Breaking Into Medicine

by Charles Weathers Bump

I.

To MR. JOHN IREDELL,
Summerfield,
Guilford County,
North Carolina.
Baltimore, Oct. 1, 1906.

Dear Father:

I have been here nearly a week now, and have got pretty well fixed, so I thought I would report to you tonight. I find that there will be a lot of hard work with classes, laboratory hours and study, but, as I told you before I left, I intend to put my shoulder to the wheel and aim so high that you will have just cause to be proud of me when I become a Doctor of Medicine. I see that I shall have to cut out all idea of amusements and pleasure and put my nose to the grindstone.

My college—the P. & S.—opened last Thursday with an address by the Dean, a helpful speech that I should like you to have heard. For, although I chose medicine chiefly because Uncle Will made a success of it out in Texas, I was glad to hear the Dean tell what a noble profession it was to relieve suffering millions.

The college occupies a red brick building at Calvert and Saratoga streets, and is operated in connection with the City Hospital, which adjoins it and where there are hundreds of patients. I don't know whether you remember the locality, as it has been so many years since you were in Baltimore. It is close to the business centre, only a block north of the Courthouse and the Postoffice. There are about 300 students. They come from all parts of this country, and even from foreign lands. I will bear in mind what you said about not being too thick with any of them.

I have secured a boarding-house on North Calvert street—No. 641. It is kept by a widow lady from Mecklenburg county, and she calls it the Yadkin and makes a special effort to attract "Tarheels." Nearly all her boarders are from North Carolina, and we get the papers from Raleigh and other places, so that it is quite homelike for me.

I pay $5 a week board, and there ought not to be many extra expenses, except for books, so I can get along nicely on the $35 a month you said you would give me. But I told them at the College to send you the tuition bill. That was all right, wasn't it?

Your devoted son,

HUGH.

II.

To MISS GRACE IREDELL,
Summerfield,
North Carolina.
Baltimore, Oct. 4, 1906.

Dear Little Sis:

I wrote Father the other day and told how I had got started at the College. I suppose you read the letter or heard all the news in it. I really haven't buckled down to hard work, because there has been such a lot of "hazing" that we "freshies" are being captured all the time. Last Friday the older fellows actually made a line of us walk up and down some of the principal streets with our trousers and coats turned inside out, our stockings down over our shoes, our bare legs tattooed and crazy signs on our backs. Just fancy what a guy your big brother looked on Lexington street, where all the ladies here go shopping! I should have died if I had seen anybody from home. There wasn't any breaking away, because they were too many for us. One "freshy" tried it, and he's going around with a bum eye and his hand in a sling.

After the parade they took us in a back yard and made us do "stunts." One prisoner had to deliver a solemn oration from a beer keg on "Whether Cuba ought to be annexed to the United States." When it came my turn I thought I'd get off easy by giving some of those imitations of dogs and cats and roosters that I used to get off with the crowd at home. But they made such a hit that now they have me doing them all the time. Every time I come out of class a gang of yelling Indians grab me and carry me off to do imitations. I'm tired of it, but I can't help it.

Two of the fellows at my boarding-house got me to go to a theatre on Baltimore street last night. It was a variety show, a mixed programme of acrobatic feats, singing and girls dancing. I thought it all fine, but the crowd didn't like every bit of it, for at places they began to yell "Get the hook!" whatever that means.

I intended to hunt up a Methodist church last Sunday, but one of the associate professors at the college was a classmate of Uncle Will's, and he invited me to evening service at a Congregational church, a beautiful edifice on Maryland avenue, looking more like a costly college building than a church. I enjoyed myself, for there was some fine singing, and we sat right behind one of the prettiest girls I have ever seen. At the end I was introduced to some of the people and they invited me to a social at the church one evening next week.

Maybe you had better not let Father read this. He might get the idea I wasn't taking my studies seriously enough.

Yours,

HUGH.

III.

To MR. HUGH IREDELL,
641 North Calvert Street,
Baltimore, Maryland.
Summerfield, N. C., Oct. 6, 1906.

