American Experience
Early Years: Pivotal Decisions
Pivotal Decisions: Should the Thomas Family Move Back to Nashville?

Baltimore, 1946
In October 1946, following a vacation to visit their families, Vivien and Clara Thomas decided to move back to Nashville the following spring. Thomas had realized that without a degree, he could not get a promotion or be upgraded to a higher pay scale at Johns Hopkins. When informed of Thomas' imminent plans, Blalock began working desperately to get him to reconsider.

It had been five years since the Thomas family had moved to Baltimore in 1941. With the end of World War II, they finally had the chance to travel to Nashville for a vacation. They found the postwar building boom in full swing, with plenty of carpentry jobs to go around. Thomas knew he could make two to four times the money he was getting at Hopkins, and was eager to give his daughters the best education possible. Upon returning to Baltimore, Thomas and his wife discussed what to do, finally deciding to move back to Nashville in the spring.

Thomas wanted to give Blalock plenty of lead time to find and train a replacement, so he met with him soon after his decision was made. Almost immediately, Blalock began trying to persuade Thomas to stay at Hopkins. Over the course of the next few weeks, Thomas and Blalock discussed the situation several times. Thomas had explicitly pointed out that he wasn't looking for more money, but Blalock continued to make salary offers. Finally, just before Christmas, Blalock presented a final, quite substantial offer to Thomas and asked him for a decision that day.

Select one of these three choices:

Choice 1
Thomas and his family should move back to Nashville.

Thomas feels he needs to create and control a more positive financial future for his family.

Choice 2
Thomas should accept Blalock's offer and stay at Johns Hopkins.

Blalock is determined to keep Thomas on his surgical research team in Baltimore.

Choice 3
Thomas and his family should stay in Baltimore but find other job opportunities.

Perhaps Thomas has not had the chance to pursue all that this big city has to offer.