Richmond and Petersburg. The McIlwains lived on the highway halfway between the two cities. John and Cora McIlwain died sometime before we left Richmond in 1934. After our marriage, Emily continued working as an anesthetist. We lived in a three story apartment building on the Boulevard in Richmond. Our first son, James Gilbert Lyerly, was born on May 25, 1925, while we lived there. He was delivered in the Johnston Willis Hospital by Dr. M.P. Rucker, Obstetrical Professor and teacher.
Soon after this, in the Spring of 1926, we bought a house at 309 Albermarle Ave., Stonewall Court, West End, Richmond, Va. It was a two story stucco tile roof house with four bedrooms and bath upstairs and living room, breakfast room, kitchen and bath downstairs. The house was steam heated by radiators, with a coal burning stove and coal bin in the basement. There was a two car garage. We made a down payment with monthly payments thereafter. We traded this house for one on Hollywood Ave. in Jacksonville, Fla. in 1933, which I’ll mention later. Ann Jacqueline was born on August 26, 1926 in the same hospital by the same doctor. Peggy Louise, the third child was born June 6, 1928, in the same hospital by the same doctor mentioned above. Our fourth and last child, Thomas Jackson was born in Jacksonville, Fla. at St. Vincent’s Hospital, attended by Dr. T.S. Fields on November 28, 1941.
Previous to World War One, Dr. Coleman was a General Surgeon with a leaning to Neurosurgery. During the war he was assigned to a hospital for patients with neurosurgical problems. After coming out of the service he limited his practice to Neurosurgical Surgery, except for surgery of the head and neck which he did not give up. He was made Professor of Neurosurgery at Medical College of Virginia and also Professor of Oral Surgery in the School of Dentistry. That meant I assisted in operations, and frequently did operations on my own, especially after a few years. I was made Professor of Oral Surgery in the School of Dentistry and did most of the surgery and teaching in that field. I was also made Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery.
Frequently Dr. Coleman was out of town for days and weeks, on vacations or attending meetings, etc. Then I would carry on the practice by myself. At that time I was working at a salary which was very small, hardly enough to live on. My wife did some work as an anesthetist to help out with the expense.
In 1925 there was a minor depression and the income was affected. Dr. Coleman told me he could not keep me on as his associate and asked me to look for a location to work on my own. We had a Resident in training for neurosurgery and Dr. Coleman expected to take him on as an assistant at a very small salary. I looked around for a location to do neurosurgery. There was no neurosurgeon south of Richmond, except in Atlanta. I heard that the doctors were looking for neurosurgeons to come to Florida. I made a trip to Florida, visiting doctors in Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami, getting a very enthusiastic welcome. I decided I would come to Florida, locating probably in Jacksonville or Tampa. I had a license to practice medicine in North Carolina and Virginia, however, Florida did not give reciprocity to practice when you have a license in another state. That meant I had to take the Florida Medical Examination. As it had been five years since I had been out of school, I had to review all subjects, books, etc. taught in the four years I was in school. I was prepared to take the exam in the Spring of 1925. About two days before I was to take the exam, Dr. Coleman called me in and told me to call off the exam, as he wanted me to stay in Richmond and form a partnership with him. I found out the resident he wanted to be his assistant turned him down and told him he was going to California, his home state, to start a practice.
When Dr. Coleman made me this offer I told him I would accept it, but since I was prepared and had already paid my $50.00 fee, I would like to go on and take the examination as it may be needed at some future time. He insisted on my calling off the exam, that he would pay my expenses if I needed to take it in the future. Therefore, I called it off. I agreed to enter into an arrangement with him in the presence of Dr. A.M. Willis, Professor of Surgery. I would get 20% of the income the first year, increasing by 2%