“The Doctor,” a Difficult Dad

“The Doctor,” a Difficult Dad

Cicero Mead Hobby, Will Hobby’s father, is always referred to as “The Doctor,” even by his wife in letters to her sister.  Of course Mary Hobby also referred to her sister’s husband as “Mr. Potter.”  First names were more hesitantly used then.  I wonder if Mary addressed her husband in private as Doctor, Cicero, CM, or something else.  I suspect, from the tone of the letters, that the Potters were less formal than the Hobbys.  Will Hobby writes to Daniel Charles Potter as “Uncle Charlie,” but Mabel never writes about “Uncle Cicero!”

Presumably Dr. Hobby had retired from his ophthalmology practice at the time of this visit to his only daughter and her family in Cuba.  There is no indication that he must return to Iowa by any certain date.

Mabel writes to her mother on February 25, 1907:  “He’s a queer man.  Ruth gets all out of patience and isn’t worth much as a sober adviser on ways and means to manage him!”

C.M. Hobby, ophthalmologist, Iowa City
Cicero Mead Hobby, unknown date.


Then, March 1: “The Dr. has departed, for better worse no one knows—Carl says he didn’t expect he’d be living this long when they left home!  And for the last few days has been worse—but tho’t able to go alone—tho’ Carl will have to join him later I guess—trouble in breathing—not sleep much nights—has not eaten much—Yesterday he went in town—found his trip of eight hours, nine miles, … cost over $12—exorbitant—and this with heat, &c. rather upset him—He put upon Ruth quite unmercifully first before dinner, as he would not have had George been present—we were all present—but I took occasion to go in to quiet Jessie’s calling just then so did not hear much—We all put forth extra effort to make merry at table and he entered into conversation more after a while—It’s too bad we can do so little for him—for he’s unhappy—the children all recognize it and would do everything they could—”

[Ruth’s] packing job was no small one last night—and I guess the boys had their troubles!  … Ruth had … arranged for the Dr’s trunk to go in last night—this a.m. telephoned for the “rig” to take the Dr. & usual luggage in—I’d said I’d stay, as all the family could not go—The team had been out since five this a.m. and no knowing when would be in—We hired it—and Ruth was high—others have the use of it at convenience of their family—would not have happened if George had been here—Resulted in the boys taking small luggage and their going by car—so we said goodbye here—when team returned we went to Commissary … as Ruth had  to do that—had intended to do those errands first—the driver was high too because had been ordered around so—…Ruth made things hot for some people—”

“Incidentally, Ruth has had reason to be out of patience again when she finds most of bedding used on her father’s bed ruined by burnt holes—even several holes burned in the government mattress!  Says if he’d only chip in “one stick of wood”—but he’s evidently not spent anything on the house—not since I’ve been here—and yet spends so much otherwise—”

One can hear a collective sigh of relief as The Doctor departs!

Been Here? Done That? Tell Me About It!