saw mucus and fermentation products in the bloodstream (naturally drawn), it was mainly through taking care of the bowels, with hygienic feeding of course very important, and the use of eucalyptus, menthol, peppermint, etc., that the children under my care recovered.

I recollect one little boy, 10 years old, who was sent to the hospital, and we could not get him out. The authorities insisted on retaining him, all huddled up among many others who could not be attended to properly. This boy’s legs remained paralyzed, and in addition, as soon as he was out, he contracted pneumonia.

Then the writer was sent for. His blood was full of the above-mentioned products. When they were removed, the pneumonia lessened, and from this attack he recovered – although his life despaired of at the time. Some consultants declared it was better to let him die than to recover, for we all agreed that his limbs would be permanently paralyzed.

I want to call attention to this case especially. This boy, now 21 years old, now has the only of his arms, and one of these is badly crippled. He lives in a wheeled chair, his legs like pipe stems, but he never complains. He has learned to read and to speak several languages, practically has educated himself.

The friends and neighbors call him an encyclopedia, and go to him for all kinds of information. He builds radios; is an expert in the arts as well as many sciences; has of course read hundreds of books; tells the women how to make their dresses; is a student of philosophy, occultism, and of all religions. He is the wonder of the town.

Living in his wheeled chair in an upstairs room which he shares with his parents, he never gets out into the sun. They call this man (whom I always think of as a boy) Walter, and it’s Walter this, Walter that, and “go ask Walter, he knows everything important.”

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All doctors when out socially, like lawyers, run across people who insist on asking questions in relation to their personal ailments. A family whom the writer knows was noted for this, and when he was persistently urged, he finally consented to accept a last invitation.

Therefore, on entering the house, this time he deliberately said to the hostess, “I have come, but I want it distinctly understood that I will remain only if you promise not to talk shop.” They consented.

But no sooner had dinner begun than direct medical questions began, as if, it seemed to the writer, that had been the only object of the invitation. But of course it was not, and indirect questions no doctor will object to if there is not too much of it.

The daughter, however, remonstrated right away, and the dinner went on very nicely. But when we were all seated in the drawing room, after a little music, the hostess began, “Now, doctor, this is not medicine. My husband has a lump on his head,” pushing him up to me, “and I want you to feel it and tell me what you think it is and if he ought to have it removed.”

I said, “Mrs. Smith, I believe I left my hat in the hall. Will you please excuse me,” went and got my hat, and walked out.

By that they learned that doctors do not want to be imposed upon. And I learned by a future invitation that it was really me they wanted to see, and not the doctor. Thereafter we got along finely.

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In regard to success in the medical field, it is no different from any other line of endeavor. There was a magazine once published by a doctor, called “Success.” Much capital was put into it. It failed, although it was a magazine which catered exclusively to the public, and its chief teaching was to show others how to succeed. To be sure, the editor started over again, but he never made a financial success. And that is what in these days is understood by success.

I know a doctor who married, started practice in a good locality in New York City, stayed there two years, and could not make a living or achieve anything promising. He moved to another locality in a different town nearby, and there took over another doctor’s practice. Today he is the leading physician in that town, now a part of New York, and he began to succeed as soon as he started in that new neighborhood.

I claim no man can tell another how to succeed, or what to do to succeed. One of the handsomest  men I ever knew (and I say this because it’s often said this doctor or that lawyer or minister gets along so well and quickly because he’s good-looking, the ladies like to look at him, etc.), this man started to practice in a fine neighborhood, was well equipped both financially and educationally, but he never made his salt. He started a Sanitarium, for he had command of the cash. It only dwindled along until, long after starting, he died.

In my neighborhood, there started up one day a young Irishman, intelligent, but nothing out of the ordinary in looks or manners. In three years, he had made a fortune, lost it in investments, made another, and is still doing well. Some said it was because he had a pull with his church. But this man was not true; for a few streets above, a most intelligent other Irishman, one of the brightest men I ever met, never could or did make a living at the practice of medicine – and he had a greater influence in the same church.

Yet he did make a fair living at writing, for the words would run off his pen like water out of a spout. And the brain that man had was a caution. He certainly had a philosophical-shaped head, much like Arthur Brisbane‘s, which I claim looks like a square box.

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. The Doc Treats a Philadelphia Scoundrel and a High-Falutin’ Hooker, and Gets Bunker from Maine to Treat a Girl’s Melancholia.

