University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – Medical School Commencement, June 1948

On The City of Miami en route to Chicago

June 20

In résumé of the last days of medical school, I ended up standing 20th in my senior class of some 120 souls. This made me ninth on average for the four years, which in turn made me eligible for election into the honorary medical society, Alpha Omega Alpha. This actually happened. I was taken in along with classmates Denser and McDonniel and heard about the election at the Senior Banquet. I was at first unbelieving, even defensive, yet, in the end, quite happy about it.

Mother came to Tulane for the three days celebration of Ivy Day and Commencement. On Ivy Day, our class, with families and friends, gathered on the mall outside Richardson Hall in delightful weather and there listened to Harold Cummins give a splendid message on “ The Amenities” (see below). Afterward, I took Mother to Galatoire’s for a real New Orleans luncheon. Thinking that she might have mellowed a bit I ordered a glass of wine for both of us. What a mistake that was. It spoiled the whole occasion for her.

The Senior Banquet was superb. The “Bull,” Dr. Wilbur Smith, came back from San Francisco just for the occasion, where he said many naive but sincere things. In the end, he parodied himself with his familiar call: “Get this fixed in your mind, Freshmen!” The Big Boys told raucous jokes and Profs. Smith, Dunlap, Parsons, Gage, and Dean Lapham continued to party with us in the Nu Sigma Nu house. Everybody sang along with Parsons and Skillicorn on piano, while the dean danced soft-shoe. The party then continued until dawn in the dean’s French Quarter apartment where Mims Gage was full of goodwill and jokes, in his renowned convivial, imbibical nature. Dunlap, too, got mellow and philosophical, exposing anew his essential humanism and thoughtfulness in all realms. Parsons was encouraging and ambitious for us all and even bade me good-bye with a warm comment and quasi-invitation: “I’d like to talk with you about your career, Blackburn.”

That night, my AOA colleagues and I revealed our longstanding mutual admiration. Those were the “heavies” for me, the special ones in our class, including Garlett, London, and Sabshin, whom I suspect had elected me.

The commencement ceremony itself was impressive despite the steaming heat. Tulane’s President Harris had invited an outstanding liberal editor to speak, Mark Ethridge of the Louisville Courier Journal. Mounting the platform in great dignity to receive our sheepskins, all of us decked out formally in green tassels and academic yokes, Roger’s hat fell off and Crawford tripped on her gown. But, in the end, we were all graduated.

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