Gregg tells his wife that he has been appointed Director of Medical Sciences, and gives his initial impressions on the Rockefeller
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1930-10-30 (October 30, 1930)
From the personal collection of Michael Gregg.
Reproduced with permission of Michael B. Gregg.
Director of Medical Sciences, 1930-1945
October 30 1930
Anyway its Thursday Night
Dearest Ole Frien', R.G.T. and Eleanor Barrows:
The Trustees have met deliberated and in a friendly and serious way announced the appointment as of January 1st 1931 and congratulated
me. So that phase of things is finally at an end: and I find myself responsible for diminishing the hours days and years
of suffering and incapacity of I wonder how many people who may through the aid of R.F. money initially, be eventually affected
by discoveries and improvements of the real people in the practice of medicine and the prevention of disease.
A letter from you came just after I was told and my heart welled up in gratitude to whatever made you tell me what you thought
there was of value that I might have to offer.
I didn't need their congratulations: I needed the confidence of you who know me and love me, and there is nothing I could
write or say that would explain how comforting and reassuring you were to me at that instant and how long that encouragement
is going to be made to warm me and make you feel warm to me in an almost solemn as well as dearly intimate way. Dearest!
Moreover the Trustees have most auspiciously opened the question of whether it wouldn't be preferable to move the office
out of New York--perhaps to a suburb in Westchester County, but at least out of down-town New York and as I think probably
more likely to a location outside the city of N.Y. but not too far from it. A discussion was held on it this morning and
a committee of Jerome Green, Auson Phelps Stokes and RB Fosdick has been appointed to report to the Trustees, probably at
the December Meeting on the desirability and feasibility of such a move. I spoke a piece on the subject, told 'em the
location and nature of the office work as it is affected by the present location was the great foreboding I felt, and was
quite direct and
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simple about it. Used your buyer-versus seller phraseology in referring to our present situation, with an eye to hooking
Rosenwald and was delighted to have him swallow the thing bait hook and sinker and tell the assembled company that both he
and his buying staff were 1/2 an hour away from the heart of Chicago and it was a Godsend so to be. That wasn't so simple
maybe--but I was quite simple in telling them I was worried by the conditions of work as I had seen it in the past ten years
in New York. I can hardly imagine you not being cheered by this News. It is immensely heartening in spite of Appleget's
fear "Well does it mean we'd go to such a small place that Mrs Gregg would say as she looked out the window 'There's
Appleget coming home drunk again'----please give my apologies to Mrs Gregg I'm not as sure that I won't get drunk
as I am that she wouldn't say it." Of course he said this to me later--and meant only the trials of too close contact
in a small town. But, in my opinion, there are automobiles--and I'd as soon have the Foundation out of town and some
obligatory meetings with the staff as any other Kee-munity racket, or obligations.
The salary question hasn't come up but probably will before I leave for France. I'm going to hold out for $15,000
when it does, in case they offer anything lower, with the alternative my preference to stay as an associate director in Europe
on my present salary.
My impression of Princeton is not so good: life is expensive and we'd always have the wish to be ourselves as an effort,
the country is lovely and the schools good but the transportation not as good as I thought. Besides with this other possibility
now so much more rosy it would be quite doubtful even as a temporary measure.
The meetings were good and I have gotten a lot out of them: watching the various members and officers in action and speech.
We had a general talk Tuesday night at the Princeton Inn. Then from
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9:30 AM Wednesday till 12:30 and then 2 PM to 4:30 PM and then 7:30-10:45 PM. This AM 9 to 12:30 everybody looking a little
The trustees present were
Pres Augell of Yale--sharp mind and tongue but not strong physically and a little sad to see making efforts to be nice
Pres Hopkins of Dartmouth--big husky swarthy Yankee--homely and keen
Frederick Strauss--nervous high strung sensitive Jewish banker
Vernon Kellogg--I thought sick and pathetic--dully away from both his mind and body. He sh'dn't be at any work.
William Allen White--also much aged, friendly, and plain
Mr Secretary Wilbur--the usual gaunt Western Yankee, forceful and shrewd but not invitingly wise
J Rosenwald--closely attentive, hard headed, original.
JD Greene--one of Morgan's partners, good mind, speaks well, experienced, and wise.
DL Edsall--nice deep voice, wise, practical, friendly (but you know him)
RB Fosdick--adroit and alert, thoughtful, friendly and "on to the next subject."
T Arnett--experienced but timid in manner, cautious, and routiniere
Whipple--a Vermont Yankee of the quiet shrewd and conservative sort
Stokes--talkative, optimistic, full of generalities and generosities, earnest and thats[sic] all I can remember. I'm
constantly surprised at the friendly informality and easy directness of Americans: its almost exhilaratingly easy to deal
Oh Darlin' wasn't it grand news about Maggie's coming in April. I knew you'd love it and I was that happy
to write you it.
President Hopkins told me that Admiral Byrd told him that after two years of staying on that South Polar Expedition he and
his men were sailing away from the ice covered land. He turned to his second in command and said "What have you missed
the most in the time we've been here." The reply was "Temptation."
Oh Bimini' Darlin'--it's much the same with me but its[sic] not so long now--next letter I hope to know exactly.