Interviewee: Dr. Hugh M. Hill
Interviewer: Samuel Proctor
Date: February 15, 1996
P: I am interviewing Dr. Hugh M. Hill at his office here in the J. Hillis Miller Health
Center. This is Thursday afternoon at 1:00 p.m., February 15, 1996. This is
Samuel Proctor. I am doing this interview as part of the history of the Health
Center, for the University of Florida Oral History Program. Dr. Hill, we are
recording this conversation now. I would ask you to give me your full name,
H: Dr. Hugh Meighan Hill. Meighan is an Irish name.
P: Where do you come from?
H: I was born in Columbia, South Carolina. The way that came to pass was that
my father was a captain in the [Army Corps of] Engineers. He was a Georgia
[Institute of] Tech[nology, Atlanta, Georgia] graduate and had an engineering
degree. He came to be a captain in the Engineers during World War I and was
initially stationed at then Camp Jackson, which is now Fort Jackson in Columbia.
My mother was a lady of an old Columbia family with a long background. In the
past, an uncle had been president at the University of South Carolina. Mother
had very deep roots there in the community. She was instrumental, or at least
one of the major figures, in getting the local ladies there in the city to entertain
the officers out at Camp Jackson. My father and my mother met there at a
dance. Not too long thereafter he went overseas. I gather they maintained a
very warm relationship through the mail. When the war was over and he
returned from France and World War I, he married her. I was born there in the
city of Columbia.
P: When were you born?
H: January 21, 1924.
P: Give me your father's full name.
H: Montgomery Stokes Hill. He was one of eight children. He was born in
Washington, Georgia, in Wilkes County. There were four brothers and four
sisters. It was a remarkable family in many ways. His father was a man of
many trades. My grandfather was basically a farmer, but he also had a little
business, and in addition he ran the commercial area there. He did many
things. Among other things that I thought most remarkable about grandfather
was that [he managed to have] all eight children graduate from college.
P: Which was remarkable for that day and time, particularly in the poor South.
H: That is correct. The four brothers all matriculated at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, of
course. The four girls all graduated from Converse College in Spartanburg,
P: Now what was your mother's full name?
H: Her full name was Grace Kinard Earle.
P: I want to ask you two things about your name, and then we will move on. Where
did that middle name come from?
H: It was a family name. As a matter of fact, Hugh Meighan, for whom I was
obviously named, was a very major man in the business [circles] of Columbia.
He was president of a local bank, and was, I gather, a very influential man. He
had extensive holdings. Hugh Meighan was a vital factor in the community. He
had a tragic death, in the sense that he was killed in an automobile accident. I
think the car he purchased was one of the first ever purchased in Columbia. His
wife was really almost like another mother to my mother. Her real mother's
[my grandmother's] husband was a dentist.
I gather he [my maternal grandfather] apparently, or as best as I can reconstruct
it, died from a ruptured aneurysm of the brain. He died very suddenly. He too
had holdings in the city, in addition to being a dentist. Basically, my mother
was raised by two women, her own mother and her aunt.
P: Did both your mother's family and your father's family come from Ireland?
H: No. I do not know from where my ancestors came. I do not know how far back
they go [in America]. But on my father's side, strictly Scotch-Irish type people
populated Wilkes County in Georgia.
P: What brought them into the South? What brought them to Georgia and South
H: I have no idea. As far back as I know, my father's family had roots in Wilkes
County, going back for many, many years. I do not know who our earlier
predecessors were [on father's side]. Probably the same could be said of my
mother's side, except I knew about the [grandfather] dentist.
P: The other name I want to ask you about is your nickname. People call you
Smiley. From what was that derived?
H: That came from my days at Davidson College [Davidson, North Carolina]. When
I was at Davidson College, there were about 1,000 students. Now, the college
has significantly grown. Enrollment is up to 1,600. I think there was an
intimacy there that was very warm and rewarding. There was a closeness that
really bound people together because there were just so few in a class. You
could not go anywhere; you were pretty well locked into the campus. It was a
quite prevalent pastime to try and put nicknames on people. They stuck me with
my Smiley because I was always smiling and jovial. There were nicknames
everywhere. As a matter of fact, to digress a moment, William [Clark] Styron
[Jr.], the famed author [won Pulitzer in 1968 for The Confessions of Nat Turner],
was a student there. He seemed to have very little affinity for soap and water.
They called him Stinky.
P: I have never heard that.
H: That is what he was called. Then there was a real town citizen named Henry
Royster, and they called him Lard.
P: [Laughter] Not lard-ass, just Lard?
H: He had a lard-ass too. As a matter of fact, he used to say he could take a
shower and never get his feet wet. His brother came along a couple years later.
He was even more rotund than his brother Lard. To kind of keep it on the
oleaqinous fringe, I suppose, they called him Mayonnaise. He was so round,
they said, that they had to put a strap on Mayonnaise to know whether he was
walking or rolling. [Laughter]. So nicknames were very prevalent there.
P: Yours has followed you right on through the years.
H: It has followed me all through the years. As somebody said, A good name can
be lost very quickly, and a bad name can be overcome in time, but a nickname
P: You have never resented people calling you Smiley?
P: It was really a compliment.
H: I suppose. As opposed to another guy [nickname where], they transposed "I"
and "m" and called him Slimey. [Laughter]
P: That did not happen to you.
H: It pursued me thereafter because I went to [Johns] Hopkins [University,
Baltimore, Maryland] with a good friend by the name of Ralph Dunn, so my
nickname was there when I first entered Hopkins. I went from Hopkins to the
University of North Carolina for a couple of years prior to coming here, but there
were a number of people there that in one capacity or another had known me as
Smiley at Davidson. When I came here, of course, Harry Prystowsky [head of
Obstetrics and Gynecology] and I had crossed paths at Hopkins and once I got
here, it was still Smiley.
P: Still Smiley. [Laughter]. And it is Smiley right here. Now you were born in
Columbia, South Carolina, but I noticed you graduated from high school in North
H: That is correct. Apparently, after the war, my father thought he would pursue a
career in engineering.
P: As a civilian?
H: As a civilian. He was offered a very fine opportunity in movie theaters. We left
Columbia and went to Charlotte [North Carolina] where we resided very briefly.
Then, a real opportunity in the theater business opened for him in Atlanta.
P: How old were you when all of these transfers were taking place?
H: We stayed in Charlotte a very short period of time, and
then [moved to] Atlanta. We stayed there almost five years, so I was about five
and one-half years old when we left Atlanta. I got up to Greensboro in 1929.
P: So do you have any memories at all of those early days?
H: I have memories only of Atlanta. I have no recollection of Charlotte at all, but I
vividly remember things in Atlanta. It is amazing how memories pile up on you.
My father and all of his brothers were great athletes at Georgia Tech. When we
were there, they had not been that long out of college, and they were very
heavily identified with the Georgia Tech sports program. I remember vividly
meeting Peter Pund, who was an All American center for Georgia Tech. My
Uncle Albert still holds the Georgia Tech scoring record in football. In 1916 he
scored twenty-two times, and did not play against Cumberland [College,
Williamsburg, Kentucky] which they beat 222 to nothing.
P: [Laughter] Sounds like a Gator score against Georgia in the early years.
H: That is right. [Laughter]. It was a memorable game, the most an offense had
ever scored in a collegiate game, and the game where nobody made a first
down. Albert was really the most remarkable of all the brothers in terms of
athletic skills. All of them played baseball. Three of them were under the
tutorage of John Heisman of the Heisman Trophy fame, who was both a baseball
and football coach there at Georgia Tech during the time my father and his
brothers were there.
Albert was an amazing guy. Not only did he still hold the record as I stated, but
he remained athletic. He was in sales, and not infrequently he came by and
spent the night with us when we were in Greensboro, North Carolina, which I
really call home. He was a marvelous guy. Even though he had gained some
weight, he could still walk up the steps to the front door, which was six steps, on
his hands. He would line up the tallest kids in the neighborhood and back them
up about three or four deep with declining heights, step back about five paces,
and jump over the whole group.
P: That was quite a record. You were not trying to equal that at any time, were
H: I was never quite in that league. I had some of the genes, but not in the portion
which they had in athletics.
P: So your early education took place in Greensboro, North Carolina?
H: I went to Irving Park Primary School. That was the name of the little school. It
was obviously in the Irving Park residential section. It was a very lovely area. I
remember vividly the first day I walked into school. At the time, it was common
practice to skip you [to a higher grade] if you seemed to possess the ability. I
basically skipped three years in elementary school. In retrospect, it probably
was a debatable [practice], but it was the practice of the day. I found out I was
still quite competitive from both an academic and athletic standpoint, but it was
the social life that got me a little bit. The gulf between a fifteen year old guy and
an eighteen year old girl is considerable by any sense.
P: [Laughter]. Then and now.
H: Then and now. Nothing has changed. That is immutable.
P: When were you graduated from high school?
H: I graduated from what was then Greensboro High School in 1940. I think my
parents did the wisest thing that they ever did in my behalf. They insisted that I
take a year of pre-baccalaureate classes, I suppose that was what you called it.
I went to Darlington Preparatory School [Rome, Georgia] for a year.
P: Before you get into that, was your father in the movie business?
H: Yes. He had a number of theaters all over that part of the country. He was the
district manager and he had [to look after] a number of theaters, literally all over
the state. The three [theaters] that were particularly beneficial to me were the
theaters in Chapel Hill, [home of the] University of North Carolina, in Durham at
Duke [University], and in Raleigh, where North Carolina State University [was
P: So you got in for reduced prices?
H: I mean. What he would do was give the home team a free movie the night
before the game. In return, for all of the hometown games, at Carolina, Duke,
and North Carolina State, he got the top of the line [seats] in terms of football
Mother used to really lament the "horrible" seats. She would say, "Montgomery,
we are far down on the forty-eighth yard line." She was accustomed to sitting
right on the fifty [yard line]. So when she sat two yards either way, she thought
she had been badly mistreated. That persisted really into later years. Even
after retirement, he still had the ties, although there was not that much incentive
to go to the games as there had been, when they had children of college age.
He was able to get the basketball tickets for ACCT [Atlantic Coast Conference
Tournament], which in the meantime had become the main attraction in that
P: Sounds to me like you were exposed to and benefitted from both the movie
industry and the athletic industry.
H: That is right.
P: That was a double whammy to come up with. That was good.
H: I mean, Sam, I had a lot of good things going for me. For instance, I could go to
movies free. I could take a friend. I made a lot of progress there.
P: You did not care whether those girls were fifteen or eighteen.
H: That is right. They were glad to go to the movie with me. I tended to go in my
age group as the time went by. Those were the happiest of memories.
P: Were you an only child?
H: No. I had a brother and a sister. My brother died about four years ago. He
was an amazing guy in many ways. He probably should have been a
professional golfer. He had that kind of talent. He was number one on the
Davidson golf team when Arnold Palmer was number one at Wake [Forest
University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina].
Mike Souchak, who at one time held the record for the lowest score on a
professional golf tournament, was number one at Duke. Harvey Ward, who
subsequently won the British Amateur and the U.S. Amateur was number one at
Carolina. They were the same vintage, so he played them in two successive
years. He split two matches with Arnold Palmer when he was playing for Wake.
He beat Mike Souchak twice, but could not handle Harvey Ward at Carolina.
P: What about your sister?
H: My sister is a Duke graduate, and a very lovely lady.
P: What is her name?
P: Is she married?
H: She is married. She married a psychiatrist. For a while she was kind of a
wandering soul. She ended up becoming an airline stewardess, based in New
York. There she met a gentleman who was a psychiatrist and had been
previously divorced. They wed. Unfortunately, not too long after she was wed,
she had to have a hysterectomy, so they never had any children. [She] is a very
lucky person. They have now retired down to Cayman Brac in the Cayman
P: How were the growing up years? Was your family impacted at all by the
Depression of the 1930s?
H: No. Somehow they managed pretty well. We moved to Greensboro and were
there right at the time of the Depression. We moved into a home that was, let us
say, in a very luxurious neighborhood.
P: So your childhood was not blighted by any kind of economic problems of the
H: No, not at all. We were very, very fortunate. There were no problems at all. I
do not remember having anything but the best.
P: So you remember those years, the late 1920s and the 1930s, as happy years.
H: Extremely so.
P: In a good, close family?
H: Very close.
P: Were you a church-going family?
H: Yes. As a matter of fact, we were Presbyterian. My father was the chief elder
for the Presbyterian Church. He would have been a marvelous minister for a
great many reasons, not the least of which was that he was a very effective
speaker. For a number of years, he taught a college class. At the time, [it]
was known as Woman's College, predominantly a girl school, with about 5,000
students now. It is now [part of] the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
He taught Sunday school lessons. He always had a standing room only
audience. We always went to church. It was a very close family, and we
rejoiced in our privilege to be raised in such a family.
P: Tell me again the date of your graduation from high school.
H: I graduated in 1940, and then went to Darlington Prep School for one year.
P: Now where was that?
H: That was in Rome, Georgia.
P: Why there? Why did you and your family decide you should go there?
H: I really wanted to go up to Woodberry Forest [Orange, Virginia], but they could
not take me there for at least two years. My parents thought I just needed a
year of seasoning, so to speak, and Darlington would take me the same year.
P: This was a decision then that you made with your parents?
H: Right. They made the decision. They made the inquiries as to where the
opportunities were. I knew a great many people who went to Woodberry Forest,
which was, as you know, a very fine preparatory school in Virginia. A very
common pathway for a lot of my contemporaries in Greensboro was to go to
Woodberry Forest and then on to Princeton [University, Princeton, New Jersey].
It [was] a pretty well traveled pathway there. I had some dreams of doing that.
P: Were your grades good? Were you a good high school student?
H: I did very well, right.
P: So in that respect there was no problem in getting into that prep school.
H: There was no problem with that at all. I completed high school and graduated
with honors in the same year that I started at Darlington. In many ways, I think it
was probably the most productive year and wisest investment of one year's time I
P: Why was it the most productive?
H: I began to mature a good bit more. I thought I was able to handle the boy-girl
relationships much better than when I was a callow youth in high school. It was
a very rewarding year. In retrospect, I think it was probably the wisest advice
my parents ever handed me. It was not advice, it was more like instruction, you
are going to the Darlington Prep School, which was fine.
P: Is the Darlington Prep School still in operation?
H: Yes. I still get all the alumni letters.
P: So you are an alumnus of that school.
P: Is this when you began to think about medical school? Were you a good
H: I did fine in science. I really did not have too much academic difficulty
anywhere. But I had no desire whatsoever or ever thought of becoming a
physician. That is another item we will get to, I am sure, later in the day here. I
started at Darlington without any idea of what I wanted to be except I wanted to
try and do the best I could. Then after a year at Darlington I went to Davidson
College. Those were really the halcyon days. I was so delighted that my
daughter could enjoy the same experiences.
P: What kind of program did they have at Darlington?
H: It was just generalized. They were very heavy on the literature side. The fellow
who was my chief role model was a very athletic guy who also taught English.
The headmaster and founder of the school was a gentleman who had really
founded the honor system at Davidson. So it was again a fairly common
pathway to go from Darlington to Davidson. Had I gone to Woodberry, I
probably might have gone to Princeton. Under the circumstances, it was a
natural thing to go from Darlington to Davidson.
P: Why Davidson?
H: Again, one of those turns in life; I got into Princeton. I was accepted there. But
I chose Davidson because it was close and it was a Presbyterian school. I
would say its reputation in that part of the world is faultless. They turn out
awfully good people. As a matter of fact, to give you some idea of where this
comes from, several years ago, William [F.] Buckley [Jr., author, editor, TV
personality] had an article, the thrust of which was that prestigious institutions of
this country were really not as prestigious as they used to be because the great
professors who had made them prestigious were now having to grovel around for
grants and so much of the teaching was done by graduate assistants and
teaching assistants. He then said, in sharp contrast, the little school of Davidson
College, north of Charlotte, may not be as well known in non-academic circles as
it should be, but in a recent meeting, deans of the law schools of America said
they would rather have a Davidson graduate than a graduate from any other
school in the country.
P: It is interesting that so many of our faculty, both within the health center and on
the main campus, are Davidson's graduates.
H: They have spread around. In my lifetime there, 28 percent of Davidson
graduates went into medical school. One out of every three Presbyterian
ministers went to Davidson. Really, in retrospect, it has changed so much and I
do not know whether it was for the better. It was a school that would not allow
dancing on campus. One could not drink on campus. That was a certain form
of hypocrisy, because we could have dances at the Charlotte Armory and could
drink down there.
But the honor system at Davidson was, and I think still remains, absolutely the
best of its kind. The honor system said that anyone found guilty of stealing,
cheating, lying, committing plagiarism, or drinking on campus will be dismissed.
Now, of course, a lot of people did not think the fifth item was as bad as the first
four. This item really weakened after some of us got back, after World War II.
