Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Good Doctor: Tinsley R. Harrison, MMI 1916

Dr. Tinsley Randolph Harrison (1900-1978), MMI 1916, is described by the Encyclopedia of Alabama as “one of the most influential physicians of the twentieth century.” His textbook, Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine (1950), or simply, Harrisons, is the “single-most-used and best-selling internal medicine text in the world.” It has been reprinted 16 times and translated into 14 languages.

Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison as a young physician. (Credit:

Born in Talladega, Alabama, on March 18, 1900, Tinsley was the son of Groce Harrison, a sixth-generation physician. The family moved to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1906, where a precocious Tinsley was able to advance three grades and graduate from high school at age 15. He attended Marion Military Institute for one year, 1915-1916 (ages 15 to 16), and then spent three years at the University of Michigan, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1919 at age 19. Harrison completed medical school at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and his internship and first-year residency at what are now Harvard University hospitals in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Harrison as a rising star in the medical field. (Credit:

Following additional study at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Harrison joined the new Vanderbilt Hospital and Medical School in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1925. However, before assuming his duties as Chief Resident in Medicine at Vanderbilt, Harrison and his wife, Elizabeth (Woodward) of Massachusetts, enjoyed a year-long study and research tour of Europe (Austria, England, and Germany). The Harrisons stayed at Vanderbilt for some 16 years (1925-1941), and their family grew to include five children.

Both a practitioner, teacher, researcher, and author of numerous scholarly publications, Dr. Harrison published Failure of the Circulation in 1935, a work which has become a standard text.

The good doctor. (Credit:

From 1941 to 1944, Dr. Harrison served as the founding chair of medicine at the new Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. He left in 1944 to serve as dean of medicine and chair of medicine at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, his third new medical school. In 1950, Dr. Harrison moved to his fourth new medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, staying until his retirement in 1970. His efforts at UAB led to the medical school’s national and international prominence.

Dr. Harrison teaching his students in 1964. (Credit: UAB Archives, University of Alabama at Birmingham)

Dr. Harrison published his seminal textbook, Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine in 1950. Harrisons remains a standard in the field of internal medicine.

Upon his retirement at UAB, Dr. Tinsley R. Harrison was appointed Distinguished Physician of the U. S. Veterans Administration, serving until his death on August 4, 1978, in Birmingham, Alabama, following a prolonged illness. He died in his own bed surrounded by his family.

Sculpture of Dr. Tinsley Randolph Harrison at UAB in Birmingham, Alabama. Cordray Parker was the sculptor. (Credit: Robin McDonald)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Gift From Heroes/Images

1LT Anthony C. Clemons, IN, ALARNG, MMI JC Class of 2006, donated to MMI an American flag which flew over his unit in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in 2009-2010. That flag is now housed in the MMI Archives and is on display. Below are copies of the letter sent to Carrie Williams in the MMI Alumni Office, and a Certificate of Authenticity signed by the Commanding Officer and the Command Sergeant Major, Combined Task Force Builder, 877th Engineer Battalion, FOB Sharana:

Letter from 1LT Clemons, MMI JC 2006, to Carrie Williams in the MMI Alumni Office. Note Clemons’ sincere appreciation for what he learned at MMI. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Certificate of Authenticity signed by the Commanding Officer and the Command Sergeant Major, Combined Task Force Builder, 877th Engineer Battalion, FOB Sharana. (Credit: MMI Archives)

The following images were received recently from the MMI Alumni Office (Carrie Williams, Marietta Holmes, and Aaron Calvert), and they are a fine addition to the MMI Archives:

Cadets on the steps of The Chapel, c. 1900. The Commandant, Abner D. Whipple, stands at far left. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Cadets wearing kepis (caps), c. 1900. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Cadet Company “A” in front of North Barracks, March, 1918. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Army-Navy cadets in front of The Chapel, c. 1930s. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Elvis Presley & The Blue Moon Boys

A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a long-lost friend from more than 40 years ago! Dan Griffin was one of my percussion students at the Sardis (AL) High School Band Camps, held at Guntersville Lake, from 1969-1971. At that time, I was an undergraduate at Jacksonville State University playing in the drumline of the famed Marching Southerners. Dan and I connected due to our interest in rock music, and my band at that time, The Barkley-Almon Band, played for a couple of functions at his school.

