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Interview with Margaret Gieschen Banck, June 3, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Margaret Gieschen Banck, June 3, 2004
June 3, 2004
This videotaped oral history interview with Miss Margaret G. Banck took place at her home on June 3, 2004. It was conducted by LuAnn Mims for the Randall Library Special Collections. Miss Banck, a Wilmington native, completed the Medical Technology program at Duke University in 1938, returned home to take a position at James Walker Hospital. Part of her job was to teach chemistry to the student nurses, which she did until 1940. At that time she went to work for OB/GYN's Dr. Hooper/Johnson and remained there until retirement 45 years later. Her vivid memory recalls life in war time Wilmington, various medical procedures, descriptive accounts of the hospital physical layout as well as supervisors, administrators and physicians.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Banck, Margaret Gieschen Interviewer:  Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview:  6/3/2004 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length:  60 Minutes


Mims: I'm LuAnn Mims for the Randall Library Special Collections Series on Health Services of Southeastern North Carolina. Today we have the privilege of talking to Miss Margaret Banck who worked at James Walker Hospital as a medical technologist and she also instructed the student nurses in chemistry.

Mims: What year was that you did that?

Banck: I finished at Duke in 1938 and came down here in January of ‘38 and stayed until September 1940.

Mims: So this is the pre-war era. What was James Walker like at that time?

Banck: Well, Newton Fisher was the superintendent. I remember most of the supervisors. I was only 19 years of age and my class was young ladies from 19 to 26. And as I told you when I walked in the first time, they stood up and I thought I’d come too soon. I didn't know the ethics or whatever they had in those days. When a staff member or the doctor came in, the nurses always stood, the student nurses stood and I was considered a staff member, but it kind of shook me up. I thought I arrived too early. Fine young ladies.

Mims: So you completed all your studies before you were 20 years old?

Banck: That’s right. I started kindergarten at 3, went to public school at 5. See they didn't have an 8th grade then, went from 7th grade to 9th grade and I finished at 16. Then I went off to East Carolina for two years as a science/math major and then changed to Duke and finished there, went around the summer so I finished in January, right around Christmas time and came to work here in 1938.

Mims: We were talking off camera about your rich family history. Can you relate again where your father came from and how he arrived here?

Banck: My mother was born here and raised in Wilmington and my father was born in Augusta, Georgia, but came here as young man. His family came here, but my grandfather came from Germany when he was 16 years old and worked in New York for a dollar and a half a week and then came down to Wilmington on a the Clyde Steamship Line and lived here the rest of his life and was before World War I was counsel for the German governor under William Howard Taft and Kaiser Wilhelm. But of course he relinquished that job as soon as, before the war started, World War I, Mr. Sprunt here in town was the English counsel and Mr. Eric Norton was the Swiss, I don’t know why they’d have a consulate here, but anyhow granddaddy turned his papers all over to Bennett when he resigned.

He was upset because a German ship was in port and they walked the prisoners, the sailors and people on the ship including the captain and his wife and they walked them through the street to 8th and Orange, the Marine Hospital to intern them and granddaddy just thought a wife shouldn’t have to walk through the streets, but they did and it hurt him very badly. I mean to think they treated a woman that way, but anyhow.

Mims: Hmm, that’s incredible. What kind of work did your father do?

Banck: My daddy was a banker, went along with his name I guess. He worked in several banks and, of course, was relieved of his job in 1929 when they had the Depression and then he became a Justice of the Peace, which we didn't think as much of a job down on Princess Street between 2nd and 3rd.

Mims: So did you have any brothers or sisters?

Banck: There were five of us. My sister lives in Texas. She was a schoolteacher and my brother just recently died. He worked for the Coastline and moved to Jacksonville, Florida and my sister Augusta has retired as Personnel Manager of Southwestern Louisiana University in Lafayette. She lives there with her family and my younger sister worked for the Coastline, went to Jacksonville, Florida and she is deceased with cancer six years ago.

Mims: So you guys were very educated and had very nice jobs. Was your goal to come back to Wilmington?

Banck: Well, I just came here, when I got ready to graduate, Mr. Newton Fisher hired me for the hospital and I came back home and stayed. I left the hospital and went to work with Drs. Hooper and Johnson and that was Dr. Hooper Sr., Joseph W. Hooper Sr., Dr. George Johnson Sr. and Dr. Johnson after Hooper died sent me to Cornell Medical School in New York City to become a scientologist and read the Pap smears. I studied under Dr. Papanicolaou. He discovered the Pap smears. So that was my claim to fame.

Mims: So you worked directly with him.

Banck: He taught our class at New York Hospital, which was Cornell Medical Center.

Mims: Oh that’s incredible. So your time spent here you were at James Walker.

Banck: I was at James Walker about two years, then I went to work for Drs. Hooper and Johnson in the office and that office later became Dr.Wynell, Almond and Cracker and now they have, Dr. Cracker is still there and there are five doctors, Glen Meade OB/GYN.

Mims: Yeah, I thought it sounded familiar. Well, tell me a little bit about the hospital. What do you remember? I mean since it’s been torn down, we don’t know.

