Like many new general practitioners in the 1950s, Dr. Anthoy Betts faced few real opportunities under the new British National Health Care system. So, with little more than a suitcase, he and his wife and two babies set off for the U.S.A.
Moving to rural Maine in the middle of January, they quickly learned practical lessons about snow tires, long johns, dry gas, and the distinction between "green" and "white" firewood. Dr. Betts also found that his new practice sometimes required procedures not endorsed in any modern medical text—for example, home births took place atop a thick layer of newspapers spread on the floor in front of the wood stove! He was expected to be on call at all times, though he learned that if he hung a "Gone Fishing" sign on his door nobody would question his absence. And he also quickly learned not to trust verbal directions to houses on back-country roads.
Despite the differences of language and social custom, the young urban Englishman was welcomed by most of his patients and fellow doctors—even sharing an office with Dr. Jack Hornberger, the real Hawkeye and author of M*A*S*H, newly returned from Korea to build his own practice.
Dr. Betts's sense of humor helped him adapt to the strange culture he encountered in Maine. And it is that same wry amusement that makes this memoir so immensely enjoyable.
Disenchanted with the post-war national health care system of Great Britain, Dr. Anthony Betts moved his family to Maine in 1954, where he practiced medicine until his retirement. For many years he and his wife Jean Mary Betts divided their time between Florida and Brunswick, Maine. Dr. Betts died in 2012. Green Wood and Chloroform is his only book.