"On the subject of marriage," he said, "I must confess that I have come to have some sympathy for a woman's inability to understand why a man would put the price of a mink coat into a polo pony."
I sat down on a sofa, moving some horse magazines out of the way. "Doctor," I said, "as a busy surgeon, you must have had situations when your polo and professional interests were in conflict."
"Yes," said Dr. Williams, "many, many times. Surgery is my first love and there's never any doubt about that. But on frequent occasions I've been off playing in a tournament when some emergency has come up. I've often been called off the field and rushed to the airport to fly back to Dallas for an operation. And there have been times when I was able to see that the patient was making a good recovery and get back to the tournament before it was over. Frequently I've dropped out of a game to give first aid to a fellow player who has been injured."
"I've had to respond to some emergencies right here at the farm. Just the other morning I discovered a deep gash in the leg of a broodmare I acquired recently. The mares had gotten into a fight and I had to run down to stop it. It's most unusual for broodmares to fight. Anyway, I took a figure-eight stitch in the leg of this new mare and I think she'll be all right.
Some years ago," he went on, "one of my broodmares named Meadow Brown was about to drop a foal a little ahead of schedule. In her distress she had made her way to the side of the house, just outside my bedroom window. I was awakened by her groans. I threw on a robe and rushed out and sized up the situation. It was a difficult delivery. I suppose I got unduly excited because I was accustomed to leave such matters to my vet. I started to run across the field to the house of the man working for me yelling, 'Get the vet! Get the vet!"
"Then I suddenly stopped in my tracks. 'Whoa!' I said, 'what's the matter with you? You're a hell of a doctor! Get on back there and help that poor mare!' "
The doctor threw back his head and laughed at himself. "Now this," he said, "was a Fourth of July morning. And do you know what flashed into my mind as I turned and ran toward the mare?"
"Another Fourth of July morning more than 40 years ago. I was riding ambulance for St. Vincent's Hospital in New York. We had an emergency call to an apartment on Washington Square. It was a middle-class family of some means, but they couldn't locate the family doctor immediately. The mother was about to give birth prematurely. It was a most difficult delivery. And, mind you, twins. I handled that situation with all the confidence of a young intern in his 20s. The father was so grateful that as we left to take the twins to the hospital to be put in an incubator he stuck something in my jacket pocket. I later found out it was $35. It was against the rules to accept gratuities, but somehow my fellow interns and the ambulance driver persuaded me that $35 spent on a big steak dinner might advance the cause of medicine generally—or at least around St. Vincent's, where interns were paid precisely nothing.
"I'm rambling on. But I swear to you I thought of all that during the few seconds it took me to get back to that mare. I saw immediately what the difficulty was, and with a little assistance from me the birth was accomplished and we got a beautiful colt. Later I named him War Meadow and he played for our team in the National Open of '58."