Profiles of Dennis C. Friedman, MD, and David L. Arluck, MD
Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, when the long days of summer drew to a close and the hours at Vista Hill Pool were cut back, the kids would gather in the evenings on Ramsey Road in the Baker Hill section of Great Neck. We played Running Bases, and our shouts could be heard on the street until it was too dark to see.
Then, we would wait for the Good Humor man to arrive, dressed in his white uniform and white hat. We knew that he was coming by the ringing of the bell on his truck. We lined up to order Toasted Almond and Strawberry Shortcake bars, among other treats. I clearly remember the metal change maker that he always wore on his belt. When the last bit of ice cream was gone from our sticks, we turned toward our homes and the street fell silent.
Two of my oldest friends from those days were instrumental in bringing the Great Neck North Class of ’67 50th Reunion in Great Neck to fruition. While I had fallen out of touch with Dennis Friedman and David Arluck since high school, when they contacted me about helping to organize the reunion I was pleased to reconnect and learn that they had remained close friends. I was also amazed to find out how interesting and similar their lives and careers have been since graduating from GNN.
Like many of Great Neck’s graduating classes, the Class of ’67 has a healthy share of class members who went on to become physicians. However, Friedman and Arluck are somewhat unique in that they also attended medical school together at the University of Pennsylvania, and both are practicing cardiologists.
Friedman now lives and works in Maryland and Arluck in New Jersey. Although both have busy schedules, they stay in touch regularly and have skied together every winter since high school. Once in a while they share a patient, but they also get together at annual professional conferences.
Catching up with them at (and after) the reunion, Friedman and Arluck reminisced about growing up in Great Neck, and revealed details of their lives.
Arluck remembered that he and Friedman actually met each other before I met both of them at E.M. Baker elementary school. Their older brothers, Steve and Marty, were friends, and Arluck was brought by his brother to the Friedmans’ house when they were about 5 years old. Friedman recalled biking down to Weiner’s Candy store together, where “for a quarter we could buy a ton of candy!”
While in high school at Great Neck North, Friedman and Arluck were modest but motivated sorts of fellows. I remember Friedman as being studious and unassuming, although I also recall that a number of girls in class took notice of his charm and quiet good looks. Friedman was a pretty good athlete, too.
“While I was good, I was not great, usually third best in any sport,” Friedman said. Modesty aside, he was a leader on our varsity track, soccer and swimming teams. Arluck participated on a number of intramural teams.
But, unlike most of their high school classmates, Friedman and Arluck always knew what they wanted to do later in life. In senior year, Arluck was chairman of North’s Future Physicians of America (FPA) club and Friedman was the club’s secretary. Friedman also volunteered as an orderly at Manhasset Hospital that year. So, the bond of their friendship, and their career choice, was firmly set before Friedman and Arluck graduated high school; even then, their futures were well in hand.
After high school, Friedman attended Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and Arluck went to Penn in Philadelphia. When Friedman first visited Trinity on a homecoming weekend, there were a lot of girls around, but he did not realize that it was an all-men’s college until the first day of classes; Trinity went co-ed in 1969. Compared to Great Neck North, Friedman said, “Trinity was less challenging.” In fact, he graduated third in his Trinity class, but first in sciences, and the college awarded him a full scholarship to Penn for medical school, where he reconnected with Arluck.
After med school, Friedman interned at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. His first patient was a six-foot-one-inch construction worker who threatened Friedman with bodily harm if he did not place an IV easily; fortunately, the placement was a success.
More importantly, the patient’s daughter came to visit. A striking brunette and June Taylor Dance Company member featured on the Jackie Gleason television show, Sandra had recently split from a boyfriend in Memphis—a guy named Elvis. Yes, that Elvis. Friedman was smitten. He and Sandra married in 1979. As Sandra characterized it, she may have “dated the King, but I married a prince.” They have a daughter, Alexandra, who is a clinical social worker (therapist).
Arluck married his wife, Pamela, in 1985. “Pamela never dated Elvis,” said Arluck with a laugh. He and Pamela have two children, a daughter, Chloe, who is a PhD candidate in robotics, and son, Jeremy, who is just starting nursing school.
Friedman completed a fellowship in cardiology at Georgetown University Medical Center in DC and started a private practice in the Washington suburbs. He is now managing director of the largest private cardiology practice in Maryland and serves as chief of cardiology at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville.
After med school, Arluck was an intern and resident at Long Island Jewish; he also trained in cardiology at the University of Virginia. He is now a cardiologist working for Penn at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, NJ.
Last summer, when Friedman and Arluck returned to Great Neck for our 50th high school reunion, they took a hike up Middle Neck Road together and remarked on how many stores from the 1950s and ’60s are now gone. They were pleased to see, however, that the Camp & Campus clothing shop was still thriving, and they visited with owner Mark Wolf, who has since retired but had graduated from North with Friedman and Arluck’s older brothers.
But, they were especially pleased to discover that the ring of the bell on the ice cream truck is still heard on the streets of Great Neck, and the Good Humor man in his white suit is still making his rounds.
Richard J. Gerber, who planned the Great Neck North Class of ’67 reunion this past summer, is a collectible book dealer in Lake Peekskill, an hour north of New York City. He can be contacted through his website, www.rmgerberbooks.com.