We were still lucky in 1965-66 that our expansion on West Grand Boulevard still left us with some neighbors in the adjoining houses. One of these neighbors was a doctor and he came in handy on more than one occasion.
As we expanded space, we hired more and more employees. One that I particularly remember was an attractive blonde from Australia. It didn’t take long before she started getting a lot of attention from Motown’s alpha males.
In fact, only hours after I had made a date with her, one of our best-known songwriters came into my office. He had been among the first to date her and now he had a dose of clap. And he was very concerned that his wife, who was frequently at Hitsville, would find out. He demanded I tell Berry immediately and have her fired. My sigh of relief at being forewarned could probably be heard blocks away.
Wanting to avoid what could have been the rapid spread of a gonorrhea epidemic at Hitsville, I told Berry about the problem. His suggestion was brilliant.
I went to see our version of Typhoid Mary and after first coming up with a reason to break our date for that night, asked if she was aware of our new Motown health coverage policy.
Of course she replied she wasn’t. So I explained to her that in order to be covered in our health insurance policy, she needed to have a medical checkup from our staff physician -- the doctor next door -- and I handed her a form that I had just created.
Then I ran next door and told the Good Doctor of our plan. He agreed he would say nothing about her carrier status, but would give her the necessary shots and medication as part of her “insurance checkup.”
He also agreed he would treat the songwriter immediately.
And so disaster was averted. However, I never made another date with the Aussie not wanting to push my luck.