Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Friday, September 07, 2007

Dr. Stodg and Advice to the Lovelorn


Visiting the doctor at the VA clinic brought memories of my own experiences in the medical profession.
Back in my National Guard days about 1949 or '50 I was hanging out one evening in the orderly room of K Company, 145th Infantry. It wasn't our drill night but a few of us had gone to the armory just to shoot the breeze, something we were prone to do at the time.
We were having a fine bull session until First Sergeant Fred Slabaugh came rushing in all in a tizzy because a couple of guys wanted to join up and there wasn't a doctor on hand. He looked around, then settled his gaze on me. "I'll bring 'em in and you'll be Doctor Stodghill and give 'em a quick physical."
Fred went back out the door and I went out the window. If I was destined to spend time behind the cold gray walls at Leavenworth or Alcatraz I wanted it to be for something more enjoyable than posing as a sawbones.
A year or so later the outfit was federalized during the Korean War. While training at lovely Camp Polk in the bayou country of Louisiana I did have to play psychiatrist now and then. This was because I was a 26-year-old mortar section sergeant and most of my men were 18 or 19 and not too bright. They thought I was incredibly old and wise so they called me Pop.
Whenever one of them had a problem he would go running to Pop. Without fail these problems concerned girls. I would listen to a woeful tale and then always offer the same advice: "There's more than one fish in the ocean." As might be expected, this worked wonders. The young fellow's shoulders would straighten up, he'd smile and a gleam would appear in his eyes as he began looking forward to his next pass to town. Old Pop had done it again.
But then came a night when some of us were walking down to the PX for beer until someone came running up from behind calling, "Pop, Pop, you gotta come back. Bartlett's up on the roof and he's gonna jump off."
I uttered a few words that more or less covered the situation, then turned and headed back toward the barracks. A couple of guys went with me but the rest continued on, more interested in beer than watching Bartlett commit suicide. As we drew close enough to see, sure enough Bartlett was perched up there on the edge of the roof. I went up to the second floor and out on the rear landing. By standing on tiptoe I could see over the edge of the roof so I said, "Bartlett, what in hell are you doing up there?"
"I got a 'Dear John' letter so I'm gonna kill myself."
I seriously doubted that a leap into the sandy Louisiana soil would do the job but I was in no mood for playing games. "Bartlett, either come down or jump. The rest of us are going to the PX for beer and I don't have time for this. You can come along if you want."
He mulled it over for ten or fifteen seconds, then decided a cold beer sounded better than a mouthful of sand. He cautiously edged his way over to where I could reach out and give him a hand down to the landing.
As we walked along to the PX I said, "Bartlett, there's more than one fish in the ocean." He cheered up on hearing that and in no time was his usual annoying self. I chalked up one more success for Pop in his role as friendly old Doc Stodghill. It worked every time.

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