Response to Cryoken (corrected)

Joined: 9:57 AM - Mar 11, 2007

11:35 AM - Jun 19, 2007 #1

KEN WRITES: Mike Darwin has in the past, accused Bob Nelson of undercutting the prices of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY, as wells as bad-mouthing the sister organization, in order to lure away their patients. These accusations have severely damaged Bob Nelson's reputation, and they are not true.

MD'S RESPONSE: I have stated what I reasonably believed then and reasonably believe now to be facts based on personal experience. In many cases these experiences were the same ones other people had at the time, and where I know this to be the case, I will give their names and the approximate dates. A few of these people are still living and compos mente, unfortunately, most are not.

Before I proceed further, it is important that I communicate both a time-line and what will be the first of a great deal of context. First, the time-line: I was born in April of 1955 and am currently 52-years-of-age. This is of significance because it means that on 12 January, 1967 when James H. Bedford was cryopreserved, I was not yet 13-years-old. I became aware of cryonics sometime in January 1968 when I was presenting my science fair project entitled, “Suspended Animation in Plants and Animals,” at the Regional Indianapolis, IN Science Fair held at Butler University Field House. In response to my disbelief that humans were being “frozen for future revival” I was handed a copy of this article, from either the Indianapolis News or the Indianapolis Star (at that time, and for sometime afterwards, I did not understand the importance of noting the source and date of clippings or articles):



This article provided no viable contact information and it was not until a few weeks or months later that my father brought me another article on cryonics which had appeared in Men’s True Life magazine. This article mentioned Cryo-Care Equipment Corporation in Phoenix, AZ and its President, E. Francis (Ed) Hope. Using directory assistance, I was able to get the address of Cryo-Care, and I wrote a letter to Mr. Hope asking for information. Mr. Hope wrote me back with the contact information for four cryonics organizations: the Cryonics Society of California (CSC), the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY), the Cryonics Society of Michigan (CSM), and the Life Extension Society (LES). I wrote to all four organizations and received a response from three: CSNY, CSM, and LES. I received a large package of information from CSNY, a tri-fold (single page) brochure from CSM, and a few back-issues of FREEZE-WAIT-REANIMATE, the LES newsletter from LES. In addition to the package of material from CSNY, there was a personal letter from CSNY Secretary Sail Kent. Subsequently, I subscribed to CSNY’s monthly magazine, CRYONICS REPORTS, CSM’s monthly newsletter THE OUTLOOK, and LES’ FREEZE-WAIT-REANIMATE (which shortly thereafter ceased publication).

I rapidly became deeply involved in cryonics, facilitated in no small measure by a personal correspondence between Saul Kent and I. Saul almost immediately put me in touch with a student at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, CA, Greg Fahy. Greg had founded the Cryonics Youth Association (CYA) and he provided me with back issues of the CYA newsletter, CRYONICS NEWS. Greg and I also began a fairly intense correspondence at this time. From Greg, I obtained information on how to subscribe to CSC’s newsletter, CRYONICS REVIEW. The CSC newsletter could only be had by joining CSC as an associate member, which cost $25/yr, a very large sum in those days. I mowed laws for spending money and it took quite a few lawns to come up with the $25.00 to join CSC. I sent in my money to CSC around the end of July in 1968 and never got a response (or my money back) from CSC. However, Greg Fahy was kind enough to provide me with copies of CRYONICS REVIEW, since he had access to extra copies via his friend Bob Nelson.

During 1969-1970 I began correspondence and phone contact with cryonics activists across the US, and with the Soviet cryobiologist Vladimir Negovski. Long distance phone calls were extremely costly at that time, and perhaps even more to the point, were considered an extravagance reserved for emergencies, or at least substantive business matters. Nevertheless, I soon learned that the only way to get a really broad bandwidth of information was to talk with people on the phone, and as a consequence, I began working at odd jobs and mowing more lawns to get money to pay for long distance phone calls. This was a source of genuine conflict with my parents who considered such phone calls wasteful and financially irresponsible. So bad was the friction from this that I sometimes had to use payphones which were even more costly and required endless amounts of change.

Additional important context is that my parents were middle class people, arguably working class people, whose values and financial means were hardly cosmopolitan. My father was an Indianapolis police officer, and my mother supervised data entry (key punch operations) at Dow Chemical-Pittman Moore’s operations in Indianapolis. We lived with my maternal grandfather in his house, and while we were certainly not poor, luxuries consisted mostly of more and better quality of the basics in life. Dining out was rare, and our first television was purchased in the run-up to the Cuban missile crisis in 1961. My parents were (and are) profoundly conservative and deeply religious people whose morality and world-view was shaped by the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. While obviously in many ways very different, I was also at the same time in many ways a product of my home life and upbringing. I was not sophisticated in the ways of the world, and I was not well equipped to separate truth from falsehood in a complex and novel discipline such as cryonics, and neither were my parents.

These phone calls were invaluable because they allowed me to talk at length with Curtis Henderson (President of CSNY and Cryo-Span) and others who had some technical knowledge of cryonics, which was essential, because I had decided to create an emergency response, cryoprotective perfusion and temporary dry ice storage facility in Indianapolis. I thus had many practical and technical questions which could not be addressed well by mail. During the winter of 1970 I began construction of a dry ice storage box, and began purchasing the equipment, chemicals, and other supplies required to carry out cryoprotective perfusion. By 1970, at the age of 15, I had (although I didn’t know it at the time) the most sophisticated cryonics rescue and perfusion facilities anywhere in the world.

By late 1970 I had acquired enough Ringers’ solution and DMSO to prepare over 50 liters of cryoprotective perfusate (20% DMSO). The 12 boxes in the photograph below (with the “Cutter” label on them) each contain 6 liters of lactated Ringers’ solution, and the Fischer Scientific boxes (with “F” on the label) each contained 1.5 liters of DMSO. In 1970, 50 liters of cryoprotective perfusate was considered an extravagant amount. The balance of 22 liters of Ringers’ was to be used for blood washout prior to cryoprotective perfusion. Also visible on the metal cart at the right of the picture is a coil-type stainless steel heat exchanger that I had had custom made by an engineer at Eli Lilly & Company who also did free-lance work:



By working at the Indianapolis Convention and Exposition Center I had made enough money to purchase the Cryo-Span Amtec model 209 industrial roller pump, and had paid a local glass blower (who also worked for Eli Lilly) to reduplicate the CSNY glass bubble trap and arterial pressure monitor:



The quality of the photo above is very poor it is a Polaroid from 1970. The original CSNY bubble trap can be better seen in the image below:



The Cryo-Span Amtec 209 roller pump (for perfusion) is in the foreground of the picture below. It is painted green – the pump head is metallic silver (to the left of the motor & controller assembly):



I had also constructed a dry ice box for freezing and temporary storage of cryopatients by the end of 1970, and I am pictured with this box (in the shed in back of my home in the summer of 1971) shortly after it was stained and the interior foam covered with painted plywood (see below):



Also, sometime in 1971 I had purchased the Cryo-Span Westinghouse Iron Heart (forerunner to the Michigan Instruments Thumper CPR machine) for $400. This photo shows it sitting atop the bureau in my bedroom on Lincoln Street, in Indianapolis:



By 1971 the CYA had renamed itself the Student Cryonics Association (Greg Fahy had gone onto college and felt the word “student” was both more dignified and descriptive). An SCA group had formed in Indianapolis, and in June of 1971 the SCAI newsletter documented the progress made in cryonics readiness in Indianapolis to that time:



It was during this time (1969 - 1970) that I began to hear statements attributed to Bob Nelson of CSC that CSNY was not storing its patients properly, that CSNY Officers Saul Kent and Curtis Henderson were over-charging CSNY patients, and that CSC offered superior care at a much lower cost. I initially heard these statements from Lucile Doty, who was then President of the Cryonics Society if Illinois. Soon thereafter, I heard the same statements, again attributed to Bob Nelson, from Loren Fitzgerald in San Diego, CA and Jack Nixon in Akron, OH – both “Cryonics Coordinators” at that time. I became very concerned that maybe I had joined the “wrong” cryonics society, and during a my Freshman (High School) 1970 Christmas break vacation I went with my girlfriend and fellow cryonics activist at the time (Ella Vinci) to visit with Lucille Doty in Chicago, IL. It was while visiting with Lucille that I finally managed to reach Bob Nelson by phone and talk with him personally about these issues. This was not easy to do because Nelson could be reached only via the CSC answering service. He would then (infrequently as I later learned) return the call. In my experience (I sent more than a dozen letters) Nelson never answered written mail. I had tried calling Nelson from my home in Indianapolis and leaving my name and number, but had never gotten a call back. This time, with Lucille Doty making the call, the call was returned the next day.

A photo of me with Lucille Doty in her Chicago apartment in January of 1970:




I asked Nelson about CSNY and he told me (this from notes made at the time) that their (CSNY’s) operation was “very substandard” and that “they are not storing the bodies properly. Henderson charges the family a fortune for liquid nitrogen, but he only keeps the capsules about 1/3rd full. That’s like medical malpractice because any cryobiologist will tell you that you have to keep tissue specimens completely covered in liquid nitrogen. I’ve explained this to Nick DeBlasio, and put him touch with our scientists at CSC, and I think he is going to move his wife (Ann) out of the Cryo-Span facility in the near future…CSNY is operating illegally and they do not have a secure underground facility which is immune to radiation in the event of nuclear attack, such as the Cryonic Interment facility will be here in Southern California…While he is far too much of gentleman to say so, Bob Ettinger’s, actions speak louder than words, and Bob always refers patients for suspension to CSC, not CSNY. I think the fact that the father of the movement refers patients to us should be all you need to know…It is widely known that Curtis Henderson has a serious drinking problem and that may be one reason that the storage at Cryo-Span is not what it should be…We charge less than a quarter of what Cryo-Span and CSNY charge a year for storage. We can do that because we have a lot more patients and because liquid nitrogen is cheaper here in California. In fact, sometimes I get liquid nitrogen for free because we get it by “bulk delivery” in a large tank-truck and I know the driver. If he has have LN2 still in the bulk tank at the end of his delivery route, then he will often just empty out the tank and we don’t have to pay for the extra nitrogen.”

I confronted Curtis Henderson with these charges via telephone, and even though it has been almost 40 years ago, his response is still clear in my mind (sic):

“What do you want me to tell you? I could spend hours arguing against Bob Nelson lies, but it wouldn’t do a bit of good. If you really want to know what is going on out here (i.e., CSNY & Cryo-Span) then you need to come out here and see for yourself. And, the same is true for CSC and Cryonic Interment. That’s the only way. You have to go, and you have to see for yourself, and you have to make up your own mind, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of charges and counter charges. Even when you get into a court of law where there are supposedly some standards of evidence it is very difficult to find the truth unless you have unrestricted access to the facts. Now, you are very fortunate to be asking these questions now because we (CSNY & Cryo-Span) and Nelson (CSC & Cryonics Interment) are right here, and if you really want to know, all you have to do is come and see for yourself. So, that’s all I really have to say; come and see for yourself.”

