I don't think I made the transition from childhood to adolescence very gracefully.  I remember it as a not too happy time in my life.

Change is one of the stressors of life, and this period is full of change for any child.  I had the usual issues to deal with....puberty, facial hair, girls, etc.  I also had the change brought about by a new school.  In the fall of 1949 when I was twelve, I moved to a new school.  When I was a child, there were transitions in schools that really did not make much sense.  I guess that is why they have subsequently changed.  I went from kindergarten to the second grade.  That made me a year younger than everyone in my elementary school class.  About the only times that really mattered was when I became old enough to become a scout I had to wait a year.  I was also young looking for my age anyway, and the class bully used to call me "baby face."  Elementary school then was grades one through seven. I seemed to thrive in this environment and was an active, outgoing child.  I was president of the student body when I was a sixth grader. 

This picture was taken at Rosemont Elementary School in Dallas in 1945. 

Children went to Junior High for grades eight and nine, then to High School for ten through twelve.  Junior High was rather traumatic for me.  I was put with a different bunch of kids who blended from several local elementary schools.  I became rather shy and did not make friends easily.  I tended to stick with the kids I had known in elementary school for the most part.  I also had an illness in the summer of 1949 that made a change in my life.

Early work

As was expected of me, I spent the summers working.  The summer of 1949 when I was twelve, I worked at my dad's farm.  It was hard work, and especially for a kid who was not very big and had no skills.  I was put to work in the fields on dad’s farm.  At that time, there was little mechanized equipment in farming that is now so common.  Hay was bailed by cutting, raking and hauling the grass to the center of a field where a stationary hay bailer was set up.  The newly bailed hay was then loaded into a truck and taken to the barn where it was off loaded and stacked. 

We had a big barn that held 10,000 bales of hay.  They were stacked at least ten or twelve bales high.  Lifting a 50 pound bale of hay around was not easy for a kid.  I built muscles that summer.  Another task was building shocks of oats.  A cutting machine (binder) would cut oats and tie them into clumps that were about the size of a bushel basket.  It dumped them on the ground behind the machine.  These bundles were collected and stacked into shocks of about 15-20 bundles.  They were then hauled on a wagon or truck to be processed by the next machine (thrasher) that shook the grain from the straw.  Now this process is done by a "combine" in air-conditioned comfort.

Some time that summer when I was shocking in the oat field, I got sick.  I remember lying down in the shade of a fence row beside the field.  Someone called my mother who came after me, and I spent the next several days in bed with fever and felt terrible.  My dad did not know what was wrong with me.  Pneumonia was suspected but my illness was atypical.  After about a week I was better, but never felt well enough the rest of that summer to resume the work at the farm.  I began having back pain.  I went to several doctors and the diagnosis of "juvenile epiphysitis of the spine" was made.  My work was restricted, and more importantly, I was not allowed to play sports.  We often wondered if the febrile illness was a mild form of polio.

Polio was a big deal when I was a child, and I ever learned to swim, as my mother was convinced you caught polio at public swimming pools.  No one we knew had a swimming pool at home.  My dad belonged to the downtown Dallas Athletic Club where I took swimming lessons.  The instructor got so upset with me that he picked me up and threw me in the pool trying to prove to me I could swim.  That ended my swimming lessons.  I did not learn to swim until I went to college and took swimming lessons as part of physical education which was mandatory for freshmen.


Sports were a big deal for me, especially baseball.  I was not big enough to play football, and I don't think I would have played if I had been big enough.  Getting tackled or tackling someone else was not my idea of fun. 

I wanted to be a pitcher.  I was a lefty, and could throw the ball pretty well.  I was devastated when I was not allowed to go out for the baseball team because of my back problem.  As an alternative, the coach made me the student manager.  I kept up with the balls and bats that were furnished by the school.  We also had our own bases that had to be put out before each game.  Every kid had his own glove.  I also kept the record of hits, runs and errors for each player.  It let me go to practices and to each game.  It was OK but not as good as being a player. 

I made some good friends.  One lifelong friend, Tommy Pool, died in 2010.  We did not know, nor did his family, where he lived the last few years of his life.  Tommy was a good pitcher with a very good curve ball.  He was big and tall for his age and saved me from the class bully when we were in the 6th grade.  The bully was knocking me around on the playground, and Tommy took up for me and beat the c... out of him!

The next summer I was better and resumed my work at the farm, but still was not allowed to play competitive sports at school.  Somehow, I find that a little peculiar now.  My parents were more tuned into work than play. 

