Our November Editor’s Note
The Good Doctor
The family practitioner of my 1970s and ’80s childhood was Dr. J.P. Salb, a man from central casting. I don’t know if in the passage of time I’ve conflated him with Robert Young from Marcus Welby, M.D., but the Dr. Salb of my memory was blessed with the TV looks, compassionate demeanor, and authoritative voice that was no act.
Having lived an accomplished and honorable life, he passed away last year at 88. Before then, Dr. Salb had been an Eagle Scout, high school basketball standout, father, and husband of more than 50 years. Lesser achievements included stitching me up at least three times: wrist (sharp stick mishap), forearm (Coke-bottle catastrophe), and upper lip (shovel to the face). Early in my career, when I was a sports writer, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for a story about his old high school coach, who, like Dr. Salb, was in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. During our talk, he confessed that one of his great regrets had been letting down his coach by telling a white lie or committing some sort of other minor offense—I can’t remember the exact sin. But what I cannot forget is that experiencing the memory made him cry, and hearing him weep gutted me.
For good reasons and bad, people don’t reflexively revere authority figures anymore. But to me, Dr. Salb, who practiced in my little hometown and his for almost 30 years, was as worthy of respect back then as today. The cover of this magazine says that this issue includes more than 900 Top Docs. If you find one as good and decent as mine was, hang on to him.