I is for Internship

Starting at Bassett

When I went in the hospital to have baby #2 or #3, one of the obstetrics nurses at Bassett told that she still remembered my father’s first day.

“He carried that black bag,” she said, and then laughed to herself at the memory.

He still has the black bag.

She ended up in the same nursing home as my mother. She was non-verbal and non-communicative. More than once, I thought about sitting beside her, taking her hand and asking her if she remembered. But I never did. I need to be braver.

My father saved all the correspondence leading to his coming to Bassett as an intern.

Letter dated July 17, 1954, from James Bordley III, the Director of Bassett Hospital — “In reply to your letter of July 14 I am enclosing herewith descriptive sheet and application forms for internships at this hospital…”

The descriptive sheet gives details on a total of 9 appointments that were available. Then, this paragraph:

Salary and Maintenance: Salary $110 per month. Room and laundry are furnished but intern pays for meals. If all meals are eaten in hospital cafeteria the average cost is about $60.00 per month. During the second year of Rotating Internship the salary is $135 per month.

On the back of the sheet, my father had written a rough draft of a letter to Dr. Bordley.

Dear Dr. Bordley,

Mrs. Pollock and I would like to thank you and the members of the staff for an especially delightful visit at the hospital in August. We were extremely impressed by the cordiality of all those whom we met and were equally impressed by the excellent facilities offered at the hospital.

Before submitting my application I should like to ask you a few questions which occurred to me after our interview…

He went on to ask those questions, and Dr. Bordley answered them in a brief letter dated October 6, 1954.

Letter dated March 14, 1955 from James Bordley III —

Dear Mr. Pollock:

We were delighted to hear this morning that you had been matched for a one-year mixed internship at this hospital beginning July 1, 1955…

Letter dated April 2, 1955, from V. Earle Nicklas, Assistant Director —

In reviewing the housing requirements for incoming staff I have noted from your correspondence with Dr. Bordley that you are interested in obtaining an unfurnished apartment with 2 bedrooms.

He goes on to describe a building that had been divided into 4 or 5 apartments, and a 2 bedroom apartment that “overlooks both the golf course and Otsego Lake,” and that would rent for $60 a month. 

At the bottom of the page, in my mother’s neat handwriting, she had written: ? stove & refrigerator, ? heat

The final letter, dated April 16, 1955, from Earle Nicklas confirms their rental of that apartment:

The apartment at the hospital’s Lake Street building about which I wrote to you earlier is being reserved for you with occupancy to commence on June 1.

In answer to some of your other questions: the heat is included in the $60 a month rental. There are both stove and refrigerator included. These are part of a package unit which contains sink and cupboards as well. They are a fairly new installation having just been purchased and put in within the past year. This “kitchenette” has an accordion pleated door which separates it from the living room when not in use…

The accordion pleated door sounds awful.

Although they stayed in Cooperstown longer than that one year, they didn’t stay in that house.

Of course it was all before I was born.

My father also saved the National Intern Matching Program form. It turns out Bassett wasn’t his first choice.

But it was most definitely the right choice.

2 thoughts on “I is for Internship

  1. The apartment sounds good, except for that accordion door. Maybe it wasn’t so great though since they moved or maybe that was because they needed more room with you making an appearance.

    My grandfather and an uncle were doctors and they had those black bags they brought when they came on a house call.
    http://findingeliza.com/

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