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Transcript: Helen W. Stevenson & Lucy Stevenson, 1983

Please note: The Becker Medical Library presents this oral history interview as part of the record of the past. This primary historical resource may reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times and of the interviewee. The Becker Medical Library does not endorse the views expressed in this interview, which may contain materials offensive to some users.

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We want to talk today about Dr. Paul Stevenson.  To begin with, I understand his father was a minister – your father.

LS:  Right.

What kind of minister, in what denomination?

LS:  Disciples of Christ.  He started out as a “saddlebags preacher” down in Kentucky.  Then he worked in the state of Illinois setting up Sunday school and church congregations.  He had quite a number of places where he preached.

And one of the places was Monmouth, where Paul was born.

LS:  Was it Paul born there or _____(?)  Paul, I guess.  Then he eventually came to St. Louis to the Christian Board of Publication and was head of their Sunday School editorial department.

Was he in Chicago in the meantime?

LS:  Yes.  He was in Chicago.

There’s reference to the fact that Paul went to school in Chicago, too.  Most of Paul’s schooling was in St. Louis, I trust.

LS:  I would say so.

At least his secondary [education].

LS:  Yes.  He went to Hiram College from St. Louis, I’m sure

HWS:  Hiram was a church college – a Disciples of Christ college.

He took a Bachelor of Science at Hiram, to the best of my understanding.  Did he also study for the ministry at Hiram?

LS:  Yes.  He was ordained.

HWS:  Was he ordained at—?

LS:  I’m not sure whether it was [at] Hiram or later.

HWS:  He came back then and entered Washington University for his medical education and did some preaching here.  He worked his way through both of them.  I remember he said that he earned his way all the way through Hiram and through Washington [University].

Was it possible to become a minister in those days while you were doing your undergraduate work?  Or did he have to go specifically to a theological school afterwards?

LS:  No, no theological seminary.

HWS:  But this was a church college.  I think that there was more ministerial training up there than there was scientific training.  Don’t you?  He always kind of laughed about that Bachelor of Science.  He didn’t quite know why that was a B.S., but it was.

Hiram College has an archives.  I’ve written to see if they have any information just to verify the records, so we will hopefully get a reply from them.

HWS:  It’ll be very interesting to see what they get.  We went up to visit them in 1967 or ’8, I guess, over the Fourth of July.  It’s an interesting little town.

LS:  It’s all college – no businesses.

HWS:  No, no business in it at all.  It was part of the Western Reserve – a part of the state of Connecticut.  Did you know that?  In earlier times.


HWS:  A lot of people don’t know that.  The only place you could get groceries— It was a fair-sized little town – there were a lot of houses in it, a lot of people living there – but the only place you can buy groceries is at a little communal place of some kind that is run by the college, I guess.  [It’s] non-profit, no commercial business at all in this little community.  It’s so close to Cleveland that it could be just a bedroom community, but they’ve safeguarded all that by having it really just the college.

Was it there that he met his first wife – at Hiram College?

LS:  No.

HWS:  No.  It was here, wasn’t it?

LS:  It was here.

HWS:  Lucy knows those things better than I do.

Her name was June?

LS:  June Lapsley.

And she, too, was an ordained minister.

LS:  No.

HWS:  No.

I have a statement that you gave, Miss Stevenson, that they had a co-pastorate.

HWS:  Yes.  That’s odd.  I don’t know what that was.

LS:  That’s one I’ve never heard of.

HWS:  I got that from some [place].  From, I guess, the Disciples’ literature.  They had a little article about Paul.  I guess it’s that – I don’t have it right here.  I should have, perhaps— Paul always said there was a lot of guff in it. (Laughter) Oh, dear.  Mark that out.  Don’t ever put that in.

About the church.  I understand that this was the Maplewood Christian Church.

LS:  Yes, he preached there.

It still exists.  I have an address at 2649 Oak View Terrace.

LS:  It’s still there.

I’ve yet to call the pastor and verify that.  June and Paul Stevenson had two children—

LS:  Twins.

Robert and Margaret.  They were twins and were born on the eve of their departure?

LS:  About a year before they left for China.

Robert is living in California, in San Andreas and Margaret is no longer living.

LS:  That’s true.

HWS:  This is what that says:  (Reads from previously-mentioned article from Disciples’ literature) “While Dr. Stevenson was receiving his medical training, his bride-to-be took her nurse’s training in St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis.  After their marriage in 1914 and during the last two years of medical schooling, they held the joint pastorate of the Maplewood Christian Church.”

LS:  Somebody dreamed that one up.

What is this document?  “They Went to China.”

HWS:  (Completes the title) “Biographies of the Missionaries of the Disciples of Christ.”

LS:  I’ll be darned.  I’ve never seen that.

I’m wondering whether the Church could provide me with a copy.

HWS:  You can copy out that portion.  There’s only just a little bit.

Pages 54 and 55 of this book, “They Went to China.”

HWS:  Yes, you can take that.  Paul thought that it was a little flowery and giving him a little more credit than he wished to claim for himself.  He was an excessively modest man and he thought this was stressing the— In fact, I think what really threw him was that it said at the end, “He spends,” this is after he’s retired, I think “he spends a considerable portion of his time” (you can hear Lucy laugh when I finish this) “traveling through the length and breadth of the country always carrying his bowl and chopsticks in the hope of encountering fellow exiles from China.

LS:  Come, come. (Laughs)

You mean in this country?

HWS:  He was always happy when he met someone who spoke Chinese and he could practice his Chinese a little.

LS:  That’s true.  But he didn’t carry any bowl and chopsticks with him.

HWS:  No. (Laughs)

LS:  That’s ridiculous.

Whatever the particular details, he did support himself and his wife and his children by preaching at Maplewood Christian Church?

HWS:  His children, though, were born in 1917, weren’t they?  And they went to China in ’17.

LS:  Weren’t those kids a year or so old before they went.

HWS:  They weren’t more than a year.  I’ll get it.  Let me get their birth dates again.

LS:  I guess you better.

HWS:  I don’t think I have that date exactly.  They were married in ’14, that says. (Looking for biographical material).

Now we have information that—

HWS:  They were born in 1916 – June of ’16 and I don’t remember when in ’17 they went to China.  The exact date I don’t know.

While Paul was still at the medical school he learned from [Dr.] Robert Terry of the opening-to-be at Peking Union Medical College.

HWS:  Yes.  What happened was that the Rockefeller Institute— The building – no buildings were there in Peking at that time.  [The Rockefeller Institute] had decided to have the hospital.  They checked around at the various medical schools here, and I think, abroad, to recruit their staff.  Dr. Terry recommended Paul.  That’s how it happened.

I have a letter from Dr. [Edmund V.] Cowdry, who was in China I believe, to Dr. Terry, concerning the recruitment of somebody from Washington University and I guess Paul was the candidate, although he isn’t mentioned in the letter.

HWS:  Paul may never have known that.  It might have been that Dr. Terry got in touch with him and didn’t say where the information came from.  Something of that sort.  He said he went over to [Robert] Brookings’ home and there met someone from the Rockefeller [Foundation] who asked him if he would be willing to go.  But it would be a couple or three years before the school was built.  During that time the Rockefeller people didn’t want to handle his whole salary, but they did want him to be in China.  They needed missionary help and since Paul was already in the folds of the church, they were willing to do that.

