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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
University of Florida
Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
University of Florida College of Nursing Project
Interviewee: lona Pettengill
Interviewer: Ann Smith
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Iona Pettengill
Interviewer: Ann Smith
October 1, 2001
Pages 1- 6 Pettengill was born in 1924 in Mapleton, Maine and entered a three-year diploma
nursing program in 1942. She was inspired by the public health nurse who helped care for her
sister (thought to have tuberculosis) when they were children. Because wartime legislation had
recruited many nurses into service overseas, opportunities of stipends and additional admissions
to nursing schools, encouraged additional students.
Pettengill feels she received a good basic education from the nursing instructors in
anatomy, physiology, biology and microbiology. In the clinical care of patients, she was taught
current content including making intravenous solutions, preparing hypodermics from pill-form
medications, and making the formulas for the newborn nursery. She joined the Cadet Corps in
1943 in which the government paid for educational expenses and gave students a $15 monthly
stipend in exchange for a declaration to spend the last six months in service in the Army, Navy,
Public Health or Bureau of Indian Affairs. Her last six months were spent in Public Health in
Boston with the Visiting Nurses Association.
On a scholarship to Boston University School of Nursing, she went on for a
baccalaureate degree. While in Boston, a friend she had grown up with was returning from Pearl
Harbor and asked her to accompany him for a visit back to their home town. She noted his
profuse night sweats and urged him to see a physician. Pettengill realized she wanted to marry
Dwynal but recalls being more excited about starting school. When her new husband had an
episode of coughing up blood, she was alarmed with her knowledge of public health.
Pages 7- 10 Dwynal Pettengill was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Torn between going to be
with her husband and finishing school, she sought out the dean, who told her she should finish
her education if she was going to be a widow at such an early age. Her husband was sent to the
Navy Hospital in New York which housed hundreds who had contracted TB in the war. While
she worked in the Visiting Nurses Association in Worcester, NY, her husband underwent one of
the first pheumonectomies [removal of pulmonary lobes of the lungs] they had ever done in July
1947. They decided to move to the Tampa area where the weather would be more conducive to
Her husband applied to go to school in Gainesville, studying political science in 1948.
Iona Pettengill worked for the Alachua County Health Department conducting training for new
employees of all disciplines, all over the state of Florida. After her daughter was born, she
worked in the office of Dr. W.C. Thomas and also did some private duty nursing in the hospital.
Her husband finished his masters in 1952 and they went to Baltimore where he began Ph.D.
Pages 11-14 A new tuberculosis hospital was opening and Pettengill was recruited for her
public health knowledge and her personal experience with this disease. When her husband was
far enough along in his study that he could be home with his young family, she returned to public
health nursing. She worked for the Baltimore City Health Department that included the
supervision of students from the University of Maryland. When she mentioned to their professor
that she was not educationally qualified to do this, a full-time scholarship to Maryland was
offered to her. She received her baccalaureate degree in 1962 from the University of Maryland.
For the next three years, Pettengill lived in Virginia and was nursing supervisor of
Hampton health Department. This was a turbulent time for the family because of funding
difficulties and socio-cultural issues. When the opportunity for her husband to join Eastern
Kentucky University in Richmond, they were happy to move.
Pages 14-19 Within two days of her arrival in Kentucky, the dean of the Applied Arts and
Technology approached her, urging her to start a new nursing program and accept students in
two weeks. She began with students but little else such as texts, rooms, or clinical arrangements.
When a qualified director for the program was hired, she shared with Pettengill that there was a
program being offered at University of Florida in four summers and leading to a masters degree
in nursing. From 1968 until 1971, Pettengill attended this program, bringing one or both of her
children with her for the summers [Summer's Masters Program was designed as part of a PhD
thesis requirement of Marion McKenna under the direction of Dorothy Smith].
Pettengill believes that she was at the right place at the right time and treasures her
memories of all of the nursing leaders during the summer programs. She recalls the philosophy
of Dorothy Smith, Dean, as nurses being "hands-on practitioners." She carried this forward in
her career and taught this to students. She saw Dean Smith as a "take-charge" lady and regrets
not knowing they had the state of Maine in common. She could not take advantage of more time
with Smith since Smith was a smoker and Pettengill had a severe reaction to the smoke.
Pettengill recalls that persons smoked in classes and yet, as a public health nurse in her two
previous positions in Baltimore and Kentucky (heavy into tobacco growing), she was not
allowed to mention nonsmoking classes.
Page 20-28 Pettengill found adjusting to segregation difficult, coming from public health and
caring for itinerant, black patients in clinics and their homes. She tells of association with the
black mid-wives and the treatment of a young woman from Micanopy who was being trained at
Alachua General Hospital.
In the summer masters program, Pettengill's specialty was obstetrics since that was
closely associated with public health. Summer seminars covered the concepts of combined
service and education, unit manager support system and different levels of educational
preparation for nurses. Her experience with the variously prepared nurses in the work setting
was smooth if they were given the proper orientation to their roles.
Pettengill discusses her thoughts on LPN's, PA's, and ARNP's. She supervised many
ARNP's in the field of public health since the first ones prepared were in Pediatrics and Mid-
wives and they gravitated to public health. She was a consultant for the State of Florida and in
collaboration with Lois Malasanos, the Dean of the College of Nursing at the time.
Pages 29-35 Pettengill left Florida in 1962. She had some contact with Dorothy Smith at the
reunions held for the participants of the summer masters program. Pettengill was recruited back
to the state to work as a consultant, the same year that Marion McKenna went to the University
of Kentucky as Dean of their Nursing Program.
Pettengill saw Smith's legacy as a pioneer in marrying nursing service and nursing
education-teaching and practice. She felt nursing lost some value when many parts of the
diploma education were discarded as education for nurses moved into the university settings.
Pettengill fondly remembers the masters program offering collaboration opportunities with the
other disciplines and nationally prominent consultants. She talked about learning from Elizabeth
Kubler-Ross, Lulu Hassenplug, Vera Keene, Lee Ford and others-their seminars to the class and
getting to know them as people.
Interviewee: lona Pettengill
Interviewer: Ann Smith
Date: October 1, 2001
S: Today is October 1. I am in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, with lona Pettengill for an
oral history for the College of Nursing and the Oral History Program at the
University of Florida. My name is Ann Smith. My first question, lona, is where
were you born?
P: I was born in a little town named Mapleton, Maine, on the very top of the state,
close to the Canadian border.
S: And what year was that?
P: In 1924.
S: Let us skip ahead and tell me where you got your basic nursing training.
P: I went to school in Portland, Maine, which was then known as Portland Maine
General Hospital, and is now Maine Medical Center. I really went in underage
because of the decree inl942 to recruit students into nursing programs.
S: How old were you?
P: I was seventeen. Maine law required age eighteen to start the program in order
for you to be twenty-one when you finished and therefore eligible to write the
state licensure exam. But I had already been out of high school for a year.
S: And this was a hospital program?
P: Yes, it was a three-year diploma program. When I was refused admission on
that first attempt, I just stayed in Portland to keep close by so they would know I
was available. In those years, the routine was that a class would enter in
February and a class would enter in September. Of course, they were teaching
twelve months a year. So I tried again the following February--that would have
been February 1942--and was denied because I was underage. Well, then, a
proposal was made to try to start an extra class in June in order to capitalize on
the youngsters just completing high school. So, because I was in the area and
the superintendent of nurses was keeping an eye on me, I was notified that the
class was going to begin. I went with all due preparation and got all of my
uniforms and all of the to-do things. When I went for my physical, I was told that I
still was not old enough because my birthday didn't come until the end of July.
Well, I got my feisty little self up and said, Well, if I am not acceptable now, I
won't be when I get to be eighteen. I will go elsewhere. So, negotiations started
with my mother by telephone to see if she would assume the legal liability for me,
number one. Number two was the proviso that I stay as an indentured servant,
that is, a student until my twenty-first birthday, when I would be eligible.
S: What do you remember of your basic education? Do you remember it as
wonderful or positive?
P: Oh, it was a whole new world for me. I came from a very little town, but from the
time I was a youngster, I wanted to be a public health nurse. When I realized
that one had to go through the traditional steps in order to get that far, I just
succumbed to the basic program. The reason I wanted to be a public health
nurse was because my sister, who was two years older than I, was confined to
the house when we were young [elementary school] allegedly for tuberculosis.