Dear Son:

I am glad you are settled in Baltimore and so well satisfied with your choice of a dignified and honorable profession. I expect to see you buckle right down to hard work and study, for I will not support a grown son in idleness. I am not so well pleased at what your mother tells me you wrote Grace, that you went to a theatre and that you did not go to a Methodist church last Sunday, as you promised. You remember what Pastor told you about the danger to young men of drifting from church to church in a large city like Baltimore, and not sticking to any.

I got the bill for your college fees today. I was surprised that you did this, for you told me when I agreed to let you go that you would pay everything out of $35 a month. I will send a money order for it this time, but you must settle it yourself next term.

Your father,

JOHN IREDELL.

IV.

To MISS GRACE IREDELL,
Summerfield, N. C.
Baltimore, Oct. 10, 1906.

Dear Little Sis:

What in the world made you blab about what I wrote you last week? Father sends me a roast about going to a theatre and not going to a Methodist church. You know a fellow should not be expected to work all the time, but Father's old-fashioned and can't see it that way. Don't tell him anything like that again.

I have been to theatres a couple more times. You know it doesn't cost much if you sit with the "gods" in the cheaper seats. All the fellows pay Dutch and we have a jolly time. One night we went into a lunchroom on Fayette street and enjoyed fried oysters. Another night we went to a German place downtown and had a bottle of beer and a cheese sandwich. It was lively there; such a nice lot of people.

I haven't been to a Methodist church yet. I intended to go Sunday morning, but I was out late Saturday night and I didn't get up in time. Sunday night I went to that Associate Church again. I saw my pretty girl—I tell you she's a beauty. She had a fellow with her. Wish I had been in his place. Going to a blow-out at the church tomorrow night. Maybe she'll be there. Hope so....

Yours,

HUGH.

V.

To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN,
Raleigh, N. C.
Baltimore, Oct. 25, 1906.

Dear Old Chum:

Haven't heard a word since I wrote you from home to say I was coming to Baltimore to study medicine, but suppose you're too busy rushing the lady you're going to marry. Say, old man, I'm clean gone myself. Prettiest girl I ever looked at. Saw her two Sunday nights in church when I first came, and then was lucky enough to meet her at a church social. I wish you could have seen her. No, I don't, because if you had I should have had you for a rival. Anyway, she looked a vision. She's tall, with a stunning figure and a graceful way of holding herself. She's a blonde, her hair glinted with gold, her eyes as blue as—I was going to say indigo, but nothing about her is as blue as that. I never did take to blondes, you know, but this one has got me, because she has vivacity and unbends most delightfully. I talked to her half an hour the night I met her. Gee, but the fellow who brought her looked sour! I must have made some kind of an impression, for when she was bidding me good-night she asked me to call. She lives on a street called Guilford avenue, in North Baltimore. I was over there last Tuesday night. Asked her if I might come when I saw her at church Sunday. I tell you she was a dream in a pink gown, with her golden hair all done up on her head in some kind of a way I can't describe, but looking magnificent. She told me about a fellow who wanted to come see her that night, but she let him know she had another engagement, and the way she told me, looking at me with those splendid blue eyes, just made me feel I was cutting some ice there. She can tickle the ivories in great shape, and spent most of the evening at the piano. She goes to the theatre a lot, and she had all the latest comic opera songs, like those of Anna Held and Marie Cahill, and she can play ragtime out of sight. I tried to get her to play some sentimental things, but she said she wasn't in that mood. I'd like to catch her when she is.

Tomorrow afternoon I expect to be a great occasion. She studies painting at the Maryland Institute, an art school here, and she has asked me to go sketching with her out in the country. I'll have to cut some of my college work, but you can bet I'm going to do that all right.

Yours,

HUGH.

VI.

To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN,
Raleigh, N.C.
Baltimore, Nov. 1, 1906.

Dear Old Chum:

Glad to hear from you so soon, and glad to hear you are interested in Miss Edith Wolfe. No, I don't think you'd better come to Baltimore. But, if you're good and stay away, I'll send you a photo of her she has promised to give me and let you see what she looks like. No picture of her can do her justice, however, for she's just the liveliest girl you ever knew, beside being so handsome.