Banck: The lab was in the basement of the Marion Sprunt Annex. The Marion Sprung Annex was given by the Sprunt family for maternity cases. They had lost a member of their family I think in childbirth. And on the main floor of the…. Marion Sprunt was a big statue of I think it was of Jesus with the little children, Suffer the Little Children. That was at one end of the hall, but the hospital was added to while I was there.

They built upper hall A and the extension out to Red Cross Street. The main building was the center of the building. I’m not sure that’s still standing or not, the main part. Something’s standing still there.

Mims: The nurses’ residence.

Banck: Oh, that’s right. Well, I lived in the nurses’ residence. I had a home here, could have stayed, but I had to stay out there because there were only two technicians and we were on every other night and we did not have a blood bank at that time. You did direct transfusions from the patient to the donor and that was carried on in the operating room. Now that was a long time ago.

And like we had no drugs like you know today. We had a form of sulfa that we found out the Germans had it as neoprontosil and we finally found out what it was. But like pneumonia, there were 30 types of pneumonia and we used to type the pneumonias. Only had vaccines for 1, 2 and 7 and the vaccine was kept in Person Street Pharmacy in Raleigh, North Carolina.

When we’d get a vaccine, I’d get a patients whose sputum matched the 1, 2 or 7, we would call Person Street Pharmacy and they would send the vaccine down by state highway patrol and our state highway patrol. They’d meet in Warsaw and bring it back and we’d give it to the patient.

During my time there also, I believe it was during that time, they changed the type, it used to be 1, 2, 3 and 4 in your blood types and they changed it to A, B, A-B and O. I believe that was during that time because I remember I went to Charlotte to do a little refresher course about it.

Mims: So you’re saying they were doing direct transfusions.

Banck: Yes.

Mims: In the operating room only.

Banck: Yes, you would match the first one, the lab, and then you’d go upstairs and they’d bring the patient up and you’d take, the donor would lie aside of the person they were giving the blood to. Now that was in the early part of my time at New Hanover.

Mims: There was that Blood Assurance Program. When did that come into effect?

Banck: I don’t know what the Blood Assurance Program was.

Mims: Well, the families could donate blood.

Banck: Ahead of time.

Mims: Uh-hmm.

Banck: Well, that just within the last few years. That’s through the Red Cross that you go and give your own blood or your family gives blood prior to your surgery. That happened after I went and worked in the office. People didn't want to get the blood bank and they would give their own blood. But that was many years later. We had no penicillin in those days, none of the mycins. All of that has come. In fact the polio vaccine came after I was working.

James Walker had a little building behind it called the Bear Building and that was for any contagious disease and they had a building behind the main building, which was the Colored Ward and in front of the Colored Ward was the emergency room. When the ambulances would come up, there was a division driveway that they could come behind the hospital and be right in front of the emergency room to take them in.

Mims: Into either one because…

Banck: No, they would take them in the emergency room most before they’d admit them you see.

Mims: But blacks and whites used the same emergency room?

Banck: Yes, they used the same emergency room. What I remember so well about the blacks that most mornings if you went in there they’d all be singing because there were maybe one or two private rooms, but the men were in one section and the women were all in the other, beds side by side, maybe had a curtain they could pull between them if necessary. But they used to sing as did the student nurses.

They would always have a service every morning down in the basement of the nursing home and they sang down there because I used to hear them.

Mims: Like a vesper kind of service?

Banck: Yeah but it was usually in the mornings and they’d sing, “His Eyes on the Sparrow” and songs that I really wasn’t familiar with. I enjoyed hearing them sing. And my class was down in the basement of the nursing home.

Mims: How many classrooms did they have down there?

Banck: I can remember the one I was in, I just don’t remember the rest.

Mims: And the student nurses came to you in uniform or in street clothes?

Banck: Oh they were in uniform. Now some of them may have been on night duty and they’d get up and come down you know with regular clothes. Most of were in uniform and they were freshmen. The ones that I taught. What I tried to teach the chemistry in relation to…they would order a blood sugar or these different things that you ordered on patients and I would try to teach them what different chemistries related to the body functions. It was a three-month class...

Mims: How well did the students do with this?

Banck: Well some of them did very well. Some of them had had science and whatnot chemistry in high school. Some of them came from small schools and never had any so they had a little difficulty in catching up because the terminology. Some of them were familiar with it and whatnot.

Mims: Did you see yourself in this educational role?

Banck: No (laughter). That was something I found out when I came there, that was part of my job. The other technician did not teach, Miss Woody that had been there for many years, Edna Woody. But I taught the chemistry each year.

Mims: And you always taught freshmen, you didn't have like an advance class?

Banck: No, they had the one class in chemistry.

Mims: Well, did you like doing that after a while?

Banck: It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the students because they were more my age than the rest of the faculty and I got jerked up one day because I took some to the beach and I wasn’t supposed to associate with them, but they were more my age than the staff.

Mims: Yeah, they were kept under a pretty rigid eye.

Banck: Oh boy, oh yes, they had to sign in, sign out. It was strict.

Mims: But here you are, a comparable age and you can come and go as you please.

Banck: I didn't want to because I lived in the nursing home and they used to come down some of them to my room to listen to the radio or something. Evidently they couldn't have them. They’d come and I got caught a time or two with that, but usually they’d stand near the door or someplace and if somebody came up, they could leave. But it was an interesting part of my life because I was not…and of course all through my life I’d been called a nurse and I’ve never been a nurse.

Mims: What kind of uniform did you wear?

Banck: I wore white lab coats.

Mims: Over your street clothes?

Banck: Over my clothes, lab coats.

Mims: And you never wore a hat?

Banck: Oh no, we didn't have caps at all. Nurses did. You could tell the class of the nurses by their cap, whether they were freshmen or whatnot. Lab work is entirely different from nursing.

Mims: Well, give me a little more detail about that.

Banck: Okay, they send the specimens down like urine specimens and you run that or stool specimens, you run that looking for whatever the doctor was looking for. You’d give reports on the chart. You matched blood for transfusions. You did white counts, red counts or any kind of blood studies because a white count, normal is 5000 to 8000. If it was up, appendix would have a certain range and different things.

Then you’d do the hemoglobin to see whether they were anemic and we had a lot of anemic and, of course, this part of the country I used to think …particularly take a city, there were so many worms from the stools. It was worm country down here in those days. Then we had to get up during the night for instance if a patient would come in and the doctor would want a blood count suspecting appendix. We’d have to get up and go do the blood count before you go back to bed so they could operate during the night you see if it was an emergency or whatnot.

Of course accidents and only two technicians so we were on call every other night and every other weekend. Then finally they got a third technician, Anna Able, but it was…

Mims: And this is the days before like cell phones or beepers so you had to be within earshot of the phone.

Banck: Oh sure, they would call you, but I usually worked. When you were on call, you’re off from 2:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon, you know a couple of hours off. Otherwise you work from 7:00 in the morning until 2:00, go back at 4:00 and get through 7:00-8:00 at night. Then maybe go back over and work two to three hours during the night. I mean it was not uncommon.

Mims: My goodness.

Banck: And I was paid all of $70 a month plus my room and board and hospitalization. Then when I got ready to leave and go downtown to work for Drs. Hooper and Johnson, they offered me a $5.00 raise to $75.00, but Drs. Hooper and Johnson paid me $125 and I could live at home free so the $75 was probably more than the $125 but having my family here, I went there because I didn't have any night work and didn't have any Sunday work. We did work a half a day on Saturday.

Mims: Also it eased up your hours.

Banck: Eased up my hours except during the war, we had so many deliveries that Dr. Johnson would come to the office and work, go to the hospital, he would deliver and come back to work and I have stayed in the Murchison Building as late as 12:00 working for him because he would go out and the patients would sit there and wait for him to come back. And during the war years, you had very few doctors here. In fact when I came to Wilmington, there were 30 doctors in Wilmington and you knew them all.

Mims: Goodness.

Banck: And they knew you especially having worked at the hospital where I took orders from almost all of them.

Mims: Let me go back for a minute and your time in the lab. Now I picture a lab today with much equipment, a lot of computer generated stuff. What was your equipment like there?

Banck: Well, we had a microscope and I guess a Bunson burner and I guess that’s about all because your blood sugars you boil in a solution with the urine and it turned different colors to give you your sugar. Of course, your blood counts, you counted under the microscope and your urine samples you looked at under the microscope. Cross-matching of your blood you set up on slides and waited a certain time to see whether you had some clumping. If they clumped together, it didn't match and of course at that time the Rh negative and positive came in. We just knew the types.

The girl before me had had a bad reaction with one of Wilmington’s prominent citizens and I think that’s the real reason I got the job. And I’m sure it was because of I’m sure the Rh factor. The girl hadn’t done anything wrong, but we just didn't know. But while I was working there, I went to Charlotte to learn about the Rh positive and Rh-negative factor in the blood.

Mims: What about cultures? Did you culture anything?

Banck: We cultured very few, but we cultured some blood cultures for your infections in the blood and urine cultures. We may have done some urine cultures, but very little. They had your auger plates and just had the one medium. I don’t remember doing a lot of culture.

Mims: Uh-hmm, so all that technology has changed today.

Banck: Oh, everything has changed.

Mims: Right. Of course there’s a lot more stuff that you do in a lab setting.

Banck: Oh certainly, certainly.

Mims: Now a lab medical technician, did that also include pathology as far as like…

Banck: We would fix the slides for the pathologist. The head of the lab, Dr. Barefoot was the pathologist, Dr. Graham Barefoot. And later they got….there’s been a whole series of them. The recent ones have been Dr. Singletary of the hospital, but Bedford was the only one I worked under and he did the tissues, but it wasn’t anything like it’s done today.

Mims: And of course …

Banck: And we used to use frozen sections and stuff like that. It’s all different, highly different.

Mims: Do you recall working with any of the other hospitals or working with specimens from other hospitals?

Banck: No. I did it at the office, my office, because Dr. Wynell did a lot of surgery in Burgaw and I did a lot of the Pap smears for Burgaw.

Mims: They didn't have a hospital though did they?

Banck: Didn't originally, but after I left, they got a hospital and Onslow County got a hospital. But everybody came to Wilmington, knowing James Walker was the only hospital. They didn't have one in Whiteville and the people came here and they did a lot of the deliveries from all around.