My mother was a strong-minded woman and she was determined my sister was
not infected. So she kept her at home. The public heath nurse had to come by
and make sure that we were all in compliance with public health and quarantine
regulations. We called them state nurses at the time. I can see that woman as
plainly now, in my head, as I can see you. I can see that blue uniform and
authoritarian status, but she wanted so much for my sister to be well. Now this
sounds like folk medicine, but my mother was right on the mark. Apparently my
sister had a tooth extracted by a dentist who was often "in his cups from
drinking." She had aspirated the tooth which had made an abscess on her lung
and when that encapsulated itself, while supported by good nursing care from my
mom, she expectorated that tooth. She got well. So she never did have
tuberculosis. But the picture of that nurse never left my head. When you are
growing up, they say, What do you want to do when you grow up? and for me, it
was always a public health nurse.
S: Were you influenced by someone in your family?
P: No. Never. As a matter of fact, I was the first one who ever left home. Our little
town had all of 800 people in it. Five hundred were McPhersons. I was the
youngest of a large family. So leaving home was a very traumatic thing for my
mother but it was the year of the war [World War II] and the dispersion had come.
Many of the young men in my high school had gone off to service and this was
the impetus for my mother to agree to let me go.
S: Tell me more about the program. When you had your student nurse's uniform,
did you have black stockings?
P: Oh, yes.
S: You were on probe [probation period]?
P: Oh, yes.
S: For how long?
P: For six months. In that special class in June--June 23, 1942--there were twenty
of us who started. Sixteen of us finished the probationary period. But I still had a
leg up because I was working in a residential hotel where there were a lot of full-
time residents who were actually patients with private nurses. The physician who
was the chief of orthopedic surgery or the orthopedic department was also one of
our residents. Because I was too young to serve drinks, I had to be put down in
the corner of the dining room. So it was my station. The nurses would bring their
patients down to the dining room. There were diabetics and the scale was in my
corner of the dining room. They would have to parcel out all of the food. They
took interest in me because they wondered what I was doing there. I was this
school kid. Dr. Pingree was the name of the old doctor, and he took an interest
in me and wanted to know what I was doing there. So, Isabelle, who was the
hostess and the director of the hotel dining room, protected me. She knew she
was answerable to the superintendent. When it was declared that I was going to
be accepted in the June class, they gave a party for me.
S: How nice.
P: They bought me my little bandage scissors; they bought me my little pocket
watch on a string; they bought my black shoes because it was ration time and we
had to get my coupon from Momma at home, and my black cotton stockings.
They gave me a pocket of money to buy my uniform. So I had it made. They
were all cheering for me. I just felt like they were my greatest support group. Of
course, I learned a lot by watching those nurses, you know. I was really into it.
So, yes, we had six months as a probe, and we had our basic fundamentals--
well, we called them nursing arts. I think we were there two days and taught how
to make a bed and use the sterilizer to dump the bedpans, to sterilize the
bedpans and then we were put on the wards. This is when they had the big,
open wards, you know, forty beds, twenty down each side with just room
between two beds for a bedside stand.
S: And your assignment is left one through eight, for example?
P: Right, right. I thought we had really special teachers.
S: Were they nurses or doctors?
P: They were all nurses, for the nursing arts and the fundamentals. You see, when
we got into anatomy, physiology, biology and micro, we still had nurse
S: That is wonderful.
P: When the regular class came in September, we were grouped with them. This is
when we started our so-called academic courses of anatomy, physiology, biology
and whatever [else] was in the curriculum at the time. That is when we really
started our clinical affiliation.
S: You gave hypodermics?
P: No, no. We learned how.
S: You never gave them as a student?
P: Well, not that summer. We didn't give them until the fall class came in and caught
up with us. Then we could have that on our regular assignment. Now I must be
truthful, when we were on a floor and the head nurse thought that we were
competent enough to do it, she would let us give them under supervision. This is
when we had the little gas lamps and the spoon, and we had to boil the water at
S: And it came in a tablet?
P: The medication came in a tablet which we dissolved and we had to do all of our
own syringes: all of our autoclaving and sterilizing and cleaning, sharpened all of
S: Are you talking about the needles for the hypodermics or the operating room,
P: Everything. We also made up all of our own IV solutions, all of our formulas for
the newborn nursery and pediatrics. So it was a very concentrated course. Then
midway--I think we had only been in a year--in June of 1943, the Cadet program
came into being. Mrs. Staples deemed it advantageous that we join. So we
were taken over by the Cadet Corps in June of 1943 and we were given a
stipend of $15 a month! Up until then we either had an allowance from our
parents or had saved something, like I had. In the Cadet Corps, we had to make
a declaration of how to spend our last six months of school. We could either stay
at our hospital and pick a clinical speciality or go into Army, Navy, Public Health,
or Bureau of Indian Affairs. There were five choices. Of course, I went into
Public Health, so it was great. It just meant that our curriculum was so collapsed
and we never had a day off. Excuse me, we had a day off but we worked broken
shifts except for nights. My nemesis was that I had never been allowed to stay
up all night in my life.
S: So, working all night was ... ?
P: Well, I couldn't sleep days. I could work because I would go on adrenalin, but I
couldn't sleep during the day. You know, you come from the country and
everybody has their eyes open and being productive in the day. All God's
creatures slept at night. So I would go on reserve until I would get sick. Then my
punishment was to work double that time on the three to eleven-shift. So I spent
a lot of time in the second year and a half on three to eleven-shift. But there
were advantages to that because you learned a lot. For the few head nurses
who were left at home with some experience, we had good mentors, good role
models. I valued that, particularly in the Obstetrical Department. The Pediatrics
Head Nurse was a little martinet, but I wasn't afraid of her.
S: In what year did you graduate?
P: I graduated in 1945.
S: You graduated in 1945 and from the Cadet Corps. Then what did you do?
P: Well, the last six months I spent in Boston on my internship in Public Health with
the Boston VNA [Visiting Nurses Association]. It was one of the oldest public
health agencies in the country with great prestige. But my challenge came when
the licensure exams were given in Maine. You had to have your affidavit in about
three weeks before you were accepted. My birthday didn't come in time. In the
meanwhile, I had received a scholarship to the Boston University School of
Nursing to get my baccalaureate. But the Catch 22 again was that I had to have
completed my RN. So, in distress, I went to the dean, and she said, Well, it is
not as dark as you seem to think. You just write your examinations in Boston.
And I said, But, I will never qualify. You know I came from a school in Maine.
She said, Don't underrate yourself. So, she helped me and I got my application
in and all of my papers. I wrote my initial licencing examination in Boston,
S: Isn't that nice?
P: That is what I say. I have been so blessed. I have had a leg up from everywhere
I stepped. For as young and as naive and unsophisticated as my background
S: People are basically good. They sweep you along.
P: Yes. So I wrote my exams. I aced them. I started school in September and
glory of glory, my former obstetrical supervisor--who had left to go in service--
from Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, was there. I held the woman in
awe in my heart. She sought me out to be her study buddy. Her name was
Hendrickson, Miss Hendrickson. We were studying one night and I said, Why did
you chose me? And she said, Because you are a good student. I taught you.
S: How long did your baccalaureate take?
P: Well, I had an interruption because my heart took me elsewhere. He was a man
I had grown up with at home except that he was the first born of very young
parents and I was the tag end of very old parents. So his parents were my older
siblings' ages and they were all in school together. Dwynal and I grew up
together. He wanted mightily to go away to school but then the war started. He
graduated a year ahead of me because he was even more advanced than I. He
graduated from high school when he was fifteen. Anyway, he went in the Navy in
March of 1941 so he was in the fray before it started. He was in Pearl Harbor
[December 7, 1941] when it was attacked. He was on an aircraft carrier that
went to the South Pacific, and he was there during the entire war.
S: And were you married during this time?
P: We were not then, but we were when I started school at Boston University. He
came home in August 1945. Their ship had been badly damaged in the Pacific
and they couldn't patch it up in Pearl Harbor so he had come on his ship to
Bremerton, Washington and he came cross country. He knew that I was
beginning school in Boston. He stopped in Boston and said, I wish you could go
home with me. I don't want to go up there alone. It was tough time, emotionally.
But, I said, I think you need to see a doctor. Did they examine you when you got
off that ship? He said, No. They were too glad to get rid of us. We put him up in
a folding cot. I was living with two other women. We had an apartment that
belonged to my cousin. We put him up on that folding cot and every day when I
would make the folding cot up, it was as wet as though he had been incontinent.
I said, Why is your bed so wet? And he said, Oh, well, I have been in the Pacific
for four years. And I said, But, you are not in the Pacific, now. He responded,
Well, I sweat all of the time. Having just finished a three-month affiliation in
tuberculosis control, I said, Maybe we ought to look into that. Well, in the
meanwhile, I said, yes I would go home with him. So, we went on the train. We
went to northern Maine and he saw his parents, his grandparents and the whole
kit and caboodle. On the way back, we got bumped off the train by the officers.
