George Kossuth Tells One Fit For Ripley, Of How Prize Bass Jumped Into Boat Seeking Free Medical Advice
By George Kossuth
The other day I told a friend of mine that I had been photographing Dr. Schwinn for more than thirty years, and he said, "Well, it would be interesting to know your impression of the doctor, after searching his face and finding the many different traits of character, that you must have found."
Funny, but the characteristic that impressed me most, has not been that of a great surgeon, that of a great physician, that of a great citizen, nor that of one who has appreciated the better things of life but the thing that impressed me most, is in spite of all his contacts with sickness and sorrow, the smile always present in his eyes.
A doctor without a sense of humor has a pretty hard time of it, and without this admirable quality there must be times when the woes of one's patients must almost drive one mad. I have always been able to exchange a story with doctor, and when I think of the many good times we have had together, my thoughts are carried back more than thirty years. About this time he pitched a tent of the banks of Wheeling Creek on the old Hummel farm, for a two-weeks' vacation partaking of nature in the raw.
I was also camped on the banks of the creek a short distance below. One morning I had fished the stream with all the different kinds of bait that one can imagine, and all the tricks known to fishermen, but not one fish would come to dine. Along in the middle of the day I gave up, and went on up to visit at doctor's camp. He was out in a boat in the middle of the creek sunning himself and all of a sudden a 2 1/2 - pound bass jumped up out of the water, landed in doctor's boat, not a bait, not a hook, not a line - doctor's eyes twinkled, looked at the bass and he said, "Just what's the matter with you?"
Back in those days nudist colonies were unheard of, but I think doctor was one of the original nudists. I recall another day I visited the camp and he was sitting on the banks of the stream, almost devoid of attire, his body covered with mud, looking like an inhabitant of the Congo. I said, "What's the big idea, doctor?" He said, "The mud has a wonderful curative quality. it cures what's wrong with you."
It was back in 1884 that Doctor Schwinn came to Wheeling, and when he took his examination for the state board, he wrote all the answers in German and the examining board couldn't read German, so of course, the doctor passed with a high percentage.
The late Dr. Harry Hall once made the statement in a talk that if someone were to come to Wheeling looking for a Saint the one they would find worthy of the title would be Dr. Schwinn.
He has lived his life in Wheeling living the joys and sorrows of the people of the community. He has brushed shoulders with millionaires, doctored the aristocracy, cured the ills of the laborer and ditch digger, and all through the years there has been ever present the twinkle in his eyes, that told that to him life is a great experience, a great adventure, and a great joy.
I sometimes wonder how much pain and anguish this twinkle has covered over because we all know of the anxious moments in a doctor's life.
I recall when my daughter had meningitis, and was ill for months in the hospital. Dr. Schwinn no longer went out at night to practice, but they called him one morning in the early hours, asking what they might do. He said, "I will come up" and up to the hospital he came and stayed until she had passed through the dangerous period. This happened not only once, but many times.
Doctor had the admirable trait that so many of us learned to lean upon. Who of us has not experienced the terrible hours of early dawn, a loved one seriously ill, all gathered around the bedside wondering, what if something should happen? You could look at the Doctor, and he with a look of understanding would say: "I will stay through the night, so that in case I'm needed I'll be here."
He might have been a great musician, a great statesman, but he chose a career so that he might serve the people, curing their ills.
Wheeling has had many great citizens in its one hundred and two years of existence, but nore greater or more beloved than Dr. Schwinn. On your eighty-fourth birthday - we salute you.
December 11 1938
©Ogden Newspapers, Reproduced with permission.
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