Spry Doctor Recalls Horse 'n' Buggy Days


An 85-year-old horse and buggy doctor climbed into a 1954 car, Tuesday . . .and then shifted into gear for his sixtieth year in medical practice.

Peeled gold letters on a milk glass shingle announce the name "N. G. Zinn, M.D." It hangs on a door that is never locked at 3 West Main Street, Alexandria, Ky.

Inside is a pill-lined antique shop.  A bare light bulb dangles over an old surgical chair that can flatten out for an operating table. Dark green window shades hide the outdoors and a rolltop desk holds records that the doctor grudgingly keeps.

"Modern medicine is becoming a racket," he complains.  "It's a crime to do something anymore without filing a record with the Government."

But his up-to-date drug licenses are thumb-tacked in view.

Dr. Zinn earned his medical shingle from the old Kentucky School of Medicine in Louisville.  Six years earlier he opened a pharmacy in Alexandria, then added his medical practice next door.

He reached his patients by horseback, buggy or cart, then mastered a Model-T over the bumpy Kentucky hills.

His horse and buggy ideas haven't changed with the times.  Heart conditions seem on the increase because of "the gait people go," the old-timer claims.  He believes the same as he always did about cancer that it's hereditary and carried in the blood.   But he wonders why it seems to be more common.

The new mother should stay in bed "off her feet for at least eight or ten days," advises the veteran.  New babies who are breast-fed are the healthiest. . . "not the ones grown on drugstore milk."

He recommends old fashioned after-birth scrubdown for the newly-born too, and use of a band on the infant's navel.

Modern doctors have had their practices shifted from the home to the doctor's office and frequently the hospital, says Dr. Zinn.

"If I call on a man at his home, then find he isn't at work the next day. . . chances are he's gone to a hospital."  This he explains is the result of good roads and automobiles, availability of hospitals and widespread hospitalization plans.

What keeps the doctor going for morning calls and office hours from 7 to 9 p.m. daily?  He aims to "work every day," says there's "nothing in that retiring."

"Just let up a little, but keep going," he advises.

He practices it.  He's never had a vacation.  Just looks over his three farms in Cold Spring (one belonged to Daniel Boone [?]); Gant's Lick, and Alexandria.


from the Cincinnati Times-Star, June 29, 1954, by Carolyn Workmen