The first meeting of the South Bay Pathology Society was in late September or early October of 1951. It was held in the Hematology Laboratory in the basement of the old Santa Clara County Hospital. Attending the first meeting were the pathologists practicing in Santa Clara County at that time. The most senior by far was the eminent Frederick Proescher, who pioneered the field of pathology in the South Bay area, and at one time or another did the pathology for most of the hospitals in the area. He was very proud of the fact that he was the last living student of Ehrlich, and in 1951 he was the director of the Laboratory of the Red Cross Blood bank. Also attending were Homer Hunt and Carl Peterson of the Palo Alto Hospital, Robert Dennis of the San Jose Hospital, Leslie Grams of O'Connor Hospital, Herbert Breyfogle of Agnews State Hospital, and Don Alcott of the Santa Clara County Hospital. Each pathologist brought slides of current interest problem cases. These were reviewed and the cases discussed in a very informal manner. After our "Scientific Session" we had dinner at Lou's Village on nearby Stevens Creek Road.
The sentiments were unanimous to continue to hold monthly meetings to discuss not only our interesting cases, but other matters pertaining to the practice of pathology. It was suggested and adopted that we have a formal organization and pay dues. Since there were already one or more other medical specialty groups using "South Bay" as a descriptive localizing part of their names, we agreed that it would be appropriate to label our newly formed group The South Bay Pathology Society. Frederick Proescher was the obvious unanimous choice to be our first President, and since Don Alcott was the newest member in the community, he became the only other officer deemed necessary, and as Secretary-Treasurer he held that position for two years.
Another important suggestion was made at that first meeting. It was also proposed that we hold one of our monthly meetings on a spring week-end on the Monterey Peninsula and that we have a pre-Christmas dinner party with spouses. The pre-Christmas dinner party only survived a couple of seasons, but history evidences that the Spring gathering on the Monterey Peninsula became more popular, growing in steady fashion to the current annual Spring Carmel Seminar.
The format of the regular monthly meetings continued in more or less the same fashion for some months. For a considerable period we held our "Scientific Sessions" in a classroom of an elementary school in the Los Altos area and had our dinner at various restaurants in the Los Altos area. Someone suggested that the old Vieux Carre Restaurant could provide facilities to accommodate both the scientific session and dinner, and thus the Vieux Carre became our "home" for a prolonged period. In the early stages, depending on one's point of view, this proved to be curse as well as blessing, for the Vieux Carre had a well-stocked cocktail lounge to occupy one's time until the group gathered with their slides. By the time we got to look at the slides the effect of demon rum was often evident in our interpretations.
The blessing was that this fault was soon recognized and hence the format was changed. It was suggested that each pathologist cut sufficient slides to provide a slide for each member and forward them along with pertinent findings to Don Alcott, who became the first Registrar. With the considerable help from the resident staff of the Santa Clara County Hospital, the cases were accessioned, histories mimeographed on separate cards, and slide sets sent in advance of the meeting to the members. This change in format was welcomed by the members of the Society and has continued with improvements, chiefly in increasing the scope of the role of the Registrar. The Registrar now conducts the scientific session and provides photomicrographs of the cases presented.
The first Spring meeting could hardly be called a seminar. We had agreed to each bring slides and histories of interesting cases as was our custom, but with a new added dimension. When Don Alcott told James McCort, the radiologist at the Santa Clara County Hospital, of the plans to have a pathology meeting in Monterey, Dr.McCort suggested that we pick a case that also had roentgenological studies so that he too could have a meeting to attend in Monterey. Our first meeting was held at the Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey in 1952 with our scientific session held in a small ante-room off the breakfast-lunch area. These spring week-end meetings on the Monterey Peninsula became increasingly popular as the South Bay Pathology Society grew in numbers, chiefly by increasing the geographical boundaries of "South Bay".
With the increasing interest in the Spring Monterey Peninsula meeting by both pathologists and radiologists, the thought of a more formalized scientific session evolved and was patterned in a poor-man's fashion after the annual Penrose Cancer Seminars in Colorado Springs. The first of these new format sessions was held at the Casa Munras Hotel in Monterey in May 1959. About a dozen cases were chosen from a pool of submitted cases having both interesting radiologic and pathologic features of bone diseases. Multiple slides were made and sent to the pathologists before the meeting. The roentgenograms were available for study in the conference room prior to the meeting. To add to the authenticity Don Alcott sent the microscope slides, etc. to David Dahlin, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic for his interpretation. The cases were presented for general discussion before giving Dr. Dahlin's interpretation of the pathologic findings. The orthopedists in the area were also invited to attend the Seminars and responded very well.
This format met with considerable enthusiasm, and this generated the idea of charging a registration fee to be used to invite Dr. Dahlin to come out to California to present the pathology findings. Thus, when he accepted the invitation to present the pathology of the 1961 Seminar, he became the first of a long line of most distinguished guest discussants for our annual Seminars. An interesting sidelight of that meeting, held for the first time at the La Playa Hotel in Carmel, was that Louis Lichtenstein, M.D.attended, and it was the first time that these two well known figures in bone pathology had met. Dr. Lichtenstein enjoyed the meeting enough to accept an invitation to become the guest pathologist discussant the following year.
Since we had had four consecutive years of orthopedic pathology, it was then suggested that we consider another field of mutual interest to pathologists and radiologists. The subject chosen was Thoracic Lesions, discussed by Benjamin Castleman, M.D., and this was followed by Gastrointestinal Pathology, discussed by Elson Helwig, M.D. A new departure in 1965 was the invitation to a guest radiologist, Dr. William Weidner, to discuss the roentgenological findings and a pathologist, Dr. James Kernohan, to address the pathologic findings in a Neuropathologic Seminar.
This format continued for a number of years, but since 1972 the meetings have been limited to the pathologic aspects of disease.