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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.