Delta Dreaming: Country Doctors

            They shut down one of the last country Doctor’s offices in the Delta recently and we probably won’t see another. Health care is too tempting a target for the corporations. A kindly, caring, and brilliant fellow ran it for years, his body giving out before his mind. His name is Byron E. Holmes, M.D. and he was the closest thing to Marcus Welby, M.D. you could find in these parts.

            It is said that in the old days he charged two dollars for an office visit. That usually took care of one’s problems. He was slow to forward you to Little Rock and have the young folks pass you around to their Med School buddies before cutting on you. No, he would say, “Let’s watch it for a few days and see if it won’t heal itself.”

            Know what? It almost always did.

            The office was an old house on the “main drag” of Lonoke, Arkansas. He required no appointments. Patients were seen on a “first come, first served” basis. When things were slow, he would make his rounds to the nursing homes. When the waiting room was crowded, he never hurried. As for myself, he rarely fussed at me for anything but my weight. Sometimes he wanted to talk about the world. It didn’t matter if I was in a hurry or if the waiting room was crowded. I listened. I think I was one of the few people that had never heard all of his stories.

            His father was a Methodist minister and the legend goes that he told his son not to go into medicine. It was, as Joseph Conrad would put it, “… a command not obeyed.”

            We’re glad it wasn’t.  I’m glad I was fortunate enough to be in his care for nearly 40 years. “Better go let Dr. Holmes look at it” was the catch phrase that took care of everything. One never felt patronized, insulted, or condescended to in his office. And if he wasn’t the best at drawing blood I ever saw, that was a minor detail.

            They replaced his clinic with a corporate outfit from Dallas, Texas. They now charge $196.00 for an office call. The old days and old ways are done for, I’m afraid.

We’ll miss the old doc. Fortunately for me, the UAMS Longevity Center and the VA take care of my modest medical needs. The care is excellent. Under it, I have lost 50 pounds and feel 20 years younger. If something should go wrong, I think they will do a good job of treating it.

Even so, I always felt a little more confident when Byron E. Holmes, M.D. would say it would be all right in a few days. It always was.


"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." - Orson Welles


The old place must wonder where all the people went.
The old place must wonder where all the people went.

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Comments: 24
  • #1

    Beverly Malone Jones (Saturday, 20 September 2014 22:59)

    Dr. Holmes came to our home in the middle of the night and diagnosed me with acute appendicitis. He was always available day or night to the town of Lonoke irregardless of who you were. We were truly blessed to have Dr. Holmes as a town!

  • #2

    Tina pool (Sunday, 21 September 2014 01:56)

    I'll never forget his black dr bag he would bring because I knew I was about to get a shot. Such a wonderful doctor to come to your house and take care of me when I was a small child and he always said to me even in my 40's that I had a hearing problem he remembered telling my mom when I was in elementary school. Amazing how he remembered that and me. I miss him.

  • #3

    Mike Oakley (Sunday, 21 September 2014 05:20)

    I spent many hours in that waiting room as a kid. I really liked Doc Homes but I was very scared of Ms Glover, the nurse, receptionist and file clerk. The clinic was completely run by Ms Glover and Doc Homes

  • #4

    Melinda Henderson (Sunday, 21 September 2014 06:16)

    Dr. Holmes delivered me, and gave me every shot I ever got until I was grown and living elsewhere. He always tempered the pain of the needle with a Safe-T pop, though, and a hug, and that made it all better. In my teenage years, when Mom said I could get my ears pierced, Dr. Holmes and (Aunt) Hazel Cole made sure the job was done right! I found my way back to his door a few years ago when I couldn't get an appointment in Little Rock for meds needed for bronchitis over a holiday weekend. It was like I'd never been gone, complete with the hug.

  • #5

    Gloria Pressnall (Sunday, 21 September 2014 09:51)

    I do not remember a Dr. Holmes, the name that sticks in my mind is something like Dr. Whaley.

  • #6

    Rebecca Cox Miller (Sunday, 21 September 2014 22:17)

    I remember as a child every time us kids would hurt ourselves and that was plenty, my dad would call Dr. Holmes at his house and he would meet us there. Didn't matter if it was a weekend or holiday he would always meet us there and was almost always wearing that crisp white lab coat. It's kinda sad to drive down Hwy 70 and see no cars surrounding that quaint little building. It can easily be said Lonoke will never be the same without him to keep us healthy!

  • #7

    Laura (Rochelle) Gregg (Monday, 22 September 2014 02:15)

    We lived on the Rochelle farm and I remember my g-parents telling me that when Dr. Holmes couldn't drive to the house, he would park his car and walk thru mud and pouring rain to see his Pt's. If not already, there should be a LARGE stately memorial in Lonoke town honoring him. They will never make them like that anymore!

