Dr. Harry Hartzell: About Esther Clark
Recalled retired pediatrician Harry Hartzell:
Esther Clark was unique. She had a ranch up in Northern California and she would invite us to go up there for a weekend with her. We went up once with our kids. Esther had a pond that she'd dammed up and it was down from her house, and we went swimming with her in this pond.
On the way back up the path, a rattlesnake appeared. My daughter, who was then five years old, was in her bathing suit and going along this path, and Esther looked over and said, ‘Oh, Emily, be careful, there's a rattlesnake there.' Emily stepped back and Esther in her Speedo went up to the house, got a rifle, came down, took one shot, killed the rattlesnake and then said, ‘You know, we should dissect this. I've got a comparative anatomy book here.'
She opened it up to ‘snake' and we spread out this rattlesnake on a board. Got the cutting board out of the kitchen and tacked down the rattlesnake and opened it up and dissected it. And she demonstrated to my kids the various organs of the rattlesnake. I've never known another woman who could have done that.
Esther could be a very prickly person. Most patients were frightened of her. But every now and then I'll run into somebody who says, ‘I knew Esther Clark and that's why I went into medicine.' Esther had that kind of flavor, and for a generation of women who were just beginning to feel their wings, Esther really was a big role model.
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