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Dr. Vetrano with daughter Tosca in 1960's San Antonio
Continued interview with Dr. Virginia Vetrano - #3
I loved geology. And I was studying geology. And Shelton said: you shouldn't be studying that, why don't you study physiology? So he got me into physiology. And that was just as interesting, maybe even more so. After that I wanted to be a writer. I was studying to be a writer, and I started going to school to take writing courses.
Then some chiropractic students at San Antonio College talked me into going to chiropractic school. Dr. Shelton didn't want me to, he wanted me just to study physiology. I decided, well if I am going to write and I am going to write about Hygiene too, I may as well have the knowledge. By this time Tosca was already 4-5 years old, and I was perhaps 26.
So I switched my major from English to the basic sciences, and prepared myself to go to the chiropractic school. I went to Trinity University to get my bachelor of sciences degree first. I majored in Biology and had double minors in Chemistry and French.
After I graduated, Shelton wanted me to stay out of school for one year. Just study Hygiene. I had already studied Hygiene when I was in France, when I got Shelton's magazines, his books, everything he wrote that he sent me.
Shelton wanted me to stay out, period. And so I did, I waited a year, but that's the year that killed him, because if I hadn't waited a year I would have graduated a year early. And he would not have had to push himself for that last year of running the health school, to keep it open when he started to get sick.
So I stayed out that year and studied Hygiene with Shelton, and took tests with him. And Dr. Karl Corealae was there and I learnt a few things from him and took a few tests. He is an early hygienic practitioner. He was a friend of Dr. Gian-Cursio and Dr. Esser.
Tosca grew up basically at the health school. She was there from about 3 ½ when she first came back from Europe, and when I decided to go to college, she was only six. And so she was baby-sat there. All the nurses were looking after her, and she would play outside. There were about 3 nurses. They'd keep an eye on her, they'd feed her meals while I'd be away at school. It was in the country and there were often some kids that had come with their parents who were fasting, and she played with them.
Dr. Herbert Shelton at a ANHS convention
She would go and see the patients with Dr. Shelton, she would make the rounds with him when she was little, and they'd ask her little questions, and they used to be really surprised that she knew her food combining. At six years old she knew every rule of food combining, and the patients would ask her: how do you know all that stuff? At about the same age she also saw her very first person ever eat raw sweet potato. This was a patient who did not want to eat cooked food, and they had made her a beautiful plate.
Tosca was 11, I think, when the new health school was built and we moved out to the country. And when we did, she'd ride the bus home, get dropped off, and go right up to the health school. Because her mother was at the health school and nobody was at home, she was always there, she was in and out all the time.
Then, after one year at the health school I went to chiropractic school. Tosca loved skipping her school and go to chiropractic school with me. There were a lot of cute boys around and she loved to sit through the classes. One day she was sitting there, when we were studying the mandibular nerve, and I think she was there drawing the same picture as we were, off the board, that the doctor had drawn for us to memorize. Where the branches of the nerve went to. And so she wrote "mandipular ", it was really cute anyway, the teachers loved her.
I went there 4 years and graduated, and the minute I stepped out, Shelton collapsed. Because he had been pushing himself for that whole extra year to keep it open so it would be open when I finished school. That's why I say, that's what killed him.
Dr. Herbert Shelton after a speech
But anyway I graduated in '65, and Dr. Shelton quit and took a 30 day fast, the minute I graduated. I took over that minute, because you see he was just shuffling along. He was killing himself. When I was in school I knew he was running down, but there was nothing I could do except continuing to graduate. So when I graduated I just took over the health school. But we never got to run it together as was his plan, so that neither of us would be overworked.
It was a big health school. It had a capacity of 30 people. And that's big, you know, when you are taking care of all these people, and you have to be called every night, for a crisis. And the staff, and you've got the whole management of the whole school. You are a doctor, a manager, a lecturer, you do all the editing, you publish the magazine. I had to do all that, and learn all that, in my first year of working.
In 1965 after I graduated and passed my state boards, I started working solely at the health school. I now did everything.
Tosca was 15 when I graduated, and that's when she started working with Shelton. He couldn't work anymore, he couldn't get up. That's exactly when she started to come over in the evenings, in the afternoon, after school. I ran the health school and she did the books with him. Shelton was bed-ridden, pretty much. He still could talk. When he couldn't get enough energy to push the air out to be heard, he would whisper. It came later that he couldn't talk.
And it was after Tosca started working with Shelton that she put out the first hygienic newsletter for children, that was probably at the age of 15 or 16, when she started that newsletter.
And it caught on she had so many subscribers. It was called the New Dawn, just like the hygienic review but it was geared for children, for young people, and had a lot of articles in there. It was darling, I still have some copies of it.
