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Interview with Roxana Barefoot Miller (Part 1), May 3, 2005 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Title:
Interview with Roxana Barefoot Miller (Part 1), May 3, 2005
Date:
May 3, 2005
Description:
Mrs. Miller is a 1986 graduate of the UNCW School of nursing, the last year of the 2-yr AD program. She recalls her memories of school and clinical experiences as well. In addition, she speaks to her father, Dr. Graham Barefoot and his career as a radiologist, pathologist and cardiologist at James Walker and other area hospitals between 1923-1967. Her mother, the former Elizabeth Murray, completed the diploma program at James Walker School of Nursing in 1925. This oral history gives accounts for the changes and similarities of health services for over 60 years.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Miller, Roxana Barefoot Interviewer: Mims, LuAnn / Parnell, Jerry Date of Interview: 4 May 2005 Series: Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length: 61 minutes

Mims: Today is May the 4th, 2005, I'm LuAnn Mims with Jerry Parnell for the Randall Library Special Collections and today we've more or less hit the jackpot. We are continuing our health services and we are speaking with Roxana Barefoot Miller, who is the daughter of a Radiologist, Pathologist, and...what else did he...?

Miller: Cardiologist.

Mims: ...Cardiologist, from James Walker Hospital, Dr. Barefoot. Her mother, Elizabeth Murray was a 1925 graduate of James Walker Hospital, and then Ms. Miller herself went on and pursued a nursing degree and completed that in 1986 at UNCW as part of the last graduating class under the two year program. So, good morning to you...

Miller: Good morning.

Mims: ...and once again we're very happy to have you here with us. If we could get started by talking a little bit about your father's background...where is family was from, where he was raised, etcetera.

Miller: He was raised...he was born on March 1st 1900 missed leap year by about that much, in Hallsboro, North Carolina. He was one of ten children, all of which went to college and two of 'em became physicians. My uncle also was a physician in Wilmington. He was my father's younger brother, and he was a surgeon here for, you know, five or six years.

Mims: What's his first name?

Miller: Fred...Frederick.

Mims: Barefoot.

Miller: Barefoot. He later moved to Whiteville and went into...went into practice with my father-in-law. I met my father-in-law...started Columbus County Hospital, Dr. Warren Edwin Miller.

Mims: Ooooh.

Miller: And my son was Warren Edwin Miller. Anyway, lets get back to my father.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: He was one of ten children and at that time, I think, there was no high school in Hallsboro. So he left and went and lived with my aunt and uncle Waddell Corbett...Waddell and Bertha Corbett in Atkinson, and finished high school. And then went on to Wake Forest in, what, 1917. I think he was seventeen years old.

Mims: Oh my gosh!

Miller: He was the youngest one in his class. And I remember him telling the story that he...he and my grandfather went to Whiteville to the bank there and talked to the banker about daddy going to Wake Forest and going...and then going on to medical school. And, of course, they loaned him the money. I have no clue how much or whatever. And then they came back and daddy went off to Wake Forest, took the train, which was right...not...right down the road, cause they lived on a farm out in Hallsboro. You took the train, and about a month after he got there he came home...he'd come home every weekend on the train. He'd ride the train home on Friday and then go back on...ride it back on Sunday. And he rode the train home on Friday and he said, "Papa, I don't think that's what I...I don't wanna...I...I've decided I don't want to be a doctor, I...I don't know whether I can...I...I just can't make it." And granddaddy said, "Fine, you know, if that's what you want. We'll get up at four o'clock in the morning and..."

He said he worked him to death all weekend! And on Sunday, he said, "Papa, I think I'm going back to school! And so he did, and of course, graduated in 1921 from Wake Forest. And then because there was no...there was no medical school in North Carolina then, so most...or you find a lot of the older doctors, like, went to Jefferson, or, you know...

Mims: Medical College of Virginia.

Miller: ...Medical College of Virginia, or whatever. So he went to Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1923 and came to Wilmington for his internship. And he always told the story that when he...they got off the train, he and his best friend, Dr. Byrd...and both of 'em, he said, were green as grass...and they walked up to the front of the hospital, and you've seen pictures of the hospital with the columns...had this beautiful door! I remember the door. You know, when you walked in...they walked up the front steps and walked up to the door, and Dr. Byrd rang the doorbell, and daddy said, "You don't ring a doorbell in a hospital"...they had no clue. And daddy always told the story that he walked in and walked down the hall and he saw this little, little nurse walking by with this tray in her hand and he followed her all the way down to the dispensary, wherever that was, and she wouldn't give him the time of day, and he...then he, you know, she put her tray down, and he said "I'm Dr. Barefoot. And she said, "That's nice"...walked off. It was my mother. But she wouldn't, you know, she just...she was in nursing school. So, and that's how they met.

Mims: She also knew her place.

Miller: Oh yea, and she was not about to talk to him because at that time you didn't talk with the doctors, you know.

Mims: Right.

Miller: So, anyway, he did his...um, it wasn't called residency then, it was internship and then residency, which was a little different. So, you know, he came in, what, 1923? And did, I guess, two years of internship, or whatever they called it at that time, and...cause mother graduated in 1925. And they were married on April 20th, 1925 before she graduated in June. I don't know why in the world they...they ran off and got married, but the told both families and asked...daddy asked permission of my grandmother, who lived in Wilmington then. My mother's mother was in Wilmington cause my grandfather had deceased and so she was living in Wilmington with my aunt...at that time...my grandmother was.

Mims: So your mother's family is from Wilmington?

Miller: My mother's family is from Pender County.

Mims: Why don't you talk a little bit about her family now.

