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Benefits to Living in the 19th Century

July 8, 2014

This village where we live is quaint, old-fashioned, not quite of the modern age.  It has progressed dramatically during our time here; at least 3 bars have wifi where there was none 8 years ago.  We have a biological grocery store now.  Months pass where we lose not power, water, nor interwebs.  In the beginning, it was a good week when they all functioned all day every day.

But laundry still happens without a dryer.  The power upgrade required to run one effectively deters most locals from bothering.  Besides, they’ve not had a dryer in the family for 500 years, why start now?  It’s the way we’ve always done it. Not having a dryer doesn’t really bother me.  Time I do have and it’s ecologically more responsible to hang it out in the fresh air and sunshine ~when it’s available; when it’s not? better to have clean clothes hanging about the place than dirty.

However, the oil-fired boiler in the basement of our building which “heats” all the flats is not at all ecological.  It’s also out of our control, burning only between sometime in November and mid-April and from 11 in the morning until 8 at night, not when it’s most needed.  The fingerless gloves I wear, enabling me to write, leave me feeling a bit too much in touch with my inner Dickens.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… indeed.

But occasionally the way we’ve always done it  does in fact intersect with the best of times.  The man found himself in need of a doctor on Saturday morning.  I called the one I’ve visited.  No answer, but I’ve sat in that waiting room, listening to the phone ring while the receptionist chatted on her cell.  So we walked over to see.  No, the office was really closed.  Hm.  What now?  It wasn’t so serious as to risk the more dire consequences of being admitted to the hospital, an experience to be avoided at all costs.  I called an Italian friend.  She said doctors are out of the office on weekends.  Ack.  But, I could call the Guardia Medica La Spezia ~not Pronto Soccorso, the emergency squad, more of an urgent care set up.  Local doctors do their shifts, real doctors, she said, not students.  I loathed the thought of driving and, more to the point, parking in the city, but I had no choice.  I called.  The very nice lady listened to my description of the man’s malady and said her colleague would arrive during the morning.  That same morning?  At our house?  Yes, of course.

Doctors in the 19th century made house calls.  They still do in Italy.  Score one for living in the past.

Yes, it's probably been in her family for generations.

Yes, it’s probably been in her family for generations.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Eleanore Ranta Gigandet permalink
    July 8, 2014 17:53

    You have brought back so many memories of my childhood and youth… My dad was a doctor and made house calls… sometimes we children went with him (stayed in the car)… He even delivered babies at the homes of his patients. We didn’t go on those visits… Mom shoveled coal into the furnace and the fire went out at night… I helped her hang out the clothes and sometimes we rushed to take them down before the rains came… We walked everywhere, as Mom didn’t drive and ‘the doctor’ had to have his car available at all times. Food wasn’t tainted with chemicals and life was good!!! Thank you, Molly Sue…

    • July 8, 2014 17:59

      You are so welcome, Eleanore. I seem to be living your youth right now. I was just talking with a friend today about her youth in the UK, the furnace, and the terrifying cellar where the coal went. There are universals.

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