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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Ethel Hill
Interviewer: Alan J. Bliss
Date: January 21, 2005
B: Good afternoon. My name is Alan Bliss. I am in Crystal River, Florida, at Cedar
Creek, and today, January 21, 2005, I'm interviewing Ethel M. Hill at her home
here in Crystal River. This is an interview in connection with the series of
interviews preparing for Bayfront Medical Center's centennial coming up next
year in 2006. Mrs. Hill, I wonder if you might start by telling us your full name
and when and where you were born please.
H: My name is Ethel May Horner Hill. I was born October 22, 1911.
B: Where were you born?
H: In Boswell, Pennsylvania.
B: Your family name was Homer?
H: [It was] Horner.
B: Who were your parents?
H: My father's name was Joseph, and my mother's name was Bertha Alice
B: What did your parents do for a living?
H: My father was first a painter and then a farmer. He was born and reared on the
farm, but he never liked farming. Circumstances [made it so that he] had to be
on the farm where he raised ten children, four boys and four girls, and I was the
fourth child. I had three brothers and myself and then a brother and a sister.
B: You were a middle child.
H: I was a middle child.
B: [You were] almost as perfectly in the middle as you could get.
H: Right. Particularly, as the boys grew older, I was the only girl they could pick on.
B: You mentioned that your father was a painter, do you mean ... ?
H: He painted houses. I think he would have went on with his painting because he
was very interested in colors and how they blended together and how they turned
BMC-1 Hill, Page 2
out, and he would have liked to evolve what he liked to do. I think he wanted to
do more than paint houses.
B: Did your mother work at all?
H: She was busy having babies every two years.
B: It seems that was true in her case especially. A total of ten children, you say?
H: A total of twelve [ten]. Two died in their infancy.
B: I'm sorry to hear that. Can you tell me the names of your siblings?
H: There was Owen, Kenneth, Ernest, Franklin, Frances, Martha, Meriam, Ada, and
there was an infant son, Fredrick. That should be twelve [ten].
B: Ethel comes in between?
H: No, that's ten, isn't it? Four boys and four girls and these two that died. That's
B: We didn't mention you.
H: I always go four and four.
B: You came in between which siblings?
H: I came between my brother Ernest, and my brother, Frank.
B: Can you tell us what your earliest memory is as a child?
H: I think my earliest memory is when my mother had her twins. I was only close to
two years old, maybe a little more than two when the twins were born. Frank
was one of the twins and Frances was one of the twins. It was at this point
where they had babies every two years, so Owen and Kenneth and Ernest and
Ada, that was four babies every two years. My oldest brother at that point must
have been about eight, I guess. My math isn't too good there. Anyway, we had
the four boys, which made up the first group of children. I was the only girl
because Frances died. The boys just loved me, my mother said. That's why
every time they passed me they'd give me a little thump. It was a thump of love,
B: Was everyone born at home?
H: We were all born at home.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 3
B: Did anyone assist your mother in childbirth that you remember?
H: She had a doctor for every childbirth, and she also had some lady who
specialized in going in homes and taking care of mothers and babies.
B: Would that be a midwife?
H: No. She's not a midwife. She was a practical nurse, they called them in those
days. That was before they had schools.
B: Where did the doctor come from, that same town?
H: He was in the same town.
B: A general family doctor, I guess?
B: He took care of people from the cradle to the grave.
H: He did everything. My grandmother, as a side issue, had her appendix removed
on the kitchen table.
B: On your kitchen table?
H: No, in her home.
B: I see. Do you remember that?
H: I don't remember that. I just remember them telling it.
B: That's a good story. Where did you go to school?
H: We lived in the borough of Boswell, and I went [through] my first three grades in
Boswell, and then we moved to the farm because my grandmother died and we
needed to move there. I went to a one-room school up through the eighth grade.
Then I went to four years of high school. That was in the town I was born.
B: In Boswell?
H: In Boswell.
B: Was the farm very far from Boswell?
H: [It was] one mile.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 4
B: [It was] far enough that it made it difficult.
H: We had to walk to and from school up a hill and then it flattened out.
B: What do you remember about your interests as a child? What sort of things did
you do that particularly pleased or excited you?
H: Well, we did a lot of church work because that was the way things were in those
days. Most of the entertainment centered around the church and the buildings of
the church. If you were connected with the church, you did what the church was
doing. As far as activities go, we had roller rinks, we had movie pictures, theater,
and they had various things for adults. I don't recall now what they were. They
did have an opera house in that town at one time.
B: In Boswell?
H: Yes. We had a lot of culture going through there at one point.
B: Do you remember any particular [shows]?
H: I just remember going into that building because it was on the second floor. I
used to think, why did they put this way up on the second floor with all these
people coming? I do remember being in it. I don't know what for, but I was
there. Then they had Chautauquas coming. Do you remember?
B: Oh yes. I don't personally remember, but I know what you're speaking of.
H: They had Chautauquas.
B: Did you attend any of those?
H: Yes. I was living on the farm and I came in and stayed with one of my girl friends
to go to the Chautauquas.
B: Do you remember the names of any of the people who appeared at that
H: I don't remember.
B: You mentioned a lot of church activities. What church?
H: It was a Lutheran church.
B: Your family was all Lutheran then, is that right?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 5
H: Yes. My ancestors founded Lutheran churches as they moved into the area.
B: That's your ancestors on your father's side or your mother's?
H: On both sides.
B: On both sides. Do you remain a Lutheran in your religious convictions today?
H: Until I grew up, and then I sort of became unchurched for a little, and then I went
back to church and I became Methodist. It was the easiest one to belong to.
B: That does have a lot to commend it. You went to high school in Boswell.
H: Four years.
B: Do you remember about what year you would have graduated?
H: [I graduated in ] 1929.
B: That put you, in 1929, in the minority of the American population. I have read
census data that indicates no more than about thirty percent or so of American
men had high school diplomas at the time of the 1930 census. I would expect
that the statistics were pretty similar for women. But you were a well-educated
woman at the time.
H: My mother and father promoted learning. You did your homework, and you didn't
come home complaining. The teacher was always right. I had four brothers who
went to college; Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. They
all had scholarships for wrestling.
B: Every one of them?
H: Every one of them.
B: They must have been a sturdy bunch of men.
H: They're all built short to the ground.
B: That's good for a wrestler. They're harder to take down that way. As you were
going through high school, and not even necessarily then, but even earlier than
that, children oftentimes think about what they're going to do when they grow up.
Do you remember what you thought?
H: You betcha. Right after the twins were born, I had a lot of ear problems.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 6
B: I was asking if you could comment about some of the things you thought about
what you might do with yourself when you grew up.
H: I had bad ears and so I needed my tonsils out. I had to go by train to a hospital
down in Maryland.
B: What was your age, roughly?
