This is a complete and accurate transcript of an oral history interview of Dr. Marion Douglas Hursh (Collection 186, T2) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded were omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The interviewer would interject "Um-hmm" or Un-huh" frequently, but these were usually not transcribed. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Janyce H. Nasgowitz and W. Gregory Thompson and was completed in February 1994.
Collection 186 - T2. Interview of Marion Douglas Hursh by Galen Wilson on June 29, 1982.
WILSON: This is Tuesday, the twenty-ninth of June, 1982. We are at the Billy Graham Center Archives with Dr. M. Douglas Hursh, a former missionary to Nigeria and we're going to continue our visits with him on his experiences there. Dr. Hursh, the...one of the things that I wanted to ask you that we didn't get quite discussed last fall is how...how the Kano Eye Hospital came about in the first place. For one thing, why specifically an eye hospital? Why not just a general hospital?
HURSH: All right. [Clears throat.] It really goes back to our first doctor, Doctor Stirritt [Andrew Park Stirrett; 1865-1948] who was [hits microphone] forty some years old when he went out there and by 1940 or '41, why he was in his eighties. But he had a great burden for the Moslem North and, from the day he arrived, that was his goal, to reach Kano with the Gospel. He preached daily in the market place in Jos, but the Hausa people were a great burden. They were always on his heart. And he, I would say, influenced me in some regard, but perhaps the most was Dr. Helser. And he, too, realized that if we're ever going to get any place in the Moslem North, it would be through medicine. So we did accept the offer that the government gave us to open...to take over, I should say, their provincial leprosaria [sic, leprosariums]. Their doctors, war time, left and they couldn't get any to come back, and didn't know whether they ever would because they weren't happy there in the first place. So, one by one, they asked us to take over the...each settlement, leprosarium, in the province. And we took over the three northern provinces in the, oh, I would say, '39...'38, '39 period. And [clears throat] those doctors...then we had at that time a doctor for each place. By the time we arrived in 1942, they had served their four years, and they were ready to go home. Well now that...that was the beginning. But there was a...those places were out in the bush. They were not in the centers, not in the cities. And the only way we were going to reach the city people was with something special that the government was not providing. They had a general hospital there, they had a separate hospital for the Europeans. Their general hospital was a...a large one, four hundred, four hundred fifty beds. So their was no opportunity there. But there was one need that was not being met, and that was for something to be done for the people with eye diseases. That was what prompted Dr. Helser to write that chapter in his book, The Glory of the Impossible, about the sixty-eight thousand blind in Nigeria for whom nothing was being done. That, of course, was what aroused my interest first, after having previous contact with Dr. Stirritt. But we found that if we could get an eye hospital in Kano, why, that would break the ice. Turned out that we couldn't have it inside the city walls. As a matter of fact, there was great opposition from the beginning, even though it was needed, for the simple fact that it was going to be a Christian operation. But money was being raised in the meantime, and one of the largest gifts came from England, a thousand pounds as I remember, which in those days would be five thousand dollars, by a member of Parliament.
WILSON: A Christian?
HURSH: Yes, oh yes. And...I've even forgotten his name now, but after a cou...a couple of years, he wondered why there was no eye hospital, why his money wasn't being put to use. And so he made a few inquiries, and found out where the trouble was, and it was the Moslem Emir who opposed it. So he put a little pressure on and it wasn't long before [laughs] the British government said, "You may have one, but it cannot be in the city." They offered us...[pauses] well, no, I'll take that back. They said, "It must be in the city." And we're the ones who said no because we knew that we would not have control of it then, because no white people spent the night inside the walls...the walls of Kano. Those were...you could be there and minister in the daytime but, even in their own hospital, it was all na...nationals at night.
WILSON: Now, that was by law?
HURSH: No, that was just their custom.
HURSH: Yeah. I mean, they could call the shots because they were pretty much...the British were there, we might say [laughs] by their leave and they didn't like to upset them. So we said, "No, we can't do that. We must be near the new town that was called Savandri [? Phonetic approximation] or New Town, which actually was made up of Nigerians who had come from the South. Ibos, Yorubas, people who were providing the know-how to run the government. So that took some time before that went through. Finally...they finally got the plot right on our own area there, which was just a block from the town, and things moved along then, in spite of the fact that the Emir was still opposed. Well, we had the opening, the dedication, in January of '43. He was there, but it was a command performance. He was told to appear.
WILSON: Told by whom?
HURSH: By the resident, who would be the...comparable to a governor, you see, of a state.
WILSON: Oh, the British....
HURSH: The British. Yeah. And you could tell very easily that he wasn't happy, he wasn't pleased. [Both laugh.]
WILSON: Did he ever come around at all?
HURSH: Oh no, no, never did, but he...some of his court did and...not in the first couple of years, in fact, maybe not even in the first four years. But soo...I think about the time we went back for the second term, his son had become Emir. He had died and he...his mother had cataracts, so he came to see me. He wanted me to operate her and I did. And the reason was that, in the meantime, we had established a reputation, you see, and that was our breakthrough as far as the palace was concerned. From that time on the ladies could go and visit her and the other wives...the other wives...this was his mother, and it really opened up the place as far as visitation was concerned. Now, a little later on when he needed cataract surgery, he had no choice. The British were still in power and they sent him to England [laughs].
HURSH: He would rath...he would rather have come to us. But, no, they didn't want us to get the prestige that we would get from operating the Emir of the province.
HURSH: That's my interpretation [laughs]. And the funny part about it is or the ironic part about it is that, when he came back, he didn't have the greatest result.
HURSH: And so he was a bit unhappy. I took a look at him and I said, "Well, at least we can help you out with better glasses," which we did. And he was happy because he saw reasonably well then. And there again that was another breakthrough, because he would come in periodically, maybe once or twice...once a month, say, to have his glasses adjusted [laughs]. They were heavy, you know, cataract lenses...
HURSH: So, we were friendly from then on.
WILSON: Now, are you saying then that...that the Emir was somewhat of a puppet of the British government?
HURSH: [Begins before Wilson is through speaking.] Oh yes, yes. He did what they said as far as major policy was concerned. Now, as far as controlling the people is concerned, native law and that sort of thing, why, he had a free hand. I mean, he...but the major decisions they made, at least until the latter years, late '50s, and began to have to let them have their way because they knew independence was coming.
WILSON: Well, this hooks on very nicely to another thing I wanted to ask you and so we may as well talk about it now. When independence came in 1960, did it have a great deal of effect on the day-to-day life of northern Nigeria?
