Pickup was one of a kind

Memories of the inimitable Doctor Jack Pickup from Alert Bay.

Dear editor,

I read with interest the article on Marilyn Crosbie (Former resident pens book on Flying Doc, Oct. 18), who is writing a book about Dr. Jack Pickup from Alert Bay. I talked to Dr. Pickup a lot during the course of my time up in Port Hardy, and want to share a few stories about him.

With respect to the inquest of the girl who died from complications of appendicitis, I have one observation about that. One day in the pharmacy, I got a call from a doctor who wanted to phone in a prescription for some narcotics, etc., for a patient from Alert Bay. That was fine, so after he finished giving me the presciption, I asked him for his name. He told me, and I apologized and said that I was unfamiliar with him, could he give me his doctor’s number.

He got fairly irate and asked me if that was standard practice. I just told him that I only knew of one doctor from Alert Bay and that was Jack Pickup. This got him upset a little more and he icily informed me that he had been there for a “number” of years and that he was the physician from Alert Bay. I apologized again, but did tell him that Dr. Pickup must be doing a booming side business, because he was the only doctor I ever saw presciptions from for Alert Bay up until that point.

I guess the moral of this little anecdote is that people voted with their presence, and Jack must have been doing OK in that department.

With respect to Jack’s flying career, Jack was famous everywhere throughout flying circles. I took my pilot’s licence, and when it was time to get my medical renewed, I asked around and Jack was recommended as a person who did medicals. I duly booked an appointment in Alert Bay, and flew my plane over and because it was such a nice day, did a few touch and go’s at the airport and low circles of the island and surrounding area. (Alert Bay has a beautiful airstrip).

When I got to the clinic, I was ushered in to see Jack, and he had not only seen the plane, but walked out to watch me flying around etc. He proceeded to tell me all about my particular type of plane, and then regaled me with flying stories for the next 45 minutes. When his nurse knocked on the door and informed him that she was running behind, we did a speed medical, which actually now is about the amount of time that you get to see a physician (what is that, about five minutes?). Talk about pressure, trying to do a urine test when Jack is telling me to hurry up because he talked too long.

Anyways, Jack was one of a kind, and in my time there, I honestly had never heard bad things about the man, because people respected him for being there, 24/7 for all those years. He did it all, surgery, anasthesia, and to boot, would come and get you if you couldn’t get to him. (And he would come in ANY kind of weather)  The North Island was lucky to have a man like that settling up there, but then, the North Island is lucky like that.

Craig Stout

Kamloops

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