The Story of Dr. Wassell

The Story of Dr. Wassell

by James Hilton
     
 

Corydon Wassell was born on July 4 (a good date), 1884, at Little Rock,
Arkansas--a good place that can also claim Douglas MacArthur as one of
its sons. The Wassell family came originally from Kidderminster, England,
and the "Corydon" came from well, nobody seems to know.

Young Cory enjoyed a mixed education and a wandering youth; he did…  See more details below

Overview

Corydon Wassell was born on July 4 (a good date), 1884, at Little Rock,
Arkansas--a good place that can also claim Douglas MacArthur as one of
its sons. The Wassell family came originally from Kidderminster, England,
and the "Corydon" came from well, nobody seems to know.

Young Cory enjoyed a mixed education and a wandering youth; he did not
decide on a profession till he was twenty-two. Then he studied at Johns
Hopkins, after which he graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1909
and began practising in the small Arkansas village of Tillar.

For the next five years he faced the usual struggles, problems, and
hardships of a young doctor, but he was a gay sort of fellow, fond of a
good time and a good story, and by no means depressed by a world in which
the desires of the few so manifestly outweigh the needs of the many. He
did, however, find himself taking sides in it--rather as Moliére's M.
Jourdain found himself talking prose in it--with a naïve unawareness that
anything so natural to him could be given a name. But it could, and
doubtless was; and meanwhile he went his own way, working hard, enjoying
life, and acquiring considerable popularity among those who could not pay
their bills. Two things he did are worth special mention: he organized a
sort of group-medicine scheme for Negro workers, and he married a village
schoolteacher.

One day in 1913 the President of Suchow University came to Tillar and
talked in the Episcopal Church about the needs of China. After the
meeting the doctor found himself taking sides again--the same side,
actually, though at the other side of the world. His wife being in full
agreement, they both left Arkansas as prospective missionaries a few
months later to make a new home at Wuchang, on the Yangtze River. Here
the doctor studied Chinese, worked in the hospital at Boone University,
and raised a family.

Except for a short furlough in 1919 (during which his fourth child, a
son, was born at Little Rock), Dr. Wassell spent in all a dozen years in
China. Four of them were European War years--all of them were Chinese war
years. He did a great many things during this time. He learned to love
the Chinese people, and to derive a great personal happiness from being
among them; he diagnosed, treated, and operated at hospitals; he took a
course in neurology at Peking Medical College and studied parasitology at
Hunan Yale; he published articles on encephalitis in medical journals and
examined thousands of snails in a search for the carrier of amoebic
dysentery; he taught Chinese students, both in Chinese and in English; he
mixed well with American and English residents, and had no trouble in
avoiding religious friction with Buddhists and Catholics. He was perhaps
every other inch a missionary. Presently he resigned from the society and
took on the triple tasks of port doctor at Kukiang, consultant in a
Catholic hospital, and a private practice; there were changes too in his
personal life, for his wife had died, and he married again--an American
missionary-nurse (his present wife); and all the time he was
intermittently mixed up with war and revolution as well as with disease
and pestilence, so that he served with equal readiness a Chinese army at
the front and a British Consulate in a besieged concession...a busy,
varied, arduous career, confusing only if you look at it as anything but
that of a man trying to be of constant use during times and in a country
both confusing and confused.

(And--significantly for what happened later--he joined the U. S. Naval
Reserve.)

In 1927 confusion, reaching a climax, drove him home--back to Little
Rock, where he had another fling at private practice and earned just
enough in the first six months to pay his office rent. Soon, however, a
county job fell to him, and this was much better--that of organizing and
officering a public health system in the schools. But once again--and
again with something of M. Jourdain's unawareness--the doctor found
himself a pioneer. This time, in addition to the Negro, there was the
Catholic, and the man of any race or religion who couldn't afford a
two-dollar fee for immunization against a diphtheria epidemic. Dr.
Wassell championed them all--not as a crusader, but as a public-health
official who very simply believed it was his duty to safeguard public
health.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940013670914
Publisher:
WDS Publishing
Publication date:
01/22/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
99 KB

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