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Archive for Wednesday, March 4, 1992

VETERINARY PRACTICE HITS CENTURY MARK

March 4, 1992

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— For 100 years, animal owners in Overbrook and surrounding areas have called on the George Maichel family for veterinary care.

George E. Maichel never received a formal education in veterinary medicine. Instead, he read books, examined animals and "did post mortems on them to find out where all the organs were," said his son, George B. Maichel.

The elder Maichel spent a short time studying under an Emporia veterinarian but basically was self-taught in veterinary medicine. He started his own practice in 1892, and received a license to practice in 1908 at the age of 34.

"In those days, if you practiced veterinary medicine for 15 years, you could apply and get what they called a non-graduate license," his son explained.

MAICHEL SAID his father "was born and raised in Douglas County and lived on some homesteaded ground. He moved to Overbrook in 1915 when he got married," and practiced veterinary medicine until his death in 1944.

Maichel was born in a house about a block away from where he now lives with his wife, Meta.

As a young boy, he accompanied his father on jobs to treat animals, and when the time came to choose a career, Maichel decided to follow in his father's footsteps.

"The time for me to go to college came during Depression times, but my mother told me I should go," he said.

He studied veterinary medicine for five years at Kansas State University, returning to Overbrook to assist in his father's large-animal practice during breaks in school.

Upon graduating in 1938, "I came back from school and took over my father's practice," Maichel said.

IN 1941, he was called to serve in the U.S. Army veterinary corps with the 9th Cavalry. He was in the service for four years.

He laughingly recalls delivering a boat load of mules to Italy during the war.

"They were going to a mountain division for use as pack animals," he said.

After his release from the military, he immediately returned to Overbrook and resumed his practice.

Since his father moved to the small community, the Maichel family has boasted the only veterinarian in town, but its service extended far beyond Overbrook.

"I used to go to Lawrence, McLouth, Lyndon, Carbondale, all over," said Maichel. "Now they've got quite a few practices in the country towns."

The family's veterinary tradition will end when Maichel, who is 75, retires, something he plans to do gradually. His three children all have pursued other occupations.

VETERINARY medicine has come a long way since the primitive methods used when his father first started practicing, Maichel said.

"A lot of the veterinary medicine in those days was a lot of surgery and dental work," he said. "It's improved a great lot. It's gone into more preventative medicine. Antibiotics and other drugs have come into view since I came into the business."

At least one thing hasn't changed, though. Maichel still makes house calls to treat his patients rather than operating out of a clinic. He stores medication in his basement and drives a truck with a veterinary bed.

"I've got the old `fire practice,'" he said with a laugh. "You call with the problem and I go and put out the fire."

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