H: About four.
H: My dad took me down because my mother had to stay home with the twins. She
couldn't go. My dad was always my buddy. He and I would be buddies because
mother would be so busy with the twins, and that suited me just fine. We were
buddies. He took me by train to the hospital, and I remember the hospital very
well. At that time, I decided I was going to be a nurse. I was going to take care
B: At that early age?
H: Yes. From then on, if we played any games, I wanted to play hospital and nurse.
B: Had you ever known anyone else in your family or friends who had been in the
medical professions, other than your family doctor?
H: The one I remember best was Dr. Sass. He said, now Ethel, if you be a good girl
and let me punch a hole in your ear, I'll take you on my rounds with me.
B: That doesn't sound like a very good deal. [laughter]
H: To me it was because he was going to punch me in the ear anyway. He did take
me on his rounds, and it was really wonderful.
B: Do you think he was a big influence on you?
H: He was.
B: Did you talk much to him about it?
H: I didn't think too much about him in later years as to his ability, but in my early
years I thought he was just wonderful.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 7
B: Did you talk to him about your ambition to become a nurse?
H: Oh yeah, he knew it.
B: What did he say about that?
H: He thought that it would be great.
B: Did you talk to him or other people seriously about where you might become
educated in nursing?
H: No, not until I was in my senior year, and then I started looking around to where I
wanted to go to school.
B: That would have been in 1928, 1929.
B: Things were still good in the economy in the late 1920s.
H: No, they were not good in 1929. The banks closed in 1929.
B: I was thinking in 1928 when you were still in your senior year of high school.
H: Well, I had already made up my mind that I was going to be a nurse. My dad told
me he couldn't afford to send me to college.
B: That's what I was getting at with the economy.
H: He said he was sorry he couldn't afford to send me to college.
B: Even though your brothers went to college?
H: Yes. But see, they were pretty level-headed about treating us all equally and
being good to us in the same way. Anyway, he told me he was sorry, and I told
him I didn't want to go to college, I wanted to go to nursing school. He thought
maybe they could do that. That just thrilled me to death. Then I started writing to
nursing schools. We finally decided on Johnstown, Pennsylvania, which was
twenty miles away from my home. It was close to my home and it wouldn't cost
too much money to travel back and forth to visit and I could come home on my
vacation and things like that.
B: Is that where you went through your early nursing training?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 8
H: Yes, for three years.
B: What was the name of that school?
H: Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital.
B: It was associated with a hospital?
H: Yes. It was a three year program, and most all of them were. There were very
few schools of nursing associated with colleges in those days.
B: Was the hospital a public hospital or private?
H: It was a private hospital. It was organized when the Johnstown flood occurred. It
was built at that time. They built the hospital and the nursing home. I call it a
nursing home, it was a student nursing home. We lived in a regular home.
B: You don't mean a nursing home in the sense of caring for [the] infirm?
H: No. It was where there were student nurses.
B: You were there for three years? Was that from right after you finished high
H: Yes. I graduated in 1929 and went to nursing [school] in 1929. I just got in
because I wasn't old enough at seventeen to enter in the school of nursing other
than my birthday fell in October, so I could go.
B: So you finished the nursing school program in 1932?
B: That would be about right. You started working, I guess doing practical nursing
work as soon as you started nursing school?
H: No [Yes]. After nursing school I did private duty.
B: I meant when you were in nursing school. Did you actually do the work?
H: [Yes, after graduation] I went to the homes mostly. I was registered where they
could call me if they had need for somebody to go to the hospital, but most of my
calls were from doctors in the area where I lived. They wanted me to go and sit
with a patient while they died. In those days you sat with people when they died.
B: This was when you were a student nurse?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 9
H: No. [It was] after graduation. My first seven patients died. I said, boy, what a
record that was.
B: Well, if you sit with somebody long enough, eventually, I guess that's what
H: I can tell you, one died from pneumonia and one died from been drinking too
much paregoric. That was an experience.
B: Before we leave your nursing education, I just wanted to ask if there was anyone
at Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital who influenced you that you remember.
Teachers or people who you studied with.
H: Yes, I have. Our first nursing arts teacher really inspired me to be a good nurse
and a better nurse. I attribute all my observations now that I see are wrong,
people [who are] doing things wrong, and I attribute it to Minnie May Burns.
B: Minnie May Burns?
H: That was her name. She was a nifty lady, she really was. She pounded it into
us, if you didn't do this, the patient could die. Boy, we sat up and took notice.
She was a very good teacher.
B: Do you remember any of the health problems of the people who were patients at
that hospital where you were trained? Was there a particularly common
H: No. Tuberculosis was pretty rampant in those days. When I was in nursing
school, they had an epidemic of meningitis in the town I went to school in. It's
just the ordinary medical problems that you run into that are practically
obliterated now because they have vaccines. I lived through the days when the
new miracle drugs came in. That's another story.
B: Tuberculosis patients had to be kept in a separate facility.
H: [They had to be] isolated. In those days they had what they called pest houses,
where people who had infectious diseases had to be put [in them], or you had to
be quarantined in your home. The only person who could come in or out of your
home was the man who was working. If the children were going to school, they
stayed at home.
B: What would be an example of that kind of disease?
H: Diphtheria. Smallpox. Chicken pox. Mumps.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 10
B: Was there a particular place in the hospital where you sequestered patients such
H: Yes, for tuberculosis. We had what we called the isolation units.
B: You got an exposure to treating people with all these different sorts of conditions
when you were a student nurse?
H: Yes. We didn't have so many medications to give.
B: What could you give people for pain, for example?
H: We had morphine and codeine. But, boy, many people told us that if the patient
became addicted it was our fault.
B: You were trained to be very disciplined about how you would administer this?
B: Was it common for people to acquire an addiction to morphine or codeine while
they were being treated for painful things?
H: No, because it was a philosophy of the day. They're on it so long and then that's
it. Then you have to find some other way to stop the pain. We didn't use
sleeping medications to put people to sleep. We gave them warm milk and
rubbed their back and their feet to relax them.
B: How did you administer morphine, with an injection?
H: [With a] syringe.
B: You graduated from the nursing program in 1932, and then you started to tell us
what it was you did immediately after. Could you pick up with that and tell us
where you went and what sort of work you did after finishing nursing school?
H: I did private duty, and then I took some courses. I just thought since I was still
private duty and wasn't getting paid much money I might as well go take a course
and not make much money anyway. I went to Chicago and I started out to take a
course in pediatrics, but when I got there, I had a positive Schick and Dick and I
couldn't take the pediatrics. It was positive because my skin reacted to the
B: Explain what that positive is.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 11
H: The Schick test is for diphtheria. If you got red around where they put it in, then
you were positive. Tuberculosis you were [also] tested for. You couldn't work in
these areas where these diseases occurred where you would be taking care of
them because you had a positive Schick and Dick and tuberculosis.
