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The Three and Sixpenny Doctor


Children in Hospitals

'They put a mask over your face and sprinkled the chloroform on it and it took six nurses to hold me down.'

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Children’s Ward, Leith Hospital 1950s
(Photo courtesy of Ena Munro)

‘I remember, once, a baby dying and I burst into tears and Sister happened to see me and she said, - Pull yourself together or you'll never make a nurse.’
Isobel Balmain

Started her nurse's training in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Sick Children in 1925.

‘I had a tonsillectomy done when I was five or six, and I’d been told l'd get ice cream. I remember lying in the theatre, and being given an anaesthetic by a doctor who was very frightening. He was tall, had dark hair and a moustache. There was no talk about what he was going to do, he just put the mask over my face and it was horrendous. I remember coming to on a ward and being sick. To my horror I was vomiting blood. And I started to cry and across came a nurse and she said, - Behave yourself!’
Netta Mercer, born 1930


‘It was a diseased bone at the back of the ear. So they took me right in. Well, you didn’t get anaesthetic like you do now. They put a mask over my face and sprinkled the chloroform on it and it took six nurses to hold me down. They were holding my head and my feet. I wouldn't keep still. It was a horrible smell. Then all of a sudden I was away to sleep. When I came to, I didn't know where I was.’
Jo Laing, born 1925

Child with TB, 1930s
(Photo, LMA archive)


Seeing the Dentist

'I want them all oot!'

‘I had pyorrhoea of the gums and they had taken all my teeth out and the dentist said, - I could give you alum and all that to close the gums but you're better leavin' them. Try eating toast. It’ll be sore at first but it'll clean the gums. They'll close naturally and when you get your teeth, your gums are settled properly’
George Hackland, born 1920

Mary Dunn,

1930 (Photo LMA archive)

‘I’d be six or seven when I went with my dad to the dentist in Dalry Road. And I was sitting watching, and see when they started pulling his teeth and throwing them about and there was all this blood, I must've went kinda white and the dentist said no to look. There was no anatheastics but my dad never said a word, he was a tough wee character. He'd to go back and get his false ones. He'd to pay for them; and to get them out.’
Mary Dunn, born 1924


‘You didnae hear of folk getting fillings. They just got their teeth pulled.’
Ruby Norman, born 1935