I remember a little later when I wanted to learn to play golf.  I found an old set of golf clubs in the attic that had belonged to my dad.  They had wooden shafts.  I used them to learn.  I was left handed, but these clubs were right handed clubs, so I learned to play right handed.  I got little support from my dad.  He said golf was a "game for the idle rich, and we were neither idle nor rich."  I played anyway and it became a sport I was able to continue for a long time. 
More about golf.


This period in my life continued to be influenced by my mother's ill health.  I remember vividly when I started having to iron my own clothes, including ROTC shirts.  Other guys had their shirts sent to the laundry and they came back with neat creases in the back.  I was lucky to get the major wrinkles out of mine.  I did my best later in life to never tell my wife I knew how to iron.  This was long before the marvelous wrinkle proof fabrics that we have today were available.  Most everything was 100% cotton or 100% wool.

I was not interested in girls during this stage.  They were there, but that was about it.  I was more interested in woodshop, baseball, hunting and fishing.  There would be plenty of time for girls later.

I continued to attend church, but with maybe less fervor on my part.  Being Baptist, when the other kids were taking dancing lessons, I was not allowed.  I was a singer but there was no kid’s choir at church.  My voice was changing at this time, and my singing was not the best anyway.

One of dad's sisters, Lucy Lee Crutcher Henderson, was a piano teacher.  She gave me lessons.  I was more interested in playing baseball.  Mother had the choir director at church listen to me sing.  He did not think I had a solo voice.  My brother sang and played the piano.  My mother also played and often accompanied my dad while he sang.  I enjoy music to this day, but more as a listener than a participant.   I regret to this day I did not take advantage of the opportunity to learn to play the piano.

This was also a time when I had to be carried everywhere I went.  This was a real chore for my mother and dad.  Dad was hardly ever at home at the right time.  The task usually fell to my mother, and she really did not feel like it much of the time.  There were no other kids in my neighborhood going to the school I attended (W.E. Greiner Jr. High) and we could not car pool.  The school was a long way from the street car line, and would have been a transfer by bus.  I remember my dad would sometimes take me in the morning, and my mother would pick me up in the afternoon.  My older brother was only home in the summers, as he was in college.  He was five years older than me and we had little in common anyway.


Owen George continued to be a big influence in my life.  I remember he bought a farm near Paris, Texas and we spent some time there.  He was a big help to my mother helping me get a driver's license.  When I became 14, you could get a "hardship" drivers license.  My mother applied for the license and had to appear before a board to present the hardship.  Her hardship was she had to haul me out to Hutchins every day to work in the summer.  The board did not feel that was a real "hardship" and turned down our request. 

Georgie, as I called him, went with me to talk to the county Judge in Paris, and he granted me the ability to get a driver's license.  I remember taking the drivers test the same day.  I had not studied the rules, but I passed without much trouble.  I had been driving tractors and trucks since I was big enough to hold the wheel at the farm.

Learning to drive

This reminds me of one of my less pleasant driving experiences.   When I was learning to drive, my dad would occasionally let me drive home from the farm.  On this particular day, I drove home without any problem.  We parked the car in the garage and went into the house.  My dad heard a loud sound and went out and saw the car in our front yard.  We lived on a hill, and I had forgotten to put the emergency brake on.  The car rolled out of the garage and down the hill into the front yard, sideswiping a tree on its way down.  It was a fairly new Chrysler two door coupe.  At that time, Chrysler had its famous "fluid drive."  It had no gears in the transmission, and there was absolutely nothing to stop the car from rolling other than the emergency brake. 

Needless to say, this event did not make my dad happy and my driving was severely curtailed for some time.  The windshield was damaged and leaked when it rained.  My dad made me take the car when he traded it and explain to the dealer what had happened.  I don't think he got a very good trade in on that car.

Soon after I got my license, my dad bought me a used red Crosley pick-up.  The bed of the truck would hold two bales of hay if you stacked them up the narrow way.  It relieved my mother of the job of transporting me back and forth to the farm to work, and it was great fun for me. 