Apparently the Rockefeller Foundation took over Peking Union Medical College from a London missionary society and in doing so they had to pledge that the character of the institution wouldn’t change.  It would no longer be a preaching missionary organ but the spirit of the missionaries would be continued.

LS:  That’s news.

They were probably gratified to find somebody who had experience in both camps.

HWS:  Of course the Rockefellers were Baptists, very serious – religious – and very anxious to improve their image because it had gotten pretty tarnished.  It was a matter of doing two things at once.  They were to educate the Chinese there and eventually turn it over to the Chinese to operate.  It was fully a philanthropic venture on their part.

A year was spent [by Dr. and Mrs. Stevenson] in Nanking learning Chinese.  That was the first step.  From there they went to Lu Chow-fu Christian hospital, which would have been about 1918.  If they went to China in ’17—

LS:  They went there in ’17.

They would have been at the hospital in 1918.  If they came to Peking in 1920, then they worked for two years at Lu Chow-fu.  What memories or information are there about the Lu Chow-fu experience?  What kind of a place was it?

LS:  Just a good missionary station.  They used to go up into the western hills in the summertime.

HWS:  Not there.  No, [they went there] after they went to Peking.  He did a good deal of surgery there.  (As an aside:)  What do I want to tell him?  I can’t think of much.

Was it a small hospital?

LS:  Well it would be in a mission station – it would be pretty elemental, I would think.

HWS:  I don’t remember him saying anything about operations that he performed on the people there, but undoubtedly there were.  All I remember are things that he told me about operating on some of the missionaries themselves and some of their living conditions.

Was it supported by the Disciples of Christ?

HWS:  Yes.  It was entirely Disciples of Christ.

LS:  I think it was.

HWS:  There’s something in here [refers to Disciples’ publication about missionaries] that I don’t know anything about.  It says, “It’s during this latter period Dr. Stevenson’s study and the publication of his findings concerning epidemic cerebral spinal meningitis, which was rampant in that part of China, forecast the direction of his subsequent professional career in China.”  I don’t think there’s much to that except that it may yet be of interest in that he was doing research of some kind there even in the beginning.

This is the publication, “They Went to China.”  It might make sense in terms of his interest in statistics, because epidemiology borders on being able to understand how large groups of population are affected by disease.  Certainly that was his later specialty because he tried to measure the characteristics of millions of people later on.

HWS:  I think his interest was probably always scientific and in science and research more than it was in clinical medicine.

In Peking he first became what was called an Assistant in Anatomy.  What did that mean?  Do you have any idea what that position was?

LS:  I would think [it meant] teaching and operating.

HWS:  I think he was teaching from the beginning.

He was teaching right from the very beginning.

HWS:  I would think so, don’t you?

LS:  Yes, I think so.  Operating was fairly incidental to the teaching.

HWS:  I would think so.  They were to teach the Chinese; that was the idea.  They were really not to operate the hospital as a mission hospital.  They were to teach Chinese to operate and of course that would involve doing a lot of operating of their own, but it was a teaching institution, I think.  Although, I get that impression only from—

LS:  Where’s the picture?

HWS:  —what Paul himself said. (To Lucy:) It’s in the other room.  You can get it.  It’s on the table there.

Your biographical sketch talks about the incident between him and Bertrand Russell. (HWS laughs) It’s on record so we don’t have to go through that detail.

HWS:  Paul was very amused by that, always.  There’s a little cartoon that one of his students drew of him. (Shows cartoon)

You gave us a copy of this.

HWS:  Of one.  Not that one.

I think this one.

HWS:  Did I really?

Well, it looks very much like this one.

HWS:  I know you have another one – a wonderful little caricature of him.

This is very close to it.

HWS:  If it has the _____(?) in it, it’s that one.

I’d like to use this in the article, because it shows them—

HWS:  I thought maybe you would.  That’s why I got it out.  If you already have it, fine.  Paul said, ten years ago, twelve years ago, [that] he could still remember all of these people and who they were.  It’s well-drawn (refers to cartoon) and he could identify them.

It’s a caricature, done by a Chinese student.  It shows Paul Stevenson lecturing before them.  A copy of this, or one very, very close to it, is in the archives [at Washington University Medical School].

HWS:  If it isn’t, I can get this to you.  Or you can take this now if you want to.

I think it looks so close to [this one] as I recall.  It will be reproduced in the article in Outlook magazine.  Do you recall how he got along with his colleagues of this medical school?

HWS:  I think marvelously, because he really liked the Chinese so much.  I would think that it was very good because many of them wrote to him for a long time. (Asks Lucy Stevenson to bring another souvenir from Peking to her) So much work went into it.  It couldn’t have been done if they hadn’t cared a great deal for him.

What about the westerners on the faculty – for example, the men who were his superiors, namely Edmund Cowdry and Davidson Black?

HWS:  His relationship with Davidson Black was extremely close. (Shows drawing to interviewer) That’s a drawing.  It may look like it’s paste [but] it’s a drawing.

This is an illustration or a picture off the wall.  It looks like a collage, but you say it’s not.

HWS:  No.  It’s drawn in ink, even the stamp.

It looks like various pieces of paper with Chinese calligraphy on them, with the characters of various sizes and of various colors.  They look as if they were torn.

HWS:  Yes.  It illustrates all of the different scripts of China over the several thousand years that Chinese script has been shown.  A Chinese student of calligraphy could tell the years and periods when those were being used.

That’s a very interesting object.  If I may say, what you should do is [to] inscribe this information on the back as you know it.

HWS:  I suppose I should.  Somebody else won’t know it.

LS:  Meanwhile, stay healthy. (Laughs)

He worked many years off and on, because the man came and went, with a famous French Jesuit paleontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.

HWS:  Right.  That was a very close relationship and it continued after he came back here to this country.  For quite a little while Père Teilhard was in New York and that friendship was maintained.  It was very strong because Teilhard was having a very bad time with the—

LS:  Church hierarchy.

The church.

HWS:  Yes, and he was very broken-hearted over the fact that he had been forbidden to teach.  He was a devout Jesuit but he did believe in evolution and at that time the church did not and so it was a very sad situation.  June, particularly, was sympathetic and befriended him.  I think Paul was probably working so much of the time that he wasn’t quite as close, but they were good friends during all that time.

Paul was lucky – shortly after he got to Peking, I think – the Peking man was unearthed and Davidson Black did most of that work.  And Teilhard, of course, worked with him.  Paul worked right along with it there.  I saw a picture a few years ago in the National Geographic on the diggings at Zhoukoudian and recognized Paul’s figure there.  I took it in and showed it to him and [he said] “Yeah, I guess that is [me].” (LS laughs)

Among the pictures that you gave is one in which he’s standing in the trench of the diggings.  So this is documented in the photograph.

HWS:  I didn’t realize I’d given—

Unless I’m badly misunderstanding the figure, it’s surely him.

HWS:  I’m sure there was one.

There were probably a great many if National Geographic [was involved].  He probably spent a good deal of time [at the dig].