I wasn’t very happy with this response and decided to call Curtis’ bluff and ask him when I could come and if I could stay with someone at CSNY. Perhaps because I was only 14-years-old, Curtis Henderson told me I could come anytime I liked, and that I could stay with him and his (second) wife and two kids on Long Island at his home (which was also where the CSNY office was located). Maybe he thought that it was exceedingly unlikely that a teenage kid would show up on his doorstep? If so, he was mistaken, because a few months later I was at 9 Homes Court on Sayville, Long Island, doing exactly what he said I should: seeing things for myself. This was the first of two summers I would spend at CSNY sleeping on the day bed in the CSNY office with unrestricted access to CSNY and Cryo-Span files and operations. The third summer I spent at CSNY/Cryo-Span was at the Cryo-Span facility on Long Island.

So, I am in a very good position to comment on the statements you make below.

KEN WRITES: “The CSNY was experiencing their own financial woes. They had underestimated the costs associated with maintaining the leaky Cryo-care capsules (sound familiar?), and as a result, the mortuary where Steven Mandel and Ann DeBlasio were stored, had threatened to lock the doors and refuse liquid nitrogen deliveries until either the past due rent was paid, or the patients were significantly decomposed. Pauline Mandel and Nick DeBlasio received letters from the mortuary with this threat (I have the letter to Mandel). Out of desperation, Pauling Mandel contacted Bob Ettinger. Ettinger recommended she go to Bob Nelson.”

MD’S RESPONSE: First of all, the CSNY patients were not initially stored at a mortuary, but rather at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Coram, Long Island. The “facility” consisted of a room that could not be locked and which was used by cemetery maintenance personnel (who not infrequently left cigarette butts and empty paper coffee cups on the floor and around on the dewar platforms). Secondly, there was only one Cryo-Care dewar (Steven Mandel’s) and the vacuum was continuously maintained by a vacuum pump. While it is technically correct to refer to the Cryo-Care (CC) dewars as “leaky” in that they required frequent hardening of the vacuum with a mechanical pump, it is only fair to point out that they were not designed to have a “permanent” vacuum – the header on the patient insertion end of the dewar outer can was sealed (and held in place) with a silicone-greased O-ring. It would be equally fair (or unfair) to describe all of the patient cryostats in use by the Cryonics Institute today as “leaky” because they too require frequent hardening of the (soft) vacuum that is used (with perlite) to insulate them. Providing a vacuum pump was used to keep the vacuum hard (which it was at CSNY) the Cryo-Care dewars actually performed very well, even by today’s standards, boiling off about 5.5 liters a day, which was what their design specifications called for.

Nevertheless, nobody (and especially not Curtis Henderson) was satisfied with the CC dewars – not primarily because of boiloff, but because of the difficulty attendant to sealing the units in the field (the inner can had to be welded shut under cold conditions), the fact that they were dependent upon electricity because they required an electrically operated vacuum pump, and that they consumed an inordinate amount of floor space. For these reasons, Curtis Henderson, working with Minnesota Valley Engineering (MVE) came up with a “stretched” version of the MVE A-9000 dewar. The A-9000 was a waist high dewar used primarily for storage of cattle semen and tissue culture cells. With the sole exception of Steven Mandell, all the other CSNY patients (Ann DeBlasio, Paul M. Hurst, Sr., and Herman Greenberg) were stored in MVE dewars which were very economical (4.5 to 5.5. liters per day per patient) and incredibly reliable. In fact, the upright MVE dewar in the picture below was later sold Trans Time, Inc., and to the best of my knowledge still has a good vacuum 39-years later. This is a photo taken in 1969 of the Cryo-Span storage facility in Washington Memorial Park. Ann Deblasio’s dewar is the upright MVE unit near the back of the picture. Barely visible on the platform in front of it are family pictures:




Your statement “(CSNY) underestimated the costs associated with maintaining the leaky Cryo-care capsules (sound familiar?)” is incorrect. The estimates for the cost of cryopreservation presented to the public ranged from $8,500 posited by Bob Ettinger in THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY in 1964 to the $10,000 widely quoted by the media as being the cost of indefinite cryopreservation at both CSC and CSNY during the period from1969 to 1972. Of that $10,000 no less than $8,000 was to be invested for long-term care. $8,000.00 in 1969 had about the same buying power as $44,561.80 in 2006, or roughly twice what CI currently budgets for long-term storage for Option One Members (~$23,000 per patient). The problem was that this money was never set aside, and indeed never existed in the first place. What’s more, with the exception of Paul Hurst, Sr. (and later Herman Greenberg) CSNY was not consistently paid, or in the case of Steven Mandell, paid at all. Steven’s life insurance was applied for after he was already (terminally) ill and did not pay out. Pauline Mandell never paid Cryo-Span for the CC dewar, the charges for “encapsulating” Steven, or for liquid nitrogen or facility floor space (rent). The $4,500 for the CC dewar, the ~ $1,100 for the Sergeant-Welch vacuum pumps, and the costs of welding, transportation, and miscellaneous hardware were paid for by Curtis Henderson.

I’ve no doubt you have a letter from Washington Memorial Park threatening eviction. I only knew him by his last name, Campbell, but by 1970 Washington Memorial Park’s manager wanted Cryo-Span out of there – and it had nothing to do with nonpayment of rent. Rather, the cemetery had come to realize that cryonics was not going to be a viable business venue for them, and worse still, they were under intense pressure from their colleagues and the cemetery board to dissociate themselves from cryonics. Making matters worse still was the fact that the Suffolk County Health Department refused to issue burial (disposition) permits for the patients stored in the Coram facility. Cryo-Span was asked to leave. What you have also not said here is that because of the objections of Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandell (the two were romantically involved at the time) Cryo-Span could not get their permission to move Steven and Ann to a leased facility in a nearby industrial park. DeBlasio and Mandell insisted that the only legal venue for storage of cryopatients was a cemetery. Unfortunately (or rather very fortunately as things turned out) Curtis Henderson had decided that he was through dealing with cemeteries and that cemeteries were not a workable place to store cryopatients. So, the impasse continued, and Mr. Campbell grew both angry and desperate. On the occasions when I saw Campbell and Henderson interact it was not over unpaid rent, but rather because the patients were not being moved, and that the cemetery was “washing its hands of frozen bodies.”

KEN WRITES: Bob Nelson went to New York and was able to get the mortuary more to give the NYCS and Mandel and DeBlasio to come up with the money. Mandel set up a meeting with Bob to arrange a meeting with her, DeBlasio, and Bob. They both desperately wanted out of the NYCS. Mandel arranged to have Steven Mandel shipped to the CSC, ad ultimately to the vault in Chattsworth. She agreed to make monthly payments for storage and maintenance (which she defaulted on, by the way). DeBlasio, on the other hand, demanded to have full control over his wife's suspension. Bob suggested DeBlasio build himself a vault similar to what Bob had built in Chatsworth. Bob suggested that Mandel and DeBlasio share the vault, but neither wanted anything to do with that. Bob, funded and arranged the building of the vault. DeBlasio eventually paid Bob back. Bob never had control over the day-to-day operation of DeBlasio's vault. DeBlasio wanted out of the NYCS and wanted full control over Ann's suspension.

MD’s RESPONSE: From first-hand observation I can tell you that the decision to move out Washington Memorial Park by Cryo-Span was only delayed by Mandel and DeBlasio. Cryo-Span rented an industrial bay in Farmingdale, L.I., NY and sublet half of it until they could occupy it. The delay was due to Nelson’s (repeated) missed dates for removing Steven Mandell to Chatsworth, and later Ann Deblasio to Mt. Holiness Cemetery. Ann was the last to be moved, and that took place on 17 September, 1971. Shortly thereafter, Paul Hurst, Sr., the only other CSNY patient, was moved to the Cryo-Span facility in Farmingdale.

I spent a good part of the summer of 1971 at CSNY/Cryo-Span and below are pictures of the Farmingdale facility. This is a photo of the exterior of the Cryo-Span facility in Farmingdale. The small green car is Curtis Henderson’s. Barely visible in the window (above the blue van) is the Cryo-Span logo designed by Vaugh Bode which was adjacent to the company name:




Photos of me at the Cryo-Span facility during dewar filling in August of 1971:








The Cryo-Span facility was small and unpretentious; however the patients were well cared for. Context is critically important because, you see, with the exception of Nelson telling me that Curtis Henderson and Saul Kent were dishonest and price gouging, just about everything else he told me about Cryo-Span was “true.” Patient dewars were kept between ½ and 1/3rd full of LN2 because the relatives refused to pay more, and because a different set of cryobiologists had advised them, correctly as it turns out, that most biological specimens are stored in LN2 vapor, not submerged in LN2. As it turns out (aswe have learned over 30 years later), the real issue is not so much the temperature out of the LN2 in the dewar (which Greg Fahy and I measured at ~ -150 degrees C at the patient’s head in a dewar 1/3rd full of LN2), but rather thermal cycling between -196 degrees C and -150 degrees C, which causes much additional fracturing. Once the patient is completely solidified below the glass transition point (Tg) of the tissue and cryoprotective(s), chemical change is halted, regardless of what is predicted on the basis of the Ahrrenius equation. Ironically, the Cryo-care dewars with their horizontal configuration (and the patient being stored in the upper half of the cylinder) had to be allowed to boil off sufficient nitrogen to expose the patient to vapor in order to allow room for refilling with two 160 liter (LS-160) fill dewars. This is photo of a Cryo-Care dewar with the stretcher (and thus the patient) occupying the upper half the LN2 reservoir in the inner can:




If bulk delivery was used to refill a CC dewar on a monthly basis then the dewar had to be allowed to run down to 1/3rd to 1/4th of LN2 capacity; meaning that the patient spent at least half of the time at ~ -150 degrees C and the other half at -196 degrees C, with the transition between LN2 and vapor temperature being achieved by quench cooling in LN2! The important point here is that Curtis never lied, and he never told anyone he was offering immersion storage in LN2. In fact, that service was not offered by any cryonics service provider until Trans Time started offering storage in 1973. Even then, it was almost impossible to fill the dewars often enough to avoid exposure of at least the sleeping bags the patient’s were wrapped in, since the distance between the patient and the bottom of the dewar necktube, was typically less than 10 inches. The photo below is of the inside of a patient dewar at Trans Time in 1981, and shows the close proximity of the patient’s feet to the necktube of the dewar (the bottom of which is the highest level to which LN2 can be added):




The solution to the problem was to do what Curtis Henderson had wanted to do from the start, namely to put the patient’s into the vertical MVE dewars head down with their feet closest to the necktube. Ironically, it was the families of the CSNY patients, in particular Nick DeBlasio, who refused to allow this, and who considered it, “disrespectful and cheap to stand patients on their heads.”

