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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Virgie Pafford
Interviewer: Ann Smith
January 15, 2002
Pages 1-4: Pafford was born February 3, 1931, in Melbourne, Florida. She graduated in the
second class of Florida State University, School of Nursing in 1955. Her five-year program
taught turpentine stupes and oatmeal bathes to student in dark green student uniforms with white
aprons. She recently donated her uniform to FSU at the dedication of the new nursing building
in Tallahassee. Student nursing labs had students perform procedures on each other such as
nasogastric tubes, enemas and injections before ministering to patients.
Pages 5-8: Some of the clinical experience for the students was in Miami due to the hospital
facilities. Pafford describes the summer heat in an era without air-conditioning for patients or
students. For her student experience in Public Health, she went to Jacksonville and the City
Board of Health; psychiatric nursing was taught at the state facility in Chattahoochee, Florida;
and communicable disease was taught at W. T. Edwards Tuberculosis Hospital in Tallahassee.
Pages 9-12: Pafford read from her grade sheets, the courses the students took for each rotation.
She identified Public health as her favorite, riding the Jacksonville bus to visit her patient or to
hold VD [venereal disease] clinic. As a baccalaureate program, it included magazine reading,
swimming, badminton-giving the students a well-rounded education. Courses such as anatomy
and other hard sciences were taught by MDs followed by a nurse teaching the nursing
Pages 13-16: A course called Professional Adjustment taught students to join American Nurses
Association as a responsible professional. In August 1955, she graduated and by September, she
began her job with the Alachua County Health Department. Her district was Micanopy and
Archer. She tells a tale of inadvertently setting the clinic on fire as she prepared for the visit
from the State Board of Health. Home visits, immunizations clinics, maternity clinics and
general clinics were her regular public health duties.
Pages 17-21: In 1956, Pafford attended Chapel Hill, Carolina, School of Public for an advanced
degree. Dr. Byrnes of the Alachua County Health Department wanted her to qualify for a
supervisory position since she had become engaged to the person who was the Director of
Environmental Health. While in North Carolina, she received a job offer from the college of
Nursing. She joined the faculty in July 1959. Students were taught Public Health Nursing in
their senior year. This included how to make infant formula and properly sterilize baby bottles,
do a baby bath, weigh the baby and check the umbilical cord.
Pages 22-25: Pafford spoke of hook worm problems out in the rural areas. They checked for this
in the school system by taking specimens and treating the children. They also saw stomach
worms and skin disorders such as scabies and impetigo. They worked closely with the granny
mid-wives. Public health nurses spent a day in the schools each week doing screening or seeing
referrals from teachers. Students were incorporated into activities of the Health Department,
planning activities and carrying out programs. They gave skits to high school students for
Pages 26-29: Pafford mentions the two black nurses at the health department who did not take
care of the white patients during segregation, while the white nurses took care of any patient.
She refers to the white and black fountains and bathrooms as silly. Patients at Shands Teaching
Hospital and at Alachua General Hospital were segregated.
Pafford spoke of Joy Davis, a consultant with a doctorate in education, whom she and
another colleague requested to teach them how to teach. She mentions other non-nurse faculty
who provided an enhancement program for their own development.
Pages 30-35: In 1961, Pafford and her students took the town of Newberry as their clinical site,
providing home visits, school programs and all immunizations. The city gave them a banquet at
the end of the term. In 1969, Kennedy Homes [a subsidized housing project] was built and
Pafford and her students used the community center for various health clinics for thirteen years,
to serve the 172 apartment of residents. Her students dealt with patients with diabetes, maternity
schizophrenia and educated the patients to every possible condition.
Pafford told of the patient with a tracheotomy, ready to come home from the hospital to a
home with no electricity. The physical therapist and Pafford worked together to get an
attachment for the garden hose so, when turned on, would provide negative pressure and provide
a source of suction.
