The Life and Times of Michael C. McGoodwin
Radiology Practice Years
in Bellingham Washington 1976 – 1978

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; 
the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. 
Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. 
(George Bernard Shaw in Man and Superman: Maxims for Revolutionists)



Michael' family, Becky's parents and MaMa, and Mary, Dave and Charles C. Cardiff family in Katy Texas October 1977
Michael with his family, Becky's parents and MaMa, 
and Mary, Dave, Linda with Chaz, and Charles C. Cardiff with Cayla
in Katy Texas October 1977


Topics Discussed On This Page

Moving to Bellingham June 1976

Bellingham is a small town, currently having a population of about 75,000.  It is in Whatcom county, which has a population now of about 170,000, but in 1976 had only about 90,000.  It is the last sizable town on Interstate 5 that one reaches before arriving at the Canadian border 30 miles to the north.  It is located 90 miles north of Seattle, and about an hour's drive from Vancouver British Columbia (ignoring time lost at the border).  Bellingham tended to be a little colder and a little rainier than Seattle, as it is less in the rain-shadow of the Olympic mountains.  It is situated on Bellingham Bay, with views toward Lummi Island and the San Juan Islands, but the downtown area was significantly impacted by the Georgia Pacific paper mill and the aroma it generated (apparently this mill closed permanently in 2001, except for the tissue mill).  There were other industrial sites nearby, including the Alcoa Intalco aluminum plant and the Cherry Point oil refinery near Ferndale.  To the east and south are attractive wooded hilly areas, Whatcom and Samish Lakes, and Chuckanut Bay (which Chuckanut Drive looks out on), and further to the east is the spectacular Mt. Baker area.

Bellingham home July 1976
Bellingham home
July 1976
Our view toward Lummi Island at sunset October 1977
Our view toward Lummi Island
at sunset  October 1977
Bellingham and Mr. Baker from Bellingham Bay December 1977
Bellingham and Mt. Baker
from Bellingham Bay
December 1977

For our new home, we decided to purchase a basic but comfortable Northwest contemporary two-story house in the country, located south of Bellingham, and reached by a gravel road arising from Chuckanut Drive.  We had by then been married for ten years, and Becky's parents generously helped us make the down payment.  We moved into this house on June 23, 1976.  The house enjoyed a superb west view across salt-water toward Lummi Island.  It was on a spacious lot with plenty of room for ornamental gardening, and a large vegetable garden was located over the septic drain field.  (This was our first vegetable garden, and it was very productive.)  There were ample play areas for the kids (including a large sand box I made for them), and the lot included a lovely deep-woods ravine to the east with lots of bigleaf maples and ferns.  (Before we sold the house, and suspecting we would never again own a home in such a beautiful natural setting, I made a futile effort to persuade Whatcom County to allow us to subdivide the property, so that we could keep the ravine area as an unbuildable natural preserve and memento.)  The previous owner, Mr. Bruce Jacobson, was a talented man and engineer—he had kept the house in good shape and helped me to understand its various systems.  (Realtors try to prevent their purchasers from meeting with their sellers, fearing there might be a clash, but in the case of our Bellingham home, we all seemed to hit it off just fine, and I was grateful to have Mr. Jacobson's expert home care advice.)  The living room was cozy, could be closed off with glass doors, and had a fireplace with Glassfyre doors—with a fire going, it was quite pleasant and snug.  The dining area and kitchen were adequately roomy but dark due to the darkly stained wood paneling—they shared the same great westerly island view as the upstairs master bedroom and living room.  The kid's bedroom was located downstairs (which Becky understandably felt was undesirable), as were a recreation room, guest room, and storage areas.  A large wisteria had overgrown much of the deck railing and extended along the roof, and I felt obliged to cut it way back.  Before I began practice, we took the month of July off to get settled into our new house and begin to learn about our new town.  

Life in Bellingham 1976 – 1978

Clubs, WWU, and Parks:  Trying our best to fit into the community, we joined the Bayside Swim Club (November 1976), tried out concerts and other offerings at Western Washington University, and explored the attractions of the nearby parks including Lake Whatcom and Lake Padden.  We also joined the Cascade Wilderness Club in the fall of 1976, and a tennis club in 1977 which we used very little. 

