Roger McKee Interview:
This is file 78. This is Jean McMillen. I am interviewing Roger McKee at the Scoville Memorial Library. He is going to talk a lot about boat building, Salisbury School and anything else he can think of. Today’s date is August 27, 2014. And here we go!
JM:What is your name?
JM:Your birth place?
JM:Your parents’ names:
RM:Howard McKee and Frances McKee
JM:Do you have siblings?
RM: I do, one brother Randi, who is 7 years older.
JM:What is your educational background?
RM: I went to grammar school at Salisbury Central School. I went to Salisbury Boys School for high school. I than spent a year and a quarter at MIT, took some time off, got an Art degree from Pratt Institute and then most recently a Masters of Liberal Studies from Wesleyan.
JM:How did you get to Salisbury School? You had an interesting story.
RM:Do you mean as a student or as a faculty member?
JM:Well, you can start as a student.
RM:There were a number of us in the same class, I believe it was Art Wilkinson approached us or suggested that maybe one of the private schools might be a way to go and he encouraged us to take the PSATs. That is my recollection.
JM:Would this have been through the recreation program with Art Wilkinson?
RM:Yeah I guess so. We sat for the PSATs and did well. There were a number of us who went up that year. Then as far as the teaching after I had gone off to college, and I was living down in West Cornwall doing art work, doing odd jobs, and trying to get by. Salisbury School has an opening for a math teacher. They had a previous math teacher who left in the middle of the summer to take up
another job. Carl Williams who was at that point the Chairman of the Math Department, and who had been a teacher of mine I think all four years that I was there. No he taught the higher classes. He knew my background and called my parents because he did not know how to get in touch with me. My parents the next time I saw them said that I should give Carl Williams a call. He said,” Would you be interested in teaching freshman algebra and some geometry.” I said, “Yes.” So I got the job teaching math at Salisbury School which I did for three years.
JM:When did you go to Salisbury School first as a math teacher?
JM:Who was the Head at that time?
RM:That would have been Ed Ward. I did the math for 3 years. During that time I believe I sort of started to slip into the Art Department in that I taught a class basically developed it and taught drafting, mechanical drawing which we did with paper and pencil and T squares and triangles and things like that. The fellow who was the chairman of the Art Department then went off to Colorado to another school. I moved fully into the Art Department. We ultimately did the drafting with CAD programs at some point. We switched over from paper and pencil to CAD and I did this…
JM:What is CAD?
RM:It is Computer Aided Design. Basically you throw away the pencils and use the computer, much more uniform lines! Well we did the usual sort of high school art kind of subjects drawing, painting, and some printmaking. We had a little tiny pottery area in one of the out buildings of the school. But of course now as we fast forward we have a really nice well equipped facility with a dedicated pottery and printmaking studio with painting, drawing and a wood shop. Because of starting the wood working program that now takes up a fairly large percentage of my teaching time. My colleague Erika Crowfoot does the pottery and the painting and drawing. I have one drawing course and one printmaking course that I do, but the rest of my time is really filled with woodworking classes which are pretty much filled each trimester, and boat building which is also a relatively new development. I am going to say that it was 2001. So it is not actually so new; I have been doing it for a number of years.
JM:Let’s go back a little bit for some statistics. Presently at Salisbury who is the Headmaster?
JM:What is approximately the student enrollment?
RM:Right around 300; it could be a little less or a little more.
JM:How about the faculty?
RM:That is one of those things I should have looked up! I am going to say roughly 60 faculty, but if we included all the Reading Center staff and part timers, it could go higher than that.
JM:In your various classes, what is the average number of students? Does it fluctuate?
RM:It does. I think the class average for the whole school is probably somewhere around 12, but that can vary dramatically in my department in particular. We are fortunate that we can bring the average down. There are some standard classes like freshman algebra run about 15 or so. In the wood shop for safety reasons I have sort of an official max of 6, I have done 7 but that is rare. 6 are about the number of people I can keep track of and make sure nobody is cutting something off.
JM:You have to be really careful with safety issues.
RM:Yeah, with the boat building is a self- selecting course because it is such an involved process. In some instances it can cost a little bit more money. The number of guys who are interested in doing that is relatively few. I have had anywhere from the maximum was 11 guys building boats at one time which was a little crazy to only three which is an underutilization of my time. Usually it is around 6 which kind of works.
