The Good DoctorsSep 01, 2021 ● By Bob Warren
Frisco’s early physicians typically did more than just practice medicine. At the time, they had a better education than most of the people here, so many of them took positions of leadership within our small community. In fact, Frisco’s first mayor was a physician. Dr. I. S. Rogers was inaugurated as mayor in 1908, the year Frisco became incorporated.
Let’s take a look at some of Frisco’s “medical history,” beginning soon after our town got its start in 1902. At that time, the towns of Lebanon and Little Elm were already in existence, one five miles to the east and the other a few miles to the west. Frisco, being a new railroad town, offered a lot of promise to its neighbors, so people and businesses soon started moving here. Two physicians, doctors I. S. Rogers and J. D. Carpenter, moved their practices from Little Elm to Frisco in 1904. Two more doctors, J. M. Mallow and J. M. Ogle, soon followed and, believe it or not, those four doctors were Frisco’s first mayors.
In those early days, practicing medicine in a rural community like Frisco was much different than what we see today. To say the least, it was a challenge. House calls to the farm homes were often made on horseback, especially when the muddy roads were too much for a Model T. The position of doctor, though highly respected, was not highly paid. House calls brought as little as $2, and to deliver a baby (at home since there were no hospitals here), the big sum of $10. Dr. Rogers’ daughter, Viola, was quoted as saying that her father never questioned about money but was criticized severely when he began charging $15 instead of $10 to deliver a baby. A side note: I was born at home here in Frisco in 1921, and 23 years later, my son Don, my first child, was also born at home in Frisco, delivered by the same doctor, Dr. W. L. Saye. (More about Dr. Saye later.)
The flu epidemic of 1918 brought lots of problems for area doctors. Some had patients in Little Elm as well as Frisco, and there was no telephone line connecting the two towns. A very gracious farmer, Sam Rose, who lived about halfway between the two towns, had a phone line for both towns. He invited Drs. Rogers and Carpenter to headquarter at the Rose home so they could receive calls from patients in both towns. It was there that they could also pick up a fresh horse to ride to patients’ homes. How’s that for hospitality?
Many of our early doctors held their practice in the back of drugstores. That prompted the title “drugstore physicians.” Dr. Saye came to Frisco about 1912 and set up practice in the back of Curtsinger’s Drug Store. To quote resident Sam Roach, “Dr. Saye was a philosopher and forward thinker.” I knew him well and whole heartily agree with Sam’s title for the good doctor.
Let me tell you one of the many reasons I think Dr. Saye was an especially good planner and thinker. As a teenager I worked at Curtsinger’s Drug Store, where Dr. Saye officed. Often, when he was not busy, he came and sat at one of the alabaster-topped tables near the soda fountain where I worked. As he drank a fountain Coke, he often drew maps on the tabletop. I watched him draw, wondering what he was doing, and later found that he was planning what he hoped would be a road from McKinney to Frisco and on to Fort Worth – quite an undertaking, to say the least. He interested the mayor, Benton Staley, and they contacted the U.S. Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, a native of Bonham, Texas. Speaker Rayburn told them he would back their request if the road could be started at Bonham. The request was approved, and the road became Highway 121, known today as Sam Rayburn Freeway – our good doctor’s idea.
For many years, until his death in 1952, Dr. Saye was Frisco’s only doctor. After his death, the townspeople (population 850) pooled their efforts and built a clinic to attract another physician. They offered the clinic rent-free for a year, and found a taker, Dr. Parnell, in 1953. He fell ill and had to leave after nine months, so the search was on again.
Finally, in 1954, the city found a doctor who proved to be “a keeper,” Dr. Erwin Pink, who came and began a 43-year stay as the city’s physician of note as well as a civil servant. He and his wife, Elisabeth, immediately began to contribute to the city’s development and welfare. He served on the school board for 18 years and walked the sidelines at football games, ready to heal injured players. He was known to take an injured player, lay him on the bench, sew up a cut without benefit of an anesthetic and send him back into the game. That gave him the name “Painless Pink.” He helped recruit businesses before Frisco had an Economic Development Corporation, helped build the city’s second residential development, helped form the Frisco Heritage Association to see that our history is preserved, and the list goes on – all that while being our “good doctor.”
Dr. Pink retired in 1998 and was succeeded by business partner Dr. Vicki Davis, who continues to practice in Frisco. After his retirement, he continued his effort to make Frisco a fine city. He and his wife were honored by having a street, a soccer field and a school named for them. The “Good Doctor” Pink died in 2006 after a well-spent life of helping keep people well and doing his best to make Frisco what it is today.
For years, Frisco had no hospital. Children were either born at home or at area hospitals nearby. A personal note: In 1951, my family was staying with my parents in Frisco while I was working temporarily in East Texas. While they were here, my youngest daughter, Tami, was born in a McKinney hospital, the nearest one to Frisco. The inconvenience of “long distance visitation,” if it can be called that, continued until the fall of 2002 when a 32-bed, physician-managed hospital opened here. Part of a planned 62-acre medical development, Centennial Hospital (now known as Baylor Scott & White Nutrition – Centennial) was finally here. Soon came Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Frisco, followed by Medical City Frisco, Texas Health Frisco, Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center, and an assortment of urgent-care facilities. You might say that’s quite an advancement in medical care for our city.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important part of medical care, are our physicians. We have come a long way from the years as a “one-doctor town” to a city with more physicians than I can count. A check of the listings for the “best doctors in Frisco” shows that we have just about every kind of specialist – “ologists,” if you please – as well as our much needed and much- loved general practitioners. Personally, I have had the same primary care doctor, Dr. John Treer, for so many years that he and his staff seem like part of my family.
So much for Frisco’s “Good Doctors” and their excellent medical facilities. We’re proud of them and are so much more healthy because of them!