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After visiting the Museum of Medical History, you’ll be glad you live in this century. A window to our healthcare past, these unique displays show the evolution of medical equipment and practices.

Surgeries were often performed at homes on kitchen tables with family members swatting flies and holding chloroform cloths. Some things look odd to us now; others haven’t changed much, such as the shape of the bedpan.

The operating table used by John Steinbeck’s family physician is here. Chances are high that the author had his tonsils removed on this table.

It was fascinating but a bit eerie to see an electric machine that was used in the 1880s to “cure nervous diseases.” The faster the handle was turned, the more electricity was generated.

You can view a postmortem kit from the 1870’s, lancets for blood-letting and an all-in-one Civil War Amputation Kit. One side of the knife was used for cutting flesh and bone, the other for slicing bread.

Located in the Downing Resource Center at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, 450 E. Romie Lane, Salinas, the museum offers free self-guided tours Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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