Railroad Glory Days Social Media

Quick Table of Contents

The formative years

Villa Park, my home town

Doctor Geno E. Beery,Villa Park's pioneering woman physician

How I became a lifelong railfan

Father was a man of the automobile age

Grandfather's Watch

Railroad Time

Remembering the Chicago Great Western

Remembering the 'Ror'n' Elgin

Wabash Philo Station Destroyed

Pursuing Remains of the Glory Days

Riding the Electroliner

My first fan-trip

To a locomotive in winter

The boy who would buy a steam locomotive

In search of the eponymous Brewer, Illinois

The last all steam powered mixed train in America

Iron horses put out to pasture

Some thoughts on public travel then and now

Narrow Gauge Mania

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part I

D&RGW narrow gauge in the twilight years -- Part II

Steam up the Rotary!

A rotary under the sun

Bob Richardson and the founding of the Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 1
Colorado Railroad Museum

Is this any way to run a railroad museum? Part 2
Colorado Railroad Museum

The Return of Colorado & Southern Number 9

Was the Georgetown Loop a poor design?

Riding the Sumpter Valley
Three-foot gauge steam in Eastern Oregon

Gold Rush Narrow Gauge
White Pass & Yukon Route

Rio Grande Southern narrow gauge
The spirit of this much loved, southwestern Colorado railway isn't dead, it just retired and moved to Southern California

Steaming Up
Looking on as Denver & Rio Grande Western Number 491 is readied for an evening on the Polar Express.

Narrow Gauge Steam Railways in the Land of their Origin

The Welsh Connection
The Ffestiniog Railway, Robert Fairlie and the origins of narrow gauge railroading in America

The Welsh Highland Railway
The newest and longest narrow gauge in Wales

The Talyllyn Railway
The world's first "preserved railway"

Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway

Standard Gauge Diversions

Royal Gorge Route

Steam Conquers La Veta Pass

Rio Grande Scenic Railroad

Fun while they lasted

Boxcar Camping -- Wilderness Stay by Steam Train

End of an Eastside tradition
Spirit of Washington dinner train

The Engine is Royal; the Scenery is Magnificent
The Royal Hudson and the Caraboo Prospector


Corkscrew Gulch Turntable

The curse of Alpine

Thoughts on the Glory Days of architecture and interior design

Denver's Ghost Buildings

Denver Union Station Renewal

Who were those nabobs, the ones San Francisco's Nob Hill was named for?

Is there grammar to interior design?

Doctor Geno E. Beery

Villa Park's pioneering woman physician

© Glen Brewer

When I was born, my mother's doctor was Geno Ethel Beery; therefore, I was one of her babies too. For the first few years of my life, my mother took me to her for regular visits. "Docky," as she was always known, was quite a character. She practiced medicine at a time when few women did 1, and she was proud to have been the first woman to graduate from her medical school. It apparently took a formidible woman to tolerate the all male environment of her school at the time, but Docky definately fit the requirements.

Geno Beery's Manchester College yearbook entry (1913).

The Hahnemann Medical College & Hospital in Chicago was a school of homeopathy. By the time Geno Beery graduated in 1920, homeopathy was very much in decline in the United States. From a peak of 22 medical schools, the number was down to two by the 1920s. Nevertheless, her medical license was a standard MD. She referred to conventional physicians as "allopaths," and when she thought she could not handle a problem with her homeopathic remedies, she never hesitated to recommend one.

I remember the terror I felt on two occasions when another woman doctor was called in for me when I was quite ill. Dr. Marie 2 was all business, walked with a slight limp from childhood polio, and always seemed to produce an especially nasty looking syringe from her little black medical bag. And she always used it to give me a shot of penicillin in a very embarrassing place.

Homeopathy was founded by the German doctor, Samuel Christian Hahnemann (1755-1843). In 1810, he published the book, The Organon, outlining his theories. The basic principal of his theory of medicine was that a drug will be effective as a cure, if it produces symptoms like the disease when taken by a healthy person - "like cures like." Further, Hahnemann believed the more minute the dosage, the more potent. It may not have been very effective, but at least, few homeopathic patients ever died of the cure.

Being a homeopath long after the decline, Docky necessarily dispensed her own medicine from racks of brown bottles kept in her office. She would stuff a little cardboard pillbox so full that it bulged. All her pills seemed to be into one of two categorys: large pills or small pills. Otherwise, they all looked the same and tasted the same.

I remember climbing the long, straight, dark stairs to her second floor office at 15 East Park Blvd. -- just east of Ardmore and facing the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin tracks. An office visit always began with the same routine: stick out your tongue, show me your fingenails, let me take your pulse,... She talked to me pretty much as she would to an adult. I always thought it imparitave to respond verbally, or at the very least nod in agreement, to every one of her frequent interjections of "don'cha know?"

One visit to her in that office I remember especially well. After the usual preliminaries she produced a jar of pickles, gave me one and instructed me to try it. I liked pickles, but that one seemed intolerable. "Just as I thought," she said, "mumps."

Docky kept a couple scrapbooks of old clipped newspaper and magazine comics in her waiting room -- all were old even then. When we left, her traditional goodbye to me was always the same: "See you in the funny pages." When she retired (the first time), she gave me those scrapbooks.