Miller: Okay. Her family were the Murrays and the Players. That's where my name Roxana Player comes from, I was named after my grandmother, Roxana Player. And she married a Murray. They lived up at what you call Six Forks in Burgaw.

Mims: Hum.

Miller: And my grandmother...it's a funny story, because when my grandmother was a little girl, I think she was like nine years old, they went to the wedding of this Duncan Murray. And he danced by my grandmother and said, "Little Roxana Player, I'm gonna marry you next." And he did! He had a whole family, had four children, and then his wife died, and my grandmother was like...which would've been a, really, an old maid at that time, because, I mean, she was a schoolteacher.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: I...I'm...I'm not sure where she went to school, but she had...she was a...taught school, and...and had a library from what I...I wish I had gotten this information from my mother...

Mims: That's okay.

Miller: ...before...

Mims: I know.

Miller: But anyway, she...my grandfather was a great deal older, of course than my mother, because he had a second family, my mother and her brother. And when she was like sixteen, she was off at school, and I'm not even sure where she went, but at that time, you know, the schools...she went off to school, to like boarding school...

Mims: Like a finishing school.

Miller: ...and high school.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And I think she may have been about seventeen, or something...he...they had been to a...my grandfather and grandmother had been to some kind of, you know, function or whatever, and they came home and the chimney was not...the flue wasn't working, and he crawled up on the roof and the chimney fell with him.

Mims: Ah!

Miller: And...and killed him.

Mims: Oh.

Miller: So, she was like seventeen, eighteen. So my grandmother lived there for a while. But when mother decided to go to nursing school in Wilmington, my grandmother moved down with my great aunt...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: ...and lived out in Winter Park while mother was in nursing school.

Mims: Do you know why your mother wanted to go to nursing school? Do you remember anything about what drove her down here, or...?

Miller: No, I don't. I know they came to Wilmington a lot.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Because my...my family...that's a long story...I mean, you know, they originated in Wilmington...the Players.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And then, um, in fact they owned the corner where...what is that building?...where the...where the, um, fountain is.

Mims: Yea.

Miller: You know that...

Mims: The Carolina Apartments.

Miller: They owned that corner. And then they had land up in the country. So then they moved up...but this was my great, great, somewhere back grandfather, you know.

Mims: Uh huh.

Miller: So, I don't know why...my sister may...could...my sister could probably tell you, you know. I know mother was always...always, you know, I think you have nursing in your blood. I really do.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: You know, if you're a, you know, it...it takes the kind...a certain kind of person to be a nurse...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And evidently that was just her calling. So she came to Wilmington, and went to...and lived in the nurses quarters, of course.

Mims: It was required.

Miller: Oh yes. You had to.

Mims: The girls were monitored and...

Miller: Oh yea, it...it was unbelievable the things she...you know. And...and you know, it came through, and I...I laugh...I remember her telling daddy one time, you know, he said...what did she say? "She has...she's...has bile," or whatever, you know, "she's sick Graham, and she's got...bile came up." And he said, "Now how do you know that?" And she said, "Because I tasted it." And he went, "You did what?" "I tasted it, we were taught that in nursing school, just to do like that, and then you know..." And I went...I mean, daddy went "Man you've got a better degree than I do!" (laughing) He used to always say to her "When did you get your medical degree?"

Mims: We've heard that that program was incredibly thorough though.

Miller: Oh yes. And they were...they wore starched uniforms and...and you know, they had to be spit spot and perfect...you know. And they learned...I remember mother saying...in nutrition...I remember when I was little, my mother was the nutritionist of the world...I mean, we didn't have cookies and whatever. The only cookie we'd ever get was like vanilla wafers every now and then. I used to think, "When I grow up, I am going to have a whole closet of cookies." Because she...she was very meticulous about nutrition. And I'm sure it came from, you know, from her...from her upbringing. Like most people cook green beans to death, you know, she didn't. She...you know, and we always had a very balanced meal.

Mims: Um hum. That probably reflected on her training.

Miller: And it came from her training.

Mims: Well, let's back up for a minute and go into more detail about your father's career.

Miller: Okay.

Mims: Because we were talking off camera a little bit about this multi-track program he was doing...because when he came to James Walker and completed his internship, did he then go to school somewhere else?

Miller: No. He finished his internship. And then he did...he did an internship and a residency at James Walker.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: And then he went into general practice in Chadburn, North Carolina, after he finished, and he and mother were married, and she graduated from nursing school...they went to Chadburn. They moved to Chadburn and he went in with an older doctor in Chadburn...went into practice with him. And a family, you know, just a family practice, as a general practitioner. And he was there until nineteen twenty nine. Let's see, that would have made...my sister was born at the end...December of nineteen twenty six, and then Graham was born in March of twenty eight, so they had two children.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And I think she may have been pregnant with Poley, my third brother. He had what you might call a nervous breakdown. It was right before the depression.

Mims: Oh, yea.

Miller: Um, and I...I'm sure being a country doctor and whatever, he was in overload, you know. And I think this doctor that he went into practice with was older and ready to retire, so daddy took...and at that time when you took like, and you know, he was the only doctor in a wide radius, so...and he...it wasn't like a nervous breakdown, what he...I think he had...they...he had...they didn't really diagnose it as tuberculosis, but he and mother...let's see, I'm gonna back up. My grandmother, when they...when they left Wilmington, my daddy went out to Winter Park and asked my grandmother if she would like to come with 'em to...and...to move to Chadburn. And so grandmother did, you know, or soon after that, you know. So she was there, so when daddy got sick, my grandmother took my sister Mary Elizabeth and Graham to my other grandmother's in the country, and lived there while mother and daddy went to Sandford. There was a sanatorium in Sanford.