B: You had that test when you went to Chicago?
H: I had it when I went into nursing school, too.
B: Where in Chicago? I mean what school?
H: Cook County Hospital. That was a city hospital again. I was there when John
Dillinger [American gangster who was declared Public Enemy Number One by
the FBI in 1933 for his role in a string of bank robberies and at least three
murders. He died in a gun battle with FBI agents in front of the Biograph Theater
in Chicago] got shot.
B: No kidding?
H: No. He laid in the morgue and when people came to see him in the morgue it
looked just like any other man to me.
B: You saw the remains?
H: I saw him. Then they had the World's Fair in Chicago when I was there, too.
That was in 1934.
B: Where did you live when you were in Chicago?
H: I lived in a YMCA because they didn't have enough room for nurses in the other
buildings they had around there. It was an immense place. It must be bigger
now than ever.
B: They had accommodations for women at the YMCA?
B: Was that right in the city?
H: Yes. [It was] right in the middle of the city.
B: It was close to the hospital?
H: Yes. I think it was seven blocks that we walked.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 12
B: You didn't even need to get on the "El"?
H: No, we didn't have to get on the "El". We walked.
B: How long were you there?
H: A year. Then my mother died and I came home. I was going to come home
anyways. That was another turning point in my life.
B: Back up for one second. When you went to Chicago, did you know anyone there
H: No. A friend of mine went with me. A friend from Conemaugh Valley Memorial.
She and I were in the same 1932 class. We were both tired of living in the
mountains and nothing to do.
B: Chicago would certainly fix that, wouldn't it.
H: It sure did. I can remember the first time I got on the "El." I stood there and let
two trains go by before I got up the courage to get on.
B: They didn't have very many of those.
H: Things were different then than they are now, too. Safety-wise, we were pretty
safe on the street. Even though Al Capone [American gangster who terrorized
Chicago during Prohibition until arrested for tax evasion] and them were there,
we were still pretty safe.
B: You didn't cause trouble to make Al Capone mad at you?
H: He wasn't interested in little student nurses.
B: That's a good thing. You don't want to be interesting to people like Al Capone.
That was in 1934. Then your mother died that year or the next year?
H: She died in that year.
B: You went home?
B: Did you have to go home to help your family?
H: I felt I had to. My dad didn't like to farm, and of course, when my mother died it
took the whole spirit out of him.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 13
B: Was that a tough time financially for your family? That was in the middle of the
H: We always had a tough time financially. I grew up not knowing that people did
B: Do you remember the years of the Depression as being especially tough?
H: Not as long as I was at home. When I left home I found them to be more tough
on other people. We lived on the farm and we had our food. If you have enough
to eat and a place to sleep ...
B: You can get by.
H: You can get by. It was the town people that couldn't get by.
B: When you lived on the farm in Pennsylvania growing up and then again when
you moved back after your mother's death, was there electricity on the farm?
H: No, we did not have electricity. We didn't have electricity even when we sold the
B: Really? That's interesting. What year was that?
H: [It was] about 1937 or 1938. We still didn't have electricity on the farm.
B: You lived on the farm after leaving Chicago until the farm was sold?
[End of Tape A]
B: Why was the farm sold?
H: My dad said to me, he had three daughters still at home. The youngest was
seven, and then nine and eleven. He said he can't do it himself. He didn't want
me to stay there. He wanted me to go and follow my profession. It took me a
little while to figure out why he wanted me to go.
B: When you did, what was the reason?
H: He did not like farming. It was too much for him. He had no interest in farming.
My grandfather lived with us so he put my grandfather with my aunt and sold the
B: He and your sisters moved where? Back into Boswell?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 14
H: No. They moved into Johnstown and set up housekeeping. He reared the three
girls until they were in high school.
B: Did he go into the painting business again then?
H: Yes. That's how he earned his living, painting and paper hanging. He never did
attain his goals. The closest he came to it was when he came to live with me
once after that. That's another story.
B: We'll get to that. During the time you moved back to the farm in Pennsylvania,
did you do any nursing work at all?
H: Yes. I nursed a man who owned a hotel in Pittsburgh. A big hotel. He had a
mansion. They called it a mansion. To me it just looked like a big house. Maybe
to the mountaineers it was a mansion. I did private bidding [duty] with him for a
while. I got so bored I thought I would die.
B: Was he infirm?
H: No, he was able to be up and around. All he needed was somebody to cook the
right food for him. When I was in nursing school they taught us how to cook the
right foods for people. He was pretty well along the road to recovery. He was
very depressed there for a while. He asked me if I could service him. I said, no,
I cannot, but I'll take you somewhere if you want to be serviced. He bought a
new car, a new Desoto, and I was to drive him where he wanted to go. So I took
him into Bedford. He was on top of the mountain the Allegheny mountains, and
we went down the mountain to Bedford and he would pick out the place and I
would sit in the car and wait for him.
B: How often did you make that trip?
H: Not very often. He had it in his mind that he was missing out on something up
there on the mountaintop. His sister was something else. She hated me. She
wanted me out of there. She thought I was going to get his money. Then his
brother, he thought I was up for grabs too. I let him know I wasn't up for grabs
for him either.
B: It sounds like you had to just about fight them off there.
H: I had to watch where his brother was. The man who had the money, he was the
gentle one. His brother was just an old mountaineer.
B: How long did that job go on?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 15
H: I think I must have been there about six months. Then I had to leave. It was too
B: Where did you go after your father sold the farm and moved to Johnstown?
H: I moved to Detroit, Michigan.
B: Why Detroit?
H: I wrote around and they were paying pretty good money up in Detroit. It's right in
the middle of the Depression. The automobile business, they were still selling
cars. I went to Harper Hospital up there. It's one of the better hospitals in
B: Was that a public or private hospital?
H: It was a private hospital.
B: Did you know anyone there?
H: No. I didn't know a soul when I went there.
B: That must have taken a little bit of nerve
H: Well, it took the farmer out of me anyway. Then a short time later I ran into a
nurse and she was from Conemaugh Valley. She just accidentally went up there
to work, too, and we just ran into each other. She had different views of
entertainment than I had, so we weren't ever really close.
B: Still, a familiar connection.
H: I got so homesick I thought I would die when I went to Detroit.
B: Where did you live when you moved to Detroit?
H: I lived in the nurses home.
B: By this point, I wonder if you have had gentlemen friends, any thoughts of
possibly marrying and having a family? Eventually that came into your life.
H: That's always in the back of your mind when you're a young girl. Find a husband
and raise a family. But, I really loved my nursing so I didn't care whether I got a
man or not. I finally picked up one.
B: Where was that?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 16
H: I was in Detroit.
