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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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

You Just Can't Beat An Army Hospital

On a Saturday morning more than half a century ago I was sitting on the ground at Camp Polk while an officer was lecturing on one boring military subject or another. As usual I wasn't listening because that would have interfered with thinking over my plans for the afternoon in town. Then I realized I wasn't feeling quite right. The feeling intensified so I spent the afternoon in my bunk rather than a bar in Leesville.
By Sunday I was in really bad shape. You weren't allowed to be sick on Sunday so I couldn't go to the dispensary. The other guys in the barracks feared that I wasn't long for this world so every couple of hours someone would go to the mess hall and get the cooks to fix a bowl of soup for me. I couldn't even look at it, let alone consume it.
I was even worse Monday morning and by then knew it was a throat infection, an affliction that hit me every year or so but never before in the Army. I had another problem along with the infection: before you were allowed to go on sick call you had to turn in all your equipment including your footlocker and even the mattress off your bunk. No one was allowed to help. Well, the other fellows ignored that and carried everything down to the supply room for me.
At the dispensary I ran up against another rule. If you had a 103 degree fever you had to go on full duty, do all the regular infantry training. If it was 104 you went to the hospital. Nothing in between. No taking medicine and resting up in the barracks for a day or two. Luckily my temperature was 104. Rather than having to walk back to the company and go out in the field with the rest of the boys I was placed in an ambulance and driven to the hospital.
In my ward there were 12 or 15 beds along one wall, 12 0r 15 on the one opposite. A couple of men had broken legs, a couple had broken arms, the man in the bunk next to mine must have wallowed in poison ivy because his face was just a big red ball without eyes. But many of the problems dated back to World War II. Several guys had malaria, one dengue fever and one a severe case of jungle rot.
Doctors are officers so when one entered the ward he was preceded by an orderly shouting, "Ten-shun!" Then we all had to get up and stand at attention at the foot of our bunk, even those with broken legs and the poor fellow with jungle rot. I had to guide the man next to me to the proper place because he couldn't see a thing.
I never saw anything like the gadget they used to pump penicillin into me. It was about six inches long, as big around as a quarter and filled with thick, cream-colored stuff. Each time it took ten minutes for all of it to flow into my arm. The needles were huge so an orderly told me they put something on them to ease the pain. It was called procaine or something like that. They happened to be out of it at the time. I was told how much penicillin they pumped into me and later mention it to a civilian doctor. He was stunned. It was 10 times what anyone should receive but it sure did kill that throat infection and I've never had another. It also left me allergic to penicillin.
They kept me in the hospital until Saturday, but after two days quit bringing me a tray and said if I wanted to eat I'd have to walk to the mess hall. I didn't mind that; it got me out of the ward. I spent a lot of time in what was laughingly called a library. I read every paperback mystery they had and wished for a few more.
Late Saturday morning while the company was still out somewhere I carried my clothes, my footlocker, my mattress and the bedding back up to my bunk on the second floor. After that I was too tired to go into town so two perfectly good weekends were ruined. Now, 55 years later, I just have to hope I don't get an infection calling for penicillin. But if I should, it's comforting to know I won't have to carry my mattress anywhere.


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