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The Oswald T. Avery Collection

Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind, or You've Got to Have It in Your Genes pdf (540,605 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind, or You've Got to Have It in Your Genes
These are the lyrics to a song performed by several of Avery's Rockefeller colleagues at his retirement dinner in 1944. Sung to the tune of Ira Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," these lyrics were composed by several of the junior members of the staff. Later, Avery's associate, Ernest Stillman, had the lyrics printed and distributed to many who attended the dinner at the Harvard Club.
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5 (540,605 Bytes)
1944-11-02 (November 2, 1944)
Original Repository: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Oswald T. Avery Papers
Courtesy of the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
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Biographical Information
After the Discovery: The Transforming Principle's Reception by the Scientific Community
Metadata Record Citations Accompanying Avery Medals at Namru II Dinner, Gridiron Club--November 2, 1944 (November 2, 1944) pdf (166,056 Bytes) transcript of pdf
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Moral: Go change your genes!
Little Avery is small but oh my!
Little Avery is small but oh my!
If he were to babble
About all the rabble
He'd transformed from low into high!
You'd say "T'ain't necessarily so.
Even Fess couldn't make him a go"
In Gershwin's known style
Let's hear Fess talk a while,
And mention the people you know.
It weren't necessarily so
It weren't necessarily so
They thought when I came
I'd be easy to tame
But it weren't necessarily so.
The world seemed to need some transformin'
It practiced it noon, night and mornin'
In the Cole-Flexner orbit
They couldn't absorb it
And the Rivers regime? I don't know.
Now I have transformed all my life
I have strictly avoided a wife
I have taken great trouble
To prick my own bubbles
And abjure the idea of strife
Oh its all necessarily so,
Oh its all necessarily so
'Cause you can't hope to do it
Unless you pursue it
Ain't that necessarily so?
Now they think I am out to transform
In my laboratory old and forlorn
One germ to another--a pneumo's big brother
But it weren't necessarily so.
I've really been up to a lot
My first plan I've never forgot
To change mice into men and then back again
When Directors appeared on the spot.
Now I'll tell you of some of my works
And about the impossible jerks
That I struggled with, tutored, and almost transmuted,
But couldn't quite rid of their quirks.
Oh it ain't necessarily so.
Oh it ain't necessarily so,
The thoughts in the journals,
Those gems, those sweet kernals,
They ain't necessarily so.
Oh Kenneth the Kansan was tough
He gave me a great line of stuff
But how I transformed him!
I think (?) I reformed him
But I'll say the going was rough.
Now it ain't necessarily so
It ain't necessarily so
Those lads from the plains
Who escape all the dames
Are they necessarily slow?
As a bantamweight boxer from Yale
Changing Tommy seemed of little avail
But he became a new answer
To the saccharide bonanza
And his test hit the head of the nail.
But when this was no longer new
He changed his affections to flu!
The cells lining the nose of the ferret I s'pose
Got more attention than is really their due.
While I'm speaking of viruses now,
And I hope I don't start any row,
Whether tests analytic show them self-catalytic
Some chemist like Wally might know.
I'm sure that I couldn't guess
Quite sure that I couldn't guess
But the thought does arise
That a few other guys
Might know more and talk of it less.
Now Michael as all of you know
Was a chemist pure (?) as they go
But how I did change him, in fact rearrange him
By flicking one tube neath his nose. (half of that two-tube experiment)
So then he deserted to Do
At that point he deserted to Do
And made quantitation his sole inspiration
But I still like to think it ain't so.
Oh transforming was always my bent,
But sometimes it made little dent,
So I took the transgressors and made them professors,
I fessed 'em and now they repent.
It really had to be done
Unquestionably had to be done,
And I can still take the curse of all their bad verse
Since it seems--to them--to be fun.
With Dubos I was quite often hurt
'Cause he wouldn't stay out of the dirt.
But he made the dirt pay
In a phenominal way
And began to maintain and assert,
Oh I don't know just how it could be
But I really have done it you see,
Now this erstwhile dirt farmer
Is a dinner club charmer
With a soft Harvard chair and degree
Now MacLeod was a youngster well-bred
Gracious, friendly and easily led,
But just mere compliance
Doesn't get far in science
I resolved to develop the head.
You ought to have been there just to see
The success that attended my plea
Just to hear him define;
Hem and haw; draw the line -
Why sometimes they all think that its me!
Then after Colin comes Mac
To help hold my cellophane sack
From which sprang invincible
The transforming principle
To orient capsular lack.
I mention these boys so you'll know
That it takes two to make this change go
And that quite conclusively
It isn't exclusively
Entirely my own little show!
Transforming ain't really so tough
Just rare back and give 'em the stuff
I changed Frank just by wishin'
To the I. H. Division
And then back to a member: enough?
It easy when properly 'fessed
He was a rough crew man out West
But the rough pneumococcus
Can do least to block us
And now Frank is a member assessed.
Now most chemists would stay simon-pure
When obliged to work with manure
But Charlie, well fessed
Found Hemophilus best
To study the foods of the poor
In formulas rounded and nice
He'll make muscle disease more precise
But the muscle machine
Of a fair tennis queen
Has proved a distracting device.
Now Ernie's been hard to induce
He'd much rather ride the caboose
Or go to a fire
Than higher aspire
Though dust may still have its good use
He's put many mice on the skids
Countless rabbits have orphaned their kids
If it weren't for the habits
So notorious in rabbits
He couldn't fill jars to the lids.
Rollin Hotchkiss has kept up his pace
Soil-stuff makes a staph keep its place
He's been able to show
That this bug can't grow
Unless phosphate gets inside and stays
Gramicidin may have other uses
Than choking bacterial flueses
But that stuff from the spores
Can sure plug a bug's pores
And supply all the meetings with newses
This palatial old gentlemen's mecca
Wouldn't let us invite our Rebecca
As a girl she befriended
The strep--and extended
Our knowledge and nothing could check her.
Although we couldn't invite her
Let our esteem in high titer require her
Transformed by me -Fessor
She became my successor
Out bacteriologic Gauleiter
Two identically aged physicians
Arrived together to take their positions
It was easy to guess
That t'was up to the Fess
To make scientists out of clinicians.
"Tis the story of Edward and Dick
And they learned many a bacteriological trick
Till they gave up all these
For a virus disease
That never makes animals sick
Now that ain't necessarily so
They may get this virus to go
They're injecting the titmouse, the wombat and head-louse
Thru' every available pore
Then there were three other codgers
Harris and Dublin and Rogers
They eschewed erudite wealth
To espouse public health
Oh Dublin, Oh Harris, Oh Rogers!
Also there's Ed Terril to show
That great oaks from acorns can grow
My purpose is merely to demonstrate clearly
The channels where science doth flow.
There was Beeson tall, dark and correct
And Cattaneo, mild circumspect
And dozens of others
Who worked here like brothers
Whose natures I strove to perfect
Crimson Heggie--I still see him yet
And Thompson, the versatile vet
And there's Ted Abernathy and Downie and Daddi
Oh how could I ever forget?
When some came they were eager to try
To make science sole mistress--oh my!
But its known all too well
That a pneumo won't quell
In April or May or July
When the lads sais "This bug it won't grow"
Oh it weren't necessarily so
It meant they chose courtin'
And spoonin' and sportin'
At the risk of ruining my show
(Just as the Director predicted)
The pneumococcus doesn't always behave
And at times is a perverse little knave
It got in its lick
By reversing the trick
Recasting the Fess as its slave
Now it ain't necessarily so
This triumph of the little pneumo
But it has hidden strength
More than is guessed from its length
And it wouldn't surprise it t'were so.
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