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Remembering 'Doc' Cadle

Ruth 0. Richards

Originally published in the Emmitsburg Dispatch
Republished in the Emmitsburg News-Journal

William Rodman Cadle, a descendant of one of the early families of Maryland, came to Emmitsburg in 1925 to open an office for the practice of medicine. Having been born in Urbana, Maryland, he came to Emmitsburg with a thorough understanding of small towns.

A graduate of Frederick High School, the University of Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine, after interning in the office of Dr. Baer of Frederick he was ready to strike out on his own. With him came his wife, Carolyn, who had a degree in nursing from Anderson Hospital in Anderson, S. C. She was an asset to Dr. Cadle and to his practice throughout his entire career.

When Dr. Cadle died in March of 1989, he left a town that for fifty years had depended on him for delivering its babies, immunizing the children, and caring for the aches and pains of the fathers, mothers, grandparents, and any family members who needed medical attention. With his compassion and knowledge of human nature he had endeared himself to the whole community, both inside and outside of the town limits.

Are there any former patients still living who remember the early offices and homes of Dr. and Mrs. Cadle? Over the old Post Office, above Houser's Drug Store, next to the Presbyterian Church, over Harner's Store, and of course the office forever remembered, at 300 West Main Street. It is this office that came to the minds of those who shared with us their memories of Dr.Cadle.

It is this office with its antique benches occupied by walk-in patients without appointments, who sat waiting to get comfort for and relief from their ailments. They shared their troubles with each other as they waited for Dr. Cadle to come from the hospital at one o'clock in the afternoon or from dinner at six in the evening. A number of his patients from those days provided written reminiscences of their visits.

Mary Fiery reminds us that Dr. Cadle not only had office hours, but also made house calls. She tells of his kindness to her father on an office call, and of a special home visit he made one spring. Mary and her sister had scarlet fever and, in keeping with the times, the children were quarantined. It was Easter weekend and when Dr. Cadle came to check on the Fiery girls, he brought with him an Easter Basket for each of them. To be remembered in such a way when they were sick was a special treat and became a lifelong memory. Mary also writes of her lack of fear when getting her flu shots and smallpox vaccination, a memory shared by others who told their stories.

Father Shaum, a professor at Mount St. Mary's, writes: "I was a patient of Dr. Cadle, and he was the essence of what a family physician should be. His Southern background made him a gentleman, soft-spoken with a drawl–his expertise in medicine and his experience were evident and he was honest and direct with you...."

Mary Krug remembers: "He was the best doctor around. When you walked into his office, he knew right away what was wrong with you and he helped you."

Becky Nail Kile: "Dr. Cadle made being a sick or injured kid a whole lot better just by being such an easy-going and friendly person. I must add that Dr. Cadle enjoyed talking about his son, Bo, of whom he was very proud. What a wonderful man!"

Eleanor Humerick recalls that Dr. Cadle delivered her last baby. She added that she and others felt that he was caring and understanding, making their deliveries so much easier.

Bern Welty speaks of a near miracle when, after Bern ruptured his spleen in a fall, Dr. Cadle put Bern's blood back into his body, using a technique that he had read about in a medical journal as having been performed on Guadalcanal during World War II.

Ann Marshall, in drama form, relates a friendly confrontation between Dr. Marshall and Dr. Cadle about treating a child of the Marshalls who had been injured in an act of clumsiness. Dr. Cadle won, of course, and Ann reports that Dorothea was cured of her clumsiness.

Luretta Adelsberger liked to tell the story of Dr. Cadle's understanding of women and the "little pink pill." Nearly every woman in town at one time or another sought the help of Dr. Cadle for worry and nervousness. After listening to each complaint, Dr. Cadle would take a very large bottle of pink pills, put a few in a little white envelope, write directions on the envelope, and give it to the complaining woman. Luretta said that all the women felt better immediately. Sometime during one of these encounters, Dr. Cadle suggested jokingly that he should just place the big bottle of pink pills in the waiting room so that each woman could come in and take whatever she felt she needed to feel better.

Harry Jones writes from Camp Hill, Pa., to tell about the time during the War when he was on duty on an aircraft carrier in Cuba. His wife Petie, in Emmitsburg, was expecting. When the baby arrived, Dr. Cadle sent a message to Harry telling him of the baby's birth.