It was also true that Curtis was an alcoholic. However, what was not said was that despite his drinking problem, he worked 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 and often 7-days-a-week, on the swing and night shifts at Sonic Records on Long Island. He did this because he had to be free during the business day to go and pick up LN2: welding supply firms are only open from 9 to 5 for LN2 pickup, and not at all on weekends. He also had to pay the lion’s share of the bills to be keep patients cryopreserved. Sonic was something out of Dante’s inferno, a terrible place to work which was hot, dangerous, and noisy. Safety and worker protection were non-existent, and the acrid stench of molten vinyl chloride, coming from open vats well over 12 feet high (with unprotected catwalks), was dizzying. I vividly remember Curtis coming home with a broken arm in an air-splint, picking me up to help him, going for LN2, filling the dewars, and only then going to the emergency department to have his arm X-rayed, properly set, and casted. The absolutely critical (but missing) context was that Curtis Henderson (and CSNY and Cryo-Span) were honest, and despite terrible personal hardship and inconvenience, they did keep their patients cryopreserved, and they did not lie about what they could offer, nor did they denigrate CSC and Cryonic Interment.

I look back on Nelson’s remarks to me in 1970 (and later) with bitter contempt. Protection against radioactive fallout? Immersion storage of patients at a 1/3rd the cost of Cryo-Span? He lied to a 15-year-old kid who was just trying to find his way in cryonics. He lied, and he lied in a way that was malicious and damaging to others, and that caused me to question the integrity of a man who had told me only the truth, however unpleasant and inconvenient that was for both him and me.


KEN WRITES: Mike accuses Bob of luring the NYCS's away. Nonsense. DeBlasio and Mandel had good reason to seek out Bob. Their loved ones were about to have their suspensions by the mortuary where they were stored.

MD’S RESPONSE While I believe that Bob’s claims of better service at a lower cost were certainly material in the decision Pauline Mandell and Nick DeBlasio made in pursuing service with CSC and Cryonic Interment, I have never said that this was the main reason they moved Steven and Ann, or that they were “lured away.” Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandell were both angry and frustrated about cryonics in general, and CSNY and Cryo-Span in particular, long before Nelson slithered into the picture. Both wanted cryonics to be something it would not become for at least another 20 years: clean, clinical, professional in appearance, and above all affordable. In Pauline’s case affordable meant “free,” and in Nick’s case, it meant whatever he thought it should cost based on standards he set and changed arbitrarily. Nick complained bitterly about the cigarette butts on the floor at Washington Memorial Park (BTW, neither Curtis nor Saul smoked or ever has), about Curtis’ “lack of professionalism” and about Ann not being kept covered with LN2. So, as you point out, he moved Ann to the Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility (see below) and began caring for her himself and eventually another CSC patient from the West Coast, as well. What were his standards? How did he do? Well, on 27 July of 1980 I got see just what Nick DeBlasio AND Bob Nelson did with Ann DeBlasio and the other CSC patient stored with her.

I found Ann’s dewar sitting a black hole in the ground with no electric power having ever been run to the vault (and thus no lighting or alarms) sitting in ~6 inches of foul water. The wood-paneled walls of the “facility:” were almost completely covered with white mold or mildew. The once pristine white dewar looked like this as it was hoisted out of the facility:







The lid of the dewar which covered the necktube had been retrofitted with bulk delivery pipes. The lid was denuded of paint from the repeated overflow of LN2 and was dented and distorted from being struck with objects to free it of ice which accumulated on it due to the heat leak from the bulk fill pipes (which were un-insulated) and the high humidity from the half a foot or more of standing water on the floor:




Incredibly, the photo below shows the base of the dewar – the support bottom header and the legs upon which it rested are covered in rust. This incredible because the entire dewar was made of 312 stainless steel!





In 1969-70 Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandel were given free space by CSNY to run this ad in CRYONICS REPORTS:




This is Ann DeBlasio the ad proclaimed, and indeed, this was DeBlasio when CSNY was caring for her, and it is Ann DeBlasio as I first saw her, and as I like to try and remember her:







It was my unhappy task, (and that of fellow cryonicist Joe Allen) to remove Ann DeBlasio, or more properly what was left of her, from that dewar, as well the badly decomposed remains of another woman, the CSC patient whom Nelson and DeBlasio had placed in the dewar with Ann. You are fortunate that I cannot convey the horrible odor which accompanied the image shown below:

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It took us nearly a day of uninterrupted work to free those two women from that dewar. A major reason for subjecting myself and Joe to that horror was to protect cryonics from what could have been, and in my opinion would have been, another scandal of Chatsworth proportions – coming right on heels of Chatsworth itself. The stench from the decomposing bodies was wafting over to the nearby homes (one of which you can see in the background) and the cemetery management was nearly hysterical and on the verge of calling the health department. Another reason was to give some closure to the son of the other woman in the dewar. He was decent, sincere, and wealthy professional who had considered CSNY, but had gone with Nelson instead because, as he told me at the time, of Bob’s claims of superior service, underground storage, and more competitive price. This patient died not on the East Coast or in the Midwest, but rather in Beverly Hills, CA on 13 November 1972 and was sent cross-country by Nelson to be stored in Cryonic Interment’s East Coast facility! Here was a man who truly was “lured away” from CSNY. And he was not the only one who was affected by Nelson’s lies. In December of 1972 CSNY cryopreserved another patient. This woman was the first patient I cryopreserved, and her wellbeing and continued survival were incredibly important to me. The photo below was taken of me with this patient about 2 days after the start of her cryopreservation (I was 17-years-old at the time):




Solely on the basis of Nelson’s assertion that he could store this patient for less money, and more securely underground in a “permanent” facility, her family decided to have her transferred to Nelson’s East Coast Facility in Butler, New Jersey. The MVE dewar which had been on order for her was, upon completion, shipped to Mt. Holiness in Butler, where it sat, still crated at the side of the road, near the Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility for many months. The patient’s relatives (truthfully, I believe) testified that Nelson took their money (around $2,000, if I recall correctly) and never showed up to “encapsulate” their mother. This family then made the decision to bury their mother, something they had wanted to do from the start, but which Nelson gave them an excellent excuse to follow through on. Sadly, this patient had provided ~$30,000 for her long term care, but to no avail.

A year later, when Cryo-Span had closed it doors after Gillian Cumming’s death, another patient I cryopreserved avoided ending up at Mt. Holiness only because I repeatedly and emphatically warned the next-of-kin (the patient’s wife and son, respectively) against Nelson, CSC and Cryonic Interment. It took considerable effort on my part to persuade this family to send the patient to Trans Time which, at that time, was operating out of Art Quaife’s home and did not have a single patient, let alone a storage facility. It took even more effort to persuade a very burned-out Curtis Henderson to fly to the Bay Area and assist Trans Time in setting up storage operations. The patient’s relatives had to spend many thousands of dollars for capital equipment, leasing a building, and paying storage fees many times more than that for which Bob Nelson told them he could do the job, and do it better. The dewar this patient went into was the one that had been sitting at Mt. Holiness for the better part of year: the relatives sold it in a cash transaction* in the cemetery in the dead of winter* (half of the proceeds were collected by Curtis Henderson on the spot to pay the unpaid dry ice storage bills owed to him and which had paid for out of his own pocket). A few years later this patient’s wife joined him in cryopreservation (she was Jerry Leaf’s second patient and Trans Time’s third). Today, both of those patients are still cryopreserved and in fact, the husband is the second longest surviving patient in storage. The only other patient to survive prior to 1973 is James Beford, whose son had the good sense to remove him from Nelson’s care almost immediately after he was frozen in 1967.

I could be so emphatic About Nelson and CSC because in the early summer of 1971 I had gone with Greg Fahy on the Super Chief (transcontinental train) to Los Angeles and tried to visit CSC, see the Cryonic Interment facility, and meet with Nelson. I was not allowed to see the CSC facility, but I did get to meet with Nelson who told us that Joe Klockegether had all the CSC perfusion supplies and equipment at his mortuary in Buena Park, CA. Greg and I then went to the Klockgether-Renaker Mortuary, and all Joe Klockgether was able to show us was an embalming room with embalming equipment. I photographed that visit and here are the (representative) results:

The outside of the Klockgerther-Renaker mortuary:



Greg Fahy and Joe Knlockegether.




This it, this is all the “highly specialized equipment” assembled by CSC’s scientists to do human cryonic suspensions:







Joe, clearly embarrassed, wandered around the funeral home looking for, “a bottle of DMSO which I think we have somewhere here.” He gave up when it wasn’t in the closet where the chicken soup powder was kept for the hot soup machine. Here I was, 16-years-old, and I had vastly better equipment and chemicals (including mortuary tools and cannula) in my bedroom, and in the shed behind my house! There was nothing there in the way of cryonics equipment or chemicals at the Renaker-Klockgether mortuary, not even a dry ice box! Nelson had sat in the coffee shop where he met us and lied to us, lied to us in the expectation that a couple of “kids” were not going to exercise due diligence and check out every claim he made. And, why should he have done otherwise? Every adult, every journalist, every concerned relative, and every CSC member (with the exception of Fred and Linda Chamberlain) believed every lie he told them, and they never bothered to go and see for themselves what the truth was.

And, while I did not get to see the CSC facility, I did track down the welder (then working for American Cryogenics) who claimed he had welded shut one of the CSC dewars with three patients stuffed into it. He was hardly able to talk about it, and he described it as, “one of the worst experiences of my life.” He said he could smell the hair and flesh burning as he welded the inner can shut. I also called every cryogenic fluid distributor listed in the Yellow Pages in the greater Los Angeles area at that time. Everywhere, the story was the same “Do you know where Bob Nelson is? Can you tell us how to get in touch with him?” As Virginia Gregory, President of Gilmore Liquid said, “It’s not just the money he owes us for liquid nitrogen and demurrage; he also has a couple of our LS-160 LN2 delivery dewars!”

KEN WRITES: When you were making your accusations, Mike, why was none of this mentioned? The CUNY’s financial difficulties are well known. They suffered much of the same difficulties that plagued the CSC, patients' families that weren't paying, and leaky Cryo-Care capsules. You wrote half truths and flat out lies. I have documentation illustrating the REAL reason Mandel and DeBlasio left the NTCS.

