Showing posts with label albuquerque. Show all posts
Showing posts with label albuquerque. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Trying To Move On In 2013

One of my goals for 2013 was to close out “old chapters” of my life and move on.  This process included my archiving old documents, photos and keepsakes as best I could. While doing this, I came across forgotten gems that brought back wonderful memories. I found items I’d rather never had been reminded of and a few I quickly burned from embarrassment and fear of somebody getting their grubby hands on them and having fun at my expense.

I came across a couple photos that I had no idea existed. They were of my oldest friend in the world and they brought back a flood of memories and some tears. Her name was Cyd Cutter, we met in 1972 as her mother and my grandmother were at some sort of exercise class; I’ll never forget that day. Cyd was my best friend until the day she died in 2008. We introduced ourselves as “brother and sister” and many people in our circle didn't know we weren't related. I loved Cyd with all my heart and the world was such a better place when she was alive.

I found out about my friends death in a jolting way.  I received a call from her young son. When I answered he said “mom’s dead”. I was not sure what I was being told and I asked him to repeat what he said. He repeated with “yeah, she’s dead, I found her on the bathroom floor”. I asked when did this happen expecting a response of yesterday or even last night but that wasn't the case. He said to me “I found her just now; she’s on the floor dead.

I was in shambles and to make matters worse.  My previous marriage was ending and as a result, my former wife had no room for kindness or empathy. It was a brutal moment in my life.

My best friends’ dad had the same name but it was spelled “Cid”. Cid Cutter was a great guy who was very successful. But he was most famous for his being the founder of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and arguably leaving one of the biggest legacies in the state of New Mexico. Mr. Cutter died in 2011 and his passing was a great loss.

So several days after finding the photos of my old friend, I jumped back into my project. In the very first box I opened, I came across a bunch of old legal documents. I quickly realized this paperwork was from a lawsuit stemming from the death of my father and pregnant step-mother in 1982.  I'd never read them before, didn't want to, it was too painful. But 30 years,10 months and 26 days after my dad and step-mom were killed, I did.

I was hit with something I had absolutely no idea about and wouldn't have guessed in a million years. I was seeing the name “Cid Cutter” and "World Balloons" everywhere.  It appeared that my best friend’s father was some sort of expert witness but I was wrong. It was Cid Cutter and his company World Balloons who owned and operated the balloon that my father and step-mother were killed in.

I couldn't possibly calculate the hours and days I spent with my best friend and her family and she with mine. Yet never once did anybody tell me, hers or mine, the connection.
The last time I saw Mr. Cutter, I had Thanksgiving with his family in 2009 at his house. During this holiday gathering, another guest brought up the El Globo Grande crash not knowing who I was. Mr. Cutter was standing there, looked at me and said "Tragic, just tragic". At the time I had no idea.

Oddly enough, once I had time to absorb what I’d just learned during my archiving project, I started wondering what the hell was that horrible experience like for Mr. Cutter and his family. What was it like for my best friend? Especially considering how close we were. Having my regular involvement with the family had to have been an uncomfortable reminder that made their recovery and ability to move on difficult.

But here is another intense twist.  The balloon my parents were killed in was supposed to have another passenger – me.  I cancelled at the last minute for a cute blonde I’d just me a few days before in California. She was in town and wanted to go to an early movie with me; a date! So I didn't go to the Balloon Fiesta and I’m alive today.  And the cute blonde was Mr. Cutter’s niece.

This story isn't done yet. After I learn about the Cutter/World Balloon involvement, I call an old friend who is into ballooning, knows the Cutters well and tell her this story.  When I'm done, she tells me "well I've got a story for you"!   She goes on to tell me that she'd just returned from a ballooning event in France.  One day while the balloons were down, she went to a local cafe. While having a cup of coffee she struck up a conversation with a guy at the next table.  The conversation turns to balloons, then Albuquerque, then the Balloon Fiesta.  Then this guy tells my friend about a horrible experience he had with a balloon and how it has haunted him ever since.

