The Remarkable Story of Dr. 'Bud' Pattison

by Loren Melick for The Times Union

One of the most remarkable persons I know is Dr. Lee H. Pattison, a former resident of Warsaw and for the past many years a resident of South Bend. [Photo below]

Despite a heart-breaking disability befalling him in early life, he has never lost faith in himself or humanity. He has stuck doggedly to his determination to become a useful and successful citizen, and overcoming all adversities and disappointments, has accomplished this goal.

Lee, or "Bud" as he is more familiar known by his friends, was born June 6, 1888, at 119 East Fort Wayne street, Warsaw, in the first house east of the present Ray McArthur residence and blacksmith shop. He is one of a family of four boys and five girls born to Mr. and Mrs. Ed A. and Julia Pattison. Ed, the father, was employed in the Cisney grocery store as a clerk. This door was located at 112 East Market street in the room now occupied by the Local Finance Corporation. Mr. Pattison also owned and operated a restaurant, 1893 to 1900, on East Center Street in a room located where the Favorite Cafe now is. Ed Pattison died in March 1932 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Warsaw.

Julia Pattison, Bud's mother, lived to the advanced age of 90 years before passing on in 1957 and is buried alongside her husband in the family plot in Oakwood. Her was the sustaining and encouraging influence that advise and directed her physically-handicapped and often discouraged son to greater efforts during his childhood days and in later life. Without her influence and guidance, Bud probably could never have become the successful and respected citizen that he is today.

Story of Accident
On May 28, 1896, the date upon which the terrible accident which was to eventually lead to the complete blindness of our subject occurred, the Pattison's were living in a house located on the southwest corner of Washington and Porter streets. This house is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Nick Schmitt. According to my friend, this was the second site of the Frist Baptist church in Warsaw, a church his uncle S. B. Clark helped organize in 1853.

On this date, May 28, 1896, eight-year-old Bud, who was just completing his second year term in grade school, and two of his young chums, Fred Trish and Flint Bash, were playing in a vacant lot east of the Trish Wagon works located on the north side of East Center street about one-half block west of the northwest corner of Center and Washington streets.

One of the boys had brought his baseball bat to the lot, however because none of the boys had a ball, they conceived the idea of substituting tin cans and glass bottles which were lying around on the ground for their game of "one hole cat." Childlike, these youngsters were unaware of the dire consequences involved in so dangerous a game, but they did realize a certain degree of danger from which they attempted to protect themselves.

Some Protection
Flint Bash, the catcher, had a wooden box behind which he could dodge when the batter swung at the can or bottle. Fred Trish, the pitcher, was likewise guarded by a like-box behind which he could dodge the cans or bottle fragments.

The batter, Bud, had no protection nor did any of the boys realize his need for such.

Fred had just pitched a bottle which Bud had struck and pulverized with the bat. Bud turned his back on Fred and was commenting with Flint on how hard he had hit the bottle when he heard Fred call out, "Look out Bud, here comes another."

Turning his head towards the pitcher again, Bud was struck instantly by the jagged portion of a broken bottle which struck him in the left eye. It happened so fast that he did not have time to swing with the bat or to try to dodge the object.

Runs Home for Aid
Blinded by the shattered bottle, blood running down his face, Bud ran frantically the three blocks north to his home for aid. Dr. I. D. Webber was called. He dressed the wound, but could do nothing to save the sight of the eye. From that date on, the sight in his other eye became impaired and Bud knew that he soon was to become totally blind.

On July 3, 1896, about five weeks after his accident, Bud attended a dog and pony show which was set up on the grounds where the Junior high school is now located. This was Bud's last look at the outside world. His vision failed him completely that night on his return home. It also ended his school life, as well as ruining his chances of ever enjoying a normal child life, and greatly incapacitated him in his adult life in his search for security and success.

The news that Bud was incurably blind came as a great shock, not only to Bud and his family, but to his friends and fellow citizens. Everyone who knew and loved the plucky little fellow did their utmost to help him readjust to his condition and made every effort to make his life more enjoyable.

