History: Thoughts, visions, & sketches of north Louisiana

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In 1930 Dr. Luther Longino published a book titled Thoughts, Visions and Sketches of North Louisiana.  The following appeared in the July 17, 1930 issue of The Bossier Banner.

“We quote below a paragraph from a letter that came to our desk one day this week, written by Dr. Luther Longino, of Minden under date of the 12th.”

‘ “Am sending you a letter from Dr. J. K. Sheppard, of El Dorado, Ark., in reply to a letter I wrote him after receiving the letter you so kindly sent me enclosing the check from him.  His letter is so full of good horse sense and carries such a fine sentiment in this day of materialism I thought the publication of the same in your paper would be appreciated by the doctors, friends and patrons and be a toothsome morsel for the many readers of The Bossier Banner throughout North Louisiana.  It seems that I am not the only one who knows the ups and downs of the old country doctor.’ ”

“When Dr. Sheppard ordered from this office a copy of Dr. Longino’s new book, Thoughts, Visions and Sketches of North Louisiana it occurred to us to forward  his highly complimentary letter to Dr. Longino at the time of remitting to him to cover the cost of the book.  Now it happens that Dr. Sheppard, after reading the book, has grown somewhat reminiscent and has written Dr. Longino’s [letter] as follows:”

‘ “Dear Sir: Your letter, which I was very glad to receive, has come to hand.  I put in a very pleasant afternoon reading your book and appreciated it highly.  The picture of the Country Doctor on the gray horse carried me back to Red River, when I rode Old Gillliam, (named after Gilliam Smith, of Haughton) and, as you say had confidence in myself and in the medicine in my saddle bags.  Your tribute to the Country Doctor is fine, and true.  After my experience here with organized, or rather, commercialized medicine, I have said that every doctor should be compelled to practice in the country on his friends.  See them born; nurse them; cure them; see them die.  Go through the doctor’s Golgotha after he looses [sic] a patient who is his friend—friend and neighbor.  Hear the sobs of the bereaved.  It brings death mighty close to the country doctor, and Lord, how he fights to save them!  Here a patient is taken to the hospital, the doctors examine him, prescribe, or operate.  A few days later, or at night, the nurse phones him, ‘Mr. So and so is very low—weakening very fast’—and that’s the end of it.’ “

‘ “Death is an abstract proposition, especially to the hardened surgeon.  I know an apprenticeship in the country would benefit any doctor.  Besides, Doctor, we did pretty well.  I would just as soon risk you today and other country doctors—just with your hands, eyes, ears and experience, gained by the close observation the country doctor necessarily gave his patient, as any doctor here, or in Shreveport.  Of course, the laboratory is a great help, but it will never take the place of intelligent experience and observation.’ “

‘ “You carried me back to Bossier, where I spent my best years.  There I learned to practice medicine, married, my children were born, one of them buried.  I could see the red hills of Fillmore, feel the grasp of hands now dust, and hear the droning voice of old Capt. Murff as he told tales of old Fillmore and the early days in Bossier.’ “

‘ “I read your book, my wife (a Murff) read it, and I mailed it to my boy, at the University of Indiana, where he is studying medicine.  It will take him back, also.’ “

‘ “When I first moved up here I left my family in Bossier and I used to go back down to see them every two weeks.  I told my wife when I crossed Dorcheat I felt like I was back home.  And my six-year-old boy, soon after he moved up here, after hearing a quartet sing, ‘Carry me back to Old Virginia,’ said to his mother ‘I know where Old Virginia is.  It’s down in Louisiana.’  And sometimes when things go wrong here, darned if I don’t feel the same way.’ “

‘ “Appreciate the book and the letter.  With kindest regards to you and yours, I am yours fraternally, Dr. J. K Sheppard.’ “

Visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to read Dr.Longino’s book.

Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or amiddlet@state.lib.la.us