by kfrego

The St Lawrence Seaway construction neared completion in the summer of 1959. Dad and many of his fellow ironworkers found long term employment on a large hydro-electric project near Niagara Falls, NY. The project would divert water from the Niagara River above the falls, channel it downstream through a new powerhouse, and discharge it back into the river below the falls.  Our family moved to the area during the summer school vacation. We occupied two temporary rentals before locating in a nice home near Youngstown,NY. We lived just off the Niagara River about two miles from where it entered Lake Ontario. Shortly after moving to Youngstown my encounter with an elderly doctor provided me with an adventure and some advise never forgotten.

Several weeks of fighting an ingrown toe nail resulted in a lot of pain and recurring infection on my right foot. Mom scheduled an appointment for me to see a doctor with an office within walking distance of home. Walking was uncomfortable, but the pain wasn’t intense enough to keep me off my feet. Getting around wasn’t as serious as the constant infection which wouldn’t heal. The doctors office was in his home. Shortly after entering his sitting room he beckoned me to his office. He was probably in his sixties, very friendly, and professional. He studied both of my feet and explained what was causing my problem. If I was willing to follow his directions my problem could be cured forever. It sounded good as he sat me in his chair, gathered his instruments on a tray, and took a seat on his stool.

He gave me a lengthy lesson on how the toe nails grow and what influences the proper growth. He demonstrated on my left big toe which was a little in grown, but minor compared to my right one. He explained a notch was needed in the center of the nail to allow room for new growth. This would stop the growth from getting ingrown on the sides. He cut a vee notch in the center of the nail about a quarter inch long and removed the vee shaped piece of nail. It was tender and hurt. He changed feet and went to work on my right foot. He snipped at a forty five degree angle from the center of my big toe to the inside corner of the nail at the quick. Before I could blink, he deftly removed about a third of my toe nail in one smooth swift motion. The pain was excruciating momentarily and gradually calmed down to just being severe. He wrapped a little gauze around it, gave me some ointment while lecturing on keeping proper cutting, and sent me home. I still trim a small notch in the center today and have never had another ingrown nail. Lesson well learned.

The old doctors advice saved me from future problems………….but it sure was a painful walk back home.