At one time, Greenwich Village and SoHo had a large number of independent natural food stores, virtually all of which have closed. Whole Foods (no relation to the existing national chain Whole Foods Market), at 117 Prince Street, stood for 3 decades, from 1970 to 2000. This and a second Upper West Side location were owned by Charles Rosenblum. The Prince Street location was the largest natural foods store in New York City in dollar sales and became a mini mecca of sorts. My own business was located only a few short blocks away and my walk to work took me by the shop daily, so I frequented it often over many years.
It was here in the early 1990s that I met David Miller, a man who worked the vitamin department. He was extraordinarily and curiously knowledgeable - the reason became immediately apparent once I learned that his intention was to enter medical school. At a later point, while in medical school, the demand for his expertise became even greater for David in vitamins at Whole Foods.
David appeared to have a West Indian accent, so I inquired as to his background. I was stunned when he told me he was from Dominica. If you have read Part 1 of this story, you know of someone rather obsessed with this island nation. The tiny population of the island made it unlikely that I would ever meet a native by chance in New York City, so this discovery was a major event. Of course, I told him of my romance with the island, but words are cheap, and it is easy to imagine I might be perhaps trying to ingratiate myself with him.
How was I to demonstrate the sincerity of my special interest in Dominica? Quite simple - exhibit A from Part 1 of this story should do rather nicely, so I announced to David that I would return the following day with something special that I assured him he would never see in New York City.
The next day, I strolled buoyantly down Prince Street with my 24" x 41" British Ordnance Survey map of Dominica and showed it to David. He was astounded and said he had not seen a map like that outside the classroom when growing up on the island. That day cemented our unique connection.
Recently, after 10 years of losing contact, I ran across David in a white lab coat with his stethoscope at Lifethyme, a natural foods shop in the Village. I was pleased to learn he is now Dr. David I F Miller MD, a graduate of Ross School of Medicine in Dominica, and is currently looking for a residency. David works at the shop several days per week, helping hundreds of individuals who query him on every imaginable ailment.
In the time I was in the shop to take photos of him, I spoke with a long time devotee who championed David as no less than a miracle worker, having helped him through ailments. He detailed to me his medical treatment at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and the improvements he saw with David's recommendations. He knew of many others who had similar experiences.
In an amazing twist, David told me of a recent discovery in Dominica. There are 22 centenarians out of the island's almost 70,000 population - three times the average incidence in developed countries. The reasons for this phenomenon are the subject of current research at the Ross University School of Medicine.
Perhaps this was the island Eden I was searching for. But with a doctor from Dominica dispensing free advice, why look so far from home when we have miracles in our midst? :)
Note about David: Dr. David I F Miller, MD was born in Roseau, Dominica in 1966. After the devastating Hurricane David of 1979, David lived for a time in Montserrat, West Indies. He moved to the US in 1987 and returned to Dominica, where he attended Ross School of Medicine from 2004-2008. He currently is married and living in Brooklyn, New York.