Friday, December 10, 2010

Stories from the Clippings

Hector Spends the Holidays at Charlie's House
Those of you who follow the "Stories from the Clippings" might recall a story I told about Charles T. Dotter, radiologist, and Rosie the Elephant. At the end of that tale, I asked if you had heard the one about the penguins? I thought it might be time to tell the story since Dick Stueve brought it up in his History of Medicine lecture on "Not So Crazy Charlie" this past week.

Yes, this is my third post on Charles Dotter, but you must remember that what I write mostly is what the newspapers were publishing and we know that journalists do love the sensational, the controversial and the strange. Charlie was certainly that and much more.

So the story goes that Hector, an Adelie (some say Humboldt) penguin, was temporarily kept at Peninsula park... that's right Portlanders, at Peninsula park, Portland's first community center in the park system! In 1957, while the Zoo was completing their new penguin habitat, the penguins enjoyed the lovely pool just outside the Italian-villa style community center.

The penguins fell ill with aspergillosis, a lung fungus that threatened to wipe out the entire flock.

Charlie took the first x-rays of the birds in the fight to save them. Why Charlie got involved is a question not yet answered but he did. He asked Jack Marks, Zoo Director, if he could have the bodies of those already dead for the pupose of autopsy. A body was delivered to the medical school on New Years Eve along with another ailing bird not long for this world.

Charlie was ready to close his office for the holiday but couldn't bring himself to lock up, leaving the ailing bird - now known as Hector - to suffer alone. He took him home. New Years day, Charlie and Zoo veternarian, Dr. Clifford Bjork, gave Hector his first injection of a new antibiotic. Along with a very understanding and sympathetic Mrs. Dotter, Charlie gave Hector his vitamins and herring each day.

Hector recovered and did not show any symtoms of his disease but it was not determined whether he would carry the disease back to the flock. Hector enjoyed the hospitality shown him by the Dotters. In fact, Charlie proclaimed Hector, "a darned fine patient". And the Dotters had only one complaint regarding their holiday house guest: Hector was not yet house trained!

Discussing the recovery, Charlie said, "Maybe the city will dig me up another old rug." Another, who knew about Hector, said that all that penguin needed was a little TLC. It seems that Charlie was just what the doctor ordered.

article: f1_p122_a3

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Post #1,001

So, when preparing Monday's post, I completely overlooked that it should have been a landmark event: The 1000th post on our blog. So instead, I'm kicking off the next 1000 posts with a brief retrospective:

Post #1: Sara Piasecki welcomed readers to HC&A's brand-new blog on August 22, 2006

241 posts later, the blog had its first birthday.

March 12, 2008's "Morningside Hospital: What We Know" still draws traffic and remains our most-commented post.

In 2009, HC&A won the coveted "Best Institutional Blog" award from Archives Next.

August 31, 2010's "Ave atque vale" was the last post from departing HC&A head Sara Piasecki.

This blog would not be what it is without the positive feedback and consistent support it gets from our researchers and library colleagues. Join us for the next 1,000 posts!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Shields Warren: pathologist, radiation researcher, hobo

The National Library of Medicine's History of Medicine Division recently launched a new interface for its oral history collection. The content includes full-text searchable transcripts as well as audio.

I ran across an intriguing 1972 interview in which Dr. Shields Warren (1898-1980) described his "hobo years" in the Pacific Northwest. After graduating from Boston University in 1918 and serving in WWI, Warren set out to see the country:
"I had picked up a bicycle at the Dalles and went down to, among other places, Portland, Oregon which I liked very much; it was a very clean city. Shipyards there--they were still building the iron ships--and I worked on the night shift again; this was from eleven to seven. I remember it very vividly because it was always foggy or raining in Portland and the effect of the lights on the unpainted and the red painted iron in the hulls shining in the wet, the arc as the rivet was tossed from the forge to the riveter."
The young adventurer did much of his traveling by bicycle:
"Well, after I had explored the Oregon territory quite thoroughly and I was greatly taken by the Columbia River Valley, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, all that area, I got restless again and took my bike and went up to Seattle...I wrote up for the Boston Herald (I worked on the Herald as a reporter when I was in college to get some extra dough) accounts of the work in the shipyard and how things were in the West of that time and conned them into thinking that it would be a good thing to write a series of stories on riding a bicycle around the Olympic Peninsula."
The conditions were not ideal:
"I worked my way down the coast going up the various streams until I made a series of zigzags up to the Olympics on the western side and back down and then came to another Indian settlement at the Bogachiel River and that was too deep and too swift or me. I ordinarily put my things on a log and swam them across but I couldn't do it. I got one of the Indians--he had sort of a half raft affair--and we were almost over to the other side when the current caught the thing against a rock and it tipped and spilled my gear and bike into the water. Boy, that water was cold to retrieve it."
After Warren had his fill of hoboing, he used the money he saved from working odd jobs to enroll in medical school at Harvard. He became an internationally renowned pathologist, and was particularly concerned with radiation and atomic energy. He conducted the first systematic examination of radioactive fallout and worked to control radiation's health threats and benefits. He earned the Enrico Fermi Award in 1971.