The guys at the farm made great fun of my new truck.  One would say...."here comes Billy to pick up the eggs in his truck."  I really loved that truck.  I improved my skills as a mechanic.  I took the engine out several times, whether it really needed it or not.  I removed and cleaned the spark plugs, replaced points in the distributor, changed oil and all the other things that were "routine maintenance" of vehicles at the time.  The truck had a 26 horse power four cylinder engine made by Continental.  I was told it was the engine commonly used on refrigerated trucks to run the refrigeration system.  It had a floor mounted stick shift with three forward speeds. It weighed 1403 pounds and could be bought new for $916.  I don't know what my dad paid for it, as it was a used "demonstrator."  He bought it from Clarence Talley who had a car lot on Ross Avenue.  He later became the first Volkswagen dealer in Dallas. 

I suspect my dad had been influenced by my mother's brother Ben Wells who owned a Crosley and found it to be cheap reliable transportation.

The kids had fun with my truck too.  At this time, the Cliff Temple Baptist Church auditorium was cooled by blowing air over blocks of ice.  There was a big chute going down into the basement where ice trucks would dump ice into a big reservoir.  One Wednesday evening, some of my friends lifted and carried the truck down the chute and left it at the bottom.  Fortunately no one got hurt, and I was able to simply drive the truck up out of the chute.  One time after I was in Sunset High, I found the truck on top of the long flight of stairs at the front door.  It was a little more difficult to get down from that position.

Family vacations

My dad always took the month of August off from work.  For several years, he had spent it with the family on vacations.  We took long touring vacations for several summers.  One summer we went as far as Montreal, visiting Washington, D.C. and New York City on the way.  Another summer we went north as far as Lake Louise in Canada, visiting Yellowstone and the Tetons on the way.  I remember only seeing the Tetons out the window, as we did not have time to spend there on our way to Yellowstone Park where we stayed several days. 

One summer we went west to Los Angeles and Catalina Island.  All of these trips were considered part of our education.  All were taken by car, and of course, no air conditioning anywhere.  I remember my mother taking along a bottle of Lysol to use on the bath tubs in some of the motels where we stayed.


We spent several Augusts in Lake City, Colorado, where several families vacationed together.  Owen George and his wife Lucille, a man named "Penny" Lee who had a daughter named Peggy that I had a crush on.  He was named Penny because he managed the J.C. Penny store in Oak Cliff.  There were several other families who were also friends.  Lake City was primitive then.  There were no paved streets.  We cooked on wood stoves.  It was a real luxury to have a house with indoor plumbing.  The fishing was fair.  The fun was great.  My brother did a lot of hiking, as he cared nothing about fishing.  After a few years, we quit going to Colorado as my dad did not like dealing with the altitude.  That is when we started going to Minnesota.

The summer I got the Crosley, we were going to Detroit Lakes, Minnesota to spend the month fishing.  We had a family friend who was in the tent and awning business.  My mother had a cover made for the pick-up bed and my brother and I drove the Crosley to Detroit Lakes.  I remember we burned $9.28 worth of gas on the way up.  That was when gas was probably 10 cents a gallon, but it was pretty thrifty with gas.  Coming home, we lost oil pressure and had to have the rod bearings replaced.  I don't remember what that cost.  As I remember, the top speed on the car was about 50 mph.  

The only grandfather I had known was my maternal grandfather, Willie Wells, who died when I was nine.  He lived in Temple and as I visited there fairly often to be with him and my aunt Sissie.  I called him Dada.  He had a farm near Belton, and he went out to the farm for some reason almost every day.  We would stop at the grocery store on the way out and buy meat for lunch. 

We usually bought steak that was turned into wonderful chicken fried steak by Flossie, the lady who lived on his farm.  It was accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy and usually hot biscuits.  I learned to shoot a 22 rifle there, and spent a lot of time shooting at water snakes that populated the stock tank on the place.  I remember wonderful grape juice home made and kept in a storm cellar adjacent to the house.  I also remember she had a daughter about my age named Nita.

We spent several summers at Muench's Beach Resort on Long Lake just outside Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.  Here we vacationed with friends and someone who had influence on my life as a surrogate grandfather, a man named Jess Harkey.  My dad was a part time Medical Director for United Fidelity Life Insurance Company.  Jess was an agent.  He was from Arkansas and never met a stranger.  He and his wife Ora had no children, and it was easy to develop a relationship with him. 

Jess was a very good fisherman, and taught me most of what I know about fishing for walleye pike.  I learned bass fishing from his niece Pat who lived in Garber, Oklahoma. 

Jess had a lot of friends and relatives who came to visit him while he was in Minnesota.  He spent all summer there.  The Harkey's had one of the few cabins that had its own bathroom, as it had served as a temporary living space for the owner of the resort while he was building a new house.  The Muench family had a large farming operation, growing sweet corn.  The also had the resort that was ten or twelve cabins with a central bath/shower arrangement. 