Pages 36-39: Pafford's students participated in an immunization campaign in the county and
were in the Homecoming parade carrying a flag that said "End Measles, now." The students put
on skits at the high school to recruit young people into nursing. They began multi-phasic
screening-testing for Sickle Cell anemia, hearing, vision, weight immunizations, iron deficiency,
urine testing-at the schools. Pafford scheduled all screening for the Head Start children.
At graduation at the College of Nursing each year, an award is presented in Pafford's
honor. She intended it to honor improvising in Community Health Nursing.
Pages 40-45: Pafford taught the RNs for a while [RNs who had an associate degree or a diploma
nursing education and returned for a baccalaureate degree]. She enjoyed taking experienced
nurses, but ones who had only worked in hospitals, out into her community. She spoke of homes
with roaches on the floor and elderly women chewing and spitting snuff-experiences new to
these RN students.
Pafford retired January 1, 1986. She was involved in an auto accident and broke her neck
in June of that year. She told of her experiences as a patient while in the hospital at Alachua
Pages 45-48: Pafford takes pride in the faculty providing meaningful experiences for the students
in community health. Two of her colleagues approached the members of the Woman's Club in
LaCrosse one summer to develop a clinic for migrant families. It flourished and ACORN Clinic,
as it is known, today, is heralded as a showplace of meeting the health needs of an outlying
community while run primarily by students from University of Florida.
Interviewee: Virgie Pafford
Interviewer: Ann Smith
Date: January 15, 2002
S: My name is Ann Smith and the date is January 15, 2002. I am here with Virgie
Pafford. I have always known you as Virgie. Is that Virginia?
P: Right on my birth certificate, Virgie.
S: Where were you born?
P: I was born in Melbourne, Florida.
S: Will you share what year?
P: February 3, 1931.
S: Why did you become interested in nursing as a young woman?
P: I did not want to teach.
S: And nursing and teaching were the main options for a young woman?
P: Home demonstration agent, nurse or teacher. So, I went into nursing.
S: Where did you go to school?
P: FSU [Florida State University]. I was in their second class.
S: What year was that?
P: I graduated in 1955.
S: How long was the program?
P: It was a five-year program.
S: So, your basic program was the cutting edge education at that time, considering
it was a baccalaureate degree as your level of entry.
P: FSU was not accredited until I was in graduate school at Chapel Hill, because
Vivian Duxbury [Dean of the College of Nursing at FSU] and Agnes Salisbury just
had a terrible time with the State Board of Nursing. They could not convert credit
hours into the number of hours you were supposed to have in clinical experience.
They finally got it resolved.
S: What do you remember of your nursing program? How was nursing practiced
then, versus now, with the technical advances we have?
P: Well, I still have my old procedure books.
S: That is worth historical value. I would love to see them.
P: Turpentine stupes, oatmeal bathes, and the bottles that you had under the bed
with the hoses running into the chest.
S: Chest tubes [tubes to reinflate the lungs after thoracic surgery].
P: Yes, chest tubes. The respiratory therapists were the guys that hauled the big
bottles of oxygen around.
S: What do you remember of your education? Did you have the year of being a
probe [probation period] like the diploma programs had?
S: So, this was really getting into the academic world. Did you have a student
P: Yeah. Why they were forest green, I don't know. They were a bright, dark, forest
green. So we used to tell people we were forestry majors. We had a little white
apron and a little white hat with a green stripe. Why, I don't know.
S: If you had a stripe when you were a student, did you get a different kind of stripe
when you graduated?
S: So, you wore a student cap that was the same as your school cap when you
P: I had an extra one. Jodi [Jodi Irving, currently a faculty member and FSU
graduate] could not find hers so I gave her my extra one.
S: Do you know, almost everyone I have talked to, still has their cap?
P: Jodi and I went to something--the dedication of the nursing building [in
Tallahassee]. I took my old uniform. I had been saving it with the apron, the
buttons, my name tag and my cap and gave it to the school [Florida State
University]. It still had the starch in it from the laundry at FSU.
S: Did you have a rotation through the formula room to learn how to make infant
P: Yes, for two weeks.
