Thursday, June 20, 2013

Autobiography of John Herbert Wessman, Part 4 of 5

I was doing well in Idaho, but we thought we would be better off if we moved back to Salt Lake City. I bought a nice home at Ucon, I sold it and the Drug store and we moved back to Salt Lake City. I went to work, we bought another nice home in Salt Lake on Princeton Avenue and we prospered there. We met friends and started to go to parties, some of these friends were all right. I was never one to drink and carry on though. About 1923 I bought a drug store at Ogden. I done very well. I eventually started a new store in the residential section, worked hard, made money, but it seemed there was always someone living with us. We had a wonderful home, plenty of rooms and had a houseful all the time.

I got into the machine business and was really taking in the money. Of course, I had to have help, and I put these boarders to work and paid them good salaries. In those days, food was cheap. I remember I bought large hams, 17 cents per lb. It took plenty to keep up the house and business. I was making money, but just couldn’t be every place at once, sold the 5 point drugstore and got rid of the other store and disposed of my businesses, and went to California and stayed all winter.

I came back in the spring of 1931 – my brother Henry died and I came home for the funeral. I went to work at the Walsh News Drug Store, we moved to Springville and lived there for four years, and decided to move back to Idaho. McKesson Robbins Company called me, said they had a drug store on their hands at Mackay, wanted me to take it over. I at first was not interested, but they called and wanted to talk. They offered the store to me and I could pay as I made the money to pay. I went to Mackay, took it over. Business was slow for a while, then Dr. Jensen the owner wanted to get rid of his store, so I bought that and combined the two. Mackay was a rough town, but I knew I could make it pay. My business grew and I started to make money again.

I had several terrible experiences at Mackay as I had two drunk doctors to work with. I have had to drag them out of drinking joints to get them to take care of their patients. One night a woman took sick. She was in labor, both doctors were drunk. I was unable to get either one on their feet. I finally got a registered nurse, and we took care of things. The next morning we had a baby boy. Two days afterwards, I got Doctor Richards to go see the woman, she was his patient, and he reported that she was getting along alright.

Another experience was mine there. There was a family living just out of town in a two or three room shack. The mother just died, they said she had a very sore throat. Two girls, 15 and 17 years of age, they took sick and a family (Pence by name) took them in. They called the local doctor, said they are alright, only have a sore throat. There was two boys 12 to 14 years old that were sick at home. Mr. Pence, manager of the lumber yard, came in to see me. He said “Herb, will you go over to my house and take a look at those girls?” I told him I would.

I found the girls had a high fever and as I walked in first, I said to Mrs. Pence “you have diptheria here, I can smell it”. They have more than a sore throat. I was right, I called Dr. Eghest at Arco, told him what I found. “Can you take care of the girls?” he said. “I am full up, but as soon as possible we will get them.” I started each one with 5000 units of diptheria vaccine, next day 10,000, then doubled it to 20,000 units of diptheria until one girl had had 90,000 units and the other 120,000 units. In the mean time, I gave the boys the vaccine and kept them home in the cabin. The girls were taken to Arco, as I didn’t have room for them. I had to give the boys 40,000 and 50,000 units. One day I vaccinated 200 people with vaccine and there were no new cases. This Dr. Richards wrote the board at Boise, they told him it is a good thing I was there to take care of these people, and to forget about it. This surely boosted my business.

I had another very bad accident that I had to take care of. Three boys, young sons of prominent people, 2 of them the only sons. These boys rigged up and old Ford and on their way home, the car got away from them. I guessed it was the brakes, out of control, turned upside down, no top on it, the two boys underneath were ground to pieces. As I picked the little boy up, the back of his skull was ground out, even to the eyes. The other, he was badly mangled. They were both dead when I got there. The third boy was under the other two, so I found there was still life in him. We rushed him to Pocatello. He had broken arms and legs, but they were able to bring him back to health. He limps a little. When I picked up the other little fellow, the flesh and bone was ground right out. I didn’t want the mother to see this, but she insisted. The other boy lived to tell us how it happened. They made the drive of 118 miles to Pocatello in about 90 minutes. Police gave them right away.

(Paragraphs added to this excerpt for ease of reading.) Flickr pictures: diphtheria vaccine (NIAID_Flickr). Mackay, Idaho (

No comments:

Post a Comment