Medical Foundation of North Carolina.

The bulletin of the School of Medicine of the University of North Carolina [serial] (Volume 5 (1957-1958)) online

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school has lost at least a dozen of the highest qualified students because we
could not compete with other Schools of Medicine, primarily in the North, in
awarding scholarships. Most of these students will undoubtedly be lost to the
State. It appears to us to be a bit irrational to encourage the most qualified
student to seek his medical education elsewhere in face of the large capital in-
vestment made by this State in medical education and its hope for a healthier
North Carolina in the future.

Carl E. Anderson

Associate Professor of Biological Chemistry
and Assistant Dean for Student Affairs

Monogram Club Dining Room

Reasonable Prices
Regular Meal a la carte

Serving Hours
Lunch: 12:00-2:00 — Dinner: 5:30-7:30

— Air -Conditioned —

On Ice

By Isaac M. Taylor"'"

Half way between the Antarctic Circle and the South
Pole, twenty-five hundred miles due south of New Zealand, lies
Ross Island, a volcanic ridge of ice and cinders rising 14,000 feet
above the icy sea to the smoking summit of Mt. Erebus. Here, in
1901 and 1910 Capt. Robert Falcon Scott of the Royal Navy
built camps from which he explored the interior of Antarctica
and from which in 1912 he finally reached the South Pole only
to perish with his companions on the return trip. Here, too, in
1908 Sir Ernest Shackleton based the first of the expeditions he
led to the Antarctic. And here in 195 5 U. S. Navy Task Force*
43 went ashore in Operation Deep Freeze I to build the biggest
of all Antarctic bases in the most important effort yet to under-
stand earth's last frontier. Mine was the interesting experience
of going ashore with the first party on December 20, 195 5, and
remaining for 13 months as medical officer in the base we built.

Operation Deep Freeze is the Navy's Antarctic undertaking
in support of the International Geophysical Year. Seven bases
have been built in Antarctica since 195 5 and now are staffed by
naval personnel and civilian scientists. Our phase of the operation
was preparatory for the I.G.Y. which was to begin in July, 1957.
In the first summer, two bases were to be built, one on Ross
Island and one 400 miles east on Kainan Bay, near the site of
Admiral Byrd's Little America Stations. Both the bases were to
be ready for the winter of 1956 and were to be manned by naval
personnel preparing for further construction work the following

I heard about the project first early in 195 5 while on duty
as a ward medical officer at the Naval Hospital at Bethesda. With
much excitement I applied for assignment to the expedition and
soon received my orders. From June to October, 195 5, materials
and supplies were gathered at Davisville, R. I., the Atlantic Fleet
Construction Battalion Center, preparatory to shipment south.
For the medical department, this meant choosing and procuring
items for the care of about a hundred men who would for over a
year be remote from a hospital and for much of that time isolated

■ Dr. Taylor is an Asst. Professor in the Dept. of Medicine at the University
of N. C. School of Medicine and is a Markle Fellow.


so that transfer of sick or injured to a hospital could not be
accomplished. By guess we estabHshed an outfitting list which by
good luck turned out to be adequate in most respects.

On October 30th, all equipment being assembled and loaded,
we got aboard the USS Edisto at South Boston and set sail. The

day was cold and rainy, but a
good crowd was on hand to cheer
us off, and all the company felt
adventurous and brave as we
steamed down the harbor for
Panama and New Zealand and the

Penguins at play.

The Edisto is an ice breaker
of the "Wind" class, and our pas-
sage in her deserves a brief descrip-

I^^^H" __VH^^^M ^^°^' ^^^^^ ^°^ polar service, she is

W^f^^JMit0'l^^'^^^^^KKKm insulated throughout with cork,

wHi» and air conditioning is not a fea-

ture of her design. In the warm
waters of the Caribbean, there-
fore, we were uncomfortably hot,
and it seemed incongruous that

our first problem in environmental adaptation on an Antarctic

cruise was how to keep cool. Indeed, those first warm days en

route to Panama were for most of

us the most uncomfortable part

of the entire year and a half away

from home. Beyond the Canal, we

were soon in the cool waters

sweeping up the west coast of

South America, so that jackets

and scarves were needed. We were

chilly even as we crossed the Equa-
tor at the Galapagos Islands, and

we did not experience temperate

weather again for 1 5 months.