MD’S RESPONSE: I left nothing out. CSNY and Cryo-Span paid their bills, took care of their patients well, and went out of business honorably and without litigation. Every patient was disposed of per the instructions from the next of kin, and was cremated or interred legally, and with dignity. No one was lied to or left to rot in their dewars. This was Steven Mandell as he once was:



This is what was left of Steve Mandell’s CC dewar after it was pulled out of Chatsworth. The top of the dewar has been removed with a cutting torch so the three decomposed bodies inside could be removed and interred. The forensic pathologist who was hired to help identify the remains said it took nearly a week to sort out the bones of the three people inside and free them from the “black goo” which had formerly been their soft tissues:





KEN WRITES: You laid the blame for the failure of DeBlasio failure to maintain his wife's suspension of his wife. Bob was never involved with maintaining that vault. He had his own vault to tend to in Chatsworth. DeBlasio wanted out of the CSNY, and he didn't want her shipped to another cryonics organization, so Bob did the logical thing and helped to build him his own vault where DeBlasio would have complete control. Bob went there at the request of two of the CUNY’s patients. His help in getting the mortuary to open up for the liquid nitrogen venders, and extending the time they allowed the CSNY to come up with the money owed was not the act of someone that was out to take those patients away.

I have the documents to prove that you were embellishing what happened with DeBlasio to discredit Bob Nelson and portray the NYCS as innocent victims. You sir, should acknowledge it and apologize for it.

MD’S RESPONSE: Throughout this response I’ve referred to the facility in Mt. Holiness Cemetery in Butler New Jersey as the “Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility.” You claim that Bob Nelson had nothing to with that facility, and the loss of Ann Deblasio and the CSC patient from Beverly Hills was all Nick DeBlasio’s doing. You say that the facility in Butler, NJ was not a CSC or Cryonic Interment operation, and that Nelson was in no way involved beyond being what can best be described, per your account, as a good hearted, selfless soul, who just tried to help Nick Deblasio out of a bad spot due to CSNY’s insolvency. Well, neither you nor Bob Nelson can have it both ways. The fact is that I, and everyone else, took Bob Nelson at his word when he and CSC stated the following in the September 1971 issue of CRYONICS REVIEW, the official publication of CSC: “A second long-term cryonic storage facility is now operational in Butler, New Jersey. The facility was opened on September 17 by Cryonic Interment, Inc...The new facility, designed to accommodate 24 persons at liquid nitrogen temperature, compliments (spelling error theirs) the first long-term multiple-storage facility in operation in Chatsworth, California.” Here are scans of the original issue of CRYONICS REVIEW:




Here is a copy of the article from that issue of CRYONICS REVIEW





So was Nelson lying then, or is he (or you for him) lying now? What are we to believe? Perhaps we can best ascertain the truth by Nelson’s actions in sending a CSC patient from Southern California to be stored in the Mt. Holiness facility in December of 1972; and of his attempts to attract two other patients to CSC’s and Cryonic Interment’s care in 1972 and 1973? Maybe we might best be instructed as to Nerlson’s character and integrity (or lack of same) by the canceled CSC checks written to Frank Bucelli by Robert Nelson and to Elaine Bucelli by Robert Nelson? Who would have guessed in 1967 and 1968 that Robert Bucelli was in fact Robert Nelson, or that Elaine Bucelli was, in fact, Robert Nelson’s wife at the time? The papers I have, virtually the entire financial record of CSC from 1966 until its demise, show a picture of routine overdrafts, expenditures for dry cleaning, car towing, and utility bills (when CSC had no car, no facility and no uniforms). Below is but a small sample of what are hundreds of scans (and pages) of financial records that show the same dismal pattern of bounced checks and threats from creditors:













KEN WRITES: I anxiously await your response.

MD’S RESPONSE: You have it. Bob Nelson damaged the lives of many, if not most of the people he dealt with in cryonics. He arguably destroyed the lives of every patient he came into contact with, with the possible exception of James Bedford. I say “possible” because Nelson’s utterly unprepared and incompetent care of Bedford caused terrible injury which was shockingly visible when Bedford was examined during his transfer from the Galiso dewar to the Alcor Bigfoot dewar in May of 1991. His bloody face is a damning indictment of Bob Nelson – an indictment which remains unchanged (and unchanging) from that fateful day in January of 1967 when Nelson first betrayed the trust put in him by a patient and that patient’s family, and then took 135 pages to lie about it in WE FROZE THE FIRST MAN.

And yes, I have the photographs to prove it.

Mike Darwin



Last edited by Jonathan_Hinek on 8:21 PM - Jun 19, 2007, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 6:22 PM - Apr 26, 2004

8:32 PM - Jun 19, 2007 #2

After receiving a request from several parties and hearing a particularly sound argument about the current state of the 'net, I've decided that the only responsible action to take is to remove the more graphic of the three images. I don't think the gore is necessary, and such an image can only do damage if widely disseminated without proper explication. As always, I'm open to further input from Mike or anyone else who feels strongly about this.

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A forum dedicated to reporting on and discussing cryonics and cryo related topics.
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Joined: 9:57 AM - Mar 11, 2007

1:29 AM - Jun 20, 2007 #3

Jonathan,

I understand and have no problem with your redacting the image.

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Joined: 2:57 PM - Jan 11, 2007

5:20 PM - Jun 20, 2007 #4

It turns out I was not alone with my concern about the photography in question. I certainly agree about transparency and disclosure as long as the process is considerate and careful. Should I presume these photos or others like them were presented when all this was the matter in court? A court of law is the venue I am most comfortable with when they are necessary to establish the facts. A current example of careful process is the People vs. Spector trial now being covered on CourtTV when they
discretely avoid showing the explicit and graphic photos taken at the crime scene.
As for the here and now, I am hoping for Mr. Cryoken's prompt response to MD's expansive Chatsworth review where the lessons are glaringly self evident. -LLL

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Joined: 4:47 PM - Oct 03, 2004

9:01 PM - Jun 20, 2007 #5

After receiving a request from several parties and hearing a particularly sound argument about the current state of the 'net, I've decided that the only responsible action to take is to remove the more graphic of the three images. I don't think the gore is necessary, and such an image can only do damage if widely disseminated without proper explication. As always, I'm open to further input from Mike or anyone else who feels strongly about this.

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A forum dedicated to reporting on and discussing cryonics and cryo related topics.
I feel that the original post in its entirety represents something extremely valuable.

History, edited by a perceived need for protecting others from unpleasantness becomes something different than history.

SD

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Joined: 8:27 PM - Oct 02, 2004

3:53 AM - Jun 21, 2007 #6

Some of us captured the original post before it was edited. I'd be glad to email the deleted picture, by file attachment, to anyone who did not get here in time and wants to see it. Use an email address capable of receiving a file attachment slightly under 600KB. Your email address, and that you emailed me, will not be divulged to anyone or retained by me.

This is not intended to mean that I disagree with Jonathan's decision to remove it from the forum - he had to do what he felt is best and I support that.

Anyone can email me at: Knotwiller@gmail.com
Last edited by Finance_Department on 3:57 AM - Jun 21, 2007, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: 2:45 PM - Jan 25, 2007

1:54 PM - Jun 21, 2007 #7

I feel that the original post in its entirety represents something extremely valuable.

History, edited by a perceived need for protecting others from unpleasantness becomes something different than history.

SD

.
Although it may be a component. If my friend or family member was murdered, I probably wouldn't want pictures of their bloody remains all over the internet. Even if those images did serve as some sort of reminder. However, that's not the main reason I redacted the photo in question. Like Mike, I believe that his pictures can do some good, in the right place, and in proper context.

But what happens when such images are taken out of context? Once they're digitally available, they will spread virally. People who are dedicated to discrediting cryonics will use them out-of-context to inflame others. Yes, I realize that this will, in all likelihood, happen regardless of what I do. The photo is undoubtedly being disseminated through e-mail as I write this. That doesn't mean I want to be associated with it.
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Joined: 5:17 AM - Sep 17, 2004

6:49 AM - Sep 02, 2008 #8

KEN WRITES: Mike Darwin has in the past, accused Bob Nelson of undercutting the prices of the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY, as wells as bad-mouthing the sister organization, in order to lure away their patients. These accusations have severely damaged Bob Nelson's reputation, and they are not true.

MD'S RESPONSE: I have stated what I reasonably believed then and reasonably believe now to be facts based on personal experience. In many cases these experiences were the same ones other people had at the time, and where I know this to be the case, I will give their names and the approximate dates. A few of these people are still living and compos mente, unfortunately, most are not.

Before I proceed further, it is important that I communicate both a time-line and what will be the first of a great deal of context. First, the time-line: I was born in April of 1955 and am currently 52-years-of-age. This is of significance because it means that on 12 January, 1967 when James H. Bedford was cryopreserved, I was not yet 13-years-old. I became aware of cryonics sometime in January 1968 when I was presenting my science fair project entitled, “Suspended Animation in Plants and Animals,” at the Regional Indianapolis, IN Science Fair held at Butler University Field House. In response to my disbelief that humans were being “frozen for future revival” I was handed a copy of this article, from either the Indianapolis News or the Indianapolis Star (at that time, and for sometime afterwards, I did not understand the importance of noting the source and date of clippings or articles):



This article provided no viable contact information and it was not until a few weeks or months later that my father brought me another article on cryonics which had appeared in Men’s True Life magazine. This article mentioned Cryo-Care Equipment Corporation in Phoenix, AZ and its President, E. Francis (Ed) Hope. Using directory assistance, I was able to get the address of Cryo-Care, and I wrote a letter to Mr. Hope asking for information. Mr. Hope wrote me back with the contact information for four cryonics organizations: the Cryonics Society of California (CSC), the Cryonics Society of New York (CSNY), the Cryonics Society of Michigan (CSM), and the Life Extension Society (LES). I wrote to all four organizations and received a response from three: CSNY, CSM, and LES. I received a large package of information from CSNY, a tri-fold (single page) brochure from CSM, and a few back-issues of FREEZE-WAIT-REANIMATE, the LES newsletter from LES. In addition to the package of material from CSNY, there was a personal letter from CSNY Secretary Sail Kent. Subsequently, I subscribed to CSNY’s monthly magazine, CRYONICS REPORTS, CSM’s monthly newsletter THE OUTLOOK, and LES’ FREEZE-WAIT-REANIMATE (which shortly thereafter ceased publication).

I rapidly became deeply involved in cryonics, facilitated in no small measure by a personal correspondence between Saul Kent and I. Saul almost immediately put me in touch with a student at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, CA, Greg Fahy. Greg had founded the Cryonics Youth Association (CYA) and he provided me with back issues of the CYA newsletter, CRYONICS NEWS. Greg and I also began a fairly intense correspondence at this time. From Greg, I obtained information on how to subscribe to CSC’s newsletter, CRYONICS REVIEW. The CSC newsletter could only be had by joining CSC as an associate member, which cost $25/yr, a very large sum in those days. I mowed laws for spending money and it took quite a few lawns to come up with the $25.00 to join CSC. I sent in my money to CSC around the end of July in 1968 and never got a response (or my money back) from CSC. However, Greg Fahy was kind enough to provide me with copies of CRYONICS REVIEW, since he had access to extra copies via his friend Bob Nelson.

During 1969-1970 I began correspondence and phone contact with cryonics activists across the US, and with the Soviet cryobiologist Vladimir Negovski. Long distance phone calls were extremely costly at that time, and perhaps even more to the point, were considered an extravagance reserved for emergencies, or at least substantive business matters. Nevertheless, I soon learned that the only way to get a really broad bandwidth of information was to talk with people on the phone, and as a consequence, I began working at odd jobs and mowing more lawns to get money to pay for long distance phone calls. This was a source of genuine conflict with my parents who considered such phone calls wasteful and financially irresponsible. So bad was the friction from this that I sometimes had to use payphones which were even more costly and required endless amounts of change.

Additional important context is that my parents were middle class people, arguably working class people, whose values and financial means were hardly cosmopolitan. My father was an Indianapolis police officer, and my mother supervised data entry (key punch operations) at Dow Chemical-Pittman Moore’s operations in Indianapolis. We lived with my maternal grandfather in his house, and while we were certainly not poor, luxuries consisted mostly of more and better quality of the basics in life. Dining out was rare, and our first television was purchased in the run-up to the Cuban missile crisis in 1961. My parents were (and are) profoundly conservative and deeply religious people whose morality and world-view was shaped by the pre-Vatican II Catholic Church. While obviously in many ways very different, I was also at the same time in many ways a product of my home life and upbringing. I was not sophisticated in the ways of the world, and I was not well equipped to separate truth from falsehood in a complex and novel discipline such as cryonics, and neither were my parents.

These phone calls were invaluable because they allowed me to talk at length with Curtis Henderson (President of CSNY and Cryo-Span) and others who had some technical knowledge of cryonics, which was essential, because I had decided to create an emergency response, cryoprotective perfusion and temporary dry ice storage facility in Indianapolis. I thus had many practical and technical questions which could not be addressed well by mail. During the winter of 1970 I began construction of a dry ice storage box, and began purchasing the equipment, chemicals, and other supplies required to carry out cryoprotective perfusion. By 1970, at the age of 15, I had (although I didn’t know it at the time) the most sophisticated cryonics rescue and perfusion facilities anywhere in the world.

By late 1970 I had acquired enough Ringers’ solution and DMSO to prepare over 50 liters of cryoprotective perfusate (20% DMSO). The 12 boxes in the photograph below (with the “Cutter” label on them) each contain 6 liters of lactated Ringers’ solution, and the Fischer Scientific boxes (with “F” on the label) each contained 1.5 liters of DMSO. In 1970, 50 liters of cryoprotective perfusate was considered an extravagant amount. The balance of 22 liters of Ringers’ was to be used for blood washout prior to cryoprotective perfusion. Also visible on the metal cart at the right of the picture is a coil-type stainless steel heat exchanger that I had had custom made by an engineer at Eli Lilly & Company who also did free-lance work:



By working at the Indianapolis Convention and Exposition Center I had made enough money to purchase the Cryo-Span Amtec model 209 industrial roller pump, and had paid a local glass blower (who also worked for Eli Lilly) to reduplicate the CSNY glass bubble trap and arterial pressure monitor:



The quality of the photo above is very poor it is a Polaroid from 1970. The original CSNY bubble trap can be better seen in the image below:



The Cryo-Span Amtec 209 roller pump (for perfusion) is in the foreground of the picture below. It is painted green – the pump head is metallic silver (to the left of the motor & controller assembly):



I had also constructed a dry ice box for freezing and temporary storage of cryopatients by the end of 1970, and I am pictured with this box (in the shed in back of my home in the summer of 1971) shortly after it was stained and the interior foam covered with painted plywood (see below):



Also, sometime in 1971 I had purchased the Cryo-Span Westinghouse Iron Heart (forerunner to the Michigan Instruments Thumper CPR machine) for $400. This photo shows it sitting atop the bureau in my bedroom on Lincoln Street, in Indianapolis:



By 1971 the CYA had renamed itself the Student Cryonics Association (Greg Fahy had gone onto college and felt the word “student” was both more dignified and descriptive). An SCA group had formed in Indianapolis, and in June of 1971 the SCAI newsletter documented the progress made in cryonics readiness in Indianapolis to that time:



It was during this time (1969 - 1970) that I began to hear statements attributed to Bob Nelson of CSC that CSNY was not storing its patients properly, that CSNY Officers Saul Kent and Curtis Henderson were over-charging CSNY patients, and that CSC offered superior care at a much lower cost. I initially heard these statements from Lucile Doty, who was then President of the Cryonics Society if Illinois. Soon thereafter, I heard the same statements, again attributed to Bob Nelson, from Loren Fitzgerald in San Diego, CA and Jack Nixon in Akron, OH – both “Cryonics Coordinators” at that time. I became very concerned that maybe I had joined the “wrong” cryonics society, and during a my Freshman (High School) 1970 Christmas break vacation I went with my girlfriend and fellow cryonics activist at the time (Ella Vinci) to visit with Lucille Doty in Chicago, IL. It was while visiting with Lucille that I finally managed to reach Bob Nelson by phone and talk with him personally about these issues. This was not easy to do because Nelson could be reached only via the CSC answering service. He would then (infrequently as I later learned) return the call. In my experience (I sent more than a dozen letters) Nelson never answered written mail. I had tried calling Nelson from my home in Indianapolis and leaving my name and number, but had never gotten a call back. This time, with Lucille Doty making the call, the call was returned the next day.

A photo of me with Lucille Doty in her Chicago apartment in January of 1970:




I asked Nelson about CSNY and he told me (this from notes made at the time) that their (CSNY’s) operation was “very substandard” and that “they are not storing the bodies properly. Henderson charges the family a fortune for liquid nitrogen, but he only keeps the capsules about 1/3rd full. That’s like medical malpractice because any cryobiologist will tell you that you have to keep tissue specimens completely covered in liquid nitrogen. I’ve explained this to Nick DeBlasio, and put him touch with our scientists at CSC, and I think he is going to move his wife (Ann) out of the Cryo-Span facility in the near future…CSNY is operating illegally and they do not have a secure underground facility which is immune to radiation in the event of nuclear attack, such as the Cryonic Interment facility will be here in Southern California…While he is far too much of gentleman to say so, Bob Ettinger’s, actions speak louder than words, and Bob always refers patients for suspension to CSC, not CSNY. I think the fact that the father of the movement refers patients to us should be all you need to know…It is widely known that Curtis Henderson has a serious drinking problem and that may be one reason that the storage at Cryo-Span is not what it should be…We charge less than a quarter of what Cryo-Span and CSNY charge a year for storage. We can do that because we have a lot more patients and because liquid nitrogen is cheaper here in California. In fact, sometimes I get liquid nitrogen for free because we get it by “bulk delivery” in a large tank-truck and I know the driver. If he has have LN2 still in the bulk tank at the end of his delivery route, then he will often just empty out the tank and we don’t have to pay for the extra nitrogen.”

I confronted Curtis Henderson with these charges via telephone, and even though it has been almost 40 years ago, his response is still clear in my mind (sic):

“What do you want me to tell you? I could spend hours arguing against Bob Nelson lies, but it wouldn’t do a bit of good. If you really want to know what is going on out here (i.e., CSNY & Cryo-Span) then you need to come out here and see for yourself. And, the same is true for CSC and Cryonic Interment. That’s the only way. You have to go, and you have to see for yourself, and you have to make up your own mind, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of charges and counter charges. Even when you get into a court of law where there are supposedly some standards of evidence it is very difficult to find the truth unless you have unrestricted access to the facts. Now, you are very fortunate to be asking these questions now because we (CSNY & Cryo-Span) and Nelson (CSC & Cryonics Interment) are right here, and if you really want to know, all you have to do is come and see for yourself. So, that’s all I really have to say; come and see for yourself.”

I wasn’t very happy with this response and decided to call Curtis’ bluff and ask him when I could come and if I could stay with someone at CSNY. Perhaps because I was only 14-years-old, Curtis Henderson told me I could come anytime I liked, and that I could stay with him and his (second) wife and two kids on Long Island at his home (which was also where the CSNY office was located). Maybe he thought that it was exceedingly unlikely that a teenage kid would show up on his doorstep? If so, he was mistaken, because a few months later I was at 9 Homes Court on Sayville, Long Island, doing exactly what he said I should: seeing things for myself. This was the first of two summers I would spend at CSNY sleeping on the day bed in the CSNY office with unrestricted access to CSNY and Cryo-Span files and operations. The third summer I spent at CSNY/Cryo-Span was at the Cryo-Span facility on Long Island.

So, I am in a very good position to comment on the statements you make below.

KEN WRITES: “The CSNY was experiencing their own financial woes. They had underestimated the costs associated with maintaining the leaky Cryo-care capsules (sound familiar?), and as a result, the mortuary where Steven Mandel and Ann DeBlasio were stored, had threatened to lock the doors and refuse liquid nitrogen deliveries until either the past due rent was paid, or the patients were significantly decomposed. Pauline Mandel and Nick DeBlasio received letters from the mortuary with this threat (I have the letter to Mandel). Out of desperation, Pauling Mandel contacted Bob Ettinger. Ettinger recommended she go to Bob Nelson.”

MD’S RESPONSE: First of all, the CSNY patients were not initially stored at a mortuary, but rather at Washington Memorial Park Cemetery in Coram, Long Island. The “facility” consisted of a room that could not be locked and which was used by cemetery maintenance personnel (who not infrequently left cigarette butts and empty paper coffee cups on the floor and around on the dewar platforms). Secondly, there was only one Cryo-Care dewar (Steven Mandel’s) and the vacuum was continuously maintained by a vacuum pump. While it is technically correct to refer to the Cryo-Care (CC) dewars as “leaky” in that they required frequent hardening of the vacuum with a mechanical pump, it is only fair to point out that they were not designed to have a “permanent” vacuum – the header on the patient insertion end of the dewar outer can was sealed (and held in place) with a silicone-greased O-ring. It would be equally fair (or unfair) to describe all of the patient cryostats in use by the Cryonics Institute today as “leaky” because they too require frequent hardening of the (soft) vacuum that is used (with perlite) to insulate them. Providing a vacuum pump was used to keep the vacuum hard (which it was at CSNY) the Cryo-Care dewars actually performed very well, even by today’s standards, boiling off about 5.5 liters a day, which was what their design specifications called for.

