, Newburyport, MA


February 19, 2013

My father was one of those High St. doctors

To the editor:

Thank you, Joe Callahan, for your column about High Street doctors. I would like to add that my father, Dr. Robert Pearson, practiced here for more than 40 years as a general surgeon. He came here after WW II because he loved the town and wanted to be by the water. His first office was in our home at 104 State St.; he later moved it to the corner of Kent and High, and eventually to the hospital. I spent many hours in his office and often accompanied him on house calls. Wherever I went in town I was told of his kindness, his skill and wonderful bedside manner.

You are right about the hours these doctors worked. I don’t know how their wives managed! Being the only surgeon in town for years, my dad was almost always on call. When he was out sailing, the yacht club would hang a special flag when there was an accident and he was needed in the ER. We just adjusted to the fact that whatever you were doing with him could be interrupted at any moment. Funny, how people communicated before cellphones. At home we were never allowed to be on the phone for more than 5 minutes, in case there was a call for him. Hard rule to enforce with four daughters! Since we lived next to the Newbury Town Garage, they would always make sure we were plowed out first so he could get to the hospital.

In his later years he retrained from general surgery to family practice, doing 12-hour shifts in area emergency rooms so he could learn more about other conditions. Imagine doing that in your 60s! He continued to work into his 80s. I once asked him when he would retire and he replied: “I guess some day I just won’t feel like going into work!”

I have recently moved back to town after 35 years away, and am glad to see that while the era of house calls is over, the kindness and knowledge of these old family doctors continues on in many generous practitioners.

Lea Pearson


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