Milton Sachs: Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Medical Corps
Elihu Milton Sachs grew up in the Bronx during during the first decades of the 20th century. His father, Jacob, a Russian immigrant, provided for the family as a traveling dress salesman. His mother, Rebecca, identified as Galician, a region spanning southeastern Poland and western Ukraine, in a 1920 census. Milton chose to pursue a challenging career in medicine, going to the Medical School of the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, possibly because there were quotas for Jews in American medical schools but not in Canada. He enlisted in World War II on February 5th, 1941. For three three-and -a -half long years, Milton served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Medical Corps in Algiers, tending to the wounded. In March of 1946, Milton returned home to the United States.
Milton married Naomi Diamond on April 7th, 1946. Rev. Dr. Israel Goldstein wed the pair on the roof of the Pierre Hotel on Fifth Avenu. Naomi was from an illustrious medical family--the daughter of Dr. Joseph Diamond, a well-known physician who cared for many Broadway celebrities. Dr. Diamond was seeking a young partner, and Milton had the prowess, experience, and dedication to fill the role. Milton entered was honored and delighted to accept the hand of his daughter and part of his practice. He practiced family medicine and became affiliated with Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Working out of an office on Park Avenue, he became a staple within the community. His daughter recalls her father’s little black bag always waiting by the front door of their apartment. House calls were a common practice during this time and whenever the phone rang, he was up and out. His patients always felt that he was more than just their doctor, he was part of their family.
After forty years, Milton closed his practice in the late 1980s. The International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union on Spring St in lower Manhattan was seeking a physician and Milton took the job, paying no heed to his age or the idea of retirement. Now in his 80s, he would joke about only examining patients who were already lying on the table for gynecological or rectal exams. The ILGWU served thousands of workers in dozens of factories in New York, and Milton was proud to join them.
On September 11th, 2001, the family feared the worst. Milton was working for the Union on Spring Street in the Lower East Side on the day the Twin Towers were attacked. For hours, the family prayed for good news about Milton and finally their prayers were answered when a police car arrived at their family home to drop off an unscathed Milton Sachs.
His daughter urged him to apply for unemployment insurance. Milton did not believe he would qualify but heeded his daughter’s advice and gave the application number a call. The interviewer asked Milton, “Year of your birth?” and Milton replied truthfully, “1910”. “Oh yeah, SURE, buddy!” was the response Milton received before the young man hung up on him. It didn’t throw him for a loop though, nothing ever did.
Blog Written by Michael Ackermann
Story Provided & Edited by Judith Sachs