Mims: Right, uh huh.

Miller: And there was a doctor, I can't remember his name, my sister would. Anyway, instead of going into the hospital, daddy stayed with his sister, daddy and mother. They put a hospital bed and mother nursed him...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: ...for like, I guess a year...

Mims: Wow.

Miller: ...or six months, or whatever. Anyway, right at this time, when he was better, there was a call, Dr. Caldwell. Dr. and Mrs. Caldwell lived in Wilmington.

Mims: Right.

Miller: Alright, Dr. Caldwell started the X-Ray Department at New Hanover, I mean, at James Walker.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And he was killed in a boating accident.

Mims: Drowned.

Miller: Two doctors.

Mims: Yep.

Miller: He...he...they were coming across in a row boat.

Mims: Right.

Miller: And he was drowned. Well Mrs. Caldwell was the first nurse in North Carolina.

INTERVIEWER I/

Parnell: Right.

Miller: And she called, or...or wrote my daddy, and said, "You know, I have nobody. I...he's taught me how to do the machines, but I really don't know, you know, how to do this, and I need, you know..." And so daddy agreed. So he left mother and my...and by that time Poley was born, so they had three children. Left 'em with my grandmother and my other grandmother. I mean, you know, back then you had extended families and they moved back on the farm. Daddy went to Philadelphia...went back for like, eight, nine...I've forgotten how long it is. Graham could tell you. I don't know how long he was up there. But when he was there, he took a course...Radiology at the University of Pennsylvania. He went back three...two times for Radiology. But this was the first time that he went for Radiology. He also took Cardiology. Um...because they had no Cardiologist in Wilmington and they asked him...they also asked him, at the same time that Mrs. Caldwell asked him to come, they needed a Pathologist. So he took Pathology. Can you believe that? Took all three. And he moved to Wilmington. And at that time he did Pathology and took over the X-ray from...and he and Mrs. Caldwell worked together.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: He had an office down on...Dr. Caldwell's house was on the corner of Walnut and Fifth Street, I think. And the...it had sort of like a...a...it was a beautiful big 'ol house. I remember the house, and I remember the steps going down, you know, the old houses in town, you see the steps...?

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Well, Mrs. Caldwell said you...you can have your private office in...which was in Dr. Caldwell's house. It was Mrs. Caldwell and her sister and you'll...sissy will...my sister, I call her sissy...Mary Elizabeth, or Graham can tell you exactly, because they remember...really remember. I don't remember because I was too young. You know, I came along the last one, so...but my sister used to go down and help daddy run the machines, after...she would walk from New Hanover all the way down to Walnut Street after school, and would help daddy...stay in the office. Because he would be at...part at the hospital and part in the office.

Mims: Hum.

Miller: So then, he did the Pathology, Radiology, and Cardiology...they had no Cardiologist I Wilmington. Of course, they didn't even know, really, Cardiology...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: ...then. He had the first...he and Duke University had the first cardiograph machines in North Carolina.

Mims: Now when you mean cardiograph machines, is this EKG?

Miller: EKG machines. They were called cardiograph machines. We have letters that daddy wrote mother from Philadelphia. He sent his laundry...dirty laundry home on the train, mother picked it up. They cleaned it and put it back on the train to Philadelphia! Can you believe that?

Mims: There wasn't a laundry in Philadelphia?

Miller: I'm sure there was, but that's just what they did! He...um...we have all the letters...it's really interesting...it's like...it's really like a story!

Mims: Yea.

Miller: ...you know, and you really see what, you know,...I remember that mother wrote daddy, and daddy wrote mother.

Mims: Um.

Miller: It's really neat.

Mims: Tell us about this title that he had. I can't even say it. Roen...

Miller: That...that was just...that was what they called it then, it's Radiologist.

Mims: Can you say it though?

Miller: Roentgenologist.

Mims: That's R-O-E-N-T-G-E-N...

Miller: Roentgen started the X-Ray, you know?

Mims: No, uh uh.

Miller: Roentgen was the...was the first...yes. And so they called it Roentgenology back a long time ago. And then it became Radiology. Daddy was probably...I think he was, one of the first certified Radiologists in North Carolina.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: When the started doing, you know, certifying, and you had to go back, take boards...

Mims: Right.

Miller: They asked daddy to be on the boards. They called him from Washington and said, "You don't have to take boards but would you be in it?" So he was on the board for...to certify other Radiologists.

Mims: Sure. That's incredible. You said he also taught the nursing students.

Miller: He taught when...and I'm sure it was because he was Pathologist, see, and back then the doctors all taught, you know, at different times. And he taught anatomy and physiology for years. In fact, I can still close my eyes...in the X-Ray department at...at James Walker...it was downstairs, like in the basement, you know, you walked in right off the street and it was...and the big annex that you see with the...with the...

Mims: The columns, uh huh.

Miller: ...alright, if you'll look, there was an annex right here. Sissy, my sister said, when he first started, it was not there. That was built on later.

Mims: Right.

Miller: But it was still underneath. He...in a closet, he had a skeleton that he taught anatomy and physiology with. And I remember David, which was good for doing things...I mean, you know, brother...siblings...brothers and sisters...he went back there one day and got behind it, and it was...had a sheet over it. And when I opened the door, he just took the hand up and raised it...I about had a heart attack. I wouldn't even go back there for a long time. I must not have been...one time he took me...they had this old elevator, I mean, we're talking cement walls where it was at the time, when we were little, you know, it was like, cement walls. And I was too little to reach the buttons on the elevator, and David got in, he was four years old than I was...is, and punched the...punched the button to the attic and jumped out. And when the door opened, I was like freaking! I was in the attic! And I couldn't punch the buttons to come back down, you know. I was just like...that...that's my first memory of...

