BROWSE BY:     Title Number Subject Creator Digital Content

Interview with Alene Simmons Wade, November 16, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

pdf icon Get PDF Version
Title:
Interview with Alene Simmons Wade, November 16, 2004
Date:
November 16, 2004
Description:
Mrs. Wade, a native of Wilmington, began her nursing career at the 7th St. Community Hospital in 1939. Although she did not complete this program her memory of her time there offers a different view of the time. After finishing with raising her family she attended the LPN at CFTI in 1966 and worked briefly at James Walker Hospital. She also worked at NH Hospital for five years in maternal care and orthopedics.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Wade, Alene Simmons Interviewer:  Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview:  11/16/2004 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length:  45

 

Mims: Today is November the 16th, 2004. I am LuAnn Mims for the Randall Library Special Collection Series on Health Services and we are talking today with Ms. Alene Wade. Good morning Ms. Wade.

Wade: Good morning.

Mims: If you would be so kind and give us a little personal background…who your family was, where you were raised, your occupation of your parents…

Wade: Well, my mama, of course, wasn’t down here. Myrtle Grove Sound. I’d hate it when people would tell me, “You were from Sea Breeze.” But…but starting on Wright Street, that’s where I was born. And Ms…you could say Ms. Munds inspired me…my inspiration came from her. She was a public health nurse.

Mims: What was her first name?

Wade: I…you know, I don’t know Mrs. Munds’ first name.

Mims: Okay, I can find it.

Wade: But Mrs. Redrick…she worked for her. She worked… she worked for her. She had a daughter…I guess…I remember back till I was two years old. I can remember. And she was inspiring her daughter to go in nursing. She had to go away and go in nursing…Eva did. Her name was Eva Redrick. And I just thought Eva was the loveliest…clean…cleanliness I loved. She was the cleanest person that I had seen. Everything was white…and that stayed with me. Well, my husband…we were friends from grammar school. I went to Flint, Michigan with Aunt Lucy.

Mims: To live?

Wade: That…that stayed with me…the nursing did. I came back here and he was the only boy I didn’t have to beat. They teased me about the way I talked, they teased me about my skinny legs, and I’d light into them. I didn’t care how big they were. But he didn’t tease me.

Mims: So you’re…you spent all of your school years up in Flint Michigan?

Wade: No. I was in the fourth grade when I came back here.

Mims: What school did you go to then?

Wade: Oak Hill.

Mims: Oak Hill?

Wade: Um hum.

Mims: What kind of work was your dad doing?

Wade: Oh, he…he…I tell you he was an architect…we laugh because…poor…and he majored in architect when he went to college, but he was a darn good carpenter, but a lot of those buildings…I don’t know which ones…those buildings down town…Third Street and like that, he built them. He met mama in…at that time, you know, black community, white community…

Mims: Sure.

Wade: I wish…I had grandpapa out showing the kids some pictures…I wish I had…but they took ‘em out of the house when I went to the hospital. Granddaddy…my grandmamma was a lovely person…she was not prejudice. These people were prejudice, especially from here on down…certain colors and all that kind of stuff. But my grandmamma and my mama…it didn’t get in there…Grandpap was an Englishman. He came here…he married an Indian girl and he went back and gave up his commission and came back to North Carolina and married her.

Mims: So you have like multiple generations that grew up here in this area?

Wade: Oh yea! And talk about not…these people married each other. Oh…I don’t know. Mama said one time, said, “They just say they were Indian and something” and…paid no attention to what they were doing.

Mims: Um hum.

Wade: But there was a long…he had a big orchard up here…it’s not Masonboro…around there on the sound…and of course, they had five children. But they were not prejudice people. Now Grandpapa had some prejudices in him and he wanted everything to be white and like that. He had five children but nobody gave him any grandchildren, which he dearly wanted…but mama…so he had to do…he had to love us…because you know, “What’s mine, I love.”

Mims: Sure.

Wade: I’m still possessive like that. What’s mine is mine.

Mims: Did your mom work at all?

Wade: No. Summer on the beach, some, but not…say, working. That was back then when people…women didn’t work. Women worked in the house, they didn’t go out and get on jobs.

Mims: So I’m wondering why your generation thought it was okay to go out and work?