B: I was wondering. Did you meet the man who would become your husband there?
H: I had a boyfriend in Chicago too, when I was there. I wasn't too interested in
him, but I thought I'd go back to visit him one weekend I had off. So I go down
and get the bus to Chicago. I got to Chicago but I never saw the boy because
the bus driver kidnapped me. [Laughter]
B: Kidnapped you? How's that?
H: He decided that I didn't need to have the boyfriend see me and he'd take me
where I wanted to go.
B: That was awfully nice of him.
H: He brought me back to Detroit. I had to take a different bus back.
B: So, you forgot about the Chicago boyfriend.
H: Yes. He wanted to be an actor. He had thought that Pennsylvania was really
close to New York. Yeah, it is, to New York State, but not New York City.
B: He thought you might be able to help him advance his career?
H: Yes. Later on, I did see his name in Hollywood. I don't remember what it was
about. I can't even remember his name now. Anyway, I did meet my husband.
B: How did you meet your husband?
H: He was a bus driver.
B: For the city or long distance?
H: For Greyhound. In those days you weren't supposed to smoke a cigarette. I
never did smoke. I puffed, but I never smoked. I was sitting on the bus puffing,
and he said, you know you're sitting on I don't know how many thousands of
[gallons of] gasoline. I said a sharp answer.
B: You had a sharp answer for him?
H: Yes, I told him, I didn't care if I blew up or not. It didn't matter to me. When I got
to Chicago and there's no boyfriend there, and I thought to myself, I sent that
telegram, I wonder if he got it. My husband said he was the bus driver and the
guy at the bus station where I sent the telegram from gave him the telegram to
BMC-1 Hill, Page 17
send. He never sent the telegram.
B: I see. This bus driver that kidnapped you on the trip to Chicago, that didn't turn
out to be the same man who became your husband, did it?
B: It did? What was his name?
H: His name is Harry Hill.
B: Harry Hill. What year were you and Harry Hill married?
B: You knew him for a year or two before getting married. Were you married in
H: No, we were married in South Bend, Indiana.
B: Is that where you were living or is that where he was living?
H: No, his father had died and so he said, why don't we get married while we're out
on this trip? I said, okay. It was at a Justice of [the] Peace.
B: South Bend, Indiana is where his family was from?
H: No, they were from Illinois. South Bend was a place where everybody all around
went to South Bend to get married because all you had to do to get a license was
B: Did Mr. Hill stay working for Greyhound after you were married?
H: No. Well, you know, we were in the middle of the Depression, so we decided
we'd move to a better place we thought.
B: Better than Detroit. Where was that?
H: I don't even talk about it anymore or even try to remember because we only
stayed there for two weeks. It was in Illinois down near his home.
B: Do you remember where in Illinois? It was a small town?
H: Yes, and they had a small hospital. I worked there a week. I told a big lie to get
BMC-1 Hill, Page 18
B: Where did you go from there?
H: I went back home to Pennsylvania.
B: To Johnstown?
H: Yes. I worked in Johnstown for a while.
B: Your husband came as well?
B: What did he do there?
H: He was an automobile salesman. He got a job. Things weren't good in
Johnstown so we moved into Pittsburgh. He got a job in Pittsburgh.
B: Was that close enough that you continued to work in Johnstown?
H: No. I worked in Pittsburgh at West Penn Hospital. It was a teaching hospital and
it was a big hospital too. I always tried to get into a teaching hospital.
[Interruption in tape]
B: You were in Pittsburgh and working at West Penn Hospital. Had World War II
H: No. Then I got pregnant. In those days, if you got pregnant, out the door you go.
They didn't want you in the hospital to work. They let me stay there for some
reason I can't understand. Maybe because I had a twinkle in my eye. [Laughter]
B: I can understand that.
H: I worked there and my daughter was born there in 1940. In 1941 the war started,
and in 1942 my husband enlisted in the Navy. That was a poor choice [on the
part] of the government.
B: Why was that?
H: He was sick the whole time in the Navy. He did come home eventually.
B: After the war?
H: Yes. Then he went back to selling cars and I still was working at West Penn.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 19
B: You spent the war years in Pittsburgh?
H: Yes. I went to Norfolk to be with him for a little while, and then he was
transferred up to Rhode Island. I came back to Pittsburgh and started working
B: Moving ahead then, I should ask if you could recap where you lived and where
you worked during the years up until you came to Bayfront Medical Center in St.
Petersburg. That was in 1953. What happened between the end of the war [and
H: I worked in private duty, then I went on doing private duty because I didn't have
anyone to stay with my daughter at night to be sure that somebody was there
with her. I did private duty then. At night, my husband was with her at night and
he worked during the day.
B: I should ask, what is your daughter's name?
H: Zona Lee.
B: Zona Lee Hill, and eventually Phillips.
H: Yes. I worked there for ten years, and then I guess about that time we decided
to go down to Florida. We came down to Florida on a vacation and got hooked.
B: Where did you come to Florida on that vacation?
H: We started off and we talked about living here. We looked at Jacksonville and
we looked at Orlando, it was just a little place then. We looked at Lakeland and
we didn't think there was enough business there for my husband to find work.
Then we moved on to St. Petersburg and we stayed there. That's when I went
to work for Mound Park.
B: You visited all these other places and then chose St. Petersburg after visiting
H: Yes. It was sort of a drive through and see what activities there were.
B: Was your husband still set on staying in the automobile business?
B: What did he do when he moved to St. Petersburg?
H: He sold cars. I can't remember for who, but he did.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 20
B: You showed up at Mound Park Hospital in 1953. Had you known anyone there
at all or made contact ahead of time?
H: I didn't know anybody.
B: Did you just walk in say, here's some help?
H: I walked in and said, here I am. You got me. There was a little hospital out in
Gulfport. I went there and applied because I thought I'd go to a small hospital
and it would be easier to get started in. Well, I didn't like it too well. It was too
much like a nursing home. I decided to go to Mound Park and see if I could get
in there. I did. It was just after they had finished building the new Mound Park
Hospital. I don't know what year they completed that Mound Park Hospital.
B: I don't have that information. When you say the new Mound Park Hospital, you
mean the new addition?
H: There was a little cottage-like thing on the mound, and then they built this seven-
B: Right. That was brand new?
H: It was pretty new when I got there. Some of the floors were not open. There
were just a few floors open.
B: Really? That's interesting.
H: [There was] no air-conditioning. Remember, this is before air-conditioning was a
positive need. At least in the hospital it was a positive need before they got it,
but it wasn't at that time.
B: When you arrived at Mound Park, did they put you to work right away?
B: They gave you a job.
H: One of the nurses says to me, well, I can't understand how come you got a job
right away. I said, I don't know. I didn't hire me. They hired me. I said, here I
B: Did they have a shortage of nursing personnel?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 21
B: But you had credentials. You had worked in some big hospitals.