Apparently, this man had flown from Europe to New Mexico to go to the Balloon Fiesta. Somehow he ended up with 2 tickets to go up in a balloon. For some reason he gave his tickets away. Not long after that, there was an announcement that there had been a balloon crash.  Then a few minutes later, he learned the balloon that crashed was the very same balloon that he'd given away his tickets for. This man knew that the couple had used his tickets because he watched them go up in the balloon. Later that day, it was confirmed that they were among the dead, along with two other people; Nick and PJ Brainard - my parents.

After the accident, this guy fell into a long and deep depression.  As a way of “coping” with what had happened, he decided to study every element of the El Globo Grande wreck to see if there was something he could do to help prevent future hot air balloon tragedies. This man eventually went on to invent a fireproof fabric for hot air balloons that is apparently now used throughout the industry.

And with that, I’m going to pick up old friends  Cyd's  cat “Agony” (I didn't like that stupid name  Cyd named her so I renamed her to “Gonad”) who has been sitting on my lap purring while I wrote this and call it a day for October 2, 2013 – the 31’st eve of this sad event and go spend time with my children.

October 3, 1982.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


PDF Version of Interview.
Interview with P. G. Cornish, III, M.D.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
January 11, 1991

The following is an interview with Dr. P. G. Cornish, III, a retired general Surgeon of
Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a third generation surgeon. His grandfather, P. G. Cornish,
Senior came to Albuquerque in the 1890's, and his father, P. G. Cornish, Jr., set up his surgical
practice in Albuquerque after medical education in the 1920's. This interview was held on
Friday January 2, 1991 in Dr. Cornish's Albuquerque home. I, the interviewer, am Professor
Jake Spidle of the Medical History Project and the UNM Department of History

SPIDLE: I'm interested in talking with you, as a long time New Mexico physician, Dr. Cornish,
but also about your grandfather and your father. We can wind up, really, talking about your
experiences, or at least your arrival in what might be called an immature New Mexico medical
community, around 1960 or so. Is that when you came, 1960?

CORNISH: He came in 1963. I started practice here in 1963.

SPIDLE: You came in 1963, but your granddad arrived in 1891.

CORNISH: Yes, because my dad was born in 1892.

SPIDLE: If you think about it, very shortly now, in six years, we'll be talking about one
hundred years of Cornish surgeons in New Mexico.

CORNISH: That's right.

SPIDLE: That's an extraordinary record, the only one I know of within the state. I don’t know
anybody else who has that kind of continuity.

CORNISH: Well, almost everybody else were relative newcomers, although there certainly are
some physicians whose families did go back a long ways, but didn't start out as physicians, I

SPIDLE: Let me jump to the very end. Is there a fourth generation of Cornish physicians?

CORNISH: No. There aren't any; neither one of my sons or my daughter are involved in
medicine. Well, one of my sons works at Presbyterian, he's sort of a quality expert, or something
like that, but no, there are no physicians.

SPIDLE: Well, maybe we'll get a grandson or granddaughter ...

CORNISH: Well, I don't see much hope in my family (laughs) of having any grandchildren at all!
They've got their own agenda, but I keep talking to them about it.

SPIDLE: You retired three years ago?

CORNISH: I retired in the end of May of 1987.

SPIDLE: Well, if you practiced until 1987. That’s exactly 90 years of Cornish surgery in
Albuquerque. It's an extraordinary record really. Let's start with your granddad -- I know a
little bit about him from conventional biographical sources, and from that earlier interview with
you. He was a native of Alabama?

CORNISH: Yes, he was born in Alabama and raised there, and then went to medical school at
Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. When he finished there, he came out to visit a
brother who was Jiving in Winslow, Arizona, at that time, and he didn't go back there to
practice, he stayed here. He liked it. Of course, he made some trips back there, but he only
practiced for awhile in Flagstaff before he moved into Albuquerque.

SPIDLE: Do you know anything about that Alabama family? Was it southern gentry, dirt
farmers ...

CORNISH: No, as a matter of fact , this last May, my sister, her husband, and my wife and I
paid a visit down there to them. I had never met these people. I'd heard a lot about them, my
mother kept up with them, in some ways, my sister had. But we saw them and stayed in the
little town with them. We stayed where he was born, Demopolis, Alabama.

SPIDLE; One of the reasons I'm fishing is I want to get the background of P. G. Cornish, Sr.

