Clinic Stories

Lightning Strikes Twice

April 9, 2017

Thirty six years ago today I was a senior veterinary student one month from graduation. Every year Upjohn, a pharmaceutical company, had a dinner for the entire veterinary senior class and the veterinary staff, over 200 people in all. It was held at the Stone Barn in Kennett Square, PA and the highlight of the dinner was two awards presented to the outstanding student in the small animal and in the large animal clinics.

Prior to the dinner a classmate, Brian Presscott, who died a few years ago, asked if I wanted to participate in the betting pool for the winner of the small animal award, the more coveted of the two. I learned that Lynne Maletz, who went on to become a board certified surgeon, was the front runner, followed by two other talented classmates.

The large animal award was presented first and was shared by Bob Cloninger and Sue Semrad. Everyone clapped politely, pictures were taken and they sat down.

When they announced the small animal award people jumped to their feet and the room exploded – clapping, shouting, stomping. I stood but did not applaud. They had called my name. Geoff Wright, a classmate whose father and two older brothers were already veterinarians in Bethlehem, PA shook my hand and told me I deserved the award. We exchanged a few words and I went up to get my award. “Speech, speech” they shouted. I delivered a one sentence speech. “The only thing I have to say is what I told Geoff on my way up here – this award is evidence that you can fool some of the people some of the time.” It was met with laughter and more applause.

After the dinner most of the crowd went to the Anvil Inn in Kennett Square. It was a dive bar frequented by the local migrant farm workers, mushroom pickers in that area, known as the Mushroom Capital of the World. A resident in equine medicine approached and offered to buy me a congratulatory drink. I accepted and asked where she was from. Vincennes, Indiana! “Ah, Vincennes”, I said, “Knox County seat and the hometown of Red Skelton.” I had been there and a billboard announces those facts as you drive into town.

As we spoke a mushroom picker stabbed one of the staff veterinarians, who was not injured as the knife caught in a sweat shirt. The assailant was jumped, the state police arrived and he was taken away in handcuffs. There was a band, we danced and married seven months later.

Kids. That is how I met your mother.

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