Chuck Stieger: Okay, my name is Chuck Stieger and I'm talking today with Dr.J.B. Bell.
J.B. Bell: Right.
CS: Who is a physician in Louisville and today's date is April 20th, 1977 andthis interview is one in a series concerning black history in Louisville, Kentucky. And if I may begin with getting some biographical information from you Dr. Bell, where you were born and raised, and your education, leading into how you became a physician perhaps.
JBB: Very well Sr., I was born and raised in Tallulah, Louisiana spelledT-A-L-L-U-L-A-H. The date of my birth is April 20th, 1904. From that time and going into my early schooling was in Tallulah but I transferred in 1918 to 1:00Alcorn A and M College which is at Alcorn Mississippi. This was done because the educational opportunities at home were very limited and by going to the college they had people who better prepared. The college as such, had high school and elementary school, but when I began at Alcorn I began in the seventh grade. I was there for the two years in elementary, four in high school graduating in 1924. After graduating from high school in 1924, I did my college work in Morehouse College of Atlanta Georgia, entering there in the fall of 1924, and 2:00having my schedule arranged so that I could go to medical school later. I was able to complete my work for graduation in three years and in 1927. I then transferred to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, where I began my medical education in whole at that time graduating four years later in 1931. After having graduated from medical school I then did a rotating internship at George W. ( ) Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee from 1931 and 1932. That used my education of tracked from the time that I was in elementary school until that I 3:00had graduated from medical school. Is that about what you want on that or is there specific things you want along those lines?
CS: Yeah, I was curious when you made your decision to go into the medical profession?
JBB: Well my decision to go into the medical profession was possibly from anearly start state. My mother worked for a physician at my home and I was around the physician a great deal even from early childhood, and from that time on, I had a minor leaning towards medicine. Then after having gone to high school, I became very friendly and closely associated with the school physician whose name 4:00was Claude ( ) Robinson. And being around him for the years that I was in Alcorn, I feel caused my condition to become very definite and I pointed in that direction. The only other thing that I had that I felt would have been interesting to me if I had not gone into medicine would have been chemistry and mathematics. So all along the line I found myself dealing and attempting to make a choice between the two and medicine won.
CS: [Laughing] That's interesting. Would you consider, from your experience,when you were growing up and your surroundings was it easier or is it easier for a black with an academic education to find employment than someone with a 5:00skilled trade, for instance?
JBB: I feel--
CS: Did that influence you?
JBB: That influenced me to a reasonable degree. For instance, there were onlythree or four occupations that one was able to find work except at the low level. Those were medicine, ministry, or teaching; actually blacks had not a great deal of input even in the legal field. As one may readily see, when or if you are in trouble and need legal counsel, your whole hope is to win because of the lack of or I should say consideration shown to the legal people who were 6:00black then. Most individuals, particularly if they had a serious condition to attempt to clear up had to seek legal opinion outside of the black race. But the people in general did rally reasonable close to the black position. Of course, there again, there were not as many of the specialists as we have today but the common and ordinary illnesses were treated and looked after and I suppose because of the closeness of the people to the black physician. It gave them a desire to be served by them and consequently, I believe, that many factors were 7:00a motivation for me attempting to go into it. But as we have now were that you have black lawyers in very high places and position or many other individuals in industry and especially the athletics we find that medicine is not attracting as many of the black people as, frankly, I should like to see attracted to it. In Louisville, here now, we have an extremely shortage in black physician. At one time I was told before I came that there were as many as fifty-one black physicians in the city. The population was much less back at that time. The basis for that high number was there was a college then that was graduating 8:00black physicians and like everything else, there are many people that will stay in the environment in which they are trained. But after that college no longer met standards and had to close, then the other black physicians that have come into Louisville have been on a constant decline. And, therefore, at the present time I would say there are less than fifty, I mean twenty black physicians in Louisville. When you consider an all time high at fifty-one at which time your population was possibly a fourth or not more than a half of what it is that you can see what a great disproportion you have.
CS: That's interesting. What getting back, kind of to the original question if Ican maybe refocus it. When you were growing up then and had a desire for higher 9:00education, there is only a limited number of fields available for black men to go into?
