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Getting Your Goat . . .

A remembrance: Fixin' infertile men the old fashioned way

By Andy Porras
Published on LatinoLA: January 23, 2012


Getting Your Goat  . . .


Just imagine if there were a Super Bowl of medical miracles, perhaps this year's encounter would feature the Brinkley Goats vs. the Turek Tootsie Rolls. But enough fiction.

A recent news story reports that a men's health medical practice in San Francisco, headed by Dr. Paul Turek, is on the threshold of producing an artificial testicle that could produce human sperm, thus enabling previously infertile men to conceive children.

Ho-hum.

Back in my home town of Del Rio, Texas, once upon a time, Dr. John Romulus Brinkley was transplanting goat glands onto men for the same purpose.

The good Doc was responsible for putting our "sleepy border town" on world maps. Never mind that our most infamous citizen would later be featured in books, magazines, medical journals and TV as "the world's most famous quack."

One wonders if goat glands looked better on their recipients than the latest innovation being proposed. According to Dr. Turek, his creation will closely resemble a cylindrical bag a few inches long that will look something like a transparent, oversized Tootsie Roll.

Whereas recent studies have shown it's possible to treat infertile male mice by producing sperm using stem cells from the mouse, the same has not been done for humans, said researchers at the Turek Clinic, in a recent Bay Area television interview. Turek and his fellow researchers, however, hope to develop a human "sperm-making biological machine."

Back in the day, the controversial Dr. Brinkley experimented with goat glands in other states before being forced to seek friendlier folks and borders, thus the Del Rio-Acu??a, Mexico destination. It was there that Dr. Brinkley developed into an advertising and radio pioneer who is credited with giving birth to the "Mexican- border-blaster radio" era.

He is also credited with creating the first 'infomercials.'

"At one time he employed over three hundred people and threw lavish Christmas parties for the poor, mostly Latinos," my late father, Jos?®, would often tell me when we'd drive by the Brinkley Mansion on our way to an international bridge that linked Del Rio to Mexico.

Dad enjoyed recalling when he and his pals discovered Dr. Brinkley traveled the world and enjoyed royal-like attention and press wherever they visited. They relished hearing that a Del Rioan truly traveled to faraway places and even owned a yacht.

"After a trip to the Galapagos Islands, he returned with giant tortoises, penguins and other beasts, " he said. "He established the nearest thing to a zoo Del Rio ever had and we'd gather around the fenced area to admire the exotic creatures."

Other Del Rioans recalled he had his own fleet of Cadillacs and that he built several hospitals in Texas and other states. He also leased the top three floors of the town's six-story Roswell Hotel to accommodate his patients before and after the transplants.

One of his lasting monuments was the creation of a 50,000-watt radio station, later becoming a 150,000 mega-station that soon morphed into a one-million watt wonder that became the most powerful broadcasting tool in the world. American GIs could pick it up in the Philippine Islands with a signal so strong that it turned on car headlights, light bulbs and even made bedsprings hum.

"Besides Dr. Brinkley's medical commercials," recalled my Dad, "His station sold air time to a host of hucksters who peddled everything from fake-diamond-rings to religious paraphernalia and country music."

It was not uncommon for some writers to refer to Del Rio as the "Hillbilly Hollywood" because Dr. Brinkley helped launch the careers of The Carter Family, Gene Autry, Jimmie Rodgers, Red Foley and others.

Writers of the time joked that the station even sold "autographed photos of Jesus himself."

Eventually Dr. Brinkley was stripped of his license to practice medicine. His rise to fame and fortune was as precipitous as his eventual fall; at the height of his career he had amassed millions of dollars, yet died sick and nearly penniless, on account of the numerous malpractice, wrongful death and fraud lawsuits brought against him, one a US Post Office twelve million dollar mail fraud suit.

The Brinkley Mansion is now a bed and breakfast in Del Rio, and no longer does music gush rom the huge pipe organ in the basement with its 1,063 pipes built into the walls of the three story structure.

If Dr. Brinkley were alive, would he team-up with Dr. Turek?

About Andy Porras:
Sacramento writer just back from Houston
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