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One of the Better Graduation Stories

A survivor transforms as his son graduates medical school

Adam Chandler
May 23, 2013

A few friends/readers have sent me along this essay that ran in the Times earlier this week about the impact a man’s graduation from medical school had on his father, an Auschwitz survivor. Here’s the set-up:

Dad was a fruit peddler in Denver: Max’s Mobile Market. Awestruck is an understatement for his reaction to New York. The World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty, Broadway and a fruit stand on nearly every corner. He was the most brilliant fruit peddler in the history of fruit peddling, the smartest man I ever knew. Deprived of a high school education when the Nazis raided his town of Klodowa, he came to America years later as an apprehensive, thickly accented refugee from the unspeakable horrors of Europe. Despite many years in America, the emotional scars were still there. He had a sense of inferiority and was intimidated by those around him who had an education. He was always socially self-conscious, acutely afraid of standing out for his lack of accomplishments. Within his circle of family and friends, dad was proud of who he was and what he had overcome. We knew he was proud of us, too. My journalist-to-be brother and I had chosen professions dad respected and admired. But outside my father’s inner circle, he was introverted, stoic, reserved. He would withdraw in the company of those who didn’t have to make their livelihoods on a fruit truck, and always regarded himself as the immigrant in the room.

You’ve got to read the rest. If you’re celebrating a graduation this month or not, it’s a great story.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.