Receives Goat
Dan Netter, local well-known livestock dealer, presented him with a 100-pound, black and white goat. The goat had been a present from Dan to his boys, Norman and Roy, and had been trained to drive to a cart or to ride. The boys insisted that Bud should have him.

John Trish, wagon manufacturer and father of Fred Trish, made a wagon and gave it to the boy. 'Speckie' Ettinger, local harness maker, made a set of harness for him and Frank Nye, local blacksmith made the bit for the goat bridle. Bud still has the bit which he prizes highly.

Hauls Drinking Water

During the summer months, Bud built up quite a profitable business hauling bottles of drinking water in his goat drawn wagon. The water was obtained from the old flowing "mineral well" on South Indiana street near Prairie street. Bud's customers were from all parts of town but the majority of them were from the different business houses who paid him five cents a jug for the fresh water. He averaged about 20 jugs a day, so he was doing all right under the circumstances.

Bud kept Billy for several years after he quit the water hauling business and when the goat died, following an attack of pneumonia, Bud took him to a taxidermist who preserved him. Today he is one of Bud's most prized possessions.

In 1898 Bud went to Indianapolis and attended the School for the Blind. He wanted to learn piano tuning but in 1903 he finished school as a broom maker. Upon inquiry as to why he came back a broom maker instead of a piano tuner, he gave me a hearty laugh and said he guessed that it was because he was blind and could not find the piano tuning class and wandered into the broom making class by mistake. He said that he graduated from broom making before he was aware of his mistake.

Delivers Meat on Pony
About 1903 Bud bought and trained a strawberry roan riding pony which he called "Lottie." He rode this pony all around the city, delivering meat for Gus Carteaux's meat market which was in the south room of what is now Carter's Department store. Later this market moved to the room that the Ringle store now occupies. From there it was moved to the present location of the old Elks' building and finally to the first room west of the Warsaw Printing company, across the street south of the old Bash property where the postoffice now stands. It was at this time that I first became acquainted with Bud (we moved here from Fort Wayne in the summer of 1904) when he delivered meat at my home on Washington street, just north of the new high school building.

I can see him now as he would come down the unpaved street, galloping his pony like a wild Commanche Indian, and come to a sliding stop in a cloud of dust as he turned into our alley to deliver the package of meat mother had ordered from the market. How I used to envy him his pony, but would always be thankful that I was not incapacitated as he was.

Besides delivering meat for the market, he would often drive a delivery wagon and distribute ice cream for Len Rarick who ran an ice cream manufacturing plant on the southwest side of Center lake. Many a trip he made all alone to Hoffman Lake, west of Atwood, and delivered pop and ice cream to Morris Miller who operated a boat landing and a picnic grove on the west side of the lake. In making these trips he would have to ford the Tippecanoe river west of Warsaw as there was no bridge there at that time. Everyone in Warsaw expected him to drown in the river on one of these trips, especially during high water times.

Worked at Night
Bud also worked as night man at the Polk livery barn and and at times had as high as 53 head of horses to feed, groom and care for. This barn was located at the corner of Lake Street and Winona Avenue (South Street then) and part of the building is still being used by Harry Rapp's auto body shop. George W. Polk, father of Norman Polk, Warsaw, was the owner and operator of this livery

Many an impromptu rodeo was held there at the barn after Mr. Polk went home for the evening. All the young "bronc busters" in the community would assemble there for a sneak ride on horseback, a race or other equine contests. Bud was the biggest "toad in the puddle" during these events and would ride the worst of the horses with the best of the riders.

In 1908 the Pattison family moved to Goshen where Mr. Pattison had obtained employment. Bud rode the strawberry roan horse to his new home. A year later the family moved back to Warsaw to stay another year and Bud was busy renewing friendships and familiarizing himself on the changes in the city that had occurred during his absence.

Leave Warsaw
The following year, 1910, the Pattison's bade their final farewells to Warsaw and moved to South Bend. Warsaw friends who had watched Bud grow from childhood into manhood were greatly concerned as to his personal safety in so large a city. Here he would encounter more difficulties such as streetcars, increased city traffic and numerous other dangers not to be found in a smaller community. Bud, however did not let these possibilities scare him and within a comparatively short time he was getting around the large city almost as well as he did in Warsaw.

