Medical Club of Philadelphia
The Medical Club of Philadelphia was founded in the Nineteenth century, as a social club of doctors devoted to non-medical interests. Lots of famous names, here.
THE MEDICAL CLUB OF PHILADELPHIA
"THERE is no man who has a greater need for occasional relaxation or a keener relish for the social enjoyments of life than the active practitioner." Dr. John H. W. Chestnut was speaking to a group of physicians assembled in the Upper Hall of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia on May 2, l892 [then located at 13th and Locust Streets]. ''While there are numerous societies in the profession for scientific purposes, there is no large professional organization for purely social purposes; and it is my opinion that the time is ripe for the formation of such a society." He went on to propose:
That the club is for social purposes and restricted in its membership to members of the regular profession of medicine in Philadelphia. A modest clubhouse in a central location should be provided. Fitted up with chess tables, billiard tables, etc, where meetings can be held, committees have accommodation and where members can congregate for social intercourse. It should include a reading room where may be kept on file the principal medical journals and the literary magazines of the day. There should be occasional dinners to which nonmembers may be invited. A ten dollar initiation fee and ten dollar dues are proposed.
Replying to a question, he stated, "Fifteen hundred circulars describing my idea have been sent to physicians locally, and three hundred and fifty favorable responses already received. More than fifty physicians have signed pledges of support."
Earlier, on March 30, Dr. Chestnut had hosted what was described as an elegant dinner at the Bellevue Hotel, during which he presented his ideas concerning such an organization. His guests were Drs. James M. Barton, Lemuel J. Deal, T. Chalmers Fulton, A. K. Minich and James Van Buskirk. Professor Horatio C. Wood had regretted. Dr. Chestnut offered to defray all of the preliminary expenses of the committee, whereupon Dr. Deal resolved: "If (we) are unsuccessful in our efforts, we agree to divide pro rata among ourselves such expenses; and if the club proves a success, to advocate its repayment by the club.''
Initially they thought a clubhouse located in the area of Broad Street and Columbia Avenues would be ideal. They each agreed to make note of any clubhouse that might prove to be suitable for this purpose.
They proposed that a printed circular describing their plan be prepared and sent to all 'regular' physicians in Philadelphia. When they met again the following week they approved a letter that had
been prepared by Dr. Fulton. It was directed that it be mailed first class, in sealed envelopes and bearing two cents postage.
The membership of the Committee was increased with the addition of Drs. George E. de Schweinitz, Frank Fisher and Henry Sykes. All committee members remained active in the club except Dr. Sykes, who resigned in 1897. During a third meeting, Secretary laboriously read out the names of more than three hundred physicians who had responded favorably to their letter. Most were vouched for by the committee. The balance was referred to a newly appointed board of sensors which was charged to review these applications and make recommendations regarding election to membership.
For their next general meeting they agreed to rent the Upper Hall of The College of Physicians, as noted earlier. The cost was twenty dollars. By the end of that meeting a resolution, proposed by Professor Wood was approved to go forward with the organization only if an initial enrollment of two hundred and fifty members was secured. They appointed a committee to prepare a constitution. (Appendix A is a text of the original constitution.) It turned out to be a set of bylaws. A committee consisting of seven members was appointed to solicit members.
There was no more formal activity for six months. When Dr. Chestnut returned from an extended trip to Europe, he convened a meeting of the committee to get on with the work of organizing the club. A hundred and fifty written pledges of support had been received and many more were assured. Five days before Christmas, they met to hear the report of the committee on the constitution. Professor William Pepper replaced Dr. de Schweinitz on the Executive Committee, as it was now called.
During the December meeting, in Wagner's Hall on North Broad Street, there were nearly forty persons present when they adopted their constitution. The word 'regular' was deleted from the definition of physicians eligible for membership.
As the discussion proceeded, they bogged down in trying to decide how much dues and initiation fees to charge. Some wanted the entrance fee to be as little as two dollars. Dr. Fox maintained, "The ten dollar fee is too high and liable to keep out the younger men." Professor Hobart A. Hare was of the mind, "Any man would not be willing to pay for that which he would not be able to enjoy and that members should be assessed only for those receptions during which they were present." There was a proposal to set aside half of the entrance fees as a 'Sinking Fund.' Dr. Barton urged striking out all reference to entrance fees. Without a resolution, they went on to
discuss the amount to charge for dues. Dr. G. Betton Massey favored six dollars. After an extensive argument over these details, and lacking a majority to reach a decision, Dr. Montgomery introduced a motion, "That we now proceed to the organization of a club which shall have a permanent habitation." After extended discussion, this motion was defeated. Finally, a motion was approved to reconsider the whole substance of the constitution. Dr. Charles K. Mills moved that it be read again, section by section, to which they agreed. When they reached Article IV, they went through the whole discussion of entrance fees and dues all over again.
Eventually an agreement was reached to approve ten dollars for dues, and a like amount for the initiation fee. Half of the entrance fees were to be set aside for the purchase, and furnishing, of a clubhouse. It was resolved to hold an Annual Meeting and three Receptions a year.
An election was conducted seating Dr. Chestnut as President, Drs. Peter D. Keyser and Dr. Hare as Vice Presidents with Dr. Deal as Secretary. There were three nominees for the post of Treasurer. Dr. Roland G. Curtin was the winner. The evening was rounded out by making plans for their first Reception which would feature an honored guest.
Another four months passed with no more activity recorded until the meeting of the Executive Committee the following April. The first item of business was how to go about selecting the Governors and Trustees. They resolved to hold the election during the next Reception. When the Governors were elected, they were to replace the board of sensors, which had been assigned the responsibility of acting on applications for membership.
The Reception was held, as planned, on May 5, 1893. No details were recorded except that it cost over two hundred dollars. This would indicate attendance of two hundred persons, or more. They elected Drs. James M. Barton, Frank Fisher, Oral Hulshizer, Charles Mills and William Pepper as Governors. Trustees elected were: Drs. L. Webster Fox, T. Chalmers Fulton, Edward E. Montgomery, James Wilson and James Van Buskirk.
Later that month, the Committee agreed that applications for membership must be endorsed by two members of the Club. Applications denied were not to be reconsidered for a year. Dues for the current year were to be paid by October 1. Members joining after that date were to pay only half-year dues. During subsequent years amounts of dues and entrance fees were changed several times. For some years new members were permitted to pay dues on a quarterly basis, during their first year of membership. (Appendix B lists membership totals by years.)
They prepared, and got signatures on, a petition to Governor Pattison. It was in support of the appointment of Dr. Allen H. Hulshizer for the position of State Medical Examiner. This was the first of many instances when they acted outside their role as a strictly social organization.
For the October Reception they arranged a buffet at a cost not to exceed one dollar per person. They proposed Professor T. Gaillard Thomas as their first Guest of Honor, with the Surgeon General of the United States as the second choice. This Reception was held at the Penn Club. Dr. George M. Sternberg, Surgeon General, U.S.A. was their guest. (Appendix C lists Guests of Honor and Programs.) Dr.Chestnut offered to introduce members to Dr. Sternberg during the reception.
Six members attended the first Executive Committee meeting in 1894. Two of them were late. On another occasion, by contrast, twelve out of a total of fifteen members were present. One meeting was canceled and only three members attended on another occasion. They started the meetings at eight-thirty, or later, in the evening. Once the meeting was not convened until ten o'clock. On the whole, attendance at these meetings was poor. It was reported that one meeting was held upstairs at Horace Wimbley's.
The Annual Meeting and the election of officers was held on February 12. It should have been convened in January. They returned all incumbent officers on a single slate. At the end of the meeting, Dr. Chestnut announced a collation was to be served in an adjoining room. After the food was served, the President of the Pennsylvania State Medical Society and several other guests were to speak. The Secretary was asked to record the names of the other speakers. Unfortunately, he did not.
At this point Dr. William Pepper resigned from the Executive Committee, without his ever having attended a single meeting. Later in the year, they honored him with their next Reception.
Dr. Chestnut missed his first meeting in June. He was off to California. The Treasurer reported he had, "About $630 in his hands, belonging to the Sinking Fund".
Dr. Chestnut set a precedent in 1895 when he declined nomination for a third term as President. (Appendix D lists Presidents of the C1ub.) After Dr. Peter D. Keyser declined the nomination, Dr. Hobart A. Hare was nominated and elected President. With thirty-five members voting, they also elected Drs. Henry Beates and A. K. Minich as Vice Presidents. They retained Dr. Deal as Secretary and elected Dr. Wilson Buckby as Treasurer.
During February they prepared amendments to the Constitution that incorporated evolving practices relating to processing member-
ship applications. It was also decided that guests attending quarterly meetings should pay no charge if they applied for membership during that meeting.
For several decades they kept busy with Bylaw amendments. Details such as the number of dues and the charges for quarterly meetings were spelled out in the Bylaws. This process made amendments mandatory whenever changes in charges were made. As time went on, they eliminated many details from the Bylaws. One amendment reduced the entrance fee and dues to five dollars each.
The names of three candidates for Guest of Honor were put forth for the December Reception: Professor Welsh of Johns Hopkins University, President Elliot of Harvard University and Dr. King from Washington, D.C. It was decided they should pay the hotel expense of the guest. In the end, it was Philadelphian, Dr. John M.DaCosta, who was their guest. He was not a member of the Club nor did he ever become one.
IN 1896, all officers were returned to office with little change in the list of Governors and Directors. In 1907 the Presidents began serving for only one term.
Because of the continued lack of attendance at Executive Committee meetings, it was ordered that a record of attendance be kept. It was agreed that any member absent three times in a row, except for illness, be dropped from the Committee.
The first members to resign membership in the Club were; Drs. George Friebus, S. Solis Cohen and Samuel Wolfe. Dr. John C. Hall was the first member reported in their necrology.
The guest for the April Reception in 1896 was Dr. Charles McBurney of New York. During May they hosted a Reception for American Neurological Association which was meeting in the City, at that time.
It was agreed to skip the June meeting of the Committee. They had adopted a policy earlier, of not meeting during July and August.
Since they had held three Receptions for the year, to date, it was decided to hold an event devoted to the entertainment of members and their guests. They spent twenty-five dollars, presumably for a small orchestra and one or two persons to present readings or recitations.
Again the next year they adopted another group of amendments to the Constitution, including a new section: "When dues are unpaid for two years, the name of the delinquent shall be reported to the Executive Committee, and if no satisfactory excuse be offered, his name shall be dropped from the list of members." The process
Page 7of carrying delinquent members for more than two years continued despite this amendment. The result was that they claimed higher membership totals than really existed.
The Treasurer's report was referred to an auditing committee. President Hare commented on the financial status of the Club, "The fact (is) that the expenses of the Club have been less each year than the receipts and that we have a considerable balance to spend. In view of this fact I suggest that we offer a reception to the American Medical Association when it holds its semi-centennial meeting here in Philadelphia.'' There was much discussion before approval.
The Reception for the American Medical Association turned out to be a luncheon, at one o'clock. It was held in the Aldine Hotel, on the last day of their meeting. The guests were served: consomme; oysters raw, broiled and fried; oyster and chicken croquettes; chicken and lobster salads and cold meats. This was topped off with fruits, fancy cakes, ices, and coffee. The charge for all of this was a dollar per person. The minutes reported attendance of two thousand, but the bill was for less than six hundred dollars. At a subsequent meeting, Dr. Hulshizer reported, "I am holding a supply of sugars from the American Medical Association reception and move that they are kept for the use of this committee." Carried.
The membership committee reported on delinquent members. Thirteen had paid up, ten promised to pay and five were dropped from the roll.
The Executive Committee decided on a smoker for the last event of the year. It was changed to a Reception for Dr. Howard A. Kelly of Baltimore.
The report of the Treasurer, the Annual Meeting in 1898, showed a balance of $1,980.l9 in the Sinking Fund. It was invested and bearing interest. A single slate of officers, headed by Dr. John H. Musser, was elected. (He was to become President of the American Medical Association in 1904.) He spoke at some length about the work of the Executive Committee and the question of securing a clubhouse. Dr. Fulton proposed:
Before the Club can take the step of procuring a house, before we can be empowered to hold any real estate, we must obtain a charter, and if a charter is obtained, the Club could issue shares of stock at five or ten dollars a share, or at any price we might deem fit.
Some members objected. Dr. Fulton continued, "This plan would not be mandatory on the Executive Committee since the Club has had an enjoyable success, holding expenditures within income. The Club is a non-entity, unable to sue or be sued." Dr. Samuel W. Lotta moved approval for securing a charter. The motion was carried by a
large majority. After the collation, Dr. Lotta was called upon for a story and entertained the group at some length. Dr. E. Tillson Ward sang a song and Dr. G. Hudson Makuen gave a recitation. The meeting ended with Dr. Fulton telling about the origins of the Club, which was organized only six years earlier.
Legal counsel came on the scene later in the year, when Dr. Fulton presented a draft of a charter. It had been prepared by Ormond Rambo, Esq. His fee for this work was $150. After a considerable amount of discussion, they agreed to pay it with the stipulation that his total fee should not exceed that amount.
The first meeting of the Club, held in The Union League of Philadelphia, occurred when Dr. Musser tendered a dinner to the Executive Committee in 1897. Ordinarily, the Executive Committee met in the office of the President.
