I was very surprised this morning when a fellow Gottuso (whom I’ve never met) posted this picture on farcebook…

Yep, the boston store in beautiful downtown Utica, New York. It pains me in a way to think that I worked there for a short stint at the age of 18 and although I was legally an adult another 36 years has passed since then. This shot seems to have been taken a bit before the 70s as evidenced by the cars. Those cars were still around in the 70s but they were fewer and farther in between. Nevertheless the cars that were there were yet to be the cars of post-Japanese-car America. Anyway, the Boston Store predated the homogenization of the shopping experience. So, I was a “stock boy” there which didn’t mean that I was put in stocks all day for public humiliation although humiliation was part of the job. This whole nostalgic escapade will serve as a lovely segue into my first brush with hospitals and the medical establishment after my rheumatic fever diagnosis years earlier. Luckily for me, Mr. Fleming’s penicillin had been invented (discovered) prior to the mid-20th century and I recovered only to get appendicitis while in stocks at the Boston Store. I complained to my manager at the time of a severe pain in my abdomen, upon which, I was escorted to the “coat room” for the miracle sensation of the time… bromo seltzer. This made the pain increase and I left to go home early (and I never returned as it turned out). On to Faxton hospital where I was quickly diagnosed with a stomach ache even though me and my Mom ventured to them that appendicitis seemed to make more sense. Nope, we were told and I was given an antiemetic. I asked what it was for and they told me that it would stop my vomiting. I replied that I hadn’t been vomiting. They answered that it would keep me from beginning to vomit. Ten minutes after taking it, I was kissing the porcelain goddess (one of my early brushes with porcelain). They sent us home and my appendix burst inside me during the night. Surgery followed the next day and a Dr. Zwahlen removed most of what was left. I say most of because a week or so later as my recovery was in full swing, I noticed that the wound was swelling. I called a classmate that I knew had had her appendix out and asked if this was what happened to her and she said yes (of course I didn’t actually show her how much bigger it had gotten). Then I was lying on the couch watching TV in my underwear when I felt a warm liquid on my side. *warning: don’t read after this if your are squeamish. I looked down in horror as a milky puss was literally squirting out of a hole at one end of the laceration left by the operation. I ran to the bathroom sink and squeezed that sucker as hard as I could stand and I swear about a cup and a half of that poison liquid drained into the sink. I later found out that if the wound had had just a touch longer to heal and had closed up that the burst of puss would have happened inside my abdominal cavity and I would most likely have died. To add insult to injury and surgery, a followup was scheduled with Dr. Z and as I lie on the table, without warning, he reached down with both hands and grabbed the area where I had been cut and squeezed as hard as he could to make sure that I had gotten it all (and I had). Those were the days. In other news, I’m trying to meet a rapidly approaching deadline. Here’s a bunch of greenware with yet another coat of shellac to go…


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6 Responses to “Nostalgia…”

  1. Troy Bungart Says:

    You are crazy funny! If I hadn’t been through some of the same things as you I would say you are making it all up!
    Be well and keep making pots and telling it like it is.

  2. Ignatius Widiapradja Says:

    Beautiful pots.

  3. soubriquet Says:

    That’s why doctors get paid a lot of money, because they’re experts and know everything. So that when they very expensively kill you, they can assure people that they did all they could, before setting out for a round of golf.

  4. Lan Says:

    Incredible experience! Oh my goodness, that is unbelievable.

    I came across your blogs several months ago, and have been so in love with the aesthetic of your pieces. They’re so unique!

    Best wishes!

  5. medrecgal Says:

    Wow, that’s quite a story…especially since I seem to remember that the same doctor did my mother’s appendix surgery back in the late 70s. I’m not very squeamish, but that was a rather gross image you painted. The comment about what he did at the follow up visit reminded me of an experience I had a few years back when a doctor ripped open a nasty abscess I had….OUCH in both cases! The Utica picture looks to be from the ’50s based on the cars; I remember Woolworth’s but not that version of the Boston Store. Dad would know for sure…

  6. JoAnn Axford Says:

    Hi Jim,
    Funny story. I lived outside of Utica about 24 years ago! My husband was an ER doc at Faxton! If he had treated you,you wouldn’t have had this great story to tell. (:

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