Mims: You know that’s unimaginable today.

Banck: Yeah because you didn't have a hospital in any of those small towns that you’ve got hospitals in now.

Mims: Right, that all came after World War II, I think.

Banck: I guess so.

Mims: Sometime the rule…

Banck: I know that the small hospitals were built then not when James Walker was at its height.

Mims: So with this group of doctors that you’re working with, you’d say that they were pretty much taking care of southeastern North Carolina.

Banck: Oh certainly and all the surgery was done here. Dr. Hooper was a great surgeon and Dr. Roberson and Graham…

Mims: Now this isn’t the same Dr. Roberson that just recently retired, is it?

Banck: No, this is Dr. James Robinson. He left here and went to Florida. Charles Graham’s widow is still living in the Independent East, Jean Graham.

Mims: Yeah, I read a little pamphlet he wrote about the history of the medicine in this area so...

Banck: Dr. Robert Fales, see so many of these men, Dr. Fales went to war and there was nobody left here to deliver. He used to deliver some. I don’t think he delivered after he came back, but Dr. Johnson was more or less that I worked for after I left the hospital, but the Marion Sprunt Annex, that’s where all the babies were born.

Mims: And from what I understand that delivery of course was not like it is today and the time spent in the hospital was a lot longer.

Banck: Oh, you stayed in the hospital maybe a week. You stayed until the milk came in and all that and the stitches got better. Nowadays they send them home 24-48 hours, but that’s due to the insurance companies, the insurance companies that force the doctors to do things that that they don’t want. And if you keep a patient, they want to not pay for those extra days and the doctor has to really write a letter and really burn some of these insurance companies up for…cause their medical director doesn’t know what that patient had and how ill that patient was.

Mims: You said that you had worked with a lot of the supervisors at James Walker. Who were some of the other ones you can think of?

Banck: Well, Beadie Britt was there.

Mims: Oh, I’ve heard her name several times. What was she like?

Banck: Beadie Britt and Mallad, Miss Mallad….Beadie Britt was head of the hospital for a while. I think you’ll find her in the trunk I gave you, that she was supervisor, superintendent. There was a Miss Britt, there was a Miss Taylor who was head of the operating room, Mabel Taylor. And later I had to work in the office with her after she decided to leave the hospital. But we had, oh I’d say six or seven supervisors that you’ll finding the annual there.

They had, each one had a floor. Like one of them would have the delivery room, Mabel Taylor had the operating room. Britt had the Marion Sprunt Annex. They had the surgical floor and they had night supervisors too that I didn't see a whole lot of, but I mean it was…

Mims: Now as far as supervision of the student nurses, these supervisors did they watch them when they were on that particular floor?

Banck: That’s right. When they were on that floor, they were under them. Of course they came over as first year students to give baths and they came over to work on the floor to do things and then they’d go to class, but they had duties. When they weren’t in class, they were on the floors teaching them something.

Mims: I just thought of something else.

Banck: Never had any of them in the lab.

Mims: Did you guys have to draw the blood from the patients or you had techs that did that?

Banck: I drew most all the blood. We went around to the floors and collected our blood every day. We had during the time I was there, we had some interns from foreign countries. Some didn't speak English very well and they were terrible as far as sticking people. In other words when you gave glucose to a patient sometimes we’d have to go up and start the fluids because they would just butcher the arms. They just didn't know how to stick. So Miss Woody and I were called on to give a lot of fluids, stuck many a vein.

Mims: That now is a nursing procedure.

Banck: Yeah, I believe the nurses do it, but I don’t know. I was in the hospital recently and a lab girl came up to stick me.

Mims: And they had the phlebotomist or whatever …

Banck: Oh yeah, they have those now, we didn't have. We did all…

Mims: You did everything, you collected the blood, you analyzed it, processed it.

Banck: That’s right, and we’d put the reports on the chart, I mean wrote it on there. When they sent it up to the floor, you took it.

Mims: How were you made aware that a procedure needed to be done? Was there like a requisition slip?

Banck: There’d be a slip and it would have Stat on it if they wanted it right now and you’d go up and get that. Otherwise you collected blood like first thing in the morning. You’d go around and get all your blood because it was requested before night. And you had these slips and you wrote the answers and took them back up to the floor. The Stat work would keep you hopping because they wanted it right now.

Mims: Do you remember dealing with the doctors at this level like he requested….

Banck: Well sure. They’d come down to the lab to see if you’d gotten the work done. There was a Dr. Bellamy here that would always come at 7:00 in the morning. He was an early bird and he’d hang around the lab, hung around the lab always humming and wait for us to get his work done.

And we also in turn went out in town and gathered blood. Like Dr. Bellamy, I went to his sister’s house to draw blood and I also went to get like diabetics. I remember Mrs., John Wright Hill’s mother, Mrs. Walker Taylor, I would go there. They’d come for you at the hospital and you’d go when you had time to do it and you’d go get it and then report it to the doctor cause there weren’t any other technicians otherwise other than the ones at the hospital.

Mims: Did you have to drive your own car?