JBB: That is correct. There were, there was a very definite limit to the fieldsin which one could go and especially do as one would say, reach the top. There was always one of the conditions in which that you would have to be subordinated, that is to say as ( ) individuals high in types of industry or sometimes in other organizations and also in law. We can really realize how that I guess our greatest legal post would be that of the Supreme Court. And there is a black ( ) who is Thurgood Marshall. As we come on down the line if we consider 10:00the ambassador of the United Nations are black, but those things at that time or at the time in which I was coming along were completely unheard of.
CS: Did, once you became a doctor, were you limited to only treating blackpatients or--
JBB: No, no I was not. For instance, after having finished my internship inNashville, I then opened my office in Frankfort, Kentucky. And I should state because of the gentleman with whom I went in the office, or really didn't go in the office with but became associated with who was Dr. E. E. Underwood. His reputation had been one that had no blemishes to the best of my knowledge and 11:00when I got in Frankfort I found that he was treating some of the best families in Frankfort who were not black. I'm not too sure about this, but I believe historically he would be rated as a second or third black physician to practice in Kentucky. But the first was a Dr. Hunter over in Lexington, E.E. Hunter. They both were from Missouri, Cleveland Medical School and both of them had reputations that had been outstanding. Even at an early date into Frankfort 1932 a large portion of my practice was white but I felt that that had been established because of the contact Dr. Underwood had had when there. For when I went in with him, he had already practiced in Frankfort for fifty years and the relationships that he had with the top people of Frankfort were very good. The 12:00high school there had been named for him, which was the Underwood Male High School and the buildings on the Kentucky State campus were some were named for him. So I feel I know a great bit of the success I had in the beginning of the environment in which I started and not necessarily of my own making.
CS: What were some of the barriers that you ran up against if there were any tobecoming a physician and once you did begin practicing?
JBB: Well, as we know, there are barriers all along but of course finance waspossibly one of the big factors. But I was fortunate enough to be reasonably 13:00well financed, and I say reasonably well but not completely, as my father was a section foreman for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and as we know, railroads have always been very high up and very fair in that equitable pay. So that removed a good bit of the barrier for me on that. For the other institutions where salaries normally of the farm laborers were dollar or a dollar and a half a day, and then only when it didn't rain, well they had a slogan on the railroad that it never rained on the railroad which was that rain or shine you worked. That was a big advantage to me. So consequently I was able to go along, and I 14:00suppose, because of the consistency that went along with his working and the knowledge that there wasn't such a thing as a free ride, that you had to deliver. That was more or less the dogma of their own. I attempted to try to be consistent from the very beginning and really the barriers were not too great especially after once having got into school it was a question of attempting to continue to go. And I had the advantage of having a very good background, I feel, in my college because at that time Morehouse was rated as having, to the best of my knowledge, the best scientific courses in the black colleges. And 15:00also at that time there were only about five black colleges whose courses were inter-exchangeable with those of the other colleges that received black students. Morehouse was one, Fisk University was two, Atlanta University was three, Howard University in Washington D. C. was four, and Lincoln Pennsylvania in Lincoln Pennsylvania. So after having gotten a good college background, medicine did not become such a great handicap. Then after graduating and coming to Frankfort to open practice, and as stated before, there was a college there 16:00which gave a very reasonable outlet for social activities and good contacts that things began to move along at a reasonably normal and not to discouraging a rate.
CS: I want to kind of jump ahead in your life a little bit.
JBB: Go ahead.
CS: I have a newspaper article here it was from the Courier Journal in October,I think it was October 1, 1958 it was dated. And it stated that you attended or that you were the only doctor from the Kentucky and Indiana area that attended the Fifth International Conference on Diseases of the Chest. I believe this was in Japan?
CS: I wonder if you could comment about your trip there and how it came aboutand perhaps how you got into this specialty?
JBB: Well, I can I mean it is this. It was 1958, after I had gone to Frankfort17:00and practiced for a while, in fact nearly two years. I began to have trouble, or I should say I developed a trouble in my own chest and after having done that then tied up and got myself all straight and I began then to become interested in chest diseases. So I began to work in the sanatorium and in the clinics of Louisville and Jefferson County. In 1943 I became a member of the American College of Chest Physician that you will see from the plaque. And on this basis, I followed very closely a number, in fact most of the outstanding, I should say 18:00conventions or meetings for a period of time a good many of them were done in the country here then a good many of them were done outside of the country. The first one that I did attend was 1950 in Tokyo. At that time it was a very enjoyable trip. Everybody and everything were quite hospitable and at that particular time we, while in Japan, we went to many of the other ( ) Nara, Kyoto, Fugare, and covered Japan in general. It was then that we saw a great deal that was happening in the Japanese then as I am sure now were very keen. They had done a great deal of work and most of them, or most of it was 19:00demonstrated by a beautiful photographer. So, by that time I had found myself too wrapped up to think of anything else. I did full-time chest work from 1935 till 1946, which was about eleven years. After that I began to do a part-time private practice but even then it was mostly chest. But by 1946 there was a declining rate of mobility in chest diseases and so with that decline that gave me more freedom. There was another physician Dr. O. L. Bauer and I who had worked in the sanatorium together. So, he continued to do full-time--
CS: Is that the Waverly Hills?