HURSH: Well, there was a bit of a turmoil before that in 1957....
WILSON: Okay. We'll back up then....
HURSH: [laughs] The...the southerners wanted independence and the northerners didn't, because they weren't ready for it. They comprised two-thirds of the population practically....
WILSON: Now "they," the southerners?
HURSH: No, the northerners did.
WILSON: Northerners, okay....
HURSH: But they had less than one-third of the influence. And they just realized that they weren't ready for independence. And it would mean that the southerners would take over the jobs that were vacated by the British and they would be second class citizens. So we had a riot and....
WILSON: In Kano?
HURSH: In Kano, yes, and other cities in the North, but it was chiefly over this matter of pol...it was political, no question about it. And they started out by badmouthing the Emir, these southerners, and that they couldn't take so they just let them have the sword. And we had a bit of repairing to do. [Wilson whistles.] It was a little touchy because we had to take care of both sides, [laughs] and we never...you had to get one out of the operating room before you could get the other in, you see. Well, that...that meant that when it finally came, the northerners were very careful to see that they weren't pushed aside. I mean, they...they would put an eighth grader into a job rather than to let a high school graduate from the South take it, see. Well, that didn't really make the government run exactly smoothly. But that was the way it was and if...if you went to the post office and you got somebody who didn't know what he was doing, why, that was to be expected. That didn't wreak havoc as much as the telephone system...the [laughs] communication system. That was...that became hopeless.
WILSON: What happened in that regard?
HURSH: Well, gradually they began to be able to figure out what to do. But there was always a big problem of repairs. You...you'd never...you'd never be sure you're going to get through from the North to the South. You wanted to call Lagos, you might wait hours or even days. The ironic part as far as other facilities are concerned.... Take, for instance, the railroads. They had all been run by southerners, and particularly Ibos, and they killed off all the Ibo railroad engineers and then they wondered why there weren't any trains after that [both laugh].
WILSON: Right. [laughs] What...in terms of the mission itself, did it make a whole lot of difference to the mission who was in power?
HURSH: In a...in a way, because we felt more free now to...we didn't feel hamstrung by people telling us we couldn't do what we knew the nationals didn't care whether we did or not. In other words, if it...if they were satisfied, why that was all that was necessary. We didn't have to please anybody else.
WILSON: What comes under the heading of what the nationals didn't care about?
HURSH: Well, for instance, our preaching. They...they said, "If somebody wants to listen to you, let them listen. They can make their own decision." They didn't mind our preaching by the roadside that had been stopped more than once by the British, 'cause they thought we were upsetting the apple cart. Well, we weren't. And it turned out that we were more welcome than we realized, and there was never any problem. We were never stopped. We knew better than to do the ridiculous, which would be going to preach in front of a mosque or something like that. But there was no...none of this restriction about preaching in the open, you know. You were supposed to be able to talk to only somebody who invited you to do so, maybe invited you into his home to do so. Well, that was for the birds because these people wanted to hear.
WILSON: Well, what were the British reasons for not wanting you to...
WILSON: ...upset things, [both speak at once, unclear] I don't understand.
HURSH: No. Well, they thought that the quieter things were, the less you disturb the people for any reason, the easier they would be to govern. And they didn't want religion coming in there as just one more thing to cause unrest [bumps microphone]. They'd rather leave things as they were, maintain that status quo. And it so happened...I believe...there's no question about it, but they would assign their officers a Moslem area who were pro-Moslem. In other words, you never saw what you might call an out-and-out Christian amongst the...these Britishers. They might go to church occasionally, on special occasions, but there's nobody that would come to our services, for instance, like, oh, people from the army and that sort. Why, they enjoyed coming to a...a non-conformist service unless they were very, very strict Anglican, you see. And even...after the British were gone, they even invited us to come and speak in their...their Anglican church. I had a service once a month on Sunday night and I don...I don't believe that would've happened before. Of course, I was there only two years after independence. We left in 1962.
WILSON: Well, would...after the British left, was it still an Anglican Church?
HURSH: Oh, yes. However, they had a...a...an African Anglican Church as well as a European one. They [unclear]....
WILSON: Kind of like the American Episcopal?
HURSH: Yeah, yeah, right.
WILSON: Okay. So just....
HURSH: They were called the Church Missionary Society, CMS. I would say [bumps microphone] the British part...British Church was [bumps microphone] the high church and the African church was low church, if I understand the two. Yeah.
WILSON: Well, now, your mentioning of CMS brings up an interesting question, which is, was the British government more lenient on British missionaries?
HURSH: Well, they didn't try to work in the Moslem North, so I...I don't know.
WILSON: Oh, okay.
HURSH: They were in the South, most of them. They had...would have these churches in all of the larger cities of the North, but they would be for southerners. They weren't for Hausas, they weren't for the Moslems, you see. And so, of course, they wouldn't have any restrictions on them in the lower half of the country.
WILSON: Okay. Now, I also wanted to ask you, in terms of talking about the...the hospital in general, any particular reason for Kano per se, the...being in this location?
HURSH: [Begins before Wilson is through speaking] Yes. It was the largest...largest city in the North, a hundred thousand inside the walls at that time and Kano province was the most populous. There were about four million in Kano province and one million within a radius of twenty-five miles. So you not only had the population density there, but you had the...the blind density. There were three thousand blind in Kano and about sixty-eight thousand in the whole country. So this was the logical place to have it, and also being a center that can be reached by railroad or...from the South, one railroad to the Northeast. But then these people actually couldn't afford to travel by train anyway. If they got there, it was usually walking, and it took them months.
WILSON: Did you actually have people that took months to get there?
HURSH: Oh, sure. Yeah. From...all the way from the Sudan.
WILSON: Tell me a little bit...now, can you remember a specific...?
HURSH: I remember one...one person particularly, because he happened to be hunting for the hospital. He had somebody leading him, of course. And he went to the office. They sent him to the office first and then on to the hospital, which was just a block away. And Dr. Helser happened to meet him and said, "Where are you from?" And he found out: from the Sudan. And he said, "Oh, you want the Eye Hospital." And he says, "Yes." And he says, "I've been on the way since such and such a time." See, it was last rainy season or whatever it was, and he figured out it was somewhere between six and eight months [laughs, Wilson whistles]. He might have gotten a ride on a donkey or a camel now and then, or.... He didn't have money to ride on a lorry or a truck, as we call them, so the bulk of it was walking.