Sissie Kugler writes mainly of Dr. Cadle's generosity in taking the town kids in his Ford truck out to Kump's Dam to go swimming. She sent a newspaper clipping of Bo and Carolyn Cadle, Ann and Harriet Stinson, Bobby Gililean, and herself in the back of the truck going out to "share the water hole with the cows; the cows didn't seem to mind. We always relied upon Dr. Cadle to give us kids a ride out to the dam."

And then there's the story of Dr. Cadle's house call to a family who had a most obstreperous three-year-old. The child, whose mother had no control over him, was behaving so badly while Dr. Cadle was there that he took things into his own hands, turned the boy over his knee, and spanked him.

When Dr. and Mrs. Cadle came to Emmitsburg, there was no hospital. The very sick patients were taken to Frederick. However, Mrs. Cadle was instrumental in establishing a clinic for women on the top floor of the Fire Hall. Later on, Dr. Crist of the Annie Warner Hospital in Gettysburg worked with Dr. Cadle to make it possible for the sick of Emmitsburg to be admitted to the Annie Warner Hospital, a connection that continues today.

Throughout his career, Dr. Cadle made house calls, sometimes before he went to the hospital in the morning, sometimes on his return. Once a man came home in utter pain shortly after he had gone to work. Called at home, Dr. Cadle made a diagnosis over the phone: "kidney stone!" Then Dr. Cadle went to the house, gave the man a shot to ease the pain and sent him to the hospital.

There were patients who did not go to any hospital. Dr. Cadle would often go to the homes of maternity patients, frequently accompanied by Mrs. Cadle, to deliver babies. At other times the babies were delivered in his home office where there were rooms available.

Because of the proximity of the office to their home, the Cadle children were at times involved in the patient-doctor relationship. Dr. Cadle's son Bo has a memory of seeing a man on a gurney with a sheet over him and an arm hanging over the side of the gurney. Bo reached out and touched the arm just as his father came into the room. "You have just shaken hands with a dead man," Dr. Cadle informed him.

Another memory for Bo is his answering the door at home and seeing a man whose face had been blown off. Obviously Dr. Cadle's children had become acquainted with illness and accident at an early age.

In the fifteen years or so that Dr. Cadle had been practicing medicine in Emmitsburg, no time had been as busy as the years of World War II. Many of the doctors from the surrounding towns either were drafted or chose to enlist, reminding Dr. Cadle that he himself had enlisted in the United States Army at College Park during the First World War.

When the doctors of Thurmont, Taneytown, and Blue Ridge Summit left for the war, Dr. Cadle assumed the responsibility of their practices. He also had more responsibility at the hospital. Surgeries had to be performed, babies delivered, accident victims cared for. Most of these patients were treated by Dr. Wolf and Dr. Cadle. Dr. Wolf was the surgeon and Dr. Cadle the an aesthesiologist, requiring both these doctors to spend long hours at the hospital.

Almost anyone who speaks about Dr. Cadle mentions his fee for an office visit--two dollars. No one ever asked for or got a receipt. No one made an appointment. If there were an emergency requiring immediate help, a phone call would result in "Come now...." or "Come in an hour..." or some other arrangement that would quickly take care of the emergency.

Dr. Cadle's fee for the delivery of babies seems just as ridiculous. One baby was delivered in 1944 for "$27.00 and a box of cigars." Another one was delivered in 1948 for $35.00. There is no record of when he stopped attending births, but women are still saying wonderful things about Dr. Cadle's delivery of their babies. Dr. and Mrs. Cadle had two children, Bo (W.R. Cadle, Jr.) and Carolyn. Both speak warmly of their father as they recollect their childhood. Their father's discipline consisted mainly of his demeanor. They would know from his reaction to the circumstances when he felt they had done something he disapproved of. Carolyn remembers a time, a rare time, when she was taken into the office and spanked on her bottom. She said she was terribly embarrassed.

There were few rules in this family. Two that Bo remembers: the family had to eat supper together and the family had to go to church. Dr. Cadle would also ask his children, "Did you do any good today?"