CORNISH: Well, I'd never been there, and Demopolis is not a very big town, and the relative we
were visiting with, and her family, the husband came down there in 1930, I guess, and I asked
him what the population was then, and he said 5,000, and now, in 1990 when we were down
there, it was 10,000, so it hasn't had any great spurt of growth

SPIDLE: Are there any Cornishes left down there?

CORNISH: No, there aren't any Cornishes. The last name of the cousin of my dad's, is George,
and her husband, Ben George, was a printer and the editor/ publisher of the Demopolis Times for
years, and he has retired in the last two or three years. But, no, that's what they were. Of
course, their last name was George, and they have two or three daughters who live there.

SPIDLE: But the Cornish men long since gone ...

CORNISH: They're all go ne, and there are no Cornishes that live down there. One of the
Cornishes, George Cornish, I don't know whose son he was, but he went on in journalism and
became at one point one of the editors of the New York Herald Tribune. I don't know if George
ever had any children or not, I'm kind of fuzzy about some of these details, but that's what they
were in, what the George family and the George Cornish family were in.

SPIDLE: But we're not talking about plantation aristocracy then.

CORNISH: Well, my grandfather, yes, there was a plantation, Spring Hill. I guess almost every
county down there has a Spring Hill, but anyway, yes, they were. He used to go and spend the
summers with his grandmother out at this plantation because of the problems with the lowlands,
probably malaria, and so this Spring Hill is maybe 10 or 15 miles out of Demopolis and that's
where he would spend the summers. He was brought up by his grandmother whose name was Torbot.
She came from England, came over here and married, settled in at Spring Hill. They had several
children, some of which died at a young age, and about the only thing that's left of the old
plantation or home is a small cemetery which we went out to see. There are 3 or 4 graves in this
little enclosure, and most of them are fairly young people who died at an early age. It's still kept
up. My cousin down there, Elizabeth George, hires somebody to go out and cut the weeds once a
year or so.

SPIDLE: So there is some suggestion of well-to-do Southern family?


SPIDLE: Any medical tradition beyond your grandfather that you know of?

CORNISH: Not that I know of. There may be something, but I'm not really aware of it.

SPIDLE: Why would a young man from the Deep South go off to Philadelphia to medical

CORNISH: Well, I don't know. I don't know what they had at that time in the South as far as
medical training goes.

SPIDLE: A bunch of those proprietary schools.

CORNISH: Well, they may not have even had that, you see? That had to be right at the end of
the Civil War, and they hadn't been able to reconstruct stuff like that, and I guess if you wanted
to get a good, formal education, you'd have to go to the East, where the stuff still was. That's
my guess. I don't even have any idea when the state universities down there were founded.

SPIDLE: I don't either, really, though I do suspect that I know about Tennessee. I'm less certain
about Alabama, but I know that the era when your grandpa went to medical school is the very
era of the proliferation of those fly-by- night proprietary schools, where farm boys went to
school for six months and then were certified as MD's.

CORNISH: Well, then, of course, they probably had sort of preceptors hips or something like

SPIDLE: Riding with the doctor.

CORNISH: Yes, much as the attorneys would have in that kind of thing.

SPIDLE: Well, Jefferson was not like that, though. Jefferson clearly was already a distinguished
American medical school, so...

CORNISH: Oh. it had been for some time.

SPIDLE: ... So for whatever reason he went, he picked a good place, really.


SPIDLE: And a brother had already reached the Arizona Territory somehow or other, and then
your granddad followed him in the very early 1890's?

CORNISH: Yes, l suppose maybe the late 1880's. I don't really know.

SPIDLE: Was your grandmother already along, or did he find her in Arizona?

CORNISH: No, he found her in Arizona. Her last name was Coffin and her immediate family
was from Kansas. Of course, you always suspect that the Coffin was from those seafaring
Coffins, the whalers, you know; that's just a guess. I don't have any idea, because we've never
really traced the thing. I have a genealogy book of my father's that somebody compiled back in
the late 1920's and 1930's and it goes clear back to the guy whose remains are interred in the
second row of the cemetery at Simsbury, Connecticut. And my father always took great delight
in that. He graduated from Yale and he'd go back there periodically. He always wanted to go to
Simsbury to see the cemetery where his predecessor was interred. So whoever put this book
together traced them way back.

