1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Philadelphia Phriday — Just Breathe: Welcoming the American Thoracic Society to the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection)

by Suzanne Fluhr on May 18, 2013 · 12 comments

Thoracic Anatomy -- Lungs

A thoracic anatomy refresher (Drawing by Patrick Lynch, Medical Illustrator)

As regular Boomeresque readers may have divined by now (even the ones to whom I’m not related), my husband, Steve, is a pulmonologist lung doctor. Searching your brain vault for 7th grade biology factoids, you probably remember that the lungs are in the thorax. Therefore, the national professional association for people who have something to do with lungs (other than just having them) is aptly named the American Thoracic Society (ATS). This has a kinder, gentler ring to it than the “American Sanatorium Association”, its moniker from 1905 to 1939, when a good number of their patients were sent away to tuberculosis sanatoriums sanatoria in hopes that some rest and fresh air might cure them. And, even if that didn’t work, at least they weren’t coughing on the general population — thank you very much.

Steve is actually a physician-scientist. (Do not believe anyone who tells you that there’s no such thing!) He runs a research laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine which has provided advanced training to students, scientists and physician-scientists from the United States and around the world. Steve is as Boomeresque as I am, so this has been happening for quite a few years. At this point, he has ties to a veritable United Nations of lung research peeps.

I first met Steve in 1971 when I was 17 and we were both assigned to sort the clean silverware at our college cafeteria for our work/study jobs. (Definitely preferable to sorting dirty silverware). Who would have thought that:

  • we would marry each other 11 years later,
  • that he would become a physician-scientist; and,
  • that I would become a recovering lawyer travel blogger (a what???).
Williams College Chapel, Griffin Hall, Williamstown, MA

I met Steve at Williams College, but they tore down Baxter Hall where we met sorting silverware.

Seriously, in 1971, you could find a calculator at Williams College, but it was bolted to a desk in the college science center. AOL wouldn’t be telling us we had “mail” until 1985. I could not have imagined that my wanderlust would some day be abetted by Steve’s career. (I don’t even think just plain old lust was in the air — not at 7:00 a.m. in the college cafeteria kitchen — not yet, anyway).

Thanks to Steve’s work as a pulmonary research-scientist, I get to be a “trailing spouse” on his world travels and thanks to the American Thoracic Society, Steve and I have this chance to welcome pulmonary medicine and science friends from around the country and the world to our home town. Last night we had dinner with Steve’s colleagues from Cyprus, Russia and France. Tonight’s dinner was with an Israeli and tomorrow, we’ll be catching up with friends from Los Angeles, Boston and Denver.

For the thousands of ATS conference attendees I can’t personally welcome to the City of Brotherly Love (and Sisterly Affection), I hope you’ll take some time to check out our museums, historical sites and parks. Have a real Philly cheese steak at the Reading Terminal Market, near the Convention Center.

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Independence Hall, 6th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia

As you meet to share your work in pulmonary medicine and research, it is fitting that you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Benjamin Franklin, one of our nation’s earliest scientists/inventors and one of the founders of Pennsylvania Hospital in 1751, the first hospital in what would become the United States of America, in this very city, 25 years later.

Do you have any must see advice for people attending the American Thoracic Society meeting? (I just thought of a museum they might enjoy – the Mutter Museum dedicated to medical history. ) BTW, where did you meet your true love?

Pennsylvania Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The garden in front of the oldest part of Pennsylvania Hospital, Pine Street, Between 8th and 9th Streets, Philadelphia



{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Roz Warren May 18, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I’m so glad that I have lungs. And that they work. And that if they ever stop working, there are pulmonologists. Welcome to Philly, Pulmonologists! It’s a well known fact that nothing is better for lung function than a cheese steak.


Tina G. May 18, 2013 at 8:27 pm

The Mutter Museum is an absolute must-see. How ’bout the Atwater Kent, and a trip to the Pennsylvania Hospital and its surgical atrium.


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) May 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Thanks for the reminder that I need to plan a return visit to the Atwater Kent Museum (the museum of the City of Philadelphia). I haven’t been there since its renovations.


Debra Yearwood May 18, 2013 at 11:40 pm

What an enjoyable journey this post was. Starting with the Thoracic society and it’s history…what a long way we have come… to your personal journey. I’m was recently laughing with a friend over the “miracle/magical” invention we thought fax machines were. As a fellow blogger, I can certainly appreciate the bizarreness of doing for a living/hobby something that didn’t exist just a few years ago. 🙂 (First introduced to your blog through BHB)


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) May 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I can remember in 1992 telling my then law partner that I didn’t think we needed a fax machine. I guess I had my finger on the pulse of office technology—-not!


Leora May 19, 2013 at 6:28 am

There are so many places/museums in Philadelphia that *I* want to see. I can’t be of use in recommendations until I get to them first! I’m thinking of paintings by Thomas Eakins – the surgery ones, though I prefer the ones of the river.

I met my husband at Harvard Hillel (I worked at nearby MIT). He was visiting from NY to “get away from the social scene.” I soon went to NY to visit a friend, and he invited about ten other people to lunch along with me so he could get to know me better. Worked out well (that was about twenty years ago).


Jacqui May 19, 2013 at 9:00 am

FYI one of Steve’s phellow physician scientists is lying lazily on the couch watching some B grade movie having not made the effort to traipse across the world to join this happy occasion in your wonderful city ( poor me)!


Suzanne Fluhr May 19, 2013 at 9:58 am

And we’ve missed you both! Since when is Western Australia too far—from Philly? No excuses 😉


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) May 19, 2013 at 9:35 am

Leora, I’m glad it worked out for you and your husband. I guess if he had decided at that lunch that he didn’t like you all that much after all, he still had 9 other people to fall back on. I think they call that hedging one’s bets 😉


Helen W Mallon May 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Greetings from a lifelong Philly girl and I guess boomer though I’m not used to being thought of as such. Mine is the Philadelphia of Old Quakerism, Thees and Thous.
The Philly Art Museum is currently hosting a fabulous exhibit called “Outsider Art.” Then there’s the stroll along Boat House Row in this (typical) Philly swelter!

Great to discover your blog!


Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer) May 21, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Helen, thanks for your suggestions. I’ve heard good things about that Outsider Art exhibit.


Vanessa Jane Holburn June 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm

Yay for husbands!!! And I don’t say that very often…


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