Receptions were held in several places: The Bellevue, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, both the Columbia and Penn Clubs, the Metropole Hotel and the Bullet Building.
As a mark of respect, it was resolved to retain the name of Dr.Pepper on the Charter. The space for his signature was to be left blank because he had died before the signing took place. However, his name did not. appear.
By mid-1899, the Charter was lost and thus another tradition of the Club was born. It was the losing and finding of the Charter. Mr.Rambo was asked to prepare another one. There was no mention of his fee. As the Club celebrates its centennial year the Charter is in its " lost " phase again.
Dr. William L. Rodman was the Guest of Honor during their next Reception. There is no other information concerning this event. He went on to become President of the Club in 1911 and President of the American Medical Association in 19l5. They honored him with another Reception at that time. He was the second of five members of the Club elected to that high office.
The Sinking Fund increased by three percent, during 1898, to a total of $1,861.61. It was not nearly enough money to make a down payment on a clubhouse. Beginning in 1899, it was renamed as the Permanent Fund.
Dr. James M. Anders became the next President with Drs. Charles W. Burr and A. K. Minich elected as Vice Presidents. Dr. Deal stepped down as Secretary, having served in that office since the very first meeting in 1892. He was replaced by Dr. Guy Hinsdale. Dr. John H. Lock became the new Treasurer.
An eulogy of the late Dr. William Pepper was delivered by Dr. Charles W. Burr. The Secretary was instructed to communicate the
Page 9sympathy of the Club to his family, on their loss. For many decades they were diligent in sending letters of condolences to the families of deceased members.
Following adjournment, an hour was devoted to sorting "addresses" from those present.
In another action, the Secretary was directed to secure a suitable insignia and motto for the Club. After several proposals were presented, a logo was approved. It is the one that is still being used. They also adopted a motto, 'Philadelphia Magneto.'
It was ordered that the Secretary be paid sixty dollars a year for his services. The Treasurer was bonded in the amount of three thousand dollars. It was cut in half the next year with, "No personal bearing on the present incumbent in the office." One year the Treasurer posted three thousand dollars worth of his own securities in lieu of a surety bond. No explanation was recorded for doing so, nor any reason why it was not done in other years.
During March they sent out another form letter inviting physicians to join the Club. It cited their four Receptions a year at the Bellevue. They called attention to their 230 members as a pleasant means to meet medical friends. They boasted of two thousand dollars in the treasury to provide for more permanent quarters. They noted, "Our present arrangements are, however, quite sufficient to our purposes." Thus began the dimming of the vision of owning a clubhouse.
The last Reception of 1899 honored a new member of the Club, Dr. John G. Clark. They hired a small orchestra to play during some of their receptions.
Since Dr. Frank Fisher had been absent for three Executive Committee meetings during the year, they declared his position on the Committee vacant.
In 1900 they began issuing membership certificates to members and continued the practice for several years. The use of certificates was an off and on a thing until the early 1970s when it became routine to issue one to each new member.
They rented a safety deposit box for three dollars a year. This same year they hired a collector of dues who called on delinquent members. He was paid ten percent of what he collected. He was moderately successful in this part-time endeavor and continued this work for a dozen years or more.
In 1901 Dr. Edward L. Duer was elected President and Drs. John B. Deaver and Philip Marvel became Vice Presidents. Dr. Marvel practiced in Atlantic City and was the first officer elected from outside Pennsylvania.
They entertained the President of the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, and members of the Society, during its meeting in the City.
The first mention of a female physician was noted in the minutes of the June meeting. A letter had been received from Dr. Gertrude Walker. its content was not noted nor any response indicated. Dr. Hindale spoke of, "The desirability of each member of the Executive Committee looking after members of the Club as they come in (to Receptions) and introducing them to the President and guests of the evening." It was agreed that they secure blue badges to be worn by the members of the Committee to help identify them as hosts during these Receptions.
Dr. Adolph Lorenz was the first of their many guests from Europe. He came from Vienna, Austria. This meeting was held as a banquet rather than a Reception. The press reported a touching story of his youth that he related. It was of finding a single glove. (Appendix E is the newspaper account of the evening.)
During the year their membership had increased to 460 members. By comparison, the Philadelphia County Medical Society claimed a total of 550 members that same year. Over the years they remained loyal to the Bellevue Hotel in spite of overcrowding. The 1903 Annual Report stated that they, "Felt at home in the Bellevue, the inner man is well provided for and we have been loath to part with a generous host and the familiar surroundings." The fact of the matter was that they had bickered continually with management. At issue were the cramped quarters in which they met, the quality of food and cigars and number of persons for which they were charged.
Dr. William Osler had accepted their invitation to be the Honored Guest during the April Reception. He telegraphed, at the last minute, saying that he could not attend because his sister had just died. Even so, his name was listed among the honored guests in their Club books.
BY the end of l904 the Club had 644 members and a firmly established pattern of operation. As usual, they started the year with their Annual Meeting, the election of officers and the acceptance of the reports of the Secretary and Treasurer.
After serving five years as Secretary to the Club, Dr. Guy Hinsdale announced he was moving to West Virginia. Dr. T. Chalmers Fulton presented him with a loving cup. It was an expression of apprecia-
tion for his years of service to the Club. The press reported nearly three hundred members were present to wish him well.
The Annual Meetings were closed to guests until after the election of officers and the business meeting was concluded. A notary public was hired to be present arid swear in the tellers for the election.
At this time the whole appearance of the Club changed. The minutes of the meetings now were typed neatly and were rich in detail. Systematic procedures were used to collect dues. In addition, individual members of the Executive Committee contacted, phoned and wrote to delinquent members urging them to pay their dues.
Organization. The governing body of the Club was the Executive Committee Its name was changed to Board of Directors in 1906 when major changes were made in the Bylaws. It consisted of the President, First and Second Vice Presidents, Secretary, and Treasurer. In addition, there were five Directors (Called Trustees earlier) and five Governors. (The Immediate Past President was not included as a member of the Board.)
By 1904 attendance at Executive Committee meetings had increased to an average of 10 persons per meeting. They did not begin to record regrets until years later. There were repeated complaints about absentees. Back in 1899, the position of Dr. Frank Fisher had been declared vacant because he was absent from more than three meetings in a year. The same rule was applied to Dr. S. MacCuen Smith in 1902. They were both original members and continued their memberships. Over the years several other members were likewise removed from the Board.
The Executive Committee (now Board of Directors) usually met in office or home of the President. They changed from Friday to Saturday for their meetings, which usually started at nine o'clock in the evening. A notable exception was on April 5, 1906. The meeting was held in the Hotel Chelsea in Atlantic City. The Board members were guests of Dr. Emery Marvel who lived and practiced in Atlantic City. Late in 1910, they began to meet at the University Club.
On occasion they took their responsibilities very seriously. Dr.Hobart A. Hare contacted President Edward Montgomery suggesting a Reception for Sir Lauder Brunton (London) and Professor Oscar Liebrich (Berlin). Dr. Montgomery found it necessary to reset the date for the Reception to accommodate Brunton. A vigorous discussion of his action is recorded in the minutes of the next meeting of the Board of Directors. Dr. Fulton rose, "To a point of order
about the constitutionality of the minutes and moved that something is incorporated in the minutes regarding the Reception called for Monday, October third."
Dr. Montgomery stepped down from the chair to discuss the inadvisability of adding anything to the minutes that had not transpired at the meeting. Finally, Dr. Fulton moved, "The invitations of Dr. Montgomery be sustained but all other meetings hereafter are arranged for by the Executive Committee, '' (They continued to call themselves the Executive Committee rather than Board of Directors.) After further discussion, Dr. Fulton withdrew his motion and the minutes were adopted as read.
Dr. Fulton had his own strict sense of how things should be done. On numerous occasions, he made sure that the record was correct and complete. The Board met in New Jersey several times. It was Dr. Fulton who made sure that all transactions, from those meetings, were reaffirmed after the Board returned to Pennsylvania.
Dr. James Van Buskirk completed his five-year term as a Governor of the Club in 1909. The Board members expressed their appreciation for his long and devoted service. He had been a member of Dr. Chestnut's original committee and served on the Executive Committee and Board of Directors since 1892. He was once nominated for Vice President but had declined.
Clubhouse. In April 1907 Dr. A Bern Hirsh wrote to Secretary Taylor describing a building at 253 south Fifteenth street as an ideal place to house the Club. It was available for $42,000.00. The Board thanked him but thought it inadvisable to take any action at that time.
During the 1908 Annual Meeting they tabled a resolution authorizing the purchase of a property, not to exceed $25,000.00 in cost. Later that year they turned down the offer to rent a twelve by twenty-foot room on the fourth floor of the Flanders Building. It featured steam heat, electric lights, and filtered water. Elevator and janitorial service were included, for forty dollars per month.
Dr. William M. Capp, a member residing in Devon, suggested that several physician member organizations unite to form a group to support a facility for social purposes, entertaining out of town physicians, providing a library and other facilities. Again there was no action.
Membership. Membership was, by far, the most important subject discussed during meetings of the Board. It also consumed more time than any other item of business. Over the years literally
hundreds of pages of minutes were devoted to this first order of business.
Applicants for membership were listed, referred to the Board of Governors for review, reported back and then finally elected. Each application was processed individually, and a vote taken for each step along the process. Applicants were required to sign slips binding them to abide by the provisions of the Constitution of the Club. There is uncertainty about membership numbers because many physicians who were elected were later dropped because they had not paid any entrance fees or dues.
They began the process of remitting dues with Charles E. Cadwalader who had moved to London. He remained dues exempt until he died there several years later. Eventually, they developed an absentee list (dues exempt) to cover some, but not all such persons.
Applicants for membership were investigated carefully. The application of W. Wallace Fritz was postponed for several months while they checked on him as an advertising physician. His business card stated he was the Dean of the American College of Neuropathy.
During the Annual Meeting in 1908, they voted on admitting homeopathic physicians. The proposal lost. The vote was 108 for and 128 against the proposition. Nearly a hundred members present abstained. The following year they agreed to admit two homeopaths (Hahnemann graduates) on the basis that they were members of the Bucks County Medical Society.
They received a letter expressing concern about electing 'lodge doctors' and another objecting to 'contract physicians.' In the case of James W. Kennedy, they noted, "The possession of a drug store was no bar to membership in the Club," On one occasion a letter was written to Dr. Herbert Fisher stating that personal feelings would not be considered in evaluating applicants. During the June meeting in 1904, the application of Dr. J. D. Christman was held over and his application was not approved until December. No reason for this delay was recorded. In any event, it appears that he never paid any dues. Several other instances of the tabling of applications appear without a record of any follow-up.
The use of the word 'regular' in describing physicians had been discontinued early in the history of the Club. The names of applicants for membership were published but only rarely were objections received. One was raised concerning an applicant who used secret treatments for alcohol and drug addiction (1907).
Coupled with all these concerns about membership qualifications was the urgency for getting new members. They wanted physicians
of high quality and appointed a Committee of Three to secure such desirable members.
Dr. Lewis H. Adler, Jr, became a member in 1895. When his father joined the Club in 1905 they became the first father and son members of the Club.
Fiscal. In 1904 the Audit Committee was authorized to hire an 'expert auditor's which they did. He charged them fifteen dollars for two semiannual audits. Financial items were reported in detail. On one occasion they issued a voucher for two hexagonal erasers at five cents each. Sometimes members signed chits, during meetings, for additional cigars for thirty or forty cents. During 1904 they paid the Secretary and Treasurer a stipend of a hundred and fifty dollars, each, per year. As an evidence of the volume of paperwork involved, it is noted that they bought a new Remington typewriter in 1904 (With metal cover and table at a cost of $105.) They replaced it in 1911.
Examples of other costs were: twenty-five cents per hour trail work, a dollar per thousand for addressing stencils and fifty cents for moving a filing cabinet across town.
By the end of 1911, they had acculturated a total of $6,491.93 in the Permanent Fund. It consisted of entrance fees, some annual surpluses, and during more recent years, income from the investment of their funds. It was a good start toward the purchase of a clubhouse, but it took nineteen years to accumulate this total.
Public Issues. During the November 1905 Board meeting, they authorized a letter to the Mayor of Philadelphia urging him ''To appoint a member of the profession (as Public Health Officer) in order that the sanitation of the city may be assured and the health of the community assured."
There is no indication that they acted on a request from the Public Hea1th Officer to participate in providing an exhibit on tuberculosis.
They declined the invitation of the Philadelphia Society to join in the publication of the WEEKLY BULLETIN (later PHILADELPHIA MEDICINE).
During 1909 they acted favorably on a request from the County Medical Society. It was to endorse a resolution calling on the Legislature to amend the Medical Practice Act of the Commonwealth.
Other Clubs. In 1908 they received inquiries from physicians in several cities regarding the organization and activities of the Club. Dr. Charles L. Mix wrote concerning The Chicago Physicians' Club. He thanked Dr. Taylor for sending him a copy of the Club book. He reported they had three hundred members and held four or five
meetings a year, including a Ladies Night. A physician in Seattle stated they were organizing a Physicians' Club. He asked for copies of stationery, invitations, and other items, which were sent to him.