My mother and brother hated it.  She said she had a wonderful utility room and kitchen with a dishwasher at home only to go to Minnesota where everything had to be done by hand.  She put up with it because dad and I loved it.  My brother only went for one or two summers.  The only thing he ever did was read and sit out in the sun.  Neither of us knew how to swim.  Dad liked to fish, and liked to be with the people we knew who were also vacationing at the resort.  The grownups played canasta by the hour.  Everyone slept and ate wonderfully.  The sweet corn was fresh every day.  There were also fresh blueberries enhanced by fresh cream.  Of course, we had an abundance of fish.  Walleye is about the best fish you can eat, especially when it is fresh from the lake.


The summer of 1953 we spent touring Europe.  My mother, brother and I flew to England in early June and picked up an English Ford brand new from the factory.  We toured England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  We then went to the continent and visited France and Italy.  My dad joined us in Austria, where he spent a week studying with a famous surgeon in Gratz named Ernst Navratil.  We then visited Austria, Switzerland and Germany before my dad returned home.  The rest of us continued our tour and visited Holland, Belgium, and Denmark.  We drove 10,000 miles that summer.  We flew home from Copenhagen, and somehow, the Ford got shipped to us. 

It was a wonderful experience.  I appreciate it more now than I did at the time.  I thought I would never see the end of the fancy churches as we visited in Italy.  I was hungry for real food. 

Very few people spoke English in Europe then, and we had some interesting times trying to order food.  Everyone else was drinking beer and wine, but of course, being good Baptists, we could not.  In Italy, we ordered bottled water to drink by using an expression (fizzzz....) seen on billboards.  It turned out to be naturally carbonated water and it was terrible to drink.  People now think Perrier is wonderful. 

We usually stayed in bed & breakfast establishments.  We had no advance reservations.  It is a wonder we did as well as we did!  My mother was very brave and venturesome to do that much travel with two young boys.  My brother, age 21, had just completed his freshman year in medical school and thought he was grown.  As I remember, he did all the driving.  

Silvertop Farms

Hunting and fishing continued to be important to me.  I hunted anything that moved on my dad's farm.  My friend Tommy Pool and I sometimes camped out in my aunt's house (vacant at the time because of her incapacity) and hunted on the weekend.  We mostly hunted rabbits. 

We raised hogs on the farm, and they loved rabbits.  I think a hog will eat most anything.  I made war on the many pigeons that tended to light on top of the various barns, particularly the big hay barn.  There were quite a few holes in the metal roof when I shot a little low. 

I had a horse that I could shoot off of.  I killed quite a few crows by riding up to a feed trough where they tended to congregate.  Crows are very smart and usually are hard to get close to.  In season, I shot doves and an occasional scissor-tail.  I remember seeing some quail, but was never successful in killing one with my rifle.  We shot a lot of hand thrown skeet.  My first shotgun was a pump 410.  I soon graduated to a Browning 20 gauge automatic.  

I continued to go deer hunting.  My dad had a friend, Mr. Martin, at church who owned a big ranch near Menard, Texas.  My dad bought me a real deer rifle, a model 99 Savage in a 250/3000 caliber.  I killed my first deer with that rifle on that ranch.  I don't think I was successful in killing another deer until several years later when my dad and I went hunting in east Texas on a property that is now called Holly Lake.  We never had a regular deer lease after the place in Utopia.  I have a picture of a 1949 Mercury with two bucks tied to the front fenders.  I think that was the only deer my dad ever killed.

Owen George bought another property, this time closer to Dallas.  It was located in what is now Allen.  At that time, it was way out in the country just to the west of Lake Lavon.  There were a lot of rabbits on the property, and I took advantage of that fairly often.  Owen enjoyed working on that place.  I remember he cut and burned a lot of brush.  He got in the smoke, and it must have had a lot of poison ivy in the brush, and he had a serious case of poison ivy rash! 

There was also a tank on the place.  I don't think I ever caught a fish, but I gigged quite a few bullfrogs.  My mother used to like to cook frog legs.  If you fix them like chicken, they taste like chicken.  If you fry them like fish, they taste like fish.  I preferred the chicken variety.

Horses remained a big factor as well.  My dad bought me a pony when we lived on Junior Drive.  The pony's name was Baby Doll.  My grandfather gave me a small saddle that fit her and me.  She was very gentle and patient with me.  I rode her everywhere.  As the neighborhood started to have houses built, we moved Baby Doll to the farm where I rode her often.  She got to be a senior citizen as I got older and she lived out her days in peaceful grazing. 

