Not as a Stranger by Morton Thompson, is a book about the history of the medical profession. The movie stared Olivia DeHaviland, Robert Mitchum, and Frank Sinatra. (Can you imagine Frank Sinatra as a money-hungry medico, who mis-diagnoses a mole?) I gobbled up this book and movie, and recommend it to you for the wonderful integration of characters probably drawn from life.
As chance has it, soon after enjoying the book and movie, I received Dr. Vincent Ciacci's memories of doctors serving the Phoenixville area since the 1940s. Ciacci knew the doctors "not as a stranger," but as a colleague. Read his sketches!
Dr. Robert Brant
When he retired in 1974, "Big Bob" touched off a round of testimonial dinners never before seen in this community. In his early years, he left a general practice after Dr. Gotwals' death and remained so until his retirement. He became Chief of Surgery after Dr. Gotwal's death and remained so until his retirement. He was the first board certified specialist on the hospital staff.
Bob was the transition from the old family doctor to the modern certified specialist, and practiced among family physicians that looked to him for help in all fields of medicine.
He spent the last eight years of his life enjoying fishing and golf in Florida.
Franklin Brush, M.D.
Always seen with his S-shaped pipe, Frank was the old philosopher and the third of the triad of senior physicians of the 1940s. Pediatrics was his specialty.
A pharmacist in addition to a physician, he believed in the therapeutic value of some strange acids, and often challenged the therapeutic value of some drugs and antibiotics.
Frank always drove Buicks with enough headroom to accommodate his large felt hats. He lived in a quiet life, was devoted to his family and never involved himself in hospital politics.
Ralph Cherashore, M.D.
Ralph was born in Phoenixville, and became an honored athlete in high school. A charter member of the Wednesday Luncheon Club and the Beach Haven Escape Group, he liked: poker, bridge, pool, and music of all kinds.
He enjoyed good conversation, food and stories. He performed at our Halloween and New Year Masquerades, and other hospital functions. He started in general practices, and changed over to an obstretical practice becoming the first Chief of Obstetrics.
He worked his last years at the Phoenixville Hospital Emergency before succumbing to pancreatic neoplasm.
He was an active member of our staff, and had a practice out of his home office on Gay Street. He spoke Spanish with an English accent.
J. Elmer Gotwals, M.D.
Patriarch of the medical staff, generous to a fault, he was chief of surgery, obstetrics, gynecology, and perennial chief of staff. He had offices hours three times a day, seven days a week, without appointments ... he made house calls in the country for less than taxi fares.
He liked football games, outings, conventions, Rotary fellowship shuffleboard, and tennis.
George Sharshon, M.D.
A dapper person, whose practice I inherited. He enjoyed swimming in what probably was the only private pool in Phoenixville. He enjoyed convertible cars, fine wines, and lobster dinners. He was an extrovert, who rebelled against acceptable staff protocol with its rules and regulations.
After beginning my residency he invited me to join him in an associated practice at the completion of my residency.
We often talked on the edge of such an arrangement, but never formulated an official arrangement and in April 1949 he suffered a fatal coronary occlusion.
I'll continue next week, same place, same subject.
With Valentine love, Keystone Connie, 610-933-0669.