We were able to persuade the school to take at least the drinking off the same
list as committing plagiarism, lying, stealing, [and] cheating.
It was hypocritical in a very real sense because it was well known that we could
not keep cars on the campus. We thumbed everywhere we went. We came
back from Charlotte on a dance night. It was also well known to the bus drivers
to stop about a yard or two short of the city limit sign and call out, are there any
honor court people aboard? If so, we would yell. They would let us out, we
would walk the short distance to town and thus avoid having to report our
classmates for drinking.
The system was really built around one of the apocryphal tales. I suppose it
was apocryphal. Everyone had to take Bible [study]. I cannot remember
whether you devoted half a year to the Old [Testament] and half a year to the
New one, or one year to each of the two parts of the Bible. In any event,
everybody took it regardless of whether one was going into medicine or into law.
Everybody took it.
A fellow named Puss Richards was head of the Bible division there. He was
very averse to dancing in any form. They tell the tale that was perhaps
apocryphal; knowing him, it might have really been true. In the Old Testament
he got to the part about Nebuchadnezzar's court and the dancing girls. He
launched off on this bitter tirade about the evils of dancing and concluded this
great oration by saying he thought that he would rather be caught committing
adultery than dancing. Someone in the back of the class said, who wouldn't?
P: One was certainly more fun than the other!
H: It was one of the legends of the school. However, the honor system was really
absolutely impeccable. The truth of that could be found in the dismissal of
[William] Henry Belk's son. Mr. Henry Belk, [founder] of Belk's Stores [Belk
Store Services, Inc. and Belk Enterprises], was a Charlotte native. Charlotte
was just twenty-five miles south of us and it was really the town because there
was nothing in the community but that. In 1942, Mr. Belk gave Davidson either
$15,000,000 or $25,000,000, which was a considerable sum of money in 1942.
Two weeks after this generous contribution to Davidson's welfare, one of his
three sons who was enrolled at Davidson at that time was accused of cheating
on a history exam. His brother John [M. Belk], who is still alive but has a large
boulevard in Charlotte named in honor of him, was president of the junior class
and represented it on the honors court. I represented the sophomore class. The
vote to dismiss the errant brother was unanimous with no abstentions.
P: Tell me more about that honor system because it is the parent of the one that
was installed here in 1914.
H: So far as I know, it went back almost to the beginning of the school. I do not
know who provided it, but tradition has it that a headmaster of Darlington was its
founder. I do not know exactly when. It was deeply respected and remained
so. Another case in point, we were up there at Davidson to bring our daughter
home, during her first year there. She had just completed an exam. I asked,
Grace, how was the exam today? She answered, I cannot say. I said, why can
you not say? I am not going to take the test or tell anybody. She said, we are
not supposed to tell anybody. That was the end of the conversation.
P: Dr. [James] Farr, who was the vice president of the University of Florida and also
a professor of English on this campus was a Davidson graduate. He was in the
original faculty when the school opened here in 1906. He was responsible for
bringing the honor system onto this campus.
H: I was unaware of that.
P: Later on, he himself got into some problems, which were not totally honorable.
The system lasted until the post-war years when it began to weaken. Now there
was an effort made by some students to re-establish the honor system on the
campus. It worked very effectively here for many years. As I say, the Davidson
College system was our model.
H: This University had a fine model, there is no question about that.
P: What were your years at Davidson?
H: I was there from 1941 to 1948.
P: There was an interruption, of course, caused by the military?
H: Yes, an interruption by the military.
P: When was the interruption?
H: I was pulled out the second semester of my sophomore year in 1943. I returned
P: Now was this the draft that pulled you out?
H: No, it was not really the draft. There was a program that the military operated,
and they made it possible to take this specialized program. If you did take it,
you also would give them future time in the sense that if you went in the military
and survived, you had to give them additional time. The program was really
short-lived and it was a wonder it ever existed at all. It actually accelerated my
departure into the service. The idea was good but it somehow did not really fly.
I do know I was pulled out midway during the second semester of my sophomore
P: We will take this Davidson thing in two parts now. During your earlier stint, you
were there when the war just began, in December 1941. That was your
H: I remember it vividly, as if it were yesterday. We were travelling around Queens
College, a girl's school in Charlotte. [I was] with a guy named "Butch" Caldwell
and another guy named Frank Dunn. They were both big football hero types.
We were just travelling round. I remember it as if it were yesterday.
P: Sightseeing at Queens College?
H: That is exactly right.
P: So do you remember Pearl Harbor day, December 7th?
H: As I said we were going right around Queens College.
P: I did not know whether the views at Queens College obliterated your memory to
H: Sometimes I hoped it might, but it did not. Seriously, I remember it so vividly.
Of course we were under the shadow of the war from then on. I passed this
program that would permit me to finish college.
P: You came in, obviously, in September 1941. You were at Davidson for almost
H: One and three-quarters. In other words, I pulled out midway [through] the
second semester of the sophomore year.
P: All right. Now in what kind of activities did you engage? For instance, were you
a fraternity man?
H: Yes, I was a member of the SAE. I played a lot of intramural sports.
P: Did you work on campus? Did you have to have a job?
H: I did not have to [work].
P: Your family funded you fine?
P: Did you have a car?
H: No. We could not have cars there, so I had to thumb.
P: I was going to say, most of the students in those early years could not afford an
H: That is right. That is correct. But I think my parents could have probably
financed one. At least we had two cars at home.
P: That is, if you had been allowed to keep a car on campus.
H: Yes, then I probably could have had one.
P: You were involved in athletics; were you playing any team?
H: I thought I had some promise as a collegiate wrestler. That was one of the most
pivotal decisions I ever made in my life because quite indirectly it led me into
medicine. How that came to pass was rather interesting. I suffered [from] a
recurrent dislocation of the shoulder, which was a fatal injury in wrestling.
P: This was during your first stint at Davidson?
H: This was the first stint. It had a great role upon my second stint there. I
suffered this dislocation, to say [the least] it was a totally incapacitating injury. It
was like trying to play football on one leg. One simply could not do it. It just
destroyed me because I thought I had some promise. Like so many things in
life, things happen, and always down the line there was a purpose. You cannot
help but think that. At least that has been my observation from long association
with students and other people I have had an opportunity to deal with.
You have to think that life was not all Brownian movement, there is some
purpose in it. However clouded the future may be, it was not just Brownian
movement. Certainly that injury, to me, was the most critical thing that
happened in my life. In June 1942 I had it operated on. It was done by a great
surgeon in Charlotte, who did not get a good result from the operation. They do
better now. They immobilize your arm in what they call a velpeao position.
Mine was just encased in tape.
I was probably the first jogger there ever was, at least in that part of the world. I
started running the golf course, which was about a five-iron shot from my home
to the fourteenth fairway, and a brassie to the clubhouse. I used to run the golf
course about three and one-half miles, three times a day, so that this motion, you
see, that you [make with your arm] in jogging freed up the arm. I suppose most
of the wrestlers, the youth of that day, were a little bit narcissistic. To keep my
muscular prowess, I was doing a lot of pushups. I did five or six sets a day. I
got up to about 100 a set in some of them. This was very instrumental too, later
In April 1943, when I got pulled into the service, the promise to keep us in college
had long since expired. They needed the manpower, and that probably
accelerated my departure from college into the military. In I went. We all went;
at least in World War II, the mission was quite clear. When you went in, you
were fighting simply for survival, unlike the Vietnamese War, which was a bad
war; I do not mean any war is good. But we all went in and no one was running
off to evade the draft.
Once again, one of the memories that will always be engraved in my mind was
when I was called in before the board to determine what my status was. There
were three major statuses. You were combat fit, or you were limited service,
which meant exactly what the terms implied, or you were "4F," unfit for service.
Limited service meant you were limited in terms of what you could do. Basically,
and freely translated, it was anything that did not involve combat. In 4F you
were totally unfit for service. I think when they first saw me, we were stripped
down to nothing. They saw my wasted deltoid muscle here. The muscle was
destroyed in the operation, and so I had this very atrophic deltoid on that side. I
compensated with all these pushups and pullups.
They said, buddy you are 4F. I said, no, I am not a 4F. I think I could do at
least limited service and limited duty. Let me show you how many pushups I
can do. I was getting toward fifty, and they said, buddy, jump up. You can do
limited service. Then I got into the Army Specialized Training Program. The
army, in the early years, felt it might be a very protracted war, and they would
need some kind of so called seed corn.
In this Army Specialized Training Program [ASTP], one could go to medical
school, dental school, engineering school, or take languages. So I think
anybody who had an IQ better than 110 was an applicant for that. I applied for
it. As with many things in the army, their tests [to determine which branch of the
specialized program I best fit] were not always what they should have been. If I
had any problems at all in high school and college, mathematics was a little bit
more of a problem for me than the arts. I had the aptitude test in those four
The army concluded that I would never become a physician. With my aptitude
results, it was impossible that I would ever have the ability to become a
physician. [According to these tests] I had no propensity for learning a language,
which was a very easy thing for me. In college I had taken French, German,
and Spanish and I never had any difficulty at all with that. They said you will
make a very fine engineer, which was just an antithesis of what I thought my real
abilities were. Be that as it may, I went to the University of Delaware to do the
engineering training. In about November, they shut all the ASTP things down.
The army now began to see that they again needed to muster all the possible
manpower they could, rather than defer any of these people.
P: Was this 1943 or 1944?
H: It was 1944 now. So off we went to Camp Carson, out in Colorado Springs,
Colorado. Out there, they had me as an infantryman, despite the fact that I was
"limited service." On the firing line, I was firing a BAR [Browning automatic rifle]
and out came my shoulder again. So they packed me on back to Hattiesburg
[Mississippi]. What was the name of that place?
P: Camp Shelby?
H: Exactly right. One fine day, anybody who had an IQ over 100 could apply for
[training] either [as] cooks and bakers or surgical technicians. [Of those
applying] a certain number of people would be pulled out to go either to cooks
and bakers school or go to surgical technician school. As it turned out, my
destined life now became apparent. I drew [for training] as a surgical technician.
I always chided my bride a bit because I refused to learn how to cook. I made
a solemn promise [to her] that I would hope to bring in enough money to buy food
and [I would] take out the garbage, but I would not be involved in anything in
between. She tried to make a cook out of me one day, and I deliberately burned
up the poor skillet we had. That put an end to that. [Laughter].
Off I went to surgical technician school, for three months of training. Irony of
ironies, I spent one month at then Fort Jackson, which was in Columbia. I
returned to my birth site. My Aunt Grace Meighan, whose husband [Hugh
Meighan] I was named for and my grandmother Earle were there. So they took
marvelous care of me all the time I was there. Then I was sent to Lawson
General Hospital in Atlanta for my polish-up. I found that the polish-up consisted
of a month spent learning how to carry and empty urinals and bedpans, and how
to sweep and mop. I thought I could master that in little under a month.
P: I want to pick up with this in just a minute. But first I want to cover the
chronology here; was it April 1943 when you first came into the army?
H: April 1943.
P: Then where did you go?
H: I went first to Fort Bragg and then from there to orientation.
P: Did you do basic training?
H: No. I was still fighting the category I was going to be put in [4F]. They had me
shunted away until I came over and had that memorable day, in front of the
people with the pushups.
P: That brought about one decision.
H: Then I was sent out to Camp Barkley at Abilene [Texas]. If that was not the end
of the earth, then you could see the end from there on a clear day. It was a sad
spot if ever there was one. This was the gospel truth, Sam. I was obviously so
depressed that when I wrote to my parents, they thought I had gone into a really
profound depression. Mother wrote, "You know, my darling, just look at the
Bible, just open it and take some support from that." This was the gospel truth
too. I opened the good book and my eyes fell on perhaps the shortest sentence
in the Bible, "Jesus wept." [Laughter].
P: And he set the standard for you. [Laughter]
H: That is right. Then I was sent briefly to Texas A & M to take these tests for the
P: That was where you showed off.
H: That is right. I showed off, according to their aptitude tests, that I could never be
a physician, but I would be a very fine engineer. As I stated before, math was
the only area where I had ever any difficulty. My father, of course, with his
engineering background, never could understand why I was so stupid that I could
not pick up on mathematics as well as he had. So then from Texas we went to
Delaware. From there we went back to Camp Carson, and back to [Camp]
Shelby. Then the three months of completing training, one of them was [back] in
Columbia, as I said.
P: How long were you at Shelby?
H: I was there about two and one-half months.
P: I myself spent a good bit of time at Camp Shelby, so I know how wonderful that
H: That was no fun either.
P: That was almost like Texas, was it not?
H: A little better, I would have to give it to you.
P: You could get to New Orleans occasionally.
H: I could, and at least [I could] get down [to] the coast, to Gulfport and Biloxi [both
on Mississippi's Gulf of Mexico coast].
P: I remember you could even get a drink there, although it was all black market.
H: That is correct.
P: They had that old 3.2 beer [3.2% alcohol content]. I remember one of the
songs, country music songs that went like this: "I get tears in my ears, lying on
my back, crying over you." [Laughter]
H: I have never forgotten that song. [Laughter]
P: I remember Camp Shelby was way away from home for me.
H: [Laughter]. A long way away.
P: But we did get, as I said, to New Orleans occasionally.
H: That was a bright spot.
P: A very bright spot. Once or twice we went up to Memphis, but not often. Elvis
was not there yet.
H: He was not there for sure. In any event, I went back and was sent to join the
114th Evacuation Hospital, which was a field hospital.
H: It was with the Ninth Army Unit. We shipped out of Boston.
P: So for the first time you were now going overseas. What was the date you
H: That was one of life's bitter memories. It seemed to me we were on the water
for two weeks.
P: What was the date?
H: We went over there around mid-November .
P: The sea must have been very rocky.
H: Yes. A couple of boats went down in our group. They were shot down by the
subs. You talk about disaster memories, I do not think I will ever be able to
block that out. I was seasick from the moment I walked on till the moment I
walked off. I was vomiting constantly. It was one of those things, [I thought], just
let me die. I do not care if I ever reach land again. It was just awful. Some
good came out of it. I do not know whether it was a cause and effect
relationship, but in any event, thereafter I was never seasick again.
P: You got it out of your system?
H: I got it out of my system. I vomited up the first meal just when we began to rock
a little bit. I stayed prostrate.
P: You lost weight on that overseas trip.
H: I did not eat anything. I do not know how I survived. I would drink Coca-Cola.
I could retain that somehow. It had enough calories. I remember again quite
clearly that I read War and Peace. I determined I was much more interested in
peace. My first post was at the port of Swansea in Wales. Then I was
stationed for a while in Aberport, Wales, facing directly the Irish Sea. Swansea
is where we came in and I stayed up there for a while.
P: Is Aberport on the English side or the Irish side?
H: On the English side. It is about part of the way up on the Irish Sea side.
P: But on the east side [of the Irish Sea], not the west side. The United States
obviously had a base there.
H: Right. We had a base there. Then we were briefly at an installation right
outside of Winchester [southern England, just north of Southampton]. We
shipped over from there.
P: So did you go to the Winchester Cathedral?
H: Right. Winchester Cathedral it was, and miraculously still intact. It was
amazing how many churches were spared.
P: But a lot of them were ruined, such as Coventry.
H: For instance Cologne and St. Paul's, all of those were fine.
P: Did you get into London?
H: Yes. That was another story too. In any event, we went over [to the continent],
and we got into the Battle of the Bulge [December 16, 1944, to January 31, 1945,
in the Ardennes sector of Belgium, when the German forces launched their last
counter-attack]. We almost got overrun. After experiencing that, and
subsequently other things, I had little difficulty for a while when I came back to
medical school. Medical school was a joy compared to anything I had known
In recent years medical students always talked about crisis counseling and stress
counseling, you see. In fact, the present generation may have some problems
we never had to deal with. Certainly the drug was nothing that existed in my
time. The sexual mores were not quite what they became.
P: You mean in the 1960s?
H: That is right, exactly so.
P: And nobody had ever heard of HIV.
H: No, [there was] none at all.
P: What was your rank, by the way?
H: I ended up as a so-called T3.
P: Technical sergeant?
H: Technical sergeant.
P: And you stayed in the medical unit throughout, did you not?
H: I stayed in the medical unit. As the war advanced, we moved on further into
Germany. I hope I never see another flake of snow. It was terrible, the
freezing, the dying.
P: Cold, miserable, dangerous.
H: It was really hard to see, subsequently, how the present generation could find
medical school stressful, compared to that.
P: What did you do?
H: I was a surgical technician. I started off working in the shock tent. In other
words, the guys would come in obviously depleted, with tremendous wounds,
and a lot of blood loss. So there were three of us in a tent. Each of us had a
long isle of about six or eight guys that we had to take care of and provide with
IVs [intravenous needles] with the plasma or whole blood. I did that for a long
time. There were three occasions, during my time over there, when we were up
thirty-six straight hours and that was about all we did, other than eat and go to
P: You were learning by doing, were you not, because you had no regular training
for all this?
