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tinkll1

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John Lewin's Birthday ~ My First Father's Day ~ 6-15-1964

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How time flies! From out of the ether, or somewhere on the hard drive, looking for the right image, a lot of old memories were rekindled.

In 1958, I entered U.S.C. School of Medicine and embarked upon a career that continues to this day. In 1959, as best as I can recall, I met a very pretty, very smart student nurse named Sally Judith Wasserman. I used to see her studying in the classrooms at Los Angeles County Hospital. We dated.... this is the short story, remember.... In between my junior and senior years, Sally and I got married, and we moved to an apartment in Echo Park, across from the lake, on the second floor. Sally had left nursing school and she went to work at St. Vincent's Hospital, I think, as an x-ray technician's assistant's helper's aide. At the bottom of the pyramid, you might say. I ex-terned at Good Samaritan Hospital and we enjoyed the excitement of newlyweds. It was 1961.

That was the year when I selected Fresno County Hospital as the place to do my internship. It was a new hospital with nice facilities, and they actually paid us $200/month. I was driving my first new car, a 1957 36 HP Volkswagen Beetle. There were several of us, from U.S.C. who selected F.C.H., attracted by the enthusiasm of Dick Gordinier, who had gotten there a year ahead and was staying on for his residency in Internal Medicine. Don Knapp, a Mid-Westerner, like myself, Bob Pedrin, Francine Mannix, Willa O'Day, Julius Gray, Bernie Freeberg, all from U.S.C., Class of 1962, went on to Fresno and the excitement of internship in this very, very hot city, with its new hospital.

Sally and I found an apartment on the street next to the hospital and settled in beneath the swamp cooler. At least the hospital was air-conditioned. She went to work for Roger Larson, who was the Director of Medical Education, and a cardiologist, incolved in a project called vector cardiography, which seems to have come and gone. Now we had two paychecks, a swamp cooler and dreams of a life together. We thought it was the right time to have a family, and on June 15, 1964, our first son, John, was born. He had to be turned in utero, so Sally got some kind of anesthesia, but I was there when that beautiful baby emerged, with a lot of hair!

My parents came up from Los Angeles, my Dad driving the Citroen DS that I had talked him into getting, and that was the first car John rode in, coming home from the hospital. John was my dad's first grandchild, and though I had left religious faith far behind, I was, and am, steeped in Jewish culture. Sally is Jewish and, in the Jewish tradition, on the seventh day after his birth, it was time for the Briss http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Briss ,/lj-cut>

Over the years at U.S.C., I found Don to be a really wonderful man. He and Averill were childhood sweethearts, and still are! They grew up in Blandinsville, Illinois. Don went into the navy and flew aboard P2V Neptune anti-submarine patrol bombers. Originally, he wanted to be a veterinarian, but with encouragement from Ave, who worked at North American Aviation in Downey, Don entered U.S.C., as one of the "older" men. And, wiser, by a long shot. I first met this clean cut guy with a great sense of humor and we worked on adjacent cadavers, he with Dave Krayanek, an ordained rabbi, Chuck, and Francine Mannix. I worked behind Dick Lewin (no relative), Ray Linford, a Mormon Deacon, and Fred Lieberman.

Don and I played ping pong in the barracks classrooms behind Los Angeles County Hospital, and once, Sally and I invited Don and Averill to our house for dinner, greeted them in our bathrobes pretending to not know anything about the dinner, before serving it to their surprise. Innocent fun. I grew fonder and fonder of Don and Ave, and part of the excitement of our internship and medical residency was the anticipation of practicing medicine in the same community. Who better to be John's godfather? It didn't matter that Don and Ave were not Jewish, and that one of the supposed duties of the godfather was to raise the child in the religion of his parents if they were deceased.

My dad, Jerry (Jerome Harold), would have been happy if he could have become a rabbi, or even an accountant, but the Depression and family responsibilities resulted in his staying with a sure thing.... the Post Office, and there he slogged for a long, long time. He was very religious. Not orthodox, but my mother, Sybil, kept a kosher home, changed dishes on Pesach, separated milches from flaishichs (milk from meat) and they conversed in Yiddish when the conversation needed privacy. John had to have a Briss. My dad paid for a Mohel to come to Fresno and Averill picked him up, as I recall. Don and Averill had no idea what was to take place, but take place, it did, with John comforted in Averill's arms after the circumcision.

Apparently the covenant with his ancestors didn't apply to the Liberal Left, and John, who thinks of himself as a George Will "middle of the roader," happily brings law, if not order, to "the bad guys." He may think of his father as a "limousine liberal," and dread to have someone like me on one of his juries, but I still love the guy, and I'm very proud of him..... most of the time, anyway.

So, and he probably won't get to it, because he's always busy, preparing to go to court, etc., etc., but anyway, John..... Happy Birthday. You are my favorite Republican! And the reason, I renewed my A.C.L.U. membership.

And, here a picture from 2004 with John's father-in-law, Robert Levine, John, his first son, Geoff (Little Geoff, as opposed to John's brother, Geoff (Big? Geoff), and me. Pictures from the briss will follow.
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Tags: father's day, john
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