Before breakfast on May 16, 1931, 11-year-old Jim Trott was whittling in his bedroom. He shared the room with older brother Allan in the family home at 85 Central St. Jim's knife slipped on the wood and gashed the knuckle of his left index finger. The gash went to the bone.

Not wanting to trouble his mother, Jim took a washcloth and pressed it against the wound. There was more blood than could be stanched, and when the call to breakfast came, he went downstairs "to face the music." A short time later, Dr. Philip Blake closed the gash with two big stitches. Jim saved the stitches in an envelope in his scrapbook, where he "kept exact records of such earth-shaking things." He still has a scar to remind him of the event.

Mr. Trott, now a Montana farmer and artist, says it was Dr. Blake who saw him through measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, mumps and whatever other childhood diseases existed then. When Jim had his tonsils out, Dr. Blake made a funnel out of newspaper and put ether-soaked cotton batting in the funnel. Another doctor, as well as Jim's mother and neighbor Nell Kimball, assisted Blake. Jim says Mrs. Kimball was rewarded with a kick from him as he came out of the anaesthetic.

Bart Stefani remembers Dr. William Walker and says his family was fortunate to have him as their physician. One day in the late '30s, the Stefani's family room was set up for tonsillectomies on Bart, his sister Anna, brother Marco and their dad. Bart says he "can still see the two nurses making a cone of newspapers so that the ether could be used as the anesthetic." His father "fared the worst," recovering more slowly than his kids.

It was during the Great Depression and times were tough. Bart thinks Dr. Walker created the makeshift hospital for the quadruple tonsillectomies to make the procedures more financially agreeable. "Walker was a doctor who didn't press those who couldn't afford to pay him promptly," Bart says. He remembers hearing that Dr. Daly was another doctor in Andover known for his compassionate manner. "He too accepted what a person could afford," he said.

Doctors Walker and Daly are briefly mentioned in "Andover: a Century of Change," by Eleanor Motley Richardson, as being two of the four doctors in town in 1908.

Dr. Walker and Dr. Blake had a connection. Likely, it was Walker who assisted Blake when Jim Trott had his tonsils out. Dr. Walker lived and practiced at 121 Main St., just a few houses up from Dr. Blake at 102 Main St. (Blake later lived and practiced at 107 Main St.) Shortly after Dr. Blake moved to Andover, Walker asked him to care for his patients while he took a vacation. Judy Stevens of Haggetts Pond Road says her mother recalls Dr. Blake filling in for Dr. Walker and coming to the house on a summer day in 1922 to deliver her brother.

Richardson's book lists two other practicing physicians in Andover in 1908: Emma Sanborn and Charles Abbot. Dr. Abbot was mentioned in my recent murder-trial columns. In addition to practicing medicine, Abbot had an interest in the town's history and was the Andover Historical Society's first president in 1911, according to author Richardson. Charles Shattuck, M.D. owned a drug store in Ballardvale, but I have no information indicating he practiced medicine.

Richardson says additional medical assistance was present in 1928 when three nurses ran three separate sanatoria: Anderson Sanatorium at 13 Maple St., O'Donnell Sanatorium on Center Street and Snow Sanatorium at 12 Florence St. Although Ms. Richardson says these were birthing facilities, that seems unlikely to me. Andover had a small population and birth rate, and many babies were born at home. By definition a sanatorium (spelled in various ways) treats invalids and chronically ill patients. Tuberculosis was extant in the 1920s and '30s, and TB patients often convalesced in such facilities.

Tom Garvey speaks well of Dr. Harry East and remembers the doctor's original address, 78 Main St., and telephone number, 483-W. He says Dr. East came to Andover about 1938. The Garveys were among East's early patients, and the doctor sent young Tom to Massachusetts General Hospital to be treated for rheumatic fever. Tom was there on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed.

Eric Killorin, who was born in Andover in 1954 and graduated from Andover High in '72, says Dr. East delivered his brother and him, and was a long-time family friend. East rented his office from Eric's well-known parents, Karl and Genny, in a building that no longer exists across from the CVS parking lot. The building was torn down about 1980. Eric says as a kid he thought East's waiting room was "intimidating, very quiet and formal, where everyone dressed in Sunday-best, perhaps only to have their temperature taken." The back door to the doctor's office could be seen from the waiting room windows, and "it became a focal point for determining whether patients left under their own power." Eric says East was charismatic, bright and very opinionated: "Dr. East cut an impressive swath in any conversation." East ended his practice while on Punchard Avenue.

Peg Blake remembers Dr. Joseph Pratt, who lived at the corner of Abbot and Phillips streets. Peg says Pratt came to town right after World War II, and his father was head of Pratt Diagnostic Clinic in Boston. She and her family went to the local Dr. Pratt and "he was really a nice guy." Peg believes he moved to New York to do research. Dr. Pratt removed my tonsils when I was 4. They were removed again when I was 5. (Having my tonsils out twice is only one of my many oddities.)

Other old-time doctors who have been mentioned in e-mails are: Hartigan, Currier and Look. If you have any memories of the Andover doctors, including dentists, contact me. There is little written about these doctors, and most of them served the town well.


Bill Dalton is a former town selectman and can be reached at his e-mail address,

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