You know, travel was really touch and go, even on the train in those years. So
we went to my aunt's in Portland and she looked right at me and looked right at
him and she said, You are going to get married, aren't you? Well, it sounds like a
good idea. He allegedly was going to be stationed at First Naval District in
Boston. When we got back to Boston, I sent him down there and they refused to
see him because they had no papers on him. When they looked into it, he was
going to be sent to Miami to go out on a training ship. So he said, Why don't we
get married? I said, I will, if you go to your doctor as soon as you get to Miami.
So we went, just like we were going down to buy groceries. We went to the
Justice of the Peace on Massachusetts Avenue and we walked in. She looked
me up and down and said, You all right? And I said, Well, I guess so. I am going
to start school this week. I was more excited about starting school than I was
about getting married. Isn't that a terrible admission to make fifty-six years later?
It seemed like the thing to do. Well, having gotten to Miami, he went to the sick
bay, which was just a hotel down on Flagler Avenue. He said, My wife told me to
get an x-ray. They had nothing. So they set him up to have his x-rays. I told
him, If the doctors won't to listen to you, you go to the chaplain. But he went to
the doctor and told them, My wife told me that I needed an x-ray. Because the
day we were going to the Justice of the Peace, I was washing my hair--and oh, I
had a mop of hair--and I was on my knees over the tub. This was days before
showers. He came in and said, What are you doing? I said, I am washing my
hair and I had a pitcher to put the water on to rinse it. And he said, May I help?
And I said, Oh, I wish you could. I got tickled. He started to giggle just because I
was laughing. He didn't know what I was laughing about. He started to choke
and he turned around, lifted the lid to the commode and he hemorrhaged. And
that is when I said, You are going to the doctor. That is blood. And he said,
Yeah, I have done that a lot, lately. Nobody had ever picked up on that. So that
is all preliminary by way of saying, I didn't know what to do because when he got
to Miami and they diagnosed him, they were going to put him to bed to die.
There was nothing else they could do back then. So, I went to the dean and
said, I don't know what to do, to go down there, to stay ... ? She said, My dear,
if you are going to be a widow that young, you need to get your education. You
had just better stay right here. And I did. Well, it was prudent that I did because
they were shipping those guys out to Navy hospitals. There was a Navy hospital
in Geneva, New York. Actually, it had been an Army Air Force Base and they
converted it into a Navy hospital. Everybody--every Navy personnel who had
contracted tuberculosis in the war, east of the Mississippi River--was housed
there. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of them were there.
S: You were in school then during those times?
P: I was in school. I stayed for my two semesters. I did not get the degree but I did
get a certificate for Public Health. So, with all of this transition, they were
decommissioning the hospital because those Navy doctors wanted out, like
everybody else. Now, you see, it is peacetime. He was transferred to a VA
hospital in Worcester, Massachuttes in Rutland [north of Worcester]. I said,
'Well, I was just not focused enough to continue anything more so I moved to
Worcester and I worked there.
S: You worked in the Worcester hospital?
P: In the VA hospital. No, I mean the VNA in Worcester. He was one of the first
pneumonectomies [removal of pulmonary lobes of a lung] they had ever done.
Dr. Overholt, whose names you will read in the archives ...
S: I know it.
P: You know Med-Surg better than I do. He had accomplished great things by
going into the chest during World War II when he was in England, removing
shrapnel and other foreign objects and so forth. So Dwynal was the fifth one
they had done with the crew from Massachusetts General Hospital. Overholt's
understudy was named Harkins. He looked like a big, overgrown Van Johnson.
I will never forget him coming out there with a jug of blood under each arm.
Dwynal was operated on the third of July in 1947. In those days--this is before
the antibiotics or before the anti-tuberculosis drugs came out--the only thing they
had was bed rest, unless they wanted to take extreme measures. Dwynal said, I
need to do something because if I don't get out of here, I will end up over there,
anyway. "Over there" was the mental hospital. So, I said, it is your body. It is
your lung. I'll stand behind you, however you decide. He was the first one to live
with a complete pneumonectomy and a two-stage thorocoplasty reparativee
surgery of the thorax] on his left lung.
P: So I was with the VNA and in fall of 1947, the week before Thanksgiving, we got
him out of the hospital. I knew we didn't want to go back to northern Maine. I
was living in a little box in Worcester that was not conducive for a convalescent
patient going into winter. This is a man who had only been in the tropics or
hospitalized. We went to Tampa. One of my high school classmates had
married a Navy lad from Dover, which was a little town in Hillsborough County
outside of Tampa. So we came to Tampa.
S: Did it work out?
P: It worked out well because by this time, Dwynal was being followed by the VA
over in ....
S: Bay Pines?
P: In Bay Pines. He petitioned to go to school. They approved him to go to school
and I said, well, why don't we just go to Gainesville? Every university in the
country is going to be overloaded with returning veterans anyway. It is close and
it is here in Florida and we owned a little travel trailer.
S: So that is how you got to Gainesville the first time?
P: That is when we went to Gainesville and he started school in the fall of 1948.
S: What did he study?
P: Political science.
S: At that time, did you work?
P: Oh, yes, because he was under Public Law 16.
S: What is that?
P: It is different from the GI Bill. It is a little stingier. I went to work for the Alachua
County Health Department, which at that time, was the training program for
everybody new coming into public health in the state of Florida. How it ended up
in Gainesville, I don't know, except for politics. Frank Hall was a master in
politics and public health.
S: Did you have a district?
P: Oh, yes. I had a district. I had the entire west part of the county.
S: Alachua County?
P: Of Alachua County. I had a role in teaching, orienting--and I am talking about
nurses, physicians, vital statisticians, nutritionists, sanitarians--anybody who had
anything to do with county health here. Depending on how long it took them and
depending on the county to which they were returning determined how long they
stayed with us. A lot of these people had never been in public health at all or
studied any theory.
S: How long were you in Gainesville with the Alachua County Health Department?
P: I stayed with the Health Department until my first baby was born in July of 1950.
Then, I went to work for Dr. W. C. Thomas--Billie, his son. Boy, when Billie came
back to Gainesville, he was so different from his father-figure doctor, that many of
the nurses stood in awe of him. Well, I stood in awe, period, because I hadn't
done hospital work since I was at St. Joseph's in Tampa. Even down there, I
was on a mixed ward. They had OB and Med-Surg and men and women and
everything else all thrown in together. Dr. Thomas's nurse fell into ill heath and
had to go to Jacksonville. He wanted me to work in his office. He even paid for
a sitter to keep my daughter, Mary. Then, whenever he would get a patient who
needed "specialing" [private duty nursing care], because in those days, there
were no Recovery Rooms, ICUs or that sort of thing-and I would "special" the
patient. Or if Preacher Gordon had somebody from his church he wanted a
special nurse for, I was called. I was pretty well familiar with the Gainesville
environment and health department, hospitals, and physicians. Dr. Glen
Summerlin, who was the first obstetrician to come to town and join Dr. W. C.
Thomas, Sr., was my obstetrician both times. Dr. Kokomore was the first
pediatrician and I knew Dr. Kokomore because one of my colleagues had gone
to nursing school in Jacksonville where Dr. Kokomore had done his residency.
So we were all primed. We knew all of the inner circles.
S: You were in Gainesville for how long that time?
P: We were in Gainesville from 1948 and left in September of 1952. My son John
was born in 1952. My husband got his baccalaureate in 1951 and his Masters in
1952 under Manning Dauer in political science. He had a lot of history courses,
too. That is how we knew Sam Proctor.
S: Where did you go from Gainesville in 1952?
P: We went from there to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
S: And that was for your husband to go to school?
P: Yes, we went there for his Ph.D.
S: Did you work there in Baltimore?
P: I went to work for the VA Hospital. I had two little kids and I knew what our
finances were so I would have to work. In the orientation at Hopkins, there was a
buzz going around. They wanted to know how this particular student chose
Johns Hopkins. We were the only married ones. So Dwynal said, Well, my wife
knew she was going to have to work but she refused to go any farther north than
Baltimore. It was the least money of any of them. There was a new hospital
opening in downtown Baltimore at the corner of Alameda and Northern Parkway,
and it was all tuberculosis patients. They were doing all these great experimental
things in surgery and medication, headed by Johns Hopkins physicians and
some of the key people from the University of Maryland Medical School. Of
course, with our personal experience and my professional experience, I was very
interested. When I was interviewed for the job, I said, You know, I am really not
a hospital nurse. They said, No, but you have all the attributes that we need.