SPIDLE: As I say, we've already talked about the modern extension of the Cornish medical
tradition. I was just curious about the extension on back into the 19th century; apparently very
little, if any. Maybe your grandfather is the founder of the line of physicians.

CORNISH: Well, that's possible. I don't know. Of course this genealogy book is divided up
into families and in that particular family. I think that my grandfather was probably the first

SPIDLE: Or at least, in the practical way, he certainly is the founder of the New Mexico branch.
Well, he didn't spend too much time over in Arizona, coming to Albuquerque, specifically, in
1897, and your dad, at the time, was a 5-year-old.

CORNISH: I always thought he came when he was about two years old, so that would make it

SPIDLE: I've got conflicting information about when exactly P.G. Cornish. Sr., came to New
Mexico. One source said 1896, but if your dad was a 2-year-old, it was 1894. He actually was
licensed in 1902, but licensure was a fuzzy thing back then.

CORNISH: I can go get that thing. I've got that article right now.

SPIDLE: Well, 
I might ask you to let me take a look at it in a few minutes. Let's see what this
one says ... this one says 1897. In the 1890's; good enough, at least for our purposes. And I
always see him identified as Chief Surgeon for the Santa Fe Railroad.

CORNISH: I think he was -- I don't know if that was his first position -- I always thought that
it was, when he first came here. And he did that for a time. That's kind of a fancy sounding
title for a doc who takes care of the rail road employees here on this route. But yes, he did, that's
my understanding, and then he carried on with that for some time. I don't know how long, until,
again, as I understand, until Dr. Lovelace, "Uncle Doc." moved in here from Fort Sumner and
took the job over.

SPIDLE: When we say, "Santa Fe Company Surgeon," we don't mean a company doctor whose
practice is exclusively that of railroad employees.

CORNISH: Oh, I don't believe that. There's no way it could be that.

SPIDLE; You couldn't make a go of it that way.

CORNISH: No, and the Santa Fe Hospital couldn't even really keep busy a full time doc. I
mean, eventually, when they grew to what they were in the sixties, they kept a lot of people
busy, but they had people coming in from Amarillo, and so forth, so that they were the referral
center for a lot of Santa Fe stations: Clovis would send their people over here to the Santa Fe
Hospital. They could keep them busy at that time.

SPIDLE: From the beginning, then, almost certainly your grandfather had a more or less large
private practice?


SPIDLE: In what? Was he basically a surgeon or was he one of the old-fashioned GP's?

CORNISH: Oh, well, in those days, there wasn't anybody who limited their practice to surgery.
I mean, they called them physicians, and surgeons, and stuff like that, but they had to do
everything: obstetrical work, pediatric work, everything like that. They had to take care of it.

SPIDLE: Was there any kind of special focus within his practice that your grandfather was
especially interested in?

CORNISH: Not that I'm aware of.

SPIDLE: But he was an old-fashioned family doctor who would set a bone or deliver a baby...

CORNISH: As far as I know.

SPIDLE: And practiced here until his death in 1932. What year were you born?

CORNISH: 1929.

SPIDLE: So you just have the vaguest of recollections, if any, of him directly.

CORNISH: Well, I have some recollections of him. 1932 is when he died?

SPIDLE: Yes, here's an obituary in the 1932 annual edition of Southwestern Medicine.

CORNISH: Well, I can remember my grandmother died before that, and they closed up their
house and he came to live with us, and he didn't live -- I can't remember him living there very
long. I can remember going to his house, which was up on Walter Street, and is still there, but I
can remember going up there and I can remember my grandmother being there. And the usual
things that kids remember about their grandparents: there was always a table in the front living
room that you go in, and there was a drawer in there and she'd always have candy for the kids
(laughter), that sort of thing. And then, I can remember part of her illness because my
grandfather and my dad -- she had pneumonia -- they constructed an oxygen tent for her, and I
can remember being down in the basement of the house while they were building that oxygen
tent. But she died, I suppose a year or six months before my grandfather. I guess she didn't
recover from that pneumonia. But I have some slight memories of her.

