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By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

Call the doctor

The Spirit of Tehachapi


April 27, 2024

When I was a child and we became ill, my mother took over with a few home remedies. If that didn’t work we didn’t exactly call the doctor for in the mid-’30s in Mojave, we had no phone ... not many people did.

My brother would be told to run two blocks up the street to Doctor Warner’s office/residence. Dr. Warner would come by in his old two-door Model A Ford sedan. It was officially called the Model A Ford Tudor Sedan. A very handsome automobile, but not the one owned by Dr. Warner. His wasn’t an attractive vehicle, not new or shiny. In fact, it was dark and rusty. It had to have been exposed to elements at the sea coast or a very wet climate. It certainly had not spent it days in the desert, for with the low humidity there isn’t a danger of too much rust in such large amounts. It ran though, and he would come by and “fix” whatever was ailing us.

Dr. Warner had a cabin on some property up in the Paiute Mountains where he would care for the Paiute Indians when he was there. I never knew his first name. He was just Dr. Warner and he spoke only to my mom. He delivered me when I was born and he asked for Doctor Madge Schlotthauer, of Tehachapi, when I was 6 in 1934, to examine me when I could not walk to confirm that I had Infantile Paralysis (Polio). I was the only case in Mojave.

I learned, some 14 years later, that his daughter, Iva Mae Warner, had joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in World War II and after that came to Tehachapi to teach grammar school when Mr. Wells was principal. I met her once and found that she had inherited the cabin in the Paiutes and stayed there sometimes. I should have asked her what her father’s first name was.

He was a good man and physician. I think he was not very young; perhaps semi-retired. Of course, when one is 6 years old, as I was, everyone looks old.

By the way, just a bit of humorous trivia: Henry Ford did receive a letter from Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) telling him how much he liked the Model A Ford V-8 as a get-a-way car for bank robberies. No doubt the letter had no return address.

Moving northwest about 20 miles

In the “old days” of Tehachapi during the early part of the 20th century, one would have found in around 1919, Doctor N.J. Brown tending the sick, setting broken arms and delivering babies. However, records show, in the early 1920s, a nurse – a Mrs. Davis – as the town’s only medic. Then, in 1924 the local paper actually showed a picture of Dr. Clara Rinehart as the town’s only doctor.

After Dr. Rinehart, a young physician, Dr. R. G. Doupe moved here and practiced medicine in the early 1930s.

In 1934, the Doctors Madge and Harold Schlotthauer purchased the old Capdeville residence on E Street. It had been built to house the Capdeville family but the spacious building soon was used as the Capdeville Hotel with family quarters downstairs.

With some renovation, the hospital was open to the people of Tehachapi for treatment, as well as surgery. The townsfolk called them Dr. Madge and Dr. Harold rather than using the last name: Schlotthauer.

Prior to the purchase the couple, since 1932, had held offices in the old Asher residence on the corner of E and Curry streets (destroyed in the 1952 quake).

In 1934, I needed an x-ray and since the x-ray machine was on the second floor of the hospital, Dr. Harold had to carry me upstairs as I was still suffering from Polio and could not walk. He joked with me and said that I was too heavy and he was going to tie lots of balloons on me and let me float back downstairs. Sounded like fun to me.

Dr. Madge Q. Schlotthauer was known to the school children of Mojave and Tehachapi as she told the children the benefits of good health practices. She instituted Well Baby Clinics in Mojave and Tehachapi each month. My mother kept the Mojave records as she checked the babies on those days.

So, when we moved to Tehachapi in 1937 I was well acquainted with Dr. Madge, as well as her husband, Dr. Harold.

No one has ever written about how really pretty Dr. Madge was. She played the piano beautifully and she knew most residents by name ... and she was so pretty. I recall a friend of mine, Shirley Edell McLean, telling me of an incident from her childhood. The Edell’s lived next to the Schlotthauers at one time. Shirley, about 5, was walking on top of the fence between the two homes. Dr. Madge called from her window, “Shirley Jean! Get down from the fence!” When Shirley asked why. Dr. Madge said, “You might fall and break your arm!”

Shirley told her, “Oh. Well, you could fix it for me.”

Actually, Dr. Madge did “fix” a broken arm for Shirley when she was 16 after being thrown from a horse.

After the 1952 earthquake, the hospital had to be torn down and the Schlotthauers were to build a new hospital. Dr. Madge had specified that the two large evergreen trees be retained in front of the building. The architect said, no, they would have to go. Dr. Harold stated, “Well, I guess I’ll just have to find me an architect that can draw some plans that leave them.” They’re still there.

In 1969, when Dr. Madge sold the hospital, she told me, “You know, we felt such a responsibility toward the people of the community.”

In reflecting about the years from 1934 to 1969, she said, “It was a good time to practice medicine.”

(This is just a page out of history about doctors in my childhood.)

Post Script: I found that the trees are Cedars of Lebanon; still there but the hospital is not.

Also, we still have doctors that recognize us when meeting on the street.


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