Mims: Do...do you remem...know anything about how Radiology worked? We have heard that it was kind of like a...a special thing. It was almost like a vending type service.

Miller: Uh huh. Where they...they had these big machines...

Mims: Right.

Miller: ...and you know, it's so funny, because we have a letter that daddy wrote from Philadelphia, to mother...and he said, "Elizabeth, this is the most amazing thing I have ever learned. I have no clue how it worked, but it works." Talking about the X-Ray...

Mims: Right.

Miller: ...you know, and the machines. Most of the doctors at the time when daddy went into it, you know, older, lost digits, you know, fingers, lost you know, a lot of 'em did. Because the doc...old doctor in Duke did. Because they didn't know...they didn't know how powerful it was.

Mims: Oh the...the radiation itself.

Miller: The radiation, you know, most of 'em...and I'm sure that's one reason my father died of cancer of the lung. And I...and I...I have a feeling...but of course, he always wore a leather...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: ...um...you know, he was very, very careful when...whenever he worked around it. And he...his fingers did kind of turn, you know...

Mims: And that was from...

Miller: ...his nails did down... I'm sure it was from being around...

Mims: Was that from developing, or...?

Miller: ...no, because he didn't...he had...he didn't develop, but he did a lot of deep therapy. Dick can tell you a lot about that because Dick...when he came back, you know, he...the families were close.

Mims: We're talking to him tomorrow.

Miller: Yea. And he can tell you more about...

Mims: The details.

Miller: ...the history and the details...

Mims: Okay.

Miller: ...of...um, than I can.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Um.

Mims: Do you know if your dad ever went over to Community Hospital?

Miller: Oh, I'm sure he did and I know that the cardiograph machine, or it's really the EKG machine...Dr. Roane and Dr...Roane...and Dr...

Mims: Avant.

Miller: Avant! And Dr. Eaton...

Mims: Yea.

Miller: Old Dr. Eaton one time borrowed daddy's cardiograph machine. But he...before that, he used to take it over there and treat the patients, you know, or...or help the doctors at...

Parnell: Community.

Miller: And I remember as a child, I was probably about five or six, and we went to Dr. Avant's house in the afternoon and visited him. It was after he had retired and I went with daddy and we went and visited, you know. It was right...he lived right there on Red Cross Street, right...the house right there...

Mims: Yea, uh huh.

Miller: ...on Red Cross Street. And daddy thought a lot of him, you know, he was a good doctor.

Mims: Yea, we've heard a lot of nice things about Dr. Avant.

Miller: He was just a nice man, I remember. He was not a real big man...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: ...you know, but...he and daddy worked together a lot.

Mims: So you had a lot of involvement as far as like being at the hospital and his office...

Miller: I did, and I'll tell you why, because I'm the youngest of six. When...when the other children were young, daddy didn't have time. I mean, he was doing three different things. But by the time I came along, there's thirteen years difference between my sister, she's the oldest, and I'm the youngest, and there are four boys in between. I was born on her thirteenth birthday. December the tenth.

Mims: So you were the sister she always wanted!

Miller: She was so excited, she walked all the way downtown, took her own birthday money and bought me a locket.

Mims: Aaah.

Miller: You know, she was just delighted, cause she was sick of all those boys, you know. And of course, mother and daddy had four children under the age of five...

Mims: Um.

Miller: ...when the started off.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: I mean, my grandmother used to say, "That is just common to have this many children," and of course he just kept on and on.

Mims: Did your mother ever have the opportunity to use her nursing degree?

Miller: It's like she said, she used it all her life on us.

Mims: On her family.

Miller: Yes. She never practiced, but she did take her boards, and passed 'em, you know.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And...well, yes she did practice, because during the war she did Red Cross...lots of Red Cross work.

Mims: Ooooh.

Miller: And I have a Red Cross pin that she had. And I also have her nursing pin...um...from her graduating class. She worked closely with the Red Cross and with the Canteen...the Armory down, you know, and she did...she did a lot of volunteer, and...and stuff like that. Of course, she was really busy because she had six children and back then, they...you know, it was different from nowadays, in the fact that she was...she was a home mother. Of course, there's such a span...there's thirteen years from my sister to me. By the time I got there they were worn out, I mean, you know.

Mims: I was wondering if she ever assisted your father with anything, like he had a built in helper.

Miller: Um, now see, I'm not sure, but I know that my sister did. She would go do X-Ray and help daddy a lot, you know. He taught her to run the machines, and whatever. I...I'm not sure whether maybe in Chadburn mother did...did help him some. I'm sure she did. Graham would be able to tell you more about that because he was born while they...they were all born in Wilmington.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: In fact, I do remember the story of daddy telling when mother and daddy...she was just jumping up and down when he got home, this is when they were living in Chadburn and said, "I'm gonna have this baby, I mean, I'm in labor!" And he went, "Well, you've got time." So they drove to Wilmington, you know, and got there, and the ferry had just left to cross and he hollered to the ferry, you know, to please come back because she was in labor. And...and she was like "I'm...you're not gonna deliver this...I mean, you know, I'm..." And they got to the hospital. Dr. Johnson...you were talking about Dr. Johnson...

Mims: Yea, uh huh.

Miller: ...delivered mother. Well Dr. Johnson delivered all of us.

Mims: Wow.

Miller: And they...they tell the story that when I came...finally came along, daddy played poker with Dr. Johnson and all of 'em every Saturday night...they all played poker. There were like twelve men. And they said daddy and Dr. Johnson missed two hands of poker when I was born! (laughing) And I'm sure probably that's true...you know...being the youngest.

