“Doc” Gale Observes
50th Anniversary Today as Member of That Fast Vanishing
Fraternity—the Country Doctor
Newspaper clipping, no date shown
Retirement? Not for Doc!
Hays Gale of Newport observed his 50th anniversary today as an
active member of that fast-vanishing fraternity—“The country doctor.”
epochal period of change and rapid modern development, the 72-year-old
white-haired medico—known affectionately to many hundreds in Ohio and West
Virginia as “Doc”—has treated thousands of cases covering all forms of
ailments, delivered three generations of babies, averaging 35 per year for a
grand total of 1,750 infants, including 20 sets of twins. This astounding figure is equal to nearly
four times the population of his home town of Newport.
“Doc” Gale, during his 50 years of
practice, has worn out 6 harness horses, 2 sleds, 2 harness buggies, and 26
cars, including 2 Hupmobiles, 10 Fords, 3 Dodges, 2 Buicks, 1 Oldsmobile, 2
Chevrolets, 4 Plymouths, and 2 Chryslers.
“I sported a linen duster in the
summer time,” said the “Doc,” “and leather leggings and a heavy fur-lined coat
with a high collar in the cold months.
There was supposed to be roads, but they were nothing but a sea of
mud. I have seen the time when I
couldn’t make over three miles an hour.”
In payment for his services, “Doc”
Gale has received everything from tommyhawks to catfish, and from spearheads to
turnips. He has covered a territorial
radius of about 70 miles: Pleasants, Ritchie, Tyler, and parts of Wood counties
in West Virginia; Washington and Monroe counties in Ohio, all representing a
total population of about 30,000 people.
“To quote David Harum,” said the “Doc,” “I have treated people for
everything, from ring bone to ‘disapinted’ affections.”
jaunts in all kinds of weather under all kinds of conditions—from the horse and
buggy days to the automotive era—have taken him to such out-of-the-way places
as Whiskey Run, Horse Neck, Fish Pot, and Friendly, in West Virginia; and to
Dog skin, Trail Run, Spindle Top, Fly, and Pine Ridge, in Ohio. It was in such isolated locales that “Doc” Gale
delivered one baby in a garden, and another in a corn crib. “I have been consulted on many occasions on
things not pertaining to medicine.” Said the “Doc,” “you have to be not only a
doctor, but a friend, and a family adviser, as well.”
50 years of service to humanity, “Doc” Gale has operated on and treated
patients both under gas and electric lamps in hospitals, houses, cabins,
shacks, shanty boats, corn cribs, and even in the wide-open spaces. “And through it all,” said the “Doc,” “I have
enjoyed every minute of it, especially my contacts with people and the many
friends I have made. If I had it to do
over again, I would not change one single line.”
Although, after some reflection,
the “Doc” chuckled and said: “there have been some exceptions or course. There
were the times when people called me at all hours in the night, claiming to
have some terrible elaborate ailments.
But when I got there, after a lot of time and trouble, I found out they
were not sick—they were just plain drunk.”
“Doc” Gale represents the third
generation of Gales in Newport
who have been practicing medicine uninterrupted for over a century and a
quarter. It began when the Gale family
came over from Ireland
in 1799, headed by Captain George Gale, formerly of the British Army. Captain Gale settled in Virginia and taught school.
His son, George Washington
Gale—“Doc” Gale’s grandfather—studied medical books by Benjamin Rush, the only
medical man to sign the Declaration of Independence. (“Doc” Gale now has those books in his
possession at his office in Newport.”
George Washington Gale came to Newport
in 1821 when the place was a mere hamlet of scattered cabins and houses. He practiced medicine on the Ohio River between Moundsville and Marietta until his death in 1879, leaving six
girls and six boys, five of whom became doctors.
One of the six brothers—“Doc”
Gale’s father—Dr. George Thomas Gale, served Newport and vicinity for sixty-one
years before retiring in 1935, and passing on in 1946, at the age of 94.
The present senior “Doc” Gale went
into partnership with his late father in 1906at the age of twenty-two, after
graduating from Jefferson
the second oldest medical institution in America. The “Doc’s” brother, Dr. Larrey Richard Gale,
practiced eight years with them, from 1915 until 1923, when he died of heart
trouble. But from 1906, onward, “Doc”
Gale has served and continues to serve West
Virginia and Ohio,
up to this date. He will be
seventy-three years old on November
6, 1956. To quote one of his
patients: “‘Doc” Gale is known to us as a friend and as a charitable man who
has never neglected his profession or ever turned down a request for help.”
In Dad’s Footsteps
“Doc” Gale’s son, Dr. Larrey
Bernard Gale, graduated from the same college as his father, on the same
minute, on the same day, 42 years later, on June 6, 1948, and began practicing with the
“Doc” at Newport
in 1950. This latest edition adds up to
four generations of Gales practicing medicine in Newport and environs over an uninterrupted period
of one hundred and thirty-five years.
And one might well describe the
senior “doc” Gale as the last 100 per cent country doctor of the lineage. In the early days of his career, it was a
hard life of exposure, long hours, loss of sleep, poor communications, almost
impassable roads, and a river full of floating ice which sometimes would take
one hour to cross in a row boat.
But, nowadays, with improved roads,
automobiles, bridges, telephones, electricity, lights—the picture has changed
considerably. “Doc” Gale put it like
this: “At the best we had boats, trains, and horses when I began to
practice. Automobiles were a curiosity
and very unreliable. Today, the
passenger boats have gone with the wind.
And the olden days’ schedule of sixteen full passenger trains a day
passing through from Kenova, W. Va., to Pittsburg, has been
reduced to one passenger train carrying one coach. Automobiles, airplanes, and buses have taken
In a 50-Year Span
In the span of his 50-year-career,
“Doc” Gale has witnessed a complete revolution in the healing and treatment of
internal cases and methods of surgery.