Neighbors and Bellingham Society:  We enjoyed some warm and generous next-door neighbors, particularly Alan and Delores "DoDo" McKay.  They were some of the finest neighbors we have ever had: they took a loving interest in our children, and Alan provided a lot of wisdom on how to fix things about the house.  (Sadly, he was killed a few years later when a car he was working under fell on him.)  But other neighbors, believing perhaps that country living should entail no restrictions, had some large and threatening dogs that were not confined and that gave us concerns for the safety of our small children.  Becky got to know a number of acquaintances, but found it harder to make close friends, perhaps in part because we did not seek church membership, and church was an important part of the local culture.  We also sensed that Old Bellingham society—which could seem to me a little stodgy—would be hard to find acceptance in.  Fortunately, several physicians I got to know were very welcoming and hospitable and made efforts to help us become integrated into the active social life of the medical community. 

 

Becky, Mike, and Mary Cardiff at Snow Lake on Enchantments trail May 1977
Becky, Mike, and Mary Cardiff at Snow Lake on Enchantments trail  
May 1977
Becky with Derleths near Lake Ann and Mt. Baker August 1977
Becky with the Derleths near Lake Ann and Mt. Baker
August 1977
Gourmet club friends in Port Townsend April 1977
Gourmet club friends in Port Townsend
April 1977
Becky's parents, Alan McKay, Becky and MaMa at Lynden Antique Tractor Show September 1977
Becky's parents, Alan McKay,  Becky and MaMa at Lynden Antique Tractor Show
September 1977

 

Camping, Hiking, and Backpacking:  We continued to take camping trips and make hikes when we could, especially in the truly spectacular Mt. Baker area: a Skyline Ridge hike (October 1976); an Excelsior Mountain hike (July 1977, where, all alone on a remote mountain road, we found ourselves driving through the encampment of the Brothers motorcycle gang); a Heliotrope Ridge hike (August 1977); and a Winchester Mountain hike (October 1977).  We made a nice July 1976 vacation camping trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, joining up there with our friends Tom and Sue Cooper (formerly of Seattle but by then living in Everett) and visiting on the way home with friends from Alaska days, Al and Fran Frost.  We also made a trip to the North Cascades NP and a hike at Hart's Pass (August 1976); Lummi island hikes to Lummi Peak (April 1977) and Inati Bay (July 1977); other Bellingham area shorter hikes; a backpacking trip to the lovely destination of Lake Ann near Mt. Baker (in August 1977 with Tom and Carol Derleth); and a camping trip to Manning Provincial Park in Canada (June 1977). 

River, Sailing, Ski, and Other Regional Outings:  We enjoyed three river trips.  The first was in rafts and the second in canoes, both down the Skagit River to view bald eagles (March and April 1977).  The third was in canoes on the Sauk River (see below).  We returned to our old favorite, the Beach Haven Resort on Orcas Island with our Seattle friends the Warrens (October 1977).  We also made excursions in sailboats owned by friends, the first in June 1977 to Orcas Island with the Schumachers, and another with the Heitmans (described below).  What was intended to be a ski trip to Mission Ridge near Wenatchee during a medical meeting in February 1977 turned into a hiking trip, due to an unusual absence of snow.  We met up with our "gourmet club" friends from our Seattle days (the Coopers, Nordfors, Domans, and Hammers): in Port Townsend (staying at the James House B&B, in April 1977), and also in Vancouver (where we dined on authentic NW Indian fare at the MuckaMuck and stayed at the Sylvia Hotel, in November 1977).

 

Wendy and Christie wearing dresses made by Linda and Mary Cardiff September 1976
Christie with Wendy on her first day of kindergarten
September 1976
Christie in Bellingham December 1977
Christie in Bellingham
December 1977
Wendy and Christie in our Bellingham home December 1977
Wendy & Christie in our Bellingham home
December 1977
Michael's family in Bellingham December 1977
Michael's family in Bellingham
December 1977

 

Family Life:  In fall 1976, Wendy started in kindergarten at Lowell Elementary School in Fairhaven, taught by Julie Fleetwood.  (She and her WWU professor husband Hugh became good family friends, and joined Becky and me on several hikes.)  Wendy entered first grade in September 1977, riding the bus to school.  (Becky would each day walk her down our gravel road to where the bus picked her up and dropped her off.)  Christie attended a preschool in town beginning in September 1977. 