Nevertheless, nobody (and especially not Curtis Henderson) was satisfied with the CC dewars – not primarily because of boiloff, but because of the difficulty attendant to sealing the units in the field (the inner can had to be welded shut under cold conditions), the fact that they were dependent upon electricity because they required an electrically operated vacuum pump, and that they consumed an inordinate amount of floor space. For these reasons, Curtis Henderson, working with Minnesota Valley Engineering (MVE) came up with a “stretched” version of the MVE A-9000 dewar. The A-9000 was a waist high dewar used primarily for storage of cattle semen and tissue culture cells. With the sole exception of Steven Mandell, all the other CSNY patients (Ann DeBlasio, Paul M. Hurst, Sr., and Herman Greenberg) were stored in MVE dewars which were very economical (4.5 to 5.5. liters per day per patient) and incredibly reliable. In fact, the upright MVE dewar in the picture below was later sold Trans Time, Inc., and to the best of my knowledge still has a good vacuum 39-years later. This is a photo taken in 1969 of the Cryo-Span storage facility in Washington Memorial Park. Ann Deblasio’s dewar is the upright MVE unit near the back of the picture. Barely visible on the platform in front of it are family pictures:




Your statement “(CSNY) underestimated the costs associated with maintaining the leaky Cryo-care capsules (sound familiar?)” is incorrect. The estimates for the cost of cryopreservation presented to the public ranged from $8,500 posited by Bob Ettinger in THE PROSPECT OF IMMORTALITY in 1964 to the $10,000 widely quoted by the media as being the cost of indefinite cryopreservation at both CSC and CSNY during the period from1969 to 1972. Of that $10,000 no less than $8,000 was to be invested for long-term care. $8,000.00 in 1969 had about the same buying power as $44,561.80 in 2006, or roughly twice what CI currently budgets for long-term storage for Option One Members (~$23,000 per patient). The problem was that this money was never set aside, and indeed never existed in the first place. What’s more, with the exception of Paul Hurst, Sr. (and later Herman Greenberg) CSNY was not consistently paid, or in the case of Steven Mandell, paid at all. Steven’s life insurance was applied for after he was already (terminally) ill and did not pay out. Pauline Mandell never paid Cryo-Span for the CC dewar, the charges for “encapsulating” Steven, or for liquid nitrogen or facility floor space (rent). The $4,500 for the CC dewar, the ~ $1,100 for the Sergeant-Welch vacuum pumps, and the costs of welding, transportation, and miscellaneous hardware were paid for by Curtis Henderson.

I’ve no doubt you have a letter from Washington Memorial Park threatening eviction. I only knew him by his last name, Campbell, but by 1970 Washington Memorial Park’s manager wanted Cryo-Span out of there – and it had nothing to do with nonpayment of rent. Rather, the cemetery had come to realize that cryonics was not going to be a viable business venue for them, and worse still, they were under intense pressure from their colleagues and the cemetery board to dissociate themselves from cryonics. Making matters worse still was the fact that the Suffolk County Health Department refused to issue burial (disposition) permits for the patients stored in the Coram facility. Cryo-Span was asked to leave. What you have also not said here is that because of the objections of Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandell (the two were romantically involved at the time) Cryo-Span could not get their permission to move Steven and Ann to a leased facility in a nearby industrial park. DeBlasio and Mandell insisted that the only legal venue for storage of cryopatients was a cemetery. Unfortunately (or rather very fortunately as things turned out) Curtis Henderson had decided that he was through dealing with cemeteries and that cemeteries were not a workable place to store cryopatients. So, the impasse continued, and Mr. Campbell grew both angry and desperate. On the occasions when I saw Campbell and Henderson interact it was not over unpaid rent, but rather because the patients were not being moved, and that the cemetery was “washing its hands of frozen bodies.”

KEN WRITES: Bob Nelson went to New York and was able to get the mortuary more to give the NYCS and Mandel and DeBlasio to come up with the money. Mandel set up a meeting with Bob to arrange a meeting with her, DeBlasio, and Bob. They both desperately wanted out of the NYCS. Mandel arranged to have Steven Mandel shipped to the CSC, ad ultimately to the vault in Chattsworth. She agreed to make monthly payments for storage and maintenance (which she defaulted on, by the way). DeBlasio, on the other hand, demanded to have full control over his wife's suspension. Bob suggested DeBlasio build himself a vault similar to what Bob had built in Chatsworth. Bob suggested that Mandel and DeBlasio share the vault, but neither wanted anything to do with that. Bob, funded and arranged the building of the vault. DeBlasio eventually paid Bob back. Bob never had control over the day-to-day operation of DeBlasio's vault. DeBlasio wanted out of the NYCS and wanted full control over Ann's suspension.

MD’s RESPONSE: From first-hand observation I can tell you that the decision to move out Washington Memorial Park by Cryo-Span was only delayed by Mandel and DeBlasio. Cryo-Span rented an industrial bay in Farmingdale, L.I., NY and sublet half of it until they could occupy it. The delay was due to Nelson’s (repeated) missed dates for removing Steven Mandell to Chatsworth, and later Ann Deblasio to Mt. Holiness Cemetery. Ann was the last to be moved, and that took place on 17 September, 1971. Shortly thereafter, Paul Hurst, Sr., the only other CSNY patient, was moved to the Cryo-Span facility in Farmingdale.

I spent a good part of the summer of 1971 at CSNY/Cryo-Span and below are pictures of the Farmingdale facility. This is a photo of the exterior of the Cryo-Span facility in Farmingdale. The small green car is Curtis Henderson’s. Barely visible in the window (above the blue van) is the Cryo-Span logo designed by Vaugh Bode which was adjacent to the company name:




Photos of me at the Cryo-Span facility during dewar filling in August of 1971:








The Cryo-Span facility was small and unpretentious; however the patients were well cared for. Context is critically important because, you see, with the exception of Nelson telling me that Curtis Henderson and Saul Kent were dishonest and price gouging, just about everything else he told me about Cryo-Span was “true.” Patient dewars were kept between ½ and 1/3rd full of LN2 because the relatives refused to pay more, and because a different set of cryobiologists had advised them, correctly as it turns out, that most biological specimens are stored in LN2 vapor, not submerged in LN2. As it turns out (aswe have learned over 30 years later), the real issue is not so much the temperature out of the LN2 in the dewar (which Greg Fahy and I measured at ~ -150 degrees C at the patient’s head in a dewar 1/3rd full of LN2), but rather thermal cycling between -196 degrees C and -150 degrees C, which causes much additional fracturing. Once the patient is completely solidified below the glass transition point (Tg) of the tissue and cryoprotective(s), chemical change is halted, regardless of what is predicted on the basis of the Ahrrenius equation. Ironically, the Cryo-care dewars with their horizontal configuration (and the patient being stored in the upper half of the cylinder) had to be allowed to boil off sufficient nitrogen to expose the patient to vapor in order to allow room for refilling with two 160 liter (LS-160) fill dewars. This is photo of a Cryo-Care dewar with the stretcher (and thus the patient) occupying the upper half the LN2 reservoir in the inner can:




If bulk delivery was used to refill a CC dewar on a monthly basis then the dewar had to be allowed to run down to 1/3rd to 1/4th of LN2 capacity; meaning that the patient spent at least half of the time at ~ -150 degrees C and the other half at -196 degrees C, with the transition between LN2 and vapor temperature being achieved by quench cooling in LN2! The important point here is that Curtis never lied, and he never told anyone he was offering immersion storage in LN2. In fact, that service was not offered by any cryonics service provider until Trans Time started offering storage in 1973. Even then, it was almost impossible to fill the dewars often enough to avoid exposure of at least the sleeping bags the patient’s were wrapped in, since the distance between the patient and the bottom of the dewar necktube, was typically less than 10 inches. The photo below is of the inside of a patient dewar at Trans Time in 1981, and shows the close proximity of the patient’s feet to the necktube of the dewar (the bottom of which is the highest level to which LN2 can be added):




The solution to the problem was to do what Curtis Henderson had wanted to do from the start, namely to put the patient’s into the vertical MVE dewars head down with their feet closest to the necktube. Ironically, it was the families of the CSNY patients, in particular Nick DeBlasio, who refused to allow this, and who considered it, “disrespectful and cheap to stand patients on their heads.”

It was also true that Curtis was an alcoholic. However, what was not said was that despite his drinking problem, he worked 12 to 14 hours a day, 6 and often 7-days-a-week, on the swing and night shifts at Sonic Records on Long Island. He did this because he had to be free during the business day to go and pick up LN2: welding supply firms are only open from 9 to 5 for LN2 pickup, and not at all on weekends. He also had to pay the lion’s share of the bills to be keep patients cryopreserved. Sonic was something out of Dante’s inferno, a terrible place to work which was hot, dangerous, and noisy. Safety and worker protection were non-existent, and the acrid stench of molten vinyl chloride, coming from open vats well over 12 feet high (with unprotected catwalks), was dizzying. I vividly remember Curtis coming home with a broken arm in an air-splint, picking me up to help him, going for LN2, filling the dewars, and only then going to the emergency department to have his arm X-rayed, properly set, and casted. The absolutely critical (but missing) context was that Curtis Henderson (and CSNY and Cryo-Span) were honest, and despite terrible personal hardship and inconvenience, they did keep their patients cryopreserved, and they did not lie about what they could offer, nor did they denigrate CSC and Cryonic Interment.

I look back on Nelson’s remarks to me in 1970 (and later) with bitter contempt. Protection against radioactive fallout? Immersion storage of patients at a 1/3rd the cost of Cryo-Span? He lied to a 15-year-old kid who was just trying to find his way in cryonics. He lied, and he lied in a way that was malicious and damaging to others, and that caused me to question the integrity of a man who had told me only the truth, however unpleasant and inconvenient that was for both him and me.


KEN WRITES: Mike accuses Bob of luring the NYCS's away. Nonsense. DeBlasio and Mandel had good reason to seek out Bob. Their loved ones were about to have their suspensions by the mortuary where they were stored.

MD’S RESPONSE While I believe that Bob’s claims of better service at a lower cost were certainly material in the decision Pauline Mandell and Nick DeBlasio made in pursuing service with CSC and Cryonic Interment, I have never said that this was the main reason they moved Steven and Ann, or that they were “lured away.” Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandell were both angry and frustrated about cryonics in general, and CSNY and Cryo-Span in particular, long before Nelson slithered into the picture. Both wanted cryonics to be something it would not become for at least another 20 years: clean, clinical, professional in appearance, and above all affordable. In Pauline’s case affordable meant “free,” and in Nick’s case, it meant whatever he thought it should cost based on standards he set and changed arbitrarily. Nick complained bitterly about the cigarette butts on the floor at Washington Memorial Park (BTW, neither Curtis nor Saul smoked or ever has), about Curtis’ “lack of professionalism” and about Ann not being kept covered with LN2. So, as you point out, he moved Ann to the Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility (see below) and began caring for her himself and eventually another CSC patient from the West Coast, as well. What were his standards? How did he do? Well, on 27 July of 1980 I got see just what Nick DeBlasio AND Bob Nelson did with Ann DeBlasio and the other CSC patient stored with her.

