Paying the Doctor

A neighbor told me a story recently, which illustrates some of the ways things have changed here over a span of a generation.

My neighbor’s mother was having a difficult time delivering his older sister.  His father had to go and get the doctor, although he would have preferred not to.  With the doctor’s help the baby was successfully delivered.  This was in the 1930s.  The doctor charged them $10.

When his father sold his crop that year, after paying off the crop lien he had a little over $10 left over.  That was his profit for the year.

He went to the doctor and told him that after selling the crop he had enough to pay his bill. “But,” he continued, “my mule died.  If I buy another mule I can make a crop next year.  If I don’t, I can’t.  I mean to pay you what I owe you and I have it with me. But if I pay you now I won’t be able to buy a mule.”

“Buy a mule,” the doctor responded, “and pay me when you can.”

He paid the doctor the following year.