H: I've been working in big hospitals, so I did get along at Mound Park. From then
on, I just kept climbing the ladder up. When I left the first time I was a supervisor
B: That didn't take very long for you to become a supervisor.
B: When you showed up at Mound Park, you said you worked at some big
hospitals, did Mound Park seem small to you?
H: No. It had all those floors that weren't even open. It takes a little getting
adjusted to a new hospital when you go there.
B: Who hired you, do you remember?
H: Mary Detyns, I think, was the director then.
B: What was your job or your title?
H: She was the Director of Nurses.
B: What was your job when you were hired?
H: My job was a staff nurse.
B: Do you remember how many hours you had to work and what you got paid at
H: I don't. I know how much I got paid when I worked at West Penn. $69.00 a
B: That would have been in 1939?
H: For forty hours a week, 1939 and 1940.
B: The amount of the pay again was $69.00 a week?
H: A month.
B: How much did you have to work then to earn that?
H: Forty hours a week.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 22
B: Different shifts?
H: Whatever they needed.
B: Sometimes at night?
B: Sometimes all night?
H: They didn't split up shifts. You worked straight shifts. Well, they did split up the
day shifts. You worked seven to seven on days and three to eleven, and eleven
B: When you say seven to seven on days ...
H: Sometimes you were sent home and you came back in the same day. But it was
only eight hours of work.
B: Overtime would have been unusual then, I guess.
H: You didn't get overtime.
B: You never had to work overtime?
H: You had to work overtime, but you didn't get paid for it.
B: Was that true at Mound Park as well?
H: Yes. That was true of most hospitals at that time.
B: How much extra time would you typically have to work in a week?
H: Not too much because they seemed to have enough. Only in the winter time.
B: When the population swelled. Northerners came to town and you had to take
care of more people.
H: Those were nightmare days. One thing I remember, these big oxygen tanks that
they use, these commercial oxygen tanks, we had so many patients we had to
put patients in the hall because that's all the rooms we had open. If the patient
needed oxygen you had to have the oxygen tank in the hall. If you bumped it the
wrong way it would fall over and it could go "zoom" and explode! I remember
chasing one down the hall and thinking, oh good gracious, I hope it stops before
it hits the wall! [Laughter] Oh my, those were the really bad days. We did open
BMC-1 Hill, Page 23
more beds in the old part of the hospital. They had the B building [that] was built
B: Did they fill up the empty floors during the first few years that you were there and
start using them at all?
H: No, there were a couple closed when I left there.
B: That would have been in 1956?
H: Yes. One of the reasons why they were closed was because they didn't have air
B: There were fans I imagine.
H: It was terrible.
B: Were there ceiling fans?
H: They had these fans on stands. You'd be amazed, it was after Mr. Swanson
came in that they got it all air-conditioned.
B: When my father was treated there in 1969 his room was not air conditioned.
[Interruption in Tape]
B: We're picking back up with the discussion, Mrs. Hill, of your experience at Mound
Park Hospital in St. Petersburg. Over a period of about three years you worked
there until you left to move up to Indianapolis. It's during those three years that I
was hoping that you would be able to tell us a little bit about the place that Mound
Park struck you as being. I'm interested in the way it struck you because you
were a woman who came from a couple of big city hospitals in the North with
some pretty sophisticated experience at the time.
H: I thought it was a pretty good hospital, I really did. I thought it was very good.
B: Did you find the nurses you worked with were trained as well as you were?
H: I wouldn't say that. When I first went to Mound Park Hospital and after I got
acquainted with the people and knew how to react to them, a lot of your
experience depends on how you react to your coworkers as well as to your
patients. I got to know the coworkers so I could react more easily than others, so
it came up that I could form an opinion as to how to plan my progress there. I
thought it was a very good hospital. The only thing I found was they did have a
school of nursing and it seemed to be a good one as far as I could evaluate, but
there were no head nurses or anybody in authority from the Mound Park School
BMC-1 Hill, Page 24
B: Explain what you mean by that.
H: All the head nurses they had were graduates of other schools of nursing.
B: Such as the one you attended?
H: Such as me. Most of all the people who were head nurses were not Mound Park
B: Why was that?
H: I thought it was too bad that they didn't push them a little bit more on seeing what
they could do because they would have more pride in their work because it was
B: On the other hand, I'm just thinking about the way universities train instructors.
You very rarely get a job at the university where you get your graduate education
because they think it's sort of incestuous. You will teach people the same thing
you were taught instead of spreading around new ideas and new knowledge by
moving to different places of work in your profession. Do you think there was any
of that reasoning going on?
H: Well, I didn't think so. It wasn't the head nurses from the Mound Park Hospital
School of Nursing. They were all from outside. I said, if I was a graduate of
Mound Park Hospital School of Nursing, I would be insulted that no one in my
school of nursing has been chosen to be a head nurse.
B: What was the name of the school officially? It was the Mound Park School of
B: It wasn't connected with a university or college at the time?
B: It was strictly run by the hospital. Who headed that program?
H: They had an education director. I can only remember the one that was there
when Mr. McLinn was there. Her name was Mildred O'Donnell. She got married
and it was Mildred Williams. I don't know who was before her.
B: The name, Mr. McLinn, that's a reference to the president of the hospital?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 25
H: Yes. He was an administrator then. The administrators that I knew were Mr.
Turner, that's from before I left. Mr. McLinn, that's the only one I can relate to.
B: He was there when you first came to Mound Park?
B: How many nurses were there when you came to Mound Park do you think?
H: I haven't the vaguest notion. There were more nurses then per patient than there
B: Do you know what the ratio was of nurses to patients?
H: I don't know. When I did staffing, I worked on a one point four. Now I can't
B: That would mean one nurse for four patients?
B: Were patients in rooms or wards?
H: It didn't have any wards. Mound Park didn't have any wards when I first went
there. It was in the new hospital. In the old part of the hospital, they had a
couple big wards. They may have been opened in the winter time, but I don't
remember them being there because I was only there for a couple years. A few
years, I should say.
B: What were the rooms like?
H: They were just ordinary rooms. They didn't have bathrooms in every room, but
they had a closet and they had nice new beds. They had beds that you could
draw up [roll up]. They didn't have electric beds at the first part of my Mound
Park experience. You were lucky to have the roll-up beds instead of the pull [up
[End of Tape A, Side 2.]
B: How many people would be in a room?
B: Always two?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 26
H: No, there were some four bedrooms. At the end of each hall there were four
B: There would be a curtain that would separate patients from each other?
H: Yes. Was your dad in a four bedroom?
B: I don't remember.
H: The care was not any different in the four bedroom than it was in the other parts.
It was the same care and accommodation for those three other people in the
same room with you.
B: How far away was the nursing station from rooms ordinarily? Was there a
nursing station on every hallway?
H: There was a [nursing station] in the center, if I have that right. It was
incorporated within the center of the hallway.
B: On each floor?
B: Was there a fan in every patient's room?
H: No. You could bring a fan in. Some of the rooms I guess had the fan installed,
but most of them you had to bring your fan in.
B: Were there televisions?
H: I don't remember.
B: Did it seem to get uncomfortably hot to you in the summertime?
H: Hot is not the word for it. It was stifling for both the patients and the nursing staff.
B: The hospitals that you worked in up North, it gets hot in Chicago and Detroit and
Pittsburgh in the summertime. Did they have air conditioning?
H: There wasn't so much stress put on air conditioning at that time. It's hot, yes, but
that's the way it is.
B: You can't miss it if you don't know about it.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 27
B: You were hot in the summer at Mound Park, but you didn't think of it being
particularly worse than any place else I guess. Is that a fair statement?
H: Yes. After they began building the whole city up, it wasn't just Mound Park
Hospital getting bigger, it was the whole city building up, and the more cement
around you, the hotter. I always said if they didn't pour so much cement we
wouldn't be so hot.
B: There's some theory that supports that argument actually. Mrs. Hill, I was
particularly interested in what we were just talking about; the sorts of things that
struck you as being a little different or remarkable about Mound Park Hospital
when you got there in 1953, having come from the North. We were talking about
air conditioning and hot summers. Do you remember anything else that struck
you as being particularly different? I wonder about the fact that you moved from
the North to the South and lived in the American South for the first time in the
1950s, a segregated place.
H: Segregation didn't really impress me too much. [I thought] So? If you're black
you can't use that toilet and if you're white you can. What bothered me maybe
more a little bit was the education of the children. If you're black you go to that
school and if you're white you go to that school. You can't go to that school if
you're black. That part bothered me. What you do to the children bothers me
more than that it's happening. What it's doing to our children.
B: That was different than what you had experienced up North I guess.
H: Yes. I didn't have to think about that. Everybody went to the same kind of
school. The fact that you sat in the front of the bus and I was like, why can't I sit
in the back? Well, that's where all the black people sit. They'd been called black
and other names which I detest. We did have a lot more colored patients at
Mound Park than some of those northern hospitals I was at like West Penn and
Harper Hospital and the hospital I graduated from. There weren't very many
colored people who lived in that area. So, consequently, we didn't have the
B: When you came to Mound Park in 1953 and worked there until 1956, were black
patients treated at Mound Park or were they treated at Mercy Hospital?
H: At Mercy.
B: Was there ever an occasion where a black patient needed to be treated at
Mound Park for a particularly difficult surgery or maybe a difficult child birth or
something like that?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 28
H: Not that I noticed. I don't recall any specific incident that happened then.
B: You don't recall any occasion where someone was so critical they needed to be
B: How about for serious accidents? You had the emergency room, right?
H: Yes, and they had the emergency room at Mercy Hospital too, I think. I think it
was totally separated when I first came here. When I came back it was different.
B: We'll get to that in a later part of the interview, but that's an interesting thing
because when you came back we were right in the middle of a big change in the
United States, and it had a lot to do with exactly what you're getting at there. I'd
like to talk about that when we can. The people you worked with at Mound Park,
were they mostly southerners or were they from all over the country?
H: I would say they were from all over the country, not necessarily all from the
South. Northerners came down, they wanted to work, and they worked at Mound
B: Like you.
H: Like I did.
B: I was interested in something you said about the winter times when the patient
population got so big. What sort of problems did people have that seemed to be
the winter folks. Were they different from the problems that you treated during
the off season?
H: No. The northerners moved down and brought all their germs with them. We
worked all summer long to get rid of the germs and then they come traipsing
down here in the winter bringing their germs. I didn't notice any difference.
B: Other than there was a lot more work to do.
H: Yes, there were more patients.
B: The northerners who came down in the winter time, did they not tend to be
somewhat older than the year-round population?
H: Yes, but St. Petersburg, remember, had green benches then. It was considered
the senior retirement center of the United States.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 29
B: I guess I wonder whether that created any unusual problems or conditions for
you who were trying to care for these people as opposed to a hospital?
H: No, I don't think so. There was more geriatric care to be given, but not as many
B: That didn't make an unusual situation? You didn't have to master any unusual
skills or anything particularly like that?
H: It was usually just the run-of-the-mill stuff that went on. Of course, even though
with the advent of vaccines you didn't have those things like tuberculosis and all
those infectious diseases.
B: Was there a tuberculosis ward at Mound Park when you got there?
B: That was gone?
H: That was gone.
B: Did you still have to have an isolation ward for any kinds of infectious conditions
H: Oh, yes. Even today, they isolate you if you have an infection in the hospital.
B: Similar to an intensive care unit?
H: Yes. You're just in a room where everybody dons a gown and gloves and what
B: We were talking about trying to discuss some of the changes in pharmaceuticals
that happened about the time that you came to Bayfront. There were some
vaccinations that became available to treat some very stubborn health
conditions, such as smallpox and polio.
H: Meningitis, those things.
B: Do you remember the first results that you started to see as a nurse of those
H: Actually, I can't remember any startling changes until the penicillin came in. That
was just like day and night. It was like you draw the shade and you let the shade
BMC-1 Hill, Page 30
B: What had you done for an antibiotic until penicillin?
H: There was no such a thing. You used aspirin to alleviate the pain and bring
down the temperature. You used various other sundry things like quinine for
heart conditions. If a person had coronary occlusion, you put them in bed and
told them not to move, not even a finger.
B: That was as much as you could do for them?
H: Yes. Then we learned that is the wrong treatment. They want them to exercise
more and get the circulation going. That was the treatment then. You lay in bed
and the nurse feeds you even though you're apparently healthy and could do it
yourself. You can't do that.
B: Do you remember when you first started to administer penicillin?
H: Yes, I had to learn that. I also remember the nuclear medications too.
B: What does that mean?
H: I can't remember now what the nuclear medications were, but I do know that we
had a five minute report every morning on my unit about the effects of radium
and those kinds of drugs. The doctor would come in, robed or whatever, and he
would give an injection of something, and I can't remember what it was that had
radium in it. You treated those patients differently. They weren't isolated. You
could only spend so much time in the room with them and you had to leave. You
had to keep track of how much time you spent in the room with the patient.
Nowadays they have these people who work in x-ray where they have badges to
tell them how much radiation they've absorbed.
B: What sort of diseases were you treating with those nuclear medicines?
H: I can't remember because I was so busy teaching them how to take care of them.
I don't remember what the medications were. It was more [a question] of how
long you stayed in the room. Actually, they were just ordinary patients. There
wouldn't be any difference in the care other than you couldn't stay in the room.
B: Were you still at West Penn when you first started to use penicillin?
H: No, the penicillin was given when I was in Detroit, Michigan. It was before I went
to West Penn. It was in the early 1940s.
B: That, to you, was a big change in medicine?
H: Oh my, yes. It was the most wonderful thing that ever happened.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 31
B: You found you were able to send people home healthier and sooner?
H: I was working in pediatrics, and we didn't lose the babies and the little children
who would get earaches like they had before. Before, all they could do was
operate and put drains in. Wash it out with some kind of [antiseptic] medicine.
B: Do you remember any other changes in medical procedures that happened
during those first few years at Mound Park that made a big difference such as
instruments or the kinds of surgery that people could get at Mound Park? Could
people get as much surgical attention at Mound Park as they could anywhere
else, did you think, at the time?
H: We always thought that Mound Park was better than any other hospital in the
whole community. I think it was. It was a teaching hospital. If you're going to be
a teaching hospital, you're going to have to be just a little bit better than any other
B: When you say teaching, you mean teaching doctors as well as nurses?
H: Doctors, nurses, radiologists, whatever. I always said I didn't want to work in any
hospital that wasn't a teaching hospital.
B: Because it was a better hospital?
B: Do you remember any of the surgeons who were particularly good at Mound
Park during those first few years that you were there?
H: Names escape me sometimes.
B: I don't have that data with me now, but I'll see when we resume.
[Interruption in tape]
B: We were just discussing some of the personnel and some of the people who
made up the staff at what was then Mound Park Hospital.
H: I was telling you there were no head nurses from Mound Park School of Nursing.
H: I did sort of push a couple ahead. I think two or three I sort of got behind them as
a supervisor and kept pushing and pushing them until vacancies came up and
BMC-1 Hill, Page 32
they applied for them.
B: These were nurses who had been graduates of the Mound Park school?
B: Were you involved in teaching at all?
H: I did teaching on the unit. I did teach a class to the [practical] nurse students
once-one hour. It took me six hours to prepare the lesson.
B: I know how that goes.
H: I said, teaching's not for me. I like hands-on situations.
B: What was the class you taught?
H: To the students?
H: I don't even remember. That was when I made a big decision not to go into
B: The nurses who were coming into the profession then, were they people who
struck you as similar to the kind of person you had been when you first went into
nursing? When you went into nursing education, you were young, single, and
had a long-standing ambition to become a nurse. Was that common?
H: To a degree it was. I remember when I first reported to Memorial Hospital at the
beginning of my career, the first day, Minnie May showed us a whole shelf full of
little fetuses. That didn't bother me, but it did bother some of the girls. One of
them went back to her room, packed her bags, and said, I'm leaving.
B: That was it. I can understand that.
H: I thought, boy, that's a pretty rude awakening. But then, if that's what you have
to look at and do, then that's what you have to do. That made me all the more
determined to be a nurse.
B: Was it easy to attract new people to the nursing profession by the time you got to
Florida? Did they have plenty of people coming to Mound Park to become
H: Yes, we did, when I first went there. But when I came back there was a shortage
BMC-1 Hill, Page 33
B: In the 1950s you would say...?
H: They got the nurses they needed by advertising and getting students from the
B: Let me ask you the question this way; were most of the rest of the nurses at
Mound Park like you, meaning married with at least a child or perhaps more than
one child, or did nurses tend to be unmarried women?
H: Most of them were single.
B: Do you think that changed a lot over the years that you worked in the nursing
H: Yes, it did.
H: Because there was a time when women were not supposed to work once they
get married. They were to stay home and take care of the family. I said, well, if
they like housework then that's okay. But I don't like housework, so what should
I do? I'll go into nursing. That's okay too. That's what I want to do. I don't want
to be a housekeeper.
B: Do you think you were an exceptional woman for those days in the 1940s and
H: I was a little different I should say. My brothers thought it was terrible my
husband allowed me to work. [They would ask me] Why doesn't he work harder?
Then you wouldn't have to. I said, what do you mean, I wouldn't have to? I
work because I want to. There's no more of this staying at home and dusting the
table six times in one day.
B: You never caught yourself thinking to yourself, if only I didn't have to work I
wouldn't have to be here at this place?
H: No. I never thought that. Well, see, I'm a little bit different than some nurses. I
love my work. I didn't care what happened; I wanted to be a nurse and a nurse I
will be. Nowadays, people say, you know she was a nurse, and I say, I am a
nurse-and a damn good one.
B: Were your friends all people that you knew through nursing at Mound Park or did
you have friends, meaning women particularly, who were women who did not
work or women who worked in other jobs or professions or occupations?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 34
H: No, I didn't work much with people in other professions. I just worked with the
teachers that came in from the college or the school of nursing. Even the
hospitals who had their own school of nursing had their own teachers and faculty.
You got to working with them. It all depended on where you were on the
organizational chart. The people that you worked with at your level to get things
accomplished from there down, or there up, and I played that to the hilt.
B: How do you mean that?
H: I made my own power base. When I came back from Indianapolis to Mound
Park, I made it my business to know the head of the laundry, the head of the
housekeeping, the head of maintenance, the head of the lab, x-ray, the
personnel director; all the people who run their own departments, I made it my
business to get to know them better. If I needed something changed or
something different, I could go to them individually and we'd start talking and
negotiating and we'd reach an agreement. I didn't have to go all the way to the
top and back down.
B: Was that a big change from the experience you had when you worked at Mound
Park before you left for Indianapolis?
H: Yes, that was a change.
B: You really had to work your way through change.
H: I learned this in Indianapolis.
B: You learned a lot in Indianapolis it sounds like.
H: You're not kidding. Success in life is dependent on your power base.
B: Meaning who you know?
H: Who you know. This isn't that you're doing this for your own benefit, but for the
benefit of what you're representing.
B: So you can get things done. Before we leave the subject of women and nursing,
I'd like to mention something from 1956, the year that you left St. Petersburg to
go to Indiana. Life magazine came out with a special edition of the magazine
that year on women. They announced, among many other things, that the ideal
American woman in 1956 was a married mother of four.
H: I didn't reach it. I couldn't qualify for that.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 35
B: Would you say that article left out most women in nursing at that time from being
in that profile of what Life magazine characterized?
H: I think it was a trend of the times. It doesn't matter whether it be nursing or
school teaching or what.
B: Would women leave nursing when they married typically?
H: Some of them would.
B: In those days?
H: In those days. There were very few married women working in those days. Most
of them were single.
B: Was it a problem, do you think, for hospitals like Mound Park to keep nurses over
time or for the nursing profession to keep nurses, given the fact that when single
women who were nurses made a decision to marry and start a family that they
would leave nursing? Did that create a problem as far as turnover in the
profession is concerned?
H: I would say some of them would stay until they became pregnant and then they
would leave. The others would stay in nursing. It would depend a good bit on
what their husbands were doing, too. It did depend a great deal on whether your
husband would allow you to nurse and continue your profession. Most husbands
didn't want their wives working in some of those years there. They wanted the
world to know that they were able to take care of their wives and their family.
That wasn't why I was working. I was working because I loved nursing.
B: Your husband understood that about you.
H: Yeah. He knew I wanted to work.
B: He married a nurse.
H: Yes, he married a nurse. He never did interfere with my nursing career. Never.
He encouraged me.
B: You were married to a somewhat unusual man in that regard?
H: I would say so, yes. He encouraged me to go to all of the workshops and things
like that. He encouraged me to take advantage of any opportunity to improve
myself or move up or whatever.
B: It must have been sort of a double-edged sword for Mr. Hill. On the one hand,
BMC-1 Hill, Page 36
there was the extra income that came from your job. On the other hand, he had
to do more in the way of helping take care of the home and bring up your
daughter too, right?
H: We worked that out pretty well.
B: [You] divided it up?
B: How did Zona like moving to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1953?
H: She didn't want to leave.
B: Leave Pennsylvania?
H: No, Florida.
B: When she first came here, was she happy to come to Florida?
H: Yes. Of course, she missed her friends, but she made friends pretty easily. We
were in a financial situation where she had to help out a little bit, too, so she sold
milk in school. Then she got a job with Webb City. She worked in the
photographic department when she wasn't even sixteen. Any time we would tell
her anything she was doing wrong she would say, well, they like me down at
[End of Tape B, Side 3.]
H: We haven't forgotten that after all these years. Whenever she gets a little
stubborn we'd say, well, they liked you down at Webb's.
B: It's pretty hard to argue with success. [Laughter] Web would have liked that story.
Where did Zona go to school when you moved to Florida?
H: She went to Boca Ciega High School and she went to Distin Junior High.
B: Distin Junior High, of course. Zona was born in what year again? 1941?
B: She would have been thirteen when you moved to St. Petersburg and sixteen
when you moved to Indiana. Oh, you moved to Indiana during her senior year?
H: That's when she had the problems of getting adjusted.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 37
B: I'd bet she did. She had to change high school, didn't she?
B: Yes, that would be a problem. Well, that was a tough decision I guess. You were
close to this man, Mr. McLinn, who had been the administrator?
H: Yes, and things were not so good for men in St. Petersburg to work. The
economics were not so good.
B: Referring to your husband's work?
B: What was your job by the time you finished up your first step at Mound Park,
before you left?
H: I was a supervisor.
B: A nursing supervisor?
B: What does that mean?
H: There's a director of nursing and then the supervisors. There was no assistant
B: How many supervisors were there?
H: I think there were four of us. Five, if you count the operating room. The
operating room and the OB each had their own and the rest was divided between
the other three of us.
B: How would you divide up the rest of them?
H: Medical [or] surgical.
B: What did you supervise?
H: We just divided the floors. They all were integrated. They weren't one medical
and one surgical.
B: You were responsible for supervising certain physical spaces of the hospitals and
the nursing services in those spaces. How long were you a nursing supervisor at
Mound Park before you left for Indiana?
BMC-1 Hill, Page 38
H: I guess about a year and a half.
B: Mr. McLinn was the administrator at Bayfront throughout the time that you
H: At Mound Park.
B: Excuse me, Mound Park. I guess you got to know him?
H: Yes. He was in my power base.
B: I see. So even before you left Mound Park you had been conscious of this power
H: I still use it.
B: Was he someone that you sort of saw as being a man on the move; someone
who was going some place in his profession?
H: Yes. We had a problem in nursing and he would call in all the departments or
have a department head meeting, the supervisors were invited to that. If we had
a problem we were to bring it up and lay it on the table and see what could be
done about it. Of course, the big man up always has some positive way of
solving a problem. I will not be negative. I will always be positive. One day the
dietary department was missing a lot of the items on the trays. He says, Ethel-
he used to get so disgusted with me- he said, Ethel, do you want to run the
dietary department? I said, no thank you. I don't want to run the dietary
department. I don't know enough about diets to run the department. The dietary
department then sent me a note and said how many items that run into the
thousands they put on the patients' trays each meal. At the next department
head meeting I said, I apologize to the dietary department. I didn't realize how
many items they had to put on the tray. When I saw that, I thought, they have
problems and I can understand why. So, I apologized.
B: And made peace?
H: Yes. I'm quick to say if I'm wrong. I will say it. Even when I would get falsely
accused sometimes I would say I was wrong.
B: That's diplomacy I guess.
H: Yes, that's diplomacy. I used to shake my head and say, well, I'm wrong. I'm
sorry. To myself I'm going, I'm not wrong, I know I did right.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 39
B: Did that cause you stress?
H: I never called it stress-it was part of the job.
B: The tension between differing personalities or differing needs on the part of
people didn't bother you physically, I guess?
H: Not too much. Just certain people rubbed me wrong. They'd give a pain in the
buttski. That's not a word you can use. I think in any work situation there's
always those that you have a great deal of confidence in and those that you don't
have and those people that you like and those people that you tolerate. It
doesn't matter whatever you're doing in life; you have that situation.
B: You worked your way up in the ranks of your profession at Mound Park. You
came there with a good education and a pretty good resume of experience at
some big hospitals. With a good resume and on top of all of that, you added, it
sounds like, some pretty good diplomatic skills and some good understanding of
how nursing fit in with the rest of a hospital.
H: Mr. McLinn, up in Indianapolis-and I learned from him when I came back to
Bayfront- gave us a lot of management skill programs, like "work smarter and
not harder" and those kinds of things. I even go around now and say, people
could work smarter and not harder around here.
B: That's always good advice. You think that those skills, all-told, are what made
you sort of become important to Mr. McLinn to the point where he was interested
in having you accompany him to Indiana?
H: I would think so.
B: How did it happen that he left Mound Park to go to Indiana?
H: He came from up in that section of the country. They were building a new
hospital at the east end of Indianapolis. He had been selected as the
administrator when they got to a certain phase of their building. Then he had us
come up a little later right before he opened the hospital.
B: Us meaning you and Mr. Hill?
H: Yes. He took the laundry manager and his secretary and he took me, and it's
running through my mind who all went up with him.
B: Several people left Mound Park to go with Mr. McLinn?
H: Yes. I went with the idea of coming back because I liked Florida.
BMC-1 Hill, Page 40
B: How soon did you think you would be back?
H: Ten years.
B: You pretty much stuck with that; pretty close.
H: I learned a lot while I was in Indianapolis.
B: This might be a good point to pause for the time being.
[End of Interview.]