By James Ingram Reynolds
(1906-1996),written in 1991
Most if not all the medical doctors and dentists in and around Clinton soon after the turn of the century I knew fairly well.
Dr. Frank Holmes had his office upstairs in the Alfred Johnson Building on the southeast corner of Main and Wall Street and lived in his home at 311 Main Street. Later, my brother, Joe Reynolds, bought that house and it is now occupied by his daughter, Gloria Tart.
Dr. Algernon M. Lee, father of Mrs. George Butler, Mrs. Archie Graham, and Mrs. Chevis Kerr, had his doctor’s office in the back of one of his buildings on Main St. which is the site of Leder Brothers Store. He had a drugstore in the front part of the building which was called Lee’s Drugstore. Dr. Lee had one of the first gasoline pumps that I ever saw in Clinton and it was situated out in front of his store, between the sidewalk and the street. It was old-timey where a door would open on either side which exposed a crank, and you could crank up and pump one gallon at the time.
Dr. Paul Crumpler, who was not only our family physician but also my close personal friend, first had his office in Roseboro but later moved to Clinton and practiced here. He passed away in the latter part of December, 1965 and was interred in the local Clinton Cemetery on the first day of January, 1966. I was honored to have served as one of the active pallbearers at his funeral. Dr. Crumpler was the attending physician when our two sons were born. I have lost a close personal friend.
There was an incident that I remember very plainly pertaining to Dr. Crumpler. He told about a patient of his, he was really an alcoholic, he’d get in bad shape and he’d run to Dr. Crumpler.Paul would render him service, knowing he’d never get a dime in payment, but just being compassionate, did what he could for him. On one particular occasion he had gotten into a fight with someone and they had struck him on the head and busted a hole in his skull. His brain was sticking up there in plain sight, and Dr. Crumpler told me this himself, that he wasn’t going to go to the trouble to take him to a hospital because there wasn’t one around here and he’d never get paid anyway. He says, so I skinned his hair on the back of his scalp and took a fifty cent piece and sterilized it and then placed that fifty cents over the broken place in his skull and then pulled the skin back over it to repair him so he could keep going. Dr. Crumpler said that in a few days after that the man got so desperate for a drink of whiskey, when he couldn’t get a hold of any money anywhere, said he took out his own pocketknife, the patient did, and cut that fifty cents off the top of his head and went out and bought him some intoxicating liquors with it.
Dr. Oscar Lee Parker, M.D., was born and reared in the community between Owens Grove Church and Beaman’s Crossroads. He was engaged in schoolwork for a good length of time and later became a rural mail carrier before he decided to go to medical school to become a doctor. The fact is, he had already done that work and retired from carrying the mail the same year that I was born, which was 1906. Dr. Parker first worked out of the hospital in Fayetteville but later moved to Clinton, where he had an office in the Johnson Building until he retired in his late eighties.
When Dr. Parker first came here, he was not married and he roomed and boarded at the old Montague Hotel, which was on the southeast corner of Main and Lisbon Streets. He eventually married and built a house on the south side of College Street. Dr. Parker practiced medicine here for many, many years up until he retired. At this recording (1990), Dr. Parker has passed his 96th birthday and is very active physically and mentally. I might add that Dr. Parker is a close personal friend of mine, which I value. He, too, was very active about getting a hospital started in Clinton years ago.
Local medical doctors worked just a little bit different in those old days than from what they do now. I remember that when I was a young boy there a local man got in a fight and someone cut him up pretty badly with a knife. There was no hospital here then, so they took him to an upstairs office, pushed two tables together, and they took his intestines out of his body and laid them down right next to him and patched up the holes. They finally put the intestines back in his body, greased them right good with lard, and sewed him back up. I saw that but didn’t enjoy what I saw.
Dr. Gordon Lee, dentist, son of Dr. Algernon Lee, M.D., practiced dentistry here in Clinton for a number of years. Fact of the business, he did a lot of work for me. His office was on the second floor of his father’s old building on Main Street where Leder Brothers is located. He lived out on the south side of College Street, just beyond Dr. Parker’s residence.
Dr. Edgar Watson was a dentist and practiced that profession here and his office was on the front part of the second floor of the old Bank of Sampson Building, later known as the Reynolds Drugstore Building (on the southwest corner of Main & Lisbon Streets).
A little incident happened pertaining to Dr. Watson which is certainly true. Mr. Joe Hubbard was a fine man, a successful businessman, and I might add a close personal friend and benefactor of mine. Mr. Joe, when he was a young man, was considered just a little bit on the rough side. He went up to Dr. Watson’s office one day and sat down in his chair and they spoke to each other. Finally, Mr. Hubbard said to Dr. Watson, said “Edgar, say, I want you to pull my teeth.” He says, “Alright, Joe, says, we’ll get going, says I’ll pull two or three of them today, and you can come back from time to time and we’ll continue doing that until we get them all out.” Mr. Hubbard said “No, I want you to pull every tooth there is in my head now.” Dr. Watson replied, said “Joe, you couldn’t stand it and I’m just not going to do it.” Whereupon, Mr. Hubbard reached in his hip pocket and got his pistol out and said, “You start pulling or I’ll start shooting.”
Well, naturally that didn’t give Dr. Watson much choice in the matter. He says, “Alright, Joe, I’ll pull them, but the pain is going to kill you.”So he started to work and finally he got every one of them, and he says, “Well, Joe, I’ve got them all.” Mr. Hubbard said, “Run your finger all around my mouth, upper and lower, and see if you’ve left nary old snag in there, do get that out.” And, the story goes, not only did Mr. Hubbard get along with it alright, he didn’t even have to take so much as an aspirin tablet to kill the pain.
In later years, Dr. Wilbert Jackson moved up into the second floor of the Johnson Building on the corner of Main and Wall Streets and practiced dentistry there up until he died a few years ago. He and his wife never had any children and their home was on the north side of College Street, directly across the street from the First Baptist Church. That house was torn down to make room for a church parking lot.