You know how to work with families, and you know the public health implications.
And so I did. It was a wonderful experience. They had to open on a quota
system. They opened a ward and put two patients in, what was supposed to be
a double room, or they put four patients in what was to be a four-bed room until
they built up a quota where they could open the next ward. Then they would hire
another crew of nurses. Because I was in on the initial thing, they wanted me to
stay on the surgical floor so that I could work with the patients prior to surgery-let
them know what was expected and do the orientation with the families, follow
them in the Recovery Room, and up until they were transferred down to the
rehabilitation floor. It worked out well. I learned a lot. I taught the doctors a lot,
too, about rehabilitation. The first time, I picked up on something and
challenged the chief surgeon, Dr. Keefer. Oh, he was a splendid man. He was
as sweet as he could be. He was giving this little talk to the families of the
preoperative patients. He said, Well, you know, they will always be respiratory
cripples for the rest of their lives, no matter how the surgery comes out.
Afterwards, I said, Dr. Keefer, I think you are doing a disservice to our patients.
He said, What do you mean by that? I said, I think you should meet my husband.
He asked, what have you got to say? So I told him. He said, I want to meet that
young man. And he did but he never made that remark again to another family.
We were there until both of my children got in school. By this time Dwynal was
far enough along in his graduate work that he was able to be home when they
got home from school because I wanted to be back in public health. It was just
what I wanted to do. So I went to work for the Baltimore City Health Department.
I had a district. That was when J. Huntington Williams was the Health
Commissioner. I mean, he was Mr. Public Health, personified. They were
bringing the baccalaureate students from the University of Maryland College of
Nursing down for their clinical educational experience and I was their sponsor. I
said to the professor one day, Dr. Grotofen, you know, in all honesty, I am not
qualified to be the sponsor of these girls. She said, what do you mean by that? I
said, I don't even have a degree. She asked, why don't you? I said, well, I was
too busy putting my husband through. She said, well, we will correct that. So,
the next week, she called me and said, Dean Gipe wants to see you at the
College of Nursing. I went down and said, but I can't afford to do this. I have got
two little kids. My husband was still a teaching fellow.
S: At Maryland?
P: At Maryland. And she said, We just happen to have a full-time scholarship.
Now, you see, Ann, the trend that I am talking about with the mentors I have had
along the way?
S: Yes. But nursing has always been like that. Maybe other fields are, too, but I
certainly know it is true for nursing.
P: But this is our field.
S: I certainly have had that experience, too, where you don't even know that
something is out there and someone taps you on the shoulder and says, Come
P: It puts you in the right spot at the right time. Of course, I would have been a
perpetual student because I loved going to school. I said to my husband, What
do you think I should do? And he said, I think it is your turn.
S: You got a gem, didn't you?
P: Oh, I got a gem is right. I said, Well, it is going to take a little adjustment with our
S: How long was the program then? Did you get some credit?
P: They contacted Boston University. I not only got credit for all of my courses
there, but I also got credit for all of my clinical because of my work experience. I
had to take things like advanced statistics, epidemiology, some of the academic
courses, public speaking, and a few of those things. It was very interesting
because it was a mixed group. The University of Maryland has world satellites
and there were a lot of military people who were working on their advanced
education courses or continuing education, brownie points, or whatever. It was a
very interesting group.
S: How much longer did you have to go?
P: I just went that year.
S: Just one year and that finished up your ... ?
P: In 1962.
S: In 1962, you have your degree.
P: My baccalaureate degree was from the University of Maryland. My husband had
finished a dissertation and his orals there. He had an offer from the College of
William and Mary in Virginia. We went to Williamsburg, Virginia. I was courted
immediately to become the nursing supervisor at Hampton Health Department,
which is down the pike from Williamsburg. We were there for only three years. It
was a very unsettled time in Williamsburg. There was big deal. I don't know if
you know anything about the geopolitics in Virginia but each city is a separate
unit. They are not part of a county. My husband had done a study on the
feasibility of combining James City-County and Williamsburg. Well, that kind of
tore at the turf. In the meanwhile, that thing called integration of public schools
came down from on high. I had worked on it mightily at the health department
because we were getting our Title X monies, you see, from federal funds. They
said that anybody who is getting Title X money is going to have an integrated
staff and an integrated case load. So I had a challenge because I was a Yankee
girl, and I didn't speak the right language. I was suspect to begin with because I
came with a degree. The only other degree people I inherited on that staff were
from Hampton Institute, meaning black nurses and qualified. And so I had the
support of most of the staff; I lost a few of the white ones.
S: Interesting times.
P: It was very turbulent at school because of the school situation that my children
were put in. My son, John, was a very precocious son. He was very bright. The
school system left something to be desired. We knew that we could not, in good
conscience, afford to send him to a private school without sending his sister.
That would have been devastating to her and probably to John. They were
S: I imagine.
P: Another factor in that, as well, was that I had been promised--because of the
travel factor before the Interstate Highway System--when the job opening came
in Williamsburg, I would be given first dibs. When the opening came, I was
denied because, as they said, my husband was in politics. I said, he teaches
political science and state government. But it reflected on me, you see. I was
hurt and insulted. A man who had been one of his colleagues at Johns Hopkins,
in the meantime, had gone to Eastern Kentucky University as chairman of the
Political Science Department. As a matter of fact, he had given us an offer at the
same time we got the one from Williamsburg, but I wanted to stay on the East
Coast. I am very much of a flat lander. When all of this upheaval came, Dr.
Ogden had been made dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, and he
recruited Dwynal to come as chairman of the department.
S: And where was this?
P: In Eastern Kentucky, Richmond, Kentucky. It was in the state university system.
So I said, Let's go. We packed up and went over the mountains. At this time, I
just felt like I was going to take a breather. Well, one of the provisoes was that
both of our children would be enrolled in the lab school and that would eliminate
the entire mess of the private school versus public school. It filled all of our
[End of side Al]
P: Kentucky is the vital element in this whole sequence.
S: Your husband is teaching, now?
P: Chairman of the department on a twelve-month contract.
S: And you?
P: Nothing. It lasted two days. The moving cart came. The dean from the School
of Applied Arts and Technology showed up on my doorstep. You are Mrs.
Pettengill? I said, Yes. I didn't know if it was a question or an indictment. I didn't
know if I had done something wrong because we were going into a rental house--
a big old barn of a house. I understand you are a nurse? I said, yes, sir. Then,
he said, I would like to make a proposal. Could you help us get a new school of
nursing started? And I said, when? Well, school starts in two weeks. I said,
starts? You mean a new program? Yes, he said. And to this day, Ann, I will
never know how the State Board of Nursing ever allowed that school to get
started. There was a big College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky twenty-
five miles up the road. There was the Berea School of Nursing at the work study
program fifteen miles down the road. Well, that is all you have to say to a public
health nurse, Could you help us? I took him at his word, when he said help. I
said, well, I am really not an educator. By definition, he said, public health
nurses are. I said, My background is in public health. So, he had done his
homework. I said, John Rowlett, how did you find out about me? He said, I had
my scouts. Fred Ogden had told him all about it because Fred Ogden knew us in
Baltimore. I said, Well, I can help. They had accepted sixteen students. We
didn't have a textbook, a syllabus. We had a classroom in the back of the ladies'
old gym that smelled of sneakers and whatever. That is what we had. I said,
Well, we are going to have to have some equipment and some school supplies.
The woman he had chosen to help me and who had agreed was the wife of a
history professor. She had been a nurse from a diploma program like mine, but
when she had the opportunity to go back and get a degree, it was in nutrition
because she didn't really like nursing and she didn't really like nurses. She
certainly didn't like nursing students. I hope she never reads this. And so I was
the prime mover in that little episode. But, like everything else, when you learn
two steps ahead of the students, you learn as much as they do. The biggest
challenge was trying to find clinical opportunities for these youngsters because
the established schools have those local hospitals sewn up.
S: He wanted you to set up a baccalaureate program?
P: No, it was an associate degree program and that is why it was housed under the
School of Applied Arts and Technology. The same year we started the nursing
program, the program in Criminal Justice started--it was corrections and that sort
of thing. So we weren't the only new kids on the block, but it was quite an
S: Do you know to this day why he felt he needed a nursing department?
P: Money, it was under the Applachian Study Program. They get a bounty on every
one of those students' heads.
S: So sixteen students were ready to start, and he was saying to you, Let us do
something with them.