Mims: Uh huh. Do you remember him working all the time or do you remember him...?

Miller: I remember him as when I was younger, he...working, you know. But he had more time then and he would take David on Sunday...he always went in...he would go to Sunday School, and we would go to Sunday School...and we got in this little thing...we knew daddy was going to the hospital, you know, after Sunday School...and man, David and I would be out there waiting, and he'd take us to the hospital with him, you know, while he checked films and did whatever. Until mother put a stop to it, you know, said, "They need to go to church." So we...but we would go with him. And being the youngest, I went with him a whole lot.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: You know, he had the time for me, he really didn't have as much time when the...when the older children, you know, were small, because he was so busy.

Mims: I guess what I'm trying to get to is, when did more help arrive? He didn't remain the only Radiologist.

Miller: No. I...I wish I could tell you.

Mims: Cause we're going to talk to Dr. Corbett tomorrow. We know Olin Perritt...

Miller: Olin Perritt...my father hired Olin Perritt.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: And Dr. Brouse...daddy...Dr. Brouse came...

Mims: Brouse?

Miller: Ivan Brouse. He's dead, of course. Daddy would be a hundred and five if her were living now. His first...the first person who came in with daddy was Dr. Brouse. And he came right, I think maybe after the war, cause I know he was in the war.

Mims: Wow, that's a long time.

Miller: Now Graham or Mary Elizabeth can tell you more about this because I don't...I don't have the...I don't know the time sequence, I just know I was probably four or five when he came. He came and then Dr. Perritt was Dr. Brouse...Mrs. Brouse's nephew. And they hired him. But that was a long time...for a long, long time, it was just daddy and Dr. Brouse.

Mims: Right.

Miller: (coughing) Sorry.

Mims: Because then we know that at the Community Hospital, that they used like Dr. Perritt and Dr. Sinclair to do their X-Rays. We've talked to Dr. Sinclair a little bit.

Miller: And see, Dr. Perritt was in with my father. Dr. Sinclair was at Cape Fear.

Mims: But then he came from Bulluck...from Bullucks Hospital.

Miller: Yea. He came from Bulluck. And Dick worked with Dr. Sinclair...

Mims: Okay.

Miller: ...at Cape Fear. And Olin...um...it was Dr...it was Uncle Ivan, and Olin, and daddy for years. Probably until...gosh...until Joe James came, and I was like sixteen.

Mims: Um hum. I'm not familiar with Joe James.

Miller: Dr. James.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: He...alright, that eventually became Glen...is it Glen Meade Radiology?

Mims: Oh, okay!

Parnell: Okay.

Miller: Okay. After daddy died, Olin and Glen, I mean, Olin and Joe James and...um...why can't I say his name...started Glen Meade Radio...or what is it...yea...

Mims: It's like Glen Meade Imaging or something like that now, because they incorporated...

Miller: Glen Meade Imaging, right...

Mims: ...all the...

Miller: ...and there are five thousand of 'em now.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: But to start with, daddy...cause see, at that time, the...he...they had the X-Ray in...in New...at James Walker. But daddy owned the X-Ray Department.

Mims: Right. That's where we thought that it was like a vending situation.

Miller: It is. And he owned the X-Ray Department. He also did a lot of work with Dr. Sidbury...

Mims: At Babies.

Miller: ...at Babies Hospital, yes.

Mims: Down at Babies, or he had the babies come...

Miller: Down at Babies...I think they had...I'm not sure whether they had a machine down there or whether they came to daddy.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Um...but I know he did a lot of work with Dr. Sidbury. And...and I don't think...anyway, he owned that. when they...when they built the new hospital in sixty six.

Mims: Sixty seven.

Miller: Yea. Cause I remember daddy donated a lot of his machines to Babies Hospital and to...I can't remember where...and then they moved.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And it was...daddy died in sixty seven see, so he...

Mims: Really?

Miller: ...he was at...he was only at the new hospital from, I can't remember...March of '66, I think is when it...I can't remember when it...

Mims: Well, the transfer date was June of sixty seven, when they actually opened it. But they may have had specialty departments opened earlier.

Miller: They did.

Mims: But they moved patients...

Miller: And then they moved the patients in June of '67 and my father died in September the 11th of 1967.

Mims: Wow, very close.

Miller: So see, he was not there very long.

Mims: Now you said he was ill?

Miller: He had cancer of the bronchial tube leading into the lung.

Mims: Um. How long was he diagnosed with that...did he continue working?

Miller: He...continued working. But he...he knew something was wrong, and they kept saying...he went to Duke, and they said we need to do a bronchoscopy. Well, back then, a bronchoscopy was not fun, you know. So he said, "No I won't do it." And finally, Dr. Bradshaw, who was then dean of...was one of daddy's really close...they went to school together...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: He was dean of the medical school at Bowman Gray.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: And Dr. Bradshaw came down and did a bronchoscopy on him. And when he did, they found it.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: So he um, they found it in the first of August and daddy was dead September the eleventh.

Mims: Wow. So he had been working sick all along.

Miller: For a while I'm sure.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: See at that time, Dr. Berryhill was dean of the...of the medical school at University of North Carolina. He went to Jefferson with my daddy. They were in the same class. And then Dr. Bradshaw too, who was the head of the medical school at Bowman Gray...all three of 'em went to...

Mims: Jefferson.

Miller: ...Jefferson together. Um hum.

Mims: It seems like...

Miller: It was a small world.

Mims: Right.

Miller: You know, even though, you know, it's a large state, it was a very small world at that time, you know...because...as far as medicine went. Probably three fourths of the doctors from North Carolina went to Jefferson.

