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Interview with Jeannine Andrews Smith (with  Joyce Andrews), June 24, 2004 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Jeannine Andrews Smith (with  Joyce Andrews), June 24, 2004
June 24, 2004
This videotaped oral history with Joyce Andrews and Jeannine Smith (sisters) took place at their Hampstead home on June 24, 2004. It was recorded by LuAnn Mims for Special Collections. Both of these women graduated from the James Walker School of Nursing ('48 and '51). Their interview includes memories of their time in training and subsequent careers in nursing.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Smith, Jeannine Andrews (with Andrews, Joyce) Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn Date of Interview: 6/24/2004 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC)

Mims: It’s June 24th, 2004. I am LuAnn Mims for the Randall Library Special Collection series on Health Services of Southeastern North Carolina. Today we are talking to two James Walker School of Nursing graduates. We have Ms. Joyce Andrews, here in the pink shirt, who graduated in 1948 and then we have Mrs. Jeannine Andrews Smith, in the yellow shirt, who graduated in 1951. Thank you ladies for being with me today. And I’d like to get started by finding out…um…first off; you guys are related, right?

Andrews: Yep, sisters.

Mims: Sisters. Okay. Where was your family from? In Wilmington?

Andrews: Wilmington. Well, around here really, originally, in the Hampstead area.

Smith: But all their married life, they were in Wilmington. Our grandparents and aunts and uncles and mother and father grew up out here in the Hampstead area…and ah…but they were living in Wilmington.

Andrews: For a long, long time.

Smith: And we grew up on Wilmington.

Mims: Well, what kind of occupation was your father?

Andrews: He was…ah…superintendent of the American Molasses Company in Wilmington.

Mims: Of the what?

Andrews: American Molasses Company.

Mims: I’ve not heard of that. Where was that located?

Andrews: It’s on the river.

Smith: Down…right at the foot of the bridge.

Andrews: Right next…the Cape Fear…uh huh.

Smith: It looked like an oil terminal with great big tanks beside of the river. You could smell molasses when you came over the bridge. It isn’t there anymore.

Mims: No, of course not.

Smith: The main office was in New York. This was a plant that they bottled molasses…mixed it and blended…

Mims: Um hum. Where would they get their raw materials? From local farms?

Smith: No…Barbados…

Andrews: No, it comes from the Caribbean. Cuba, Barbados…

Smith: The tankers would bring in the molasses and then they processed it and bottled it here and then shipped it out.

Mims: Um hum. Interesting, I…

Andrews: You know Grandma’s Molasses?

Mims: Yea!

Andrews: That’s it!

Mims: I’ve talked to some people in agriculture who…they were milling their own cane and doing like a…kind of a cane molasses on the farm and I didn’t know whether it was a branch of something like that.

Smith: No I don’t think so. I don’t think they had any caning pots back then.

Mims: Well, that’s interesting. So, when did you guys become aware of the James Walker Hospital or School of Nursing?

Smith: Well, that was the only hospital except for Bullucks. There was a small crowded hospital downtown Wilmington on Front Street.

Mims: Uh huh. What do you remember about Bullucks?

Smith: That’s where I was born! (laughing) But…ah…

Mims: I didn’t know they delivered babies there.

Andrews: They did at that time.

Smith: They did then. But later on, the same group that, ah, had Bullucks Hospital…when it closed they bought Cape Fear…background of Cape Fear Hospital.

Mims: So you’re talking about Sinclair, Mebane, and Pace.

Smith: Yes. And then, of course, there was old Dr. Bulluck and Dr. Graham. Those were the main doctors there at that time.

Mims: I’ve heard some other things about Bullucks Hospital but haven’t had too many people to actually know about it. One of the things that I had read was that one time they had their own school of nursing. Have you ever heard about that?

Andrews: I’ve never heard that.

Smith: I don’t know but there was some so-called…they were not licensed nurses, but they were called practical nurses and they would receive certification after so many years of service and there was, you know, quiet a few of those before the licensing.

Andrews: Well, you know they had Babies Hospital.

Mims: I’ve heard that Babies Hospital also had a school of nursing at one time, but I’m thinking that it may be a training…

Smith: It was.

Andrews: It was for the pediatrics.

Mims: Um hum. But when you guys were at James Walker, did you go to Babies?

Smith: No. we had our own babies…I mean, we had our own pediatrics. The same doctors would be at both places.

Mims: Right. And then Babies Hospital was not year-round for a long…long time. I don’t know when they went to being open al the time.

Smith: They were there while I was in training.

Andrews: Yea, even when I was in training.

Smith: Yea, because when I was doing my practicals for my nurse practitioner course, I would go to Babies Hospital and make rounds with the doctors. So I know it was still around in, say, ‘76 or ‘77.

Mims: Right.

Andrews: I heard they were going more into research, especially Maritime…

Mims: Um hum. Yea, it’s a real shame that we’ve lost that because the more that I’ve talked to people, the more I found out how much it actually contributed to our medical history of this area. Dr. Sidbury…prominent pediatrician, but also ground breaking in several procedures…so did you have any contact with Dr. Sidbury?

Andrews: …he was in practice…

Smith: He was in practice…he would have some occasional patients at James Walker.

Andrews: Take call for unassigned patients.

Mims: Um hum.

Smith: So even though they had…in other words, like Sidbury’s Babies Hospital…

Andrews: Dr. Knox.

Smith: Dr. Knox…they were in practice for a while. Later on they divided up and Dr. Knox went out on his own. I fact, I used to work for him for a couple of years.

Mims: Did you? I had an interview with Dr. Koseruba and a chance to talk to him a little bit about this, but, ah…getting back to James Walker…each of you…can you give me an idea of how you got led to James Walker School of Nursing. What was your interest in nursing to begin with?

Andrews: Well, when I was coming along it’s…I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, but the war came along and they were wanting…needing more nurses, in the hospital.

Mims: When you were in high school, was there any type of health occupations program?