P: I signed a nine-month contract. Marion and I muddled through the best we could,
and we got the students out for their fundamentals and OB. Well, of course, OB
was kind of a natural to me because you do a great deal of maternal-child health
in public health anyway. She took the Peds end of it. Then the next year, Dr.
Rowlett brought in a woman from--we never knew if she was from Tulsa or
Tucson--but she was from out there somewhere. She was older than dirt, deaf
as a post. She was brought in allegedly to teach Medical Surgical Nursing, but
she couldn't hear the students. She thought they were all stupid and that they
S: What a fiasco!
P: I had to be the intermediary there with the dean and I said, This is just not
working. So he brought in a woman who was retired from the Army Nurse Corps
out at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. She was a general, bar none, but more like a
Marine staff sergeant. She frightened the students. She literally frightened them.
The next person on staff was a woman to do Psych. We were bussing those
students all over eastern Kentucky for their clinical learning experiences. She
was afraid of bridges and if you know anything about that part of Kentucky, the
highest bridge over the Kentucky River was between Richmond and Lexington.
So she bombed out. I ended up teaching Med-Surg; I ended up teaching Psych.
I finally went to Dr. Rowlett and said, you know, it has got to be better than this.
These kids deserve better than this. So when he brought in his old retired Army
nurse, she had her own ideas about what to do. She went to the president and
shook her finger in his face. The president called Dean Rowlett and said, You
get rid of that woman. I will not have anybody shake their finger in my face and
make threats to me. So here we were again without a leader. Dr. Rowlett went
to the University of Kentucky and pleaded with them and got a woman named
Charlotte Denny who was on their faculty. She was a savior to all of us.
S: She came to head the program?
P: She came to head the program and she brought some cohesiveness to it. As a
postscript, the poor old Med-Surg lady got pneumonia and died. We started from
scratch again with Marion, me, and Charlotte Denny. They brought in some new,
younger blood--pirated, mostly from other schools. However, Charlotte had gone
to a Directors of Nurses meeting. This is when Mildred Montague's idea of the
two-year program really came to full flower. The state of Florida was in the
vanguard, not only with its community college system but with its articulation into
the upper division. Nursing was a natural to fit into that model. There were going
to be some orientation studies down in Bradenton at the community college
[Manatee Community College]. Charlotte heard about an orientation program
down there and she sent me. In the meanwhile, Marion McKenna had come to
the University of Florida and had written a grant, a proposal for a grant to bring
us folks in who were not up to speed and prepare us in a Master of Nursing
Program in four consecutive summers.
S: For a Master of Nursing degree?
P: For a masters. This was in 1968. So, I was again at the right place at the right
time to come. My children were old enough then that I had the liberty to do that.
As a matter of fact, I brought John with me. He was the younger one. Mary was
old enough to stay with her Dad and take some summer courses at the
university. We commuted for four summers.
S: 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971.
P: There were nurses from all over who were doing the same thing I was doing.
S: Was it all over the country?
P: Well, it must have been. One gal was from Salina, Kansas. Some were from
Louisiana and from Florida. Sister Catherine Panzic was from West Virginia.
There was one from North Carolina.
S: When someone asks you to explain the philosophy of the two-year program as
opposed to the baccalaureate program, what do you tell them?
P: It is a technical program.
S: And for the non-nurse or non-medical person, what does technical mean?
P: It means you do the practical application of the art of nursing. You get enough of
the theory to know why you are doing what you are doing and for what purpose.
It is the hands on, direct-care [approach]. It is comparable to what we had in the
old diploma program. It is just a more comprehensive, concentrated course, and
it is put into an educational setting rather than a hospital setting.
S: But they will have an academic degree so that if they choose to go on ...
P: They matriculate right into the upper division because they have the
prerequisites. And in the state of Florida, particularly, it is designed that way.
We have had friends in our professional relationships who have always cited, Oh,
I came to Florida to learn about your junior college or your community college
structure so that it can be replicated in our state.
S: When you were going to those summer programs, who instructed you?
P: It depended upon what your clinical was and I went into maternal child health
because so much of that is maternal-infant and family planning--so much of that
applied to public health. But we were exposed to the others through the
seminars and so forth. And the beauty of this program was that they brought in
S: That is right. That was part of the grant.
P: Yes. One of the visiting names was Loretta Ford. She made her name not only
in public health nursing but in starting the advanced registered nurse practitioner
S: She was a great supporter of Dorothy Smith.
P: Oh, indeed she was. In maternity nursing, of course, it was Ernestine
Weidenbach and Vera Keene. JoAnne Large. I don't remember whether she
was in Peds or Newborn because we shared a lot of those. Betty Bear, who was
a midwife. Jeanne Howe, who was Peds. Oh, I have them all down because I
just thought this was the greatest opportunity. I mean, where else in this world
could you go that you could get all of these names and shining lights.
S: Here were these people, the leaders in the country, and they would come to little
P: Oh, my goodness, yes. It was such a joy. Who else did we have? I have all of
my term papers so I could look them up. I could tell you.
S: I think that was just a golden time. And it was a golden time for lots of areas of
the College of Nursing. It was a golden time for some of the things that were
going on in Shands Hospital.
P: Well, this whole concept that Dorothy Smith applied: that we don't apologize for
our apprenticeship. We are hands-on practitioners. Physicians never apologized
for having to do internships and residencies. I always said that so many things
were thrown out with the diploma programs that stood us in good stead. This is
the kind of thing that I tried to incorporate in my teaching. Of course, you get the
theory, the administration, and the supervision in your baccalaureate program.
But I never forgot my roots.
S: And lucky for you, you didn't.
P: I applied it throughout my teaching when I was on the associate of arts program.
Of course, in public health, you apply it every day in every way. Even after I
went on as consultant, I would go right in the health department and get in there
and do it with them.
S: Everybody in nursing, always admires that. Sometimes you did it intentionally,
but any nurse who doesn't still do or is not willing to do, automatically is checked
P: It doesn't fit.
S: Most of us had that as a value, just ingrained.
P: That is right because that is the way we were indoctrinated.
S: Then you met Dorothy that first summer?
P: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
S: What was your impression of Dorothy the first time you met her? Do you
P: A take-charge lady; a take-charge lady. No nonsense, as I say, no apologies for
being in there, doing it. Had I known at the time that she was from a little town
up in Maine, I probably would have had far more identification with her than I did.
My only hesitancy was that she was a heavy smoker. I had a difficult time
because they smoked in class. She and Marion were both very heavy smokers.
I have a very strong antipathy--and at the risk of being indelicate--I don't just
cough and sneeze and puddle up. I get a real colitis--a real colitis--just being
around smokers. I was doctored for it for a long time before I realized why it was
happening to me. So I didn't cultivate my presence. I respected them and I
admired what they did and what they stood for and their writings. But I tried to
keep my distance. Does that make any sense?
S: Absolutely, it certainly does. When I think about Dorothy in her later years,
walking around with an oxygen tubing in her apartment, I think what a shame that
P: Marion recently died from lung cancer.
P: And just since I have been in the state as a consultant, I can start from
Pensacola and go all the way to Jacksonville and south on the peninsula and
count the women in public health leadership, both as nursing directors,
supervisors, educators, and consultants, who have killed themselves with
smoking. Almost every one of them, to a person, was younger than I. Not that it
makes me any better, but it was such a contradiction to me for somebody to be in
public health, and teaching prevention--that is what public health is about.
Because I always had the philosophy that it was a lot easier to keep people
healthy than it was to pay for them to get acutely ill. You would go in some of
those health departments and it smelled like back in Kentucky where they were
doing the curing of tobacco. That is an interesting sidelight, too. When I was a
public health nurse both in Virginia and in Baltimore, I was never allowed to even
mention nonsmoking classes because there was a lot of tobacco growing in
those states. I just couldn't. You couldn't talk about family planning, either, until
the decree came down from on high and said, Now, it shall be taught. I thought
all of those interesting cultural changes that have taken place in my lifetime.
S: What about racial segregation between 1968 and 1971?
P: Well, it was difficult for me because I wasn't brought up that way. I think what
really got me--now, this is going back before Shands. This is going back as a
young public health nurse in the state of Florida. I had never been around
segregation. I didn't know what it meant or what it was supposed to mean. We
had to have two of everything. When we would go on these itinerant visits, we
would just take our clinic supplies and our files [the records] and have these
immunization clinics. We had a lot of lay midwives then and we had to supervise
the lay midwives. It was segregation that was so difficult for me to accept
because they were still people and they were having babies and they were being
delivered at the house.
S: What provisions did you have to make?
P: We had to make sure the bag was clean and sterilized and that they had enough
literacy to fill out a birth certificate. And that was just about it. As a matter of
fact, I had to remove the license of one old midwife down in Micanopy because
she kept losing babies. She didn't boil her scissors and the babies would get
infected umbilical cords. But I recruited the first replacement, her daughter,
Geneva. I worked with Dr. Thomas and Dr. Summerlin and they brought her to
Gainesville. This is when all of the black patients had to be down in the
basement of Alachua General Hospital. I had the first trained lay midwife who
was licenced in the state. They went to the board of trustees; they went to the
commissioners; they went to every kind of body and got permission for Geneva
to come up there and work with Dr. Summerlin for deliveries. I don't know how
long she kept her licence after I left the state. But even when I came back to the
state as consultant in 1971, I was given the program for supervising the lay
midwifery licensure across the state. When the nurse midwifery programs came
in, I was given those, as well, because that was before the State Board of
Nursing ever took over the licensure. I had to verify their credentials and
approve them for their academic preparation for practicing nurse-midwifery in the
state of Florida. So I have seen a lot of historical changes in that realm.
S: Some of the nurses had talked with sadness about the doctors' offices in
Gainesville and having separate entrances and separate waiting rooms.
P: Oh, yes, and bathrooms.
S: For most nurses, how difficult that was.
P: It was a little awkward, too, with Geneva, because black patients were not
admitted to the hospital very often, particularly for something as "routine" as
childbirth. And those who were admitted were in jeopardy or high risk to begin
with. So it was kind of a skewed picture for her. She had worked with her
mother enough to know what a normal birth was.
S: When she came up to Alachua General Hospital for learning experiences, did
she stay in town?
P: Oh, no.
S: She would go back home to Micanopy.
P: She commuted.
S: Could she eat in the same cafeteria?
P: No, oh, no. They brought their sack lunch or she ate in the basement. There
have been many, many changes. What confused me is when I was asking
directions in those rural areas, residents would say, no, it is down the road a
piece in the white cemetery. It looked like any other old cemetery to me. Or it
would be called the white school, and it was painted brown. It took me a long
time to get this mindset with schools, particularly. Black schools painted yellow
looked just like the white schools painted yellow. I was really in culture shock.
S: I think that happened to a lot of people. There were some who had grown up in a
place where there were not any blacks.
P: I never saw a black until I went into nursing school. The first one I ever saw was
a stevedore who was brought in as a patient off a ship, a Liberty ship, in Portland
S: And how was he treated?
P: Oh, he was treated like a very sick man. He was the biggest man, I think, I had
ever seen--the strongest man. He was delirious and they had him in the bed with
restraints on. Because he was so strong, he could just pick those bed siderails
right up. I was terrified. I had never seen a black person. But do you know that
when that man came to--he lived--when he came to--he was appalled that we, as
nursing students, had to wash the floors and had to wash the beds. He would
jump out of the bed and grab the mop because he didn't think it was proper or
fitting for us to be mopping floors, swabbing the deck. I came from a little rural
town in northern Maine into nursing school. But then I had come to Alachua
County out of downtown Boston. It was a double whammy.
S: Now, when you were in the summer program, was your specialty in Obstetrics?
S: Did you have clinical experiences at Shands?
P: Oh, yes.
S: So you heard about the unit manager system?
P: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, a lot of those young patients were brought in with
absolutely no prenatal teaching because they were clinic patients. I inherited the
nursing students because the summer that I was doing my labor and delivery, I
had a hysterectomy a month before I came down. I would go to class, go home
and rest, and then I would do my clinical in the evening. This is when a lot of the
Santa Fe Community College instructors would send their students up to the unit
because they knew there was a woman up there who could supervise them. I
would have those nursing students in there coaching labor and explaining the
process to the patients. One of the interns came up to make rounds one night
and he said, my God, it sounds like a cheering section in here. What are you
doing? I said, we are coaching. He asked, who are you coaching, the patient or
the nurses? I said, Well, I am a student, too. I had to cover myself. I had a ball.
S: Do you remember seeing anything about the unit manager system in action on
P: Only peripherally. In other words, we were controlled by it. That is how we
functioned. I knew the theory, but, I didn't have any participation in it. Betty
Hilliard did, of course, and Jen Wilson.
S: Was Audrey Quarles there?
P: Audrey was there. Who was one of the other girls?
S: Was Audrey's name Herbert then or Quarles?
P: I think it changed in the years. I think it was one of each.
S: Yes, she was. Did Dorothy Smith or others talk about how they had combined
service and education?
P: Oh, yes. That was in our seminars. Dorothy Smith and Marion McKenna were
both in the seminars, three hours. I thought it was an excellent plan. As I say, I
wasn't in any administrative status, but I had the background that I could apply it.
There was a dear little woman from Thailand. She was in our maternity group.
She was still learning the culture, the language, and the ways of the world.
Because of my public health background, I used to go with her to the clinics--the
prenatal clinics out in the county. Oh, I had a good time with that. That was
extra. May-lee. She had a name that long but she named herself May-lee.
S: Can you tell me anything more of your understanding of Marion McKenna's
research or have you told me what you know about the grant proposal?
P: Well, I think that is how she got her Ph.D. out of it.
S: That was her doctorate research?
P: As far as I know, and in my experience, it has never been repeated. Even
though my husband did call me a slow learner, taking four years to get a masters
S: Well, tell him you really absorbed every little tidbit.
P: He got a baccalaureate and a masters degree in four years.
S: Let me go back to the different preparations of nurses. We had hospital-trained,
diploma nurses, and we had the baccalaureate nurses launched, and now we
were introducing two-year, community college-prepared, technical nurses. What
is your experience with how those nurses would collaborate out in practice?
P: I think if they had the proper introduction, and if the existing staff knew the level
of preparation, they did all right. Everyone had to understand what each level
was taught to do and what they were licenced to do. Of course, the licence was
the same for every RN but if you look at the fine print in the licensure, it says,
only practice that for which your education is commensurate. So it was a little
dicey. I know a lot of those girls were exploited on one end, putting too much
administrative responsibility on them. Then, on the other hand, some of them
were treated like practical nurses. A lot depended on the individual's personality,
if she was confident and if she was aggressive enough. I taught a course in
professional ethics and professional education preparation. So they knew their
job descriptions. I told them not to get one of these blanket boilerplate, generic
job descriptions and come in and be a warm body who can give medicines.
S: I think that was really important.
P: It was critical.
S: Some of them could articulate that better than others.
P: Because a nurse is a nurse is a nurse, you see. And I think it has been abused; I
think it has been exploited; I think it has not been honored. I didn't have any
quarrel with Mildred Montag because, as I say, I came through a practical
program, as well. That is not to distract anything from the baccalaureate
because that is imperative.
S: They said at the outset, One is not better than the other. They are merely
P: They are very different. Their purpose is different. If the employers would honor
that and let that be known, right up front, then I think the nurses would have done
remarkably well. But then, there is this age old controversy, It is the same
license exam. Why don't we have either two [exams] or one program?' But it
wasn't expedient. When we were just gaining ground, there came this massive
nursing shortage. It was because nurses were attracted to so many other areas.
They are not being recruited and they are not being valued. They are not being
paid. The same is true of teaching. We are in a dilemma. That two-year
program really filled a tremendous need in this country.
S: How about your experience with LPNs out in public health?
P: Yes, as a matter of fact, one of the first LPNs I ever worked with was dear Rosa
in Alachua County Health Department. She was a black LPN and she was the
sweetest, kindest, most knowledgeable person on the staff, as far as I could tell.
Then when I went into teaching, two of my best pupils were already LPNs. They
brought enough to that program so that they were role models for the youngsters
just out of high school. I drew upon that, believe me.
S: I think that is valuable. The eighteen-year-old, who has just graduated from high
school but has few life experiences to call upon, can really benefit from strong
LPNs who have had a year of introducing themselves to the patient and who has
gotten over the fear of touching a sick person in bed.
P: I had one little girl who was a very bright girl. She would ace any test put before
her but she froze in the clinical situation. She had never seen an old patient. I
took them to the nursing home. She had never touched another female. She
came to me in tears and she said, I just don't think I can do it, Mrs. Pettengill. I
said, Better to know now, dear, than later. So, I counseled her out of the
program. I thought it was a fair thing to do because she was a bright little girl and
she was eager.
S: I don't think everybody is cut out to be a nurse.
P: Oh, I agree.
S: I think it is a great disservice to talk someone into the profession. You really
have to love it when you think of what nurses do in all of the specialties.
