Holmes Medical Museum
Who’s a Quack?! Holmes Medical Museum
At the Holmes Medical Museum in Foley, Alabama, you might check yourself if you catch yourself sporting a smug smirk. We moderns disdainfully tsk-tsk at how silly folks once imagined they could reduce varicose veins with a pressurized glass boot (pictured) or fix broken bones with colored lights. This little museum is housed in a former hospital building, much of it still preserved, including offices and examination rooms that served Baldwin County from the early 30s until 1958. The main attraction is the Room of Quackery, full of “medical” devices one hopes, in line with the Hippocratic Oath, did no harm. Still, this place inspires one to reflect upon some of our own practices – like chemotherapy and electroshock/electroconvulsive therapy – which one must believe, in the not too distant future, will be considered primitive “kick-the-television-to-see-if-that-helps” approaches to medicine. Viewing this wacky "scientific" gear – like the barber’s bowl for bloodletting by barber surgeons – one might be forgiven a cringe or two. Remember, though, that bloodletting still happens; ask your local hipster about wet cupping. And actually, curing ailments through the use of colored light is practiced to this day: we saw a therapy room devoted to chromatherapy at a Wisconsin spa earlier this year. All of which either proves that quackery continues or that some of this stuff, odd as it may seem, actually does work…or, at least, that some of us still want to believe it does.
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