Memo from the Editor

September 1, 2006

Cleaning out the attic

We've just moved our offices to a new location. It's only about two miles from our old building, but moving is moving and for most of the summer we've added cleaning out files and packing boxes to the normal work of getting out a magazine.

When you move from one house to another, you eventually get to the attic-that treasure-trove of memorabilia, things too precious to throw away but seldom if ever looked at. So it is with an office move, even though the "attic" may simply be long-unopened cabinets or file drawers. It was in cleaning out just such a drawer that we came upon a cloth-covered scrapbook. Inside, its "title page" proclaimed in elegant script "Over the Editor's Shoulder"; the subtitle: "What Doctors Say about Medical Economics."

The yellowed pages are filled with letters, all dated between September 1936 and February 1937, and described as "typical of the daily correspondence received by the Editorial Department." Some are typed, some handwritten. One is on a prescription blank! They're organized by subject matter, and therein lies the most amazing thing about this find: things haven't changed all that much.

Granted, we don't often run articles on building plans any more, but we do have an article in the works on the best places to practice. And the definition of "state medicine" is a whole lot broader now than it was just after FDR brought us Social Security and decades before Medicare, but we cover that beat, and continue, as one letter writer put it, to "write fearlessly and endeavour to display hidden facts, unwelcome as some of them may be" on the subject. The other topics are clearly our regular bill of fare, in all their current manifestations.

It's a sobering thought to realize that most of the doctors in practice today weren't even alive when those physicians wrote to Medical Economics. Yet the ties that bound magazine staff to readers are still strong. It's very gratifying to realize that the "family" who corresponded with each other so long ago remains alive in the generations that have followed.

The scrapbook will go into the "attic" at our new home, too. It may not be looked at again for many years, but it's far too precious a part of our heritage to wind up in the trash.