After high school, Dan plunged headlong into the world of rock ‘n roll and has amassed a career most rockers would envy. From touring musician to manager, promoter, producer, and even filmmaker, Dan has done a little bit of everything in the music business including touring with the Rolling Stones and Elton John, and working with former Beatles George Harrison and Paul McCartney, Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant), and a host of other rock luminaries.

Dan is also the co-author a wonderful book entitled The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of Elvis Presley’s Band, the story of Scotty Moore (guitar), D. J. Fontana (drums), and Bill Black (bass – Bill Black Combo), Elvis’ original band and reputedly the world’s first rock ‘n roll band. They helped Presley forge his early rockabilly sound on Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Blue Moon Boys: The Story of Elvis Presley’s Band by Ken Burke and Dan Griffin (Chicago Review Press, 2006).

Dan’s bio from the jacket cover.

In 1965, my very first band, The Shandells, recorded our first single in Nashville, Tennessee, at the old Music City Recorders, a studio owned by Scott Moore and including D. J. Fontana. We were very green (I was 15), and while we certainly knew of Elvis Presley and The Beatles, etc., we did not know who Moore and Fontana were. In fact, D. J. wanted me to use his old, battered drum set (complete with a brown and white calfskin bass drum head) already set up in the recording booth; but, after viewing the remains and judging it a piece of crap, I opted for my new Ludwig set. Later, when we were in the control room listening to the playback, I noticed a picture of Elvis on the wall with Scotty on guitar and D.J. playing that very same drum set with the brown and white calfskin bass drum head! Also, during a break, Scotty, D.J., and others sat down and played some really nice jazz. And, D. J. made those beat-up old drums sing!

The Shandells in 1965, the year we met Scotty Moore and D. J. Fontana in Nashville. (Credit: Terry Barkley)

All of the images below are from The Blue Moon Boys. I have included the captions and credits. I hope you will enjoy looking at these images:








Monday, April 5, 2010

A Little This, A Little That

This newspaper clipping, provided by Madelon Murfee David of Destin, Florida, shows her brother, Hopson Owen Murfee III, graduating in the MMI High School Class of 1967, the 10th such Murfee to do so (the first four presidents of MMI were all Murfees).

H. O. Murfee, III, MMI High School Class of 1967, the 10th Murfee to graduate from MMI. (Credit: Madelon Murfee David, MMI Archives)

In 1965, MMI cadets in the Army ROTC aviation program completing their first solo flights, celebrated by memorializing their shirttails via their instructor, Paul J. Holsen II, MMI JC 1962.

The MMI Archives has a small collection of these shirttails from c. 1965. (Credit: MMI Archives)

Want to know why The Chapel has never had a steeple? It is not unfinished! Read on from the Alabama Historical Commission:

L1 (Credit: MMI Archives)

L2 (Credit: MMI Archives)

This is a grade report for honor student Philip H. Hammond (1884-1956), dated December 16, 1899. He was a 1907 graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

COL James T. Murfee was still the superintendent in 1899. (Credit: MMI Archives)

The Old Stagecoach Inn on the Hamburg Road near Marion, Alabama, finally collapsed about 1975. Located just across the road from the old Gus Mitchell’s Store (now closed), the Inn dated from antebellum days.

The Old Stagecoach Inn probably prior to 1975. (Credit: MMI Alumni Office, MMI Archives)

Bruce Beveridge, Jr., president of the MMI JC Class of 1950, was one of four MMI alums killed in the Korean War (1950-1953). Commander of “D” Company, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army at his graduation. His name is listed on our Korean War Memorial (he is first alphabetically) in front of the Alabama Military Hall of Honor at MMI.

B1 (Credit: 1950 Orange and Black, MMI’s yearbook; MMI Archives)

B2 (Credit: 1950 Orange and Black, MMI’s yearbook; MMI Archives