Theodor Sattelmaier came to Kent Island in 1925. Sattelmaier grew up in Schluchtern, Germany. As a teenage soldier in World War I, young Theodor witnessed indescribable death and destruction. Afterwards, he was determined to dedicate his future to saving lives. He studied medicine at prestigious European universities and upon graduation set his sights on America. Soon after arrival, he placed an advertisement in The Baltimore Sun seeking a place to practice. The ad was answered by three doctors, including Kent Island’s John Benton. Sattelmaier came to the island aboard the steamboat Philadelphia, which was more fondly known as Smokey Joe, and he never left. ‘Doc’ Sattelmaier was a transplant beloved by his adopted hometown. He had a thick German accent and was a man of character in every sense of the word. He died in 1987.
Local author Nick Hoxter once told me, “Doctor Sattelmaier came from Heidelberg and married Dr. Benton’s daughter Liz.”
Retired Kent Island businessman Bill Denny once told me, “When I was born I was delivered by Dr. Sattelmaier. My dad saw Dr. Snyder, but my mother and I went to Doc. He was rough. He’d sew you up and give you nothing for the pain. He’d always say in that accent, “Vat are you crying for?” And I’d say “Because it hurts”. He’d answer, “Vell, it doesn’t hut me. Shtop yelling so loud.” He’d sew you up like a piece of linen cloth. There was nothing ever gentle about him. One time he had to come up and see me in the apartment over the garage. I was four or five years old. I had pneumonia. I heard him coming up the steps. When he came around the corner into the bedroom, I flung my teddy bear at him as hard as I could. He smiled and said, “Ah, you don’t like me do you?”
Well known farmer Babe Grollman once told me, “Where No Place is, I used to go down there to shoot pool and bowl. They sold beer but I was too young, never liked it much anyway. I’d bowl with Doc Sattelmaier. If I beat him he’d get mad. Throw his balls halfway down the alley, about knock the end of the building out. I was just old enough to even be in there.”
My longtime friend Jody Schulz once told me, “Bobby Timms (Jr) was Doc’s next door neighbor. Bobby said he used come over their house with a needle and chase them around the yard to give them their shots.”
Kent Islander Kenny Bullen once told me, “He was older when I came along, but he still made house calls. When I was a kid, you couldn’t play sick from school because he’d come to your house. He was rough. You’d go in there, in his office, and he’d be working on you, making you cry and he’d say, “Shut up, boy. It don’t hurt.” But I believed in him. If he told you were going to die, you’d better pack your suitcase.”
Jimmy Ewing,one of the Island’s favorite sons,once told me, “The Circle (restaurant) wasn’t always a success. I spent many sleepless nights, and more than once decided to close the place and go to work for somebody else. One man changed my mind for me, and I’ve been grateful to him ever since. Dr. Sattelmaier stopped by one day for a sandwich. I told him some of my troubles. He listened until I had finished pouring out my heart and then in his familiar accented English said…”Stick it out Jimmy. It won’t always be this bad. Tomorrow is going to be better, you’ll see.” Though I still had my doubts, something about his encouraging and sincere remarks stuck with me. And from then on things kept getting better and better. I’ll always be glad for the day old Doc stopped by and gave a worried man a much needed shot in the arm. He taught me not to worry. “Worry,” Doc Sattelmaier said, “is a bad disease.”
With a wealth of local knowledge and experience, Curty Chance once told me, “We were blessed to have him.”
That’s what those Kent Islanders once told me.