Wade: He didn’t. He didn’t. He didn’t think wives should work. And after we came back…I’ve been all around…he took me all around the world. I took three children by myself to Europe. I mingled with those German people. He said, “You’d better stop it,” said “somebody’ll hurt you, you know, mingling with the pubic in Germany.” But I tried to speak their language and I told ‘em…I told a group of women, “they didn’t send for me…those people in Germany didn’t send for me”…I went to their…I learned to speak their language enough to communicate with ‘em. I learned to speak theirs enough to communicate because I’m in their country and that does something. See, I’m a good observer…observer. I tried to speak their language…I knew I was…because they would come from all over the stores to come where I was…where I was talking with somebody…they’d hear me mangle their language, but I was making a try.

Mims: What years were that…was that you were in Europe?

Wade: That was…

Mr. Wade [off camera]: ‘52 through ‘56.

Wade: Uh huh. And I enjoyed it.

Mims: I…I’ve always understood that Europe had a less black and white problem than…

Wade: Oh no, I don’t think they had that.

Mims: …in the United States…during this time we’re going through massive civil rights changes…

Wade: May I tell you this? They didn’t have it till we got there.

Mims: Yea.

Wade: They didn’t have it. And one of our concerns…we stopped there to get gas…we had to get gas and our concern…cause we got gas for about fifteen cents a gallon…and we went into…we decided to go into the snack bar there…and they acted funny with us like this was associating, I guess, with the whites…and they wanted to not treat me with respect…my husband with respect…and naturally, you know, with all my mouth, I told them about it. They said, “I’ll the MP”…I said, “You call the MPs, I’ll be here when they get here.”

He did. I told the guys “go out.” And when they…when they came…the MP came he drove up…two of ‘em…and this one got out…he was…I know he was six foot six, maybe more…heavy guy…blond…looked like a little boy. I said, oh Lord, I’ve got to start all over again. But he came in there and the first time…then he told that man trying to talk over everybody…he said, “Wait a minute, Ms. Wade speaks first.” He said, “She’s an American citizen, this is her concern, this is hers, not yours”…and I kind a relaxed because I was gone say what I had to say. But he had that attitude that if your skin was darker, you were less than…

Mims: Than a human.

Wade: Yea, yea!

Mims: Well, let me ask you…

Mr. Wade: If I say something, you’re picking it up too, aren’t you?

Mims: Yea, that’s okay!

Male voice: You have to lead her…mama had two strokes…

Mims: That’s what I’m gonna try to do.

Male voice: …her concentration is…

Mims: Okay. What high school did you go to?

Wade: Williston Industrial High School.

Mims: Williston Industrial…I’ve been listening to some interviews that a person is doing there at the library and there was a…a…I don’t know what her maiden name is…Beatrice Moore…she’s a doctor, but she was talking about Williston Industrial. I think she was in the class of forty something.

Wade: Um hum…she’s small.

Mims: I don’t what her maiden name was. What class…what year were you?

Wade:

Mims: 1939…wow!

Wade: I’ve got my…yea I was real young, but I…

Mims: Well, did you go all twelve years, or did you go to the eleventh grade?

Wade: I went eleven…high school finished in eleventh year.

Mims: Eleventh grade.

Wade: I think about the year after…a couple years after they started going twelve years.

Mims: Um hum. I think that was depression era where they…they didn’t have the funding for that extra year.

Wade: Let me tell you…some of these people didn’t need nothing that they had. But mama said, “If their giving it, my youngins can get it too.”

Mims: Well, after high school…what were…what was your plan?

Wade: I…nursing…that was my whole desire…nursing.

Mims: Did you investigate other nursing schools or did you look for?

Wade: No, there wasn’t any place…right here at home.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: It was nice I didn’t have to go away from home…no I didn’t. Now, this girl I talked…that was one of the inspirations for me, Eva Redrick, she went away. She didn’t get her training here.

Mims: What did you know about the Community Hospital School of Nursing?

Wade: I really didn’t know any…no more than I could get from them. You know, everything was word of mouth then.

Mims: Now, this was at their old location on Seventh Street?