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Physicians are liable to run into all kinds of complex situations.

I had not been in practice many years, and was located in Harlem, which was just then building up, when a rather dilapidatedly dressed man of about 50 came into my office one morning, complaining of a cough and spitting blood. I concluded it was a temporary and not serious condition, and gave him the advice for such a case.

I told him it would take some little time, and asked him to come in again in a few days. He replied that he did not live in town, and could I tell him where he could get a room, since he was going to continue under my care and did not want to run back and forth, and he would settle with me afterward. I told him that the only place I could think of was my washwoman, Mrs. Shrebers, who had some empty rooms and took roomers, so I remembered her saying.

One morning, some ten days after, the washwoman came in, evidently in trouble, and said, “Mr. Mooney came and took a room with me, but he has gone away, and I haven’t seen him in several days. You recommended him, so I though he was all right, but he took my boarder’s overcoat.”

I said I didn’t know him, he just dropped in like any patient – but he had given me his address in Philadelphia. So, to help the old lady out, I telegraphed to the police in Philadelphia, and they replied that there was no such address, and they knew no one by that name.

When she came back for the answer, as above, she said, “I didn’t tell you all before – you sent him and I thought he was all right. He said he had a store in Philadelphia, and did well, so we went to a minister on the East Side and got married.”

He had told the druggist’s clerk that he kept a saloon in Philadelphia, had hit a man on the head with a bottle in a fight, and was afraid to go back. So the poor old lady doesn’t know who or where her husband is, nor does she know her real name to this day.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; here’s where he travels south during the World War and becomes a DuPont physician who’s present for a mass industrial accident; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

I used to have a patient from a neighboring city, a fine-looking lady of about 50, who required treatments over some months. I became so well acquainted with the family that one summer we all took a trip together on the boat to Richmond, Virginia.

The daughter was along, a girl of about 18 years old. Nothing momentous or out of the way happened, but in those, my younger, days, this was quite a responsibility in certain ways. And I did not enjoy the trip any too well.

Perhaps a year or two after our return, the daughter was more or less ailing, and I was called over to her home. I had reason to suspect an attempt at foul play somewhere, so I consulted the Pinkerton detective agency, through the Parkhurst Society, a society for the prevention of vice for I was resolved to prepare myself for the next visit.

I sent a woman detective to the house as a boarder, for it was a private house, and she did a good job. She did not compromise me, although I protected myself with another to watch her in certain movements as things went on.

But the lady of the house was ready with her scheme one day, and sent for me to go over to see the daughter who was sick in bed. I went upstairs to the room, where I found the daughter in bed, and her mother. My detective, it seems, was in the closet.

The girl said she had much pain in the back, and a sore throat. As I began my examination, the mother left the room. And no sooner had I finished examining the young lady (fine-looking, dark complexioned, like her mother) than I said, “Jennie, do you want to quit this life and be decent?”

She looked at me in surprise and began to cry. I continued, “There is a woman outside who will look after you, and I’ll see that you get out of the house” – for I was not sure she was of age and could leave on her own. “You know what kind of a woman your mother is.”

The crying became louder, and the mother came into the room. She sat on the bed asking the daughter, as I stood by her side, what the matter was. The daughter did not answer.

So I did. I said, “I was telling your daughter what kind of a woman you were.” For my detective had been out with her, and found she was still at the old game as before her marriage, associating with other men and collecting money from them. She had a special pull on a bank cashier whose mistress she was before she married her present husband.

I have since learned that the husband did not care, and probably was in the game, too.

The mother fell over on the bed and began a fusilade at me. I said to the daughter again, “Do you want to leave, or stay with your mother?” She preferred to stay, so failing in my foolish attempt at reformation, I got out.

The detective said had many lawyers at the house the next day, but the detective gave herself away, and I never heard any more about the case.

Some twenty-five years later, calling at the house of the people who had introduced me, they asked what ever became of that young girl. I said the last time I saw her she was on the Boardwalk at Atlantic City, and looked as if she were soliciting.

They were astonished, so I told them the whole story – to their further surprise. For these people were quite religious. I have heard recently that they are all dead except the girl, who was sickly, and living with an unmarried man at a certain hotel.

She fell into her mother’s ways, all right. Such is the world, but I did not know it then.

