August 15, 1977. That was the first day that Doc practiced optometry in Mansfield. In truth, it was the first day of his professional practice, here or anywhere.
After graduation from the University of Houston, he leased the front half of the building at 126 N. Main Street for his office. Downtown Mansfield had a lot of vacancies then, and there were at least three buildings with broken windows when he opened his doors. The city manager at the time told him he did not need any inspections or certificates….”Just unlock the door and hang up a sign that won’t hit anybody in the head,” he said.
There was a solid wall that separated the front of the building from the back. A radio repair shop operated in the rear of the building, and their customers entered through the door on Smith Street. The carpet in Doc’s front part of the building was indoor/outdoor in a lovely shade of blue. The radio shop had the same carpet, but in red. Doc laid out an exam room, a dispensary, and a little office for himself.
After about four years, the radio guys left, and Doc leased the whole building. A doorway was cut through the paneling to connect the front and back sections, and today’s long, skinny hall was born. It was some time before he had the money to re-carpet the whole building, so, for a while, there was a line of demarcation in the middle of the building. Front to back. Old to new. Blue to red.
The hall is 25 paces long. For almost 38 years now, Doc has cruised up and down that same 75-foot hallway. He’s cared for thousands of patients. He’s seen them before school, after work, in the dark of mornings and evenings. Emergencies don’t care about office hours.
It would be an exercise in futility to try and count the number of steps he's taken here, and it wouldn't matter anyway. It has all been done with an eye to taking care of people who need him.
And he wouldn’t change a thing.