Grandpa’s Medical Bag

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My father was an old-school medical doctor on Long Island, New York for approximately forty years until 1981 when he passed away. To say the least, the practice of medicine was far different than today. Among the “tools of the trade” that might be less familiar to both present-day physicians and patients would be the General Practitioner’s medical bag.

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Indispensable to the house call (another relic of that by-gone medical era), I still visualize my father with that tool of the trade.  I have no idea how many bags he went through in those four decades. However, I do know the medical bag saw just about every street and neighborhood in Mineola, New York where we lived. The medical bag traveled both day and night. Before the days of 911 and routine ambulance calls, my father answered the phone and when necessary, he made house calls on weekends. The medical bag usually resided in my father’s car; however, when he first began his practice of medicine, he sometimes had to walk to a patient’s house even one mile away.

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When I was about five or six, he took me along on house calls.  I waited in the car for him. I don’t remember exactly when he stopped doing routine house calls, but he did visit some of his older, longtime, well-established patients into my teenage years.

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Nevertheless, the medical bag never really retired.  In fact, two of them remain. Dad gave me one of his old ones that he thought I could use as a field case for doing my water quality and biological work when I first began my professional career. I certainly could not and would not say no. It served me for many years.  People I worked with would look at it with curiosity for they knew I was a different type of doctor (Ph.D.) and not a medical one.  I carried and used the bag for my water quality and environmental work.  My tools of the trade were different.

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The second leather bag is newer and in better condition! My late sister took good care of that. Today it is with our Nurse Practitioner daughter. Who better to have such a precious and highly valued legacy of her grandfather?

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Note:  This blog entry was written by Dr. Russell Nemecek, son of George Nemecek, M.D.  Thank you for the recollections of another era of medicine.

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This entry was posted in guest blogger Dr. Russell Nemecek, making house calls, medical bag, Mineola, LI, New York, old-school M.D. and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Grandpa’s Medical Bag

  1. Thanks for sharing these wonderful family memories, Mary Ann. 💞

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Emily says:

    Excellent blog post and photos!! Thanks for sharing! I love the memories and I am thankful to walk in his footsteps! Xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I enjoyed this post, reminding me that John’s dad also had a medical bag that went everywhere with him. I wonder what happened to it. John went on house calls and sat in the car, too. After that, father and son sat at some train yard where they could see trains being switched. That was in Brooklyn. Dad still made house calls when he moved his practice to Port Jefferson, also on Long Island. Good memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anne, thank you for your thoughtful comment full of memories. Small world indeed. Our son used to love watching trains so my husband drove the half hour where we live to watch them switch tracks. Maybe it’s a father, son “thing” or simply something appreciated and shared. Good memories for certain! Thank you once again for such a lovely comment. Much appreciated. We are digging out of more than one foot of snow. Enjoy your weekend. Be well. oxox

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      • Grandson David and husband John share a love of trains

        Speaking of snow, we had two small snowstorms a few days ago. I saw on the computer screen that we might get a few flakes today. I think I can see that it is snowing on the mountains I see from my desk. I wish it would come over here, but I don’t think it is.

        Hope y’all have a great weekend. oxox

        Liked by 1 person

      • We have a tad more snow. It will continue again today. I hope you get some of our white blanket. The world looks serene then. We have to sing three times today. Two funerals back to back this morning and then again this evening. Then precious sleep afterwards. I love y’all expression. Thank you for commenting and hope your weekend is great. oxox
        p.s. What kind of medicine did John do? Russell’s Dad was a GP.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I grew up in TN, so I have “y’all” in my DNA. It’s very useful.

        John’s dad was a pediatrician and allergist. John says he was the second person to become an allergist in Brooklyn. oxox

        Liked by 1 person

      • Cool stories. I lived and taught at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville. A family of MDs. Besides my husband’s Dad being an MD, three of us had/have a Ph.D. Good field as allergist. Lots of stories and memories. Enjoy the weekend. oxox

        Liked by 1 person

      • John’s cousin and sister have PhDs, and we have a niece writing her thesis now. It’s great to have smart relatives.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. The best preparation for my career was living in Germany and studying at the university in Heidelberg (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg) for three years. I maintain friendships with several people in Germany. These days, I enjoy contacts with blog followers. Quite an interesting journey this has been! Be well and enjoy your Sunday and week ahead. oxox

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Susan says:

    After reading this, I wanted to wrap my arms around my computer – closest I could get to hugging the words on the screen! Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Annika Perry says:

    Mary Ann, a beautiful and heartwarming guest post by your husband Dr. Russell Nemecek. I loved learning about his father’s life through the all-important doctor’s bag! It is amazing to think that young Russell went along on doctor’s visits and waited in the car – and learnt so much about dedication and commitment as well as rewarding time with his father. How right it is that the bag is now in the safe and caring hands of your daughter, herself within the medical sector. You both must be so incredibly proud of her! Wishing you a lovely start to February and hope you’re not snowed under!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Annika, thank you for your thoughtful comment to the guest blogger and us. How can a 5 or 6 year old wait in a car? Probably knew his father was just behind the front door of the house if he really needed him. We are pleased that our daughter has the newer of the two bags left. Perhaps she will even take it along to work someday. We have had major snows at the end of Jan. and just last week. Now a bit of a break. Area schools cancelled classes last Friday. What projects are you up to now? I’ll wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day in advance. Be well and may you have a lovely February as well. ox

      Liked by 2 people

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