The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

A Truly So Story - Old Doc Romans

As Told By Leonard J. Turley
Preserved By Edith T. Medley © 1987

Issue: September, 1987

I met old Doc Romans when he was serving a large area of the southern slopes of the Blue Ridge and on into the tobacco section of North Carolina. Many of his patients looked upon him as a saint and his life was spent for the good of many of them. At the age of eighty he was still robust and always busy. I would see him at all hours in his old Model A Ford calling on the sick for miles around.

He used to tell a story about what happened in a small mill town where he first began practicing medicine. He was unmarried at the time and very shy in the presence of the opposite sex. His home and office was in a boarding house where all the other residents were females and none of them were the least bit shy. They teased him day in and day out, until the poor man could stand it no longer.

He thought up a unique way, which he felt sure would put a stop to the unmerciful teasing.

In the 1880's most rooming houses had no plumbing facilities and where the doctor lived was no exception. Each room was equipped with a wash stand upon which was a porcelain bowl and a pitcher and always a chamber pot under the bed for use in the evening when it was too dark or cold to go to the outhouse.

Dr. Romans chose a cold night for his trick. A night when all the girls would be out for the evening at a social function. He went to each of their rooms armed with a bag of seidlitz powder and poured a liberal portion into each china chamber pot. In case you aren't familiar with seidlitz powder, it is a compound of soap, salts and acid that has an unusual reaction when combined with water. A tablespoon of it will produce two or three gallons of effervescent bubbles immediately after being touched by a small quantity of water.

The girls returned home after the long evening's entertainment and it was but a few minutes before the house began to reverberate with shrieks and squeals from all corners of the house. Panic was on a rampage and the good doctor was away on call. Each girl thought she was afflicted with some new and strange malady and were still quite anxious the next morning, although they had no symptoms or felt no ill effects.

Dr. Romans told no one about his little trick until much later in life when he liked to speak about the effervescence of youth and he would tell his truly so story to illustrate.