WILSON: Now, could he still see?
HURSH: I can't remember this particular case.
WILSON: How...do you remember how he heard about the hospital?
HURSH: That we alw...we tried to find out, and it was through pilgrims. You see, they would leave Kano and go to Mecca [Mekkah, Saudi Arabia, birth place of Muhammad, holy place of pilgrimage for Muslims] and, in those days, it was almost as hard for them because they didn't fly like they do...did later on, see. They could sa...save up, say, a life time of savings and...and go maybe by train as far as Maidugure, which was two hundred, three hundred miles towards the East. And then they would start out by truck, but those would only go so far. So they had to find some means to get...some of them would take a year to get to Mecca and take a year to get back. And in the course, of course, they would...many...much of the time they would be on foot. And this...as far as we could tell, why there was plenty of chance for him to have contacted these pilgrims, you see. Now, Cairo [Egypt] was probably no further away, but at least some of them came our way. [laughs] And they came from other directions. We've had quite a few come from Liberia. Well, they've [bumps microphone] heard about us through our radio station there, you see. And they might have had an eye doctor there or they might not. They were...they came and went as [pauses] outsiders, you know, Europeans usually. We never had one there. And so we began to get an occasional one from Liberia, for cataract surgery, maybe a government official, something like that. And, of course, they'd come from the North, from the desert, and as far south, I can remember, as the Island of Fernando Poo, which is down there off...below Nigeria. So I figured out at one particular day we'd had somebody from all four directions outside the country that had gotten there. There was really no place else for them to go [pauses] in those early days. Later on, of course, the British rounded up their own optholmologists, most of them Nigerians that were trained in England, and they came back and then they opened an eye hospital in Kaduna, about a 150 miles south of us. They tried to establish a ward, eye ward in Kano [Hospital], but people wouldn't go there [laughs] when they could come to our place.
WILSON: I'd like for you to talk a little about just the real early days of getting the thing going. I...I've always wondered how a doctor spends his first couple of weeks in practice anyway.
HURSH: Waiting for the first patient [laughs].
WILSON: Yeah, exactly.
HURSH: Well, we wondered ourselves because...of course, people would see it in the process of building for three or four months, and knew what it was, and yet we didn't go out and do any advertising. So, actually, our first patients came from our dispensaries. We had half a dozen dispensaries perhaps within thirty to fifty miles.
WILSON: The leprosaria [sic, leprosariums]?
HURSH: No, apart from the leprosaria [sic, leprosariums]. We had in the meantime gotten nurses in these stations...
WILSON: Oh, okay.
HURSH: ...and they were...they were....
WILSON: They were referred to you?
HURSH: Yeah. We had morning clinic, and I even made the rounds on these two or three times a year, and selected cases that I could help, you see, so they wouldn't send [them] in needlessly. At the same time I tried to train the nurses to be selective, and tell what they could help and what they couldn't. Well, we started out. I can't even remember the first few days, but I know we had a couple dozen and thought that was fair for a start, for a beginning. And we wondered when we'd get our first surgical case, because that was the acid test, if they're willing to be operated, and I think a week or ten days went by before we did. And then as soon as you had one guy leave who could see, why, he was all the advertisement we needed. Especially if he'd been brought there by a little grandson who's leading him with a stick, you know, and then, as they left, why they left the stick. So we had quite a collection [of sticks] before long that we could use for firewood if we wanted to [laughs].
WILSON: If only you'd been Catholic, you could've put them at the foot of a statue [laughs].
HURSH: Yeah. And the same thing was true about women. We were told that we [train noise] wouldn't get any women to come because they wouldn't be allowed to, and that we were very foolish to make equal facilities for women as we did men. Well, it wasn't long before we had more women than we had men, for the simple fact that they all had trichoma and they all were so handicapped and.... Well, they weren't blind, but they were the next thing to it with their scarred corneas. But they weren't able to be of any use to their husbands anymore. They couldn't cook, they couldn't take care of the household, why...so they sent them over to us to see what we could do for them, and that was the beginning for the women.
WILSON: Hmm. Now, was that a common thing?
HURSH: Oh, yes. Twenty-five percent, according to my estimates, had trichoma.
WILSON: Why is this so?
HURSH: Well, higher than that in Mediterranean countries, a lot of them [unclear as Wilson begins to speak]....
WILSON: I mean, specifically women as opposed to men, or just....
HURSH: No. Women more than men, for the fact probably that they're more confined, they're more in the house, even some of their cooking is done inside, and so there was the added fact of smoke irritation, but [clears throat] the thing I think is much responsible as any was their eye shadow that they used. They all have their antimony pots and....
WILSON: Now, had their what pots?
HURSH: Antimony, yeah, a pot of chemical called...called antimony, which is used for the eye shadow.
WILSON: Oh, it's a color, okay.
HURSH: Yeah, and they would maybe pass these around. Well, that would pass the disease around. And this can be conveyed by flies, of course, and all the babies would have flies sitting on their eyes drinking. And the men were outdoors more, farmers and so forth, and so we had twice as many women as men with trichoma, especially when it went to the point where they needed lid surgery.
WILSON: Now, is that a more common disease in underdeveloped countries?
HURSH: Yes. Filth [laughs] would tend to augment it. I mean...I say filth, I mean just [claps hands] not bothering to wash their hands and face or touching themselves and so forth. There's not that much water to spare for daily cleansing. They have to keep it and use it for their ablutions for their prayers. [Laughs] But some of these other countries where they are, shall we say, farther advanced in the Mediterranean are...even in Europe, the incidents of trichoma declined as the cleanliness rose, you see. That same thing was true in our country. It was largely mostly Indians for years and years, and then you got it into the lower class sociologically, shall we say, [bumps microphone] particularly through the South and Southwest. And so when they began to realize that it was a problem, when I...about the time I was training, why then they began to do some public health propaganda, [bumps microphone] you see, until I imagine it's pretty well wiped out in this country now, like smallpox.
WILSON: Well, we're always glad for another disease to be gone [laughs].
WILSON: I wanted to al...ask you, you mentioned about some of the Muslim rights and all th.... Now, your ministry was mainly to Muslim people, correct, not...not to pagan?
HURSH: No, we...in our area, there are very few pagans [microphone noise]. We're about ninety-five percent Moslem. Now, we might have pagans coming up from the mid...middle belt, where they were mostly, so we ministered to both, of course. But [clears throat] we...well, as you went farther...the farther south you went, the less percentage of Moslems there were. And when you got down to the costal areas, why there would maybe be only twenty-five percent. Course, fifty percent were probably nominal Christians.
