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Interview with Bertha Meier, January 10, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Bertha Meier, January 10, 2004
January 10, 2004
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Meier, Bertha Interviewer: Mims, Luann / Brenda Pate Date of Interview: 1/10/2004 Series: SENC Health Services Length 60 minutes

Mims: I’m LuAnn Mims for the Wilmington University Randall Special Collections, Health Services of Southeastern North Carolina. Brenda Pate is with me and we are interviewing Miss Bertha Meier who was a 1930 graduate of James Walker School of Nursing.

Mims: Miss Meier, are you from the Wilmington area?

Meier: No, not originally. I was from Chadbourn, a little town about 50 miles from here. I took a business course first. I came down to Wilmington and took a business course for a short time and then I decided I’d go in training. I went into training in 1927.

Mims: What kind of life were you living in Chadbourn? Was it on the farm or was your father a businessman?

Meier: I graduated from Barium Springs, an orphanage.

Mims: I’m not familiar with that. Can you tell me a little about it?

Meier: It’s a Presbyterian home that maybe your family didn't have a lot…my father died and I went to this orphanage. It was a Presbyterian orphanage.

Mims: So when you graduated from high school, you had to find something to do.

Meier: I graduated from Barium Springs High School.

Mims: So what led you to Wilmington?

Meier: Well, I went to Chadbourn and my mother was in Chadbourn and I decided to come down here and go to Miller-Mott Business School.

INTERVIEWER 2: Where was the building at the time for Miller-Mott?

Meier: It was at Front and Chestnut upstairs. It was a bank. Then eventually, I went maybe six months or something like that and then I decided to go in training.

Mims: For nursing school?

Meier: Yes, James Walker.

Mims: Do you remember the process of getting into James Walker? What did you have to do?

Meier: Well, I just applied I think as far as I can remember and they accepted me. I got admitted in 1927 and got my uniforms. They took me in for probation for six months and then I got a cap. My senior year I got a stripe on my cap. We worked hard. We took care of all the patients. We did all the work then. The doctor came into see the patients and we went with him and we knew all about the patient. He wrote the orders for them and we carried them out.

INTERVIEWER 2: As a student nurse did you go to classes?

Meier: Yes, we went to classes. I got my books over there, anatomy and all. The doctors taught us the medical part and the nurse taught us the nursing part. We’d go during certain hours of the day. Sometimes we’d go at 7:00 in the morning to class and maybe we’d be in class four hours. Then we worked 12 hours.

Mims: You mentioned you got a uniform. Can you tell me what that uniform looked like, your first uniform?

Meier: They were striped blue uniforms.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did your shoes and hose and all that come with it?

Meier: We wore black shoes and black hose.

INTERVIEWER 2: Black hose, were they wool?

Meier: No, they were cotton stockings. They weren’t thin stockings like you wear now.

INTERVIEWER 2: Had you been wearing black hose? Was that a pretty common thing to do or was this specific to nursing?

Meier: No, we were supposed to all dress alike back then.

INTERVIEWER 2: What about equipment, what kind of equipment did you have as a nurse?

Meier: The thermometers were on the ward, but I’ve got my scissors over there, my surgical scissors that we used.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you wear an apron? How did you keep up with your scissors?

Meier: We had pockets in our uniforms.

Mims: Then you said you got a cap. What was it like?

Meier: It was a blue cap while we were in training. Then after we got out of training, we wore white caps. Even at the health department we wore white caps.

Mims: This is a picture of you?

Meier: That’s my graduating class. There are three of us living now. One’s in Richmond, Virginia and she’s on oxygen. Then the other one is here. She’s great; she’s not on anything. She’s doing great.

Mims: I can see this is your graduating shot. You have roses.

Meier: Mr. William Sprunt was here and I know you’ve heard of the Sprunts. They were very benevolent people. He gave us a bouquet of roses. Isn’t that something? You see then we wore white, our shoes were white.

Mims: When you graduated, you wore white shoes.

Meier: As we graduated, we wore white shoes and white caps. We wore caps for years and years and then when I went to the health department why we had a uniform, but nobody wears uniforms anymore, do they?

INTERVIEWER 2: Especially the cap.

Meier: But you can’t tell the nurses now unless you’ve got their names I don’t think.

Mims: But getting your hat was a big ceremony, right?

