How It Was Then:
Alumni Remember Their Days at the U-M Medical School
At the beginning of the Medical School's Sesquicentennial Celebration,
alumni/ae were invited by fellow alumnus Robert H. Bartlett
(M.D. 1963, Residency 1969), chair of the Sesquicentennial Celebration
Committee and member of the surgery faculty since 1980, to share
their memories with readers of Medicine at Michigan. The excerpts
included here highlight the variety and intensity of the memories
of graduates of the Medical School going back to the Class of
question was: What happened in 1623?"
Joseph J. Weiss (M.D. 1961) Huntington Woods
In our first physiology lecture, Dr. Horace Davenport grabbed
our attention by announcing that the first person to answer
his question correctly would receive an "A" in physiology
and be exempt from any examinations or attendance. The question
was: What happened in 1623?
After a long pause, the amphitheater echoed with answers: the
discovery of America, landing of the Pilgrim fathers, the death
of Leonardo Da Vinci. Then Nancy Zuzow called out: "The
publication of William Harvey's 'The Heart and Its Circulation.'"
There was sudden silence. She must be right. How clever of her.
Of course a physiologist would see this landmark publication
as the event to which we should give homage. Who would have
thought that Nancy was so smart? Even Dr. Davenport was impressed.
He asked her to stand, and acknowledged that she had provided
the first intelligent response. "However," he noted,
"that publication occurred in 1628."
No one could follow up Nancy's response. Dr. Davenport looked
around the room, sensed our ignorance, realized we had nothing
more to offer, and then said, "1623 was the publication
of William Shakespeare's First Folio." He announced that
we would now move on and "return to our roles as attendants
at the gas station of life," and began his first in a series
of three lectures on the ABC of Acid-Base Chemistry.
"Counting corn kernels... stimulated my interest in...genetics."
Harold F. Falls (M.D. 1936, Residency 1939) Brighton
Summer time odd jobs and much sacrifice on the part of my parents
enabled me to enroll in medical school in September 1932. During
my senior college year I had taken an elective course, "Corn
hybridization and genetics," a laboratory experience directed
by D. Shull, Ph.D. Dr. Shull was noted worldwide for his work
in corn hybridization. I am certain counting corn kernels of
different size, shape and color and Drosophila fly mutations
further stimulated my interest in individual differences and
would tell us the questions she would ask...and the answers
she would expect."
Michael M. Okihiro (M.D. 1955) Kaneohe, Hawaii
Ask anyone in the class of '55 of the U-M Medical School who
the best teacher was, and you'll get the same answer: Dr. Elizabeth
Crosby. And you'll probably get the same answer from all the
students who went through Michigan during the many years that
Dr. Crosby taught neuroanatomy there in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
She was a gifted, dedicated anatomist, investigator and researcher,
but her forte was teaching the countless thousands of medical
students and neuroscientists who went through her department.
Her formula for teaching was very simple and went something
like this. Tell the students what they should learn. Review
with them what they should know. Tell them what the examination
questions will be, and tell them what the answers should be,
because that's what they need to retain.
Dr. Crosby was about 50 years old when we had her. She was a
small lady, couldn't have weighed more than a hundred pounds,
but she always had a sparkle in her eyes and had a knack of
making neuroanatomy come alive in her lectures. She always had
a review session the evening before the big mid-terms and again
before final exams. Coming to the review sessions, she emphasized,
was strictly voluntary, but no one ever missed them. At least
not any sane medical students. In these sessions she would go
over the neuroanatomy she wanted us to remember. She would tell
us the questions which she would ask in the examination the
following day and the answers she would expect.
From time to time I think of her and how she tried to teach
me where the pain fibers ran through the spino-thalamic tract
and into the lateral lemniscus, and the fascinating visual pathways
which run from the eyes through the optic tracts, the quadrigeminal
plates and to the very back of the brain. She was the one who
sorted out the intricacies of the autonomic nervous system and
made it easy enough for me to remember the sympathetic and parasympathetic
nervous paths. And a lot more.
Since I eventually became a neurologist I have to give her a
large part of the credit for turning my head in that direction.
The notes which I took in her classes more than 50 years ago
haven't been looked at for a while but I still have them bound
and protected on my bookshelf.
received a D... I was also sent to the Psychiatry Department
for a series of tests..."
Harry J. Schmidt (M.D. 1948, Residency 1957) East Lansing
I had one experience I have never told anyone, at the dean's
request, but now after 50 years make it yours, as it probably
represents a bygone era of management.
As entering freshmen we were told "Look to your right and
to your left; one of you three will not be here to graduate."
With that "definition" we proceeded in fear and maximum
attention to our studies. In the second year I chose as an elective
a course in applied anatomy and felt I had worked hard and written
a good final exam. To my surprise I received a D grade which
placed me on probation and I was asked to see the professor,
Dr. McCotter (who we all loved and admired for his skill and
helpfulness and interest in us). I was also sent to the Psychiatry
Department for a series of tests and interviews. When I came
to Dr. McCotters office he took my bluebook exam from
the pile and asked me to look it over. His phone rang and he
was involved on it for some time. Meanwhile I went through the
bluebook10 questions each graded 4-9-10 etc. through the
book totaling an 86 (a good paper). I noted on the front of
the book a total of 67 and noted two pages in the book somewhat
stuck together where 19 points were probably missed in the addition.
