Dr. Baltz had retired from his practice of medicine after many years in the lumber and logging camps. He came to the Ozarks, where we lived during the depression, to resume healing the sick. While other doctors were carefully prescribing some of the new drugs only after lab tests, Dr. Baltz was mixing crushed Sulfa tablets with cistern water for any kind of infection. “Goin’ to stay up, or go to bed?” he would ask. How much sulfa he gave depended on the answer.
“Stop takin’ it when your fingernails start turnin’ green.” he warned. His charge of only one dollar for an office visit lessened the risk.
In a diary I noted a conversation dated August 29, 1941. I suppose I was a patient. “Don’ lose no sleep over my patients, been at it ever since ‘96, and ain’t filled up no cemetery yet.” “I can still ride my horse by the graveyard at midnight.”
“Why you couldn’t ride a horse no more,” the doctor’s wife said. “You’re too old and stiff in the knees.”
“Could too ride a horse if I had to.”
“He used to do all his traveling that way,” “I remember how I’d go catch and saddle his horse while he got ready to go; then feed and unsaddle when he got back, no matter what time of night,” she said.
“Yep, and lots of times we’d have to go out again before the horse got through eatin.”
“Wasn’t that a pretty hard life?” I asked.
“Oh, it wasn’t too bad, if the old horse had plenty to eat he could go all night. Many’s a time I’ve stole feed right out of a farmer’s field for my horse. I’ve slept many a night in the saddle while the old horse slowly plodded his way t’ward home on his own.”
Doctor Baltz was probably the last of the old time country doctors in that area. No one who ever knew him could ever forget.
Now when I go back to Mackey Cemetery to visit the graves of my family I see his stone next to my father’s: “Thomas Baltz, 11-13, 1875, died 11-24, 1947.
Published for the NAPA by Ethel Mullins, Oklahoma City, Ok. 73119.
Printed by Robert Orbach