JBB: Yeah, that's Waverly Hills Sanatorium where I first began. And he continued20:00to do full-time work but I was able to, during those years from 1935 till 58 I had charge of the outpatient work in town and in the clinic up until I took charge of that the people who their lungs had collapsed. At Waverly, they often had a problem of going backward and forwards to the sanatorium to keep them up. Finances were very close and after that Dr. Osco Miller who had charge of the outpatient work we set up and equipped a new ( ) clinic in town in which I feel aided us a great deal in keeping control of the individuals who had once begun their collapse theory because there were no funds or means by transporting the people backwards and forwards in regards to how badly you needed something. If you didn't have the funds to go get it, you couldn't have it. So we kept a good 21:00program going until we found that there was a fading away. There was also a little shift in the treatment of Tuberculosis from the collapsing with air ( ) to one that when the legions were of such the individual could have a Thorocoplasty or removal of some of the ribs and making the collapse permanent which did away with that constant keep up and that moved in. And after that it went on to the place where that the individual had the great discovery of the antibiotics and the chemotherapy PASINH and the rest and to the Tuberculosis we are happy to say is not the great problem it was. Along about those beginning years it was 200 plus per 100,000 that is 200 dead when now, I think our general 22:00advantages are less than twenty.
So you can see, at one time we had 600 beds at Waverly Hills Sanatorium, 400 ofthose were for the whites and 200 was for the black and considering how much more you were when we were approximately ten to fifteen percent of the population receiving fifty percent of the beds but it wasn't a question who was black or white, it was matter of controlling the disease. Now we have about six counties included in this area at that time, the treatment was solely to members of Louisville and Jefferson County but now we have about six counties included and I heal or believe that there are something like about fifty-eight beds 23:00allotted for six counties where we have 600 beds allotted for one. And those are not always over-run and filled, so you can see the progress that has been made in the control of Tuberculosis.
So, that's why I felt that like that after having made the trip to Japan andbecoming more and more indoctrinated with Tuberculosis as such, that we were able to see what progress you could have in ones lifetime which is not always the case. And since that trip, we've had others that are listed and documented at the other places. But the organization meets every two years, one a general scale, and after the trips in Japan, of course then you'd go to Europe. We had 24:00on that trip-- including there was possibly Vienna and London, Paris and so forth on it so it has offered a very good opportunity to travel and actually see what is being done by other people. And during this time period, we have been afforded and able to visit Russia on two occasions too and get in to seeing how they are doing with their treatment. So the organization as such, has given a very good opportunity to see what is done in other places except in our own home.
CS: What-- I noticed one comment made in the paper while you were on thatoriginal trip to Japan was that this was the time during the Little Rock crisis in Arkansas. And people, I guess the Japanese were asking or kind of bewildered 25:00about the whole thing and were asking you to try and explain it and you made the comment, in the paper, if this is correct, that there was no way on earth to explain Little Rock to foreigners at that time. Could you maybe tell us a little bit about that experience?
JBB: Well I can say this, that actually as my wife and I were in the hotel room,they had good television there on it. You could see it as well as if you were standing on the corner of Center Street in Little Rock and I think that is where that the school was at that time. You could see the troops coming on and just it was just plain. And individuals, many times, are unable to see way maybe that one segment of a population would be actually doing the cruel acts that it was 26:00at that time to the other segments and that is why that I said that it is virtually difficult to explain.