Wade: This was before they built Community. I was one of the first students into Community. Our nursing home was on Seventh Street in the Hill’s old house. This lady, Ms. Freeman…brought me…I was sixteen years old and she asked Miss Taylor…Miss Taylor, if she could put a cot in her room and have me in her room so I didn’t have to be upstairs with the older girls. And of course, she did that, it was all right with her. And we used to walk from Seventh Street to the hospital every morning…early every morning.

Mims: So the nurses residence was at Seventh Street and the hospital was at it’s new location on Eleventh Street?

Wade: That is correct.

Mims: Okay. That…that new nurse…

Wade: And we walked every morning.

Mims: The new nursing home was built…was that…that was built like in the ‘40s, cause I know it was through WPA money.

Wade: Yea…’41 or ‘42…they were building on the nurses home but just didn’t have it complete.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: The next class were in the nursing home…a…a…as a nursing home.

Mims: Well, what do you remember about your first couple of days there at Community? Did you…did they have any like welcoming teas or…

Wade: Oh no, they didn’t know anything about that. All they knew you were supposed to be a nurse, we’ll get you some uniforms…these pinafores, you know, girth pinafores with…

Mims: Did you have the bib?

Wade: That’s right, the bib.

Mims: Okay, it was a bib and an apron?

Wade: Blouse, white blouses. Grayish blue pinafores.

Mims: Okay. And they…

Wade: White shoes of course.

Mims: The…the…underneath dress…that was like a chambray blue color?

Wade: The pinafore…the over…was a chambray…chambray blue, that’s correct.

Mims: Okay, now when you started…you took classes?

Wade: Oh yea.

Mims: Where were the classes taught?

Wade: In some room in Community Hospital.

Mims: Was it in a basement?

Wade: I believe it was.

Mims: I think I’ve heard this.

Wade: I believe it was. I believe it was.

Mims: Do you remember any of who your teachers were…were they doctors, or where they other nurses?

Wade: As far as I can remember, other doctors. Now, Dr. Burnett did a lot of…he would teach us, because he…he teaches in the hallway…anything…if anything wasn’t…

Mims: Kind of on the job training.

Wade: He was a great big man, very impressive, but anything…and because I recall him saying once about the black nurses…what did they call it…straightening their hair…he said it was all right for them to…go ahead and wash it…said, “Wash your hair, wash your hair.” Say…a lot of ‘em washed it…’cause they straightened their hair…he said…that must have been the class that he was teaching us…because he was one of these people, nothing was beneath him to go…that’s over…

Mims: He was instrumental in developing the hospital.

Wade: Yes indeed. He was a great big man…like…like junior.

Mims: Yea, Eaton, Jr.?

Wade: Uh huh, he was that…that same sort of stature.

Mims: Eaton Sr. was kind of a thinish kind of person.

Wade: No…

Mims: I mean, the pictures I’ve seen of him playing tennis…he just looks…

Wade: That’s Eaton.

Mims: Yea, Dr. Eaton Sr.

Wade: No…I’m talking about Burnett.

Mims: Burnett.

Wade: Dr. Burnett who was instigating bringing that hospital.

Mims: I know.

Wade: Yes sir.

Mims: Very, very big.

Wade: And he was…without the stature…we has big in anyplace he was…he had a lot of mouth like me.

Mims: I’m trying to think of some of the other names, cause, like Eaton didn’t come until the ‘40s. Upperman didn’t come until later on. How about Dr. Gray, was he there?

Wade: Upperman…Gray…he wasn’t too much…I think most of his was private practice but I…

Mims: How about Dr. Avant, was he there?

Wade: Oh yes, oh yes, he was…and he was a very liberal person. These people, I’m telling you, they weren’t stuck on color. Some of our people got hung up on color or something. But I’m glad to say…my family…three races…I mean, now, that I knew…cause I had the sweetest little white great grandmamma, Mamie. She, grandmamma and mama, there was no prejudice in them. Now my grandpapa was. He had five children and mama fell in love with a black man. She was going to…staying with…wait, Avant’s picture is here somewhere.

Mims: As a matter of fact, I just pulled up a nice picture of Dr. Avant. We have that African American cultural center there at the university and they have some resources for us, so…I also found…

Wade: That’s my mama’s brother.

