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Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Doctor Jokes" - keeping you in stitches in 1915

One of the pieces in my collection is a small leather-bound book owned by a Mrs. H. M. Hudson. She apparently delighted in collecting jokes about doctors. Her little book, which she titled "THE DOCTOR JOKES," is filled, cover to cover, with a hodgepodge of handwritten and pasted in jokes from various newspapers and magazines. Wherever dates are shown, they are always from the year 1915. She took extra effort to number each joke, suggesting she wanted to make easy reference to them for some other purpose - perhaps to publish them as a collection some day? Most of them are hackneyed and corny, but nonetheless an interesting insight into popular humor of that day. The things we complain about regarding the medical profession today are not so different from what they were jabbing about almost 100 years ago: the expense of the physician, their unfathomable knowledge, and their questionable skills. Here is a small selection of Mrs. Hudson's pearls (I will indicate the number of the joke and whether it was hand-written or pasted in; all spelling and punctuation as in originals):

#12 - handwritten:

"Are you of the Opinion, James," asked a slim-looking man of his companion, That Dr. Smith's medicine does any good?"
"Not unless you follow the directions."
"What are the directions?"
"Keep the bottle tightly corked."

- from Tit-Bits

#17 - handwritten:
"The Carvers" by Walt Mason

We used to call it gripes
When we had stomach trouble
And all our inward pipes
Would ache & bend us double
It was a common ill
That caused no awe or wonder
And granny's simple skill
Full soon would knock it under.
The poor men in their cots
The rich man in his castle,
Were often tied in knots
And with the gripes would wrastle.
A dose of home-made dope
Would quell the dire upheavel,
Restoring faith & hope,
Displacing pain & evil -
But now the doctor comes -
His science sure a blight is! -
He looks and haws and hums,
And cries "Appendicitis!"
He promptly spoils your peace,
And makes your courage mizzle;
A cleaver and some dirks,
And how the patient hollers
When he removes one's works,
And charges 90 dollars!
The docs are done with pills,
In this and other nations.
No matter what your ills,
They call for "operations."
Lumbago in our backs,
The jaundice and hay fever,
Demand the saw & axe,
The hatchet & the cleaver.
The druggist's trade is poor,
And soon he will be starving;
The doctors only cure,
These modern days, is carving.
- from Farm Journal, Jan 1915

#20 - pasted in:
Faint Hope.

Doctor (cuttingly) - Are you to be allowed to drink bear, eh? Didn't I tell you just a week ago to let the stuff alone?
Patient - I know, doctor; but, you see, I thought there might have been some progress in medical science since.
- from New York Post

#21 - pasted in:

Mean Fellow

"Your wife has a muscular affection which renders her speechless. I can cure her, but it will take time."
"Take all the time you want, doc," responded the mean man.
- from Kansas City Journal

#30 - pasted in:

A Wester paper speaks of a man "who died without the aid of a physician."
Such instances are indeed rare.

#42 - pasted in:

"The doctor said he'd have me on my feet in two weeks."
"Well, did he?"
"He sure did! I had to sell my car to pay his bill!"
- from Puck

#43 - pasted in:

His Translation.

Pat - "The doctors say O'Brien is afflicted with 'rheumatorial arthritis,' whatever that may be!"
Mike - "Oh, that's Latin for 'Mrs. O'Brien," I imagine!"
- from Life

#44 - handwritten:

The Atchison Globe says that when Rip Van Winkle awoke from his long snooze he consulted a physician. And the physician told him what he needed was a good rest.

#53 - pasted in:

A sick man inquired of a friend whom he should consult, and was recommended to an eminent specialist.

"Is he very expensive?" asked the patient.

"Him? No; he'll charge you $5 for the first visit, and $2.50 afterward."

So the invalid went off to the doctor in question, and upon being admitted to the consulting room slammed down $2.50, accompanied by the remark: "Well, doctor, here we are again."

The doctor calmly picked up the money, opened the drawer in his desk, placed it therein, and locked the drawer.

The patient waited events. "Well, aren't you going to examine me? he said at length.

"No," said the specialist; "there's no need to do it again. Just keep on with the same medicine. Good day."

Mrs. Hudson and I hope you have a great weekend and a smile on your face.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post. Quite funny. It really is amazing to see how similar our complaints of today are to 1915.


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