When Dr. McCotter finished his phone call I pointed out the
mistake and he took the bluebook, paged it over, took a new
red pencil, changed the grading and stated, Whoever graded
this paper was wrong. Your grade of D stands and I want you
to come in two to three hours a week this next semester for
make-up study and a reexamination then. Feeling this grossly
unfair, I went to Dean Furstenberg. He heard the story, thought
for a while and said, Mr. Schmidt, here at Michigan each
professor completely controls what goes on in his department.
I suggest you discuss this with no one and do exactly what Dr.
McCotter says! I studied anatomy hard, fearing my future
in medicine was indeed on the line. I passed the next exam.
My D stood on the permanent record and my neglect of my other
courses that term produced lower grades, resulting in a lower
class standing. There was a good side. I later trained as a
surgeon under Dr. Fred Coller at Michigan and put my considerable
anatomical knowledge to good use over my years. Thats
the way it was!
P.S. Catharsis is therapeutic and feels good.
P.P.S. The Psychiatry Department thought I was normal!
I...became the fourth generation to graduate
from the Medical School.
Frances M. Friedman, M.D. (M.D. 1961, Residency 1967) Hanover,
My father took me to Michigan for the first time in 1954. As
we turned up State Street I remember him telling me about the
long legacy of memories of his family who had graduated from
the Medical School. Every time I see those bricks on State Street
I am reminded of that trip up the street as he and my younger
sister took me to school to start my freshman year as an undergraduate.
I went on to follow in his familys footsteps and became
the fourth generation to graduate from the Medical School. I
graduated in 1961, my father preceded me in 1923 (Frank Moran).
My great uncle graduated in the 1880s (Francis Joseph Todd)
and my great great-grandfather (George Todd) graduated in the
1860s. I had hoped that one of my kids would become the fifth
generation, but unfortunately they went to Dartmouth Medical
arent the smartest people in the world but theyll
make good doctors...
Frederick V. Hauser (M.D. 1944, Residency 1945) Pawlet, Vermont
In 1943 our class was taken into the Armed Forces. Those who
chose to be in the Army were housed in Victor Vaughan dormitory.
The Army was very good to us but sometime in the fall we were
ordered to have lights out in the dorm at 10 p.m. Shortly after
the order was issued there was a knock on our door and at the
door was Dean Furstenberg. I always remember how neat and trim
and nicely dressed he was. He said he had heard that we were
ordered to turn the lights out at 10 p.m. Well,
he said, medical students need time to study. They used
to be able to study at night. Medical students arent the
smartest people in the world, but theyll make good doctors.
Theyll make good doctors and they need time to study.
They arent the smartest people in the world but theyll
make good doctors and they need time to study. I remember
that he repeated himself several times, just as he had repeated
slide presentations in one of our classes.
...I contracted polio at eight months of age...
Max Karl Newman (M.D. 1934) Bloomfield Hills
I was always interested in medicine, especially physical medicine.
As an infant in New York City, I contracted polio at eight months
of age (I have one weak leg), so I was constantly exposed to
orthopods and pediatricians. I was part of the founding group
for the specialty. When we organized the Academy of Physical
Medicine and Rehabilitation on September 6, 1939, I was number
13 on the list. We had to have 100 doctors for the AMA to accept
us as a specialty. We had 98, so I borrowed two neurologists
to make it 100.
was my first contact with Dr. Weller, and I was deeply impressed
with his kindness...
John W. McCallister (M.D. 1943) Sarasota, Florida
In the summer of 1937-38, I removed a cancerous breast from
a dog owned by a patient in the Monroe Hospital (in Monroe,
Michigan), where, as an undergraduate, I worked summers and
during school vacations. I had heard of Carl V. Weller, professor
of pathology at the University of Michigan, and not blessed
with enough sense to know better, bottled the specimen and sent
it to him for his opinion. In a very short time, I had a complete
report on the University Hospital report form, plus a full-page
letter from Dr. Weller describing the pathology found, its clinical
significance, and the possible clinical consequences. That was
my first contact with Dr. Weller, and I was deeply impressed
with his kindness to an unknown novice from Toledo, Ohio.
wish I could have had more appreciation at the time.
Douglas W. Jenkins (M.D. 1967) San Antonio, Texas
In looking back I am amazed at how little I appreciated the
skill and fame of our various professors. I had a chance to
see Charles Gardner Child operate on a pancreatic pseudocyst.
I assisted (as much as a student can) in plastic surgery with
Reed Dingman. I received amazing education in endocrinology
by Dr. Conn and his associates. There were others of similar
national and international status. Today, if I mention those
names to appropriate specialists, there is instant recognition
and respect for the training we received. But at the time I
didnt understand just where Michigan stood among medical
institutions. I certainly do now, and I wish I could have had
more appreciation at the time. For my best, last lecture, could
I please have a group? If not, let me listen to Bob Green. He
is the reason I entered pulmonary medicine. What a clear, concise
manner, and what superb knowledge of his field.
The four of us scored second, third, fourth and seventh
Donald S. Schuster (Residency 1958) Madison, Wisconsin
In July 1956 I came to Ann Arbor to complete the final two years
of my dermatology residency, joining J.B. Tisserand, Ken James
and Walker Lea. Our teachers were Bill Taylor, Dick Harrell
and our highly esteemed department head, Arthur C. Curtis. The
Michigan residency was greatly coveted, being at that time,
and now also, one of the two best in the U.S. My two years in
Ann Arbor were two of the best years of my life. We were all
anticipating our dermatology board exams. Dr. Curtis felt that
the prestige of the department would be reflected in how we
did on the board exam. The four of us scored second, third,
fourth and seventh in the country. We felt that we had made
Dr. Curtis proud of us and had upheld the pride of our department.