Mims: Um hum.

Wade: I got mama’s here…mamma’s in the room…I’m not gone look for that…

Mims: Oh my goodness, he’s a big ol’ guy!

Wade: Yea he is, that’s Dr…what is your…Dr. Smith. Now this is Dr…this is the father. The son looks just like that.

Mims: Really?

Wade: He looks just like that. And this, of course, is cousin Felice and cousin Mabel.

Mims: Well, let me ask you about your nursing again, because I…

Wade: Yes, please.

Mims: Whenever you started the program, you had your pre-clinical time where took classes. Okay. Then, after like five or six months you got your cap.

Wade: Yea…what did you get first?

Mims: I think you get your…

Wade: Must have got…I think you got your cap before you did your pin and…there were stages.

Mims: Right. So you get your cap so that you can start working on the floor. Do you…

Wade: Well you started working on the floor, right away!

Mims: Right away?

Wade: Yes.

Mims: What do you remember about you getting your nursing cap…what did that mean to you?

Wade: Oh, it meant everything. It was an advancement in nursing. I always did value my cap even till today.

Mims: They had a big ceremony for it, didn’t they?

Wade: Um hum. A little ceremony for us.

Mims: Where you had to do the Florence Nightingale pledge?

Wade: My girlfriend…we were the only two graduating…they hadn’t too many…too many people hadn’t graduated from high school. She and I…daddy had had a stroke…she and I caught the bus with our caps and gowns on…we didn’t have any other way to get there. We caught the bus, got off at Third and Castle and walked down to the school.

Mims: Oh this is for Williston’s graduation.

Wade: Williston’s graduation.

Mims: Okay. What about getting your nursing cap…did you get your nursing cap?

Wade: Yes.

Mims: At Community?

Wade: Community Hospital.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: My cap.

Mims: Now you said you didn’t complete the program at Community. How far did you get into it?

Wade: I guess I was there for about a year I guess…but I wanted…

Mr. Wade: Close to eighteen months.

Wade: I wanted to get married, and of course, you know, you couldn’t be there because you had to stay.

Mims: At the nurses residence?

Wade: Yea…so that was it. And he said to me…they were talking about this LPN program…and he said, “Well, Alene, why don’t you go into that?” I said, “You wouldn’t mind?”…’cause he was always so against my working. And he said, “No, that’s alright”…said “I’ll work with you.” We had two…we had one child that had graduated and the other two were still in high school. And you know…you know, I grabbed it, because it’s something that, all my life…

Mims: You wanted to do. So, during the time of your early marriage you didn’t work at all? But you went into the LPN program?

Wade: Yes.

Mims: Was it the one that was developed out at Cape Fear, or where did you go…?

Wade: The first one…Cape Fear. Cape Fear.

Mims: So you know Blanche Ambrose?

Wade: Oh yea!

Mims: I’ve talked to her.

Wade: Oh have you?

Mims: I have! She’s got a huge scrapbook. And I talked to a lady named Barbara Galloway, she was in that first class too…Barbara Walters now.

Wade: Now I was in the second class…the second class.

Mims: Second class of Mrs. Ambrose’s LPN program.

Wade: Uh huh!

Mims: What a swell lady!

Wade: She was! She was so prim and proper!

Mims: She was from New England.

Wade: It seems like she had never touched a patient that’s in distress and before you can get there they’ve messed up everything…she didn’t look like she was ever…but she could!

Mims: She’s cool.

Wade: Who was the other one? Ms. Paso.

Mims: Ms. Paso, yea, she came from James Walker Hospital.

Wade: Yea, she wore her James Walker cap too.

Mims: Now, you said you worked at James Walker for a while.

Wade: I did.

Mims: Okay, what did you work as there?

Wade: Maternity.

Mims: Maternity.

Wade: Maternity. And then on the…I got…I didn’t want to work on maternity, it wasn’t enough…

Mims: Action?

Wade: Action. That’s it, that’s it!

Mims: I know there’s action nurses and there’s…there’s not action nurses.

Wade: It wasn’t enough work for me. I got on that floor and then I was on…I stayed there on maternity…but I was with the patients…with the mothers more.

Mims: More on the maternity floor.

