Friday, June 19, 2015

Bio #15 - The Doctor's Office

We had a nice old doctor, Dr. Boyd. He lived near us and had a pretty wife and two children, Norma and her brother. I can't think of his name. Oh! It was Wallace. His office was downtown in a scary building, all stairs and doors with numbers on the doors. If we had to go there for anything he let us look at his books and glass cases full of shiny steel tools. If we were sick with anything contagious the house was quarantined and the Health Officer nailed a big cardboard sign on the door, in some loud color that said Measles- Keep Out and they meant it. So with four kids we quite often had a sign on our door. The longest time was for scarlet fever my brother had. Nowadays they don't bother.

I recall a building similar to the one Mom describes. My first dentist's office was in the old Calgary Herald building, a relic from the 1920s, I believe. It had carved gargoyles on the outside of the perimeter of the building, up high above the first storey windows. That was intimidating before I even crossed the threshold. Inside, the floors were of a white marble shot through with black. We walked up one flight of stairs, but the stairs were so old that the marble was worn from all the foot traffic, and I had to concentrate to avoid slipping off the steps. The railings were dark wood. Each door had lettering in gold paint, a frosted window, and a round doorknob. The whole building echoed with footsteps and voices - definitely creepy, and the smell of chemicals always had my stomach doing flip-flops. (Our dentist's name was Dr. Baden-Powell, a relative of the famous Baden-Powell who founded the world-wide Boy Scouts movement.)

Mother was writing this in the mid-1970s. So much has happened since then in health care. Some parents refuse to vaccinate their children, based on a long-since debunked story that vaccines can cause autism. Since I caught measles, rubella, chicken pox, mumps, and scarlet fever, I know how awful those illnesses are and can't imagine anyone wanting to put their child at risk. Quarantines have been re-instated where measles has erupted again. Foolish parents.