I've been up to her home twice in a week, took her to the theatre last night and went to church with her Sunday. But the bulliest time of all was that sketching trip last Friday, of which I wrote you. It was a magnificent October afternoon, and the country was simply superb, with the trees all tinted to glorious hues by a frost two weeks ago. I carried her little easel and canvas stool, and we got in a car near her home and rode out to a suburb called Mount Holly. I had no idea there was such beautiful scenery near Baltimore, so bold and mountainous looking. We strolled first along a path beside a millrace, high up on a hillside, a path overhung by arching trees, with Gwynn's Falls tumbling over the rocks in cascades far beneath, and a beautiful outlook across the valley to some handsome wooded country estates. After that we went down beside the stream and sat under a great rock, while Miss Wolfe made a sketch of the Falls. It didn't take her long—just a rough painted outline, you know. She's going to fill it in at home, and she has promised me a copy for my room. She was in the jolliest mood imaginable, and we had a merry hour there "far from the madding crowd." I shall always call it a "red day," because then I got my first kiss from her. It came about in this way. She dropped her paint brush while we were sitting on a rock at the water's edge, and it floated down stream. She said she wouldn't lose it for worlds. "Will you reward me if I recover it?" I asked. She said she would. "A kiss?" I asked. "Oh! stop your nonsense, you foolish boy!" she said, with a laugh. I ran down the bank, clambered out on some rocks, steered the brush in with a stick and took it to her. Then we wrangled for ten minutes gaily about whether she had or had not promised me that kiss. Suddenly she leaned forward and met my lips with hers. "There, let that end it," she cried, as she blushed. It didn't end it, for it was so good I wanted more out of the same package. But she wouldn't let me have any more. Aren't girls mean? I suppose I'll have to make more bargains with her or I'll get no more kisses. She says she always sticks to a bargain.

You have no idea how clever she is in dodging if I try to steer the talk to sentimental ground. I have called her an arrant flirt a score of times, but she just laughs. And such a laugh!

The show last night hit me $3.20, counting car fares, and my allowance from the old man is running short. I'm glad she didn't accept my invitation to go to the Rennert to eat after "The Lion and the Mouse." She said she would like to, but we'd better go straight home from Ford's, as her mother would prefer it that way.

Wish me success, old fellow, with my love affair. I tell you, that girl has got me going so I can't get interested in dry old stuff about bones.

Yours,

HUGH.

VII.

To MISS GRACE IREDELL,
Summerfield, N. C.
Baltimore, Nov. 21, 1906.

Dear Little Sis:

I wish you had been with me last night to see the largest dance you ever set your eyes on. It was a regimental hop at the Fifth Regiment Armory, an enormous big building that can accommodate, they say, about 15,000 people. They hold there all the biggest conventions that Baltimore has. It was a grand sight, with a crowd of girls in pretty clothes and fellows in uniform and dress suits, dancing to the music of the regiment band. Edith Wolfe's brother is a lieutenant in the regiment, and she invited me to be her escort. We had our own party—Lieutenant Wolfe, another soldier boy, a third chap not in uniform and a couple of girl friends of Edith, petite, pretty, sweet-natured sisters, whom I liked very much. I danced with all three girls, but especially with Edith, who looked radiant in a black sequin gown that was unusually well suited to her blonde type. One waltz to the dreamy music of "Mlle. Modiste" was Heaven itself.

The only drawback to me was the expense. I had to pay $4 for a carriage and $3 for roses. Besides, I had to hire a dress suit, as I could not have gone without one. Some of the students sent me to a place kept by twin brothers, identical in appearance, and it was a funny sight to see them making me into one of their swallow-tails, taking in here and letting out there. Anyhow, it took the last dollar I had, and I've got to borrow to get along for two weeks.

Yours lovingly,

HUGH.

VIII.

To MR. HUGH IREDELL,
College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Baltimore, Nov. 27, 1906.

Dear Sir:

The faculty desires to notify you that your record is unsatisfactory, both in regard to attendance and preparedness in class, and it expects you to show improvement therein or suffer the consequences.

Respectfully yours,

W. TALBERT,

Secretary.

IX.