HWS:  He did.  He did a lot of the research work and he always said that some of his opportunity to advance came because Davidson Black was so absorbed in this work that he didn’t want to carry on all of his duties.  So Paul – I don’t know whether it was official recognition of that or whether he just took over some of them.  I don’t know just how that was.  They were very close and when Davidson Black died [ed. note: Black died in 1934], Paul, I think, gave the main oration.  There was quite a memorial service for him – we have a bound copy of that.

You gave one of those to the collection so we have that also on file.  That’s from 1934.  If we could return to a little bit earlier – Paul returned to the United States to study at Western Reserve and I believe received a degree in 1922.  But there’s no evidence that I have immediately, although I’ve written to Western Reserve to find out, what he actually studied at Western Reserve and why he returned.

HWS:  It was in physical anthropology – I think in connection with bones, principally.  I know that at that time he worked in learning the ability to tell the age of an individual from the bones.  They were digging up bones and whose bones were these?  How old were these people?  Were they male or female?  All you have, perhaps, is a leg bone, and it was the ability to do that sort of thing [that he studied].

Davidson Black was a graduate of Western Reserve, so that was the connection, that Black probably recommended Paul and he went back.

HWS:  I’m sure he studied just what he needed for this work they were doing in China in excavations.  Paul worked with that type of thing a great deal – bones there in China and to some extent, here in this country.  I don’t know quite why, but he got locked [inside] the Smithsonian (laughs) in connection with one.

Perhaps out of pure interest.

LS:  Up with all the skulls!

You know, eventually the collection that Dr. Terry assembled here at the medical school was given to the Smithsonian.  I don’t know when that happened, whether that was before Paul’s death that it was given.

HWS:  I know the Smithsonian people talk about a big collection of bones they have.  It was in the Castle at that time.  The Castle – you know, those main buildings – kind of a warren of funny little rooms and offices.  This was clear up in the top somewhere.  Paul said he was in Washington, just between planes, and he decided there was something he really would like to know about some of those fellows.  So he ran over to the Smithsonian and they just sent him on up.  He’d been in the Smithsonian often enough – he knew people, I guess.  He just went on up to the room.  And he got so engrossed in what he was doing that he forgot the time and suddenly realized that he’d overstayed his time.  It was after five o’clock and it was dark outside.  He went out and there was kind of an open-shaft elevator.  He rang it and he looked down and he could see that down in the basement – he was up top.  Down in the basement, he could see an old chap – black – eating his supper or something, sitting down there.  He called down to him and asked him to come up.  Paul was blond – and by that time I expect his hair was gray, I’m not sure.  At any rate, from up there where nobody ever was and where there was nothing but all these skeletons and bones and skulls, he said it took a long time to get that fellow to come up to get him. (Laughter)

Do you know what year that would have been?

HWS:  Sorry, I don’t.

That’s an interesting story, yes.

HWS:  It was funny, anyway.

LS:  I imagine it was two or three shades lighter by the time he got up there, too. (Laughs)

Gave the porter a real scare.

HWS:  I don’t think it was still in [S. Dillon] Ripley’s time because he didn’t mention him.  He said that later he was talking to whoever was in charge of the Smithsonian at the time and he told him about it and he said “Well, you were just lucky it wasn’t Friday or you’d have been in there until Monday.”  They didn’t keep [an employee] over the weekend in the castle.

When he returned to Peking from Western Reserve, I guess he received a promotion; he became an Associate and then later Associate Professor as opposed to—

LS:  Instructor, or whatever he used to call them.

HWS:  That’s correct.  There’s a copy here that I got for the National Biographical Encyclopedia that has a facsimile of his salary and all that stuff.  (Looks through papers) Is that what you wanted from Hiram [College] here too, I don’t know.  The promotion dates are there.

(Looking at material)  Yes, this makes it very explicit – his graduation, or his climb up the ladder, so to speak.

HWS:  I don’t know what that is.

These are official records from the schools, what we’re talking about, on xerox.

HWS:  Yes.  That’s right.  They came from the China Medical Board.  It says, “We made copies of the cards we have in the office with this information.”

Was the Rev. Marion Stevenson his father?

BOTH:  Yes.

Is it possible that copies of these could go into the archives?

HWS:  Yes, I don’t see why you shouldn’t take those, do you?  We have no particular need of these.

LS:  If you want copies, I can run down and get them.

HWS:  They’re not very good.

LS:  I don’t know if they’ll come through or not.

Would it be possible for me just to borrow them and make a copy of my own on my own machine?

HWS:  Maybe you might do that.  I don’t know whether Paul’s son might want these at some time or not.  I doubt it, really.

LS:  I doubt it, too.

HWS:  I doubt it.

I’ll give you a receipt for—

HWS:  OK, for whatever you take, you give me a receipt.  That’ll be fine.

For lending [these], along with the book on the Disciples of Christ.

HWS:  That’ll be fine.

We assume that at Peking Paul became interested in human evolution, owing to the climate or the interest of all his colleagues there.  The question I have is: Did this represent a departure from the Disciples of Christ teachings?

HWS:  I don’t think so.  I don’t think the Disciples of Christ were – even then, I don’t think they were particularly bothered about anything like that.  I don’t think it did.

There were a lot of churches that were very specifically anti-evolution.

HWS:  Oh, yes.

LS:  That’s true.

HWS:  Even now that’s true.

The Disciples of Christ have, at least, their headquarters in Tennessee and that was where the Scopes trial took place.

HWS:  Oh, yes.

LS:  No, their headquarters were not in Tennessee.

Their archives are, I think.

LS:  That’s interesting.  _____(?) or up around there?

Nashville.  Maybe they weren’t then, but I looked up the archives of the denomination and it gave me a Nashville address and I inferred from that that it was their headquarters.

LS:  Well, what do you know?

HWS:  Did you look under actually “Disciples of Christ” or “Christian Church”?

I looked under both, but this was identified as Disciples of Christ.

HWS:  That’s interesting.  There’s a seminary in Kentucky.

LS:  And Bethany, West Virginia.

HWS:  Yes.  They’ve been liberal—

LS:  —from the time Alexander Campbell started it, I think.

HWS:  Yes.  And the Christian Board of Publication [is] here in St. Louis.  I would be surprised if they didn’t have archives here.  I don’t know.  That’s interesting.

Was there any time that Paul said, “I’m breaking with the Disciples of Christ”?

HWS:  No, I don’t think so.  He didn’t serve actively or work actively in the Disciples of Christ at any time when I knew him, but I don’t think he ever opposed them in any way.  The rest of the family – ministers all over the place in the Stevenson family – in the Disciples of Christ.

It would be wrong to infer, then, that having mixed with all these evolutionists at Peking he was going to throw over the church doctrines or turn his back on [the church]?

HWS:  I don’t think he ever thought that church doctrine really depended on not believing in evolution.  He sort of outgrew the church, I think.  Even in those days – the reason the Bertrand Russell thing is so funny is because he idolized Bertrand Russell.  Of course, he was disturbed that Bertrand Russell would be so anti-American, though he understood why.  That’s why that thing was so funny, really.  Bertrand Russell put him down so firmly. (Laughs)

I looked at a book titled The Problem With China by Bertrand Russell and many of the kinds of attitudes that he expressed to Paul directly he, Russell, wrote again in this book.  So, maybe he used that moment to formulate some of his attitudes toward Americans in China.  He doesn’t mention Paul in the book, to be sure.