I can remember going on house calls with my grandfather. He had an old car, I don't know if
it was a Pierce-Arrow or what it was, but I can remember going places with him. I have more of
a remembrance of going to Presbyterian , and what was then the Sanitarium, or maybe going
down there to Dr. Rice's hospital on Central. That sort of thing I have slight remembrances of.

SPIDLE: Dr. Albert Simms told me a charming story about your grandfather.
He says, "Dr. Cornish, Sr., liked to make house calls, but he was a terrible driver. He
always had one wheel of his old La Salle up on the curb. He was enormously proud of his
grandson, P. G. Cornish, III , who was about 2- 1/2 or 3 years old, and kind of chubby. (Still is;
he'll be mad at me for saying that.) When grandpa Cornish took him on house calls, the boy
would shout, 'Look out, Grandpa, blow the horn, Grandpa.' Young P.G. was the only one
grandpa listened to. On more than one occasion, some lady said , 'Dr. Cornish, I don't think you
should bring that child into the sick room.' 'My dear Madam,' he always replied, 'this is my grandson, who is going to study medicine. If you do not want him to accompany me, I believe you should make some other arrangements.' Grandpa Cornish doted on P.G: (laughter)

CORNISH: Well, I don't remember that. I've heard some of that before. I've heard the story of
my supposedly telling him how to drive and things like that. I would be surprised if that's not
true about his driving. He was a kindly old gentleman whose wife ran his life, and was
continually hounding him to keep accurate records, bookkeeping, collect money, stuff like that.
If she wasn't there, apparently, he would have let everything slide and people wouldn't have
been billed, they wouldn't have paid their bills, this kind of thing. As I remember, she was a
fairly large woman with severe hair, like they sometimes had it, and, "Clara, Miss Clara," and
according to the stories, why, she kept him straight on these kind of things. So I wouldn't be
surprised about the driving.

SPIDLE: It would be, certainly, accurate to consider him one of the lions in the Albuquerque
medical community one of the shakers and makers?

CORNISH: I think he probably was. Of course, the medical community at that time, there was
not much there. But I think he was, certainly by reputation, his training, his integrity and
everything else, made him one of the leaders.

SPIDLE: Yes. The literature, of course, on the medical community from that epoch is pretty
limited, because they were so serious about no advertising, down to the level of making sure that
their names didn't appear in the paper, even on casual matters. So it's really hard to collect much
information about the doctors of that generation. But when the medical community of the turn
of the century is discussed at all, he's always cited as one of the major figures. You know Merle
Hope Sisk, Mrs. Arthur Hope Sisk?

CORNISH: Oh, yes, very well.

SPIDLE: She told me about the medical community of that generation and the Cornish family;
of course, she talked about the women's circle, also. It's clear that the Cornish family very
quickly and very successfully established itself as mainstays of the Albuquerque community.

CORNISH: Well, yes, you know, Dr. Hope and my grandfather and -- offhand, I can't think of
the others, but there was a group of them who used what they had available to them and they did
a good job.

SPIDLE; And somebody like Dr. Lovelace kind of straddles the last segment of your granddad's
practice and most of your father's practice. Lovelace and Wylder may be the next generation
after Cornish, Sr., and Hope.

CORNISH: Well, yes. Of course, Wylder was actually still in practice when I first came here.
don't know how old he was when he died. I can remember when he was still practicing, I mean
as a kid, when I was still in school, because he had a couple of daughters who were close to my
age. And they lived right down there on Tijeras and we used to be guests in their house. I
remember something about him, yes.

SPIDLE: Well. let's come forward to that next generation, if you please, and talk a little about
your dad. Your dad was born over there in Arizona?

CORNISH: Yes, in Flagstaff.

SPIDLE: And then, of course, was reared here in Albuquerque. I think I have most of the nuts
and bolts facts about his career, where he went to medical school and the like, in the record, but
I don't know very much about the exact nature of his practice. He, unlike your grandfather, was
exclusively a surgeon, I gather, or is that an overstatement?