To MRS. JOHN IREDELL,
Summerfield, N. C.
Baltimore, Dec. 2, 1906.

Dear Mother:

I want you to do me a great favor. I do not dare write Father about it, but I find I must have a black dress suit in order to look as well as the other fellows when I go around of an evening. It will cost $40, I learn, and, of course, I cannot pay for it out of the small monthly sum Father sends me for my board. Tell him it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY and urge him please to let me have it. If he will not send the money, I shall have to borrow it or get the suit somewhere on the instalment plan. Your devoted son,

HUGH.

X.

To MR. HUGH IREDELL,
641 North Calvert street,
Baltimore.
Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 6, 1906.

My Son:

What is this nonsense about you must have a black swallow-tail? You had a black suit when you went away. It was good enough to go to parties here. Are your Baltimore friends so much more aristocratic? Besides, didn't you go there to study and not to play? You are writing home too much about girls and society and dances and theatres, and nothing about work. Remember, I am footing the bills. When I was your age I got up at 4 in the morning and toiled away in the fields till sundown, and then I was too tired to spruce up and play at being a gentleman. If you're going to be a doctor, you'd better take a different course.

Yours,

FATHER.

XI.

To MR. CLARENCE ROWAN,
Raleigh,
N. C.
Baltimore, Dec. 10, 1906.

Dear Old Chum:

You're right for complaining I have neglected you, but I have been having the time of my life. Edith and I have been going it heavy for nearly two months. I am hit harder than ever. She's a wonderful girl. I manage to see her every day—meet her down on Lexington street shopping, take long walks with her out Charles-Street extended, go to church with her, take her to the theatre and elsewhere at night. She has invited me into a euchre that meets every three weeks—fine crowd. You ought to see me in a swell dress suit. Went broke to get it, but it's worth it for style. You wouldn't know me for a country "Tarheel."

Edith's as cute as they make them. Last night, at the euchre, she found a double almond, and we ate filopena for a box of candy against a kiss. I got caught, of course, but she gave me the kiss on her doorstep as we parted. Then she dropped a hint that it was for a five-pound box. Just think of that! You remember that line out of "A Texas Steer," "I wonder if it cost Daniel Webster a hundred to kiss her mother."

Bye bye, old chap; got a date to bowl with Edith at the Garage tonight. Ought to be studying for "exams," but simply can't.

Yours,

HUGH.

XII.

To MR. JOHN IREDELL,
Summerfield, N. C.
Baltimore, Dec. 20, 1906.

Dear Sir:

I am requested by the faculty of the College of Physicians and Surgeons to say that the record of your son is so poor that he cannot be permitted to continue his studies here. He has more than 50 absences charged against him, continued unpreparedness in classes and a wretched showing in the recent examinations.

Respectfully yours,

C. F. B. EVAN,

Dean.

XIII.

(Telegram.)

To HUGH IREDELL,
641 N. Calvert St., Baltimore.
Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 21, 1906.

Come home at once. Letter from faculty.

FATHER.

XIV.

(Telegram.)

To JOHN IREDELL,
Summerfield, N. C.
Baltimore, Dec. 21, 1906.

Wire me $75 first. Owe that much board, etc.

HUGH.

XV.

(Telegram.)

To HUGH IREDELL,
641 N. Calvert Street. Baltimore.
Summerfield, N. C., Dec. 21, 1906.

Sell dress suit and pawn watch. Wait till I see you.

FATHER.

XVI.

(Special Delivery.)

To MISS EDITH WOLFE,
1746 Guilford Ave., Baltimore.
Pennsy Depot,
Washington, Dec. 22, 1906.

Dearest Girl:

Sorry I can't see you tonight. Called home suddenly by my father. Don't know why. Will write long letter when I get home. Hope to be back soon. Until then fond love and kisses, from

Your Own,

HUGH.

XVII.

(Special Delivery.)

To MRS. CLARA YANCY,
The Yadkin, Baltimore.
Washington, Dec. 22, 1906.

Dear Madam:

I regret very much leaving you so abruptly today. I will send you money for the board owing as soon as I can. Until then will you please take good care of my trunk. Respectfully,

HUGH IREDELL.