I am substituting for Hugh Lynn who rightfully should be presenting this historical review of the Lilliputian Society. Unfortunately, he could not be here because Lee was having hip problems, and he did not wish to leave her alone. As it turned out, although we greatly miss their presence, some things need to be said about Hugh that you may not know, and he certainly would not tell.
When I first arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital forty years ago this month, Hugh was there in the rotation ahead of me. I greatly appreciated his big brother attitude as he explained the dos and don’ts of the hospital routine. At first I assumed he was sympathetic because I was from the south and was having difficulty with the native language. In addition I was still on cloud nine as my girlfriend and I decided to get married on the way to Boston. Later, however, I discovered he took all the younger residents under his wing and assisted them in every way he could.
Thirty years ago this same caring attitude undoubtedly prompted Hugh, when he was Chief of Pediatric Surgery at Louisville Children’s Hospital, to invite the pediatric surgeons in the surrounding cities to attend a program he organized in conjunction with a chapter meeting of the American College of Surgeons. In those days, we did not have a journal devoted to our specialty, and no formal programs or a section within the College of Surgeons. Our only forum was the American Academy of Pediatrics where we had participated in the Surgical Section Meetings for several years. In our individual practices we had encountered very sick children with unusual congenital anomalies for which we often had no solution. Gross’s text book did not supply all the answers to these unusual problems, and our past training did not provide solutions either. Naturally, we were eager to come to Louisville, and to learn all we could and share our experiences.
Those attending were Bob Allen from Memphis; Earle Wrenn was invited but stayed home to cover the service; Lester Martin came from Cincinnati; Gene Lewis from St. Louis; Ide Smith from Kansas City; Dick Segnitz from Lexington; and I came from Nashville. Fred Arcari was Hugh’s chief resident, and we enjoyed the morning program presented by them at the Children’s Hospital.
Following lunch, we discussed some of our interesting cases informally as a “bull session.” Our interests immediately centered on our problems rather than our successes because that was what bothered each of us the most. When we looked around the room we saw there were no reporters present, no referring pediatricians, no plaintiff’s lawyers and realized our discussions would not be recorded, so we each confessed our sins, admitted our failures, and concluded we needed each other to help solve these difficult problems.
That evening we enjoyed dinner at Hugh and Lee Lynn’s home. As we discussed the day’s activities, we agreed that it would be a great idea to organize future meetings with each of us serving as host at our own institution and using a similar format. As we talked about a name it was jokingly suggested “…why not Lilliputians?” So we temporarily accepted that suggestion. You ladies will be pleased to know that wise old Hugh, insisted from the beginning, that to be successful our group would need to organize activities which would appeal to our wives as much as to ourselves. Gene Lewis invited us to come to St. Louis for the second meeting in 1961. This was to be held in conjunction with the Central Surgical Association, and Lester Martin arranged for us to join the same group in Cincinnati in 1962. These gatherings were so successful, we decided to continue the annual meetings, but establish independence from any national affiliations. Memphis was the destination for the fourth meeting (1963), and there, bylaws were adopted and other members were elected. It was agreed that the purpose of the society was to:
Further our knowledge of pediatric surgery.
Enable us to discuss and solve personal problems related to the practice of pediatric surgery.
Assist in the placement or procurement of residents and interns interested in the field, and in every way possible use our facilities to contribute to the advancement of children’s surgery.
In 1964 we followed Hugh Lynn to Rochester, Minnesota, where we were excited about the society receiving a gavel made from the staircase in Dr. Will Mayo’s home. Our membership was increased and Lilliputian Surgical Society became our official name. The next year, we traveled to Kansas City, then Nashville and Lexington in successive years.
The Lilliputian Meetings have proved to be unique and very special because Hugh Lynn’s idea of sharing experiences met the need that each of us felt in the early days of pediatric surgery. At that time, most of us did not have local pediatric surgical colleagues to discuss or understand our problems. The informal afternoon meeting became the Albatross Session which continues to be very popular, most informative, and private.
The third reason for success was the discovery that a smaller meeting was more manageable, more personal, and certainly more pleasurable. Within this group, very strong bonds of friendship were formed which have been maintained. Throughout the years, the loyalty felt to this society by the ladies as well as the men has been self evident. And fourthly, because we remain small, we could witness the host’s entire program, his physical plant, the support services, and talk with his residents and attending staff, thus expanding our knowledge every time.
The Lilliputian Meetings have been held in all sections of the country, and we have been privileged to see the uniqueness of cities throughout America. We enjoyed walking through the restoration of downtown Boston and Philadelphia. We learned Pittsburgh was a good place to live before a national survey told us so. We dined with the dinosaurs in the Cleveland Museum (of Natural History) and observed Tom Boles fine program in Columbus. We saw the changing face of Detroit and the steel capitol of the south in Birmingham, Alabama.
We watched the making of surgical instruments in Durham, cruised the bayous of Louisiana, and dined on the Mississippi River. We Toured Minneapolis with Bernie and Carol (Spencer), mid-west stock exchange in Kansas City, and enjoyed that famous Texas hospitality in Fort Worth and Dallas. Moving west, we gathered in Phoenix with a future president of the American Medical Association (Dan Cloud). Later we thrilled to a performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (in Salt Lake City.) We’ve picnicked on an Oklahoma oil rig and in the deLorimier’s private vineyard. We floated the Colorado River and climbed the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza following a joint meeting with the Mexican Society of Pediatric Surgeons in Mexico City.
It has been a short but memorable thirty years. The scientific programs have always been stimulating and always increased our knowledge. Each city has had its unique attractions which provided us with pleasurable memories. Each year the programs seem to get better and better. Rick and Peggy (Fonkalsrud), we thank you both for all your efforts to give us another stimulating program and such an exciting visit to Southern California. This is one we shall always remember.
Hugh, you and Lee birthed us and have guided us through these thirty years with your vision, your wisdom, and your concern. We salute you in absentia.