Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Moot Court Board 1975-76

I was not as good  a student in law school as I had been in high school and college.  In part, I attribute that to the fact that I entered law school too soon--at age 20.  I had taken extra courses in college, initially because my parents would not approve my marriage to the first serious boyfriend I had ever had until I had graduated from college (they were not fond of him, among other things, because he had a beard). 

By fall of my junior year, said boyfriend, who'd graduated the year before from college, wasn't sure that he wanted me to work and put him through law school as I had offered.  So, I decided that if he couldn't accept my offer, that I would see if I could become a lawyer too.  In October of 1972, we both took the LSAT together.  I did far better than he did and was accepted to all 5 of the law schools I applied to, while he was accepted at only one, the one that I didn't apply to:  Idaho.  We ultimately parted ways during the winter of my last year in college, after he went to Europe for six weeks of travel, and none of the letters I wrote to him ever arrived in time at the American Express offices.  And, I have to admit, because I became interested in other guys at college.

I graduated following my junior year and enrolled in the only law school my father would pay for: the University of Kentucky.  My family had moved to Lexington, Kentucky, a year previous, and in-state tuition was $200 a semester.  My father was anticipating putting my 4 younger siblings through college (2 graduated from Purdue, and one from the Univ. of VA, the last spent a year at Miami University in Oxford, OH) so he was not interested in paying  law school tuition at NYU, the best school where I'd been accepted.  And he would not fill out the financial aid forms to see if I could get loans and/or scholarships because he didn't think it was any of 'their' business what he made.  Since he was paying, I didn't think I had grounds to object.  I also was rather naive about the mechanics of paying for law school, not knowing that if I worked and lived on my own for a year that would emancipate me and  I might be able to get better financial aid treatment.  Plus, I also wrongly thought that one law school was pretty much like another.  Get a degree and you could go anywhere.  That was not then, nor is it the case now, with law schools in the United States.

So, I entered the Univ. of KY,  the fall of 1973 and was immediately gobsmacked by the difference in the attitude towards women at the law school vs what I had encountered at Macalester College.  Initially, I  lived in an ugly rectangular graduate dorm for singles with a non descript roommate and painted cement block walls.  The dorm had a 'get to know you' barbecue at the end of the first week of school.  I remember that I sat down at an outdoor table with a full paper plate, and some other male graduate student joined me and we began exchanging pleasantries.  He asked me what I was doing in graduate school and when I told him that I was going to law school, he exclaimed quite honestly, "W'al ah din' know legal secataries had to go to law skool!"  Welcome to life in the south.

So take a 20 year old, who has been taking double classes and summer school at a northern liberal arts college for 2 1/2 years on top of being an assistant editor of the college paper and other extracurricular activities,  and who is heartily sick of studying, and place her in a southern law school venue where she a large portion of the male inhabitants and some of their spouses are openly hostile toward her and the other women law students because they are females and taking the places that should rightfully go to  males because said males will, of course, be a career lawyer supporting his family, and these brazen hussies are there merely looking for husbands. Or better yet, they are all lesbians. You have a recipe for disillusionment and academic burn out.  I did not do well grade wise my first year.  What I did do was give outrageous parties..
By early second year, I figured out that if I wanted to turn things around for me academically, I needed to put the pedal to the metal and find a way to distinguish myself.  Law review was out because membership was determined by one's grades at the end of first year, and I did not have the requisite marks.  But I could join the Moot Court Board, in my second year, if I entered the competition and my written brief and my oral argument placed me in the top 24 of the competitors.  This was appellate advocacy, so you were given  fictional decisions from the District Court and the Court of Appeals, which you took as a baseline to fashion your fictional appeal to the United States Supreme Court. 

I recall that the issue given us in the fall of 1975, dealt with discrimination and had a procedural question, and a substantive question.  You took one side of the issue and were partnered with another law student and split the writing and argument duties for your side.  My partner, Lew, was a very nice guy but he was even more of a procrastinator than I was.  In fact his part of the brief was not completed at the time it had to be turned in for grading, so I had to make my case to the Board that I should not be penalized for being late along with him.   

Then the oral arguments were scheduled.  You argued against another team who had been assigned the opposite side of the issue.  I don't remember anything from our arguments at this point, but I made the cut and was a member of the Moot Court Board.  All was going well for my plans to bring me up by my bootstraps.  In the spring of second year, I decided to up the ante, and run for President of the Board.  As I was not good enough to have made the national team (those folks were truly golden tongued orators, and I doubt that even had I worked every available moment, that I could have made the impression that they did), I determined that the way I could distinguish myself was to be elected President.  To my knowledge there had never been a woman president of the Moot Court Board .  It involved lobbying other members on my behalf, which was also a new experience, and in the end, I won by one vote over Herb Miller, a very nice guy.

We all had our pictures taken and displayed in one of the glass fronts on the first floor of the law school.  As President, my major job was to organize and run the the second year competition.  This included passing out the record below to the second year students , arranging partners for those who did not have them and assign sides, set deadlines, get all the Moot Court Board members to grade the briefs, and arrange for them to judge the oral arguments.  I also had to find timers for all of the oral arguments and remember desperately corralling and cajoling  first year students in the hall outside the courtroom to help with timing (thank you Tim!).   But unexpected issues came up.  Like when some of the books that had pertinent cases and writings on the 2d year Moot Court issue  (an antitrust question) kept disappearing from the library. 

Now the library was a place where many law students studied for long stretches of time, and I remember well some of the highjinks that went on to relieve the stress.  Like the time there was an unclaimed  briefcase on a table next to where I was studying, and all of a sudden a wee little voice came from it, saying "Let me out....Let me out!!!"  Someone had left a small tape recorder running inside.  Or the time a senior student came down from the second floor of the library where the study carrels were--they were assigned only to seniors and they were lockable--exclaiming that she could not believe that they were large enough, but someone had just had sex in the carrel next to her.

So, when word came back to the Moot Court Board members that books and cases and  law review articles had gone missing, I convened a committee and we investigated and took names.  We found several culprits and downgraded their briefs as a result, but I don't think we disqualified anyone outright.  It was distasteful and surprising to me, because I had not fully learned how brutally competitive law school could get.

Also during first semester of third year, I quickly got underway with obtaining a speaker for the annual Moot Court banquet in the spring.  This was my responsibility as  president, and I wanted to take care of this as soon as possible to increase our chances of landing  a prestigious speaker.  So I made an appointment to meet with the dean of the Law School, George Hardy.  Dean Hardy was from Texas and he taught Oil and Gas law.  It was a running joke to say you'd  'passed Gas,' not because of the difficulty of the course, but because of the subject matter. When I went and spoke with Dean Hardy, he was quite affable and told me not to worry about a thing because he had arranged for US Presidential candidate, former Texas governor, John Connelly, to come and speak at the banquet.  I was flattered and very excited.  This could gain prestige for  the Moot Court Board program which might help catapult it into the top ranks in the nation, perhaps increasing Kentucky's reputation.  I went away from the meeting a happy little camper.