H: In retrospect [the training was] minimal. I think it was a question, Sam, of
somebody doing something as opposed to nobody doing anything. In
retrospect, I should have been frightened, but I did know enough to be afraid. I
was a callow youth, and I thought I was able to do this.
P: And you did.
H: I did. A funny thing spun off that, however, and I still get a lot of laughs out of
that. I really got pretty adept at it. I am not saying it was nuclear physics, but
little talent too. So when the students here were kind enough to have us out to
dinner, we always tried to have them over to the house, before [dinner], for
drinks. One night we were sitting there, after we had come back from dinner the
kids were graceful enough to take us to.
I made this statement, that at one time I thought I could put a needle in any
vessel there ever was, and I could make any cut down required. When the
vessel was collapsed a little bit, it was awful hard to put a needle into it without
going all the way through, [piercing] the whole vessel. So what you had to do
was literally cut down to the vessel, so that you could see it, and under direct
vision put the needle into it, as opposed to sticking the needle in through the skin,
which was done blindly.
As I said, I made the comment that at one time I could put a needle into any
vessel there ever was, and put in a cut down with great rapidity. Ann said,
"Smiley, that is very boastful." I said, "Ann, like Dizzy Dean says, 'It ain't
boasting if it is true."' [Laughter]. I had a tremendous advantage when I got to
medical school, because I was light-years [ahead] of anybody else, once we got
into the clinical work, where you had patients who had to have IVs and you also
had to cut down.
P: So in Germany you were really close to the front lines?
H: I was very close. We were almost overrun at the Bulge. People always ask,
"What was the most memorable moment for you in the service?" For me it
would have been the jump that the Seventeenth American Airborne and the
Eighth British Airborne [Divisions] made over the Rhine River. Some thought
this was going to be the coup de grace for Germany. It turned out it was not.
Anyway, we were the advance units. The way that thing worked was that there
were a certain number of field hospitals [attached to] a division. They would just
kind of leapfrog forward. You got to the front and then you came all the way to
the back, so that you were not completely inundated all the time. It just so
happened that we were the lead unit when the [two divisions] jumped the Rhine
It was a perilous day. You could see forever, it seemed. I think it was the
single most spectacular visual experience I have ever had. The armada must
have taken an hour to pass overhead. It was something to behold. We were
close enough to the Rhine that we could see them jump without binoculars.
What made it such a tragic endeavor was that they had done reconnaissance on
the jump site several days earlier. In the interim, unknown to them, the
Germans had brought in antiaircraft right to their assigned jump area. This was
probably accidental, but nonetheless devastating. We could see these guys
getting hit. It was something. Then by the most amazing coincidence, it was
hard to believe this but it was true, two of my childhood friends, who had jumped,
came in in one ambulance.
P: And you did not even know they were taking part in the action?
H: I knew one of them was in the Seventeenth Airborne. But at the time he was
jumping we did not know [which division] was in action. There were three
airborne divisions. The Eighty-Second and the One Hundred-First were the
ones which jumped into Normandy, and also they were in action at the one
bridge that was too far.
P: Were you in Germany when the war ended on V-Day?
H: Yes. But let me tell you about this experience because it was the most
memorable thing in many ways. The two guys came in the same ambulance.
One guy took a thirty caliber [bullet] through his hand that fractured the four
metacarpals and got the ulnar nerve. They really wanted to amputate his hand,
but I said, I will take care of him. For three days he was there. I would dress
his hand every night, and give him penicillin. He subsequently had seventeen
operations done, one for each of the seventeen divisions. They saved his hand.
He always said I saved his hand, which was not entirely true. The other one
was a fellow named Nappy Van Landingham.
H: Nappy was his nickname. When you looked at his x-rays, it looked like a
snowstorm in there. It was hard to see if he had about five or six hollow point,
thirty caliber [bullets] that shattered his iliac crest, just broke it up into little
spicules of bone, or if he had about three or four fifty caliber [bullets] that had
shattered him. By the time he got in, his abdomen was distended with gas, pus,
and feces. He was laid aside to die. There was nothing we could do for him. I
do not think they could have saved him even if they had performed immediate
They could not have saved him then or now. They just put him away to die.
They had a naso-gastro tube to try to combat the vomiting constantly. Nothing
we gave him [would help]. Bile, pus, feces, and gas were coming out a
tremendous hole on the side of his waist where they cut him down. I did not
even know the word at the time, but at his request I overdosed him. Of course
he had been laid aside to die. Obviously, I have never forgotten that.
P: Tell me about VE [Victory in Europe] Day [May 8, 1945].
H: There was another interesting thing that happened before that, which was an
P: Go ahead, tell me.
H: During the postwar days, they were just trying to keep the troops occupied. We
were over there almost a year before they got everybody back. So they sent us
to various schools they had established in London and Biarritz [France].
Professors were flown over from places such as Princeton, Yale, and so forth.
That was a pleasant sojourn for them. They taught a few guys something. I
took a course in Shakespeare, taught by the head of the English department at
Princeton, [which he taught] in Biarritz. While there, I almost lost my life. The
lighthouse at Biarritz was a place I used to go to watch the sea come in. I will
not burden you with all the details but there was a place down there where they
tried to put in a hydro-dynamic thing that would harness sea power, but it was
aborted. In the meantime, they had dynamited out a tremendous piece of the
same rock on which the lighthouse stood. There was big wall, at this level, with
a big gap in it. I used to go down there at low tide because the place they had
blasted in the rock was filled with all kinds of marine life. When the tide was
high, that whole level would be inundated. Waves would come crashing up
against the rock, and up to the lighthouse.
I was sitting there January 26, 1946. I saw a GI, a girl, and a dog come by,
heading down that way. I said, Buddy, do not go down there. It will knock you
into the water. On the other side of this level plain they had dynamited was just
jagged rock. They disappeared from sight as I was sitting there. I had warned
them not to go down. I looked up and heard the lighthouse keeper shouting and
pointing down. I ran around the rocks and I could not see the girl or the dog.
The guy was hanging on the edge of this thing in the water. He broke his
zygomatic arch and blood was streaming from his face.
I thought, I will just run down there, jerk him out, and get him out of there. We
will climb up the hill to the lighthouse and out of danger. To my dismay, when I
got down there, he had a compound fracture of one leg, plus the zygomatic arch
was fractured. Bone was coming out through his boot. Somehow you never
know what adrenalin will do for you in those times of crisis. I jerked him clear
and wound myself around a little gateway that led up to this place that was part
of the area they thought they would eventually be able to harness water power
from. We both got knocked off that and into the pool. We were swirling around.
I cut my brow down to the bone and broke my nose. Somehow I did not get
pushed over to the other side. I jerked him out and climbed up. I got him out.
By amazing coincidence, both of us survived.
I saw him again. By another ironic coincidence, we were on the same train
coming back to return to the United States, a train leaving out of Brussels
[Belgium]. By about 1965, I think, he had become a salesman. He somehow
found me and dropped by here to see me. I did not recognize him. He had
gotten quite stout. Some years later, by another amazing coincidence, he
ended up as head of Epcot Public Relations. Three times he contacted me and
said, I am head man down here. Come on down and bring your daughter. I
would love to have you spend the day, red carpet all the way. Ann said, oh no.
We cannot do that. It would be such an imposition. I said, Ann, there are two
people in this world who I have markers on, whose lives I have saved, and he is
one of them. [Laughter]. We never saw him again, and he retired. That was
P: And the girl disappeared?
H: Again one of the more touching ceremonies I have ever attended. All they found
of her was one tattered leg of the ski pants that she was clad in. They gave her
a little burial service or memorial service down there at low tide in the little area
there where she probably perished.
P: How long did you stay in Europe?
H: We left there late in March 1946, and I was mustered out on April 9 .
P: So you remained there one whole year after VE Day.
H: Yes, one year after the war.
P: Tell me about your celebration on VE Day. You went into town and all the girls
H: No. Unfortunately, I was in several towns, but afterwards. One such town was
just north of Frankfurt [am Main, in the American sector of occupied Germany].
By the summer of 1945 you could travel almost everywhere, all over Germany
and western Europe. I do not remember frankly where I was on VE Day. Once
we completed our support on that Rhine jump, we moved back. I remember
vividly when it ended, and we were once again at the back of the line. Then, for
all practical purposes the war was over for us. We used to sit there on the road
as the troops went forward. The manpower and all the equipment the United
States had at this period was in stark contrast with that of the Germans, the
reason for our winning so fast. We sometimes had to take care of wounded
P: But you saw all the devastation.
H: Yes. We were in several places afterwards [after VE Day]. There really was
not that much to do. The army tried to give us many opportunities, so I was able
to travel extensively all over Europe. The autobahn was such that you could go
almost anywhere. These were marvelous roads. One could thumb anywhere I
wanted to go. The guys who drove the US military vehicles would pick me up.
P: You saw the war refugees and the people moving?
H: I saw those.
P: You did not get into any of the concentration camps? That was not part of your
activity or responsibility.
H: No. Although, we were very close to Dachau, but I never did see it.
P: So in 1946 you came back to the United States.
H: I came back to the United States.
P: This was March 1946.
H: In March 1946. I had then resolved, you see, what I wanted to do, although I
had started at Davidson with no purpose.
P: You came back on a boat out of Brussels you say?
H: I do not remember for sure, but it was out of Belgium.
P: It was a more peaceful voyage going back than the one coming?
H: I was not sick at all.
P: You had a chance to enjoy the sea air?
H: I enjoyed the sea. It was a very uneventful trip back, in contrast with the one
sailing to England.
P: And there was the relief that the war was over.
H: The war was over. As I look back on that trip to the war, I do not know how
much of [the seasickness] was fear, psychosis, or whatever. Never again, ever,
was I seasick. Interestingly, I was invited down to speak to the Martin County
Medical Society, there in Stuart, where we have several of our former grads
down there in practice. One of them had a lovely vessel. We went out deep
sea fishing. On the trip, everybody else was down below vomiting and carrying
on; the only two people who survived the trip were Ann and I.
H: Stalwarts. We were the only ones. I have been out many times since and I
was never seasick.
P: You got it out of your system early.
H: That is right. When I was a youth, we used to go out very often to Wrightsville
Beach, off Wilmington, North Carolina. We would go deep sea fishing. I did not
last long [before I turned sick]. But in all subsequent trips, after that fateful
journey across to the war, I never was sick again.
P: So you came back to the United States in March 1946, and now you pick up with
your civilian life, right?
H: Right. I had now resolved to become a physician.
P: As a result of the experience you had in the military?
H: That is right.
P: But you go back to Davidson.
H: That is right. All fostered by what I thought was the great tragic event of my life,
that time I dislocated my shoulder.
P: Now you come back as a GI.
H: I come back as a GI, and had the advantage of the GI Bill [providing funds for
education of veterans]. I got the maximum benefit from it because you could get
full GI Bill coverage. It was a great blessing to my father in more ways than one.
In any event, you could get twelve months of college training beyond the
amount of time you spent in [the services], with nobody being able to get more
than a total of forty-eight [months].
P: But you were eligible for the forty-eight?
H: I went in on April 6 , and came out on April 9 . So I had three years
and three days, so I got the maximum.
P: So you had the three years plus the twelve [extra months].
H: I had forty-eight. It was a great boon to my father because it largely enabled me
to get through not only the two years of college I had still left to go, but also the
four years of medical school.
P: But financing you earlier had not been a problem.
H: No. In the meantime, I was one of three children, as I stated earlier. Each of
us was, almost to the day, five years apart. This was planned parenthood at its
best. The rationale behind it was that at no one time would there be more than
one child in college. I shot that to pieces because I think when I was in the last
year of my medical school at Johns Hopkins, my brother was at Davidson, and
my sister had just started Duke. [Laughter]
P: It was a plot against your father. [Laughter]
H: He always thought the fates had conspired against him.
P: I hope you all appreciated him in his old age?
H: We did indeed. A lovelier fellow I never knew, and mother was a delightful soul.
In any event, I had the maximum benefits from the army. Then, having
embarked upon really no destination when I started [at Davidson], I had to spend
three summers making up the pre-med requirements that I had obviously had not
taken through the first year and one-half.
P: And all of this was at Davidson?
H: All of this was at Davidson.
P: So you finish at Davidson when?
H: I finish Davidson in 1948.
P: Was this all work and no play at Davidson when you returned?
H: No, I had a great time there.
P: No more wrestling of course.
H: No more wrestling, and very much intramural [sports]. I also became the head
person there; I worked with the team manager. I was the head manager. It
enabled me to get some dexterity in dealing with taping the feet of the football
team, so I was the head man there. I was very active there in a lot of things.
P: I wanted to ask you what the Beaver Club was. The name intrigued me when I
H: It was an honorary society, only supposed to be visited upon the most elite
students of the first two years.
P: Was this perhaps like the Florida Blue Key?
H: It would be kind of a two year Blue Key thing. That would be a rough analogy. I
happened to be president of that. That was quite a nice honor at the time. It
has now gone the way of all flesh and no longer exists. I was very fortunate
there [at Davidson College] when I came back. I had a lot of honors bestowed
P: You were a big man on campus.
H: I was second vice president in the junior year, and president of the student body
in the senior year.
P: Did you get re-affiliated with the fraternity?
P: Was Sigma Alpha Epsilon a big fraternity on Davidson's campus?
H: Yes, it was at that time. They have now fallen into sad repute, I fear. Then,
they were pretty much the top of the line. The chief rivalry existed between us
and Kappa Sigma. We used to call them Kappa Stigma. Three of us [SAE
members] were president of the student body for three years out of four.
Fraternity life then was considerably different than it obviously is today. It was
much more peaceful and had a little bit more serenity than you have today.
P: What about your grades?
H: My grades were good enough to get into [Johns] Hopkins. I missed Phi Beta
Kappa by the narrowest margin. Those were great years there.
P: You were very socially involved? Nobody had nailed you down yet? You were
playing the field?
H: Playing the field.
P: Your parents were still living then, your mother and your father?
P: Davidson was close enough so that you could get home often?
H: I could thumb home, but I had a car then. Davidson had established some
degree of leniency so we could have cars. So I had a car. I could go back and
P: What was the Omicron Delta Kappa?
H: ODK. It was an honorary society that you have here too.
P: A leadership service organization?
H: Yes. It would be the true [counterpart] to the Florida Blue Key.
P: Now you told me you were in Sigma Alpha Epsilon. What is the Sigma Epsilon?
Is that the chapter of SAE?
H: No, that was the literary organization. Anybody who had some reasonable
writing talents was brought into that.
P: I see you were on the honor court.
H: Right. I was president of that.
P: So you did a lot of things?
P: Almost like a renaissance man.
H: Almost. [Laughter]
P: When did you finish Davidson?
H: I finished Davidson in June 1948.
P: And then?
H: I went to the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
P: Where did you apply?
H: I only applied to two places. I applied to Chapel Hill where I knew I could get
in. But I really wanted to go to Johns Hopkins. Two of the very salient role
models in my life, from a medical standpoint, were a gentleman named Norman
Harden and another one named Sam Ravenel. Sam Ravenel was a
pediatrician. Norman Harden, who lived right next door to him, had operated on
me when I had football injuries, as a kid.
When I came back, from April to June , I assisted him [Dr. Harden] in
surgery. I had worked my way up from giving shots at camp. I was assisting in
major surgery. As I stated earlier, in retrospect, I should have been supremely
frightened, but I once again did not know enough to be [scared].
P: Sounds to me like you were practicing medicine before you went to medical
H: I cannot tell you what advantage I had over my classmates. Once I got into the
clinical setting, I was way ahead.
P: So you applied to both institutions. Were you accepted by both of them?
H: I was accepted by both of them. I went in to see my good friend Dr. Norman
Harden; as I said, I had assisted him before; he was a good old Georgia boy.
As a matter of fact, he went to the University of Georgia [Athens, Georgia]
graduate school and played baseball against my father at Georgia Tech. I went
to see him in December . I was in my final year in college there. He
asked me what I had heard from Hopkins. I said, "I got my application in a little
late Dr. Harden." He said, "Well we will take care of that."
He went to the phone, and it turned out that a fellow named Houston Everett,
who was then the second in command in gynecology at Hopkins, had been his
college classmate and also roommate. He had promptly marched to the phone
and here it was Friday. He came back and he said, can you be up there by
Monday? I said, I can, if I can get a plane there. Daddy can finance it. Away
we went. I never will forget, Houston Everett walked me over to the dean to be
interviewed and took me around. He was a major force in my electing to go into
gynecology as a career, once I got in.
P: So you hop right on up to Baltimore and you were interviewed?
H: Right. I was accepted within the week.
P: So when did you start?
H: I started there in September 1948. I was there nine years, four years of medical
school and five years of residency. Those were glorious years too.
P: Before you get into the residency, let us talk about your career as a medical
H: I did quite satisfactorily.
P: Why did you make the decision to go into gynecology?
