Chapter 04: Approval for a Laboratory Facility; Naming the Facility; Ensuring Flexibility of the Land Use; R. Lee Clark’s Vision for a Rural Laboratory

Title

Chapter 04: Approval for a Laboratory Facility; Naming the Facility; Ensuring Flexibility of the Land Use; R. Lee Clark’s Vision for a Rural Laboratory

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Identifier

PickleJJ_01_20150315_C04

Publication Date

3-15-2005

Topics Covered

The Interivew Subject's Story - Overview; The Finances and Business of MD Anderson; MD Anderson History; MD Anderson Snapshot; The Business of MD Anderson; The Institution and Finances; Portraits; On Texas and Texans; Research; MD Anderson and Government

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Disciplines

History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | Oncology | Oral History

Transcript

Clifford Drummond

In Smithville, the last name down there is A.G. Buescher. So the Buescher family themselves were on board locally--

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

They personally got involved.

Clifford Drummond

And people in Smithville would always defer to the Bueschers because it had originally been their land, and so having A.G. Buescher on there was a really big deal. And so the people in Smithville -- and this wasn’t true in all the communities in the district -- but in Smithville, they all hung together real tight and still do.

Earl Walborg

I live in Smithville.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

[Francis Scirosi] was another one.

Earl Walborg

That’s babe!

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

No, well, Francis is babe, I guess.

Earl Walborg

Yeah, Francis is babe. But there was a Chester Scirosi, too. That was his brother.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Well, the Scirosi was a very prominent family, and they had a good stroke with the parks people. And the parks people normally wouldn’t move one inch to give somebody a thimble full of dirt because that was their land. But they got convinced that that land could be put to good use when you use it to do scientific work directly in the field for which the land was set aside. And that appealed to them.

Earl Walborg

A question with regard to that, the senate bill 800, which was the one that actually--

Lesley Williams Brunet

Transferred the land.

Earl Walborg

Was to transfer the land to the University of Texas. It’s interesting that in the bill itself it says, “all or part of the land.” And did R. Lee Clark get the idea that he might get all of it one time?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Well, he’d bound to because he considered that was his project. And Lee Clark did play a vital part in it. He and I want to say Multi Blocker--

Clifford Drummond

Blocker.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Blocker. Between them, they pushed hard for it, and the university ought to have some -- we encouraged them to get into the expansion of research because they had the money and they had some land scattered all over the state, and they could do some of that work if they got involved in it. And they did get involved in Smithville. And it’s been a great success for it. I think it has. I hope that’s what they feel down there.

Lesley Williams Brunet

Oh, I think so.

Earl Walborg

Do you have any insight as to why the name Buescher Science Park was dropped? In other words, it was -- it went by Buescher Science Park and then even when I was working out there, it sort of disappeared all of a sudden and I never understood exactly why.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Well, we, we had to get the land because we went through the Buescher family who was on the park board, and it was their access that made it possible to get Pierce Johnson to help us do that. That was part of it. But I'll tell you, if you had a part of land and you called it the Buescher Science Experimental Unit or whatever it was, every time they’d ask you, “how do you spell Buescher? Buescher?” I couldn’t spell it myself. I can’t now. B-U-E-S-C-H-E-R. Buescher.

Clifford Drummond

Oh yeah, you can spell it.

Earl Walborg

You can spell it.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

But the old Buescher family originally owned the land, and it was just too hard to say to spell to anybody, and it just sits better to say the MD Anderson.

Clifford Drummond

Yeah, I think that Dr. Clark did have a good idea that he was going to be able -- or he wanted to have as much flexibility as he could, and people were committing to go forward without knowing what the ultimate size was going to be. And as I recall, when it was started and the initial decisions were made and everyone signed up, there was only a very small amount of land -- it may have only been five or ten acres --

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

That’s right.

Clifford Drummond

-- that actually was clearly in mind. But Clark would have been working closely with the legislature, as with Charlie Young Michael and Charlie Herring, the state rep. and state senator, because they were working real close with the congressman as well to try to help in the legislature. That indeed, in order to make that have the most flexibility for the university, I don’t know for a fact but I strongly suspect Dr. R. Lee Clark put in that language -- all or a part -- and that left it such that they could decide later -- and once it got started--

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Clark or Blocker.

Clifford Drummond

Yeah. Then all the nay saying or opposition or “why don’t we think about it another way” kind of fell away. And it just, you know, people left it alone, and it moved forward. I don’t recall any story about why the name changed from Buescher Science Park to subsequent names. You probably have to get deep into an archivist at the University of Texas to find that out.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

I guess it’s just common sense because MD Anderson, or you called it the Buescher Science Center. No, MD Anderson -- because, you see, Lee Clark used to always say he wanted to get the laboratory out of Houston into a rural, clean, pristine area. And do you know, they still have that problem down there. There’s still a fight going on within the MD Anderson clinic that a lot of people in the Houston area want the laboratory work to continue at Houston and not at the park. They don’t like that because they like the idea that the laboratory work would be Houston laboratory, their laboratory. And they’re still going and fighting now for this. They have to fight them all the time, but now I think that the laboratory for the rats and mice are so adaptable and so acceptable nationally that they can’t win their argument about having laboratory work. Some laboratory work is done in Houston -- I don’t know what work is done.

Lesley Williams Brunet

They have a certain hundreds of thousands of mice in the vivarium. They just opened a new building. How big a factor was Dr. Clark’s ranch just down the road in Rosanky?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Ha! I don’t think I can evaluate that. It appealed to Clark because he was going down there all the time, connecting with the veterinary section and where his land was, ‘cause he was there a lot of times and he wanted to go there for relax. That’s why he thought that was a pristine area. And by god, it was pristine. Well, we didn’t know -- none of us knew exactly what we were doing or why, or whether it would work out or not, but here was a beautiful tract of land that the state parks was willing to carve off a section of their land for our purposes. And you finally get the local people to agree that they would do it. Now, getting all of them to work together on it at one time wasn’t easy. At any one time, something could blow up and we wouldn’t get it. But everybody kept working just like we all were for good purpose. And I think Lee, Lee Clark was as happy as anybody, but really was un-- he was persistent. He never gave up.

Clifford Drummond

On anything.

Lesley Williams Brunet

Since you said that, are there other examples of Dr. Clark of his persistence that you could tell us about?

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

I don’t think that I would say the fact that he owned some land down there influenced his desire to have the project there. But what his desire was to get a laboratory going there, get a laboratory going and get Lee Clark off his next. That’s what he really wanted. I don’t -- I can’t recall that his land or property down there had anything to do with it.

Lesley Williams Brunet

OK.

James Jarell “Jake” Pickle

Except he went down there a lot of times.

Clifford Drummond Yeah, I think it made him familiar with what was going on in the county. He clearly, Rosanky’s just down the road from Smithville a visit, and so he was familiar with Bastrop State Park and he’s familiar with the Buescher area, and I think his roots were pretty deep in the county even though obviously he lived down in the Houston area. But it made him familiar with what could happen. And he had that over-the-horizon vision of what could be there. I think he had the real vision for it. And you’re not going to be encumbered like you would be in a major urban area whether it’s Houston or Austin. And I think he’s the first one that I’m aware of -- outside of the Smithville people -- that said “we ought to be able to do something better with what we have here.”

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Chapter 04: Approval for a Laboratory Facility; Naming the Facility; Ensuring Flexibility of the Land Use; R. Lee Clark’s Vision for a Rural Laboratory

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