I arrived into the world on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve night in Roswell, New Mexico. It was a night Dr. Rouse, who delivered me, declared to be one of the coldest ever, particularly out on our family’s screened- in back porch, where he performed the delivery. On my birth certificate, my Dad stated his occupation as a cattle rancher and my mom’s, as a housewife and proud mother.

My great-grandfather had been sheriff of Lincoln County shortly after the heyday of Billy the Kid. Pictures of him with his handlebar mustache, standing beside various deputies, villains, bullet-pocked walls and hanging gallows held a place of honor in the Lincoln County Courthouse for many years.

My Dad grew up on a ranch east of Capitan, New Mexico. He became an accomplished bronc rider, known affectionately as "Blackie Owen." He won many first prizes in regional rodeos. My mom grew up on a ranch not far from my father's home. They married, moved to Roswell where Dad owned the Ever-Ready Motor Company on Second Street.

My mother stressed cleanliness. In addition to being protective of her three children, she pushed them to do their best. She would prepare meals and welcome young and old friends to join us to eat. She sewed many tailored shirts for us boys. She was a proud woman, and as she aged, she tried to maintain a good physical appearance. She worked in my father's business overseeing availability of parts for auto repair and keeping books on financial matters. After my Dad closed the garage and sold the property, Mother went to school to become a practical nurse. She had great respect for the Catholic sisters at St. Mary's Hospital, who taught her nursing techniques and she was gratified during her years of serving and caring for others.

When I was born, the United States was recovering from the Great Depression and Americans were able to have enough food, keep warm and reasonably clean. The future was brighter than the immediate past. Life for most Americans was improving.

I was one of three brothers and became relatively independent at a young age. Roswell was a prosperous town during 1941-1945 and after World War II. The social programs in the schools were expanding, and I had the opportunity, not only to learn, but also to participate in extracurricular activities like sports, drama and politics. For some, the band offered musical opportunities. Social events were frequent and easy to attend. The spirit of the young people in the community was exuberant. I started boxing in the 8th grade and was awarded a varsity letter. I continued boxing through the 12th grade and became a state champion. Thereafter, I fought in the Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions held in Chicago in 1953. A champion gives his all every single second in the fight. Win, lose or draw, the decision for that fight is final.

Good fortune smiled on me when I was elected to serve as the Senior Class President. I didn't ask for this honor. The nomination was made from the floor during an assembly hour. A vote was called and I was elected. Unexpectedly after the election, I became acutely aware of new responsibilities. I was expected to lead in a manner that would benefit the welfare of the entire senior class. I had to rise to the occasion and try to express attitudes that improved the environment for my classmates. This leadership role process brought additional meaning to my life.

Having grown up listening to our friend, the late great Lefty Frizzell playing his guitar and singing the songs he wrote in our home in Roswell, left me with an indelible love for country-western music. My Dad's garage, Ever-Ready Motors, my uncle's boot shop, and the Castle Drugstore, sponsored Lefty who was known as the Pecos Valley Troubadour, on KGFL radio to advertise their businesses on weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12 noon. His song, "I Love you, I'll Prove it in a Thousand Ways," became the Number One country -western recording in America."

In July 1947 an unidentified flying object crashed on a ranch outside of Roswell and immediately drew national attention to the community. The U.S. government quickly silenced the local population and the issue was brought to a close.

Had I not grown up in such a friendly and supportive community, I might have led a very different life. Some of my luckiest breaks were more than just luck. They were the result of the hard work and ingenuity of people who cared, my parents, teachers and friends.

I was awarded a Ford Foundation Scholarship which covered my tuition, room and board at the University of New Mexico. This came to be because of the tireless efforts of a very special teacher, Mr. Arthur Gaddis. I felt proud about this and profoundly fortunate.

In September 1953, I started at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

And as they say,--- the rest is history.

I received a medical degree from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, completed three years of residency training at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and became a research fellow at the Joslin Research Laboratories of Harvard Medical School. I continued my academic medical career as a physician and clinical investigator. I am now retired.

Excerpted from Oliver’s book, Searching for Medical Truths, published by Infinity Publishing.com,
West Conshohocken, Pa.
Copyright 2006