Said the “Doc”: “In my early days, pneumonia was called the great killer
and the old man’s friend and carried the highest rate of mortality in this
climate. Today, new medical discoveries
have almost eliminated this disease as a killer.
“The once dreaded diphtheria,
typhoid fever, and small pox all are practically things of the past, due to the
development of modern preventive medicines.
Chest surgery and surgery on the heart are very commonly done at the
present time, but they were unthought-of of in my horse and buggy days.”
For another sharp comparison, “Doc”
Gale pointed out that the primary tools of the old days consisted of a pocket
case of instruments and saddle bags, carrying from fifteen to twenty different
medicines. “Today, “ said the “Doc,”
“the country doctor, what’s left of him, carries a blood pressure apparatus, a
stethoscope, an otoscope, a tongue depressor, applicators, sterile dressings,
gloves, antiseptics, drugs for easing pain, and a hypodermic syringe with some
emergency remedies and a needle.”
Are country doctors disappearing
from the national scene? “The answer is
definitely yes. This is because the
young doctors all want to go to urban or city centers where they have hospitals
and many convenient facilities which the country doctor does not have. This makes the work easier for the new
generation of doctors. Their hours are
shorter and they are less exposed to hardships, and have more time for
recreation. Also, there is the fact that
most young physicians nowadays want to specialize in one branch of medicine,
rather than to practice all branches, as the country doctor has to do.”
To demonstrate the decline of country
doctors in this area, “Doc” Gale said that when he first began to practice in
1906, there were fifteen country doctors at work within a radius of twenty
miles. “Today, in this same vicinity,
there are six country doctors carrying on the same work, but with a rising
population. That ought to give you an
idea of the signs of the times.”
On the hopeful side of the rural
area of America,
from a medical standpoint, “Doc” gale disclosed that there has been a drive in
recent years to persuade young doctors to settle in small towns. Said the “Doc,” “It has been successful to an
extent. Some young doctors have
responded and are now supported by fast cars and efficient hospitals in nearby
urban centers. As a result, the country
trips that used to require hours to make, now take only a few minutes.”
For More than a Century
The Gales have maintained a medical
office in Newport
for over 100 years, since 1838. The
original office was washed away in the 1913 great flood. The present office, now occupied by “Doc”
Gale and his brilliant son, Bernard, was constructed immediately after the
“Doc” Gale enjoys courtesy staff
associations at the Memorial
Hospital in Marietta, and at St. Joseph’s in Parkersburg. He is a member of three major medical
associations, including Washington
County, Ohio State,
and the National American.
In addition to his profession,
“Doc” Gale has dabbled successfully in oil for a good many yeas,
commercially. During World War One, he
served as Chairman of the Newport Township War Board and volunteered and was
commissioned a first lieutenant with orders to sail for France when the
conflict ended. He was a member of the
School Board for twelve years, and is now past president.
His hobbies are hunting, fishing,
harness horses, and the collection of Indian relics. The “Doc” has bagged many a deer, squirrel,
rabbit, and grouse in the forests of Ohio,
and Canada. His fine collection of Indian relics, of
which he is justly proud, consists of arrowheads, spear-heads, tommyhawks,
husbandry instruments, and fragments of Indian bones.
“Doc” Gale married Miss Carolyn
McGrew thirty-eight years ago, April
24th, 1918. They
have five children: George, Carolyn, Kathryn, Larrey, and Nina—all married
Retirement Not for “Doc”
When queried about his plans for
retirement, “Doc” Gale had this to say: “I have no such plans at the present
time, at least not as long as I am able to work. A fellow is far better off doing something
instead of just sitting around all day doing nothing.”
Dr. and Mrs. Gale are leaving Newport on June 12th
for a trip to Philadelphia
where he will attend the fiftieth reunion of the Jefferson Medical
College, class of 1906,
on June 13th and 14th.
Out of the original graduating class of two hundred, only sixty-four are
alive today. And Dr. George Hays Gales
of Newport, Ohio, is one of them.
A “Country Doctor” Is Honored
From an undated
Ralph Edwards’ large televiewing
audience got a first hand look at a vanishing breed of man last night and liked
what it saw—not that the shy, retiring and visibly embarrassed “subject”
particularly cared one hootenanny.
It was Newport’s gentle and kindly Dr. George Hays
Gale, described as a “country doctor,” but more of a friend, counselor and good
Samaritan to his legion of friends and patients in this part of the valley.
A full and rewarding lifetime of
serving his fellow man passed in parade across the nation’s television screens
in the 23 minutes Hollywood’s
master of ceremonies was able to overflow the studio stage with Doctor George’s
children, relatives, old friends, classmates and patients.
There was Mary Heeter, long Dr.
Gale’s secretary and receptionist, sons Dr. Larry Gale and George Gale and
daughters, Mary, Katherine and Nina and Mrs. Gale, the former Carolyn McGrew.
“I rather suspicioned all this,”
the doctor grinned after Edwards introduced him to the “This Is Your Life”
program with the remark that he never had such a difficult time luring a
subject to California.
In rapid order Dr. George was
introduced to his cousin and boyhood companion, the Rev. Cecil McCray of Indiana; Col. Edgard [Edward?]
C. Jones, of Rokeby Lock, O., a classmate at Jefferson Medical College; Mrs.
Earl Baxter of St. Marys, W. Va., the first baby Dr. Gale brought in the world
when he began his practice in Newport in 1906; Dr. Lynn Nicholas, former
Newport superintendent of schools and now president of Wayne State University;
and finally, old patients, William DePuy, Martha Schneider, Marie Edgell, Elmer
Riggs Jr., George Locke and three generations of Keisters.