H: Again, I think what influences your choice was first of all your basic personality
set. If you look at medical students as they come through, any reasonable
person can really put medical students into three major categories. [The first
two categories are] ongoing care or not, and under non-ongoing care, you have
the anesthesiologist, radiologist, pathologist, and emergency medicine. These
doctors render great service obviously, but they see the patient once and then
they are gone. Having decided to take care of people on an ongoing basis, [the
field] breaks up into medical or surgical.
P: But you had some experience with surgery?
H: Exactly and that was tremendous, you see. Even if I had not had that
[experience], I think my personality set would have directed me toward surgery.
I enjoy dealing with people. I would not want to be a pediatrician. I would not
want to be an internal medicine man. I am delighted that people want to do that.
I think one of the great beauties of medicine is that it is so multifaceted and that
it involves so many different kinds of people.
P: But you had no experience at all with gynecology?
H: No, I did not, but again it is surgical. What determines, I think, what you become
is first of all your personality set. I thought I was a people person on the surgical
side. The next thing was, who was the faculty role model or models, who was
the house staff role model or models, and what kind of experience overall did you
enjoy on rotation. As I tell people, it is a very blissful thing. You feel right with it
or you do not.
P: What kind of thing?
H: Blissful. It is not cerebral as much as it just feels right. What I say one feels is
either a cardio-pyloric or hear-gut reaction. It feels right. Some other areas you
encounter are somewhat analogous. The selection of your college, for example;
you felt right as you walked around the campus. The selection of your medical
school works the same way. The selection of your choice of medical [category]
or the choice of your bride.
P: It sounds like you were making, from your point of view, all of the right decisions,
or you were making a decision and it turned out to be the right decision, because
you have no control or you never know for sure ahead of time.
H: There is such a great emphasis, right now, to get people into primary care.
There is no way of knowing, in an one hour interview, whether somebody is
going to be a primary practitioner or not. There is no way of knowing that.
P: But now, you are interested in surgery and you think you have the right kind of
personality and you have experience from the military and so on. But why
gynecology? Why not a different kind of surgery?
H: Difficult to say, but [I chose gynecology] because Richard Wesley TeLinde,
whose works are up there on the wall, wrote the definitive book on operative
gynecology and was pretty much the top of the line. To me he was, overall, the
most impressive person. I felt right with him. Houston Everett, Pop as they
called him, was his first lieutenant, who had originally shown me over to the dean
and who took a very paternalistic view of me. He would have me over for
Thanksgiving dinners and those kinds of things when I was both a student and a
resident. The house staff seemed to be my people.
P: So if this role model had been in another area of surgery, you might have chosen
H: Yes, exactly. If Houston Everett and Richard TeLinde had been orthopedics,
then I may have been an orthopedic surgeon.
P: I see.
H: On the other hand, as I run back down memory lane, one of the most
compassionate and inspirational people that I met was a gentleman named Philip
Tumulty, who happened to be in internal medicine. He is now dead but it is
obvious that I still revere his memory. Had I been a medicine personality, then
Philip Tumulty was my role model and I would have been an internist rather than
P: These were an exciting four years for you?
H: Oh marvelous, the greatest years of all. After the first year passed.
P: Was it the toughest?
H: What happened was that two weeks prior to the final exams in biochemistry and
anatomy, I got the worst attack of measles there ever was. As you may know,
once a basic childhood illness is visited upon an adult, it is typically extremely
severe. One of the bad side effects of measles you get was what they call
photophobia, where the light bothers you tremendously. I had such photophobia
that I could not have sat in this room. [I was unable] to have any kind of bright
light. I was saved only by the fact that I had some very thoughtful and kind
colleagues, who prepped me orally for the exam, because I could not read much.
Happily, I had done enough to get by. I figured, if I passed this biochemistry
exam and the anatomy final, with this handicap, the rest of it was going to be
downhill and easy.
P: Was it?
H: It was. [Laughter]. Particularly after I got into the clinical setting, where I could
pull from my rich experience in the past and was way ahead of other people.
P: So what significant things, other than measles, happened to you during
your four years in medical school?
H: Nothing, except obviously I got a great education. I enjoyed every moment of it.
P: Good grades?
H: Good grades.
P: Now students are under such pressure going to medical school. Was there a
life outside of the hospital and classroom in your time?
H: Oh yes. We had a marvelous time.
P: You had an apartment?
H: No. The first year there I roomed, had a home with a lady who had a son who
was two years ahead of me. The last three years I lived in the Phi Chi fraternity
house. It was very fortuitously situated. First of all, directly across the street
from the hospital, just two row houses away, was the nurses' dormitory. Either
they had to come along the median, if they did not want to exchange some
comments with us, or if they walked directly on the sidewalk, we were on the
second floor balcony there and we could make a few choice remarks to them.
P: You were really a strategist. You were always in the right place at the right time.
H: It seems so. I have been very fortunate. A really rather amusing thing came
out of that. Given the sexual mores of the time, of course they do not compare
to today, but we were very fortuitously located and by the mores of the day, I
understand we were pretty risque. There was no question this had to do with
the fact that we were very fortuitously located, as the address of the Phi Chi
fraternity house was 606 North Broadway. That has some medical application
because of [biologist] Paul Ehrlich's 606 attempts to find a drug that would be
efficacious in combating syphilis. He finally found Salvarsan. It was on the
606th experiment that he found this drug that finally had some efficacy.
P: Thank God!
H: Thank God. That is right. Anyway, here we were at 606 North Broadway,
envied by all competitors. One of those was Sigma Nu. There were actually
three fraternities besides our own. They were very jealous of us. In
commemoration of our sexual proclivities and of our address, we were called
Club Salvarsan. [Laughter]
P: Do not eliminate any of this from the transcript when you start editing. [Laughter]
H: All right.
P: I want you to be immortal in many ways.
H: Those were great days. We had a marvelous time. I was very fortunate to be
chosen to become an intern there.
P: Before you get to your internship, I want to make sure I get the four years of
medical school out of the way. You were a good student obviously, had no
problems with your studies.
H: None at all.
P: [You had] an active social life?
H: Very active.
P: You loved living in Baltimore?
P: You liked going down to the Lexington Market and eating the crab cakes?
H: That is right.
P: Where was Johns Hopkins located in terms of the city?
H: It was over on the northeast side on the east side. In a happier day, the row
houses that surround the hospital now were very posh accommodations. By the
time I got there, from Hopkins up to North Avenue, about forty-eight short city
blocks, there was one row house after another. The row houses were very
narrow and stretched as far as you could see. When I arrived there in 1948, all
forty-eight blocks were largely [populated by] blue collar type people. As the
blacks would move in, the blocks would be vacated.
P: Crime was not yet a factor?
H: Not at all. As a matter of fact, if you wore the lab coat that the students and
faculty wore, or the jacket, pants, or skirt that the house staff wore, you were
immune. You were invulnerable as if you were buttoned down in a Sherman
tank. Today, again what a tragic twist time has thrust upon us, Johns Hopkins
pays now $8,200,000 a year for security.
P: It was zero back in those days?
H: Nothing. You were absolutely immune. The girls learned very quickly never to
carry a purse because the slasher and the snatcher might get them. The
slasher would come by, slash the strap with a four-inch switchblade and get the
purse. The snatcher would walk a step behind, [and snatch the purse]. Away
the purse went, and hopefully there was a wallet in there with some money.
P: But that was the worst you could expect?
H: That was the worst you could expect. [We] were absolutely immune. They
would steal your car blind. You learned very quickly never to leave the glove
compartment locked because they would inevitably jimmy it or dismantle the
dashboard to get at it. I do not know to this day quite what they thought they
might find there because drugs were not a problem at all. Heaven knows we
had absolutely no money of our own. As a matter of fact, at that time, Hopkins
was one of the only hospital or medical institutions that did not pay their residents
[anything more] other than room, board, and laundry. We were very fortunate to
be coming in on the wings of Blue Cross and Blue Shield because then in
addition to room, board, and laundry, we got $25 a month. The next year it went
up to $50. In my fifth and final year, it was $75 plus room, board, and laundry.
P: Now you came in under the GI Bill. Was that enough to finance you for three or
H: It helped my father immeasurably. I do not think he had to pay anything. Again
that maximum forty-eight [months schooling under the GI Bill] that I was able to
enjoy completely covered the two years at Davidson. You see, it was forty-eight
months [of actual attendance], not forty-eight calendar months. In other words,
[for example] the three months in between each [school-]year did not count
against the forty-eight [months].
P: Now was there anything important that needs to be documented here on the tape
about your career at Johns Hopkins before you graduate? I am talking still
about the four years in medical school.
H: Again, nothing but just joyous times. We had a great time. After that bout with
the measles, when I barely triumphed over anatomy and biochemistry, the rest of
[medical school] was just a delight. I immensely enjoyed pathology. As I have
stated before, once I got into the clinical setting, I was just fine.
P: Did they have a formal commencement at Hopkins?
P: Did the family came up?
H: Again, [there was another irony]. My father had an injury in his back, he
developed a bad disc. He was a great athlete in his time, and had become a
very fine golfer. As a matter of fact, he broke his age twenty-two times after he
turned eighty. He had obviously looked forward to having me finish my
education [so I would have my own income]
P: You had been at it a long time?
H: It had been a long time. I overdrew my bank account twice. He wrote this
blistering letter about me graduating from medical school at Johns Hopkins, and
said I ought to be able to add and subtract. I wrote back to him and said I could
not possibly be overdrawn because I still had two blank checks [laughter]. He
saw no humor in that somehow. Again later, he lamented about [matters of]
money, and wrote how I was talking about the cost of living and he was
concerned with the cost of loving, because I had no [proper income to live on].
I was also wondering down to Georgetown. At that time, it was a vast paradise,
because in those days, two to four lovelies could split the rent of one of those
gorgeous townhouses in Georgetown, of which the most modest was going for
$300,000 a year, as of 1982.
P: Yes. Times change.
H: From the years 1948 to 1957, which embraced the nine years I was there, we
spent a lot of time down there. My father was concerned that I only thought
about the cost of my living, while he was very much concerned about the cost of
P: You had a very realistic father.
H: Very. He could certainly add and subtract. [Laughter].
P: Then, you stayed on as an intern at the Johns Hopkins Hospital?
H: Right, as an intern.
P: Why there? An intern can go anywhere, can he not?
H: Yes, but the gynecology [department] there was pretty much the top of the line
with [Richard] Te Linde. Actually, it was top of the line, as were most other
P: You are still in gynecology now. That has not changed.
H: No. I started off interning in gynecology. Obstetrics and gynecology were
unique in that particular setting, because nowhere else in the country, if not in the
civilized world, were ob/gyn separate departments as they were there. This split
came to pass because of a fellow they used to call Bull Williams who wrote the
original obstetrics textbook. The Williams textbook is still the great bible of ob
and now reached about the twenty-fourth edition.
Apparently, Dr. Williams liked to deliver, but he did not like to operate. A fellow
named Howard Kelly, who has now been made immortal by the Kelly forceps or
Kelly clamps, which is one of the basic operating instruments in surgery today,
did not like to do ob. So they became separate departments.
P: Unlike here at the med center.
H: [Unlike] anywhere. Everywhere else in the world, it was ob/gyn, but [at Johns
Hopkins] they were two separate departments. That separation was a major
factor in bringing me down here to Florida. Anyway, you started off in gyn for six
months and then shifted over to ob for the last six months. Of course the
reverse was for the ob [people]. They had ob first and then came over into gyn
for the second half.
P: As an ignorant person, should I know the difference between gynecology and
H: Gynecology is operative. Literally, gynec- is the prefix for woman, and -ology
means the science or knowledge of [literally the speaking or talk about] women.
Obstetric is to deliver. Everywhere else, that is anywhere at all, there was [one]
ob/gyn [department], but here they were two separate departments. [When] you
started out, you knew full well Johns Hopkins ran the ultimate so-called pyramid
system. In the present day, if you start off with six interns, all six will remain for
the now four years you require to become accredited in ob/gyn. At that time, it
only took three [years].
Anyway, you knew if you started off and did faithful work, you would finish the
residency. Hopkins had the original pyramidal system. In other words, they
would start off with six [interns] and cut down to two for the second year. You
would be informed in December of the first year whether you would be permitted
to remain. Of the two people the gynecology department cut down to, one
would spend two additional years beyond the first one. That person took care
largely of the so-called private residents. In other words, he pretty well took care
of patients of the various faculty and private people who could have patients
there. Similarly, at the time, only three years were required for Ob; now you
take four. The other person [of the two asked to stay, happily, that other person
was me], was asked to stay for four more years, for a total of five years [of
internship]. You talk to students today and they ask why one would start in such
cut-throat situations. Because you knew it, that was part of the bargain, you
knew that was going to happen. Of course, you struggled to be the one who
would be permitted to remain. Those who remained were sent to excellent
places to finish their required years to become accredited. I was fortunate to
have been the one selected for the five years in total.
I then went over and completed a year in Ob. The second year was probably
the most rewarding year I ever spent in medicine in terms of what I learned. I
spent a year doing pathology. For three days a week, eight months of the year,
I was one of three instructors for eight medical students learning pathology. I
did 128 autopsies. I had a marvelous experience. As you well know, if you
really want to learn something, try and teach it. It gave me a breadth of
knowledge that has enriched me to this day. In other words, [that second year]
was not devoted to just gynecology or obstetrics, but to everything.
P: Many of the big names in medicine were at Hopkins at this time; were you
fortunate enough to work with them?
H: Right, yes, I was.
P: Who were your role models at this time? You have always seemed to have
some [role models] as you proceeded through [medical school].
H: Again, mostly Richard Te Linde and Pop [Houston] Everett.
P: The same ones?
H: The same ones. Of course, I also added others I worked with. They were
marvelous years. The twenty-two people who served as chief residents for Dr.
Te Linde were really [outstanding]. It was quite amazing what became of the
twenty-two [doctors]. Eleven of them became departmental chairmen. Another
one, M. D. Anderson, was head of gynecological oncology, tumor services.
Probably at the top of the line was Sloan Kettering. Another was head of
surgery at Mayo. You had [among the twenty-two doctors] authors of the three
principal textbooks and editors of two principal journals.
If I ever tried to make that comment in the presence of my bride and anybody
else, so I would not get my ego too inflated, she will pop up and say, and then
there was Smiley Hill. [Laughter].
P: [Laughter] During the internship, I am not sure I asked you before, what did they
pay interns at that time?
H: The first year I was one, nothing but room, board, and laundry. It was not until
the following year that Blue Cross and Blue Shield started paying them some
P: You got the $25, the $50, and the $75, and you were in high cotton?
H: That is right. I still had a rich father.
P: Good. That could get you into the theaters for nothing.
H: I almost exhausted his resources, but not quite.
P: So you were an intern for one year, 1952 to 1953.
P: Then you became a resident?
H: Then I was a resident. Actually, you see, the term resident was derived at
Hopkins because one lived there.
P: So that was where that [came from]. Once again you had the option of going
somewhere else, did you not?
H: Yes, but I obviously chose to stay there.
P: And they were happy to have you?
H: It seems so. They kept me.
P: You did not get an eviction notice?
H: I did not do anything apparently sufficient to oust me from my position.
P: You were no longer in the fraternity house, with the overlooking balcony.
H: That is right.
P: You are in this rendezvous, this love nest, down in Georgetown. [Laughter]
Have I got that all right?
H: [Laughter] You got it first rate.
P: The tape is a document.
H: You may have overplayed the love nest. [Laughter].
P: I know, but it will sound good for the generations of researchers who will come
along, and say, I wish I had met this Smiley. He sounded like an interesting guy.
What did you residents do that interns did not do?
H: It was just terminology. The work was about the same, except the internship
was a tough year.
P: Interns looked up to residents as senior people?
H: Yes. Once you survived that first year as an intern or resident, then the term
was used almost interchangeably.
P: Once you got to be a resident, you thought you were a big shot, was that it?
H: If you survived the internship, the rest of it was downhill, There was no question
P: Sort of like you getting over that seasickness?
H: That is right.
P: Life was smooth after that?
H: Life was smooth, since everything was relative, right.
P: So as a resident, what did you do?
H: We had the responsibility for taking care of the patients. We had some
responsibilities towards the private patients. We took care of them totally.
P: In those years, patients stayed in the hospital more than one day.
H: Exactly so. Again, we were really quite independent. It is quite terrifying to tell
this to the present generation of students and residents. First of all, we were on
three nights out of four. The surgical and medical guys were on every night.
That was the birth of the term resident. You lived there. The present
generation thinks being on one night out of three is an almost odious
responsibility. I got so tired, several years back, hearing about quality of life and
lifestyle. I was talking with a lovely lady about future internships. She was
about the eighth or tenth one I had seen that day. All I heard about was quality
of life and lifestyle. That translated into: how many nights am I on call? I finally
said, I think quality of life and lifestyle is a four letter word. Her eyes got really
big and her mouth was hung open. She said, four letters? I said, yes.
