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Interview with Blanche Ambrose, June 18, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Blanche Ambrose, June 18, 2004
Date:
June 18, 2004
Description:
This videotaped oral history with Mrs. Blanche Ambrose took place at her Wilmington home on June 18, 2004. It was conducted by LuAnn Mims and Jerry Parnell for the Heath Services Series. Mrs. Ambrose, an RN, developed the LPN program (1965) at Cape Fear Technical Institute. She speaks directly about her training, education and pulling this all together to make this program work.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Ambrose, Blanche

Interviewer:  Mims, LuAnn

Date of Interview:  6/18/2004

Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC)

Length:

 

Mims: Today is June 18th, 2004. I'm LuAnn Mims with Jerry Parnell with Randall Library Special Collections and today we are taking with Mrs. Blanche Ambrose. Good morning.

Ambrose: Good morning.

Mims: I would like to know a little bit about your family history...where you came from, where you were born. Can you give me that information?

Ambrose: Yes. I was born in Massachusetts, Lynn, Massachusetts, near the coast and I lived there throughout all my schooling, even through college because I went to Boston University. That's where I got my nursing degree, BSN. But after that I married and from then on we were travelers. We really had...we had a family of three, two boys and one girl. But we...my husband was in the service and so we went over to Austria for two and a half years and to Italy for one. Making three and half years over there with our children.

Mims: That must have been fantastic!

Ambrose: I've often said it was the best years of our life. It was such a beautiful country, such a beautiful country. And we traveled a lot with the children, met a lot of wonderful people and it was a wonderful tour. I believe I enjoyed it; perhaps more than my husband did, though. A little bit more, perhaps, than he did. But I enjoyed the shopping in Austria. They had just wonderful things. Oh, lovely things that you could buy.

Mims: What year was this, can you remember?

Ambrose: That was in...we went in 1949 I believe. So our baby was born...our last baby was born in 49 in August and we went the day before Thanksgiving and we went first to Westover Air Force Base where...it was near...it was in Massachusetts. And we flew over with so many dependents. There were thirteen children and one on the way. And that one on the way arrived in Frankfort safely but was born soon after.

Mims: So post war Europe you were able to be over there. That must have been a real experience!

Ambrose: It was, and yet we did have our moments when we were alerted. In fact that had given us great detailed instructions on how to leave. But when we look back on it, we realized that we were just sitting ducks. The one road...a plane could just go right straight down and mow us all down if they wanted to I guess. But we were all set up with the person we would travel with. See with me with three children and I would want someone to do the driving...someone with me.

So I was...it was all arranged, and I knew where we'd go to as soon as that happened. And one day they had...we didn't of course know it at the time...but they had a trial run, so to speak. And Ralph came home to me and said, "I'm going to have to go right now. Now." And I said, "Well, I don't know where I'm going and I don't know when I will see you." And I was really...just...I mean you prepared for these things, but with three little children and formulas and all that stuff, you know.

Mims: And in a foreign country...

Ambrose: And in a foreign country. But it luckily turned out to be just a trial run, so to speak. But it gave...it was good to have that. Because from then on, you were more alert, you see. But nothing happened. We went through the three and a half years. We moved down to Italy the last year. We went to Livorno and you probably...you probably don't remember the good...and I...the wonderful straw hats made in Livorno. Women's straw hats, most beautiful straw. And that's where it was made in Livorno. And we had a magnificent place to live in Italy.

You felt as though you were living in the days of Romeo and Juliette because we had four lovely balconies and every...every floor was mosaic tile in colors. And it was a big three-story mansion really. And it was guarded...gates surrounded it about over six feet, I think. And a long, long key to open and every time that Ralph would come home, someone would have to run out and open the door for him to come in the door of the wall. It was rather an experience to live there.

We had one theft while we were there. And low and behold they took everything from our refrigerator! But some Franco-American spaghetti from a can from the commissary, they left that behind! And do you know, those police were so alert; they got every dish that they took from our refrigerator back.

Mims: Wow, that sounds interesting.

Ambrose: And another interesting thing about living in that house was, they would turn the water off, practically all day, maybe three hours on during the day and...the water was so scarce. Even in those days. And you know, we had on the third floor a big tank that would fill...we could fill. And so we always had some water, but it was really...we had a maid with us that we brought back from Austria, precious girl, and she was very loyal to us and very apt at learning. She learned English and so she was taken for an American woman, and I never learned the German.

I went to the university there, but I was never fluent, I was always thinking... "Well, is that is an accusative case, or the dedicated case?" I just didn't forget everything like a child and just learn it. My children could speak it. The first word my little baby said was "heis"...it was "hot"...the radiator was heis...warm...hot. So that was interesting. So that was an interesting part of our life living over there. Beautiful. And it was wonderful to be able to go to Rome twice.

My mother and father came over twice and visited us, once when we were in Austria and once when we were in Italy. And my father just loved Austria and he said that was the best place he had ever been. He wanted to die there, he loved it so. But it was most beautiful. It used to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I could look out or our dining room window and look over at the Swiss Alps, even in June, so it was lovely.

Mims: It just sounds really beautiful.

Ambrose: It was a wonderful experience.

Mims: Before a lot of Americanization took place?

Ambrose: Yes.

Mims: Well, let me back up for a minute and ask you...what led to you pursuing your degree in nursing? What was your interest? How did you end up going?

Ambrose: Strange, because the year prior to entering the nursing journey, I went to school of the theater at Leland Powers in Boston. And I liked that very much, but it wasn't a good time, and I really didn't have...I could see that I didn't have the talent, certainly not to be an actress, but there are so many other things you can do by going to Leland Powers, but it was a wonderful school and I have never regretted going there. However, I've always been taunted with my English accent ever since.

Mims: Really?

Ambrose: Um hum, it's more that just...just Massachusetts, I do believe. But I did tell you, and I have a little letter I could show you...one of my first students...its forty years ago now...and because of that picture in the paper, I got that letter from her. I had never heard from her before and she saw that picture and she said, "I think this is a good time to thank you for all you taught me," and it's...

Mims: Yea, I want to see that letter, cause that sounds really nice.

Ambrose: I told you about that...yes.

Mims: Yes, on the phone.

Ambrose: That just brought out several...brought you here.

Mims: Yes.

Ambrose: Yes, and you wonder where the years go. As I say it was a wonderful experience...

Mims: Well, how did you go from theater into nursing? What made the switch there?

Ambrose: I think it was my mother. She always wanted to be a nurse. She says that my grandmother was a nurse, but I can't imagine in those days, what kind of nurse...nursing they would do. But she always...she married instead of going into nursing and even in her day...she was married in nineteen hundred and three.

Mims: Oh my goodness.

Ambrose: And, of course, I was born in nineteen twelve. Yes, I think it was my mother's influence. We had a friend and she had married a doctor, and she was also a product of James...not...Johns Hopkins. She was a doctor with an international degree. She was a very smart woman. And my mother always...she was twelve years older than I was and she always looked to Helen as something very special. And we...she didn't...they didn't...my mother and father didn't begin to have the money, even if I had had the brains to do it, but it seems as though she wrote to Helen. And Helen said, "I really think it would be a fine thing if Blanche would be a nurse."

So I did pick a very good school in Bridgeport Connecticut, which is now a Medical Center. And I had wonderful training. They were far ahead of themselves in those days because most of the nursing schools in those days...they paid students a little...just a little, but they paid them. We were not paid. And we were not forgotten. They had a rotation plan...they made out a plan for each of us which was rather new in those days, as I understand it. And you weren't forgotten for months...you were rotated for your benefit, not for the hospital's benefit. We also had a wonderful Director of Nurses from England. She actually came with her...not a custodian...but what do I want to call it...

Mims: Supervisor?

Ambrose: No, just...more personal.

Mims: Okay. Like an assistant?

Ambrose: Not a supervisor, but like a guardian.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: And, she came from a very fine family and she was a real dowager. And she was a wonderful example for all of us. And not only that, but she was very compassionate. We were given a very good training. My thing with it, I did, was after I graduated, I worked a short time at the New England Deaconess. You know the New England Deaconess where Dr. Joslin, who did so much with diabetes. And, of course, diabetes...nineteen twenty-two was the big year...the breakthrough as I remember, with diabetes, and it was quite a nice thing to work at Dr. Joslin's hospital. And, worked there for a very, very short time.

Actually when I worked...we graduated in February, but in June we got our diploma and so forth, so there was that interim that I worked. But then, I got a call from the registry and I went out into a beautiful part of Massachusetts called Westford. It was apple country where they raised beautiful Baldwin apples and my patient-to-be owned the Nashoba apple conserve there. And he was a youngish man, about forty-three years old, with Parkinson's disease, which he had gotten over in France when in the service. He had graduated from Harvard College and went directly into the First World War and he contracted this Parkinson's disease from eurosyphilis and...not eurosyphilis...no excuse me, it isn't eurosyphilis, it's another...and I can't remember.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: But anyway, he was able to be up and dressed every day, but he needed someone all the time with him because he would fall down and that sort of thing. But it was a beautiful home and I stayed there five and a half years.

Mims: Wow!

Ambrose: But during those years...I had just graduated...and I didn't have all that...things came in the medical field and I didn't know anything about it. I kept up with my journals and so forth, but I didn't have real nursing...because we went to Florida in the winter, each winter and they had a nice home on the beach...it was that kind of a thing. It was a wonderful experience.

I was introduced to all the latest books...read...was reading three of them...one to him, listening to his mother who was quite a dowager, and graduate of Vassar College, one of...the first class. There were only about six of them, I believe. She was really a wonderful person and it was a great experience for me to live there and do what I was doing. But I gave so much of myself; he gained twenty-two pounds. And I lost it. And by the time I left, I left because my health was gone.

Mims: Oh...

Ambrose: I lifted him...he fell...I was too contentious. And so I...there was nothing for me to do...it was the time...I wanted to go in...I said, "Well, I will go into Navy nursing," or Army nursing, whatever. And I went to the doctor and he said, "You can't go there," he said, "you're not physically up to it...wait," he said. He made a suggestion, he said, "But you could go to college." And that's how I went on to college.

Because I could do that and...but my heart was not permanently hurt, but it was...it was...the muscle, they said was a very tired muscle, and I got to the point that I couldn't walk up stairs without sitting down and crying. I was in very poor condition and that was strange for me because I was very...always very, very strong person. And I became that again. So I went on to Boston University and there I had two years. My Leland Powers helped me and some of my credits and my little bit of nursing helped me a little. So I was able to graduate with my BS degree in nursing in two years.

Mims: My goodness.

Ambrose: And then, as I told you before, I got married and we went overseas. And when I...and after that when Ralph came down here to go to Sunny Point, James Walker contacted me because I was the only person in the city, I guess with a degree in nursing, at that time. That's what she told me anyway.

Mims: And this was in nineteen fifty...you said...fifty-five? What year did you come to Wilmington?

Ambrose: About fifty-five, I believe it was. But I would be...I didn't come for about six months after Ralph did because my children had to go to...

Mims: School...

Ambrose: And it was because of the children that I did not accept the job at Cape...at James Walker.

Mims: What position where they looking for you for?

Ambrose: I believe it was director...at least teaching, something to use my degree. But I said, "No, my children are too young. I'm not going to work until they get older." And so I didn't do much of anything...I didn't do anything in nursing until...really...I started that program. But I did go to Cape Fear for a short time. I remember I was going to Cape Fear at the time...it's nineteen sixty...ninety-three. No, no, not ninety-three. When was Kennedy...?

Mims: Sixty-three.

Parnell: Sixty-three.

Ambrose: 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and I can remember going to work that afternoon and I remember it so visually, everyone says, "You remember what you did...what you were doing?" And I remember what I was doing too.

Mims: So what classes were you taking out there?

Ambrose: Just sort of going through refresher. Just a refresher because I had just grad...it had been five and a half years since I had been in a hospital situation. I hadn't given...I hadn't taken blood pressures...as I recall as a student, we weren't given the whole responsibility of a blood pressure...which seems unbelievable, because they take someone off the street today and let them take somebody's blood pressure. But the same way with medications. I certainly never...never had given a venipuncture or anything like that.

We were schooled in the art of patient care, you know. We believed in making the patient comfortable before you gave any medication, not to cover up the problem, but remove some of the problems. Damp bed...crumbs...we used to...when we did the bed, we used to even have a little brush and we brushed the bed...and we straightened the sheets before we gave meals...served the meal. We washed the patient's hands.

And you go to a hospital today, at least anytime I've been, you don't hear anything about personal hygiene there. In fact, I think it's sad, so many times the patient is not able to feed themselves and the tray is put on a window ledge or something...and then it's picked up later. And you cannot blame the girls from the kitchen because they are told they're not to do patient care. But we were told that we get ready for the meal. That is jack up the bed, in those days we had to jack it up by hand and wash their hands, straighten them out, and put something down...the napkin and...and they're ready and they could put the tray right on that over-bed table and they were ready. And I think so many things like that are so important.

But nursing is not at all...nursing is so...I could not more go into a hospital...the technology is just skyrocketed and those girls are so smart today with all those machines and everything, that I know nothing about. But I was able to make a patient comfortable and maybe they'd say they'd feel so much better, they didn't need any medication..., which is something.

Mims: Um hum. Well, I'm interested to know...Cape Fear was running some type of refresher course along the lines of nursing?

Ambrose: I didn't go into anything like that, no.

Mims: No, okay, so...

Ambrose: I was on the floor, as I recall...and Dr. Mebane, I don't know if you know Willie Mebane, but he was my love. He was just...both of us...we...he did so much for Ralph and he was...had something to do...and so did his wife Polly...that they heard of me, because we lived in his house.

Mims: Oh! Uh-huh.

Ambrose: Yes, and we knew him very well. He was more than a doctor; he was very much a friend. We were living next door to him...I can remember this so well...my little boy came home from school and said, "Mama, I have a tummy ache"...and I could see that he was really sick, so I got in touch with Dr. Mebane, and he said, "Well, you, of course, call me if he worsens, but apply some ice and watch him and take care of him, and in the morning we'll see how he is."

I could look out of my boy's bedroom right down into their kitchen from the upstairs, you know. So in the morning, I could see he'd had his breakfast, so I quickly called him and I said, "He needs you," I said, "he had a bad night." So he came upstairs, put him in his arms, carried him out, and took him himself to the hospital, and then operated on him.

Mims: What was it?

Ambrose: Appendicitis.

Mims: Oh my goodness!

Ambrose: And he said, "You don't need to come now," because he says, "I'll keep you informed," you know. It was just as though he was my brother. A wonderful person...wonderful Christian. He could give the sermon just as well on...was just as...as the preacher could. He was a wonderful man and when he died it was a great blow to us.

Mims: Tragedy. Well, so this was still during time that Bulluck's Hospital was open downtown?

Ambrose: Yes. Bullucks. Yes, he went to Bullucks. And it was there that Dr. Mebane helped him so much and found out what his trouble was...that he had double kidneys...was having so much problem. He was a wonderful doctor. He was a good obstetrician, he was a good urologist, he was a good just GP. He was wonderful.

Mims: What do you remember about Bulluck's Hospital?

Ambrose: Well, I remember that my daughter had her tonsils out there, yes, and what do...I should ask him if he...what he should...what he remembers really because...

Ralph Ambrose: I can remember the smell of it.

Mims: Really?

Ralph Ambrose: I didn't like it. It was upstairs, of course, down there...downtown...you know where it was?

Mims: Yes, uh huh.

Ralph Ambrose: Well, I wasn't familiar with hospitals and I wasn't very anxious to stay there, but he took good care of me and I didn't complain or anything like that. I got out when I got better and went back to work, I guess.

Mims: Well, this may sound silly, but do you remember anything about the food that was served to you when you were a patient there?

Ralph Ambrose: About what?

Mims: The food?

Ralph Ambrose: Not a thing.

Mims: Cause I understand they catered from the Greek restaurant.

Ralph Ambrose: Well, I don't know. I don't remember anything about that.

Mims: Okay, I didn't know whether anything stood out in your mind, cause we had heard that they had the Greeks catering the patients meals and so I didn't know whether they served traditional American food or if they went with the Greek kind of food.

Ralph Ambrose: I don't remember that I even ate there.

Ambrose: That's the thing, he was very ill. What he did...we had just moved here, and coming down from the North and coming into...we...he decided the very almost next day after we moved in to mow the lawn with a hand mower...and the end result was he had his...

Ralph Ambrose: End of July...

Mims: Yea, hot, humid, not used to this...

Ambrose: Yea, he had a sunstroke.

Mims: Oh my goodness.

Ambrose: So he was taken to the hospital and that was a wonderful thing in the way that it happened because he found out his problem and he had been through those military hospitals and they'd never found it. So that was a big thing.

Mims: Well, that's an interesting story. We don't have much information on Bulluck's Hospital, because shortly after you guys moved they actually moved down to Cape Fear in nineteen fifty-seven and Dr. Mebane...

Ambrose: The old TB hospital, yes, that was the old TB...and Dr. Mebane was the one. He was the outstanding one. The others were helpers, but Dr. Mebane was the outstanding one. It was his dream, I guess.

Mims: We talked to Dr. Sinclair...

Ambrose: Oh, Dr. Sinclair, yes.

Mims: We had an opportunity to speak with him.

Ambrose: Well, he was there too, but he and Dr. Pace, I believe was also there, yes. But Dr. Mebane was really an unusual man, unusual person, and he did a lot for medicine. He really did.

Mims: Definitely had some vision on what should happen, because moving into the suburbs, you know, definitely branched out some medical care, because at this time we have James Walker Hospital functioning, and we have the African-American Hospital, Community Hospital...

Ambrose: That's right, Community, that was here when we first came here too, yes.

Mims: Um hum. Do you recall either of those hospitals, ever visiting there, or having anything to do with them?

Ambrose: I had a little to do with Community, but very little. I knew Lee was the director there and we had...but that has become very hazy with me.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: Because it wasn't long. But James Walker, yes, I had my students there for affiliation...for...well until they opened the new hospital, New Hanover. And as I say, that day, opening day, was a big day, because we just turned the girls loose to do everything that they could and the big thing they needed was the beds being made. And so they did some of that, and they got the patient's into the beds as they came in and they really helped a lot, you know. And that was good because they were going to affiliate there, which they did.

We used Cape Fear a short time...only about in the mornings. And I wanted them to see the difference between a small hospital and a large general hospital. And I thought that was beneficial to them. And I did a lot of that in the program. I used even Babies Hospital. So I was so sorry to see Babies Hospital go.

Mims: We all were...

Ambrose: That was a missed blessing that they did in this city because it was unique.

Mims: Definitely.

Ambrose: It was unique. And Stella Stone, she was the director there and she loved it. I don't know whether she is still alive or not.

Mims: I haven't heard.

Ambrose: But she was...she just loved Babies Hospital. She was Babies Hospital.

Mims: Well, let's back up for a minute and get you to your position at Cape Fear. How did that come about? Your children were getting older...

Ambrose: Yes, and they needed someone. They decided that they wanted to...when the Cape Fear Technical Institute came, they thought it would be nice to have a nursing program. And as well as I remember, I think his name was West. [George] I can't just remember. I thought it...you know, one of those things you'd never forget.

Mims: Yes.

Ambrose: Because he was so good to me and we met and he was such a nice friend. We had to keep waiting and waiting. And they...September...it's usually September that you take in a class and couldn't quite make it, couldn't quite make it. But Mr. McLeod was the President of Cape Fear Technical Institute. Again, a wonderful person and a real friend to me. They all were so good to me. They said, "You know more about nursing that we do, so go to it!"

Mims: Wow!

Parnell: Do you remember what year this was?

Ambrose: What year?

Parnell: The year when you started?

Ambrose: That I started...oh...not right off the bat. It was sixty-four I do believe.

Parnell: Okay.

Mims: I think so too.