CORNISH: Well, it is to a degree. When he started out, he did everything, just as all the other
doctors did, particularly in a community this size. There may have been some people who
limited their practices exclusively to surgery or other things in some of the bigger cities, but as
time went by, he got rid of [he general practice sort of stuff, and exclusively did surgery.
Well, the American College of Surgeons, which was the standard for excellence and for
certification and credentialing, this kind of thing, he was one of the original members in New
Mexico and one of the governors. As time went by. they wouldn't let people in who did not
spend 70-80 percent of their time doing surgery. But when it was first starting out, it couldn't
be that way.

But he used to do all kinds of things. t know he did deliveries, Caesarean sections,
orthopedic work. He went up to Seattle where there was a surgeon, I think his name was Roger
Anderson, who developed a technique of putting pins in one side of a fracture and one on the
other and something on the outside that wasn't in the body, but on the outside to hold the thing
together. That was one of the beginnings of original surgical external fixations of fractures.
And I know he went out there and took a course on how to do that. He did a lot of thoracic
surgery, a lot of TB work.

There are certain diseases and things like that have an influence on history, and certainly.
TB had a great influence on New Mexico. There were people who came out here for the cure,
lots of well-known names that stayed here; they came here because of their tuberculosis is. And he did a lot of surgery for tuberculosis, in association with his internist friend , LeRoy Peters, who took care of the medical ends of their needs.

SPIDLE: Yes. I got a good deal of information about Dr. Peters, interviewed his son.


SPIDLE: Yes, Fyfe. He died not too long ago. I got some materials from Fyfe about his father.
Your grandfather was certainly a major figure in the Albuquerque medical community of his
day, but your father was perhaps even more prominent within the next generation.

CORNISH: Well, I don't know about that. I remember Dr. Peters. He was Quite a character. He
had kind of a squeaky voice and every other word was an obscenity. (laughter) And I can
remember, as a little kid growing up, I'd use something like that and my mother would get mad
at me and say, "Where did you learn it?~, and I'd say, "I heard it from Uncle Pete," or whatever
I'd call him. Which may have been true, because he and some of the other guys used to come to
our house periodically because they had a poker group that played every week on Tuesday and
they'd rotate around at the different houses. And I can remember as a little kid, they played
downstairs and my bedroom was upstairs and in the summertime there was a porch and windows
and I could stay up there and listen to what was going on, (laughter) and you could always
identify that scratchy voice of Peters cussing every other word.

SPIDLE: You know, I've heard about that voice. Somebody characterized it as a whiskey voice,
kind of ... well, he had tuberculosis of the larynx. You probably knew Carl Gellenthien from up
at Valmora, above Las Vegas?

CORNISH: Well, I didn't ever know him, but certainly knew about him.

SPIDLE: Well, we had the chance to interview him before he passed away, and he remembered
LeRoy Peters coming up from Albuquerque to do, what do you call the -- where you inject the
air into the pleural cavity?

CORNISH: Pneumothorax.

SPIDLE: Pneumothorax, yes! Dr. Peters came up to help them do their first pneumothorax there
at Valmora Sanitarium and, according to Dr. Gellenthien, it went all wrong and the patient died,
the very first one that they did right there. And he ended the story by saying, “Pete and I went
next door and got drunk." (laughter)

CORNISH: That's the way they used to handle that in those days. I've got a box of lantern slides
that was put together for a medical presentation that my dad made down in Memphis years ago,
and written on there are the names of a lot of the people who were in this community. Some of
their families are still here, because they were afflicted with tuberculosis is, and it had to do with
pneumothorax. And then there was what they called pneumolysis where they'd have these
adhesion holding the lung to keep it from collapsing, so they put a small instrument in and cut
these adhesions, the lysis, to allow the lung to collapse. And this was a presentation they made
down there about their treatment.

SPIDLE: Well, I knew he did a lot of thoracic surgery and, as you say, in Albuquerque in the
1920's and 30's, you'd almost have to.

CORNISH: Wel1, you surely did. For instance, he used to go, about once a month, down to Fort
Stanton to do their thoracic surgery. I know he did thoracic surgery for the Indian Service here
in Albuquerque, plus whatever stuff came through Presbyterian, in particular, and I suppose
some through St. Joe's, through the san that they maintained.

