House Calls

Memorial Edition

Author: Alma Dolen Roberts

Dr. Mack Roberts practiced medicine in rural Kentucky for sixty-one years (1932-1993). He made house calls day or night in Wayne, Pulaski, Clinton, and McCreary counties, and his patients called at his home at all hours. His philosophy was that “the doctor is in the business to be bothered. People don’t get sick just during the day.”

In this world, stamina was as important as skill. “Doc will treat you his reputation. Today more than one-third of America’s male workers retire or are “downsized” between ages 55 and 60, but Dr. Roberts battled injury disease, and death in Central and Southern Kentucky until age 90. His dedication and service made him a local legend.

This is also the story of the woman behind the man. House Calls gives voice to Mack’s wife Alma who also had to cope with formidable challenges and annoyances: the constant interruptions, the anxiety for a husband out at night on house calls, the continuous invasions of home space and privacy. The author Alma Roberts loved her husband, but her life was “blood on the porch, dirty diapers in the driveway and patients in my hair.” But she shared his commitments, and she also shared in the rewards of a lifestyle of service.

House Calls depicts a remarkable man and woman, the people close to them, and the people close to them, and the people they served and who loved them in return. It is part biography, part autobiography, part cultural history, and part love story. It is an inspiring, fun-to-read story of service to Kentucky and Appalachia by two extraordinary people.