BURLINGTON — Dr. Wayne Martin stood in front of display cases filled with medical heirlooms, some of which belonged to him, in the Burlington Chamber of Commerce on Saturday as part of the introduction of the Legendary Men and Women of Medicine exhibit.
Martin, along with members of the Burlington Historical Preservation Advisory Board, spoke at the opening of the exhibit, which centered on the lives of two of Burlington’s pioneering medical professionals, Dr. Fred Schacht and Dr. Hiram Cleveland.
“We too soon forget about the people who did extraordinary things with very little,” Martin said. “It’s great to have it all preserved.”
Cleveland’s repertoire exceeded that of a traditional doctor — at one point in his career, he sewed up a dog when the vet was out of town and pulled a woman’s tooth when the dentist was unavailable. Aside from his feats in medicine, he was recognized for his colorful personality and reputation as a terrible driver.
He died in 1944.
Schacht served as head football coach for the University of Kentucky in 1904-05 before joining the medical profession and later moving to Burlington. He died in 1906.
More detailed accounts of their lives are available at the exhibit.
“You can’t talk about the doctors without talking about the nurses,” Larry Gilbert, a board member, said when introducing Margie Wilson.
Wilson detailed the history of nurses while donning her mother’s nursing student uniform from 1936.
A far stretch from the scrubs nurses typically wear today, a fashion that started to become popular in the 1980s as more men joined the profession, the uniform of the 1930s involved a lot of starch, Wilson said.
Nursing students were required to wear blue and white striped shirts under a white apron along with black stockings, black shoes and a starched white cap.
Gilbert and Wilson worked together to put together the exhibit, which took about two months to complete.
“A lot of the people here [at the event] grew up in Burlington. It’s my hometown,” Gilbert said. “It’s interesting to hear everyone speak about stories from years ago.”
An artifact in the exhibit that Gilbert found fascinating was a collection of medical books, which belonged to Martin, with one book dating back to 1845.
The exhibit will be on display until June, when it will be moved to Burlington’s future museum located in the Carnegie Library Building. That’s when one of Martin’s favorites from his collection will be on display: an old oak chair.
“Patients would sit back in this chair and have tonsillectomies performed,” he said.
Peter Browning of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce found the exhibit interesting as he also works as a hospital commissioner for Skagit Regional Health.
“I really saw the difference between medicine then and medicine now,” he said. “You realize how much development there has been in such a short amount of time.”
He also pointed out the growing role of nurses in the health profession, and how they have become an indispensable part of the field.
“It really makes you appreciate the people who dedicated their lives to the health of our small community,” Browning said.