Meier: Yes, we had a big ceremony.

Mims: As you moved up to the next year, did you get another distinguishing mark for your hat?

Meier: No, in six months we got our cap. We were on probation for six months and then we got our cap and then our senior year we got a stripe on it.

INTERVIEWER 2: And you lived at the school, right? You had a place to live in the nursing school; they had a room for you?

Meier: We had a nursing building. I don’t know whether that’s torn down now.

INTERVIEWER 2: I think that’s the only part that’s left.

Meier: There was another building there. It was a colored ward. We nurses, when we first went in, we stayed up over the colored ward and they built this new building. Then we had our classes in the basement and the doctors would come in and we’d have our lessons. The nurse would supervise it when we had our nursing.

Mims: What was life like in the resident building? Did they tell you where you could go or when you had to be back?

Meier: Yes, we had to be in by 10:00 if we went out at night. We worked 12 hours and we’d have certain hours off. Then we had to go to class. We had to be in by 10:00 when we went out at night. But we worked from 7:00 to 7:00 on duty.

Mims: When you went out at night, where would you go?

Meier: Well, we’d go to the show, visit friends in town or something like that. We might go to a church service. I went to St. Andrews while I was in training. They’re about to try to tear that down now I think, trying to do something with it. Mr. William Sprunt was my Sunday school teacher and we rode the streetcar then.

Mims: So did you ever have time to go down to the beach?

Meier: Oh yes. That was another nice thing. Mr. William Sprunt gave us tickets to go down there and eat and paid for our transportation on the streetcar. You see the streetcar didn't go across over the beach. It stopped there at station one. Have you read about that? He would give us tickets to go down and eat. Wasn’t that nice of him?

Mims: Yes.

Meier: Oh yes, we went to the beach, to Lumina and all. I’d forgotten all of that.

Mims: What would you see at Lumina? Would there be a band there?

Meier: Oh yes, they had a dance floor there, but we didn't go while we were in training. They had those bands that came there. Down underneath Lumina, they had a stand, sold hotdogs and things like that, don’t you know. We used to take picnic baskets down there and eat and go out on the pier and go swimming and all.

Mims: Now this was during the Depression. How did this affect your activities with this bad economic time? Were you still able to go out and do these things?

Meier: Well we didn't do too much because we worked 12 hours you see. We had those trips to the beach that were nice and going bathing. When we’d go down there, Mr. Sprunt would give us those tickets to eat and we’d go bathing first. The Kitty Cottage I believe it was where we ate. That goes back.

Mims: How about downtown? Would you ever do anything downtown?

Meier: I played miniature golf down there. That’s where I met my husband (laughter).

Mims: Where was this?

Meier: It was at Front and Red Cross. There was a building there at the corner of Front and Red Cross and there was a miniature golf course across from there. I forgot about that. We went there at night and played miniature golf course. It was right across from the Coastline.

Mims: And how did you meet your husband?

Meier: There playing miniature golf.

Mims: And what did he do?

Meier: Well he was down there playing miniature golf too (laughter).

Mims: What did he do for a living?

Meier: He worked at the Coastline.

Mims: What did he do for them?

Meier: He was a clerk.

Mims: And so you met him while you were in nursing school or had you finished?

Meier: In nursing school. I’d forgotten about that. We’d go down there at night and play miniature golf.

Mims: Well, if he came to see you at your residence building, what was the procedure he had to go through to see you?

Meier: Well we had one phone in the building and they’d call and got a date and we’d come down and go out together.

INTERVIEWER 2: I’m sure everybody looked him over very carefully.

Meier: Yeah, that’s right. And we’d sit out there on the steps, a crowd of us would.

INTERVIEWER 2: You said you decided to go into nursing training. Did you know someone who was a nurse?

Meier: No, I didn't.

INTERVIEWER 2: It just looked like an interesting career?

Meier: Yes, I just don’t know why but I felt like maybe business school wasn’t…

INTERVIEWER 2: Had you taken care of children when you were younger?

Meier: Well, I grew up in the orphanage with children.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did they have a nurse at the orphanage?

Meier: Yes, they had an infirmary and all. It was a regular school. They changed a lot and doing it a little different now. They’re taking in children that maybe had gotten off balance. I keep up with it a little bit.

