From time to time I will post Memories, where I describe some facet of my life before MS. I hope you enjoy these digressions.
I grew up in the small, northern Maine town of Lincoln, where there were only a handful of doctors. Our family physician, who moonlighted as the town coroner, was affectionately known as Old Doc Gulesian. He delivered me, and I understand that my birth was very complicated. He operated the Gulesian Hospital in Lincoln from 1947 through 1972 in what was nothing more than a large house. Doc was a short, powerfully built, gregarious character. He often had a cigar in his mouth, but it was more for chewing on than it was for smoking.
His son, Doctor Gulesian the Dentist, was physically similar to his father, but less intimidating. Whenever I needed a tooth filled, and I needed a lot of them, he led me through the same routine. First, he would take a Q-tip with some gunk on it and set it beside whichever tooth he was going to work on. After a few minutes he would remove the Q-tip and say, “Close your eyes and cross your legs.” This never changed, and at no time did I peek, or even question why he made this strange request. I would feel a pinch in my mouth, and then Doctor Gulesian the Dentist would tell me it was okay to open my eyes. A few minutes later my mouth would be completely numb. I thought the numbness was from the topical anesthesia on the Q-tip. I didn’t learn until years later, when I watched him do some dental work on my mother, that he was actually taking a syringe and giving people a shot of Novocain. I was flabbergasted! A shot? Right in the mouth? To this day I still close my eyes when I see the needle coming.
These father and son doctors lived across the street from one another on Transalpine Avenue. Old Doc Gulesian’s house was a sprawling ranch-style home. The full basement was expansive, and this is where he set up his medical practice in the 1970’s. There was a separate entrance for the basement office, so we never saw his above-ground living space. The carpet on the floor of the examining rooms was memorable. It depicted all sorts of board games like chess, checkers, and backgammon. I visited his office many times in my childhood, and never forgot that carpet.
After high school I went away to college, got married, and lived for a while in Ohio and Vermont. But eventually Kim and I returned to Lincoln, where I went to work as a chemical engineer in the local paper mill, and Kim began her teaching career. We bought a home and started making babies. Our extended families lived nearby, and we had many, many friends. It was an ideal situation – until we got sick of it. But that’s another story.
Kim’s mother, Carole, dabbled in a few different vocations over the years. For a short time she was a real estate agent. One day she came over, and we thumbed through her listings book. We noticed that Old Doc Gulesian, now retired, was selling his house. I had only seen the basement office, never the inside of the home. I suggested to Carole that we pose as prospective buyers and that she show us the house. She could practice her selling skills, and we could satisfy our curiosity as to what Old Doc Gulesian’s living space looked like. It was shameless voyeurism.
The house was impressive, if a little dated. Old Doc Gulesian, after all, had become a very old man. There were three bedrooms and three baths on the main floor and one bath in the basement. There was an attached, heated, three-car garage. The backyard had a neglected but salvageable in-ground swimming pool, which was a rarity for this small town. One bay of the garage even had a maintenance pit that could be used when changing the oil in a vehicle. The house sat on two wooded acres in a nice part of town.
When we got home, Kim and I continued to talk about our experience. I dared to broach the subject with her, “What if we sold this house? Then we could buy old Doc Gulesian’s house. How cool would that be?”
In addition to being a wonderful property, there was also a certain celebrity appeal to Old Doc Gulesian’s house. In our small town, buying his house would be like someone in Southern California buying a movie star’s house.
Things progressed quickly. Within a couple months we were able to sell our property and purchase Doc’s.
As soon as we moved in the house Kim and I went downstairs and explored the old doctor’s office, which hadn’t been used in years but remained intact. I basked in the nostalgia for a few minutes, and then I grabbed my chainsaw. I cut down all the internal walls to make a huge rec room. Over time, we purchased a bar, a ping-pong table, a billiards table, and added a couch and a television. The only thing we left untouched was that one-of-a-kind carpet depicting the board games. It kind of matched our motif.
For several years we would occasionally see Doc inch by our house in his big Cadillac, surveying the property but never stopping in to visit. I’m sure he had fond memories of the place, and apparently had trouble letting go.
We lived in Old Doc Gulesian’s house for seven wonderful years. Eventually the novelty of living in my childhood doctor’s home wore off, and it just became our house on Transalpine Avenue. If for no other reason than the sheer number of memorable photographs we took there, that house holds a special place in our hearts. Here are a few of those pictures…