Shortly after our graduation from BHS in 55, I enrolled at Oregon State with the goal of becoming a chemical engineer. I loved chemistry, math, and orchestra at BHS in that order. At OSC I was having a terrible time in the chemistry laboratory. Through a routine eye examination I discovered I was red / green color blind which was a career ending finding but explained my problems in inorganic laboratory differentiating one color precipitate from another. My family moved to New York in 1957 when my father was promoted to executive vice-president and was transferred to the home office. I transferred at the end of my freshmen year from OSC to the University of Miami in Florida.
One of my roommates, Jim, at Miami was an optician and was attending college in the hope of eventually becoming an airport administrator. Through our many discussions, I became interested in optics and the fledgling profession of Optometry.
Towards the end of the school year I applied to the Illinois College of Optometry [I.C.O.] in Chicago mainly due to Jims influence. Ill never forget the phone conversation my father had with the admissions department at ICO. I had had only two years of college, my grade point average was nothing to write home about, I would be the youngest freshman in the class of 1957, I was lacking two required classes [physics and comparative anatomy], and everyone in next years freshmans class was older and better prepared than I. Well, I was accepted with the proviso I take the two classes I was lacking for admission the following summer, if I made it through the first year. I will never know whether I settled down and got to work because the Optometric curriculum was extremely well planned by the school or I came to the realization that it was time to fish or cut bait, so I applied myself for the first time in my life, was on the deans list with a 3.65 GPA at end of year, earned the reputation of obsessed, I took physics and comparative anatomy at New York University the next summer, and graduated with honors from ICO in three years at the age of twenty-two having shocked the school and my family.
I immediately volunteered for service in the Air Forces Medical Service Corp and was commissioned a lieutenant at twenty-three. The Air Force was so short of eye care professionals I was taken out of officer training before completion and was put to work in the flight surgeons section of the Myrtle Beach 356 Tactical Air Force hospital. I was the youngest officer in the Hospital Squadron. I didnt know how much I enjoyed my tour until I went into private practice and had to sell my services. In the military there were no excuses for missing an appointment, I worked with top notch physicians and dentists, and I had the respect of all my colleagues and co-workers. At one point I was in charge of all eye related services for the Army and the Air Force in both Carolinas.
I found I could be all that I could be and my education at Burlingame High better prepared me for any future I chose that I could have expected considering how little I applied myself when you knew me. I was truly a late bloomer. Almost, too late.
As my three year tour of duty was drawing to a close I asked a major in charge of Hospital Administration if I should re-enlist. He explained the Air Force had eighty Optometrists to serve about six hundred thousand service personal and their dependents and he didnt think the Air Force needed anymore O.D.s. I reverted to a lack of self confidence and accepted his advice without further investigation. I was discharged in 1963 just before Vietnam. Considering how much I enjoyed my three years, how well I fit in with my colleagues, and the fact that as an Optometrist I am now licensed to prescribe oral and topical medicine, and the highest ranking Optometrist is a Brigadier General in hospital administration I have learned to be very careful from whom I take advice.
Ive practiced Optometry at my two offices in Los Angeles and Sherman Oaks for more than thirty-five years. I went back to school in 1999 and earned my therapeutics license. For some reason its a surprise to most people that Optometrists can now prescribe medicine and the scope of practice is expanding at an incredible rate. We are no longer limited to prescribing glasses and contact lenses.
I waited a long time but found and proposed to a wonderful gal, Judie Barke-Stein, Ph.D., three days after we met late in 1974. Everyone should be so blessed to find such a wonderful partner. We have six kids from three to sixteen years of age; four Shih Tzu dogs and two cats.
Judies health has precluded our traveling, however our kids, our love of gardening, raising tame Koi fish at home, and our near obsession with boating out of Channel Island Marina in Ventura county, keep us very occupied.
I administer a panel of eye care professionals that provide eye care to Union members and their families throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Last year I launched an Optometric practice management software company. Within a month of our first convention I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I have fought off prostate cancer, through exercise, diet, and by forcing myself to build the Koi pond. I lost thirty-five pounds. Im in the best shape of my life. I might even be able to go one on one with Ted Carter. Who am I kidding? He was faster than any of us back in 55 and probably still is. Fellows, check your PSA. Now!
I have been blessed many times over the years in many ways starting with my wonderful sole mate, Judie.
I have been fortunate in that I practice four days week in my two practices where I am now examining the children of the children I started seeing when I opened my practice in the San Fernando Valley a year after my discharge as an Air Force Optometrist in 1964.
I have no interest in totally retiring because I have discovered the truth in the phrase All you put into the lives of others comes back into your own.
We wish the very best to all of you. I can be reached at: email@example.com . I am not a Wizard but the president of Wizard Optometric Systems.
While the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is our hope, if our health holds up, to see you at the next reunion.
Addendum: I visited Burlingame with my wife Judie about eight years ago. We went to Burlingame High, the apartment at 1401 Floribunda where I lived from the time I was six until graduation from BHS. We visited the library, Primrose Lane, the malt shop on Burlingame Ave, the tobacco shop across the street where cigarettes were 10 cents a pack [I don't smoke but my father did] during World War 2. We saw Mc Kinley grammar school and I recalled, being left handed, hitting "home runs" over the fence into the street and playing my first tennis. We couldn't go inside as it was closed but I showed Judie pictures of the orchestra and our graduation from the eighth grade. I used to ride my bike up Floribunda across El Camino into Hillsborough and prowl the deserted Spreckle's estate. There were tears I my eyes more than once. I think we were blessed to live in Burlingame in the forties and fifties.