Our Friend, The Doctor
By Kaethe Maguire
Over the years, other writers have written about our own late Dr. Samuel Beale, but new people come to town all the time and I do wonder how many drive by the memorial plaque on the stone at the Corner of Main Street and Beale Avenue and wonder what this is all about. So, time to remind everyone about this important, beloved figure who worked to keep his patients healthy for so many years.
Dr. Beale arrived in Sandwich in 1909 and faithfully cared for our townspeople and those in neighboring towns from that year to 1965. Working early mornings to late nights - 7am to 9pm - as the only doctor to serve the area, he was a constant presence in our town. Always there when he was needed. For patients needing urgent care he often used his own car as an ambulance. He’d transport them to the two hospitals available during that time, the Tobey Hospital in Wareham and the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis. How many people today can say that their general practitioner is always available to them any time of the night or day? He delivered babies, too.
A little background information will help set the stage for the dedicated life of Dr. Samuel Beale and his progeny. His son James went on to be a surgeon and his daughter Elizabeth a nursing missionary in Bolivia. His father, also named Samuel Beale, was a Methodist minister, exposing young Samuel to many locations throughout Cape Cod. Samuel Jr. was baptized at the Methodist Campground in Yarmouth. Before the age of six he had lived in Sandwich, Edgartown, Vineyard Haven, West Dennis, and Wellfleet. So, his love of Cape Cod went way back.
From The Boston Globe, July 29, 1961
His father was the pastor at the Sandwich Methodist Church in 1884. That church, located at the corner of Liberty and Main Streets, is now the Masonic Hall and fortunately well cared for.
Samuel Jr. was invited to return to Sandwich when town doctor Robert Faunce died in 1908. He had dreamed of someday returning but needed someone to replace him in Hopkinton, MA, where he was living and practicing at the time. The chance finally came when a second doctor moved into town. Hopkinton had trouble paying for the services of a town doctor. Evidently that is the way it sometimes was back then. The Nicholas and Linley Machine Shop thankfully paid for the services of the Hopkinton doctor, but after the machine shop burned down Dr. Beale made the decision to leave the area. He and his wife Bernice sold their horses but kept one so the doctor would have transportation after the relocation.
In 1909 Dr. Beale and his family, now including two children, moved to Sandwich and he became our new town doctor. The family initially rented the Miller house at 14 Pleasant St.
By this time the area was in dire need of a physician. The Keith Car Works in Sagamore had greatly expanded and thus more people came to live in the area.
To celebrate his long-hoped-for return to Sandwich, Dr. Beale sold his last horse and bought the second car of his life, a Metz car with two cylinders. Later he bought a Stoddard-Dayton, which had more speed and no windshield. He loved it. During his many night calls in Bourne, Falmouth, Mashpee and Barnstable, he would speed along! He was known to drop everything to help a child in need.
His daughter Elizabeth handled the doctor’s books. Later, after Elizabeth enrolled in Mt Holyoke College, his wife Bernice took over as bookkeeper. Under his orders, many people were not even asked to pay for services. He was uncomfortable asking for payment and often took goods and services in place of cash. One man paid the doctor a lobster for each baby delivered. Being poor did not prohibit anyone from having the services of this man.
In 1914 Dr. Beale purchased the Tobey House at the corner of Main and School Streets. It was later known as the Quince Tree Inn but is now once again a private home. The doctor lived and conducted his practice there for 46 years. Even at age 85, with his services still needed, Dr. Beale continued to see as many as twenty patients a day.
His father’s family lived long lives. His own father lived to be over 100, but Dr. Beale was said to know his cigar smoking habit would limit his own life. He died in 1965 at the age of 89 and is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery on Main Street.
The next time you travel on Beale Avenue look for the small park at the corner of Beale and Main. The stone tablet honoring him is inscribed with the simple words, “Our Friend, the Doctor.”
164 Main St. served as Dr. Beale’s home and office. Photo courtesy of Allen Osgood.
Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe
Dr. Beale’s memorial at the corner of Beale & Main Streets. Photo courtesy of Allen Osgood.
Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe