The children came quickly; Bruce soon after the couple returned to Baltimore, Rikke 15 months later. The family moved from a townhouse near Hopkins Hospital to a house in Guilford. Weekends and summers were spent in a cottage on the Eastern Shore. Eventually, Hugh bought a house on Gibson Island, an exclusive enclave where the Magothy River pours into the Chesapeake Bay.
Hugh was home for dinner with the family every night, although afterward he would repair to his study to look at cancer slides. He entertained colleagues at home all the time, and wanted the children present to participate in the conversations. There were regular family vacations abroad, and a lot of time spent together on the waterfront, where early in his life Bruce enjoyed his father's undivided attention. When Bruce was little more than 10, his father gave him his first boat, a small canoe, and spent hours teaching him to keep his balance while drawing the paddle through the water.
Hugh and Jytte (pronounced YU-ta) made for an odd match. He was inattentive to fashion, enjoyed port wine and cigarillos and dabbled in oil painting. Raised in Puerto Rico, where his father was a botanist in the U.S. Agriculture Department, he spoke Castilian Spanish as well as French, German, Danish and Japanese. He was a voracious reader and fascinated friends with the breadth of his knowledge. His style of conversation was aggressive, inquisitional, and his humor pointed. He was not a man to put you at ease.
Most of the charm and all the stylishness in the marriage came from Jytte. Her children would always regard her as the epitome of beauty and glamour. She spoke English with a heavy accent, but her warmth shone through. She was quick to befriend strangers, and never lost a touch of allure. When Hugh wanted to buy her a new car, she refused the station wagon he selected. She insisted on a sexy white 1969 Volvo 1800E; it still sits in the family garage.
Upon his return to Hopkins, Davis found American medicine preoccupied with world overpopulation. Allan Barnes, the chairman of Davis' department, secured for Hopkins an international grant to help address it. Davis was one of his most valuable soldiers, and he displayed an invaluable knack for maneuvering around red tape. He led many delegations to South America and Third World countries to teach techniques of contraception and sterilization.
Just as overpopulation was becoming a hot issue, skepticism was growing over one of the foremost weapons intended to address it. A number of scientists, including Davis, believed the Pill, which contained much stronger concentrations of estrogen in those days, caused dangerous side effects. The time was ripe for attention to shift back to the IUD.
Although it was an ancient form of contraception, the IUD, which fits into the uterus and blocks fertilization, was unpopular in the United
States because of its association with infections and its pregnancy rate. Davis, with his supreme confidence and enviable track record, believed he could invent a realistic alternative to the Pill by solving all the IUD's problems.
He began working around the clock on designs, testing many on patients at a Hopkins family planning clinic he founded near the hospital. Joe Finnerty, a Guilford neighbor who became Davis' lawyer, remembers noticing figurines on Davis' mantel and bookshelves. At first, Finnerty took them to be toy soldiers. He later learned that they were plastic molds of the interior of uteri.
Robert Israel, a Hopkins resident then, made many of those molds for Davis from the uteri of women who had undergone hysterectomies. Now a professor of gynecology at the University of Southern California, Israel worked closely with Davis on the early IUD prototypes. Impressed with Davis' limitless imagination and tornado-like energy, Israel was nonetheless troubled by the man's unchecked egotism.
"He was convinced that everything he did was right," says Israel. "It was very hard to argue with him." Israel remembers times when he reported study results to Davis on the early IUDs. "I would constantly tell him, 'The numbers are OK, but we don't have enough yet.' He didn't care about that. Once he was convinced he was right, that was it."
In the mid-60s, Davis met Irwin Lerner, an electrical engineer from Connecticut who had just opened a small manufacturing plant. Lerner was eager to market new products, and was thrilled to enlist the talents of an inveterate tinkerer like Davis. In 1967, Davis suggested to Lerner an ambitious product, a first-rate IUD.
A year or so later, the Dalkon Shield emerged. It represented a departure in at least two ways. It was shaped like a policeman's badge - hence its name - with claw-like fins on each side to anchor the device into the uterine walls. It also used a different type of string.