Doctors and Prostitutes - What's with the red light?

While you’re kinda right, could you cite your source? :slight_smile: I’m not convinced that just doctors did it. You could be funnin’ us, trying to start one of those "life in the …'s"threads.

I didn’t know doctors were so vain… :wink:

They probably think this thread is about them.

Heh – reminds me of my first trip to Korea, where I saw those barber’s poles on literally every corner. Made me think that the entire Korean economy was based upon chaebols and hairdressers.

Then I found out that barber’s poles are used to indicate a restaurant. :smack:

Yup. I was born in Melbourne in '49 & all/most doctors who worked from a house had a red lamp at the gate or near the door. Consultations & small procedures would take place there. there would be a nurse who acted as receptioniste too.

This was revived by an Aussie doctor no doubt and brought back as a passive zombie, but regardless I feel compelled to note that I know exactly what kind of receptionist straddles of those both positions as it were…

They sometimes work at travel agents too.:)

Another Aussie here, yes that used to be common here but I haven’t seen it for a long time, I think it goes back to when it was common for a GP’s surgery to be in his house

I’d hang a red lamp outside my office, but I don’t want to attract the wrong element.

You know, surgeons and oncologists.

Before 1970 or so many–probably most–family doctors practiced out their homes. I have not seen that for years. But no, in the US and Canada I have never seen a red light. Often a discrete little sign, sometimes not even.

I’m wondering if instead of saying doctors practiced out their homes, it might be more correct to say that one building included both the doctor’s office and home. I have a vague recollection that Alex Stone, the dad on The Donna Reed Show, had his pediatrics office in the same building as their home, but there was a separate entrance for patients.

I was a child in the late 50s and early 60s. My doctor had his office in a building with offices of other doctors and a lab for testing in the basement. We lived in the suburbs. I’m pretty sure this was standard practice for all doctors in the area. I’m thinking those with offices attached to their homes practiced more in small towns and rural areas.

Of course, nearly all doctors made house calls. I’m guessing that a house call cost more than seeing the doctor in her office, which is why people arranged for a house call only when they were really sick. A doctor didn’t typically make a house call for a routine physical or the like.

Thanks to the OP, I now have “Roxanne” going through my head. :smack:

Somewhere in my stash of house plan books, I’ve got a plan (circa 1970) for a family home, a two-story colonial, in which you could have an addition on the side configured either as a mother-in-law apartment or as a doctor’s office. The blueprints available for purchase came with both options.

Some psychotherapists do this, today. I’ve known at least three who saw clients in their homes.

Zombie earworms are the worst.

The red light indicated that the doctor provided after-hours / emergency service. I lived in a central-city inner suburb (“North Melbourne”): the old home near me with the red light had the red light because it was old, not rural. This was within walking distance (1-2 miles) of the major city hospital (Royal Melbourne), but would have dated from a time when few city dwellers had cars. None of the houses had garages (or servants quarters or stables)

Police stations were indicated by a blue light (that used an identical fitting). Hence: “blue light disco”: police community outreach for under-age kids (Police here have stopped doing community outreach. But they’ve got guns now)

At the time I lived in Nth Melb, prostitution would have been indicated by a discreet credit card sign (‘bankcard’) in a window :slight_smile:

I haven’t ever seen doctors with offices in their homes, but …

I have commonly seen doctor and dentist offices in buildings that were clearly once residential homes converted to offices. Some of these were in otherwise-residential areas surrounded by residential homes (typically all older buildings), or in business areas surrounded by older buildings that were ALL once obviously homes, now converted to medical offices.

One such neighborhood also had a restaurant in a building that was clearly a church once, complete with the stained glass clerestory windows.

My FIL used the phrase “hang out your shingle” to mean starting a business. Somewhere I gathered that in the 19th century a wooden split shingle was a convenient size to make a sign announcing your occupation.

The term shingle is a traditional English name to describe a flat square-rectangular piece of wood, as opposed to e.g. scantlings, which are things like 2 x 4s.

Dangling business signs are referred to as shingles / shingle signs. Have a look at any pictures of ye olde goldrush towns - the sign-writer was probably the busiest guy in town. Stories about random bits of wood being sufficient to promote your business are just silliness.

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That’s Doctor Roxanne to you.

Yes, that was my understanding of the term. Roofs were covered with slate if you were rich or in the area with slate, straw if you wanted a thatch roof, and shingles - thin pieces of wood - otherwise. (and in some places, with dirt and goats).

So the same flat thin pieces that were a passable wood substitute for slate roof coverings were also convenient shape and size for hanging signs out over the door.

“Hanging out your shingle” was an expression for hanging a sign over the door announcing your business. (Not every expression is a double entendre…)