L-A-Z-Y. [Laughter]. Of course, you see, everything is relative. We went
three [nights] out of four.
P: And you did not even think about it too much.
H: The medical and surgical people were up every night.
P: One of the big changes, obviously, was in the amount of money that you got at
that time as compared to today.
H: That is right. There was no question of money then.
P: As a resident, what did they pay you?
H: Nothing but room, board, the $25, $50, and $75 [additional funds given to
students in addition to room and board].
P: A big operation?
H: A big time operation.
P: That love nest could not have afforded too much.
H: No, that could not have afforded too much.
P: I noticed that the first year you were serving as assistant resident in gynecology,
on leave to pathology. What did that mean?
H: That was the second year. As I said, that was the most productive [year] of all.
P: You already interned the first year, and now we are talking about year two?
H: Yes. I spent that year, as I said, as one of three instructors for eight students for
three days a week, for eight months. I did all the autopsies.
P: That was where you learned so much.
H: That was where I really learned so much. If I had to pinpoint one year that was
the most meaningful to me, in terms of how much I learned, it would be that year.
As I mentioned before and as you well know too, to really try and learn
something, try teaching it.
P: Now, your residency stretched over five years?
H: It was a total of five years. The whole program, in fact, was five years, when
elsewhere in the country, they only had to have three [years].
P: I have your internship starting in 1952. You finished as chief resident in 1957.
H: That is correct.
P: So those were the five years [you spent] as a resident.
H: Yes, as you see, although the residency for everybody else was only for three
P: But at Hopkins it was the internship year, plus four, for a total of five years.
H: Right. The third year was again a very meaningful year because I had no
clinical responsibilities. I operated two days a week with no pre-operative or
post-operative responsibilities. And I spent two days a week in an outlying clinic.
I also spent two days [a week] in cystoscopy. Another thing about that
program, at the time, was that gyn at Hopkins did female urology, which was
once again unique. This again went back to the days of Howard Kelly who liked
gyn and invented the Kelly cystoscope, as opposed to the water cystoscopy
they use now in examining bladders and so forth.
What they had was really, I would say, a study in crudity. All one had was the
Kelly cystoscope. It was simply a metal tube, with a metal handle on it of
varying diameters, that you would stick into the urethra and examine the ladies'
P: I understand. Very crude.
H: Very crude. The poor lady was in knee-chest position, which was awkward for
everybody. You could hardly see. You had the typical ENT lamp [Ear, Nose,
and Throat] to reflect the light up into the bladder you were peeping at through a
tiny, little hole, with hardly any diameter at all. It was very awkward for
P: You kept saying to yourself, why did I not elect to become a movie director? But
you were still a poor student.
H: That is right. About midway through the five years I was there, here came the
water cystoscopy [replacing the old Kelly cystoscope], which was literally [like
the difference between] night and day. You could see perfectly well. From a
physician's standpoint the lady was in a far less awkward situation.
We worked a six day week, two days of operating in the morning, two days of
cystoscopy in the morning, and two days of outpatient clinic. In the afternoons,
one would cut up all of the various structures removed, be it an abnormal
hysterectomy for myomas, ovarian cancer, or whatever. You would describe the
gross, cut the blocks that would then be put into wax, and made into a slide.
That night, you would look at about 140 slides, each night, for a full year. That
was another meaningful year.
Actually, two things that are now part of the trade, were then just experimental.
One was the so-called carcinoma in site to [show] changes in the cervix and
endometrial tissue. They were the real pioneers of progress.
P: What kind of tissue?
H: The endometrium, [tissue obtained by] D & C dilatationn and curettage] from the
lining of the uterus. One could establish the presence of what they called
atypical or abnormal, cancerous tissue of the lining of the uterine cavity of the
P: You are going to give our typists a nervous breakdown.
H: [Laughter] Okay. Tell them to write me or something.
P: They will.
H: For every biopsy of the cervix one did, in trying to track down this disease, and
for every dilatation and curettage of the uterus that one did, one had to cut three
different blocks. So it was really not quite 140 different cases [one had to check
every night]. Again, that was a very rewarding time. Once more, you were
pretty much all alone, except that any real puzzling problems you had, or any
fascinating or unique lesions you saw, you could show [to one of the pathologists
Eddie Novak checked us out on Mondays and Don Woodruff on Wednesdays.
Old Dr. Emil Novak, who was really the pioneer gynecological pathologist in this
country, would come on Fridays and sit for the real fascinomas, as we called
them. One still had a lot of responsibility. That was one of the most important
things, I thought, associated with my Hopkins training. Literally and figuratively,
when the sun went down, tag, you were it. Unlike the present situation, when
there are always residents on call and they have other personnel attending as a
backup, we did not have anyone. It built character in a hurry, let us say.
P: Who were the patients at Hopkins in those early days? Were they private
patients or indigents?
H: Most of the patients, obviously, were indigent.
P: And they came from the greater Baltimore area?
H: [They came] from right around there [the area around the hospital].
P: Poor people needing care walked into the hospital.
H: Patients were largely black minorities.
P: You know this was before integration; was that not a problem at Hopkins in the
H: To show you how that prejudice existed, the floors there were broken down both
by sex and by color. In other words, there was a black female floor in medicine
and also in surgery. There was a black male service in each. Obviously all
females were in gyn, again black and white separated.
P: So you had four separate entities there?
P: You as a resident, did you service both black and white patients?
H: Yes, right. There were some white [patients], but not many. As I mentioned to
you earlier, we would look in on the private patients, but the main person
responsible for their care was a person other than myself who stayed on to be
P: Hopkins had such an internationally known hospital. Why did it not attract more
white, private citizens?
H: Over at the Marburg Pavillion, which was a significant part of the hospital, there
was nice, private space. Grace Kelly came there.
P: You did not work in that area though, did you?
H: We would go down there sometimes, at night, but not often. Once again, that
other fellow who survived the cut was largely responsible for their care. We
would just look in if he got into a bind.
P: So most of your patients, or the majority of them, were poor black women who
came in from the area [surrounding] the hospital?
H: That is right, from [the area] immediately around it.
P: How was Hopkins funded at that time? Was it getting state money or federal
H: No, not then. Johns Hopkins [financier and philanthropist, died 1873,
bequeathed $7,000,000 for founding of Johns Hopkins University and Johns
Hopkins Hospital] left a tremendous endowment. I do not know what the
substance of it was.
P: Would that be true today with the hospital?
H: No, now they are having some problems.
P: Not only Hopkins, but other private operations too.
H: A lot of [hospitals] are [having financial problems], when [they] spend $8,200,000
a year with no return. I mean, that is a lick.
P: So these poor women who came in were charity patients? They did not have to
H: They may have gotten modest sums. That was no concern of ours at all. We
did not have to worry about [that].
P: You were not in the process of billing or anything like that?
H: We were not told how long we had to keep them or that we could not keep them
any longer than this or that date.
P: The insurance company was not breathing down your neck?
H: Nobody was on us at all. I remember so clearly the day I started as chief
resident. I was called to Dr. Te Linde's office and he said, Smiley, are you now
the chief resident? I said, yes sir. I am delighted that I am. He said, well, we
are happy to have you. I just want you to know that you run the show. If you
need me for any reason at all, you know where the door is. It is always open.
That was it.
P: How did one become a chief resident? Was this a selection made by the
H: No. That selection was made, by the pyramid system, when they cut the
number of interns from six to two. They announced that in December of the first
P: Did you know early on that you were going to be a chief resident?
H: Only when I walked in that fateful morning. All six of us marched in. They said,
okay Smiley, you are here. And Ward McMillian you are there.
P: And the rest of them were shown the door?
H: No, they stayed that year. And when the year was completed, the influence of
the program was such that they could put people almost anywhere in the country
they wanted to go. All of the departments pyramided very severely. Surgery
went from twenty-four, to six, and to two [chief residents]. They kept six to give
them enough [experience] to be qualified by the [medical] board. They kept two
[residents] for three additional years.
P: In the 1950s, were there a lot of potential students rapping on the door of
Hopkins, wanting to come in?
H: There was no shortage of quality people, none at all.
P: The country was growing. The GI Bill was still in place. Was there a shortage
of doctors in the country?
H: None at all.
P: There was no shortage [of doctors]?
H: None that anybody was aware of. Now, there may have been a shortage, as it
still exist today, in places where the doctors do not seem to want to go.
P: Today, in 1996, you hear [we have] too many doctors and too many lawyers.
Were you hearing that in the 1950s?
H: Not at all. The lawyers were not even in our vocabulary. I did not even know
what litigation was.
P: By the time you got out of Hopkins as a resident, had you ever heard of Florida?
Had you ever known about this operation here?
H: No, nothing. [Florida] was one of the forty-eight states.
P: You had never been to Florida?
H: I had never been here at all.
P: Of course there was the J. Hillis Miller Medical Center; had you heard about that?
H: Not at all. I knew nothing of it.
P: Now, you were very happy with your four years of medical school at Hopkins.
Would you say the same thing about this period when you were a resident?
H: I think they were even more glorious days than the others because I was solely in
command. My responsibilities were my domain and not somebody else's.
P: You were running your own show?
H: I was running my show. Had there been any action on my part that suggested I
needed to be overseen, it never mustered.
P: There were no tragic events at all that are still in your memory?
H: No. As I run back down the line, these were halcyon days if ever they were. I
had a lovely time. One of the great benefits that was of immense value to me,
and indirectly to our students here, was that I knew, on a intimate basis, the
people from all the other various services. We worked in total accord with each
other. For instance, if I had a problem in surgery I did not think I could handle, I
would call whoever the chief resident was in surgery. If he stumbled into
something gynecological he thought I could handle better than he, I would step
P: Is a center like the Hillis Miller too big for that to happen today?
H: There was a philosophy up there, Sam, that was pretty much unique in the
country. Nobody else ever quite matched that. The camaraderie was, I think,
one of the most rewarding things. As I said, it was of inestimable value to me
directly and indirectly to the students. Many of the friends I formed in those
years were colleagues. They were the other departmental chairmen, in surgery,
medicine, and so forth. There is hardly a place in the country now that there is
not somebody I know, whom I can approach for some assistance.
P: Could you have stayed on as a member of the staff at Hopkins?
H: I never thought about it. That takes me into the next step of my life.
P: Which was going to Chapel Hill?
H: That came about somewhat circuitously. One of my dear friends at medical
school was a fellow named Edward Lee Alexander. He was from Newport
News, Virginia. He was a Yale undergrad, and a very talented guy. He and I
were very close friends. He played the piano marvelously well, and had been an
outstanding student at Yale. His father, in turn, was without question the leading
internal medicine guy in Newport News. Ed was planning to go back to join his
He was in medicine, obviously, and an intern. They went from twenty-four
interns to four, then to one. He was one of the four and this gave him two more
years, at the end of which he would be board qualified in medicine. He was not
interested in competing for the single internship that would go two more years
beyond that. So the plan was that I would go down there [to Newport News] and
join an obstetrics and gynecology group.
The only difficulty was that given this unique trend in urology at Johns Hopkins, I
really did not want to worry too much about ob, but opted to do gynecology and
urology. That kind of grated on the urologists. I suppose I was a maverick,
renegade, something in that category. They were reluctant to have me come
down there. Dr. Alexander senior was probably the most influential person
there. He prevailed upon the urologists to permit me to come down there, if I
joined the ob/gyn group led by Waverley Paine, the senior obstetrician and
gynecologist there. I was going to do ob in a pinch, but I was also going to do
Finally, Dr. Alexander prevailed upon this gentleman, the head urologist, to
permit me to have urology privileges there. The plan was [for me] to go on down
there as soon as I could. What held the deal up, so that I could not go down
there immediately, was that Waverley Paine had a member of his firm who was
retiring the following year. They basically asked me to kill a year doing
something, before I joined them a year later to occupy the vacated office that the
former guy would thus leave open after his retirement. I had to kill a year.
Meanwhile I was asked to come down and join the faculty at the University of
P: Did someone recruit you?
H: Yes. A lovely guy named Daddy Ross.
H: They called him Daddy, yes. Robert Ross, a marvelous fellow, one of the more
memorable people I ever met.
P: How did he know you?
H: Well, he knew about me because Dr.Te Linde saw him at the American
Gynecological Society [conferences]. Ross was looking for somebody then and
Dr. Te Linde knew that I was going to have to kill a year until I got to Newport
News the following year.
P: So this was going to be just a temporary thing?
H: It was just a year. I was going to be assistant instructor. I suppose that would
have been my title then. [I would temporarily] join the faculty at North Carolina.
P: Did the idea of teaching appeal to you?
H: I had no thought of ever doing it.
P: It was one of those fill-ins?
H: It was one of those fill-ins. I had done a lot of teaching to students when there
was no formal session. Every time I had a chance to draw aside students, I did
so. That was apparently quite unusual. I was looked upon as an out of the
way, extraordinary person because I spent so much time trying to teach the
students when they rotated through gyn or ob.
I had really no thought of ever being a teacher, but I just went down there [to
Chapel Hill]. In a way it was home for me. I was just fifty miles from
Greensboro, where I was raised, and I had all kinds of friends in the
neighborhood, in Raleigh and Durham.
P: And Chapel Hill was not a bad place to get used to.
H: No, you cannot beat Chapel Hill. The two jobs happened simultaneously.
P: But you had been an instructor in gynecology at Hopkins?
H: That was my official title as chief resident.
P: I see. They both happened at the same time?
H: Yes, at the same time. Again, I took a great deal more interest in the students
[at Johns Hopkins] than the average instructor or resident.
P: So this talent was beginning to show itself?
H: I had really not thought about it, nor did I have any formal training in how to
become a teacher. Down to Carolina I went. Subsequently, two things
occurred almost within one day of one another. I got word that the urologist [in
Newport News] had welshed on his promise to give me urology privileges. He
thought, I suppose, that I might be a threat to him. So he welshed. Again, one
of the last little ironies, within the year he was dead of a lethal brain tumor. It is
ironic that we should talk about that.
P: So the position in Newport News evaporated?
H: I probably could have gone there. We obviously did not know that he was going
to be dead within the year.
P: It would have been a strained situation.
H: It would have been heavily strained and that would be a polite way to phrase it.
It would have been difficult. I do not know how Waverley Paine and his people
looked upon the maverick who was bucking the tide.
P: So then you arrived at Chapel Hill? You probably said to yourself, I am glad I
got a job.
H: That is exactly right. I could have still gone [to Newport News], but that
[arrangement] would have been fraught with hazard. As a matter of fact, [both]
Alexander senior and Alexander junior said, You can come regardless. We
know it is going to be uphill, but we would love to have you. Do not let this
bother you. But that was not the best way to go. Then, to my great
amazement, the rest of that year was all downhill. Within a day of my finding out
that he [the urologist at Newport News] had welshed on the promise to permit me
to do urology, I was voted unanimously as outstanding teacher [at UNC, Chapel
P: At the end of your first year? You were at Chapel Hill for two years, were you
H: Right. In the second year I missed winning [the outstanding teacher award] by
one vote, which was just as well. It so happened that the guy who cast the vote
and gave the award to somebody else, had been jilted by my sister. I do not
know whether that was a cause and effect relationship. [Laughter].
P: We know that Johns Hopkins was a preeminent medical school. What about
Chapel Hill, at the time that you were there?
H: It was good. It was not in the same class with Hopkins, obviously. When I was
there, from 1957 to 1959, they had only been a four year school since 1955. For
a number of years they had been a two year school. There were several of
those scattered around the country, Dartmouth [College, Hanover, New
Hampshire] for one, where you would spend two years, obviously your freshman
and sophomore years, and then transfer into another medical college for the last
two years. Carolina was just getting going [as a four-year school].
P: Was their medical school on campus, as is the one here?
H: Right on the campus, yes. It is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the stadium.
Literally, you would walk out of the one end of the hospital and be probably no
more than 100 yards from the back of the stadium.
P: So it is not separated like Augusta is separated from Athens, Georgia?
H: No. It was even closer, Sam. It was even more central in terms of the campus
[to the town].
P: Was the medical faculty integrated into the total faculty there? They are not
H: I do not think they were at all, and maybe even less so because they were really
Johnny-come-latelies. When I arrived there in 1957, very many people had only
been brought onto the scene only two years previously.
P: Now, you had only been hired for one year, but you end up [staying] two years at
H: Yes. They were very interested to keep me. But then the opportunity arose to
come down here.
P: Let us talk about the situation at Chapel Hill. Were you happy there?
H: Very much so. In many ways, with due respect to Florida and all the many good
things it has given me, in many ways I am really sorry I left. It was a unique
community. I really think it was a unique state.
P: Who recruited you for Florida?
H: Harry Prystowsky [professor and head of the Department of Obstetrics and
P: He heard about you?