Law and Order. Personal behavior during meetings was an issue. Members were held responsible for the conduct of their guests, but apparently less so for their own behavior. Dr. Fulton had referred to the necessity of ensuring decorum during meetings (1899). After discussion, they agreed not to appoint a Committee on Law and Order. Later it was deemed appropriate to have an Auxiliary Committee of Twenty on Entertainment, for the same purpose. Dr. Charles W. Burr declined to serve on it, "I have no desire to assist in preserving order at any meeting of any kind anywhere." Dr. Edward Beardsley resigned because he did not like them, "fight for food at the quarterly meetings," but he liked the Club better, and therefore, reapplied for membership.
Publicity. A half-page appeared in THE NORTH AMERICAN with pictures of fourteen leaders of the Club. After stating the formal purposes of the Club it was described as "Easily the leading social organization of physicians in the city and it includes the vast majority of doctors who occupy the prominent places for skill and usefulness in medical Philadelphia. The Club has no clubhouse and no library. These are not necessary for its purposes.''
The article went on to state the idea for the Club originated with Dr. Chestnut who gave a little dinner for two scores of his professional friends in 1891. (In fact it was in 1892 and for only five guests.) The article continued at length with more inaccuracies but concluded with a current roster of members.
Club Books. In 1906 the Board of Directors ordered publication of a book containing the Charter and the Bylaws of the Club. Included in it was a listing of current and past officers and a roster of members. They were distributed to all members. Five hundred copies of these hardbound books cost fourteen dollars. At least nine other editions were published from time to time, with a final one in 1971. The earlier editions included a listing of Guests of Honor. A bequest form was printed in the front of the books to encourage gifts to the Club, but none were forthcoming. On the fly page of the first edition is a handwritten note, "Stolen from J. Gurney Taylor." He was the Secretary of the Club.
Receptions. The format of their meetings for members was to provide Receptions for their Honored Guests. They were held three-four times a year. During the Reception, the guest was asked to
Page 16speak. In some instances, their comments ran on for as long as an hour. One member suggested limiting speeches to twelve minutes. Presumably, members stood during these presentations. On some occasions, the buffet was available while the speeches were being delivered. Members were charged the same amount, per person, as the Club was billed by the hotel. This cost ranged from $1 .50 to $2.50 per Reception. Every member and guest was presented with a packet of two cigars on entering the room. Attendance ranged from 175 up to 630 persons. Without air conditioning, it must have been suffocating in their meeting rooms.
During the September 1904 Reception, they began the practice of inviting newspaper representatives to attend. For the greater part, Receptions were held in the Bellevue Hotel, and when it was rebuilt, the Bellevue-Stratford.
Early in this period, they learned that they had to reserve meeting rooms well in advance of their meeting dates. In 1904 they sent out Annual Meeting invitations, only to find that the Bellevue could not accommodate them on the date they chose. Occasionally, functions were held in the Walton and Majestic Hotels. They continued to hold almost all of their functions in the Bellevue, but not without further complaint.
A Committee of Three was appointed to make sure that they got all of the wines, liquors, and cigars for which they paid. Until the hotel was rebuilt, they met in rooms that were too small to accommodate them comfortably. They were assured, that when the new hotel was completed, they would be charged at the same rate per person. In this, they were mistaken. The amount was doubled. A committee was appointed to negotiate with the hotel but to no avail. There were differences in the count of persons served, as well as items used. Finally, they settled on a system of tickets to assure correct counts.
In 1903 they adopted a policy of not having female entertainers. No explanation was offered for taking this action. Up to that time they had hired only male entertainers. There is no record of any problems arising from the employment of professional entertainers.
Their Receptions were usually held on Friday evenings. Dr. Benjamin L. Singer complained about Friday evening meetings encroaching on the Sabbath. They changed to Saturday night and then received complaints from out of town members. They reverted to Friday Receptions and Dr. Singer resigned.
The first special meeting of the Executive Committee was convened on June 6, 1905, to consider the finances of the Club. The City Trust Safe Deposit and Surety Company had gone into receivership with $ 1, 619.79 of their money on deposit. They agreed to
borrow $ 1,000, for six months, to meet current expenses. They weathered the crisis and paid the note on time. There were several reports from attorneys, indicating the progress of settlement of the bankruptcy, but there is no record of recovery.
During February 1907 Dr. Helena Goodwin advised through Dr.George C. Kusel, that Dr. Theodore Schott, of Bad Newheim, would be coming to this Country. The asked if the Club wished to entertain him. They declined, citing scheduling problems.
On October 10. 1910 Vice President Rodman called another special meeting of the Board. President James B. Walker had died that day. They took all of the usual actions including a letter of sympathy to the widow and family. They prepared a memorial minute to be recorded with the minutes of the next meeting. They were diligent in their recognition of deceased members and the mailing of letters of condolences to members of their families. It was not until 1968 that they started making memorial contributions for deceased members.
It was decided they could not cancel the banquet scheduled for two days hence. It was to honor semi centenarian physicians in Pennsylvania. One from New Jersey also attended. There were more than 30 honorees with a gathering of nearly five hundred physicians to recognize them.
They honored all sorts of physicians as guests. There were many Presidents of The American Medical Association, including five of their own members. They feted Presidents of the tristate medical societies, as well. Their list of guests had started with a Surgeon General and they hosted many more of them. During this decade eleven foreign medical guests were honored. They hosted governors and other public officials, including judges, but no other court officers. They said, ''That would have been indelicate."
During 1907 they honored their first layman, Richard Watson Gilder, Editor, Century Magazine. The newspaper headline read: ''Medical Men Dine Noted Quill Pusher." More than 300 members attended, along with 61 guests who were mostly literary men from Philadelphia.'' For the October Reception, they invited Secretary of War William Howard Taft to be their guest of honor. His secretary sent a formal, handwritten, note of thanks and regrets. For a Reception in 1908, Mr. Taft was fifth on their list of choices.
William Howard Taft. Without any preamble, Dr. Rodman convened a special meeting on March 19, 1911, at the Bellevue. There were 151 members present. The purpose of the meeting was, "To consider proper arrangements to be made for entertaining Presi-
dent Taft on April 21.'' Dr. Rodman reported that he had agreed to wait upon the President, in person, provided, That no political influence was used by any member of the Committee. I decline to be introduced by letter Senator or Representative, but in lieu thereof, through Surgeon General Stokes of the Navy." (Two days prior to this presentation to President Taft, a group of three Senators and other notables were unsuccessful in their bid to invite him to come to Philadelphia for the celebration of the fiftieth-anniversary banquet of the Veteran Corps, First Regiment.)
Preserved in the minutes is a copy of Dr. Rodman's formal speech to the President, running for a full page of single-spaced typewritten copy. He praised the President for his interest in health care issues. He set forth the concept of the Club and its importance to the professional community, concluding:
Therefore, Mr. President, out of gratitude for your sympathy with, and treatment of matters medical throughout your longs and honorable career as a man and a government official, this Club, unique in design, larger in membership than any other, wishes to have you as its honored guest; and by accepting its invitation you will please and compliment, not only its membership, but the entire medical profession of more than one hundred thousand members in the United States.
His plea was successful. Surgeon General C.F. Stokes, himself an earlier Honored Guest, telegraphed, "The President instructs me to inform you he will be present April twenty-first. Congratulations." Local newspapers reported the upcoming visit. On March 24 their spirits were dampened, when the President's secretary wired to withdraw Taft s acceptance unless the date could be changed. It was changed promptly to May 4.
They had assumed that there would be unanimous support for this great event, but there were complaints about the cost. Ten dollars was a steep price to pay for a banquet, even with the President of the United States. Those attending the Reception only were to be charged $2.50.
There were many details requiring attention. The President wanted a list of all of the speakers and their subjects. Dinner must be served promptly at eight o'clock. The President's flag was sent on ahead and was to be returned promptly, following the program. A secret service man arrived one day prior to the event to inspect the hotel kitchen and other areas.
The Presidential party traveled in his private train car. Accompanying him was his secretary, Charles D. Hilles, his assistant secretary, his military aide, Major Butt, a stenographer, two secret services
men and a messenger. No member of the Club was permitted to accompany the President on the train trip from Washington. A delegation of members of the Club met the President at the station. On the way to the hotel, Dr. Rodman rode in the first car with the President. In the same car were the President's secretary and assistant secretary along with one secret service man, and of course, the chauffeur. An entourage of a dozen cars followed. Each carried a combination of Club members and official guests.
From 7: 15 P.M. until nearly 8:00 o'clock the President shook hands with the dinner guests at the Bellevue-Stratford. There were only three people in the receiving line: Major Butt, The President and Dr. Rodman.
A banquet for 323 persons was ready in the Clover Room. His two Secret Service men were seated on either side of him during dinner. There had been concern about serving wine, The President did not drink it, but did not object to its being served. Each dinner guest was given a menu with an autographed picture of the President. Following dinner they moved to the Grand Ballroom, filled with more than a thousand physicians and guests assembled for the Reception. Dr. Rodman spoke first, offering an extended, laudatory introduction of President Taft. He extolled Taft's many achievements in the areas of sanitation and health. The President was received with enthusiastic cheers. Following his speech, there were several other shorter presentations by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, the President, and the Past President of the American Medical Association and three Surgeons General. The texts of these speeches were recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Rodman's extended introduction of the President was included in abridged form.
Earlier Mr. Hilles had stipulated that the President would shake hands only with members of the Club and their guests, and further, that he must depart the hotel by 10:45 P.M. to his train car.
For the first time in the history of the Club, the Ladies were acknowledged. They were allowed to view the proceedings from the balcony of the grand ballroom overlooking the Reception. Their refreshments were served in the upper corridors. More than 200 attended. Arrangements had been made for Mrs. Rodman to host a dinner for Mrs. Taft in the event that she came along on the trip. She did not come.
And to top it all off, they elected the President as their first Honorary Member. (Appendix F lists official guests.)
One might suspect that following such a truly outstanding event that they would have been deluged with applications for member
ship. Such was not the case. For the next year, they had a net increase of only twelve members. That brought the total up to 1,010.
A somber note was interjected into this gala affair. Dr. Erasmus V. The swing was a member who lived in Coatesville. He came to the city to attend this event and was taken ill following the dinner. Five physicians attended him but he died the next morning. It was suggested that ptomaine poisoning was the cause.
Their list of honored guests continued to be impressive. They entertained more Presidents of the American Medical Association, the Pennsylvania State Medical Society and the Philadelphia County Medical Society. There were five more foreign physician guests. The list included a President of the Medical Society of the State of New Jersey, a variety of Surgeons General, and Public Health officers.
With an enrollment of a thousand members and the entertainment of President Taft behind them, the Club was now recognized as a preeminent social organization in the medical community, the city, and even the nation. Newspaper articles with banner headlines, pictures of members and guests caught the eye of the public.
Scandal. But not all of the news was good. On BULLETIN headlined 'Battle in the Medical Club.' It stated that there was a struggle concerning stipends paid to the Secretary and Treasurer for their services. Why this matter should have been considered a public issue is not clear. The retiring Treasurer was reported as having served without compensation. This was untrue. The article continued by stating that he was to be given an honorarium of three hundred dollars for each year of his service. This was untrue, as well. The article further cited proposed salary amounts to be paid to each officer. The amounts were incorrect. What was correct was that the President of the Philadephia County Medical Society, Dr. Christian B. Longnecker, and its Secretary Dr. William S. Wray was in competition for the post of Secretary of the Club. Dr. Wray won.
They resolved the matter of salaries but did not discover who had leaked the information to the press and circulated the anonymous, scurrilous letter, on which the article was based. Only members of the Board of Directors had been privy to the information. Each member denied responsibility for the disclosure. And so ended this nasty little episode.
In 1914 they invited the presidents of three railroads as honored guests. Each sent a substitute to represent him. More than 300 members listened to the plaints of the railroad executives, "The present situation is deplorable. We are forced to advance wages to.
all classes of employees, provide modern equipment and, under the full crew bills, to provide additional employees who have no duties to perform. The employment of unproductive men is wrong in principle -- the public realizes that the railroads are run honestly." They recognized that government regulation was good, but must work justly, on behalf of shareholders..
Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell died on January 13, 1914. The Club took the unique step of asking Dr. James C. Wilson, President of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, to present a 3,500-word memorial to him. In addition, they had it printed, bound and distributed to all members of the Club. The import of his death can be measured by the fifty-seven column inches of an obituary in the newspaper. Included in it is the story of his visit to Oliver Wendell Holmes, seeking his advice on the publication of some poems. After reading them, Holmes gravely advised him to put aside all thoughts of writing until he should have made his reputation as a medical man. The article ends with this poem of his:
I know the night is now at handThe mist lie low on hill and bayThe autumn sheaves are dewless, dryBut I have had the day.Yes, I have had, dear Lord, the day;When at Thy call I have the nightBrief be the twilight as I passFrom light to dark, from dark to light.
In the medical field, Dr. Mitchell wrote a hundred and seventy monographs and several books. In addition to his poetry, he wrote psychological mysteries and juvenile stories. (Sixteen volumes in all)
The Necrology had been published in the Annual reports since the early years. They were consistent in remembering their deceased members. They sent letters of condolences to their widows and families. In some instances, they dedicated a page in their books of minutes to the departed one.