  • #8

    Rita Benafield Henard (Monday, 22 September 2014 02:22)

    Dr Holmes and his staff were wonderful when I was growning up. As a small child I had sever asthma which Dr Holmes treated; he made many house calls when I was too sick to go to his office. He pierced my ears when I was fifteen, he treated my twin sister, my grandparents, my Moma, and Daddy and other siblings. The morning my Daddy died he was in distress and I called Dr Holmes, did not even tell him who I was, but told him Daddy need him soon and he came quickly to the house that morning. I hope Dr and Mrs Holmes are having a good retirement as so many of the Lonoke County families took him away from his family on house calls and clinic visits for so many years.

  • #9

    Rebekah E. Brewer-Lewis (Monday, 22 September 2014 13:16)

    Dr. Holmes delivered my last child in 1958 right there in that Clinic in Lonoke. He was mine and my family's doctor for nearly 50 years. There will never be another Dr. like him, making house calls, going in the middle of the night, and never mind if you were not his regular doctor. I miss having him and his sage advice. Wonderful memories of a wonderful man.

  • #10

    Chris Glover (Saturday, 27 September 2014 14:57)

    What a wonderful man Dr Holmes has always been. It was nothing for him to see close to 100 people a day. Each and everyone was given the same special treatment. His nurse Mildred was a second mom to me. She was a wonderful person but all business at work. Her standard answer when I felt bad was. "I'll talk to doctor he'll know what to do" They were a good team for many years!

  • #11

    Barbara Carter Terry (Thursday, 08 January 2015 20:18)

    Dr. Holmes was much more than an ordinary doctor, he was one of the most caring,concerned, confident, never in a hurry, of his kind.He was interested in more than your physcial condition,& had a way a calming your concerns about body, mind. & spirit. I would almost feel guilty, about taking up too much of his time, talking with him, knowing he loved his work, his patients & treated everyone with the same compassion. He was a wonderful doctor, & served his community well,& will be deeply missed. May he & his family always receive the kindness he showed others !

  • #12

    Karen Pearson Nill (Sunday, 14 June 2015 21:20)

    Dr. Holmes is a wonderful man. He came to our house for 'house calls' when I was little and would meet you at his office on the weekends if you were sick. I used to joke that I thought he would still take potatoes or a chicken in trade for services. When my kids saw him after I was grown, he would always sit down and ask them about school and their classes. Man remembered everything!

  • #13

    Ray Glover (Sunday, 14 June 2015 21:24)

    Doc Holmes was and is with out the most respected person in Lonoke. Not only did he take care of us all physically he also served on the school board the entire time I was in school. BUT let's not forget Mrs Holmes. When you called the doctor in the middle of the night she would always answer the phone. She would say he is not hear. Would you please tell Doc to come to the Glover house. He would be there in fifteen minutes. Those poor people did not get very many uninterrupted nights.What a wonderful pair. They also found time to raise four good kids.

  • #14

    pam. nakasue (Sunday, 14 June 2015 23:06)

    A. Good. Doctor. My. Grandmother. Would not. Go. Any. Where. Else. He. Delivery. Me. In. 1955 pam. Roland

  • #15

    Shanita Finklea (Sunday, 14 June 2015 23:36)

    Dr.Holmes was a man with a heart like God. As a kid growing up in the black neighborhoods never once saw doctor worried of being harmed. He would come on in speak and call everybody by name and get right to his job. My famous moments with him was Dec3,2001 he pullup that morning at his office and I was sitting on the steps. U said to him I'm sure glad to see you bc I been sick all nite and you got to do something for me. He said just hang tight and get opened I said oh no I got to go in wit you now! He said ok come on I'm put u in a room and I'll be in shortly we'll I was in so much pain it was taken to long so I began to stand at the rooms doorway and he tipped out in my face I said doc I need a shot now vaudeville can't take it. He walked toward me coming into my room he said what's wrong I said doc I been up all nite wit this pain in my back, my butt, and have made a hundred laps around my grandmother's kitchen table and took ten hot bathes. He said well u had a busy nite and I gave him a crazy look! He handed me a cup and I put my urine in it and he said let me run it and I'll be back we'll I started timing him. I got back at the door he said take this grown put it on and get on my table and I step back in when u are finished. I said ok well he began checking me and when he was done he step out again but this time was longer than any and I was ready to get my meds and take it to Lyons to be filled but he came back and said well u having a baby and u need to get to UAMS bc there waiting for you but before you go stop at health department and see Renee Hart for some paperwork to carry with you and I have everything setup. I look at him and said some choice words and he reply why you made at me I'm not the babies daddy! My day was boomed but after delivery and returning home I went straight to him office to apologize to him and he said when he saw me so this is surprise here! I said yea doc you never let me slide thru. He said you almost there if you keep giving your food to your enemies! His favorite saying to me. Dr.Holmes thank you for the service you rendered me and my family your work will never be forgotten by people in Lonoke
    County. God gave you a vision and I feel you fulfill it with pride and joy and never thought twice about money and people's tax status. Thank you again for your love for the people.