P: You have to be comfortable in your personal relationships. You have to be
relaxed enough to get the patient relaxed. I had a lot of respect for the LPNs.
S: I have met some wonderful ones in my career.
P: Just on Friday of this week, I was mentoring one. They have started an
associate degree program here, at O.W.--Okaloosa Walton County Community
College. I remember when I first came on as a consultant. Sadie Reading sent
me out here to talk with the dean. They had an aspiring program then. Well, for
whatever reason, it did not materialize. There was an LPN program at the
technical school. Interestingly enough, the Associate Degree Program is housed
in the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center because there have not been places on
campus for their clinical labs until they get their new facility built. This dear lady
is the wife of a retired Air Force chaplain. She has raised four children. They are
all adults. Her eldest daughter is an ordained minister. Minora has been an LPN
working with Hospice. Her husband does a lot of work with Hospice as a
chaplain. When the A.A. program opened here, she was one of the thirty
students out of several applicants. But she was overwhelmed. She has been
out of the loop awhile. She saw me at church one day and she said, Would you
be interested in doing a little tutoring? And I said, Minora? She said, I guess I
just have forgotten how to study. She had bombed one of her first exams. And I
said, Well, my dear, I'll do anything I can to help you. You know that. She is a
lovely lady and into so many things. And that was another thing I counseled her
on, too. I said, You have got to focus. You can't be all things to all people now.
She takes care of her eighty-three-year-old mother at home who is also a nurse.
It surprised me that she asked me. I said something to her on Friday when she
came over and said, Have you talked to your Mom about it? And she said, Oh,
Mother said her training is so obsolete, she would only confuse me. I said, Well,
do you think mine is any newer? But, in any case, she brought her books. I said,
Why don't you just bring a couple of your books and we will go over it. Of
course, I don't know the instructor and I don't know what her style is, but she said
the material was so global and there was so much of it. And I said, Well, honey,
you can't remember every bite. You have got to get the key concept and then
you break it down into the key words that lead into the overall. But get the overall
picture, first. So, we went over it for about two hours. She had a big smile on
her face. I said, Well, I don't know if I have really helped you, Minora. She said,
You helped just by being here. So, when I saw her at church yesterday, I said,
Well, the next time you feel like coming over, just bring your books and come
S: I think that is wonderful. The content is one thing but learning how to study is a
whole different ball game.
P: It is a whole different thing. I told her some of the things that helped me, as a
student, and some of the pointers that I gave my students.
S: We talked about LPNs. Do you remember when physicians' assistants came into
P: Oh, do I ever!
S: Is that a story?
P: Well, not a personal story as much as it was a controversial concept. I think it is
still a bit controversial.
S: How so?
P: Because it was taking parts and pieces of nursing and then making a specialty of
someone and indenturing that person to one physician--that she could only work
under the physician's tutelage and protocols. Of course, ARNPs [Advanced
Registered Nurse Practitioners educated with a minimum of a masters degree
and physical assessment skills] did the same thing. I didn't have any personal
involvement in it one way or the other. It was just such a topic of conversation
every time you went to conventions, and it was in all of the journals. I didn't
meet him, but last week my little internist started talking about Gary. I said, Is he
an ARNP? And he said, No, he is a PA. I didn't get to meet him.
S: What is your first recollection of hearing about the nurse practitioners coming in?
P: I was doing it. I recruited the first two nurses Loretta Ford took in her program
out in Denver. She was out in Colorado with Dr. Silver. Then in public health, I
worked through the Board of Nursing here in Florida, and Emory University
started teaching our first programs. I called out many nurses from across my
district. Even the ones who went from other counties had to go on my approval
because I was the liaison. Then I worked with Lois Malasanos [who was then
dean of the College of Nursing at UF]. There were the two gals on the State
Board of Nursing that I worked with. Then we got a contract with Betty Hilliard of
the Nurse Midwifery Program at UF. She had some midwives in Jacksonville for
the program there for ARNP or family planning--Maternal-Child Health and
S: What year was that?
P: Probably from 1974 and after.
S: You recruited them when you were still in the summer program?
P: No, when I was a consultant with the Department of Health.
S: What was your title as consultant?
P: Public Health Nursing Consultant, PHNC. I came back in 1971.
S: You came back in 1971 and you were hired for the entire state, is that correct?
P: Well, you are on the state staff, yes. And then each of us had a geographic
assignment for generalized public health. But then we had a clinical specialty for
which we were responsible for the whole state so that when new programs game
down from on high or when we did continuing education, then it was mine. This
is why I had the midwifery program and this is why I had the ARNPs because the
first ones were either pediatric or family planning practitioners. I don't remember
what year--I get two laws mixed up--the one that revised the Nurse Practice Act
to include the ARNPs and the one that dismantled and reorganized the
Department of HRS. I know the HRS bill came up in 1974, and we got it
defeated and then it passed in 1975. It was about the same time that the Nurse
Practice Act revision came on. I would have to look it up.
S: I know a lot of faculty were going up to Emory for the nursing assessment
P: It is embarrassing because I was committee chairman for the FNA [Florida
Nurses Association] for ...
S: Political Action Committee?
P: They didn't call it political action but it was the Legislative Committee because I
was housed in Tallahassee, not because of my expertise.
S: Organizations like to take advantage of someone who lives near the legislature.
P: I had a husband who was very close to the legislation. Gladys Wyman in
Gainesville was one of the very first ones who went out with Loretta Ford. She is
still in Gainesville.
She was not in our summer program. She was in the regular program.
S: Wyman. I think I know her.
[End of side A2]
P: We called it the dog and pony show.
S: You and Gladys?
P: Yeah, she was with Peds [Pediatrics] and me with Maternal Health/Family
S: We were talking about some of the cultural aspects that were influencing health
care and nursing in Florida. We spoke about racial issues. Did you have any
African-American students you can recall?
P: I did in Kentucky. Yes, Ma'am.
S: ... and that was in the associate degree program?
S: How did they do?
P: Very well. But, of course, Kentucky was kind of a border state or a northern state
and it didn't have the cultural division that Florida had.
S: It was a long wait before we got either black students or black faculty. Were you
in Florida during the time of the Johns' committee? [Senator Charley Johns
appointed a seven-member committee in 1956 to "investigate all organizations
whose principles or activities include a course of conduct on the part of any
person or group which would constitute violence, or a violation of the laws of the
state...."; committee was disbanded in 1964]. Do you remember that?
P: The 1960s.
S: Yes. And Senator Johns, in the legislature of Florida was on a hunt for radicals
of any kind. Was this person on campus a pinko? There was this reign of terror
that some people have talked about. That didn't touch you?
P: We were in Baltimore.
S: I think it was past tense by the time I got to Gainesville in the late 1960s.
P: I will tell you where we were. This is more about my husband than it is about me.
We were in Baltimore and he was tabbed to head a Ford Foundation grant. It
was when the franchise first came to the blacks. You know that Baltimore has a
big black population. At that time, Morgan State University [in Baltimore] was an
entirely black college--Morgan State College then. A grant was awarded to
Morgan to bring these people up to speed to learn citizenship, literally--how to
vote and why--because they had gotten the franchise. My husband was doing a
similar grant, administering a similar grant at Goucher College [in Baltimore],
which is one of the elite seven sister schools. It was a private, all-girls school at
S: Where is it?
P: In Baltimore. Actually, in Towson, Maryland, but it is a suburb of Baltimore. So,
Dwynal was recruited from Goucher to go to Morgan and administer this grant.
He had seminars that were called Tea and Politics. This was for people who had
been working all day mostly at menial jobs, such as managing toll booths at the
Bay Bridge Tunnel or whatever. Morgan College was right in the heart of an old,
rather elite, black suburb. It was a very interesting experience for him on the
faculty. He had to earn his keep by teaching. He was one of two or three white
professors on that faculty. I took a class--just to see how it was functioning. His
secretary said to me, Isn't there an easier way you could have gotten this credit?
I said, Well, I just wanted to see him function in the classroom. He was a good
teacher. Anyhow, that was a time of upheaval in Baltimore, and I remember the
blacks were not allowed to go to the theater or eat at the lunch counters at the
shopping center, merely two blocks from that campus.
S: And this is what year?
