Heidelberger, a trained musician and accomplished clarinetist, composed this humorous song to commemorate his collaboration
with Avery in the discovery of the specific soluble substances (referred to as SSS in the song), the antigens of pneumococcus
bacteria, which Heidelberger and Avery determined were polysaccharides. Several of Avery's colleagues, including Heidelberger,
Alphonse R. Dochez, and Walter W. (Bill) Palmer, are mentioned in the song's lyrics.
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Wit and Humor as Topic
The Making of an Immunologist: Heidelberger's Years at the Rockefeller Institute, 1912-1927
Letter from Oswald T. Avery to Michael Heidelberger (August 29, 1935)
"In 1917 Dochez and Avery . . . " Oh, but how the deuce can you start a boogie-woogie that way . . . Well, maybe,
- Dochez rhymes with bouquet or O.K., (cuts) and Avery with savory (hot cha!) so let's have a try.
Oh, in 1917 Dochez and Avery, rhythm section of King Cole's band got the jitters out of New York's best-known jitterbugs,
pneumococcus, pneumococcus, pneumococcus, I, II, III, IV, SSS.
They found it in the bugs' own soup, they found it in their tea, they found it in the patients' blood, they found
it in their - wait a minute, - no! The test had failed, the tube stayed clear.
(No boogie-woogie this verse - St. Louis Blues)
Oh, but Miss Hoffman - or maybe it wasn't Miss Hoffman - had made a mistake a slipped over a vase fro the wrong patient,
and when the right vase was tested, bingo! There was a precipitate that hit you in the eye - we got you that time, jitterbugs,
I in anti-I, II, in anti-II, III in anti-III (hot cha! what a jam-session!!) "In 1917 Dochez and Avery !!"
Oh headaches in the media room: soup, soup for the bugs, soup for the jitterbugs, grow 'em, grow more of 'em, mow
'em down, soak 'em, stew' em, souse the juice, alcohol, lots of it, out comes a little grey stuff, slap it in
a vial (hot cha!)
Now we gyve up to the old seventh floors: In the southwest corner was a peaceful room where the blood-hounds stayed, at least
until the Boston boat came by in the afternoon - gosh, look, see it coming now! 'way down the river - time to go home!
And then Dominie and Mrs. Gates, bless their souls, needed a work-up, and a guy named Michael learned some biochem. Helping
Ed Stillman and Bill Palmer look for sugar and worse.
Well, it was peaceful, with Van in and out, Van's apparatus going bock-a-bock-a-bock-a-bock (get that rhythm?), Jimmy
Neill's stogie smoke-screens (phew, smell 'em!) and, boy, what a tone to those tonometers, and hemoglobin, hemoglobin,
hemoglobin, by the pound!
And then, 'Fess would bring his vial with the gray stuff and stand by this guy named Michael pressing down hemoglobin
crystals by the hour, and croon: "It's the SSS, though it's still a mess, but oh, boy, it's terrific and,
believe me, it's specific! (Hot cha!)
But the bloodhounds needed hemo and the bloodhounds needed globin, and Michael prosthetically shook his head and sadly said:
"Come again, 'Fess, when I've cleaned up this mess, and the brom cresol green turns blue."
(Let's put in another Blues, here)
Oh, the months went by and at long last the buffer state was won, the hemo-globin war was done, and 'Fess brought his
vial with the gray stuff and firmly said: "Get in the groove, Michael, get on the move, let's get hep to old SSS,