Once, long after this, the girl had the nerve to write me for a loan of $3000, and I think also called at my office once on a similar errand.

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A young lady, 23, of Stamford, Conn., was taken with melancholia. The family were old patients of mine, and after she had been in that condition for two weeks, they sent for me to come up.

I found her very bad. She would neither eat nor talk, and threatened to jump out the window. It was brought on by her imagining that she had been insulted by a young man when she was out at a dance, though she had been all the time with her brother. She was getting worse, so I suggested that instead of getting an expensive nerve specialist, the get a man I knew who was in the truss business.

His name was Bunker. He was tall and big, with black hair and eyes. He was no doctor, though he was often called “Doctor” by those who knew him, for he had studied various diseases he ran across, or that his friends had; headworker some at osteopathy and massage; and even in his young days had docked horses’ tails when it was against the law.

He was an American, born in Maine, and claimed to have Indian blood. He was more or less clairvoyant, and familiar with hypnotism. He could almost always be found in a game of cards – claimed he saw through the cards.

The people where he lived said he claimed all sorts of wonders, and that he not infrequently got full of whisky, when he would pat his stomach with his hand and call it, “papoose, papoose.”

One time I saw him take care of a redheaded boy named Charlie who was the bully of the other boys around 14th St. and Seventh Ave. They were playing cards and getting mad, and Charlie called him a cheat and an Indian papoose. He took Charlie by the seat of his pants, held him right out the window of the four-story building, and told him to take that back or he would drop him. Charlie was never mean around there any more.

I told my patients all these things, and we decided to try him if I could locate him, for it was ten years or more since I had seen him. After phoning a while, I got in touch with this genius, and he said he would come up to see the girl for $50 or less.

He walked into the room where the girl was, her hair all over her face and down her back. He walked right up to her. She wouldn’t speak to him. He told the nurse to take her upstairs, take her clothes off, and put her to bed.

We all followed but the father, who went downstairs to fix the furnace fire. Old Bunker put his hand under the clothes and began to work the stomach muscles, talking to her softly, just as a minister would. “Now you may think you have done something wrong, but you haven’t,” etc.

Soon, in fifteen minutes or so, she looked at him. And he said, “Now, Mary, I’ve done all I can for you. God will have to do the rest.”

Immediately she sat up in bed and called, “Daddy!” It was the first time she had spoken in two weeks.

I ran downstairs and told her father his daughter was calling for him. (Her mother was dead.) When he came in the room, she said, “Daddy, pray for me.” The old man hadn’t prayed for years, I do believe, but he got down on his knees and did so then.

She began to eat and get well from that moment. Though she did have a slight relapse, it did not last.

Bunker wanted to go back to see the girl again, but I knew he had her under his power, and I did not want him on familiar terms with the family. For he was an unprincipled man, evil at times, when he chose. He had two wives, and was married to a policeman’s widow, though this was not generally known.

Such cases I knew had to be worked with quickly, for they so often turn in to a permanent mania.

 

A Story of His Life By a Man Who Has Never Gotten Anywhere: Robert Lincoln Watkins, M.D., 1863-1934. When WWI Breaks Out, The Doc Treats DuPont Explosives Workers, Some of Whom are Vaporized in an Unreported Accident.

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The World War broke out. My business was at a low ebb, as it was summertime, and I was not “in” with the powers that be in my profession. I was not on the outs especially, but was not particularly on the ins.

After dreaming around for a while, I decided to try to get into the game, although my age was against me. I closed the office and left the keys with Dr. Mears, a neighboring physician, an started sorth. I thought the chance of getting into the Navy were better away from home, so I landed at Portsmouth, Va., and took a room near the Navy Yard. I took some of Dr. Steiner’s books alone, and read them every day, especially trying to digest his Philosophy of Freedom.

I visited the Navy Yard, and the surgeon in charge, Dr. Smitt, was very nice to me, as he was to all physicians. But I saw no chance of getting into the Navy because of my age.

From here it was not far to Washington, where I went one day to see what I could do there, but with no greater success. On the way up the boat was full, many sleeping on the cabin floors.

