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Motorists pull in to fill up at Billups, selling gas for 18 cents a gallon. photo courtesy of USA Archives
Uncle Henry

Some of Mobile's latter day Southern belles in crinoline grace the entrance to the old Roxy Theater at the local premiere of "Gone With The Wind." photo courtesy of USA archives
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Vita Sua in a Bygone Mobile

Part 21 in a series: Doom and Boom, cabbage and collard greens and a "grim" situation.

Previous installments: 1, 2 , 3 , 4567, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13,
14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20.

By A.D.
Mobile Bay Times
As I looked at the market that gloomy fall of 1974 and peered as well at the economic statistics, the opinions of various economic seers and the histories of the previous business cycles, I constructed my own two "models" of the future, labeling one "Doom," the other "Boom," hardly original terms, but appropriate for the times.

Wanting to end this tome on a cheerful note, I present them in that order.

Doom had the whole elaborate system of the stock market collapsing with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down around the 300 mark. The brokerage industry had retrenched, with just a half dozen or so national firms
operating and the branch office population contracted
from about 5,000 to perhaps a thousand or so.

I had always felt that I
could go back to living
on cabbage and collard
greens and I would
probably be doing just
that. But like Porgy I
could be happy, --
"I got plenty of nothin'
and nothin' plenty for
me ... got no lock on
de door, 'fraid
somebody's gonna
come in stealing
while I's out making

Boom had the market bottoming out soon and a new bull market installed, one that, precisely because the predecessor bear market had been so long and so severe, would be both long and outstandingly profitable for those who rode it to its conclusion.

As it turned out, the market did bottom out on Dec. 6, 1974 as measured by the DJIA, that index closing that Friday afternoon at 577.60, down a thundering 45 percent from its January, 1973 high at 1,051.19.

My battered portfolio wound up the year well down from the previous year's end, but not so bad when you consider that I had drawn out a considerable sum, mostly to meet some of those college expenses.

1974 business was something else, however. My production nose-dived, a huge drop that left my earnings at their lowest since 1964.

But the bulls were back in the saddle now and our fortunes were quickly recouped.

Despite drawing out another large sum during the year, my portfolio at the end of 1975 reached a new high.

Production shot up, too, and earnings returned to a more accustomed figure.

This despite the fact that I had been hit with a serious illness during the year.

I had a light touch of pneumonia in late January and was treated by Dr. W, who put me to bed at home for a few days. Since I had not had a physical examination in several years, I asked W to give me one when he had finished treating me for pneumonia.

He gave me a clean bill of health, except for a urinary tract infection, for which he prescribed anti-biotics. He continued this treatment for a time but finally said that it was not improving and recommended that I visit a urologist.

So I met Dr. BC, a
man a few years
younger than I
who was the top
operative of a
group in this line
of work. BC
examined me and
recommended a
thorough test in
the hospital. So I
signed in at
Mobile Infirmary
April 22 for a
couple of days.

The test,
consisting of a
fluid sent up my urinary system and x-ray pictures of the system with this fluid in it, was administered.

About 2 p.m. the afternoon of the 23rd, I confidently awaited the visit of Dr. C with the result of the test. I was sure that it would be something like, "nothing serious, we'll just treat it with some pills for a few weeks and you'll be good as new." After all, I did not feel sick and had no complaints whatsoever. I was just going through this mish-mash as a precaution and partly to make my referring doc happy.

Dr. C didn't mince any words. He showed me the pictures. "You have a giant stone blocking the exit from the right kidney. It should be removed. We can try to save the kidney but I doubt that we can."

Dr. C had my attention. "Is it a serious operation? I mean is there any danger?"

He laid it on the line.

"It's a major operation and any major operation is serious."

For the first time I DID feel sick. I told him I'd let him know and checked out of the hospital.

I called him back in a day or so and asked what the consequences of forgoing the operation would be.

"There's maybe one chance in 200 that nothing would happen. More than likely, at some time, fairly soon, you'd be confronted with an emergency situation, very great pain and we'd have to operate in a hurry."

He said that it would be a "grim situation." I asked if he meant likely fatal. "No," he replied, "but grim. We'd have to operate under less than satisfactory conditions."

So I was left to make a decision. I agonized with it for several days. I finally determined to put it off for a while. I learned that Dr. C's busy schedule did not leave him time to do the surgery and also be around for a few days after until May 20. So I finally settled on that date.

The days preceding May 20 were sheer misery. I would count the hours until the operation and figure back that same number of hours in my life and wish that I could somehow blank out that number of future hours.

Several times I came close to calling it off. I called Dr. W for reassurance and went by to see Dr. C for more of the same.

I was greatly concerned because at age 54, with a lousy record of health maintenance -- overweight, smoking, little exercise, etc. -- I had serious doubts that I could survive any kind of major surgery.

I think the decision would not have been so tough if I was absolutely convinced that the operation was necessary. If I had been in great pain it would have been much easier. But I felt no pain whatsoever. I considered getting another opinion, but reasoned that this would probably be a fool's errand. W assured me that C was among the best in his field. And, then, had I had another opinion, with all the time and expense it would have entailed, I would probably get the same decision and would have all the agonizing to do again.

So I went through with it.

They did remove the entire kidney. While I was in the recovery room they showed me the stone, which they proudly informed me was one of the largest they had ever recovered. However, I was so dazed I don't even remember its outline precisely. I wish that I had gotten it to keep for a souvenir, but I did not. Perhaps it is in Dr.
C's trophy room. In all events, I don't have it and also am minus one kidney.

The operation and recovery went very well until the end of the second day when I was hit with what turned out to be a pulmonary embolism. It began with a severe pain in the chest and I feared a heart attack. Various of my troop of doctors were in the hospital at the time and visited me but none seemed able to cope with my problems.

I could sense as they hovered over my bed that they were concerned. Finally W volunteered that we ought to have another specialist and went off to find one who might be in the hospital.

He came back with the query, "Is Bodet okay?"

Conclusion: Dr. AB's a %^@\#&*=#$u(! genius. Learning life's lessons. We all learn someday.