WILSON: Well, is it...in your estimation, is it easier to work with a pagan, simply because they...Christ doesn't mean anything to them?
HURSH: Yes, I would say yes because we...our churches, our big churches, were developed first in pagan areas, you see. Actually, take two areas in particular, Kagoro [Northern provinces, central Nigeria] and...and Kaltungo [?], they actually were mostly cannibals, headhunters. Maybe I shouldn't call them cannibals. They were called headhunters. The British warned us, "And you're...we're not responsible for you. If you want to go in there, why you're...you're going at your own risk," you see. But there wasn't any risk [laughs]. We were accepted and that's where the work began.
WILSON: Now, you're talking about the turn of the century?
WILSON: Okay. What I...I just wondered if....
HURSH: [Begins talking before Wilson is through speaking.] No, later than that as far as the Kagoro [?] and their contemporaries. More like in the teens in Kogoro [?], and early 20s in Kaltungo [?].
WILSON: You're...I don't know if it's fair to ask you for a percentage rate or anything, but.... Well, I could ask you this. Were [bumps microphone] you generally satisfied with the response that you got to the message of Christianity?
HURSH: Yes, because, after all [clears throat], we expected opposition, and we knew it wasn't going to be easy, so that when they came by ones and twos, why it was very encouraging. Especially as you saw the changed lives, and saw how they wanted to witness to their own people; how a wife [would] be very burdened for her husband. And it was usually the women who would accept first. And so they would be...make us welcome to come to their compound or little [claps hands] dwelling place, whether it was in the city or out in the outskirts, and the husbands never stopped us, but seldom would they hang around and listen. But you'd have plenty of women and children. So the...the men...actually the beginnings when the men came were the blind in our own hospital, people that we couldn't help, that were beyond help that we invited to stay and learn to read in our blind school. And, of course, [clears throat] as they read nothing but Scriptures day after day, why, one after another usually in the course of three, four, five months were saved. And then they became our evangelists.
WILSON: Although blind?
HURSH: Oh, yes. They would go out...they...they would be the ones that I would take out on Sunday mornings with their braille book, and no problem at all getting a crowd because here was somebody reading. They knew they were blind, it was obvious, and somebody reading with their hands, something they couldn't do with their eyes. And they [were] very curious, very interested.
WILSON: What would a blind person in Kano do to support himself?
HURSH: Beg. It was no problem because part of the Moslem religion was [bumps microphone] alms, of course. And they were always by the roadside and likewise the lepers. There was one particular man in Kano who was the wealthiest man around, and everybody knew that on a Friday he could receive a shilling from this one source, you see. Well, a shilling would keep him for days, you see, in those days.
WILSON: So they all lined up?
HURSH: Yeah. And that [laughs] was three thousand of them in Kano [both laugh].
WILSON: Now was he a...a Muslim, a native?
HURSH: Oh yes, oh yes. He and I became very friendly because I helped him out with his eyes and then I...he'd come to me with all his other ailments. And he was getting old then and he was probably sixty-five, seventy and that's old for them. And I knew he wouldn't be around very many years, so I welcomed this contact because it helped us, as I say, to get established. He had four sons who took over his four areas of business. They were actually monopolies, and, of course, they in turn became very wealthy. But he didn't have any time for the gospel. No, he wasn't...he'd stop me as soon as I would start. "You're my friend. Leave it at that."
WILSON: No joke? [Hursh laughs.] Huh. So what would you talk about with him?
HURSH: His...his ailments [both laugh].
WILSON: Well, that stands to reason [both laugh].
HURSH: No, we didn't discuss weather, [laughs] or politics, or religion. But he...he'd invite me to his house, or he'd come to our hospital, or whatever, and I was always welcome. I was always a little bit curious because I'd heard stories, you know. Where did he get all these shillings? Well, he said he had an old dry well that was full of them. He just dumped them in there as fast as he got them [laughs] and he had no problem. He didn't...he didn't worry the banks or bother the banks.
WILSON: Now, was that true?
HURSH: I don't know. I never saw the well [both laugh]. It...it was very true that he was worth a million pounds. That would be five million dollars. He controlled the cola nut business, the trains who brought the cola nuts up once a week, a trainload.
WILSON: The...the what?
HURSH: The cola nut. That's the nut that they chew like a betel nut, you see.
WILSON: Oh, okay.
HURSH: It wasn't native. It had to come from Ghana, or somewhere else on the coast. And then back on that train would go a load of cattle to be slaughtered in the South, because they couldn't raise cattle in the South, you see. Tsetse fly area. So those were two...two of his businesses. And then he had [bumps microphone] a ground nut monopoly (that's peanuts) and the other one was lorries, trucks...trucking system. So he did all right.
WILSON: I guess. Now, last fall when...when we talked, you mentioned a fellow who had reported the...being aware of the presence of Satan, and a dealing that he had had with the government, something to that effect. Do you remember talking about that?
HURSH: You're not talking about the man who was couching that I got into trouble by reporting him?
WILSON: No. Let's see here [shuffles notes]. It was [more shuffling]...now I saw it here just today. An encounter with Muslims from India and a conference with governmental authorities and a sense of Satans' presence. Well, that was you.
HURSH: [Begins to speak before Wilson is through speaking.] Oh, oh, yeah, yeah. Well, I was...I was thinking about Nigeria. And this...this...this was a Moslem missionary, yes, that they had sent over to Nigeria from India [clears throat]. He was from a movement called the Amadea [?] movement, which is strict following the Koran. And they felt that they...the Nigerian Moslems were very lax, and, well, it wasn't anything surprising, I mean, you could.... They didn't drink, but they didn't mind smoking. A lot of them smoked. I never saw any drinking. But [clears throat] they...well, they just thought they weren't aggressive enough. They should be out there evangelizing these pagans instead of letting us do it. And so he tried...came and tried to talk to the patients one Sunday afternoon in the ward...the mens' ward. I came along and asked him what he was doing and he said he was with this church. He was visiting. Well, I...it didn't take me any time to realize what he was up to, and I realized also that I had something bigger than I could handle [laughs]. Finally I said, "I'll...you've no permission to preach in here," I said (I didn't use the word preach). Why, I said, "You'll have to see our superintendent, Dr. Helser." So we went over to his house. It was three, four o'clock Sunday afternoon, and Dr. Helser was one that you had trouble getting a word in edgewise with. Well, he had trouble getting a word in with this guy [laughs]. And he just commanded the conversation, and the thing that amazed me was that he quoted Scripture, Old Testament Scripture, of course, and out of context and so forth and so on, but trying to prove his point that we were way off base and he had the truth. Of course, you couldn't bring Christ into it. But he just gave you an eerie feeling. I mean, just piercing black eyes, and you felt like you wanted to get out of the room. It...it's uncomfortable [laughs].