[Background: here’s the preface, forward, and notes from the editor of R.L.W.’s memoir; here’s his account of his upbringing through medical school;  here’s when he self-inoculated with tuberculosis and went off to Paris with a charlatan; here’s where he  treated typhoid, learned to dance, theorized, and sutured guinea pigs together; here’s where he contracts cholera and hooks his uncle up with testicular juice; here’s his misadventures in self-publishing while treating a slow-motion suicide-by-drinking; here’s where he hangs out with a magician and a vaudevillian; here’s where he recounts his singing career; here’s his ode to a Fulton Market butcher; here’s where he explains his profound love of music; here’s an account of a hard-partying man named Emrich; here are his escapades with a reporter take him to Carnegie’s house; here’s where he gets rooked by a crook of a partner; here’s where he loses his shirt working on an invention for 15 years; and here’s a piece I wrote for New York Press upon first reading the memoir.]

I saw a Marine trying to sleep on a settee with his head sticking out under the arm, and asked him if he wanted to take one of the bunks in my stateroom. He replied that perhaps the man he was with could take the lower bunk, which was wider, and I the upper.

I learned when retiring, and he opened his grip full of guns, that the man the Marine was with was chief of the Washington police Detective Bureau, had taken the Marine with him to Baltimore to round up some deserters, and been unable to get a stateroom.

His name was Scrivener. We got breakfast in Washington, and the Marine whispered to me that he hoped the Chief liked him well enough to give him a job, as the pay would be more and he didn’t like his present job. When we parted, the Chief said, “If I can do anything for you, let me know.”

I was unable on that day to do all I had in mind, and at night, being unable to get hotel reservations, I began to think I’d have to sleep on the grass in the park, like many others.

But I happened to think of Scrivener, and called Police Headquarters, who advised me to call the Chief’s house. To my surprise, when I gave my name, although he was not in at the time, the answer was that he had expected to hear from me, and that I was to come to the house.

He came in later, and I shared his room with him, for he was a bachelor and roomed with an Irish family who were musical. While I waited for him to come in, we had Irish songs which I drummed out on the piano.

He left in the middle of the night to go to a neighboring city to arrest some thieves who made it a business to steal automobiles. [He and his soon-to-be-wife were murdered just before their wedding.]

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That day, I went to see my cousin, Col. Paul M. Goodrich, in the War College, and found he could get me into the Army. But I was afraid of the examinations, and besides I only wanted the Navy which he had not at first understood was my desire.

I went back to Norfolk, stopping on the way at Old Point Comfort, where by accident I met a young man in the Aviation Corps, Paul Pryable, whose father was a member of the Liederkranz bowling club in New York, as I was. And by the way, this club was loyal to the U.S.A. and had posters all over its rooms saying, “Anyone caught criticizing the Government will be promptly reported to the authorities.” Paul used to fly down close to the windows of his parents hotel when they came down to see him.

One night, when I was back at the Monroe Hotel in Portsmouth, a man in the Navy uniform brought up my suit of clothes that I had left to be pressed at the tailor’s. His room was opposite mine. He was Commodore Phelps.

We became well acquainted, for he was an expert mathematician and I used to try to algebraic problems on him in connection with things I was studying up. He said he took the prize in that subject when at Annapolis. He certainly could do the most difficult ones quickly, and by short-cut methods. He showed me many.

He was on the retired list, but had volunteered for service in the legal department, and went to court every day, taking off his uniform as soon as he got the hotel, for he said he didn’t like to wear it off duty.

I asked him if they ever had any of the guilty ones shot. “Well,” he said, “we have orders from the President to word the judgments so that the President could give pardons.” So I understood his explanation.

By the way, across from the Monroe Hotel a lady lived, 86 years old, who used to keep house for me in New York. She lived with a relative who was an architect in the Navy Yard. It was queer, and I have often thought of it since, she never asked me to a single meal, although I used to see her often.

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After staying there to no purpose, I saw an ad in the paper for a reporter on the Baltimore Sun, one who had no experience, it said. So I went to Baltimore, to the Sun office. I noticed a lot of women here, apparently reporters. But word was given to me that, not being familiar with the city, I was not eligible.

Again, one Sunday, I went to Virginia Beach and stayed at a hotel there where the water one night washed up into some of the rooms, although they seemed to think nothing of it. It was an old hotel.

When I went to pay the bill, I found I had no money in my pocket, impulsively exclaiming, “Someone must have stolen it.” I offered to leave my watch. Then I though I might have left it in my clothes in Portsmouth. To my surprise, the proprietor said, “Send it down when you get it. I won’t take your watch.” He knew I was from New York, and it is said in the South that people from there are not to be trusted.