Wade: And they would have me…they like to have…even when I left they…they want to have me come down and show the babies…because if it was a little boy, I let the man know he had a son! (laughing) I would unpin his diaper!

Mims: That’s funny. What…what were you…what was your role…what were you working as? You wouldn’t have been working as a nurse, were you?

Wade: Yes. Then I…this is after I’d finished the LPN…

Mims: Oh!

Wade: …and incidentally, I have to tell you this…I graduated second in my class.

Mims: Did you?

Wade: Uh huh.

Mims: So you graduated around 1966?

Male voice: I really couldn’t…I really…

Mims: ‘Cause James Walker closed in ‘67 and everybody moved out to New Hanover…

Wade: I was already a nurse because I moved…I…me, Elkins, and I can’t remember the aides name…we moved the last three patients from James Walker to over to the hospital.

Mims: That must have been a heck of a move!

Wade: But it…it was a…but it was such a…oh, we discharged everybody the day before…anybody that could be discharged…

Mims: Right, they dropped their census.

Wade: …we discharged them. And one of the three patients that we had kept, that we were there to take care of…honey, we got those people out of there and over to the new hospital before dinner time. We served them breakfast, but it wasn’t but three of them. And after that we went home. And they asked us what had happened to us…thought we were supposed to go home.

Mims: I know that that transition was…I’ve talked to several people that were involved with that…

Wade: But it went smoother than they thought it was going to go.

Mims: How about…did you continue working at New Hanover Hospital then?

Wade: No…we moved to the New Hospital…

Mims: Right, New Hanover Hospital.

Wade: Yes.

Mims: So did you stay…get to stay on the maternity floor, or did you have to take another…

Wade: I stayed on the maternity for a while and then I moved to…orthopedics.

Mr. Wade: Second floor.

Wade: Orthopedics. And that…first they put me on…something…and I told them, it wasn’t enough work, you know…

Mims: Yea, they’re not moving around too much in orthopedics.

Wade: Yea. I know that’s right…and it doesn’t…orthopedic people needed some attention, where you had to make a bed…make it neat…but you couldn’t make it the conventional way…but you pinned up here and pinned up there so that they were covered. And most people who came to the floor to help us didn’t know what to do…nurses…they didn’t know what to do with somebody all in traction.

Mims: I wouldn’t know either.

Wade: But…but you know…I didn’t…they said…you need help – I give help. I have been…you couldn’t get somebody to help you…I’ve got al…almost literally in the bed to try to guide those people and keep this traction on the head, now.

Mims: How long did you work at New Hanover Hospital?

Wade: Oh about five years.

Mims: About five years? Did you work anywhere else?

Wade: No.

Mims: Well, let’s go back and let’s talk about Ms. Taylor because I’m just trying to find out more about this woman. What do you…what is your first memory of her?

Wade: My first memory of her is when she came to…that…delivery room and said, “What you doing in here?”

Mims: She’s the one who did that?

Wade: Yes, it was her. She walked the floors every morning, every afternoon…when she came in, see, the moon was howling…so…see what was going on and the first person…she was a friend of Aunt Anna’s…Aunt Anna was married to Uncle Ellis Freeman…and they were close friends. And I always knew that I got in at sixteen because they were friends.

Mims: So, did you have any…did you have like an interview with Miss Taylor before you came to Community…did she talk to you individually, or…?

Wade: No.

Mims: No? It’s just if you wanted to go, you were in.

Wade: No. They found out about you.

Mims: Yea.

Wade: Yea. Nosey people…they were good at that.

Mims: So describe Miss Taylor for me…what was she like? You said she was…

Wade: She was kind of a little chubby, light tan woman…she was a little lighter tan than I am. She had fire in her eyes. She was…nursing was…I saw this, I’m a child, but I saw this…it was her. Nursing was her…and helping people and she could get mad too. But you know I found if you don’t have some fire in you, you not no good to anybody. You’ve got to have fire and she had it.

Mims: Well, we suspect she had something going for her, because she not only developed the nursing program, she also ran the hospital for a number of years. I think you hit at about the time that she was stepping down, but she was superintendent of that hospital until 1939. So she had…juggling a number of…of, of rules.