Mims: But he's also like in a niche...a newly opening field.

Miller: In...in Radiology...

Mims: Right.

Miller: ...and really the Pathology too.

Mims: The cardio...the Cardiology...

Miller: And Cardiology too. They didn't even have Cardiologists then.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And I think he was interested. In fact my...one of my best friends, when she was born, her mother had heart problems. And daddy was there at the birth. She took him and, you know, he went to the birth of a lot of...you know, because he was the Cardiologist. But he gave up Cardiology, and Mary Elizabeth or Graham can probably tell you when exactly he...he didn't really give it up, but he, you know...

Mims: Just other people probably came in...

Miller: He went in Radiology, because seen in nineteen...Murray was a baby...Murray was born in...Murray was born in thirty three or...I can't remember...wait a minute, let's see...I'm trying to think what year he was born. Anyway, when he was a baby and mother and daddy were in Wilmington, he went back for eight months again to Philadelphia. This was when, I think he started with Pathology, and helping Mrs. Caldwell, and doing...and doing Radiology. He felt like that he needed more training. So after a year or two here, after they moved here, cause they lived in Sunset Park, he and mother and Murray...Murray was like six months old...and she took him cause she was nursing him and left all the other ones with my grandmother, and they went to Philadelphia and he took a whole extensive Radiology. And I'm not sure whether he did Cardiology then too.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: But he...he was there for like...they lived in Philadelphia for eight months or, I don't think it was a whole year, it was six or eight months.

Mims: Well, probably after the war is when we find out there's a lot more physicians coming into Wilmington.

Miller: Yes, cause when, see, when he was here during the war, a lot of physicians left.

Mims: Because they were called to service.

Miller: But daddy was so...and I remember saying something to him one time, "Daddy, you never..." and he said, "They didn't...wouldn't allow me to go in because they needed physicians here. So I was one of the ones that was left." And I remember as a child, sitting on the top steps, daddy was the warden, you know, when they had the black outs...

Mims: Yea.

Miller: And he was a warden, and he...and we'd have to cut off all the lights and...and David and I would sit on the top steps, and I was...I couldn't have been...it was in '42, I was about two...two or three...sit on those steps with David. And I can remember him saying "the Germans are down." I didn't know who Germans were from Adam but I was scared to death of Germans. But daddy would go out and check the neighborhood with a flashlight. And I remember sitting in the dark, scared to death, knowing the Germans were downstairs, had no clue what Germans were, I mean, you know!

Mims: But everybody was in an uproar about it!

Miller: Uh huh man, and it was bad, whatever it was, it was really bad.

Mims: Is your house still standing in Sunset Park?

Miller: Yea, well, they lived in Sunset Park when they first moved here. I think it is. That was way before I was born.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: Then they moved to Grace Street when Sissy was...went to Isaac Bear, which was original...

Mims: Wilmington College.

Miller: ...Wilmington College.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: She went to Isaac Bear and I...it's really funny, I wish you could talk with her. I would call her on the phone and let you just have a phone interview, because she really...she remembers so much, and so much about all the doctors.

Mims: But she went to elementary school at Isaac Bear?

Miller: She went to first grade at Isaac Bear School.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And she said, "I remember I got spanked every morning"...because the boys didn't have to go to school...of course they were little- little and she went to school when she was five.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And she said and daddy would take her on his way to the hospital...he'd take her to school. And she'd cry every morning because she had to leave the boys, and they were all happy and she...and then, you know, and the policeman would say "Come on Miss Mary, you gonna be late." She was...but they lived not far from there. So when she got a little older, she could walk home.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Well then, before David was born, let's see, I was born in thirty nine, David was born in thirty five...I think in about 1934, or some time in there, the boys could tell you because they remember...cause David and I were both born on Forest Hills Drive. They bought a house on Forest Hills Drive...was one of the first...there weren't but about five houses on Forest Hills Drive.

Mims: It was in the development stage.

Miller: It was in the country and Sissy and Graham, and the children cried. They went "We don't want to move in the country. We don't like the country"...I mean, you know, and it was like moving into the country.

Mims: Right, it was just barely on the trolley stop.

Miller: Oh, it was just...nothing. And way out...they moved to Forest Hills Drive and that's where David and I were born.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: There's fifteen months between my sister Mary Elizabeth and Graham, and then there's like, not quite two years between Graham and Poley, and not quite...about fifteen months, or eighteen months between all four of them.

Mims: Um.

Miller: And then they waited four years. There's four years between Murray and David, and four years between David and me.

Mims: Wow.

Miller: So the last two were...

Mims: Spread out.

Miller: ...spread out. Um...but they moved to Forest Hills Drive...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And that's where David and I were born. And yes, that house is still there.

Mims: Um.

Miller: If you go down Forest Hills Drive...if you turn off Market Street and go down...

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: There's a...about the eighth house...this big white house that sits up on the hill, kind of...it's a hill.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: That was where we lived. And right across the street there's a brick black fence wall and that's where Dr. Graham lived. They built that house.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And our house was built in like nineteen...I think, six or eight. A Dr. Hamilton, who was the public health doctor in Wilmington...

Mims: Ooooh.

Miller: ...built the house.

Mims: Um hum. Goodness.

Parnell: Do you remember your dad ever talking about going to Bullucks Hospital?

Miller: Yes. He went to Bullucks too. Um...I meant he did some things at Bullucks. But Bullucks was owned by Dr. Bulluck. And then Dr. Mebane and...

Mims: Pace.

Miller: ...Pace...Dr. Mebane, Dr. Pace, and Dr. Sinclair were all there. And Dr. Walker had an office down there too. Dr. E. P. Walker.

