Friday, December 10, 2010

Stories from the Clippings

Hector Spends the Holidays at Charlie's House
Those of you who follow the "Stories from the Clippings" might recall a story I told about Charles T. Dotter, radiologist, and Rosie the Elephant. At the end of that tale, I asked if you had heard the one about the penguins? I thought it might be time to tell the story since Dick Stueve brought it up in his History of Medicine lecture on "Not So Crazy Charlie" this past week.

Yes, this is my third post on Charles Dotter, but you must remember that what I write mostly is what the newspapers were publishing and we know that journalists do love the sensational, the controversial and the strange. Charlie was certainly that and much more.

So the story goes that Hector, an Adelie (some say Humboldt) penguin, was temporarily kept at Peninsula park... that's right Portlanders, at Peninsula park, Portland's first community center in the park system! In 1957, while the Zoo was completing their new penguin habitat, the penguins enjoyed the lovely pool just outside the Italian-villa style community center.

The penguins fell ill with aspergillosis, a lung fungus that threatened to wipe out the entire flock.

Charlie took the first x-rays of the birds in the fight to save them. Why Charlie got involved is a question not yet answered but he did. He asked Jack Marks, Zoo Director, if he could have the bodies of those already dead for the pupose of autopsy. A body was delivered to the medical school on New Years Eve along with another ailing bird not long for this world.

Charlie was ready to close his office for the holiday but couldn't bring himself to lock up, leaving the ailing bird - now known as Hector - to suffer alone. He took him home. New Years day, Charlie and Zoo veternarian, Dr. Clifford Bjork, gave Hector his first injection of a new antibiotic. Along with a very understanding and sympathetic Mrs. Dotter, Charlie gave Hector his vitamins and herring each day.

Hector recovered and did not show any symtoms of his disease but it was not determined whether he would carry the disease back to the flock. Hector enjoyed the hospitality shown him by the Dotters. In fact, Charlie proclaimed Hector, "a darned fine patient". And the Dotters had only one complaint regarding their holiday house guest: Hector was not yet house trained!

Discussing the recovery, Charlie said, "Maybe the city will dig me up another old rug." Another, who knew about Hector, said that all that penguin needed was a little TLC. It seems that Charlie was just what the doctor ordered.

article: f1_p122_a3

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