Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"He calls himself a social radical"

Col. Wm. Cooper Procter (Aug. 25, 1862 — May 2, 1934) by Jesse Halsey
He is a tall gentleman, this colonel, as a colonel should be. He calls himself a social radical—and is worth millions. He is a forceful executive, yet has helped numbers of his friends weather the Depression, who otherwise would have been swamped.

His business has, in spite of said Depression, had the biggest year in its history and made ten million dollars; not for him, however, but for its stockholders.

An appointment is not hard to make, if you have a real errand. His private office is substantially furnished but not elegantly. He sits behind a mahogany desk and the red wood reflects a little color into his gray angular face. When he moves back from the desk the gray suit he wears makes his face seem white and drawn. Yesterday he went to Florida, where he will turn brown, but without tan that face looks almost ashen. And no wonder. He has been a hospital patient half a dozen times these last years. His breath comes short, if he hurries; sounds like asthma.

He finds it hard to slow down; he has always been a driver—of himself, and others, too.

“I want a man to do a day’s work. There will always be some who won’t work; the unemployable. But every man who wants to work ought to have the chance.”

His own company, for some years now, has lived up to this, guaranteeing to its employees work for at least forty-eight weeks a year.

“When I left college and came home to the factory my father and his partners thought I was crazy when I suggested a half holiday on Saturday. That was my first radicalism and I have been at it ever since.” There is a twinkle in his blue eye as he says this, so that you forget the “cold” of the penetrating gaze and the angularity of the face—somehow it has lost its sharpness.

A business deal he carries through with precision tending to every detail himself. He is, one overhears, not an easy man to work with, yet he has several hundred men you have been with him a lifetime!

He loves wild flowers and the out of doors and has a large, but simple house on the high sand dunes overlooking the ocean and Gardner’s Bay on the east end of Long Island.

“When the collapse came in Germany, the only people who had anything in the end were the land owner’s,” he said to me one day and then told about his farm in central Ohio of four thousand acres.

“this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears”

Mr. Toastmaster, Mrs. Freiberg, Doctor Freiberg, Friends—

My speech is severely inhibited by my subject—to speak the truth about you, Dr. Freiberg, means that one must drop all superfluous adjectives and adverbs. The direct honesty of your person forbids their use. The integrity of your character demands, Sir, that one use strong verbs of action and substantives of quality.

We have heard about the professional qualifications of our friend, and his achievements, from his colleagues in medicine and surgery. The president of his university has told us of Dr. Freiberg’s administrative and teaching ability; an old friend has revealed with the cunning skill of wit some of the more intimate aspects of the symmetrical and versatile life of our guest of honor, and the Dean, formerly his pupil now his chief, has painted a lovely picture of his old professor as a teacher and as a friend.

A master of the intricate technical knowledge of his chosen profession, Dr. Freiberg has won and felt the esteem and admiration of his colleagues. Sometime his honest opinions have made enemies—so I have heard say—what an enemy is in that profession I naturally do not know. Warm human qualities have endeared him to his patients. His music is the measure of his cultural accomplishment and the vehicle of his upreaching and out-giving spirit. Teacher, administrator, doctor, friend, musician, surgeon—great words describing a great character!

I cannot qualify directly as a patient though I have had Doctor Joe athwart my spinal column, and lo! I stand upright! I come tonight with only one qualification—I am a friend of the Doctor’s, one of a great host of friends, and by your grace, Mr. Toastmaster, the one honored to speak as a friend to our friend, for his many friends.

The first time I met Dr. Freiberg was when a little girl with a club foot hobbled into our parish house for weekday religious school, twenty-five years ago, and I went to the great orthopedic surgeon for his help. While the doctor examined his little patient I waited in the outer office. At length the door opened and out came the shining-faced child—broomstick crutch banging the floor—“I am going to walk, I am going to walk!” . . .  And she did and does.

Again. Some twenty odd years ago my old chief, Sir Wilfred Grenfell, came to visit us. After some speaking engagements had been filled we asked him what, in our city, he would like to see. “The Rookwood . . . and three doctors—Freiberg, Friedlander, Fischer.” We went to see them—from that day to this they have been my friends as well as Sir Wilfred’s.

Dr. Grenfell heard Dr. Freiberg lecture and went with him to a clinic, as I remember. Afterward Dr. Grenfell said to me, “What were those lines of Whittier we used to read, something about Agassiz? . . . Freiberg makes me think of them.” When I got home I looked them up and believe that I can quote them now—
Said the Master to the youth:
“We have come in search of truth,
Trying with uncertain key
Door by door of mystery;
We are reaching, through His laws,
To the garment-hem of Cause,
Him, the endless, unbegun,
The Unnamable, the One
Light of all our light the Source,
Life of life, and Force of force.
As with fingers of the blind,
We are groping here to find
What the hieroglyphics mean
Of the Unseen in the seen,
What the Thought which underlies
Nature’s masking and disguise,
What it is that hides beneath
Blight and bloom and birth and death.
By past efforts unavailing,
Doubt and error, loss and failing,
Of our weakness made aware,
On the threshold of our task
Let us light and guidance ask,
Let us pause in silent prayer!
         —John Greenleaf Whittier, “The Prayer Of Agassiz
“Freiberg makes me think of that,” said Grenfell.