Mims: Hum. But because your father has this specialty, he probably was...

Miller: Stayed where he was.

Mims: ...where his machines were.

Miller: Exactly. And then, but he had machines down on...at his office too, I think. He had machines...daddy did a lot of...did deep therapy, that's what it was called then. Of course they did fluoroscopes, and they did all that. Dick can tell you more about that.

Mims: Right. We'll get that from him.

Miller: Yea, cause he can really tell you...and he worked at Bullock, like as a...

Parnell: Med extern.

Miller: ...extern.

Mims: Do you remember your mom saying anything about her time at James Walker as a nursing student? Can you recall any...?

Miller: Lots of things, but I can't...I've tried to recall 'em...

Mims: Yea.

Miller: Now I need to...one of my brothers is in Europe right now. I wanted to really talk to David and to Graham.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Two of my brothers died just in the last year.

Mims: Um.

Miller: Murray died in September a year ago and Poley died the year before.

Mims: Um.

Miller: Poley was a superior court judge here. And Murray died one year afterwards. So its really, you know, but Graham, my oldest brother could be...could tell you a whole lot about that...much more than I can because that wasn't my era.

Mims: Right. I just didn't know whether she...you remembered her talking to you about...about nursing.

Miller: About nursing, yes. And she...and about how strict they were, and about how, you know, and my mother, it's funny, and it...I'm sure it came down from that, you know, her organization, her cooking...everything she did came from, you know, where she was trained.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: You know, as to be...everything had to be clean and had to be...I remember her saying how, you know, that was so important for things...they had a sterilizer. And I...it must have been big. My mother was four eleven and they used to tease her about putting her in the sterilizer. I remember her saying that when she was in...when she was in nursing school.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: So it had to have been a huge thing, you know, that they put all the instruments and everything in, and then...and would sterilize it that way.

Mims: And we know that nurses were responsible for sterilizing.

Miller: Sterilizing. Yes. And for doing the kitchen. They had to...I remember her saying, you know, "when we were in nursing school, we cooked the meals, and we, you know", that...that was part of your nutrition...part of your schooling was that you went to the kitchen and you took your turn and you cooked the food, you know, for...for the patients.

Mims: Right.

Miller: I remember her talking about the wards. You know, they had mostly wards then. Big huge wards that they were on.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And...

Mims: But you, yourself, have recollection of how James Walker was set up structurally...because you were telling us where the Radiology was.

Miller: Oh yea.

Mims: And off camera, we were talking a little bit about the colored ward, so you remember that.

Miller: Yes. And the colored ward...I...I've been in the colored ward. The Radiology department...of course when daddy came it was only the...the big building with the columns.

Mims: Sure.

Miller: And then, I can't tell you when, they made this annex.

Mims: We have all of the dates on those.

Miller: But the...but the hospital...but the other annex, the newer end of the building, was after I was born.

Mims: Are you talking about the new nurses residence?

Miller: No. The nurses residence was behind. The X-ray department was here and the nurses residence was right here.

Mims: Okay.

Miller: And of course that was the old part, but I'm talking about the new...

Mims: That part over there.

Miller: ...and I think it was...it think it was like forty eight or...

Mims: I think so, after the war.

Miller: ...somewhere in there. It was after the war that that area was...was built.

Mims: 'Cause some of the...whenever they were trying to get the bond to come through to build a new hospital, one of the things that they talked about was people in the colored ward had to be transferred to the main part to have services like Radiology or surgery or stuff like that.

Miller: They did. And I remember the colored ward was in the back, X-ray department was here, and the colored ward was back here. Nurses...the nurses home was here and...and what they called a colored ward was there.

Mims: Um hum. I know...it...

Miller: I shouldn't tell you this story, but daddy was over in the...seeing mother, or he...there were some doctor, I mean, the...I guess the residents were over there and the nurses were sitting outside and they were talking, and daddy got called to the operating room. And it was like Halloween...this shouldn't be on the tape...

Mims: Okay. You want to cut it off?

Parnell: Well we've only got about less than ten minutes...

Mims: Okay.

Parnell: ...at this point.

Mims: We'll pick it up later.

Miller: We'll pick that up later.

Mims: Okay. Well, um, because we know that at one point in time the nurses lived over the colored ward and then later on the interns lived over the colored ward.

Miller: Well, see, daddy lived over the colored ward...

Mims: Right.

Miller: ...when he first came, I think.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: I'm not sure of that but I think he did, but the nurse were in...

Mims: The new building?

Miller: ...well they were in the old...well of course that was in nineteen twenty five.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: So that was the old...

Parnell: The original...

Miller: ...original nurses quarter. They made the new nursing quarters after. But that...it was in the same place that the old one was.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: The old nursing quarters were right behind the...

Mims: Well what is the story about your parents getting together? I mean, she was a nurse, he was a doctor, we know that the professionalism...that was kind of a no-no.

Miller: Oh yes, really big no-no...and I'm not sure how they, you know...

Mims: How they carried this off!

Miller: ...how...how they did that, you know, but she graduated in nineteen twenty five and he came in twenty three. I think nursing school was three years.

Mims: Yes, three-year program.

Miller: So she was like a sophomore.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: Second year, when he came. And I know she wouldn't have anything to do with him cause I remember her saying "but he said, that's the...I'm gonna marry that woman right there!"

Mims: Really?

Miller: And it was like Mutt and Jeff because daddy was six feet and mother was four eleven. So it...they really did look like Mutt and Jeff, (laughing) you know,...tall. Um, and I'm not exactly sure. I know my brothers could probably tell you how they originally...

Mims: Yea.

