It was the last week in August, 1958 when I entered the School of Nursing. I experienced a mixture of happy anticipation and almost paralyzing nervousness as I rode in the back seat of my parents’ car. My best friend from middle school would be there. I had seen very little of her during our high school years because she attend a church school for her high school years. I had already decided that if we had to share a room with someone, it would have to be her because I didn’t know anyone else. I had always had my own bedroom because I was the only kid in my family… the dreaded “only child”! However, Mom told me to look on the bright side, because I’m going to gain a whole bunch of “sisters” at this school.
When we arrived at the Nurses’ Residence for our orientation, I wasn’t prepared for the crowd that was there. I later learned that there were 96 in my class, and all of us would be living in the new 10-storey Residence. We busily filled out our registration forms, introduced ourselves to others, and perused the information package, including our guidelines, lovingly referred to as the “Blue Book”. Finally, we were organized in groups of 20, for a tour of the building. We learned the routine of checking in and checking out of the Residence at the front desk, had a visit to the laundry room in the basement, complete with wringer washing machines and drying racks, and the PJ Lounge, next to the Laundry, where we could relax and watch TV.
Next, each of us was given a number and instructed to meet in the lobby on the second floor. It wasn’t until all of us were together that we were told the number indicated our assigned room number on either the first, second or third floor. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to my own compact and furnished room. There was a single bed with a brown blanket/spread and a vinyl upholstered “thing” the same length of the bed, attached to the wall. It was a place to hide our pillows, and also a place to lean on when the bed became our sofa in the daytime. At the foot of the bed was a large cupboard with two large doors and one skinny door, all with locks. It was the clothes closet and bureau all in one cupboard. On the opposite wall was a chair at a desk with a lid, three drawers on one side and a sink on the other side. When the desk lid was lifted, there was a large mirror on the underside of the lid, and a shallow area to keep cosmetics, toiletries, and any other stuff we wished to keep out of sight.
Last but not least was a “push button” on the wall with a little area above that didn’t seem to have a function, until we were given a demonstration. It was for communication from the front desk. One buzz was to let us know there was a phone call on hold for us at the booth by the elevators; two buzzes indicated a visitor waiting for us in the lobby. If the little area above was white, there was a message for us at the front desk. This, most definitely, became the most important feature in our room, especially on date nights.
By the way, we didn’t have the same room for all three years of our training. Every year we had to move up three floors, so that the new students could move into the first three floors. When we were seniors, we were on the top three floors, with a great view of the city, but the closest to a stern Matron who had her apartment on the top floor. We had great respect for her, and also a generous dose of fear. To the day that 91 of us graduated, the “Blue Book” remained our behavior guide, and she did her very best to make sure that we followed the rules.
Tags: Nurses Rules Education