Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Conrad Odell Pearson, April 18, 1979. Interview H-0218. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Treatment for typhoid fever at Lincoln Hospital

Pearson offers an anecdote regarding his bout with typhoid fever as a child. Pearson was treated at Lincoln Hospital, the African American medical facility in Durham, North Carolina. His comments reveal the segregation of medical facilities and medical treatment during the early twentieth century.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Conrad Odell Pearson, April 18, 1979. Interview H-0218. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I had typhoid fever when I was a little boy. How I lived, I don't know, because all I can remember they did, they got the well water and put some ice in it and bathed me in there. You could have heard me hollering to Duke University. [laughter] And then I went to the hospital, and they didn't feed me. I think the only thing they did was to give me some quinine. That's all. And I stayed there for a month or so. And I amazed doctors when I'd tell them that that was the only illness I had as a child. Of course, you seldom survived typhoid back in those days. The old saying was "Feed a cold and starve a fever." Well, that's what they did. They got water out of the well which was already cold, put ice in it, and put me in there, trying to break the fever. Then I went to the hospital, and they gave me quinine. Didn't have any ambulances. They had stretchers like the Army used to use. They were taking me to the hospital through the streets. We were going down the street, and people would say, "What's wrong?" Said, "He's got typhoid fever. We're going to the ‘hawspital’." Said, "Poor child, he'll never come out alive.() [laughter] He'll never come back from the ‘hawspital’."
WALTER WEARE:
This was Lincoln Hospital?
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Yes. But I did, and I survived the thing. Very few people survived it, but I did.
WALTER WEARE:
Was Dr. Moore seen as a community …
CONRAD ODELL PEARSON:
Dr. Moore was considered a radical. He couldn't get along with white people, so that's why John Merrick came in. And Dr. Moore, of course, was the only educated person in the group that finally got control of the Mutual. He was the only one that had any education. He brought his kinsmen in. Spaulding was kin to John Merrick and Dr. Moore.() That's where Merrick came in, because Merrick had the connections with the Dukes and so forth. So Dr. Moore handled the Negro community; John Merrick handled the white community.