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Dr. George’s Primitive Methods Saved Many Lives

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.  I’m happy to report that I seem to be making good progress in my recovery from hip replacement surgery.  I try not to ever make endorsements in this  column, but I would recommend to anyone who suffers from a severe hip problem to get checked out and if hip replacement is necessary, don’t put it off as I did.  

When I think of the pain I went through for over two years, I regret not acting sooner.  Today we have the option of doing something about a physical problem, whereas in the good old days you had to suffer and live with it.  Papa Badley had the first experience of modern medical procedures that we came into contact with.  Instead of months in a body cast and then possibly never walking again, Dr. Culley installed pins in the break and he was walking in a record time for those days.  

Of course at that time hip replacement was still in the future but fortunately he never went through that.  I can remember as a kid a little boy dying of tetanus when a simple shot would have prevented it.  Our former neighbor, Mr. Harmon, dying of TB when in just a few years antibiotics would make this disease, which was considered a kiss of death, not only under control but with full recovery in most cases.  In my case I gave two units of blood to be used in the operation and they gave me one back that they hadn’t used.  

I suppose I’m showing how naive I was in modern medical techniques as this was only the second time I had been in a hospital in over fifty years.  In retrospect it’s incredible that Dr. George was able to save as many lives as he did over the years considering the primitive methods available in those days.

I remember in the late thirties John Henry Ashford lost his oldest brother to appendicitis in a Delta hospital and he wasn’t even forty years old.  Dad’s younger brother, John Cooper, had appendicitis when he was a teenager and two doctors operated on him in the dining room table by kerosene lamp light.  Two old neighbors who observed the operation contended that they didn’t remove anything but they were discounted.  Years later in a routine examination the doctor told him your appendix is OK.  

Uncle John said, “It should be, it was removed over forty years ago.”  The doctor showed him the X-ray which showed a scarred appendix.  It was one of the rare cases of anyone surviving a ruptured appendix. I didn’t mean to dwell on medical cases but when you’re house confined and sick of watching TV, you have plenty of time for reflections.  

The upside of all this is that I’ve had time to work on the novel that I’ve been trying to write for years. I’ve made it my pledge to complete it this year.  It will be a work of fiction set in the south during the depression years and if a publisher will be impressed maybe one day you’ll be able to read it.  You know how I’m always asking for your input and it has led to some interesting stories and some spin-offs over the years.  This is a spin-off furnished by my old friend Jim Allen as a follow up to the Rickenbacker column.  Jesse Barnes, who I had the pleasure of meeting several times over the years, told Jim how much he enjoyed the Rickenbacker column and here is why.  

Jesse’s dad, Douglas H. Barnes of Gadsden, Alabama, was an airplane mechanic stationed in France in WW1. The pilot of the plane he maintained was killed in combat and it so happened that Captain Eddie’s mechanic was somehow killed about the same time.  Douglas Barnes was assigned to be Captain Eddie’s mechanic and served as such for about four months.  

During WW11 Captain Eddie came to Gadsden on a War Bond tour with a large gathering in the Rich Hotel in Gadsden.  Somehow Captain Eddie learned that Douglas H. Barnes lived there and he and his wife were invited to sit with him and others at the head table. Jesse, my thanks to you for sharing this story with us.  I might add that Jesse was a Navy combat veteran in the South Pacific during WW11.  That’s why I always ask for your input.  My email address is or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, Tn 38101 and have a great week.

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