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JAMA 100 Years Ago
January 5, 2000


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 2000;283(1):24. doi:10.1001/jama.283.1.24


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.