Wallet Hip, Seinfeld, and Dr. Charles Thomas Wehby

Pg. 1, City of Cincinnati Ordinance # 56, 2017. Click to read.

Last week, the Winkler Center received word that in March 2017 a street in Cincinnati had been renamed in honor of Dr. Charles Thomas Wehby, a 1938 UC College of Medicine graduate. Wehby had a general practice office for many years on Broadway between 4th and 5th streets in downtown Cincinnati and served the community as a general practitioner from 1939-1983. His medical practice was noted for its willingness to serve all members of the community regardless of race, ethnicity, or one’s ability to pay. The city ordinance naming the northwest corner of Broadway Street at 4th St. “Dr. Charles Thomas Wehby Corner” also states that Wehby had “donated machines and medical antiques to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.” Hmmm? Could those machines or antiques have made their way to the Winkler Center?  It’s possible; but not surprisingly, I uncovered no documentation of a donation. As an archive, the Winkler Center is not alone in its frustration of documentation growing sparser the older the donation. Years ago items often were donated with nothing more than a handshake.

Intriguing as this all was, what intrigued me more on the ordinance was a listing of Dr. Wehby’s research interests. It states that Dr. Wehby “published numerous medical articles and made many contributions to medical science including his discovery of ‘wallet hip’ or wallet syndrome which was published in the Ohio State Medical Journal, 1968.” Wait a second? WALLET HIP!?! WHAT?!? WALLET SYNDROME!?!

We all laughed and scoffed a bit back in the late 1990s at that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza develops sciatic nerve issues from carrying around a huge wallet. I have to admit that as a wallet carrier at the time, the idea of someone developing lower back issues from frequently sitting on a large lump in one’s back pocket made perfect sense to me. I just didn’t think it was a real medical thing.

So thank you Dr. Wehby not only for the compassion you showed the city in your desire to treat its sick regardless of their circumstance, but also for setting the world straight on Wallet Hip!  We are indebted…and so are our L5s and S1s.

The only data the Winkler holds on Dr. Wehby is an old alumni card kept by the College of Medicine which contains addresses, date of birth, other contact information, etc. So in lieu of any image or further information on Dr. Wehby, enjoy a few minutes of George Costanza’s lumbar destroying wallet found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoPf98i8A0g. We think Dr. Wehby would have enjoyed it too.

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