Wade: And another member of our family, Marie Green…did you run across her name?…because she was the administrator of the hospital for one time. She was from right down there. She is another one that could do anything.

Mims: Well, as far…what was Miss Taylor’s role as far as the nursing students went? Did she teach any classes or was it just strictly administrative?

Wade: I…you know what, everything ran together so much…

Mims: Sure.

Wade: …we weren’t organized. That’s what Dr. Burnett was constantly working on. But we were off to a good start. And everybody that I met during that time, they had so much enthusiasm for nursing.

Mims: And the…and the girls picked up on that I’m sure.

Wade: Um hum.

Mims: I didn’t know whether…like I talked to some other nurses and they recall kind of like an inspection kind of thing…you wore your uniform and people looked you over and your hair had to be up and off your collar, no make up, no jewelry. Did Miss Taylor ever do this and say, you know, “You hair – down”, or anything, you know, do you remember…?

Wade: Oh no, if she’s found…that woman was a mouthy woman…she found something out of place, she’d tell you right then. It didn’t matter who was around.

Mims: We know that the environment was very paternalistic where the doctors looked on the student nurses as like their children.

Wade: I think everybody did.

Mims: Well, I didn’t know if…if Miss Taylor had to keep such a…a persona that she wasn’t allowed to get close to any of the nurses…did you…could you think that would be true, or…?

Wade: Uh huh, uh huh…that…she was on a different level from us. She was like, I’m saying now…I don’t guess you would…a mother of all of you…

Mims: Sure. Okay.

Wade: You do…you do…

Mims: You obey your mother.

Wade: That’s right.

Mims: I’ve heard about the housemothers that were in these residence homes. I’m sure they had to answer to Miss Taylor if…

Wade: Oh yea, everybody answered to her. I heard her blow Dr. Burnett out one day. (laughing) Everybody answered to her, honey. I don’t know…but when she walked the floors,…it was like the second coming.

Mims: Would you know what church she would’ve attended? Would she have gone to St. Marks?

Wade: I believe she was a Presyb…Presbyterian.

Mims: A Presbyterian? Hum, so she wouldn’t have gone to St. Marks.

Wade: I believe she…I believe she did.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: When you got time to go. Cause you know, nurses…

Mims: Reason I asked, is there was a minister at St. Marks by the name of Kirton.

Wade: Oh yes, he stayed there for years didn’t he?

Mims: Yes, and he…

Wade: And he was from the islands…had an accent.

Mims: We…yea, and we have some of his…we have some of his papers and…matter of fact…there…that’s where I found Miss Taylor’s obituary, was in his papers.

Wade: Oh…did you?

Mims: Um hum. So, he officiated at her service. So I think she probably was at St. Marks then, because that’s where he was the minister at…so…I’m trying to think…what other things she would have involved with…I know she was part of the…this national group of colored nurses. I think it was called either Colored Graduate Nurses…do you remember any associations like that when you were…at Community?

Wade: Um um. No. Did you meet Annette Freeman?

Mims: Yes, Annette Freeman, that’s who I got your name from?

Wade: Not…not Dr. Eaton’s wife, cause she’s named for her…that’s her aunt.

Mims: Um hum…Celeste?

Wade: Yea.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: She…but she…for years she went as a Annette too.

Mims: Oh really?

Wade: Uh huh. You know she worked to…

Mr. Wade: She worked at New Hanover.

Wade: Yea, she worked at New Hanover but…we all started…we started at Community…she started…

Mr. Wade: She’s a nurse in anesthesia.

Wade: She went away…

Mims: Yea.

Wade: …she went away.

Mims: She went down to Flint Goodrich in New Orleans to learn nurse anesthetist, because Community hospital was im…having to import nurses to do this function and they thought, you know, that she was perfectly capable and they funded her to go down to Flint Good…I think it’s Flint Goodrich, down in New Orleans…which is a very prestigious hospital for African Americans.

Wade: She…Lena…Letha…Letha Farrow…

Mims: Which, I think she’s passed, hasn’t she?

Wade: Yea, not too long ago.

Mims: Yea, because…

Wade: She and Annette went…I recall…I recall they went in nursing together.

Mims: Right, the both graduated in ‘36.

