Remembering when doctors made house calls and schools were one room

It is almost June, and it doesn’t feel like it; this May 28 it felt more like maybe early April. Regardless, it was a Tuesday, and the Old Men of the Mountain knew what day it was and met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. Middleburgh spelled with an “H” and Duanesburg without — go figure.

Tuesday morning, the OFs spoke about putting things off. Procrastination is the big word for the problem, only with the OFs it is not so much putting things off, it is old age catching up with the OFs.

The OFs may think they are putting things off, but the truth is now the OFs move slowly, and take so much longer to just take a shower and get dressed that it may seem they are putting whatever it is off.   However, they just haven’t caught up to whatever it is yet.

Then it is evening and supper, which used to be at 6 or 7 o’clock, is now happening at 4 or 5 o’clock and the day is over for us OFs. The OFs still haven’t completed half of what they thought they would do, so come the next morning the OF has already had half a day shot and the OF isn’t even out of bed yet!

Just having to do what was leftover from yesterday, by the end of the week, the OF is so far behind that the OF says to heck with it and goes back to bed. With the OFs, it is not procrastination, it is those numbers 80 through 90-plus added to the OFs age that is the problem.

New doc takes toll

The OMOTM followed up on the previous banter, saying how, at the ages of the OFs, having to change doctors is a problem. In some cases, the OFs outlive the doctor that has been taking care of them for years and realize they have to find a new doctor.

Sometimes this poses a real family situation — getting the OF comfortable with a new doctor who doesn’t look old enough to shave. Trying to convince the OF that this “youngster” is his doctor and that the OF will be comfortable with him or her.

In a few cases, the new doctor practices with a large group of doctors, and if the “kid” doctor is not available, the OG is shuffled off to another doctor in the factory whom he has never met. The OFs continued, saying “This guy starts asking questions that I have answered a hundred times before.”

One OF said this case in point had just happened to him. While he was answering the questions, the doctor wasn’t even listening; he was writing something down that didn’t pertain to him at all. The doctor even called a nurse in and gave her the paper he was writing on.

“Sure didn’t make me feel any better,” the OF said.

Enrollment down, Why are taxes up?

There is also that continuing problem of taxes. A short time ago, there was voting all over the place on school budgets. The OFs were wondering with local school enrollments going down (not by much, but the trend is down, as is the population of New York) why do taxes keep going up?

The newspaper just reported that New York State has the highest (by double) per-student rate in the country, and the kids are not any smarter for it.

Like the ad on TV for the dishwashing soap, “What does the dishwasher do?” the young girl asks after watching her mother wash all the dishes and then put them in the dishwasher.

We OFs would also ask, “Just what do all those school taxes do?” The pie chart, and the flyer sent around just before voting time, the OFs say, said nothing.

The OFs know maintenance, supplies, and fuel oil prices fluctuate, but building new buildings, etc. doesn’t seem to make sense unless the others are so bad they are unusable.

One OF said he was home-schooled, and the schoolhouse was the barn. There is a lot to be said for that.

Another OF defended the way we were taught, and the way school is today. If our education was only that of out behind the barn we never would have gotten to the moon, and now we are looking toward way beyond that.

These conversations almost sounded like the OFs want to go back to doctors making house calls, and one-room schoolhouses where one teacher taught multiple grades and was put up at one of the farmer’s homes. The doctors making house calls was mentioned and some remembered the names of the local doctors who did that.

One OF brought up a thought that he thinks communicable diseases and colds would be kept down by this practice instead of everybody going to an office, which, to this OF, is an incubator of all kinds of germs.

One OF thought that in the not-to-distant future we won’t be seeing a doctor. The secretary will ask what our problem is and we will step into a room and a series of machines will take over, and diagnose what’s going on, and another machine will take over and take care of the problem.

This OF thinks that somewhere along the line a doctor will be part of the diagnosis and a possible cure, but we will never actually see this doctor. One OF said, “Star Trek, here we come.”

In the field of medicine, the young people have a lot to look forward to, but for now the OFs look forward to Tuesday and the next breakfast, and this week those who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, David Williams, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Pete Whitbeck, Jim Heiser, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Ken Parks, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Bob Donnelly, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.