Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Friend, the Scientist

When we lived in Pomona we used to go to Dr. Milton Penner, who was our family optometrist. He and his wife, Ina were our friends, not just professionals who saw to our physical needs. Tony had been seeing Dr. Penner for years, as he was his family's eye doctor for many years before I married him.

One day on a visit for an eye exam he and I started talking politics and he told me something very interesting. He said when he and Ina were in their last year of school in Chicago at Northwestern University he was approached by some government officials and asked to take part in a very important project that would end WW II. It turns out Dr. Penner originally was a nuclear physicist and they were asking him to be part of the "Manhattan Project". Well, the upshot was that Dr. Penner worked on the project for a few months until he found out they were going to actually go through with dropping the bomb on Japan. Dr. Penner told them he refused to continue on with the project, and when he did his superiors told him that would be fine, except he would have to be stripped of his degree as a physicist and start over in another profession, and that his name would never be known as one who had worked on the project. Since he was a conscientious objector (he was also Jewish, isn't that interesting?) he agreed. Then he and Ina went back to the University and he became an optometrist and went on with his life.

When I asked him if he felt resentment toward the U.S. Government for what they did to him he said, "No." He said he knew it had to be done to protect all Americans, but that he just couldn't continue on the work of the destruction of his fellow men.

I was proud to know Dr. Penner. I could not have personally done what he did without kicking and screaming all the way, but he was a real man and took his lumps and went on. He was a good husband and father, and had a most wonderful hobby - he made Grandfather clocks.

When he and Ina retired they moved down to San Clemente, CA. Although we never saw them again (they are now both deceased) I have fond memories of them.

His wife, Ina was a fantastic artist and had a wonderful hobby. She created wood-burned portraits - landscapes and people. They were beautiful, and she hung them on the walls of the lobby of Dr. Penner's office. She used to be paid well by her clients for creating them, and I'm certain many of her creations hang in the finest homes still.

These are certainly two of THE most interesting people we've ever known. What is also interesting is that Dr. Penner never told Tony this story at all and I've often wondered why he told me. He was also very concerned about Tony's war injuries, especially in the loss of the vision in his right eye. He guided Tony with his eye health for years after Tony came back from Viet Nam, even though Tony could have gone to the VA for his medical care he chose to see Dr. Penner.

No comments:

Visitor Map

Locations of Site Visitors