Original Repository: Howard University. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Charles R. Drew Papers
Reproduced with permission of Robert D. McLaughry.
Education and Early Medical Career, 1922-1938
August 17, 1966
Dear Mr. Hardwick:
Your letter of July 6th to my son John, at Brown University, finally caught up with me a few fays ago. We have been traveling
in Europe and the British Isles since mid-March with no mail forwarded. I hope the delay has not inconvenienced you.
Am delighted to know that you are doing a biography of Charlie Drew. You have a splendid subject. I do not know where among
my papers to begin to look for clippings and documentations on Drew's records and achievements at Amherst. About all that
I can do is to give you my story from memory if my friendship and association with him. I was his football coach at Amherst
for all four years and his coach in the field events in track - high jump and shot put - during the same period.
It just so happens that Ellsworth "Red" Richardson, who played center during Charlie's last two years at Amherst,
is the athletic director at Amherst and I know that he will go overboard to cooperate with you and obtain for your use any
material and records that are in the college archives.
You say in your letter that you have visited Howard University, talked with Charlie's wife and others of his family. I
hope that you contacted Dr. Montague Cobb who heads the Anatomy Department at Howard Medical. He and Charlie were close friends
at Amherst - maybe room mates - and on the track team together.
As a football player, Drew was great. He could have played regular on any team in the country, both in his era, and any time
since. I am qualified to say this because I coached in the East-West Shrine Game for four years, the Chicago All Star Game
and twice in the one in New York, and when I was not coaching, saw these games as a spectator. Each year the players included
the very best of the previous season. Charlie was a halfback of tremendous speed and quick reactions, a great second effort,
a splendid passer. He could hit a bull's eye with the old ball at any distance up to 50 yards. Furthermore, he was a tiger
on defense. When he tackled, the runner went down as though he were shot. His playing weight was 190-195 and his height was
six feet plus. His physique and walking carriage were superb.
In track he was in good enough to win four first places in many duel meets in the shot, high jump, and both hurdles. I believe
the high hurdles were his best event. He was captain of the McGill University track team when he was there in medical school
several years later.
Charlie graduated with distinction from Amherst in 1926 and then spent a year or two teaching and coaching to pay off his
debts and augment his resources.
Before proceeding further, I wish to relate the following: In 1925 Amherst had one of her greatest football seasons in history,
losing only to Princeton in a close game. During the latter part of the fall, Charlie developed ankle trouble in his right
leg. There were no Xrays in Amherst at the time and I remember taking him to Northampton - 12 miles away for the Xrays. At
that time there was no one in the area competent to read and diagnose them. Charlie finished the season in pain and under
a handicap. The following spring, when the track season was beginning, it developed that his ankle troubles were not over.
Our first dual meet was at Providence, R.I. with Brown University. I made an appointment with an outstanding orthopedic doctor
in Boston for Charlie on the morning of the meet. Charlie and I took a very early train to Boston and the rest of the Amherst
track team went later by automobile to Providence. I took the Xray plates with me. Writing as a layman after over 40 years,
Charlie's injury was diagnosed as a periosteal tear with complications. The orthopedic surgeon, however, taped him in
such a way that he could compete. We proceeded to Providence late in the morning and met the rest of our team there. That
afternoon Drew won four first places, the shot put, high jump and both hurdles. He was a champion and this incident is an
Charlie played rugby football and was captain of the track team at McGill University. During one of his years he wrote to
me - I was at Brown University then - telling me that his ankle injury was acting up again and that it was so painful when
standing on it that it looked as though he would have to give up his waiting on table job. If he did this, he would be unable
to stay in school as he had no funds to pay for his food. I wrote back to him at once and told him to hang on until I had
a chance to get him help. This was during the depth of the depression in the very early thirties.
I immediately wrote to some of his class mates and told them of Charlie's predicament and his need of a loan. Within a
few days, I received enough money to pay his board for an extended period. Years later, after he had completed his broad medical
education, and was beginning to earn money, he paid back every cent of the loan. He never knew the names of the friends who
helped him. All I ever told Drew was that they were class mates who considered it a privilege to be able to come to his aid.
I did not know any of his family except his father who spent several days at Amherst when he graduated. Charlie, however,
told me all about his family and ancestors for whom he had a great love and respect.
His untimely death was a tragedy and an irreplaceable loss. Charlie's combination of character, personality, ability and
physical grace, put him in the top category of men that I have known during a long life.