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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 6


I taught school three years, two in the rural schools of Scott County and one in the village of Walcott, Iowa. During this time I gave my parents every cent I made above living expenses, realizing in some measure that dream I had had on the farm after Miss Kennedy suggested that high school might be for me.

It was in Walcott that I chanced to meet a village doctor, Dr. Thomas Byrnes, an unusual man, a scholar in three fields: medicine, mathematics, and acoustics. I was drawn to him not only by his great knowledge but also by the intensity of his study and by his remarkable application, two things which had come to be ideals of mine even at this stage in my life. Many an evening did I sit with Dr. Byrnes, listening to him discuss scientific problems, adding my trifle when I was able and feeling as we talked that I was attracted more and more by his first love, medicine.

I began reading his medical journals; then I started in on the books in his extensive medical library. Before I knew it, I had discarded law as a career and had substituted for it this new-found and earnest desire to be a doctor. I have never regretted that decision. If I had my life to live over again, I would be a doctor--only a better one.

January 5 of that year in Walcott I was twenty-one years old and that birthday marked the beginning of W. A. Rohlf, professional man. With a dime in my pocket I began saving my money for college, putting aside the biggest share of my salary each month. The summer I added to my funds by selling books, and then climaxed my efforts working with a threshing outfit for two dollars a day, Sundays included.

That fall (it was 1888) I entered the College of Medicine of the State University of Iowa at Iowa City. The grimy hands that had weeded onions in the patch behind the orchard years before had grown since then and I had grown too; but as I signed my name to that enrollment blank I trembled with the same excitement, I thrilled to the same expectancy that I had known that day when Dad had said, "You may go."

  Version: World Wide Web Edition Copyright 1995 by Richard Rathe
  Created: October 1, 1995   Modified: July 5, 1999

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