There are many treasures that we receive from our parents after they leave us. One of the treasures that I received from my Dad is a 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook. Looking at the pictures of life during my Dad’s time as an older teenager is quite interesting.
While looking at the Senior Class of 1925, I saw a familiar name, Winston Wreggit. I looked at the photo. and I recognized that this is a photo of our family doctor for all the years that I lived in Highland Park (1955-1977)! My mind couldn’t help but go back to my many visits to Dr. Wreggit’s office at 79 Highland Avenue, which was located across from the Bell Telephone Company building.
My Dad knew Dr. Wreggit from his high school years. For this reason, Dad felt a special connection to Dr. Wreggit. Dad knew that Dr. Wreggit would take good care of his family, and he had the utmost confidence in him. Because of this confidence, I would never know another physician for the first twenty-seven years of my life.
A visit to Dr. Wreggit began with opening the door of what had been a first floor flat. Entering the door, we (Mom and I) would be greeted by Dr. Wreggit’s nurse, receptionist and office manager (all in one person!). The nurse would then direct us to the waiting room. This room was rather spartan in its looks, but I liked sitting in one of the straw chairs.
The highlight of the waiting room was the Highlights magazine. I would enjoy looking through the magazine, especially finding the hidden objects in the picture. Later on, when I was older, I probably picked up the Time magazine or some other magazine. I don’t ever remember that we ever had a long wait.
After some time, our kind nurse would call us into one of the rooms that Dr. Wreggit used to see his patients. One of the things that amazed me were all the file folders. There were file folders on the desk, as well on top of his cabinet. Everything was a bit cluttered, but I am sure there was some organization in it all.
While I looked around, Dr. Wreggit would enter the room and greet me with his deep bass voice. Then he would open up his file and perhaps say: “It is time for your tetanus booster” I don’t know why but it seemed like every time, I would see Dr. Wreggit, he would give me a shot.
Being merciful, Dr. Wreggit wouldn’t begin with the “shot”. He would first take my blood pressure. Then he would say: “Please take off your shirt.” With his stethoscope, he would begin to probe my chest. Then he would probe my back. As he was probing, he would say the words that I can still hear in my head: “Take a deep breath, let it out.” Then he would say: “again” several times. After this he would check down my throat and pronounce me healthy.
The next part was the hard part. I saw the needle in his hand. He would swab the target spot on my arm with something clear. It didn’t seem to help with what was coming. He would inject me as I tried to show courage and not cry. After the shot was given. he would reach up to the top of his cabinet and grab a box. As he opened the box, I could see that it was full of suckers. I grabbed one and off I would go, another satisfied patient.
There were a couple of occasions when I was sick that I didn’t go visit Dr. Wreggit. He would come and visit me. This just seemed natural in those days. Dr. Wreggit would come into our house with his black bag filled with all the instruments that he needed to sort out what needed to be done. He would go through the same basic routine that I experienced at his office. Those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out” were repeated. He would tell my parents what to do for me and then he would leave.
After leaving Highland Park, I never visited a doctor for many years. However, in 1983 Sharon (my wife) and I needed a physical to get a visa to move to South Africa as missionaries. I told Sharon about Dr. Wreggit. Dad still went to Dr. Wreggit; so it was only natural that we would go to him though he now had his practice in Southfield.
This would be the last time, I would ever see Dr. Wreggit. He was in his mid-seventies and though he looked older than I had remembered him, his voice was still strong. I heard for one last time those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out.” He also gave us his favorite shot, the tetanus booster. This time, there were no box of suckers. As we left to pay, he told us that we owed him nothing. For some strange reason this didn’t surprise me. My Dad had told me how generous Dr. Wreggit was with his services. He charged my Dad seven dollars per visit until he quit his practice in the mid-eighties.
Like so many people in my life, I never really knew the real Dr. Wreggit. I saw him as a kind, and committed doctor, but I didn’t know the whole story until I was preparing to write this post.
What motivated him to practice medicine in order to help others? Why would he treat many of his patients for only what they could afford or for free? In Dr. Wreggit’s childhood, he made two very important decisions that would rule his life. One decision he made was to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior as a result of the ministry of the well-known evangelist, Billy Sunday. He would continue to follow the Lord and serve Him for all his life. He was also faithful member of Highland Park Baptist Church.
At the age of ten, Dr. Wreggit made another decision that would change his life. He was near death as a result of spinal meningitis. As he was lying on his hospital bed in old Grace Hospital, he made a promise to God that he would help other people as a doctor if he would get better. God answered his prayer. Dr. Wreggit would practice medicine almost until the day he died.
Over the years, I have had a few other doctors, but none of them were like Dr. Wreggit. Here was a man who cared about others. Not only that, but he cared about a little boy growing up in Highland Park. For this reason, I wanted to write this post about him.
P.S. Here are a few more photos of Dr. Wreggit.
P.P.S. Please visit my other blog: http://www.markjemilbooth.com. I have several articles concerning our spiritual lives including, “A Heart to Walk with God” and “The Joy of Morning Prayer.”