Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dr. Arthur Seeley Monzingo

When you drive down Soundview Drive coming into downtown Gig Harbor, have you ever wondered about the people who might have lived there in the early 1900s?  Or what families lived in the older houses along the downtown portion of Soundview?  Or whose homes that were demolished to make way for the condominiums like Dolphin Reach at 7221 Soundview or Heron Pointe Condominiums at 7305 Soundview Drive?  

On December 13, 2012 HHM had a blog regarding Thomas W. Maloney and learned that it was his property that was demolished and replaced by Dolphin Reach Condominiums.  And we also learned that Glen F. (Perk) Perkins and his wife Norma operated Perkins Funeral Home which was located at 7407 Soundview Drive which was converted into multi-family units although the exterior of the building looks the same as it did in the 1950s when the Perkins owned it.  The funeral home was moved to Haven of Rest on Highway SR16 once the Perkins developed the property there which the Perkins had originally purchased to use as a cemetery.  The first burial was at Haven of Rest in 1954. 

The property at 7305 Soundview Drive was a home and hospital to a well known and remembered doctor in Gig Harbor if you are of a certain age.  But for the rest of us, Dr. Arthur Seeley Monzingo is unknown.  Although his home was demolished and Heron Pointe Condominiums were built in its place, Dr. Monzingo's place in Gig Harbor's history needs to be recounted for those unfamiliar with him.

Dr. Monzingo was born to Thomas M. and Mary A. Monzingo in Coin, Page County, Iowa on April 15, 1877.   He had two sisters, Julia Eliza and Martha Bertha, and one brother John Johnson.  Dr. Monzingo became a general practice physician and married Lydia Ellen Iles (which is also spelled Isles) in 1898.  They had two boys Hershel Lorenzo and Forest Leon. Lydia died in 1913 and I was unable to discover what happened to the two boys. Arthur and Lydia had evidently divorced prior to her death. 

Because records show Dr. Monzingo married Bernice Florence Green in Boise, ID in 1910.  Arthur and Bernice had a son, William George June 25, 1915 and a daughter Jean Bernice May 7, 1912.  Unfortunately their daughter died shortly after birth. 

Arthur became a member of the Pierce County Medical Society in November 1906, and was the first physician to practice in South Tacoma.  

Dr. Monzingo's name appears on the roster of attendants at military training camps 1913-1916, page 173, by Military Trining Camps Association (US) 1916 - 451 pages…Monzingo, Arther S., 2611 North Union Ave., Am. L. '15.

Arthur, Bernice and William (Bill) moved to Gig Harbor in 1926.  He made house calls while living in a hotel on Harborview Drive, until his combination of both a house and hospital at 7305 Soundview Drive was completed the following year.  Dr. Monzingo named his new home Holly Home.  The structure was unique in that it was built in the popular Spanish style and stuccoed.  Behind the house/hospital he planted a holly grove hoping for an annual profit of up to $10 per tree for cut boughs.    

But more importantly, Dr. Monzingo saw himself as a "country doctor".  To him, this designation meant that he attended to his patients whenever and wherever they were when they needed medical care.  His transportation started out like many doctors in 1906 as a buggy and horse, but as time when on he was able to update to a Hudson.  Yes, it was the model with the spare tire on the outside rear.  The Hudson carried him all over the Peninsula making house calls, some as far as Longbranch.

In 1926 Dr. Monzingo was 49.  He had served in the military, and he suffered from intestinal cancer.  Unfortunately, the medical field had not yet developed any treatment for the cancer other than allowng the patient to continue their normal way of life until the cancer killed them.  Dr. Monzingo outlived his cancer, but 17 years after arriving in Gig Harbor died of a heart attack.  Many felt that the overwork due to the shortage of doctors during WWII exaggerated his stress and physical condition causing the attack.

When surgery was required, he had his hospital in town, and one of his best friends, Dr. Harold Ryan, although a dentist, assist him as an anesthetist.  Surgeries involved child births, appendectomies among other things.

This man was well loved by his friends and patients alike and all had stories of his generosity and caring.  He also used his skills in the medical field for animals.  One of the favorite stories involved his favorite red hen.  The hen loved to roost on the spare tire of the Hudson.  Sometimes, the Doctor forgot to lift the hen down when he had to go on a house call.  When he returned home, he naturally would look for the hen.  When he couldn't find her, he would get back in the car and go look for the hen regardless of how tired he himself might be.  And many times, the hen would just be sitting at the side of the road - waiting, wherever she had fallen off.  She knew the doctor would be back to pick her up.

Another fun story was the time the doctor was working in the garden in the rain looking like a hired yard man when a patient drove up and shouted out the car "Is the Doctor in?  The doctor suggested they just go in and make themselves comfortable while he got the doctor.  He entered the house through the back door, washed up and then appeared in the waiting room.  The patient never connected the doctor and the yard man.

The Doctor was also a lover of baseball, the Peninsula Singers, talent scout for the minstrel shows at the Roxy, working in his garden and holly grove.  Dr. Monzingo was a well-rounded person and loved by the community.

1931 Peninsula Singers Organized by Dr. Monzingo - 1st Year

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