Philadelphia Reflections

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

Related Topics

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." -- William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

Further Acknowledgments (2)

{Knoking on the door}
Knocking on the door

There were some flurries of interest in the article, letters to the editor, passing comments from colleagues in the corridors of my hospitals, and even a challenge, readily squelched, from a hospital administrator who wrote in that it wasn't true. Perhaps the most flattering response was to meet the magazine's editor for the first time at a cocktail party twenty years later and have him exclaim a little about the stir it made.

Then, on July 3, there was a knock on my office door. Howard Sandum, the new publisher of Saunders Press, two blocks away, had read the article, proposed we have lunch. The substance of his visit was that, if I could write a book between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, he would publish it. I wasn't sure I was capable of writing a book in 90 days, had planned a vacation at the Jersey shore with my family, didn't know what to do. But I also didn't know that Howard was planning on moving in on us at the shore, and as fast as manuscript appeared, it was edited, at all hours, night and day. The marathon effort was greatly assisted by using my new computer, a Radio Shack TSR-80, with a processor speed of 2 GHz. Howard could type a hundred words a minute, but when I predicted that in a few years every book would be written with a computer, even he uneasily granted that maybe I had some kind of the point. My present computer is approximately a thousand times as fast on the processor level, although not noticeably faster on the author level. Today, a publisher won't even look at a manuscript unless it is on a computer disc.

My next hero was Thomas Donlon, at that time Washington correspondent for Barron's, now Editor-in-Chief of the Editorial Page. Donlon didn't remember me at first when I sat next to him lately at a luncheon, but in 1969 he did me the honor of writing a two-page book review, including the mind-exploding remark that I was a Renaissance Man. There is absolutely nothing in the whole world I would rather be called than A Renaissance Man, however inaccurate that description may be.

Well, a book can go through doors that the author wouldn't be allowed to go through. A week or so after Barron's book review, I was sitting quietly in my easy chair, deciding whether to shave and get dressed, when the phone rang. A voice said, "This is the White House calling."

Originally published: Wednesday, June 21, 2006; most-recently modified: Monday, May 20, 2019

Enjoyed reading your story, including reflections about Howard Sandum, my father, who still resides in Manhattan. Joseph Sandum
Posted by: Joseph H Sandum   |   Jan 18, 2007 10:58 PM