Andrews: No, no there wasn’t. As I remember, in high school I was taking a commercial course and I was having to help, you know, with rationing and…

Mims: Really? What school did you go to?

Andrews: New Hanover.

Mims: Okay.

Andrews: And then ah…

Smith: That was the only high school then.

Andrews: …after I got out of high school I started as a Red Cross nurses aide and I got my volunteer hours and started working at the laboratory at James Walker. And so I went…

Mims: Now, to be a Red Cross nurses aide, what…what did you have to do for that?

Andrews: You had classes…they taught ya…

Mims: Where were the classes taught?

Andrews: At the hospital. You know in…used to talk about Mrs. Augusta Futch. At that time, she was a…it was under the Red Cross, you know, that was training us. We learned how to give enemas, and baths, and stuff like that…made up beds.

Mims: Did you anticipate staying here in town where you would only be utilized here or was there the idea that you might be sent elsewhere with this…

Andrews: Well, at that time, I was wanting to get my training to go into Army Nurse Corp, but it was over with before I…I think it was before the year was out.

Mims: Yea, it didn’t last long. So, through your volunteer with the Red Cross you kinda fell into know about the James Walker School of Nursing.

Andrews: That’s right.

Mims: And how about you, Jeannine?

Andrews: We had a neighbor too, that worked at James Walker.

Smith: She was a teacher…she was a teacher.

Mims: Who was that?

Andrews: Betty.

Smith: She was Betty Hewlett…

Andrews: Dexter.

Smith: Dexter. She was one of our instructors and she was also a good friend of our…another sister. And, I don’t know, I think I’m kind of like Joyce, in the back of my mind…as you grow up…I used to want to be whatever I had been reading about. You know, if I was reading about Army nurse, I wanted to be an Army nurse. And just…I think in the back of my mind too…it wasn’t that I especially wanted to just follow Joyce, but I ended up doing that. So she was “Big Andy” and I was “Little Andy.” (laughing)

Andrews: I was called Andy the whole time I worked as a nurse.

Smith: Back then…you had to call…you couldn’t call each other by your first name. It was supposed to be Ms. Andrews…when you were working in the hospital as student nurses and, you know, for an eighteen-year going in and having to be called “Miss Andrews,” you know, so it got shortened among our classmates. It was just Andy or something…so since she was already there as Andy, I had to be Little Andy.

Mims: Let’s talk a little bit about your schooling. I understand you had to live at the nurses home.

Andrews: Yea.

Mims: Okay, so you’re…you’re in this new environment…what was that like for you?

Andrews: Well, I enjoyed it. It was almost, well it was kinda like college. You stayed there and slept and went over to the hospital to the cafeteria and had your classed down in the Education Department of the nurses home.

Mims: Was it a big difference for you? You’re in this…ah…you know…

Andrews: No, well, you know, I had come from this large family…

Smith: And we had private rooms.

Mims: Right.

Smith: And the only thing…about having to go down the hall to take a shower…the bathroom was a little bit different, but, ah…it was all fun. You get to be real close with your classmates. You’re working, you’re eating, you’re sleeping with them.

Mims: But…but very restricted, right?

Andrews: Oh yes. Oh my…it was…it was…I think that time nursing was…drew mainly from either the military or a nunnery…so….it was between…a strong influence.

Smith: We had…yea, we had to be in every…when we were having classes…we had to be in every night at seven o’clock and you were allowed one…

Andrews: Late.

Smith: …late…one late a week, which was like ten o’clock and you could get one eleven o’clock a month…I think that was…

Andrews: And sometimes you’d get an open night too.

Smith: Yea, once in a while you’d get that, but, see we lived right in town. We could get on the bus and go home…which was easier for us than it was…I was just looking in my yearbook…we drew a map here and we drew where each person in my class came from…and so they had to go much further than we did. In my class there weren’t but about five of us from Wilmington. The rest of ‘em all came from outlying…most of ‘em rural areas…small towns.

Andrews: Small towns. One of my classmates came from the mountains…that area.

Mims: Do you think it made it easier or harder on you to have these restrictions? I mean, if you got frustrated and you wanted to go home and see your mom…it didn’t…

Andrews: Now it didn’t…no it wasn’t…’cause you… at the hospital…when you started working you had your hours where you were on the floor, but…or in classes, and so you knew where you were that time…if you have any scare-outs, you could sign out and go home. Or just go home and come back.

Smith: Just so you were back.

Andrews: By a certain time.

Smith: By living in Wilmington, you could go home for a couple of hours if you wanted to.

Mims: Um hum. I know that one…

Smith: Take your dirty laundry…

Mims: …that one…that one of the…that one of the things that some of the other ladies have talked about is one of the first things that happened was they were assigned a big sister…?

Andrews: No, we…

Smith: That must have come after us.

Mims: Um hum. This was somebody to mentor them for a while to get them adjusted to this type of lifestyle. I was wondering, you know, what kind of contact you guys had, you know, when she first came on board…did you kind of take her under the ropes?

Andrews: No, she did it on her own…like I was.

Smith: Joyce, unfortunately, had polio during the polio epidemic, so she was just beginning to try to work again when I went in. She had lost about almost a year, hadn’t you?…so she was just beginning to…in fact, I remember Joyce was in isolation when I went to take my pre-entrance exam.

Mims: Really?

Smith: So…and then she was hospitalized…and she was just beginning to…I can remember an incident where she was trying to work and she started cramping up so bad and having so much pain that…her classmates told me about it…and some of the classmates had you…were putting hot packs on you trying to relieve the spasms…this was after she had started back to work.

Mims: So, am I to understand that you contracted polio during your nursing school?

Smith: She was working in…

Andrews: I had just graduated. I hadn’t been out more than…

Mims: You graduated from James Walker?

Andrews: Uh huh. I wasn’t out more than a month before I got polio.

Mims: Really.