H: Oh, he knew about me, because Harry and I had overlapped. I mentioned a
little earlier that the two distinct services, gyn and ob, were not together. Harry
was two years ahead of me on the ob side, and I was two years behind him on
the gyn side. His purpose in bringing me down here was so that I could take
care of the gyn, then he could emphasize his training in ob with mine in
P: Now when you were at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, you did not know anything
about Florida, so to speak.
H: Not at all.
P: When you were at Chapel Hill, did Florida loom any larger in your knowledge?
H: I just heard indirectly that Harry had gone down there to take over the
chairmanship and that Florida had established a brand new medical school.
P: It was not a question of saying, where is Gainesville?
H: I had to look on a map.
P: Why were you receptive to Harry's offer to come to Gainesville, if you were happy
at Chapel Hill?
H: That is another long story. Daddy Ross was a gentleman. However, he had
become burdened with a tremendous problem with alcoholism. Again, it was the
irony of ironies, because in his collegiate days he had been the one who took
care of all the people who drank. He got his name, Daddy, because in his
undergraduate days at Carolina he was a father to all of his drunk buddies. He
did not drink at all.
When he was a commander, I think, on a naval vessel in the Pacific, he was
almost killed by a kamikaze. As he later said, he was traveling so often from
ennui to tedium to boredom, that he began to drink. When he got released from
the service, he came back and joined Nick Carter at Duke, which was an
established program that was much older than Carolina. In the meantime, he
got married. His wife became a hopeless alcoholic. He began to drink rather
P: They were helping each other?
H: They were helping each other apparently. She died. Her esophagial varices
ruptured on her. I never knew her. He was a wonderful guy. He was one of
the most paternalistic people, in the best sense of that word, to everybody he
came in contact with. Certainly, he cast a shadow over me. I will treasure his
memory very much. The problem had become severe enough, he had dt's
[delirium tremens] and whatnot. Apparently, he had brought in a guy from
Baltimore, a guy named Charlie Flowers. During the war Dr. Te Linde had
dismissed him [Flowers] from the gynecology service. I never knew what
Charlie Flowers did to be dismissed, but it had to be something [serious] because
Dr. Te Linde would not have tolerated any unbecoming behavior.
I originally planned to go down there [to UNC] for a year and [although] they [Dr.
Te Linde and the people at Johns Hopkins] were very fond of Daddy, they also
knew what the situation was down there and they told me not to go unless I
planned to stay. It was well known in the national gynecological circles that he
[Ross] was having problems and that his days were numbered. Certainly,
Charlie Flowers was going to succeed Daddy Ross. I said, I will just go on home.
I have to kill a year before I join Waverley Payie's crowd. They said, well, just
be sure that you know of this problem with Charlie Flowers. I said I very much
knew about it because it was common knowledge [at Johns Hopkins] that he had
been dismissed [by Dr. Te Linde] on anything but the best of terms.
P: But you did not know Flowers yet?
H: I had met him just one time. The one time I met him was when the chief
resident [at Johns Hopkins hospital] had all the interns over to his place there for
Thanksgiving. Charlie Flowers blew into town, and phoned him. It was very
apparent that the chief resident, who had known Charlie when he was at Hopkins
before he was dismissed, said, oh my God. We have got to put up with that
jackass. Those were his very same words. He [the chief resident] was polite
enough to [Charlie Flowers]; we called him Brownie. So [Charlie] was barely
tolerated and that was the only time I ever met him. He was full of bombast, and
was one of those people you had an instantaneous dislike for.
P: But you were warned about him ahead of time?
H: I was warned about him. Then when I got down there, it became apparent that
Daddy was really having bad problems. His days as head of the department
were really going to be very limited. Apparently, when he was in throes of his
dt's, he had promised Charlie that he could come in and help him and that he
[Charlie] would succeed him. That was pretty common knowledge across the
board, not only in the state of North Carolina, but nationally. Dr. Te Linde and
also Dr. Nicholson Eastman, who was the head of obstetrics, reminded me not to
go down there with Charlie Flowers. It was no problem to be with him for a year.
He could have no influence over me or control of me, one way or the other.
Obviously, if he succeeded Daddy Ross, then I did not want to be there. It
occurred simultaneously that all these things I have just mentioned to you came
to pass. I understood that now Harry [Prystowsky] was down here. He
preceded me by one year, and invited me to come down.
P: So at the time you were very susceptible to a move?
H: That is correct. I think had the situation been different, in other words, if there
were not what I thought the relative certainty of Charlie succeeding, I would
never have left Carolina. I thought that Daddy Ross was so beloved, that he
would be able to force his opinion on the people who would make the selection of
his successor. I misjudged that badly. Even given the immense prestige and
immense respect in which Daddy Ross was held, despite his drinking problem, it
was not sufficient to overcome Charlie Flowers.
P: How did Harry sell the University of Florida and the Health Center?
H: He said, I have got a beautiful, new facility here, [a chance to] pioneer good
work, and many opportunities. There is much to be said for the state, many
attractions here. It is very different from North Carolina.
P: You had still never been to Florida?
H: I had never been here. After speaking with Harry, it was the first time I had ever
P: Most people think of Florida as hot, humid, and mosquitoes and so on.
P: And Gainesville is another world.
H: That is right.
P: So you still felt some reluctance about coming here, obviously.
H: As I said, were it not for Charlie, I would never have accepted the offer.
P: Were there other offers available to you at the time?
H: No, obviously they made a great effort to keep me there.
P: But there was no big pool with universities looking for doctors?
H: No. If there had been, Harry probably would not have given me the time of day.
I obviously knew him very well.
P: Harry called you up and said, I am coming up there, I want to talk to you.
H: Yes. Actually he said, I would like to have you come down and see me. He did
not come to Chapel Hill at all.
P: Have you ever heard of dean [George Thomas] Harrell [dean and professor of
the College of Medicine, chief of staff of the hospital and clinics]?
H: No. He was at Duke for a while. Then he was at Wake Forest [University, at
Winston-Salem, North Carolina]. I knew most of the people over at Duke, but I
did not know all of the people over at Wake Forest.
P: So everybody was an unknown other than Harry Prystowsky?
H: Only Harry Prystowsky.
P: You did not know any of the other early faculty?
H: I do not think I knew another person on the faculty.
P: Did you have any family connections at all in Florida?
H: None at all.
P: So you were really coming as a stranger?
H: I mean a total one.
P: What kind of a financial offer did Harry make?
H: It was a little better than what I had there. It was a little better.
P: Dean Harrell told me, when I interviewed him and talked to him about who they
were bringing in, that what they were looking for here were not the top, that is
people that were already famous as a result of their work in publications and so
on, but they were looking for people who were at the cutting edge, young people,
who would as a result of their work here with patients and research, make a
name for themselves and thus a name for the Health Center. Did you fit that? I
am asking a rather self-serving question.
H: No, it is fair enough. As a matter of fact, if the truth be known, I had an
opportunity to learn of the [impression my] interview had made on Dr. Harrell.
Basically, he thought, If this is the best we can do, we will take him, but we do not
P: You had that feeling?
H: Yes, he had that letter he wrote concerning his interview with me.
P: It was not as though you were arrogant or anything like that?
H: No. Also too, I think a lot of emphasis in those days was placed on what kind of
research one was doing. I had [done] none then and very little since.
P: You were not a research [oriented] medical practitioner? There may be a
contradiction in saying that.
H: There may be, but that is true.
P: But you made that point very plain to [Harrell], from the beginning, that you were
a patient oriented person.
H: I enjoyed teaching and had some credentials there because I had been
acclaimed as a teacher on the house staff at Johns Hopkins. [In] my very first
year at Carolina, I was a unanimous choice of the class. I know that because
my parents received a letter from Daddy Ross congratulating them on my
memorable performance, and [he wrote] that it was a unanimous vote, which was
unprecedented at the school.
P: Well Prystowsky was obviously looking for someone like you, or so he said to me
when I talked to him. He was looking for somebody who was a good teacher
and who could get along well with patients. You were just the kind of person he
was looking for.
H: I honestly say I could fulfill those credentials.
P: So then, in 1959, you arrived in Gainesville. And you were given a title, what
was you rank?
H: I think I was assistant professor.
P: You were assistant professor here in the Department of Obstetrics and
Gynecology; in other words, it was a merged department here, right?
H: Yes, which was traditional everywhere except at Hopkins.
P: Okay, now you came to Gainesville. Tell me what your impression of
H: Well, having come from Chapel Hill and Baltimore, and North Carolina, [I]
compared [those] to Florida.
P: It was more like Columbia [South Carolina], was it not?
H: Oh my Lord. I did not endear myself to several people here.
P: Starting with the Chamber of Commerce maybe?
H: Mostly it started with Ann Lazonby and old Gainesville.
P: But you did not know Ann Lazonby yet.
H: No, I had never met her, I heard or knew nothing of her.
P: You arrived at our little airport where you picked up your luggage outside.
H: I thought, why did I do this? Lord have mercy!
P: And Harry met you at the airport I hope.
H: He met me at the airport and placed me in some little rathole [accommodation]
out here on the edge of town. As I said, I did not endear myself to the contacts
that I had made here when I said that I thought the prettiest view of Gainesville
was through the rear-view mirror.
P: Uh, oh.
H: I must confess that I got out of here to go to North Carolina and Baltimore every
time I had a chance.
P: So you came here and then you came to this campus.
P: Tell me what impact the campus and particularly the medical school had on you?
H: It was brand new.
P: Was anything built?
H: Everything was in place here when I got here. The original hospital was [built].
P: All of those temporary buildings were gone? They were on that hill, as you
came down the hill.
H: I do not even remember any. If there were any, they were not apparent to me.
P: They were probably all gone. They were where the [Florida] Museum [of Natural
History] is and all of that complex.
H: I have no recollection of that at all, Sam. But the hospital was a very attractive
P: The hospital was in place?
H: Yes, completely.
P: It was new?
H: Yes. Brand new. I thought it was physically a more appealing plant than
P: Dean Harrell had a lot to do with planning it, along with [Russell Spurgeon] Poor
[provost of the Health Center] and others. They had some innovative ideas.
H: They did many good things.
P: How did you and Harrell get along?
H: I thought I got along with him fine, after I got here. He was a deceptive fellow in
a sense. I remember when he first appointed me as associate dean for students
and I went in to talk with him. George [Harrell] was one of those people who you
were not sure was listening when you talked to him. He would be kind of picking
his nails and tugging at his collar. So the first time I started outlining to him the
problems that one of the students encountered and some possible solutions, I
thought, as I was talking to him and he was looking around here and there, that
he was not really paying a lot of attention to what I had to say. I completed my
little narration, and he said, okay this is what we need to do.
P: He heard you?
H: Oh, he heard me. More importantly, he had already reached a solution. I did
not make that mistake but once. For ever thereafter, I thought this guy had a
whole lot more insight than you would perceive on initial impression. Overall, I
really admired him greatly. I say that quite sincerely. I think he was one of
those people who left you with an initial impression that was not what your
second impression was.
P: Now the faculty was, relatively speaking, pretty small at the time.
P: Yet you had some good people on the faculty?
H: Very good, as time proved them to be. I think that if this was indeed George
Harrell's dream, to bring in people on the cutting edge, who would establish
themselves later, he was eminently successful, based on what we have turned
P: Was Sam Martin [[Samuel Preston, professor and head of the department of
medicine] already on staff?
H: Sam Martin was already here.
P: You and Sam got along all right?
H: I had no problem with him one way or the other.
P: I know that Ruth [Martin] was a great admirer of yours.
H: I do not know how it came to pass, but she seemed to be. I was very fond of
P: And she was very fond of you. Was Manny Suter [Emanuel Manny Suter,
professor and head of Microbiology Department] already here when you arrived?
H: Yes. He was head of microbiology.
P: Of course he became the dean [of the College of Medicine]. I have an interview
H: Right, he became dean. You have [an interview] with him?
P: Yes, I have him on tape. I have covered a lot of territory over the years with this
H: Sounds like you have.
P: Before we get into personalities, talk to me about your career here as a doctor.
You came here as an assistant professor in 1959. You held that rank until 1962.
H: I reckon [I became] associate professor.
P: Associate professor from 1962 to 1965?
H: Then full professor.
P: And then full professor here?
P: Now, somewhere along the line, you became an assistant dean. I was
wondering how that happened.
H: That was one thing about which I had no thoughts whatever. I never knew [it]
would ever evolve one way or the other. As a matter of fact, George Harrell
brought a nameless gentleman here, who was supposed to be groomed for the
position. This gentleman, I will not name names, did not fulfill the criteria that I
think you had to have, to do what he was supposed to do.
P: I may already have that story in my files.
H: [Laughter] You may well have it.
P: I was going to say, there are no secrets, as far as I am concerned, about this
operation here [at the University of Florida].
H: [Laughter]. You knew too many of us too well.
P: That is exactly right. I stalked the halls, listening in.
H: [You] listened, watched, paid attention, and had a good memory.
P: You did not have much experience working with students, yet that turned out to
be one of your greatest gifts.
H: No [experience] at all. As I said, going back, I was very well received by the
students at Hopkins because I took more interest in them than most anybody
else in any service. Then, of course, I had the unexpected success the first year
at Carolina. There I was just along for the ride; I was just singing, dancing, and
P: You make it sound easier than it probably was.
P: So Harrell came to you and said, I want you to be [assistant dean].
H: That was, kind of, how that came to pass. I doubt you have that other fellow on
P: It was not Charley Pell [Charles B. Pell, former head football coach, University of
H: No, no, it was not Charley Pell. I knew about him. The only class that I have
not had pretty close contact with was the initial one which graduated in 1960.
They had come through ob in 1958 and 1959. I had not begun until July 1959.
So that is the only class that I have had no contact with.
P: Was Mark Barrow [resident assistant in Medicine] in that class?
H: Mark was in that first class. It is interesting you should bring up his name
because I delivered several of the kids, including two or three of his. Obviously,
he remained on here as a resident. That was the only class I really had no
contact with. I was chosen as class advisor by the class that graduated in 1961.
In other words, I had been here a year. Then they asked me to be class
advisor for 1962. I thought, well, let somebody else have a shot. So I turned
away. In 1963, I was again asked to be class advisor, so I accepted that one. I
am not sure when I was officially appointed. It may have been 1963 or 1964.
P: 1963 is what you have here. 1963 to 1973 assistant dean of student affairs.
So it would be the same year you were asked to be advisor the second time.
H: Actually the third time. I turned down one. It was just one of those things that
kind of evolved.
P: Harrell just came to you and said, would you consider the [position]?
H: Yes. I told him I would be delighted.
P: Why did you think that would be a pleasant activity?
H: I had enjoyed it, immensely.
P: Now, in 1996, you are saying that, I have enjoyed it immensely. I am asking you
about your attitudes and feelings in 1963.
H: They were the same, if anything, maybe not as solid.
P: Now you have really maintained this kind of activity ever since, have you not?
P: You served for ten years, until 1973. Then what?
H: I have been in the same [slot] ever since.
P: I mean, according to the information you gave me here, you served in that
position for ten years. What happened after 1973?
H: It was just a given. There was no further appointment. My title became
associate dean as opposed to assistant [dean]. I do not remember even when
that came into being.
P: As a dean, whether assistant or associate, what do you do?
H: What I do is try to take care of the students.
P: Okay. Explain that. You are an advisor?
H: Advisor, father confessor, and all those kinds of things. This was again
something that I had no training in at all. Certainly I had no role models at
Hopkins because we had no advisors. We were totally independent. We had
no advisors. I thought, as I watched these kids come along, that maybe
somebody can be of service to them because I had no one who was ever of
service to me.
P: Yet you got along splendidly. You did not need an advisor?
H: No, but I would have been better off with one.
P: Do you think these kids needed advisors in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s?
H: Yes, again, I think it was more the difference in what we had in my days as
students and beyond. There were no advisors.
P: But these were sophisticated students coming out of more affluent backgrounds
and so on?
H: They also did not go through the war and did not have all the sobering
experiences that I had, for instance. Then they got caught up in the maelstrom
of all the, I think, rather tragic changes that have taken place in society. The
morality is not what it was, in many areas.
P: Of course they went through the Korean conflict in the 1950s, and then the
H: Which was ghastly.
P: So students come to you for what? What are they looking for?
H: They are looking for advice.
P: They are looking for advice about courses to take?
H: Not so much [about] courses; that is pretty much a given. There is not much
flexibility there. The great service that I probably render, certainly in later years,
was [to provide] a very important voice in the selection of residency and how to
go about doing it.
P: Do students come to you and say, Dr. Hill, I cannot understand it, I am not doing
well in pathology.
H: Some do so, although lately, we have added a very lovely lady who takes care of
much that I used to have to do. She is a trained psychologist. I do not think
that you really need to be a trained psychologist to take care of people if you
understand people and are concerned about them.
P: How many students are there here who would come under your wings?
H: I will see everyone of them before they finish.