My dad had a big rhone gelding that I rode some times.  He was almost too much for me to handle.  He would run so fast and accelerate so quickly it was scary.  There was also the horse that I shot off of.  He had been given to me by one of my Uncle Aubrey's friends.  As I got older, I rode him more than Baby Doll, as she was a fairly small pony. 

We also had a Shetland pony that had once been one of S.M.U.'s mascots.  He was very mean and no one was able to handle him.  He was used as a stud and dad bred several mares to him.  I don't remember how he came to get him.  The farm tended to be a horse rescue for animals looking for a home.  My dad's love of horses made that easy.


In high school, still restricted from contact sports because of my back, I went out for the golf team.  I broke all the shafts of the old clubs I had found in the attic.  I was working at Roland Ellis' Men's Store and saved enough money to buy a second hand set of clubs.  They were Walter Hagen's, and I still have those clubs.  As I mentioned before, my dad was not supportive of my golfing.  I never was a good enough golfer to make the A team and play in city tournaments, but I enjoyed getting out of school one period early (P.E. was golf) and playing at Steven's Park golf course every day. 

After our golfing, one of the team members lived across the street where we played pool in his basement.  His name was Walter Temple and his father Jimmie was one of Dallas' mayors several years ago.  He was one of the executives of Oak Farms Dairy that later became the parent organization of 7-Eleven.

Walter had a James motorcycle.  We spent a lot of time riding that motorcycle.  I had another friend, Teddy True, who also had a James.  I wanted one very much, but my dad would not discuss the idea with me.  Owen George was adamantly opposed to the idea as well, as his best friend in college was killed in a motorcycle accident.  The motorcycle will come up again much later on.


Somewhere along the line, I learned to like girls.  I did not have many girl friends, but enjoyed the few that I did have.  One was the sister of my best friend in high school.  Her name was Carol Ann Quade. 

Dickey was a runner, and tried to get me interested in track.  I tried, but began to have pain in my ankle that later would become a major problem.  Dickey had a model T Ford.  We spent a lot of time working on that car.  Dickey had a paper route, and I would help him out from time to time, particularly when he went out of town with his family.  His grandparents lived in St. Louis, and he would visit there occasionally. 

Dickey became a professor and teaches physics at Texas Tech University.  I tried to renew our friendship when our sons were at Tech, but the chemistry was no longer there.  Carol Ann later married an orthopedic surgeon.  I have long since lost track of her.

My first real love, Mary Ann Allen, later became my wife.  We met when I was a senior in high school.  My dad had delivered her and knew her parents as patients.  More about this later.


The summer after I graduated from Sunset (1954) my uncle Earnest Moon died.  He was aunt Sissie's husband.  He was a physician on the staff of Scott and White in Temple for many years.  He died unexpectedly.  My aunt Sissie was left with two cars and she did not drive.  She gave the newer one to her brother Ben Wells and gave the older one to me. 

It was a 1941 Packard four door sedan.  It was quite a boat.  Uncle Earnest had owned it since it was new and drove it on special occasions.  It had a big engine and burned a lot of gas.  It also used some oil.  The main problem was the universal joints.  If you went more than about 50 mph, the car would shake terribly.  I wanted to get it fixed, but my dad preferred to have is serve as a governor.  The Crosley was history.  You could almost put the Crosley in the back seat of the Packard!

The car to be given to my uncle Ben was a 1949 Chrysler New Yorker.  At that time, Ben was the dean of a medical school (Creighton) in Omaha, Nebraska.  It was my chore to drive the car to Omaha on our way to Detroit Lakes that summer.  That was a long and lonely trip, and I remember how hot it was.  It was even hot when we got to Omaha.  No one had air conditioning then, and everyone suffered in the summer.


It was time for college.  My dad offered to send me to any college I wished, but he made it clear that the only place he and my mother would support (and pay for) was Baylor.  They were both Baylor graduates, as were several other members of my mother's family.  My older brother had gone to Baylor and was in Baylor's Medical School in Houston.  Needless to say, I was headed for Baylor in Waco.

There was a boy I knew at church named Clinton Twadell.  He was going to Baylor.  We arranged to be roommates and got a room in a brand new dorm at Baylor, the first one that was fully air conditioned.  It was so new, it had no name and was called the "new men's dorm."

