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Memories of Michigan

(The Michigan Alumnus, May 1977, Page 24)

I arrived in Ann Arbor in 1925 at a time when Andy Gump was patrolling the campus to make sure that the students did not drive. Andy was a motorcycle patrolman whose real name was something else. He just looked like Andy Gump. We also had to contend with the Volstead Act.  Since I had to stay out of school for three years to earn money, I was exempt from the ban on driving. Saturday nights I became a taxi driver for my friends.

A more lucrative occupation was playing the piano in the old Majestic Theater, I think on Maynard Street. In those days, the films were silent. A musical accompaniment was of crucial importance. "The Maj" was always full. Crowds used to gather an hour before show time.  Sometimes, these crowds completely filled the sidewalk, all the way to the Quick and Dirty on the corner. When you had a date, you had to strong-arm the surging crowd to keep her out of harm's way.

Our orchestra had six musicians. Besides piano, we had a fiddle, a clarinet, a trumpet, a cello or trombone, and, of course, the drums.  One day, the cello player quit. We grabbed a trombonist. Unfortunately he was a little weak on the high notes. In his first day in the pit, we were playing The Way Of All Flesh with Emil Jannings in the title role. Emil Jannings in this picture is a tramp who repents and goes home after many years. The tear-jerker came when Jannings looks in the window of what used to be his home to see his family. For this scene we played a dirge with an important part for the cello. Since the trombonist felt insecure with the score, he had marked his slide to make sure he would not miss a high note. Just before we entered the pit, some clown erased the mark and placed it one inch lower. The results were devastating.

On my first day in Medical School, I miscalculated and arrived late. The only spot where I could squeeze in was at the top of the amphitheater in the old building. It was a precarious spot. To preserve my balance, I had to lean against a rickety cupboard full of bottled specimens from the lab. Just as Dr. Cabot, who was then dean, started on his oration to welcome us, I shifted position and all the bottles clattered to the floor. I nearly died of embarrassment. But Dr. Cabot handled the situation superbly.

"Don't rock the boat," he said. "You'll have plenty of chance to do that later."

Clifford L. Graves, '32med

La Jolla, Calif.

One of our "Memories of Michigan" correspondents played the piano for silent motion pictures at the long-gone Majestic Theatre on Maynard St.

(Editor's Note: The letter that follows was dictated by Thomas S. Kingston, '86med, in 1949, the year before he died. It was dictated to his daughter-in-law, Irene McFadden Kingston, '12, and submitted to the Alumnus by his granddaughter, Ann Kingston Heyl, '40.)

The winter of 1882 I studied at the Collegiate Institute at Strathroy, Canada, with a view to matriculating at Toronto University for some professional course, I knew not what.

However, one spring weekend at home was the turning point in my academic career. A young man of about my own age, Harry Graham, was teaching school in the country and boarding at my father's home.  Although he had matriculated into Toronto University, he had decided to enter the University of Michigan instead because of lower cost of tuition and living expenses in Ann Arbor. Harry coaxed me to think about going along with him. I had heard about Ann Arbor from other students also.

I sent for the catalogue and read it with mounting interest. That summer I invested in or borrowed a number of medical and scientific books and began reading chemistry, materia medica, physiology and anatomy, subjects in which I had had no instruction. All summer I read religiously and frequently walked into town to learn what I could of pharmacy from kind Dr. Harvey and from young Dr. Stanley, his son-in-law.

In the fall — that was in 1883 —Harry Graham and I set forth for Ann Arbor. We took the train to Sarnia and thence to Detroit and Ann Arbor. We left our bags at the depot and walked uptown and viewed the campus enclosed by a picket fence. The first night was spent at a little hotel, impressively called, I think, the St. James.

The next day we got a room near the campus on Huron St. and arranged to board at Prettyman's. We had to heat our own room and for this purpose we bought a load of hard hickory which proved almost impossible to cut. The landlady furnished the axe. Our hands were blistered when we had chopped a few pieces. Of course, our room was lighted by kerosene lamps, and I recall that we had to take complete care of our room. The second year we had a room at Strickler's on Elizabeth St., where a classmate from Winnipeg joined us. We joined one of the eating clubs and paid for board from $1.65 to $2.00 a week.

Registration in the University in those days was a very simple affair. The application blanks were sent out ahead of time, and the qualifications for enrollment were very sketchy. No entrance examination was required for anyone holding some sort of certificate. I presented the teacher's certificate I had received at 17 and was accepted. For those not so prepared, a simple examination was conducted. Later, Dr. Victor C. Vaughan recalled that in one examination every applicant but one failed in answering one of the questions which asked for the names of the states bordering Ohio. A Japanese student was the only one who gave the correct answer!

My first year I studied anatomy, materia medica, and physiology under Dr. Sewell, chemistry and laboratory work under Dr. Lupinske. I took all my dissection work this first year. Dr. McLean was the lecturer. How well I recall my first visit to the dissecting room! Harry and I mounted the stairway with reluctant feet and paused at the closed door. We opened it and viewed the bodies laid out on the tables and at that moment I almost gave up my idea of a career in medicine. But we went ahead and worked on the cadaver assigned to us, that of a man who had died suddenly of pneumonia.

