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Doctor Ernest Fine first in the area

Dr. Ernest Fine was one of the early physicians in Crescent City when he arrived in 1899. His first office was in a one-room shack on the corner of Second and J Streets. (Photo submitted by The Del Norte County Historical Society).
Dr. Ernest Fine was one of the early physicians in Crescent City when he arrived in 1899. His first office was in a one-room shack on the corner of Second and J Streets. (Photo submitted by The Del Norte County Historical Society).

By Thea Skinner

Triplicate staff writer

The last horse and buggy doctor in Del Norte County was Dr. Ernest Maxwell Fine.

Whether delivering a baby, setting a broken bone, or administering medicine, he was always on-call.

Carol Povey, a former Del Norte High School student, recounts his life in a 1960s paper donated to the Del Norte Historical Society.

Povey interviewed several people, who have since passed away, to write the paper.

With no doctor in the area at the time, he moved to Del Norte County in 1899 to help the sick.

He was the only doctor in the area from Smith River to Orick.

"He wanted to be some place where people really needed him," said Mrs. Murdock Roeder in an interview with Povey.

Dr. Fine's first office was on the corner of Third and J streets, which contained a hospital room and a combined office, laboratory, waiting room.

An old motto hung on the wall in his office that read: "Nature is the Best Remedy."

No hospital existed in the county at that time. He often performed amputation of patients on a kitchen table.

In an interview with Povey, Mrs. George Berry said, "If a patient never paid him, he still answered the next call to their home with as much gladness to serve."

Long-time Del Norte Historical Society volunteer Ernestine Buzzini was delivered by Dr. Fine as a baby. She was named after him.

"Dr. Fine kept dropping in asking what the name was going to be, but no one (in the family) could make up their mind," Buzzini said.

As the deadline to register Buzzini's name came closer, Dr. Fine made an executive decision and named her Ernestine.

"Dr. Fine picked it, because he did not have a girl named after him," Buzzini said. "He was friendly with the family. Everyone knew him."

Dr. Fine traveled on a bicycle, in which he used to come to Crescent City. He began using a horse and buggy. In 1905 he purchased a Ford Roadster.

He was his own mechanic performing operations on the engine. He invested in a Harley Davidson to make short house calls and for trips to work.

Dr. Fine moved his practice to the corner of Third and E streets, where he created a five- room hospital called the Dr. Fine Hospital, Berry said.

He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, an international non-sectarian fraternal organization promoting the ideals of friendship, benevolence, and charity.

In 1927, the hospital burned down, and Dr. Fine retired. When the stock market crashed, he lost his savings and began practicing again, said Roeder.

He shared a joint waiting room with another doctor above Endert's Drug Store with his own examination and x-ray room.

Dr. Fine died on September 30, 1939. high blood pressure and hard work was the cause of death. A Catholic Cemetery is his final resting place.

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