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October 22, 1982

The Girl of the Golden West

Author Affiliations

La Jolla, Calif

JAMA. 1982;248(16):2034. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330160082032

I grew up in a village in Holland where my father had retired after a military career in the Dutch army. When I was 14 years old I decided that I wanted to be a doctor.

About that time, we had a visit from a distant relative who had been to America. He wanted to sell my father land in a faraway place called San Diego. I don't remember the sales pitch, but I do remember his description of San Diego: a place of milk and honey where you could go swimming the year around. In our village, you were lucky if you could go swimming once or twice a year. Mostly, it was too cold and gloomy.

"Why don't we go?" I asked my father. "Not now," he said. "First, you graduate from high school."

I was crushed. To soften my disappointment, my father bought a print of the