Our growing family and improved income prompted us to trade in our 69 Chevelle for a 1977 yellow Volvo 245 station wagon in c. April 1977.  We began Suzuki piano lessons for Wendy under Jeanne Moreau in November 1976, and Christie's piano lessons soon followed in c. 1977. 

We had taken something of a gamble in living in such relative isolation compared to our previous urban settings.  Although Wendy had a readily available friend of her own age in her next-door neighbor Tonya, Becky had to work during the 1 1/2 years we were in Bellingham to create opportunities for Christie to have friends to play with, often having to make play dates and drive to facilitate these arrangements.  

Extended Family Visiting and Events:  We traveled to Texas to visit with our families in December 1976.  We returned in October 1977, a trip on which I detoured to attend the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) meeting  in Dallas, and we all stopped on the way back in Colorado to see my brothers.  

 

MaMa with Wendy and Christie in Bellingham August 1976
MaMa with Wendy and Christie in Bellingham
August 1976
Becky's parents with Wendy and Christie in Bellingham September 1976
Becky's parents with Wendy and Christie in Bellingham
September 1976
Mike's father with Wendy at Larabee State Park in Bellingham April 1977
Mike's father with Wendy at Larabee State Park in Bellingham
April 1977
My parents with Wendy and Christie in Bellingham July 1977
Mike's parents with Wendy & Christie in Bellingham
July 1977

 

During the time we lived in Bellingham, we enjoyed several visits from family members: Becky's grandmother (August 1976); Becky's parents (September 1976, at which time we again stayed at the Lonesome Cove Resort on San Juan Island); Mike's father (April 1977, during which visit we went to Vancouver and ate at a favorite Chinese restaurant, the Nanking); Becky's brother Dave and his wife Mary (May 1977, at which time we backpacked to Snow Lake but could not reach the Enchantment Lakes due to snow, made a raft trip on the Sauk River, and visited Vancouver); my parents (July 1977, at which time we also went to Vancouver and Orcas Island, staying at Rosario Resort); Becky's parents and grandmother (August – September 1977); and her parents again (December 1977, at which time we visited La Conner, where we had dinner at the Black Swan).

My mother's sister Jennie died in 1977.

Parental Disappointments:  We loved our parents and wished we could see them more, and in addition to our annual trips to Texas we continued to give them heartfelt encouragement to come to visit us when they could.  (The jet age had of course made this possible, since a non-stop flight between Houston and Seattle airports took less than 4 1/2 hours, though the overall trip from their home to our home took a full day.)  Sadly, we became acutely aware when Becky's parents first visited us in Bellingham just how heartbroken they were with our decision to live seeming permanently in the Pacific Northwest.  The actual and perceived distance was great, and our climate was not to her father's liking.  In the past, we had only rented our home, and I was in a prolonged and unsettled period of training, so they had hoped we would ultimately get the Northwest out of our systems and return to our Texas homeland when we were finally ready to settle down.  But the Bellingham house and job conveyed a sense of finality to them, and Becky and I both felt anguished and guilty that we had caused them such deep disappointment by making the self-centered choice to pursue our own dream (just as Becky's father's father had done in the early 20th century). This was not to be the last disappointment I caused Becky's parents.  We have always felt guilty and conflicted about choosing to live so far away, despite our ongoing substantial efforts to bring our families together.

My own parents were outwardly more philosophical and more accepting about it, encouraging us to follow our hearts on where to live, though I knew they would also have liked to have us closer.  My mother always seemed to like making the trip to see us, and both of them loved the cool summer climate of the Northwest (though not the rainy winters).  And both had lived in many parts of the country.  My father clearly felt disappointment that we were so far away, especially as he was not thriving in his work by this point and seemed to be growing more despondent.  This was a major reason we brought him up to see us for his birthday in April 1977.  It was an unusual time of year to visit soggy Bellingham, but he greatly enjoyed the warm and heartfelt reception we gave him and the chance to be with his lively grandchildren.  This was one of several times where I felt I could give back to him some of the generosity he had always shown to me.

Politics and Environmental Issues:  In 1976, I voted to help get President James E. "Jimmy" Carter elected.  During his regime (1977 – 1981), the Love Canal debacle alerted us to the hidden dangers of soil and groundwater pollution, and the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor near-meltdown in 1978 awoke me from my complacent attitudes about the potential hazards of nuclear power. 