WILSON: Well, now...
HURSH: I...I...I felt that it was Satanic, and I said something to Dr. Helser afterwards, and he said, "I felt the same way" [laughs].
WILSON: Well, I've been...I've been told by missionaries that Satan is much more active overtly in countries where knowledge of the gospel is slight. Did you...did you feel that from time to time when you were in Nigeria?
HURSH: Well, I think we got that more in the early days, and especially in pagan areas. There was so much definite satanic...even satanic worship, you know, and such fear that these things could be more readily noticed, I would say, by those early pioneers, those early missionaries, particularly somebody like Tommy Titcomb [?] who can tell you stories that you can't believe. And I would say in the North, we came across it in...in our patients who would almost become irrational, and they would...particularly some of the women who we had operated, and their eyes were covered and so forth. And they would start, in their own language, of course, start talking in a way tha...you see, they never stopped, just go on and on and that's very unusual for them. They literally don't talk that much, not when they're out in the open at least. And more than once I had people that I knew had had no contact with white people before, talking to me in English, not even knowing what they were saying. And that gives you a funny feeling. So, [laughs] as far as....
WILSON: Absolute English? I mean....
HURSH: Asking me questions and answering questions in English.
WILSON: And they didn't know what they were saying?
HURSH: No. So I would call the church elders. This is early days but we had some Nigerian Christians then, and called them over and...and they said, "Oh, this is the devil, this is evil spirits, no question about it." So they...I've had psychiatrists trying to tell me, explain it away, you know, in various, sundry psychoses, but these people could be normal the next day, you know. This might go on for an hour or two, and we'd have these folks come over and pray with them and invoke Christ's power over Satan, and they would quiet down. I can't say we never gave them a sedative to help them, but [laughs] the next day they could be perfectly normal. And we'd start talking to them about it, what...what happened. "Oh, I have the spirits that come every so often. I...I know they're coming. I know when they're going to come and take possession of my body." We call them demons, but they'd call them the eskoki [?], which are the spirits. They don't use the word Satan but....
WILSON: Do they believe in Satan?
HURSH: Oh, yes. They...I say...oh, yes. I know some of them do. But they're pretty much all...all spirits are evil spirits. There isn't anything else, you see, and that's what they're fear...afraid of. And [bumps microphone] make them do things that they don't want to do. I mean, they can't control themselves or their body; throw themselves into the fire, for instance. Practically everybody that gets burned, it's because their spirits cast them into the fire.
WILSON: Now, how do they explain possession of their bodies?
HURSH: Well, it's just a matter of course. They've...they've known it all their lives. They've always known somebody who was plagued this way. Now, it's not all of them. It just seems to be certain ones that are picked out, or selected, for some reason [laughs]. I don't know why. But it's sort of, oh, well, anything you do is excusable, they're not responsible. I mean they can't help what they're doing.
WILSON: Do you think they use that as a crutch sometimes?
HURSH: Could be.
WILSON: But, on the whole, you were convinced of the genuineness of what they said?
HURSH: Oh, yes. Oh, I...well, I...this person started...I started...oh, I know what I was going...I was talking to some of the others in English, you see, and this patient repeated word for word what I had said. And I said, "Well, how'd she do that?" And he said, "Well, the spirits...." I said, "She doesn't know any English." "No, but she can talk any language that they want her to know." And that's what their response was.
WILSON: Good land.
HURSH: It gives you a rather eerie feeling.
WILSON: Yeah [pauses]. I wanted to ask you about the SIM church in Kano. Did the church begin as simply the...the meeting place of the missionaries and grow from there, or...?
HURSH: Yeah. It started on their front veranda, you see. The missionaries would gather on Sunday and have a service. There were only half a dozen of them to start with. And, of course, they would have some of their own personal boys who...who would be invited, and maybe they'd come and maybe they wouldn't. But it grew gradually over several years until they had a stone church there when we arrived. And these stones had been on the property. They were in a big pile of them in one corner, and that had been the hiding place for thieves. They would use them as a [laughs] barricade or something. I don't know how they did it. They weren't caves. They were just big piles of stone. Well, they built a church out of it and I would say it was a good...good high church, all stone. But it would seat probably a 150, 200, so it must have been about thirty by sixty [feet], something like that. And then as some of the southerners became acquainted with us, who were already Christians, why, of course that was their place of worship. There was no other place for them to go. The other Protestant missions were not there. The Catholics were there ahead of us, but the other Prot...they had no other Protestant churches and so we...it wasn't long there until we had, plus the converts of our own...until that 150, 200 was full. So then they put on two additions, one on each side, which maybe added a couple hundred more...well, no, a hundred more, and that was still about as big as the church was in our day. Now it got to where we used to have two services, one Hausa, one in English in the evening. Then the next thing you knew, we had two in Hausa in the morning, and one in English in the evening. Well, that was true up until about the time we left in '62, and then in the last twenty years, they've built four more churches, or at least three more and the last one is just being completed, over in the...in the town itself, not in the city, but over in the area of the New Town where.... It wasn't like a...it was a no man's land. It was surrounded by people, houses, dwellings. And then they began to have a tribal affair. They would have one for the Ibos, one for the Yorubas, because then they could conduct their own services in their own languages as well as in English. Otherwise, it'd have been in English. Well, then it came time to enlarge the Hausa one and they were building one over across the road when we were there last ten years ago. And I would say...it wasn't finished, but I would say it would seat five or six hundred, you know. And what do you know, but now that's not big enough and they're building one actually on our land, our...what was our land, compound, which seats two thousand. And doing it all on their own. Oh, this is nothing to do with any outside source of funds at all. And now all of these are...are filled now.
WILSON: Now, is this ECWA [Evangelical Churches of West Africa] now, that's doing this?
HURSH: Yes, it's all ECWA. Right.
WILSON: Well, this is another thing that I wanted to ask you about. I know you folks weren't in Nigeria when...when all this took place, but you obviously followed it...
HURSH: Oh. yeah.
