by Audrey Barclay
Dr. Arthur Knabb is one of the noblest men I have ever met and one who has spent all of his adult life serving humanity right here in our own city. The only time he wasn't available was during World War I when he was serving his country overseas.
All too often we fail to express our appreciation for such services until it is too late -- then we eulogize them to the skies. I'd like to pay my respects publicly, while he is yet around to receive them. I'm sure there are many who will join me in this tribute.
I doubt if there are many physicians who can equal, much less surpass, the record Dr. Knabb holds in our family. He has, since I first met him in the home of relative in 1916, attended five generations of us. I had hoped, when our eldest granddaughter came for a visit a few years ago, that her infant son would be "ripe" for a routine shot of some sort thus making a sixth generation. However, he'd had his quota so it was not to be.
Dr. Arthur was attending my grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Z.T. West, when my family came to Springfield. So my parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Brower, automatically adopted him as their physician. It was not until he returned from the service, in 1919, barely in time to attend me when the first of our nine children arrived, that I, too, became a regular patient -- and I do mean "regular." He attended me at the birth of seven of our nine children -- including a pair of twin boys. We missed connections, timewise, for the other two. After all, he did have a FEW other patients.
Our children grew up idolizing our Dr. Arthur, and on an occasion or two, when it was necessary to call on another doctor for a small emergency, it was somewhat embarrassing. Such as the time, for instance, when one of the boys had a badly infected "boil" on his arm, and his daddy took him to another doctor. After a quick look, the doctor picked up a small instrument, turned to the child and announced, "That's got to be lanced." To the father's consternation, young nine-year-old Paul backed off and said: "Oh, no you don't! Dr. Arthur can, but you can't."
Our children, of course, made the fourth generation, and when they were grown and starting families of their own, they, too, relied on the faithful doctor until he had delivered several of the fifth generation. Then, time and circumstances (mostly when they began to scatter during World War II) broke the chain so far as our children were concerned, although they still love and respect him.
I could write a book about the experiences we shared, some amusing, others heartbreaking. Of the former, one that stands out most vividly in my mind is the time I called the doctor to our home because of the illness of one of the other children and asked him to examine another of the boys, who had a bad speech impediment -- when he spoke at all, which was not often. We were quite distressed, thinking the child was tongue-tied, and that he must go through life with the problem. Then, I read somewhere that the condition could be corrected, so I thought it a good time to ask advice on the matter. Dr. Arthur carefully examined the child, asking a few pertinent questions, then turned to me with a sly grin and said, "No, he's not tongue-tied. His tongue is as loose as a woman's." He ducked away in an exaggerated way as if he expected me to start swinging. His wonderful sense of humor is not the least of his qualities. He was filled with compassion and pity and never too busy to offer them when the occasion called for it, nor to offer a prayer beside the bedside of a dying man.
Some of our experiences are too heartbreaking to dwell on, but some of the lesser ones I can now recall with a sense of amazement. I remember when the twins were about six months old and they, (Nos. 6 and 7), together with the son just older, got whooping cough. Two weeks later the entire seven of them also contracted measles! Dr. Arthur came every day for two weeks or more and gave shots to the three babies to avoid the possibility of pneumonia. We didn't have all the "miracle" drugs then that are now so common.
A few years later, after the last of our nine was two or three years old, (I suppose the Barclays must have started this population explosion about which there is so much discussion now), the whole tribe -- with the exception of the middle child -- came down with the mumps. Talk about a SWELL time! Fortunately, there were no ill after-effects, and we can laugh about it now!
The story would not be complete without a brief resume of the other side of the picture.
As everyone knows, the Knabbs were a family of doctors. I claim the honor of having been attended, at various times, by three generations of them. It began shortly after my marriage in 1918, during the epidemic of influenza that was then sweeping the continent. It was necessary that I call a doctor, and, since Dr. Arthur was in service, his father, Dr. Enoch Knabb, was called to attend me, making the first generation of them to serve me. Then, [when] Dr. Arthur suffered a heart attack a few years ago and was out of service for a time, I found it necessary to consult a physician on a serious matter so, of course, I went to his son, Dr. Kenneth, who has attended me ever since, making three generations of the family to have been my personal physician -- and friend, I trust.
Now it seems but right and proper that I pay my tribute to a real gentleman: Thank you, and God bless you, Dr. Arthur Knabb, for your kindness, courtesy and great Christian heart. I wish there were more like you!