JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Editorial Assistant.
BY B. T. WHITMORE, M.D., LL.D.NEW YORK CITY.
Within the memory of men yet young it is not difficult to find the picture
of the ancient physician, of the old type and taking a wholesome pride to
himself as belonging to the old school, in fighting the battles of which he
would expend a mighty polemical energy. He was an ornament to his profession,
and his profession reflected honor on him. With the minister and the squire,
the doctor formed the triumvirate of the American community, leaders of public
opinion, foremost in all public works, the friends and advisers of all classes
of society. There was then no opportunity for specialism nor for office practice.
The old doctor was called to cover a wide district in his gig, more often
on the back of an equally sedate horse, which had through long experience
learned the doctor's calling list, even if not his method of treatment. But
whether in the gig or on horseback the ancient physician made his welcome
way, he was never to be dissociated from his saddlebags. They were the outward
and visible sign of his profession. It was only in chronic cases that he brought
the saddlebags into the house with him when he had hitched his horse to the
palings of the front fence . . . Who will ever forget the pride of the errand
when the good old doctor said "Sonny, run out and bring in my saddlebags?"
There was always some reward, an inch of Spanish licorice or some such matter,
that made the errand pleasant to run.
FROM SADDLEBAGS TO POCKETBOOKS.. JAMA. 2000;283(1):24. doi:10.1001/jama.283.1.24