Ambrose: I think the first class we graduated was sixty-four/sixty-five.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: Yes, because I hadn't quite...sixty-three when Kennedy died, I hadn't done it...so that's right, sixty-four. So we let the September go by and so we opened...they said "You've got to open in February if you open, otherwise you have to wait. We didn't have a book to our name. We didn't have a bed; we just had nothing to go on. And I had all these students but nothing they could...no books...but they started coming in. We had shelves...and that's what we did.

I said, "Handle the books, handle the books, these are the books you're going to love and use." And I sent for their books and everything and got everything going, got the uniforms measured, got them into uniforms. It was a wonderful year! Instead of being chaos, we all worked together and the students...

Mims: They were part of the process?

Ambrose: It was such a process and it was just wonderful. It seemed as though that...it seemed as though that was the...our special class. I won't say it was the best, because they were all wonderful, but that particular group of girls, they...they were...they were about the process.

Mims: Well, so they had a focus, they were going to go and develop a training program. Was the focus going to be as practical nurses or was it going to...?

Ambrose: Oh they knew. Oh yes, it was a Licensed Practical Nursing program.

Mims: They didn't want to pick up this...

Ambrose: And so we were close to Raleigh and Ms. Miriam Daughtry, that's the big name, you remembered her, because she was the one in complete charge in Raleigh...and she became one of my dearest friends. And Louise Egan was her assistant and Louise came down many times. We would... 'cause they would come down very frequently.

Mims: Well, how did you get the job at Cape Fear? I mean, they knew your background, but did you...I mean how did you get into this position? Because it seems like it's a very good position to be in.

Ambrose: Well, I think there's a letter in one of those books, if you want to see it.

Mims: We'll look at it later, uh huh.

Ambrose: It's a letter from Ms. Daughtry, and she was considering me and a few other people...and included the salary...and so forth...'cause I hadn't...I meant to spend some time with those books, but you know what time is...I don't have any. And so I just looked them over a little bit this morning. So I happened to come across that letter that I had forgotten I had. If I had gone through them more, I probably would find more, but anyway...

Mims: Cause we know that in this time frame, the university was considering a program, and they had a practical nurse program earlier on in the fifties. So we're trying to figure out why did Cape Fear not pick up on the diploma schools closing...

Ambrose: Because, there's a reason for that, and that is because of the community colleges and Cape...and technical institutes in California. California was almost the leader in the nation as I remember being told. I don't want to quote numbers particularly, but it was in the fifties, I believe, that they had throughout the state. I believe that stands out in my mind. But, so, it was going to be a project for the community college instead of the college. I think that was the reason. I think the college started to go for the no more three-year, but a two-year program.

Mims: Right, an Associate Degree.

Ambrose: Yea. Yes, and I think that was the reason. Because at that time, was just when they were really just moving with Practical...Licensed Practical Nursing. And so they, of course, when the technical institute opened here in Wilmington that was one of the courses they wanted to have there. And, so, they put out their feelers for people that would qualify, and you had to have a degree.

Mims: The BSN?

Ambrose: You had to have it. So they found me. And I was ready and eager for such as that because my children had grown. But...

Mims: Well, how did you keep up with your teaching, your training during all this time?

Ambrose: Ah, almost eighteen hours a day...nobody knows this...I shouldn't be telling you this...I worked like you'd never know. Because so much I say had come and gone, that I never knew about except for reading my journals. So I had to work and I loved to work. I always was a hard worker and I loved to dig, I loved the science and I loved the job. I loved the children, I called them my children, but I just gave my all. I gave...one thing I regret, I gave up church.

One time I got a call and she said, "Can't you come to the...I mean we'd liked so much to have you come to..." at that time it was a Presbyterian church and I just don't remember what it was called, but it was something they have in the morning, a bible study type of thing. And I said, "I just cannot do it". And she said, "You don't have time for God?" And those words have stuck with me ever since. And...but I had...all day Sunday I...all the weekend I had to just study, study, study...

Mims: So this was self-motivated?

Ambrose: ...Study till twelve o'clock every night to be sure that I tried to keep at least two days ahead. And when I got through the first year I was okay, but that first year was hard.

Mims: Tough.

Ambrose: But I had...the students never knew that, you know. And by the end of the first year, people over at the hospital were asking me questions...it wasn't long before they were asking me questions...because...and I was a stickler for vocabulary. I can remember particularly with my students, we had a big spelling test every day. I said, "Those are your tools of the job." And that's another thing, those students would work so hard...they'd go over to that hospital and even the interns would ask them what words meant.

Mims: That's good. That's good.

Ambrose: It was just wonderful...but I was a battleaxe, I really was strict. And I feel...every day...as far as the class day goes...then I would go home loaded. And my family worked so well with me. And then, of course, I took many courses at Chapel Hill.

Mims: Did you?

Ambrose: Oh many. I often went off and took many, many courses. In fact I would work towards my masters. I've got quite a few credits towards my masters.

Mims: Wow! And the whole time you're teaching too?

Ambrose: I was, yea. And another thing...part way through they decided that they were going to change the curriculum a little bit. The curriculum that I used was a master's thesis of one of the people in...who became one of the Raleigh people. I can't remember her name now. She was a very, very brilliant woman and she...it was from the first day to the last day. And it was very good. But midway, somewhere along, I don't remember just when it was...they wanted to change over from the February class. And that meant there was going to be that time going through September of what to do with me.

So Miriam Daughtry suggested that I revise the curriculum, and that's what I did. And I worked at home. My son, oldest son came...he was doing a little bit of painting...and he said, "I can't believe..." I used the timer on my clock if I even took off long enough to just actually go answer the telephone or something. I was sure that they were going to get every single minute of the time that I turned in, you know. He said, "Mother you don't have to be quite as strict on yourself as that." That was Peter, my oldest son. And...but I can remember doing it and I really gave them my all at the time and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's just what I loved to do.

Mims: It sounds like you were set in the right place for it.

Ambrose: I loved to and it was...quite a few changes by that time. I had made some of them myself, you know, as it was going along. So when I turned that curriculum over to...and I can't remember her name, who took my place...

Mims: DuMond.

Ambrose: DuMond, yes. I turned over a completely revised curriculum. I had all of my tests all done and so she didn't have to make up her tests. And I gave a lot of them, because I believed that was the way...so they wouldn't be scared of them...not one, just one, that's going to be...they have a lot of tests. The daily spelling test, and so forth.

And I thought what a wonderful thing...what would I have done if I had gone into it and had that happen to me? That would be all handed to me, all done, all that work. But I turned it to her, all of it. All of it, even quizzes, everything...with the answer sheets to go with it. And I was so happy that I could give it to her because I wanted the program to succeed.

Mims: Now, was it developed as a one-year program?

Ambrose: Yes, it's a one-year program. Uh huh, one year program. And at that time they go...the girls go to Raleigh and take this long test that entitles them to be called a Licensed Practical Nurse. And I will say, I had a very good record. They did very well on their test. We screened them well. We used to have tremendous amount of girls that wanted to get in and we only took so many.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: And, so you had to be...you really had to have a good screening system. And we did. And Dr. Dogens, I remember was the Dean there. And Tom Satterfield, he became later President. He was also a very great help. And I, you know, worked with those men too.

Parnell: When the program started, were you the only instructor in the nursing program?

Ambrose: Oh yes.

Parnell: All the classes, they took from you?

Ambrose: Until...I didn't get anyone to help me until we went all over to affiliate at the hospital.

Mims: At James Walker?

Ambrose: Well, we started at Cape Fear in the beginning, but of course...and then we...just for a short time...and then we went over to James Walker. And I had Lillian Paso. She is dead now. And she was a dedicated nurse and she, of course, knew more about the nursing patient than I did because I hadn't had any chance to do much of that.

But we taught a lot of it in our classroom. And you see the pictures there...they each had to give a bath to each other and with it not...and not to take it lightly. I said, "I want you to feel, I want you to profit by this...how that washcloth feels." And I showed them how they could make a little pad of a washcloth and not drag a wet cloth across. And also to have the water hot...not hot, but good and warm, not lukewarm water. When you...not to leave it at a bedside and let it get lukewarm, you know.

I...with so many of those things, if you...it's a wonderful thing to spend just a little time in the hospital and see the things that they can do. Be sure that you take care of the dental care. I stressed that so much, the dental care. And, the funniest things happen...when...the students would come back and tell me, they said, "I made a mistake and said, do you have your own teeth?"... "Well, I guess so, I sure paid enough for them!" Something like that would surprise me so much.

And, they would have a tendency...some of the dentures would have the little phenobarbs, little bitty caverns, you know, lined all around inside their teeth, you know, where they hadn't taken the teeth out and over time they had gotten in and lodged there. I said, "Don't let that happen. Take those teeth...remove those teeth and thoroughly clean them. Take care of them at night if they don't...if they don't wear them all night long, then be sure that they're in water so that they're not going to dry out," and all that sort of thing. To care for the peoples, you know, possessions and so forth like that. I tried so hard to instill in them things that probably they would never even think about.

Mims: No.

Ambrose: I used to tell them, "Now remember, I'm looking over your shoulder long after you graduate. Over your shoulder with a comatose patient, with a baby, someone who can't tell on you. You do the same with that person or even more so than the person who can tell," and things like that. And I feel as though those girls got a good training.

Mims: How many students, can you recall, were in that first class?

Ambrose: Twenty-four I believe. I think we took in twenty...that's the number I remember, we took in twenty-four.

Mims: Was it mixed racially?

Ambrose: Oh yes, oh yes. And that was a bad time with James Walker, bad time. I went through that.

Mims: What do you remember about that? I mean you had a function that you...

Ambrose: I remember that I didn't know from one second to the next second if I had to come to work tomorrow. Raleigh was on the phone all the time...back and forth. And I don't know how much I'm supposed to say about this.

Mims: Well, I mean, we know a lot of what happened, but it's curious that around the sixty-four, sixty-five period there is the beginning of integration as far as nursing is concerned.

Ambrose: Well, it was the dining room that was...it was the dining room that was the big thing.

Mims: At James Walker?

Ambrose: See, we had no problem at Cape Fear, cause you know, I said we went in the mornings. But we wanted to go all day. We wanted to take...you have to have a whole day...nurse works all day long, she doesn't work just mornings. So we had to make the break. We didn't stay long at Cape Fear. Just to get the feel of a hospital. And I was a very nave...I loved all of my students, every one of them. I saw no color with them. And I don't today.