SPIDLE: It would please you, I'm sure, to know that I've now interviewed 139 New Mexico
physicians, in that generation that came in the late forties; for example, Larry Wilkinson and
Edward Parnall, the orthopedic surgeon. All of those who remembered the old guard surgeons,
Uncle Billy Woolston, and Hannett and Cornish, remember them respectfully.

CORNISH: Ob, yes. Well, I think my father and Hannett, those two in particular, were very
instrumental in the quality of surgical care in this community.

SPIDLE: Those two in particular, along with Dr. Van Atta, are always cited to me as the leaders
of the anti-Lovelace faction, or the "downtown docs." Did that tension develop in that
generation or was it there even with your grandfather and old Uncle Doc?

CORNISH: Well, I don't know about whether it was there then, I have no direct knowledge. As
far as I remember growing up, they didn't have much good to say, much respect about Uncle
Doc. There was always a question, maybe not so much about him, but about Lassiter, as to
whether he really had any medical training or not. My mother used to be so adamant about that,
that when he died and his obituary showed up in the paper and he had all these degrees after his
name, she went around saying, - He didn't have any of those things! I don't know.

SPIDLE: You wouldn't deny, would you, that there were quite strong feelings between your
father and the Lovelace Clinic people?

CORNISH: Oh, yes, there were very strong feelings. I think I probably told you the last time we
talked that they tried to vote Uncle Doc out of the medical society. I don't know about the
details about that, but people still talk about it. I suppose that if you talk to Albert Rood, he
might remember more of the details. I would kind of guess he was there then. But, yes, they did
have very strong feelings, and I know when we talked before, there was mention of if a
merchant patronized the Lovelace Clinic, why they wouldn't patronize that merchant! (laughter)
It was a bitter thing.

SPIDLE: Was it fundamentally economic, or personal, or...

CORNISH: I don't know. I think all those people were economically doing all right, except
during the Depression. But I have to think that so much of it was a matter of their integrity.
They were concerned about some of the things Lovelace and Lassiter were doing in their effort
to build their clinic, and some of that concern was certainly valid. And because of the closeness,
the small town, things would get back to the docs. The one story that I particularly remember
that was a slight thing, but Wes Conner used to do OB/GYN work here, had a patient in the
hospital, and Doc Lovelace was at the hospital and he saw this lady and went in the room; he
knew her, was an acquaintance, and said, "Oh, well, what are you doing here?"
And she said, "Wes Conner, Dr. Conner's going to do a hysterectomy on me."
And Dr. Love lace supposedly said, Oh? Does he do surgery? {laughter} You know, that would
be a hard thing to make up, but maybe they did, I don't know.

As Side I ended, Dr. Cornish began talking about a series of newspaper articles that had
particularly offended the downtown docs:

SPIDLE: I know the series you're talking about

CORNISH: Well, anyway, they got this writer out here and he wrote these wonderful, marvelous
stories about the Lovelace Clinic and ... I want to say his name was Keifer, or Kibbler, but that's
not it. [Robert Ruark.] Anyway, when these things came out in the paper, why it just incensed
the people who were not members of the Lovelace Clinic - - about this advertising; that they
brought this guy out here, they accused them of paying him to write these articles, which maybe
was true, maybe it wasn't. I wouldn't put it beyond them, knowing what went on. Anyway, it
doesn’t' t make that much difference. But, yeah, there was a lot of real hostility.

SPIDLE: So there may have been an economic element, maybe not pronounced, but maybe it
was mostly personal and ethical, as opposed to ...

CORNISH: I think that a lot of it was, yes. Economics always enters into everything, and you
can't really divorce yourself from that kind of thing when you talk about this kind of stuff.

SPIDLE: How did Randy factor in? Randy was different from his uncle or was he perceived
that way?

