October 25, 2021

The Good Old Days at RSNA (and Elsewhere)

Robert L. Dixon, PhD, FACR, FAAPM

My first RSNA meeting was held entirely within the now historic Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago — exhibits, vendors and all. Since then, I have never missed an RSNA meeting, including the disastrous Houston meeting with overcrowded restaurants and no easily accessible nightlife (a venue purportedly chosen to punish Chicago for price gouging).

Enter the wild, wild west of marketing …

In those days, we attended parties-galore hosted by manufacturers. These lavish parties were often followed by a big show on stage in an auditorium (usually performed by an old 1960s singing group). Invitations were coveted, and generally directed to customers (and potential customers). I once saw “The Platters” (actually only one “Platter” remained joined by several pickup singers). At another show, I saw “The Letterman” (singular).

At a memorable industry partner party, we sipped Saki in a wooden box in front of a big dance orchestra. We also often enjoyed dinners out with manufacturers along with sponsored trips to nightclubs. In recent years, the government has put the kibosh on those type of events. And now all we have is the annual RSNA President-Elect’s reception (a pretty good party, sometimes with lamb chops) and The Leadership Reception at some museum (not too bad — usually with a band).

Why my emphasis on partying at a scientific meeting?

In the early 60s, I was a “Frat Boy” (ƩAE at the University of South Carolina — a real “Animal House”). In my retirement, I find myself singing: “Those were the days, my friend; I thought they’d never end…”

In the early days of marketing CT scanners (before the aforementioned government kibosh), a manufacturing company sent a private jet to our local airport to pick up select members of our radiology department for a visit to the clinical CT site in Akron, OH. They also paid for our accommodations in a fancy hotel and provided us with a private chauffer.

One manufacturing company once took our group to their factory in Milwaukee for a preview of a new CT scanner (including a tour of their X-ray tube manufacturing plant). I recall one of our radiologists (at a very fancy restaurant) having her dessert served on the back of a large, 4-foot ice swan (I kid you not). I later got a weekend trip to a North Carolina mountain resort to see more CT presentations.