INTERVIEWER 2: So it’s still an active orphanage?

Meier: Yes, but it was quite active. You learned to cook and you learned to sew and you learned to do this and that and the other you know. It was a regular school.

Mims: When you were taking classes, what was your most difficult class to take at James Walker?

Meier: It seems like material medical was, learning the dosage and things like that, don’t you know.

Mims: What was the class you enjoyed the most?

Meier: I hadn’t thought about that.

Mims: Because I understand you had to rotate through the different departments.

Meier: Yes, you got anatomy, material medical, dosage, how to take care of a patient and all those things.

Mims: And when you worked, you had to work on the different wards, right?

Meier: Yes, they had a women’s ward, a men’s ward. They had a colored ward. You can’t believe that, can you?

Mims: It’s hard to believe that.

Meier: We had an orderly that took care of the men. I wish I had gone back and reviewed this.

Mims: When you’re thinking about this and you did all those rotations, was there one department that you liked over another?

Meier: I don’t know, I guess I liked the children’s ward.

Mims: Do you remember anything about that, what it was like?

Meier: We didn't have any antibiotics or anything like that then. I remember one time I gave this little boy a bath and when I took him back to his crib, he said, “Mother, I want you to get this nurse to teach you how to give a bath.” What I had done I had given him a tepid bath in water. That was the only way you had of getting the temperature down or maybe rubbing him with alcohol. You didn't have antibiotics or anything like that. From pneumonia, we used to give them mustard plasters (laughter).

Mims: For somebody that doesn’t know what that is, can you describe what a mustard plaster is?

Meier: Well, it was made up of flour and mustard, powdered mustard, and you just got it to a paste like and put it in a cloth and put it on their chest. Isn’t that something? You can’t hardly believe it, can you?

INTERVIEWER 2: You mentioned the mother. Did the mothers stay with their children because I’m sure they were pretty sick.

Meier: No, she was just visiting because we had cubicles. They were in cubicles. Now we did have some private rooms so I don’t know if they were in a private room if the mother stayed with them.

Mims: Do you remember what diseases you saw the most of in children at that time?

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you have whooping cough?

Meier: I had a lot of that and mumps, yes, scarlet fever.

INTERVIEWER 2: Well, you said you met your husband when you were downtown. Did you have a family? I know you have the one daughter here. As a nurse did you have your family or did you work at nursing and then decided to have a family later? How long were you in nursing?

Meier: Three years. I graduated from nursing and then went and rented a room and I did private duty.

INTERVIEWER 2: So you went into people’s homes?

Meier: Yes, going into people’s homes and we worked for 12 hours for $5.00 a day.

INTERVIEWER 2: Going into people’s homes, what kind of equipment did you carry with you to work with the patients?

Meier: Well, they would have to have their bedpans and things like that and thermometers and all. We didn't have to take any equipment with us. We would go out sometimes and give enemas. We had a register. We registered duty and as you went on the register, they called you on cases and you went out.

Mims: Once you finished your schooling, did you have to take a state board?

Meier: Yes, uh huh. Went to Raleigh and took a state board, uh huh. I believe my certificate is up there on the wall.

Mims: So you were a registered nurse, but then you were saying there was another registry here in Wilmington?

Meier: This was a register just to call you to go out on duty to nurse a patient and we’d go into the homes and nurse the patients or go into the hospital and this one person would keep a register of our names. As we went on the register, we would be called on duty. They’d call her and we had to be on call so she could get us when we registered with her.

Mims: So you said you did that for about three years?

Meier: Yes.

Mims: And then what did you do?

Meier: Then I stopped nursing. I had my girl and then I went with the Health Department in ’43.

Mims: What did you do at the Health Department?

Meier: I had a maternity clinic down there. I worked the patients up, took their blood pressure and their temperature and worked them up, got blood tests, urinalysis and all. Then the doctor came in and examined them and then I got an appointment for them to come back. Then the nurse upstairs, I’d send the record to the nurse upstairs and they’d follow them in the home.

We had babies’ clinics that we went to. I was telling you about Dr. Koseruba and they kept their shots and their weight, temperature and everything.

Mims: You said that was set up in a church?

Meier: Well, in different places, in housing units. We had one on Morse Harris and the pediatricians would come to those clinics. It was different places in town, not just one church, but I remember that potbelly stove that Dr. Koseruba, well that was probably some of the first baby clinics.

Mims: And you said that was at the Delgado Presbyterian Church.

Meier: Yes, that Presbyterian Church there.

Mims: These well baby clinics, were they given their shots?

Meier: Yeah, they got their whooping cough and tetanus. I was down there when they started the first polio. You think about all these things. People were having polio and all, crippling them and everything.

Mims: So tell me about the polio program. How did you find out about it, how did it get started?

Meier: I guess Dr. Salk, they just got it at the Health Department. We had a doctor who was head of the Health Department and a registered nurse was a supervisor. It was gotten through the board I guess those shots that we gave. We had rules in what we gave.

Mims: As a nurse though, how did you feel when it was announced that they had a shot that would keep kids from getting polio?

Meier: I thought it was wonderful and we went up in the mountains, there were a bunch of nurses that went up there to give the polio shots when it was first out.

Mims: And mommas brought their babies cause they knew it would help them.

Meier: Yes, certain places where children would meet, it would be a church or the housing authority had baby clinics.

Mims: Well, what brought you back into nursing after an absence of about 10 years? Why did you want to come back?

Meier: I had this one child and I stayed out for a while. Then one of the supervisors called me or came up to see me from the Health Department and asked me if I’d come and work for them. I decided to do that and that’s the work I’ve been doing.

INTERVIEWER 2: I know you said in ’43 you started with the Health Department and the shipyard was very big in Wilmington then. Did you see a lot of people that moved from other areas to Wilmington?

Meier: We sure did.

Mims: Where was the Health Department located?

Meier: It was there at Fourth and Princess right in back of the courthouse.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you work at the Bullock Hospital, did you ever go there as a nurse?

Meier: I did a few times.

INTERVIEWER 2: Would they call when they needed extra nurses?

Meier: Yes.

INTERVIEWER 2: How about the Community Hospital?

Meier: I went over there and inspected the nursing over there. I had the maternity clinic and I went over to Community Hospital and inspected over there.

Mims: How did you find things at Community Hospital?

Meier: I found them very good. I think the nurses had charge of the OB Clinic over there.

Mims: Bullock Hospital didn't deliver babies though, did they?

Meier: I don’t think they did. They were down there on Front Street. I’ve kind of forgotten them, but I believe I went down there and nursed a few times.

Mims: It was small, not very big. But Community Hospital you thought was comparable to what was going on at James Walker Hospital?

Meier: I think so yes, uh huh.

Mims: Because I can’t figure out what the differences are between a person wanting to go to Community Hospital or the colored annex at James Walker Hospital.

Meier: Well they didn't have, I think it was just a men’s ward and a women’s ward at James Walker at the time.

Mims: You don’t think they did surgery or delivered babies there?

Meier: No, they didn't do that. We had an OB ward at James Walker.

Mims: For the colored people?

Meier: No, just for the patients, colored women and men, it was like medical. They didn't do any surgery on the colored people.

Mims: What about the contagious ward as James Walker?

Meier: We had a building there. I was asking somebody, I was asking someone, they had a building there for contagious diseases at that time.

Mims: Was that integrated? Did they have blacks in that building too?

Meier: I don’t believe they did. I’m just not sure about that because I can’t understand that we just had that women’s and men’s ward.

Mims: So Community Hospital may have had a contagious ward there.

Meier: They might have. I didn't get into that.

Mims: So wartime Wilmington, you were working at the Red Cross? During World War II, you were at the Red Cross. I mean at the Health Department?

Meier: Yes, the Health Department.

Mims: Did you work with the Red Cross at all?

Meier: No, I never did work with the Red Cross. I’m sorry I didn't, but I never did.

Mims: I’m trying to figure out where they were working out of, the Red Cross at that time.

Meier: It seems to me like they were at Front Street there, a building on Front Street, it seems to me like, but I’m not sure. One of the nurses I knew worked with the Red Cross quite a bit.

Mims: How long did you work at the Health Department?

Meier: I was there 25 years.

INTERVIEWER 2: You saw a lot of changes then, didn't you?

Meier: I have really. I can hardly believe the changes that are going on. I don’t even say I’m a nurse anymore because it is so changed.

INTERVIEWER 2: Well with the changes you had to learn new procedures. How was that handled?