P: It was the late 1950s or early 1960s because we left there in 1962. It had to be
somewhere in there. He was already out of Johns Hopkins. It was sometime
between 1955 and 1960. I remember Goucher recruited a bunch of lads from
Hopkins because, at that time, Hopkins was all men. They had a bunch of men
from Hopkins and women from Goucher and kids from Morgan, and they did sit-
ins at the shopping center in front of the movie theater. My husband was never
pulled in but one kid was, and it happened to be one of his students. I remember
he went down to bail him out. So there was a lot of turmoil, unrest, and
upheaval. My husband came from the same little place I came from in northern
Maine. That was a whole enigma to him. These people were really doing
scratch to get through school. It was hard to see them ostracized, literally. They
were turbulent times.
S: Getting back to Dorothy Smith, do you remember when she retired?
P: I had already gone out of state. As a matter of fact, the year that Marion
McKenna left to go as dean of the University of Kentucky was the year I was
recruited to come to Florida as a consultant. So we were ships passing in the
night. But we had two or three reunions after that for that summer group, and
Dorothy always was with us. So I had some contact with her after I came back to
S: If you were to look back on her contribution to your ideas, what do you think her
legacy would be?
S: In what way?
P: In marrying service and education-to reduce it to a simple sentence. She may
not have been the first one to think about it, but she was the first one to put it in a
structured format, both in teaching and in practice. I think that says it all because
when this swing came from the diploma to the four-year institution, many threw
out an awful lot of that. A lot of the teaching was by the faculty and ignored by
the staff or the staff chose to ignore. I don't know where the onus should have
been. I think that is how you cultivate the clinical situation. That is what I had to
do. I went to those staff nurses and said, You know, it is unreasonable for me to
have to deal with ten students in the clinical situation, particularly in OB where
you have labor, delivery, and newborn nursery. So I cultivated those Head
Nurses. They took great pride in their skills because many of them had come
through diploma programs. They took great pride in being the clinical mentor on
the floor. I never had a conflict, even with the Psych ward.
S: Did you know Blanche Urey, who followed Dorothy in the deanship?
S: Was that after you came back to the state as a consultant?
P: Yes, and before Lois.
S: Yes, and Lois Malasanos. You had some working dealings with her.
P: Lois Knowles, assistant dean, was one of the old guard. Dottie Luther.
S: Did you know them or interact with them?
P: Carol Taylor. We had some of everybody. We were just given the best of
everything. As a matter of fact, I remember that Polly Barton took us up to her
place on the Suwannee one time for a summer outing to go down the river, tube
rafting. I never had such a sunburn in my life. I was such a dummy. I didn't
know enough to come out of the sun. It was wonderful because we were all
adults. My God, we had been out in the trenches for years. I said, to Lora Craig,
You know, those young professors are going to learn more from us than we ever
get from them. Because all graduate school is, Ann, is buying time to do your
S: By the time you get in graduate school, it is such a wonderful exchange of
information. What do you know that I don't? What experiences have you had
that I haven't touched on, yet? As opposed to an undergraduate, where you
learn the facts, write them down, take the test.
P: Regurgitate them.
S: Then you get into graduate school, and you think, Oh, I like learning.
P: We would go wild in those laboratories, in those libraries.
S: What have I forgotten to ask you about Dorothy Smith or the College of Nursing?
What other stories don't I know about?
P: I think it is the mix--the mix we had with the other disciplines-those summer
visitors who came in. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross [author of On Death and Dying,
1969] came and opened her presentation up to the physicians and the residents.
S: On Death and Dying.
S: Lulu Hassenplug was one of the speakers. Did you have her?
P: Oh, yes. These are people we would never know in a lifetime. You read; you
worship at their feet, like Vera Keene. One time we had some kind of a program
in Orlando. We were all shipped down there and Vera Keene went with us. I
don't know that she was doing the program or if she was the guest speaker or if
she just wanted us to go. We had so much fun with that woman. She is a hoot.
She has a wonderful sense of humor. I remember we stopped on the interstate
at the rest stop-and there were all these stalls. Pretty soon we heard this voice,
And we will all pee together [singing]. And we all cracked up because here I
was holding these people in such great esteem.
S: And then you find out they are just people.
P: They are just people.
S: I was assigned with someone else on the faculty to go to the airport to pick up
two of the speakers, maybe Lee Ford and Lulu Hassenplug. I felt like you did.
What will I say to them? They are going to ride in my car. We got them checked
into the Holiday Inn, and we all came back after part of the program and sat on
the floor of the Holiday Inn while we just laughed and joked. I had the same
experience. They are just people.
P: You stand in awe of them and then you find out that they are fun. We had
suppers together and everybody had to bring their favorite dish, potluck supper
and the recipe for it. I still have all of them. It was just a wonderful experience.
My husband said, You are having far too much fun down there. They loved my
John. As a matter of fact, one summer Dwynal had to go to Africa. One of his
staff members had been selected to go. The summer before they were due to
go, they had gone to take courses in Swahili and prepare for the trip. In the
meanwhile, the guy got canned. He was proselytizing in the classroom; he was a
good Mormon. And so Dwynal had nobody else who was prepared to go or
could go. So Dwynal went after a crash course from a couple of nuns in Swahili.
But he was gone all summer so I had both children that summer in Gainesville.
And Jeanne Howe--I don't know how she got them into adolescent health--they
were going to do the seminar that night. We met in somebody's house, maybe in
Jeanne's apartment. Here we were all sprawled around on the floor, and John
and Mary were doing the class in adolescent health care. And one of those
women looked at me and said, Where did you ever get two kids like that? Well,
first I had asked John to do the class because John had been there with me each
summer. And then I said, Well, that wouldn't be right. And John said he wouldn't
go unless his older sister went with him. I said to Jeanne, It is either two or
none. So let the pair of them come, she said. We did these kinds of informal
things and yet they were all good learning experiences. And, as you say, we
were sharing because I was still older than most of them.
S: Well, I think it doesn't matter after a certain point, once you are adults.
P: And, as I say, Lora had never had children. There was a nun from Salina,
Kansas. She was in Peds. Sister Jacinta. A little bitty thing. My son fell in love
with her. That was the summer that Dwynal was in Africa. The first step off the
airplane--we went to the airport to meet him--John looked up and said, Daddy, I
am in love with a nun. Dwynal looked down and said, Does she know it, son?
John had a little Moped and he piled her on the back of that and they would go
over to Crescent Beach. John was really too young to get a job, and he was too
old to play. He went to that big public swimming pool over there on 34 Street and
coached swimming for the youngsters. He was a competitive athlete all through
high school. And he loved children. Some of the women came with their very
young children. John held a nursery school; he babysat for them while they were
S: I love that story about using them for the adolescent health.
P: I will never forget that.
S: Does John remember that?
P: I don't know how much he remembers, Ann. You know, he is a survivor of a
severe head injury.
S: Oh, I didn't know.
P: Oh, yes. So a lot of that stuff he can remember if I coach him a little bit, but
sometimes he doesn't remember what he ate for dinner last night.
S: Oh, I didn't know that. I didn't realize.
P: Rough, rough situation. But, anyway, there was Sister Jacinta, and then
Catherine Panzic, who is a nun from West Virginia. Catherine was the first year
out of the convent. She had been on loan from the convent to West Virginia
Wesleyan, School of Nursing. She was caught up in this summer program. She
was in Maternal Health so it was natural that we would get together. Then Lora
was in Medical Surgical Nursing.
S: Lora's last name was ... ?
P: Craig. Strauss was her maiden name. Lora Craig. If you were Med-Surg, you
knew her. Lora was, I think, the brightest girl I ever knew. She thought systems.
She taught systems. She was so bright. But we four ended up being the
chums. Oh, Time Magazine--or Life, came out with this big, feature story on
Gainesville being called Sin City. Do you remember that?
S: Yes, I think I do.
P: That happened to be one of the days when John was going to take Sister Jacinta
over to the beach. She had gone to early mass and then she came and went to
church with us. She had this magazine all rolled up in a coil and she kept tucking
it under. Finally, I said, Sister Jan, what have you got? And she said, Oh, you
haven't seen it? I was so afraid that Father would see me with it. I carried it to
mass. Then John, of course, got it. He said, What is all of this about, Mother?
And he read it. He said, Did you know that Gainesville was called Sin City when
you agreed to come down here to school? I said, Why do you think I came? He
said, You made out like bandits, didn't you, running around with two nuns and a
fat lady? because Lora was as big around as--five feet nothing or maybe not
even five feet. Little bitty thing.
S: Well, shall we wind this up? Is there anything else?
P: Is there anything else you need to ask?
S: No, I think I have finished asking my questions.
P: Really? Oh, great.
S: Is there anything else we need to add to this? I just want to officially thank you
so much for your time.
P: Well, not official, my dear. It has been my delight.
[End of the interview.]