This article was written by Dana Allison, Horace Allison's widow, in March 0f 2014.  Enjoy!!!

When my husband, the late Horace R. Allison, MD, was in the final year of his pediatric residency in Springfield, Mass., we had to look for a place where he could set up his pediatric practice.  Once his post graduate program was over we had to be out of the residence provided for us by the hospital where he did his residency ending on June 30!  No ifs, ands, or buts.  New interns and resident physicians had to be put up in the spaces those of us in the just finished programs had occupied.  We had to be out on or before July 1.  During the last year of the program we had been looking at several possible locations in the northern New England states.  He did not want to return to Texas, or to set up anywhere in the south as he did not like the intense climatic heat during summer times.

The fellow whom Horace replaced when beginning his residency was practicing in the same city as the hospital where Horace's pediatric program took place.  That colleague was from Waterville, Me., and had looked at Presque Isle as a place for him to go once he completed his residency.  However, as he, and his wife traveled up from Bangor, long before the interstate highways had been built into the far northern Maine, or into Maine for that matter, his wife, who was from Dorchester, Mass., and a through and through city girl, became more and more horrified with Presque Isle's remote location the farther north they traveled to get to Presque Isle.  It was the main reason they remained in Massachusetts.  Lee told Horace about this interesting place, thinking it might fit Horace and me, or that we would fit into it.  Horace wanted to settle in an area where he could hunt and fish in his free time, just as he did back on his family's cattle ranch down in Texas.  

In Massachusetts, in 1964, there was a severe drought.  The governor put out a decree prohiting anyone from watering lawns, gardems. washing cars, whatever activity using copious amounts of water.  Everything was barren, and brown - except for the lawns at the state's prisons, and mental hospitals!  No one from the governor's office had told their administrators to turn off the faucets.  An appointment was made to visit Presque Isle.  We packed up our seven month old twins, as well as our suitcases, and drove the 500+ miles up the old major state highways.  The prisine roadsides were so beautiful.  Driving up Route #2, and then Route #1 was so peaceful, so green, so alluring.  No parched lawns.  At the A. R. Gould Hospital, it was quite new back then, we could look out the windows at the magnificent country side, so clean, quiet, vast, peaceful.  Potato blossoms were in full bloom.  Immediately, we fell in love with the area.  Before returning to dried up Massachusetts, we told the medical staff that we would be delighted to return in 1965 after Horace had completed his pediatric residency.

Never is it easy to move into a strange, new area.  Inhabitants in many areas look askance at the new people, wondering, in the backs of their minds, just what is up with the invaders.  Back in those days physicians did not enter a community with a guarantee.  They just came, and started their practices by living on their savings, if they had any.  Stories of old telling how the new doctor in town could never earn a dime until he had to come to the fore when the present old time doc was absent were still in effect at the time we were looking for a place in which to settle.  Stories of how the new doctor filled in with a miraculous medical success before people would trust him were quite true back then, but not completely true for us.  People did not know how to take Horace.  He had a southern accent, he was thin, gangly, long legged, 6'5", and the chief criticism was that he did not look like a doctor!  Good grief!  What was a doctor supposed to look like?  Doc Adams on "Gunsmoke"?  The first day his office was open he saw two patients sent by an emergency room nurse.  A great beginning for a pediatrician - both were adults!  One of them paid, the other one didn't.  With that ten dollar fee in his pocket, Horace took our twins and me out to supper in a restaurant to celebrate the first day of his practice of pediatrics!

In July of the next year we went to a Fourth of July parade down in Houlton.  Horace was a piper, and thrilled to the music of the pipe and drum bands from New Brunswick, Canada which were taking part in the American Fourth of July celebration!  It was a strange sensation for us as hadn't loyalists to the British king run off to New Brunswick during the Revolution?  This was an introduction to us as to the grand friendship between the two countries, and of how closely people living in these two countries work together, or how much is shared.

As we were walking along the street, returning to our car after the parade, Horace exclaimed, "Dana!  I've got to have him!"

"Have what?!"

"Look! Look!"  It took me a while to see what had excited him.  Horace strode up to a grizzled fellow standing by a pickup truck which had a young, spotted jack ass in the bed!  The animal was marked with huge black patches which were similar to the spots on a Holstein.  Not a common sight among those of that species.

"Three-year-old twins, a new baby on the way, a practice not even a year old, and you have to have that?" was my retort basid in incredulity.  Four years married, and still the surprises anew from my husband invaded my reality.  Even now that it has been more than fifty years since meeting him, surprises come!

The jack's mother had come in to the area with a load of horses from the west.  The gizzled horse trader told us that back in those days it was quite common to put jacks or jennets into a horse trailer along with a horse when that horse was to be delivered to a distant location.  That ass was to be a buffer between the horse, and the side of the trailer so that the horse would arrive with no abrasions.  The ass, or burro if you are from the west, took all the abuse from the swaying trailer.  This little jack was born shortly after the mother's arrival on a truck load of horses.  We could see that the animal was quite young.  It stood very calmly as it munched on some feed.

