Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes©" by Abe Lincoln

Back in 1962, when we moved from Gordon in Darke County to Brookville in Montgomery County we began going to Dr. Thomas for our ills. Dr. Thomas had a huge waiting room with chairs lined up around the edges. The room was always filled with cigarette smoke. Smokers were welcome — the doctor smoked, wrote poetry and gave away lots of the medicine he prescribed.

It was not uncommon to go in to see him for a chest cold and to walk out having been given a shot and a paper bag filled with pills and bottles of syrup — free. He also delivered babies and sometimes did not charge for that service.

If he did charge it might be a few dollars for an armload of medicine and a shot. I don't think he ever sent out a bill to anyone.

Our five babies were delivered at Wayne Hospital in Greenville, Ohio. As I recall, each hospital bill was $300.00 and I paid that when we checked out of the hospital. The doctor bill was separate and you settled up with the doctor the next time you visited him at his office.

Smoking was permitted at the hospital in Greenville and some patients smoked in their rooms. Patients and doctors walked around the hospital with one eye squinched up to keep the smoke from stinging their eyes.

Dr. Thomas always had one cigarette in his mouth and often used it to light up another. Sometimes his ashtray was filled with cigarette ashes with one or two cigarettes he lit up and left burning on the edge.

But, in the end, his waiting room emptied out and the smell of smoke seemed to disappear. When he finally retired Patty and I would see him having breakfast at K's with his closest buddies. He would always speak when he saw you and he was always smoking a cigarette.

The VFW post 3228 used to be filled with tobacco smoke and for a few years after "no smoking in public places" was the law, smoking continued there. Then, one day, the smoke disappeared and the large room and bar area are smoke free.

Smoking was by choice in the US Army. A free pack of cigarettes came with a candy bar in every package of C-rations and I think they were still included in K-rations. I began smoking the longer Pall Mall cigarettes. I was reduced to smoking Marlboro cigarettes but the Marlboro man developed cancer and I quit cigarettes in favor of Carter Hall pipe tobacco in my corncob pipe. I had to quit that in 1996 and have not smoked since.

But, smoking ruined my lungs and gave me heart disease. I am reduced to toting a bottle of oxygen with me wherever I go. Both of my lungs are in bad shape and one of them has collapsed 3 times. You will suffocate unless you can get to an emergency room very fast.

The hospital will cut through your rib cage and shove a one-way plastic tube into your chest cavity to let the air that escaped your collapsed lung out. Once that air is out you have room to breathe and the feeling of relief is immediate and appreciated.

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