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Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 11

My First Office Furniture

Cartoon - 1891 - Graduated from the University of Iowa with honor to himself and relief to the faculty.

As you might well imagine, I wasn't exactly a rich man when I arrived in Hampton, Iowa, in March of 1891, to begin the practice of medicine. To get through college I had sold books and medical supplies and had run a boarding club (they called it Rohlf's Starvation Club!), but the cash return from these enterprises was scarcely more than enough to pay my school expenses.

The morning after I came to Hampton I registered my certificate at the courthouse and paid for my license; that morning, too, I had paid my hotel for six weeks' board and room in advance so that I'd have that margin of safety. But with those items out of the way I was practically without funds.

I rented two rooms over Baldwin's Drug Store; the druggist took a chance that he would get his rent through profits he hoped to make on prescriptions I hoped to write.

Then I called on the leading furniture dealer and told him that I was a young, inexperienced physician who had located in Hampton the day before to practice medicine. I showed him my diploma. I also told him that I had an office rented but that I needed some furniture and had come to him about getting it. I admitted that I had no money to pay for it and no resources except that diploma on which the state said I was prepared to practice medicine.

He asked me some embarrassing questions about business references. Of course I told him I had none.

He hesitated.

After a pause I asked him if he was also an undertaker.

He said, "Yes."

I reminded him that when I introduced myself I had mentioned that I was a "young inexperienced physician" and had paid my board and lodging bill six weeks in advance. I added that to me the outlook seemed a real opportunity.

He looked me over again and then burst out laughing. "Young man," he said, "I am willing to take a chance on you. How much furniture do you think you will need to start with?"

I told him and he let me have everything I mentioned. In a reasonable time I was able to pay cash for the furniture--and it was not through commissions to my benefactor, the undertaker!

After forty-five years I still have my first waiting room table.

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

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