Our great circle route from

Panama to New Zealand is one of

the longest passages across open

ocean in the world. We had in

tow, moreover, a harbor fueling

vessel which slowed us and the

Preparation of flaxseed poultice in
tent dispensary.


passage took 31 days. The weather consisted of one storm after
another. The hull of an ice breaker is rounded like a football so
she can slide up on an ice sheet and break down through it. This
is fine for the purpose, but in the open ocean she rolls fearsomely.
Thirty or forty degrees from upright is not unusual and I think
our greatest roll was fifty-two degrees to port. Sea legs came
quickly under these circumstances, but the most ordinary activi-
ties such as eating, sleeping, or shaving become adventures under
the effect of such continual unorthodox accelerations. If you
happen not to be sea-sick, it is amusing to watch a group standing
in the ward room having coffee and swaying back and forth
through an arc of 90 degrees. Everything moveable had, of course,
to be lashed down, including the ship's surgeon and myself as
we removed an appendix in mid-Pacific. By the time we reached •
New Zealand we all felt we had been well shaken before being

We spent three days at Christchurch in the South Island of
New Zealand, taking aboard our final supplies, and then steamed
south. The roaring 40's, the howling 50's, and the screaming 60's
were comparatively kind to us and soon we were in the quiet
waters of the pack ice. The pack, formed by the freezing of the
ocean each winter, is a band of floating ice 200 miles wide which
surrounds Antarctica. It was a formidable impediment to ships
of the early explorers for, under sail or with thin walled steamers,
they were incapable of forcing a passage and had to seek open
leads between the floes to make progress south. Through the
summer pack, however, the modern breaker can steam ahead with
only slight reduction in speed and for us the transit of the pack
was an experience of beauty and pleasure. The low sun and black
clouds, the golden ice and dark water, the penguins and flying
birds of the ice, and the seals and whales among the floes kept us
too excited to sleep and more than made up for the inconveni-
ences of the earlier stages of the journey.

In the early hours of December 20, 195 5, we brought the
smoking white cone of Mount Erebus into view and by eight
o'clock had tied up to the edge of the bay ice in McMurdo Sound
between the Island and the mainland. The USS Glacier, arriving
two days previously, had chosen a site for our camp and had
marked out on the smooth surface of the bay ice a landing strip
for planes which departed from New Zealand about the time
we arrived at McMurdo. Our first camp site was Hut Point on
the western side of Cape Armitage, the southernmost tip of Ross


Island. The site was 45 miles from our ship's berth at the ice edge
and the ship's heUcopters set to work ferrying men and suppHes.
Soon we had tents up and tractor drawn supply trains making
their way across the ice from the ship.

The camp was located at the site of Capt. Scott's base in his
first expedition. His hut was still standing but half buried by
snow and ice. Nearby, on a small hillock was a memorial cross
to a member of Scott's party who lost his life in a fall in the hills
behind the camp. A mile to the east was Observation Hill sur-
mounted by a cross erected in 1913 in memory of Captain Scott
and the four companions with whom he perished on his return
from the Pole. To the west, 45 miles away across the Sound, the
great coastal mountains which fringe the continent stretched
from north to south broken only by the huge ice stream which
flows in mighty glaciers between the peaks down from the con-
tinental plateau. To the south the vast expanse of the Ross ice
shelf led almost to the Pole itself, and over-all, to the north of us
rose Mt. Erebus' mighty summit. The place itself and its associa-
tions with the heroic Britons who lived there half a century before
was excitingly inspiring to us all and we turned to the hard task
before us with fierce enthusiasm.

About 10 P.M. that first day in beautifully clear weather
with the sun high in the western sky, the planes which had flown
from New Zealand landed safely on the ice strip. The flight was a
landmark in Antarctic operations and the dozen or so of us who
stood at the edge of the ski way cheered as the planes came in.
This was the first flight into Antarctica from inhabited regions
and pioneered the regular stream of planes which in the two sub-
sequent summers have made the flight from New Zealand to
McMurdo almost routine. There was, too, great hazard for the
planes for there was nothing but open ocean and ice along the
2 500 mile course. If the weather had been bad at McMurdo,
there were no landing or navigational aids to bring the planes in
and all would have had to make crash landings on the bay ice.
Ours was a heartfelt "hurrah" as, with planes pulled up in the
parking areas, the crews jumped down to greet us.

