Surgical Lessons Learned From Pop and Bubba

Pop Operating With His Sons Assisting

Pop Operating With His Sons Assisting

Pop practiced medicine and surgery in El Dorado from 1934 until his death in 1966. The first eight years were especially wonderful for him, because he had the privilege of practicing with his Dad, Dr. J.A. whom he greatly admired and loved. Their personalities were totally different because Granddad Moore was very serious in demeanor, seldom joked in his conversations and only occasionally smiled. Pop was jovial, extroverted, joked easily and was a master story-teller. Their personalities were professionally compatible however, and together they developed a large medical and surgical practice during that eight year span.

Pop became a physician later in life than his peers, because he spent his early adult years in vain pursuit of multiple careers. His Dad was long-suffering concerning him, and when Pop was twenty-eight years old and had been married to Mimi for six years he finally decided a career in medicine was suited to his talents and gifts. Granddad and Grandmother (Deeji) Moore assisted them with their finances, and it must have been very difficult for all of them because this was during the years of the Great Depression.

After receiving his M.D. degree at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock in 1932 Pop, Mimi and Bubba who was four years old went to New Orleans for a two year medical-surgical internship at Charity Hospital. One of Pop’s fellow interns was Dr. Michael DeBakey who later became the most well-known heart surgeon in the world. Pop had some interesting stories about Dr. DeBakey and his other colleagues there. I even have photos of their intern baseball team which was coached by Dr. Arthur Vidrine, the Superintendent of Charity Hospital. Dr. Vidrine later became well-known as Huey Long’s personal physician and the one who unsuccessfully operated on him when he was shot by an assassin in Baton Rouge.

When his training in New Orleans was complete Pop was not only qualified to treat patients with medical problems, he had a large repertoire of surgical procedures he had learned at Charity Hospital. He and Mimi had decided years before they wanted to live and raise their family in El Dorado where Pop could practice with his Dad. They were general practitioners who treated medical illnesses, delivered babies, provided pediatric care and treated surgical problems. When one of their patients required an operation Granddad would administer the anesthesia and Pop would  do the procedure. In those days the preferred method of general anesthesia was open-drop ether or chloroform which is no longer used because of safety issues.

The economy of the country was beginning to recover from the Great Depression of 1929, but the winds of war were blowing in Europe and Germany with the rise to power of Adolph Hitler. When our country’s involvement in war was inevitable several physicians from El Dorado enlisted in the Army Medical Corps which made the work load much greater on the doctors remaining at home.  Because Pop was thirty-seven years old he was exempted from active duty.

In 1954 Bubba graduated from the University of Arkansas Medical School and he and his wife LaNell moved to Dallas where he completed a 1 year rotating internship at Parkland Hospital. Those were the years of the Korean War, and young physicians just out of training were required to serve in the military. Their active duty assignment was Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile where they spent the next two years. They decided to move back to El Dorado where Bubba joined Pop in a medical-surgical practice similar to the one Pop and Granddad had fifteen years earlier. I graduated from high school that same year, which was also the year our sister Marilyn married George Berry. There were lots of changes in the Moore family in 1957.

During my high school years Pop would occasionally allow me to spend time in his office observing how he interacted with patients and learning some of the medical vocabulary. By this time I was absolutely convinced I would pursue a career in medicine and probably become a surgeon. When Bubba joined the practice I began spending more time in the office. Bubba initially had more free time than Pop because his practice was new and relatively small, and he loved teaching. Between the two of them they taught me the principles of wound care and suturing, and I learned the art of handling instruments as well as the essentials of sterile technique. Upon entering medical school I could suture a wound as well as any intern.

During college and medical school years Pop allowed me to assist with his surgical cases when I was home for Christmas and spring and summer breaks. On their operative cases Bubba was always the first assistant, and I was the one who got to hold the retractors which was the most physically taxing of the OR jobs and the most boring! I was so excited to be in the OR environment, I was seldom bored. Prior to beginning my formal surgical training as an intern and resident I had assisted Pop and Bubba with as many as fifteen operations and had sutured at least twenty patients who came to the ER with various minor wounds. In today’s atmosphere of malpractice litigation, the things I was allowed to do then would not be tolerated even under the close supervision of Pop and Bubba.

The techniques I used in the forty years of my own surgical practice I learned from many gifted surgeons, including the men I served with at The Surgical Clinic of South Arkansas in El Dorado. Those surgical techniques were essential for the science of medicine, but an equally important aspect of any practice is the art of medicine. I was fortunate to have a grandfather, father and brother who were gifted at both the art and the science of medicine. I am very grateful to the Lord for the heritage of medical service Pop and Bubba received from Granddad Moore and then passed on to me.

Dr. John


4 thoughts on “Surgical Lessons Learned From Pop and Bubba

  1. The Lord always has a plan for us and fulfills it in preparation and the practice of that journey. I know that when you step into His plan, your life falls into place. GLORY!

    • Mr.Welch,
      Your words were Beautifully written. I don’t believe in accidential, chance or luck. God directs our path if we “choose to follow the Holy Spirit guidance.” A seed is planted. I wittnessed many seeds Dr John planted.
      Cynthia Herring

  2. Dr.Moore,
    I was searching through Web on Eldorado Medical Community. When I saw your article.It is a beautiful tribute in honor of your Father and GrandFather. I used to live in Eldorado in mid 90’s. I work at Union Medical Center. Elizabeth Crowder, Dr. Flournoy was my mother in law.
    Dr Moore, the witness of God’s mercy & love was ever flowing from you. You looked into the faces of the weak and sick with the eyes of Jesus. You made a impact upon my life. I work in Psychiatric field now. God has led me there. You made a difference.
    Thank You,
    Cynthia Herring

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