But I was very nave and I went down in preparation to have...to coming...to having lunch...lunch at the hospital...they had to stay for lunch. I went down to the kitchen...well, I didn't realize that though everybody was integrated and married to each other and everybody knew everything and I knew nothing...I didn't realize what, you know, I was very nave. And so I talked with someone and they didn't tell me anything. But when the day came they weren't allowed in that dining room! I thought I...I thought I would die! They had to go to a different dining room!

Mims: The one in the Colored Annex? Which...

Ambrose: And it was a terrible day. It was a terrible day. I'll never forget that day. I happened to meet Sue Curley in the hall and she said, "Put some lipstick on and smile." She was the Director of Nurses. But it was a bad...that was really, I think, in my whole life, the worst day of my life.

Mims: Really?

Ambrose: Because I didn't want them discriminated against. They were all the same to me.

Mims: Did you take the white nurses over to...?

Ambrose: One of my student's mother worked in the kitchen. I didn't know that. And that was one I will always think that was planted.

Mims: So, you went over to the Colored Annex to eat? Did you take the white nurses too or did they stay and eat at the main...?

Ambrose: Well, all of the...all of the black ones went out to eat and I just, even now, I just can't stand to think of it, it was just an awful day. And when I got back, of course, we thought we were going to have to close the school.

Mims: Really?

Ambrose: Yea, we never knew from one day to another what was going to happen. And I tried to stand up in front of them and teach and my heart was broken that we had such a thing. It was just a...it was something that was not anything to do with us; we just were thrown into it. It was a bad situation. But we got over it and you know, it's kind of hazy, how long it took before...but it did make the change. It made the change, really.

Parnell: What was the students' reaction?

Ambrose: They didn't communicate to me at all. We didn't...they didn't react to me.

Parnell: So you just didn't talk about it?

Ambrose: No, no.

Mims: Well, that's a real interesting story.

Ambrose: Well, you know, that's such an awful thing...

Mims: That is awful!

Ambrose: It's such an awful thing.

Mims: It was indoctrinated, though, into the culture, and you kind of...you kind of arrived here at the end of it, and luckily for you, you were of an open mindset...

Ambrose: And I was a Northerner too...I was a Northerner too. And I...one of my best friends in high school was the only black girl in my class. It was a sizable high school class...but we loved Madeline Moore, just like everybody else. We just did everything together. And I thought, you know, I didn't have any feeling against...

Mims: I'm just curious if somebody with a different mindset had taken on this program; there probably would not have been any African-American students for quite a while in that program. You know what I'm saying? Because you didn't...

Ambrose: That's why I told you...if they felt...if they felt...but, I don't know...I don't know.

Mims: Well, let's talk about...we know that the first class of any of these programs that developed instituted several things, like they kind of got the first uniform and the first hat and you know, kind of the look of everything. You certainly had a great input into this. What kind of uniforms did the girls wear?

Ambrose: And I was a stickler for that too. I wanted, I wanted them to be set apart. And I said, "I don't want you riding in your automobile with your cap on," I said...oh I was...I said...and they got little boxes and put their caps in their boxes. And I said, "You treat your cap with a great deal of respect, because you worked for that and it means something."

And I didn't want them to wear any rings. I said, "Diamonds, all ring stones, hold bacteria, they collect bacteria and I don't want you to wear rings." I didn't want them to wear earrings in their uniform. Well, I didn't get along with that very long. I was overrun and after a little bit...just the same as, I didn't want them to come to class in jeans, I said "You get...," I was kind of against pants, slacks...in those days...for girls.

But I said, "If you can have a coordinated uni...set that's coordinated, it looks real nice." And one poor dear little girl came up to me and she said, "What am I going to do when I'm going to have to buy clothes? I live on a boat and I don't have anything but jeans, I don't own...." And so, what are you going to do? I mean I wanted them to be special.

And, another thing...I wanted them to watch their weight. And with that first class...we had quite a bit of time, you know, which...well, no, not with the first class...with the...whenever we chose our students, it was months ahead. So I said to this one girl, she was quite obese, and I said, "You've got to do something about your weight." I said, "You are not a picture of health and you are an example of health as a nurse." When she came back the first day, I accepted her. I didn't recognize her! And to this day...I saw her three years ago, she is slim and a lovely looking girl.

Mims: Wow!

Ambrose: They said...you know, some said, "You have no right to be delving into their business like that." I don't believe I did.

Mims: No, but you set a standard.

Ambrose: I set a standard and I didn't want...but some of them were overweight and particularly as you get...went on in the class...the classes...I got overruled by a lot of things. I couldn't be as strict as I wanted to be.

Mims: You were overruled by administration?

Ambrose: No.

Mims: By the girls?

Ambrose: Something about the ways things were going, you know. Take, like slacks, pants and jeans came into their own. Everybody wears jeans!

Mims: But when they were doing their clinicals weren't they...

Ambrose: Oh, they had to wear their uniform.

Mims: Okay, and what did the uniforms look like?

Ambrose: Well, I'll show it to you. I've got the pictures of them.

Mims: Okay. Now, were they given their hats initially?

Ambrose: They were given all their uni...their whole uniform.

Mims: Okay. So the hat for the LPN isn't like the RN hat where you get that after you complete your pre-clinicals or whatever?

Ambrose: It was the same type of hat. Of course, every school now...every school had caps. Some of them had very, very ornate hats...caps, we used to call them. But this one was just a simple little cap like my little cap. Mine happened to be a little cap. And theirs were not too unlike mine. And then we got to the point now that nobody wears a cap.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: You don't know...when you go it as a patient; all these people come...you have no idea who everybody is.

Mims: I know.

Ambrose: I think that's too bad.

Mims: It is, it's kind of confusing.

Ambrose: I think the charge nurse should be as...look like a nurse. But a nurse today doesn't look like the old-time nurse. So you see, everything is changed. And that's, I guess, why the Lord doesn't leave us on for two hundred years, because we couldn't abide it. It's hard for me now to know that...well when I went even to my...when I was working at private duty at my first job...my patient's mother said, "I don't want you to wear the cap," she said, "I don't want you to wear a cap or uniform...here." And I said, "That's okay."

So I...she wanted me to dress like the family. Well, it was very formal. It was maid service and chauffer and so forth. She just wants me...because when we traveled, I always was with them. And the chauffer and the maid would travel in the same...when we went on boat...came home by boat...well they would be in the same dining room with us, but not sit with us...which I think is kind of strange.

Mims: So you were kept more as the family member instead of the uniformed people who were kept at kind of at arm's distance.

Ambrose: I was a family member. I was a family member. Yes, that's right, that's right.

Mims: Well, were the nurses in your program given a pin at graduation?

Ambrose: Yes, the had a pin.

Mims: Who designed the pin?

Ambrose: I don't remember the pin at all. It has gone right out of my head. I can't remember.

Mims: Because I know, for your benefit, you probably received your pin.

Ambrose: Oh yes, I have a pin.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: Yes. Every...all nurses have pins to wear, yea.

Mims: Right, so that's why we're trying to find out about the LPN program.

Ambrose: Yea, I can't remember their pin at all, isn't that awful? Because, I've got a picture of pinning them on, I pinned every one on at graduation.

Mims: And how long did you stay with this program?

Ambrose: I was...thirteen and a half years...it was thirteen going on fourteen years.

Mims: So during that time, James Walker closed, Community closed, New Hanover Hospital opened. Did your students start going out to New Hanover for their clinical?

Ambrose: Oh yes, they were making beds, the very day, the very day, the first day they were there. And they were there from then on, yes.

Mims: So that situation was better for the mixed race classes?

Ambrose: The dining room situation was cleared up, see, and it was the only dining room that was...had anything...nothing else mattered you see. Everything else was okay, but it was the dining room.

Mims: What did you think about opening the new hospital? There was a lot of, you know, controversy over opening that and closing the other schools...

Ambrose: Well, I think James Walker had had its day. If they were going to continue, they would have had to spend some money on it and make changes. And so I think it was very, very nice that they did...open it.

Mims: And, of course, Community was closed at the same time.

Ambrose: It was closed...sure. [Second Tape]

Mims: This is the continuation with Mrs. Blanche Ambrose. We are still talking about the LPN program development at Cape Fear Technical Institute. This is a shot of the first uniform...it was a gunmetal gray, bib attached...? [Looking through scrapbooks]

Ambrose: Yea, sort of bluish gray.

Mims: Bluish gray color and they were given their caps at the very beginning of their time?

Ambrose: It seems to me it was after three months.

Mims: Three months...after...

Ambrose: Give us time to get the uniforms altered, that was the reason.

Mims: And we have all sorts of...

Ambrose: You spoke about the pin, you see, that was the pinning at the graduation, see...Practical Nurses ceremony...graduation.

Mims: We're also noticing that a lot of your students were not very, very young. They were...

Ambrose: That is one of the big things about that program that makes it so special. It picks up that group of women who have been married...most all of ours were married with children...and some of them, their husbands had left them for some reason or other, they were trying to make a goal with their children, just as we're doing today...but this took a lot of these girls off of welfare.

It was one of the main wonderful features of that program, because it gave them a real profession, where they could earn a decent wage and set up a home for themselves. And they...we have a lot...mostly between thirty and forty, was the age limit as I recall. And very, very few high school graduates.

Mims: What was the function of the LPN? You're putting these ladies out there and what was their job going to be?

Ambrose: I think we have something, I'm going to find it on here...

Mims: Okay. Whoops, I think that one is broken in half...okay.

Ambrose: [Reading from pamphlet] See, "Must be between the age of fifteen and fifty, high school graduate or an equivalent, pass a physical and mental examination, a pre-admission test, be a good moral character, and have the approval of the admissions committee. One year study, six to eight hours a day. And the expenses...two dollars registration, tuition per quarter thirty dollars, books sold at cost, uniforms and identification pin furnished by the Institute, certain other supplies purchased by the student but mostly by the Institute." And this goes on...

