Mangled Minds


For three years, I worked as a country doc in the bayou backwaters of Louisiana, before the Civil Rights movement. I had two offices strung along the river road sheltered behind the levee holding back the mighty Mississippi. If folks wanted a house call, they’d plant a white flag. If a flag beckoned at the tiny village of Killona, I’d tote my black bag into the sprawling slave quarters, shacks continuously occupied long before the Civil War; and every shack still occupied.

I was taking over the practice of the sheriff’s son, who was leaving for a surgery residency at Charity Hospital in New Orleans. This was before the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid, of course, so blacks formed small groups providing medical coverage. I would continue as their doctor. When introduced to the head of one such group, I shook his hand. The sheriff’s son slapped my hand away. “We don’t do that down here!” he barked.

Charity hospital was destroyed by Katrina – a nearly 3,000 bed hospital built in 1939 for the poor. Charity was split down the middle, one half for blacks, one half for whites, the halves a mirror image of each other. I had interned at Charity before going to the country. My first assignment had been Female Medicine. Each hospital ward had twelve beds. On the black side, I had 25 patients stuffed on gurneys, cots and mattresses; on the white side, I had three, luxuriating in splendid nursing care and quiet. Even the blood bank was separate.

I was one of 130 interns. Together with the Residents, we took all our meals in the Doctors Dinning Room. If race got brought up, the discussions turned violent. The docs were as structurally split as the hospital. Mangled mind stuff whizzed around the tables.


There are 300 million guns in the United States. 88 guns per 100 citizens. Second highest – Yemen, 54 guns per hundred citizens,

With 5% of the world’s population, Americans are home to 35-50% of civilian-owned guns.

30,000 – the number of Americans killed with guns each year.

More than 100,000 the number of people shot each year in the United States.

Americans overall are “25 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than people in other developed countries.”

Mangled mind-stuff whizzing around.


I was raised in a Lutheran parsonage. My family boasted an unbroken string of Lutheran ministers reaching back to Martin Luther. As a child growing up in the 30s, when fellow clergy came to visit my dad, I’d hear them talk excitedly about an astronomer called Hubble and his galaxies, or about Einstein, “the smartest man who ever lived.” My dad gave talks on astronomy. Yet when it came to evolution, they all believed in Genesis. My dad remarked, “Dinosaurs are what is generally known as baloney.” Mangled mind stuff whizzing around.


My daughter married an Englishman, has dual citizenship, and lives in Milton Keynes, a city 30 miles north of London, designed and built from scratch after the last war. She is Chair of the Town Parish, elected but not salaried officials. She works 50 hours a week. Above the Town Parish comes The City Council, its members elected and salaried. Then there is The Central Government in London, Westminster and Parliament.

What she has experienced is that the Central government takes a large share of the taxes, imperiously dictates orders to every city and town in merry old England. In fact, with no constitution, the Central government carries on like King George the Third during the Revolutionary War. She understands all too well, “No taxation without representation.” The political structure is remarkably that of a monarchy. Mangled mind stuff whizzing around.

Question – What do

1. Racism

2. Guns

3. Genesis

4. Divine Right of Kings

have in common?

(to be continued)

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