New Member Talk: David Kline
David G. Kline gave his new member talk this past Monday. We already knew that David was a Neurosurgeon, but how he got there and the roads he traveled unraveled as he wound his way through his past.
Growing up in the rough neighborhood of Upper Darby, a suburb of Philadelphia, he learned quickly his scrawny body was no match for the toughies prevalent in that area. They plotted to catch him while ice skating and took his pen knife from him.
This infuriated David, but being physically incapable (much of his childhood was spent in the hospital due to illnesses) of retaliation, he decided to join the Jr. High School wrestling team. He continued his pursuit of wrestling in high school and was named co-captain of the wrestling team.
About his same time his father received a promotion and his parents could now afford a larger home in a nicer neighborhood. Instead of being joyous about the move, David became infuriated and in his words threw a “hissy fit” because it meant that he would have to attend Haverford High School, a rival of Upper Darby. Around that time, David received news of a full scholarship to Penn. Not wanting to wrestle at Upper Darby’s competitor, Haverford, David continued to go to Upper Darby. His excitement about the scholarship was short lived, however, when the school principal called him into his office. There in front of his parents, who had already been informed, he learned that his scholarship was being revoked because it was against the law to attend and participate in one school district while living in another. Eventually, however, he would receive a partial wrestling scholarship from the University of Pennsylvania. To defray the cost of attending college David took a variety of jobs working in the library and waiting tables at the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Then, unexpectedly, his father passed away that following March, putting an even harder burden on his family to provide funds for his college education. One of the members of that fraternity, Charles Assif a senior at Kappa, remembering David as a waiter, and after learning of David’s father’s passing, went to Dean Peters and insisted that Kline be given a full scholarship.
After medical school at Penn and as a resident in surgery at Michigan, he was drafted into the Army medical corps in 1962. David went to Washington, D.C. by train to see someone in the Surgeon General’s office to add surgical experience to his assignment in a Kansas field unit. He told his story to the Surgeon General, who was impressed by his fortitude and said he would dictate a letter of recommendation to the hospital where David wanted to work as part of his service to our country. As the S.G dictated this wonderful letter while David stood by, David noticed, much to his chagrin, the Dictaphone was never turned on.
Discouraged, but not defeated, he proceeded to walk from there to Walter Reed Hospital -a four hour jaunt- to seek an audience with the Head of Neurosurgery, Colonel Hayes. Upon being called into Hayes’ office, he saw a Dachshund on a gurney table and instead of hearing the normal questions one might expect, David was asked: “Do you know anything about dogs?” at which David replied he knew little about dogs but when asked if he knew what kind of dog this one is, David said he thought it to be a dachshund. The Doctor then asked David what he thought might be wrong with this dog. Many questions and answers went back and forth and David actually provided a correct analysis of the dog’s condition, which was partial paralysis in his rear legs, rendering the dog unable to walk. The doctor then asked David to pick up the dog and follow him. Upon arriving at the operating room David was told to place the dog on this particular operating table.
Much to David’s amazement, he looked down at a brass plate installed on the table. Inscribed were the words: “1949, General Dwight David Eisenhower was operated on this table.” As we know Eisenhower, became the 34th President of the United States, 1953 to 1961. The dachshund belonged to General Meroney who was in charge of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and that is where David served for two years.I’m sure David could have talked for another hour and I’m sure we would have enjoyed listening, but time was at hand to close the meeting. Very interesting story David!