Mims: Did they wear the white stockings and white shoes too?

Ambrose: Yes, you'll see there they have the...

Mims: Right, I can't see her legs but...

Ambrose: Well, we will see it later on. There is some...

Mims: Yea, we saw a picture later on...right there...there's one.

Ambrose: Let's see, here's one right here.

Parnell: Is that the first class?

Mims: Right, is this the first class?

Ambrose: This is the first...this happens to be the first class. And there's that Mrs. Paso I spoke about. And there...now this was really a strange thing to do, first class was rather unique...I don't know as we kept on the tradition afterwards, but at Christmas time we had a real wonderful Christmas party.

And all of the girls, I remember this girl in particular had a nice silver service...and several...and I supplied mine...and we really, we really did it up rather special...had the Mayor there and anybody we thought that would be interested in knowing about our class. It gave us...gave the community...gave Wilmington a chance to see what this was all about. Just not...just limited to classes.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: And my mother had a big part in this, if you can imagine. She was...I have a picture here I think...here she is right here...there's my mother right there. There's Mrs. Paso, there's Mr. McLeod, and that was the Mayor as I recall and I've forgotten who these two gentlemen were, but see, we allowed her to serve the tea, we had candles...and these...

Mims: She actually looks familiar; you don't recall her name do you?

Ambrose: I probably can see it on here...

Mims: Her name wasn't Eugie was it?

Ambrose: No.

Mims: But whenever they...

Ambrose: But, Allsbrook was the Mayor that time...Mayor Allsbrook. And see his name was here. I would come across...

Mims: Twelve, eighteen, sixty-four. [December 18, 1964]

Ambrose: So see, that was then.

Mims: But, whenever they go into the hospital though, they did not have the same job as the registered nurse?

Ambrose: Oh no.

Mims: So what were they taught? You were talking about bedside and...

Ambrose: Yes...well they did...they went through every department. They went through the diet kitchen...they rotated through every service...Pediatrics, OB...Obstetrics, Med-Surg I, Operating Room...they were right there assisting in the Operating Room, but they were always an assistant. And they...well there is another paper here that lists their...what they did, but...

Mims: It's almost a military like hierarchy in the nursing profession...back in this time as far as the respect for the professional...

Ambrose: Yes, but it depended with...the registered nurse is taught a lot more, I mean, she's really able to do everything that the doctor orders. Well, these licensed practical nurses are just under that. There are certain things that they can't do. In fact, at that time, they of course would not be able to give an IV, I believe they do today. But they would be assistant role in every service, in fact, it's an amazing thing how much they do do...they really...and today they...well, I had a lot of my students go on and get their RN.

And I told them, "This is not a stepping stone into the RN program, this is a unique program in itself." I think it's wonderful if you have the ability to do it and you want to do it, that you do do it. But it makes it a three-year preparation, whereas you can do it in one. Or you can do it in two if you just go the two-year program of nursing. But many of them did it. This girl that wrote me is an RN. She was one of them.

Mims: She went on?

Ambrose: Yes she went on.

Mims: Because at this same time the Wilmington College is developing a program with the anticipation that this school of nursing at James Walker is closing and the school of nursing at Community is closing, so around 64, 65 they start hiring their first faculty, which I just showed you...Dot Dixon was one, Luetta Booe was hired...so the conflict was coming in that the university was trying to push into a four year standard and this associate degree was a two year. What...if these ladies graduated from the LPN program, would they go into the associate degree program then?

Ambrose: No... yes, yes that would be the program that they would go into, yes, some of them.

Mims: Were you aware of anything going on at the university at this time as far as developing that, what would eventually become the RN program?

Ambrose: Oh I was very; I was very interested and very friendly with them. In fact, whenever courses would come up to go to at Chapel Hill or anything...I've been roomed with Luetta Booe, you know, and Dorothy Dixon, and also Mary Whitfield, Mary Alice. I went to Dallas, Texas with Mary Alice. I remember a two weeks program that we studied, you know. I attended all of those that they went to.

Mims: Cause it wasn't a duplication of services?

Ambrose: Oh no, no. I wouldn't call it...no. The associated degree program of two years was an RN and they were an RN, a registered nurse, where as the LPN was separate. They were not, they didn't clash at all. There was a place for each.

Mims: Right. How about what we call the nursing assistant? Had that come into...

Ambrose: Yes that was in, yes. At that time, in fact they used my girl's room, we would stay late many times. I would be staying late in my office and that program would be using my classroom and I would...I was friendly with those people, you see. It seemed to me that we all had a good working relationship...all together.

Mims: Now I have talked to some of the nurses that graduated from the diploma schools and they talk...one of the first things that they learn is the respect for the hierarchy, the doctors, and the supervising nurses. Did you go into that with the LPNs about standing for the physicians coming on the floor...did they...?

Ambrose: No...that might have gone by. I as a student nurse...we always had to hit the wall and let him pass by...and even though you were sitting busy, you were expected to leave what you were doing if you were charting, and stand up and let him in. But that part...that was not a good thing and it passed before this came into being. I do still have a great respect for the doctors, you do, but not to the point that you have to stop walking the corridor and stand against the wall when he goes by...I thought that was rather ridiculous, but it was in my time.

But we had a great...I know we would go into the...this is when I was a student...and we would go into the...we were...when we were assigned to the Operating Room for as many weeks as we were there...we would go early and go where they changed their clothes, you know, and their shoes would be there and we would try to grab the one we liked best and shine his shoes for him, you know.

And another thing we used to do...was one of our job...was take what they called waste alcohol. It was alcohol, but it was not one you would put to a wound, but it was alcohol just the same. And we would have to wash the walls of the operating room there and so it would be clean and sterile, you see.

Mims: My goodness!

Ambrose: Another thing that we did...a patient...this would be when we had wards...at Bridgeport I had wards with about sixteen beds...and of course, eight on one side and eight on the other side, with curtains around each one that could be pulled. And when a patient would be discharged, it didn't make any difference whether it be Sunday afternoon with visitors, or what...we were so called probies'...you know, probationers.

We were just beginning. We had to wash with soap and water, that bed...every bit of it. You never found dust. We wouldn't have the staph infections today if we did some of that business today.

Mims: I've heard other nurses say this too.

Ambrose: We were very careful; we would never have thought of having a rug on a hospital floor...it's full of bacteria. And you go into the hospital well and come out with a staph infection, and that's where you get it because it's my old thing about the rings...

Mims: Right it hides the bacteria. Somebody said that's why they got rid of wearing the nurses caps on the floor was because of the bacteria that couldn't be taken out.

Ambrose: Well, with all this long hair...and a period of time when so many doctors had beards and so forth...that was very bad because you see, bacteria is in there.

Mims: Now, of course the gloving, wearing the gloves has changed dramatically.

Ambrose: Oh yes. But they even use them now in cafeterias, you know, they're very good, very good. [Looking at scrapbooks] But you see, this is a plan and this is not the original, this is what the plan was that goes way back before...I was there at the ground breaking service.

Mims: Right, and like I said, I had seen your name mentioned on some correspondence with Dr. Wagoner in 64...

Ambrose: Well, he was...I thought the very world of him. He was our first speaker at our graduation. I thought the world of Dr. Wagoner, he was fine, and he had that school very much in his mind, he was very interested in it.

Mims: Um hum. You're talking about Cape Fear or...?

Ambrose: I'm talking about Cape Fear Technical Institute, the Practical Nursing program.

Mims: Well, he ended up sitting on the board of trustees at Cape Fear Hospital for a number of years after he left the university, so, his interest in medicine was more than just causal.

Ambrose: Yes. You see, my cap is not to unlike theirs...mine was a little maroon band and their was my little pin.

Mims: What color was their band? Matched their...?

Ambrose: I think it kind of matched as I recall, yea. And there was our little library, you see?

Mims: Where was this?

Ambrose: This was in our class as I recall, yea. I remember those girls so well. This is that same one you said...

Mims: Right, she looks very familiar to me...I'm not sure why. They had to learn charting because they had to write on the patient's chart too, right?

Ambrose: See, that's Dr. Wagoner right there.

Mims: Yea, that is Dr. Wagoner..."school merger...Tileston and Lake..."

Ambrose: "Tileston Junior High merged"...see before I started my...that was my classroom first.

Mims: Really?

Ambrose: Because this building wasn't built when I started, so we had to go to a school.

Mims: At Lake Forest, which is now Lake Side?

Ambrose: Tileston School is what...

Mims: Lake Forest School is what this says here...

Ambrose: Yes, it says "Tileston Junior High to merge with Lake Forest." And she...Ms. Williams...she was the principal. Oh, she was a lovely lady, yea.

Mims: "Tileston...relocate the Tileston Junior High students in the Lake Forest School unit...consolidation of the two schools." And then, this is the same year Hoggard is opening. So there was a lot of shifting...nineteen sixty-four and sixty-five.

Ambrose: But it was while, you see, before the Cape Fear opened.

Mims: The building was built, but they were in operation before this at another building, right? Or was this the original...?

Ambrose: This was the original building.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: So...there's Ms. Williams.

Parnell: The Industrial Education Center?

Mims: The Industrial Education Center.

Parnell: Was that in the...

Ambrose: Cape Fear Technical Institute.

Parnell: I know, but before it was the Industrial Education Center.

Ambrose: Yes, I do believe it was.

Parnell: Was that in the same building as Cape Fear or was it a different building?

Ambrose: Seems to me that was the one...I'm not sure, but it seems to me that was the one that they had acro...let me see, it was in the back...in the back of...oh dear, I've gone so far beyond this...when I was into building everything, I always went to this particular building and I just...it isn't there anymore. It was right next to, I think, where Wilmington College was.

Parnell: Oh, okay...on Market Street...okay...okay.

Mims: Okay, down near New Hanover High School?

Ambrose: Right at the high school, yes. And you see, that was before they got the college out there.

Parnell: Right.

Mims: Right. Very interesting!

Ambrose: I don't why I...

Mims: That's okay, this is stuff we can go back and look up, but it's nice to know that there's something else going on, you know, because we have no idea about...

