Enjoy the Rain with a Poem by Dr. Nellie

dr. nellie 1Dr. Nellie, Helen MacKnight Doyle, MD, was one of the first women physicians in California.  Surprisingly enough, she opened her practice at age 21, right here in Bishop.  Her autobiography, originally titled A Child Went Forth was later renamed just Dr. Nellie, with a forward by Mary Austin.  It is a well written and popular local read, but also acclaimed by the California State Library, where Dr. Nellie has been honored as one of California’s “women trailblazers in science, technology, engineering and math”.  I know at least one other customer agrees with me that it would be a wonderful Inyo Reads book!

Doyle’s brief bio states that , Dr. Helen MacKnight Doyle, a Pennsylvania native,  moved to Bishop in 1887. She later attended UC Berkeley at age 17 and received her medical degree in 1894 at age 20. Too young to get her medical license, she interned at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco where she treated children with tuberculosis. At 21, she returned to Bishop with her license in hand and opened her own practice.

I frequently recommend Dr. Nellie, but this week I came upon a little xeorox copy looking book titled A Child Went Forth, from Gotham House.  Not the autobiography though, this is a book of poems and anecdotes, with a personal note from well recognized local author Genny Smith in 1985 describing this as a collection of poems written by Helen Doyle and saved by her daughter and granddaughter.   I love the connections and personal tidbits that turn up in used books! 

To celebrate our local trailblazer and our blessed spring storms, here’s a quote from one of Dr. Doyle’s poems, titled helen doyleDesert Rain.


Gray ghosts glide down the mountain side/ To wash the desert’s dusty face./ On kind, caressing winds they ride/ In clouds of misty, silver lace. / With airy banners floating wide/ And pennants of sunshine-tinted gray/ Their errand still they strive to hide/ In seeming heedless disarray/

……………….Gathering up the wavering mist/ They swept it over the desert floor, / Each eager blossom, swiftly kissed/ Raised its thirsty cup for more. / And o, the perfume of the sage, / O, mighty miracle of rain!/ The desert , gray as though with age,/ Behold — he is a youth again!               

We can certainly appreciate that perfume of sage about now!   

( I apologize, I can’t get the poem’s spacing right in this program.)


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