In 1912 and 1913 he had a traveling job representing the new soda drink, Coca-Cola. Warsaw and Kosciusko County was included in the district he covered and it is reasonable to assume that he was the first person to introduce this product in the county. He sold many local stores and restaurants and says that of all his former customers, only one is still alive. This is Wilbur "Doc" Gill, of Warsaw, who owned and operated a restaurant at Claypool during this time. Bud admits that his strongest competition in the soft-drink field was Moxie and Grape-ade.

Tunes Pianos
In 1914, Bud quit his job with the soft drink distributing company. And worked for sometime tuning pianos for the Elbel store in South Bend. But still feeling the urge to better himself, he enrolled in the Ross School of Chiropractic, at Grand Rapids, Mich. he completed the course in 1920 and was graduated as a doctor of Chiropractic.

Besides the jobs already listed Bud has worked as a salesman traveling for the Morris Tea and Coffee company; sold brooms for over 40 years for the Board for Industrial Aid of the Blind, at Indianapolis; reorganized the Axial Development company, the largest coal mine in Moffett county, Colorado, and now known as the Pattison Coal company. (He owns the controlling stock in this enterprise.) He has also reorganized the Indiana Mutual Life Insurance Company, of Elkhart, and is one of the promoters of Winona Beach.

Bud has never used a cane or a seeing eye dog to guide him around the country. He is of the personal opinion that these methods are needless and are only an added worry because as he says: "If I misplace my cane I can't see to find it and if I have a dog to care for I can't tell if he is friendly and wagging his tail or if he is angered and ruffling up his feathers at me."

Bud has a very keen sense of direction and informs me that he has never become lost. He is acutely aware of changes in direction while riding in a car as well as when he is walking.

Another phenomenon is his ability to judge distance and proximity. Some inner sense seems to warn him of the closeness of an object and warns him to stop or turn before colliding with an object or person. Many times I have noticed Bud walk up to some obstacle such as a light pole, baby buggy or other such object, stop a second then turn out to avoid it. It has always amazed me how he can do that.

"Can We Blind See?"
When questioned as to his explanation for this extraordinary ability, he presented me with an original poem he had written some time previously, entitled, "Can We Blind See?"

Do you think that the blind are deprived of all sight?
If so then you don't know and I'll put you right,
Not to the optics alone is vision allowed
For Nature has the brain with many gifts endowed.

Many and varied are the methods we find
To convey the impression of sight to the mind,
By touch we distinguish the objects around
And to the mind comes myriads of sights made by sound.

The tast and smell in unstained measure
Aids the mind's eye with the acme of pleasure,
The sense of smell ofttimes leads the footsteps aright
When seeking the way without mortal sights.

Yes you are right it is tough to be blind
But as happiness is a state of mind
We jolly along with a song, joke and smile
And brighten the old world once in awhile.

'Tis better to be blind and look at things right
Than to see the wrong with perfect sight,
The eye of the mind scans the soul of a thing
While optic illusions leave only a sting.

Married Here
In 1936 he was married to Miss Agnes Shaffer, daughter of John J. and Nora Shaffer, of Warsaw. They were married in the Warsaw Methodist church by Rev. Dougherty, pastor. Mrs. Pattison is a sister of Alice Shaffer, 701 South Union street, at whose home they make their headquarters while visiting in Warsaw.

Dr. Pattison and his wife own and reside in a nine-room house at 410 East Monroe street, South Bend, and he practices his profession in an adjoining seven room house which they own at 412 East Monroe street. The house in which they reside is one of the first houses that the Pattisons lived in upon their arrival in South Bend.

Dr. Pattison comes practically every weekend to Warsaw where he receives several patients for chiropractic adjustments and where he and his wife meet and visit their many friends. Although Bud has lived the greater part of his life away from Warsaw, the old-timers hae never given him up as a Warsawan and still proudly claim him and his wife as fellow townsmen.

Dr. Lee H. Pattison

Warsaw Times-Union Monday October 6, 1958

Back to YesterYear in Print