Banck: I can’t remember driving my own car. I remember they used to take us. I know several places that I used to go routinely and outside patients came. You must remember to give a blood transfusion. They used to line up outside of the lab. A lot of the firemen and policemen and you’d draw blood trying to get matches you know for your blood.

And you’d have them pass out. Some men would pass out at just the sight of blood, you know. They would apologize, they’d b just so ashamed you know but they weren’t used to seeing blood and it bothered them. But I had to stick many a person. They’d line up and you’d have to type them to see if they would match before you’d draw blood.

Mims: And that would be like for an emergency situation.

Banck: You knew that so and so had to have blood and I remember that we paid for blood a lot of times, $25 for a pint.

Mims: Where would you get it from?

Banck: The person and they would get the money.

Mims: Oh, I see what you’re saying.

Banck: Or I remember Jimmy Henderson. They always wanted the check made out to the Church of the Latter Day Saints and gave the blood and gave the money to the church. But a lot of firemen and policemen that you had on file and you knew they were A positive or A negative and you’d call and see if they could give. If they hadn’t given recently, then most of them were very generous and they’d come out and give the blood.

Mims: It seems like you’re doing about 10 different jobs that are specified now you know?

Banck: That’s right.

Mims: How about like emergency settings where the ambulance goes out? Did you ever have to ride with them?

Banck: No, no. We’d just go over to the colored ward where the emergency room was when they’d get in…

Mims: And do the work down there cause now the EMT’s collect you know initial blood samples.

Banck: Well, they have emergency technicians. They’re not medical technologists.

Mims: Right.

Banck: They’re not medical technicians. They’ve been taught to do certain things.

Mims: I didn't know you guys were all collecting and everything. And then were there certain hours designated that people could come and give blood.

Banck: You didn't take blood ahead of time.

Mims: You didn't?

Banck: They didn't have a bank. You had to match it and give it.

Mims: I was very surprised to find out that like a Red Cross Blood Bank didn't get started here until like the 70’s.

Banck: I didn't know what it was, but I know I’m talking about 1938-39 and 40.

Mims: Sure. I have talked with a lady who did volunteer work and she recalls servicemen being brought down from like the airport or from the various different camps to give blood.

Banck: Oh see those camps came after.

Mims: After you left… ‘cause she talks about an incident in one where transfusion was done incorrectly and the gentleman died as a result of this.

Banck: That’s right

Mims: So I’m just curious to know how that transpired, but it was a serviceman that instead of pumping the blood, it pushed air in or something.

Banck: If you’ve got an air bubble, that would kill him because it usually causes a clot, but that would be who handles the transfusion from person to person.

Mims: And then also in this day and age, you don’t even think about contact with the patients without having latex gloves on.

Banck: Oh yeah, we didn't have any gloves (laughter). We didn't know anything about that. We had an autoclave in there that we could sterilize our instruments and whatnot, but no. That’s just happened the last 10 years I’d say because I’d go to the dentist and they never wore gloves. When I went to work down in the office now, that is right, in 1940 I put gloves on Dr. Johnson whatnot, we didn't have any office then and we put gloves and they were rubber gloves and we had to autoclave them.

But that was in ’40 and then we got the plastic gloves. You know you buy the gloves and dispose of them. Of course so many people were allergic to the rubber, but we autoclaved them in the office for a number of years before we got the plastic gloves.

Mims: Now you probably didn't have disposable syringes or needles.

Banck: No, that’s what I say, we had to autoclave everything.

Mims: So these were glass vials?

Banck: Glass and the needles and you had to sharpen your needles to cause they got dull.

Mims: (Laughter) How would you do that?

Banck: You have a piece of flint stone or something and you’d sharpen the needles.

Mims: That just sounds painful.

Banck: Some of them would get bent you know and you’d have a little hook at the end of it and then hurt a person you know, but you try to keep everything, we were supposed to keep everything…

Mims: So I talked to some of the nurses about that time and they said that part of their equipment was to carry their own syringe, a glass syringe. That was part of their equipment.

Banck: Well, they had their own scissors and stuff like that.

Mims: Yeah, to give injections I guess.

Banck: I didn't know they carried their own cause they were autoclaved on each floor you know cause I don’t know they could carry a syringe and have it sterile.

Mims: Who knows (laughter). I know they said that was part of their equipment and if they broke it, they had to pay for a new one.

Banck: They probably did have to pay for everything, poor things. They didn't make anything either. I went into the hospital as a patient, I’m trying to think, I had my appendix out. I think my private room was $5.00 a day. I think I have a bill around here somewhere from James Walker.

Mims: So you had your appendix out at James Walker?

Banck: Yes.

Mims: Who was your surgeon?

Banck: Dr. Robinson. It was a night, Dr. Graham was to be married the next day and they operated on me about 10:30 at night.

Mims: Yeah those appendix. I’ve talked to several student nurses who said they had suffered that. Was there a specific physician assigned to employees or nurses?

Banck: No, well we had Allen. I mean I had my own physicians. They had interns and the residents at the hospital. Dr. Koseruba came here as an intern. I was trying to think of some of the others, but they worked…and another Dr. Shufert went to Whiteville after he finished his intern. They’d do an internship and a residency and then they would go different place and some stayed here and worked. Most of them went around the country. Dr. Hayes went over to Fair Bluff; you know they went to little towns nearby.

