It’s been almost a month since my last post and I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails. You helped me over the first major hurdle of my new life. I’ve been getting a lot of advice from my friends and family about how to move on and find happiness again. Some of my coworkers are telling me I should start dating. I don’t think so, but I told them to feel free to give my name and phone number out to any military general that they happen to know. I have standards, but I’m not totally picky. I’d go out with a Lt. General just as long as he looks like General Wesley Clark. Others have suggested that I take a long vacation. One of my readers, who is a nurse from my home state of Iowa, sent me this post card from her last travel destination. Bonnie, thank you for thinking about me while you were on your trip.
Meet the nurses of the Glore Psychiatric Museum, St. Joseph, Missouri. According to their website, the museum chronicles the 130-year history of what was once known as the “State Lunatic Asylum No. 2.” It sounds exciting doesn’t it? Trust me, it does if you’re a psychiatric nurse. The picture is from the early 1900s and shows what psych nurses were wearing back then. The armband signifies that they worked for the State Hospital No. 2, in St. Joseph. Dear Lord! I can’t imagine struggling with patients while wearing that get up. I’d be exhausted. No wonder it looks like those nurses are holding each other up.
Bonnie also sent me a nursing job description dated 1887. In addition to caring for fifty patients, nurses had to perform these tasks:
Sweep the floors of your ward daily. Dust the furniture and windowsills.
Maintain an even temperature in your ward by bringing in a scuttle of coal at the beginning of each workday.
Light is important for observing the patient’s condition. Therefore each day fill the kerosene lamps, clean chimneys and trim wicks.
Wash all ward windows once a week.
The nurse’s notes are important to the physician. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to your individual taste.
Day duty nurses will report every day at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 p.m. except on Sunday on which day you will be off from 12 noon until 2 p.m.
Graduate nurses in good standing with the Director of Nurses will be rewarded with an evening off each week for courting purposes, or two evenings, if you regularly go to church.
Each nurse should lay aside from her wages a goodly sum of her earnings. This is for her benefit during her declining years so she will not become a burden. For example, if you earn thirty dollars a month, you should save fifteen.
Any nurse who smokes, uses rouge, uses liquor in any form, gets her hair done at a beauty parlor, frequents dance halls, or who engages in levity on Sunday, will give the Director Nurses good reason to suspect her worth, intentions, and integrity. If her misconduct in such an unseemly and unladylike manner is brought to the attention of the Hospital Administration, she will be asked for her resignation.
The nurse who performs her labors, serves her patients and doctors faithfully and without fault for five years, will be rewarded by the Hospital Administration with a 5 cent pay day increase, proving there are no hospital debts that are outstanding.
Free soap is provided for personal cleanliness. Its use is mandatory.