from Russell Shefrin
My late father, Norman Shefrin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on July 5, 1907, the youngest of six. His beloved older brother, William, was killed in World War One. For heroism in the incident, which resulted in his death, William was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, posthumously. According to the family story, the result of all this was that the government provided some money, eventually enabling my father to attend medical school in Vienna, Austria, which he did after trying out other careers, including that of shoe salesman.
Unfortunately, a couple of years after my Dad’s graduation as a physician, World War Two began. Soon, he was drafted into the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army. It was during his service in the European campaign that he contracted pulmonary tuberculosis. The search for a cure would ultimately take him to Trudeau Sanatorium in the late 1940s. This was in the era before anti-TB drugs were well established. Therefore, during his stay at Trudeau, my Dad underwent a surgical procedure known as a “phrenic nerve crush”. This operation causes the diaphragm on the affected side to become paralyzed, which in turn allows the lung on that side to collapse and, in so doing, to close off the tuberculosis cavity, allowing it to heal. While successful, the procedure left him without the stamina needed to return to medical practice in his native New York City.
His wife, Anne, my mother, having joined him in Saranac Lake, he obtained a position on the medical staff of Ray Brook State Tuberculosis Hospital. He remained there until his retirement in 1968. Thereafter, he and my mother lived on Petrova Avenue, “in town”, as we Ray Brookers called it, for a number of years before moving to Glens Falls, where he passed away two days after his eighty-ninth birthday.
My Dad had a gentle sense of humor. It is evident in the inscriptions on the backs of the accompanying photographs, written as he adjusted to his new surroundings, far from the places he had lived. I assume that the captions on the pictures were intended for my mother, so she could get a sense of what daily life was like at Trudeau. (Spelling is exactly as in the original. I told you my Dad had a sense of humor!)