I am a retired physician living in Carmel Valley, California. I was born in Palo Alto, California and grew up there as well as in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. I graduated from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Following residency I served a two year tour as a Navy Medical Officer during the Korean Conflict. Residency and service completed, I settled down with my family, now including a wife and three small boys, in Los Alto, California, where I practiced general Internal Medicine. During those years I was also on the Clinical Faculty of Stanford Medical School, became Medical Director of El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California, and later Medical Director of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. I loved my patients, I loved the practice of medicine and enjoyed (almost) every day of the 57 years I played doctor.
It was during that time that I traveled as a physician on three extended trips to Nepal and Kashmir. Later, my wife and I had a small travel trailer that we pulled for more than 92,000 miles around our country. We visited every state in the Union as well as Canada and Alaska. It’s been a very good life and it’s not over ‘till it’s over!
One of the questions I’m frequently asked is why did you start writing at your advanced years? Well, it all began back in 1938. While I was a kid in Palo Alto, I entered a contest for California 9th grade students to write a short story about California history. The Grand Prize was a passbook to the upcoming 1939 SF World’s Fair on Treasure Island. To the amazement of my teachers, I won. Later, during my senior year of high school, when I was living in Washington, D.C., I took a semester elective course in Creative Writing from a wonderful teacher, Miss. Ophelia Oppenheimer—and I was hooked.
But there was a war. In 1942 I joined the Navy. What followed was an abbreviated pre-medical career at Pomona and Occidental colleges in Southern California—at the Navy’s expense. No literature, no writing, no history, no art or music … just math, chemistry, physics, and biology. Then it was on to Johns Hopkins Medical School and learning to be a doctor. There was no time to think about writing for the next 60 years.
When did I start writing again?
Thirteen years ago my wife and I moved from Los Altos, California to Carmel Valley. First, I found myself writing stories for our local newsletter. Several knock-off’s on Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories,” plus a series, “Place Names in Carmel Valley,” and a few feature articles. I even wrote poetry of a not so serious nature such as, “An Ode to the Dental Hygienist.” (I was the editor—I could print anything I pleased).
In 2005, I retired once and for all. It was time to get busy writing our family story … I set a deadline and went to work. Not a genealogy—just the history of our family as I knew it: “The Saga of Dick and Mickey Wheat.” Writing proved to be fun, it was a challenge, and I caught the bug. I thought, why not try writing a novel? You may remember Sir Edmund Hillary of Mt. Everest fame. When he was asked why he’d climbed the world’s tallest mountain, he scratched his head and responded, “Because it was there!” I thought a novel might just be the “there” for me, and so I began to write.
I hope you enjoyed Blood Red Vines as much as I did writing it. There will be a sequel out before too many moons … and perhaps one or two more, God willing. I would love to hear from any of you about the book, life, love, wine or whatever!
Thanks for joining my new family—the readers of Blood Red Vines.