Being a freshman in college was tough for me.  It was the first time I had ever been really away from home.  My girlfriend was still in Dallas in high school.  The course work was not particularly demanding, but consumed my time.  I settled in to life at college.  Clinton was doing his own thing, and we rarely did anything together except share a room. 

My habits were to try to have all my classes in the mornings so that my afternoons were free.  If I needed to study, I would do it mostly in the afternoons.  At night, the dorm was very noisy and not a good place to study.  A lot of people went to the library to study to get away from the noise.  Our dorm also housed the "jocks" who usually did not have studying in mind.  The afternoons were quiet and I could get a lot done.  Some afternoons, I played golf.  I sometimes went to the track and ran, but soon my ankle would become painful and the running was not for me.  I could play golf, get outside and it was an enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.  I don't remember who I played with, but there was always someone available on relatively short notice.

I had a meal ticket at the cafeteria in the student center.  It was my downfall, as I wound up eating regular meals and more than I needed.  I started putting on weight then and it has continued to be a problem for the remainder of my life.  I am a board certified eater with a lot of experience.  I particularly liked the Dutch apple pie in the Baylor Student Union cafeteria.

As I was pre-med, my schedule was full and compact.  Baylor was on the quarter system, and classes went by quickly.  I took a full load every quarter.  I had worked all through high school, but my dad made it clear that he did not want or expect me to work at college during the school year.  I worked every summer, but not while I was going to school.  The goal was to make good enough grades to get into Baylor Medical School.

I developed good study habits and made good use of them.  I learned to type in high school.  I was the only boy in my high school typing class.  Owen George had given me a Royal typewriter when they upgraded to IBM electric typewriters at his office.  I would take my notes from the day's lecture and convert them into a typed document.  It was a good learning tool.  I have used typing skills to great benefit all my life.

The only classes I had any trouble with as a freshman was math and has remained a challenge for me.  I had not enjoyed math in high school.  I did not have the mind for math concepts.  I struggled with trig and algebra and fortunately, did not have to take calculus.

Science was my thing and I enjoyed it and excelled.  I made the dean's list a few times.  Things were going well with school.

I was less than happy with my social life.  I made a few friends and did things with them.  I dated a few girls, but my heart was still with the girl back home. 

I made frequent trips to Dallas on weekends to be with her.  I talked with my folks about transferring to TCU.  I really don't remember why TCU came into mind, other than my girlfriend's cousins who I knew were there.  I got a nice letter from a doctor friend of dads offering me encouragement with my situation and to stick it out where I was.  I imagine how my dad probably was talking to this doctor friend in the doctor's lounge while waiting for a baby to be born.  It was nice for him to take the time.  His name was Dr. Floyd Franklin.  I still have his letter.

One friend I made who lived down the hall later became a medical associate when we shared an office space at Medical City.  Trevor Mabery was a good friend.  He was from Weatherford, Texas where his dad was a pharmacist and owned a drug store.  Trevor had gone to a junior college in Stephenville, Texas the first year and lived at home.  He was a year ahead of me in college, but we were at Baylor for the first time together.  He lived with Ted Edwards in a corner room in the dorm.  We had common interests in hunting and fishing, which we did many times over the next 15 years. 

Trevor was one of four Dallas men killed in a private plane accident in Montana.  They were all on the board of Focus on the Family, and had gone to Montana for a retreat and board meeting.  They were meeting at a ranch that belonged to Hugo Schoelkopf.  Hugo and Trevor were good friends and Hugo had a plane.  Trevor had flown to Montana on a commercial airline, and had a return ticket.  Hugo talked him into coming back to Dallas with him and two men who were Baptist preachers.  They were found in the side of a mountain.  I presume they were sight seeing and the plane crashed going full speed.  It was a tragic event for me and for the entire Christian community.

I spent the summer after my freshman year working at my dad's clinic as an assistant to the X-ray technician.  I had known her for several years, as she had worked for my dad almost since he went into practice.  I was the chief barium mixer and cleaner upper.  I helped process the X-rays.  That was way before any of the automated equipment of today.  Each film was put on a hanger, moved through two tanks in the developing process and then hung up to dry.  My dad's clinic had about fifteen doctors, and the X-ray facility was a busy place.  

My sophomore year was better.  My school work was more science oriented, but harder.  I remember spending most of the "extra" time studying.  I moved to a new dorm with a new set of roommates.  My friend Clinton got married during the summer. 

