CORVALLIS - As the first licensed physician in the frontier town of Bend, Ore., Urling Coe counted among his patients cowboys and homesteaders, Indians and town boosters, rustlers and prostitutes.
Coe's memoirs from his 13 years in Bend - flavored with a generous dose of opinion on sex, venereal disease, abortion, euthanasia, divorce and domestic violence - are chronicled in a book just re-released by the Oregon State University Press.
"Frontier Doctor: Observations on Central Oregon and the Changing West" is the latest in OSU's Northwest Reprints series, which brings back into print important fiction and non-fiction works from the region's past. "Frontier Doctor," the 13th volume in the series, originally was published in 1940.
Coe came to Bend in 1905 after attending college in Missouri and receiving his medical training in Cincinnati, Ohio. During the next 13 years, he experienced and wrote about the development of the western town, from the arrival of the railroad in 1911 to Bend's transformation from a settlement into a small city.
Historian Robert Bunting provides a new introduction for the book, noting that Coe's words offer some fascinating parallels to the issues of today.
"Urling Coe provides readers with more than a glimpse into his world," Bunting wrote. "He speaks to ours, as well. Numerous policies Coe wrote about are still at issue today."
Some of those topics include environmental change, management of eastside forests, the urban West, multiculturalism, the relationship between westerners and the federal government, and women and families.
Robert Frank, professor of English at OSU, edits the Northwest Reprints series. "Frontier Doctor" is available at bookstores and libraries, and can be ordered from the OSU Press for $15.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. Write OSU Press, 101 Waldo Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, or call 541-737-3166.
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Tom Booth, 503-230-1900