The Change of Life, From the Archives

D. E. Larsen, DVM

“Jim is out front and wants to talk with you about that radio transmitter tower that he was talking about yesterday, Sandy said. “He says he has some new information.”

“Jim, how are you doing today,” I said as I offered my hand to shake.

“Sandy says you have some more information.”

“Yes, I found a tower that we could lease space on for a repeater,” Jim said. “This is a hundred-foot tower on Marks Ridge, and we can get a space at the forty-foot level for twenty-nine dollars a month. That removes all the upfront cost for tower construction that I was talking about yesterday.”

“Jim, I know you are excited about this repeater, but I’m not sure that it will help me out a lot. For the initial expenses and then monthly tower fees, it just seems like too much expense for my needs.”

“Don’t worry about the monthly tower fees,” Jim said. “We will have plenty of people using the service to cover those costs. They will also allow us to repay the money you put out to get things started. And then when we are at full steam, we will have a steady revenue stream for income and to cover any operating and maintenance expense.”

“Check with me next week,” I said. “I am going to talk with a couple of the loggers and forestry guys around here to get a feel for their experience with the repeaters they use.”

“Okay, but don’t take too long to make a decision. I have to push ahead, and if I come up with another investor, I will have to go with them.”

“Don’t let me slow you down, Jim,” I said. “I have to be careful with my capital. A veterinary clinic in a small town doesn’t make a fortune.”


Every Tuesday, I attended a Rotary lunch meeting. It gave me a good break from the office, and I could mingle with other business people in town. This Tuesday, I grabbed a seat beside Jack. He would be the most knowledgeable about the use of radio communications in the area.

My experience in the Army was closely tied to radio and radar reception all over the world. I knew from that experience that the tower and repeater Jim was pushing would have definite limitations in the many little valleys around Sweet Home.

“Jack, I want to pick your brain a little today,” I said as I slid into the chair beside him.

“That might not take very long,” Jack said with a big smile.

“I have a guy wanting me to go in partners with him to install a radio repeater on a tower on Marks Ridge,” I said. “You have guys out and about all the time. What is your experience with radio reception around Sweet Home?”

“If you think you’ll have a functional radio connection with your office from a single tower on Marks Ridge, you’ll be disappointed,” Jack said. “We purchase usage on multiple towers around the area, many towers really. We do pretty well, most of the time, finding one that we can use. But there are areas that we have no reception. And that is with the use of many repeaters and multiple frequencies.”

“That is what I was afraid of when I was looking at the map,” I said. “Line of sight frequencies don’t tend to go through ridges very well. I think I will just have to continue doing things the way I’ve done them since I came to town.


It was some years later that the cell phone was thrust upon the world. The first models were large and cumbersome, and reception in the Sweet Home area was limited. But things progressed.

Bob Lester joined my practice for several years, and we needed to have a little better communication when on farm calls. Finally, Motorola came out with a handheld cell phone. It was still large but smaller than the old walkie-talkie that the Army used. It didn’t fit in your pocket, but it was functional for us.


Thursday golf was a big event for me most of the time. I liked it mainly because the phone never rang on the golf course. This one Thursday, Bob was gone, but I had this new cell phone.

Sandy came out of the office as I was getting in the truck to head to the golf course.

“You need to take this with you,” she said, holding the cell phone out to me.

“I guess it will fit in my golf bag,” I said as I took the phone and unzipped the side pocket of my golf bag. I switched the phone on and zipped up the bag, not giving it much thought.

The game went well. I golfed with the same group of guys most of the time. This week, we were in the Men’s club game and played a skins game amongst our group.

In our skins game, the skins that were not won on a hole carried over to the next hole. It was one tie, all tie game, and you had to have the low score on the hole to win the skin. This day, everyone was playing well, and when we came to the seventh tee, no one had won a skin yet. This hole was worth seven skins. At two bits a skin, this hole was worth seven dollars.

The seventh hole at Pineway Golf Course was a par three hole that played about a hundred and fifty yards to a small, sloping green. I hit a hard eight iron and stuck my ball about four feet from the hole.

Everyone was on the green, but I was closest to the pin. The others all putted and had tap-ins for their pars. I had the stage with the only realistic birdie putt.

I carefully addressed the putt.

“What is that,” Gil said as he looked around.

I thought he was trying to distract me from concentrating on the putt that was facing me.

“There it is again,” Jim said. “What the heck is it.”

Then it happened again. I heard it this time.

“It’s coming from Larsen’s bag,” Mike said.

Oh no! It was that damn phone, and it kept ringing.

“Just a minute,” I said as I walked over and unzipped my golf bag. I picked up the phone. The ringing stopped, so I returned it to the bag and zipped up the pocket.

“What’s that thing,” Jim asked again.

“It’s a new cell phone,” I said.

“You better get rid of that before it takes over your life,” Mike said. “We can’t play a game with that thing ringing in the background.”

I addressed the putt again, and the phone started ringing. I concentrated on the hole and stroked the putt. 

The putt broke to the right. The ball rolled up to the edge of the hole and seemed to stop for a moment. The phone rang again, and the ball fell into the hole.

“So that how it works, the damn phone pushes the ball into the hole,” Jim said.

“Seven skins,” I said. “Not bad with the phone ringing in the background.”

Everyone picked up their bags and headed for the eighth hole. I took the phone and called Sandy.

“I was just wondering when you were going to be home for dinner,” Sandy said.

Photo by Tyler Henry from Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

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