A FUNNY STORY ABOUT JOE PATERNO, by Art Smukler, MD, author & psychiatrist

Once upon a time, years before Joe-Paterno’s-Penn-State-Camelot came crashing down in the Sandusky scandal (over 10 years ago), I convinced my wife, who to this day still thinks that football is a waste of time, to come with me and hear Joe speak. I focused on what a great public speaker he was, and that won the day. Since her job entailed a great deal of public speaking, she was curious as to how he did it.

We endured Friday afternoon traffic, got to the hotel, and found a few open seats at one of the many tables in the large auditorium. Then we waited and waited. Just about everyone was a PSU grad – Philly transplant so there was a lot to chat about. It was a few days before the Penn State – USC game and we all wondered how PSU would fare against the mighty Trojans.

Finally, an hour late, Joe arrived. To much applause, he picked up the mic and said something like, “If SC’s defensive line is anything like your traffic, we’re in trouble!”

Everyone laughed. Then he said, “Come on up. Say hi. I’m not going anywhere until I meet everyone.”

And the line, made up of hundreds of people, began to inch its way toward the evening’s honored guest. Joe took time to speak to everyone and never once did a smile leave his face.

Finally, an hour later, it was my turn.

I shook his hand and said how happy I was to meet him in person. The only thing I had in my pocket was one of my Arthur J Smukler, MD, psychiatrist, business cards. I took it out and asked if he’d please sign it. He read the card, looked me square in the face, and grabbed me around the neck. He yelled, at the top of his lungs, “I need this man! I need this man!” I’m 5’10” and Joe was maybe 5’6″. Then he stepped back and pointed to me so the entire auditorium could see. “He’s a psychiatrist!” he yelled again. “Now you know why I need him!” The whole auditorium rocked with laughter. Then in a quiet voice he said, “Thank you, Dr. Smukler, for everything you do to help people. It’s an honor to meet you.”

With a huge smile, I sat back down at the table. Later, as we ate dinner, Joe talked all about the football program. How many football players were honor students and how in order to play they had to be successful in the classroom. He stressed leadership, hard work, and academic excellence. During the Q & A someone said, “I hear SC’s offensive line is impossible to stop. Can you do it?”

Joe shrugged. “I don’t know.” Then with a big smile he left the stage.

As the years passed, we all learned that Joe wasn’t perfect.

Who is?

Please check out another Joe. Joe Belmont, my imperfect character in THE REAL STORY, a mystery.

#JoePaterno #Sanduskyscandal #PennState #JoPa “Psychiatrist

WISDOM? by Art Smukler, MD, author & psychiatrist

A wise man once said, consider the opinions of others, but in the end, make up your own mind.

That wise man, and I use the term somewhat cringingly, was me. 

There was no particular reason why I waxed so philosophical on this sunny, warm morning except that I grabbed one of my Penn State baseball caps, when I went for a morning walk to a favorite coffee shop (not as wonderful as SMUKLER’S BOOKSTORE) but a place with delicious coffee and almond croissants.

Anyway, I sat down at a small outdoor table, took a sip of coffee, and removed my cap. The PSU logo sat right there in front of me. My mind drifted back to college…a long time ago.

I remembered one of the most traumatic experiences of my young life. A few days before my freshman year started, I had an appointment with a university counselor to arrange my course schedule. He perused my high school grades, looked me in the eye, and said grimly, “I recommend that you don’t take the pre-med curriculum.”

My chemistry, physics and math grades in high school were marginal. The counselor had every right to say what he said. But…I wanted to be a doctor. That was it. No Plan B.

I just sat there, speechless. I thanked him, got up, and in a state of shock, walked back to my dorm room.

Was he right? Should I give up my dream?

I told my mother what the counselor said. She encouraged me to follow his advice. It was her way of not wanting me to be disappointed and fail.

In the end, I signed up for every course that the pre-meds took. Chemistry, Calculus, Physics etc. Everything that I struggled with in high school. Crazy right?

Not so crazy, because there was one factor that the counselor never took into consideration. I was a really hard worker. I still am. I also took loads of creative writing classes.

So, whatever your dream might be, don’t be afraid to go for it. But, be prepared to work harder and longer than everyone else who also wants your dream. It’s not like in grade school where everyone gets a winners’ statue.

Thanks for reading. Please check out THE REAL STORY, a mystery. Joe Belmont is also the kind of guy who doesn’t give up. His life depends on it.