Dr. Newton Smiley

Dr. Newton Smiley

Dr. Smiley brought my father, and his family (my brother, two sisters and myself) into the world. He also delivered the first child in the third generation shortly after his retirement, my sister Edith’s first child, Maureen.

Dr. Smiley’s hair was white as far back as I remember. He did not have a lot of pounds of fat to carry around. He always walked very erect, always dressed in a dark suit. He kept a little tin box in his pocket and would take out little squares of dried orange peel to chew on.
Dr. Smiley was a typical country doctor in ways and manners. First he was a doctor, regardless if a person could pay or not, nor what time of the day or night he was needed. When he first came to Rawdon after graduating from McGill University Medical School in Montreal, he travelled throughout the area on horseback.
Later, as more trails became roads, he went by horse and buggy or sleigh. In my time he had a black roadster, possibly a DeSoto.
We did not go very often to his office on the corner of Queen Street and 4th Avenue. It was a low building with a veranda across the front. There was a garage on the south side for his car. The attached house on the north side was a step up and a storey and a half high.
A nice coat of paint would have relieved the drab appearance of the building. The office had a big window and the door was solid with a knocker on it.
There was not much furniture in the large waiting room – under the window was a long bench with rungs on the back, there were a few wooden captain’s chairs, his desk, and a stool.

On the wall hung a ‘Charles Frosst’ calendar with its red nosed gnomes. There was also a poster advertising Vicks ointment with its elves living in a giant blue Vicks jar. It showed elves going up a flight of stairs to the open door of the blue jar. Another, jolly looking red- nosed elf stood in the doorway. Other elves were gathered around in the foreground dressed in greens and reds. These colourful pictures helped make a child’s imagination soar. To balance this, there was a framed picture in sepia tones that showed a doctor sitting at a child’s bedside anxiously looking for a sign that the child was over the crisis.

The inner room was where he kept his pills, medicines, and o medical supplies was off the waiting room.

The incident I remember most concerning Dr. Smiley happened when I was about seven years old. It was late spring with still a coolness in the air. Mother had made me a new coat. She had taken her old blue coat and turned the cloth inside out to make me a new coat. It was so nice to have a coat that was made especially for me!

My sister, Edith, and I had just arrived back at after having gone home for dinner. The older girls were playing scrub baseball in front of the schoolhouse. As I was too young to join in, Edith told me to sit on the front steps out of harm’s way. She then joined the older girls at play.

Earlier that year, one of the girls had broken her arm. The break had not healed properly and left her with only the use of one arm. It was her turn to bat. I do not know if the bat flew out of her hand or if she threw it, but it struck me on the side of the forehead. I was stunned from the blow. As I was being helped upstairs to the classroom, I saw blood on my new coat. What Mother would say about staining my coat was much more of a concern to me than the injury I had suffered.

When the class was settled down to their lessons, Miss McKell took my hand to walk me up to the doctor’s. On the way up she called me “her brave little soldier’ as I had not cried. Praise like that from my adored teacher put wings on my feet.

When we arrived at Dr. Smiley’s office he looked closely at the wound. The he said, as he walked into the inner room, “I will have to sew it up”. I had seen my mother patching up my rag dolls and nobody was going to put stitches into me! Never mind being a brave little soldier I just bawled. Dr. Smiley came back saying, “I can find only find black thread. I will have to tape it up instead”.

For a week or so afterwards, I had to go to the doctor’s office every noon hour. He would peel off the tape, and with his penknife, scrape away the dried blood. The fear of him still stitching me up overrode the pain and so never a squeak escaped my lips.

One of those days, Dr. Smiley was passing the school at noon hour and stopped to pick me up. It was a thrill to have a ride in his car.

Later Dr. Smiley explained to my parents why he wanted to see me every day. The bone had been split three ways and very close to the temple so he wanted to keep a close watch on me.