I found Ann’s dewar sitting a black hole in the ground with no electric power having ever been run to the vault (and thus no lighting or alarms) sitting in ~6 inches of foul water. The wood-paneled walls of the “facility:” were almost completely covered with white mold or mildew. The once pristine white dewar looked like this as it was hoisted out of the facility:







The lid of the dewar which covered the necktube had been retrofitted with bulk delivery pipes. The lid was denuded of paint from the repeated overflow of LN2 and was dented and distorted from being struck with objects to free it of ice which accumulated on it due to the heat leak from the bulk fill pipes (which were un-insulated) and the high humidity from the half a foot or more of standing water on the floor:




Incredibly, the photo below shows the base of the dewar – the support bottom header and the legs upon which it rested are covered in rust. This incredible because the entire dewar was made of 312 stainless steel!





In 1969-70 Nick DeBlasio and Pauline Mandel were given free space by CSNY to run this ad in CRYONICS REPORTS:




This is Ann DeBlasio the ad proclaimed, and indeed, this was DeBlasio when CSNY was caring for her, and it is Ann DeBlasio as I first saw her, and as I like to try and remember her:







It was my unhappy task, (and that of fellow cryonicist Joe Allen) to remove Ann DeBlasio, or more properly what was left of her, from that dewar, as well the badly decomposed remains of another woman, the CSC patient whom Nelson and DeBlasio had placed in the dewar with Ann. You are fortunate that I cannot convey the horrible odor which accompanied the image shown below:

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It took us nearly a day of uninterrupted work to free those two women from that dewar. A major reason for subjecting myself and Joe to that horror was to protect cryonics from what could have been, and in my opinion would have been, another scandal of Chatsworth proportions – coming right on heels of Chatsworth itself. The stench from the decomposing bodies was wafting over to the nearby homes (one of which you can see in the background) and the cemetery management was nearly hysterical and on the verge of calling the health department. Another reason was to give some closure to the son of the other woman in the dewar. He was decent, sincere, and wealthy professional who had considered CSNY, but had gone with Nelson instead because, as he told me at the time, of Bob’s claims of superior service, underground storage, and more competitive price. This patient died not on the East Coast or in the Midwest, but rather in Beverly Hills, CA on 13 November 1972 and was sent cross-country by Nelson to be stored in Cryonic Interment’s East Coast facility! Here was a man who truly was “lured away” from CSNY. And he was not the only one who was affected by Nelson’s lies. In December of 1972 CSNY cryopreserved another patient. This woman was the first patient I cryopreserved, and her wellbeing and continued survival were incredibly important to me. The photo below was taken of me with this patient about 2 days after the start of her cryopreservation (I was 17-years-old at the time):




Solely on the basis of Nelson’s assertion that he could store this patient for less money, and more securely underground in a “permanent” facility, her family decided to have her transferred to Nelson’s East Coast Facility in Butler, New Jersey. The MVE dewar which had been on order for her was, upon completion, shipped to Mt. Holiness in Butler, where it sat, still crated at the side of the road, near the Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility for many months. The patient’s relatives (truthfully, I believe) testified that Nelson took their money (around $2,000, if I recall correctly) and never showed up to “encapsulate” their mother. This family then made the decision to bury their mother, something they had wanted to do from the start, but which Nelson gave them an excellent excuse to follow through on. Sadly, this patient had provided ~$30,000 for her long term care, but to no avail.

A year later, when Cryo-Span had closed it doors after Gillian Cumming’s death, another patient I cryopreserved avoided ending up at Mt. Holiness only because I repeatedly and emphatically warned the next-of-kin (the patient’s wife and son, respectively) against Nelson, CSC and Cryonic Interment. It took considerable effort on my part to persuade this family to send the patient to Trans Time which, at that time, was operating out of Art Quaife’s home and did not have a single patient, let alone a storage facility. It took even more effort to persuade a very burned-out Curtis Henderson to fly to the Bay Area and assist Trans Time in setting up storage operations. The patient’s relatives had to spend many thousands of dollars for capital equipment, leasing a building, and paying storage fees many times more than that for which Bob Nelson told them he could do the job, and do it better. The dewar this patient went into was the one that had been sitting at Mt. Holiness for the better part of year: the relatives sold it in a cash transaction* in the cemetery in the dead of winter* (half of the proceeds were collected by Curtis Henderson on the spot to pay the unpaid dry ice storage bills owed to him and which had paid for out of his own pocket). A few years later this patient’s wife joined him in cryopreservation (she was Jerry Leaf’s second patient and Trans Time’s third). Today, both of those patients are still cryopreserved and in fact, the husband is the second longest surviving patient in storage. The only other patient to survive prior to 1973 is James Beford, whose son had the good sense to remove him from Nelson’s care almost immediately after he was frozen in 1967.

I could be so emphatic About Nelson and CSC because in the early summer of 1971 I had gone with Greg Fahy on the Super Chief (transcontinental train) to Los Angeles and tried to visit CSC, see the Cryonic Interment facility, and meet with Nelson. I was not allowed to see the CSC facility, but I did get to meet with Nelson who told us that Joe Klockegether had all the CSC perfusion supplies and equipment at his mortuary in Buena Park, CA. Greg and I then went to the Klockgether-Renaker Mortuary, and all Joe Klockgether was able to show us was an embalming room with embalming equipment. I photographed that visit and here are the (representative) results:

The outside of the Klockgerther-Renaker mortuary:



Greg Fahy and Joe Knlockegether.




This it, this is all the “highly specialized equipment” assembled by CSC’s scientists to do human cryonic suspensions:







Joe, clearly embarrassed, wandered around the funeral home looking for, “a bottle of DMSO which I think we have somewhere here.” He gave up when it wasn’t in the closet where the chicken soup powder was kept for the hot soup machine. Here I was, 16-years-old, and I had vastly better equipment and chemicals (including mortuary tools and cannula) in my bedroom, and in the shed behind my house! There was nothing there in the way of cryonics equipment or chemicals at the Renaker-Klockgether mortuary, not even a dry ice box! Nelson had sat in the coffee shop where he met us and lied to us, lied to us in the expectation that a couple of “kids” were not going to exercise due diligence and check out every claim he made. And, why should he have done otherwise? Every adult, every journalist, every concerned relative, and every CSC member (with the exception of Fred and Linda Chamberlain) believed every lie he told them, and they never bothered to go and see for themselves what the truth was.

And, while I did not get to see the CSC facility, I did track down the welder (then working for American Cryogenics) who claimed he had welded shut one of the CSC dewars with three patients stuffed into it. He was hardly able to talk about it, and he described it as, “one of the worst experiences of my life.” He said he could smell the hair and flesh burning as he welded the inner can shut. I also called every cryogenic fluid distributor listed in the Yellow Pages in the greater Los Angeles area at that time. Everywhere, the story was the same “Do you know where Bob Nelson is? Can you tell us how to get in touch with him?” As Virginia Gregory, President of Gilmore Liquid said, “It’s not just the money he owes us for liquid nitrogen and demurrage; he also has a couple of our LS-160 LN2 delivery dewars!”

KEN WRITES: When you were making your accusations, Mike, why was none of this mentioned? The CUNY’s financial difficulties are well known. They suffered much of the same difficulties that plagued the CSC, patients' families that weren't paying, and leaky Cryo-Care capsules. You wrote half truths and flat out lies. I have documentation illustrating the REAL reason Mandel and DeBlasio left the NTCS.

MD’S RESPONSE: I left nothing out. CSNY and Cryo-Span paid their bills, took care of their patients well, and went out of business honorably and without litigation. Every patient was disposed of per the instructions from the next of kin, and was cremated or interred legally, and with dignity. No one was lied to or left to rot in their dewars. This was Steven Mandell as he once was:



This is what was left of Steve Mandell’s CC dewar after it was pulled out of Chatsworth. The top of the dewar has been removed with a cutting torch so the three decomposed bodies inside could be removed and interred. The forensic pathologist who was hired to help identify the remains said it took nearly a week to sort out the bones of the three people inside and free them from the “black goo” which had formerly been their soft tissues:





KEN WRITES: You laid the blame for the failure of DeBlasio failure to maintain his wife's suspension of his wife. Bob was never involved with maintaining that vault. He had his own vault to tend to in Chatsworth. DeBlasio wanted out of the CSNY, and he didn't want her shipped to another cryonics organization, so Bob did the logical thing and helped to build him his own vault where DeBlasio would have complete control. Bob went there at the request of two of the CUNY’s patients. His help in getting the mortuary to open up for the liquid nitrogen venders, and extending the time they allowed the CSNY to come up with the money owed was not the act of someone that was out to take those patients away.

I have the documents to prove that you were embellishing what happened with DeBlasio to discredit Bob Nelson and portray the NYCS as innocent victims. You sir, should acknowledge it and apologize for it.

MD’S RESPONSE: Throughout this response I’ve referred to the facility in Mt. Holiness Cemetery in Butler New Jersey as the “Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility.” You claim that Bob Nelson had nothing to with that facility, and the loss of Ann Deblasio and the CSC patient from Beverly Hills was all Nick DeBlasio’s doing. You say that the facility in Butler, NJ was not a CSC or Cryonic Interment operation, and that Nelson was in no way involved beyond being what can best be described, per your account, as a good hearted, selfless soul, who just tried to help Nick Deblasio out of a bad spot due to CSNY’s insolvency. Well, neither you nor Bob Nelson can have it both ways. The fact is that I, and everyone else, took Bob Nelson at his word when he and CSC stated the following in the September 1971 issue of CRYONICS REVIEW, the official publication of CSC: “A second long-term cryonic storage facility is now operational in Butler, New Jersey. The facility was opened on September 17 by Cryonic Interment, Inc...The new facility, designed to accommodate 24 persons at liquid nitrogen temperature, compliments (spelling error theirs) the first long-term multiple-storage facility in operation in Chatsworth, California.” Here are scans of the original issue of CRYONICS REVIEW:




Here is a copy of the article from that issue of CRYONICS REVIEW





So was Nelson lying then, or is he (or you for him) lying now? What are we to believe? Perhaps we can best ascertain the truth by Nelson’s actions in sending a CSC patient from Southern California to be stored in the Mt. Holiness facility in December of 1972; and of his attempts to attract two other patients to CSC’s and Cryonic Interment’s care in 1972 and 1973? Maybe we might best be instructed as to Nerlson’s character and integrity (or lack of same) by the canceled CSC checks written to Frank Bucelli by Robert Nelson and to Elaine Bucelli by Robert Nelson? Who would have guessed in 1967 and 1968 that Robert Bucelli was in fact Robert Nelson, or that Elaine Bucelli was, in fact, Robert Nelson’s wife at the time? The papers I have, virtually the entire financial record of CSC from 1966 until its demise, show a picture of routine overdrafts, expenditures for dry cleaning, car towing, and utility bills (when CSC had no car, no facility and no uniforms). Below is but a small sample of what are hundreds of scans (and pages) of financial records that show the same dismal pattern of bounced checks and threats from creditors:













KEN WRITES: I anxiously await your response.

