Contributor: Jerry Ruskin
Having run out of money, despite my wife working to support us, and with our first born on the way in my senior year (1956) of medical school, I applied to only one place for an internship, namely Walter Reed Army Hospital. Without a single day of service in the Armed Forces and in spite of a junior year AOA, I went unmatched. Fortunately there were several good institutions, including Duke, that did not fill that year.
After a five minute phone interview by Dr. Eugene Stead a place was offered. It was a non-Boston medical center type of interview. Dr. Stead asked, "Do you know what's going on down here?"
"I'm not aware of any epidemics in North Carolina, Sir."
He said, "No, I'm referring to the situation of sit-ins at segregated Howard Johnson Restaurants. How do you feel about that?
I replied,"Dr. Stead, I've been a dirty Jew for 25 years; being a damn Yankee for a year or two shouldn't shouldn't be a problem at all!"
He: "young man, why don't you come down and work with us." Me: "thank you sir I'll be there".
I received my draft notice at the end of my internship. Actually, I was told I could enlist, or be drafted as a private. Naturally, I enlisted. At the time I was to leave Duke to report, I was the junior assistant resident on Osler.
Billy Kremer and I had gone to Chapel Hill for pizza and a beer and the next day I had a significant upper GI event. Charlie Harris was kind enough to admit me for a day or two. The Professor told me to take it easy the rest of the week, when I had to leave anyway. He was very kind and offered to take me back on my discharge from the service (in midyear no less), if I wanted to return. He also gave me his 'life is a series of compromises' talk.
All I could reply was, "I understand, Dr. Stead, but I am the one being compromised."
Mort Bogdonoff was doing his best Stead imitation, holding morning report in the Clinic. Burt Levy, a medicine intern already accepted for a psychiatry residency, was about 5 minutes late that morning. We all sat in school type chairs, with a large armrest on the right side.
As he worked his way down the aisle, Mort interrupted his discussion to remark, 'Burt, you're late. That's going to cost you a nickel." Burt's response was, 'Mort, how much does it cost to miss the whole thing'? We were mortified than a lowly intern would talk that way to a senior physician, but the put down seemed to get better and better as the years passed.