Doctors Madge and Harold

The Spirit of Tehachapi

 

Doctors Madge and Harold Schlotthauer came to Tehachapi in 1932 and founded the Tehachapi Hospital in 1934. At first they practiced medicine in the Asher Home on the corner of Curry and E Street but after purchasing the Capdeville Hotel in 1934 they turned it into a modern, well equipped medical facility. They were both young and highly skilled physicians and surgeons and treated generations of Tehachapi residents before selling the hospital in 1969. People of the community soon gave up trying to pronounce the name Schlotthauer and they were simply known as Dr. Madge and Dr. Harold. To this team the whole town was their family. She once told me, "We felt such a responsibility towards the people of the town." Then later she said, "It was a good time to practice medicine." As a child I considered them my friends and was never afraid to go to the doctor.

Their head nurse, and only registered nurse, in the early years, was Elizabeth Cuddeback. I hope it says on her tombstone, "R.N." for she was every inch a nurse. Her petite figure belied her physical stamina and she served the patients of Tehachapi Hospital for 38 years. The Elizabeth Cuddeback Nursing Scholarship is presented to a graduating high school student each year. Elizabeth lived to be 95 and is buried in Tehachapi Westside Cemetery.

Pat (Sody) Hayes Gassaway tells a story from her childhood that shows the absolute trust and faith even the children had in their local physician. It would seem that Sody and her sister, Gaylee, had a dog named Mister. Mister chased cars and one day received a broken leg for pursuing his habit. With no veterinarian in town, she and her sister scooped up the dog and took him to Dr. Harold at the hospital. He took the dog into the hospital kitchen and put a cast on the leg. Sody said she recalls the black and white squares of the kitchen floor and the hospital cook not being happy about a dog in her kitchen. A few weeks later they returned with Mister to have the cast taken off. After removing the cast Dr. Harold told them, "Don't bring me anymore dogs." I might add that Mister's demise was under the wheels of an auto leaving two desolate little girls.

Shirley Edell McLean had an endearing childhood memory of Dr. Madge. The Edells, at that time, lived next door to the two physicians. There was a wall-like fence between the two houses and Shirley, about four years old, decided to walk along the top of the wall. As she walked along, balancing herself, Dr. Madge called out the window, "Shirley Jean, get down from there!" Shirley asked her why and Dr. Madge said, "You might fall and break your arm!"

Shirley answered her with her child's candor and complete trust , "Well, you could fix it for me." As it turned out, a few years later, Dr. Madge had an opportunity to "fix" a broken arm for Shirley when she was thrown from a horse.

During my sixth year, 1934, I needed an x-ray and the machine was on the second story of the new hospital. There was no elevator; just stairs. I was just recovering from a case of Polio (known then as Infantile to the hospital in the morning to make her rounds and for home calls that were in town. She said that often she would meet Catholic Priest, Father Mangan, also on his bicycle heading to the hospital to visit any parishioners who were ill.

The gas ration coupons consisted of A, C and T coupons that came in a little book. They listed dates for when they were to be used. " A" coupons were worth three gallons each (12 gallons per week), C coupons were five gallons each and T (for trucks) were worth ten gallons. You were allowed four per week for the A and C. Trucks were allowed much more. Lots of folk rode bikes and considered it their patriotic duty. They were "keeping the home fires burning" a favorite saying of the day.

The doctors were a handsome couple; especially Dr. Madge who was tall, stylish in her wardrobe and quite pretty. When she sold the hospital, she specified that the two giant trees in front of the building would not be cut down. They still stand there today.

They never had any children of their own; just those who lived in the small town and trusted them for their care.

 
 

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