Smith: She was working in the…supposedly the non-isolated wing…

Andrews: It was…pediatric ward…and, ah…when the epidemic started we started getting a lot of admissions from kids all over the state.

Mims: Really.

Andrews: A lot of ‘em.

Mims: What was the standard treatment at that time?

Smith: Hot packs…

Andrews: And exercise…physical therapy.

Mims: But there were varying degrees…

Smith: Oh, some was on respirators…

Andrews: …that was the Brunhilde type.

Smith: Joyce’s memory is better than mine, especially on that terminology.

Mims: I mean, because as a kid that grew up with the vaccine, you know, I never had to experience this, so…

Smith: Well, this was before the vaccine and it was quite a threat at that time. And we also got…I believe that was about the first time that I remember seeing nurses from other areas start moving here.

Andrews: Yea, ‘cause we had a lot…we had…James Walker became the center for nurses on … for the eastern part of the state. So we’d get patients from all up and down the coast…

Smith: There were more nurses who were non-James Walker graduates.

Andrews: I know, they were coming from Delaware…New York…

Mims: Hum…so, um…did you…after you had the polio and got better then you continued working?

Andrews: Yes, uh huh.

Smith: She probably was one of the longest continuous employed nurses from James Walker.

Andrews: Uh huh. I had about thirty-four years.

Smith: Her whole…her entire nursing career was a James Walker. I mean James Walker and then transferring to New Hanover…straight service.

Mims: Wow. When you started at school, did you take all your classes at James Walker or did you take some elsewhere?

Andrews: There was a short time we too a few classes…it was part of New Hanover High School, but later on part of the college.

Mims: The Isaac Bear building?

Andrews: Uh-huh.

Mims: How would you get from the nurses home over to the Bear building?

Andrews: I took a cab.

Mims: The first year of, I guess, study was done elsewhere. Where was yours done?

Smith: Well, we had…ah…when I was a student…we had teachers from the univer…from, you know, from out at Wilmington College at that time, that came over to our classes. We did not go over there.

Mims: You did not go over there.

Smith: They came to us.

Andrews: We didn’t go there long…I don’t remember how long…I remember mostly trying to get over there in a snowstorm.

Smith: Later on they did but, ah, we had certain two or three of the teachers from the college.

Andrews: …everybody was sitting in everybody’s lap…trying to get over there from the hospital to the college.

Mims: Um, what doctors do you remember working with when you were student nurses?

Andrews: Bunch of ‘em… Dr. Robinson, Dr. Koonce…

Smith: Dr. Graham.

Andrews: Dr. Graham, Dr. Hare, Dr…

Smith: Codington.

Andrews: Codington, Dr. Know, Dr. Koseruba…

Smith: Dr. Fales.

Mims: Dr. Fales?

Smith: Yes. He’s a big historian.

Andrews: Yes, he is.

Mims: Well, that’s what I was going to ask…is working with some of these people that you named, they had been in practice for quite some time and they had already seen a transition in our medicine. Did they ever share any of this with you? Like, did Dr. Fales ever just talk to you about how it used to be?

Smith: He had a good presentation at one of our homecomings and he had a slide presentation and they…he had pictures of the first graduating class and different things like that. It was really interesting. So he shared quite a bit. And from what I understand, he went to other areas, other than just, you know, medical groups…just his people…he was interested in old Wilmington.

Andrews: You know, I remember Dr. Crouch as a student when I was in surgery. Dr. Graham, Dr. Koseruba…they had just gotten back from the service so…

Smith: Dr. Crouch, there’s two of the Crouch doctors, Walter and Ollie.

Mims: And they were both pediatrics?

Smith: Pediatrics.

Andrews: Except for Dr…

Smith: And Dr. Reynolds.

Andrews: Yes.

Mims: Frank Reynolds?

Smith: Frank Reynolds, uh huh, he was…ah…medical doctors were mostly Dr. Fales…

Andrews: Dr. Fales was surgery.

Smith: You know, right now I’m lost and can’t remember all the…

Andrews: Dr. Murchison.

Mims: Dr. Murchison, yea.

Smith: Yea, he was quite a character, a nice doctor.

Andrews: David Murchison. And the GYN doctor was Dr. George Johnson…

Smith: Dr. Walker.

Andrews: Yea, Dr. Walker and Dr…

Smith: We had very few then, I mean, in fact Dr. Wilson was the first orthopedic doctor we had and he was only here part time for a long time. And just look what we have today.

Mims: I know, we were talking about that…is that…that…

Smith: Dr. Wilson came during the orthope…I mean through the polio. He came at that time and stayed.

Mims: I talked to Dr. Bertram Williams and he was talking about at a Medical Society meeting they all sat at one table and you couldn’t put all the physicians in town at one table today.

Andrews: No.

Mims: Probably not even one building. So, you know, of course there has been a dramatic change of this area. It’d have to be, you know, the development of good facilities. When you guys were at James Walker, it had been in operation for like, almost fifty years or so…cause it opened in 1903. So, what do you remember about the physical structure of James Walker?

Andrews: Well, I remember what we called the “old building.”

Mims: Which was the original part?

Andrews: Yes, it wasn’t…it’s where the drive used to be in front of that and the wings would go to the right…to the left after that. Well, up on the third floor…that used to be the old operating room…way before my time. It was just…happened during the middle of the night and I remember we had a bad thunderstorm and somewhere somebody…there’s a pane out of the window and it was leaking in and down into the floor below…so we went up there with hearts beating real fast, cause it’s a creepy looking place and, ah…

Smith: I remember how Pediatrics was connected to upper hall…it was a slanted ramp and back in those days, you didn’t have disposable or we didn’t use disposable plates…if you had someone that was in isolation, you had to take their dishes and…take ‘em up…go up that ramp to a little room and boil ‘em. Well, it was a long way between where the patient was and most of the time you’d forget about it until you could smell that burning dish…and then you’d say, “Uh oh”…because you didn’t…you boiled what was…you didn’t clean ‘em first and then boil ‘em…you boiled everything in…that was left on their plate. You could scrape it off, but you didn’t really wash ‘em before you started boiling ‘em.

Mims: That’s incredible because what you’re talking about is real total patient care that nurses don’t do today.

Andrews: I remember…when I was in my…at my contagious unit…we went over there and was in a unit by our self and we stayed there…we changed into our isolated gowns, you know.

Mims: That was, ah…was that the Bear Annex? The contagious…

Andrews: No, it was, ah, well later on it came in North Wing…

Smith: Well, it was…it was the wing…it was the floor underneath Pediatrics.

Andrews: No.

Smith: Where the polio unit was?

Andrews: I wasn’t talking about that.

Smith: Oh, I’m sorry.

Andrews: There used to be off the lobby ‘cause I can remember the North Wing there.

Smith: There was an East Wing.

Andrews: That’s right.

Smith: East Wing. Small ten bed unit.

Andrews: It’s been a long time.

Mims: Yea, I know…I appreciate you guys trying to rack your memory here…

Smith: You’re talking about total care…I can remember…

Andrews: We went there and stayed and we even fed…we even fixed the food for ‘em.

Smith: We had…ah…we used to…I don’t think all of ‘em did, I think they must have give up on me, but I can remember having…working in the diet kitchen and if you happened to have a patient who had a six o’clock breakfast in the morning…a diabetic…you had to get up and you fixed the meal and you took it to ‘em.

Andrews: Oh, I…I’d sit out there…

Smith: And you fixed all the special diets…you had a helper, but you’d be back in that kitchen…and I knew nothing about cooking!

Mims: Was there a cooking class or anything?

Smith: No, that was it…you know, they’d tell you how to do it, but…and so I felt sorry for those patients if I get to thinking about it.

Andrews: The chef…chef would cut the meat, you know, and give you a portion up to put on the plate.

Smith: But you had to fix the trays and, you know, take ‘em up to the patients.

Andrews: And all that…but some floors you had to fix the trays too, and serve ‘em.

Smith: And too, when a patient was discharged, you had to clean the room. And clean the mattress and the springs, and did everything.

Andrews: We didn’t scrub the floor.

Smith: No, we didn’t scrub the floor.

Mims: Was there…what type of auxiliary services were there as far as…did they have somebody in housekeeping that would do these things, or…

Smith: They’d clean floors, and windows, and the toilets and things like that, but actually as far as the bed itself…

Andrews: ‘Cause the bed was considered patient care, and the bathroom and things like that was considered…and the furniture, was considered room…

Mims: And I’m sure these beds were the old hand crank beds.

Andrews: Oh yes.

Mims: No electric.

Smith: No electric.

Andrews: But you know, I didn’t mind that.

Mims: You didn’t?

Andrews: No, it was just part of…

Smith: It was a good experience.

Mims: So, you worked I dietary…was there a dietician.

Andrews: Yea.

Smith: Yes, and some of regular meals, but fortunately we didn’t have to do that, but we were supposed to cook, prepare and put it on the tray…and sometimes you’d have a helper so you wouldn’t have to do it all but you’d have to…we’d have to serve the special diets. Back in those days, fortunately, there wasn’t as many as there is now.

Andrews: Well, mostly it was the diabetics or…

Smith: Completely salt free, or you know…

Andrews: And then, also too, the milk bottles.

Smith: Oh, we used to…also back in those days, we used to work in what we called the milk lab.

Andrews: Yea. Oh I hated that!

Smith: We had to fix all the special baby formulas, like rice water for the diarrhea, and real thick feedings for…what was it…the little kids that throw up…

Andrews: Uh huh, pernicious…

Smith: No, I forgot now, but anyway they’d have a real thick formula. And then you’d have to make lactic acid milk and…

Andrews: That was the one I used to have trouble with.

Smith: Yea, because if you didn’t…if you…

Andrews: If the water was too warm it clabbered on ya, and you’d have to start all over again.

Smith: And you would be working there during the day and all of a sudden right before time for you to…supposed to be getting off duty, you’d come with an order, with a child that needed a special diet…so you had to stop and…

Andrews: Mix ‘em.

Smith: …like you had to heat the milk and then you had to put the drops in it…and like Joyce said, if you did it too soon, it would curdle.

Mims: Where there any awareness of the milk stations out in the community that were developed around this time?

Andrews: I think milk stations…

Mims: Like Sorosis Club had like, areas in…you know, lower income type areas and it was like a milk…where the babies would get the milk…

Andrews: Now I remember…I remember when I was going to grammar school, the…

Smith: Kids got free milk

Andrews: Free milk.

Smith: Through the school system…but I don’t know about…

Andrews: Or free lunch too…that’s the only thing I can remember.

Mims: Nothing about that? Let’s see, I also heard that you guys had to mix your own glucose solutions in surgery, when you were on that assignment?

Andrews: Now, they might have earlier, but our glucose was already bottled, you know.

Mims: It was, okay, so that gives me a good idea. Cause I think that the people that mentioned this were, like, ‘41, ‘42. So by the time you came along, it was already pre-made.

Andrews: That’s right. Now, we did have to make solutions, like boric acid and mercuric cyanide, and…

Smith: Let’s go back a moment… used to, the nurses in the surgical…while you were in surgery…you had to pack your own packs…surgical packs…

Andrews: Yea…surgical sponges, you know…count…

Smith: You had to wash gloves…wash rubber gloves and dry ‘em out and powder ‘em and check ‘em for holes in ‘em…and also, you know, we didn’t have disposable needles.

Andrews: No…glass syringes

Smith: We used glass syringes…

Andrews: They had to fit, I mean they had numbers on the plunger and also on the barrel and they had to fit. It wasn’t universal where you could…

Mims: Really?

Andrews: Now, that was a job!

Mims: I guess so!

Andrews: Especially when you let the whole thing burn-up.

Smith: You’re not supposed to talk about that.

Mims: It just sounds like you guys were totally immersed in this hospital environment.

Smith: It was.

Andrews: Yea.

Mims: So, the students that are training today, of course, have their academic work, and then they have their clinical work, but not this twenty-four hour, total…I’m going to the kitchen…I’m going to go…in to make the baby formula…that kind of stuff…so…

Andrews: You were assigned areas, you know.

Mims: Right, and you did a rotation for a certain period, I understand.

Smith: In fact, my name started with A…I think I rotated through all of them, where some of ‘em towards the end didn’t have some of the rotations that I had. Some of them…like all of ‘em didn’t go to the milk lab, all of ‘em didn’t go to the premature nursery…

Andrews: I did…and I got hung up twice in surgery. At that time, I did not like surgery. I thought it was boring, if you want to know the truth about it.

Mims: Really?

Smith: I…I thought surgery was boring…you had no patient contact.

Andrews: No, because they come in sleeping or drowsy so they…so that loss of…it was like…

Smith: Yea, some girls loved it. That was their spe…that was what they really liked…but I think Joyce and I liked working with the patient’s while they were awake.

Mims: Well, in particular, what rotation did you favor the most?

Andrews: I liked nights.

Smith: You liked what?

Andrews: I always liked to work nights.

Mims: Oh, in what area of specialty?

Andrews: Well, Emergency Room. I loved Emergency Room. I worked in Emergency Room like thirty years I guess.

Mims: So nights in Emergency Room…that’s when you see all the really crazy stuff though, you know, extreme emergency…

Smith: She’s all about that.

Mims: Yea. In that situation, let me ask you…if a person came in and they were not white, what would you do with them during this time of segregation?

Andrews: Now, during that time, if they did not have a doctor…well, like Dr. George Johnson did a lot of them, so if they wasn’t one of his patients coming in, then most of them were referred to Community.

Mims: So you did make referrals to Community.

Andrews: Uh-huh.

Mims: And it was doctor based? If they had a physician that practiced at James Walker…

Andrews: Yea.

Mims: Okay.

Smith: We had a special building for ‘em…it was called Colored Ward…and it had it’s own little delivery room in there and of course your medical and surgical patients were mixed…but there was very few private rooms…most of it was ward type…

Andrews: It had two private rooms, but I think they were used as stand-in delivery rooms too.

Smith: Yea, that was the nursery.

Mims: So they had their own Emergency Room or not?

Smith: No the Emergency Room was…

Andrews: Emergency Room.

Mims: Okay.

Smith: But if they were admitted to the hospital at James Walker they were admitted to Color Ward.

Mims: Um hum. What about somebody that wasn’t black and wasn’t white…somebody that was Hispanic or Asian orientation? How would that be handled?

Andrews: The same way.

Smith: I don’t think they would have been segregated.

Andrews: No, they wouldn’t.

Mims: You know, I can’t…I can’t seem to find where…

Smith: It was strictly blacks.

Mims: Strictly black. And did you…

Andrews: Now, at one time I thought Indians

Smith: Well, in certain parts of the state they had three separate…

Andrews: Black, white and Indians…

Smith: Segregated areas.

Mims: Right, where there is a large Indian…Native American population.

Smith: Yea, the thing I can remember a kind of mix, like gypsies.

Andrews: Oh my.

Smith: They were admitted to the regular ward.

Mims: ‘Cause, you know, there are some very light skinned African Americans…and didn’t know how that was handled.

Smith: If you were one one-hundredth black you probably wouldn’t be black, it was just that…

Mims: That…

Smith: If they were considered black by their family or…I’m not say that all…that we knew the difference, but if we knew they were black, more than likely they would go on the colored ward. If their family was black and they were raised as black…

Mims: Right.

Smith: It’s a shame, but that’s they way it was.

Mims: Did you have any contact with Community as student nurses?

Andrews: No.

Mims: Did you know they had a nursing school there?

Andrews: Uh-huh.

Mims: But no contact.

Andrews: No.

Smith: I’ve visited there a couple of times when I was real young. My father would go there as see, you know, some of the men that worked for him…that we would go visit.

Mims: What do you remember about that?

Smith: Mostly I…was that we…see mostly it was a big open ward, a ward. Not too much, it was…smelled like a hospital, like ether and things you don’t notice today. You definitely had odors back in the…

Andrews: Ether had a really pungent smell.

Smith: Pungent smells of clea…you know, cleaning fluids plus…mostly ether.

Andrews: Lysol.

Smith: Lysol and ether…if you were anywhere around them…odors were very pronounced.

Mims: Do you remember any of the black physicians in town?

Andrews: Now, I didn’t when I was in training, but I did when we went to New Hanover.

Mims: When you went to New Hanover.

Smith: You know, I don’t remember any, you know, as far as them coming and practicing. They didn’t practice at…they didn’t have patient’s in the black ward…colored ward.

Mims: Um hum…strictly white.

Smith: Strictly white.

Mims: What was your area that you liked when you were a student nurse?

JA/JS: Pediatrics.

Smith: We were all…when we graduated, those of us that were hired, we were given the opportunity to ask for a particular ward and I chose pediatrics…and I was the only one that got what I had asked for. So the rest of ‘em didn’t like pediatrics, but I did.

Andrews: I…I…after I got out of training I worked pediatrics…

Smith: We worked together and then…

Andrews: I more or less did PRN until I went to the emergency room.

Mims: In today’s situation when a nurse graduates the start either looking to continue school to find an expanded role or you know, the search out the various you know, medical facilities, hospital, physician’s office, nursing home.

Andrews: Like they’re gonna try ‘em all.

Mims: Well, I was gonna say…

Andrews: I didn’t, I stayed.

Smith: She stayed there and I was the one that was like the rolling stone.

Mims: Was there anybody to offer guidance at the school of nursing to point you in a direction…any counseling?

Andrews: I don’t think so, no, I don’t remember…

Smith: No, I was working at the hospital and Dr. Knox…his nurse was leaving and he asked me to come and go to work with him…and I was real flattered because after I started working I had a note from Ms. Masten who was the director of nurses that she wanted me to continue my education and be an instructor.

Mims: Really?

Smith: But I had just started with Dr. Knox and I was really interested in going back to school…I had worked at the hospital a couple of years before I went with Dr. Knox.

Mims: Uh huh…cause I’m finding out that there wasn’t a lot of guidance for what to do.

Andrews: Well, there wasn’t. I mean…if you…there wasn’t any place really that you’d go for…for a degree. I think Duke was open but that’s the only one that…but I think…

Smith: Did ah…Rex hospital…they didn’t have…maybe that was a three-year program…

Mims: I think it was a diploma program school as well.

Smith: In fact, Duke was the only…only…

Andrews: Yea, but I don’t think theirs was in nursing, I think it was science or something.

Mims: Medical technology.

Andrews: Something like that.

Mims: Right, ‘cause I talked to a…a lady who graduated from the Duke medical technologists school.

Andrews: Yea, because it was along time before nurses…there was anything in college that was for nursing, you know, it was…they has something else.

Smith: And then after the degree program became you know, more accepted thing, you had no credit for your three years that you had put in, you had to start all over.

Mims: There wasn’t some kind of grandfather…

Andrews: No.

Smith: There wasn’t anything that I know of at first, now there may be now, I don’t know, but back then your three years of training wouldn’t help you, it had to be a four, five year thing to get a degree.

Mims: Well, from what I’ve been reading, when the university…Wilmington College started the nursing school, it was called the James Walker Memorial Hospital associate degree. So that’s only a two-year program from my understanding. So you guys were actually going, you know, three years for your diploma, these people were getting an associate degree.

Smith: And it was year round. It was a twelve-month year.

Mims: For you guys.

JS/JA: Yes.

Mims: Right, you could take of what…you first summer; you could take off or something?

Smith: We only had one…we had a month off.

Andrews: Our first two years we had a month.

Smith: …we had a month vacation, summer vacation, but that was it. And I don’t remember getting holidays.

Andrews: Oh you got Christmas off.

Smith: Well, we may have, but there was no break in it.

Mims: Well while we’re talking about this scheduling…I don’t know that much about the split classes. I’ve heard it mentioned, but how did that work?

Andrews: Well, my class was in February.

Mims: You start in February.

Andrews: And there’s another part of the year that students came in September. And it think for years and years it was the September class that was…

Smith: Usually the largest.

Andrews: The largest and also it ended up just the September class.

Smith: ‘Cause our class started out…when we went in…in September there was three or four students already six months ahead of us. But we had our graduation exercise and we still, even now, we’re all in one class. Our group has been real good about keeping in touch.

Mims: Uh-huh. Well, so when you first came there though, what kind of tasks were you give to do, I mean, you came in February, you know, you’re now with students that have been there since September, so you guys are just starting…what…what kind of…

Andrews: Now the September class above me, they were in another class, they were kind of superior to us.

Mims: Right. So you’re…you’re already kind of a little bit behind, but you’re gonna get ahead of people coming in September, so what did you do when you first got there. I’m trying to figure out how they…what they made you do.

Andrews: Well, about the first six months of training you went to classes eight hours.

Smith: Yea, the first six months was entirely classroom.

Andrews: And then they let you go maybe two…and then that first two hours of the day you might go on the floor.

Smith: It would take you two hours to give somebody a bath.

Andrews: That was when you were really learning and you had to do it by the book.

Smith: You had your supervisor standing over your shoulder, but I don’t know how…I don’t really remember how because the students that were six months ahead of us…

Andrews: They were all gone.

Smith: No, they were in classroom with us, I don’t know what the did…

Mims: Well, that’s what I’m trying to figure out…what did they do with that, that time, you know, that was a little bit different.

Andrews: You know, I don’t remember the class that was six months ahead of me taking class with me. My part of the class that’s in September, they did, ‘cause they were part of my class.

Smith: You could be right. I was thinking that they were in the class too. But we all lived on the same floor, you know.

Mims: What kind of attrition rate was there…like can you remember girls not completing…?

Andrews: Yes, it’s usually about the time we’d get capped, It would be a year…a lot of folks…

Smith: Uh, huh, we lost quite a few too.

Andrews: I think we’d lose over half of them.

Smith: We didn’t have that much, but probably out of a class of say 26 we probably…

Andrews: There was seventeen in my part, but before it was over thirty, so it was…

Mims: Well, was this for academic problems, or social, or…?

Andrews: Just wasn’t what the wanted, so they up a left…

Smith: I think the majority of our class was academic.

Andrews: I think it was too, later on, after…if they…if after, the end of the…we…there was about four of ‘em that left because of scholastics.

Mims: We’re talking at a time where women were not career oriented. You guys are embarking on a career type position and I know that it was conflicting that what you would’ve probably been raised, you know, you didn’t necessarily need advanced education, you needed to start your family, and so I’m wondering how those values played with some of those ladies that maybe didn’t…didn’t make it. You guys certainly stayed in, there was something motivating you to stay in.

Andrews: Well, I enjoyed it.

Smith: I did too, and I…I think New Hanover High School gave us good background for the academic side of it, whereas I think some of ‘em, from maybe…maybe I’m just prejudice, but they…I think some of their background training in high school didn’t…as far as chemistry and microbiology, and some of those things that probably as far as making a good nurse…that didn’t have a bearing on their being a good nurse, but I think our background from New Hanover did help us.

Andrews: Shoot, I took a commercial course, so I didn’t have any sciences, except general sciences. Now I’m sorry I took that…

Mims: Well, I’ve heard a chemistry teacher talk about that some people just weren’t …they had no high school science and consequently their background was a little bit touch and go, but was there any remedial help if somebody was in a situation…would somebody help them?

Smith: I don’t know.

Andrews: Now, I didn’t have any chemistry, so…but I struggled…

Smith: You mean in school?

Andrews: I did chemistry, but I didn’t high school and so it was kind of like they had an introduction, you know, and it’s…sometimes they…keep up with ‘em.

Mims: Yea. Another thing that I understand is that when you graduated and got your diploma, it didn’t necessarily make you an RN. You had to take your state boards.

Andrews: Yes.

Smith: Yes! We had to go to Raleigh to…it was all day testing.

Andrews: I was thinking about that last night.

Smith: It was…in fact in some ways it was harder than, you know, when I became a nurse practitioner. I had to go back and be, you know, be certified nationally. I had to go back and it was an all day testing thing too, but I don’t know that it was any worse than nurses training.

Mims: Do you remember anybody not passing?

Andrews: Yes. Wait a minute now, they didn’t…

Smith: You could go more than one time.

Andrews: Yes. You could go at least three times.

Smith: But you had to wait like six months before you could take it again.

Andrews: They was having trouble with psychiatry, I think, cause we didn’t have…

Smith: But you know, that’s true, but I had my highest grade on state board on psychiatry and we didn’t even have…

Mims: But you guys didn’t go to Dix or…

Smith: We didn’t have…no I didn’t affiliate…we had patients, but they were just admitted in the room with the regular patients. And we had one or two psychiatrists here in town. So what little bit of training we had…and we had…it was Dr. Rodman…he was the one that taught us psychiatry, and evidently he was a good teacher, cause that was my highest grade. But I really had no practical experience in it…very little, except for what was mixed…

Mims: Because later on the ladies traveled to Dix.

Smith: Yes, yea they did.

Mims: And I think Community went to Cherry Point, I think.

Andrews: I think there’s some…there’s a time when James Walker went to Community…to ah, Cherry Hospital too.

Mims: I think so too; I’ve heard both of ‘em.

Andrews: I think it was at…was at…

Mims: I don’t know whether it was a mental hospital or they just had a psych ward at the…

Smith: There is…no…there’s the…

Andrews: It used to be at the…

Smith: I think when they closed Dix, Cherry…in fact Cherry was in the eastern part…isn’t it around Goldsboro or something?

Mims: Yea. Well if a nurse didn’t pass, or didn’t make a passing grade on their…their board, what type of work could the do?

Andrews: Well, they could almost be…almost like an actual nurse, but not as RN. And there was a PRN or something…

Mims: Would like James Walker hire them do you think?

Smith: Yea, most of ‘em…some of ‘em were already hired…cause I was hired before I got the results back.

Mims: Really?

Andrews: You had a three-month wait before you found out of you passed.

Smith: It wasn’t that long.

Andrews: Seemed like it.

Mims: Now I think they take ‘em on computer and they know before they leave the building how they did and so…you know, big, big changes, of course. Now you went on to further your education, cause you keep talking about nurse practitioner. What did you do there?

Smith: Well, since I was a rolling stone, I left James Walker, I worked there two years and I worked for Dr. Knox Pediatrics. Then I left and worked for the…I was a nurse on the Seaboard Atlantic Coastline Railroad.

Mims: Really?

Smith: And so I did that for about seven years. At that time it was just Seaboard Railroad.

Mims: Right.

Smith: And then I worked in Occupational Health Nursing in New York for a couple terms up there as…nursing the employees. Then when I came back to Wilmington, I worked at Cape Fear Hospital a while and then worked at Sunny Point…civil service…worked down at Sunny Point. I was under the department of clinics Fort Bragg, but I was assigned to Sunny Point. And then after that was when…no, then I went to Navy Hospital at Camp LeJeune and worked a couple of years and then went back to school. Started…at that time, there was no medical facility at all between Wilmington and Jacksonville, North Carolina, which is about sixty miles in between. And so they were…back at those times the governor was starting his rural health program, putting rural health clinics into under served areas…

Mims: What year was that, can you think?

Smith: That started probably back in the early seventies.

Mims: Okay.

Smith: It was called the governor’s program. I think…I can’t remember…

Mims: Maybe so.

Smith: Anyway, they started and Jim Bernstein was the head of the office of rural health and he was setting up these clinics around in under served areas. So they were having one here and it was…it was…had matching funds from the state, but you had to raise money in the community before you could have the clinic…so I was…heard about it, and so I was selected to be the nurse there…so they sent me to school…office of public health. So I went to Chapel Hill and became a family nurse practitioner.

Mims: How much more time does that mean?

Smith: It was just…it was a year program.

Mims: A one-year program?

Smith: Yes..

Mims: I know Chapel Hill also had the at public health one year program, I think.

Smith: I think so. This was family nurse practitioner.

Mims: In that situation, they recognized your diploma then?

Smith: Yes. In fact, I would say about half of my class were undergraduates, but most of them…I say half…a few of us were diploma. And the younger ones had a degree in nursing. I think now you have to have a degree.

Mims: Right. I…I don’t think there’s any diploma schools left…they’re all…all gone. Now, I wanted to ask you, you were talking about the nurse cadets. What was your involvement in that program?

Andrews: Well, I…you had to apply for it, and they handled…they paid for your tuition and my…the expenses and you know, like entrance fee and things like that. And then you got an allowance…it was twenty dollars…fifteen, twenty, to thirty. It wasn’t much was it? At that time though, the last six months of the time you were supposed to go into the service. But then, by the time we got settled if you wanted to be a…if you wanted to go in the service, it would be after you graduated. After you worked six months into a civilian hospital…before you to… well, I got polio then I couldn’t do it.

Mims: Right, right. Well, the time that you were in this, did you have to wear a separate uniform?

Andrews: No, it was just like the rest of ‘em.

Mims: Like the rest of ‘em?

Andrews: Yes.

Mims: I’ve seen pictures of somewhere they have like a grayish color uniform on.

