Neighborhood doctor leaves his mark

ESCANABA – Everybody leaves a mark on a community.

Some folks leave big marks and have streets, parks and buildings named after them. Other folks leave small marks like a patch of violets or lilies-of-the-valley growing in the homestead yard.

Descendants, children and grandchildren are birthmarks left behind to carry on the family’s good name and talents and skills.

Some people leave land marks behind, and that’s what Doctor Kitchen did. His landmark was his northtown clinic.

A cruise down Sheridan Road will reveal one larger prairie style house on a corner lot. That was Doc’s corner. This building was Escanaba’s only northside hospital and also the home of Dr. A. S. Kitchen.

I grew up on the 1200 block of Sheridan Road, the same block that Dr. Kitchen owned much of decades earlier. While digging in the back yard to put a kennel post in back in the 1970’s, we made interesting archeological finds-medicine bottles.

The medicine bottles pointed the way next door.

In 1995, when my brother married and bought the house next door, I made another discovery. Doctor Kitchen and his family once owned, lived in and had a medical office in this house. A side door lead to the basement waiting room. Behind an old fashioned wooden window, the doctor’s receptionist took your name and information and then asked you to take a seat until she called for you.

The basement was partitioned off in small rooms. Two were examining rooms one was a laboratory and one a bathroom.

My brother and his wife hosted one of the eeriest and most fun Halloween parties the first year that they were married in that antique doctor’s office basement of theirs.

I wondered how many I. Stephenson employees with cuts and bruises and how many Chicago Northwestern railroad men with ore dust and creosote covered faces walked down those stairs into the little north side doctor’s office?

Arthur S. Kitchen M.D. was born in Fayette Michigan in 1875. He was educated at the University of Toronto. Kitchen began is practice in Rapid River and then moved to Escanaba in 1903. Doc Kitchen opened his offices on Sheridan Road. He most likely started his practice in the small house and then moved to the corner lot when he had the bigger building complete. (I was not able to find exact dates on this)

My stories of Dr. Kitchen’s helpfulness still linger in north Escanaba.

My mother told a “Doc Kitchen” story as one of “life’s most embarrassing moments.” When my Mom was about 10 years old she did a forbidden thing. She and friends went to play hide-and-seek in the tie yard north of her home.

Mom slid on a slick wooden railroad tie and fell back on her butt. A shard of wood left a gash there. Mom hobbled home in pain and so worried about playing where she knew she should not be. She hid in the family car for a while but the bleeding would not stop.

Mom had to confess to her folks. They took her by the hand and led her to Dr. Kitchen’s. The stitches in her backside healed nicely in no time and a lesson was learned and handed down to the next generation.

Doc Kitchen son Hugh left his initials carved in the wainscoting on the wall of my brother’s house. Instead of covering over them, he chooses to keep them visible as conversation piece. Even young Hugh left a mark on the community.

Dr. A. S. Kitchen was a well-known surgeon. He was at one time the president of the Delta County Medical Society. He also served on the Escanaba City Council.

He passed away unexpectedly in 1946 at his home/clinic on Sheridan Road.

He left a healing mark on north Escanaba.

Just because I was curious about a house’s history, I learned a lot about a man, a street (Harnett Avenue/Sheridan Road), and the city of Escanaba. Do some research about your home at the Escanaba Public Library or at the Delta County Historical Society. What secrets whisper between your walls?

Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of north Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles.