CHURCHILL, Winston S. An archive of correspondence between Winston S. Churchill and Dr. Otto C. Pickhardt, the treating physician after Churchill's New York City traffic accident, December 1931 - April 1963. Comprising 7 typed letters signed ("Winston S. Churchill") and one typed note, unsigned, on White House stationery; 9 printed telegrams from Churchill to Pickhardt; and some 50 carbons of Pickhardt's letters to Churchill. PLUS TWO X-RAYS OF CHURCHILL'S HEAD. Together 66 pages, 4to and 8vo; also with Pickhardt's 26-page scrapbook of several dozens of newspaper clippings relating to the accident and Churchill's subsequent career.
RUN OVER ON FIFTH AVENUE: CHURCHILL'S FAMOUS "NEW YORK MISADVENTURE"
"I AM ENTIRELY TO BLAME; IT IS ALL MY FAULT". On the night of 13 December 1931, Winston Churchill wanted to visit the home of Bernard Baruch on Fifth Avenue. He had been there before and thought he would recognize the building by sight. But after repeated transits up and down the Avenue in a taxi he was despairing of ever finding his host. Late, flustered, and annoyed, he disembarked from the cab to continue his search on foot, but paid attention only to the oncoming downtown traffic. He never looked to his right at the oncoming uptown traffic and walked straight into the path of a car traveling about 35 miles an hour. Severely injured, but still conscious, Churchill gallantly told the police office on the scene, "I am entirely to blame; it is all my own fault."
He was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital where he was operated on by Dr. Otto Pickhardt. Pickhardt's 13 Jan. 1932 carbon details the damage sustained by his patient: a three-inch cut on his forehead "up deep to bone," fractured nose, fractured ribs, shock, "pleurisy, right, traumatic with hemorrhage." After leaving Lenox Hill Churchill retreated to the Bahamas, from where he reports on 8 January 1932 that "I arrived here physically very weak but with considerable mental energy; then all of a sudden I felt a great deal of nervous reaction and lassitude." He could not concentrate, had recurring pain in his side, difficulty sleeping without sleeping pills, "and from time to time have had some depression of spirit." His impatient agents wanted him to resume his American lecture tour by 15 January, but Churchill knew that was impossible. On 3 January he cabled Pickhardt: "am convinced unfit begin lecturing before February one...kindly cable your advice." And Pickhardt heartily concurred, to Churchill's great relief. The doctor even granted Churchill medical authorization to purchase and consume alcohol--then illegal in Prohibition America: "the post accident convalescence of the Hon. Winston S. Churchill necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits especially at meal times. The Quantity is naturally indefinite..."
By 14 Feb. Churchill says he has "broken the back of the lecture tour without feeling any ill effects." But on 28 Feb. he schedules another appointment with Pickhardt because "I still have a certain amount of pain in my back..." On 4 May he grants Pickhardt's request to use Churchill's masterful account of the accident, "My New York Misadventure," in a fund-raising brochure for Lenox Hill Hospital, and reports that he has "regained my full mental and physical vigour but I tire more easily...I have also a very strange feeling of pins and needles, but I think it is going off..." In September 1932 Churchill fell ill in Austria with paratyphoid, which he mistakenly saw as an after-effect of the accident. He urgently cabled Pickhardt for details about medication, but soon recovered from this setback. With Churchill's full recovery, the correspondence focuses on visits and family news. On 1 March 1935 Churchill grumbles about Randolph's unsuccessful electoral campaign. On 24 August 1939, with war looming, he writes "I never forgot your cheer at Lenox Hill. We are doing our best here." Then adds in holograph: "Help all you can."