P: How many a year?
H: Four times 115, a total of 460 [students]. Sometimes there are a few more in a
given class. For instance, this year, we graduated 118 instead of 115. The way
that happened was that we picked up people who were combining an MD and a
Ph.D. degree, who dropped out for one class and joined it two years later, and
thus fattened up that class.
P: Was the size of any one class much smaller in the 1960s?
H: Oh yes. When we first started here, the first class that graduated in 1960 only
had forty people. Now we have 115. As I said, sometimes it is fattened a little
bit by graduate students we pick up, graduate students who have a combined
MD/Ph.D. program. Those people dropped out of the class of 1992 to come
back and join the class of 1994 because they have done two years of research in
P: You became a professor in 1965?
P: So you moved up the ladder pretty rapidly here at the University. You came in
as an assistant professor, moved up to associate [professor], and [in 1965 to] full
professor. That is the rank you have held ever since?
H: Yes, that is right.
P: I also noticed that up until 1973 you were the assistant dean. Then you became
the associate dean for student and alumni affairs. The alumni affairs was
obviously an added responsibility.
H: That was the offspring of hopefully the fruitful work I did in the years before, you
see. These graduates obviously became alumni so I am in constant contact
P: Do you have to do any fund raising?
H: No, but they apparently raised some funds in my name.
P: I am going to ask you about that, but I mean, they did not use you as a fund
H: No. I refused to do that. I did not feel it was my responsibility to solicit [funds].
P: You did not go out to massage the right people?
H: Somehow I did not like that. Now, they have used my name, several times, to
raise money, but I have never sought to make anybody [contribute].
P: Not even with your former students? Now, what has been your job as a doctor,
not with student affairs, but as a medical doctor, with your patients?
H: I was privileged to have a very busy practice here for a long time. It was one of
those things where I struggled, the practice soon possessed me. In some ways
it got to be almost a burden. On Tuesday, which was my day, I would have
between sixty and seventy people, just on that day.
P: Was it not difficult to really minister to that many?
H: Yes. It became a little bit bothersome. Fortunately, a great many of the
[patients], indeed the vast majority, were medical personnel, either they were
medical students' wives, medical students, faculty wives, or house staff wives.
Most of them were professional, courteous people. The benefit was that this kind
of clientele could tell me what I needed to know. When I went into a lady who
was a resident, she had a pretty good handle on what her problems were, as I
did. You see, I could go right to the heart of the matter, without having to spend
a lot of time.
The dark side of that though was I really did not have much time to sit and talk
with people, which is a lot of what medical care ought to be about. It was not only
professional skill, but what kind of person you were, how you interacted with this
patient, and what have you done to make her life more pleasant. But it got to be
almost burdensome. For the last fifteen years there, I was either on call every
night, or off every night. In other words, most everybody else in the department
rotated a night, but I did not. Given the great number of people I took care of, I
was there an awful lot of time, more so than others.
One interesting statistic I claimed was that I had in medical school here
twenty-five people whom I delivered. I have three in the present senior class.
That of course is very gratifying.
P: You started them off at the very beginning.
H: Exactly, at the very beginning.
P: You are about to care for them womb to tomb. You started with the womb, but
have not gotten to the tomb yet.
H: That is right, but I am close to it. It was a great joy to take care of these people
and a real compliment because if you ever saw those [babies], people always
asked who the doctor was. It was tribute that I was chosen to take care of so
many of these people. But as I said, it became somewhat of a problem after a
About the same time, there came a litigation threat, so I cut back and would not
take anybody who was not a friend of someone I knew well, a la Bessie Proctor.
[I would see] the wives of colleagues, or just people here in the medical
community. That cut the numbers down to about forty or so. That was a whole
lot better than sixty or seventy patients on appointment day.
To digress just a moment, one time a medical student asked me how many
people I saw. Of course I said sixty or seventy. He said, what is the most you
ever saw in a day? I said, one time, I saw eighty-eight. He said, eighty-eight?
I repeated, eighty-eight. He asked, what time did you start? I replied, about
8:30 a.m. He said, did you have any lunch? I said, no, I drank a coca cola.
He asked, what time were you finished? I answered, about 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. I
had three rooms and two nurses. He said, you put through eighty-eight
[patients]? I replied, yes, the number has not changed. He said, I do not know
if I could put on that many gloves in that period of time. [Laughter].
P: He was a slow putter-on and taker-off. [Laughter]
H: So I cut back some. Then I had a very sad moment. It was with a faculty
person, somebody I knew very well. For the first time, we sat down and
exchanged a few pleasantries. Before, I would just get them in and get them
P: Like in a factory?
H: Almost, hopefully without neglect and anyway I tried to be as pleasant as I could.
I had personal reactions with them. Now, for the first time, I was chatting away
with this lady, the faculty person. I had been seeing her from the very beginning
of her stay [at the University]. All of a sudden, she burst into tears. I thought, I
have not said anything that I think could be possibly offensive in any way to her.
I have not made any evil joke or whatever. I tried to calm her down as best I
could. She was just distraught. She was weeping in my presence and I knew
I had not said, well, how is John? When he just died in an automobile crash;
you see, it was nothing like that. I did not say, how is your husband getting
along? I knew how her husband was getting along, because I just had seen him
the day before. There was nothing I said, that could have been interpreted in
any way so as to make anyone weep. She finally recovered her composure.
I said, I am so distressed that this has happened. What in the world have I
done? She said, it is not anything you have done or said. I was just fearful that
since this is the first time you have ever taken the time to speak to me, perhaps
you discovered an ovarian malignancy in my pelvis and were reluctant to break
the news to me.
P: You scared her?
H: Yes, and I thought that was very sad.
P: Well, it was. Smiley, as you think back on your career now from a financial point
of view, and most of it has been here at Shands, were you ever sorry that you did
not go into private practice?
H: Not really. I think that I would have missed the students. They have been a
greater part of my life, if not more so, even in the practice, as extensive as that
was. I would have missed the students. I have enjoyed the students. They
have been very kind to me.
P: Has Shands lived up to your expectations as far as the facilities and the library
H: The progress this place has made was really quite remarkable.
H: Really, I think so. It was amazing how fast, how rapidly and gracefully it has
grown. It was really amazing how far we have come in such a short time.
P: Particularly when you and I remember what was in the 1950s and where we are
now, in 1996.
H: It was absolutely night and day.
P: This city was not here then.
H: No. Look at that growth. If you compare the present city to the one of 1959,
the present one is unrecognizable. You bring somebody into this hospital, now,
with all the tremendous extensions that they have put into it, you bring somebody
in after ten years, they are puzzled. If you bring somebody in here after twenty
years, they would not know where they were. If anything is similar, it is only the
same general location. They do not recognize [the buildings] at all.
I have been told that the total footage here of the [Shands] building is surpassed
only by the Pentagon to the north. We are the only place south of the Pentagon
that has as much footage as they have there. Shands has gotten so large that I
laughingly tell the kids if Jimmy Hoffa were still alive, he would certainly be in one
of the corridors.
P: He was here, I saw him!
H: So too was Elvis Presley. [Laughter]
P: Hoffa was talking to Elvis, out in the hall, not long ago.
H: The progress here is just amazing. I do not know if you are aware of this
statistic, but two years ago, there were only two schools in the country that were
better than we were, in terms of how far down the alternative list they had to go
to fill their class. We only had to go down forty-three [spots on that list to fill our
class of 115]. Many places have to go 200 and 300 [spots on the alternative list]
to fill their class. There were only so many [medical schools] that passed
thirty-six [names] so we could not have come down too far from where we were
two years ago.
P: Dean Harrell tells me that one of the things he hoped would happen here, when
he came and served as dean, was that the medical school's faculty would play an
involved role at the University of Florida. Did that happen with you? I noticed
you were on the athletic committee for two or three years. Today, I know that
they [UF and the athletic committee] were more like two different institutions.
H: I do not really feel that I was ever part of the University per se.
P: Was that as a result of your own doing?
H: No. I suppose I was better than most. At least I was on the athletic board.
P: And so was Harry [Prystowsky].
H: So was Harry.
P: That has been a tradition. The medical people have been on that board.
H: Most every time.
P: But not on the library committee, nor the petitions committee, not on any of
those. Now at the beginning, there was some of that involvement. Harrell tells
me that he had hoped that the medical school students would be a part of the
overall student body, and that the faculty would become part of the academic
H: We hoped that would come to pass. Yet I do not really feel that I have ever
been an integral part of the University, aside from my responsibilities that I have
hopefully fulfilled down here in the medical school.
P: But in your own thinking and actions you are part of the medical school; you are
not part of the University of Florida.
H: I am obviously a part of the University of Florida because that is the name of the
P: Obviously, yes, I do not mean that. I am talking in terms of involvement [in
H: None, except for the athletic board. I think that probably came to pass because
Harry had something to do with that. Also, at the time I was very active. I
attended many of the practices and knew all the people very well. I was very
close friends with John [C.] Lotz when he was here as a [head] basketball coach
[in the 1970s]. Also, I was pretty well tied up with Norm Sloan [Norman Leslie
Sloan, former head basketball coach, University of Florida] and Joanne. I knew
them very well.
P: But even socially, the [medical] faculty here are not part of the [University].
H: I never felt that. I wish that maybe I could have become more integrated. I
think we have our own little kingdom down here and they [at UF] have their [own
P: Do you think your students, the medical students, need to have a larger
background in the humanities? Do they need to have taken history courses,
English courses, and so forth?
H: I would like to see them have more [such courses]. Compared to what I had, I
think the education today is [lacking]. They do not have the humanities. If you
quote some poetry, they have no idea where it came from.
P: I mean, those courses are available to students.
H: I know. They do not take them. You see, there are basically two schools of
thought as to what is the best preparation to become a physician or to get into
medical school. [One is] to load up on the sciences. The other group, which I
happened to embrace, is to just get the requisite requirements to come to
medical school and load up on the humanities, Greek mythology, and all these
multi-faceted aspects which I think our students do not have. Seemingly no
students anywhere have it. Even my daughter, who is at Davidson [College],
does not seem to have the cultural background that I thought I had, in terms of
P: Do you think your students here are as good as they have ever been?
H: Even better.
P: They are good in the sciences?
H: Oh yes.
P: I mean are they good medical students?
H: There is no problem about their medical education. Now, understand that I think
too many people who gear themselves for medical school become pretty much
beholden to a very narrow domain, so to speak.
P: Are they going to be good citizens?
H: I think so. There was nothing wrong with them from a morality standpoint.
P: I am not really thinking about the morality standpoint, but about involvement and
participation in committee affairs.
H: There was a large number of them who, once they leave here, became very
important figures in their communities. Once again, [they became important]
more often in the medical direction than not.
P: I am looking here to see who set the example. In terms of your relationship to
students, you probably have the most enviable reputation of any doctor here on
the staff. Can you explain that?
H: It is hard to explain it other than by the old Golden Rule: do unto us as you
would have them do unto you.
P: When people think about the medical school and the relationship between faculty
and students, they think of you. You are the role model. I am not just saying
that to massage your ego or anything, but that has been a major part of your
career here and I want it on tape.
H: No question [about that]. From the beginning, I was very successful in dealing
with students and I have always tried to do the best I could to alleviate their
P: Do students come to you with personal problems?
H: Yes. A lot.
P: So you are more than just an advisor as far as selecting a medical school or a
P: Do they come to you with marital problems, financial problems, and so on?
H: Right. Of course, as I said, Beverley [Vidaurreta] Wright [director of Student
Counseling and Development, College of Medicine], the lady they hired, has
taken some of that [load] off me. I still do some of it.
P: And you enjoy doing it.
H: I enjoy doing it. You just cannot beat the Golden Rule. I try and think, if I were
the student, would I think that [the person advising me] was really interested in
me. I try to convey to the students that I am.
P: I noticed one of the positions you have here, you are on the executive committee.
Does that mean that you are part of the inner circle [of people who] make
H: No, that is the Academic Status Committee. I do not think it has executive
P: It says executive committee. In addition we have Academic Status Committee,
but there are two different entries here. What I am really asking is, are you part
of the inner structure that makes policy for the Health Center?
H: No, I am not. Again, my major contribution, if indeed there has been one, has
been to the students.
P: So nobody comes to you and says, Smiley, what do you think about us buying
H: No, I am not in the least involved in that.
P: I am just using that as an example. Or does anyone ask, Smiley, we are
planning to build a new building. What do you think about that?
H: No, I am not in that circle.
P: I did not ask you the question whether you wanted to be [part of that circle] or
not. What is the Academic Status Committee? You are its chairman.
H: The Academic Status Committee is consistent with my duties that involve
students. Happily we have very few problems, but the Academic Status
Committee, which I head, is actually made up of a representative from each of
the basic science departments, to render judgments on students who have
P: Academic problems?
H: Academic problems mostly. If some morality questions were involved, I assume
they would also come under our purview.
P: What do you do as a member of the Admissions Committee?
H: I have been on that [committee] basically since 1962. I am the only person who
has been on it that long.
P: It says here you have a permanent place on that [committee].
H: Right. I think that is really one of the more important services I have rendered,
because as time has gone by, I have hopefully acquired some experience and so
could pass reasonably good judgements on whom to take in and whom not to
take in. I think I have been quite successful with that. You can not help but
derive a lot of experience working on that committee.
Talking about experience, Dr. Eastman, who was head of ob at Hopkins, was
noted for his remarkable judgement. His judgement was just earthshaking.
You thought he had to be on a direct line with the Lord. He was a very modest
man, although he was world-renown. People were just awed by him. They
would ask, how do you get such marvelous judgement? He said, well, it is like
the old gentleman who was asked, as he was growing old, how he came by such
marvelous good judgement. The old gentleman answered, that comes from
experience. Somebody said, how do you get all of this experience? The old
gentleman smiled, and said, alas, that comes from bad judgement. [Laughter].
P: What have you done as a member of the Admissions Committee to recruit black
students and minority students?
H: We are trying eagerly, as everybody is elsewhere, to get good black kids. I think
I have had a real important voice there. Of course, I have been a senior
member for so long. Most everybody else just served three years and was
gone. We have had a few people who repeated [the cycle]. Over the years, we
have picked up some knowledge and we are trying to recruit as many minorities
as we can. I think we have done quite well here.
P: Do you wait until the application comes in or do you start earlier with your
H: I do not have an active part in recruitment for anybody, black or white. Once
they apply here, we make every effort to get them. One of the major problems
we have with many of the black kids is that if their credentials are really good, we
can not compete [financially] with Harvard, Hopkins, or Yale. We may be able to
give them $2,500 a year, they will give them $25,000. In other words, they will
completely underwrite them. That has been a nagging problem. I do not know
how we will be able to correct that. How will we compete with the financial
prowess of Harvard or Hopkins?
P: Now when you are talking about minority students, are you talking about black
students as well as Asians and Hispanics?
H: About the only group we [think of as] real minorities are the American blacks, the
Puerto Rican islanders, the Mexicans, and the Indians.
P: You tried to get in native Americans, the Indians?
H: They are almost non-existent here. To the best of my knowledge, we have had
only one girl who had any true Indian blood, although Michael Gilmore, who was,
of course, a first year student and who was the free safety, [was] apparently
one-eighth American Indian.
P: What percentage would you say you have of black students here now?
H: In the present senior class, we have about five. We have thirteen in the
freshman class, which is the most we have had in long time.
P: Do you have a large black faculty at the medical school?
H: No, very few.
P: You do not see black faces as you walk around, except for patients.
H: We had Dwayne Thomas who was excellent. I do not know what happened; but
he chose to go back to New Orleans. Everybody is competing for [black medical
school faculty], but right now, there are just not that many out there.
P: Do you have any in ob or gynecology?
H: No. We have black residents, but no faculty.
P: If you were to get some black doctors, do you think that might create a problem
with your white patients?
H: The problem is to get them. There are just not that many out there. If you were
a black minority [medical student] today, looking for residency, you have doors
open to you that might not be open to whites. That is only fair, because for so
long, they [minorities] have been suppressed.
P: The question of Jewish students is no longer an issue in medical school?
H: No, neither is it an issue with Cuban or Oriental students.
P: The issue of a quota system for Jewish students was debated here, when they
were organizing the medical school.
H: Oh my Lord.
P: But we have come a long way since the 1940s and 1950s.
H: Oh my Lord. I can tell you quite sincerely, now nobody is concerned whether
medical students are Jewish or Gentile.
P: One of the things dean Harrell told me was that he would never have come to
this institution had there been a quota system. He was unalterably opposed to
anything like that.
H: I think there is a lot to be said for that stance.
P: 1996 is a long way away from that thinking and those attitudes which persisted
up until World War II, particularly at the big schools up north.
H: Whether somebody is Jewish or not is of least concern now. The Cubans have
become so acclimated [to the medical school here] that there is no problem with
them whatsoever. They are not regarded as part of the minorities. And what
the Orientals do is just absolutely amazing. Just a few years back, we had a kid
who had come from Vietnam and was in this country for ten years, who ended
up ninth in the class.