Wade: From right down here.

Mims: Yea. I recall her name too. Trying to think…can you think of anything else about Mrs. Taylor? Did she do any extra activities with the girls? Like, I know that there was like a glee club and some other things…

Wade: Not that I know of, because…as I say, she was on a pedestal.

Mims: Well, she probably had to be to keep that discipline among the girls. I know that there were…

Wade: And among the doctors…she just disciplined everybody. It was a small place and they’d just got off…got on their feet, and everybody was being strict, I think, to keep you in place…and I could understand that. I came from a big family.

Mims: So you know how hard it is to manage and discipline that situation.

Wade: Yea. And you know, everybody at my house…you know mason jars…everybody said, “Well I’m canning”…

Mims: Sure.

Wade: …and they had mason jars…I guess they were half pints or pints…everybody drank out of one. I came here from Flint, Michigan and I ain’t drink out no jug…and like that…and mama, she had a jelly glass and it had flowers on it. She had that glass for me and she wouldn’t let anybody bother my glass. Cause I never wanted anybody to touch anything that was mine…I didn’t want ‘em… “Don’t touch mine.” And they would love to tease me. And she said, “don’t tease her.” I was that was, so I was that way.

Mims: Well, whenever you were living in the resident hall…resident home, did they have, like…they had disciplinary actions…like you had to be in by a certain time and in the study room at a certain time…do you remember what the consequences were for those infractions?

Wade: I don’t remember what it was for, but I can recall…see I didn’t go off any place. This was my boyfriend…when I went, he was out.

Mims: And he was from here?

Wade: Yes, down here. He was…I tell you he’s the only one that didn’t tease me.

Mims: But you were allowed to have your boyfriends come over, weren’t you?

Wade: Yea, you could have visitors.

Mims: Cause I…

Wade: I tell you, when he’d come…he’d come visit me. If Odell and Thomas…that was his nephew and a friend, if they could come with him…

Male voice: There was like a visiting room there.

Mims: Yea, that’s what I’m trying to figure out, because I’ve heard people describe the new nurses residence, but this old nurses residence…what was…what did it look like?

Wade: You have a living room and that was where you entertained your company…and I know you must have had certain days…I can’t recall that…that you could have company. But I used to go up and open the gate, you know, …my grandmamma’s house was like that…had these lattice things around the porch…and I’d go and open the gate on the lattice so they could come in late.

Mims: So that was acceptable, to have visitors come to the home.

Wade: Oh yes, certain times.

Mims: Do you…do you remember what your activities were whenever you were able to leave the nurses residence and had free time…do you remember where you would go?

Wade: Well I’d come home. We’d get together and come to Sea Breeze…but you had to be back at a certain time. Um hum. But wherever you wanted to go…as long as you went someplace…you kept your dignity, because you were an example to the community.

Mims: That’s right, and I think that that uniform…I know when you…when you were off duty you didn’t have to wear the uniform, but…

Wade: Oh no don’t, don’t, don’t do anything that would…that uniform. When you had that uniform on, you were at your best, you were a lady…

Mims: But I’ve heard people say that even though you took your hat off, you were still a nurse in your street clothes and you just kept that…

Wade: That persona.

Mims: Right, right. So, you know, whatever activities you were engaging…

Wade: It was strict, it was strict, it wasn’t loose like it is now…and I know how…I don’t know whether…it irked me to see somebody with a uniform on…in the hospital…with their uniform on and without their cap. Mrs. Privatte told me one day, she came on the floor, she was one of our directors, she said… “Well, how are you doing Aide…Aide Wade?” I said, “I’m not an aide.” She said, “Oh, I assumed you were, you didn’t have a cap on.” I stopped, but…something…when I hit the floor…was going on, and I didn’t have time to go to my locker and put my hat on. I…I sure went and got it though. But I loved my cap, I really did…and my pin.

Mims: When…I’m trying to think…when you were at Community, do you remember any LPN programs at Community Hospital?

Wade: No.

Mims: Nothing that they were doing on the side?

Wade: Nothing. Nothing.

Mims: It was strictly RN…or to be come a registered nurse?

Wade: That’s right. That’s right. All these programs…they saw the necessity of it.