Radiology Practice 1976 – 1978

Institutions and Office Practice:  The group practice that I joined, Northwest Radiologists, Inc., served the two hospitals in Bellingham—St. Joseph's General Hospital and St. Luke's General Hospital—and also had a private office practice performing plain radiography, fluoroscopy, and mammography.  (St. Joseph's was and remains a Catholic hospital.  St. Luke's, though originally founded by an Episcopal parish, broke its ties with the Episcopal church and became a nonprofit community hospital in the 1930s, and was acquired by St. Joseph's in 1989.) 

Bob Rose and wife Anne in our Bellingham home December 1977
Bob Rose and wife Anne in our Bellingham home
December 1977
Bob Heitman and Becky on his sailboat near Sucia Island September 1978
Bob Heitman and Becky on his sailboat near Sucia Island
September 1978

Radiologists, Physicians, Administrators, and Staff:  The radiologists were Drs. Thomas W. "Tom" Crowell (the head of the group), Robert E. "Bob" Waud, Wellde W. Frey (chief of radiology at St. Luke's), Robert W. "Bob" Rose (chief at St. Joseph's), and (a year or so after I joined) Donald C. "Don" Barnett.  Bob Rose was the main recruiter in the radiology group, and he made a very persuasive case to choose this job over the others I was offered.  Bob was a fine radiologist (probably now retired), as I recall a former pediatrician and possibly originally trained as an architect, an experienced hand in dealing with the politics of medical politics and demanding clinicians, and a really great guy who was also a good friend.  Of the many radiologists I have known in private practice, he was probably the best mentor I ever had the pleasure of working with.  In addition to being the chief of radiology, he served at St. Joseph's in a higher leadership position, probably as a member of the hospital governing board, and had excellent relations with the administrator, Sister Catherine McInnes, and her assistant Pat Mahoney (both of whom I admired).

The staff technologists at all three locations were quite competent, pleasant, and enjoyable to work with.  (A warm-hearted and ebullient technologist at St. Joseph's named Renate, whom I especially enjoyed, was tragically killed a year or so after I arrived in a nearby auto accident.)  There were also many fine physicians in town who were generally good to work with, some of whom also became our friends.  I also really liked the very competent and energetic business manager of the group, Bob Heitman.  In early September 1978, after we had moved back to Seattle, we had a great weekend sailing on his boat with him and his wife Renee, including cooking up some freshly caught salmon and hiking on Sucia Island.

Radiology Practice:  I began practice in Bellingham on August 2, rotating among the various services at the three locations, practicing a wide gamut of diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine—these were key practice goals for me when searching for a job).  There was plenty to challenge me, and I never felt bored with the diverse assignments.  I did my assigned work during the day and on-call, provided the best expertise I could in the areas of my subspecialization (including radioiodine therapy), was assigned to various hospital committees including the Cancer Committee, gave several didactic presentations on ultrasound or NM topics at the morning lectures for the physicians, and attended the various meetings of the radiology group.  I was, of course, involved with helping to plan and implement improvements in the nuclear medicine and ultrasound services, mostly as it turned out at St. Joseph's Hospital, which seemed when I arrived to be the better funded and equipped of the two hospital radiology departments.  In particular, I was involved with selecting and implementing a gray-scale ultrasound unit for St. Joseph's (including flying to Loma Linda Medical Center to review Searle ultrasound equipment in October 1976), and also with upgrades such as a computer system for nuclear medicine.

Board Certification in Nuclear Medicine:  On September 18, 1976, I took my nuclear medicine board exam in San Francisco CA at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and was awarded Board Certification in Nuclear Medicine dated October 27, 1976.  This was of course in addition to my board certification in diagnostic radiology.  It qualified me to perform "Radiobioassay, Nuclear Imaging, and in Vivo Measurements and Therapy with unsealed Radionuclides".  The American Board of Nuclear Medicine, formed in 1971, was conjointly sponsored by the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Board of Pathology, the American Board of Radiology, and the Society of Nuclear Medicine.  (This board fell on harder times economically in later years and was for a while struggling to maintain its viability against competing forces such as Nuclear Radiology subspecialty certification, but I see that as of 2009 it continues to provide Certification and Maintenance of Certification.)  There is no time limit expiration on my ABNM certification, and though Maintenance of Certification is now expected, it is not required.  (I have not joined in recertification due to medical retirement.)

