Gorlin patologia

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American Journal of Medical Genetics 46:317-334 (1993)
Living History-Biography: From Oral Pathology
to Craniofacial Genetics
Robert J. Gorlin
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Minneapolis, Minnesota
ROBERT JAMES GORLIN
Early Life
I was born on 11 January 1923 in Hudson, N.Y., the
only child of James Alter Gorlin and Gladys Gretchen
Hallenbeck. Abandoned by my mother, myfather placed
me in the care of my great aunt who raised me until I
was 11 years old when she began to suffer ill health and
had no more economic wherewithal to support me further.
I then joined my father and my stepmother whom
he had recently married. My father was a small scale
businessman with little formal education. We moved
several times within a few years to small towns in New
Jersey,partly the result of his poor business acumen and
partly due to malencounters with the law. In 1937, we
moved to Newark and settled in a two-bedroom apartment
with grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and two
boarders. In spite of the crowded conditions, every niche
and recess being occupied by a bed, it was not, to the best
of my memory, an unhappy home.
I do not know what hopes orambitions my father and
stepmother had for me. They respected education but
they believed that since they were so impecunious, college
was out of the picture. After I rejected the idea of
becoming a priest (my stepmother’s brother’s calling),
my father suggested that I take a General Business
Preparation curriculum in high school. It was after a
year of such training that I moved to Newark. A highschool General Science teacher recognized some bizarre
talent in me and requested that I should take a College
Preparation course. This, I did, after much discussion
with my parents, who remained skeptical concerning
future finances. The switch to such a different curriculum
was somewhat painful but I seemed to find science
courses enjoyable. Our finances were, in actuality, so
shaky, myfather then working on the WPA, that I was
encouraged to seek an after-school job. I found one in a
drug store where I started as a delivery boy but soon
began to compound prescriptions. The neighborhood
was remarkable. It was 70% Jewish and definitely upwardly
mobile. Most of my friends were planning to go to
Received for publication September 28, 1992.
Address correspondence to Robert J.Gorlin, Regents’ Professor,
University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Malcolm Moos
Health Sciences Tower, 515 Delaware St. SE, Minneapolis, MN
55455.
0 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Fig. 1. Recent photograph of Robert J. Gorlin with signature.
college. I had read little outside of my required course
work, but I scored well and managed to receive a scholarship
to Columbia College in New YorkCity.
That was a shock! There were clearly two classes of
students-the rich and the poor-the dormitory
dwellers and the commuters-the preppies and the public
schoolers. But everyone seemed to know everything.
They had read everything and I had read nothing. They
had had courses in European history and Greek and
Roman history and music and art and had read the great
books and spoke languageslike French and German and
could read Latin and ancient Greek with ease. And they
were articulate and charming. It took me almost a year
318 Gorlin
of commuting two hours each way on bus, train, and
subway trying to unravel the mystery of why they were
so smart and I was so illiterate. By husbanding what few
resources I had and cadging as many extra dollars as I
could by creating a “corsageagency” for fraternity
dances, and running a “personal stationery agency,”
and a “personal laundry service,” I managed to float an
education (tuition was $4QQ/yrr,o om was $5/week, and
Receiving my A.B. in three years with World War I1 in
full flower, and knowing I would be drafted, I volunteered,
was inducted, and was sent for basic training in
Texas and assigned to Army Specialized...
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