In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, we’re doing what we can to stay active and healthy. Our winter home is in Arizona, but at this time we are back in Kansas. Walking the deserted streets of downtown Topeka provides a pretty good history lesson exhibited in our downtown pocket parks. As we came to the Kansas Health Institute building just north of the capital building, we revisited the memorial park dedicated to Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine (1862-1954). You may not know his name, but I bet you’ve heard the expression, “Don’t spit on the sidewalk.” After graduating from Cincinnati School of Medicine, he practiced medicine in Dodge City, KS. Later he moved to Topeka to become secretary of the Kansas Board of Health. His reputation was established through his tireless work to stop the spread of tuberculosis. He was a pioneer in public health who campaigned against the common drinking cup, the common towel, and spitting in public to prevent the spread of disease. Long before we understood epidemiology as a worldwide concern, Crumbine was educating the public about our shared health concerns.
His concern and wisdom are more valuable today than ever. One of his notable quotes is imprinted in the sidewalk in the pocket park. “In the long run, lasting victories are won by telling people the truth.” We are not better off in the dark, but in the light of clear information and truth, we can deal with almost anything. Today, as in his life, doctors and scientists are the best sources of information and instruction. Ignorance of the dangers of our behavior not only hurt us but our neighbors as well. As he said, “We suffer from disease through ignorance. We may escape through knowledge.” The most memorable quote is on the brass plaque expressing his continuing education, “I began to realize, as I never had before, how much the health of each of us depends on the health of all of us.” Can we say “Amen” in 2020! Join the conversation on Facebook at Just Now Old Enough.