In a generation that has had its violent “conflicts between religion and science,” this scientist has walked humbly with his God, loving mercy and doing justly.

A master in his own domain he has annexed other provinces; among them these: a world of music, a world of nature (botany), a world of books. As chairman of the library committee of the Hebrew Union College he has served for many years—the wisdom of ages he has garnered for others and gleaned for himself.

We have attended many functions similar to this one, but not one quite like it. This gathering has two characteristics—it is entirely spontaneous, no one is here under compulsion; and not one superfluous word has been uttered—just honest, well-merited appreciation of our friend and teacher, the skilled surgeon, Albert Freiberg.

It was said of the Messiah in ancient prophecy that he should make the lame to walk—“this day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

Reverend Jesse Halsey, 1938

**American Jewish Archives
The FREIBERG FAMILY PAPERS (1900-2003) consist of the papers of Richard Freiberg (1932- ), his father, Joseph Freiberg (1898-1973), and his grandfather, Albert Freiberg (1868-1940). 

WARM SPRINGS/ROOSEVELT FILES, (1927-1939) contains correspondence between Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Freiberg and other doctors regarding the trial period of the Warm Springs Foundation and the establishment of a permanent foundation and sanitarium at Warm Springs, Georgia. Albert Freiberg served on the Executive Board of the foundation and advised Franklin Roosevelt on the establishment of this well known facility. The correspondence includes reports on patient conditions during the trial period (1927) and reports from Franklin Roosevelt concerning future plans and budgets for the foundation. This series also contains later correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Freiberg, and Judge Marx concerning an Ohio man needing medical attention.

Dr. Freiberg & Mr. Roosevelt

Rare Documents Reveal Long Correspondence Between FDR and Cincinnati Physician 
Letters, telegrams detail efforts to open Warm Springs
Telegram from FDR to Dr. Albert Freiberg from the collections of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio
CINCINNATI, OH: The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives (AJA) in Cincinnati, Ohio has received a correspondence series that took place over a period of years (1925-1939) between President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dr. Albert Freiberg, a Cincinnati orthopedic surgeon. Roosevelt elicited the help of Dr. Freiberg during his quest to establish Warm Springs, Georgia as a place of treatment for victims stricken with polio. The collection was given to the AJA by the family of Dr. Richard Freiberg, grandson of Dr. Albert Freiberg.

Dr. Albert Freiberg (1868-1940) obtained his M.D. in 1890 from the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Cincinnati Medical School. He served as professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati from 1902-1939 and was an emeritus professor until his death.

His son, Dr. Joseph Freiberg, became an orthopedic surgeon, succeeding his father in directing the orthopedic services of the hospitals affiliated with the College of Medicine of Cincinnati. Albert Freiberg's grandson, Dr. Richard Freiberg, began a practice now known as the Freiberg Orthopaedic group. Now Richard Freiberg's son Andrew– Albert's great-grandson– is an orthopedic surgeon practicing in Massachusetts.

The series includes telegrams and letters that describe the efforts to open a sanctuary for those afflicted with the debilitating effects of poliomyelitis.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Dr. Albert H. Freiberg

The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery
Vol. XXII No. 4, October 1940

Dr. Albert H. Freiberg died in Cincinnati, July 14, 1940, after an illness of two weeks. He was born in Cincinnati, August 17, 1868, the son of Joseph and Amahia Freiberg. He is survived by his wife, who was Jeannette Freiberg, and two sons, Joseph A., who was associated with him in his practice, and Albert M., who is an attorney.

He was a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and of the Medical College of Ohio, which later became the Medical College of the University. After his internship at the General Hospital he spent considerable time abroad, studying at the universities of Wurzburg, Strasbourg, Berlin, and Vienna. On his return to this country in 1893 he began practice in Cincinnati, and, as was the custom in those days, he began with general work, but his aim always led him toward specializing in orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Freiberg always took an active part in the affairs of his profession and was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Orthopaedic Association, the Clinical Orthopaedic Society, and a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He was also active in local medical affairs. He was President of the Ohio Medical Society, 1929-1930; the Cincinnati Academy of Medicine, i923-1924; and Chairman of the Orthopaedic Section of the American Medical Association, 1917-1918.