Dr. Cadle would use the occasion of suppertime to tell stories of his own life, including many stories of pranks he and his friends played in school. Bo really liked those stories and related them as though he were envious of them, or perhaps remembering a prank or two of his own.

It was obvious to both Bo and Carolyn that their father wanted them to have a good education. But in their remembering this, there's a bit of resentment in the voices of both Bo and Carolyn.

There's a charm in the lives of small town children that is unique. They are carefree and have the whole town as their playground–all the streets, alleys, yards, and the surrounding fields outside the town. They also have their little "gangs,"–boys with boys and girls with girls. So it was with Bo and Carolyn.

Much of that charm was diminished after Bo and Carolyn had finished their elementary education at the Emmitsburg Public School. Dr. Cadle wanted them to have a better education than continuing at that school could provide. Carolyn went to the Girls' High School at St. Joseph College. Bo went to Frederick High School, necessitating his living in Frederick during the school week. He lived with his Aunt Pauline, a teacher at Parkway Elementary School. Later he lived with his track coach James Frazier and his wife Ellabelle. Bo said that when he would come home on weekends he would realize that he was missing out on the fun and relationships with hometown friends. When Bo and Carolyn graduated from high school, they followed in their father's footsteps and received their degrees from the University of Maryland.

It would seem that Dr. Cadle was so busy that he would have had very little time for himself. However there were a number of activities in Emmitsburg that claimed his attention. He was a Director of the Farmer's State Bank, where the branch bank of Mercantile stands. He was a member of the Lions Club that met for dinner once a month, the other members being local businessmen. Dr. and Mrs. Cadle had an occasional bridge game with friends. On Thursday, his day off, he sometimes played a game of pool at Chick Rosensteel's bowling alley on Main Street.

Dr. Cadle was a fan of baseball and had played the game not only as a youngster but also when he was an undergraduate at Maryland. Later he helped organize and set up a baseball club for Emmitsburg. Some of the names of the men and boys of this team are familiar to everybody: Leonard Zimmerman, John Hollinger, Sr., Bernie Boyle, George Gingell There were others, too.

The baseball games were played mostly on Sunday afternoons after church when businessmen had free time. The scheduled opponents were Thurmont, Fairfield, Taneytown, and Urbana, Dr. Cadle's hometown. Dr. Cadle umpired many of these games. Wanting the spectators of these games to have a place to sit, Dr. Cadle designed and supervised the building of the bleachers that are currently at the Ball Park.

Another recreation for Dr. Cadle was photography, both still and moving. Among his subjects were ordinary people from around town, especially children, ball games, snow storms, swimming at Kump's Dam, and anything else that caught his eye at the moment. He also developed a skill at oil painting as well as sketching.

With the thought in mind of having a weekend retreat, Dr. Cadle bought land from Charlie Mort along Middle Creek and built a log cabin using chestnut logs from the Pecher Farm. Bo has warm memories of whiling away his time at the Cabin.

Dr. Cadle was an expert woodworker. In addition to cabinet work for the Cabin, he created benches, chairs, candlesticks, corner cupboards, tables, clocks, and a chessboard. Most of these pieces are at the Cadle home, an old brick house restored by Dr. Cadle. Bo and Jean now live there, across the creek from the Cabin.

Obviously a man with endless energy, Dr. Cadle also gardened. Bern Welty remembers that early on, Dr. Cadle had a garden across from Bern's present home, and Bo says that there was a garden behind the office in town, and there also were chickens. When they eventually moved to Middle Creek, both Dr. and Mrs. Cadle had gardens, Dr. Cadle growing vegetables, and Mrs. Cadle, flowers. Bea Keilholtz remarked that Dr. Cadle often brought specimens of wonderful vegetables to show and give to Bea. Bea, herself a gardener, surely must have enjoyed the flowers in Mrs. Cadle's garden.

Dr. Cadle's largest project outside of medicine was boatbuilding. Bo remembers seeing books and building plans for boats spread out on Dr. Cadle's desk in his office. The initial boat was nine feet long and was tested in the streams around Emmitsburg, particularly in the stream that flows past the Cabin. Apparently satisfied that he could be a boat builder, he went on to build a larger boat. Then finally the "Big Boat" was built in the garage behind the house on Main Street.

