Molly, Elizabeth and Doug at a resort on Lake Coeur d’Alene
When Doug and I traveled to Spokane, Wash., to meet Dr. Elizabeth Welty, a few new family chapters opened. Dr. Welty, my mother’s first cousin and my first cousin once removed (by the intervening generation), is 97 and the daughter of my Grandpa Fellows’s sister, Christine. I met Aunt Christine once when I was about 4 years old. She came to Clarks Green, Pa. where we lived for a visit from her home in Philadelphia. As I recall, she gave my mother a muskrat coat, which my sister and I as children used as a comforter when we were sick and confined to the sofa.
We celebrated Elizabeths birthday with her and about 20 friends at a Spokane restaurant.
Cousin Elizabeth is a retired internist who practiced in Spokane with her husbamd, a surgeon, until the mid-1980s. She graduated from Cornell Medical School in the days before antibiotics, but not as the lone woman. She said Cornell had always been co-ed and she was among six women in her graduating class.
Elizabeth, whom some people, but not us, call Libby, recalled her first experience with sulfa drugs. She was treating a young man who had a usually fatal blood infection. When she administered the revolutionary sulfa, he recovered overnight.
She also remembered how she met her husband. She was a resident at a Philadelphia hospital treating a man in the last stages of typhoid fever, which had resulted in a perforated bowel. She and her husband the surgeon stood over the dying man with Elizabeth arguing for surgery to repair the gut and her husband refusing-to-be. She said surgeons don’t like patients “who die on the table,” and the surgeon was convinced that would be the case. The sick man died anyway, she said.
She showed us the big building in downtown Spokane and indicated the floor (fourth, I think) where she and her husband had their offices.
Elizabeth shed light on some of our family issues, but those are too far in the past and too sensitive.