About Dr. C. M. Cash Elementary
A product of the old time preceptorship training, Dr. Cash spent only one year at medical school. Yet his knowledge of medicine brought him recognition by distinguished colleagues, many honors and the admiration and love of an entire community for nearly five decades. During his years of service he delivered more than 5200 babies. Many were named for him. Some had a parent or grandparent he had brought into the world. With his spare, slightly stooped frame, halo of white hair, and gentle face with the constant trace of a smile, he was the image of the traditional family doctor. Though he finally gave up obstetrics, he never actually stopped medical practice.
His first year of practice at Gulon, Texas (1898), was carried out on horseback from saddlebags given him by an old doctor who had retired. Frequently he rode 20 or 25 miles to visit patients. About two miles from Guion he founded the town of Tuscola by building a drug store and blacksmith shop and arranging for a general merchandise store and a change in the stagecoach route between Abilene and Ballenger. In 1908 he moved to Abilene where he practiced eight years. He was the author of Abilene’s first milk ordinance. When Dr. and Mrs. Cash moved to San Benito in 1914, their son, Dr. Auda V. Cash (deceased) succeeded him as city and county health officer. Their other children, also grown, were: Dr. Clarence M. Cash, Jr., Beaumont (deceased); Mrs. Hermia (Paul) Cottrell, San Benito; and Mrs. Ruth (E. B.) Edwards, San Antonio.
In his profession, he was a stickler for ethics. He would not permit newspapers to report a unique surgical procedure he devised and carried out with the aid of a local dentist to save a boy’s jaw, though the operation later was recorded in a medical journal. In the early years he performed many operations on a kitchen table. The nearest hospital was in Brownsville. Mother Cowden, a nurse, assisted with maternity cases at her home. For 37-1/2 years, Dr. Cash received patients in the same suite of offices at the head of the stairs over the San Benito Bank & Trust Co. Portable kerosene stoves were used for heating at first and the phone was operated with a crank.
Dr. Cash had a high sense of civic pride. He served two separate terms as San Benito mayor and frequently on the city commission. He rarely missed a local football game. From 1920 to 1952 he was the volunteer physician for the San Benito Greyhounds. During the 1939 season it was discovered that he had delivered every member of the first team and most of the entire squad. He organized the Cameron County Health Unit and, with Dr. B. 0. Works of Brownsville, was instrumental in organizing the Tri-County Medical Society (1919-1938).
A great many honors came to Dr. Cash. One of the most meaningful was dedication of a Dr. Cash room at Valley Baptist Hospital. The 1940 project was initiated and financed by mothers of some 200 babies he had delivered. They presented him a scrapbook filled with pictures of “Dr. Cash babies.” Included were newborns, toddlers at every stage, school children, some college students and a few mothers. Pages devoted to families included the six younger children of Mr. and Mrs. J. Scott Brown: Betty, Kate, Scott Willis, Leefe, Edward and Felicia Ann (Tad). Another group of six were children of Judge and Mrs. Joe Gerusa of Los Indios.
“Dr. Cash Day” was enthusiastically celebrated in San Benito in September 1952. Highlighting the event was the dedication of a new elementary school named in his honor. He missed the surprise party Valley Shriners had planned for his eighty-fifth birthday. On that date he registered for a special postgraduate course in obstetrics at Tulane University. It was his fifteenth refresher seminar in the university’s Medical School in New Orleans.
His greatest honor professionally was recognition in 1953 by the TMA as Texas’ General Practitioner of the Year. In his speech to the group, he warned that their profession was educating “too many specialists” at a time when more country doctors or practitioners were needed. “A general practitioner doesn’t acquire ‘the personal touch’ by reading books,” he said. “It comes from years of listening to patients.”
His death October 13, 1961, was the result of an accident. He was 97. Descendants who are well known in the Valley include his daughters, Mrs. Hermia Cottrell, San Benito; Mrs. Ruth Edwards, San Antonio; and a grandson, Brigadier General Ben Edwards (Ret.), Alexandria, Virginia, who as a child spent many vacations in San Benito.