Usually they were able to entertain the guests of their choice. Pennsylvania Governor Brumbaugh was an exception. They pursued him for months but were never able to get him to accept their invitation. They tried President Wilson and Harding, securing acceptances form both, that eventually faded away. With President Coolidge and Hoover they reversed the process and went to see them on their Outings to Washington. They did invite College to be their guest in Philadelphia. He finally regretted after leaving the White House.
Page 22Membership. Membership continued to be the major focus of interest of the Board of Directors. They had started, modestly, with a Committee for the Increase of Membership. In 1913 it reported 'progress' on three occasions but little else. The Committee also reported 'progress' in several other years.
In 1916 they appointed eighty-two members to the Membership Committee and ended the year with a net increase of twenty-one members. Most of the real work of recruiting members was still done by the Secretary and the members of the Board who contacted prospects and delinquents alike. They wrote personal letters to delinquents and designers. There were tough follow-up letters to some who still wanted to quit. They were successful in retaining many of them. During Board meetings, they carried on extended discussions concerning the health, financial status and activities of these physicians. Their pleas to them included: "We need your help"; "The Club needs men of good repute'' and "It aids in getting men to know each other thereby elevating the profession." One member who was asked to reconsider said, "I did think it over before I sent my resignation and shall ask that it be accepted."
A letter to one member included this ending: "I note that you have not attended the meetings for four years. I am loathed to have your resignation go through without making a request that you reconsider your determination in this respect."
A policy was adopted to invite twenty to thirty prospective members to each Reception. This action usually produced good results. However, on one occasion, they invited twenty, four attended and only one joined.
In spite of being aggressive in recruiting members they were firm about not admitting homeopathic physicians unless they were members of a local, regular, medical society. Things changed when they elected Clarence V. Clemmer, a Hahnemann graduate, in 1918 without mention of homeopathy. After being turned down twice, Dr. Howard Terry was admitted. A champion of the homeopaths was Dr. Gordon M. Christine, who became a member of the Club in 1913. He wrote several letters in support of Dr. Terry, and others, in 1914, "making an effort to iron out the remaining differences between the schools of medicine."
In 1917 they approved a category of Life Membership. Members of five years standing could qualify with a one-time payment of seventy-five dollars. They would then be exempted from payment of dues for life. Originally a fee of one hundred dollars was suggested. It was stipulated that there should not be more than two hundred Life Members. At a cost that equaled fifteen years of regular dues, it
is not surprising that they had few takers. Dr. John Edgar Burnett Buckenham was the first to apply. Years later Dr. John Royal Moore qualified and that was it for (paying) Life Memberships.
Their actions with respect to remitting dues were uneven. They denied a request from Dr. Jackson, in Paris, France. At the same time, they remitted them for Dr. Arthur S. Dray in "Beijrout,' Syria. For a period of years, they maintained a list of dues exempt members, which was limited to physicians located at a distance from Philadelphia. From time to time, physicians with extended illnesses or suffering impecuniosity were also included on the list.
Dr. Benjamin offered a modern complaint when he wrote, "I am now a member of so many societies and clubs that I find the meetings conflict and I am unable to spare the: time to attend all." With urging, he continued his membership for a time.
They employed a system of electing members, who then needed to 'qualify' which meant the payment of initiation fees and dues. As a result, they always had a group of applicants who were elected to membership, but who were not really dues-paying members. There was a continuing process of trying to get these people to pay up. It was not until the 1970s that applicants were required to pay their initial dues before an election to membership. Apparently, some physicians were proposed without their knowledge. In several instances, they said that they did not want to join. Others came to Receptions, signed member cards, and then were sent stern letters telling them they must pay up. Fines were imposed for late payment of dues and for Receptions. They ranged from ten to fifty cents, depending the amount the member owed.
The minutes reveal a continuing flow of correspondence from members claiming they had paid their dues, and responses that the Secretary had no record of such payment. Some of the letters were downright tasty. A particular point of contention arose when members were required to pay previous years' dues when they asked to resign. At that time medical organizations refused to give a recommendation to those who quit an organization without dues having been paid in full.
During 1918 they joined with the Philadelphia County Medical Society to entertain Mr. B. G. A. Moynihan, who was described simply as a distinguished British surgeon. He was not listed among their Guests of Honor.
Most years they had contested elections for offices. In 1919 Dr. Henry Beates won over Alexander McAlister for Second Vice President by three votes. When they had only a single slate of nominees for election they arranged for musical programs or other entertain-
ment during the Annual Meeting. The Madrigal Singers were their favorites. On one or two occasions members of the Club sang, recited or told stories.
Little things crept into the minutes. When Dr. Frederick P. Henry died it was noted that he had invented the curved ball, while playing with The Princeton Nassaus. On one occasion, Dr. Fox moved that they dispose of minutes of the previous meeting. Dr. John Gibbon resigned as Vice President after being chided for absences. He said he thought being Vice President was the same as in other organizations. No work.
There was mention of purchasing bonds to be issued by The Philadelphia County Medical Society to enable the society to purchase a building. There is no further mention of such bonds in the record.
Programs. In 1919 Oklahoma Senator Robert L. Owen spoke to the Club promoting the enactment of his proposal for a United States Department of Health. During the same meeting, foreign medical delegates to the American Medical Association were their guests as well. One of them, Sir St. Clair Thompson, of London, spoke loftily, "I am here to find out what is expected of London as a medical center and to tell American of the advantages for medical study to be had in London and other European Capitals." In a warmer tone, he went on to say, "The Fellowship of Medicine also aims to make the British less insular by encouraging them to study at such universities as Mc Gill, Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, New York, and other American Schools."
Three months later Governor William C. Sproul called on them to support his program to improve housing in the state. At the same time, he urged physicians to keep up their standards. "We don't want the medical capital of America moved out of Philadelphia. Keep it right here", he said.
In 1922 Senator George Wharton Pepper accepted their invitations twice and stood them up both times.
Military. In a rousing speech, Major General Leonard H. Wood spoke to a cheering Medical Club audience in1914. The recently retired Chief of Staff of the United States Army praised the Swiss system of preparedness, "With a hundred million population the United States needs more than its present army of a hundred thousand and an equal number of reserves." He added, "This not militarism, but common sense and self-preservation." He was cheered, especially when he spoke of the sanitary work in Cuba, the Philippines, and Panama. The press report stated that nearly a thousand.
members attended. They got that wrong, too. There were slightly more than 500 members present.
A year later Rear Admiral William S. Benson said, "While I do not desire to create the impression that we will have any immediate use for the United States Navy it is well to be prepared for war in time of peace." He encouraged, "Building up the submarine branch is of great value in aid to the larger ships."
Then, on April 20, 1917, with 464 members present, they adopted a resolution that they sent to President Wilson and the Surgeons General of the Army and Navy:
Whereas: An extremely grave international crisis has been forced on our country thereby imperiling civilization, and threatening our rights, our peace and our freedom; and
Whereas: The National Government is mobilizing all the powers at its command, military, naval, financial and economic: Therefore, we, the members of a profession whose highest ideal is service, believe it our patriotic duty to respond to our Country's needs either at the front or in conserving the interests at home of those so-called; Therefore be it Resolved: That we, the members of the Philadelphia Medical Club numbering over one thousand(1,000) men hereby tender our services to the President of these United States, pledging an instant response to his call in the way and manner in which we can best serve.
They were modest. Membership actually totaled a little over eleven hundred, President Wilson responded, "The President is very grateful for your generous pledge of cooperation and support, and he hopes that you will accept this informal acknowledgment of your message as an expression of the deepest appreciation of your patriotic offer."
Dr. Brubaker. Shortly after Dr. Alfred P. Brubaker and William D. Robinson were nominated for the position of President of the Club, in the fall of 1917, an anonymous letter was circulated. It accused Brubaker of being pro-German. In a letter to Club President Charles K. Mills he said, in part, No statement or actions on my part would justify any person in saying that my attitude has indicated any want of patriotism on my part. As it is impossible for me to publicly defend myself against such a rumor -I have decided to withdraw my name as a candidate."
During the December meeting of the Board of Directors, it was agreed to accept his withdrawal. The announcement for the Annual Meeting and the election of officers was mailed with only Dr. Robinson's name listed as the nominee for the office of President. During the Annual Meeting, Dr. Brubaker was nominated from the floor
and his letter to Dr. Mills was read to the group. The letter was tabled promptly. The tally of votes indicated Dr. Brubaker was elected over his opponent by a count of one hundred and seventy to seventy.
THEY thought the matter had been resolved, but that was not the case. Fifteen members of the Club presented a carefully drawn, full page, a petition addressed to Board of Governors, in which they discredited the recent election. They stated it was, "Not legal, and contrary to the provisions of the Bylaws." They asked that the Governors, as the judicial arm of the Club, investigate this matter. If after investigating, their allegations proved to be true, to report their finding to the Board of Directors. (This is the only instance in which the Governors were called on to exercise such authority. The Bylaws provided that the Governors investigate objections made to applicants for membership and to report their recommendations to the Board. Their only charge was to investigate ungentlemanly or unprofessional conduct on the part of a member.)
The Governors did investigate and report. As a result, the Board of Directors adopted a resolution calling the whole elections illegal. They directed that a special meeting of members be called and a new election is conducted. The vote was seven in favor of this action and two against, with Drs. Brubaker and G.Oram Ring abstaining. The latter was the newly elected Vice President. There were only two contests in the election that year. One had been for the post of President and the other for the election of five Directors from a field of seven candidates.
The Special meeting was convened on February 15, 1918. The resolution of the Board of Directors was approved. In a touching letter, Dr. Robinson firmly withdrew his name from consideration. He urged acceptance of the results of the January elections despite its technical fault. He deplored the public reporting on this matter and was hopeful that an amicable way could be found to resolve this matter.
The meeting was chaired by First Vice President Ring, who had been elected by the faulted electoral process. He addressed the group as follows:
I am fully persuaded that I voice sentiment which is well nigh unanimous when I express the most profound regret that into this most distinguished Club:
Where the overworked doctor is for the once emancipated: Where the roughness of his professional road is smoothed:
Which has been the birthplace of a host of the most honorable friendships;
Which has been the foster mother of the finest ideals:
Invitations to whose gracious Hospitality is avidly accepted by the most notable men in the world of medicine:
And whose sociologist function rightly appreciated and intelligently developed can make it a tremendous and altogether illuminating force in our community:
That into it should have crept any divergence of opinion. There was never a time in its history when absolute unity in or deliberations is so essential.
Our active ranks have already been depleted by many of our best men have given their services unreservedly to our Country in what is likely to prove to be its most crucial need and hundreds more of you will go if need be at the further call of the Surgeon General. The stressful hours' gentlemen for many are already here. Treachery is lurking in almost every shadow.
The doctor in the war is translating justice into terms of mercy, The times are vibrant with beckoning opportunities, yet we are stopping by the roadside to reason and question and wonder.
Gentlemen I believe we are all ready to cement differences not widen them -- my sole purpose is to assist in so doing.
After this little speech he called for a full discussion of the issue. Several members spoke briefly. Then Dr. Ring presented a three-page statement by Bishop Thomas B. Neely (a distinguished parliamentarian of the time). Neely upheld the action taken during the Annual Meeting, in electing Dr. Brubaker. With that, the January election was declared legal, without a single dissenting vote. And so ended the biggest controversy in the history of the organization. Dr. Robinson went on to become President of the Club in 1924.
Three years later Dr. David Allman sent a letter in response to their plea to retain his membership. He wrote, "The part that I resent most-while I was in the service-I was glad to donate $12.12 (dues and fines). You do not need to feel too sure I have the best interests of the Club at heart. I did until the attack on Brubaker." He continued his membership.
Honors. They honored their own members, as well as others. A gold watch was presented to Dr. J. Gurney Taylor for his seven years service as Secretary. He was moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They wanted to elect him as a Life Member but there was no such category at the time. In 1915 they elected him as an Honorary Member. An unspecified, expensive, gift was presented to Dr. Edward E. Montgomery. It was for his twenty-seven years of service to the
Club. They called it a 'souvenir.' He was leaving for three years.
When their own Dr. Rodman was elected President of the American Medical Association, they honored him with a second Reception.
They presented an unspecified gift to Dr. L. Webster Fox. He was one of the original members of the Club. He stayed active in Club leadership roles for more than a quarter of a century.
In 1923 they presented a set of cabinet files to Dr. Lewis H. Adler, with his name engraved on an attached plate. He had served as Treasurer for 18 years. They also elected him a Life Member (no fee) in December of 1914. The fact that no such category of membership existed still did not deter them.
Dr. Oscar Allis recommended Dr. Robert Abbe of New York for Honorary Membership. In a strange response the Board, "Deemed it unwise to so do at this time." They were usually eager to honor any physician of distinction.
The Great War. They remitted the dues for more than a hundred and fifty members who were in the service in 1918. But they were tough about it. They would not remit for those going in after the first of May. Dues were not remitted for earlier years. In one instance they did bend the rules and settled for $6.05 on a bill of $11.05. There appeared to be some who tried to claim they were in service when they were not.
, On the other hand, Dr. Albert N. Cole wrote, "I am kept poor buying binoculars, etc.-but want my obituary to include membership in the Medical C1ub.''
