Remembering the “sweet” part of my trip to the doctor.


Fancy Sanders sundae
[Photo from Sanders Facebook]

In August 1951, mother and I again took one of many Greyhound bus trips to Detroit, Michigan for my eye appointment with Dr. Ruedemann. We travelled this way because she couldn’t drive, and Dad had to work. Because I was born prematurely and our hometown, Alpena, Michigan, did not have a doctor experienced in treating retinopathy of prematurity, we made this trip to Detroit every three months for the next two years.

As an inquisitive two-and-one-half-year-old riding the city bus, I stared in awe through the windows at the numerous skyscrapers lining Woodward Avenue. After that it was the tickle-belly elevator ride from the first floor to the 16th floor of the David Whitney Building housing Dr. Ruedemann’s office. But how I dreaded the eyedrops! What torture! Three months before, during my first exam, the nurse’s attempts to administer eye drops threw me into screaming, kicking fits. Did those drops sting! Ugh! They smelled like iodine. In fact, five male doctors had to restrain me for the nurse to administer the drops.

Again, when the nurse said,” I’m giving you some drops. Open wide,” I fought every time she tried to touch me.

“Sandy don’t fight them,” Mother pleaded, “Dr. Ruedemann won’t hurt you. He gives you those drops to make your eyes bigger so he can examine them better.” Then her hugs relaxed me enough so the nurse could go ahead with the procedure. “See,” Mom encouraged. “That wasn’t so bad! Later, I’ll have a surprise for you since you were so good!”

After the exam, Mom said, “let’s go to Sanders for lunch. How would you like a hot fudge sundae for dessert?”

We each had a hot beef sandwich covered with gravy which was delicious, but the sundae was a real treat. The server handed me a dish containing two huge scoops of French vanilla ice cream slathered with Sanders homemade hot fudge/caramel sauce and covered with gobs of whipped cream and a cherry! I wanted to gobble it, but Mother warned, “eat it slowly or you’ll get a headache!” How I wished that I could have savored that sundae forever! That was better than a candy bar!

After this as my twin sister and I were growing up, Mother made this a new family tradition – Sander’s lunch and hot fudge sundaes would be the reward lessening the stress of eye exams.


Contributed by: Sandra Fortier

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