Spring semester rolled around and the banquet was scheduled for mid April.  I had not heard anything  from the Dean about the speaker, so in early March I had  another meeting with him.  This one did not go so well. He told me that Governor Connelly couldn't come, however he was sure another speaker could be found, but he was busy and I would have to come back another time to discuss it with him.  He was abrupt and imperious and I came away from that meeting despondent and concerned.

While mulling over the missing speaker problem, I recalled an article that had run in the Louisville Courier Journal a week or so prior in its Sunday magazine.  It concerned a Louisville lawyer named Dan Taylor, who was making his reputation a la William Kunstler, defending black men who had been accused of killing white policemen.  The article was very sympathetic and laudatory to the work Taylor had been doing, taking cases no one else in the bar would touch, and sometimes even getting acquittals.  His methods were outrageous--they included giving the finger to a judge in the heat of trial (for which he was locked up in contempt of court)--but this was still a time close to Watergate and Patty Hearst and the Attica riots, among other events, to make such actions as taken by Taylor to seem both outlaw and justified under the circumstances.  I thought to myself, what if we invited Dan Taylor to speak at the Moot Court banquet?  It would give him an opportunity to talk trials to students who were interested in trials and perhaps to explain his behaviour to us as well on a subject of topical importance.  What could go wrong?  I called up his office and asked if he would be interested in speaking at the banquet, and he very promptly replied that indeed he would.  

I then met with the Dean and told him not to worry, that I had asked Dan Taylor to speak at the Moot Court Banquet.  I got to watch the wheels come off the bus in the next ten minutes of our meeting.  Dean Hardy was not a small man, and I was privileged to see  his face turn red and blow up to twice his size as he told me in no uncertain terms that Dan Taylor was a disgrace to his profession and that if he spoke, all the donors to the law school would withhold their funding and I would be personally held responsible for such a failure.  And that I had better disinvite him.  As politely as I could, I responded that I had  invited him and I didn't think that disinviting him sent the appropriate message.  Dean Hardy said, "We'll see about that," and sent me from his office.

Several days later, I was summoned to the Dean's office.  There, Dean Hardy informed me that he had invited John Rosenberg, head of the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund, to speak at the Moot Court banquet and that NOW I had to disinvite Dan Taylor. 

At this point, knowing that events were beyond my capacity to control,  I called a meeting of the full Moot Court Board.  I explained the situation to them.  I set out the facts and told them that this had gotten out of hand, and that I was bringing the issue to them for advice and direction.  We had a several hour meeting/discussion and took a vote at the conclusion.  As I recall, it was unanimous that the invitation to Dan Taylor stand. 

I returned to the Dean and informed him of the action that I had taken.  He told me that in that case, he was instructing the faculty not to attend and that I could take responsibility for everything bad that was going to result from this pending disaster.  I thanked him for his time and we parted ways.  I wrote a note to John Rosenberg apologizing for the mix up, and he was most gracious in his response.

The banquet took place as scheduled.  There were three law professors in attendance as I recall.  Robert Schwemm, who had to be there because he was the Moot Court advisor, John Batt a criminal law professor and an iconoclast himself, and one other, perhaps a Con Law professor.   Steve Bright, the fellow who introduced Dan Taylor, had graduated the year before and his claim to fame at the time, other than being on the national moot court team his senior year, was that he had debated Spiro Agnew on television about the Vietnam War, when he was an undergraduate.  Of course Steve Bright has gone on to be one of the leading lights in the Death Penalty Project and is nationally known as superior advocate.  The introduction that he gave for Dan Taylor was eloquent and forceful and should have been a foretaste of what was to come.  It was not.

Unfortunately, Dan Taylor, while he may have been a great courtroom advocate for his poor, downtrodden clients, was not a very good after dinner speaker.  He was not an orator, he didn't excite in his listeners the sense that great things were being done or that there were opportunities out there.  He was, in short, boring.  It was a letdown after all the sturm und drang that had preceded his appearance.  But that was a life lesson too, I suppose.

You would think the story would be over at this point.  It was for everyone, but me and Dean Hardy.  There was a tradition that the President of the Moot Court Board would apply to clerk for the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court.  And that the Dean of the Law School and one other law professor would provide  references.  I had already obtained one reference from my Wills and Trusts law professor former Dean Matthews,  all I lacked was the reference from Dean Hardy.  So I went to seem him.  I told him that I knew we had our differences with respect to Dan Taylor and I asked him if he could set those aside and write me a letter of reference for the clerkship position.  Dean Hardy told me that he could, and I believed him. 

Right before the Moot Court banquet, I was approached by the President of the Student Bar Association, who asked if I had been given a copy of the letter of reference that Dean Hardy had written for me.  I said I had not.  Well, she  suggested, you might want to see it.  So I went to the Dean's secretary and asked for a copy.  It was a letter, but there was no recommendation in it.  The Dean wrote implying that I was mentally unbalanced because I had cried in the office of the Associate Dean, my first year in law school.  I had cried in the Associate Dean's office first year of law school, but I had thought that was a private matter, one where I had unburdened myself to the Associate Dean about my disappointments with how law school seemed to be a cold, uncaring place.  That the Associate Dean had told this to the Dean, in this day and age, seems incredible.  And given that those  tears had been shed over two years prior, but I had continued to complete law school and in fact was actually doing much better, thank you, might indicate that I was mentally balanced But there the non recommending  reference letter was, like a turd in the punch bowl.  Suffice it to say, I did not get the job.  It was devastating at the time. But I said nothing to the Dean, although I let other members of the Moot Court Board know.

Then came time for graduation:

The valedictorian of our class, was Katherine Ransel.  Katherine, despite being the individual with the highest grade point average in the class was not the editor of the Law Review, as had been the case in all instances before her.  That was because when it came time to make the law review appointments, the faculty in charge could not bring themselves to take the step of appointing the first woman to be editor in chief of the University of Kentucky Law Review.  In addition to her own experience, Katherine was well aware of the controversy surrounding the Moot Court Banquet because she was dating Steve Bright, and had attended the Moot Court banquet with him.  And she made the issue of the Moot Court banquet speaker part of her address to the class, talking about what we had learned, not just from books but from real life experiences.  She talked about the invitation of Dan Taylor to speak in terms of having learned first hand about the First Amendment.  And at that point, all my classmates rose and gave  a standing ovation.  I sat in my seat dumbfounded. 

At the reception following the graduation, I took my parents, at their request, to meet Dean Hardy.  As we made small talk, the Dean asked if I would come and see him the next Monday.  I agreed and met him at the pre arranged time.  He apologized to me for his  letter of non-recommendation and asked if there was anything he could do to rectify it.  I told him no, that I had a job and that things were going well for me.  In retrospect, I wish I had asked for a new letter of recommendation just to see what he would write.  But at that point, I was ready to take off and leave law school behind.  And I did not want to be beholden to Dean Hardy.  He left Kentucky a year or so later and relocated back to Texas.  I have no idea what happened to him, but I was tempted three years later, when I graduated cum laude from the LLM program at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, third in my class, to send him an announcement.  Just to let him know that  I was a real academic success too.

My brothers, our dog Maggie, and me in our parents' backyard at my graduation from UK Law School, 1976.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chemo Update: end of first round of paclitaxel

I had my third infusion of paclitaxel, ending my first round of my third line treatment today.  I now have a week off, which will be much appreciated. 

This round went quite well; I only took one benadryl and no ativan, so I managed to stay awake long enough for lunch with Diane and my daughter afterwards.  Then home to a nap, interrupted a number of times by youngest son who had a flat tire that he was trying to get fixed.  Apparently Volkswagen no longer gives out with their VWs, that crank that loosens lug nuts, so he had to go to the VW dealer to get the lug nuts loosened sufficiently to go back to the tire company and get a replacement tire.  But, of course, tires should be replaced in twos I am told, so he will have to repeat the process tomorrow for the second tire. So, nap sufficiently disturbed after the 5th phone call, I got up and visited with friends who came to walk the dogs. 

I still have my hair, which is cause for amusement and rejoicing but also concern.  Does this mean that the chemo is not working in other ways?  Or is my hair, sufficiently immune because of the insults endured while I was on Tarceva, the epdermal growth factor inhibitor?  Curious minds would like to know this.

My daughter made dinner and we watched episodes of Sex and the City, a tv series I've never seen before today.  I showed her the open letter to the law school Dean posted in 1975 that  I wrote about in the post before this one, so she could decide if any progress has been made in the relations between the sexes, and it was concluded that yes, there has been.  Always room for improvement, however.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Law School Humor circa 1975

I've been going through files out in the garage recently.  I've saved a bunch of paper from high school on forward and although I should be doing something more in the realm of throwing it away, I've been fascinated by some of what has popped up. 

The following petition was posted on the door to the library in law school in 1975, my second year.  I tore it down in a fury and drafted a response, although I never put it up.  But it was interesting to come across this piece of crap recently, because at the time, it was a real reflection of a rather large proportion of  males' thinking in law school.  The names signed, of course are not valid--they're either made up or someone signed someone else's name.  In particular it was quite cruel to put Laura Haller's name down.  She was a woman in my class who was an outspoken women's lib advocate and I am sure the resentment against her ran fierce and deep.  You can click on the petition below to enlarge it.

Ralph Hork, it should be noted was a fictitious person who first ran for student office at Macalester College when I was there.  In addition to nutty campaign slogans, Ralph put ads in the Macalester student newspaper looking for brown shoes to wear with his black suit at his inauguration.  When I arrived at the University of Kentucky law school in 1973, surprisingly, I was not the only Macalester graduate in my class.  So was Henry of Henry and Brenda fame.  Henry and Brenda were a couple at Macalester that seemed to be joined at the waist.  They travelled everywhere around campus together.  When Brenda went to get seconds at meals at the student cafeteria, Henry accompanied her.  This was most unusual at sophisticated, hip, liberated Macalester, and occasioned sufficient comment that I knew exactly who Henry was when I met him at Kentucky though I had never been introduced to him.  Despite his chivalrous reputation and mild demeanor, I discovered that Henry had a wicked sense of humor. 

Henry and I, in our first semester at UK law, ran Ralph Hork as a write in candidate for the position of 3d year representative to the student bar association.  Ralph's platform was "Shoes" and one of his slogans was "Applehood and mother pie."  His posters were paid for by the 'Bring Honest Government Back to Politics Committee, Donald Segretti, Chairman' and the 'Reasonable Man in like Circumstances Committee to Elect Ralph Hork, Glenn Miller Chairman.'  And Ralph actually won the race!  So whoever put the sexist petition above together obviously thought they were clever by putting Ralph's name in as chairman.  How little they knew of true subversive humor.

In the spring of our first year of law school, we were supposed to join a legal fraternity.  Two of the three legal fraternities threw rush parties that spring.  And at least one of them, either Phi Delta Phi or Delta Theta Phi, featured strippers at their party as a means of attracting new members. 

In reaction, Henry and I, together with several other law school classmates (Larry and Mark), formed our own legal fraternity.  We called it Rho Epsilon Hork, sibling society and motorcycle gang.  Our rules were simple but effective.  All members were given the title of President, because that looked good on one's resume.  Upon graduation, members were promoted to the status of immortal because where else could you go after you'd been president. And for the secret ceremonies that we were sure a sibling society and motorcycle gang needed to have, we used Chief Justice Burger, purchased from Olley's Trolley, a burger joint up the street, as our sacramental food of choice.

Eventually by the end of second year, we were forced to realize that we had to join a real law fraternity if we wanted to pad our resumes, so we joined the third fraternity which was much quieter--Phi Alpha Delta.  There we sort of took over the place, and in the fall of third year, discovered that any fraternity on campus could nominate someone to compete as the Homecoming Queen.  So we nominated second year law student, Daryl Driver.  We thought he would be a perfect Homecoming Queen because his resume was so well done, it had gotten him into law school.  Unfortunately, the Panhellenic Council did not see it our way and he was tossed out of the competition after the first round.  Event though our hopes were dashed,  we thought we had made a statement of sorts about Homecoming and queens and what mattered in life. 

These days, as Seattle celebrates gay pride with another record breaking parade, as Washington boasts of two women US Senators and a governor, and as the voters of the state of Washington voted last fall to uphold the law permitting gays to enter into civil relationships, it is clear that at least in parts of this country, attitudes have changed markedly since 1975. 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Passing the Kentucky Bar, October, 1976

Here I am posing with the other new attorneys in the Kentucky Attorney General's office after word that we had passed the bar came out.  Behind us is the then Kentucky Attorney General, Bob Stephens.  To our right is the then clerk of the Kentucky Supreme Court, Martha Layne Collins.  Stephens eventually ended up on the Kentucky Supreme Court and Collins was the governor of Kentucky.  To my left is my friend, Bill Mohr and to my right is a fellow whose last name was Goldberg but who I didn't know very well.

Bob Stephens was a real charmer with the ladies.  In April, 1989  1984, Kentucky was in the final four of the NCAA basketball championship at the Kingdome in Seattle.  The day before the championship started, I got a call from the blue at my office at the Seattle Regional office of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and it went something like this:  "Gina, this is Bob.  Bob Stephens.  Ahm in town for the Wildcats and I was wonderin' if you could have dinner with me tomorrow night?"  I responded that I would have to check with my husband. "You're married?  Well, I'll see you.  Bye."  Click.

Great hilarity ensued.

Chemotherapy Update

This is my second week on paclitaxel chemotherapy.  It is a single agent chemo, and as a result I am done with chemo in about two hours rather than the 6 hours it took with the 3 rounds of  cisplatin/alimta mix that I had back in late 2009.

I have to say that this week went far better than my first week.  No nausea or other neuropathy as far as I could detect.  I have to remember to eat, but food does not taste bad to me.  Fatigue remains, however, I was able to work from Tues-Friday.  

This was the week my hair was supposed to fall out.  I have the wig ready, and my friend, Jane, is knitting a lightweight cap to wear underneath to protect my bald pate.  Only my hair has not fallen out, yet (knock on wood).  It's gotten more fine and flyaway but it's not coming out in clumps like it did when I was on Tarceva.  So, we remain on alert at hair central here, with Odette agreeing to come and shave me when and if the moult occurs.  It's a peculiar halfway place to be in, but that's emblematic of my current situation anyway.

Third round of chemo is this Monday, and then I get a week off before starting another 3 weeks.  Many thanks to my friends Jennifer, Andrea, Peggy, and Renee who have come by this week to walk my dogs.  That has taken a load off my mind. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Summer Solstice

Every year on the summer solstice, I think back to the summer solstice I spent in Germany in 1969.  I've written about my trip before, but I don't think I've exhausted the stories from that time, although several of the next paragraphs are simply repeating some of what I've written here

I went on a student exchange with a group called Youth for Understanding,  We flew from Detroit into Hamburg, but because my parents insisted that I be placed with a Catholic family, I was put on a train to Offenbach in central Germany.  Most of northern Germany was/is Protestant and the group had to go south, to Offenbach, a town next to Frankfurt in central Germany, to find a Catholic family willing to take a US student for 3 months. 

The train, at first seemed to make good speed, but by the time it arrived in Frankfurt it was five hours behind, and verging on night.  I had to change trains in Frankfurt to Offenbach and I didn't speak any German.  Luckily several Germans on the platform became aware of my plight and when I mistakenly boarded the wrong train, they all exclaimed loudly, "Nein!!" and pointed me to the train going to Offenbach.  I got off in Offenbach and no family was, of course, waiting for me.  Again, another stranger saw my distress and came to my rescue, phoning the family for me (at least I had their phone number).  So  after thanking my good Samaritan, I waited.  Now, even though this was 1969, the counterculture had not come to Defiance, Ohio. Neither had a basic understanding of the differences in dress between small town USA and Germany.  I was dressed in some of my preppy best summer clothes:  a pair of yellow Villager shorts and a yellow and orange striped turtleneck top.  What I didn't know was that shorts, at that time in Germany, were socially reserved for young men wearing lederhosen and that I was, in most Germans' eyes, very oddly dressed (to put it mildly).  This started to become clear to me, when two Turkish men tried to strike up a conversation with me.  When I responded in English that I didn't understand them, one of them said, "You from America?  Do you know my brother in New York City?" 

I wasn't exactly sure what was going on, only that it didn't feel right, as they edged closer to me.  Luckily at about this time, my host family, the Wades showed up and the Turkish men took off.   The Wades drove me to their home in Offenbach, a newer three story townhome and I met their three younger sons and their oldest, a daughter, Marita, who was coming to the US in the fall for a year in an American high school.  They wanted me to help tutor her in English so that she made a smoother transition.  But she was way ahead of me in lots of things other than English.  Most of which, I am not sure her folks knew about.  Turns out, she had been going to the USO club in the city, to meet and pick up GI's.  She smoked cigarettes behind her parents' back (which seemed so wonderfully rebellious to me at the time). 

I never went to the USO club--that was too scary with guys that were way older than me.  But on the night of summer solstice, the Wades took Marita and I (at her request) to an outdoor dance for teens held somewhere in Offenbach.  Marita was going to surreptitiously meet her latest GI conquest, and I was left on my own.  Attired again in Villager--but this was a dress thank goodness--I still must've stuck out like a sore thumb.  A young fellow named Paul came by and chatted with me and we danced (fast dances!  which my male classmates at Defiance High School never did) and he promised to call on me.  I remember the night was almost balmy (which seems fantastic given that it is in the 50's today in Seattle) and there was a gorgeous full moon. It was very romantic.

You would have thought that with such a promising start, this acquaintanceship would have blossomed into a lovely summer romance.  Twas not to be.  True to his word, Paul did call and a time was set up for him to come and meet the Wades so they could vet him.  They met him and approved, and it was agreed that we would go out to a park the next Sunday.  Offenbach and Frankfurt didn't have much in the way of older buildings as they had all been destroyed by World War II.  Neither city seemed to have the charm of many European cities that I had read about in National Geographic, so I was looking forward to visiting something different from the unending series of apartments and businesses that made up my early days in Germany.  Something with a bit of Old World charm.

Paul came by at the appointed hour, picked me up and we took the bus to a very large, lovely park where we wandered around the well cared for and very clean paths, exchanged pleasantries and ate ice cream.  Unfortunately, during our walk, things started going downhill for me as I developed severe case of Montezuma's revenge.  Walking increasingly became difficult, and I was in pain trying to hold it together.  I finally blurted out, "Wo ist die Damen?"  You see, I had viewed a restroom sign at the airport with that name on it and thought that meant ladies' room.  Of course, it simply meant "ladies,"  so took a fair bit of time (at least it seemed that way to me, as I struggled not to make a public incident in a very clean park) to get poor Paul to understand what I was asking. 

Once he understood my distress, we walked interminably to a restaurant in the park, where I was pointed to the restroom and finally was able to relieve myself.  At the expense of the small European toilet. It plugged up, and when I went to flush it, using the overhead chain, it overflowed.  There was a scrub brush, not a plunger, in the restroom and I tried to use it to make things better, only succeeding in making them terribly worse.  I finally fled the restroom in shame and somehow we made it back to the Wade's after a very long bus ride with my intestines gurgling rebelliously all the way.  After that, I found that I could not bear to see Paul again.  It simply was too much to be reminded to the horror from the park and what he must have thought of me.  I was such a ninny, but that was then and this was now. 

So each solstice I remember Paul and the full moon that romantic night, and try not to think of the second act in that very short play.

A picture of me and Marita and a friend of her family's when they visited me in Rochester, MN in 1970.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Chemotherapy Calendar

My chemo is set for three weeks on, one week off.  So my second infusion of paclitaxel is Monday at 10am.  This is assuming my bloodwork comes back ok.  I think it should, as I've rebounded over the weekend.  Only to get knocked down again tomorrow.  I'm feeling a bit like one of those punching dolls with the sand weight in the bottom.

Then there will be a second series of Monday infusions starting July 12, again assuming the bloodwork is ok. 

I posted this to my Facebook page, but I think it deserves mention here.  As you know, I am a big fan of http://www.cancergrace.org/.   Dr. Weiss, one of their frequent contributors posted a history of chemotherapy that is quite interesting.  Here's my favorite part:

What is cytotoxic Chemotherapy? A brief history of swords to plowshares

In 1919, Edward Krumbhaar described the effects on the bodies of soldiers exposed to mustard gas. Their lymph nodes shrank and their bone marrows made fewer blood cells. In 1929, Berenblum found that mustard gas could act against cancer in animals. In 1931, Adair and Brag applied mustard to the skin of patients and injected it into a tumor. However, the first successful use of chemotherapy occurred in 1942 at my alma-mater, Yale Medical School. There, Goodman, Gilman, and Lindskog used nitrogen mustard to effectively induce a short remission in a patient with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Harvard developed methotrexate in the 1940s and chemotherapy for solid tumors scored its first cure in 1956, when Roy Hertz and Min Chui Li used it to cure a patient with metastatic choriocarcinoma.

The history of chemotherapy continued through the 1950s and 1960s with a series of acronymed regimens to treat lymphomas and leukemias. In the 1960s, Barnett Rosenberg discovered cisplatin.

Many chemotherapy drugs in use today were originally derived from natural sources. In 1954, Robert Nobel noted that in Jamaica, diabetics sometimes drank periwinkle tea when insulin was not available. It didn’t help the diabetes but it did reduce white blood cell counts. This observation led to the development of the vinca alkaloids-vinorelbine remains a standard lung cancer drug. Taxanes, including paclitaxel and docetaxel were originally derived from the Pacific Yew Tree. In 1966, Chinese ornamental tree extract was found to inhibit topoisomerase, leading to the camptothecans; irinotecan was approved in 1996. Etoposide is derived from the May Apple.

Most cells in the human body do not divide. In contrast, cancer cells frequently divide in order to grow. While dividing, they must copy their DNA, the genetic material of the cell. In some form, all of these drugs work by poisoning the process of DNA replication, thus killing dividing cells. Drugs that work by this mechanism are called “cytotoxic” chemotherapy. Since most of the cells dividing in the cancer patient’s body will be the cancer cells, the chemotherapy is preferentially poisonous to these bad cells, leaving most of the non-dividing normal body cells alone. However, certain cells in the body do divide, causing side-effects in these areas (for example, the cells lining the gut causing nausea, and the cells in the bone-marrow causing low blood counts).

In contrast cytotoxic chemotherapy, biologic (targeted) agents do not work by damaging the DNA of dividing cells. They work by targeting signaling within the cancer cell. The first targeted agent was imatinib, or gleevec, an extremely effective drug for CML; it was approved in 2001. Herceptin was the first targeted antibody (for some breast cancer), with bevacizumab following in 2004 (now a therapy for multiple cancer types).

Maraschino Cherries

I owe my existence to maraschino cherries.  Hard to believe but true.

My parents met while working in the summer of 1950 at Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park.  Mom had been working as a statistician for a small company named Honeywell in Minneapolis after her graduation from the University of Minnesota several years before, and my father, whose college career at Miami University in Oxford OH, had been interrupted by World War II, was just beginning medical school at Case Western.

Mother was a hostess at Old Faithful and Dad was a bartender.  Most of the summer jobs at Yellowstone were filled by college students, or post-college students, and apparently Mom was dating a garbageman at the time.  But she really, really liked maraschino cherries and would sweet talk the bartenders into giving her some during her shift.  Which is how she met my father, and the rest, they say, is history.

The stories were pretty fun, like the time mother and some friends made a long stretch of pipe that ran from the Old Faithful Lodge to the geyser and as the hour approached for the geyser to blow, one of the workers would go out and crank the wheel on top of the pipe, and sure as shootin' Old Faithful would erupt shortly thereafter.   Mother reported that one couple from New York walked away in disgust, with the husband exclaiming, "I knew it was a fraud."

Dad mentioned going out skinny dipping in a lake in back country, falling asleep in the sun and awakening to a very painful sunburn.

As their relationship got more serious, they planned to introduce each other to their respective relatives, when they travelled to Yellowstone to see them.  Each visit was a disaster.  Mother's parents showed up after war was declared in Korea and the talk was that the draft would be reinstated.  My father and several of his friends, learned of this and fatalistically thought that they would be drafted.  So that afternoon, they got rather drunk and were waltzing with each other in the parking lot, when my mother's parents drove up.

My dad's sister Caralou and her husband, Chuck, drove down from Casper, WY to see Dad.   He let Mom know that they were coming to the dining room that night and to be sure to give them a good table.  Instead, she didn't recognize them from the description and seated them right next to the kitchen.

Aunt Caralou, Dad, and Mom in Yellowstone, 1950

Although each got off to a shaky start with the other side of the family, they persevered and were married the next summer:  Aug. 10, 1951.

They started taking us to Montana in the mid 60's for summer vacations at a working dude ranch named Lone Mountain.  It was midway between Bozeman and Yellowstone, so sometimes, we would get a trip to Yellowstone thrown in so they could revisit and reminisce. 

The dude ranch was sold to Chet Huntley and became Big Sky, a ski resort.  I've never been, but I understand it is pretty spectacular.  I think I prefer my memories of sleeping in a rustic log cabin with the corrals within walking distance and going on day long trail rides where sometimes you'd run into a mother moose and her babies or get caught in spectacular lightning storms.  I remember long car rides on the drive from Ohio to Montana, where we'd play endless car games like the animal game or the alphabet game, or if things got really bad, mother would pull out the rosaries and we would say a full mystery to calm us down.  I remember waking up from a nap to see a herd of antelope sprinting up a hill in eastern Montana.  And the time we took the plane to Bozeman instead of driving, getting caught in a terrible storm in the prop plane.  The adults were white knuckling it, sure we were going to crash, but all us kids could do was say "Whee" when the plane took another precipitous dip. 

These days Montana is east, not west for me, but I wonder if those vacations didn't instill in me my deep love of large vistas and mountains, ultimately leading me to Seattle.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What I will do with my Hair

I will donate it to making an oil booms and mats to soak up oil on the Gulf.  The above is a picture of some of the mats that are made from donated hair.  And they work better than conventional booms.

Truly.  <--Watch the you tube video I've attached here.

Go to http://www.matteroftrust.org/ and look at the wonderful things that they are doing to construct better oil booms for the Gulf oil spill.  It is awe inspiring.  And then talk to your hair salon about collecting their hair leftovers and putting them in a plastic bag and then putting the bag into a box and mailing it to matteroftrust.  The sign up address is here for individuals and businesses.  And they take animal hair as well, which is great because Max, my hairy labrador retriever has been shedding like there's no tomorrow.  In fact there's probably more of his hair there than there will be of mine.

It's the least I can do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Desuetude, or Down the Rabbit Hole Again

I had my first injection of the current round of chemotherapy, paclitaxel, on Monday.  I also received steroids, ativan and benadryl to assist in the absorption of the chemo.  Luckily I only had one injection of steroids, so hopefully some of the less pleasant side effects of the platinum based chemo that I received last fall and winter won't recur.

The current main side effect appears to be severe fatigue.  I can get up, and do some work,e.g. participate in settlement conferences by phone or write memos,  but then  I hit the wall and have to rest.  I am  fortunate to be connected to my office via computer, so I can email completed briefs or memos. 

But posting may be light for a while as I adjust to this new regimen and I may not be as quick with my email responses.  Your care and continuing concern, however, have been most appreciated.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Hair has always been a touchy subject for me.  At least since teenage years.  When I was a toddler and into grade school my mother dictated what hairstyle I wore.  As a result, it was always quite short, which when you have 5 kids to care for, made a lot of sense.  However, in 6th grade, the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan and things started changing both in the outside world, and for me.  I began to care about what I looked like, and what I cared about looking like was not what my mother cared about.  Despite my mother's very vocal opposition, I let my hair grow out and by sophomore year in high school, I looked like almost every other girl in my class.  Which, for me, was great!  I fit in:

I learned how to 'roll' my hair at night before I went to bed, to achieve the curls.  This involved parting and separating my hair into inch wide pieces and rolling them on pink or purple plastic rollers with small teeth, and inserting a white plastic pin into the middle of each roller to keep it in place.  The top of my head, the rollers were rolled backwards, and the ones around the side were rolled with an inside motion.  When all the rollers were fixed, a net was placed over them, and then I went to bed.  Yes, that's right, I slept on thousands of tiny plastic teeth.  It took a while to get used to it but when has the pursuit of beauty ever been easy?

Needless to say my mother, who was rather no nonsense about hair, found this hard to tolerate.  But she didn't have any leverage until the middle of my sophomore year, when hard contact lenses first became commercially available.  I was wild to get contacts, again, because I was in full throated pursuit of beauty.  With my glasses on, I looked really dorky as my 7th grade picture demonstrates:

So mother made a deal with me.  In exchange for cutting my hair, I would get contact lenses.  I got a more stylish haircut than the one at the top, but a number of the guys in high school started calling me "Twiggy,"  which was the name of a certain British model with very short hair.  I didn't want to be Twiggy, I wanted to be Jean Shrimpton.  Fat chance.  I remember the spring of my sophomore or junior year, we had a computer dance.  You filled out a questionnaire listing your physical attributes and interests and what you were interested in a guy, and then somone coded them and ran the questionnaires through a computer.  You got the results and spent the evening of the dance, trying to find who the computer had paired you up with.  For me it was easy.  I had two matches.  Both dorks.  My girlfriends, the ones with long hair had 8 or more matches.  It was because when they listed their preferences on the questionnaire, all the boys listed long hair as one of their desires. 

Somehow I made it all the way through the rest of high school with short hair, but as soon as I got to college, I stopped getting it cut.  By the time I graduated from college, I had, what my daughter calls mermaid hair.   It was just like most every other woman at the time, but what a relief not to stick out from the crowd again.  I I could twist it up behind my head, and put a stiff leather stick barrette over my hair to hold it in place.  The only problem I found with long hair, in this pre-blow dryer age, was that it took forever to dry after washing!  I could not venture outside into the frigid Minnesota winters with wet hair, because my hair would freeze into icicles.

I've been through many hair phases since college, of long hair, short hair, bleached hair, henna.  But the wonderful thing about it all, is that I was in control.  It was my hair and I could do what I wanted with it.  And it was thick hair that took abuse easily.  I took it for granted and did as I pleased. 

All of this is a preface to say that I am losing my hair this week to a new chemotherapy regime.  My third line treatment, after consultation with Dr. M at Seattle Cancer Care will not be taxotere, as GH recommended, but paclitaxel, another taxol derivative, but with fewer side effects than the taxotere.  However, keeping my hair is not one of them.  So I've spent the weekend trying to come to grips with letting go another part of myself in this continuing chess game of cancer.

Luckily I had three good friends from college, Lillian, Kim, and Ginny, who were with me this weekend and we spent most of the time talking, and eating, and talking and walking (at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life around Greenlake), and talking and laughing, and talking and crying.  These are women who have led bold, interesting, caring lives.  We caught up on  36 years since college and reminisced about our years at Macalester.  Their presence and love was a gift of grace which helped me through this very difficult time.  And it is through their friendship and the friendship of so many of you, that I can give up my hair and continue this journey. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Update June 9, 2010

Last Friday, I had an appointment with a new oncologist at Group Health.  On Thursday, after the disastrous news from the genetic mutation testing and the delay in informing me from GH, my daughter and my friend, Diane, convinced me that it would be in my best interest to see a doctor as soon as possible to get a new plan in place to treat the cancer.  So when I called Group Health Thursday afternoon, the only doctor who was quickly available, was the new doctor  from Tacoma, Dr. R, who had appointments in Seattle, on Friday.  I made one for 11 am, so both Diane and my daughter could attend. 

Dr. R was a warm, empathethic and competent oncologist.  I was impressed with her overall knowledge and the level of care she provided in our initial visit.  She was of the opinion that the next step for third line treatment would be chemotherapy with either taxotere as a the single agent or gemcitabene (gemzar).  Taxotere has significant side effects, including major fatigue, and total hair loss, with a 35%  chance of some success.  Gemzar had fewer side effects and its success rate is 25%.  Given my luck with the odds through this entire process, neither seems palatable to me.

At about 1pm, Friday, I received an email from Dr. C at Group Health informing me that Group Health would cover my care with Dr. M at Seattle Cancer Care.  At least they would cover the cost of appointments with him.  So, although I am initially very impressed with Dr. R at Group Health, I am going to take GH up on their offer and turn my treatment over to Dr. M.

Tonight, I also got a call from my dear friend, Mary Pat, the friend I went to Hawaii with.  It turns out that she's the administrator for the medical school at the University of Colorado and friends with an internationally known oncologist, Dr. Ross Camidge.  You would have thought this might have come up in our conversations over dinner or at the pool with our umbrella drinks in hand, but NOOOO.   Dr. Camidge is one of the pre-eminent experts in the field of ALK rearrangement, and as a personal favor to Mary, he has agreed to review my medical records to see if he can come up with treatment recommendations that include other clinical trials that I might qualify for.   As Joni Mitchell used to sing, "two heads are better than one."  So, that helps me end today on a positive note.

It has been a tough week.  Along with the disappointing test news, I am noticing that my cough is getting worse and so is my shortness of breath.  I had to take an Ambien to get past the cough last night. 

The prospect of a less than 50% chance of success with the 3d line chemo, which promises to take away most of my current quality of life was also causing me a great deal of heartache and  I was far more weepy today, than I have been in a very long time. 

I saw my family doctor today for my annual checkup and I mentioned to her my disappointment in the Group Health system and how she handled my cancer diagnosis last fall.  I had intended to do this when I met with her, but it's hard for me to bring things like this up with the people who have disappointed me, and it left me feeling depressed rather than relieved.   So Mary's call tonight helped bring me back out of the abyss.  As did dinner at my friend, Anne's, and the cheese cake from Juniors in Brooklyn, that my friend Katy sent as a surprise.  It arrived today and has been rather well sampled and appreciated.

And the other good news is that the Lung Association of Washington through their great attorney/fundraiser, Brent, gave me 4 tickets to the Mariners/Yankees game on July 8 with the promise that my guests and I can also go to batting practice.  That, despite the M's terrible season thus far, is also something to look forward to.

Blessings on those who continue to follow me, and those who send me emails during the sometimes long stretches between posts.  I appreciate them so much.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Back to Square One

This morning, having heard nothing about the ALK rearrangment test, I emailed Dr. M at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, rather than contact Group Health.  This was because I have not yet received any word from Group Health about the EGFR test, and those results were available last Friday.  So I figured that if they had not reported to me something that was available almost a week ago, they probably would not have the test results for the ALK testing.

Within a half hour of my email, Dr. M called me back.  Unfortunately the ALK test was negative. For me to participate in the clinical trial, it had to be positive.  I asked Dr. M, when the test results had come back.  He said on Tuesday.  But, again, I had and have received no word from Group Health on the results of either test.  I have no idea how long I would have had to wait to get the results from Group Health.  But it is clear that they did not contact the UW to obtain the results.

So I am back at the begininning, with no treatment plan.  And back with a health care provider that has been incredibly unresponsive, one that I do not trust to look our for my best interests.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Oktavia Dertinger Carstarphen 1939-2010

I lost a friend today.  One I never met in person, but one, who in the past ten years has become a constant and valued presence in my life.  My friend is Oktavia Carstarphen.  We met, via the internet, on a private attorneys discussion group.  When my group of internet women attorney friends sent me my "get well" charms for my strength and health charm bracelet, she chose a 3D model of the earth, which was quite understandable given her life.

Oky, as she liked to go by, was an attorney in Galveston, TX in a solo practice, representing people charged with crimes, probably folks that couldn't afford the fancy priced criminal defense attorneys.  Okywas funny and smart and it was clear from her first post in our forum that she was not originally a US citizen because she wrote "Ich bin ein Berliner!"  Turns out she was from  East Germany, where her father, Georg Dertinger was the first foreign minister in the Communist government, the German Democratic Republic.  In 1953, he was arrested for espionage and put on trial in a show trial.  Oky, and the rest of her family were arrested and put in prison. Oky was kept in solitary confinement for part of that time. Here is the obituary that was published today in a Galveston neighborhood paper:


Oktavia Carstarphen had been a criminal defense attorney in Galveston for years, after serving her apprenticeship in the District Attorney's office.
She was one of those attorneys who felt it her duty to represent little people -- the people who, whether or not they were guilty, she felt could easily not get a fair trial if they weren't well represented.

She knew what it was like to be incarcerated, and she knew that sometimes poor legal representation was the cause of a guilty verdict.

Before she came to America from Germany, as a teenager she was held as a political prisoner, serving many months in solitary confinement.

And although she never seemed to be able to rid herself of her thick German accent, she was a very effective criminal defense attorney.

For many months Oktavia fought her last battle, this time trying to overcome cancer. This morning she passed away, but not without having left Galveston a better place, and its citizens and most especially other attorneys, a model for appreciating freedom and defending justice.

She was passionate about her clients and her politics.  She was a good friend.  I will miss her.

Brussels 1978-79

This is the apartment building I lived in during my year as a graduate student in Brussels, the capital of  Belgium. Geographically, Belgium is located and operated as a buffer zone between France and Holland.  It was part of Duchy of Burgundy in the 14th and 15th centuries.  When the Dukes of Burgundy died out, Belgium was batted back and forth between the Austrian Hapsburgs (remember the Holy Roman Emperor who was neither Holy nor Roman?), the Spanish Hapsburgs, and the French, finally ending up as part of the Netherlands in 1815.  In 1830  Belgium took control of its own destiny and became a constitutional monarchy.  Initially French was the official language of the country, despite the fact that the northern half of the country spoke mainly Dutch or Flemish.  In 1968, the movement to make Flemish an official language of Belgium took off and in 1970, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel was split from the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, originally founded in 1834.  "Vrije" or "Libre" denoted that the University was not tied to the Church or to the state, and instead was dedicated to academic freedom.  I attended the Flemish half of the University of Brussels, which meant that most of my classes were in English.  And, as Brussels was the center of the European Economic Union, many of my professors were diplomats or high level bureaucrats with the EEU.

But when I first showed up in Brussels, early in the fall of 1978, I was unaware of the linguistic dichotomy and the existence of two separate Universities. So it took me the greater part of the morning at the Universite Libre (the French University) trying to understand the administrators there, who only spoke french, who were telling me that I needed to go about a mile east to find the Flemish university and the graduate program in international law that I was looking for.  The two campuses could not have been more disparate.  The French University, given its longstanding existence, had buildings that looked very much like the apartment building where I lived, pictured above.  The Flemish University was only 8 years old and its grounds looked like this:

Once I located the Program on International Legal Cooperation in the building above, I met the Secretary of the graduate program, Annie Lodens Crombe.  She was a middle aged woman with an open face and curly brown hair.  Her kind manner could fool you at first into thinking she was just a secretary, when in fact she was the brains and energy behind the program.   I presented myself and told her that I was interested in learning more about the program and would like to apply to enter it next fall.  "Next fall?" she responded in English with a twinkle, "We have an unexpected opening right now.  Would you like to apply for this year?"

Was she serious?  Turns out she was.  It was the biggest gamble I had taken in my life (not to mention their gamble on me).  But I really had nothing to lose, so why not?  Annie brought me the application to fill out, which I did.  I was able to use the name of an attorney in Kentucky who had done the program several years previous, and was well regarded by Annie, as a reference.  Once the application was completed, Annie took it to the Dean and the admissions committee, who reviewed it on very short notice.  Before the end of the day, Annie informed me that my qualifications were more than sufficient (assuming, of course that what I had written down checked out with due diligence from my American college and university), and I could start classes next week!  I remember walking from the Universiteit back to my youth hostel rather than taking the bus because I was so excited, I could not sit on public transport for that long.  It was like walking on air to think that I could live in Europe for a year.

