Pioneering Research in Surgical Shock and Cardiovascular Surgery: Vivien Thomas and His Work with Alfred Blalock : An Autobiography

By Vivien T. Thomas | Go to book overview

12

After World War II ended, in 1946, we had a chance to take our first vacation since arriving in Baltimore in 1941. My wife and I, with our children, headed for Nashville. We were not natives of Baltimore, thus we were happy to head home to see family and old friends. If things looked promising economically in Nashville, consideration might be given to returning. The war had brought most civilian production to a grinding halt. Everything was in short supply, including housing. Now the war was over and the postwar boom was on, including the building trade.

Both my father and a brother, who were still in the trade, had more jobs than they could handle. I talked with them and many others I knew in the trade, and seemingly everyone was in the same situation. My father offered to let me fill the contract on a house he had not even started. Almost everyone I talked with was ready to give me a job then and there. There simply were not enough carpenters to meet the demand. It was quite a temptation but required much more thought and consideration.

I talked with our tenant, an employee of Vanderbilt, and told him his lease probably would not be renewed the following year. Knowing Dr. Blalock and our relationship in the laboratory, he laughed and said, "I'm not worried. Dr. Blalock isn't going to let you come back here even if he has to pay you out of his own pocket."

Leaving Nashville, we then went to Macon, Georgia, my wife's former home, to visit her family and friends and to relax. The visit to Nashville had turned out to be a work and business trip.

Upon returning to Baltimore after vacation, I had many conversations with my wife about what to do. The decision was finally made the latter part of October, and only the details of the move had to be worked out. Wanting Dr. Blalock to know of our plans, in early November I told him we were planning to move back to Nashville the following spring. I let him know then because I thought he would want me to train a replacement or, more likely, find a full-time physician who knew some surgery and would be interested in research to carry on his work. I told him I planned to leave around April and that Clara would stay in Baltimore until the children finished the school year.

Our dialog went essentially like this:

BLALOCK: What's the matter, don't you like it here?

-130-

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