The week of, May 5-9, was National Nurses Week. We take this time to honor all nurses, those serving now and those who have helped pave the way for what nursing is today. As I reflect back to years past, I think of those who gave of themselves in the early days of nursing when we did not have the many modern things that we have today. I think of the late Lucille Caudle who was almost like a Granny Woman when it came to helping at birthings. For years she went into the homes then in later years she set up a birthing room in her home where she assisted the late Dr. Hall in the delivery of many of our local citizens. It was in the war years and shortly after when so many of the post war babies were born. It was hard for a family to afford to go to the hospital both financially and because of the lack of transportation. As the children grew up they were “her babies” and she was so proud of each one of them.
I think of the late Mrs. E.V. Swift who worked for years at the old Colonial Hospital. I don’t think she ever had any training but was one of the early nurses who worked as a nurse then took a test. She had to be a natural born nurse because in later years she sat with me following surgery when I needed a private duty nurse and I can assure you that she could give a bed bath better than anyone I have ever known. She had a special touch that I have never known since. She was a true Angel of Mercy.
I think of the former Juanita Sadler, the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Sadler Sr., who worked as a nurse at the Colonial Hospital. For years Mama said she saved her life because she took the time to listen to her complaints and took the action needed. She was the type of nurse who made you glad to know she was there. She had a special glow about her that made you know she was special.
I guess the nurse who impressed me the most as I was growing up was the former Anna Mae Maestri, daughter of the late Leo and Catherine Maestri. She was the most beautiful nurse I had ever seen in her white uniform and the little cap atop her head. I thought she had to be the true Angel of Mercy. She was indeed special because she was really, truly a nurse who had been trained at a real hospital, graduating from St. Edward Hospital. Then there was a nurse who took such good care of me that I introduced her to my brother Jim and she became my sister-in-law.
As I was growing up I could not decide if I wanted to be a nurse or an actress like Deanna Durben. One week I was the actress, the next week the nurse. I was told I was being both…and actress who acted like a nurse.