The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 16, 2013

Carey Construction Co. Paves 10th Avenue South

By Gary Herrity
Special to the Herald

One of the most historic districts of Clinton is the hill area near 10th Avenue So. and 6th Street where the Carey Construction Co. was paving the street with bricks about 1910. To the east, in the 500 Block of 10th Avenue, are some of the oldest homes in Clinton. In the picture, the late Dr. Ed Carey’s father and grandfather are standing off to the right side with suits on. His grandfather’s name is still to be seen on many sidewalks around Clinton. Here, his construction company is laying the brick street on one of the main trolley car lines. In fact,  the trolleys passed each other as you can still see in the 700 block of this avenue, so the tracks had to widen at this point.


The brick streets were big projects all over Clinton right after the turn of the century when cars were coming on the scene. First the downtown was paved and then slowly some of the streets. The bricks were exquisitely placed and “pile drived” via steam engine power (see picture) into secure place so that it is still hard to extract them. The paving bricks are so well made that they are of great value today for patios. The rumble of the brick streets were music to the ears of automobiles users and some of these fine roads still exist in our town.


Dr. Carey had the distinct advantage of having a construction company grandfather who valued education. His father was sent to college to become an engineer, and then he himself went on to become a much admired Eye- Ear- Nose- and Throat doctor, who served Clinton’s citizens well for many decades. Upon being graduated from medical school, Dr. Ed Carey served in WWII, and then returned to Clinton to practice medicine. He was truly a nice man and was a wonderful conversationalist.


I remember him overruling his receptionist and nurse years ago, to take me in and clean my ears of wax after I became nauseated from trying to teach school with loud ringing in my ears. I suppose that they wanted him to concentrate on the more lucrative portions of his practice. That was back in the early 60’s. He really cared about people, you could just tell by his manner. 


It was interesting to visit and speak with him while he was at the Alverno just a year ago. His mind and humor were still at their peak even though his body had been ravaged by time. He was over 90. He taught many people how to live and how to be brave and caring even unto his death.


Those early doctors really were a breed unto themselves, serving long hours with much grace. Two others who I encountered often were Dr. Robert Mellen, a kindly general practitioner of my father’s vintage, and Dr. Maryellda Rockwell, one of Clinton’s first female doctors, who made house calls and took care of me when I was a child. So did Dr. Joe O’Donnell make house calls, and he once saved my life when I was having a severe asthma attack. I recall people jokingly calling him  “Mother O’Donnell,” because of the way he addressed older women by always calling them “mother.”


Another famous doctor was Dr. John Hullinger, who lived to be 97 years old and is famous for fathering two boys, John and Bill, at the advanced age of 93 and 95. He went on a television program with his "secret,” and they didn’t even come close to guessing that he could be a father of two young babies! His widow, Lucille, still lived in town until 2006 and she was always glad to tell you all about her years with Doc Hullinger.


What amazed me in those days was that doctors lived on the same streets and in much the same kind of houses as the rest of us did. The millionaires did, too, except that their houses were mansions. Everyone was kind of the same, even if some had slightly larger homes, or more money or education. Dr. Dwyer lived in a nice common house on 5th Avenue So. and Dr. Mellen and his large family lived on Sixth Street, just a few doors from us. His daughter, Jenan, remembered going on house calls with him. “He would go on two a night, several times during the week,” she recalls. He once told me to “take hot and cold showers", alternating the temperature dramatically, to build up my toughness,... "which would ward off colds.” To this day, I still sometimes think of him when I’m in the shower! There’s no telling how many impressions these old-time professionals made on us. People will still occasionally talk to me about my dad making false teeth for them and what he said and did while he talked to them. One thing is certain, they didn’t make much money.


An older man once asked me during a slide-show  if I knew why Dr. Hullinger lived so long. I bit on it, and asked “why?” in return. The man said, “because he used to jog in between all of his house calls.” I’m proud to say that for once I responded quickly, “What the heck is a ‘house call’?”!!!