Letter from Charles R. Drew to Lenore (Robbins) Drew
Item is a photocopy.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (1,876,536 Bytes)
1941-02-10 (February 10, 1941)
[Drew, Charles R.]
[Drew, Lenore (Robbins)]
Original Repository: Howard University. Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. Charles R. Drew Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
Becoming "the Father of the Blood Bank," 1938-1941
February 10, 1940
It has been one week today sine we started the new project of collecting blood for the American Red Cross. It seems ages ago.
So many things seem to have taken place that it does not seem possible that only seven days have elapsed.
We have a full time staff of 12 people: 2 doctors, 4 nurses, 2 technicians, one bookkeeper, 1 secretary, 1 shipping clerk
and 1 handy man.
The bleedings are done from 1 to 8 P.M. daily on Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 8 P.M. on Saturday and from 10 A.M.
to 3 P.M. on Sunday. For every one but the secretary, Monday is a day of rest.
I, as usual, have no special hours and no particular day of rest.
At present we are bleeding 60 donors a day. At the end of about 2 weeks we shall be doing 100 a day and try to work out the
details of such a system on this level of activity. To date the whole thing has worked very well with no hitches of any importance.
The doctors are Dr. Earle Taylor, whom you know and Dr. Darrell Shaw, recently Resident in Surgery at the Peter Bent Brigham
Hospital in Boston. The nurses are Mrs. Clark, formerly Miss Templeman of the operating room staff, who lost her job in the
hospital when she married Dr. David Clark, one of the Junior Residents in Surgery. You may remember him. Miss Elliot is the
nurse who came to assist Miss Stoddard when the work in the bank grew very heavy during the "Plasma for Britain" project.
Mrs. Bradshaw is a former operating room nurse who went with the American Ambulance Unit to Finland, got chased out of there
by the Russians, - landed in Norway just in time to be run out by the Germans, - got over into France just before it fell
and had to make a quick exit to England, only to be bombed out of the hospital they had been assigned to almost at the very
onset of the Luftwaffe on London. Finally they decided to call it a day and come home. The fourth nurse is from the Memorial
Hospital and was chosen as probably the best of the lot there. So you see we have a grand crew and this in part explains why
we have had so little trouble. I brought the other girls up from my office at the academy. Each one, in addition to the duties
which she is assigned in the bank, can take dictation at a rapid rate and is an expert stenographer of at least five years
Scudder, of course, was very hurt when the job which he has felt that he was creating for himself was not offered to him.
I truthfully felt very badly for him. There is no doubt about his knowledge of the subject and his deep interest in it, but
he antagonized so many people that his nomination for the job became almost an impossibility. I tried to save some of his
face by adding his name to my report to the Board of Medical Control. I feel I have now paid back in work and favors any debt
I might have owed as a result of his early kindnesses to me here in New York. Our relationship will never be entirely cordial
for there is enough of the Nietchean about him to feel that "man is but to be surpassed" and he will not ever take
kindly to the idea that I started under him and gradually took over. Tonight he is leaving for a trip to Florida and a well
earned vacation. D. V. looks a little worn and haggard. She too has felt the coldness of the procedure and has worked like
a trojan beside John throughout this project. I wish that it were possible to turn over to him this job. No one will hear
of it so I am grooming Earl Taylor as fast as I can.
Tonight we have signed the Report. I shall send you a copy. This whole medical report was written in ten days. I wrote every
line of it in the original manuscript. Later it was edited, rearranged and modified in certain passages by other members of
the Association, but for me, to date this marks my greatest single writing effort. I am very happy to have it behind me.
I believe that it is a good piece of work and will in years to come prove of greater value to all concerned than anything
I might have done at Howard during the period just being brought to a close. I think that I was wise to come.
For you, I know, it has been a disappointing period. Our separation has caused us to miss much that we may have shared together.
For this I am sorry. Many of the days and nights have been lonely here for me. I know that they were much more lonely for
you, but from times immemorial, men who have beat out new paths into unknown regions have had to strike out alone, leaving
all that was dear behind. These have been new paths that I have been treading, Lenore, as new as the uncharted seas that the
early sailors defied, as strange as the new lands early explorers mapped while good wives waited in fear and loneliness lest
the wandering ones failed to return. Yet, it has always been true, that where one man dared to go, others would follow, and
these, the ones who followed after, often brought their whole families along and knew more joy than those who first came that
way, and some of those who came along later, were the children of those who had gone before, and their joys were a recompense
to those who had gone ahead, the lonely ones. Maybe Bebe will some day live and laugh and work under conditions which will
make you glad that during long, apparently useless days you pushed back the tears and lived alone while I - I found new places
in which to grow.
I know that you think that all of this is just a little bit heroic, sometimes I do too, and laugh at myself. But most of the
time I am deadly serious about it, as though I had nothing to do with it but simply carried out commands given me by some
inner force which never wants to play. I should play more, we should play more, not separately, but together. Sometimes, I
forget that no woman is all woman, totally grown up and self-sufficient, but that each in a large measure is a little girl
who needs the loving, the understanding, the tolerance and even guidance that little girls need. Sometimes, you forget that
all men are just little boys grown up and playing at bigger games, that they too need understanding, encouragement and help
even when they seem to be going along at a great pace. We both forget at times that the essence of life lies in making two
blades of grass grow where one grew before, in bringing a smile where there was a tear, in giving and sharing as much as we
There is much work that we may do together in the future, there is much joy that I know we will share, but even though we
are apart there is no cause for disunity in heart or spirit or mind - there need not be any lack of common purpose. I love
you very much, Lenore. With you or away from you I love you just the same. Withal, I hope that we shall soon be together.