Mims: I know Dr. Dosher went down to Southport.

Banck: Well, Dr. Dosher wasn’t an intern here or resident.

Mims: He wasn’t?

Banck: No, but his family was from Southport and he came here as a physician. He was in competition with my group, but that was many years later. He was OB/GYN then. Bill Dosher and as far as I know he never went back. He left his money to the Dosher Hospital I think. He was a nice fella.

Mims: Now you know this is also the time talking to Dr. Bertram Williams one day, he was talking about the board certification and the acknowledgement of specialty practices.

Banck: You had to be board certified too.

Mims: But prior to this everybody was like a

general practitioner so this is where you had people doing appendix and they’re delivering babies.

Banck: That’s right.

Mims: And that kind of stuff cause I think Dr. Fales was one that….

Banck: Did the labor thing.

Mims: Set bones and whatnot.

Banck: Yeah, he did deliveries prior to going in the service and then did that after he came back. But like Dr. George Johnson was with Dr. Joseph Hooper and Dr. Hooper was a surgeon and Dr. Johnson helped him like all the breast surgery and all and later he did breast surgery. In later years, he quit that. Donald Koontz he did like hysterectomies but he was supposed to be a general surgeon and that’s up to the GYN man. They used to vary their fields of course.

Mims: Right cause I’ve been reading…

Banck: I remember an uncle of mine had to have his appendix out. He wanted Dr. Johnson to take it out cause he knew him. Dr. Johnson said, “You’ll be teased.” He said, “I don’t care.” So Dr. Johnson took his appendix out. Dick Dunlea who started our first radio and television station.

Mims: Oh really.

Banck: Hm-hmm. His son is in real estate now.

Mims: I recognized the Dunlea name.

Banck: Dunlea, uh-huh, Uncle Dick, he wanted Dr. Johnson. Dr. Johnson took it out for him.

Mims: (Laughter) And then he had follow-up with all the ladies.

Banck: Well, I think once he went home from the hospital, that was the end of it. I don’t remember him coming back later.

Mims: Right because the floors were set up with men’s and women’s floors.

Banck: Oh yeah.

Mims: And now today of course you find a floor with mixed.

Banck: That’s right.

Mims: And then also the segregation of the races at that time.

Banck: Oh yeah, but everything is different than that. The coloreds went to Community Hospital. Their doctors were mostly black doctors.

Mims: Whenever you were working for Drs. Hooper and Johnson, did you …

Banck: We had both colored and white patients. We had a colored waiting room though.

Mims: You did?

Banck: Oh sure in the Murchison Building, sure. And we had a room for the OB’s and we had a room for the GYN people. We had three waiting rooms.

Mims: (Laughter) Well, I guess you couldn’t risk the new mommies getting any kind of…

Banck: Well, they didn't come back usually until six weeks or so, but that was mainly because they did different lab work on the different …but that was all in the Murchison. We moved out to, the hospital was built in ’67 and we moved out from the Murchison Building to Glen Meade in 1968, but we’re going back to when I started in 1938.

Mims: Yeah so you were downtown for almost 30 years.

Banck: Yes, I worked 47 years and then I did work after I retired. I did the Pap smears over here at Oleander Court where I lived. I took my microscope with me and go to the office and pick up slides, get them a stain and then at home I would do them and they’d pay me $2.00 a piece to do the slides and we used to charge $10.15 for a Pap smear. The last one I had taken last year was $80.00. I said goodnight. That’s what they’re charging for Pap smears now.

Mims: Oh my gosh, I didn't realize that.

Banck: They send them off. They don’t do them here, but I mean the difference in cost factor.

Mims: And they’re basically about the same thing.

Banck: Yes, I think they are. Somebody has to read the slide and they can’t let a machine do that yet. Got to look for the cells and you start at one corner of the slide and go across, drop down a field, go across and you really view the slide almost in its entirety unless they’ve changed the way of doing it and if you find bad cells, you mark them. Then you report it to the doctor.

The hospital didn't do slides for a while and they used to count out slides and their slides to get the approval. Dr. Singletary helped me with a lot of slides

Mims: I’m just trying to imagine the strain on your eyes doing…

Banck: Well it is... it was terrible.

Mims: And the concentration level too.

Banck: And especially if you’re getting bad slides. Negative slides you can read them pretty fast, but you can’t do but so many a day.

Mims: Yeah, it’s like inhumanely.

Banck: And you stain them through 28 different stains and I don’t know whether they still do that. I think they stain them now automatically. I don’t think they have to do like we did. You’d have 30 of them in a dish, put them up, out, down another dish, down another dish to stain them, but I’m sure that’s all automatic now.

Mims: What about New Hanover Hospital opening? There was almost you know like a ten year period trying to get that hospital, you know, the money together for that hospital. Do you recall any of that?

Banck: No, I remember Dr. Fales was a great leader in that and had a lot of trouble with Cape Fear Hospital because you see the Bulluck Hospital when I was working, the Bulluck Hospital was on Front Street and Grace and the Bulluck Hospital had, of course Dr. Bulluck and Dr. Sinclair and Dr. Mebane, and then Mebane and Sinclair went out and built the hospital over on Wrightsville Avenue and it was in competition with James Walker and New Hanover.

