CORNWALL HISTORICAL SOCIETY’S EXHIBIT ANSWERS,
“WHERE DO BABIES COME FROM?”
Where do babies come from? In Cornwall, between 1923 and 1978, the answer would have been, “Dr. Brad Walker.” Articles and letters at the Cornwall Historical Society record that Dr. Walker delivered a lot of babies: 800 by some accounts, a whopping 6000 by others.
On Friday, June 24, the Society’s major 2011 exhibit,Care to Cure: Medicine in the Era of Dr. W.B. Walker, 1923-1978 opens with an evening reception, from 5-7 PM at 7 Pine Street. We are happy to invite all of ‘Dr. Walker Babies’ to join us. So many people have shared their memories of him for this exhibit; we hope they will all come.
Replete with stories of his kindness and dry humor, the exhibit explores Dr. Walker’s life as a solo practitioner in Cornwall and in the larger medical community. His contribution to medicine and public health was significant. It also looks at his many other roles in town and the deep personal connection between his family and the community.
The challenges and advances in medical care over Dr. Walker’s fifty-five years as a traditional town doctor mirror the changes that have altered the practice of medicine almost beyond recognition. Days of home offices, house calls atall hours of the day and night, doctors personally driving patients to hospital, normal then, seem like Norman Rockwell images today. In bad weather, unpaved roads often required resort to horse and buggy and even skis to reach ailing patients; medicines and vaccines that are commonplace now were in their infancy or unknown in the first decades of his practice, as was health insurance. The exhibit’s curator, Michele Musto, notes that, “Care to Cure” is designed to encourage visitors to reflect on the differences between medical care then and now, to think about what has been lost and what gained.”
The exhibit also boasts special attractions for young visitors: children’s eye-level text panels and interactive questions, a paper doctor’s kit to color and cut out, an ‘I-Spy’ challenge to locate band-aids hidden throughout the gallery, and more. “We want kids to have fun here,” Michele stated.
Care to Cure will run from June 25 to October 11, weekends and holiday Mondays. Dr. Walker’s home office will be open to visitors on Saturday, June 25 from 10 – Noon, courtesy of its current owners. Additional talks and events are scheduled throughout the summer and fall and listed on this website.
AWARD OF MERIT for the CORNWALL HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Connecticut League of History Organizations selected the Cornwall Historical Society for an Award of Merit for its major 2010 exhibit, Visions and Contradictions: The Foreign Mission School, 1817-1826. The exhibit celebrated the Society’s opening of its renovated galleries and told the dramatic story of Cornwall’s early and short-lived experiment in missionary education. A virtual tour of the exhibit can be found here, on the Society’s website. CHS received an implementation grant for the exhibit from the Connecticut Humanities Council.
CLHO Awards of Merit are presented annually for projects that “demonstrate the highest of professional standards” and that “further the understanding of Connecticut history.” To say that we appreciate this award is an understatement; it is a testimony to the dedication and hard work of the board, our curator and volunteers. Now, we hope that visitors will enjoy our up-coming exhibit on medicine in the era of Dr. Bradford Walker, Cornwall’s town doctor from 1923 to 1978.