The Heroes of the Yellow Fever Experiments in Cuba

 
                   R A D I O  P R O G R A M

                        THE SHELL SHOW  
  The Heroes of the Yellow Fever Experiments in Cuba -- June 
                       to December, 1900 

9:30 - 10:30 P.M.        May 15, 1937                 SATURDAY

                             JOE
A couple of weeks ago when Daylight Saving Time came in, I 
turned my clock back. As a matter of fact I turned it back so 
far, I found myself in 1900. Everybody was singing "There'll 
Be A Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight" ---- but down in Cuba, 
they were pretty worried about the cause of Yellow Fever. 
There were a lot of experiments going on, and the great hero 
of these experiments was Doctor Walter Reed. In tonight's 
drama the part of Dr. Reed is played by one of America's fore- 
most character actors . . . Arthur Byron! And here he is - 
Arthur Byron!
               (BYRON ENTERS . . . . APPLAUSE)
                        (INSERT DRAMA)

(MUSIC IN)
    
                            GRAUER
Cuba, in July of the year 1900, - 37 years ago. In the labor- 
atory of the American Yellow Fever Commission, sweltering in 
the heat of the tropical night, young doctor John Carroll 
stands listening to the words of his chief; Dr. Walter Reed . .
(MUSIC OUT)

                             REED
So, Dr. Carroll, tonight we have come to the end of our trail; 
a trail that has led into a blank wall. For all we know, the 
yellow fever microbe doesn't exist.

                           CARROLL
Doctor Reed . . . perhaps yellow fever isn't caused by a 
microbe or virus.

                             REED
Well, then what do you think does cause it, Doctor Carroll?

                           CARROLL
The devil only knows. But when men are dying by the hundreds, 
we can be very sure something is causing it, even if our tests 
reveal nothing.

                             REED
That is a wise observation, Doctor Carroll, but all it proves 
is that we are on the wrong track.

                           CARROLL
Then what track shall we take? If we can't find the germ, how 
are we going to fight it?

                             REED
There is one more possibility.

                           CARROLL
What is that, sir?

                             REED
The mosquito.

                           CARROLL
You mean a mosquito bite produces yellow fever?

                             REED
Yes.

                           CARROLL
But that's old Doctor Finlay's crazy dream. He's been preach- 
ing that fool theory for nineteen years. It's ridiculous!

                             REED
Perhaps, but we have failed so far and we can't afford to ignore 
any clue, no matter how fantastic it may sound.

                           CARROLL
Well, assuming the mosquito is the cause - - how would you prove 
it?

                             REED
By experimenting, of course.

                           CARROLL
But how can you experiment, Doctor? Yellow Fever only attacks 
human beings. If it attacked animals then we'd have something 
to experiment on.

                             REED
Then we must experiment on men!

                           CARROLL
Men!!!

                             REED
It is the only way, Doctor.

                           CARROLL
But hwere can we find a man who would be willing to undergo 
the tortures of yellow jack? Burning fever, sweat, aching 
bones - awful stomach retchings - and then the cold, choking 
fingers of death - No one would do it. You can't find that 
kind of human guinea pig.

                             REED
Yes, Doctor Carroll, we have one.

                           CARROLL
We have one? Who?

                             REED
Myself.
(MUSIC BRIDGE)
(SOUND: KNOCK ON DOOR)

                             WOOD
Yes, come in.
(SOUND: DOOR OPEN)

                             REED (FADING ON)
You sent for me, General Wood?

                             WOOD
Oh, yes, Doctor Reed. Sit down, please.

                             REED
THANK YOU.

                             WOOD
Doctor Reed, I asked you to come here because of certain rumors 
that have come to my ears.
I know you are in complete charge of the American Yellow Fever 
Commission in Cuba, but I am the Governor-General of this 
Island. I am responsible for what goes on here.

                             REED
Yes, General Wood. I know that.

                             WOOD
Then will you please tell me, frankly and honestly, in what 
work your commission is now engaged?

                             REED
We are seeking the cause of yellow fever by experimenting with 
a type of mosquito known as the Stigomyia.

                             WOOD
And how are you conducting those experiments?

                             REED
I'd rather not disclose that, sir, until we arrive at some re- 
sults.

                             WOOD
Then I suspect the rumors I heard are true.

                             REED
Rumors, sir....?

                             WOOD
That you were experimenting on yourself.

                             REED
Well... as a matter of fact it is true. Humans are the only 
ones who can contract the disease so some human must risk his 
life that others may live.

                             WOOD
I'm sorry, Doctor Reed, but I can't let you do it.

                             REED
And why not, sir? My life is my own.

                             WOOD
No, Doctor, your life is important for the work you are doing. 
You must conduct the experiments, not take part in them. I 
am sure we can find others who are willing to be martyrs for 
science.

                             REED
But we haven't the right to order men to risk their lives.

                             WOOD
But we have the right to ask for volunteers, Doctor. Every- 
one of the American soldiers here in Cuba now came, knowing 
that they were to face death. Either death from a Spanish 
bullet or the deadly Yellow Jack. I am sure we can find 
volunteers for your cause - a far greater cause than victory 
on the battlefield.

                             REED
I am a doctor, General, and I have seen men die.. but I could 
never ask a man to face that kind of death.

                             WOOD
Very well, I shall send out the call for volunteers myself.

                             REED
That is your privilege, sir.

                             WOOD
And your duty is to continue your experiments on these volun- 
teers.

                             REED
AS YOur say, sir. I shall be ready to experiment, General 
Wood.

[(MUSIC BRIDGE)]

                            SENTRY
Doctor Reed, these are the volunteers, sir.