She had a whole mailing list, that's how she got her money to publish it. Everybody in ANHS knew that she were putting this paper out, so they all wanted their children to have it. She hand-printed it, she had this gel, like this old type mimeograph material that the teachers use, it was a gel and ink and a paint tray. She would lay out the sheet on this gel and it would copy. That was the first copying machine, hand-done copies on this gel. It took her about a month to put it out, but she got it out every month. The information was just out of her knowledge, and she had little stories in it.
The patients at the health school were very good, I gave them 2 lectures a week. A live lecture twice a week, and every other day in the morning they would have audio-tapes. And later when I had my own health school I lectured every morning. I could give a short lecture and then demonstrate exercises, and give a longer hygienic lecture on the other days.
Dr. Shelton & Tosca by the pool
When there was a crisis, the nurses or the night girl at the health school would call me and say please come over and see what's going on. At least 3 times a week I had to get up and go to the retreat in the middle of the night go to the health school and take care of the problem. Sometimes all night. It was not too far, but I had to drive all the way up on the highway, then go almost half a mile, and then up his driveway.
Because Tosca had horses we had to have a gate at my house. Shelton didn't have a gate. So my place was completely fenced, and I would have to go out the front gate in the middle of the night you know and it wasn't that much fun. Being alone, go out that gate, and shut it you didn't know who was there. You didn't know what could happen in the middle of the night.
Finally we made a driveway between our two places, between the health school and my house, so that I didn't have to go on the highway, because it was kind of scary at night. Then we had a cattle guard, so that the horses wouldn't get out. So all I had to do was drive over. We were neighbors, ½ a mile or so, our properties were adjacent.
Now I didn't feel I had enough physiology and anatomy, and the basic sciences I wanted deeper study. I didn't just want the superficial Hygiene that any layman can have, can read books and get that knowledge. I wanted to get into the physiology of it, and teach Hygiene more specifically, more scientifically. That's why I went to chiropractic school in the first place, and also continued studying after I graduated.
Somebody told me about the Kansas City Naturopathic School. So I started going there every month for 3 days. Friday evenings we would have classes from about 6 to 9, and then all day Saturday, and Sunday morning . Then we would have a couple of tests, and when we passed we got credit for all those hours. I flew there each month. Shelton had all these degrees why shouldn't I have some more?
At the health school we had a 30 patients limit, but we got so full at that time that I purchased 2 mobile homes and put them on Shelton's property. And he had a septic tank system built so I could take the extra people in my mobile home place. Instead of giving me a raise, Shelton let me just put my excess people over there. That would be my raise you know. I would be working double. I worked my trailers, plus I worked the health school too. Many times I was taking care of fifty people. Then it got so crowded that I had to split my shift, I had to do half one day and half the other day. But at the time when I was doing that we did have an intern there, who could sort of look after them.
And I still went once a month to Kansas City for the college work. And one time we had to go to The University of Mexico in Mexico City for the course in surgery.
After that I studied homeopathy, because I had studied some of that in the naturopathic school, and I went over to Florida and took the homeopathic state board examination to become a homeopath. This was probably another 2 years later, when I was 32 or something. I didn't finish my naturopathic before I went into homeopathy. I should have, because I had only 11 more hours to go, probably only one weekend.
Dr. Shelton at the Health School
Next I started studying medicine, that's what happened. And I got my medical degree because of all the credit that I had from the naturopathic school, that counted in my favor, plus these extra studies. Just adding on. A college in Oakville Ontario, the United American Medical College, gave me the degree, it was before 1975. I didn't have to go there, because a doctor who was a teacher there gave me an examination in Florida and issued the degree. It wasn't tough, because I had studied very well in chiropractic school, and we have the same textbooks. The only thing we don't learn is the medical pharmacology.
Dr. Shelton was sick then. He was sick 18 or 19 years, and he died around 1983.
Tosca worked for him. He would dictate articles for her, she would type them out. She was the only one who could understand him. She worked a long time for Shelton.
Right after high school Tosca didn't want to go to college, instead she wanted to go to secretarial school for a while. She took a very good course as a secretary in one of the best schools in San Antonio. Right out of high school at 18. So she was working for Shelton and she was the only one that could understand him after his voice left.
Tosca had also been working with Shelton through her high school years. Right after high school she'd come home and stay in his room with him while I was running the health school. She would be in there writing articles with him, all afternoon. She did this until she was 25. For 10 years. She started reading with him, working with him, when she was 13 or 14, pretty much.
Tosca edited Fasting for Renewal of Life, she was the one who wrote it with Shelton. She is the one who typed up the articles he would dictate from his notes. And they'd cut and paste and put the book together. I edited his magazines, but Tosca edited the books with him. And there was another one she did with him, Hygienic Care of Children. When ANHS wanted to publish it the first time and re-do it, she re-read that thing and edited it with Shelton.
to be continued
Visit Dr. Vetrano's website:
vetrano.cjb.net or www.roylretreat.com