Later, we got credit for the best dissection, but we knew that we had had a good subject to work upon. Our next cadaver was a most disagreeable one. As the course got under way, some students not enrolled in it would look in on us and sniff in a superior manner, and for this they were likely to get swatted with a kidney or something.

We studied hard and late into the evening while the hickory wood burned in the little stove. There was a woodshed roof within reach of our window, and there we had secrecy placed a trophy to dry — a skull snitched from the dissecting room. We had had no little difficulty in getting this object back to our room for the campus "cop" who was also the janitor, had seen us carrying a suspicious-looking bundle from the building. He chased us across the campus and was gaining on us when Harry tossed the thing behind some bushes as we sped on and escaped. Later that night we found our trophy by the aid of matches.

There were not many amusements in those days for students, but I recall playing with bats and balls on the campus and attending, after the first year, an occasional concert and lecture. It cost $.75 to hear a famous violinist whose name escapes me. He received great applause for his rendition of "Listen to the Mockingbird." A highlight one year was the lecture by the Rev. T. DeWitt Talmadge, who spoke on "The Mistakes of Ingersoll." There was a huge audience.  Our football team went East and played three games in a week and returned much battered but amidst cheers.

Political speeches and torch-light parades added an exciting note to student life. Nearly all the students swarmed around the depot when James G. Blaine, Republican candidate for President, spoke from a train platform. I knew little of American politics but enjoyed carrying a torch for any candidates—a pleasant diversion from books. When I reached the depot on this occasion, I noticed among the students some carrying a banner inscribed, "No Dictation from England," and another stating, "We'll Twist the Lion's Tail." I was greatly puzzled but soon got into the thick of the argument and returned home that night with an eye blackened indefense of the heraldic lion.

In our senior year we wore, as was the custom, frock coats and tall silk hats as became the dignity of doctors. We sported class canes —plain hardwood walking sticks adorned with the carved signatures of our classmates or their initials. My old cane brings vividly to memory the following: J. A. Hughson, D. McEachren, C. G. Forbes, F. E. Shore, F. S. Armitage, H. Graham, J. Grassick, Hensall, W. P. Munn, E.C.E., T. A. Stoddard, J. E. Ottaway, W. B. Sexton, E. Bigham, W. C. Riddell, G. R. Taylor, H. March, and others whom the University of Michigan sent forth to practice the art of healing on that long past day in June, 1886.

Thomas S. Kingston '86med

This was the U-M Medical School in the days referred to by Dr. Thomas S. Kingston,'86med. It was built in 1850 and razed in 1914.

An early medical class learns by watching in a surgery amphitheatre.

When I was a sophomore at the University, my funds were running very low and the debts were running very high. I knew my parents had no money to send to me and I was very much afraid that unless I obtained part-time work, I would have to leave the University.

In those days, employment for women students was handled through the Office of the Dean of Women and I had inquired there but to no avail. They informed me that there just didn't seem to be any part-time jobs available and they didn't seem to care very much, either.

I was seething with frustration and upset at the thought of having to leave when I was willing and eager to work. I thought that somehow somebody must have a job and be willing to help me.

Accordingly, I made an appointment with the President of the University, who was then Dr. Alexander G. Ruthven. When I got in to see him and told him that I very much wanted to work but couldn't find a job and if I couldn't find a job and didn't get money, I would have to leave, he agreed that this would indeed be a shame.

He asked if I had been to the Dean's office, and I told him that I had but they had nothing available.

He suggested that he would look into the situation and would be in touch with me. I thanked him and left to return to Mosher-Jordan, where I lived.

By the time I walked from Angell Hall back to the dormitory, I already had a message from the office of the Dean of Women to call them, which I promptly did. Surprisingly enough, in response to an inquiry from the President of the University, they had suddenly found out that there was a model needed for the Life Drawing Class in the School of Architecture.

That job enabled me to stay in the University and was only one of many jobs after that.

I shall never forget the warmth and humanity of Dr. Ruthven, who took the time to make a telephone call for a student, that made all the difference in the world to that student.

When I was enrolled in the Law School, women were a very small proportion of the student body.

Some professors seemed a little hostile to women — some seemed to treat us just as the men were treated and some pretended that we didn't exist!

One of my professors was E. Blythe Stason, who was then both the Dean of the Law School and also a teacher of Administrative Tribunals. The class was not overly crowded as Law School classes were, and, anxious to impress the Dean, I did my work thoroughly and often raised my hand to voluntarily participate in the class discussion. Never once did he call upon me.

Once at a faculty-student tea, I asked him whether there was any reason why he didn't call upon me.

He said: "I would never call upon a woman. If she didn't know the right answer and I indicated that the answer was wrong or her judgment erroneous in the fact situation under discussion, I am afraid that she would burst into tears and I couldn't stand that."

The age of chivalry was not yet dead, or was it male chauvinism

Frances Eve Bilmes, '49, '521

Pine Bush, N.Y.

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