Mims: Sure, because of the nursing shortages.

Wade: Yea. And they brought ‘em in and it was a Godsend…it was.

Mims: Cause I have heard someone talking about leaving Williston High School in the afternoons and coming over to Community Hospital and being shown how to work as an LPN, but it wasn’t an organized class, it was just something that…they were like under someone’s wing, so I didn’t…

Wade: Oh yes. They…the girls came…what did they call that?…they came from over at Williston, over to the hospital…I don’t know what it was called.

Mims: But it wasn’t organized…it was just sort of like hands on…come in, let me show you how to make the bed kind of thing, and do the bath, and…

Wade: It was…it was like an aide or something.

Mims: Right. I think it was to be a practical nurse, because I don’t think the aides had developed yet. But the licensing program didn’t come into effect until like ’64 or ‘65, so…

Wade: I know I was the second class here.

Mims: Yea.

Wade: They were first class and we were second-class.

Mims: Well, I’m trying to thing of what else I can ask you here. We’ve covered actually a lot of ground. Can you think of anything else about Mrs. Taylor? Like who was…was she friends with anyone…do you remem…?

Wade: Oh yes, she…she and Anna were good friends.

Mims: Anne Anderson?

Wade: …she was…she was…Anna Freeman. She was…she was a…I guess you would call her a practical nurse or something, you know?

Mims: Sure. Can you think of her being friends with anyone else?

Wade: You know, I cannot.

Mims: Her…

Wade: That hospital, I think, was her world.

Mims: Cause I think her sister-in-law, Sarah Germany, had a hair solon downtown, like off of Castle maybe, or…

Wade: Uh huh, yea. People call…Castle Street…I think of it as Dry Pond.

Mims: Yea, well yea…Dry Pond.

Wade: Uh huh, she did. She did.

Mims: Cause I know then that she had the companionship of her sister and her sister-in-law, so, and they’ve both passed on now too, so…

Wade: Mrs. Ger…Germany used to live across from Professor Rogers there on Seventh Street.

Mims: The teacher at Williston?

Wade: Professor Rogers, yea, he was a professor at Williston.

Mims: Yea, I’ve come across his name before too. S. J. Rogers…?

Wade: Yes sir!

Mims: Yea.

Wade: Well now, only seniors could go up the front steps…

Mims: I know…I’ve heard that.

Wade: Yea, and I…and when I got to go up the front steps, I’d better not catch nobody who wasn’t a senior going up the front steps. I felt like I worked for that privilege!

Mims: That’s what I…that’s what this Mrs. Moore…Dr. Beatrice Moore was talking about…was talking about the privilege of those front steps. Did you go to Williston too, or…?

Mr. Wade: No.

Mims: No? So that’s…that’s another tradition that we’ve…we’ve lost in town too.

Wade: But you know, I love traditions…excuse me…I love traditions.

Mims: Sure.

Wade: I do. Well, one thing…what would the world be if we had no traditions?

Mims: Well, I’m going to turn the tape off. I appreciate you…you talking to me. I hope I haven’t worn you out too much.

Wade: No.

Mims: Okay.

Wade: As I say…I tell ‘em…I was the gardener…I was the gardener…I had a big garden over there to mama’s…I had things all back of Yvonne’s…and I was working too. But I was like mama, I could do some work.

Mims: You said you helped develop some things at New Hanover Hospital and you used Mrs. Taylor as a role model…

Wade: She was my…Columbia Munds…really Eva…

Mims: Columbia Munds, you came up with a name, how about that?

Wade: Uh huh. Columbia Munn. She…Mrs. Redrick worked for her…and her oldest daughter…Mrs. Munds sent her to nursing…

Mims: Was Mrs. Munds black or white?

Wade: White. She was white.

Mims: Well, that helps. That’s another name.

Wade: Uh huh. Well, she was the…of Eva.

Mims: Where did Mrs. Munds work?

Wade: She…Health Department.

Mims: Health Department. Okay, let me get this cut off here…

Repository:
UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database
Found in:
Randall Library | UNCW Archives and Special Collections | Online Database | Contact Us | Admin Login
Powered by Archon Version 3.21 rev-1
Copyright ©2012 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign