Police Reporters Bid Adieu to ‘Old General’

by Joe Collins, Knoxville Journal (August, 1956)

A lot of police reporters who cut their journalistic eye teeth at General Hospital will miss the old place now that its half-century-old doors are closed in favor of a sparkling new hospital.

These reporters are no different from folks in every other walk of life in welcoming the brand new hospital.  They are as thankful for and proud of the fact that Knoxville has been favored with such a fine edifice for the sick and afflicted as the University of Tennessee Memorial Hospital and Research Center as the next person.

But don’t blame them if they feel a bit nostalgic along with the hundreds of doctors and nurses who trained at General.  The building may have become dilapidated with the passing years, but as it aged it has been a refuge from pain for many, many people.

A “digging” young newspaperman eager to make a name for himself could always find a wealth of material at General.  Here were found the city’s sick, lame and indigent who so often gave the cub reporter an idea for a feature.

General always opened its doors to the sick even when they had no way of paying for desperately needed medical care.  Those who could not pay knew this and took advantage of the fact.  Many with only imagined illnesses showed up daily as they do at almost every hospital and doctor’s office.  Most of those who came needed help, however, and help they got.

Many fast and lasting friendships between reporters and members of the hospital staff were made, too.  In not a few cases this friendship blossomed into love for male reporters and the hospital’s nurses.

How then, could you expect these people to forget immediately the old hospital which brought them together.

Among the scores of doctors who interned and the hundreds of nurses who trained at General, a lot have become famous.  Among the reporters who hounded the place for a bit of news several went on to bigger things.

So many accident and foul play victims were taken to General it was no wonder it proved such a news source.  Next to the police station General was the best place to get a story.

And now it’s all gone forever.  Never again will the old building be a beginning place for the budding young reporter so eager for that “big story.”

Welcome to Knoxville you big new hospital with all your marvels of modern medicine.  Goodbye old General, you provider of a thousand and more stories.  We’re going to miss you.

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