LS:  [Paul was] a minor irritation in Russell’s life. (Laughter)

I’m sure he met so many people in his career.

HWS:  Paul did do a lot of other things besides his work there at the college, because he was so interested in anthropology and a lot of anthropologists were coming in there to Peking.  He knew [Earnest A.] Hooton and Sven [Anders] Hedin, who was tracing out the Silk Road, and Andersson who was in search of man.

There was Johann Gunnar Andersson, yes, and Roy Chapman Andrews.

HWS:  Yes.  Roy Chapman Andrews.  Paul knew all those people and met them all as they came through China, probably entertained them, [and] liked them all.  It was Hooton who told him that he should always go alone on his expeditions and he tried hard to do that.  He was president of the Peking-American Society for a good long time and those contacts meant that he entertained and was entertained by and knew all these people and made these expeditions.  Booton, who was from the British Museum, a very fine individual, went on a trip with him.  Paul had to take him, in fact.

LS:  And take care of him, too; too much horseback riding.

What was this gentleman’s first name?

HWS:  Booton?  I don’t know.

Was he an anatomist or an anthropologist?

HWS:  He was, I guess, an anthropologist; I don’t know that for sure.  He was with the British Museum and he came to China – interested in scientific things.  He was something of an artist.  I don’t really know.  You can look him up because he’s a famous man.

Do you know how the name would be spelled?

HWS:  (Spells) B-double O-T-O-N.


HWS:  Wait a minute.  It’s Buxton, (spells) B-U-X-T-O-N, isn’t it?  It’s spelled that way.

LS:  I’m not sure.

HWS:  Yes, I’m sorry.  That’s very stupid of me – it’s (spells) B-U-X-T-O-N.  I don’t think I have [his first name] anywhere.  It would have been around that time – around—

LS:  In the ’30s?

HWS:  1920, 1930. [ed. note: Mrs. Stevenson is probably referring to Patrick Alfred Buxton, 1892-1955, a medical entomologist]

You mentioned the Swedish explorer, Sven Hedin.  In the written sketch of Paul’s life you indicated that Paul went to Stockholm at some time.

HWS:  Yes.

Do you know when that was?

HWS:  Lucy, do you know?  They came through here, and went on to—

LS:  Probably mid-’30s.

So it was some time when he went on sabbatical.  It wasn’t the year that he left China.

HWS:  No.

It was before 1937?

LS:  It would be before that.

HWS:  It would have been before that, been before the war.

Was it the same year that he went to London?

HWS:  No.  It was after that.  I think he had a sabbatical one year in four.  That was pretty good.  Maybe for a whole year.  [He] always spent it in research or work of that kind.  I really don’t know whether it could have been in ’37.  He was on his way here in ’37 when the Japanese [invaded China].  He was on the Pacific [Ocean] at that time on his way east.  West?  East.

I’ve written to Sweden; I have some contacts there and maybe we’ll find out.  I wrote specifically for information because there is a large collection of material that Sven Hedin left.  Maybe there is somewhere some file that has the name of Paul Stevenson on it.

HWS:  I’m sure you’d find it.

LS:  Who was the other chap?

HWS:  Hummel, Dr. Hummel was one of the men who was with Sven Hedin – I don’t know his initials.  [ed. note: HWS is probably referring to Dr. David Hummel, who accompanied Sven Hedin on his last expedition.]  But Sven Hedin was the leader of that [group].  He wrote a lot of books.  He kind of fell in disfavor during the war because he supported the Nazis, so he wasn’t quite as much of a hero afterward.  But this was before that time, so it wasn’t known.

He did a creditable amount of exploration in Central Asia.

HWS:  Oh, yes.

He was the first European, I think, to enter vast tracts of territory.  He also had this facility for writing interesting, popular books that were translated.

HWS:  Oh, yes.  That’s right.

LS:  Up in the Mongolia area.

HWS:  We read them all.

LS:  Yes.  We have his Travels up on the shelf, I think.

HWS:  Most of them were given to Bob.

Let’s go back to the incident with Sun Yat-Sen.  Did Paul have contacts with Sun before his fatal illness?

HWS:  I don’t think so much with Dr. Sun, but he was, of course, a patient there in the hospital, so he probably saw him some.  The Soong sisters [ed. note: Soong Qing-ling and Soong Mei-ling], you see, were educated here at Wellesley and they became close friends of Paul and June and were often there at the house.  Paul said they liked, once in a while, to get away from their Chinese political background and let their hair down a little.

They had been so thoroughly westernized by their education in Massachusetts, that although they remained certainly Chinese to the end of their lives, they probably enjoyed the companionship of an American family.

HWS:  That’s right.

Of course, ultimately the sisters—

HWS:  Split.  One of the fascinating things.

Split.  Madame Sun Yat-Sen remained in Communist China and Madame Chiang Kai-shek went with her husband to Taiwan.  But Paul knew them both?

HWS:  Yes.  There’s a letter there in the archives from Madame Chiang Kai-shek saying “Dear Paul, We don’t know what we would have done without you” and all that kind of stuff.  They were good friends and I think that probably is how Paul got involved in the embalming of Sun Yat-Sen.  Incidentally, you have in the archives there a couple of things you shouldn’t use for publication.  They’re restricted [from] that in connection with the disappearance of Sun Yat-Sen’s liver in the autopsy, so don’t include anything about that.  That’s sensitive to the Chinese government.  They made terrible accusations against the UMC [ed. note: abbreviation for Peking Union Medical College] for destroying Sun Yat-Sen’s body and so on and so forth.

The embalming was a difficult thing to do because the body had been autopsied.  When they found that the Chinese wanted it preserved under glass like Lenin’s it was a problem as to how to do that.  Paul somehow or other got involved in that and they had to work out that method and then he had custody of the body for those two or three years till they got the tomb built in Nanking.  There’s a full account of that in the archives.  I didn’t realize that when I was talking to you [earlier] but there is.  After all those accusations were made, the China Medical Board, which is part of the Rockefeller operation, decided that while some of these people were still living they should gather all the facts that they could, together.  So they asked Paul to write these and to review the ones that other people had written and send them back to him.  He did that, and that’s how I happened to learn what I did about those things.  You have copies of two of those letters.

Yes, that is correct.  They are in the archives.  Let me go on to the year in London with Karl Pearson.  Karl Pearson was a mathematician who applied his mathematical formulas to try to prove evolution, I understand.

HWS:  That I didn’t know.

That was, I think, one of his main claims to fame.  To the best of my knowledge, Pearson used lower life forms like crabs and statistics that could be [gained] from other animals of that sort.  Of course, Paul was interested in human beings.  This statistical approach to evolution was something that evidently interested him enough to want to go to London.

HWS:  I think he wanted to learn how to do the statistical work.  I understood from something he said that Pearson is the man who worked out the measurement of the skin surface of a human being from the height and weight.  That those tables— That’s a very valuable thing in the medical profession.  I think at that time, at least, metabolism was based pretty much on the amount of skin surface, and it differs for the Asiatic people from the Occidental.  Pearson had done it for the Occidental and once done, it’s done.  It’s used for everybody after that.  Paul did it then for the—

LS:  Chinese.