But I feel that's no more difficult than other things when you consider it whenwe consider the fact that Great Britain, the Country from whom we receive most of our background, to have people once having had war and only the Thirty Year War or the War of the Roses or presently carrying on the wars between the Protestants and the Catholics. But to the other fellow who just doesn't understand it is as difficult to understand why it is. And even now as it is, it is difficult for me to see just why that we have it. I know that we have it. I know that it is a part of reality. I know that things go. I know that everybody is not going to take everyone up in their arms and lull them to sleep and love 27:00or kiss them. It isn't that, but I'm saying there were, there was a statement by one of our leaders who was Booker Washington who made this statement that there was certain policies upon which the individual maybe as separate as the fingers on the out stretched hand, while others they should be as united as a clenched fist.
So, to my mind, an individual may go and marry whoever he wants or go andassociate who he wants but if there are policies that come along with such things as education, you find it difficult to see why that an individual would want to set up a double standard. Go to double expense and all the other types of things because even where people are of the same group, same ethnic background, one is going to live on one side of the railroad track and another 28:00on the other. So there for, we let the individual choose and you don't have an explanation. But to have for the President to have to send soldiers in, I mean, it just seems to me unthinkable, that's just the whole thing about it. For I know there are a good many friend with whom I have been associated with who are white.
I think that the bonds couldn't be closer between them and their other whites orbetween them and me because I think that individuals accept individuals on the basis of the individual. Just as one chooses his or her religion on the basis of what he wants and when he does that it is the way it ought to be. CS: That's interesting. I was wondering perhaps in this newspaper article, it also mentions that you were on the staff of Jewish Hospital; I don't know if you still are?
JBB: I am.29:00
CS: And in charge of-- the chairman of executive committee of the Red CrossHospital. I wonder if you could perhaps tell us a little about that.
JBB: Yes, well I'm not too sure which but here you only see that it is 1958. Iwas put on the staff of the Jewish Hospital and I don't know how it ranks as to first. You know most every type of a thing when it becomes interested in discussing about black whether it's first or last or the intermediate and so forth but I think maybe because of my work with the public health and all that, and knowing other people, I was at least amongst the first that were asked if not the first on the Jewish Hospital. And it was a privileged experience and at present then the Jewish Hospital is where I am doing all of my admissions on my patients at the present. There have been several changes then. I was the staff 30:00executive of the Red Cross Hospital and I was placed in that position by our then Director of Health whose picture I'll show you on the wall, Dr. Hugh Leaver. Because of the Day Law and different types of the thing black physicians had little or no opportunity for clinical training. I had just not too long had graduated and come up and been trained in the medical school. So he chose me to develop the hospital. We began with it in forty-one and about forty-three we had complete approval from the American College of Physicians, I mean on that the American College of Surgeons. These were very keen gentlemen and didn't think in terms of anything but except excellence. So, I was there but at that time I was 31:00not doing--when we began I was doing only public health work but in 1958 then I was doing a part-time practice at that time. Then after that, I began to work out of Louisville Memorial Hospital with likewise has shifted its program now but Louisville Memorial is one of those that was under the jurisdiction of the city and being the Director of Health, then all of that came under Dr. Leaver and he was able to manipulate it as he chose so that was it. But I enjoyed working at the Jewish Hospital. The individuals there have been quite courteous. And-- 32:00
CS: --black physicians from continuing their clinical training then.
JBB: Yeah, that's right. But then there was a law on the statute books and Ileft. Our quoted right is that was a penalty of fifty dollars per day for whites teaching blacks or black teaching white or whatever was on that and because that the black physicians had no place where that they could continue clinical 33:00training. Dr. Leaver was interested in getting a hospital established where people could get clinical training. Not only that, he opened up one of the clinics in town where that people were able to get some treatment. You could see the gross injustice in not being able to go along even though you were paying taxes or whatever it was but if the law said you couldn't do it then you couldn't do it.
CS: Were hospitals segregated also at that time?
JBB: Not only segregated, I mean there were no admissions. There were only twohospitals in town in which that black people--and one was the Red Cross and the other was General Hospital but the wards were completely separated, don't you see. And the Red Cross Hospital really had been sponsored and kept going largely through the generosity of Mrs. Hattie B. Speed for whom the Speed Museum is named and she was interested in it because the nurse, who was a black woman and 34:00who was a graduate of Berea College before the separation of Berea, which as we know was split into Berea College there, and Lincoln Ridge up in Simpson County, was her traveling companion and all. And she virtually carried the expense of the Red Cross Hospital, I mean Mrs. Speed, Mrs. Hattie B. Speed I mean see. And incidentally on the basis up there you will see a picture of Abraham Lincoln that was given the Mrs. Speed and Mrs. Speed gave it to this nurse companion of hers and that nurse companion gave it to me so that is suppose to come directly from Abraham Lincoln, see.
CS: That's interesting. That's a good--a nice memento.35:00
JBB: Yes it is.
CS: Did the Day Law affect, in other words, if you wanted to consult withanother specialist who was white, did that prevent you from--doctors consulting with each other?
JBB: No, I really don't know but I don't think it did. I think that it appliedprimarily to the teaching of the situation see because in the Red Cross Hospital, some of the best white physicians in town practiced and it was, and they were there when I went there and we had our staff meeting and everything. It was fine. But you see it seemed to have been based upon the fact that those physicians were there because they attended the black people who were employed by their other people, that is by the white people they were attending or by such people who were working in various industry. You see, if an individual was 36:00working let us say the American Standard or Harvest or some place and received an injury if he should have to go to General Hospital then he could not be treated by the physician of choice of the industry but he would have had to be treated by whoever was the person doing that particular specialty at General Hospital which was under the University of Louisville. But that gave the other white physicians the opportunity to look after whatever black patients that were injured or were ill at the request of their white people for whom these people were working don't you see. And the most of the good physicians there were no question about the fact is the quality of medicine there was very good after it 37:00became on the basis of a hospital, when I said after it became on the basis of a hospital. But up until the time that we got it re-orientated according to Dr. Leaver and we said in the beginning of Forty-one there was no effort to keep perpetual records, for instance there was no librarian there it was no resident. Now I drove along with my wife to Philadelphia to get the first intern that was ever at Red Cross who was a gentleman named Dr. Settle, Dr. William B. Settle. In fact, ( ) why he agreed to come, they just shortened it before the time frame to come. We got a letter from him and he stated he wouldn't come because he had been offered more money to go to another place. So Dr. Leaver permitted me to get in the car and go and to Philadelphia where he was interning and to outbid 38:00whatever they had and we did just that, don't you understand. See so the road hasn't been easy at all but I think the community owes a great deal to Dr. Leaver who, to my mind, was as keen as anyone could be. He was a graduate of Harvard and of Yale, so that within itself tells you what ( ).
CS: Is he still living?
JBB: No, no he's dead unfortunately. He's dead. He has been dead now roughlyabout a year and a half, don't you understand, about a year and a half see. And he left after he did a whole lot, in fact I couldn't even tell you the number of things that he did.
CS: What was his full name again?
JBB: Hugh R. Leaver, Hugh Rodman Leaver I'll show you here, I have a picture onmy wall. He's one of three pictures I have on the wall that's one and him and Dr. Underwood with whom I went in. Dr. Leaver and ( ) and Dr. Osco Miller who was the individual who was my chief in the outpatient in pulmonary diseases and 39:00who was very keen and at the present time who has two sons in Louisville practicing. Both of whom are doing a tremendous job too; Alfred Miller, who was a radiologist and Dr. Milton Miller, who is an internist.
CS: Dr. Leaver, did you clarify, what was his position in Louisville? Was he a () physician or a GP?
JBB: He was a director. He did public health. He was director of health, healthdirector for the city of Louisville and Jefferson County.
CS: He was not a black then?
JBB: No, no, no he was white. That's what I was saying that he was.
CS: I wanted to clarify that. That's interesting; the Day Law then would preventthe black physicians from attending courses, refresher courses at the University of Louisville Medical School?
JBB: Yes they would. They would prevent any teaching of that, see until that gotchanged from the law. I don't recall exactly the year that it was-- 40:00
CS: Around Fifty, 1950 I think.
JBB: I was going to say sometime about that. And it was a good bit of pushing byone of the attorneys, I mean Anderson, Charles Anderson. He was one I know that did a good bit of work on it.
CS: Did the black physicians find that you had to go out of state to--
JBB: To receive extra training. Yes, that is true see. But that was not onlythat I tell you when I first went in to do my internship in Nashville, I--it wasn't the law but I was around school after my junior year. I stayed in school summer and winter. I just around because I said before, I was able to do it and by the time that I graduated I had a good bit of hospital training during my student year. And the then Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology had to leave 41:00and go to Vienna in order to receive the type of training he wanted because he could not find it in the other hospitals in the United States including New York or other places. I mean because he wanted special training and it wasn't that it wasn't given but they just wouldn't give it to him because he was a black individual. So you can readily see it wasn't Kentucky ( ) that was in 1932. So that particular thing, having been around school and then doing a good bit of ( ) that time gave me a pretty long boast in the field of Obstetrics during the time that I was there in the hospitals.
CS: How does the economic, or is there an economic gap between black and whitephysicians in Louisville say starting with the Forties and Fifties, Sixties, and today?
JBB: Well frankly, truly I don't know and I wouldn't want to give any statement42:00that I don't know because I really don't know what is the income of a single white physician, I mean. You see my point on that?
JBB: But I would imagine--I would imagine that the individuals doing a similarpractice would be very near a similar economic level, I would think so. And I think that only by the average of literacy if you refer an individual to someone and it will come up on a ( ) about what his office visit cost him. Then you'd know what your office fees are and I believe that the fees are fairly well established and equalized see. So, there again, if there were any great disparities it would a ( ) or depend upon how much one wanted to work. But I believe, for instance that if an individual is going to do surgery or do a 43:00gallbladder then if the fee is going to be in the neighborhood of 400, 450, or 350. I believe it would be about the same for either. That's my opinion about it. You see because your third party people they set this down ( ) with people that come in with them, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield and so forth. And I'm sure that most everybody's going to try to look at the top figure when it begins to submit a bill and so that's the reason I think that it would be pretty much the same.
CS: What you consider to be one of the most significant events in desegregatingLouisville? And how is it affecting you?
JBB: Well, I--
CS: You don't have to pick one. You could pick several if you like.
JBB: Well actually and truly I think one of the best things that ever happened44:00was of course the removal of the word "white" from the medical bylaws and medical-- because that was one of the bylaws that was an established fact. I mean the word white was in their bylaws see because--
CS: The AMA or--
JBB: No there's the Medical Louisville and Jefferson County, the JeffersonCounty, see. I think that was one of the things that allowed the races to get together better because it wasn't a matter necessarily that the white physicians didn't want to associate but you know you can many times put laws on that you find a bad law see and the bylaws at that particular time and that was one of the types of a thing that had to be removed from the bylaws before that black physicians could join the Jefferson County Medical Society. And you see until they could join the Jefferson County Medical Society then they could not 45:00practice in any of the hospitals. The hospitals had a type of a bylaw or at least a statement that you had to be either eligible for or a member of and when you get to begin to be either or on many things you can see that you sometimes got a problem.
JBB: And I have worked along smoothly now, for instance, after having been inthe Jefferson County. I have worked as a delegate to a convention. I worked on the judicial counsel and that's about where we go when you get near the top, don't you see and that's the only thing about it. And so really the relationship has been extremely good but it's just a matter of some hang over from the past.
CS: ( ) did that occur, when was that?
JBB: The, the-- well I know this, it must have been just prior to 1958. I don'tremember exactly when the time was because that was the time the hospitals began to open up. I really don't remember the exact year it was but I'm sure it was in 46:00the Fifties.
CS: Are there any differences, or do you see any differences in Louisville forblacks when you were growing up compared to today, for instance, if a fellow wanted to become a physician?
JBB: Well no, I don't think so. I think definitely the opportunities are greaterand wider now. Many a days have we had when we have, and I used to participate more actly, from the standpoint of the overseers, usually go and participate in the graduations at commencement time. And many days that we've sat on the platform there would be some of the other members would say to me, Bell, said, we need more black people graduating and that was for medicine and all and the doors have been opened of course again. At that time, U of L was more or less on 47:00a semi-private basis and the tuitions were high. I think that played some part but from the standpoint of admissions and all. It's been an individual affair. I believe now that it's about as open as it could be. It's just a question of getting somebody to want to go in. But you really got to understand, you got to have motivation in a number of instances of course. Sometimes words just become words and a matter of semantics. An individual, when he looks at a lot of hard work in front of him over long periods of time, the average individual just doesn't want to look after those four years in college and four years in medicine and four or five years in residency. And I would think that you would have a thing that would be equally with any physicians. For instance, you look through your medical directory and find how many father and sons you will find 48:00coming down, which means that even the son of a physician will see that the life is one that is pretty rugged. It's pretty long hours and it's one more or less sacrificial. Someone may see an individual and assume that because he appears to be way out front but you pay a pretty big price in the practice of medicine.
A pretty big price in the practice of medicine and that price is in the form ofsacrifice and many times-- no I'll leave home in the morning at eight o'clock or eight thirty and sometime it's nine or ten before I get back at night, and I haven't practiced in a number of years you see. And you take the average individual when he works eight hours he feels as though he has done a great thing and is wanting no further parts of it. See offer him over-time and he 49:00doesn't want it, you want this thing or that. But all time is included in the practice of medicine.
CS: What would you consider some of the most important goals for blacks inLouisville for the future?
JBB: Well truthfully I don't know. In fact, I have never attempted to figure outbut I think the most important goal for anybody anywhere at any time is to find the thing that he or she likes and dedicate and give him or herself to it, to the fullest extent. Now that's just the way, and that's what I have attempted to do in medicine and that's what I think, and that's anything. But I don't think you get anywhere on or in a half way policy.
And again, it's like associating with organizations. You can actually see ittires you up a great deal to make meetings. There aren't many days during the 50:00week that I don't have some type of meeting whether it's a hospital meeting, whether it's a lung meeting, whether it's a heart meeting or what not and each and every time that I'm pulled out of the office, I'm likely to be pulled out of these either. I don't work by appointment but if I did, if I know that one is coming up then I would realize that I couldn't schedule anything at that particular time see. So you can readily see that is and the individual I feel should find the thing that he or she likes and I don't believe that anyone is going to succeed or have much success if he doesn't give all he has to it because I think it takes that more or less to do the job. There are not too many instances in which luck plays such a big part.
CS: Do you see any goals for the black physicians for Louisville as a group that51:00maybe should be pursued or maybe some things that you would like to see changed?
JBB: No, I--well when I said no I'm not all together sure. I believe that if Iwere younger and this I attempted in the beginning and failed, if I were younger, I would like to see group practice established as it is among the white physicians. For the reason that, it gives an opportunity to the individual to have more leisure time and set up a better coordinated program. And I'm sure I had that from the beginning knowing how our staff was at the sanatorium because there were certain days that everybody covered. And when you go over like that then you do have some time off. But as it is, if you haven't got any individuals 52:00to cover for you, you are always possibly subjecting the patient to a handicap which he shouldn't have as well as tying yourself down. But you can see this.
Now no young physician would get any great pleasure out of associating with meno doubt because there is such a gap in our age differences. The other type of a thing is the black physicians have come in, in such a slow manner or so few that there are not enough of them to form groups that they all would be interested in, let us say if it were golf, let us say it would be tennis, it could be anything. But see where just one or two people come in every five ten or fifteen years you don't have it. But I think that is why that a number of them go other 53:00places much more than they come here. For instance, you take a place like Atlanta where that you've got about five major colleges that are largely oriented black. Well those people don't have to be physicians but there are a number of PhDs and they don't all have to be PhDs. But there are a number of people around a similar age that can furnish some outlet except from your work. Whereas in Louisville there aren't too many opportunities on that basis see. If you go back to your colleges or what not there maybe a few people teaching at Bellarmine, a few at the U of L, but there are so few that there really don't furnish a nucleus. And you know people usually live better and enjoy the things that they enjoy in common even if it's a matter of eating a hamburger. If you 54:00like to do that and you say lets go have a hamburger you get that type of unity.
CS: Let me see if I can back up and get it straight in my mind. A couple thingsthat you would have liked to have seen done were an ability for black physicians to get together in group practice professionally on the job.
JBB: That's right. I really would.
CS: And socially also?
JBB: Well that's what I said. No the socially angle would come as a result ofthat. The social angle it doesn't matter whether you socialize as much as the as where works. You see if you only got one or two people, let us say doing cardiology or heart disease see well now, you can readily see if you got a seriously ill heart person, you don't want to leave that person in the hand of someone doing gynecology or whatever it is. For instance, as one group of people in town in cardiology that I think they got about eight or ten people in that 55:00group don't you see and there's hardly any group that's got less than three or four people. So it means that about every third or fourth week one is covering all of the people and their cardiology people don't suffer any handicap. That's what I had reference to get that but I was saying that why a number of them don't come maybe is because that there isn't any social outlet for them, don't you understand. But I think if they did come, they could still go ahead and develop it but they just prefer going somewhere where that it's already developed.
CS: Did you experience any of the results of the early segregation laws in theTwenties I guess and the Thirties?
JBB: Well I did in the Twenties because I was in the Louisiana and Mississippi56:00and also in Georgia and of course there everything was. I never had any great confrontations or whatever it was because it was. If you went to the railroad station or the bus station, this was then, as it was labeled, a colored section and this was the white's section see. There weren't any great efforts to try to break down that type of a thing because you realize you had no defense against what was. As an individual I chose to keep with the law with forty-five. And there you are with all the other things so it wasn't anything about it then. So I didn't ever go on that thing about it. It was always horrible and something you didn't like but it was a thing like everything else. You recognized that it 57:00was a law and you had to try and stay and live within the law.
CS: Do you feel that perhaps your best contribution to "fighting" segregationwould be your act or pursuit of your education and achieving the high goals that you had? Do you think that made ( )?
JBB: I think so. I really truly think so. Education is going to be a big player,or play a big part because I feel when ( ) and education itself to me doesn't necessarily mean the obtaining of a degree. I mean, I think you can find yourself adjusting to and allowing other individuals to see that you're not all bad and whatever that is. And there are, unfortunately, those people on either 58:00group who feel that everybody else who is not a part of that group is bad. And that, to my mind, is something that will have to be broken down and it will have to be broken down more on an individual basis than it will otherwise. And you don't expect an individual who doesn't have the opportunity to see what the other fellow does, to know what he does. So on that basis; education will play a big part I think.
CS: I have no other real specific questions. I would like to open up the floorto you to see if you had any other general comments you'd like to make concerning perhaps the economic aspects of the Negro in Louisville's history, or anything?
JBB: Well I don't know I guess we have covered it. I think this that Louisvillehas done a real good job in with a number of individuals who have attempted to 59:00elevate themselves. When I say elevate themselves, through going to college over the past years. And there are a number of them who have gone in and done good jobs, like Mr. Moppen who has been in the school system and another person who has fought a great deal is Johnson Mimen. Johnson owned this thing about it. And these people have formed a friendship with a number of the other more liberal people and under those conditions, they have been able to spread in their influence has been going. Of course you hate to name names because somebody will say you didn't call my name. Well you can't call everybody's name or what not, but there are certain people I spoke about Dr. Paris. I think Dr. Paris has done and admirable job out there because when he went out there he was the black on the faculty at that time you know. And I know Dr. Davidson quite well who was 60:00the President, and Strickler and the other one Dr. ( ) thought quite well of him and he's been stable but since that time Stafford and Dr. Young and different individuals and Rayburn and the group have come along. But somebody was to open up something wherever it is and I think that means a great deal. The type of person that opens up whatever it is. And I think one thing that is bad on anybody's part is to feel that everybody is going to see the thing the same as you do or feel the same way about it because that is not true even in your own home. One individual wants to go east and the other wants to go west. I really believe this though, I really have a great love for Louisville on the basis that I have, I feel, formed some friendship with people in authority here that I could always look to for help and support on having done it. 61:00
And as a matter of a personal record, all of which is the organizations withwhom I have worked, I think, have been most liberal and fair to me. But within the last few years I have completed the Presidency of the Louisville and Lung Association the Heart Association, Louisville and Jefferson County Heart Association. And I'm presently President of the Kentucky Lung Association and a bit further back I was chairman of the Commission on Higher Education for the state. At the present I am on the Governors Health Counsel and I am chairman of an ad hoc committee on educational planning and long range planning for the state. I'm not chairman of the long range plan but I'm chairman of the ad hoc committee on that. And those are just some of the things that have come about to 62:00me as an individual and I feel that they would have come about to any individual who would attempt to give a little bit of his time and of him or herself and so that's just about the way it stands. And there are a lot of places that have not been that liberal in having someone of a minority group to head some of their major enterprises. I say that and what everyone has done one can do and even scriptural says these things have I done but greater things you are doing, they have all gone right straight along but they just don't come and fall out of the blue sky, don't you understand. Well, I want to thank you.
CS: Do you have any last minutes words? I think you have done quite a bit here.63:00
JBB: Well, it is just a matter of going on, and well I appreciate theopportunity of giving whatever that is because I think again, that is only as things are known are the things that we can proceed with, don't you understand? One individual may be stimulated or motivated to the fact that if one person has done this or that, I can do it, and if I can do it, then someone else can do it. Once the ripple starts, you do not know where it's going to stop.
CS: Well, thank you very much and I believe that this concludes our interviewfor the tape.
JBB: Well, thank you so much.