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Spring Cleaning

Stanley Feld M.D., FACP,MACE

Last week Cecelia decided it was time to do a little Spring Cleaning. It is true that I had promised her two years ago I would get up in the attic and get rid of the things I do not want.

I was amazed to discover what we have accumulated over a 44 year time period. Some of my friends have told me it is imperative that families move to another house every 10 years to get rid of all the junk you save.

Once you sell the house you have to empty the attic. That’s when you throw away all the junk you accumulated over the ten-year period.

I tried to do just that after we built our house and lived in it for five years. Brad was 11 and Daniel was 7 at that time.

Cecelia and I had custom designed a wonderful contemporary house. It has multiple great spaces and large glass windows in the front and the back. There were not many contemporary houses in Dallas at that time.

Contemporary houses are less rare now.

When we told Brad and Daniel of our plan to sell the house they said this is our house. "You cannot sell it. We have our initials in the driveway!'

"They said we love the neighborhood. We do not want to leave our friends or our schools."

 Actually, I was not unhappy about this reaction. A new house would mean either the stress of building or remodeling a house as well as a higher mortgage. A bigger house would mean we would have to move to a smaller property when the kids left for college and beyond.

My potential destiny would be to move into a condo. Condos were getting popular in Dallas Texas at that time.

So we stayed in “our house “ for the next 39 years. We are still going strong. I have no desire to move into a condo.

I was brought up in an apartment building in the Bronx. I remember the smells of many of our neighbors’ dinners. I remember the sounds of the music they played in their apartments.

A Columbia College classmate went on to become an architect as I went on to become a physician.

At dinner one night we had a discussion about New York City condos.

Cecelia and I were still thinking about settling in New York City.

His impression of condo living was that the condos were homes piled on top of one another.

He zoomed in on condos. He said if you think about them they are similar to shelves at a supermarket piled on top of one another. The people are like cans of food on a shelf.

The analogy has stuck with me since it fit how I felt living and growing up in the apartment in the Bronx.

Many years later one of my Dallas friends asked for my opinion about condo living.

Wrong question.

I did not even think that he had decided to downsize and buy a condo.

I told him about my classmate’s analogy to living as cans on a shelf in a supermarket. He was not pleased with that analogy. He had decided to buy a condo.

He has thrown it up to me at least 100 times over the years. I felt terrible I told him about this analogy. I have never used the analogy since.  

I am still in my house. He did not grow up in an apartment building in the Bronx.

Let me continue with Spring Cleaning.

I am very fond of saving things from the past for historical reasons.

I started Brad on an excellent stamp collection. We had sheets and every end block of stamps issued in 1976 celebrating the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States.

Brad has no interest in stamps now.

He has kept all the early computers we bought including the original Apple II, the first McIntosh computer and the first Compaq portable computer. He has them in his computer museum. I have about ten more to send him for his collection.

  Apple ii McIntosh Compaq
Apple II                         MacIntosh               Compaq portable (60 pounds

Cecelia and I gave the stamp collection to our granddaughter.

I taught Brad and Daniel how to collect baseball cards in the 1970s. Somewhere in the attic there are five shoeboxes full of 1970 cards that are preserved in mint condition. I will find them some day. They are probably very valuable to card collectors.

I couldn’t believe the things I found wrapped up and stored in the attic.

1. The Royal typewriter I used in college to type papers. It still works even though the ribbon is a little dry.


2. My Zeiss medical school microscope along with the bill of sale. It was $300. Three hundred dollars was a fortune in 1959.  


3. A Pachinko machine. The family spent many hours playing with it.


4. A Red IBM Selectric typewriter.


5. Almost every suitcase we ever owned.

6. A brass bed set I bought in anticipation of buying a ranch someday. I got them very cheap.

7. Boxes and boxes of checks, check statements and receipts from the 1970’s 1980s and 1990s.

I can go on forever. There were three finds in the attic that were extremely nostalgic.

The first was my appointment scheduling books from 1970,1971 and 1972. I used a Histicount system inclusive of billing and bookkeeping. The scheduling books represented my first three years practicing Clinical Endocrinology exclusively.

Those appointment books represented my building of a Clinical Endocrinology practice.  In the early 1970 there were few physicians in America practicing Clinical Endocrinology exclusively.

At that time over 70% of the nation did not know what a Clinical Endocrinologist was or what he did. Most could not pronounce Endocrinology.

In 1990 the formation of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists put Clinical Endocrinology on the medical specialist’s map.  

The appointment book was almost empty when I started in 1970.

At the end of 1972 the appointment book was completely filled.


2. Most of my friends will tell you I am a gadget guy. Mobile telephones intrigued me. I got most all the “hot telephones” and saved them for future historical reasons. What was I thinking?



In recent years I stopped saving the phones. Cecelia convinced me that saving all this obsolete junk was ridiculous. I took this picture of them and their wires. It made me smile. Cecelia will find out how to appropriately dispose of them

3. Prior to the smart book and smart phones I used a date book to tell me where I was suppose to be and when I was suppose to be there. These date books are also going.


There are three take home points to make here.

 1. Always listen to your wife. She knows best.

 2. If they are in the attic you never use them and you forget that you have them.

 3. The attic is less cluttered. The kids are only going to throw everything out when you are gone.

The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone

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