Dr. Sumers’ nurse called Mom the day before my scheduled tonsillectomy and
asked, “How will you be coming down to Jefferson City tomorrow?” Mom told
her she’d drive me over in the Model T touring car. “Bring a man’s
handkerchief along,” she replied.
Now this was about 1924 and the best way to deal with tonsils which repeatedly
became red and swollen was to get them out. Also, I was a puny little thing
and it was thought that a tonsillectomy would improve my general health.
Everybody was advising that. It cost about $50 in our hospitals and Dr. Sumers
did the work in his own office suite for half that.
Early the next morning, Mom’s good friend Mary, along with my brother and I,
made the long slow trip to Jeff. When we entered, the nurse said “Mrs.
Meyers, I forgot to tell you that Sue shouldn’t eat any breakfast. Did she
eat?” Yes, I had sort of tanked up because friends told me I’d have an awful
sore throat after the surgery. Therefore I was left in a dark room to rest for
about two hours, alone.
I vividly recall finally having the nurse put a transparent mask over my mouth
and nose and I tried to keep from breathing that awful ether, but soon felt
that I was on a long slide, sailing down out of control. The next thing I knew
the nurse was offering me some ice cream, saying, “You must be hungry.” One
bite and I was not hungry at all!
I sipped a little water and dropped off to sleep. In late afternoon, the nurse
said, “Sue, you can go home now.” That’s where the man’s handkerchief came
in. “Hold this over loosely over your nose all of the way home.” Good
advice. Every breath was like swallowing a sharp knife.
Dr. Sumers said, “Let her eat and drink anything she wants. Soda pop will be
good to start with.” Mom wrote the $25 check and gave me the folded
handkerchief to hold over my face. We loaded into the open car and Mom cranked
it for the long trip back on dusty gravel roads.
The next day Dad bought a whole case of soda pop. The first one I chose was
cherry flavor. Mom popped off the cap and handed it to me. There was that
knife in my throat, again! By the second day, I could swallow more
comfortably. There was also strawberry, cream and orange to choose from and,
to this day, cherry is my last choice.
By the time our own two children had frequent sore throats and inflamed
tonsils, Dr. Garrett advised, “I think we should take them out.” He removed
several youngster’s tonsils each Friday, at Boone County Hospital. Nancy was
the first one of ours to need this surgery. The date was set and arrangements
On Thursday, the day before she was scheduled to be at the hospital at 9 a.m.,
the nurse called to say, “Mrs. Gerard, I wonder if you realize that Nancy’s
tonsil operation is to be done on Friday the thirteenth?” No, I hadn’t
thought about it.
“Dr. Garrett said that if this makes any difference to you, he’ll be glad to
change it.” I replied, “It doesn’t make a particle of difference to me.”
And then I added, “I certainly hope it doesn’t affect Dr. Garrett in any
It didn’t, of course, and by coincidence Walt’s had to come out a few years
later -- on Friday the thirteenth. Perhaps there was a shortage of mothers to
whom it made no difference?