JM:I want to get into the boat building, but again I am going back to some of the faculty members. Did you work with Kiau Loi?
RM:Yes, Kiau was there when I was a faculty member. He was a math teacher and Chairman of the Math Department.
JM:Did you work with Carl Williams as a faculty member?
JM:Now he was chair of the Math Department until he retired or not?
RM:Yes, I have no idea when he retired. Carl, right up until the very end, never severed his ties with Salisbury School. He was up there a lot as a presence, but he continued to coach the ski team I am going to say until he was 90. He would come up in the winter and drive one of the school vans to Butternut for ski practice. The ski team was kind of his baby; he had been doing that for years and years. I also had Carl as a faculty member.
There is an anecdote that I tell people that we used to refer to him as “Quick Carl”. In our classroom at the time there were blackboards on 3 walls of the room. The other wall had windows. The story was that Carl be writing a proof with chalk with one hand and as he walked around the room he would be erasing the stuff with the other hand. So if you weren’t taking note real quick, you were lost. There is a grain of truth to that. I am sure that he could write and erase quickly is apocryphal; yet he was a demanding teacher.
JM:But I would think he would have been a good teacher and on top of it.4.
RM:He was. Those words are sort of synonymous: good teacher and demanding.
JM:They sometimes go together.
JM: Because there are standards that he would maintain that you would just had to live up to, which I think is a good thing. Now you had some wonderful stories about Jim Bates. Not as a faculty member per se, but the wilderness experience.
RM:There actually was a period of time when Salisbury had the entire school during that same time frame of just before or just after Thanksgiving when the entire school would go off on these various trips. The freshmen went to Montreal, sort of a cultural French experience. The seniors were theoretically supposed to use that time to look at colleges and go on college visits. The junior class was doing historical literary trip like Gettysburg and things like that. Those other programs with those classes sort of fell away and the sophomore wilderness trip was the longest lived. We still have faculty now who were students who went on the wilderness trips who still talk about it and who still think it was the greatest things they ever did. We would take the entire sophomore class up to the Adirondacks. We had a faculty connection with a Boy Scout camp on the eastern shore of Lake George. That would be our base of operations; in the camp there were some buildings with propane heat and stoves and things like that and a kitchen. We could during the day when there was a program going on we could make lunch and serve it to the boys so to keep the day running smoothly. Jim would go along, I am not sure if he went on all of them, but he went on most of them. He would be our guy in the kitchen; he would run the place. He would make sure that the food stuff was organized and he would get lunch going early so that when the kids came by at 12 or 12:30, he would serve them a cup of soup and a sandwich out the window of the building and send them on their way. Since the faculty was all out during the day with the student groups doing things, he would stay back in the activities building and had dinner ready for us. The kids would make their own dinner; that was part of the experience for them to select the foods and cook their own dinner out in the wilds. But the faculty would come back and have something that Jim had started. We would help out but he was chief cook and bottle washer for the group! Thank was kind of nice.
JM:He did that for a long period of time, didn’t he?
RM:Yeah, I don’t recall exactly how many years we did this wilderness program, but it was at least 10 years in a row.
JM:That is a good long time. Now I do want to go back to the boat building. Tell me how you got involved from the beginning right up to what you are doing now, please.
RM:It was student generated essentially. We had a boy who had some learning differences and he had a language waiver so there was a course that he did not have to take every trimester. He did not have to take Spanish or French so he had free time. The requirement was that he still had to take a fifth
course, so he took art courses. He very quickly ran through all the art courses that we had. Some of them he had taken more than once. Somebody came up with this idea that there is this company Chesapeake Light Craft in Annapolis, Maryland which makes boat kits. Elliot lived on the water, he was a rower he likes boats. Wouldn’t this be a cool thing if he could make a boat? He did and it was very successful. There were a few false starts; we had to find a place to actually do the work. We initially started in the headmasters’ garage, but it wasn’t warm enough. The epoxy wasn’t setting well. We scraped that idea very quickly. We found a space; it was what had been the original wood shop. It was no longer being used as a wood shop at that point. We took it over. It had heat.