MD’S RESPONSE: You have it. Bob Nelson damaged the lives of many, if not most of the people he dealt with in cryonics. He arguably destroyed the lives of every patient he came into contact with, with the possible exception of James Bedford. I say “possible” because Nelson’s utterly unprepared and incompetent care of Bedford caused terrible injury which was shockingly visible when Bedford was examined during his transfer from the Galiso dewar to the Alcor Bigfoot dewar in May of 1991. His bloody face is a damning indictment of Bob Nelson – an indictment which remains unchanged (and unchanging) from that fateful day in January of 1967 when Nelson first betrayed the trust put in him by a patient and that patient’s family, and then took 135 pages to lie about it in WE FROZE THE FIRST MAN.

And yes, I have the photographs to prove it.

Mike Darwin


I have ha neither the time nor the energy to respond to this lengthy post. However, in answer to FD's persistent challenges, I decided to make the time tonight. It's not as lengthy as I had anticipated originally. You don't need to be particularly prolific to make a good argument.

"I asked Nelson about CSNY and he told me (this from notes made at the time) that their (CSNY’s) operation was “very substandard” and that “they are not storing the bodies properly. Henderson charges the family a fortune for liquid nitrogen, but he only keeps the capsules about 1/3rd full. That’s like medical malpractice because any cryobiologist will tell you that you have to keep tissue specimens completely covered in liquid nitrogen. I’ve explained this to Nick DeBlasio, and put him touch with our scientists at CSC, and I think he is going to move his wife (Ann) out of the Cryo-Span facility in the near future…CSNY is operating illegally and they do not have a secure underground facility which is immune to radiation in the event of nuclear attack, such as the Cryonic Interment facility will be here in Southern California…While he is far too much of gentleman to say so, Bob Ettinger’s, actions speak louder than words, and Bob always refers patients for suspension to CSC, not CSNY. I think the fact that the father of the movement refers patients to us should be all you need to know…It is widely known that Curtis Henderson has a serious drinking problem and that may be one reason that the storage at Cryo-Span is not what it should be…We charge less than a quarter of what Cryo-Span and CSNY charge a year for storage. We can do that because we have a lot more patients and because liquid nitrogen is cheaper here in California. In fact, sometimes I get liquid nitrogen for free because we get it by “bulk delivery” in a large tank-truck and I know the driver. If he has have LN2 still in the bulk tank at the end of his delivery route, then he will often just empty out the tank and we don’t have to pay for the extra nitrogen.”

Bob denies making these statements. In fact, he had a good relationship with Curtis fom the beginning. He gives Curtis and Saul a lot of credit for helping the CSC get started. They came to California at the beginning and gave some very helpful advise. Also, in a recent visit between Curtis and Bob, Curtis reminded Bob that the CSC sent the CSNY $1,000 of the money Bob got from selling We Froze the First Man. While there may have been light competition between the two societies, Bob did not trash mouth Curtis.

I will retract any past comments I've made regarding CSNY's operation simply because I do not have adequate documentation other than a couple of letters from Mandell and one from Washington Memorial Park threatening to cut off LN2 supplies. Mike is obviously much more qualified to comment on CSNY operations than neither Bob nor myself.

"It took us nearly a day of uninterrupted work to free those two women from that dewar. A major reason for subjecting myself and Joe to that horror was to protect cryonics from what could have been, and in my opinion would have been, another scandal of Chatsworth proportions – coming right on heels of Chatsworth itself. The stench from the decomposing bodies was wafting over to the nearby homes (one of which you can see in the background) and the cemetery management was nearly hysterical and on the verge of calling the health department. Another reason was to give some closure to the son of the other woman in the dewar. He was decent, sincere, and wealthy professional who had considered CSNY, but had gone with Nelson instead because, as he told me at the time, of Bob’s claims of superior service, underground storage, and more competitive price. This patient died not on the East Coast or in the Midwest, but rather in Beverly Hills, CA on 13 November 1972 and was sent cross-country by Nelson to be stored in Cryonic Interment’s East Coast facility! Here was a man who truly was “lured away” from CSNY. And he was not the only one who was affected by Nelson’s lies."

Bob did not have any control over the vault in Butler and he certainly never made a dime from it. He simply helped DeBlasio get the thing built. He also used the name "East Coast Facility" to bolster the image of the CSC for marketing reasons, but only on a couple of occasions. He was legally able to do that until DeBlaso finished paying Bob back for the vault )Bob fronted the money for the vault to DeBlasio). Questionable marketing tactic, sure, but Bob had no motivation to undersell one of your clients since he would have gained nothing from it. Bob recalls having the patient shipped to NYbut doesn't remember for sure why. He believes it was because DeBlasio needed the funds to help out. DeBlasio would never have shared that capsule just to profit the CSC, Hell, He wouldn't share it with Mandell, and he was banging her.

"In December of 1972 CSNY cryopreserved another patient. This woman was the first patient I cryopreserved, and her wellbeing and continued survival were incredibly important to me. Solely on the basis of Nelson’s assertion that he could store this patient for less money, and more securely underground in a “permanent” facility, her family decided to have her transferred to Nelson’s East Coast Facility in Butler, New Jersey. The MVE dewar which had been on order for her was, upon completion, shipped to Mt. Holiness in Butler, where it sat, still crated at the side of the road, near the Cryonic Interment East Coast Facility for many months. The patient’s relatives (truthfully, I believe) testified that Nelson took their money (around $2,000, if I recall correctly) and never showed up to “encapsulate” their mother. This family then made the decision to bury their mother, something they had wanted to do from the start, but which Nelson gave them an excellent excuse to follow through on. Sadly, this patient had provided ~$30,000 for her long term care, but to no avail."

BS. According to Curtis Henderson's own deposition, the patient's daughter and son were nut cases and a pain in the ass. She wanted Curtis to spread the payments for the capsule and services out over time. Curtis refused. Instead, HE sent her to Bob, telling her that he would likely be willing to do it. Curtis wanted to get rid of them! I don't have the testimony in my possession right wow, but I'd be happy to get it. Mike Perry and Bob both have copies. Also, Bob agreed to go to NY and make arrangements to check out the condition of the patient and possibly have her shipped to California. He was paid up front for his travel expenses. When he got to NY he called the son. The son told him that he wanted nothing to do with cryonics and that they were all "fucking crazy"., which is consistent with the son's testimony. Bob could have still checked to see what kind of shape the patient was in, but what would be the point? The lawsuit was started by the daughter because Bob didn't have the money to pay the full $2,000 back to her. He offered to do it in payments, but she refused to accept. Again, Curtis wanted to get rid of the daughter and son. This is his own testimony under oath.

"Maybe we might best be instructed as to Nerlson’s character and integrity (or lack of same) by the canceled CSC checks written to Frank Bucelli by Robert Nelson and to Elaine Bucelli by Robert Nelson? Who would have guessed in 1967 and 1968 that Robert Bucelli was in fact Robert Nelson, or that Elaine Bucelli was, in fact, Robert Nelson’s wife at the time? The papers I have, virtually the entire financial record of CSC from 1966 until its demise, show a picture of routine overdrafts, expenditures for dry cleaning, car towing, and utility bills (when CSC had no car, no facility and no uniforms). Below is but a small sample of what are hundreds of scans (and pages) of financial records that show the same dismal pattern of bounced checks and threats from creditors:"

This means nothing. Have you never bounced a check? I worked with Bob for years and managed his TV shop. He operated it, as he did his cryonics operation, as a sole proprietorship. He often paid for materials, services and even payroll out of his own pocket. He would sometimes repay himself from the business by writing himself a check. There were times when funds were low and he didn't have the money in his personal account to cover, so small checks sometimes bounced. It wasn't something that happened every day, but it happened. Again, have you never bounced a check? This doesn't say anything about his character. Running a micro business can be difficult, but he managed to do so for many years, and did OK.

"Bob Nelson damaged the lives of many, if not most of the people he dealt with in cryonics. He arguably destroyed the lives of every patient he came into contact with, with the possible exception of James Bedford. I say “possible” because Nelson’s utterly unprepared and incompetent care of Bedford caused terrible injury which was shockingly visible when Bedford was examined during his transfer from the Galiso dewar to the Alcor Bigfoot dewar in May of 1991. His bloody face is a damning indictment of Bob Nelson – an indictment which remains unchanged (and unchanging) from that fateful day in January of 1967 when Nelson first betrayed the trust put in him by a patient and that patient’s family, and then took 135 pages to lie about it in WE FROZE THE FIRST MAN."

Bob did not do the perfusion of James Bedford himself. Dante Brunol and Robert Prehoda did the perfusion and Bob assisted. Did they betray the patient and his family? If Bob lied about it in We Froze the First Man, where is the outrage from the people he wrote about in the book? i would think that everyone from Robert Ettinger to Robert Prehoda would have been pretty pissed off, and we would have heard from them a long time ago.

A small handful of people; The Chamberlains, Mike Darwin, and Charles Platt, are bent on discrediting everything Bob Nelson and the CSC did, even to the point of discrediting themselves. If Bob Nelson's operations were completely negative, if everything he ever did was criminal, neglectful, deceitful and disgraceful, why did the Chamberlains and others stay with him so long? Why don't people like Robert Ettinger, Marshall Neal, Joe Klockgether, and many others loser to his operations condemn him? Why just these few? The trial hurt cryonics. Bob Nelson got in over his head and did some questionable things trying to do the honorable thing and keep his patients in suspension. These people want desperately to distance themselves from the trial and bob Nelson by discrediting everything he did. That is cheap and blatantly unfair. Unfortunately the Chamberlains, Platt have a great deal of influence among the cryonics community, and what they say carries a lot of weight.

I'm nobody in the cryonics community, but I'm here to set the record straight the best I can for those who are willing to listen. I set out to help Bob write a book about what happened and I was appalled by some of the things I read on the internet. My goal is and has always been to find out what happened and why, weather my enquiries are good for bob's reputation or not. Obviously not everything he did was positive. Conversely, not everything he did was bad. Those who try to discredit all that he did without acknowledging at lease SOME positive harm their own credibility, much more than I am harming mine by defending what Bob did right.
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Joined: 8:27 PM - Oct 02, 2004

9:47 PM - Sep 02, 2008 #9

I would hope that all persons interested in the subject will give your viewpoint a fair analysis. That can be hard to do, given the necessarily emotional aspect of what happened to those once cryopreserved.

FD

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Joined: 5:17 AM - Sep 17, 2004

10:47 PM - Sep 02, 2008 #10

I'm sorry it took so long.

To give a better idea of where I'm coming from in all this, here is a link to the intro I wrote for Bob's book, and a link to an article (hatchet job) that Charles Platt wrote and my rebuttal:

http://www.cryonics.org/immortalist/sep ... easure.htm

http://www.cryonics.org/immortalist/nov ... nelson.htm
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