There were no reports of casualties among Club members. They inquired about Dr. Henry C. Walker to learn if he had died in France. There is no record of any response.
Dr. William F. Guilfoyle died on September 12, 1918. They sent a letter of condolences to his family. In response, they received a card signed by his family. At the top was a small American flag and the words "For His Country." Presumably, he died in the service. There is no other mention of him, except the removal of his name from the roster of members.
On April 18, l 919 they sent a resolution to General John J. Pershing "Resolved that the Medical Club of Philadelphia convey to General John J. Pershing an expression of its appreciation of his magnanimous support of the Medical Profession in its efforts to aid in the consummation of the Cause."
Dr. William S. Wray was elected Secretary of the Club in 1912 and continued in office until his death in 1948. During a meeting in
1918 he announced that he was going into the Medical Reserve Corps and tendered his resignation. It was tabled. During the next meeting, the Board sent him a check for a hundred dollars, "As a pink slip to purchase something for yourself while on this vacation."
He was back at his post in time for the February 1919 meeting.
For some years he was Secretary of the Philadelphia County Medical Society as well. Several letters are recorded in which Dr. Wray, Secretary of the Medical Club, wrote to Dr. Wray, Secretary of the Society. He answered in turn, always with full formality.
He served as Treasurer pro tem when Dr. George A. Knowles died in office and again on the demise of Dr. Charles S. Barnes. He was elected to the combined office of Secretary-Treasurer in 1941. He served as Secretary for 37 years, except for his short stint in the Medical Corps. In 1932 they gave him an electric clock to show their appreciation of his twenty years of service to the Club.
For several years the Club and the Physician's Motor Club joined in a mailing of dues billings and other materials to members of both groups. There was confusion as to what members were paying for, and to which organization. This resulted in some unpleasant exchanges of correspondence.
They shared the cost of purchasing an American Medical Association Directory with the Motor Club. (The AMA Directory was the one authoritative listing of all physicians in the United States, available at the time .)
The Philadelphia County Medical Society prepared mailing labels for the Club and continued to do so until the Club purchased its computer in 1987.
Originally the Board planned to meet on the three monthly bases. By 1911 summer meetings were dropped from the schedule. In 1923 the December meeting was omitted. Attendance increased to an average of twelve per meeting.
On one occasion they had only six members present. On another, it was eight. Members began tendering excuses for absence. One excuse from the secretary of Dr. Fox read, "On account of absence Dr. Fox will not be present at the next meeting."
Dr. Judson Daland entertained the Board for dinner at the Union League of Philadelphia in 1916, while he was President. During this period of years Board meetings were held in various places including the Art Club and the University Club. For the most part, they met in the office of the President. For more than a year the Board accepted the invitation of the County Society to meet in its building. Meetings were now held on the fourth Friday of the month at 8:30 P.M., or later.
In 1912 they began presenting blue enamel and gold pins to Past Presidents. The same design of pin has been used throughout the history of the Club. Over a long span of years, they also presented them with engraved gavels. The Immediate Past. President was not a member of the Board, by virtue of holding that office. The presentation was made during a meeting of the Board of Directors, rather than during the Annual Meeting, as is the present custom. Usually, the Past President was excused from the meeting after the presentation. In 1922 they invited Dr. Barton C. Hurst to remain for the meeting after he received his gavel and pin. In some instances, Past- Presidents were elected as Governors or Directors and thereby remained in leadership positions for extended numbers of years.
Receptions. They were crowded in the rooms available to them at the Bellvue Hotel but they continued to meet there. Their Receptions began as occasions to honor prominent medical men but expanded to include other men of distinction. Over these years the concept changed gradually from one of honoring distinguished guests to a matter of hiring paid speakers.
Dr. Eb W. Thomas objected, ''Smoking at the receptions is injurious to my throat and therefore I am unable to attend." He dripped out.
They always had food available during Receptions, and there was lively competition at the buffet tables. This aroused complaints from some members.
During the War Dr. John J. O'Connell wrote, "I will be on hand to honor the professors. Why all the Honor Feasts on Fridays? Either to tempt the Catholic members to smash their Friday regulations or to save on the meat?"
His Excellency, Jules J. Jesse and, Ambassador of the French Republic to the United States was a guest in 1922. He accepted in a two-page letter, written in French.
In the contest for the honored guest with the longest title Sir Harold J. Stiles, K.B.E., M.B., C.M., F.R.C.S., Regius professor, Clinical Surgery University of Edinburgh won. The Right Honorable Sir Auckland Geddes, G.C.M.G., K.C.B. his Britannic Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United States, came in second.
Secretary of the Interior, Herbert Work, spoke to nearly four hundred members in 1923. He was billed as the Secretary of the Interior and had been Postmaster General earlier. Of more importance to the group was the fact that he was a physician and a Past President of the American Medical Association.
Outings. September 11, 1916 was the date of their first Outing. They left the Arch St. Wharf on the steamer Queen Anne, with 250 members aboard. They enjoyed a seven-hour cruise down the Delaware River. Dinner was served en route. (Appendix G lists Outings.)
Clubhouse. The idea of a permanent home for the Club virtually disappeared from the records during this period. The only mention of it is a gift of one hundred dollars from Dr. Oscar H. Allis. He requested, "Kindly make sure it is deposited to the fund to build a home for the Club." It was one of only two gifts, of any kind, given to the club during its entire history.
Civic Activities. They kept in mind that theirs was a social organization, but they did act on several public issues:
During 1915 they adopted a resolution "Urging Upon Councils, the immediate appropriation of one million dollars for the building of the new Philadelphia General Hospital."
They Joined the Greater Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia and continued their membership until 1924. They dropped out when dues increased to fifty dollars a year. They supported a Chamber resolution regarding "Betterment of Philadelphia by electing the highest type of mayor." They requested several hundred copies of leaflets that were available to promote this cause.
The Health Day Committee requested their support. They begged off as being a social organization.
Third of a Century. By 1924 the Club had become a big organization. They had 1,393 members. In concern for the Club growing too large, they amended the Bylaws: "Regular members shall not exceed (1,450) fourteen hundred and fifty in number." They never reached that total. Even so, several years later they considered raising the limit to 1,500 members.
Their Permanent Fund was valued at $38,015.04, two-thirds of which was invested in United States Liberty Loan Bonds.
Early in the year, President William D. Robinson mailed a printed, three page, letter to all members. In it, he stated:
Because the Club has now completed a third of a century of life, it is my great desire to have this year one having celebrations appropriate to its long and brilliant history. There is a large fund that the Club has set aside for some indefinite use, to be decided by some future decision. It will be a handsome heritage eventually. As there is no prospective need or use to be made of this fund I propose some entertainments.
He proposed several special events over and above the regular Receptions. The first was a 'long table luncheon' on February 13 at The City Club. William Starr Myers, Princeton professor, spoke on "Problems of Present Day Politics." Approximately 175 members attended.
On March 20 there was an evening musical at the Manufacturers' Club. It featured their favorites, The Madrigal Singers, directed by Henry Hotz. They also had a six harp ensemble and a piano soloist on their program. The evening of entertainment ended with a grand finale with the whole troop participating. Dr. Thomas Darlington of New York gave a short talk. But the big story was, for the first time, the Ladies were included in the invitations. There is no hint of how many attend.
In 1913 a committee had been appointed to consider holding an annual ball. It reported in the negative. The Ladies Night dinner dance did not appear for another eighteen years.
A policy of not having female entertainers, adopted some years earlier, apparently was forgotten. The Internal Revenue Commissioner wrote, stating there was no tax due since the Club had no vocal music or dancing.
Nearly five hundred members were off to Washington, D.C. on June 15. They traveled on a Medical Club Special train. Box lunches were served en route. Physicians in Washington, including several Surgeons General, met them at the Union Station. They escorted the visitors around the city in chartered buses. President Coolidge received them on the White House lawn. He spoke to them briefly. They laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with a short speech by Dr. Orlando H. Petty. Another wreath was laid at the statue of Dr. Samuel D. Gross, with comment by Dr. I. P. Strittmatter. A third one was presented at the Benjamin Rush Memorial where Dr. Edward Martin spoke. They had a whirlwind tour of ten public institutions. After dinner, in the Union Station, they boarded their train and headed for home.
During October a special train with 319 members aboard took them to Atlantic City. There the Atlantic City Hotel Men's Association provided lunch, dinner, and entertainment. General John J. Pershing had been invited to be their guest of honor but he was unable to attend. A statement by the General was read which was most laudatory of the medical profession and ended with:
The medical history of the World War made by your profession is one of bright achievement, but the task is unfinished. The nation has provided a policy for the creation of a citizen army, your obligation to aid in the fulfillment of the wise provision is obvious. The nation has
confidence in you, and I feel assured that the organization of the medical service for future emergencies will not fail.
All of these activities plus their three Receptions made it the most eventful year in the history of the Club. With that, the first third of a century was completed.
From 1925 to the sesquicentennial year of the Club in 1942, the membership count dropped from 1,393 to 767. The depression and World War II combined to cause the decrease. They were not the only reasons. The fire seemed to have gone out of the leadership in its quest for new members. There were fewer copies of letters entreating members not to drop out. Almost no mention was made of telephoning or making personal contact to recoup delinquents.
From this time on, attendance at Receptions fell off sharply. At the end of his Presidency in 1939, Dr. Kobler reported there were 240 members from outside the City, with a total membership of 854. Despite the loss of members and income, they carried on very well. Their guests of honor now were less well-known persons than in the past but still, for the most part, were substantial in the content of their presentations.
Personals. During February 1925 they received a letter from delinquent Dr. William Hughes. He was going to Haiti; where, he heard the living was cheap. He returned to Philadelphia later and renewed his membership.
Among the pages of resignations during the early thirties was one stating, "Please accept my resignation from the Medical Club. O1d man depression and other reasons make this necessary.'' Another member wrote, "I sent my resignation on account of becoming antique, having arthritis and general financial stringency. (one word). Now I am improved, feeling younger and submitting my payment. Send bill next year."
Robert W. Archbald, Jr., Esq. was elected by the Board of Directors, as Counsel (1925). The post was considered to be, "Purely honorary that no retaining fees are involved, except in case the Club be a defendant in some action."
He attended the September 1925 meeting but there is no mention of him in the body of the minutes. He attended Board meetings rarely. One year he noted that he could not attend meetings but was otherwise willing to help. If they wished to select another man as counsel it would be 'OK' with him.
During his first year as Counsel he gave advice on a matter of balloting. Some years later another question arose. At that time at least two members of the Board sought advice from other attorneys
before they called on Archbald. He gave advice when the problem arose about revising the Charter of the Club.
At the time of the 1939 Annual Meeting, he ruled that they could not nominate from the floor to fill a vacancy on the slate of nominees approved during the October Reception meeting. The candidate for Second Vice President (Dr. Alexander McAllister) had died in the interim. Dr. Hyman I. Goldstein rose to inquire why a nomination could not be made from the floor. President John McLean was prepared. He produced a letter from Mr. Archbald citing the Bylaw ruling which applied. It stated that the membership had had its opportunity to make nominations during the October Reception. Now it was the responsibility of the Board of Directors to fill that Vacancy.
Public Issues. They declined the' invitation to join the Medical-Legal Society because the Club was purely social. An invitation to join the All Philadelphia Conference was also rejected.
The request of the Medical Economics Committee to address the Club on the matter of helping needy physicians and their families was not approved. They made it clear that this did not signal any lack of interest in helping fellow physicians suffering financial hardship. They felt they were already painfully aware of the problems.
Earlier Colonel D. C. Collier, Director General, Sesquicentennial Exhibition Association asked for the support of the Club for the 1926 celebration. There is no record of any response, not even after the request was repeated.
Programs. Mr. J. Basil Hall, President of the British Medical Association, was the Honored Guest during the May 1925 Reception. He traced the history of the British National Health Insurance Act. He told of the considerable hardships it had worked on the medical profession in Great Britain. He criticized the American system of elaborate testing, X-rays, and protracted diagnosis as being wasteful. (Appendix H is the newspaper account of his speech.) Dr. Harley Smith, Past President of the Academy of Medicine, Toronto, Canada also spoke during the same meeting. Dr. Basil Graves of London, England was present as well.
The next year they honored the fourteen living, original members of the Club with a Reception and dinner. Thirteen of them attended. Dr. de Schweinitz regretted. He was going to the meeting of the Canadian Medical Association. They almost missed Dr. Edward Wallis because he had resigned his membership, and then rejoined
in l906. He said that he had been there when the Club was organized at Wagner's Hall on North Broad St. The President hosted a dinner for them prior to the Reception.
The true story of Dr. Thomas Reilly's office concluded the presentation of New York Supreme Court Justice Lewis L. Fawcett:
Dr. Reilly treated the poor and ended up with his office over a livery stable. Too poor to pay a painter, he made his own sign: Dr. Thomas Reilly's Office, Now Upstairs. Finding no suitable place to mount it, he hung it on the hitching post at the curb. He called on all the poor in every haunt of poverty. When he died, his patients realized they could not buy him a monument. In a final act of respect, they took the hitching post and sign and placed it at the head of his grave. Through the rain and snow of many years, the sign still read, 'Dr. Reilly's Office, Now Upstairs.'
In 1928 a committee of three had called on President Coolidge to invite him to be their Guest of Honor. Mr. Coolidge, after he was out of office finally said, "No."
Harry W. A. Hanson, President of Gettysburg College, was one of their guests in l935. In response to a question, he said that he was not averse to receiving an honorarium. The subject for one of their 1938 Receptions was, "Concrete, Its History and What It Has Accomplished.'' It was illustrated with lantern slides.
They tried to get J. Edgar Hoover as a speaker but settled for A. Bernard Leckie, Chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. (plural)
Judge George H. Welsh spoke on, "The Doctor As A Witness'' for a program in 1936. It is unfortunate that the record does not contain a single sentence of what he told them.
The offer of a program from the American Electric Therapeutic Society was declined.
Outings. Following up on the splendidly successful Outing in 1924, they became a tradition until 1942. With World War II and rationing, they could not even reserve two or three extra cars on the train to Atlantic City. There was simply no place that they could go to. One year they had gone to Annapolis, with dinner in Baltimore. Another time they visited the Chemical Division of the Army at Edgewood, Maryland, where they saw chemical weapons demonstrated, smoke screens deployed, stunts performed by an airplane and heard a band concert.
They also went to the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. There were two more trips to Washington D.C. (With no mention of any
Page 36lobbying or political activity.) On the first of these two jaunts they had their pictures taken with President Hoover, but not with President Roosevelt on the last visit to the Capital in 1936. They went to New York City and down the Delaware River. Along with their invitations for the first trip down the river, they included a little book on the history of the river, written by Dr. Strittmatter. It had been printed especially for this occasion. On another boat trip, they stopped for an hour to fish. Everyone was warned to bring his own tackle and bait. Traveling by train and boat, they went to Bear Mountain, New York. On three occasions, they went to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Attendance ranged from 146 to 405 persons, except the first visit to New York City that netted only 132 participants. (Appendix I lists Outings.)
Nearly two hundred members participated in the 1948 outing to Hershey. They offered their thanks to the train conductor who found and returned, a wallet lost by one of the members. In l949 they canceled their trip due to lack of interest. The idea of outings began to sputter to a stop. They brought off one last trip to the Fairless Steel Plant in 1956. They received only thirty responses to their 1960 proposal.
Dr. Yaeger. Innocently enough during the September 1937 meeting of the Board of Directors, Entertainment Committee chairman Dr. Henry B. Kobler gave his report on their recent trip to Hershey. President Baldi then asked him if he had any other monies belonging to the Club. Kobler responded that he did not. Dr. Baldi then asked Drs. W Burrill Odenatt, Paul B. Cassidy and George C. Yeager the same question, in turn. (Each of them had been Chairman of the Entertainment Committee and handled funds for the Outings.) Al1 three responded negatively. The question concerned a refund to a member who was unable to go on an earlier Outing. The record is silent until the October meeting. At that time Dr. Baldi called on Dr. Yeager to account for the money he had belonging to the Club. Yeager had been Chairman of the committee on Entertainment from 1924 through 1932. He stated that, after denying he had any Club money, he realized his error and called upon the Secretary the day after the previous meeting. He said that he had approximately $450, but he would need to determine the exact amount from his checkbook. He reported that he had talked to Dr. Baldi that same day. He stated that he had looked forward to becoming President of the Club and intended to use the money to secure an outstanding speaker, such as Admiral Byrd. He reported that the money had been kept in a separate
account and he tendered a check in the amount of $424.83 as payment. Dr. Yeager was excused while the Board discussed the issue. They concluded it would be inappropriate to accept the check until a full accounting of the funds was made. Dr. Baldi had, in hand, a written opinion from counsel Robert Archbald. In essence, it stated that a Director could be removed, by a majority vote of the members, or by court order, with a cause. The serious nature of the case motivated Dr. Baldi to talk with several other attorneys as well. During the November meeting, Dr. Yeager presented a written report which was not approved since there was no documentation for the various financial items. The final act of this sad story occurred during the Annual Meeting in 1938. When called on, Dr. Yeager traced the history of various Outings. He explained how he had obtained the money and the purpose for which he intended to use it. His report was accepted, and no further action was taken. His name does not appear again in the records of the Club. Several years earlier an electric clock had been presented to him in appreciation for his years of service as Chairman of the Entertainment Committee.
The funds for the Outings had been handled separately from the regular Club accounts. Needless to say, after this incident, all reports, vouchers and other financial documents relating to Outings were signed by the Chairman of the Entertainment Committee and at least two other members of the Board of Directors.
They were flooded with letters from members, some poignant, asking to resign. In 1930 they had l, 348 members, only slightly down from the high of 1,393 in 1924. As the economy worsened their membership decreased. By 1934 it stood at nearly a 1,000 and dropped to 752 by 1945. The Membership Committee chairman reported, ''progress'' in 1942 and added, "Which is nil." Times were still tough in l942 when the Membership Committee reported, "It has been the experience of various committees in the past five years or more than the younger man has no desire to associate with his fellow practitioners."
Dr. Walt P. Conaway entertained the Board of Directors at the Seaview Golf Club in Absecon, New Jersey, twice. Drs. J. Norman Henry, Philip Marvel, and I. P. Strittmatter entertained the Board, at their respective farms.
During the 1933 Annual Meeting, a resolution was proposed that:
A contribution of $2,000 be made to the Aid Association of the Philadelphia County Medical Society, it being understood that the said amount can be segregated from money in the hand of the Treasury, or anticipated before being applied to the Permanent Fund.
With 179 members present, the motion carried, with a vote of 142 for, and 5 against it. The Board of Directors referred it to the Finance Committee and Counsel. By the time of the February 24 meeting, Mr. Archbald had ruled that the Club could not provide this help to needy physicians. In this instance, their declaration of being a social organization prevented them from taking action.
American Medical Association President, Dr. Edward H. Cary, was their Guest of Honor for their April Reception. In his speech, he warned of, "efforts to mechanize or socialize the medical profession." He also called attention to the menace of too great an effort being made to extend public health activities.
Later in the year they joined with the Philadelphia County Medical Society and several other organizations to entertain the officers and delegates attending the meeting of the Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, which was meeting in the City. Their part of the cost was a thousand dollars. Nearly twelve hundred members and guests were present for dinner and entertainment. This event was reported in some detail in the press. Dr. Wray grumbled about spending so much during a time of economic stress and declining membership.
Later in the year, a Special Meeting of members was convened. Its purpose was to consider amendments to the Charter and Bylaws. More than a hundred members had signed a petition calling for changes. Among proposals to be offered were: the elimination of the goal of having a clubhouse; provision to allow spending half of monies received as initiation fees and giving the Board of Directors full authority to manage the finances of the Club. As the meeting started Dr. T. Chalmers Fulton began to read the proposed changes when he slumped over the table and died. He was the last surviving member of Dr. Chestnut's original organizing committee. He had been a member and leader of the Club for forty-two years. In all that time he had never held a primary office in the Club.
The meeting was adjourned promptly and was reconvened a month later. During this second meeting, they approved eliminating the purpose of having a clubhouse from the Charter. Later editions of the Charter and Bylaws continued to include the provision for a library and clubhouse. Management of all financial matters was vested in the Board of Directors. They also approved the spending of income from the Permanent Fund, but only after such income should exceed five thousand dollars a year.
They invited three local newspaper columnists to speak, during one meeting. In the next day's issue, Don Rose reported his experience of the previous evening when he, "Let out a professional se-
cret, don't put alcohol and oysters in the same stomach at the same time. The alcohol tans the oysters into shoe leather or something like that." It was an evening devoted to frivolity, but it received coverage in the local press.
For those years when there were no contested elections; they showed movies during Annual Meetings. They ranged in subject matter from films taken on Club outings to "Einstein's Theory of Relativity." Short films shown included: "Mothers Might Live," "Miracle Money," "One Against the World'' and "They Live Again."
President John M. Fisher offered an extravagant introduction for publisher Cyrus H. K. Curtis, to which he responded, "Dr. Fisher could not have kissed the Blarney stone; he must have bit it," The INQUIRER got the program reversed. Their headline read: "Curtis Plays Host to Medical Club." One comment of his was, "Now many persons estimate money as the most important thing in the world. I believe that the elimination of ignorance and disease are far more important."
Union League. From l 936 until the end of 1942, they held several general meetings at the Union League of Philadelphia, including a dozen or more meetings of the Board of Directors. Earlier they had encountered house rules of the League, which denied the use of these facilities.
Officers. Each year they continued to present the Past President with an inscribed gavel and President's pin. In 1935 they changed pace and gave a watch instead of a gavel. For l936 they gave two volumes of Montaigne's Essays. From 1937 through l942 a traveling bag went with the pin, except in l94l, when they presented a "jade scepter'' to Dr. Percival.
To round out these years there was another first. Dr. Walt P. Conaway was the first President of the Club who lived and practiced outside Pennsylvania. He lived in Atlantic City.
THEIR fiftieth year started inauspiciously with 156 members present for the Annual Meeting. It ended on a high note with a dinner (dress optional) at the Union League of Philadelphia. There was no charge to those attending this dinner. Out of a total of 767 members, only 224 members were present. (No guests were permitted.) They ate stewed snapper, breast of guinea hen and Virginia ham. The dessert was Montrose pudding, served with a demitasse. Cigars and cigarettes were passed. Dr. Walt Conaway was the toastmaster. Several guests were introduced as well as seven Past Presidents of the Club.
Page 40The Speaker was William Duncan. He had worked for the, now defunct, EVENING PUBLIC LEDGER. At this time he was billed as a Washington correspondent. His Subject was, "Headlines and Headliners."
There had been dissent concerning the expenditures for celebrating this fiftieth anniversary of the Club. Dr. Wray disagreed. He opined, "Most of us will not be here to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary in 1967." Earlier, in his 1933 Annual Report, he had stated, "We had long given up the idea of a clubhouse."
In 1943 they purchased $31,000 worth of Government bonds. As had been done during the Great War, they patriotically shifted their investments to support the war efforts. During 1943-44 they remitted dues for 43 members in the service. In 1945 they adopted a resolution that provided members returning from the service be reinstated to the end of the year of their discharge. This remission of dues, for members in the service, was continued for nearly twenty years after the war, when members requested it. The records reveal no indication of casualties or deaths among members in the service, during the war.
It became the custom for individual Board members to entertain the whole Board of Directors, with cocktails and dinner, prior to meetings of the Board. After some experimentation, a regular system of rotation of hosts was developed.
During 1943 Dr. Russell C. Seipel made a cameo appearance as a Director. He was not nominated for a second term. Later he was to become the next long tenured Secretary-Treasurer of the Club.
They tried to get Wendell L. Wilkie as a speaker for one of their meetings but settled for Walter H. Judd, M.D., a prominent member of Congress. Attendance was good (315), despite increasing the charge to $5.00 per member for the meeting. On another occasion, featuring the Editor of PENNSYLVANIA FARMERS, they drew a crowd of less than 200.
They were beset, continually, by the problem of how many reservations to make for the meetings. They had to pay for the number they reserved and some times this was a significantly greater number than actually attended. (From somewhere they heard about weather insurance for meetings but found that to be simply a rumor.) Also, there was the nagging concern that they were being overcharged.
In 1944 they appointed a Membership Committee with auxiliary units in various hospitals and serval out of town locations. In spite of this valiant effort, they ended with a count of 748, just one less than they had the previous year. They continued the policy of carrying physicians on the roster who were two years delinquent in pay-
ment of dues. During each meeting of the Board, they continued to mull over these lists, but they did not pursue these delinquent members with the spirit shown in earlier years. (There are indications that invitations to meetings were not sent to these persons.) In his letter of resignation, Dr. Sid Friedenberg wrote tersely, "Please disapplicate me."
In an unusual action, the 1945 Annual Meeting was held in the Philadelphia County Medical Society building at 301 South 21st.Street. The meeting was unusual in another respect. The invitation listed Arthur C. James, D.D., Ph.D. as their speaker. This was the only instance, up to that time, of having a speaker during the Annual Meeting. They paid him twenty-five dollars to show his slides of the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. The usual buffet was served to the hundred or more members present. There was only a single slate of officers to elect. Still, there must have been a great amount of confusion in those small rooms with the speaker showing slides, the members serving themselves food and the suffocating cigar smoke.
The Annual Meeting and the election of officers had been held on January 15, 1948. Preparations were under way for the meeting of the Board of Directors on the 30th. In Dr. Wray's office, his report for that meeting stopped on the last half of the second page. He had covered letters of resignation, notified the President to appoint committees, purchased a savings bond as the gift to outgoing President Buyers, and there it stopped. Dr. Wray had died: He had been Secretary of the Club for thirty-seven years, except for his short hitch in the Medical Corps during World War I. He also served as Treasurer for fourteen years and had been a member of the Club for forty-three years.
Dr. Henry B, Kobier, a Past President of the Club, was asked to take over the work of the Club. He presented the Secretary's report to the Board during its February meeting. At that time, he was elected Secretary-Treasurer for the balance of the year. He served in this post through 1951. They relied on his experience to sort everything out, and to maintain a relatively smooth running operation during this transition period. Only after he had met with Dr. Wray's sister and attorney, did he remove the Medical Club materials to his own office.
There were loose ends. Had Dr. Wray asked Robert Archbald to continue as Counsel for another year? Archbald responded that he had been asked. In turn, he wanted to know if the invitations for the next meeting had been mailed. There was the problem of determining who had paid dues for the year. It was decided to issue membership cards to help resolve this issue.
There was more confusion in sorting out the other records. With but one brief interval. Dr. Wray had been the only member who had touched those papers for more than a third of a century. In any event, and with a little recorded comment, Dr. Kobler coped with the situation.
In an exceptional action, Dr. Eugene P. Pendergrass, January 1950 Board meeting, invited three physicians as his guests. During a later year, Dr. Henry S Bourland invited two guests. When Dr. Kuder hosted in 1959 he had as his guest, a Mr. M. R. Reardon. (He was a public relations man for a hospital who offered advice to the Board on publicity for the Club.) On several occasions in the seventies and eighties, the Board entertained investment counselors during Board meetings while discussing investments owned by the Club.
In 1948 Dr. Bates hosted William F. Irwin, Executive Secretary of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. He was invited to attend on a regular basis, and did so, until his retirement in 1969. With those exceptions, attendance during Board meetings was limited to members of the Board.
When the President's pin and a savings bond were presented to Past President Dr. Edgar S, Buyers in 1948, he was invited to remain for the balance of the meeting. At this time they began to include the Immediate Past President as a member of the Board.
During one of the meetings Dr. Kobler complained, "That out of a thousand members there is only one who annoys me." He was referring to Dr. Hyman I. Goldstein who had mounted campaigns against the establishment on several occasions. In this case, he wanted to be nominated as a Vice President, to represent New Jersey. Instead, they nominated him to a position as Governor, which he declined. On another occasion, he asked for Club stationery and to be permitted to attend meetings of the Board. The Board refused both requests. Difficulties with other members were almost exclusively based on disagreements about what dues had been paid, or not paid, by members.
When Dr. Joseph C. Birdsall was presented his President's pin in 1951, he responded by presenting the Board with a beautifully engraved walnut gavel. It was lost for several years but found again in 1988. It is used routinely for Board of Directors meetings.
In January 1948 their speaker had been Charles Love from the EVENING BULLETIN. His subject was: "Pigeons-In War and Peace."
At the April reception they honored their own Dr. Edward L. Bortz, President of the American Medical Association. He was the
the fourth member of the Club elected to that office. More than three hundred members attended. During that same meeting, Mr. Irwin was introduced with the comment, "We all know him who has done so much for all the doctors in our Club." In 1960 they elected him as a Permanent Honorary Member of the Board, having named him as Advisor to the Board in 1952. On at least one occasion they did not elect new members because he was not there to tell them which applicants were members of the County Society.
They honored another of their members, Dr. Gilson Colby Engel, then President of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. During the same meeting, they saw a film entitled, "Highway to Alaska." It was shown by Herbert C. Lanks who was the first person to drive a Jeep from Edmonton, Alberta to the Arctic Circle, beyond Fairbanks, Alaska. It was a twelve thousand mile round trip. The affair was described as, "One of the most enjoyable meetings ever." The Union League charged for 300 persons, which was about thirty more than they counted.
President-elect Pendergrass asked for a special dinner meeting of the Board of Directors. He wanted the approval of his hospital-based membership recruitment plan. They approved it, and he made it a success. The net increase in membership for the year (1948) was 198. That brought the total to 990. They made another increase the next year, up to 1,007 members. This was the highest count since 1933. Membership totals decreased from 1949. For the last fourteen years, of its century of life, the Club has averaged just under four hundred members.
Somewhere along the line they had lost the official seal of the Club. A diligent inquiry was made as to its whereabouts but to no avail. They even asked some of the old-timers. In any event, it reappeared without any further searching. During 1949 The Charter was reported missing again. This time it was found by the Land Title Bank and Trust Company, where it had been placed in 1905.
Dr. Kobler reported he was trying to write a history of the first ten years of the Club, unfortunately, no draft appeared. Later Ralph Busser was named Club historian but he, too, did not produce any document.
IN 1948 President Post invited the spouses of the Board members to the President's Christmas Board dinner. He served turkeys that had been raised on his son's farm. Following a delightful little talk by Dr. Pendergrass, the Ladies were called on for comment. Apparently, some members of the Board were surprised at the comments they are
wives made about them. From that time forward, spouses were invited to the Christmas party given by the President.
Also, the Ladies were invited to attend the October 1949 Reception. The speaker was Edmund H. Harding, The Tarheel Humorist. His subject: "Women". It was a resume of the lives of wives of the Presidents, from Washington to Truman. They got letters commending the program, and especially for inviting the Ladies.
On the basis of that success, they invited Harding and the Ladies back for a program the next fall. Apparently, there was the usual shoving and elbowing at the buffet table. The Ladies were assured that in the future there would be table service.
The October 1951 event with Ladies was a huge success. More than a hundred people, without reservations, appeared. To accommodate the more than six hundred in attendance, it was necessary to set up tables in several rooms of the Union League. Except for the delay, everything went well. They enjoyed the picture program on Insects, Butterflies, and Foliage. It was reported they were reluctant to leave, even at the late hour of eleven o'clock.
The next year they were prepared. Arrangements were made for seven hundred people. There was to be no charge for members. They specified, "One female relative at $5.00 (along with an acceptance of a member) and other guests at $9,00 may be invited '' Roy Howells entertained them with ready wit and commentary. The evening was pronounced a great success, but they were disappointed because the turnout was less than expected.
For the program of another meeting, they paid Caskie Sinnett fifty dollars to tell them, "Humor Is a Funny Thing."
Louis Budenz, Editor of the DAILY WORKER, and Secretary of the Communist Party in the United States addressed the next fall meeting on, "The Cry Is Peace." Black tie was requested.
A Major P. Mowitz spoke during a meeting in 1951. He declined accepting an honorarium, so they sent a gift to his wife. Dr. George Lull, President of the American Medical Association was their Guest of Honor on the same occasion.
They moved just a bit more toward including the Ladies in 1954. Their fall event was described as a dinner for members, ladies, and guests. Hurricane Hazel caused a low turnout, but 122 persons did attend in spite of the storm. The next year they changed the name of this event to "Ladies Night." The invitations requested black tie.
One of the highlights of the history of the Club occurred when Dr. George E. Pfahler presented a remarkable gavel to the Club. It was made from a mastodon tusk which was at least 25,000 years old. It had been discovered at the edge of the receding ice cap in Alaska.
It was encased in a fine wooden box, with a silver plate upon which the names of all Past Presidents of the Club were engraved. (He presented similar gavels to several other medical organizations as well.) Later in the evening, he showed his pictures of ancient and modern Peru.
Ivy Baker Priest, Treasurer of the United States, was their first woman speaker. There was 235 present for this 1957 Ladies Night dinner. Her topic was, 'Riches Money Cannot Buy.' It was reported, ''She held her audience virtually in the palm of her hand." There had been no regular fall meeting of the Club that year. Therefore, it was necessary for the members to retire to another room to hear the report of the Nominating Committee. This practice has been continued despite the fact that there have been no contested elections since 1957.
Building on that success, the next year they hired a dance band and invited Rae V. Biester, Superintendent of the United States Mint to speak. Her subject was, "Making Money-A Fascinating Business."
In l959 they combined their Fall Meeting with Ladies Night. A trio sang and they had a male speaker, for a change.
In 1961 they served cocktails at six and dinner at seven. A musical trio sang, and they showed a film, "Variations on an Italian Theme."
Ladies Night, as it is now known, developed under the Chairmanship of Dr. Francis G. Harrison, Jr. This first dinner dance (in 1962), with music by Eddie Bigham, had a neat twist. Lincoln Hall, of the Union League of Philadelphia, was set up to look like a Parisian night club. Tables were covered with red and white checkered table cloths. Candles in bottles lighted the tables. Entertainment was provided by an Arthur Murray dance team.
In 1949 they transferred a thousand dollars from the Permanent Fund to help pay expenses; in 1951, it was five thousand dollars. During subsequent years they transferred more money. In 1957 they called the transfer a loan, but none of the money was repaid. The cost of running the Club, coupled with low dues and decreased membership totals, simply made the transfers mandatory. Despite these withdrawals, the fund continued to grow in value. They considered naming a budget committee but decided just to live within their income. President Francis F. Borzell asked, "Are we making membership in the Club as attractive as we should?"
Apparently they thought increasing dues in 1950 from $7.50 to $10.00 was as far as they could go to enhance income. They discussed several other fundraising ideas but did not act on any of them. They wanted new members but they reminded themselves, "It
must be remembered that we are a social club and the highest standing in the profession is one of the requisites for membership."
DURING the Annual Meeting in 1950 Dr. Pfahler presented another of his movies. This tinge was, "A Picturesque Cruise to South America." There was no election during this meeting. They had balloted by mail, for the first time.
In 1952 they received a check for which no explanation was recorded. It was sent by a son of Dr. Myrile G. Frank, a recently deceased member. It may have been a memorial gift. In any event, It was the second, and last, gift the Club ever received. In several editions of the Club book, a bequest form was printed on the flyleaf It suggested that the donor indicate the amount and kind of gift being given. It had no effect since not a single bequest was ever received.
On March 7, 1950, Robert W. Archbald died. Without missing a step they appointed his nephew Ralph C Busser, Jr., Esp., as their new counsel. He was a member of Archbald's law firm In 1955; he submitted several proposed Bylaw amendments. This was the first mention of him in the records since his appointment five years earlier. Several years later it was suggested that he be invited to attend some of the meetings.
Unique in the records is the request of Mrs. John D. Paul to host a dinner meeting of the Board. Following her husband's death early in 1952, she asked to make this gesture because of her husband's interest in the Club, and his friendship with members of the Board. The dinner was held in the Union League of Philadelphia.
They continued to invite prospective members to attend their programs. At the conclusion of a meeting in 1951 several of their guests stated they did not know anything about the Club. Board members got out their application blanks promptly, and signed up seven of them, on the spot. A special meeting of the Board was convened, then and there, to elect them to membership. For the first time, they had failed to follow all of the requisite steps to elect members. As a follow-up they wrote to other guests who had departed the meeting early, inviting them to join, as well. Some of the zest for getting members had returned, briefly.
In 1955 Dr. Russell C. Seipel was elected Secretary-Treasurer. His predecessor, Dr. Milton F. Percival had reached an age at which he wished to retire.
During the Annual Meeting it was reported that 334 mail ballots had been returned, out of a total of 924 mailed to members. The ballot by mail was to be short-lived. By 1957 they were down to a
Page 47contest of six nominees for five positions as Director. Since then only single slates of candidates have been nominated.
There was a slight change in the invitations to the 1956 Christmas party for the Board of Directors. Dr. and Mrs. George E. Pfahler were to host the dinner for the Board members, and their spouses.
In 1958 they were promised a very prominent political personage as a speaker They got Louis R. Inward, a Surgeon General, who spoke on the "History of Aviation." Senator Hugh Scott spoke at their next meeting. Over the years securing Guests of Honor and speakers became more difficult. Among later disappointments were regretting from Vice Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
The 1965 Annual Meeting featured, "Tea Time At Cape Brett" with John Biddle showing movies of big game fishing off the coast of New Zealand. It was reported that more guests attended this program than any prior meeting of the Club because many members brought their young sons as guests. From the very beginning of the Club, there had been a rule, that only members could attend the Annual Meeting until the elections had been completed. Apparently, not all members approved of this father and son night. During the next meeting of the Board, they voted down a proposal to admit children under sixteen years of age, without charge.
Six ladies attended the April meeting. Dr. I. M. Levitt, Director of the Fels Planetarium, presented his theory that the moon was once part of the earth. He argued, therefore, that human life could be supported there.
For the April 1966 meeting the speaker was Professor Hubert Alyea. He spoke on, "Lucky Accidents, Great Discoveries, and the Prepared Mind." The Program Chairmen had been trying, for several years, to secure him as a speaker.
Dr. and Mrs. William A. Lell hosted the June meeting of the Board of Directors at their home. Wives attended this outdoor dinner and meeting.
Back in 1934 it had not been possible for the Club to make charitable gifts when there was so much need among their fellow physicians. Then, nearly forty years later, the Board decided to adopt a proposal to make charitable contributions. There was no mention of any prohibition in the Charter. Dr. William A. Lell and Mr. Busser were named as a committee of two, to make specific proposals to the Board. Their suggestion was to make contributions to national charities. At that point, Busser expressed concern about federal income tax regulations. He was asked to investigate, and he continued to investigate for several years. He reported progress from time to time. Finally, in 1970 he made his report. As a result, they gave Inglis
House a contribution of $1,000. (Appendix I lists charitable contributions.) Only one gift was made to a national charity. It was to the local chapter of the American Cancer Society, in the amount of three hundred and fifty dollars.
The question of the election of women physicians to membership arose in 1964 and twice again in early 1965. The Board discussed the concept but voted against the proposal each time. It was determined finally that the Bylaws did not need to be amended to make women physicians eligible for membership. Dr. Diane W. Crocker was elected to the membership during May 1972 and Dr. Helen C. Oels was elected later in the same year.