Docky was no longer a young woman when I was born 3. I hadn't started school yet by the time she closed her office that first time. But retirement didn't suit her, and soon she opened another second floor office in the building on the northwest corner of Ardmore and Central Boulevard. We gave the scrapbooks back to her.

The new office suite was shared with our family dentist, Dr. Janike, who didn't believe in Novocain. I distinctly remember him saying, more than once: "Now this may hurt a little." The climb up the dark, creaking, straight stairs was equally daunting with the previous site. The waiting room was also dark, illuminated only by a single lamp and by the light that came through the pressed glass windows in the two office doors. There was an old leather sofa, and a large clock that ticked seconds. The ominous ticking, the strange antiseptic smells and the occasional screams of pain coming from the dentist's office made waiting there especially foreboding.

My mother and my big sister had been patients of Docky for years, and in my household, "Docky said, ..." was sufficient proof of any medical or health issue. Like a good loaf of bread, Geno Beery had a tough crust, but was really quite soft on the inside. The irascible and opinionated Doc. Adams on Gunsmoke always reminded me of her. She didn't like to admit it, but she was related to the actor, Wallace Beery 4. Her father, Elder Perry Hunsaker Beery, was a minister of the Brethren Church, and actors were definitely not considered respectable people in her family. Nevertheless, she looked and acted quite a bit like Cousin Wallace.

She, of course, made house calls. I remember seeing her frequently driving up our block in her aging, gray Hudson when Mrs. Arnold was very ill. Mrs. Arnold eventually died, and Docky took it pretty hard as I was told she always did. Docky and her husband, Albert Tournquist, eventually bought the Arnold house, which was just down the street from us at 16 South Illinois, as a home and as her final office. I remember her pitcher and ironstone china collection that covered the entire north wall of the dining room and the old parlor organ that dominated the living room.

My mother once told me that Docky didn't trust (regular) doctors much. She told Mother that when she had her appendix removed, she insisted on doing it with a local, and she had a mirror mounted so that she could keep her eye on the surgeons.

In those days, my family didn't have medical insurance - we didn't really need it. An office visit to Docky cost $2, perhaps $5 by the end of her career. The medicine was inexpensive and she even did her own lab work. She would produce a Bunsen burner and perform a urinalysis during the office visit.

Docky's husband, Al Tournquist 5, managed Marshant's Hardware Store on Villa Avenue - near the Chicago Great Western crossing and across the street from the feed store. I remember once being mortified after I addressed him as "Mr. Beery." I don't think I ever got over being embarrassed when I encountered him after that.

Docky and husband Al Tournquist at about the time of their retirement.

Finally, in the early '60s, Docky and Mr. Tornquist really did retire. They moved to a modest cabin on a lake in Missouri where my parents and I visited them once. Research indicates that later, Dr. Beery moved to Martinsburg, PA to spend her last years with her youngest sister, Helen, who was also a physician.

Geno Ethel Beery died March 15, 1972 at the age of 82.

Dr. Beery's obituary from the local newspaper -- they didn't even get her name right.


(1) The earliest information I have indicates she was living (and maybe practicing medicine) in Villa Park by 1927.

(2) Dr. Marie H. Wittler, pediatric physician, whose office was in Elmhurst.

(3) Geno Ethel Beery was born April 30, 1889 in Covington, Ohio.

(4) Wallace Fitzgerald Beery, movie actor, born April 1, 1886, died April 15, 1949.

(5) Albert Oscar Tornquist was born March 11, 1900, Hordeville, Nebraska. They were married Sept. 2, 1926. He died January 1972 in Sullivan, Illinois. There is reason to believe that Mr. Tornquist had an interest in medicine as well. However, it would seem that the exigenties of war and depression prevented him from ever completing his education.

Important dates

  1. Geno Ethel Beery born April 30, 1889 in DuPont, Putnam County, Ohio (or Covington, Miami County, Ohio).
  2. Graduated Juniata College 1909
  3. Graduated Manchester College 1913
  4. Graduated Hahnemann Medical College 1919 (or 1920).
  5. Licensed in Chicago 1920.
  6. At Martha Ripley Memorial Hospital, Minneapolis, MN in 1921.
  7. At Lincoln Nebraska in 1925 where she was licensed in 1923.
  8. Married Albert Oscar Tornquist September 2, 1926
  9. Listed as having a practice in Chicago in 1927 and 1929.
  10. In the Villa Park telephone directory starting ca. 1927.
  11. Retired to Tecumseh, Missouri ca 1964.
  12. Died March 15, 1972.


Special thanks to the following people who helped me discover (or sometimes rediscover) facts about Dr. Beery:

  1. Joann von Neupert, Curator, Villa Park Historical Society, Villa Park, Illinois.
  2. Fran Kovach, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois.
  3. Ann C Weller, Library of the Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
  4. Nancy Wilson, Archivist, Elmhurst Historical Museum, Elmhurst, Illinois
  5. Barbara Williams, Archivist, MCP Hahnemann University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  6. Ray Beery, Beery geneologist, Lansdowne, VA.