JANUARY 19, 1921
Major Frank A. Fenn, Copyright, 1920
in an Emergency
surgeons were scarce in North Idaho during the pioneer days.
Even as late as 1868, there were but two civilian practitioners
in all the vast territory north of Salmon River.
Dr. Stainton and Dr. Kelly were the two upon whom the people
relied for the healing of their physical ills.
Both were able and skillful and eminently deserved the implicit
confidence reposed in them. Sympathetic
and self-sacrificing either might well have been the original of one
doctor of the old school of whom we read in the Bonnie Brierbush.
Besides practicing his profession, Dr. Kelly also conducted the
only drug store in the region.
Shortly before the
occurrence which is the subject of this story the public was deprived of
the services of Dr. Stainton who was stricken with paralysis.
This misfortune doubled the labors of Dr. Kelly whose drug
business was entrusted to a clerk, a boy then some 15 years old,
whenever the proprietor was absent.
It so happened that
a miner in Elk City over a hundred miles from Lewiston met with a
serious accident and the good doctor as soon as called upon mounted his
saddle horse and departed on the journey to Elk to treat the injured
man. As fate would have it
while the doctor was on his mission of mercy a teamster freighting
between Walla Walla and Lewiston one day drove into the latter town and
it was discovered that he was afflicted with small pox.
News that the dread disease was in town quickly spread and at
once everybody wanted to be vaccinated.
The drug store had a good supply of the old fashioned real
“vaccine matter”, that is, scabs obtained from the teats of cows
affected with cow pox. That
young clerk was the only available person to do the vaccinating stunt
and with a pioneer’s confidence and enthusiasm he undertook the task.
Other work was laid aside and lancet in hand he operated on all
comers early and late at $2.50 per.
Now there was in
Lewiston at that time a dance hall or “hurdy-gurdy house” as it was
called, kept by Jimmy Hayes. Four
“hurdies” or dance girls regularly made the house attractive.
Of course they insisted upon being vaccinated and Jimmy called
upon the drug clerk to go to that place and perform his professional
duty there. Rush of business prevented the clerk’s going until late in
the evening. Arrived at the
dance hall he found the girls anxiously awaiting him.
They started to bare their arms for the preventive treatment when
the young practitioner sagely suggested that should they be thus
vaccinated unsightly scar might result and seriously impair the native
beauty of arm that were usually unhampered by sleeves during dancing
hours. The possibility was
frightful to the “hurdies” and they were tempted to brave the
consequences of an attack of small pox rather than be disfigured so
dreadfully. The embryo
doctor was resourceful and came to their relief by intimating that the
operation might be performed on any part of the body with equal
effectiveness and proposed that it be tried on the calf of the leg where
the scars would not be observable.
Happy solution unanimously approved.
The girls were
vaccinated and proposed and in every case the vaccination “took”
splendidly, there was no doubt on that point for it was over two weeks
before dances could be resumed much to the chagrin of the victims and
greatly to the disappointment of Jimmy Hayes who business languished in
afterward insisted that I was no friend of his for I was the boy clerk
in Kelly’s drug store during Lewiston’s smallpox scare.