I shall briefly describe the process. The parts are pre-cut to shape and the pieces are then wired together with copper wire which is relatively soft. Because the parts are pre shaped, when you pull the wires tight, the whole thing pops into shape. You weld the seams with epoxy, and then pull the copper wires out which is a tedious process. Even if you can’t get a wire out, because the copper is soft, you can sand it flush. In some cases depending on the boat you may have some fiberglass caulk to reinforce that. Some of the boats parts were simply epoxied and that was it. That was successful.
Then a couple of years later we had 5 guys who made a sea kayak by the same process. Over the years we have had a number of guys who either made sea kayaks or there was a little 8 foot pram, a little row boat that some guys made. There were a couple of other different boats; there was an Oxford shell, a single rowing shell. Sometime after that a former faculty member at Berkshire School showed me how to make skin on frame canoes which are solo boats. They are about 12 feet long and they are really meant to hold one person, but their carrying capacity is 300 pounds so you could take an adult and a child which is what I used to do when my son was smaller. They are an open canoe you paddle; you sit on the floor and paddle with a double bladed paddle. It is like a kayak paddle but it is extra- long. Those are relatively easy to make, less expensive from scratch. It is a way for me to introduce to the guys who do that to the wood shop because we do all the milling of parts right from day 1. They not only learn how to build a boat but also how to use the wood shop tools for a combination of hand and power tools. I have gotten interested in building an Eskimo kayak, a Greenland kayak; I have the fifth one in the works now.
Along the way I got a little sidetracked by making coracles. A coracle is a round, more or less round, traditionally thought of as a Welsh boat, although it turns out that they show up all over the world. In Cambodia they make them out of bamboo, the Plains Indians used to make a thing called Bullboat because it was the hide of one buffalo, one bison, stretched over a round frame that they used to get across shallow rivers or something like that. The first one that I built was made from left over plywood that I had from one of the other projects. It works very well and is quite sturdy because it is wood and epoxy but is much heavier that a traditional coracle would be. Then I actually got a grant from the Connecticut Commission on Tourism and the Arts to build a coracle. There was a grant application around and I said I could apply for printmaker, just in the arts and crafts area so I pitched this idea of making coracles. They bought it and I made one traditional Boyne coracle. They are classified by what river system they came from in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. This first one was made of willow
rods and covered with leather. I used leather so it looks fairly traditional. The second one was an Iron Bridge coracle named for the bridge near Shrewsbury. Apparently the history is that it was a toll bridge and the locals did not want to pay the toll so they had a coracle and used it to get back and forth across the river. It is made of wood slats. The traditional one were usually covered with some kind of cheap fabric and then tarred which is really ugly and sticky. I didn’t do that; I used clear polyurethane to cover it so it is quite a handsome little craft. Then I took the remaining part of the grant and made one with a local metal fabricator out of stainless steel. It came out nicely and currently that one is sitting at the bottom of Allan Cockerline’s swimming pond at his farm. My son and I were going down the Salmon Kill one day and he went under the bridge just before the swimming pond, there is a little dip and he tipped over. They are notoriously unstable and because it has no floatation it went right to the bottom. I have been over a couple of times swimming trying to find it and have been unsuccessful. It has been a really wet summer and the water has been high. I am going to wait until the water gets a little lower before I go back. He has been very good about letting me go over. It really isn’t that deep; I don’t understand why I can’t find it. When I go into the current with the mask and go down, I am convinced now that it may have gotten caught in a backwater and maybe tucked up further upstream than I think it is. It is not going to rot: it is stainless steel after all.
JM:it will be quite an interesting artifact 50 or 60 years from now if you don’t get it out of there. Now I am going to throw you a curve. Oh how many boats have you done?
RM:Oh it is over 80. I do a count every year. After I got a few I started keeping track of when they were built, what kind of boat and who the students were. I did a workshop this summer for the Salisbury Summer School where we made 4 new boats. My last tally is definitely over 80.
JM:How long have you been doing this, making boats?
JM:So you have been doing this for about 13 years. Now my curve! You went to Salisbury as a student, and you have taught there you said 30 years?
