Saturday, October 16, 2021

My life shaping memories (#1)

 In 1943 our family moved to Massachusetts. My dad had a new job in Boston and it was a big change for him, as it was for all of us. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 took us into the thick of WWII and, although I was too young to understand the horrific effects of that, I was well aware of the drama.

I loved seeing the boys (and some girls too) in their uniforms and to my 9 year old self it was a time of great patriotism and wonderful music. Of course we didn't have TV then but our one big console radio in the living room was on non-stop and it was there that I heard about the British sailors bringing their war torn ships into the Fargo Naval Base for repairs.

I also learned that the crews from these ships stayed at The Union Jack Club. It was a place to eat and sleep but if their stay was long they had virtually nothing to do to pass the time away. This gave rise to “Host Families” who would invite the sailors to stay with them instead of being bored at the Club. The minute I heard about this I knew it was a way that our family could help out the war effort.

When my unsuspecting Dad asked if I had anything special that I wanted for my 10th birthday I told him that I wanted a British Sailor. Not only did I get my wish but, over the course of the next 2 years we entertained 126 boys and many of them that worked at the base became like family and would come to our house whenever they could. Let me introduce you to a few.

                                                            Ron and Bert


...and my favorite, Happy. He was an Australian in the Air Force. His plane went down and a British ship picked him up and brought him to the Union Jack Club. He said I was a dead ringer of his sister.

In September of 1943 the war came to an end … as did our hosting days, but I will always credit that event as being the opener for me that we are part of a HUGE WORLD (not just caught up in the wants of our country alone) and we need to recognize that and open our hearts and minds to differing customs and beliefs… truly an eye opening experience. 

Monday, October 11, 2021


 My Canadian blogger friend AC has presented me with a challenge. After my recent series of “Memories from the ER” he wondered what my next series of memories might be. You would certainly think that to be an easy question since I've lived more than 88 years and should have a lot to share, but the problem is that I've been blogging since 2006 and there's little that I haven't already written about.

However I like the idea, AC, and have decided that I am going to attempt it. I will start it here with a brief overview of my background and then follow it every 6th day with a chronological look at the events that have shaped my life. 

I was the youngest of 5 girls, born in 1933 in Plainfield, NJ. My mother was from Brattleboro, Vt. and a retired art teacher. Dad was a production manager in an advertising agency in NY City, and all of us were living in Plainfield where he grew up. (My mother sketched this picture of me while she was still in the hospital after the birth.)

I didn't realize it as a child but I was extremely lucky to have been born into a warm and loving family. It was at the height of the Depression and less than a month after I was born FDR became president ! That was the start of an amazing journey for our country and for my family. We weren't paupers but we had to scrimp to make things work and FDR's weekly “fireside chats” (which the family listened to on our big old wooden radio) were comforting. No wonder that I've been a lifetime Democrat …

So that's my background and my series will start with memories of our move to Wellesley, Mass. when I was nine.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

HATRED in our country...

I know that this is a big change from my last 5 blog entries where I took everyone, myself included, back to a time of 'NORMALITY' in our country. However those days seem to be gone forever and my own clash with it last week brought it front and center to me.

I needed to stock up on some things and decided to go to Walmart. It was the usual busy place and the check out lines were long. I gave a smile to the woman (with her overloaded cart) at the end of one line and said something inane like “I guess this will test our patience.”

I realized too late that I shouldn't have tried to be friendly. She immediately took it as an invitation to spout out her hatred of the way things were now and the minute she mentioned Trump I put up my hand and said “no politics please”. Well, as you might imagine, that opened the gates and, after she'd spouted more hatred she shook her fist at me and said (in her loud, angry voice) “I'll bet you're one of those damn, f__ king Democrats.”

I wanted to ignore her but she kept on ranting so, once again, I held up my hand & said, “yes, I wouldn't characterize it as you put it, but I am a very proud Democrat.”

Luckily it had become her turn to check out and she didn't have time to continue her ranting. I was glad it was over, but looking back on it I realized that no one had agreed with me (and, in all fairness, had not taken her side either), but it was a very sad awakening of how low our country has become. 

I pray it's not too late.


Saturday, October 02, 2021

ER Memories (#5 ... and the last)

I've had fun relating some of the crazy things that I remember from the 32 years that I spent in the ER of our local hospital, but it seems only fitting that I end this series with a tribute to one of the ER Docs that I worked with for over 15 years.

My fondest memory of “Moose” (as he is lovingly referred to) was on a September day in 1990. My husband of 32 years had passed away on the 22nd and this was my first day back at work. I was working beside Dr. M. that day and, other than a quick hug in the morning, there was no indication that he was aware of my sadness. It was the usual hectic day and I found comfort in the hustle and bustle of things that I was used to doing.

That was one of the longest days of my life. I found that if I concentrated on each task as it came up that I could get through without crying; but, it was very taxing and I was exhausted when my shift finally ended.