So some of the people didn't want the tax money spent for New Hanover because they were patients of probably Mebane and whatnot, but they finally got the money and built the hospital and then of course now this hospital owns the other hospital. So it’s all under one head now.

Mims: Right.

Banck: I remember Emery Grubbs as hospital education. He got $18,000 a year and that what’s he was making when they built. He was a supervisor. When they built the New Hanover and they bought Bill Morrison. He had a salary of 31,000 and now I think, I’m not sure but I think Bill Morrison has retired. The administrator gets $105,000 pension and the new administrator of the hospital makes over $400,000 and I think of Emery Grubbs getting $18,000 and James Walker.

Mims: You mentioned Bulluck Hospital. What do you recall about that?

Banck: Oh I’ve been in there. It was a dark hospital. Had some friends there. They got the food I think usually from Saffo’s Restaurant, which is in the same block. Saffo’s was down there. I don’t know how many rooms they had, two floors.

Mims: I think it was only like 20 beds or something.

Banck: That second and third floor.

Mims: They had a medical tech there?

Banck: I don’t know, I don’t remember them having a lab really. I’m sure they must have had something.

Mims: I think they did surgery there too.

Banck: Oh they did surgery I know. I know some of it. I wouldn’t have wanted it, but they had it and I wouldn’t want to be quoted on that either.

Mims: I read one source at one time they had a school of nursing at Bullock.

Banck: Is that right? I didn't know that.

Mims: I also read that Babies Hospital at one time had a school of nursing.

Banck: Didn't know that.

Mims: I’m not sure whether they’re interpreting it that they took rotation of nurses for a certain….

Banck: From New Hanover and James Walker. I really don’t’ know. Now Miss Stone, now whether she’s still living, used to be one of the head nurses down there. Rowena Hall could tell you whether Miss Stone is still living. Now Miss Kermin, they were nurses down at Babies Hospital. That’s where they were. Dr. Hooper did almost all the surgery for the babies, my Dr. Hooper. The younger Dr. Hooper died last year, he was the urologist, Joseph W. Hooper. He was the Coastline doctor and then they had an employee, but he did a lot of surgery.

Mims: So he did surgery on the babies at Babies Hospital?

Banck: Uh-hmm. Dr. Sidbury and Dr. Hooper were very close friends and he did a lot of those little infants as well as the big ones.

Mims: The OB doctors were doing the male circumcisions too at that time, weren’t they?

Banck: They were when I worked in the hospital. It was a big day when a little Jewish boy had a circumcision. They had the family all around in the delivery room. They brought the little fella in there. It was kind of a rough procedure the way they cut the little foreskin, anyhow.

Mims: Did you go down to Babies Hospital very much?

Banck: No, just because of friendship, but they had one of the rooms in the Marion Sprunt Annex set up with all the food and after they did the circumcision, then they passed the baby around to everybody. Why he didn't get infected, I don’t know. And then they’d come in this room and the women would be out there. We liked it cause we always got some of the food (laughter). I don’t know what they do now.

Mims: Actually the OB doctors don’t do it anymore. It’s turned over to the pediatricians to do it.

Banck: I wonder if he does it after they leave the hospital.

Mims: I don’t know.

Banck: I don’t know either.

Mims: But it’s confusion now because at the OB doctor’s office, it says we no longer do circumcisions, check with the pediatrician.

Banck: I’ve seen them bring them to our new office. They were too small to have surgery and they’d do it there. We’d have to bring a tray over from the hospital, the circumcision tray and I’d tell the mother to get out of the car because the little fella just hollers and we have to kind of have to lay across to keep him straight. It wasn’t very pleasant either 20 years ago I’d say.

Mims: Did you ever visit or have any contact with Community Hospital?

Banck: No.

Mims: ‘Cause they had a school of nursing.

Banck: Yes, we had some of their nurses working you know later in the New Hanover Hospital. I remember Witty and some others that were...well some of us that were hall nurses whatnot.

Mims: So a lot of changes have taken place in your span here. If you had to do it over again, would you stay on the same path do you think?

Banck: I always wanted to be a doctor. Didn't have enough money, probably not enough sense and so this was the closest thing I could get I thought at the time and I don’t regret any of it. I enjoyed the years at Duke, at James Walker, working for the doctors. I objected sometimes salary wise when I think that I worked 47 years and I quit with what these young people start out with or more. I didn't make any money in those days.

Mims: And not to mention that you were putting in greater than a 40 hour work week.

Banck: Oh 40 hours would have been a blessing (laughter).

Mims: Well, probably when you went over to Dr. Hooper and Johnson…

Banck: It was better, but even so, I still stayed as late as 12:00 down at the Murchison Building. But you felt like you were more appreciated I guess.

Mims: Well, it was probably closer contact. You got to know the patients…

Banck: Yeah, I worked under the doctor and I used to take stitches out and do more things than a medical technologist would and you learned the patients because you had direct contact. So it was very nice.

Mims: You’ve also seen a lot of changes in Wilmington.

Banck: Oh my goodness.