The most difficult work of our first weeks was unloading
the ships. At first the ice edge lay 45 miles away from camp and
a tractor and sled train took 36 hours for a round trip. Two of
our smaller breakers, the Edhfo and the Eastwind, were unable
to penetrate the ice of the sound and it seemed unlikely that as
the summer progressed, we could expect much of the ice to move


out spontaneously. Finally, however, the Glacier, our largest
breaker, tested herself in the sound and was able to steam ahead
through six feet of ice. She broke a channel to within 1 5 miles
of our camp and then she, the Edisfo and the Easfwind ferried
cargo from the cargo ship in open water to the tractor trains
waiting at the head of the channel. Thus, unloading was accom-
plished. During this phase of the operation, though, we had our
first fatality when a D-8 Caterpillar tractor broke through the
ice and carried to the bottom its driver, Richard Williams.

In mid-February, the exteriors of our winter quarters having
been completed, we moved indoors. At the sick bay, we set to
work putting up partitions and installing equipment. We had
a 15 m.a. field x-ray unit which we set up in the main dispensary
area, using the x-ray table as an examining table as well. We
made a small operating room with a good overhead light, a good
floor light, a collapsible operating table, and shelves and cabinets
for equipment. We found a corner for our gasoline fired auto-
clave and constructed a drug room on the shelves of which our
wide variety of medications was arranged alphabetically for ready
accessibility. Two rooms, one 7x6 and one 7x7 were partitioned
off to serve respectively as in-patient quarters and as my combina-
tion office and living quarters. The dentist had about sixty-four
square feet in which he set up his field dental outfit. The
remainder of the space was used as general dispensary, x-ray room,
and laboratory. The total area was 24x28 feet.

In addition to the dentist and myself, the sick-bay staff
consisted of two Navy Hospital corpsmen. One had had extensive
field duty in World War II and in Korea and, in addition, was
trained as a neuropsychiatric technician. The other had had a
lot of time at sea and was experienced in x-ray work. We were
a congenial crew.

On March 9th, the USS Glacier, the last ship out, departed
for home and ninety-three of us were left to spend the winter
with only radio communication with the outside. We were justi-
fiably impressed with our isolation. Our nearest neighbors were
at Little America, 400 miles to the east and would, of course, be
inaccessible during the winter night. The nearest civilization was
New Zealand but neither ships nor planes could reach us from
that distance. There would be no mail, of course, but radio would
provide us with occasional messages and even conversations with
home. As the Glacier steamed away, our reactions were mixed,
but spirits were high and no one made an eleventh hour break to


X-ray iquipnnnt in permanent sick hay.

go back. I am sure, however, that the medical officer was not
the only one who was wondering what he had let himself in for.

During the winter we were blessed with being busy. In the
first place, even the routines of Antarctic life are arduous and
time consuming. Food preparation and service and the entire
operation of the galley was hampered by the relative scarcity of
water and the absence of modern equipment. Water had to be
made from melted snow. All wastes and refuse had to be hauled
by sled to the refuse dump area. Inadequate inside space required
all bulk items to be stored outside which meant hours of digging
after every storm. The weather was hard on all equipment, and
breakdowns kept the mechanics' squad on the jump. Our electri-
city came from diesel powered generators which required con-
stant attendance. Around-the-clock watches in radio and meter-
ology absorbed the energies of many of our party.

In addition, we had three other big jobs. The first was
completion of camp construction, the second, construction of an


ice runway from which planes could operate in the coming spring
and summer, and the third, packing for parachute drop all of the
material and supplies to be used in construction of the South Pole
Station. Fatigue rather than boredom turned out to be our
principle problem.

The weather during the winter was not as difficult as we
had expected. After the sun disappeared, the usual temperature
in the camp was between 30 and 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit
and the coldest was about — 5 5 degrees. On the runway, two
miles from camp, readings were usually 10 to 20 degrees lower
and the record low was — 69 degrees. There was a good deal of
wind and the air was often filled with falling and blowing snow.
Nevertheless, our men worked outside throughout the winter
and it is fair to say that we lost less time from outdoor work
because of weather than we would have lost during a winter at

The food was good and adequate in amount. Fresh frozen
items made possible considerable variety, though we all came to
miss fresh eggs, fresh vegetables and fruit. Our quarters were
comfortable though moderately crowded. We had washing
machines and clothes driers and weekly showers in spite of the
relative shortage of water. In the latrines there was running hot
and cold water for shaving and washing. Our store sold candy
and soft drinks and a moderate ration of beer. There was a good
library and we had records for music. On Saturday nights we
had a movie or an amateur hour and a ration of grog for all hands.

