[Photo and narrative by my mother]
Dr. Pott was a general surgeon. Having a neighborhood medical practice naturally meant delivering babies too. Mothers and their babies stayed in the hospital for five, six or seven days at that time. In the case of a boy, circumcision was included in the $75 charge for pre-care, delivery, and after-care until the "six weeks exam." (That exam was a milestone in a marriage!) When the mother was up to it, perhaps at two weeks, she brought the boy in for his circumcision. I would take the baby from her in the waiting room and close the doors.
We had a padded Y-shaped board for the procedure. While I secured the tiny patient on it with wide muslin strips, Dr. Pott made a muslin teat filled with a spoonful of sugar moistened with paregoric. I offered it to baby while Dr. Pott inserted a small stainless steel bell at the operative site, then tightened a clamp over it. This was tough, and my heart bled for the patient. I usually put my face down on the side of baby’s, and did my best to coo like a mother. We watched a clock. A certain amount of time with the clamp in place had to transpire before the scalpel was used. When it was, finally, the procedure was bloodless and neat. The wicked steel apparatus was removed, and the site wrapped gently with Vaseline-coated gauze.
When baby was restored to Mom, we always told her how well it went, how good her baby was, and asked her to phone the next morning. The report we got was always the same: "No problem whatsoever, and little Johnny slept all afternoon."
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