In this letter, Ochsner responded to his protege's first letters from France, where he was working with Dr. Rene Leriche
for a year. The note about the "brown bath" refers to a humorous episode at a Paris hotel (recorded in DeBakey's
diary of the trip) in which he inquired about a bath, and the waiter, not understanding DeBakey's French, asked "black
or brown?" and then brought him a glass of beer.
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3 (3,777,553 Bytes)
1935-09-11 (September 11, 1935)
[DeBakey, Michael E.]
Reproduced with permission of John Ochsner.
From Tulane School of Medicine to the U.S. Army, 1928-1946
[Diary kept en route to New York and France] [9 August - 11 September 1935]
I certainly enjoyed your letter of August 30, which I received today and am happy to learn that everything has gone so well
with you since leaving here, although I had to get out the dictionary to decipher some of the words before I knew just what
you had done.
Isabel and I thought of you a great deal on our trip and wondered just where you were a lot of the time. We had a delightful
trip, enjoyed every minute of our stay, and came back home considerably profited by our experience of having been away.
We drove from here to Ogden, a distance of approximately five hundred miles in a little over four days. As you know, we left
here Wednesday morning and arrived in Ogden at eleven-thirty Sunday morning. Every one there was quite surprised to see us
so early, because they didn't see how we could get in at the time we did. The car, however, performed perfectly, although
I did have a couple of valves stick on the way out, probably due to fast driving. I put some pyrol in the gasoline for a while
and that fixed me up. We stayed in Ogden for four or five days, taking in the rodeo, going out to dinner, and I operated upon
a couple of patients. I did a cardiolysis and took a bullet out of a spine. The Dumkes, Isabel, and I, and ten other people
then went up to the Flat Rock Club and spent four days there, during which time we had a grand time. We put the boys together
with the Dumke boys on a dude ranch about four miles from the Flat Rock Club. After the completion of the four days the rest
of the crowd returned to Ogden, and the Dumkes and Isabel and I drove up to Glacier National Park, which as you know is on
the Canadian border. We spent a week there, following which we returned to the Flat Rock, where we spent another week fishing.
After this Zeke returned home, because he said he had to make a little money, following which Mrs. Dumke, Isabel, the five
boys, and I took a pack trip up into the mountains for three days. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it so much. Isabel
and I and the three boys then took one of the cars, drove through Yellowstone, down through the Teton National Park and back
to Ogden, where we stayed another week. During this time I did a lot of surgery, doing another cardiolysis, two sympathectomies,
one for hypertension and one for Hirschsprung's disease, a scalenus anticus syndrome, a lung abscess, and a bunch of other
stuff. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting back into it again after having been away for so long.
We came back by way of Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon, stopped a day and a half in San Antonio and then on home.
The Graves told us how much they enjoyed your visit there, and we were so happy to see them so comfortably settled. Their
baby was about two weeks old when we were there and is certainly a peach. Both Amos and Terry seem to be very happy.
You probably heard the excitement which happened here in Louisiana and probably know most of the details about the assassination
of Huey Long. Sunday night, three days ago, while completing one of the extra sessions of the legislature, a Dr. Carl Weiss,
of Baton Rouge, who graduated from Tulane University in 1927 went into the State House and shot Huey through the abdomen.
Dr. Weiss was immediately mowed down by Huey's bodyguard, there being sixty-one bullet holes in his body. The paper states
that his face was completely shot off. Huey was immediately taken to the hospital in Baton Rouge, where Vidrine apparently
operated upon immediately. He was on the table two hours, went on in shock and came off in more shock. In the meantime Stone
and Maes had been summoned from New Orleans, but by the time they got there the whole thing was over. Huey never recovered
from shock and died at four o' clock Tuesday morning. Only one bullet entered his body, but passed through the colon a
couple of times, though the kidney, and apparently passed through the base of the right lung.
It is difficult to say just what effect it is going to have on the state, but undoubtedly things are going to begin to pop.
The dope is that Allen will resign, which makes Noe governor. Noe will then turn around and appoint Allen senator to fill
Huey's unexpired term. The thing happened so recently that it is difficult to say just what the outcome will be, but undoubtedly
there will be considerable shake-up.
Everything at the hospital is still rocking along just the same. As yet none of the men who were kicked out have been reinstated.
This means, of course, considerable work for us. As you know, Rawley was helping out while I was away. The other day Dr. Cohn
called me and said he was awfully tired and needed a vacation, but didn't see how he could get away because Rawley was
spending his mornings with us. It made me so darned mad, that I told him he could have Rawley and that I would carry on alone,
because I hated to see him not have a vacation. Since then I have been running both rooms, and we have been getting along
splendidly, although the fracture clinic does wear me down terribly.
Mims is on his vacation though he is staying in town. He comes down every few days and chats for a while, but I believe is
getting is a good rest. Mims looks the best I have seen him for a long time. As you probably know, he has quit smoking completely
and has had his upper teeth out, which undoubtedly has made a great deal of difference in the way he feels and looks. The
reason for the total abstinence from smoking was that he had a central scotoma one night which alarmed him considerably. Buffinton,
whom he consulted, told him that he probably thought it was due to smoking, so that Mims swore off right then and there and
hasn't touched a cigarette since. I think he had increased the sale of chewing gum very many times, however, but at that
I don't believe it is quite as expensive as the smoking.
I received a letter from Naffziger the other day thanking me for the instrument which you sent them. He said as yet they had
not had a chance to use it, but that as soon as they had he would write to you and thank you directly. I used Zeke's instrument
several times when I was there, and it certainly worked like a charm. Everyone in Ogden is crazy about it.
I am glad that you finally got the brown bath, as I agree with you that the brown color is so very much less depressive than
You will probably be interested in knowing that in spite of the hard work which I did getting Brennemann's finished before
I left, when I returned home from my vacation I had a letter from Brennemann saying that it was too long and he wanted it
rewritten. As yet I haven't had the heart to get at it again and don't know when I will, although Brennemann wants
it for the last of this month. I am afraid that he will have to wait, because when I was away I received a telegram from George
Crile asking if I would be on the program of the Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, which meets in San
Francisco the last of October. I accepted and as a result will be busy preparing for it. Am going to read a paper on the treatment
of peptic ulcer based on physiologic considerations and give the results of the experimental work which has been done in the
laboratory together with our ideas concerning the clinical treatment. Am also going to give a paper before the hospital division
of the College on the use of clinical records and will talk before the Exposition at San Diego on cancer. Aside from this,
I only have to prepare another paper before the Southern Medical which meets in St. Louis in November.
We all miss you a lot around here, Mike, and it doesn't seem just the same, although the new group are working in very
well. I think things going to run off very smoothly this next year, but as I have said before we miss you a great deal.
I know that you are going to have a profitable time in Europe and get everything out of it that you can. Keep us posted about
what you are doing as we are all very much interested.
Everyone in the department joins me in sending our very best.