Eureka Springs Independent Newspaper Column for April 30, 2014

When I was a kid I had a big interest in the jungles of the Congo region of Africa. On the front page of the March 25, 1965 Eureka Springs Times-Echo is this notice: “Dr. Robert Etherington will be showing slides taken in the Congo at the Oak Hill Grange Meeting. April 3 at 8 p.m. Everyone is invited.”

I would like to have heard Dr. Etherington talk about his trip to the Congo, but, alas, he hadn’t delivered me yet. Robert A. Etherington was a doctor in Eureka Springs for many years. He was born in the state of Washington in 1922 and came here in the early 1960s to practice medicine.

I suppose Dr. Etherington took care of me as a baby (seems I recall a story about him dropping me), but I didn’t see him again until I was 15 and he was the doctor on duty in the Emergency Room at the Eureka Spring Hospital. I was gainfully employed early that evening as a busboy at Buckingham’s Restaurant in the old Ramada Inn. The busboy’s station had stuff piled up on the floor and I stumbled while taking down a pot of hot coffee from the burner. Coffee splashed down my neck and clean white shirt.

I worked awhile longer, but customers kept looking at me oddly, so I asked my employer if I should go home and change clothes. My employer became rather alarmed at the sight of me and the headwaiter rushed me to the hospital. Dr. Etherington said I had second-degree burns and proceeded to wrap my neck and head like that of a mummy. Had I known about his trip to the Congo, it would have been an opportunity to ask about it.

My contact with Dr. Etherington was limited to just a few significant occasions, but the interesting thing is that if you ask ten people about Dr. Etherington, you will hear 10 different surprising stories. When he left town, I always heard it was for Australia (and maybe it was), but records show he was soon living in Enid, Okla. He died in 1999.