                             REED
ALL right, Orderly. So you're the two men who volunteered.

                            MEN (MUTTERING)
Yes, sir. Yes, Doctor Reed . . . . etc.

                             REED
I suppose they've told you what you are to expect. I am going 
to expose you to one of the deadliest diseases known to man 
just to be sure - to be absolutely sure - where that disease 
comes from. If our experiment succeeds it means the end of a 
scourge that has killed thousands. But, you will be facing a 
terrible death. Are you willing to go through with it?

                            MEN 
Yes, sir. We'll do it . . . . . . . etc.

                             REED
What is your name?

                            MORAN
John J. Moran

                             REED
And yours?

                           KISSINGER
I'm John Kissinger, sir.

                             REED
I'm proud to know you both. Now here is what you have to do. 
Back in the clearing we have built a special isolation camp, 
where you will have to live for the next two weeks without con- 
tact with the outside world, just to be sure you haven't had a 
chance to contract yellow fever before we start the experiment.

                            MORAN
We understand, sir.

                             REED
Then you will be moved to a special shack we have built. It's 
clean and airy, the rooms have been fumigated and disinfected. 
There will be fifteen mosquitoes in that shack with you and you 
must expose yourselves to their bites. I warn you, the risks 
are great.
 
                            MORAN
We're ready, sir.

                             REED
Then report to the isolation camp at once.

                            MORAN
There's just one thing, Doctor Reed. They told us the Govern- 
ment would give us $200 apiece for doin' this.

                             REED
Yes.

                            MORAN
Well, we'd rather forget about the money. We're doin' this for 
somethin' more than money. Right, Kissinger?

                           KISSINGER
Right.

                             REED
Moran -- Kissinger ------- I want to shake your hands.
(MUSIC BRIDGE)
(SOUND: DOOR OPEN AND SLAM)

                           CARROLL (FADING ON)
Doctor Reed . . . Doctor Reed . . . .

                             REED
Yes, Carroll, what is it?

                           CARROLL
The experment is over. Kissinger has got the fever

                             REED
Kissinger! Then he must have gotten it from the mosquitoes.

                           CARROLL
There was no other way.

                             REED
What about Moran?

                           CARROLL
He's still all right - but he may have a natural immunity.

                             REED
Then the experiment is not over, Carroll. We still aren't 
sure.

                           CARROLL
But how else could Kissinger have gotten the disease? He was 
in absolutely sterile surroundings except for the mosquitoes.

                             REED
But Moran is still well . . . we still aren't sure.
(MUSIC BRIDGE)

                          AGRAMONTE
Doctor Agramonte reporting, Doctor Reed.

                             REED
Yes, Doctor.

                          AGRAMONTE
It's Christmas Day, sir, and I have a present for you.

                              REED
What is it, Doctor?

                          AGRAMONTE
At seven-fifteen this morning, John J. Moran, lately isolated 
in the experimental camp, showed all the symptoms of yellow 
fever. He has been removed to the hospital.

                             REED
Moran has the fever! Teh our experiment is over.

                          AGRAMONTE
Yes, Doctor. A complete success. You have proved the Stego- 
myia mosquito is the sole cause of yellow fever. May I be the 
first to congratulate you, Doctor Reed.

                             REED
You may congratulate me when and if those two men live. A 
doctor's duty has always been to save life, Doctor, but fate 
has decreed that i take the opposite course. I have sent two 
men to the gates of death. But sending them there has closed 
those gates to thousands of others. The world shall be rid of 
one more deadly enemy; we can now stamp out yellow fever. Thank 
God this was not in vain.
(MUSIC UP FOR FINISH)

                                      (INSERT KISSINGER INTERVIEW)
                              COOK
Thank you, Arthur Byron, for your fine performance, as Dr. Wal- 
ter Reed. And now I would like to borrow one member of your 
supporting cast - the man who played the part of John Kissinger. 
Because that man is really Kissinger himself. And I am proud 
to present him now, one of the great heroes of science - the 
man who risked his life in the cause of humanity - Mr. John 
Kissinger.
(KISSINGER ENTERS)
(APPLAUSE)

                           KISSINGER
Thank you, Mr. Cook.

                              COOK
Mr. Kissinger, how did it feel living in that shack down in 
Cuba 37 years ago?

                           KISSINGER
Well, as a matter of fact, it was very pleasant. The quarters 
were nice and airy. The food was good - at least better than 
we got in the regular army. And best of all, we didn't have to 
drill.

                              COOK
Just a nice restful vacation, eh?

                           KISSINGER
That's right. There was only one trouble.

                              COOK
What was that?

                           KISSINGER
The mosquitoes. They were terrible.

                              COOK
It must have taken a lot of will power not to swat them when 
they started biting you.

                           KISSINGER
It did. But we had our orders from Dr. Reed and we let them 
bite as much as they wanted - which was a-plenty, I'll tell 
you.

                              COOK
Then you finally got yellow fever?

                           KISSINGER
Yes. But the worst part of it was the waiting. When the fever 
finally hit me I was almost thankful because the terrible wait- 
ing was over.

                              COOK
Well, I'm glad you lived through your fever, Mr. Kissinger. 
If any man ever deserved to live, you are that man.

                           KISSINGER
Well, Dr. Reed saw that I had the best of care and I pulled out 
of it in two weeks.
Walter Reed was a great man.

                              COOK
Yes, and as far as I'm concerned so is John Kissinger. You 
did a great thing, and the whole world is proud of you.

                           KISSINGER
Thank you, Mr. Cook.

     (APPLUSE)