Meier: We didn't have that many changes then. In recent years we’ve had tremendous changes, don’t you think so? We didn't have those changes.

INTERVIEWER 2: Let’s say when the penicillin came in…

Meier: We just adjusted and gauged it under a doctor’s orders always. You didn't give any medicines without a doctor’s orders except caster oil and what not (laughter).

Mims: Did you stay with the maternity clinic the whole time you were there?

Meier: Yes, uh huh.

Mims: And you continued with the well babies as well?

Meier: Yes, uh huh. I had the maternity clinic in the mornings and then I’d go out in the afternoons. We had certain days that we had the babies’ clinics.

Mims: Were other cities having well baby clinics that you know of or was this new to Wilmington?

Meier: I don’t know of any, I’m just not sure of it.

Mims: So you came in contact with some of the local pediatricians?

Meier: Oh yes.

Mims: Can you tell us about some of them?

Meier: Of course Dr. Sidbury was our main pediatrician then and there was Dr. Crouch; they were the main pediatricians then, uh huh.

Mims: What were they like?

Meier: They registered way up there you know. Of course Dr. Sidbury’s hospital was just torn down.

Mims: Did you ever go out to Babies Hospital?

Meier: Yes, uh huh. I didn't nurse out there. I took a child to Duke. They’d bring children from everywhere to Sidbury’s hospital. They were private duty.

Mims: What was he doing different that was making people want to come down here?

Meier: He had a milk station that he had too and I can’t tell you exactly how they did it. That’s been a long time ago. It was something like lactic acid that they gave the children and he was just up to date on everything it seemed like.

Mims: And he took new babies in to that hospital that were ill?

Meier: Yes and they came from all over the state, all over everywhere there.

Mims: What do you remember about Dr. Koseruba?

Meier: Well, he was quite a doctor too. I believe that article said he didn't even have a car when he came. To think he started those well baby clinics, as I say, he was just a good doctor.

Mims: Who were some of the other physicians you may have remembered that have passed by?

Meier: Well there was Dr. Green, Dr. Hooper.

Mims: What did they do?

Meier: Dr. Green and Dr. Hooper were surgeons. Dr. Evans, he was an OB man, a gynecologist.

Mims: Do you remember any of the African-American doctors at that time?

Meier: Well there was Dr. Eaton and there was another…

Mims: It wasn’t Dr. Upperman?

Meier: I don’t believe so. I don’t believe Hilda would remember Dr. Eaton because that was in 1927. I hadn’t thought of that doctor’s name, but he had a little hospital there.

Mims: You haven’t heard of a hospital called Mary Elizabeth Hospital, have you in Wilmington? Whenever you started nursing, it was predominantly females. Do you remember your first occasion to meet a male nurse?

Meier: That was not too long ago since we’ve been over at New Hanover, that’s when I remember any male nurses.

Mims: So having a man as a nurse was not heard of during your time?

Meier: No, no.

Mims: How about a female doctor? Do you recall any occasion?

Meier: No, never heard of one. We did all the work as far as nursing was concerned. We didn't have an aide or anything. We gave the baths and all.

Mims: Would you do the intravenous fluids?

Meier: No, we didn't do the intravenous fluids.

Mims: Who did that?

Meier: The doctors did, they started that. It seems to me like most of it was ether that they gave people then. They’d come from the operating room nauseated and all and it seems like that was about the only anesthetic I can remember.

Mims: And you’d have to sit with the ether patients?

Meier: Yes, we had to stay with them. They’d come from the operating room. We had to stay with them. We watched over them.

INTERVIEWER 2: Was there a time that you thought why did I get into this or did you just love it?

Meier: No, I enjoyed it. I mean you know you enjoy being with people and helping them. You just think about helping them you know. There’s nothing that’s nicer than being able to help people, is there? I miss it.

Mims: Well, whenever you’re receiving care now from a nurse, do you try to tell them that you were a nurse too, try to share your experience with them?

Meier: What’s that?

Mims: Whenever you’re like at a doctor’s office and a nurse is taking care of you, do you try to tell her that you were a nurse at one time?

Meier: No.

Mims: You don’t, you don’t feel like sharing that?

Meier: Well, I don’t especially, I don’t think about it much, but I appreciate them taking care of me and all. I don’t talk about it very much because it’s so different now from what I was brought up with, don’t you know.

INTERVIEWER 2: It sounds like you’ve got a lot of good memories because you’ve saved several things that you had while you were nursing. Didn't you say you had your books?

Meier: Yes, I’ve got my books over there and I have my scissors and I have my pin and I’ve got some thermometers over there. Your see they don’t use those mercury thermometers anymore. I couldn’t get over it when they started taking your temperature in your ear, I couldn’t believe it.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you save your dark stockings?

Meier: The moths got in my uniform.

INTERVIEWER 2: How did you feel when you put that on to go out? Did you feel proud?

Meier: Yes.

INTERVIEWER 2: And everybody knew you were a nurse when you wore that.

Meier: And you think about having a uniform on, people respected you. You could go into any home. You wouldn’t be afraid to go into homes at that time. I wouldn’t go in now, but you wouldn’t mind going into a home with a uniform on. They’d respect you.

Mims: When you worked at the Health Department, did you have a uniform like the white uniform at that time?

Meier: No, they had another uniform.

Mims: What was that like?

Meier: It was a Navy blue and we wore a cap. I don’t have any of that now, that’s gone. I think the uniform was important because it stood for something.

INTERVIEWER 2: You mentioned a pin.

Meier: Uh-huh.

INTERVIEWER 2: Was this when you graduated?

Meier: I’ve got my pin over there.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you have a special service where they presented it to you?

Meier: They just gave it to us when we graduated.

Mims: Do you think if you had to do it all over again, you’d still go into nursing?

Meier: Well I guess. It’s entirely different now. I might.

Mims: Or would you be more specific, would you go into a certain field within nursing like there’s nurse anesthetists, there’s people that do midwifery. Would you choose a special field?

Meier: I think I’d like to do general duty.

INTERVIEWER 2: Why is that you think?

Meier: I don’t know, I love people. I get more experience with different people.

INTERVIEWER 2: You mentioned when you were a nurse that you did everything. Nurses today do everything.

Meier: No, they don’t.

INTERVIEWER 2: One comes in to take your blood pressure, somebody else comes in to do something else so in this way, you got to know the patients better.

Meier: We got to know the patients. We gave them their baths. We’d wait on them for the bedpans, we did all that stuff. We did for the patients complete, we worked. Of course we didn't have as many patients as we have now, but you knew what was wrong with them. Now a lot of times I don’t think they know what’s wrong with the patients themselves.

Mims: Well when you were at the Health Department, you were also going into people’s homes so you were getting to know the families too. Was that part of your nursing training, to deal with families?

Meier: We had certain nurses that went into the homes. Now I had the maternity clinic and then I went into the baby clinics. But like my maternity records, that I admitted that patient and when she was delivering and everything. I was downstairs and I’d send that up to the nurse and the nurse that was in that district followed the patient until she delivered. The night she delivered, they followed her and the baby and got them to the well baby clinic. Of course if they could afford a pediatrician, they got him. If they couldn’t afford a pediatrician, they came to our clinics.

Mims: But this prenatal care that they were getting, that was to try to take better care of the mothers?

Meier: Yes, it was taking care of the mothers. We got their blood pressure and got them admitted, got their urinalysis and blood tests and all. The whole thing, when they first came to the clinic and then they’d come once a month for the first maybe six months and then maybe every two weeks. The last month they came every week to be checked, their blood pressure, urinalysis and all.

Mims: What kind of training did the mother receive from you on what to expect in the labor and delivery? Like now they have classes that people go to so they know what to do, what to expect. Did you guys do anything like that?

Meier: We had certain ones that talked to classes.

Mims: You weren’t one of those though?

Meier: No, I had the clinic and I checked them in and got them admitted and all.

Mims: Did you get to then see the baby when you did the well baby clinics?

Meier: Lots of them, most of them that came to the clinic…then anybody that could afford to go to a private doctor did. We would see them in the well baby clinic. They were followed in the well baby clinics because the nurses would go into the home and follow them up and see that they got their shots and all, don’t you know.

Mims: So you probably saw a lot of families, you saw their first baby, you saw their second baby and you got to know the family that way, right?

Meier: Yes, yes.

Mims: Did you stay in long enough where you saw any of these babies grow up and then return as moms themselves?

