A brief photo retrospective:
Annex V barracks for enlisted & NCO Brooke Army Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Texas 1958 Private Tod Mikuriya US56280043 and unnamed colleague.
Mikuriya, Tod H.05207844 2d Lt. Medical Service Corps, USAR 348th General Hospital at summer camp at Camp A.P. Hill, Virginia 1962. Getting close to completing my active reserves requirement of six years. Previously, I was able to finagle TDY to a facility of choice- specifically, as a social work officer at Letterman Army Hospital, San Francisco psychiatric unit- a milieu familiar to me as an enlisted man. But this was middle of nowhere, Virginia. My job: Sanitation Officer. Inspect units and report to battalion headquarters. My reports would count on the rating of the unit. The visit struck terror in the master sergeants and commanding officers. But there was good reason to have a health inspector to remediate the often poor conditions and judgment by the NCO's and available equipment. It is just not OK to have a flooded shower or a pool of dirty water outside the kitchen. The intimidation and reinspection before writing them up was and effective strategy. In good conscience I could sign off giving them high marks.
Mikuriya, Tod H. 2d Lt MSC USAR Summer 2 week active duty Camp AP Hill, VA with the 348th Gen Hosp usually in South Philadelphia. A gratuitous militaristic pose that could be someday utilized for political purpose. Made special arrangement to join the pistol team to practice at the army base in Germantown instead of driving all the way across town to the main army base where formation was held before boring and irrelevant lectures. Previous active duty helped orient me to navigating the system to have the army accommodate me as much as possible.
Tod H. Mikuriya, M.D., Intern, Southern Pacific Hospital, San Francisco, 1962 - 1963 that I picked out after asking questions about things like number of nights on call per week, pay, emergency room, and program. This rotating internship was at the flagship hospital of the Southern Pacific railroad, then the major western railroad with tracks to Ogden, Utah, El Paso, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona. The services to the employees of the S.P. were also extended to the Pacific Motor Transport company which was a trucking company. The coverage of health services was remarkable compared with the privatized rationed care of today.
SPH was governed by a board comprised of management and union representatives. Patients were referred in by contract physicians in smaller cities or towns without specialized medical care. The physician had control over the case and the patient could not return to work without an OK. All transportation and housing expenses were paid for by the hospital. There was no limitation or restricted formulary. If a test or medication was not available it was ordered without question. One of the best features about this rotating internship was the on call schedule of every 4th night and no ER. As a result I was not operating at the sleep deficit level that interns and residents must endure at San Francisco General Hospital with their busy ER. My former house mate from Philadelphia chose SFGH because it sounded nice and prestigious. When we finally were able to get together for a quick supper, he fell asleep with his face in his plate.
Fremont Drag Strip, California 1963 1959 Porsche 356B 1600 cc grossly uncompetitive. No faster than a VW in the same vintage because of weight. A greatly overrated car but Good for an intern in the San Francisco bay area. Good for participant observer of competitive amateur driver subculture. The Creeping Caduceus.
1972 - 1973 with my 1949 Studebaker Starlite coupe
Revisited the owning of an old Studebaker Champion I once had as a college student. The above 1949 Stude was owned back in 1972 and lent to Jack Herer to drive from Berkeley to Sacramento to lobby for Proposition 19. It was also nice as a campaign car in the candidacy for mayor of Berkeley a year later. This was a revisitation of owning a 1947 Champion business coupe and then a 1948 Champion Starlite coupe. Driving down the NJ Turnpike in the summer of 1955 in a '47 business coupe the oil line leaked, the engine overheated and seized. I spent the rest of the summer rebuilding the engine in the mosquito dominated evenings. The crankshaft had to be reground and oversize bearings installed. Found a '48 Starlite coupe in a wrecking yard with a nice body but a burned out engine. Junked out the business coupe and transferred the engine, overdrive, and shorter drive shaft to the Starlite coupe. Drove the Starlite back to Oregon and sold it for a profit. The only minor ordeal was the failure of the generator in Nebraska. In the motel I examined the generator and found worn out brushes. Early the nest morning bought a set at the local garage, installed them, put the generator back on, and went on our way. To anyone starting on such a repair, steamcleaning the engine and chasis is strongly recommended.
Becoming a Stude owner necessitates networking with other Stude owners. The Studebaker Drivers Club in the S.F. Bay Area is/was a loose confederation of individuals, each imprinted on a specific model/year through some previous personal association. Usually it was a relative and fond memories of the car and events. Mine must have been working on some unresolved issues from a previous ordeal. Why do we select which cars?
The post WWII Studebaker was still stuck in the prewar engineering era. The radical body with wrap around rear windows would evoke comments as "It's going the wrong way." covered up an obsolete transverse leaf front suspension and rotary friction shocks. Unlike contemporary cars, the alignment consists of numerous specialty tools to measure angles, caster, camber, toe in or out within published specifications. Today there are but a few adjustments but the complexity of the measuring tools remains and availability to the do it yourselfer much less.
It had good points: excellent heater and direct ventilation from a lateral vent. The heater was located underneath the seat and would quietly and effectively heat the car. The black light ultra violet light source and luminescent numerals was superior in unobtrusive visibility. The car was quiet on the road. The complex but effective hill holder permitted setting the brake until the clutch was released. The overdrive with free wheeling below 24 MPH allowed clutchless shifting between second and third gears. By contemporary standards it is sluggish, lumbering, and with a lot of body roll on the curves.
The back seat was rather narrow but had unexpected large and deep storage in the arm rests.
Salem, Oregon, 1965 off duty from the state hospital, I would stoop to mechanical pursuits to fill a vacuum of time. I took delivery of a new beetle that was brought up to SCCA specifications by the VW - Porsche dealership. Eyerly motors who were deeply immersed in racing class E Porsches. The permitted alterations for C sedan class were minimal. The engine was balanced, the valve ports polished. An Empi extractor exhaust with removable muffler completed the modification. Rear suspension was decambered one click and an Empi camber compensator spring added. A heavy duty stabilizer bar was substituted in the front. Michelin X radial tires were substituted for the stock bias ply tires. While not strictly legal, chrome plated Porsche wheels completed the suspension modification. The stock 1290cc engine in a deluxe body with factory sunroof and pop out rear windows made driving Oregon roads with the distinctive soft purring from the Empi muffler a real joy in the soft sunshine of the summer.
Safety included a removable roll bar, 3" lap belt, shoulder harness with aircraft hardware, a suit saturated with a fire retardant, and a full helmet and goggles. A fire extinguisher was clamped to the roll bar.
Performance observations. Of the modifications that added the most to the road handling performance it was the tires and tire pressure. The radials were superior in adhesion to the bias plys. Over or under inflation was a factor. 34 PSI all around appeared optimal. Lateral adhesion was better than any of the sedans and almost as good as the E production Porsches. Unfortunately, the low compression, slow winding, flat torque curve engine negated the fine handling in the curves. So great was the lateral adhesion that the float in the carburator lifted with a momentary starvation. Just when power was needed. Switching from the stock 40 hp carburator to an earlier stock carburator for a 36 hp engine solved the problem.
The designation N on the trunk lid indicates novice status. The lower case s is sedan class. Letters and numbers all removable for the trip home. The bug with the muffler removed made an appropriate loud and snarling competitive sounds for the track.
Later, in California, I continued tinkering with the beetle. Two solex carburetors on a Porsche 1500 cc engine would never be in sync. The cable to linkage just wouldn't align properly. Finally, the solution was a Porsche industrial manifold which accepted a dual throat carburetor that mounted in the customary location. The Porsche engine is not a good match for the beetle. Too much vibration and difficult to dampen noise that is wearing on a cross country trip. Adding on a supercharger minimally added to the performance but produced an annoying lag before the pressure built up. Rear hood brackets had to be modified to accept this add on.
The end of the project was brought on by mother who, when the oil pressure warning light came on did not pull over and stop quickly enough. Back in eastern Pennsylvania the VW Porsche tinkerers are few and far between. Perhaps it was an involvement with weird and reckless automotive cults on the West coast.
Tennis continues a twice or three times weekly habit that I have maintained since before 1970 and have been a member of the Claremont Pool and Tennis Club. I used to play singles but now content myself with doubles at about the 3.5 level. There is nothing more gratifying and reassuring than to be able to get out there on the court and be collaboratively competitive. Although, it is much more like dance. I never know what kind of day I will have before walking on to the court. It continues to be ineffable as to what kinds of things combine to impact on performance. What it is is an exercise in focus and finding flow- transcending to certain level of awareness. The optimal state is slightly ahead of the present with a sense of initiative.
The upper slopes of Squaw Valley are much tamer and to my aging liking than to be challenging the more difficult slope. The uncomfortable rituals of travel, suiting up, immobilizing, squeezing feet, and ankles, clumping around stiffly until getting on the lift. Swallowing fear of falling onto the jagged rocks below, being stuck on the chair lift. But, finally, there I am and now which slope shall I traverse? The blinding glare and coldness of the shade. The slush in the sun, the ice in the shade to jar and bounce.
Back at Reed College I had the opportunity to learn to ski. Staying at the college cabin at Government Camp, on the slopes of Mount Hood it was possible to trail ski from Timberline lodge down to the cabin. (Since then the trails have unfortunately been closed.) We would take turns driving up the mountain carrying a load of skiers to the top of the trail.
The winter of 1955 I worked during Christmas vacation at Timberline lodge as a waiter and folk singer. It was quiet, isolated, and it was great to break trail on the Magic Mile chairlift first thing in the morning after breakfast and use the best rentals- a perk of the job.
The Mikuriya siblings: Beverly Anne Mikuriya, M.D., Tod Mikuriya, M.D., and Mary Jane Mikuriya
Beverly continues to run an emergency room group at the Chester County Community Hospital in Pennsylvania. Mary Jane recently retired from the San Francisco School District where she was an administrator in charge of federal grants compliance. Mary Jane is 1 year younger and Beverly 12 years younger than their brother
Tod Mikuriya, M.D. at a clinic in Eureka, Northern Humboldt county, which has since closed. (Fall of 2001)