Ambrose: You see, that was James Walker, and they say, "No more of this..." these...they were talking about cubicles. We had about sixteen of them all together...see with the...

Mims: Hospital wards?

Ambrose: Hospital wards.

Mims: At James Walker?

Ambrose: "There'll be no more wards in the new county hospital."

Mims: Oh, my goodness, I wish there was a date on this paper, because we could pull it, but it's not...there's not a date on it. My goodness! You know what? We might have to borrow this and make photocopies of things because these are things that we just are not aware of.

Ambrose: I was just going to say...and I was saying to Ralph, all you had to do in these days...and it ruined...the glue and everything...and now you have that lovely plastic where you slip things in and keep them so nice.

Mims: Right, it's more archival.

Ambrose: That was the whole...

Mims: "Second nursing class underway"...this is your training lab there?

Ambrose: Yes, that was it. That was it. We had our beds...that was another bed...we had about four beds and that was to be a student in there and you'd do everything that you were going to do for when you put that patient to bed.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: And each one would have a chance at it.

Mims: "Cause when I went to see Ms. DuMond that day, I saw that there was like a bed, a little ward kind of set up, it looked kinda like an emergency room.

Ambrose: That was the one that I left.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: Now here's the graduation, they're all in white, you see.

Mims: They are all in white.

Ambrose: Um-hum.

Mims: Long sleeves and white stockings and white shoes.

Ambrose: And there's Mrs. Paso and there I am there.

Mims: Right, there you are. Now the nurses watch, that's one piece of jewelry that was acceptable?

Ambrose: Because you needed it to take pulse and respirations. You had to have it...that was...your scissors was another thing you had to have...you had your nurse's scissors.

Parnell: Where did they carry their scissors?

Ambrose: In your pocket...and a pen, always a pen.

Parnell: Different nurses have told us different places they carried them.

Ambrose: That's 65.

Mims: That's 65. Yea, I see...uh huh.

Parnell: Back here...they tied around and stuck it in there.

Ambrose: Presentation of pins...

Mims: "Mrs. Blanche Ambrose, Lillian Paso..."

Ambrose: And Mr. McLeod.

Mims: Uh-huh. And here's...here's all the names of the first people!

Ambrose: Yes, all the names. Now, I've got every one of the yearbooks.

Mims: You do?

Ambrose: And they're put away somewhere in a box, somewhere. And I just could not...I hunted for them, but I couldn't find them, and I didn't get into boxes.

Mims: Well, this is fabulous that you pulled this out.

Ambrose: Certificate...I don't know...

Mims: Supervisory training...for you! Nineteen sixty-five... cause I saw there were notes that you were taking nurses training at Chapel Hill. JB: That's the bond issue, isn't it?

Mims: This is about IEC opening "...present building at Thirteenth and Market Street, part of New Hanover High School campus..." my goodness.

Ambrose: This is where it was before and it's grown so much, but in those days I had my own parking lot, it was so nice. You'd just go down over the hill and into parking lot. Never had any problems, I don't know what they do now.

Mims: I don't either...well.

Parnell: They have problems.

Mims: "Looking on is Ms. Daphne Jeffords."

Ambrose: Remember her? She was head of emergency at James Walker for years and years and years.

Mims: I have heard her name countless numbers of times...

Ambrose: She was a good friend of mine.

Mims: A lady by the name of Lillian Newton is...

Ambrose: Oh I know...she goes to my church...Lil Newton.

Mims: She heads the alumni association of James Walker and Daphne Jeffords was head of it before her.

Ambrose: Lil is at our church. In fact, she is a deaconess.

Mims: Well, Ms. Newton was one of our first people we talked to, yea.

Ambrose: I don't know what this one is "...Wilmington..."

Mims: "New Hanover civil defense...emergency training service...cold war..."

Ambrose: So many people...I used to get so many people in to talk to my class. From civil defense to, just name it, I went for everything. Before they started with their medications, they had a drug agent come and talk and show them all about syringes and all about the...and I don't know, it just seems as though all the doctors...every doctor, I guess, at one time spoke to us...to our class.

Mims: The name of this course is atomic indoctrination.

Ambrose: Um-hum, yea.

Mims: You are all over the paper here...attending certain courses...oh this is part of that...

Ambrose: Yes... I was.

Mims: This is the whole nurses training here. Ooops, there's your phone.

Ambrose: Telephone dear...It says, "the graduate practical nurse is off to the nursing care she is able to give and under conditions she is equipped to assist acutely ill and injured, she works in the hospitals, schools, industries...both men and women practical nurses." I had males too.

Mims: In your...in the...

Ambrose: I had a quite a few of them, yes I did. "The primary purpose of the practical nurse shall be the education of the student..."

Mims: Right. Yea, I don't know where the rest of that one is.

Ambrose: I don't know, that's too bad.

Mims: Oh, here we go...here's the rest of it.

Ambrose: Oh, yea, that's it, cause that makes it better.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: That will tell us...

Mims: "She works in hospitals, private and nursing home, doctor's offices, schools and industries. Both men and women find opportunities for service as licensed practical nurses."

Ambrose: "Primary purpose is..." goes along...all of this...

Mims: "Shall be the education of the student in the knowledge, appreciation, and skills which will be needed as effective practitioner within the defined scope"...wow.

Ambrose: "Following a basic period of classroom instruction and fundamentals of nursing and principles from the biological and social sciences, the student has the opportunity to practice nursing skills under faculty supervision." In another words, the head nurse would be the one that would be over them. "In the advanced period, she studies the nursing care of patients of all ages through carefully planned assignments correlated with classroom instruction in medical-surgical nursing, care of the sick child, and care of the mother and newborn infant."

"Upon completion of the course, the graduate, to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, must make the required score on the licensing examination for which there is a fee of $15. This examination is held twice yearly in the North Carolina Board of Nursing Administration, North Carolina." See, now, for the aged, I had them rotate through a nursing home and they were there for about a week...each student.

Mims: What nursing home did you use? Do you remember?

Ambrose: Yes, I used...let me see. I used Bowden's, I believe...Bowden's in those days. I don't know if that's still running or not.

Mims: That's the one that almost towards Wrightsville Beach?

Ambrose: Yes.

Mims: Right, it was on Summer Rest Road?

Ambrose: Yes, that's the one. And I used another one, but I just can't remember the name. And our Child Development Center...I saw that that was going to open, so immediately that Monday morning after seeing it in Sunday paper, I went down and had a talk with the head of that department. And she said, "Oh yes," she was going to have educable children and uneducable. And I said, "Well, how would it be to just...for a day or two...have my students rotate through here so they'd get an idea of that?" And she said, "I think it would be wonderful." And it kept on...I believe they...we used it at the college too after a while.

Mims: I think so too. The Child Development Center. Did you ever use Babies Hospital?

Ambrose: Oh yes, we had a real rotation there, yes, under Stella Stone. And went through all the departments there, yea. In other words, I tried to used just as many facilities as I could. Even down at a church...the third floor in a church downtown...I just don't remember what it was, but there was a special program for children there and they spent a day there. They get to know the city pretty well and all the needs from infants to old age.

Mims: You were also creating a network for them, because with them being familiar with the different facilities, also meant the different facilities were becoming more familiar with them...so job opportunities following graduation...what was the hire rate for your graduates? Was it...?

Ambrose: Oh yes...they were...just hired right away. And they did a good job in the hospital. They really...they filled a great need, they really did.

Mims: Especially with the opening of a much larger facility.

Ambrose: Yes, yes, yes, that's right.

Mims: Well, this is really interesting; it's a great scrapbook.

Ambrose: I've got other books.

Mims: I'll pull one...here I'll get it for you.

Ambrose: There's one under...

Mims: Under the pillow...

Ambrose: There's two under the pillow there...

Mims: Okay...

Ambrose: Really, you can take them home with you if you'd like to.

Mims: Well, this is just very interesting cause a lot of this...

Ambrose: Now this one may be when my mother...I'm not sure...it could easily be when my mother started...it still goes into nursing.

Mims: Yes it does.

Ambrose: See, there's the Nursing League...

Mims: The North Carolina League for Nursing.

Ambrose: And that was a National League of Nursing, and they are the ones that put forth all of the standards and everything...they were the...really...and I tried...I did another thing that came out that was quite different. It came out in American Journal of Nursing and it was a way of motivation, I believe would be the best thing to say, as the students come in...in the very beginning, you have your initial visit with each one. I did a lot of the interviewing that way...I would say, "What would you like to have for a grade?" you know, for this particular course...I said, "and don't be afraid to reach for it."

And so many of them would say, "Well, I would like an A." And I had certain standards that they had to meet to get an A. And one of the things we did an awful lot was, I had them read our journals, because we took about seven nursing journals of different kinds. And I would have to go through them, and I would find appropriate articles that was something we were studying and I would give that as an oral report. They would read it and stand on their feet and talk. I said, "You're going to stand on your two feet and talk in the hospital, to doctors, to nurses, to patients and I want you to be able to stand on your feet and talk."

And so that did...I think that did...I think that did a lot for the them...and we always had our oral reports we had to go through. And that was a part of that...so many that they would have to do...and going right up the list in order to get an A. It wasn't wholly the grade on one examination.

Mims: But you wrote that up for the...

Ambrose: I got the idea from my American Journal of Nursing...and I used it all the time. And it worked; it worked really great, cause they were really trying desperately to get a high grade on their course. Now there's one...you see, Penny? That's one of the graduations.

Mims: That's in 66...second class. Nineteen sixty-five, sixty-six.

Ambrose: If I ever do find that other thing, I will try to show it to you. I don't know what this is...

Mims: It's just your Christmas...Lucy Nash visited...

Ambrose: Now here is Mary Patton...she also was the director over there at the college for quite a long time and she was fine. Here's another one...this is another group.

Mims: We found out that New Hanover...

Ambrose: We put the names here...this was worth something to me...

Mims: New Hanover Hospital was not interested in developing a nurses training program there at their hospital. The expense of it and I guess the trend to go into a BSN program was coming more...more the trend.

Ambrose: That was Dr. Dogens, he was the Dean at the time I was there. Now this goes into the Marine Technology program.