Early in 1967 it had been suggested that osteopathic physicians be elected to membership. The idea was not approved until 1978. Again, Mr. Busser had ruled that the provisions of the Bylaws did not prohibit their membership. Dr. Geraldine P. Baird was the first osteopathic physician elected to membership.
After months of discussion, they decided to have membership certificates printed. That meant approval of artwork as well. They received their first supply from the printer in 1968. In 1970 they offered them to members at a price of four dollars each. There appears to have been a few requests. The systematic distribution of certificates, to new members, did not begin until the middle seventies.
It was not until October of 1967 that they realized it was the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Club. They announced the fact during the Ladles Night Dinner Dance They called attention to the fact that they had presented an Award of Merit to Dr. Kobler during the Annual Meeting in January. He had been President of the Club in 1939, Secretary-Treasurer from 1948 to 1951, and a member of the Club for 50 years. They described him as being the backbone of the organization. And that was it for the seventy-fifth-anniversary celebration.
During 1968 fifteen thousand dollars was deposited with the Pennsylvania National Bank. The terms of the deposit were five percent interest, guaranteed for fifteen years and the option to make withdrawals quarterly.
When the Board met in September 1973 they expressed profound regrets on the death of Dr. Seipel who had been Secretary-Treasurer since late in 1954. His tenure, in a single office, had been exceeded only by Dr. Wray. He had continued to the last, with his gentle prodding of Board members to get them to follow up with delinquent members. Past President Frederic H. Leavitt was asked to act as Secretary pro tem, to which he agreed. This was the second time that a Past President had been recruited to fill a vacancy in the
Secretariat. Richard M. Nelson, Executive Director of the Philadelphia County Medical Society was appointed Assistant Secretary-Treasurer. In 1976 he was elected to the newly created post of Executive Secretary.
Attendance at Board meetings decreased gradually. In 1972 absent members were warned that three unexcused absences, in a year, could result in removal from the Board.
The Board approved a policy requiring applicants to pay their dues prior to their election to membership. This resulted In fewer applicants being proposed At the same time, it made it possible to have a more accurate membership count.
A Bylaw provision was adopted which required removal of names of members who were six months late in payment of their dues.
In 1978, the Board of Directors were asked to consider the idea of admitting nonphysicians as members. The idea was voted down after very little discussion.
In 1975 the membership approved a series of Bylaw amendments converting the Board of Directors to a self-perpetuating status. Under the new rules, Immediate Past Presidents automatically became Governors. After completing five-year terms, they were designated as Emeritus Members of the Board, for life. Along with this provision, the custom of retaining Directors (who were elected for a one year term) for a series of four additional terms was established. After completion of their service as Directors, they moved up the ladder of Vice Presidents to the Presidency.
During the seventies and eighties efforts were made to increase the guest list for the president's dinner, which was held just prior to the April meeting. Originally this dinner had been given by the President, In honor of Past Presidents of the Club. With the passage of years, It came to be simply the President's Dinner. Then, even later, the idea developed to have it as a dinner for the members of the Board of Directors, with the intention of honoring several medical leaders from the Philadelphia area. This effort to invite such guests produced only modest success. Ladies were officially included in the invitation to the January 1976 meeting. The subscription was set at five dollars per person. Since that time, ladies have been invited routinely to all Club programs.
The January meetings in 1978 and 1992 were canceled. These were the only calculations, due to bad weather, in the history of the Club.
September 8, 1978, was the date for a three-hour tour down the Delaware River, with approximately 150 attendings. They enjoyed the bar and smorgasbord on board This Special Event was provided
to make up for the canceled January meeting. With this another tradition of the Club was reborn (Appendix J lists Special Events.) The President of the British Medical Association, Mr. W. Linford Rees was coming to Philadelphia. Dr. H. Keith Fischer suggested giving a reception for him. In a complete reversal of the tradition of nearly a century of honoring guests, they decided not to entertain him. The Philadelphia County Medical Society held a reception for him instead.
It was decided in 1968 to make memorial contributions to The Aid Association of the Philadelphia County Medical Society. On the death of a member of the Club, a twenty-five dollar contribution was to be made to the Aid Association. No question was raised concerning the Charter provisions or legality of making these contributions.
At the time of the Annual Meeting in 1980 they recognized Drs. Roscius I. Downs and Robert D. Hunter. Each had been a member of the Club for more than sixty years There were more than a dozen other members of fifty years standing as well.
The second Special Event was another boat tour. The third one was a dinner theater party. They saw a production of "George M'', which was a sellout.
A President's pin was presented to Mr. Busser during the January Annual Meeting in 1981. On other occasions, he had been honored with a plaque and an inscribed gavel. There was, also, a contribution to a charity of his choice, in the amount of $500. He was named an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors. In 1975 he was made Club historian. All these honors made him the most decorated man In the Club. As a final tribute, they named him Counsel Emeritus when he became ill in 1985. During the June 1981 meeting, when called on for his report as Chairman of the Bylaws Committee, he had responded, "The Bylaws Committee rests at this time since it has labored valiantly on the many occasions when called upon in the past to deal with problems which were presented to the Committee." A final tribute, when he died, was another gift of a thousand dollars, his favorite charity, Inglis House.
A social highlight of the Club was the 1984 Special Event. Nearly two hundred members and guests dined in the Ballroom at Longwood Gardens. Earlier they enjoyed cocktails in the adjacent enclosed gardens and were entertained with the music of a strolling violinist. The event was repeated in 1986. A third visit was not possible. The management of the Gardens had restricted the use of the facilities to major fundraising events.
Dr. F. Peter Kohler suggested purchasing neckties with the Club insignia woven in. The Board approved the idea, and subsequently
they were distributed to all new members, with an occasional questioning comment from newly elected women members.
During 1985 the idea of electing a woman member to the Board of Directors was proposed. After considerable discussion, no action was taken.
From time to time, they talked about recruiting new members. On one occasion, a motion was adopted that members of the Membership Committee each secure twenty-five new members. During the same meeting, a thousand dollars was appropriated to the Membership Committee for development of a membership recruitment program. It was not utilized, and needless to say, the members of the Committee did not achieve their quota of new members. Once again authorization was given to inviting prospective members to Club programs. This time spouses were also invited.
Mercer D. Tate, Esq. was elected as counsel for the Club during 1985. He was the third man named to this post over a period of sixty years. He remained in this position, until his untimely death in 1991. With his leadership, the Bylaws were completely rewritten. At last, the idea of a clubhouse was struck from the list of objectives of the organization.
The Permanent Fund continued to rise in value over the years to surpass $300,000 in value. Income from it has been used regularly to subsidize the cost of activities sponsored by the Club.
In 1987 a computer was purchased for use by the Executive Secretary. It made possible better record keeping and updating of mailing addresses. Typesetting for invitations to Club functions has been achieved with computer software, and printing them now is done on a copier also owned by the Club.
During one of the Board meetings, in 1986, there had been a discussion of the upcoming Centennial of the Club in 1992. On other occasions, there were more comments and suggestions, but nothing specific developed.
The Special Event for 1987 was held in the Mummers' Museum. The Fralinger Mummers' Band furnished the entertainment. The other meetings featured Philadelphia History and Medicine and the Constitution.
The programs for the next year were devoted to culture. The classic dance was the subject for one of the meetings, and a color slide presentation on "The McIlhenny Collection'' for the other.
In 1989 Dr. Herminio Muniz presented two musical programs. The first one was on flamenco dancing. The second was a Mexican dinner, held at the Academy of Music, with entertainment by a mariachi band.
Later In the year, the Board of Directors elected Dr. Harold G. Scheie as an Honorary Member of the Club. He was the last of twenty-three persons so honored.
The first centennial event of the Club was arranged by Dr. F. Douglas Raymond, Jr. It was an illustrated presentation by Mary Hyatt Schnabel, on medicine in Philadelphia early in this century. The next program focused on the future when Robert F. Dee discussed, "How Pharmaceuticals Will Continue to Revolutionize the Practice of Medicine."
During the same year the Board approved sponsorship of a Medical Club tour to Spain, jointly recognizing the centennial of the Club and the quincentennial of the first voyage of Columbus to this continent. The group will depart from Philadelphia on September 17 and return October 3.
In 1991 Paula Amar Bram, PhD. presented an insightful and provocative paper on professional sexual conduct. "Medicine and the Arts'' was the topic for the January 1992 program.
Snapper stew had been served, for many years, as a part of the collations following the January and April meetings. Serving it had developed into a tradition. Dr. and Mrs. Seyler went to each of the tables to greet members, following the January 1992 program. They discovered that a majority of those present did not care for the snapper stew. Many asked for something else to be served. And so passed another hallowed tradition of the Club, as it adjusted to changing tastes.
The April meeting was held in Mitchell Hall of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Dr. G. John DiGregorio spoke on, " Space Medicine."
A hundred years earlier Dr. Chestnut had introduced his idea of a club for social purposes to another group of physicians meeting In the Upper Hall of the College, [then located at 13th and Locust Streets]..
The much-heralded New Jersey State Aquarium at Camden opened on leap year day. People waited in long lines to get a view of this spectacular facility. Many groups sought to use this setting for social functions. Fortunately, for the Club, Mrs. Anthony M Padula (wife of the program chairman) was able to secure the date of October 10 for the 1992 Special Event of the Club. Members, spouses, and their guests will have exclusive access to the Aquarium for the entire evening. Plans include providing cocktails and a buffet. The date for the Ladies Night Dinner Dance was changed. For many years it had been held early In October. In 1992 it will be held on November 6, at the Union League of Philadelphia, where it has been held since its start in 1962.
On Saturday, May 2, 1992, the Club was a hundred years old. On Sunday, May 3, it began its second century of life.
Page 53 EPILOGUE
THE century of life of the Medical Club has been one of changing fortunes. Today with, four hundred members, it goes almost totally unrecognized in a community of nine thousand physicians. By contrast, during the early years of this century, it was lauded as a leading social group in the City. It counted most of the great physicians of the day as members. It drew national attention to itself when it entertained President Taft. A considerable note was taken when five hundred of its members boarded the Medical Club Special [Train] for its tour of Washington, D.C.
The Club started out as a social organization for male physicians. Women were not included until the Club presented a musical program in 1924. They had been permitted only to watch the reception for President Taft from the balcony of the Grand Ballroom of the Bellevue Hotel.
Fifty years ago the complaint was heard that younger physicians were not interested in associating with their own kind. Despite this notion, younger physicians have continued to join the Club, though in lesser numbers than in earlier years.
The Club started out with the objective of providing a clubhouse for its members and guests. That goal was never met, but as wisely noted such a facility was not necessary to the longstanding success of the Club.
During the years of the early flourishing of the Club, there were probably a thousand similar, free-standing, social and semi-social, organizations of physicians in the United States. These groups died so that, today, we know of no other comparable group still in existence.
Over the decades It counted, from its ranks, five Presidents of the American Medical Association and many more Presidents of state medical societies in the tristate area. The correspondence shows that its members spread out across the world. An example is the death of Dr. Chestnut, the Club founder, in Alaska. Others went to such remote places as Singapore, the Middle East and Africa.
The careful husbanding of its resources, in the Permanent Fund, has resulted in a legacy which subsidizes the various programs presented for the members the Club, their spouses and guests.
The Club has filled its niche well. It has acted to continue to uphold the ethics of the Profession. It has provided pleasant programs for members, spouses, and guests. It has continued the opportunity for that gracious ideal of unsocial intercourse '' As a result, we see that Dr. Chestnut had a great idea when he suggested forming an organization of physicians for purely social purposes.
The Club has acted responsibly and with foresight. The concept of the Club has changed to meet changing times. It looks to its second century with more than hope. As more physicians learn about the Club, they Join, participate and eventually many take leadership roles in continuing its success.
Board of Directors 1992
President Raymond Q. Seyler, M.D.
First Vice President Anthony M. 'Padula, M.D.
Second Vice President John H. Martin, M.D.
1992 John A. Koltes, M.D.
1993 James C. Hutchison, M.D.
1994 Timothy J. Michals, M.D.
1995 Joseph W. Sokolowski, Jr, M.D.
1996 Herminio Muniz M.D.
Directors Robert E. May, M.D.
Robert E. May, M.D.
George R. Green, M.D
Herbert M. Schiller, M.D.
Charles D. Tourtellotte, M.D.
Paul Carmichael, M.D.
Past President F. Douglas Raymond, Jr., M.D.
Executive Secretary Richard M. Nelson
Emeritus H. Craig Bell, M.D.
Thomas M. Birdsall, M.D.
Robert E. Booth, M.D.
George E. Ehrlich, M.D.
H. Keith Fischer, M.D.
Francis G. Harrison, Jr., M.D.*
Robert D. Harwick, M.D.
George P. Keefer, M.D.
F. Peter Kohler, M.D.
Thomas B. Mervine, M.D.
Frederick Murtagh, M.D.
Edmond Preston, III, M.D.
Richard C. Putnam, M.D.
Edward J. Resnick, M.D.
Eugene B. Rex, M.D.
Frederick P. Sutliff M.D.
Joseph A. Wagner, M.D.
Originally published: Thursday, April 02, 2009; most-recently modified: Friday, May 31, 2019