I called my parents long distance (this was a big deal in those days to use the phone from Europe to the states) and told them  surprise   I had been accepted to graduate school in Brussels, and would use my retirement money from my recent job with the Commonwealth, to pay for the first semester and part of the second semester at VUB.  Would they (big gasp) be willing to loan me the money for the rest?  To their credit, they did not blink and agreed to help me out financially.

Staying at the student hostel, sharing a large room with 10 or 20 other women, was not the best living situation for the school year, so I needed to find a place to live. Quick.  Next day, I set out back to the area, around the universities, thinking that I could read and respond to ads that I had seen placed in the windows of businesses.  Several problems immediately presented themselves after I started reading the ads:  1) if I took an apartment I would have to furnish it myself or pay quite a bit extra for a furnished apartment, 2) most of the good places had already been taken, and 3) I really needed a refresher course in French just to comprehend the substance of the advertisements, because, of course, I was gravitating to the more picturesque part, i.e. the French University area.  As I was trying to focus on the "to-let" signs behind the shop windows, a short, nicely dressed, elderly gentleman came out of the store carrying a package.  He addressed me in french and from what I could understand, he was asking if I was looking for a place to rent.   I replied, in broken French, that yes, I was.  He said he and his wife had a room in their apartment to let, would I like the address?  I said "mais oui, Monsieur," so he recited it to me, 29 Avenue Antoine Depage, and told me his wife was home, so I could go and see it, then he went on with his shopping.  He had the most amazing eyes, blue with gold flecks in them.

I had absolutely no idea where 29 Avenue Antoine Depage was but I pulled out the small map in my purse and stepped towards what I thought was the right direction.  Forty five minutes later I was back to the street I had originally started on, with no idea whatsoever where I was supposed to go.  "Oh well," I thought, "let's get back to finding something else."  I walked to a cross street and began moving west down the cobblestone sidewalk when who should appear but the man with the amazing eyes, again!  "Did you already talk to my wife?" he asked me.  "No," I blurted out, embarassed, "I got lost."  "Come,"  he said, "I will show you."  So he walked with me to 29 Avenue Antoine Depage and there I met his wife, Mme Uzchia Ingber.  He was Leon Ingber*.  And I took the room that they offered:

I don't remember the monthly rent, but I do remember that it was 30 Belgian francs extra to take a bath.  Each time.  As a result I made do with the bidet and cat baths, taking at most, one or two full baths each week.  The energy to heat the water was quite expensive.  But I didn't have to buy furniture, or dishes, or silverware.  I could use the Ingber's, and they reserved space for me in their refrigerator.  Another student rented the third bedroom in their apartment, but she never socialized with us.

Student life was far different in Brussels than it had been in the US.  I was considered a foreign student, and the Belgians were disinclined to go out of their way to make friends with non-natives.  Also, there were not the varieties of extracurricular activities that one normally associated with American student life, to break the ice.  The Ingbers, were quite concerned about how I was faring socially, and were constantly commiserating with me about how hard it was for me to meet and make friends.  In their concern, they became my second set of parents,  including me in their evening gatherings with their friends, to make up for my lack of a social life.

That fall the tv series, The Holocaust was broadcast on  Brussels television.  I watched one episode with them.  After it concluded, they talked with me about their experiences during World War II.  Now the Ingbers spoke French, Russian, Polish, German and a bit of Flemish.  But they did not speak English.  So my understanding, again, is limited by my limited French comprehension here.  But this is what I recall of our discussion that evening and others that we had during the year I lived with them:

Leon and Uzchia Ingber were from Poland.  They married and came to Brussels in the late 1920's where Leon was a student at the Universite.  He eventually was awarded a PhD degree in Chemistry.  Rather than return to Poland, he took a job with a Swiss pharmaceutical company in Brussels and they began their family here.  Then the Germans, and Kristallnacht came to Brussels.  The Ingbers were Jewish, as were most of their friends.  A friend of theirs had hidden in a wardrobe during Kristallnacht, and when she emerged, her hair had turned completely white, according to Uzchia.  So the Ingbers gave their young son up to gentile friends in the Belgian countryside, left everything else that was in their apartment except some clothes,  and went to live in the Swiss pharmaceutical factory where Leon worked.  They hoped that with the Swiss having the guise of neutrality, they would escape detection. 

And they did.  No one working at the pharmaceutical factory ratted them out during the entire time of the war.  Uzchia told of how their friends tried to hide throughout the city, and how she helped distribute food to those in hiding.  She talked about one Jewish fellow who became an informant for the Nazis.  The Germans would put him in one of their SS limousines and drive him around the streets of Brussels where he would point out Jews he would see on the street, who would be swept up, arrested, and deported to parts unknown.  One day, the turncoat pointed out a young man to the SS, who was Jewish, but whose parents had never had him circumcised, thinking (quite radically for the period) that it was a barbaric practice.  When the SS  jumped out of the car to arrest him, he protested that he was not Jewish because he was not circumcised.  The Germans had him drop his trousers in the middle of the street to prove it, and such was their prejudice, they refused to believe that a Jew could be uncircumcised, and they let the young man go.

The Ingbers had many friends in their apartment building, many of whom were also Jewish.  One morning, one of their neighbors was visiting from several floors up.  I had a blue and white narrow striped caftan on, and their friend told me that the fabric reminded her of the prison uniform she had to wear in the concentration camp.  I stopped wearing it after that.  All of the members of Leon's and Uzchia's families who were back in Poland, died during World War II, save for a couple of distant cousins, one of whom went to Israel and another who went to South America.  When the war ended, the Ingbers were joyfully reunited with their son.  They adopted the daughter of friends of theirs who had died.  Their son became a law professor and eventually Dean of the Law School at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, but that was a number of years after I lived there.

One would think that the Ingbers' experiences during World War II would have made them very conservative and very unquestioningly pro-Israel.  But they  actually criticized many of the actions taken by Israel during the time that I lived with them.  What sticks in my mind was how Dr. Ingber would call Menachem Begin, "that old terrorist," harkening back to the Irgun and the bombing of the King David Hotel.  I also remember that they had a subscription to "Le Drapeau Rouge," the communist newspaper, and read it avidly.

The Ingbers were truly my second set of parents and I was blessed to live with them while in Brussels.

* Leon is the name of the Ingber's son.  I am not certain that it was M./Dr. Ingber's first name, but I am using it as a placeholder until I verify it via snail mail.