We’ve all met and known people we will never forget in our lives. And sometimes the people we met when just children stick with us in ways almost unprogrammable, as the psychologist would say.
I have painted a word picture of Dr. Tice recently (the bedbug column), and he really made a dent in my life. This also goes for sweet brother Bill. Dr. Tice was a noted Chicago physician who published “Tice’s Practice of Medicine,” and he worked with my grandfather on medical research in the 1930s.
My doctor father continued this research and friendship with Dr. Tice, and he became a consultant, via telephone and letters to our home place, Valmora Sanatorium. To Bill and me, that translated into another several weeks of some stuffy, crabby doctor sharing our hospital dining room table with us every summer. Our mother watched us like a hawk and constantly reminded us to “mind our manners.” Nuts — no fun in that!
World War II was in full swing when Bill and I got to ride the train to Chicago for a visit with our grandmother. Doc had a Valmora board meeting there, and Dr. Tice was always in attendance. Dr. and Mrs. Tice invited this board to dinner in their Lake Forest home — quite a mansion by our standards.
For some reason, our mother decided Bill and I should go. My grandmother made me a pink taffeta formal to wear and Bill had a boy’s suit, straight out of Marshall Field’s fabulous store. I also remember hundreds of soldiers on the train with us, and this was the first time we kids had ever seen a real, live soldier. We were impressed.
Just before we left Valmora, I managed to run a big sliver into the back, the calf of my leg. I couldn’t dig it out so I just left it and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. The day of the Tice dinner, my leg was a swollen, painful mess, and Doc realized I had to have it lanced, as he called it. He had no medical bag with him, so he asked Dr. Tice to come by our grandmother’s house on his way home, with a bag full of medical instruments.
To my grandmother’s horror, Dr. Tice plopped me face down on her bed, covered with a fancy crocheted bedspread and promptly removed the splinter, opened up a drain and soaked the gaping hole in iodine, no less. Unbelievably, no iodine ended up on that bedspread. And actually, even though it was hurt, the relief, the pain was much less when the splinter came out.
Obviously, this was not an impediment of any kind. Mother insisted we go to the fancy dinner party that night. She drilled Bill and me on proper table manners during the taxi cab ride to the Tices and thankfully, the pink formal covered my bandaged and iodine-stained leg. Bill and I suffered through a five-course dinner, all served by waiters dressed in uniforms. No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Bill this time. He and I were bored “out of our gourd,” as they say, by the time the fruit and cheeses course arrived. Dr. Tice sat at the head of the this long table full of guests. (Bill and I sat between our parents, of course), and Mrs. Tice sat at the other end of the table.
Mrs. Tice asked Dr. Tice to pass the cheese tray down to her. Dr. Tice asked what kind of cheese she preferred, and she named one. With that, he picked up a slab of cheese, threw it to her and just yelled “Catch!,” as it went flying by all of us. Bill and I never, ever got over this event, and when we were older, we’d remind our so very strict mother that table manners weren’t necessary after all. If Dr. Tice could throw cheese at a fancy dinner party, why couldn’t we do this trick at home?
The moral of this story was obvious to us: Even the rich and famous can actually be human at times. And, no, I’ve never had the nerve to pull a trick like that at a picnic, much less a dinner party.
Editha Bartley lives in Mora County.