Bill Bronston and Friends: Gene Eisner Introduction
Produced by Dr. David Goode
Produced in 2005
Gene Eisner: It started with you calling me one day saying that you were in trouble out at Willowbrook, where you were a resident physician. And I had just left a… law firm which was a pretty regular law firm, and I decided that – this was in 1971 – that I wanted to do something a little more radical. There was stuff that was going on, civil rights, anti-war, all kinds of stuff. And I couldn't do that with the law firm that I was at, so I formed by own firm and wanted to do more interesting radical stuff. So almost the first day, the phone rings and it's Bill Bronston, and he says "I hear you want to do radical stuff." He said "I'm your man." [laughter]
Well, you heard his introduction about what he believes in, and, of course, who he is. And… that's… he's a nonstop talker and believer. Very much believes everything he says with every bone in his body. And he got to describe this place out at Willowbrook that you just saw. And I said, "No, I can't believe there's a place as disgusting as this." And he said, well, he said, "Come on out… I'll take you for a visit."
So we drove out there and I was sick to my stomach. I mean he took me through the place room by room, and you, I mean, I think somebody here mentioned the smells and just unbelievable, awful just awful. And seeing these people writhing in their feces and urine. People just rocking back and forth. Everything was un… unbelievable. And of course I became an immediate convert to the cause, which is what Bill wanted me to become by bringing me out there.
So we went out for coffee afterwards and then Bill unloads the news on me, which is that the director of Willowbrook had just brought him up on charges for being a bad boy and was seeking his dismissal and would I represent him. And he said, "Of course, I have no money." [laughter] And I said, "That's okay." I said, "You've won me over, you know, I'm going to take it on as a cause." I spoke to my partner, Richard Levy, at the time, and Richard said, "Absolutely, let's do it." So pretty soon there were charges that were leveled against Bill.