From the American Scene: My Father Was a Doctor
A LONG time ago, when I was the Doctor’s daughter in the Russian Jewish community of Brooklyn, the doctor was at the very top of the tree. The wealth of the “allrightnik,” the learning of the rabbi, the worldly polish of the lawyer -all were overshadowed by the prestige of the doctor. His little black bag, the subject of jokes in more sophisticated circles, was a badge of honor as significant as the jeweled garter or the red ribbon.
Probably the doctor has called forth this particular kind of veneration in other times and places; indeed, Robert Louis Stevenson’s rather flowery tribute to the doctor is still reprinted by drug companies and distributed to their medical patrons, and not long ago the American Medical Association used Sir Luke Fildes’s sentimental Victorian painting “The Doctor” as one of the guns in its fight against compulsory medical insurance. But neither Stevenson nor Fildes could exceed our neighbors, Father’s patients, in their worshipful devotion to the doctor.
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