Ah, Dr. Purple. Now they’ve got me thinking about him again.
Years ago, I wrote a lengthy poem about his life, thinking it would make a great children’s book. I sent it off to someone for feedback. When she didn’t like my first two lines, I thought I should just nix the whole thing.
And I did.
I tucked it away — and had a terrible time finding it this morning. But the prompt today is “elixir” and I thought I could squeeze it into this poem. I couldn’t.
Below is a portion of my poem, telling one story I learned through my research.
Dr. Purple lived in Greene
Back when the years began 18–
To provide for his family, with children four,
Dr. Purple opened a store.
There he sold paper and books,
Yankee notions, latches and hooks.
Then, the Postmaster he was named,
And he held the mail ’til it was claimed.
Still he practiced medicine,
For he loved to help his fellow men,
And when an accident occurred,
From his store he strode assured
That he could help the injured one
With bandage, salve, or anodyne.*
In 1856, one February day,
Mr. Mansfield drove his sleigh
Over the canal bridge right in town,
But the horse got spooked
And wheeled around
And tipped the sleigh onto its side.
“Whoa there, Nellie!” Mr. Mansfield cried.
But to the reins he held on tight,
And helpless people watched his plight
While Nellie dragged him forty feet
To Darby’s shop on Genesee Street.
Dr. Purple heard the cries,
Left the Post Office,
To where the injured patient lay
Unconscious on the ground that day.
Dr. Purple got some men
Who carried Mansfield to Whittenhall’s Inn.
When Mr. Mansfield came around,
He was quite bruised,
But otherwise sound.
Mansfield went back home that day –
There was no hospital in which to stay,
And Dr. Purple went back to work,
Sorting mail, just like a clerk,
And selling books and other stuff.
For being a doctor wasn’t enough…
*anodyne – a pain-killing drug or medicine
The poem goes on with other stories of his life.
He was an interesting man — acting as scribe at a local trial for Joseph Smith, testifying in many trials, publishing articles in medical journals and speaking to medical societies, proposing mandatory small pox vaccinations for school children long before that became law, deputized as US Marshall at one point to catch a mail thief, and more.
The question to me is, would other people be interested in Dr. Purple?