doc(s) in a box

Joseph Carson samizdata at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Apr 7 01:27:49 UTC 2000

Greetings to all ADS-Listers,

When our gang of teenage boys tried to act like "men" in Marion, Iowa in the
late 1960s by smoking cigarettes on the sly, many of us would mimic the usage
of several older cousins or uncles who had served in the Army during the
Korean Conflict of "docs in a box" for cigarettes, due to the humorous
implausibilty of the idea that any "real" man would ever actually _need_ to
see doctors as a consequence of such a fine, manly habit as smoking, as well
as the fact that it lent itself to easy "code-speech" among ourselves when
making arrangements on the phone at our parents' homes, to rendevous at the
bowling alley to chain smoke our young lungs raw (as in, "You gotta got a
'doc' appointment? Me too! See you later!") It was a clever rhyming simile
(docs/box) and sly besides, and we were stupid enough to believe that it
wasn't obvious what we meant when using our amateurish code, or that what we
were doing wouldn't kill us ... live and learn! ... or die and learn, in the
cases of three of those old friends (so far.) I heard of a group of M.D.s
from the Seattle area (?) during the early 1970s who had re-packaged
commercial cigarettes into packs of "Cancer" brand smokes, with a gold-inked
skull-and-crossbones motif above its phony brand name, printed on shiny black
paper, complete with cellophane shrinkwrap and fake Washington State tax
emblems. They enjoyed a sudden vogue among collectors, and were also called
"Doc's Box Cigarettes" while their gray market availabilty lasted (which
wasn't long, after the physicians in question found out what an unintended
outcome their sardonic anti-tobacco ploy had produced.) Has anyone else heard
of this odd undertaking? It seems pretty "urban-legendary" to me, but
stranger things have been known to happen, shambling down the road to hell
from far less noble intentions. I did hear the "no-call-ahead-walk-in-clinic"
usage among my friends in Dallas in the 1980s, who would go to a boxy little
storefront "cash-only" clinic next to a Mervyn's in a strip mall whenever
they needed fast, uncomplicated, inexpensive and cheap medical intervention,
and have lived to tell the tale, so their "doc in the box" at least must've
known his stuff! - Best, Joe

David Bergdahl wrote: "I'm sure the idea is to be facetious.  My dad--on
strike or laid off for an extended period--once worked as a Pinkerton guard.
We referred to him in the family as our "Hertz-Rent-a-Cop."  Same attitude!"

More information about the Ads-l mailing list