  • #16

    Barbara scrimsher Rodman (Monday, 15 June 2015 03:08)

    He delivered me @2 pm on December 9, 1961 and then delivered my cousin December 10th at 2 am

  • #17

    Hazel Wesson Peterson (Monday, 15 June 2015 04:30)

    Many Dr Holmes visited our homes in the middle of the night when one of us was sick. What a wonderful man.

  • #18

    Rodger King (Monday, 15 June 2015 05:06)

    Dr.Holmes worked all day then visited the nursing homes, jails, and made house calls in the late afternoon. He never made a person feel as if he had too much to do to spend alot of time on them. He truly was a doctor because the loved both his trade and the people who he served.

  • #19

    Donna Lawson (Monday, 15 June 2015 05:54)

    Dr. Holmes was our family physician as long as my grandmother was living. (2003). Not only did my grandmother teach him, but we attended church with Dr. Holmes and Miss Gladys as long as there was a Lawson attending The Presbyrerian church. He always sat on the right hand side on the back row and many, many Sunday's I watched as someone cracked open the door of the church to ask him to see a family member. He was such a caring doctor with a heart of gold. He always treated me and after I had children, he was wonderful to meet us at his office in the middle of the night to take care of my girls earaches when we were in town visiting the family. He made numerous visits to our farm to treat my dad's emphasyma, deal with mom's cancer side effects and treat Gran for "old age." Hats off to Dr. Holmes. He truly was the last of the small town heroes.

  • #20

    Laura Lee (Ellis) Rainbolt (Monday, 15 June 2015 06:01)

    What a wonderful example of a good ole hometown country Dr was Dr B.E. Holmes . I can't even begin to count how many times I remember him coming to our home carrying his big black leather Dr's bag. I always remember him always pulling out his big stethoscope first. I never remember taking any antibiotics as a kid-seems like I just always got a penicillin shot, and given by Dr Holmes himself! One all 4 of us Ellis kids went to his office to get a shot(probably a tetanus shot) and my big brother Mike told me to clench my fist as tight as I could so it wouldn't hurt so bad. Well, I should have known he was tricking, but I did it and boy that hurt so I reached up there and grabbed that needle out of Dr Holmes hand and pulled that thing right out of my arm! Dr Holmes calmly told me to never do that again and I got stuck again!. I loved getting to pick out a suckered in that big drawer in his office. He always kept it full. I had to meet him at his office one night after I had compound fracture in my wrist. I remember my daddy holding my other hand while Dr Holmes pulled and pulled to get my bones matched back up, and me screaming at the top of my lungs! He kept saying "you don't want me to have to send you to a bone Dr do you"? My wrist today is as straight as can be and never had a problem from it. When I became a nurse my mother wanted me to go tell Dr Holmes first because of all the hard times I had given him when I was growing up. Medicine has changed so much since those good ole days of Dr Holmes. I sure wish we could go back to them. Life was so much simpler then. One thing is for sure-Dr Holmes made a big difference in my life growing up and my family's. I will always be so thankful for him and what he has meant for our community! I wish we could throw a celebration in his honor to thank him -I will be one of the first ones there!

  • #21

    Tammy Waggoner (Monday, 15 June 2015 14:51)

    Sat in his office many times & he was the only Dr I knew growing up would make house calls!

  • #22

    Bobby Cordell (Friday, 19 June 2015 05:42)

    Doc Holmes has poked me and put a many of stitches in me over the yrs. And miss him as my doc. House calls, nursing homes and after hour visits don't happen anymore .

  • #23

    Cheryl Reed (Monday, 29 June 2015 22:17)

    He was the kindest man that I have had the honor of knowing. He took great care of my folks and my fsmily for many years.

  • #24

    Nancy Buffalo (Friday, 07 August 2015 14:55)

    i remember Dr. Holmes making those house calls. He was always kind and never made you feel bad for calling during the night. We did not do it often but I do remember one time when I was probably 10. After Dr. Holmes was with you -you knew he was going to make everything ok. One other time my dad was pretty bad but I waited till morning to call him (I always hated to bother him at home)! When he got to my dads and saw him he gave me a lecture on not calling him during the night and told me never to do that Again! This was when he was having problems with his knees but he wanted to minister to his patients. Thank you Dr. Holmes!!!!

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