RM:It will be 35 this school year. At the end of this past school year Ralph Franconi is the Senior Master that is his official title, the faculty member who has been there the longest retired. There are some duties attached to being the Senior Master. You are in charge of the procession at graduation; making a list of who goes where, who is first in line and so on and also you get invited to all of the trustee dinners rather than just…But Ralph was retiring and we were trying to calculate who was next in line for the position, Dennis Shortelle or myself. Frankly I didn’t want it. It turned out it was Dennis which was announced in the headmaster’s letter to the faculty over the summer that he was the new Senior Master. But that makes me second in line. If I have 35 years in, Dennis must have 38 or 39.
JM:Then how has the school changed over the years? I should have asked you that before.
RM:Our numbers have gone up, and that in and of itself means that you have more faculty members. You can have more offerings; you can have a greater variety of courses. The physical plant has altered beyond recognition. For me the interesting thing is that Jim Bates used to do was to get up at least once a year and do a little historical vignette for the students. He would tell them a little bit about where they were. One of the things he started pointing out and I have noticed is that all of the buildings have named which are named for former faculty or in some cases benefactors. Keur House which is now a faculty residence was a dorm when I started as a student. Keur House was named for William Keur (See #74A tape) who was my geometry teacher. Carr Dorm that was Mr. Carr whom I did not have as a teacher. Tabert Dorm- Ed Tabert taught classical languages so I didn’t have him, but I knew him. He was there as a teacher when I was there.
JM:I remember from something that I think Jim Bates said that the chapel originally was in the basement of one of the main buildings.
RM:Yes, I only know that fact from listening to Jim. When I started as a student, if you went into the main building and went through what we call the common room which was a central gathering area where we had school meetings. At that time it was a smaller student body that you could have the entire body in this room which couldn’t have been more than 30 feet square. You went down the stairwell to this room which at the time was our library, but you could tell that it had been a nice space. It had carved wood paneling, stained glass simple rectangles, it was a very small space with low ceilings. This would have been 1968 when I started as a student. It was the library, still very small for a library as well as a chapel. Apparently that had been the chapel. When the chapel was built which had been built by ’68, there was this beautiful big chapel which we did not fill at the time. We didn’t even come anywhere near filling it; now we overfill it. We have chairs down the side aisles and the back. They added new pews in the back for the freshmen class. The whole basement of that main building had a whole life. Now that room which is no longer the library, there was a new library built. In fact the student helped move the books; it wasn’t a big task as there weren’t that many books. They moved the books to the new library. That room currently is used by the Development Department Office. These rooms are now offices, people doing research and finding donors. That hall way used to have a little barbershop, the barber came from off campus –Paul Argall. There was a student bookstore, a day student room, and a bath room; it was a dismal, dank dingy hallway. Now it has been spruced up some, but now there are offices or server rooms for all the computer systems and those kinds of things is all located there. It does not have to look fancy for that kind of stuff.
JM:The faculty has grown in number, more courses are being offered, the physical plant has changed. How about the atmosphere of a boys’ school, has that changed over the time?
RM:I would like to say we are doing a better job, we the faculty, of educating them in the sense that when I was there, and for some years after, there was some hazing. It was the kind of thing you hear about at boys’ institutions. It would be naïve to think that we have totally eliminated that, but I think we do a better job. Part of this is through the sports program we encourage the idea of “the band of
brothers” kind of thing, the brothers in arms kind of thing. Coaches go with that. We do an orientation where those kinds of things, community loyalty, are going to be stressed. It is a tough thing because males are xenophobic; they don’t like the others that much. There is a tribal quality to it. We are a very diverse school. We have the jocks, and we have the guys that do zip, but we also have the guys in the arts, we have a lot of foreign students, a fair number of Europeans and from other countries like China, Japan, and Korea. WE try to encourage them to be open minded …
JM:It is a good trick if you can do it. You are teaching tolerance.
RM:In some ways the diversity helps us because if we can get a guy who is an athlete but is also a good student; that is a good message. If we have somebody is really well liked, he went out on a limb and had a major role in one of our productions. He really put himself out there; it was good for him. It was a good example. We try to highlight if there is a fellow who is a very talented piano player, and there are others, guys who play the guitar. They will come in and do chapel in the morning, Tuesday and Friday morning chapel. Sometimes that service will be dedicated to them and their performing.
