Dr. C.D. Slagle
Dr. C.D. Slagle
By Celia Elliott, Native
The Curator, January/February 2012
Before our time of high tech medicine, wonder drugs, MRIs and organ transplants, country doctors were practicing in our community. Situated on the northwest corner and the northeast corner at Main and Franklin Streets in Centerville, were Dr. Charles Slagle and Dr. Dudley Keever, respectively.
First a profile of Dr. Slagle: A native of Portsmouth and the son of a physician, he came here and began his practice in 1898, serving his patients for half a century.
The telephone was not in wide use then and someone had to "go for the doctor." In an interview he recalled, "What I hated most was getting up in the middle of the night and hitching up the horse. I always carried a lantern with me for warmth." He remembered a 1914 obstetrical visit, when his horse and buggy became stuck in a snow drift, wading in snow up to his waist to a nearby frame house. Arriving at the patient's home in Lytle, he found the mother had not given birth. He then delivered the baby and went to bed with the rest of the family. This child was one of 1500 he delivered.
He was often paid in produce and his record showed credit given for a half bushel of cherries. Once, a patient who owed the doctor $35 gave him a cow which he kept for years. When he began his practice, office calls were 50 cents to $1.50 and house calls were $1.
With his wife, Mamie, they brought up four sons and three daughters in a large office/residence, where Panera Bread Company now stands. All of their sons (two were doctors) served in various military branches during WWII.
He was our family physician and made many a call to our house, seeing kids through mumps, measles, chicken pox and adults with assorted ailments.
The doctor was a faithful member of First Baptist Church just across the street from his practice. Once he decided the church needed a light atop its steeple, so he had one installed, which shone for several miles around.
At the war's end he retired, turning over his practice to Dr. Vincent Black, a returning veteran who served the community for many years.
Dr. Slagle once said, "I always try to leave my patients a little brighter for my having been there." Thus an era which spanned horse and buggy days to a time of high technology medicine had ended. (Next issue a profile Dr. Dudley Keever)
Memories of a Country Doctor
By Celia Elliott, Native
The Curator, July/August 2004
"Through these doors, pass the finest people in the world - my patients." So read a sign over the office of Dr. Charles D. Slagle, who practiced for nearly half a century, near the northwest corner of Main and Franklin Streets, Centerville.
As a child, I read this motto each time I paid a visit to his office: a stark waiting room with straight-back chairs and a few worn copies of "The National Geographic;" and an examining room filled with a medicinal aroma. He treated me for chronic ear infections, a fractured shoulder and a vaccination for small pox, among other things. (He had delivered me at Miami Valley hospital in 1923, one of 1500 babies he brought into the world, and the only physician our family had known until he closed his practice).
His career spanned the days of horse and buggies to the age of miracle drugs. But soon only memories of a country doctor will remain and of a building that housed the practice/home of Dr. Slagle and others in a late Victorian edifice scheduled for demolition by the City of Centerville. A new business will come to the site, as will a second business at the nearby location of a brick building after its razing.
A native of Portsmouth and son of a physician, he arrived in Centerville in 1898 with a new medical school diploma and his wife, Mamie, to set up a practice. (Across the street, another country physician, Dr. Dudley Keever at the northeast corner of Main and Franklin Streets, had already established a practice).
In time the Slagles brought up four sons and three daughters, some excelling in the medical field: Lister and George both became physicians; Ethelyn was a registered nurse; Lucille an executive secretary; Charles, a teacher; and Russell a businessman. Marian, a third daughter, died of influenza in 1918.
Before phones and cars, someone had to "go for the doctor," who made house calls. The doctor recalled that he "hated getting up in the middle of the night to hitch up horses. I always carried a lighted lantern in the buggy with me for warmth." Later he made rounds in a 1912 Buick, one of the first cars in the community, charging $1.00 for a house call. Office calls were fifty cents.
As a general practitioner, the doctor mixed his own medicine, extracted teeth, set bones and treated all manner of ills. He was paid in eggs and chickens and even a cow, which he kept for four years.
He enlisted in the Army during World War I and served in Boston, tending wounded soldiers coming from France and afterward returned to his Centerville patients.
A sprightly, upbeat man, he once stated in an interview: "I think a doctor should take cheer into the sick room. I have always cultivated a happy way of looking at life. I try to leave my patients feeling a little brighter for my having been there."
A member of First Baptist Church and the Lion's Club, he retired in 1946. Two year later Dr. Slagle passed away.
Dr. A.V. Black followed Dr. Slagle, arriving after service in World War II. He was married to Enid Black and their young family lived in the building that housed the practice for several years.
Others joining Dr. Black, who became a pioneer in the treatment of heart disease, were Drs. Harold Kelso and Everett Archdeacon, as this practice flourished in a burgeoning community during the post-war era. The last physician to occupy the building was Dr. Perez and the final use was as a bridal shop.