About Me

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Birth of Dr. James Walter Smith Jr.

Friday, October 29, 1926

On this date, Dr. James Walter Smith Jr., plastic surgeon and noted collector of late 19th century to the mid-20th, coin-operated games and similar machines, including Rock Springs’ Wurlitzer Carousel Band Organ, was born. Like so many men and women of his generation, Dr. Smith first saw the magical machines in childhood. Born in East Liverpool, Ohio, Rock Springs amusement park beckoned from across the river. Young Smith would slip away from his family at the park to the gaudy clangor of the penny arcade. There was worse to come. By the time he was a teenager, James Jr. was frequenting the local pool hall, where he played coin-operated baseball and horse-racing games. ''What were you doing in there sinning?'' his father, James Walter Sr., would bellow as he swooped down on the pool hall just long enough to extract his son by the ear. The son turned respectable. He served two years in the Navy; earned an undergraduate degree in 1948 from Adelbert College, later part of Case Western Reserve University; and in 1952 received an M.D. degree from Columbia. Dr. Smith became a prominent surgeon with a string of publications to his credit, was sent by the State Department to research leprosy in India and gained recognition for his work in hand reconstruction.

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