Beryl Chernick

Corner of South Street and Waterloo Street


My name is Beryl Chernick. When we started Medical School in 1958, there were approximately 60 of us in the class, and 6 women. Guys wore a shirt and tie and jacket to class, and women wore skirts. We spent half of each week in a little building behind the main school, which was the anatomy lab.

We were assigned to cadavers which were preserved in formaldehyde and there were six to a body, three on each side. So you became very close when you spent 15 hours a week sharing tasks and talking about them and learning together and so on.  So one of the people was our very best friend. When it came to the dissection of the genitalia he insisted that I be the one to sever the penis from the body, so I would never feel like I had to do it in real life (laughs).

We had lectures in anatomy too. Now, just that year they had a new assistant professor, who was a very accomplished man from Austria, his name was von Hostetter. We referred to him as the Baron, whether he was or not, I don’t know. But he was so amazing, he would draw the anatomy that he was teaching about with two hands in different coloured chalks. You know, like the different layers were different colours, he would do it symmetrically. One of the things I remember that was most beautiful was when you came to the dissection of the heart, and of course you had to remove it from the body, and he did this very carefully and, on one of the bodies, and held it out and it was with such awe and reverence. I never forgot that image.