My newly assigned roommates were new friends.  One was Wayne Gillies from Houston.  He brought along Billy Davis, one of his friends.  We picked up an unknown in the match.  His name was David Payne.  He was the son of missionaries and was kind of strange. 

 Four guys in one room was a bit much, but we made it OK.  The missionary kid did not last out the year.  He was replaced with Winifred Holland, an OK guy.  I continued to study in the afternoons when the roommates were usually gone and it was quiet.  I made new friends in the new dorm, the oldest on the Baylor campus, Brooks Hall.  It was not air-conditioned.

One of the new interests was HAM radio.  One of my friends was a whiz in electronics, and he drew me a schematic for a radio transmitter that would send Morse code.  The radiology technician's husband at my dad's clinic was a HAM radio operator, and stirred my interest the previous summer.  I was home for the weekend and showed him the schematic.  We went out to his workshop and he came up with a power supply and the vacuum tube necessary for the system.  I bought the rest of the components at Crabtree Electronics and built the system.  I bought a Hallicrafters HAM radio receiver. 

I had the only HAM radio antenna stretching across the quadrangle in Brooks Hall.  I suspect no one knew or cared what it was.  It was a long copper covered wire that stretched across to another friend's room in the wing opposite to our room.  His name was Ernie McKowan.  He was later killed in an automobile accident.  We were both pre-med students.  I learned Morse code quickly and got my amateur radio operators license.  My call sign was NKLKE.  The N was for novice.  It was fun when you could communicate with someone halfway across the country.  I never got to the point where I got the full license necessary for voice communication.  I did not have the time for this kind of thing.  The educational system for me became harder as I progressed.  I have often thought about taking up ham radio as a hobby again, but the Internet in recent times has been my passion.

Friends come to mind while writing this that I haven't thought about in years.  I remember a guy I shared many classes with whose name was Earl Davis.  His dad was an osteopathic physician in Brownfield, Texas.  Earl had a Mercury, one of those that looked like a bathtub with wheels.  He went home every weekend to Brownfield.  I have lost track of Earl.  I don't know if he completed his goal to become a doctor.

When I lived in Brooks Hall, I quit eating at the campus cafeteria and ate where I could.  I got a meal ticket at the greasy spoon across the street from the dorm and ate many meals there.  Breakfast has always been a favorite meal, and I always had breakfast there.

My roommate Wayne Gillies wanted me to become a member of one of the local social clubs.  When I was at Baylor, there were no national fraternities.  There were several social clubs that did pretty much the same thing.  I became a pledge for Tyron-C.  It was not as much fun as I thought it was going to be.  It was mostly an excuse for the guys to get together to get drunk.  I had never drunk anything with alcohol at that time in my life, and did not start then.  I picked up my roommate Wayne from one of the parties that were memorable.  

Billy Davis' had his aunt's brand new Buick for some reason for the weekend.  He lived in Mexia, and his aunt was quite wealthy and a benefactor of Baylor.  I dated her daughter for a while.  She could have been a fullback for the Detroit Lions.  Anyway, when we went to get Gillies, he was leaping from table to table like a drunken monkey (which he was).  On the way back to the dorm, he vomited and failed to get his head out the window completely.  We had fun trying to clean up Billy's aunt’s car.  I guess we did an OK job, as nothing more was said about that event.  Billy would later become a urologist and Wayne would become a lawyer.

I finally learned how to dance as a member of that club.  I remember dancing with the girlfriend of a friend I had known since grade school who was also at Baylor.  She seemed to melt and moved like liquid.  It was fun.  Dancing has never been a passion to this day.  My mother used to say "we don't smoke, drink or dance and don't run with the folks who do."

I worked the summer between my sophomore and junior years again at the farm.  By this time, we had an "automatic" hay bailer.  It would pick up the grass that had been cut and raked into windrows.  It baled the hay and spit them out the back.  My job was to pick up the bales and haul them to the barn.  I worked with a black kid named Cupie.  We hauled and stacked 10,000 bales of hay that summer.  We also had a new combine, but I was not considered experienced enough to operate it.  It was a dirty, messy job.  It kicked up a lot of dust as it cut the stuff being harvested.  I remember a field of button clover where it was so dusty you could hardly see the combine for the cloud of dust.  My job was to drive the truck that hauled the seed from the combine to the storage bin.  Dad bought some old wooden railroad boxcars and used them for grain storage.  There were also grain storage bins in one of the barns.  I think the button clover was a crop of a neighbor, and we were just doing the harvesting.