JM:Is it a “closed campus”? In learning about Hotchkiss and Salisbury it seems that Hotchkiss has had a slightly more relationship with town people. Salisbury seems to stay up on the hill. Is that changing, or is it the same.
RM:I am not sure that that is a fair assessment. The form has changed but we still have community service. There were a number of years running where we did town centered community service. We had a Community Service Day where every student went off and did something. One year they identified species with the Land Trust people. They cleaned up debris behind Noble Horizons. The focus of that community service changed from being a school wide thing to being advisor-advisee centered. Last year Den Shortelle and myself took all our advisees out and we cleaned up a bunch of debris along Dark Hollow Road. I live quite close to there; I spend a lot of time walking the dog up Dark Hollow Road. There were these big tractor tires laying down there for years. We just went down one Sunday morning with a school truck and dragged them away. It gave Tom Key a surprise. He was like after that land Trust meeting, “Does anybody know what happened to those tires?” “Did you miss them? Do you want them back?” He was worried about liability issues that I had dealt with. I asked the powers that be at school and was told there would be no problem with that. We just went and did it.
JM:These are things I don’t know; I have just read past history so I am not familiar with current and that is why I am asking.
RM:I am not familiar with all of the programs. Rita Delgado is the Head of Student Activities; she takes guys to soup kitchens in Torrington; she takes Jewish student to temple on holy days.
JM:So there is more of an outreach into various communities.
RM:I think so, certainly more than when I was a student.
JM:That is exactly what I was looking for.9.
RM:Yeah, when I was a student which was a lot of years ago, it was very separate, sort of ivory tower. I would go up there and I would be there all day. Guys didn’t get off campus as much; there wasn’t a taxi service. If you wanted to go to Salisbury you could ride your bike or walk. We actually did that; they would walk to town with a bag to get groceries. Now weekends are much freer where kids get away from school much more often. There are more dances. On Sunday afternoons almost every afternoon there is a shuttle that either goes to Millerton or Stop & Shop in Canaan so the student can stock up. I haven’t watched to see what they stock up on. The students themselves are less tied to the hilltop. They have more mobility. That is a separate issue from how Salisbury School interacts with the local townspeople. They do come down for the Fall Festival, they help out with that. That is one of the outlets for the Community Service. They help move stuff and clean up and things like that.
JM:How about Sunday services if the students are Catholic? Do they get the shuttle service down to St. Mary’s?
RM:I believe so. That used to be the case; we used to take guys to catholic services. This no longer exists but there was a period of time where Jackie Rice as part of the science program had an EMT course. There were guys from Salisbury who could take her class and then go down to the ambulance garage and take the EMT courses. Now Jackie is at the high school and they don’t do that anymore (See Jackie Rice file #31).
JM:Is there anything else that you would like to add about Salisbury School before we go on to some earlier memories? Obviously you enjoy teaching there because you have been a long time there.
RM:Well, what is not to like? I still think of myself as an artist. To call myself an artist to me smacks of self- aggrandizement and promotion. I have long vacations that I can get my work done. It kept me active because I was coaching and doing outdoor things.
JM:What did you coach?
RM:Over the years I have coached wrestling, cycling, and now I do an activity called rock climbing. I am again the cycling coach but we are a recreational program instead of a competitive program. I have done a few other activities in between. It is a nice. Things change with the season. I do a number of different things; it is not that I am always teaching the same class. I can even change the projects a little bit if I get tired of a particular project. There is something about working; I can switch gears.
JM:You have flexibility. This is good; you do not have to teach to a specific test.
JM:That is quite a lot of freedom.
RM:With the boat building the key thing is that it has to float!
JM:I asked you about the Methodist Church. You remembered a little bit about it that Gerry Pollock was kind of laid back and open. It was a good time. I did ask you about Camp Sloane and you said that you had gone to Camp Sloane from the Methodist Church.