WILSON ...somewhat closely, and...and you live in Sebring [FL] where you are first to hear anything that happens. What...I guess I want to...to hear some of your observations on...on why the change took place and, you know, the politics of it, and....
HURSH: That was our goal, of course, in the beginning, to be able to take the indigenous pattern when it was possible and, of course, it began first of all by them taking over the...the preaching. Even in our day, we had national pastors. In other words, if a missionary spoke, it would be only on a Mond...on a Sunday night in English, you see, because there weren't so many that spoke English in those days. We'd take our turns and have the evening service. But the morning services were all done by the nationals. They were products of our...not our seminary, because that was English, you see, but of our Bible schools, you know, to our vernacular Bible schools. And some of these best ones were even those who had gone through our blind school, and they....
WILSON: Blind preachers.
HURSH: Terrific preachers, yeah. And they didn't stay there as local pastors, but they would be called in to preach occasionally. And, of course, they had what they called district councils. They were various...this was their own setup, though there was somebody, a leader in each district. Maybe he was the pastor of the church. He probably was. And then they would have their annual or semiannual conferences and they'd all come together. Well, that's when we would hear some of these others that had gone through the blind school. One of them particularly was outstanding. And then, from there, in our day, there was not...they were not taking over the finances. I mean, they just didn't realize that that was part of the [laughs] program, but they did realize that they were responsible for evangelizing their own people and sending out...and forming the Evangelical Missionary Society, which is the missionary society for ECWA. And they went out [in] couples, man and wife. He would be a Bible school graduate and she would have had some Bible training. And they would go out wherever there was an opening, wherever there was a need, particularly if there'd been some contact there in the past and we knew there were at least one or two Christians there, you see. And they were...were expected, really, to support themselves [bumps microphone]. They were to get land and they would raise [bumps microphone] their crops [bumps microphone] and pretty much live at a existence level. And then it began to...they began to realize that this was really the [bumps microphone] churches' responsibility and they began taking up offerings, particularly a...a thanksgiving offering. They didn't call it by that name, but it happened to come along at the end of harvest time, harvest offering, I guess it was called. Most of the people didn't bring money. They brought grain or they brought anything else of value and that augmented what these missionaries had, you see. Well, they got to where they were even going outside of Nigeria, going across the border to Niger, French country, and got to be from twenty or thirty couples to two hundred or now about three hundred couples. And now ther...money is no problem. They just...you wouldn't believe how they give. And you wonder where they get it.
HURSH: But [chuckles], of course, their wages are way up compared to what they were. The cost of living is triple, or more than that. Probably ten times from when we were there. But, they...they don't mess around when they take an offering. And this in.... I happened to be reading something recently, not in our area, on the plateau which is really pagan area. Before we went in there three years ago for the agricultural program, put up a feed mill, and a poultry project, and a fertilization program, you know...fertilizer program, excuse me, why they said the local church in this one place, their annual missionary offering is what it was, was something like fourteen hundred dollars. Well, that sounds like a fair amount of money, you know, because there was nothing like that in our day. In the course of three years, it didn't double or triple. It multiplied ten times. [Wilson whistles.] Can you imagine that? They just have money to do what they want. For instance, this church that they're building in Kano, they're...money is not the problem. It's just getting the building materials, the cement and so forth. So they're really behind it with their financing and there's money, as I mentioned. I mean, they don't have envelopes and put it in every Sunday.
WILSON: But it does come?
HURSH: Yeah, especially with their special offerings.
WILSON: Well, one of the things I wanted to ask you about was the...the transition, when...when SIM...
HURSH: [Both talk at once, unclear.] Well, now, that was [bumps microphone] political [?].
WILSON: Yeah. I'd like to hear the story [?][bumps microphone, both talk at once, unclear].
HURSH: Yeah. It got to the point...this was after our day...as it has in practically every other African country, maybe elsewhere, too, where the missionary was only there at the invitation of the national. In other words, the...the missionary is not even recognized as such. ECWA is the owner of the property, and all is in their name, even our Eye Hospital or anything else that's there, belongs to the church and we had no choice, just turnover on such-and-such a date. This was not too long ago, five or six years ago, I guess.
WILSON: But, now, just a minute. SIM never legally owned anything?
HURSH: Well, yea...it leased the property it was on and you don't own the property. You don't own the clan...the land. A national can own land but a white person can't. And so, actually, it was a good enough lease, a ninety-nine year lease or something like that [laughs], forty-nine or ninety-nine, I don't know which. But anytime they wanted, they could've said, "Leave the country," you see. So when it became evident that...well, it's not different for business. Any business out there had to be majority owned by a national or they didn't stay, whether they were Syrian or whatever. And...in other words, they were going to run their country any way they wanted to.
WILSON: You can hardly fault them on that.
HURSH: No. [Wilson laughs.] And it presents problems, but you just have to expect them, and....
WILSON: Well, now was this the...the Nigerian Christians that were pushing this or the Nigerian...
HURSH: No. The Nigerian government...
HURSH: ...government, you see. Of course, the Christians would take their clue from that. They...they don't mind being top dog any more than anybody else.
WILSON: [Laughs.] Right. Well, how...how did that set with...?
HURSH: Well, it set all right with a good many. There were a few that just couldn't take it, and they had no choice. I mean, you're there and they know right away if...if you agree or you're fiddling with their program. And if you oppose it, why that's your last tour of duty, I mean, you won't get back. You're blackballed. But we generally realized that that's what we...actually what we were aiming for all along, and so if it came sooner than we expected, why, so be it.
WILSON: Has it worked?
HURSH: Yeah. Oh, yes. Yup. They have very good leadership. These fellows are trained, a lot of them in this country. Our secretary...our secretary...the secretary of ECWA has his master's from Wheaton here, Seymond Ryan [?] and have some good men from other places like Dallas, and so forth, that are very well trained, I mean, any number of Doctors of Theology, and so forth, that cou...could teach in any seminary.
WILSON: Now, what, then, is SIM's role?