It was a very strange feeling to approach my empty house. It had so recently been filled with family and friends who had helped me cope with the loss of Dick. Now they were all gone & I was on my own. The tears were streaming down my face as I unlocked the door and entered.
Once inside the house I was overcome with emotion. Giving in to my exhaustion I headed for the bedroom and that’s when I noticed that the light was blinking on my answering machine. I was so tired I almost didn’t listen to it but I did ... and here’s what it said:

Hi, Ginnie, this is Moose. I knew you’d be walking into an empty house and just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. We love you and are here for you. See you in the morning.”

I have never forgotten how much that simple message meant to me. I’ve kept it close to my heart and I bring it out on occasion, even now at the age of 88, when the healing process falters. Thanks, Moose.


Monday, September 27, 2021

ER Memories (#4)


Most of my time in the ER was spent fulfilling the orders of the harried staff … ordering labs, xrays, calls to specialists, etc. Since our ER was often overloaded it was a challenge to keep ahead of it all and I thrived on it. I was older than most of the nurses and even many of the doctors; however, this didn’t seem to matter. I was good at what I did and they appreciated that.

Over the years I took on kind of a mother figure there. They knew that I was of the generation that finds the “F” word shocking and they rarely used it in my presence. I appreciated their consideration. I was also sure that they would never hear that word from my lips. I will never forget the day that this came to an end !

The nurses did very well with the ER Docs but as soon as a staff Dr. showed up the whole atmosphere would change. These doctors were very demanding and expected the nurses to drop everything (no matter what was going on with the other ER patients) and to be at their beck and call. This particular day it was exceptionally busy. All 18 rooms were full, 3 staff doctors had arrived at the same time and none of the ordered lab results had come back. When I called the lab they explained that a technician was out sick and they were doing the best they could.

I relayed this info but the staff doctors wouldn’t accept it. They had the poor nurses almost in tears and I couldn’t believe the words that were being yelled at them, the patient charts that were being banged down and the overall disruption of the ER. Of course this ultimately came down upon my head, the messenger of the bad news. I knew that none of the patients were critical and could see no reason for all the turmoil. I was completely fed up and had as much as I could take so I stood up and yelled …“Everyone just F__king shut up.”

This brought on absolute dead silence and it seemed to stay that way forever until a nurse broke the ice by saying, in a timid voice: “Oooh, that’s just as if my mother said that.” That did it. We all broke up laughing, the staff doctors stormed off and we went back to business as usual.


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

ER Memories (#3)

In 1985 my little town of Vass, NC, played host to a small-time circus to raise money for a local charity. The draw for the opening night was Tiny Tim who some of you will remember for his unforgettable rendition of “Tiptoe though the Tulips.” 

I saw part of his show but had to be up very early the next day to get to my job in the ER of  our local hospital. Imagine my surprise upon arriving there the next morning to see a familiar looking figure dressed in a long black coat at the front desk. It was Tiny Tim. 

He had a small paper bag with him and was pleading with the head nurse to have the ER Dr. see him immediately and in private. She finally determined that he was carrying a urine sample that he swore he had obtained from a girl in Vass (!) She, according to Tiny Tim, was accusing him of getting her pregnant and he wanted the Dr. to prove her wrong. This whole scene was getting more and more bizarre. The nursing supervisor tried to tell him that it was way too early to determine anything but Tiny Tim just became more agitated and obnoxious.

He started yelling about “my rights as a citizen” and “people taking advantage of me because I’m a star”, and it was at this point that the news photographers arrived. In retrospect we could clearly see that we’d been conned. He managed to get a front page spread in the local newspaper, as well as mentions in the Raleigh and Fayetteville ones also.

The un-named girl from Vass “conveniently” disappeared and Tiny Tim, with a big 

                                                               GOTCHA !   

smile on his face, tiptoed quietly out of our lives.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

ER Memories (#2)

Looking back
to the late 70's I am amazed at how casual it was in the ER where I worked. Almost everyone smoked and the medical personnel would often be exhaling smoke as they entered a patient’s room. We even had one doctor who loved his cigars and you always knew when he was nearby because the smell of those cigars followed him everywhere.

It was around the mid 80’s when one of the MD’s (who specializes in pulmonary diseases) started to complain. At first he was laughed at (especially when he warned us of second-hand smoke) but he kept at it ruthlessly. The first things to go were the ash trays in the ER ! Then, little by little, the powers to be started to rally behind him and by the mid 90’s all smoking was banned inside the hospital, including in the cafeteria. 

However, when I retired in 2001 they still had designated smoking areas outside at perhaps 20 different locations. Now, fast forward to 2010 when I visited a sick friend and saw this sign for the first time:


          HURRAY… the entire hospital, inside and out, is now smoke-free!

                                            THANKS, DR. COLLINS.