RM:Yeah, I think it was the Methodist Church that had a certain number of 9th week scholarships. There were a couple of us, Dave Lawroski, and myself; Dave lived at Deep lake Farm at the time. This was funny because we used to sit in the tent at night. 9th week was usually end of summer. On one occasion we were in the tent and everybody is getting to know each other and talking about where you live. Dave points out, “There is my house down there.” Everybody said, “Why are you coming here?” There were fun activities, you got to meet different people; sometimes the counselors were from far away. One year I think we had a counselor from India. It was a fun experience. I did 9th week for several years in a row; I never did the full camp.
JM:It was set up at that time 2 periods of 4 weeks for the other campers, and then they had this I week that they didn’t really have anything going. It had Methodist connections, (See file #44/55 John Hedbavny) the fellow that was running it contacted Gerry Pollock. He filled up that 9th week with kids. That was a wonderful idea.
Now you mother taught at Salisbury Central; any memories of Salisbury Central that you care to share?
RM:I always liked Salisbury Central. I thought it was a great school. My own 12 year old goes there and will be an 8th grader this year. I have never felt like oh we have to send him to Indian Mountain. There is nothing wrong with Indian Mountain or with Salisbury Central either. He seems to be getting a good education. I get a little confused because I go up there now and the buildings have been rearranged. I have fond memories of Salisbury Central. I was part of the Audio Visual Club with bob Kufsuski. We ran these little film festivals 5 before and 5 after Christmas. That was my introduction in to the movies; later on when I was out of college and before I started teaching at Salisbury, one of my part time jobs was I was projectionist at the Mahaiwe Theatre in Gt. Barrington which was like a step up. It was a little bit more…the equipment was a little fancier, but not that much more. The system of having the 2 projectors so you go from reel to reel.
JM:I did it for four years in college.
RM:It was the same.
JM:You did not have self- winders; you had to thread them.
RM:Then we had to rewind the film at the Mahawie at the end of the week.
JM:It is fun threading a machine in the dark, isn’t it?
RM:But that room was the art room and the projectors were there on the side. Now it is John Conklin’s science room which I have been to a number of times for teacher conferences.
JM:I haven’t been to the lower building since they reworked it. I shall have to do that.
RM:There are parts of It that are still the same, but some of it I just can’t quite remember how it went.
JM:Did you get any flak from being a teacher’s child at Salisbury Central?
RM:If I did, it didn’t leave a lasting mark. Not really
JM:I never picked up anything at all, the Romeo children, you and your brother. Everybody knew everybody and it was a community.
RM:I didn’t have my mother for home room; I don’t remember having her as a teacher. I think I would remember that.
JM:We had a lot of kids that went through when their parents were teachers there. There may have been an issue as to whether I call you Mom or Mrs. McKee but that was a personal issue.
RM:I probably got more flak for being pudgy and not very athletic.
JM:Civic activities, tell me about the ambulance service.
RM:I did the ambulance squad. Because I was doing a lot of outdoor stuff myself, camping and hiking, rock climbing, I decided at some point that it would be a really good idea for me to have some sort of first aid training. I took a Wilderness Responder course from an outfit in New Hampshire. The school actually paid for it. Because I was doing these things with kids; it was faculty development. The school paid for the nine days of the course. It took place on Hurricane Island off the Maine coast. Hurricane Island is where Outward Bound used to have its headquarters. There was 10 days of fairly intense training, the days were long. They had us out on the island doing scenarios where somebody would pose as a victim; they would have a little make-up on to simulate something or other. When I came back from that, Jackie Rice, who at the time was teaching, said that fall, “Well now that you are a first responder, it would be easy for you to take the EMT course.” So I did. There was Mark Hennig who was a teacher there as well; he was also on the ambulance squad and he encouraged me as well. Over the years we have had a few faculty members who have joined the squad. I did that for 15 years, I think. It finally just got to be too much. I frankly don’t know how I managed to do it when Duncan was a baby, but I did. Just a few years ago it got to be too much.
JM:The training has increased tremendously.