In spite of all this, the time passed slowly and as the winter
wore on, we grew quite homesick and depressed. The long dark-
ness became very tiresome and we sorely missed our families.
Movies and the austral aurora and occasional rations of booze
were not completely satisfying. Even multivitamin capsules did
not seem to help. There were no real breaks, but we grew moody
and tired and going home came to be the most important aim in

Medically, things were fairly quiet. One man had a mental
break and had to be in sick bay for several months. There was
considerable trauma ranging from slight burns to broken bones.
Carbon monoxide intoxication was a frequent occurrence, usually
mild but in one case a near thing. One welder burned his ear
drum. Metal fume fever was common as a result of metal work
in closed and poorly ventilated spaces. There was no infectious


disease during the period of isolation and cold injury was negli-
gible. A very frequent complaint was insomnia, "Big Eye," as
we called it. Caused, I thought, by interruption of the accustomed
alternate night and day combined with chronic homesickness, the
complaint could be alleviated by two or three nights' sedation to
re-establish the normal sleep pattern.

Somehow the job was done. We clicked off in succession the
davs which serve as landmarks in the Antarctic season — the
autumnal equinox, the departure of the sun on April 21st, the
Winter Solstice, the fourth of July, the return of the sun on
August 21st, Labor Day, and the Vernal Equinox. Somehow, the
time did pass and on the morning of October 16th, we saw the
Admiral's R5D fly overhead, land to bring us mail, break our
seven months' isolation and start the busy summer operation.

Soon the Navy and Air Force planes were flying back and
forth to New Zealand, to the Pole, and to Little America. Soon
the Glacier returned after battering her way for a month through
the still frozen sea, and soon the camp population had tripled.
The first airplane landing was made at the South Pole. Then the
pole base construction crew — 20 of our wintering over party
especially picked for the job — were flown in to the Pole. Air
Force Globemasters dropped load after load of equipment and
supplies. By January the Pole base was built and the people who
were to winter at the Pole itself replaced our workers.

At sick bay, as throughout the camp, we were hectically
busy all summer. In three months, from October to January we
had 1600 out-patient visits. Everyone had a cold but fortunately,
complicating infections were rare. There were many more
injuries as a result of the increased number of personnel and
activity. A catastrophic plane crash which killed four men and
left four critically injured taxed our facilities to the limits for
several days until we could fly the casualties to New Zealand. A
snow vehicle fell through the surface of the ice killing one man
and immersing in the icy water five others. Snow blindness was
common among the summer visitors who had not yet learned the
necessity for the constant use of glasses.

At last, however, on the 21st of January, 19 57, USS Curtis
appeared through the ice, bringing our replacements. Welcoming
them joyously, we congratulated them on their choice of duty
and scrambled onboard the ship to begin the long voyage home.


Alas, The Crowner!

By Frederick Creighton Wellman, M.D.

Ofie More Jangling Jingle, but With Extremely
Serious Undertones

Now since remotest ages man has sought Death's mystery,
And Magic was the reason many ancients thought the key/
Medusa, killed by Perseus — all who saw her turned to stone.^

^ j^^^^^^^^^^^^''^^ A Niobe wept till she became a statue all

M/r // ^10 alone.^

Lot's wife was turned to salt because she

wouldn't mind her Lord,"^
An incident some husbands will be happy

to record!
And through the centuries strange deaths

have puzzled the bereaved^
Because no one was wise enough to prove

what they believed
Until there came a day when skeptics

reasoned and were sure^
That murder was the cause of many

deaths that seemed obscure.
A thousand sad tales could be told, but

they would weary you.

All who saw her turrjcd to stone.

^ Cf. Pliny, Nat. Hist., 6. However he adds: scd in b':s veneficas artis pollere,
non magicas, i.e., he thinks poisons often more likely than magic!

2 Ovid, Metamorph., IV. Cf. also Hesiod, Thcog.; Euripides, Ion, etc. A witty
and learned colleague whom I told I was about to write the present jingle
asked me: "The people who turned to stone upon viewing Medusa, was their
lithogenesis psychosomatic?"