I remember plowing a 60 acre field that summer where we grew maize for the dairy cattle.  I was driving a John Deere tractor that burned a mixture of coal oil (kerosene) and water.  It had two cylinders.  It also had a broken head gasket, and the radiator needed to be filled often.  I wasted a lot of time driving to the well and filling that radiator that summer.  I finally got the field plowed, but it seemed it took forever. 

The cows loved that maize.  We cut it with a shredder which blew it into silos made in the ground in big trenches.  It was covered with tarps and fermented.  It must have had some alcohol in it.  As I remember, it was called ensilage.

My junior and last year at Baylor was very busy.  I was happier with my social life, as my Dallas girlfriend Mary Ann was now at Baylor.  She took most of my spare time.

My academic load was very heavy, with quantitative analysis and organic chemistry being the two big courses.  I remember staying at school over most of the Christmas holidays in the lab doing the analysis of my "unknowns."  I had a lot of company, as that was supposedly the toughest chemistry course at Baylor.

In the spring of my junior year, sometime about a month before the end of school, I got news that my mother was sick.  She was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach.  My dad took her to Mayo Clinic for treatment.  I left school so that I could be with my mother and let my dad return to Dallas while she was recovering from surgery.  My professors were very kind and understanding, but I had to complete some work.  I was taking comparative anatomy that spring, and I had to bring a cat home to study for the final exam.  No one was very happy about having a dead cat in the bottom of the refrigerator.

Medical school

My mother did well for a while after surgery.  Things then happened as a blur.  I had been accepted into Baylor College of Medicine.  We were pretty sure mother would not survive her illness.  I did not want to leave my dad alone to handle her illness.  My brother by then had graduated from medical school and was in the Navy on an aircraft carrier somewhere in the orient.

I made a late application to Southwestern Medical School.  It was a start up in Dallas and at that time was a struggling independent school.  Most of the professors were former Baylor College of Medicine faculty who did not want to move with the school when it relocated to Houston in 1943.  Getting into a medical school at that time was not easy.  They had far more applicants than they had positions.  It did not hurt my case that my dad knew many of the professors, as some had taught him when he was at Baylor when it was in Dallas.  I was interviewed and accepted.

My mother knew I was in love, and she wanted to see me marry.  As I look back on this, had it not been for her illness, I don't think I would have even thought about getting married.  I did marry that June and mother was able to attend.  It proved to be a poor decision on my part, as the marriage would not last.

I had a good job that summer, working in the Mobil Oil Company research lab that was located in Duncanville at that time.  I worked for a man named George McIvor in the natural gas lab as a lab technician assistant.  It paid well and allowed me to gain some primary exposure to the research process.  My dad helped me to get the job through a friendship we had with the president of the company.  His son Teddy and I had been friends as children.  His family was patients of dad's, as well as being friends.  His name was Leslie H. True.

With my new wife and a dead cat in the refrigerator I started the summer.  I took my final exam on the anatomy of the cat and made an A in the course.  The other course I had pending was German.  I took an incomplete in that course, as I did not need it anyway.  I had enough hours to get me into medical school.

Our predictions about mother were correct.  She progressively got worse.  The surgeon had not been able to remove all of the cancer from her stomach.  She died in Baylor Hospital on September 17, 1957.  I was in class that day when one of the professors mentioned at the beginning of the class that one of their classmate's mothers had died the day before.  I think everyone was shocked when I identified myself and thanked them for their concern. 

I was afraid to miss anything that year.  The first day of class, one of our professors, Dr. Duncan who taught us microanatomy, stated that "we did not ask you to come here, but we may ask you to leave" made a big impression on me.  About 10% of our class would not become second year students, and we were the cream of the college crop!

I was glad I made the decision to stay in Dallas.  My dad bought us a house near S.M.U. on Dyer Street.  I remember the payments were $49 a month, and the house cost $9,000.  Mary Ann went to S.M.U. to complete her education, and she was able to walk to school.  Dad ate dinner with us almost every night for that first year.  He was a lost soul.  I think being with us helped him get through the grieving process.  Dad was 57 and in the prime of his professional life.

My time in the first two years of medical school was spent with hard work and studying.  I was usually tired when I got home in the late afternoon.  I would go to bed early and get up at 3:00 AM and study until 7:00 AM.  Early morning hours were productive for me.  I studied in what had been a screened in porch adjacent to our bedroom.  I used an old roll top desk that I had bought when I was at Baylor. 

Last edited 4/24/2017  

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