Archive for December 27th, 2009

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Morrie Mink died Christmas Eve.  His obituary was published today, December 27. The sad news brought back some fond memories, nonetheless.

Morrie Mink, MD Otolaryngologist

I first met him in 1955 shortly after I started working at Mount Zion Hospital and he opened a practice across the street from the hospital. Our connection was my sister Joanne. At the time Morrie was the medical adviser to the San Francisco Association of the Deaf, the local chapter (it may have been the Bay Area Chapter – that is what it is called today) of the California Association of the Deaf, which, in turn was the state branch of the National Association of the Deaf. Joanne was the President of the SFAD at the time and Morrie was a great admirer of her efforts and her personality. Both Joanne and I also had occasion to seek his medical services.

I have one amusing story to tell about Morrie. Robin Sweeny, who had been chief surgical nurse at Mt. Zion and later was a member of the Sausalito City Council for a couple of terms followed by Mayor of Sausalito (after Sally Stanford), rented a Japanese style cottage on Dogwood Road in Bolinas when we were also renting there in the early ‘60s. One Sunday Robin invited us over for drinks and snacks. Also there was Morrie.

I started to tell a bout a new album of comic monologues by Bill Cosby (who was of special interest to me because his brother-in-law worked with me at the Naval Supply Center). There was one about “Oops!” that particularly caught my fancy. Cosby talks about certain words that let you know what is coming next. For example, if a busboy goes past your table with a big tray piled high with dirty dishes and you hear him say “Oops!,” you know what is coming next. Cosby then imagines he is lying on an operating table, under only a local anesthetic, when one of the surgeons says “Oops!”

After I recounted that, Morrie said “Don’t make jokes! Don’t make jokes about that.” At the time Morrie was a volunteer medical consultant to San Quentin Prison. His duties mainly consisted of going to the prison once a month to oversee the work of a young otolaryngologist doing part of his residency there. On one occasion there was a huge murderer needing to have a small cyst or wart removed from his outer ear. As the young doctor went about his work, he suddenly said, “Oops!” The con asked in a very menacing tone “Wuddaya mean ‘Oops’? Morrie quickly interjected “Oh, it’s nothing, nothing – I just dropped one of my instruments.”

His obituary in the San Francisco Chronicle is here.

(A footnote of sorts: about thirty years later I underwent a rather similar experience. A young cardiologist was performing an angioplasty on me when he suddenly let out a low-key squeal of fear, saying “I think I tore it”.  His older overseer reassured him that everything was OK, to just finish the procedure. I was never sure whether there was some minor damage that just healed itself or not.)

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