The Best Antiseptic in Town
An early “Best Doctor”
This being our annual Best Doctor’s issue brings to mind New Orleans’ first celebrity doctor. He even had his own pitchman singing a song for him on the radio. The doctor was G.H. Tichenor and his publicist went by the name of Cajun Pete. In the early days of New Orleans radio, Pete could be heard singing a Cajun accented commercial which began with, “Hello my friends, this is Cajun Pete” and ended with “good ‘ole Dr. Tichenor’s, the best antiseptic in town.” Other lyrics boasted of what the antiseptic could do for its consumer, which was most anything.
There was a real Dr. Tichenor, though his time was before Cajun Pete’s. George Humphrey Tichenor was a Kentucky-born physician who served in the Confederate army. He is credited with having introduced antiseptic surgery in which germicides combatted bacteria. After the war he settled in Baton Rouge, where the practiced medicine and promoted his antiseptic. It was so popular that a New Orleans firm began bottling Dr. Tichenor’s Patent Medicine, which consisted of alcohol, oil of peppermint and arnica, a daisy-like flower long used for pain relief. (Tichenor was a big believer in the curative power of alcohol. One of his legs was badly wounded during the war. Alcohol as part of the treatment supposedly saved it from amputation)
In listing Best Doctors we look for professionals who have been selected by peer review. In Tichenor’s day there were few peers, but we suspect that such a pioneering doctor could have made anyone’s list.
Cajun Pete was a local band leader with a very un-Cajun real life name of Pinky Vidacovich. He was a talented jazz musician, but his most memorable hit would always be the one about the “best antiseptic in town.”
Dr. Tichenor died in 1923 but his brand lives on mostly in the form of antiseptic, mouthwash, and toothpaste sold at select stores and on the internet. Conceivably there is someone right now whose wound is being helped by a splash of Tichenor’s antiseptic. To still be helping people heal so far into eternity– that’s really a best doctor.