Tonsillectomies, 1951

Tonsillectomies were evidently routine in the 1950s, at least for kids ages about ages 4 to 6. There were certainly several children listed in the hospital news the winter of 1950-51. From the January 4, 1951, Dexter Sentinel:

“Robert Gist of Earlham, Terry Byrne of Earlham, Luretta Lilly of Dexter, Phyllis Miller of Stuart, Joy and Jean Neal of Dexter, Susan Shepherd of Dexter, Bobby Harris of Casey and Bruce Lawson of Dexter underwent tonsillectomies at the clinic hospital this week.

“Admitted to the hospital this week were Mrs. Wilbur Addy of Dexter, Ester Harris of Menlo, Charles Sidebottom of Dexter and Arthur Hanson of Fontanelle.

“Ruth McLennan of Earlham underwent major surgery.

“A seven pound five ounce girl was born to Mrs. Harry Esten of Menlo January 1.

“A seven pound nice [sic] ounce son was born to Mrs. Wilbur Carter of Dexter December 29.

“An eight pound three ounce son was born to Mrs. John Shepherd of Dexter December 30.

“Dismissed from the clinic hospital this week were Bobby Harris of Casey, Jean and Joy Neal of Dexter, Lauretta Lillie of Dexter, Terry Byrne of Earlham, Robert Ohrt of Earlham and Susan Shepherd of Dexter.”

My sister, Gloria Jean, was called by her middle name until kindergarten, where there were more Jeans and Janes in the class. Mom asked her if she’d like to be called Gloria, She did.

First cousin Susan Shepherd was 5, Gloria 4, and I was 6 when we underwent tonsillectomies. I still remember the smell of ether, and getting to have ice cream when we got home.

Susan’s mother was Mrs. John Shepherd in the clipping. Susan’s baby brother was born while Susan was also in the hospital!

The doctors who had delivered us and also performed our tonsillectomies, Keith Chapler and Robert Osborn, were new Dexter doctors when they patched up Buck and Blanche Barrow in 1933. Buck was the brother of Clyde Barrow of the criminals also known as Bonnie and Clyde.




  1. This is a very interesting news clipping. Medical protocol and news reporting certainly have changed! I had my tonsils and adenoids removed as a child, but my tonsils grew back. I found this out when I had several bouts of tonsillitis as a young adult.

    • You must have grown out of it, Nancy. I wonder if that’s what most folks do. Small town newspapers are still such fun! Dexter never had a population of over 900 souls, but they had a clinic-hospital with those two doctors which was such an asset for the whole area.

  2. Thats funny, I haven’t thought about having my tonsils out since. Yes I can still remember the ice cream in bed and all the fuss too

    • You’re right, Kellye! It sure made working on ancestry a lot more fun. So many of those old newspapers are on microfilm, or even the internet, these days. Happy New Year to you as well!

  3. Yeah, I remember my tonsillectomy in the late 40s, especially the ice cream. That newspaper article was obviously written before the HIPPA laws were on the books.

  4. I remember what you did. Ether smell and ice cream. Was too cold but then they let me drink all the 7-up I wanted.

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