Mims: Right, but there was a boat that looks very military...

Ambrose: It was really funny; I was the only female professor there at Cape Fear Tech, all the rest were men.

Mims: Really?

Ambrose: And I was always made to sit in on that marine program to all their meetings...and I used to be so bored with that. Look at all I have to do and here I sit! And I kept asking, and he says, "No, if you're going to be, you're going to have to be...you're going to have to go."

Mims: Interesting.

Ambrose: So...now this probably was one of my mother's, see...

Mims: "Nixon-Davis Nursing Home dedication...Champ Davis..."

Ambrose: Do you remember him...ever hear of him?

Mims: Yes I have.

Ambrose: Yes, well he was the biggest name when we came down here in Wilmington almost. See, here's the county hospital construction. There it was as it was being constructed.

Mims: "September second, nineteen sixty-five."

Ambrose: Yea. Yea. There's Champ.

Mims: More Champ Davis. BA/

Mims: The Kenan trust.

Ambrose: Now, this is the Sprunt...up there in the Sprunt practical nursing program. She was very good friend of mine and...

Mims: In Kenansville?

Ambrose: In Kenansville. And when I first started, her course...her class was going strong and so I got in touch with her and went up there with her and she gave me some tips. I can remember so well, she gave me some tips. And I thought the very world of her. She has died. And her...her twin brother...what in the world was his name...oh I...you would know it so well...you would know his name...would you think I'd forgotten his name?

Mims: That's okay.

Ambrose: But he is well known in Wilmington.

Mims: Well, this is interesting, that research center at Babies Hospital...became the Marine...

Ambrose: And that's nine two sixty-five.

Mims: Nine two sixty-five...I wonder if Dr. Ralph Brauer's name is mentioned at all...

Ambrose: It probably is...

Mims: Because he did his work there...

Ambrose: I've heard my son speak about him so much, yea, um hum...so you see, all that...I think you better take this home.

Mims: Oh, this is just a wealth...

Ambrose: "James Walker School of Nursing"...see, that's class registration...

Mims: James Walker nursing commencement exercise brochure.

Ambrose: Nineteen sixty-six.

Mims: Nineteen sixty-six...that's the last graduating class!

Ambrose: And there are all the names.

Mims: All the names...

Ambrose: Isn't that something?

Mims: That is really neat.

Ambrose: It's interesting for me to go through this too. Look at this...

Mims: Yep, that's the hospital up and running and all the early administrators...William Sutton.

Ambrose: And here's...look at this old James Walker...the way it used to look.

Mims: Yes. No date. There's one on there...nine eighteen sixty-six.

Ambrose: We never put dates on things.

Mims: Oh yea, we're...

Ambrose: There's a winner ...and Mary Patton...

Mims: Look at this... "starting salary for nurses...sixty-five hundred dollars a year in nineteen sixty-six."

Ambrose: I hate to tell you, but I got under that. I got under that. I was a woman. The men all got more than I did. But I never knew it, and never cared. And I never knew it...I was so happy. I loved what I was doing and I didn't care, you know? That is half the battle...to love what you're doing.

Mims: Here is a very nice little piece of paper that is honoring Dorothy Dixon...to...because she's joined the faculty of Wilmington College as assistant professor in James Walker Memorial Associate Degree program in nursing.

Ambrose: Number one...nineteen sixty-six.

Mims: You have kept some very, very interesting pieces of paper.

Ambrose: See there was the students...

Mims: All your students...

Ambrose: "School Prefers Teaching"...bless their heart!

Mims: Yea, we have...I actually have that article...I've seen that one...Floyd's Brace is still open too...

Ambrose: Here's another one here...

Mims: Oh, what year is this?

Ambrose: Wouldn't you think I would have put the year down?

Mims: Well, you put the names down, that's fabulous!

Ambrose: All the names...all the names. Yea. Oh they look so messy...there's a little fattie right there.

Mims: Oh...my goodness...Floyd's Brace...

Ambrose: Now, he came over and spoke to us, you know, because of his braces and all.

Mims: Right. I think they're still...there was an article in the paper just a couple of weeks ago about em.

Ambrose: And that is Marie Noell. She is...

Mims: Dr. Kosaruba!

Ambrose: Do you think he looks like my husband? The other day...not the other day...some months ago...

Mims: You know he does a little bit!

Ambrose: We were sitting in a restaurant and a woman came over to us...and she said, "Are you Dr. Kosaruba?"

Mims: You should have said yes! He's a noted celebrity.

Ralph Ambrose: I've had a dozen people come up and ask me about Dr. Koseruba.

Mims: You know, you do, and he is your age, he's ninety.

Ralph Ambrose: What?

Mims: I think he's ninety.

Ambrose: Yes he is.

Mims: You guys are the same age.

Ralph Ambrose: He probably is...I'm almost ninety.

Mims: Almost ninety.

Parnell: Yea, we interview...we've interviewed him also.

Ralph Ambrose: Oh have ya? I'll bet that was interesting.

Ambrose: I thought a lot of him.

Mims: Yea, we interviewed him not long ago.

Ambrose: See, this is '67 ...

Ralph Ambrose: My youngest son used to run around with his...

Ambrose: ... and that is...no, that's Patton again...

Ralph Ambrose: My youngest son used to run around with him...no, no...Koseruba, Koseruba. You know Koseruba? Dr. Koseruba? My youngest son used to run around with him when all the ships were over here in the east river. Those little devils...they used to go over there and swim over to those ships and climb aboard...little devils...we didn't know anything about it.

Parnell: Um-hum.

Ambrose: Sixty-seven...

Mims: The glue is kind of coming out...

Ambrose: I wish I would have...there's Stella Stone.

Mims: Okay, that Babies Hospital?

Ambrose: Yes, um hum, she's dead. She was of my...Ina...her name was Ina.

Mims: Um-hum.

Ambrose: Here again we have...

Mims: Another class. I'm guessing that you've got em in sequential order somehow and this would be, like, sixty-six, sixty-seven class. Mrs. Driggers...now I did know a Virginia Driggers.

Ambrose: Virginia Driggers...there she is right there...that's Virginia Driggers.

Mims: She was my neighbor. I grew up at Bradley Creek and she and her husband lived down there.

Ambrose: Is that right? Yea, that's Virginia Driggers.

Mims: So maybe I do know some of these people! And I think Mrs. Driggers is still alive.

Ambrose: Well, I wouldn't be surprised.

Mims: She worked hard.

Ambrose: Henry Grubbs...now he was a big name in the hospital. Let's see here... "A seven day week for four years...Henry Grubbs, administrator."

Mims: Administrator at...

Ambrose: James Walker...no it wasn't, no, it must be the new one...the new hospital.

Mims: In nineteen sixty-seven it would have been...well I think he is leaving and this Robert Martin is coming...oh, "Robert Martin resigned as director of James Walker Memorial Hospital."

Ambrose: I remember when he did.

Mims: Nineteen sixty-seven.

Ambrose: We're getting into 68 over here.

Mims: Um-hum.

Ambrose: Shirley Bowman, secretary...I don't know what this has to do with... "graduates Cape Fear Institute, practical nursing, class of sixty-five..."

Mims: "Have organized and are known as the Alumni Association..."

Ambrose: "...of Licensed Practical nurses..."

Mims:"... of Cape Fear Tech Medical Institute...Technical Institute...untiring and intensive instruction, guidance, and encouragement given us when we were in training will never be forgotten...in appreciation of what you have helped us to accomplish, we ask you to accept the honorary membership in the Alumni."

Ambrose: I had forgotten that letter. Mrs. Piner, she died, Louise Piner.

Mims: Right. "University of North Carolina School of Nursing continuing education, still more at Chapel Hill..."

Ambrose: I wonder what that is?

Mims: "Thank you so much...University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill..."

Ambrose: I don't know what it is. But I'm bound...I'm going to found out.

Mims: "Mary"...okay!

Ambrose: Mary, I don't know who that would be...somebody from the University at Chapel Hill anyway.

Mims: Right.

Ambrose: No, I don't remember Mary!

Mims: It's nice you kept it though.

Ambrose: See how things rust and everything...with age. I don't know if there's anything in here or not.

Mims: Speaker...Business Women's Association...

Ambrose: See, this was my mother's book, because she would put things in like that...I don't know as there's anything in these.

Mims: School of Nursing notes...lots of...that's from your school of nursing alumni.

Ambrose: Well, you see, it's all there.

Mims: It is all there...a lot of history...let's see what these are quickly here...the Sea Devil...that's the Cape Fear newspaper.

Parnell: Is the Cape Fear Nursing Association still going?

Mims: Alumni...?

Parnell: It's still going?

Mims: Um hum, it sure is.

Ambrose: There they are right there... "Grads learned, earned a lot...," and that's Mr. McLeod...

Mims: "August, twenty-fourth, nineteen seventy-two..."

Ambrose: Yep, I remember them. They were all...they are all listed too.

Mims: Yes they are, every single one of them. Wow!

Ambrose: Now, this shows some of the...

Mims: At Tileston school...?

Ambrose: At Tileston school. Now this is the very beginning you see...I guess that's sixty...well sixty-seven.

Mims: Nineteen sixty-seven. Fourth...fourth class.

Ambrose: But you see, we had a wheelchair...we had everything to do with. And they went through everything just as though it were...and then they'd go in the hospital and practice it on real people.

Mims: Groetchen Nursing Home.

Ambrose: Yes, I said that we went to...Do you remember her at all...she was Laura Faulkner...

Mims: Faulkner?

Ambrose: She was quite...well she was right under the cha...she was assistant to the director of the health associates...board...not board of health...what am I saying...

Mims: Public health?

Ambrose: Public Health...yes, I believe that was. And she had the most beautiful, beautiful voice besides. But she was...I even remember that day...going on the bridge.

Mims: We can see the back of the school right there...because there's the smoke stack to the school.

Ambrose: She was a very well known doctor.

Mims: "Eloise Lewis..."

Ambrose: Lewis, she was a very wonderful, wonderful for our program. Dr. Dodgens again.

Mims: "Student nurse week."

Ambrose: Yes, that's the old uniforms.