HURSH: Advisor. Now they keep reminding us, insisting that, "Now [claps hands] you have a role here. You...you tell us [pauses] what we're doing wrong, where we...where we can improve and how we can do something better, [train noise] differently," but it's still advice and they can take it or leave it as they please. And the biggest role, I would say, right now is in teaching and not just in our own Bible schools. We have only one or two there. They have plenty of nationals for that and the seminary likewise, two seminaries now. But in teaching in the government schools. And that's just wide open and we have, oh, I don't know, between thirty-five and a hundred, perhaps, out of our five hundred that are teaching in government schools. These are secondary schools, and the Bible is a required course. Now, I say a required course. If you're not a Moslem, you have to either study the Koran or you study the Bible, one or the other. You...they're not encouraging any proselytizing by any means, but there again, there are so many Christians now that in many cases the schools are more than half Christian. And so they're starting this actually in the grade schools, secondary...I mean primary schools, oh, I'd say, oh, along about the third, fourth, or fifth grade, something like that. And there they usually have nationals. Very few missionaries. Most of the missionaries are teaching in the secondary schools. And they have...they can make their own curriculum, they have to pass an exam or repeat. That's required and, well, as I say, it's wide open. We don't have enough teachers. We're trying to teach nationals now, although...or to get them on the level to where they can go into the secondary school. Of course, they have to have good English. It's all done in English. And eventually, why, we'll...again we'll work ourselves out of a job. But as of now, we could put twice as many in if we had them. There are people doing that, one of our doctors, who is writing up a curriculum because he didn't have any medical job to do. He had been the medical secretary. Now it was taken over by a Nigerian, so he wasn't needed anymore. He has...was a man who had made the liaison [?] with the government, you see, on this and that, so that was...he was a Wheaton College fellow, E. J. Cummins [from the Wheaton College Alumni Directory: Dr. Erwin J. Cummins. '39 ?]. He just came home. He just retired now. For the past two years he's been writing Sunday school curriculum.
WILSON: [Train noise.] Now, is the present director of the Kano Eye Hospital Ni...Nigerian?
HURSH: Well, the present doctor, the one who took my place, is white. Now I suppose you'd have to call him the medical superintendent. And he has an Indian lady and he has two Nigerian ophthalmologists, always at least two, sometimes three, who are, you might say, residents. They come in there for training, really, and then if they pan out there then the government will send them to England to be further qualified. And then, if we liked them, we can have them back. Now, "if we liked them" means that they're the caliber of Christian that we want, etcetera. And...otherwise, well, the government will keep them, but we get first choice. And some of them have done very well.
WILSON: Now, what you just said there brought up another question in my mind. In your day there, did you try to have your staff be Christian?
HURSH: We tried to hire Christians to start with. Now, there were...there were ver...very few registered nurses who were Moslems anyway, and when they began...we didn't have registered nurses to start with. Later on, as the Christian hospitals turned out these nurses, why, they'd come to us and then we'd given them their eye training. So that anybody who was in a place of any authority at all was a Christian. I mean, we didn't...we didn't dare put a Moslem in...in apart from, say, menial tasks. There, of course, we had to.
WILSON: Had to because...?
HURSH: Why, we couldn't get anyone else to do it [laughs].
WILSON: Oh. Okay.
HURSH: Well, we didn't have to as far as the government was concerned. They never....
WILSON: Okey-doke. You had mentioned the registered nurses and that they were, by and large, Christians or...or non-Muslim anyway. Was that because of the Muslim place for women?
HURSH: Not necessarily. We felt that, if we were going to be effective, we couldn't have somebody in there undermining our work. And, after all, it was recognized as a Christian hospital and we wouldn't expect Moslems to have anything to do with running it.
WILSON: What...what I meant was...I...I thought that you said that there weren't any Muslim registered nurses anyway.
HURSH: Oh, no. No. There were, but they were in government hospitals. They...they had a nursing program. They turned out registered nurses. As a matter of fact, the first two we got had to go through their program, and that's how they got their RNs.
WILSON: Good land.
HURSH: Yeah. But they were ours and they worked for us for years, and so we knew what they were and we knew they were capable. But there was no other way that we could...could get them through the nursing program, well, at least not as fast. They...they sort of got an accelerated program and I think they both got through in one year, and passed their exams. Now they're retired, as old as I am, almost [laughs].
WILSON: Huh. Well, that was basically...we've covered everything on my list of what I wanted to ask you concerning your...your career over there. Do you have any general parting shots of....
WILSON: I didn't go through the experiences, so I don't.... There...I'm sure there's a lot of things locked up in your mind that I haven't tapped because I haven't known the proper question to ask.
HURSH: Oh, yeah. Well, I felt that [clears throat, bumps microphone] it was the Lord's calling for me. It was my life's work and I wouldn't have been happy doing anything else. Well, got to the point where it got too much, especially when I had to do leprosy work too. Why, then I began to question once in a while if I really [both chuckle]...if this is where I belonged. But when we got the help and we weren't worked to death, why, it was always a bright outlook, and especially as the work became more productive spiritually, you could see where it had been worthwhile. And in the last twenty years since I've been there, why, there have been so many changes. Of course, I was there last on a short-term basis ten years ago. And I realized then that it was no longer for me, because, in the first place, I wasn't willing to take second place. I...I was...wasn't ever willing for anybody to tell me what I could and I couldn't do.
WILSON: Anybody in particular, or just anybody, period?
HURSH: Well, no, really, any nonmedical person telling me how to run my hospital. And I used to be able to tell them off. I said, "I'll do it the way I want to, or I won't do it." Well, you couldn't do that anymore, you see. I mean, you were no longer your own boss. And if they said, "You do so and so," you do so and so or you don't stay. Well, that happened immediately after independence, really, because the British doctors who stayed didn't stay very long, because they...they soon found out that they didn't get the...the best positions. They got shoved out in the bush hospitals and...and they did the scut [?] work, and even though they were well trained. Well, that hasn't happened in our hospital. Now, there have been other mission hospitals that the government has taken over, you see. And if the doctor stayed there, why he took orders from them, from a...an official who was nonmedical, you see.
WILSON: An administrator.
HURSH: Yeah. Right. And that didn't pan out too well, either, because it wasn't too long before they were begging us to take these hospitals back, because they...they [laughs] just went....
WILSON: Couldn't make a go of it.
HURSH: Oh, yes. They just went into the ground. I mean, after all, if...if you can't hold on to your property, if it walks off every day, well, how can you run a hospital? [Laughs.] They didn't even have sheets. Well, some of the missions did take them back and some didn't. But we've taken a couple of ours back. Evangel Hospital in Jos was one of them. And the owners [?] realize now that if we want these things to amount to anything, we'd better let them run them the way they want to, see. Now the only problem is the church telling us what to do, see, and making some very, what we might say, unwise decisions. For instance, we had a nurse in the Eye Hospital who was...had been to England and received her training to be a...what they call a matron. In other words, a teacher of nurses, and so that was what she was doing, but the church thought that she was needed up at another hospital up in the middle of the desert, just because they didn't have enough nurses. So they picked her and sent her up there. Well, she can't teach them anything and so she's just back...not using her capacity. And that's happened more than once. I mean, they can shift you around and put you where they want to without perhaps thinking twice, "Is this a wise move?"