Andrews: Well it was, that was our street uniform.

Mims: Okay.

Andrews: Gray, like the white and this one. A hat…

Smith: But while you were in nursing, you wore the same uniforms as before.

Mims: Right.

Smith: I don’t remember seeing you in the nurse corps uniform.

Mims: Somebody’s made a lot of reference…or actually many people have made a lot of reference with the military, you know, the discipline, and the awarding of stuff is sort of military like in the nursing program because of the striping on the hat and the pins, you know, recognition and…

Andrews: With the pin.

Mims: Right.

Smith: Well you had…well I never thought about it…but the military aspect of it…you know, I don’t know whether they do it now…

Andrews: You stood up.

Smith: You stood up when a graduate came and…a super…you know, supervisor…

Andrews: Anybody that’s above you in class.

Smith: Above you in class…you respected them…you stood up.

Andrews: You stood up for ‘em.

Smith: I did that one time at one of the jobs I had and the doctor that owned the company, he was introducing me to some visitor…and I immediately stood up Dr. Winters …and then…and he kind of laughed and said to the man, he said “she’s from the old school”. He knew none of the rest of ‘em were gonna do that…but it’s an automatic thing.

Mims: Right. And of course the caps became an identifier as you were a nurse.

Andrews: Yea, uh huh, you could tell which hospital they graduated from.

Smith: Even…you could tell your status even in your own school, because we had the plain cotton caps folded a certain way that we had to launder and fold…and then when you became a freshmen…you got your cap your freshman year. And then you had the wide band…black velvet band to go on it, and then when you got to be senior you had the narrow.

Andrews: I had it the other way around.

Smith: Was it? Well I was thinking it was narrow…well anyway you change bands.

Mims: Right.

Smith: And then when you graduated…then you went back to the plain white, but it was a linen…a different kind of material.

Andrews: Pretty, with hemstitching.

Mims: Uh huh…with hemstitch, yea.

Smith: Our mother used to make ours.

Mims: Really?

Smith: We probably still have one around here somewhere.

Mims: Of course you guys were very influential on other people going into nursing. Specifically your niece…because she talked about she remember you guys had completed this training…so can you think of how else you reached out into the community where other people identified you as nurses?

Andrews: No not about nursing cause I had some kid…there was a kid in the neighborhood that had asthma sats and I used to have to…I used to go down to his house and give him sats.

Mims: This was before home health nursing was real popular.

Andrews: Uh huh. And then in my neighborhood there’s an old lady…I had…she was across the street and they have to change catheters…

Mims: When we were taking about caps, how long did you guys continue to wear your caps?

Andrews: Well I changed to the graduate…now in the emergency room caps are not a good idea…you do better to take ‘em off…so we did.

Mims: Okay. So out of necessity you did not wear your hat?

Andrews: Yes.

Mims: Did you continue to wear yours?

Smith: I wore mine as long as I did hospital nursing. The last place I did hospital nursing was up at Camp LeJeune. I think they were still wearing them…nurses were still wearing them…this was in the middle seventies.

Andrews: Well, I…I guess it was about seventies when I quit…started wearing pants and no cap.

Mims: What do you guys think about the caps now…should they go back to wearing them?

Andrews: Well, I always liked the cap.

Smith: I can see where they’d be in the way sometimes but I think it helps…to me it would help the patients know which ones…who was the nurse…today you can’t tell. You can’t tell the…the one that comes in and mops the floor, you know, she’s got a uniform on…unless you actually know…

Andrews: An they don’t really wear…you know…I always thought of a nurse wearing white but you know, nowadays it’s not white.

Smith: I can understand the change more for like in a pediatric unit…uniform used to be terrifying to a child but to me in the adult sections, to me, it sets…it sets ‘em a little bit apart.

Mims: How about that beautiful blue cape?

Andrews: Oh I love my cape…it’s red inside.

Mims: Yea! Very striking. I mean, when you put all of this on, how did it make you feel?

Smith: Oh great. But I don’t remember wearing mine much on the bus…you know, going back and forth in the uniform…I think we changed clothes before we left the…the facility. We wore our cape, you know, when going from the nursing home to the hospital and like that, but I don’t remember wearing them much on…

Andrews: Now…you know in a car…but I…

Smith: I guess you did though, ‘cause we…you were working night duty…after we graduated…I’m sure we had to.

Mims: Sure…sure, cause I think it was still par for the course…

Smith: In New York, when I was working up there I can remember changing clothes when you got to work cause you’d be dirty. If you leave home in a white uniform, by the time you got to the office…if it was raining…old dirty soot blowing on you. I had a streak down the front of my uniform where the…my raincoat was open, so I finally got around to just changing clothes after I got to work.

Mims: Well plus your uniform at this time is not a blend in fabric, so the wrinkleness with…it had to be starched, right?

Andrews: Yes, it did.

Smith: I can remember, too, talking about wrinkles…our superintendent nurse…she tried to get us to change from doing it, but I don’t think she ever succeeded…our student uniforms…we had the stiff white apron that went around…well, you didn’t it to wrinkle, so automatically when you sat down on thing and flapped it over this and then sat down.

Andrews: Everybody did it.

Smith: I wasn’t very lady like, but you wore this blue and white striped uniform under it…but it kept it from getting so wrinkled.

Mims: If you were wrinkled would you get demerits?

JS/JA: No.

Smith: Well…the did our laundry, so…you know, the uniforms…

Mims: But you had to tend to your own hats.

Smith: Yes, you know, but you had to put ‘em in the laundry…I mean you had to some how or other get it ready for ‘em…cause once in a while somebody would want to borrow one of your uniforms because they had forgotten to send theirs to the laundry and…

Mims: Well, we are almost out of tape and you guys have been just great talking to me today. I really appreciate this a lot.

Andrews: Have you learned anything?

Mims: I am, I learning new things all the time; so, let me cut this off here…

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