Mims: Oh my gosh!

Ambrose: Old uniform...now this was at...it was about premature...

Mims: "Premature babies...moving babies in a group...patient move completed, nineteen sixty-seven, June fifteenth." This was the move to...

Parnell: New Hanover?

Mims: New Hanover Hospital.

Ambrose: That's it...see... "ninety-two transfer in a matter of hours."

Mims: "Dr. Donald Koonce supervises..." have we got this article? Cause this is about James Walker now deserted...ah...no date.

Ambrose: They transferred...they tried to discharge as many, of course, as they could, but they transferred ninety-two. That was a lot of business. What a day! What a day that was!

Mims: Yea, I can imagine!

Ambrose: "Woman in traction moved by moving van to hospital."

Mims: We had someone talking about moving that patient in traction...was it Mr. Alper?

Ambrose: See... "Air Force ambulance pulls into new hospital...emergency help came from several area rescue squads."

Mims: Right, you should see em all lined up there.

Ambrose: All lined up. "Dr. Mebane..."

Mims: "...Volunteers for duty in Vietnam..."

Ambrose: And here he is. He was precious. "New era for CFTI..."

Mims: Um hum. Grove Park Inn...that's a beautiful place! It is absolutely beautiful!

Ambrose: Well, I went to so many times up there on courses...everything was...and we went to nice places, you know, we really...it was really great. Now you haven't even had a chance to drink your lemonade.

Mims: Oh that's fine, I'm enjoying this...yea, this is more about Asheville and Biltmore, and...

Ambrose: What I saw when I went there...That was one of my students...you probably know the Crowley laundry for years here...she was the daughter of the man who had founded it...then her husband did it.

Mims: Um-hum.

Ambrose: Tinker Lewis, her name is.

Mims: Okay.

Ambrose: She was one of my good students. That's one that got married. Ah, there we are, see?

Mims: Um-hum.

Ambrose: That's sixty-nine.

Mims: Sixty-eight, sixty-nine. "Community Hospital becomes skilled nursing home for indigent...February, nineteen sixty-eight...for renovation of old building."

Ambrose: Now that's interesting, very interesting.

Mims: That's why it wasn't torn down until 1970. It had a secondary use.

Parnell: Seventy-eight wasn't it?

Mims: Well, that's right. That's right. It was abandoned.

Ambrose: Yes, for a while.

Parnell: But for a while it was a nursing home.

Mims: It was, yea "...with the welfare department."

Ambrose: See, didn't they look pretty?

Mims: They do.

Ambrose: That's what they wore. Oh, they were sweet girls. Now...

Mims: "Health Occupation students..."

Ambrose: I see Grubbs again and there's Mr. McLeod. That's just a commencement exercise.

Mims: Um hum...and there's all the students from 68...

Ambrose: Um, Louise Baker right here. So pitiful, this precious, precious girl...she committed suicide.

Mims: Oh no, that's awful. More on commencement exercises...

Ambrose: There's that doctor again that I pointed out to you...I said that helped local nurses...

Mims: Yea. "Dr. Eloise Lewis ...local female doctor..."

Ambrose: October twenty-fourth in Durham...some special thing that was going on...see they're even coming apart here...

Mims: Yea, it has pulled apart. Do you think that the LPN program is still a valuable program as far as medical care is concerned?

Ambrose: Well, I haven't kept up with it for the late years, I really...and I really don't know...you certainly don't hear much about it...we got a lot of publicity during the time...there she is again...she was the Dean at UNC...she was very special.

Mims: Because with all the specialization that's coming in to...you know, people are entering the nurses...

Ambrose: Technicians...yea, they need to be, because everything is technology today.

Mims: Um-hum. I saw that Cape Fear had a large Radiology Technology program out there...a real specialized field for men and women...but...

Ambrose: Well, you see, things are changing so...cancer has become such a...well, so many facets...where you begin to find out what causes cancer. You see, so everything causes cancer from hereditary up. I don't know these...

Mims: A Red Cross nurse...you were volunteering for them?

Ambrose: Yes, I've got my Red Cross pin...you're supposed to turn that in when you die. There's another group...that's sixty-eight, seventy. Look at that...I had forgotten...oh my goodness, you see, and I've got them all listed...

Mims: Yea, now they're in white there.

Ambrose: See, I've got these grad...oh when they graduated...

Mims: Well, this is a bib, white...the others looked like they graduated in the traditional long sleeve...hum.

Ambrose: Well, I don't...don't understand what this...

Mims: See, it looks like a bib...

Ambrose: Yes, the do. Maybe they went into a white bib...I don't recall that. That was...I don't know...as I say, my memory is not...there's that same little...

Mims: Right. Same brochure...

Ambrose: So that's nice it's intact.

Mims: It is. That's in good shape there.

Ambrose: That's in good shape there. I don't think...there's...a little different...

Mims: Nineteen forty-four...

Ambrose: Forty-four? Oh, that's forty-four when I...that was...I graduated in 44 from college.

Mims: And these were your...classmates?

Ambrose: That was...that was Martha Blue Smith.

Mims: "Dean of Boston University School of Nursing" ...hum.

Ambrose: And she was one of the Who's Who nurses.

Mims: Wow.

Ambrose: She was just wonderful. It was right under her. See, these are the same.

Mims: Oh yea.

Ambrose: I didn't realize...it must have been that they...it must have been...I had forgotten that they did that...that they went into that...I had forgotten that. Isn't that strange? Why I chose the LPN career...and there were those two...of my fine graduates...class in nineteen seventy-one.

Mims: I might be able to find some of them too.

Ambrose: You probably can.

Mims: Um hum. Well this has been swell talking to you. I hope we haven't taken up too much or your day here.

Ambrose: Well, I don't ...I don't do much. Betty Bass...she was...she is there...she...Mrs. Paso fell down a whole flight of stairs and immediately was unable to continue and Betty Bass was an LPN and she had married Bob Bass...he was the registrar at CFTI...and he married Betty. And he said, "I know a...," before he married her, he said, "I know a young lady that is an LPN but I bet we could get her to come in an assist you."

She was an LPN and she has become an RN. And so, she was my second assistant and my third was Margery Jackson. And when I left, Margery Jackson was my assistant. Now that's the James Walker graduate...way back...a graduate...one of the nursing classes...early...see how they...how long their uniforms were and everything.

Mims: February 1972...not a specific date...

Ambrose: Well...but...

Mims:I know, but this was the Star News article.

Ambrose: Yes, yes, yes. But it was long before that.

Mims: "Public Health..."

Ambrose: "Nursing"...that's interesting...that's a very interesting article from 1970.

Mims: Yea, there are some of these articles I'd like to have a chance to sit and read... "James Walker is being demolished...02-15-72." A photo of it coming down, hum.

Ambrose: This is Women's Association.

Mims: Yea, American Business Women's Association.

Ambrose: There's another group of them...it's all sort of beginning to...

Mims: Yea, and they've got a different uniform too...so...

Ambrose: I didn't realize, but it must have been that they changed...they did...like they did in a three year program...wore that probie' uniform for a while...but they just didn't have much time in a years time...I can't remember when we went into those white bibs...

Mims: Right. Uh-huh. Well I can't...you'd have to...

Ambrose: I told you my memory was...

Mims: I know, but you have filled us with so much information. I just don't even know how to thank you about this. Jerry, is there anything else you want to ask her?

Parnell: Is there anything you want to say that you didn't get a chance to say?

Mims: That maybe we didn't say or ask you?

Ambrose: I think we've pretty well covered it.

Mims: How did you feel retiring from this, knowing that you had started this and it was well on its way to success?

Ambrose: Well, my husband had retired years before and the year before we had bought an Airstream and all of a sudden I realized, I'd better spend some time with him. And so I retired a little early...I believe I was sixty-two and I could have gone on...and they told me, "Well, you can work here until you're seventy if you want to," you know.

And I kept saying to Mr. McLeod, "Mr. McLeod you must start looking for someone, because I'm telling you, I am not...I'm leaving next year." And I kept telling him. He said, "Well, you might change your mind." I said, "No, I'm not going to change my mind. I have really made up my mind." So by the time I did it I was ready.

And then from then on...and it was a good thing I did because it was the time for us to travel. And we traveled so much in that Airstream. We went everywhere...and it did a lot for him. And I think our life would be different...I doubt very much if we'd both be here if we hadn't done that.

Ralph Ambrose: Probably not.

Ambrose: I don't think we would have. I think it was just what we needed to do at the right time. I was nostalgic about it and I loved it. But when I...I said, when I did retire, I said, "I have turned the page of this book. Now I'm going to start something new." And that's exactly what I did. And I didn't look back. And so, I haven't kept up very well. But of course, it's been a long time now. And I don't see...there's one thing I was rather disappointed...everybody is so busy and I have not seen my students as I wish I could have seen them. I wish I could have kept up with them but it was an impossibility.

And I was in...what's it called...Children's...Toys Express...Toys Express. A lovely store for children. I was going to buy something for my great grandchild...a little boy...one year old. So Susan is my daughter...said, "Go over there." And when I came to pay I looked up into somebody's eyes and she said, "Do you remember me?" I said, "I'll never forget those eyes, ever, as long as I live." Jennifer Wilson. She was in my class...one of my classes.

She came out from behind and gave me a big hug. I said, "What are you doing behind the counter in this store...in a toy store?" She said, "Well, I worked...I nursed for a long time," and she said, "then I thought this would be just a little lighter and easier." It has become so heavy with paperwork and everything that they've not got time for nursing. If you want to see her, she works over there at the...

Mims: At Toys R Us?

Ambrose: Not Toys R Us.

Mims: Learning Express?

Ambrose: Learning Express. Learning Express. And she...Jennifer Wilson. I said, "Jennifer you have the eyes that one never would forget." And she started to cry...it was kind of sad to see her after all of those many years...she hasn't been living in Alaska, you know...we've been living in the same...

Mims: Right, in the same town, yea.

Ambrose: And it's strange that we don't follow through, but b-u-s-y is the reason...everybody is busy.

Mims: Right. Thank you so much. I want ... I did want to see that letter that you said...

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