Bryson City Tales — The Interview (Part 3)

This is from the fifth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Tales. I hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends to join us.

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We parked and walked up to the gracious manor where we were to dine. What was then known as the Frye-Randolph House was originally a small Victorian lodge, built in 1895 by Captain Amos Frye. The captain later expanded it to an L-shaped plan, complete with lovely gables and a stone-pillared porch. Captain Frye and his wife, Lillian, lived in the house while the captain’s palatial Fryemont Inn was being constructed just up the hill. After the captain’s death, Lillian, by then the first practicing female attorney in western North Carolina, continued to practice law and run the inn until her death in 1957.

Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Cunningham were sitting outside with their wives, and they stood as we approached. Introductions were made all around. Gay Mitchell and Nancy Cunningham were the kind of sparkly people everyone instantly falls in love with. Their smiles were gracious and their laughter was infectious. We immediately liked them both—Gay the louder and more buoyant, effervescent, and outgoing; Nancy the more quiet and reserved. Unlike their husbands, both had been raised elsewhere, but they were quick to share with us their newfound love for the mountains and Bryson City.

The dinner bell rang, and we were escorted into what appeared to be a beautifully kept private home. Only the tourist brochures on one wall gave away the purpose of the Frye- Randolph house. We were shown into a private dining room where rich linens covered the table and candles glowed warmly. Our five-course meal was accompanied by light, friendly conversation. The proprietor and his wife, Bill and Ruth Adams, were in and out of the room—obviously great friends of our hosts and most hospitable to Barb, Kate, and me.

After dinner, we were shown to the sitting room. A small fire was burning in the fireplace, and as Ray lit his pipe, the room’s aromas were heady and warming.

“Walt,” said Bill “Mitch” Mitchell, almost sounding stern, “Ray and I think you’d be a great addition to our medical staff. And we’d love for you to join us in our practice—at least until your new medical office can be built. But I’ve just got one concern I need to discuss with you.”

“What’s that?” I asked. My curiosity grew as Gay pulled out a folded sheaf of papers from her purse.

Mitch unfolded the papers, looked them over, and then handed them to me. “Is this the paperwork you sent to the hospital?”

I looked at the papers, instantly recognizing them. “Yes, this is the list of medical and surgical privileges I’ve asked for. I filled this out for Mr. Douthit before we made our trip out here. Is something wrong?”

“Sure is. Look at page 5.”

I turned to page 5. It was a request for surgical privileges— cholecystectomy, appendectomy, fracture repair, hip replacement, upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, colonoscopy, breast biopsy, skin grafts, and a plethora of other surgical procedures. The page was blank. I had not checked any interest in applying for any of these privileges, because I had not been trained in any of these procedures.

“What’s the problem, Dr. Mitchell?”

“Well, you didn’t mark that you wanted any of those privileges.”

“That’s true, I don’t. I’d plan to assist you and Ray with most of these. But I’m not trained to do them as the primary surgeon.”

Mitch looked incredulous. Ray chimed in, “Told you!”

Mitch looked at him a bit sharply and then back at me. “You’re a doctor, aren’t you? You mean them boys at Duke didn’t train you to be a doctor? How can you practice out here if you can’t do these things?”

I smiled. Ray broke the silence, nicely expressing my sentiments. “Mitch, that’s what I told you. I know that in your day doctors were trained to do it all. But not in these days. Family physicians like Walt, just like the ones I trained with at the University of South Carolina in Charleston, are trained to take care of about 95 percent of all the problems they encounter. And they’re trained to assist a general surgeon. But they’re not general surgeons.”

Mitch sighed. “Makes no sense to me. If you can’t help us in the OR, then you’re no more helpful than Sale, Mathieson, or Nordling.”

“That’s not true!” exclaimed Ray. “Walt’s had lots more training than they’ve had. He’s trained in obstetrics and deliver- ing babies. He’s trained to take care of infants and kids. He’s forgotten a lot more dermatology, gynecology, psychology, and neurology than I ever learned. He knows intensive care. And he can help us in the OR. Furthermore, I’ll bet he’s willing to learn some of these procedures—aren’t you, Walt?”

Ten eyes were suddenly fixed on me—including Barb’s. “Well,” I stammered, “sure . . . I’d be willing to learn anything that you’d be willing to teach me.”

Mitch looked at me for a moment, then at Ray. Ray smiled at Mitch, and then they both looked at me.

“OK,” Mitch said, standing up and extending his hand toward mine. “We have a deal.” I shook his hand, not entirely taking in what had just occurred.


On the way back along the river toward the Hemlock Inn, we were silent. As we crossed the Tuckasegee River bridge, Barb spoke. “Walt . . .”

“Yes, honey?”

“Did we just agree to move to Bryson City?”

We were quiet for a few minutes. As we turned onto Galbreath Creek Road, I nodded. “I think so, honey. I think so.”

“Me, too,” she said.

“Me, too,” piped Kate’s voice from the backseat.



© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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