When this boat was finished, it was loaded onto a trailer and "sailed" down Main Street with the blessing of all who had watched its creation, then on to the Bay where it was launched. Nobody really knows who the privileged were who were invited to a weekend on the Bay, but one thing was sure, Mrs. Cadle was always along to indulge her love of fishing.

Bigger boats. Bigger waters. Bigger fun, giving this boat builder a chance to renew his love of the water and the watermen, proof of the trait that endeared this man to his patients: Dr. Cadle never lost touch with the common man.

For much of Dr. Cadle's career he was the physician for Mount St. Mary's and Saint Joseph, two colleges just south of Emmitsburg. The Emmitsburg Chronicle for June 1, 1972, reported that Dr. Cadle was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Mount Saint Mary's College. The full text of the citation reads:

"There are some rare men who are content to carry on difficult and significant tasks without fanfare or applause. Such a person is W. R. Cadle, who for more than forty years has served our College and our Community with great dedication and superb skill in the practice of medicine. Few persons in the large area in which has toiled have made such a genuine contribution to our society. In reality, some of us would not be here were it not for him, since he brought us into life, and not infrequently hauled us back from the shadow of the unknown. "The rural physician is seldom the object of public gratitude. He works back-breaking hours under trying conditions in the service  of his fellow man, assuaging both bodily afflictions and mental ills. He is healer and helper, confidant, and comforter. Indeed, his roles are as numerous as the needs of his people: his compassionate commitment to humanity, truly inspiring."

Three years later, in June 1975, Dr. Cadle, to the surprise of all, announced his retirement. The Emmitsburg Chronicle of June 1975, in reporting his retirement, repeated much of the praise that had been accorded him at the Mount ceremony which awarded him the Doctor of Laws degree in 1972. The item also mentioned as reasons for Dr. Cadle's retirement his age as well as the high cost of malpractice insurance.

When the retirement came, Dr. and Mrs. Cadle moved from their home and office on West Main Street to their home on Harney Road and Middle Creek. There is no written record of his feelings about retirement.

Everyone who knew him knows that he would not have complained; he would have been too proud for that. He gardened a large plot of ground and was pleased to show the successes of that garden to his neighbors.

While shopping at the Jubilee grocery store, Dr. Cadle would meet other shoppers who had once been his patients. He knew the names of everyone he met, and they of course were pleased. His step was still the wide-striding amble of old, but slower. His posture was still erect; his voice low and caring. And he still did care. He'd say, "How are you?" and everyone felt that he really wanted to know. He had driven himself to the store and was still in control.

Birth and death having been so much a part of his life, when Dr. Cadle faced death he chose a quote from Psalm 90 as his mantra, "I have lived my three score years and ten." It's not surprising to learn that he reluctantly gave up driving. No more hospital visits, no more trips to the Bay or even to the grocery store.

Realizing that he, the handyman, could no longer keep up the repairs to their big old house as he had always done, he tried to convince Mrs. Cadle that their only choice was to move. Mrs. Cadle understandably refused. However, when Dr. Cadle was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, the move became imperative. Carolyn suggested that her parents move to a small house on the Lower property. With some modifications of adding a room or two and modern conveniences to make the house more comfortable, Dr. and Mrs. Cadle moved there in 1989.

As his life was closing, Dr. Cadle, preferring privacy, saw few people–mainly a few of his older friends. He died on March 29, 1989, surrounded by his family, shortly after the move to Carolyn's. He is buried in Greenmount Cemetery at Arendtsville, Pa.

The Sisters of Charity at Saint Joseph College, for whom he had cared so long, held an Ecumenical Memorial Service for Dr. Cadle at the Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Participating in the service were the Clergy of Emmitsburg, children whom he had delivered during his time of serving the community, the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph, and members of the staff of the Gettysburg Hospital. There was an outpouring of love, affection, and gratitude as members of the entire community assembled to express their sympathy to Dr. Cadle's family and their gratitude for all that Dr. Cadle had done for Emmitsburg, the town he had adopted in 1925.

Read other articles by Ruth Richards

Do you have your memories of Dr. Cadle? 
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