The Town Doctor
1941 - 1988
by Russ Lancaster
In the 1940's and 50's there were quite a few doctors in our small little town of Hamlet. House calls were the norm, not the exception.
We had quite a number of doctors considering the size of our small town but the best known and most respected was Dr. Ralph B. Garrison.
Dr. Garrison delivered most of the babies born in the forties. A great deal of my classmates had him to thank for bringing them into the world, including me. Dr. Garrison's own son and I were born on the same day in 1941, he delivered us both.
Those were the years of the dreaded diseases: whooping cough, measles and the monster of all diseases, polio.
Dr. Garrison made many a house call in those days with his little black bag of cures and our house was visited many times. Measles was one of the many commuicable diseases that called for his dreaded "Quarantine" sign. If it was posted on your door, you stayed there until cured and accepted no visitors.
Dr. Garrison also was the team doctor for all the high school athletic teams as well as the newly organized little league football and baseball leagues. He also checked you out for camp. He was everywhere.
In 1958, I had my first traffic accident at age 16. It happened only a block away from his office. Though I felt no ill effects, I was sent to see Dr. Garrison for X-rays. First he gave me the good news, nothing was injured except my pride. Then came the bad news... he said the x-rays showed I had been smoking and I had better stop before he told my parents. He was correct, to a point.. I had probably smoked a total of an entire pack in my short lifetime but I doubt if it showed up on the x-rays. He was just doing his job looking after another teenager and giving me in particular a stern warning.
In the forties and fifties, Dr. Garrison would treat your for most anything, including broken bones, stitches.. whatever you needed. It is no longer like that in Hamlet. These days you would probably be sent to Moore County Hospital for a broken bone. Doctors like him are extremeley rare these days.
The last time I saw Dr. Garrison was in 1988 just before I moved away from Hamlet. He still had his practice but it was now limited to long time patients. He was getting too old to carry the burden he had borne for so many years.
I somehow expect that he is still alive but well retired by now.
And, I know if I were ever to be back in Hamlet and become ill or suffer an injury, the first person I would call on would be Dr. Garrison. You just couldn't do any better than that.
Yes... I remember Dr. Garrison, and I remember Hamlet!
**note... Dr. Garrison passed away in the year 2000.... rhl
This section is to honor the works of Russ Lancaster who started the “I Remember Hamlet” web site years ago. Without his pioneering the web at that time we might not have gathered all these memories of our Hamlet, NC. We thank you Russ for what you started in 1996, may you Rest in Peace. Russ was kind enough to let me download his web site before he took it down. Thank you Russ.
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