Miller: ...got together, but I know they would go to Car...everybody went to Carolina Beach on the trolley and on Sunday's or day off...and...and the doctors would go and the nurses, and I guess the, you know, they weren't supposed to speak inside. And I remember Ms. Hannah Bowles...I remember mother saying she nursed...she did private duty with Ms. Hannah Bowles...and Ms. Hannah...and of course daddy was a resident on it, and...and Ms. Hannah said, "You know you all ought to get together...I don't know what...you really should get together...you work so well together," you know, and of course then they did.

Mims: But you don't know why they got married two months before her...

Miller: I have no clue why. It wasn't because they had to...

Mims: No, but it had to have been a secretive thing...

Miller: Oh it was a big secretive thing! Because I remember mother talking about it, that they...daddy went out and asked Grandmother if she could have mother's hand in marriage and he always said Grandmother said, "Well if you can do more...anything better than I've done with her, you can have her!" you know. I think my mother was feisty.

Mims: Do you know where they got married at?

Miller: They got married in Marion South Carolina. And my Uncle Bud who was daddy's older brother and his wife, Aunt Myrtle went with 'em. But they didn't tell his parents until after they were married. And they went down...they got up in the morning, went to Hallsboro, drove an old car, you know, back then it was nineteen twenty five, you can imagine how long it took 'em to get Hallsboro...half the day. But they drove, picked up Uncle Bud and Aunt Myrtle and they went to Marion South Carolina, and got married at the First Presbyterian Church in Marion South Carolina. And then they drove back, dropped Uncle Bud off, and ma had to be back at nursing school at like ten o'clock, nine o'clock...went back in...and I remember her...daddy said she wore her wedding ring around her neck. And of course all the doctors would flirt with mo...make daddy so mad. Cause she would not even look at him, you know! But she would carry on with the other...the older...you know, the doctors, I guess just to aggravate daddy, I don't know!

Mims: Well probably tried to, you know, go overboard to keep it a secret.

Miller: To keep it a secret.

Mims: Right.

Miller: I guess they probably started dating...like he said, man when he walked down that hall and saw her, that was it, you know, he was determined that he was gonna have her. And, you know, they...it was all quiet and...and he was, of course had established that he was going to Chadburn. And I'm sure that's why he said, you know, he went to...they both...soon as she graduated in June, they moved to Chadburn.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And he was established there and I guess they just decided, you know, they didn't have any money...mother didn't have any money. I mean, cause her father was dead and her mother was...you know, and they didn't want to put a burden. But why they couldn't wait till June, I have no clue.

Mims: Right.

Parnell: They got married in...

Mims: April.

Miller: They got married April the 20th. Cause I got married on their 38th wedding anniversary. April 20th, 1925. And then she graduated on...like June 17 or 16th...somewhere in there. And there were only like five in her...

Mims: Right, we saw that picture...

Miller: ...graduating class.

Mims: ...yea, like five or six in her class. So that...that was tough, because if they had found out, I guess they would...

Miller: She would not have graduated.

Mims: No, they would have kicked her out as close as she was...

Miller: They would have kicked her out...the last...I can't believe they were that daring.

Mims: I can't either! Cause that...

Miller: I mean, that doesn't make sense, does it?

Mims: I've talked to other secret marriage nurses, but...there was, you know, the war years, it seems like there was a number that got married.

Miller: Oh yea, that got married...secretly married.

Mims: But there was, you know, the person was being deployed, and that kind of stuff. But this just seems so...

Miller: It's...I mean, and why they...bizarre!

Mims: Yea.

Miller: I...I have no clue why they decided to do that!

Mims: And your poor dad, he couldn't have had her as a wife, for, you know, a while cause she's still in nursing school.

Miller: No, and he didn't, I mean, they didn't even speak! Buy I guess, you know, that's what he wanted and so he decided he better grab her before one of those other doctors grabbed her, you know, and that may be...I don't know why...but anyway...and then they moved to...to Chadburn, and I don't think Grandmother moved with 'em right away. I think Grandmother moved with 'em after Sissy was born. So they had been in Chadbourn about a year...year and a half before Grandma moved. Cause I think she moved when mother had Sissy...Mary Elizabeth. And I think mother, when they did...when they moved to Chadburn, I think mother helped daddy establish...I know they had a train wreck...a terrible train wreck in Chadburn not long after they moved there. I mean, and people were killed and they were...and mother went and helped, you know, went and just worked with daddy and helped get, you know, and I think like you say, she did go in and help him...

Mims: During his office time.

Miller: Yea, during his office time there. You know, until she had children.

Mims: Right, and couldn't. What year did your mom die?

Miller: Mother died in 1974. Both my parents died when I was young. She had a melanoma in her eye.

Mims: Really?

Miller: Four years before in about nine...daddy died in '67...in '69 they found a melanoma in her eye. It was right before Warren, my youngest son was born. And they removed her eye. David Sloan removed her eye. And...and she did fine. And then it reoccurred in her liver in 1974, and she died. And it's so funny, because during that time I would come home. My children were little...Scott was in the third grade, but...but the two little ones were like three, two, and five...four...five.

Mims: Um hum.

Miller: And so I would come home and stay two weeks with her and then my sister would come home. We took turns, you know, taking care of her. And during that time we talked a whole lot about, you know, her life and daddy, and you know, the different things. I know when daddy...when I was little, he would go to the...what they called the Stockade...was the prison. He was the prison doctor at the Stockade.

Mims: Really?

Miller: Because my brother...

Parnell: We're down to just a few seconds.

Mims: Oh, we're gonna pick up on another tape. Do you mind? Do you want to keep going?

Miller: No, no, that's fine.

Mims: Do you want some water?

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