P: How did you get away with not doing more writing and publishing here?
H: Again, I think on the strength of my teaching and the role model I played for the
P: Did research, writing, and publishing ever appeal to you? Some of these vitae I
get are sixteen and seventeen pages [long] and fifteen of the pages are lists of
articles, about subjects I do not understand, in journals I have never heard of in
my life and probably will not hear of again.
H: That is important, obviously. Of course, to be somewhat of a cynic, someone
said too many research projects only reveal their jackass had two ears.
[Laughter]. Sometimes not too much knowledge was added to the storehouse
of human experience and learning.
P: There are a lot of people who publish, but very few who have a good relationship
H: That is right.
P: I think that is the positive way of looking at it.
H: I think you advance. You have to be a very effective clinician, a teacher, or a
researcher and you can usually get by. Certainly, I have gotten by on two out of
P: Pretty good. Now they have two things here at the medical school which have
been named for you.
H: Actually there are three.
P: One is the Hugh M. Hill Society. Yes, I see there are three entries here.
Another is the Hugh Hill Fund for loans to medical students.
H: See, there again, as we discussed a little earlier in our conversation, I never
solicited help, but they used my name to ask for monies for the fund.
P: It is more than that, obviously, if they are naming something for you. It could not
be just happenstance?
H: As I have noted before, I do not solicit. I do not write this one or phone that one
to say please send money to the Hugh Hill Fund.
P: Or to any other fund?
H: I have one [fund] named after me to which donors contribute a certain number of
dollars a year. Some of the money they raised was devoted to the Hugh M. Hill
Room. I have a little room down there named for me, with a painting on the wall.
P: I saw all of that, and I saw a lot of the residents sitting there today, eating lunch,
messing up the place. The real question I want to ask you is why is it called the
Hugh M. Hill Memorial Room. Now memorial usually means somebody has
H: Somebody was dead, that is right.
P: I would like to know whether that was a typo or what?
H: That is exactly what it was called. What it was is that they wanted to raise some
money. I am not sure of this, but I think they were going to raise money to do
something in the new research building. After they gathered funds, either they
must not have had enough money, or they felt the space that was going to be
devoted to this undertaking should be financed by [use of] my name. They
compromised and named the space the Hugh M. Hill Memorial Room.
P: Could they drop the memorial from that?
H: It was memorial in the sense that it was in my memory, no more and no less.
Typically, as you say, somebody is usually deceased.
P: We have a University Memorial Auditorium. Now that was in memory of the
men who died in the first and second World Wars. But we also have your
memorial room and here I am talking to you. [Laughter].
H: You are talking to a live [one], a most amazing accomplishment. In addition, the
class of 1990 named the Orinthology Room in the Florida Museum [of Natural
History] in my name.
P: I have that too. I want to talk to you about it in a moment. But that [room] did
not have anything to do with [the] other [memorial] room. But let me ask you
here about some personal information. Who is your wife?
H: Who is my wife?
H: Ann Lazonby.
P: Who is Ann Lazonby?
H: She is really one of the true old Gainesvillians. Her maternal grandfather, I
believe, was the first general practitioner in the community. Howard Bishop was
an uncle for whom a [Gainesville] school was named [Howard Bishop Middle
School]. Her father, Lance Lazonby, was an eminent lawyer here. He married,
obviously, one of the Bishops, who was the daughter of the first GP here. To
give you some idea of his age, he brought in old Dr. W. C. Thomas, who became
one of his first partners. Ann is from old Gainesville, in the best sense of that
P: She and I have known each other for a long time.
H: That is right.
P: When were you married?
H: I was married twenty-four years ago, this past January.
P: Give me the date.
H: January 29, 1972.
P: What is the birth date of Ann?
H: She is fifty-eight, so July 26, 1937.
P: Now you have one daughter. What is her name?
H: Her name is Grace. She was named for my mother.
P: And her middle name?
H: Grace Earle.
P: Your mother was Grace Earle Hill. When was Grace born?
H: Yes, Grace Earle Hill. Grace was born on September 17, 1974.
P: Here in Gainesville?
P: She is at Davidson [College] now?
P: What year is she in?
H: [She is a] senior.
P: And what is she studying?
H: Right now she is working on history and has also a double major in writing. She
writes quite well. As to what she will do with this, I do not know. She writes
quite well. As a matter of fact, I think she has earned $75 for two or three
P: She does not have to worry, because in the family tradition, as her father had a
rich father, so she has a rich father.
H: That is right, but maybe I am not as rich as my father was.
P: Do you not participate in the part that the doctors get from that fund they have,
the fund in that jar they dip into, when they walk out the door on Friday
H: [Laughter]. If so, I have not picked up the jar yet.
P: I hear it is in trouble, in a lot of trouble.
H: I did not contribute anything to its demise or near demise, that is for sure.
P: I thought your patients do all of that, your indigent patients.
H: So many of my patients are not indigents, they are free-loaders. [Laughter]
Seriously, I did not earn a great deal of money based on my practice, because so
many [patients] were what we call lOs [insurance only] or professional courtesy
P: Now, explain to me this plaque sitting up there in the Museum of Natural
Sciences, this Hill bird-watching room.
H: That was a gift of the class of 1990.
P: In the amount of $2,500?
H: Well, I gather they kicked in $2,500 to finance the thing.
P: I understand they are buying books with that.
H: You know, it came as a great surprise [to me] because I had no knowledge that
they were doing that. I hate to confess this, but I really have never been over
there to see it.
P: The plaque is there; the space is there, it is really not a room. But the plaque is
there, and the space is very definitely used. The ornithologists over there are
very pleased about it.
H: Well they got $2,500.
P: I know. I had an office there for many years. So I passed the plaque many
times. I wondered, what in the heck is Hugh Hill doing over here at this
H: Well, that was how that came to pass. Over the years, the students have been
very kind and have usually given me some kind of gift. The class of 1990 had
about $2,500 which was about the sum they needed over there, so that is how it
got to the museum.
P: I understand this is one of your great interests, this interest of looking for birds or
watching birds. How did you get interested in orinthology?
H: That came about circuitously. I used to be the best marksman in the
neighborhood with a Daisy air rifle.
P: You were an exterminator of birds?
H: I was an exterminator of the birds. I never forget how ruthless is seems now,
but it was jubilant, youthful action when it occurred. One time it took me about
sixteen shots to kill a poor green heron. I look back and think, how did I do that,
in light of [my feelings in] the present days. Then a lovely lady, who came into
my life, prevailed upon me that this was ruthless and cruel. I thought maybe this
was wrong after all. I went one summer up to Camp Sequoia.
P: Where is that camp?
H: It is up in Weaverville, North Carolina, one of the western North Carolina camps.
I came under the influence of a very fine gentleman who got me interested in
birds. One of the first prizes I ever won, for my age bracket, was the Nature
Award. It was in a duel with a guy who was pushing me really hard. I never
shall forget, I identified a black-throated green warbler, when he did not and I
won the prize. Since then, I have really made quite a hobby of it. As a matter
of fact, I was just over at St. Marks Wildlife Refuge yesterday and the day before.
It was a very peaceful time. One does not harm anything. It was stimulating.
P: You travel great distances to see exotic birds?
H: Yes, although not as much as I like, in large measure because Mrs. Ann Lazonby
Hill will not fly. That handicaps me a bit.
P: Trains do not go from here to New Zealand?
H: They will go from here to anywhere as near as I can tell. For a number of years
now, we have had what was called the winter retreat. Alumni, faculty, students,
and residents will gather and go on one of the ski vacations. This year, I think,
we are going to Copper City in Colorado to do our skiing. They have a medical
program, so the participants can get continuing medical education. Also, they
can meet people they have not seen for a while. They can bring their kids. Of
course, they can write it off, on the strength of continuing medical education.
While I go out there largely to get some continuing medical education, I also see
former students I have not seen a while, who are now successful in practice.
Obviously, the state will finance the time out there and the time back.
But ever since it has been in place now, for about ten or twelve years, [just after
the winter retreat] I will go down to Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge just to look at birds
for four or five days. I obviously pay for that branch of the trip, but I take off a
little of the state's money, I suppose, by going to Colorado and back.
P: There are a lot of bird watchers here. At least, Pat Lanzillotti tells me that. I
guess you have worked with her on all of this?
H: I have not. I know who she is. I have never worked with her.
P: She goes to all kinds of exotic places to see birds. She even went to Tasmania.
H: Again, I am somewhat handicapped. Not only because of the tremendous cost
of distant travel, but also because Ann cannot fly. About the only way I go any
great distances is by train or by car.
P: You do not cruise?
P: You do not like to cruise or that is just not one of your passions? I would think
that might take you to some places where the train does not go.
H: It may. Ann would take a boat all right. I just do not do that. At the tail end of
March and April, I will be down at St. George's Island. I will spend about three
days over there.
P: Do you take pictures of these birds?
H: No, their appearance stays in my memory.
P: Do you write them down?
H: There is no need to record them, no.
P: I have heard Pat Lanzillotti has a list of all the ones she has seen. She can tell
you how many, 1,000 or 1,700.
H: I have a mental list. I know exactly how many I have seen, although I do not
photograph them. But it has been a very pleasant hobby. I think many of the
hobbies of physicians take them far afield, because out there they are no longer
prisoners of the telephone and all of its demands. Hardly ever does someone
call who wants to do something for you. I think that must be somewhat of a
motivating factor. As I told people, out there you learn to listen very quickly.
There is the serenity, and the challenge of seeing something new, and being able
to recognize the bird. There are tremendous numbers of people involved in that
hobby. It is now said to be the second most popular hobby in the country.
P: What is number one?
H: I do not know.
P: I always thought that sex was number one, genealogy was number two, and
maybe bird watching was number three.
H: [Laughter]. Maybe so. I would not contest that at all Sam.
P: I just heard that, that was no personal experience speaking.
H: That was what the big boys say.
P: That is right. You like sports too, do you not?
P: Among spectator sports, do you like football?
H: I like football. Once again, going back to my parenting, so to speak, clearly I
emerged from a very athletic family on my father's side. All of them played
baseball at Tech. Albert [my uncle] played football.
P: Are you a basketball fan?
H: Yes, I watch it. Although I must say that the whole collegiate scene is not what it
used to be. The professional scene, I think, is a disaster. I have lost a lot of
interest in it. I was totally absorbed with it in the past. In the old days I used to
go out to all the practices. I have literally shagged 1,000 passes and punts with
Steve Spurrier [head football coach] and John Reaves [former UF quarterback].
Steve was such a dedicated performer that nobody wanted to stay out there as
long as he did. Not being as busy as I am now, I used to have time and a
chance to go out there. I truly have caught many a pass and punt with him
because there was nobody who wanted to stay out there as long as he did.
P: But you are not a tennis, golf, or swimming person?
H: No. I could have been a marvelous golf person, I suppose. As I said earlier, I
think my father broke his age in golf twenty-two times after he turned eighty. My
brother could have well been a professional golfer. I played a little golf. We
grew up in virtual proximity to the Greensboro Country Club. I am left-handed.
For what reason I know not, but it is not a left-handed game. Very seldom do
you see a left-handed professional, for instance.
I liked the contact stuff at the time. However, I never got really big, so I was not
large enough to play the collegiate level. I was always three years younger than
anybody else in high school. I was a very fine intramural athlete, but not
Anyway, I used to go out there all the time with Steve. As a matter of fact, he
and Norm Carlson cooperated on the book that commemorated the 1991 team
which won the first SEC [Southeastern Conference]. I had done some things for
Norm over the years and he had done a number of things for me. My wife, Ann,
purchased that book as a Christmas present, and placed a note in there asking
Norm and Steve to sign it. Norm had a nice little message on there. But Steve
wrote, to Dr. Smiley Hill, my receiver of the 1960s. [Laughter].
P: Well, that was apropos. Smiley, are you a reader?
H: I read a good bit.
P: What do you like?
H: Mostly I read a lot of Civil War stuff. I am pretty well versed in the literature of
orinthology. I have a very extensive library in both of those areas. I read my
good friend Dr. Maples' [William Maples, Distinguished Service Professor and
acting chairman of the department anthropology] book Dead Men Do Tell Tales
with great interest. Mostly, [reading] is where I can find myself. I used to read
poetry extensively, and I often surprised students when I could quote lines from a
poem. [They asked] always what it was and where did it come from. I still
browse through old books of poems. I have found poetry very invigorating.
P: Are you a TV watcher?
H: Not much, no, I do not watch it.
P: Do you like music?
H: Yes. I used to have an extensive record collection, mostly classical and some
contemporary recordings. I do not care for country music or some of that more
P: What is your philosophy of life?
H: Try to be the best you can and give the greatest amount of service to people.
P: Those are your goals? Has that always been true?
H: I think so. My parents tried to instill that in me. My father always used to quote
biblical things, like "whoever be the greatest among you, let that person be your
servant". He was very service oriented to people and tried to instill that into me
to some degree.
P: Now, without me having to do the arithmetic, how old are you?
P: You have lived seventy-two years. If something would happen to you today,
would you feel that you have lived a fulfilling life?
H: Yes, I think far more [fulfilling] than many [others had].
P: As you look around this contemporary, troubled world in which we live and at its
troubled society, would you make a prediction about the future? Is it going to
H: It does not seem to be improving, that is for sure. I think though that most of life
has the inexorable character of the pendulum. If it swings far enough one way,
it has to swing back sooner or later. Whether it will come to pass in my lifetime,
I do not know. I must say that I am a little discouraged with the way things are
going. They do not seem to be getting better.
P: Except when you look at your students. Your students are good, are they not?
H: They are fine. There is no problem.
P: And your colleagues are fine? Your home life is fine. All of these things are
good, so you are just looking at this world, and you are getting the picture of it
from the news media and all of those kinds of sources.
H: And I just watch a lot of behavior. I am kind of discouraged to even read the
P: [Laughter]. Even The New York Times?
H: That is right. When I buy a newspaper today, I just look at the sports page and I
get somewhat discouraged with that. As you look at any sports page, it is a rare
day that somebody, either [at the] collegiate or professional level, has not
committed some criminal offense or some behavior not acceptable to society,
and that is in sharp contrast with the past.
P: Is it not possible that maybe a lot of these things were happening in the past and
we have just forgotten about them?
H: No, I do not think so. With sports, I think there was a protective curtain that they
put around them [athletes]. Apparently Babe Ruth, in his prime, [was a rough
P: Then there was Ty Cobb and some of the others.
H: But then the press had a kinder disposition. Now the press is out to get them.
Also we now have a different breed of sportsmen. We really do. You look at
professional sports. I was heavily involved with that in the great days of the
Baltimore Colts. We knew a lot of the guys who played on the team and were
devoted to it. There was a loyalty. For instance, almost the whole community
of Baltimore revolved around the success of the coach. Now these players are
just a bunch of nomads. They drift from Cleveland back to Baltimore, and from
Baltimore to Indianapolis. They look like a bunch of nomads, a bunch of
gypsies, going from place to place.
P: Smiley, what have we not talked about that ought to be included here?
H: We have talked about a lot.
P: What things have we left out, things I would not know to ask you about?
H: We covered my past and present here pretty thoroughly.
P: You said pretty thoroughly. I want it to be very thoroughly.
H: I think it was a very thorough interview. Nobody has taken the time or the
trouble to sit down and talk with me for so long. It was refreshing and I have
certainly enjoyed chatting with you.
P: Have you remembered a lot of things you thought you had forgotten?
H: A few. I think time has begun to erode it somewhat, but I have always had a
pretty good memory.
P: You have great recall. I am very happy with this interview.
H: My recall served as a source of amazement for Valerie Crawford, the lady to
whom I introduced you here. She has been here in the office for five years. So
far, except for one time when I missed by one year, if she called out a name, I
could call out the year when that person graduated.
P: That is an amazing recall.
H: It really is not, if you think about it for a moment. I really have if not an intimate,
a very meaningful relationship with each student. In writing the letters of
recommendation that I write for their residencies, I am apparently the only person
in the country that does this, I put in a comparison paragraph. In other words, I
say that I think Sam Proctor is better than X, equal to Y, not quite as good as Z,
or A, B, C, or D from year one, two, three, or four in ability, personality, or
potential. I experience constant renewal, you see, of these old associations
which were very dear to me when they were in place here. That has been a
source of surprise to people, that I could do that. Some of it is possible by
[having] good memory.
P: A lot of people say I cannot remember where I put my car keys this morning.
H: My father always used to tell me, you are getting old when any one of three
things happen: number one, you cannot remember names; number two, you
cannot remember dates; and number three, damn if you can remember what the
third one was.[Laughter]
P: My brother-in-law says you are old when you cannot remember what you have
H: [Laughter]. That is right. That is a great line too.
P: Dr. Hugh "Smiley" Hill, thank you for the interview.