July 19th…………“SHARE WITH US, GRANDPA, ABOUT THE DOCTOR IN YOUR CHILDHOOD HOMETOWN OF KIESTER, MINNESOTA. DID HE PRACTICE MEDICINE BY HIMSELF? TELL US OF SOMEONE THAT WAS HELPED TO FEEL BETTER FROM A SICKNESS”.
That 1952 Nash-Rambler “Airflyte” veritably ricocheted off of the sidewalk’s parking curb as Bessie Thorson tried to park in front of Dr. Clifford Snyder’s medical office on the Main Street of Kiester, Minnesota. Mrs. Thorson was one very concerned mother and had made a beeline to the doctor’s office for her beloved son, Neil, to get some medically essential “tender loving care”. Her hasty approach to parking that day gave a bounce to her and the car, but they had “landed safely”, overall.
As she rushed around to Neil’s side of the car, the aroma was on the air that morning of hot coffee and fresh apple pies emanating from the “Maple Café” across the street. Those fragrances were quickly replaced, though, by the classic perfumes of alcohol and antiseptics as mother and sick child made their way inside Kiester’s one and only medical facility.
However life’s dice are destined to roll, Orville and Bessie Thorson’s son, Neil, just seemed to have a natural proclivity and inclination towards Rheumatic Fever as a little boy growing up. So much so, that by the tender age of 10, this disease had descended upon this young lad’s life at least three times. Both Neil, and his loving mother, Bessie, had made the conclusion, in jest, of course, that Dr. Snyder’s waiting room might as well have been their second home for all the time they’d invested there seeking treatments.
When you’re a frightened and sick little boy, like Neil was, any and all sources of solace and comfort meant the world to this tiny man who was dealing with the agonies of fever, shortness of breath, painful joints, etc. that had taken up residence in his young child body.
A very feminine, smiling angel of mercy, all dressed up in the classic white nurse’s uniform of that era, was Dr. Snyder’s wife, Violet. What a godsend she was in assisting her physician husband in trying to help Mrs. Thorson in any way humanly possible to alleviate little Neil’s suffering.
Mrs. Thorson and Neil were such frequent visitors to Dr. & Mrs. Snyder’s office that there came to be a mutual familial inclusion of love and appreciation between these two Kiester families.
On one grand occasion, Dr. & Mrs. Snyder gave Neil the amazing gift of his very own stethoscope!!! What a treasure he held in his little boy hands that day and with eyes wide in grateful wonder, too!!! He now could listen to his very own heartbeat and that, in itself, planted the seeds within young Mr. Thorson of possibly following a career into medicine……….although life had other career plans eventually.
Sweet Mrs. Snyder showed Neil and his family a deepness in caring that extended far beyond the medical office experience. Mrs. Snyder took a personal and caring mentor place in wanting see the best in life happen for this little boy who eventually became healthy once again and successful over those repetitive bouts with that nasty old Rheumatic Fever. This womanly, sweet soul of the medical world also saw to it that she saved copies of each of little Neil’s creations that he had given to her over the years. There was, in her possession, a 6th Grade Play that young Mr. Thorson had written, also in her archives were a mimeographed, homemade newspaper that was created by Neil, and, Violet had even kept and treasured a copy of an essay focusing on Ecology that won Neil the Grand Prize of a two week vacation trip to Long Lake, Minnesota to attend a “Conservation Camp” (of course, little brother, Jeff, had to chide his big brother as he teased it was really a two week “Concentration Camp”…….Heheheh ). 😉
“Going the extra mile” for young Neil was the loving norm for Dr. & Mrs. Snyder. As Dr. Snyder soon learned, there was a new experimental penicillin derivative that had just appeared on the market and could possibly be just the ticket for this young man’s chance at conquering this reoccurring and debilitating illness. Through Dr. Snyder’s connections at State and University levels, he was able to get this medication for the Thorson family for FREE!!! At that time, each pill (which was to be taken twice a day) would have cost the family $2.00 a day; which in those days was quite a bit of money. In 2021’s calculations, that medication would have cost the Thorson family over $7,482.50 for one year’s supply.
The Snyder family were just one example of a community full of caring hearts that used their talents, in whatever profession that they plied, to make our hometown of Kiester, Minnesota truly the greatest place to enjoy life there in the happy memories of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.