Russ with Wendy and Christie in his home in Boulder CO October 1977
Russ with Wendy and Christie in his home in Boulder CO
October 1977

Professional Meetings:  Trying my best to keep up with the rapid advancements in my areas of subspecialization as well as radiology in general, I busily went about going to a number of regional and national meetings.  When feasible, I tried to attend a number of the ultrasound and NM clinical "scan" meetings in Seattle, just as I had attended as a resident, though this now involved much more driving late at night.  Larger meetings I attended included the Radiological Society of North America or RSNA in Chicago (November 1976), an ultrasound symposium in Wenatchee (January 1977), the Pacific NW Chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine in Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia (March 1977), the Society of Nuclear Medicine or SNM in Chicago (June 1977), and the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine or AIUM in Dallas (October 1977, during which stay I visited old high school friends Nancy and Jane, and after which my family visited my parents in Texas and my brothers in Colorado, see photo).

Group Practice Tensions:  My relations with hospital administrators and radiology staff were quite good, and Bob Rose was extremely supportive.  However, the intensive and concerted efforts I was making to improve particularly NM and ultrasound were not met with universal whole-hearted enthusiasm in the group.  Perhaps I was unrealistic in my professional striving for excellence and was just pushing harder than the system was ready to bear, undoubtedly my plan of action would make for more work and greater complexity, perhaps some radiologists felt a little threatened, or perhaps I had rubbed some of the members wrong in other ways.  In any event, there eventually were rumblings of discontent from some of the members in the group, and these were brought to my attention.  I was disappointed in this reaction to my hard work (which seemed reminiscent of one senator's advocacy for greater mediocrity, expressed during a 1970 debate on Judge Carswell's nomination to the Supreme Court).  And I knew I was up against a kind of resistance that would be hard to overcome.  Although I could certainly compromise, be diplomatic, and soften my pitch, I realized that it would be a struggle for me to rein in my intense drive to improve the medical standards, if not the comfort, of the practice.

Other Misgivings:  Adding to the unease I felt with this professional undercurrent, Becky and I were having some nagging misgivings about our choice of Bellingham as a place in which to live and raise our family (as partly discussed above).  Bellingham was very attractive in many ways, but seemed rather limited in others.  Moreover, we had really liked Seattle and still felt drawn to it—we were pretty much big-city folks by then, and were finding that we did not completely and comfortably fit into Bellingham culture.  And it was requiring a lot of effort and energy to continue seeking big-city enrichment such as opera in Seattle and Vancouver.

A Job in Seattle Is Offered and Accepted:  In a remarkable coincidence, when I flew back from the SNM meeting in June 1977 from Chicago, the airline seated me, through absolutely no intervention of my own, next to Dr. J. Trenholme "Tren" Griffin, the head of nuclear medicine at Seattle's Providence Medical Center.  I was not consciously aware at the time that I wanted to change jobs.  But we chatted then about our nuclear medicine practices, one thing led to another, he persuaded his radiology group that they needed another radiologist, specifically a nuclear medicine specialist, and pretty soon Tren called me to see if I might like to work for them.  I interviewed with the seven radiologists in the Seattle group soon afterwards, and was offered the job in mid-September 1977. 

Becky and I agonized hard about this decision, making up an elaborate chart with a point system comparing the objective and subjective attributes of Bellingham versus Seattle.  Although the points competition proved quite close, the bottom line was that Seattle and the Seattle job won out.  The most compelling factors as we viewed them were greater opportunities for my professional growth, advancement, and satisfaction, as well as the availability of better cultural offerings for our family and better private schools for our children.  I therefore accepted the Seattle job offer, began looking for a house in October, met with the Providence Medical Center administrator and others involved with the practice in October through December, closed on the purchase of a new house in Seattle and on the sale of our Bellingham house in January 1978 (clearing a satisfying profit from our brief home ownership), and prepared to go to work in Seattle in February 1978.

Departing Bellingham:  Bob Rose and I had a sad meeting when I informed him of our decision.  He had put a lot of personal effort into recruiting me and in giving me much invaluable guidance, mentoring, and encouragement, but he understood the decision and how I had arrived at it.  We remained friends afterwards, but regretfully I have lost touch with him.  I was given a cordial sendoff by the radiologists and staff, we all parted on good terms, and as mentioned, Becky and I had a great sailing trip later in 1978 with the group's business manager, Bob Heitman.