Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 15
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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"How did you know enough to grab again when the forceps
slipped off?" he asked.
"We have a tool just like it at home, Doctor," I told him.
And when he raised his eyebrows questioningly, I went on to
say how my father always had me hold the hot, wet leather
with a clamp when he was shaping the ankle bend of a boot. He
cut my explanation short with a nod. He must have seen boots
home-cobbled many times. With a hand under my chin, he lifted
my face up toward his, and said: "That was quick thinking.
Perhaps you will make a surgeon someday. Hear what I say,
boy. I think you have the makings for it."
It was as if a god had spoken to me. To this day I remember
the exalted feeling of having been praised and chosen by one
whose word plainly must be law.
I watched Dr. Blackwell's every move as he picked up his
bloodstained instruments and carelessly put them away in his
satchel for later cleansing. After he had left, I spied something
that had fallen to the floor, near the improvised operating table.
It was the forceps I had held, not unlike the arterial clamps in
use today. With it in my hand, I ran outside, but his buggy was
off down the road. I took the instrument home and washed it
bright and clean. When I showed it to my grandmother, she
insisted I return it. But within a month, before he came our way
again, Dr. Blackwell died of a stroke. He was taken two hundred
miles from Baie Verte to Halifax for burial. I was deeply
puzzled that a man so strong and sure as Dr. Blackwell could
die, just like anyone else.
Dr. Blackwell's forceps I have to this day. Long, hard years
they have served as a symbol of aspiration. I treasure them still
in my San Antonio office.
Henceforth I had no other thought but to study medicine
and become a doctor like Dr. Blackwell. However, in my cir-
cumstances there were many obstacles to overcome-the first
was to get an education-therefore, when I heard that miners in
Here’s what’s next.
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/27/: accessed June 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.