Paging Dr. Harold Hill

Atlas Obscura posted this story about a colorful rogue from America’s past, Curtis Howe Springer, who called himself “the last of the old-time medicine men.” Mr. Springer sold dozens of untested concoctions and founded a spa-town called Zzyzx out in the California desert (so named so it would be “the last word” in any directory of health institutions). As the post points out, anyone interested in this man’s history is confronted by a snarl of lies and exaggerations, including his various claims to be a Ph.D. or M.D. or N.D., whichever seemed likely to work at the time. The list of places from which he received his advanced degrees is festooned with non-existent institutions, the most brazenly faked being the school that had re-named itself after him.  It was The American Medical Association that crowned him “King of the Quacks.”

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