D. E. Larsen, DVM
I graduated from Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine three months ahead of most of the class in March of 1975. After school was finished, we moved to Enumclaw, Washington, where I took a job in a mixed practice for a thousand dollars a month.
We had little money when we finished school, and the expense of the move just about took anything that was left. I mainly worked on dairy cows, but we did all other animals also.
When the first month’s paycheck was handed out, it was like a lifeline for our young family. As I was getting ready to go home that evening, the owner came over and handed me a wad of bills.
“This is your bonus for the month,” Jack said as he handed me the cash.
I counted the money before going into the house when I got home. Four hundred dollars, a pretty good bonus, I thought. When I went through the door and was greeted by all the girls, I handed Sandy the wad of bills.
“What is this?” she asked.
“That is my bonus for the month,” I said with a big smile. “That is four hundred dollars.”
Sandy had assumed all of our financial chores when I was in school. She had a background in bookkeeping and seemed to enjoy keeping track of where all the money went. But, unfortunately, she didn’t do so well at planning where it should go.
“We can’t use this,” Sandy said. “We need money that is on paper.”
“We can use it for cash purchases,” I said. “Groceries and the like, it will make life easier.”
“It will drive me crazy,” Sandy said. “What if we get audited. They will spot our spending habits right away.”
“I am not going to give it back. You are just going to have to deal with it,” I said.
The monthly bonus was a standard event for the year and a half I was in Enumclaw. Jack skimmed as much cash out of the practice as he could. I bothered Sandy, and when we had our own practice, all funds were documented.
We moved to Sweet Home on June 13, 1976. I had visited Sweet Home in March and rented a house through a real estate office. Unfortunately, the week before we moved, the house rental deal fell through. The owner claimed the realtor had no authority to rent the house. I tried to convince him to rent it to us, but he would not budge.
We came into town with a UHaul truck stacked full and four kids. The youngest one was one month old. We had no place to go.
In those days, Sweet Home was booming. We managed to find the last two-bedroom apartment in town. We were thankful.
We settled in, but it would be a few weeks before we had a routine. I still had some work obligations in Enumclaw, so I would come and go for a few weeks, mostly on weekends. Sandy spent her spare time house hunting. She had a lot of extra time. After all, she took care of three little girls and a baby boy, almost as a single mother.
Our clinic was scheduled to be completed in August. That was about the time that they started construction. I had ordered all the equipment and supplies and thought I had set an August shipment date. We started getting daily visits from the UPS truck. It didn’t take long, and we had boxes stacked to the ceiling in our tiny apartment.
I finished in Enumclaw in the middle of July, and we had put earnest money down on a house on Ames Creek. Sandy and I were sitting at the little table eating breakfast. I look up and see a freight truck backing up to the apartment.
“This can’t be good,” I said. “We have no room for another box, let alone what might be in that freight truck.”
Sure enough, the truck backed up to our apartment, and the driver got out and started opening the door. I rushed outside to talk with him before he unloads anything into the parking lot.
“Hi, what do you have?” I asked.
“Are you Dr. Larsen?” the driver asked.
“Yes, and I am hoping you have something small for me,” I said.
“No such luck, I have a bunch of kennels,” the driver said.
“I don’t have any place to put them,” I said.
“You can refuse delivery,” the driver explained. “But that will end up costing you a small bundle.”
“Do you have time for me to make a phone call?” I asked. “I can maybe find a garage to store them.”
“That would be okay if it is not too far,” the driver said.
I ran in and called the owner of the house we had just put earnest money on. He was very gracious. I think he really wanted to sell the house. However, he did have a second garage that was empty and said it would be okay to use it as long as the sale was progressing.
I hurried back to the freight truck.
“Follow me,” I said. “It is only a little over a mile.”
It worked out well, and it was easy unloading the kennels into the garage. I signed the receipt for the driver, and he departed.
We completed the house purchase, and I had to fix up the garage to accommodate clients who continued to find us. We finally moved into the clinic on December 7, 1976.
Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash