Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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A Civilian Home From the Sea

Carol and Bill Doane

Bill Doane died in 2017, at the age of 95+, after a long career as Chief of Surgery in Santa Barbara, California. This letter was found among the relics of his former roommate at the Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first one, established in 1751 by Benjamin Franklin. With the aid of retrospect, we know he was to marry Carol Smith, who worked at the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, and after some wanderings, settled in an upscale hospital in California, eventually dying at an advanced age in a Santa Barbara retirement village, where he was the daily tennis partner of Bill Scranton, the former Pennsylvania Governor. He did a lot of third-world traveling and surgical volunteering, out of which grew the founding of an international non-profit organization to distribute American hospital equipment to places like Afghanistan.

W.A. Doane
USS Essex (CUA 9)
F.P.O. --San Francisco
Feb 20, 1954

Dear George, Stu, Georgie,Miriam (any others?)

I've enjoyed hearing from you immensely. Your Christmas Card was first and more recently. Carol forwarded a note from Stu. Needless to say, I gobbled the P.H. news voraciously. It really sounds like an old home week, with Twadddell, Deaver Alexander, Dinon, Cretzmeyer, J. Johnston, and Rakov holding the fort. The big news from the East China Sea is I'll be getting off this bucket in late March or early April and will be separated in early April. Our second offspring should be dropping in on us shortly thereafter and as soon as things get stabilized, I'll be in Philly to horse around and of course, come back to Pennsy for a look see. My plans for practice are still a trifle nebulous. I'd love to practice around Philly but I certainly hate the thought of hanging on for 2 years before I make a living. Keep your ear out to check the keyhole for me, Geo., and let me know of any golden or even castiron opportunities. Our year in San Diego was very pleasant, and if things don't seem very propitious about Philadelphia -- we might even settle in Southern California.

Our oldest (and only child at this writing) is really a delight to the old man. I just never realized that paternity could be so richly rewarding. I guess you never really look at kids until you have one yourself.

My travels in the Orient have been a bit restricted but I did get a few days in Hawaii and have had a quick tour of Yokosuka (?), Yokahanna and Tokyo. I find Japan quite fascinating. It's just not possible to tell anyone about it adequately ters the little toy people and their way of life are so different from ours. My overall impression is definitely favorable. They are exceedingly industrious, clean, pleasant and clever craftsmen. Also, they purvey very good beer in very large bottles for very small amounts of YEN, I can see how a guy could really go to pot out here. All drinks at the "O" Club at Yokosuka are 25 cents, and when you have been to sea for 3 weeks it's rather easy to accumulate a lot of quarters.

The money situation over here is a riot. When we neared Japanese waters, all hands were ordered to change their YONKEE DOLLAs for MPC-- military payment currency. The resemblance between this medium of exchange and Dick Tracy play money is striking. They make it in every amount from 5 cents up, and all are different sizes and shapes, and all are paper. So you go ashore on the naval base with pockets bulging with MPC. Before you can go out the gate into the town and buy anything-- you must exchange MPC for YEN--Jap currency. Again, you get a bale of flimsy colored paper in every conceivable shape.

$ 1.00 m PC = 360 YEN so you can see you have to have large pockets to carry it all. Every time you reach into your pocket for dough - a few stray scraps of YEN float away as you bring your hand out. The Japs are understandably anxious to relieve us of as much cabbage as possible and they have a large variety of ways of doing it. By far the largest business is, of course, the girl-sans. There's a pimp on every corner and every cabaret in town is loaded with Japanese dollies from age 15 to 25 -- all available for a price. Apparently, the price is always right because they do a booming business.I'm amazed our VD rate isn't 10 x as high.

Japanese hot baths (hotsy botsy as the Japs call them) are extremely popular with the troops. Sightseeing and shopping opportunities are endless. Cultured pearls, brass ware, silk, silver -- are all supposedly "best buys" over here. I'm just a typical tourist and am loading it up with all sorts of items. Cameras are dirt cheap here. If you know any of the fellows at the hospital that would like a camera, I might be able to bring one back. Don't noise this around too much, however. A Nikon f1.4 is about $120, and about $275-300 in the US. An Argus C-3 is $41 with case and flash, and $69 in the US. So it goes. (There will be a small carrying charge of course for all but G.R.F.)

I've rambled on at great length but it's time to hit the pad so must close.

Very best regards to you.


P.S. Give my regards to all the group.

Originally published: Thursday, November 16, 2017; most-recently modified: Friday, May 10, 2019