I found my money in Portsmouth, and took it down. It wasn’t far on the electric road. The waitresses at Virginia Beach were young ladies working their way through South Carolina Sectarian College. Talking with one of them, I said that the Navy, or anyway down south here, used different words to the chorus of that popular song, “The Long, Long Trail,” but I couldn’t catch them all. So she wrote them off for me and handed them to me the next morning. Here they are:

There’s a big convoy a-sailing

Into the war zone of France,

Where the submarines are waiting,

But we’ll take a chance;

There’ll be lots of fight and sinkings

Until our ships all come through,

But we will show those U boats

What the U.S. Navy can do.

Well, I went to Wilmington, Del., for I was bound to get into the war game now, and applied to the DuPont Powder Works office. The doctor’s name was Hudson, who was at one time in practice near me in New York, but I did not know him.

“When do you want to go to work?” he said, “Now?”

I said, “Yes.”

“All right, there is a boat for Carney’s Point at one o’clock.”

I had then the greatest sensation of my life, for I was dumped into a camp of 4000 workmen of all nationalities making black powder and nitro-glycerine. The hospital supported 16 doctors, and all slept in one room. I was told to look around and go to work when I felt like it.

It was 8 hours on duty, but we preferred to work 16 rather than loaf around in such narrow quarters. The flu broke out and I was sent by government orders on duty outside the camp, into the town.

I had charge of some gypsies, for the men were compelled to work, something they had never done. Workers were getting big wages, however. The oldest girl in the gypsy camp, 19, would keep saying, “Our mother is dead, and we don’t know what to do.” For the queen, her mother, had dropped dead, and her sister also, both big, handsome, healthy-looking women.

Their bodies were in the morgue and they didn’t look as if they were dead. The young children had the flu, and I ordered fires to be made in the tents. And the youngsters, pretty, curly-haired children, arranged in circles on their rude beds so that this girl might give them menthol and eucalyptus as medicine, and look after them. She fed them lightly and kept them clean. They all recovered, though I did not use the cold air treatment.

All the doctors but two, of whom I was one, had the flu. I slept with a German doctor, and it had been noised about that he had made slurring remarks about the hospital. I was advised to report him, but he was a good doctor and a hard worker, had come there against the wishes of his wife, was along in years. He lived nearby and went home every Sunday. Many thought, “What is he here for?”

So one Saturday I went to Wilmington to follow out the suggestion, but the doctor in charge was in New York. So I took the train for New York. When I arrived, I found he had three addresses, but by luck I selected the right one first. He was located in a high building on 34th St. with his wife, and was surprised to see me because he thought I had been ordered to Virginia.

I told him my story and made him understand that the German doctor was suspect. He quietly removed a telegraph instrument from under a small table, ticked it a while, and said, “Thank you.” I said, “I sleep with the man. What can I do?” He said, “Nothing. There are three secret service men on his track right now.”

I didn’t see anything different in the doctor’s actions when I got back, except that tone day he showed me his photo and quietly remarked, “They made me get a picture last pay day. Did you have to?” All the government did was watch him. He was all right.

Soon I was sent to Penniman, Virginia. Here things were as still as death, a clayey soil, and full of small, tall pine trees, quite different from the noisy, dirty gun powder place. Here I was working for the government only, and TNT was the explosive that was being made.

The doctor, solvency dressed, apparently a young farmer, said, “We are going hunting today. Before you go to work, wouldn’t you like to shoot?” I said, “What do you kill?” He replied, “Birds.” I said, “If I could shoot at some lions or Germans, I might go, but I guess I prefer to work.”

I went on night duty, the second night, for it was a small 35-bed hospital, and an awfully quiet and still place. I said to the nurse, “Do they have any explosions here?” She said, “I’ve been here ever since the war started, and not since I’ve been here.” I said, “I’m going to look up the phone numbers of the staff. I don’t feel comfortable here alone with nothing doing.”

We had no more than got the numbers looked up than the phone rang and a woman said, “Come down to Calibre 4 and bring all the nurses and doctors you can get a hold of.”  We had heard a noise like a pistol shot, but thought nothing of it except to remark, “What’s that?”