WILSON: That's interesting.
HURSH: But another thing I realized was that I couldn't put in twelve, fourteen-hour days anymore. [Laughs.]
WILSON: Yeah, we all come to that point, but some earlier than others.
HURSH: In our [unclear] pretty good. You might complain about it here at home, but over there it looked mighty good. So I...finally at the end of my three-month period, when I'd had two days off out of the three months, and they weren't...(I'm including Sundays. These weren't Sundays, they were Moslim holidays, so we couldn't operate the hospital), why, I said, "Well, this is my last trip." I said, "I...I can't keep your pace." They said, "Well, you used to be the slave driver, so now you can't take it. Sorry." [Laughs.]
WILSON: Now this was what, '72, your last trip over there?
WILSON: Have you been back since?
WILSON: Do you hope to?
HURSH: Well, I don't know. I don't have any particular desire because I'm just afraid I'll be disappointed. [Pauses.] I'll be happy to see them...the spiritual end of it, you know, the churches. It'd be great to on [in?] a Sunday morning service like that. But when I look...when I look at the operation of the hospital [pauses, microphone noise]....
WILSON: Sorry about that.
HURSH: Yeah. Shall I just go on?
HURSH: So when I look at the operation of the hospital, I know I couldn't take it because.... Not too long ago, they had a nurses strike, see, and they were...what they're striking for, I don't know. They make two or three times as much money as the missionary does, or the American doctor for instance, and so what they wanted, I don't know. I have no idea. But in my day when they started talking about union...unionizing, I just says, "Forget it," and the guy who'd come there to organize it, why I could order him off the place. I said, "We don't need any union." I said, "We'll give them whatever you could give them, and it isn't going to cost them anything," [laughs] "and besides they had no desire to join your union." Well, then they talked to him a while, and they found out that was true. But now, of course, you've got these agitators that come around and make everybody unhappy and I don't know what their selling point is, but they struck. Well, I...I'd close up shop. [Laughs.] If they want to cut their noses off, let them do it.
WILSON: Well, that's a message that more than just Nigeria could heed. [Hursh laughs and agrees.] One thing that you said a little bit ago, something I had not realized. You said that you worked in the leprosaria. Was that specifically eye or was it just [unclear as Hursh begins to speak]...?
HURSH: No. No, I was the...I was the medical officer responsible for three of these places...
WILSON: That was it, huh?
HURSH: ...yeah. And one was handy, only nine miles away, so I'd go out there every week, on Thursdays or whatever, and examine the cases...new cases and other...the ones that were possibly ready for discharge, and do any minor surgery that needed to be done. If it was eye surgery, we'd do it out there. Well, the next one was a 110 miles away, so I went there quarterly, and the other one was 330 miles away, so I went there yearly. Well, I didn't really satisfy the government, but we just told them that's the best we could do.
HURSH: And when you stop to think it takes you more than a day to get there. In the early days, 330 miles was a twelve hour day. And, of course, in later days we'd go on the plane in a couple of hours. My wife mentions that in some of the letters, about how I've gone to a leprosarium.
WILSON: Well, the...did you have any training for treating that in the States?
HURSH: No. No, I'd never seen a leper as far as I knew, or a victim of Hansen's Disease, until my first furlough, and then I went down to...to the leprosarium at Carville, you see, in Louisiana, and got a little peek into what I was supposed to know [laughs] after four years. And then when I went back, I didn't...my work took precedence, and so I didn't have time for that and they gradually got other doctors to. And after the war, they could get them back, you see. But...and it changed so rapidly, with the introduction of the new drugs, you know. Actually you could begin to see some results in selfone treatment instead of chaulmogra oil, and so forth. So then you didn't have to have everybody in the settlement. They...they became hospitals for surgery or special...especially if it was something requiring reconstructive hand or foot surgery, they would go there for that purpose. Otherwise they could get their medicine in leprosy clinics which we'd have...our villages would have. And they only had to come once a week and get their tablets and...and do the same things that they were in the sanitarium...leprosarium. So those now are pretty well put in the past.
WILSON: No more such thing as a leper colony anymore?
HURSH: Not that we have. We have one up in French territory and one in Nigeria, and that's it; two of them. But otherwise...well in the first place, we didn't have doctors. Dr. Cummings used to go around and make the rounds and do his orthopedic corrective work and managed to keep up. But then the last term or two, why he hasn't even done that. Not that it doesn't need to be done but [pauses]...oh, of course the government is taking over some of that. They have orthopedic hospitals of their own now.
WILSON: When you were treating at the leprosaria [sic, leprosariums], were you not afraid of catching it?
HURSH: No, because we were aware of...well, we knew which cases were infectious and which were not. Most of them were not...they're not cases where...[which] were deformed and they were there because they didn't have hands or feet to take care of themselves, you know. And we knew that they were not infectious. Well, now you get the other type of leprosy, the lepromatous type, with nodules all over their face and coughing and sneezing, why you could just see the...the saliva spray out all over you. Well, we tried to avoid those. But we never had anyone working with the disease who caught it, because they [claps hands] were careful with their contacts. They knew when they were...had to wash their hands and so forth. So out of the six, eight, or ten, I don't even remember now, of our missionaries who have leprosy, they were all people who had no contact with...with leprosy. It was through their help or in the marketplace or whatever.
WILSON: Oh, they...they caught it secondhand?
HURSH: Yeah, because they weren't aware that they were in contact with it.
WILSON: Did you ever lose a missionary to leprosy?
HURSH: No, they always got treatment early enough. They don't die from leprosy, they die from other things.
WILSON: [Laughs] You mean lepers do?
HURSH: Yeah, yeah. I mean pneumonia will take them, or anemia will take them, or [pauses] something else. They're anesthetic [lose feeling in their body] and they lose their limbs for that reason, but let's see...well, it's some other disease that takes them.
WILSON: Well, sir, I thank you very much.
HURSH: You're very welcome. I hope I don't have any too big...big mistakes this time that have to be corrected. [Laughs.]
WILSON: No problem. [Laughs.]
END OF TAPE