Mims: Like you hear about wartime Wilmington being such a booming town. Was it really like that?

Banck: Well, it wasn’t booming like it’s booming now. It’s worse now, but we used to go out to the dances at Camp Davis and at 4th and Princess is where we would gather. I can’t think of the name of the building, they had a name for it. In fact that was where originally my father went to school, Professor Catlett school.

Mims: Oh yeah.

Banck: They used to have some beehives on Market Street and those boys used to entice the bees to come over there and they’d get out of school. My father was a I think a right good prankster. He would tell some stories about Professor Catlett School. But anyhow, we would go down there and go to bases and the trucks were sent in and I’d always ride Dr. Murchison’s wife, Miss May Murchison was one of the chaperones. Each truck had a chaperone. I’d always get on her and my future sister-in-law always used to go too. And you’d go out…I believe we wore evening dress you know down to the floor, and you’d get out there and he’s all this mass of humanity waiting for you and, you’d have to wait for him. And I’d always get some little short fella and he’d pump your handle, some kind of dancing.

But on weekends my daddy used to buy five chicken and my colored girl, Carey, that we loved dearly, just welcomed into the family, she would cook them and we’d have four or five boys that could come to my house on the weekend and the different friends of ours would be there and they’d spend the night. They’d sleep on the floor or around. We had a 16-room barn.

Mims: Where was your house at?

Banck: On Red Cross Street, we had a front parlor and a back parlor and a living room. That’s how a lot of the home had… and a dining room and the kitchen and a playroom all on the first floor and upstairs were all the bedrooms. And so these boys, a lot of them, would spend the night and sleep on the couch, sleep on the floor. My daddy was there to supervise. My mother would have died by then with cancer. He was always hoping that somebody somewhere was treating my brother that way because he was in the service.

And we’d take them down to Hanover Seaside Club on the weekend for the day and of course if you’d go at night, the cars, half the windows on the front of the car were painted black because of the danger of submarines off the coast and everything was, the shades were rolled down in the places. No lights could be shown on the beach and they’d have wardens that would walk up and down the beaches and if they’d see a light, they’d come in and tell you to cover it up somehow.

So those wartime years were interesting, scary because we did have some submarines off the coast they say, but nothing like the traffic today and stuff like that. This is like the 30 doctors, you’ve got probably 300 or 400 doctors now and you don’t even know them. And maybe more than that and lawyers, same way with the lawyers. I wouldn’t trade Wilmington for a lot of places still.

Mims: Well I know that you’re multi-generation American, during World War II did you face any type of scrutiny because of your German heritage?

Banck: In World War I they did, not World War II. We owned a place on Greenville Sound that was later called Turtle Hall.

Mims: Oh yeah.

Banck: All right, my granddaddy bought that. The German people invested in real estate and my mother and my aunt inherited it when he died in 1926 and I think they sold it in ’29. It was 86 acres and the house and we got $3000 for it. The lots at Turtle Hall a couple of years ago were like $200,000 a piece, the lots, not the 86 acres. So that’s the reason I said I was always so poor, because these things were just…

Mims: Well, Wilmington has had a long history with German-Americans.

Banck: Oh yes, that’s the reason I think it’s called New Hanover.

Mims: Right, but consequently you haven’t been able to talk to too many people of German heritage and see if there was anything going on.

Banck: I don’t think in World War II it was.

Mims: More prolific.

Banck: Maybe one or two of them that spoke things they shouldn’t have spoken were checked. I remember one man, the name but I won’t say it, but in my estimation nothing was…but you know they took German out of the schools and I always wanted to take German and just French and Spanish and Latin, I took four years of Latin. But my brother later on, he got to take German in the high school. Things like that happened.

Mims: They still don’t have German in the high schools.

Banck: They don’t?

Mims: Because I have a daughter who’s interested in taking German and it’s not available. She’s an 11th grader.

Banck: I would like to take it because I’ve been over and I’d like to have been able to say something and understand more. We were taught you know to sing “Stille Nacht Heilege Nacht,” which is “Silent Night, Holy Night” things like that. My mother played the piano and we sang a lot of songs. We didn't know what we were singing, but that influenced my life. And of course music, I took violin for many years and of course there are a lot of composers that were German.

Mims: How about the influence of the church?

Banck: Well St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, it has done like the city has. We’ve got a lot of people that I’m sure don’t have any German background, but we have still a good number of families that I was raised with .

Mims: It sort of maintains a little bit of the heritage.

Banck: That’s right, yeah and the windows are beautiful and most of the old people gave those windows. I mean you couldn’t even buy them in this day and age and they were put in in 1908, 10 and 12, something like that so my grandfather gave one for my grandmother. I know all the families that did like the Rehders, like Henry Rehder just died. Lifelong Lutheran now. His son has left the florist business and become a Lutheran minister at the age of 50, Henry Jr. All these connections are still there. So but my family has always stayed Lutheran no matter where they’ve gone, Florida.

Mims: Well we’re almost running out of time, didn't know if there was anything you wanted to add here.

Banck: Nothing, but you’ve been very kind. I didn't know it was going to involve this when I said yes.

Mims: (Laughter) Well, I want to thank you so much.

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