Friday, April 11, 2008
Dr. Raymond Babcock House
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, this was home to a man whose influence is felt in Willits even today, nearly half a century after his death. He was a "country" doctor only in the sense that he served the needs of a rural area in whatever medical capacity was required - pediatrics, obstetrics, general surgery, oncology, internal medicine, emergency trauma, you name it. But he kept very up-to-date on the latest developments and techniques of his time, and was superb at diagnosis, and, in short, was the driving force behind the creation of the hospital in town. He had served as a medic in World War I, and as a member of the American Legion, helped organize the original annual Frontier Days Rodeo as a community fundraiser. There's a book coming out about him soon; I can barely mention all that could be said. I will add that he "knew" the racehorse Seabiscuit personally, and cared for his jockey Red Pollard after a severe injury.
In more recent years, I recall seeing Dr. Babcock's son-in-law, George Akins, out in this yard. He would trim these hedges while wearing a white short-sleeved shirt, thin dark tie, light wool suit trousers, and a fedora. Another decent and intelligent man, honoring the legacy of his esteemed father-in-law. George died not long after his wife, Jane Babcock Akins, several years ago.