Saturday, August 1, 2015

What it was like being a rural doctor in 1948

                                                        Dr. Ernest Ceriani

I found this about Dr. Ceriani, written by his son:
A posting on the Web by Dr. Ernest Ceriani’s son Gary, a lawyer in Denver.
Ernest Ceriani was my father so I can probably answer just about whatever questions you have. Dad continued to practice in Kremmling until the mid 1980's (he was on his third generation of deliveries when he finally retired). Not long after he retired he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and he died on April 28, 1988 at a hospice in Denver having made the decision, while still intellectually capable, that he was deteriorating rapidly and wanted to stop dialysis and end his life with dignity and peace. My mother died on November 12, 1991 of a stroke. My brother Phil was an orthopedic surgeon until he retired. He now lives in Paonia, Colorado. I am an attorney in Denver and live in Golden with my wife of 35 years.

The photographer W Eugene Smith did a companion piece titled "Nurse Midwife". His other photographs are equally stirring. He is particularly known for this snapshot of Tomoko Uemera, who was a victim of severe mercury poisoning, caused by the dumping of chemicals by the local manufacturing plant. Many others in the town of Minamata were affected by the contamination. Smith was badly beaten as a result of the photos he took in Minamata. Although he survived the attack, his vision in one eye was severely affected. For those curious about the attack:
In January 1972, Smith was attacked by right wing thugs hired by the Chisso Company near Tokyo, in an attempt to stop him from further publicizing the effects of Minamata disease to the world.


  1. What an interesting post. We sure have come a long way from 1948. I can still remember the doctor coming to the house when I was a kid. He had the same black bag that was in the pictures here. Makes you think tho, this doctor did everything, now you would have had to go to specialists for some of these procedures. I enjoyed seeing the way things were back then, it makes you think, did we really have to advance so fast.

  2. We still do ear lavages the same way. Some things never change. Why on earth he didn't drive is beyond me. There are no simple treatments anymore. Seems like you need x-rays & blood tests for colds & coughs anymore. Some of the more simple medications aren't "formulary" or the ones you do need for something specific are unaffordable! I too remember house calls, big ol' horse pills & penicillin shots.

    Great story Linda, you always find interesting articles. Thanks!

  3. Why can't doctors be like this one nowadays? We had a doctor a lot like Dr Ceriani in the town I grew up in. He did EVERYTHING and was VERY good at WHAT he did. Today? Not the's VERY hard to find a good doctor and one that listens and can treat you. They pass you off to this one and that one and sometimes in the end you're no better off than when you started.

    The good old days really WERE good.

    Interesting isn't it to see a doctor "relaxing" with a cigarette and coffee huh? :)

    Mr Smith was an amazing photographer-sounds like he paid the price for trying to get the "truth" out into the world too.

  4. This was and still is the way it is on Mackinaw Island where I grew up. Yes the island has a car for the Dr to use. It was the only car to be seen on the roads back then. Great find Linda. I miss my Island home . All the walking was very healthy for us.

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