July 14, 1954: Death of Dr. S.J. Crumbine

Samuel J. Crumbine

Samuel J. Crumbine

July 14, 1954: New York Times headline-S.J. Crumbine Dies; ‘Frontier Doctor.’ Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine, a physician known as the “frontier doctor,” whose efforts resulted in the outlawing of a common drinking cup in trains, hotels and schools, died Monday, after a brief illness in his home at 35-37 Seventy-eighth street, Jackson Heights, Queens. His age was 91.

Dr. Crumbine is given credit for putting the phrase ‘swat the fly’ into the American vocabulary. The story is told that he hit upon it while attending a baseball game and became confused with the two expressions, ‘swat the ball’ and ‘get the fly.’

From 1923 to 1936 he served as general executive of the American Child Health Association. In 1930, at the direction of President Herbert Hoover, he made a three-month survey of children’s health conditions in Puerto Rico.

As the result of the report Dr. Crumbine made, President Hoover established a six-year plan for the rehabilitation and relief of children in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Crumbine set up his first practice in 1885 in Dodge City, Kan. when that city had many outlaws. He remained there until 1904, when he moved to Topeka and became executive officer of the Kansas Board of Health. He held this post until 1923. In addition, from 1911 to 1919, Dr. Crumbine was dean of the School of Medicine of Kansas University….

In 1907, after seeing persons drinking from a common cup on a railroad train—a cup that sick persons also had used—Dr. Crumbine began a drive to abolish the common cup and the roller towel. Two years later the Kansas Legislature voted to outlaw both. It was said that the ruling out of the common cup led to the invention of the paper drinking cup.”

Commentary: As a direct result of Dr. Crumbine’s efforts, the first national drinking water regulation outlawing the common cup on interstate carriers was passed in 1912.

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