Dr. Carr, a Riding Shotgun Entry


My own veterinarian at work, many years after Dr. Carr’s time

Dr. Carr was a retired veterinarian by the time we knew him in the 1970’s. He was a stout cheery grumbler. He used to live behind and down the road from Eastside School on the edge of town and he had some pigs out back. Dr. Maddox sent Charles to deliver pigs one day. Charles had to grovel and squirm in the mud with the sow to help her out, kind of a wrestling match which he did win. When he was done he told Dr. Carr the bill was $12. Dr. Carr grumbled heartily. “These young vets really charge high,” he said. He’d thought his bill would be $7, maybe $8.

Later, when Dr. Carr owned a farm out the other side of town he invited us to come fishing in his pond. We always vaccinated his dog for free while we were there. We also enjoyed going to his town house across from the hospital where he’d cultivated a very nice little blueberry orchard. He used a kind of cheese cloth netting to keep the birds from eating the berries. Our family, particularly the kids and I, picked berries many times and took him a pie.

Dr. Carr loved a good story as much as anyone. He told Charles once about a time when he was a practicing vet and went out two or three miles from town to treat a cow which, unfortunately, died the next day. The client named Ernest sent word that his cow died and if Dr. C wanted pay he’d better come skin the hide. Dr. C sent word back that he wanted cash for his visit, the hide wouldn’t do. Ernest’s final word was to come get the hide, worth $5, or have nothing. Dr. Carr went out and skinned the cow.

Mrs. Carr was a sweet, dear lady, small and spry as I remember her. She went to our church, was active in missions groups, always greeted us with great interest. Dr. Carr would drop her off and then go himself to another church. After she died, Dr. Carr was perhaps a little more on the grumbly side, but he certainly didn’t turn into a hermit. He enjoyed his farm and spent a lot of time there. He’d “tinker” with his cows, then drown a worm or a dozen before riding back into town with his faithful white bulldog beside him on his truck seat. The Carrs had one son who lived with his wife a couple hundred miles away. I believe they tried to get Dr. Carr to move over with them but he didn’t want to leave his farm.

One day he was mowing around his pond when the mower toppled into the water trapping him underneath. He managed to get out alive but saw that he’d lost all but one finger and a thumb on each hand. It was a long ways across the highway to where men were harvesting pecans. He called and called to no avail and started praying hard. The men couldn’t hear him because of the roar of the pecan harvester. When he heard the machinery stop, Dr. Carr called again, and soon was on his way to the hospital.

We visited him a few days later. He was sitting up in bed doing something very odd with his bandaged hands. Charles asked him what he was doing. Dr. Carr said calmly, “Practicing for my next fishing day.”

Even now, so many years later, I think of Dr. Carr whenever I pass his farm or his little house in town. I can see his teasing grin and hear him chuckle in his cheerful grumbly kind of way.


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