fixture in the community for nearly a century, and it was all started
by Dr. Elmer Thompson.
On April 19, 1905, Dr. Thompson arrived in Burbank after
practicing medicine in Wisconsin. Anxious to establish his own
practice, he canvassed the Valley to find a suitable location. He had
the foresight to realize that Los Angeles County was on the edge of a
population explosion that would provide an abundance of patients. He
almost decided to locate his practice, but decided not to because he
feared that he would be unable to make any money since most of the
people there at that time were clerks and laborers who were often
unemployed because of circumstances beyond their control.
He also contemplated Van Nuys and Newhall but opted not to locate
there because of the distance from downtown Los Angeles. He finally
selected Burbank because of its close proximity to downtown Los
Angeles, lack of physicians in the area and because the area was
populated by established ranchers who could easily pay their medical
bills ... or so he thought.
Having decided on Burbank, he started his medical practice from
his home, which was on the corner of Olive Avenue and 1st Street. Not
able to afford a horse, he purchased a bicycle to make his house
visits. He was often referred to as "The Kid" because of his youth,
but was the nearest doctor to the small town.
His first patient was Henry Hays, who required that an infected
tooth by pulled. Dr. Thomson performed the surgery, charged 25 cents
and gave the patient $1 worth of pain killers. His next patient would
require a more complicated medical procedure.
A man speeding down San Fernando Boulevard (apparently, speeding
is part of Burbank's history, too) ran head on into a wooden cane
rake. The impact was so severe that the prong of the rake pierced his
heart. Bystanders immediately summoned Dr. Thompson and the
undertaker, as the victim's prognosis did not look very good.
Dr. Thompson arrived on the scene and treated the man by
sterilizing his equipment in a dishpan and operated on him on the
dining room table of a nearly home. Curious onlookers were recruited
to assist in the delicate operation, which included Dr. Thompson