Robert Long

Remembering is often the best medicine for forgetfulness — meaning the brain is mostly muscle memory and to keep healthy and active, it needs exercising.

The Time Traveler shared that piece of advice with his 92-year-old father recently and got a laugh.

“Son, I’ll forget more than you will ever know,” the progenitor of Time Traveler uttered with a hearty chuckle.

Well said for a fellow who was born when Calvin Coolidge was in the White House and a full year before the Stock Market Crash of ’29, and two years before the onset of the Great Depression.

Yet, it is a proven fact that stretching your memory muscles can ward off progressive aging issues like dementia or Alzheimer’s. It could be said that memory is a tonic of sorts for the soul.

When people stop by the DeSoto County Museum and view the many exhibits on display, especially the new life-size wall of history inside the recently opened East Wing Gallery, it not only jogs their memories but offers them a pleasurable trip back in time.

The great sages of history and literature like French writer Marcel Proust and our own Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner point out frequently in their writings that exercising a person’s memory often has valuable consequences.

“Memory believes before knowing remembers,” is one of my personal favorite quotes on the subject of memory, a line from William Faulkner’s “Light in August.”

Faulkner’s novels are replete with memories of earlier times and I personally feel the bard from Oxford is a fellow time traveler. His stories include past, present and future — sometimes all at once.

Speaking of doctors, old memories and practicing good medicine, DeSoto County has had the good fortune to have at the helm some estimable physicians down through the ages.

The Times-Promoter newspaper heralded the death of beloved physician Dr. W.S. Weissinger on April 16, 1931.

“The simple announcement that his life had ended brought sadness to hundreds of friends,” the newspaper stated.

Weissinger’s obituary included the fact that the good doctor had joined up with the Confederate army when he was just 16. Returning from the late war, which was filled with images of carnage, suffering and bloodshed, Weissinger decided to become a physician at the urging of his old friend, Dr. W.N. Hurt. He taught school for one or two years and then attended a medical school in Louisville, Ky.

Weissinger came to DeSoto County in 1869 and boarded with the Wall family, who lived on a large plantation south of Hernando. Dr. Weissinger completed his medical studies in 1870 at Tulane Medical College in New Orleans.

Returning to DeSoto County after graduation, he resumed his medical practice. He even joined the fray of local politics, running for sheriff in 1896 and getting elected to that post, which he served for one term.

Toward the end of Weissinger’s obituary, the good doctor’s life is fleshed out considerably.

“In many respects, Dr. Weissinger was a remarkable man. He had strong and positive opinions and inflexible will power. He was always outspoken in public matters and subjects in which he was interested, but he had considerable regard for the personal feelings and honest opinions of others. He possessed a vigorous understanding and a tenacious memory, and through his own efforts cultivated and developed both. Often summoned in the dead of night, he went over slippery roads and through quagmires, out into the winter’s cold, to reach those who were ill. He never lost faith in humanity, his friends, or in his God, and he believed that after the night of death there comes the dawn of eternal morning.”

Robert Lee Long is Curator of the DeSoto County Museum.