I called the chief. He was still hunting. Then I called the assistant. He said, “Who phoned?” I said, “A woman.” He said, “Did it sound genuine? Did you hear anything?” I told him I heard something slightly and thought the voice was genuine. He replied, “Take the ambulance and go. We will be down right away.”

A young woman ambulance driver was immediately ready. She drove like mad it seemed to me, over stumps and rocks, at 2 A.M. in the pitch dark night. She said she was from Missouri.

They manufacture TNT in high round tower-like buildings. I looked them over my first day there. We stopped at No. 4 and I ran up the winding stairway, which was  left, though much of the side of the building was blown off, to the very top. I saw nothing to do, and as I started back, right behind me was the ambulance driver. Her job was with me, and she was Johnny on the spot.

We found only pieces of clothing and flesh parts. 25 men had been blown to nothing. On the way back we met those who had received the shock, and when we got the to hospital there were many wounded lying around, and many more came in afterwards, stragglers suffering from the shock.

Ten of the staff later came filing in between the lines of wounded that the nurses and orderlies had arranged on the floor. They walked in Indian file, heads down, as if it were a funeral, and they not doctors, but people attending the service, for it was the first explosion at this place. And it was kept out of print.

When Armistice Day came, I was back in Wilmington, and one of the banners in the procession said, “DuPont’s Pills Made the Kaiser Sick.” I stepped into the Y.M.C.A., it was completely deserted. A woman came in with a banner in her hand which she said she had taken from someone in the procession. She was saying, “What shall I do with it? What shall I do with it?” Then I read the banner, which said, “Uncle Sam did it all,” and at the same time noticed she had in her other hand a Union Jack.

“That banner is not right,” she said. “Oh,” I said, taking the banner from her, “it’s near enough right.” She tried to stop me from going out with the banner, but I kept on, though she tried to hinder me as I handed it to someone in the procession. Then I left her, saying as I went, “If you don’t run along, the mob will be after you.”

When I got back to New York, like everybody else, I had to start business all over again. Dr. Benton came to my office to ask if I could do anything for him, for he had been in a camp in the south all through the war. I told him we were all in the same box, having to notify our old patients, in an attempt to resume practice.

Some years after the war, business was most always very slow. I wasn’t at all well, and at times was lonesome in this great city. New York is one of the worst places in which to be alone. I lay on my couch in the office all alone for two or three days. The pain in my chest kept me from getting to the phone.

Finally my nephew [Curtis Watkins, son of brother Edward in Gardner, presumably studying at Columbia] came in and got me something to eat, which made me feel better – well enough to go to my usual haunt in an adjoining city.

But over there I got worse after the first day, and calling Dr. Benton from New York, he said I had pneumonia and was too sick to go back to New York. He had called in several local physicians, and on their promising me that they would not let anyone give me serum, I let them take me to the Presbyterian Hospital in that city.

I was dreaming all right. There was a red book with moving hieroglyphics, Egyptian or Babylonian. There seemed to be ancient horses, and men mounted on them, and occasionally the pages of the book were being turned.

My temperature was 105, but I knew what I was about, for the nurse tried to give me an injection of serum which I fought. The next time she tried it, I said to her, “Do you see that little window up there?” – there was one, high up – “Well, you are going out there if you don’t stop trying that.” I know I attempted, as if she were a man, to seize her by the back of the trousers and shove her out. She afterward told me I gave her a terrible fright.

The next day there filed into the room three men, and the doctors. Dr. Crane said to me, “What do you know about these men?” pointing to my two brothers and my nephew. One had been in before, but the one I referred to was six feet two, a surgeon from Worcester. I said, “How’d you find time to come here?” He said nothing. I went on: “I know two things about him. When he was born he knew that he wanted to be a surgeon. And  he knew the girl he wanted for a wife. And I”ll bet he has written her every day he has been away on this trip.”

Arrangements were then made to give me no serums, and my brother and the physician-in-chief agreed to it. I always remember the physician-in-chief’s daily visits. He would listen to my heart with his stethoscope, say nothing, and go off. Till the day he finally said, “All right.”

I have not seen him since, though I called at his house one Sunday long afterwards. The lady who came to the door said, “The doctor sees no one on Sundays,” and shut the door in my face so quick that I had no time to answer.

I made a quick recovery and was out in four weeks. In two months, I was back on the job. They say I was the surprise of the institution. The nurse said I fooled them all.