Horace talked with the guy, made arrangements for him to take the jack to our home in Presque Isle the next day.  The trader wanted a hundred dollars for that jack.  We had money, just not an abundance of it.  We had to spend very carefully.

Surely enough, the grizzled horse trader pulled his well worn, battered pick-up and hitched on trailer into our yard the next day. I hid the check book.  He and Horace began dickering.  All sorts of agricultural equipment had been left by the previous owners of the house we bought, and into which we had moved the year before.  No matter what Horace showed the trader, nothing interested him.  He had taken the jack off the truck, was allowing him to chew up the grass beside the driveway while he held the leash, hoping that he would not return home with that jack.  Soon, our twins, just a few months shy of three years, had slipped out of our sight, returned during the "negotiations".  Each one of them had a baby skunk which they held up in their cupped hands to the man.

We assured the trader that they had been deodorized.  A neighbor had torn down a chicken house.  He found a family of skunks underneath the rubble.  The mother had been killed. He put the newborn babies in with his mother cat, and her just born little of kittens.  She "adopted" the tiny stinkers.

Horace's reputation for his affinity for skunks, by that time, had become wide spread.  The neighbor called, asking if Horace could deoderize them.  Horace could, and did.  The neighbor's wife would not allow those babies to remain on their property.  Horace came home with all of them.  The twins loved them, and were taught how to pet them, how to pick them up, and to hold them.  Which was cuter?  The baby skunks, or the toddler twins petting them?

The man gave me the lead, he put one baby skunk into a shirt pocket, and another into the other shirt , hopped into his battered pickup, took off down the road.  We never crossed paths with him again!  There I stood!  I didn't know what was on the other end of the lead, except that is was very r

Fortunately, it was summer, grass was plentiful.  We had no feed, no fences, no preparations for that new family member except for the horse barn which came with the property.  "just what do we do with this animal?"  "Well, I can stop at the feed store tomorrow to get some oats for him," said a bewildered Horace.  The boys disappeared.  Horace the lead, led the new friend to a patch of richer grass which that extraordinary jack ate with relish.  Within a few minutes the boys returned with my dish pan filled with rolled oats!  The jack ate heartily!  We had to find a different food for our next day's breakfast.

Thus began our lives with a managerie which was expanded over the next several years.  We had more asses, goats, sheep, a guanaco, cats, dogs, and a lack of space.  We had purchased the home on an acre of land on the Caribou Road as a "beginning" home because we did not know if we would make a dime or a dollar, and did not wish to have an in-town with a postage stamp-sized lawn, and too much year left at the end of the money.  After living here for a few years we bought property in Castle Hill which was abandoned potato land, still with wide open fields, and a verdant forest surrounding them.  It would make excellent pastures.  In time, we built our dream home on that property, and our animal friends were joined with more asses, goats, sheeps, ducks, geese, chickens.  Oh, yes, in both places we had plenty of organic plant food.

While still on the Caribou Road it was a dilemma as to what could be done with the "leavings" after the barn was cleaned.  The desire for organic foods was beginning to take hold.  I put a sign by the side of the road:  "Get your plants' organic food here."  One day a woman from the base stopped in.  She admired my veggies which were growing beside the house, and expected to buy organically grown food!  When I told her what was the real deal, she ran back to her car, looking as if she were ready to regurgitate!

As time went on our livestock became part of Horace's practice.  Heaven only knows why people in the past would use the doctor to threaten their belligerent kids if they did not shape up. Many parents, instead of helping their children learn how to function within their family, and ultimately, within society, would threaten their children by telling them that they would be taken to the doctor to see what ailed them if they did not behave.  The underlying premise being that the doctor would punish them for not "being good."  When it came time for children to keep a doctor's appointment they would be scared to go.  They would fight being taken to the doctor.  Parents would drag the kicking and screaming children into the doctor's office.  Their eyes filled with fear.

Horace would take the parents into his inner office, sit them down for a talking to.  He explained that he could not examiine their child when he/she was so acting.  If the child had been sick, there would not have been such a fuss because the child would be too sick to react in such a manner.  If a child was screaming in protest, due to fears instilled by frustrated parents, Horace would tell the parent(s) to take the child home, calmly explain that the doctor's purpose is, that it is not within his province to admonish them, or to punish them for acting up.  When parents would reply that they did not know what to do with a child throwing a tantrum, especially at bed time, Horace's advice was, "just suggest to them that they should go to bed, and wait 'til morning!"  It worked wonders.

Before the parent(s) left he would invite them out to the house for a tour of our pastures.  Horace would take the visitors to meet our quadrupeded friends.  The children could pet them, give them treats which Horace provided.  Often Horace would hitch up one of the asses to a wagon, or to a carriage, and give them rides over the field roads.  If the child was old enough, he would let the child take the reins.  What a thrill.  Children could pet the goars, which Horace restrained because goats might bunt.  They could pet the sheep, and feel their luxurious, lanolin filled wool coats.  They could love our great dane who loved them back!  He towered over many.  Kittens always thrilled the children!



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