University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – The Army-McCarthy Hearing and Other Amusements

For amusement, albeit grotesque, in the halcyon days of the mid-1950s, we had the Army-McCarthy Senate hearings, which were televised to the new black and white sets mounted on every ward in the VA Hospital. The TV images helped us see right through that malevolent man, Joseph McCarthy, who vied with his counsel, Roy Cohn, in inciting our ire and disgust. And we were present on that wonderful day, watching the hearings live between visits on morning rounds, when Judge Welch uttered those heartfelt and damning words, “Have you, after all, Sir, no sense of common decency left?” — words that exposed the perfidy and sounded the knell and led to McCarthy’s censure in the Senate and to his subsequent slow suicide in alcoholic vapors and disgrace.

For other amusement, we put together a bouncy little jazz band of diverse staff membership, which enlivened the parties of our happy academic crew.

Otherwise, we residents worked hard, though not slavishly, on the wards. And, during the 1950s, we made children willy-nilly with our young, family-oriented, home-body spouses. Some of us had rental lake cabins in summer and we all threw many slide-show, home-movie, and hi-fi record socials, barbecue parties and picnics. Above all, in those days, we had few doubts about our futures — or even about the future.

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