THE AGING OF MARION B. SULZBERGER ERVIN EPSTEIN, M.D.
Marion Sulzberger has led a fascinating and excifing life, and has aged gracefully and interestingly. About 5 years ago, Marion was at our house for Thanksgiving dinner. He volunteered a toast. With a flourish he proclaimed, "I give thanks to my parents not only for my longevity but for giving me an heredity that allov^ed me to maintain my intelligence." Yet, at the age of 76 he wrote, "Keeping pace with the physical deterioration there is undoubtedly some mental deterioration, though the latter is not as obvious. It seems to me that what one loses in memory and acuity one can cover up with devices gained through experience. So most of my young colleagues, former patients and old friends believe I'm still at my peak mentally. Indeed, they accord my discussions and advice more respect than I feel they deserve. This makes me uneasy."' As for his assessment of his physical condition at 76, we read this: "We have lived on the top of a fine hill in San Francisco for the last 6 years. During these 6 years I've walked regularly the 5 fairly steep blocks to and from our apartment and Union Square, where the shops are. 1 do it more slowly and less easily each year. . . . I could go on with this sad litany and talk about my teeth, my eyes, my hearing, my joints. But I shall not, because 1 do not want to give the impression that I regard myself as a sick man. That is far from the case. And
From the Department of Dermatology, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, California
my physicians and other men regard me as a very healthy old man. I feel i\ne and vigorous most of the time and enjoy life and look forward to new adventures. I believe that what I have just said about tTiinor infirmities describes only the common developments in most healthy men of my years. Feeling so good most of the time accents another sign of age: the shorter my actuarial life expectancy, the more I seem to value life and to hate the idea of leaving it or being unable to enjoy it fully. Here too, the law holds good: the shorter the supply, the greater the demand and value seem to be."' Now at 82, Marion is a study in graceful geriatrics. He is still slim and straight. His physiognomy definitely does not reflect his age. His mind is sharp, his discussions pertinent and his advice sound, albeit Marion of today is not the Marion of 40 years ago. We all lose battles, large and small, to Father Time. He is active—^ no real retirement for him. He travels, lectures, writes, plans educational movies, lives an active social life and in all ways conducts himself as he did many years ago. Perhaps he does not perform these tasks as efficiently or effortlessly, but he is still a man to be reckoned with. And as an aside: my
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DERMATOLOCY
mother, who perished at thie age of IOOV2 years, always used to say, "Life is too short." His attitude toward age is best summed up in the following true story. As his eightieth birthday approached, I received a letter from the Dermatology Department of the University of California Medical School, San Francisco announcing the impending event. The letter stated that Marion once expressed a desire for a certain advanced calculator that required a person with a Ph.D. degree in mathematics to operate. They solicited a donation. 1 reasoned that Marion, brilliant as he might be, could never learn to use this instrument. Nonetheless, I forwarded my modest contribution. Just before his birthday, I met Marion and asked him if he had received the gift from the dermatology department. "No. What is it?" "You know I can't tell you that. But 1 will give you a hint. It's something that no other 80-year-old man could use."
He attempted to guess what the gift might be but failed miserably. Two weeks later, I met him at a meeting. He rushed up to me and announced that he had solved the riddle — he knew what the present was. "What?" "A gross of prophylactics!" "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but that's not it." Marion walked away mumbling, "What else could no other 80-year-old man use?" A month or so later he had surgery. While he was in the hospital, I sent him 3 prophylactics. He responded promptly with a note thanking me for the "perfectly fitting gift." You know, not only is the story true but I think Marion was serious about the whole thing. Reference 1. Sulzberger, M. B.: Age and retirement. Bull. N. Y. Acad. Med. 2nd Series, 47:369, 1971.
Drug allergy is important because, together with eczematous allergy to simple chemicals, it presents the simplest, most clear-cut and precise conditions for the study of the basic phenomena of specific sensitization and desensitization. All the disturbing and complicating factors due to the complex and often unknown constitution of "natural" or biologic allergens, including those derived from infectious microorganisms, can to a large extent be avoided in studies employing simple chemicals as allergenic agents. But drug allergies are important also because they are among the most common — and perhaps also among the most commonly overlooked — of all the cutaneous allergic manifestations which confront the practitioner.— Sulzberger, M. B.: Dermatologic Allergy. Springfield, Charles C Thomas, 1940, p. 365.