Paul V. Coates -- Confidential File, May 14, 1959
May 14, 2009 | 2:00 pm
This Drama Involves Good and Bad BloodHe's not the type of traveling man they tell those jokes about.
In fact, he's the other cliche -- a perfect husband:
Faithful, loving, devoted to his kids and -- when he's not on the road -- always willing to help a neighbor or throw himself into any project to make his community a little bit better.
His wife's trust in him is implicit.
And it's a lucky thing.
Because what happened to him this month could very easily have collapsed a marriage built on less sturdy foundations.
Ironically, his difficulties originated with another one of his good deeds.
A neighbor had a grandfather who was very ill in General Hospital. He needed blood immediately. The neighbor knew that Mr. -- well, let's call him Mr. Jones -- had been a conscientious donor for years.
So she approached him: Would he be willing to give a pint for Grandpa?
Of course, Mr. Jones was willing.
He drove down to General Hospital the same day. He gave. And, thinking his small bit of assistance was accomplished he left town on a business trip.
He was still out of town last week when his wife received a rather mysterious phone call. It was from a doctor at a local health center.
"Your husband," Mrs. Jones was told, "will have to come here or go to General Hospital as soon as possible. His blood will have to be checked again."
"Something's wrong with my husband's blood?" Mrs. Jones asked.
"That's all I can tell you," was the reply.
Mrs. Jones explained that her husband was out of town, but begged for information. She got nothing but evasive answers.
When she hung up, she began to worry -- and to make more phone calls. She made a few to General Hospital, and to her family doctor. She learned nothing from General except that her husband would have to take some more tests. Her family doctor said she'd see what she could find out.
Mrs. Jones called the health center again, and her persistence rewarded her with the knowledge that, "If your husband refuses to come in for the tests, we could get a warrant for his arrest."
Now, the panic really set in. It had to be something serious. Very, very serious.
When the family doctor called back, Mrs. Jones got the startling news:
The venereal disease test on her husband's blood was positive. That meant syphilis.
Mrs. Jones gasped.
"Of course it's always possible," the doctor said uncomfortable, "that General made a mistake."
Mr. Jones flew home from San Francisco the following afternoon. His wife was awaiting him at the airport.
"Naturally, I'll take the tests." he said, "but not at General. I don't like the way they keep lemonade and blood in the same refrigerator."
Without unpacking his bags, he went to Burbank Hospital, where new tests were taken. The bill was $14.
General Hospital Was Wrong
The following morning he had to fly out of town again, but his wife was on the phone as soon as the results were determined.
"It's what we knew all the time," she told him. "The tests were negative. General Hospital was wrong."
She laughed, uneasily.
"Honey," she went on, "I also heard that you were just one of five people who gave blood that day whose tests showed positive on VD.
"I wonder if they all took it as calmly as we did?"