^ Homer, Iliad, XXIV. Cf. Sophocles, Electra; Ovid, Metamorph., etc.

^Genesis, XIX, 26. Cf. Luke, XVII, 32. The friend and colleague mentioned
in Note 3 also asked: "Lot's wife, did she have malignant hypernatremia?"

^ In this connection I should point out that there are ancient and medieval
discussions of poisons ranging from the bare mention by Plato (Laws, circa
B. C. 346) to the elaborate treatise, Dc Venenis, of Peter of Albano (A. D.

Dr. Wellman is a modest medical man it'ho has practiced, done re-
search and taught. He is not "recognized internationally as an outstanding
authority on the history of medicine'" nor has he "set medical history forivard
at least 150 years." At 88 years of age he merely considers it apodictic that he
has a perfect right to enjoy the exiguous reivards of ivide reading.

"Lot's wife,

did she have

mali gnant



And as my sermon will need space I shall list very few,

The Borgias, and the poison plots around Louis Quatorze,^

The famous cases in our time — here's one that my blood froze:

A heartless female criminal in our fine Old North State,

Without detection, unsuspected, blithely poisoned eight

Good innocent relations, husbands, other kin, for money.

She moved, however, and what happened to her was right funny.

They did not have politically chosen coroners

Where she went, but instead sharp medical examiners.

So when she murdered her ninth there, her guilt was undisputed

And then in spite of tears and pleas she was electrocuted.'

In olden days the Crowner was a handyman of kings

Who had a lot of chores to do, in fact a hundred things.

*' V. any history of Europe for a plentiful crop of polite and unsolved murders.

^ This case was called to my attention my another friend. It took place some-
when around 3 years ago and the chief North Carolina papers ran the story.
It was long enough ago that my friend and I are no longer clear as to the
'■'details of the crimes, penalty, etc. The New York Times index does not list it
and I am not young and vigorous enough to go to Durham, Raleigh or else-
where and dig through the morgue of a daily newspaper. One thmg is certain,
however. The lady residing in North Carolina got away with murder on a
grand scale. Her name was Nannie Doss.


In time his only duty was to find out and avow

If a suspicious death was brought about, and why and how,

And he was called a coroner and everybody saw

The moral bond, so he became an officer of law.

Commit no crime, believe in God, and you are qualified

To be a North State coroner (however, it's implied

Of course that you have friends in politics), no art or skill

Is asked of you as you face awesome duties to fulfill.

Provided they use methods just a bit unusual

The murderers among us can be very casual

Before non-medical inexpert coroners who lack

All chemical and pathological and legal knack

blithely poisoned eight . .

Of spotting clever criminals, but cheer them on to come

Here to one of the safest places they could make their home.

Our Government should think this over, for it is high time —

Do we wish to attract to our State industry or crime?

There are a hundred ways to murder that no coroner.

Except a trained forensic doctor only, could discover.

Duke, Bowman Gray and UNC, or any first class college

Could take physicians and give them the needed special knowledge.

Then don't expect such men to do good work on some chance fee.

But pay them decently according to real dignity;

And with a Chief Examiner and Central Laboratory

Our tragic out-of-date neglect would be another story.

I wonder why our legislators have not realized

That North Carolina, as things are, is not yet civilized.


On the Urgent Need for Increased
Loan Funds

By William R. Beckman""

During the past few years much has been written concerning
the increasing cost of providing today's high quahty medical edu-
cation. It is estimated that it costs the State $12,000 to train a
medical student, and it is recognized that only a small portion of
this amount, $2,400, is paid by the prospective physician. In
spite of this relatively small percentage which the medical student
has to pay there are a good number of students in this school who
are finding it difficult to finance their medical education without
outside help.

In some cases the student seeks the answer to his financial
difficulties by working at one or more part-time jobs during
the school year. He often finds however, that the work is
taking too much time and energy from the pursuit of his pri-
mary goal. Because the study of medicine is such a vast and com-
plex undertaking, many students who attempt to divide their
time between this and outside employment often find the quality

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Online LibraryMedical Foundation of North CarolinaThe bulletin of the School of Medicine of the University of North Carolina [serial] (Volume 5 (1957-1958)) → online text (page 9 of 15)