Meier: They had, yes. That’s right. Well I’d see their children after they’d gotten through high school.

Mims: That just shows your involvement with the community and the longevity that being a nurse puts you into this family situation. I’m sure there are some people now that probably would remember you.

Meier: Well they do. You know I see people on the street or something and they speak to me and they know who I am. I kind of recognize their faces and I can’t remember names anymore.

Mims: Well somebody that would be starting their career as a nurse today, what kind of advice would you offer them after coming through this yourself?

Meier: I don’t know. I think they would enjoy it and helping people be able to help people. That’s the biggest thing in life anyway I think, helping others and that gives you a chance to be with them too, you now, get acquainted with them and all.

Mims: So in their personality they have to have certain aspects that would work better for nursing.

Meier: That’s right. You have to love people I think to be into nursing.

INTERVIEWER 2: And all of nursing isn’t neat and clean. You’d have to let them know they’d be getting into all kinds of things working with people that were sick.

Meier: That’s right. It is in the long run helping them to help themselves and grow up.

Mims: What do you think about now that nurses have to carry liability insurance, if they’re a part of something and something goes wrong and they have the opportunity of being sued by the patient so they carry insurance to support this. What do you think about that because you didn't have to have that did you?

Meier: No, well I think it’s very sad that I feel like all doctors are the finest and I feel they try to do what’s right, so I don’t know what I think about suing. I don’t like it.

Mims: You’re trying to help somebody, but something accidentally goes wrong, you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit and now they offer insurance to help nurses in that situation. It’s quite expensive.

Meier: I know it is and some of the doctors, they’re almost going out of practice on account of the insurance and everybody makes a mistake. There’s nobody perfect and I do feel like doctors, I feel like they’re doing the best they can.

Mims: And nurses too.

Meier: Yes, and nurses too of course. I don’t know about that suing.

Mims: During your career, did you ever see any nurses that you thought they shouldn’t have been nurses?

Meier: I can’t remember, no. I don’t believe I remember.

Mims: Brenda, any other questions you can think of?

INTERVIEWER 2: Well I love this picture that you have of the nurses. Everybody’s hair is a bit wavy. How did you go about keeping your hair so neat?

Meier: We didn't go to the beauty parlor. We washed our own hair.

INTERVIEWER 2: Well living in a school where all the nurses, I guess you had your own little room.

Meier: We had our own room, uh huh.

INTERVIEWER 2: Did you have to do your own laundry?

Meier: No, they had a laundry that did our laundry.

INTERVIEWER 2: That helped with the classes and the 12-hour work schedule.

Mims: Well, if you look at those uniforms, they’re starched.

Meier: Well, yes now this is after you graduated of course and the others wore cotton.

INTERVIEWER 2: You didn't have a lot of free time when you were in nursing training.

Meier: We sure didn't because you had to study and you worked, you studied and you worked.

Mims: Did the school promote activities as far as having like a singing club or any kind of sports?

Meier: No.

INTERVIEWER 2: So your free time was your free time?

Meier: Yes, uh huh and we’d walk up Red Cross Street and think nothing of it.

Mims: Well, it was different then, right?

Meier: We rode the streetcar and then many people didn't have cars. There weren’t many cars around, you think about it.

INTERVIEWER 2: And then we talked earlier about the trains. Did you travel away from Wilmington while you were in nursing school or did you have time for that?

Meier: I had to get a bus to go or a taxi when I went into nursing in a home. I had to get a taxi. If they had a car, they’d come pick you up, but you had to get there some way. Isn’t that something though? The children now have a car when they get out of high school.

INTERVIEWER 2: Or even before sometimes.

Meier: That’s right, they certainly do.

Mims: Well, we certainly do thank you for participating in this today.

Meier: Well, I thought I should turn them down.

INTERVIEWER 2: Oh no, we’re glad to be here.

Meier: Because it’s been a long time, lots of water under the bridge.

Mims: But it seems you can remember a lot of things so we really do appreciate it. Hopefully somebody in the future will look at this and be able to know what life was like a little bit more.

Meier: Well it was a good life. We enjoyed it, we loved one another.

Mims: And Wilmington’s changed a lot.

Meier: I can hardly believe it and everywhere you go now there’s a new building almost, isn’t it (laughter).

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