Dr. Freiberg played an important part in the establishment of orthopaedic surgery in his city and state, and the present position of orthopaedic surgery in that community is largely due to his influence and the result of his work. He was Chief of the Orthopaedic Service at the Cincinnati General Hospital,
at the Children’s Hospital, and at the Jewish Hospital while in active practice, and continued to serve as consultant at these hospitals. At the time of his retirement from the Chair of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Medical College of the University two years ago, he was made Professor Emeritus. During the World War he served as Major in the Medical Corps, United States Army, and was Chief of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Walter Reed Hospital at that time.

Dr. Freiberg always took a special interest in the affairs of the American Orthopaedic Association, particularly in its development, to the end that it might be an important and influential factor in establishing and maintaining a high and dignified standard. He was President of the Association for the year 1910-1911 and always took an active part in the scientific and administrative proceedings of all of its meetings, and served on many important committees. In the executive meetings Dr. Freiberg was frequently consulted on matters of parliamentary law. His mind was keen and analytical, his judgment fair and tinged with kindliness. He was a splendid speaker and his tongue had no barb. He was influential in debate and frequently turned the discussion toward a correct and wise decision. His honesty and good sense added weight to his opinions. He took a prominent part in its scientific sessions and the Association always looked forward to his communications as being of value for they indicated the result of his experience and excellent judgment. His position was always foremost in the advance line of progress.

He was an active contributor to medical literature. He showed a good deal of originality, and was always foremost in aiding advancements which came to orthopaedic surgery through the enlargement of the field of surgery resulting from the advent of antiseptic surgery. He kept in close touch with the departments of medicine other than that to which he devoted his life, and he did this on principle as part of his eager quest for knowledge, which was evident in his clear sense of values and breadth of grasp. His consideration of all sides of any problem gave weight and confidence to his decision.

He always gave much of his time and thought to the problem of rehabilitation of crippled children, and was one of the first members of the profession to advocate state aid for their care. He accomplished a great deal in interesting the community and also other states in the solution of this problem and in the establishment of legislation for state aid.

The Rhesus Monkey

By Jesse Halsey

A “Rhesus monkey,” the paper said. Did he know it? He must have had intelligence, that little fellow, for he ran away from the experimenting doctors, jumping from the fifth floor of the Children’s Hospital around which there are no big trees, only low shrubbery. That must take skill, even in a monkey.

Surely he sensed something. Did he hear them talking about sleeping sickness and sera serums and anti-toxins; about inoculations and incubation periods? Who knows? At any rate he ran away from it all. Four others stayed; he must have been brave to make the leap. Or is that a monkey’s way—just to jump? Why didn’t the others jump too?

And then when he got out people were afraid of him—those Americans. Afraid of what? Hundreds of his ancestors and contemporary cousins overseas play around the villages of India. The temple areas throng with them; a sort of reverence clings to them there, with their antique human-like faces. Just little brown monkeys, that is all; not Pithecus Rhesus!

Yes. He may have known. At least he had the sense to run away—with his big name inherited from a Thracian ally of the ancient Trojans, which he and his kind share with a Bithynian river-god, and two rivers of Asia Minor! With such a classic nomenclature back of him he must have known something. Maybe, however, he was only a classicist and had no scientific knowledge so that it was not fear of serums but just innate-monkey-jumping-instinct that sent him out from the warm laboratory to the chill of fall nights in Clifton treetops.

Of Indian ancestry, he liked the heights; his ancestors have climbed the Himalayas for centuries; nine thousand feet up you find them, this “Rhesus” kind. So to the heights of Clifton he went and into the highest trees.

But he liked warm places, too, so all last night, though spent on a housetop, he hugged the warm side of a chimney, where escaping heat units of a fall-furnace radiated warmth. In the attic of the Henkel home he found fruit and peanuts that Jimmy and his grandma had placed near the open window. The room was warm but native caution—and hospital experience—had made the little brown simian wary and with nightfall he climbed out along the ridge to seek the shelter and heat of the big chimney.

What did he dream about in this snug security? Did he plan new pranks for the school children next morning; or did the nameless terror of the toxins haunt his sleep? Who can guess?

Up with the sun, he found the attic window closed, so down into the garden, hunting insects and the remainders of frost-touched vegetables he went. Breakfast over, he put on his best monkey behavior for the youngsters trooping along the avenue. When the bell had finished ringing and all the children gone in doors, the school clock tolled nine. Then came the firing squad.

Rhesus grey matter and native cunning were of no avail; quick movement or high climbing of no help now. The sharp crack of a rifle and the little fellow, brown and pathetic, came hurtling down through the branches, his wanderings over, to rest on a soft bed of autumn leaves.

[Ed note: dated Nov 1, marked at the end with an "A" grade. I am unable to locate the news item from which this story is derived and note, too, the comment accompanying the grade: "This is a clever piece of work, skillfully imagined and reasoned out, and it uses classical lore gracefully. For the reader who missed the news item, however, you would have to supply more facts."]