HWS:  Chinese, Japanese, and so on.  That was one of the achievements.  You’ve got a whole bunch of reprints and whatnot there of some of those things [with] the tables of skin measurements and surfaces.  Oh, I don’t know – it’s a mess of statistics [and] doesn’t mean anything to me.

I’ll look at them again in view of what you’ve told me.  In 1934 Paul received the Order of the Blue Jade from the Chinese government.  Was this in connection with the embalming of Sun Yat-Sen?

HWS:  I think so.  I think so.  All I have is a very minor thing somewhere in here that [the award] was “for services rendered to the Chinese government.”  I think that that was what it was in connection with – keeping the body, I think, and embalming it and getting it in the casket.  This is from a diploma that was given in connection with the citation, the Order of the Blue Jade.  It reads, “By the National Government the Order of the Blue Jade for the part,” this is Paul’s quotation, I guess, “I have played in connection with the preservation and care of the body of Sun Yat-Sen.”  It’s my writing and I don’t know just how I took that [down].  He sent that to Harold Dobbs and it’s in the collection of the China Medical Board.  They would have the exact wording of that.

That’s now open to researchers so one of these days I will have the opportunity, I hope, to go to New York and look at these collections.

HWS:  In 1973 Mary Ellis was secretary there.  That’s (spells) E-L-L-I-S.  Mary Ellis.  Mary Ferguson is the person that I have met there.  Is her title on this or not?

I believe she was the Registrar at Peking Union Medical College and then wrote a history of the college that we have in the Library.  The China Medical Board and the Peking Union Medical College, I think, is the title.

LS:  That would be interesting.

HWS:  That would be interesting.  If I come down some day could I get it and look at it?

I have it checked out now but when I put it back [you may].

HWS:  That’s all right.  It will take me forever to get there, probably.  But it would be very interesting.

Davidson Black died of a heart attack in 1934 and Paul, I guess, was one of the first to discover the body.

HWS:  I think that’s probably true.

He and Teilhard de Chardin were in the same building.

HWS:  It was a terrible shock to him.

There were some people who thought that Paul would succeed to the head of the anatomy department, but he didn’t.  Was he passed over?

HWS:  I have no idea; he never mentioned it to me at all.  I have no idea.

Dr. [A. B. D.] Fortuyn from Holland became head of anatomy, I think.  There was also Dr. [Franz] Weidenreich, a German scholar.

HWS:  Yes.  I heard Paul speak of both of them.  Dr. Fortuyn died not so very long ago.  I don’t know how many years ago.  I remember my invitation to the memorial service came.

LS:  Maybe Paul’s slant toward anthropology was responsible [for being passed over].

HWS:  I think that’s probably true – the amount of research work he was doing and all that.

That does make sense because I think the Rockefellers were kind of suspicious of Davidson Black being so interested in the skulls when they expected somebody to be teaching anatomy for the point of view of a medical student.

HWS:  It could be that the Rockefeller Baptists, too, didn’t approve much of it.  I don’t know – I never heard anybody say anything about it.  Paul never said anything.

There was a famous sculptor named Malvina Hoffmann in China at this time.  She was doing work on the statues that now are on display at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago in the Hall of Man.

HWS:  Yes, Paul helped her some, there.

She came to him looking for a scientific basis for her kind of artistic sculptures.  He was a consultant on the creation of these works insofar as they represented Chinese.

HWS:  Yes.

You indicate in your biographical sketch, Mrs. Stevenson, that Paul worked on a manuscript that would have been his chief work, a work on the racial origins of the Chinese, and that this was lost in Manila in 1941.  Do you know when he began work on that study?

HWS:  No.  I don’t know anything more about it than that.  It was always difficult to get any information from Paul.  I tried hard, and I tried so hard to get him to write about these things because he wrote well.  He said, “Well, those stats are old.  That’s past and it’s what’s ahead and what’s now and what’s ahead that’s important.  Nobody’s interested in all this old [data].”  I couldn’t find out much.  I found out more from the things that were packed away that I had to get into after he died than I found out from him.  He was not interested in looking back – not interested in talking about his achievements like some people do.  And he didn’t think much of people who did talk about it. (Laughs)

Some of us professional historians – of course that’s all we do in a way, I suppose.  Maybe we don’t talk about ourselves.

HWS:  I blame myself now for not having needled him more about it.

As we’ve already discussed, he was on sabbatical and en route to the United States in 1937 when Peking fell to the Japanese.  Yet, Americans and others who continued to live in Peking were not barred by the Japanese from China because war did not break out for another four years, or more.  Yet Paul didn’t return to China.  Why not?

HWS:  The Rockefeller people would not send him back.

They decided that it was time to begin to withdraw from Peking?  Those that were already there could stay, but—

HWS:  The others would not go back.  [Paul] was under contract.  They paid his salary through 1941.  I think that thing tells when they stopped it – that little thing that you took.  They paid his salary, but did not send him back.

It’s strange that there were visiting professors that went there.  Because one of the deans of the medical school here – a man who had been dean at this medical school, Eugene Opie – went to China after—

LS:  After ’41.

—after the Peking area was under the control of the Japanese.  I think he was there in 1939, 1940.

HWS:  Did he get interned?


HWS:  He [evidently] left just before the internment.  I can’t answer that at all except that [the Rockefeller people] were very good to him and kept his salary coming.  He used that time then to go to Johns Hopkins and so on.

He was in Cincinnati for a time, I believe.

HWS:  Yes.

If he left China in ’37 – he must have gone to Cincinnati that year.

HWS:  I think so.

And was there for a year.  The records indicate that he was a research fellow in medical center administration.

HWS:  I think you have [all the material] that I have on that.

That must have been a temporary position.

HWS:  Oh, yes.  It was.  I don’t think there was any salary in connection with it.  I don’t think I have anything more than what you have.

Then he went on to Johns Hopkins and he studied public health.

HWS:  That’s right.  I think there’s always a sort of major in public health and his was in the mental health—

LS:  Field.

HWS: —side of it.  (Looks through papers)  Now maybe you don’t have this.

This is a letter from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center dated March 7, 1973 [in which] you asked them to check records about Paul.  It says, “September 27, 1938 – appointed research fellow in medical center administration.  Concurrently assistant to the Dean.  To serve for one year without salary.”  He was getting his money from the Rockefellers, so this was a kind of charity, in effect.

HWS:  Right.  I don’t know how he happened to go [to Cincinnati] or anything about that.

Why did he choose the mental health field?

HWS:  I think because his daughter was not well.  His daughter had— They were twins, the two children.  The daughter, in adolescence, developed a loss of hearing and loss of eyesight.  It was thought to have been part of the prenatal condition – one of those unavoidable things.  And when this happened to her – I think she was probably about— Well, it was [a] gradual thing, wasn’t it?

LS:  Yes.

HWS:  By the time she was sixteen or so, her mind had begun to be altered by it.  It’s an understandable thing, but evidently it was schizophrenia and there wasn’t much that could be done.  It was a great tragedy because she had been a very talented and very lovely young girl.  Paul became very interested then in mental health.  His prize in – the Gill Prize in Neuroanatomy, [which he won in medical school] – so I think he’d always been interested in the brain.  I think [his study of mental health] probably came from that.

Was he reluctant to be called back to Asia?

HWS:  Well, I think what you have in here (refers to biographical material) is not exactly correct.  I may be wrong, [but] I thought he joined the Public Health Service when he came out of Johns Hopkins and had just gone into it when the Chinese government asked our government for help in guarding the health of the coolies who were going to build the Burma railroad to supplement the highway.  The highway had not been very satisfactory; it was terrible terrain, I guess.  [President] Roosevelt agreed with this and, I suppose, checked [with] the Department of Public Health.  The Chinese government had asked for Paul because he spoke Chinese and, of course, they knew him, you see.  Chiang Kai-shek would have known him.  So they had asked for him particularly, and he was already in the government’s employment, as I understand it.  He could have refused, I suppose, but he loved the Chinese.  It was a chance to go back, a chance to help them.  I remember that he was quite enthusiastic about going.  They came here for Thanksgiving and he got a call from Washington to go [to China] right away and they left before Thanksgiving.  It was kind of a hurry-up trip.

This time he left without family?

HWS:  That’s right.  That’s right.

Even though there was not yet war between the United States and Japan?

HWS:  It was pretty imminent, because the people on the plane – the pilots – were carrying secret orders and all that sort of thing.  And they went faster than they had expected to go.  He had expected to have some time in Hawaii and in the Philippines, where he had friends in both places.  But they went faster than that.

LS:  That’s where the manuscript of his book disappeared.

In Manila?

HWS:  Yes.

Once the war began he was, in effect, stuck in—

LS:  Burma.

In South Asia.  And he was there until 1944.

HWS:  I guess so.

This is documented in the History of the United States Public Health Service—

HWS:  Yes.  I had forgotten what year it was.

—that we have in our library.  The proper citation will be entered into the record at a later time.  He returned to the United States in 1944 to work with the National Institutes of Health.

HWS:  You see, he was released.  Of course, he was still in government service and he would be released from the military service back to his—

[Tape ends abruptly]

This is a continuation of our conversation with Mrs. Stevenson and Miss Stevenson concerning Paul Stevenson.  We had gotten, I believe, to the end of World War II when we were last speaking.

I want to backtrack for a moment and ask about Ramgarh, India, where Paul was with the American forces after they were forced to evacuate from Burma.  I looked on the map and saw a number of Ramgarhs.

HWS:  It was in Assam and I think that is in the northeast corner of India, isn’t it?

That clears up the matter, because I remember one of the Ramgarhs was in Assam, but there was one in Bengal and one on the other side—

LS:  He was close to Calcutta, wasn’t he?

HWS:  He went down to Calcutta at various times but I don’t think that this is too near it.  It was in the part that rained so terribly and is so hot.  I know that.

Probably had monsoon-type climate.  Probably much like that part of Bangladesh that gets flooded, only further inland from what is now Bangladesh.

HWS:  I remember a letter he wrote home at the time that said he knew what it was like to have prickly heat over his entire body.  The temperature was at 117 [degrees] and it stayed there.  And wet – bad, terribly hot.

Today we’ve been complaining about temperatures in St. Louis at around 95 [degrees].

LS:  That’s right.

It would be considered a cool day, by comparison.

LS:  By those standards.

HWS:  It must have been quite bad.  He always said that we were so fortunate in this country in having weather that changed every five days or so.  Of course, the present one hasn’t changed in five days.  But generally it does.  There, it would either rain continuously for weeks on end or it would be dry and hot for weeks on end.  That kind of thing.  He said it results in a lethargy that we don’t know anything much about.

Back in India, he was far removed from the people that he thought he would be treating – the Chinese – so I imagine he had very little contact with the Chinese.

HWS:  I think that’s true.  [General Joseph] Stilwell was there occasionally, but I don’t think too frequently.  These were Chinese troops, weren’t they?

LS:  Not in Ramgarh, I don’t think.

HWS:  Anyway, the troops were being trained.  You can verify what Stilwell was doing there, not in any account of Paul’s, but he had a plan for – I’m not sure enough to say now, I should remember.  I don’t think they intended to do anything more to try to get back the Burma Road, but for something or other he was training troops.  Part of these were American troops, but I don’t know that they all were.

They may have been some British, possibly some Indian.

HWS:  They had Indian servants and they had a terrible time with them because they were not clean and he couldn’t get them to wash their hands.  He said that finally the sergeant reported one day that out of his own money he’d bought some horrible perfumed soap and from then on the Indians washed their hands.  They liked the smell of that [soap].

[They washed] to get the perfume but not to get clean.

HWS:  They had their disease problems there and what he was doing was looking after the health of the camp.

You say in the biographical sketch that you wrote that [Paul] returned to the United States in 1944.  From June 1944 until the end of the war he participated in a series of seminars held at the Universities of Virginia, Princeton and Yale.  In this capacity he instructed men who were to be sent to govern the territory surrendered to the Allied forces.

HWS:  I think that’s right.

Do you recall any details about that period?  This would have been public health issues?

HWS:  Yes.  He was still in the army, I think.  I can verify all that from papers here.  If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’ll get those.  I better do it. (Leaves the room)

What ended the war was The Bomb.  Do you recall him saying anything about the explosion of the atomic bombs?

LS:  No.  I guess he had seen so much war that a bigger blast didn’t mean that much.

I think we have to think that in that context.  People fully thought that it would save lives rather than do anything else.  At any rate, he worked within the National Institutes of Health in that period.  Was this not the case?

LS:  Yes, I think so.  Eventually, he was in charge of the alcoholic program, trying to set up the universities and schools to try to have some bearing on the problems.

This was after the war?

LS:  Yes.

Is there anything else that you recall him saying anything else about the expectations of governing post-war Asia or China?

LS:  It would be speculation on my part.  I hope Helen can come up with something; we still have some material.  You’ve been through everything down there, I expect.

Yes.  Did he say anything about the conflict between the Nationalists and the Communists?

LS:  Some place or other he seemed to mention that the Chinese Communists were an entirely different breed than the Russian Communists.  Their whole bent was agriculturally-minded.  That’s about all that I remember.

Some years before the war broke out between the Japanese and the Chinese in the early 1930s, the Communists were forced into the western hinterlands – the so-called “Long March,” if you recall, so people like Paul Stevenson perhaps did not have any direct contact with them except for maybe covert agents or something that he may not have—

LS:  I doubt if he did, really, because after he and [General] Stilwell got out of Burma then his emphasis was military down in Ramgarh.

[Mrs. Stevenson reenters.]

I see Mrs. Stevenson has a group of documents.  Maybe we can flip this machine to “pause” for a moment to check it.

HWS:  It doesn’t seem – I thought that this would have the dates.

[Tape stops]

When last we were speaking, Mrs. Stevenson brought forth a diary that Paul had apparently compiled at the end of the war.  It has a lot of miscellaneous notations, some humorous notations, but at least one portion of it looks very interesting in that he was giving some thought to ideal or proposed military organization in the occupied territories.  For someone like himself who was engaged in that very problem it could be a valuable document and we hope someday it will be part of the archives.

We came to the end of the war and [Paul is] still working for the National Institutes of Health, or at least back now to a civilian status.  Would this be correct?

HWS:  Not exactly – well, I suppose it is.  He was one of what they called the “professional corps” of the Public Health [Service], which was on a military basis, always.  There are two ways of belonging to the Public Health.  One – when you’re a member of the civil service and one in which you’re the professional corps.  That is why he didn’t enlist in the army and he was not drafted into the army; he’d simply been reassigned to it.

So he was in this latter capacity and he had the equivalent of the rank of colonel?

HWS:  That is right.  When he returned to what you would call a civil status it was as Medical Director.  That’s the same rank as colonel, except that it’s Public Health professional corps rank.  I have that date here.  I don’t know if you have it or not.  It’s what I was looking for – the time that he was transferred.  He was separated from—

There’s one other statement that you made while we were pausing that might be worth entering into the record.  [You said] that it was the death of his father which was the immediate occasion of his taking leave from the China-Burma-India theater and he didn’t return to Asia after this.

HWS:  No.  We’d better get that straight.  He was already back in the States in ’44.

In ’44.  So he had come as a regular relief of the officer?

HWS:  He was still in a military classification because during that time that he was lecturing at these various universities [he] was under military [orders].  It was after that that he was returned to the non-military Public Health [system].  That date was the third of July, 1952.

So it was substantially after this period?

HWS:  Yes.  This document says that he remains on active duty in non-military status in the Public Health Service.  And that date is the third of July, 1952.

When did he become actively and full-time engaged in the problem of alcoholism, and conducting the University teaching centers on alcoholism?

HWS:  I’ve got that date in here somewhere.  (Reading) January 22, 1957.

Oh, so this is still further into the future.  What kind of work did he engage in in the late ’40s?

HWS:  It was about the time the National Institutes of Health were being activated.  He joined in what was the National Institute of Mental Health, which was part of the National Institutes [of Health].  It was just being formed.  Dr. Robert Felix was head of that and Paul was an assistant.  I think there were very few people [there].  Their first assignment was to try to determine how many medical schools [offered] classes in psychiatry, degrees in psychiatry, and the status of mental institutions generally.  They were warehouses for the most part.  You went and you stayed there all your life.  After that survey was made – that took him to most of the states in the United States and all of the medical schools, of course.  Very few of them had courses in psychiatry.  He didn’t ever get to Puerto Rico.  But this was his assignment, at any rate.

Following [this assignment], and with the report, they got enough money from Congress so that they could give grants to schools – universities – that were willing to begin classes in psychiatry and that kind of thing.  I was very proud of the eventual results of this – I don’t remember the year – when for the first time there were more people leaving the institutions for the insane than were entering [them].  Now, you know, [it’s] taken for granted that you can be confined for a time and you get well so you can go out again.  And every medical college of any status has psychiatric [programs].

So he was in Public Health psychiatry in a very crucial period of its development?

HWS:  When it was just beginning; that is right.  His mental health degree [included] a specialty in psychiatry [but] he didn’t ever practice psychiatry as a psychiatrist.  He didn’t ever do his residency because his degree was in public health, not in psychiatry.  But he had the training – all of the training that a psychiatrist would get except the residency.

Was his interest more in administration?

HWS:  Yes.  This would have been the administrative side, entirely.  The National Institute – I don’t think— Well, I don’t really know this – but you could verify it – I don’t think that [the National Institute] do any clinical psychiatry.  I think they give grants to [psychiatric programs] and have some administrative influence over— He did that and I think he was still doing it when the accident occurred.  I don’t know the date of the accident and you don’t either, I don’t think, do you?

LS:  No, I don’t know.

You mean the accident in which his first wife was killed in 1954?

HWS:  Yes.  All right, I have the date from that.  He was ill and he was retired shortly after that.  That retirement date is in [here] somewhere.  [Nineteen] fifty-five, I guess.  Something like that, he took retirement.

Did he in any way participate – because you mention Korea later – he didn’t participate in the Korean War?

LS:  No.


HWS:  No.

He was in the United States during the Korean conflict?

HWS:  Yes.  That is right.  I was looking for his actual retirement date.  He was retired on one/one/fifty-five [January 1, 1955].  He was recalled to active duty on one/twenty-two/fifty-seven [January 22, 1957] and assigned to the National Institutes of Public Health and that was to head the Department of Alcoholism, which was still in the National Institutes of Mental Health.  Of course, it now is a separate one; that was done after his final retirement.  He went to Korea in that interval – when he was retired.

So he worked in a private capacity for the American-Korean Foundation—

HWS:  That’s right.  That’s right.

From 1955 to 1957?

HWS:  Yes.  He wasn’t there so awfully long, because he’d always had trouble with his back, serious trouble.  Korea was very badly torn up, of course, after the war – in dreadful shape.  He spent most of his time on horseback getting around through the country and he had serious trouble with his back.  And [he] had to come home – invalided.

It must have been very painful to someone with a problem like that to be on a horse or on a jeep, for that matter, when the roads are so [bad].

HWS:  He wasn’t there so awfully long.  I don’t know just how long; there’s nothing in the files.  Any notes that we ever saw were probably torn up at some time or other.

The survey in Korea was with respect to hospital and health needs of Koreans?

HWS:  Yes – what should be done to set up adequate health facilities for a war-torn country, pretty much demolished.

Then he returned to the United States.  You mentioned that in 1954 his first wife was killed in an automobile accident in which he was very seriously injured.  In 1957 you, Mrs. Stevenson, married him?

HWS:  We were married in October of ’56, I think.  Is that the date you have.

Yes, late in 1956 you were married.  I take it that you had known him for a number of years already?

HWS:  Yes.

LS:  Quite a time.

HWS:  Because I lived with the Stevenson family.  I had come here to St. Louis as a young widow and had come to help look after an elderly aunt.  After she joined a retirement home I went to live with the Stevenson family and Lucy’s father just considered me as one of his children, although I wasn’t adopted.  So I knew Paul occasionally – saw him occasionally when he and his wife would be coming home and I saw their letters and that kind of thing.  I didn’t know him very well, but I knew him as I would a brother.

And this was in St. Louis that you lived?  Did you live in St. Louis at the time, too, Miss Stevenson?

LS:  Yes.

What part of the city would that have been?

LS:  [In the] west end, over on Julian.

HWS:  And Enright, when I knew them.

LS:  And then Enright, later on.  Yes, you joined the family in about ’31 or ’32?  Around in there.

HWS:  (Agrees)

I can well understand the personal knowledge that you [can] add to the wartime story.  It makes that much more clear.  As you say, Paul Stevenson worked as a mental health consultant in alcoholism from 1957 until his retirement in 1960.  Did he travel much in this capacity?

HWS:  Yes.  Almost entirely in connection with it – giving lectures and of course again arranging with what was being done [at] various places.  And there were [Public Health] grants given at the end.  I don’t know just what he did do.

Did he go to medical schools?

HWS:  Yes.  There was a great attempt then to try to get medical schools to be interested in alcoholism.  They hadn’t been.  That’s kind of hard to remember now the way the situation was [then].  Doctors didn’t want drunks in their waiting rooms; they didn’t want to deal with them.

LS:  They didn’t consider it a sickness.

HWS:  That’s right.  There was a feeling – Paul always said that these were people who were unattractive and you just preferred to turn your back on it.

It was a social problem.  Of course, everybody knew that.  The Volstead Act had put that in people’s minds.  To this day, the whole issue of the intoxicated driver – whether there ought to be stiffer penalties against drivers who are under the influence – is still hotly debated as though it were people’s right to be on the road when they’re drunk.

HWS:  At that time there was really no help for them.  The police would arrest them and here in St. Louis would take them down under the Free Bridge [over the Mississippi River] and dump them and just get them out of sight.  Or if they locked them up they’d put them in jail [and] let them go as soon as they were sober.  When they went out and got drunk again and it was a revolving door sort of thing.  So, out of it now, there are plenty of places where people can go to be rehabilitated.  And even industry – at that time they were trying also to interest companies in having some kind of alcoholic counseling.  [Companies said] “[This] is no problem for us,” but eventually they began to find that it was a problem, sometimes involving people quite valuable to a company originally.

That was the type of work being done.  It meant meeting with industry, and it meant meeting with the medical schools, with medical societies, where doctors who were practicing, that type of thing.  [It meant] trying to get courses in alcoholism set up.  That kind of thing.  He was the only person involved in it for quite a little while, with his secretary.  He finally had one assistant who took over when he was retired.  I lost track of it after that.  I think it was two or three years after that, probably after Paul died, that it became a separate department in Washington.

Were you based in Washington at the time?

HWS:  He was at the time, yes – not in the city of Washington [D.C.]

In Bethesda?

HWS:  It was actually in Silver Spring, but it was an extension of Bethesda.  Bethesda is so crowded that they had large offices in Silver Spring, which is not very far from Bethesda.

Where did you have your home?

HWS:  He was living in Baltimore.  He stayed in Baltimore for quite a little while.  I was working at Union Electric and I wanted to stay [in St. Louis] until I could retire.  I could retire at fifty-five and I had just a few years [to go].  He was on the road too much.  So for a little while we were a separate married couple.  I would fly down on weekends.  I could leave the office at ten minutes to five, I guess, and get to Washington by 7:30.  He’d meet me there and [I’d] come back late Sunday night or Monday morning.  If he was anywhere in the western part of the United States he could come here over a weekend.  So, that was the way we acted.  We did that for a few years.

So you, as a rule, did not travel to these various seminars and meetings.

HWS:  No.  I never went.

Let me ask you, Miss Stevenson, were you a career woman?

LS:  (Laughs) Well, forty years at Ralston-Purina.  Would you call that a career?

Yes, I would say that.  Were they downtown at the time?

LS:  Yes.

That was before obviously they built the Checkerboard Square Tower that now is their headquarters.

LS:  Yes.  The Tower came into being after I retired.  I’ve been retired at least eighteen years or so.  But we helped build the Arch.

HWS:  By looking out the window, you mean. (Laughs)

LS:  That’s right.  I watched the last piece go in.  When I started we worked in the old print shop.

Is that part of the existing grounds of Ralston-Purina?

LS:  Yes, the buildings have all been rehabilitated.  Of course, after the big fire they did some extra building.

HWS:  She was there [in the era of] “Daddy” Danforth [ed. note: William H. Danforth, 1870-1955], who was really quite a man, who started the company, and was called “Daddy” Danforth by most of the people because he knew everybody.  Presidents of companies don’t anymore.

LS:  He had visited in Paul’s home out in Peking on one of his trips to China.

Is not the present Chancellor of the University [William “Bill” H. Danforth] his son?

HWS:  Grandson.

LS:  Grandson.  His grandson.

But the elder “Daddy” Danforth, as you call him, did have a long interest in medicine and philanthropy?

LS:  Oh, yes.  He was his own man.

HWS:  Wonderful person.

I think he was a friend of Dr. [E. V.] Cowdry’s because I have pictures, I think, of meetings that Danforth sponsored.  Cowdry was the beneficiary of some grants from the Danforth Foundation that involved the elder man.  Well, back to Paul Stevenson.  Retirement began again in 1960.  What was life like?

HWS:  He came here then and we established a home on Skinker [Boulevard].  [We had] a large apartment there.  We brought the things from Baltimore and we lived there until he died.

This is one of the large apartment buildings on the south side of the—

HWS:  It’s on the west side of Forest Park, there on Skinker.  One of the older buildings – large apartments.  The Baltimore apartment was a very large one.  It was a building that had been built by Eastern Shore millionaires who wanted a place in Baltimore for the winter.  [It was] an old-fashioned apartment.  The elevator was lined with mirrors and had a bench on which you sat while someone took you up.  I wasn’t used to that kind of coddling.  I remember once coming in with a package and the doorman was horrified that I would be carrying a package.  I don’t think it weighed more than a pound and a half or so.  He took it from me and insisted on taking it up and taking it all the way into the house and depositing it wherever I thought it should go.  It was just not right for a lady to carry any kind of a package!

Nothing ever had to be locked because the doorman would not send anyone up until [he] had found out that they were welcome guests.  The doors were never locked in the building.  It was a very interesting place.

You mentioned that during the retirement years you did some traveling in national parks and were interested in nature.

HWS:  Paul was really such a wonderful man.  In all those years that he was working, basically in China, he had never had a vacation and had never taken a trip anywhere as a tourist.  He had been around the world two or three times, but it had always been because he had something to do in one of those places.  So, being retired and having time to do whatever he wanted to do was quite an experience for him.  He proceeded to fill it with all the interests he could find.  He became very interested in music – he did that before we were married.  He had gotten himself a Fisher phonograph and his records.  He extended that to rocks and birds and plants and everything of that sort.  We traveled with a carload of books and argued over every type of rock, every kind of tree, every kind of bird or flower.

LS:  Came home with a carload of rocks, as I recall.

HWS:  Yes, we did.  It was very interesting.  We waited till Lucy retired and then made all the plans for that trip and we spent about three and a half or four months, I guess, [traveling] through the west.  We stayed wherever we wanted to stay and found out all we could about it.  We went to all of the museums, I’m sure.

LS:  And the libraries.

HWS:  In the whole area.  All the libraries, and all of the universities.  I don’t think we missed any large ones.  He knew somebody in all of those, of course.

[He was] a very remarkable man and he had quite a wonderful mind.  I was so interested in the fact that we could go into a city, like San Francisco or—

LS:  Seattle.

HWS:  Seattle or somewhere, and he already knew his way around, more or less.  But he would look at a map and decide where it was we should go the next day and he would know exactly where to go.  The map – he wouldn’t refer to it again; he could remember all the streets, and all the turns, and all the places.

It was probably child’s play after negotiating through Chinese cities.

HWS:  I guess so, but still they were different.  He was one of those people who could— If he did ask directions from a policeman and the policeman would tell him fifteen different turns, and by that time I don’t know where I’m going, and he would repeat it word for word afterward.

He had a remarkable memory, too.  You described a trip to England where he was able to locate places where he had been decades before.

LS:  Found that classroom that he was in.

Well, is there anything else that we haven’t covered?

HWS:  I don’t think so.

I’m very appreciative of the time that you’ve both given and the number of reminiscences that you’ve shared with me in this.  I intend, of course, to add this [oral history] to the collection, if you’ll agree.  In the future, [for use by] someone like myself, who would be interested in the career of Paul Stevenson.

LS:  These come back to you, do they?

Yes.  I just made copies of the pictures that will appear in the Outlook article about his time in China.  So, at this point I’ll sign off with thanks, once again, for speaking with me.


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