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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Election loss, but winged victory

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  • A few days ago, I took a trip to Republican City, Neb. to see relatives. Along the way, I drove past my family's old farmhouse in Gretna, Kan., just east of Phillipsburg. My late father was born in that house on August 26, 1910. In his youth, radio, as a medium of news and communication, was in its infancy. I remember my dad telling how he built a crystal radio set and he and my grandparents would enjoy hearing radio stations from far and wide. One of the best known was radio station K.F.K.B. which went by its nickname of "Kansas' First, Kansas' Best." It was based out of Milford but transmitted with such high power, it could be heard in many states. It was owned by a man named Dr. John R. "Doc" Brinkley, MD.
    There is evidence that "Doc" Brinkley received his Medical license from a dubious source; he nevertheless drew good, positive acclaim for treating many patients during the 1918 flu pandemic. He drew wider fame (or infamy) by becoming the "Goat Gland doctor" touted to cure male impotence. His "treatments" were the Viagra of the 1920s and 1930s, making him a millionaire, so Brinkley bought radio stations.
    Brinkley was acknowledged by some independent physicians that he possessed real surgical skill, if he had not dabbled into exploratory and controversial transplants. He was criticized by others. Brinkley was one part con-man and one part showman: peddling elixirs. Doc Brinkley waged a "Write-In Campaign" for Governor of Kansas in 1930. Numerous ballots were discarded. the man who was declared winner, Harry Woodring, said if all the votes were counted: Brinkley would have won. Brinkley later moved to Del Rio, Texas, and set up a radio station called a "border blaster radio station" just across a bridge spanning the Rio Grande River.
    Recalling when I was a kid, I'd hear older people speak of Doc Brinkley's exploits in Kansas and later when he relocated to Texas . So, I after my recent Nebraska trip, I was determined to take a separate trip to Memphis, Tennessee, to pay my respects at the grave of Dr. John R. Brinkley, MD, who died in San Antonio, Texas in 1942 while reading the Holy Bible. His tombstone is impressive. A stone pillar with a stone globe atop it. Atop the globe is a copper statue of Mercury holding a halo wreath.
    —James A. Marples, Esbon
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