CORNISH: I don't know how different he was. Of course he made that high altitude jump and
he was sort of a big hero; they made a lot out of that. And he didn't fail to take advantage of
that kind of stuff business wise, and of course they got some of the NASA contracts. We were
watching the rerun of “The Right Stuff" the other night, and there in that first episode, why
there were these guys who were brought out to the Lovelace Clinic, it said. Well, that kind of
gets to you a little bit. In this day and age, that stuff is okay; I mean, it may be okay, it may be
legal, but there are still a lot of us who have a real strong feeling about that kind of stuff. So,
anyway, there were a lot of things like that they didn't appreciate. As they'd say in the country,
“They didn't cotton to that stuff."

SPIDLE: Yes, exactly. Well, you father's base was Presbyterian Hospital, though he presumably
did surgery over at St. Joe's as well?

CORNISH: Yes, he did some surgery over there. I can remember going over there. I used to
make rounds with him, used to go and they made some small surgical gowns and I'd go in and
stand on a stool and watch the operation. But the nuns were not that easy to get along with. If
you were their favorites, or they thought you could do something for them, then they might do
it. St. Joe got a, :liated with the Lovelace people and they used to do stuff, and so the other
guys didn't like that. And so, they would stay away from there. And a large part of it, I believe,
the others -- my dad and Hannett, Van Atta, a lot of those people supported Presbyterian. It
was that support, then, that allowed Presbyterian to become what it really is. That was the
foundation for it.

SPIDLE: When did your dad have time to play golf? He obviously played a lot of golf. Or at
least, he played well whatever time he played.

CORNISH: Wednesday afternoon was their time and Sunday mornings. My mother used to have
to -- they didn't have answering services in those days -- so she'd have to stay home, and our
house at that time was on Park Avenue, 16th and Park, just 3 or 4 blocks from the country club,
and she'd answer the phone and screen out the stuff and if there was an emergency then she'd
have to drive over there and get him.

SPIDLE: Did he have hobbies other than golf?

CORNISH: Well he used to like to duck hunt, and he and Arthur Sisk, and there were some
others, I think probably Keith Baldridge, of the Baldridge Lumber Company, and some of those
people had a pond down near Tome, right near Tome Hill. Do you know where that is?


CORN1SH: ... that they owned, and they'd go down they’re and hunt ducks. It was private, they
didn't let anybody in there, and I can remember going down there with them once, but again, I
was pretty little. But that was pretty good duck hunting, because this part of the central flyway
at that time had quite a few ducks, geese. But he was not a fisherman . Oh. he used to go with
us if we were going dove hunting or quail hunting, he would like to go there. But, see, the
Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District came in there and drained their ditches and put in stuff
like that and drained most of the ponds and sloughs, so it changed the whole thing. So then if
you' re going to hunt after that happened , why you'd have to follow the river or the d itches or
some of the bigger places. It lost its appeal to him, then, I guess.

SPIDLE: So some golf, some duck hunting, but apparently, he wasn't much interested in medical politics. I know he was President of the Bernalillo County Medical Society, but there's not much indication that he was interested in the medical society at the state level.

CORNISH: I guess not. He was interested in the American College of Surgeons, very interested
in that.

SPIDLE: Yes, you indicated he was state governor or regional governor, I don' t know how it's

CORNISH: Yes, state Governor. He was that for a number of years. They would appoint the
Governor and he would be the governor for Quite some time until such time he didn’t' t want to do
it anymore, or they impeached him (laughter) or whatever they would do. Now, they give you a
term of 3 years, maybe it's 2, and then if you behave yourself okay, you get another
appointment, but then that's it, unless you have performed so well that they want to move you
up in the hierarchy there.

SPIDLE: It's clear as we've talked here that you were reared in the medical community, but I
had no idea it was so intensive as to have cut-down surgical gowns and there you stand on stools
watching surgery as a boy. Did you ever consider anything else?

CORNISH: Not really. When I went to college, I didn’t really think about anything else. I don' t
know how hard I thought about medicine until towards the end of later years, but nothing really
appealed to me. Of course, I think, like a lot of other people, I always could have been a gentleman
rancher. (laughter) To have my spread and have a lot of people working for me, where I didn't
have to earn a living.

SPIDLE: There are a lot of those who would like to handle something like that, sure. (laughter)
Well, this has been enormously interesting to me, and I would certainly like to see those lantern
slides if it's not any big inconvenience.

CORNISH: No, I can get them down for you.

End of tape.