RM:Yeah, we would do a lot of that refresher stuff at our monthly meetings. Every year as they were doing the course, one of the functions of the squad members would be to come in and run the
practice practical examinations for the students so that they would be well prepared when they went to take the state exam. If anything I think the testing has been a little more straight forward from when I was doing it. You walked in and know that there were certain stations that were going to happen because they were important, but everything else perhaps out of 7 stations 3 you kind of knew were going to be there but the others were random. So you could walk in on a gunshot wound and you worked with your partner. Your partner could either drive you down or lift you up depending on who you got. It was intense; but I felt we were contributing. In a small town like this you get a lot of cases which are not as critical, there are a few of local doctors who think of the ambulance as a taxi service. They will call Noble and say, “We need the ambulance to take so and so to the hospital for evaluation.” That is not what we are for. Until the last year I was there, Jackie would say, “I’ll have another talk with Dr. so and so.
JM:You joined in 1997?
RM:That is what it says on my little brass pin. Yes and somewhere along the line I think I got my 15 year pin, but it was shortly after that that I had to pack it in.
JM:There is the burn-out factor too.
RM:The other thing that I found out that as the years went on I found we were going on calls more and more for people I knew, like my old first grade teacher or Carl Williams. Carl was the exception; we had a call to go to Carl’s house; we show up at the door, and Carl is already down the stairs with his bag packed. “No you don’t have to bring the stretcher up here, I get there.” Actually I was on a call once where we picked up my mother. This wasn’t serious, but I guess a broken hip is serious. We get this call; we drive down to the post office in Lakeville. I was driving and as I get out of ambulance, Deb Fails comes around and grasps me and says,” Roger, don’t panic! It is your mom.” She had slipped and it was icy. She had slipped and fallen and fractured her hip. But as I was driving, I didn’t do anything about patient care. That was something that I hadn’t thought about too much. On the one hand you have a personal relationship with the patient, you can talk to them because you know them; on the other hand it is disturbing to discover that the people that you looked up to when you were in grade school are getting on in years and are fragile.
JM:It is a mixed bag. From my point of view it is very comforting to have somebody show up that I know because they are going to take care of me and I am not in the hands of strangers. I had said to Jackie Rice when I started interviewing her.” I am doing this because I am so scared of hospitals, doctors and ambulances that I need to do this so I am not so frightened.”
Now you said that you are involved with Land Trust, as well.
RM:Margaret Hoage got me whose husband is also at Salisbury and is also a Scotland buff so we always have stuff to talk about. She was on the ambulance squad, she was actually on duty with me=Wednesdays was our day. She said, “You like going out into the woods and you know about GPS.
You would be a good person for the Land Trust.” So I did. Every member has certain properties that they are supposed to go out once a year and walk around and take some pictures. We basically make sure that requirements of the easement are being adhered to.
JM:How long have you been on the Land Trust?
RM:No so long, three years maybe. That is another one that gets away from you; we only meet every other month.
JM:Is there anything else that you would like to add in general before we close this interview?
RM:The town of Lakeville, not so much Salisbury, in general has changed in so many ways physically. I always thing about Lakeville because that whole center where the traffic light is and the Boathouse was Morris Brickman’s grocery store, across the way there was the jewelry shop that Mr. Barry ran, Danny LeFredo’s cobbler shop. There was a whole raft of buildings, a little diner with an old enamel Coke sign. I wish I could get my hands on that sign; it would be worth some money now. Argall’s barbershop that was upstairs, there was the 5 and dime, there was the A & P, the liquor store then Ward Finkle‘s Gulf Station. All of it is gone so now it is like open. I hear this every time there is a discussion of low income housing. I hear people saying and preserving the rural quality of the town. I want to say that it did not look like this 30 years ago. This is not a long term thing; even Salisbury Peter Beck’s Store was Shagroy’s. The Chinese restaurant which is now defunct was the Apothecary shop first with the Gentiles and then Dick Walsh (See tape # 125 Patricia Walsh). This is a discussion that I occasionally have with one of my colleagues up at school. The zoning regulations now are for a 2 acre lot per house. If those regulations had been in effect when my parents moved to Perry Street or the little houses on Porter Street, those little neighborhoods would not exist. Then a house lot was one half acre. Some of them were even smaller; those are perfectly nice little neighborhoods. Lots of kids lived there.
JM:It is more spread out than it used to be.
RM:The idea of what we are seeing right now is what a little town ought to look like. It is misguided.
JM:Thank you so much. It has been interesting and I have learned a lot, and that is the best part of the whole thing! Thank you so much, roger.
RM:You are welcome.