S: Now, we use so many disposables, do you recall having to sharpen needles for
operating room reuse, to sharpen and take off barbs from the hypodermic
P: I was doing that in 1955 at the Health Department. We had to spend time
working in the Sterile Supply Room.
S: What did you do there?
P: Wrapped up bed pans and sterilized them. I think our very first courses in
learning skills was that we did everything to each other. The classroom was on
the top floor of the infirmary.
S: Did you do blood pressures?
P: Yes, and enemas.
S: Did you give each other enemas?
P: Yes, and then we had to go to class afterward, like to Physical Education. I
remember my first injection. I jumped up out of the bed and said I am not going
to take it. I can't remember who the instructor was but she said get back in the
S: So, you had to have your turn. Did nurses pass naso-gastric tubes, then [tube
passed through the nose and into the stomach]? Did you perform that on each
P: Yeah. Then, we had our first clinical experience at Tallahassee Memorial
Hospital. A bus took us over there. I think it was two mornings a week, after we
learned how to do something. Then, the beginning of my junior year, we all went
to Miami. The first class was already down there with their own instructors from
Florida State. When we went down there, there were nine of us. That is where
we had OB and Pediatrics, and Med-Surg and Operating Room
S: Did you go to Miami because those clinical experiences were not available in
P: Yes, all at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. We lived in the nurses' dorm
and the Jackson students hated us. We went to clinical at seven in the morning,
or six-thirty, and then, at one o'clock, we had class. We had a class at one
o'clock, one at two o'clock and we were through at three. The doctor would
come in and give the lecture at one and we all would stand when he walked in
the room. Then, the second hour, the nursing instructor would give the nursing
implications. What we did to make friends with the Jackson students was to get
through helping each other and then we would go help them [with their patient
assignments]. Eventually, that broke down some barriers.
S: For the readers who will be non-nurses, explain the diploma program of the
Jackson students and how it differed from your university education.
P: In a three-year hospital diploma program, they spent their first six months in
probation. Then, they got capped [a ceremony where they are presented with
the school cap to wear as part of their uniform]. Then, they immediately went to
either seven-to-three or three-to-eleven or eleven-to-seven shifts and still had to
go to class. They actually provided most of the nursing care on the floors [in the
long-standing tradition of an apprentice, on-the-job training]. We didn't have air-
conditioning [at that time].
S: I'll bet Miami was hot.
P: It was hotter than blue blazes.
S: .for patients and for people who were hoofing around taking, care of them.
P: We had these neat little fans that were in hospitals at the time. I happen to have
one. They are about this high and square and that thing can throw out some air.
S: At least, it kept the air moving. Even if it was hot, it was moving. That is all they
had for cooling. That must have been so uncomfortable for patients.
P: Well, the dorms didn't have air-conditioning, either. We spent fifteen months at
Jackson Memorial Hospital. Then, that summer, we spent six to eight weeks at
Mount Sinai Hospital doing dietetics. We were closely supervised by the rabbis
when we worked in the kosher kitchen. Of course, the place was full of diabetics.
So, that was fun. Then, we went back on campus for our senior year in
Tallahassee and had our Public Health experience. We were placed all over the
S: Where did you go?
P: [I went to] Jacksonville City Board of Health in Duval County. I should go get my
scrapbook because we were the first interns that the city of Jacksonville started
having in their various, in sundry departments. Some of the students went to
Broward County. Some were placed in Okeechobee area and worked with the
Indians and the migrants.
S: What year was this?
P: 1954. Lib Holley was our Public Health instructor. We had classes first and then
we went to orientation at the Florida State Board of Health. I happened to have a
kidney stone and missed orientation and had to pick it up, later. Lib was nice.
She said Virgie, of all people to have this, I sure am glad it was you. I guess it
was my maturity. But, anyway, can you imagine this poor instructor with nine
students and one of them with a terrible belly ache, passing blood. What to do?
What to do? Of course, she was very friendly with all of the nursing staff at the
city Board of Health and so it really wasn't a problem getting in to a doctor. Here
are some old pictures. Here we are at Mount Sinai Hospital. After public health,
we went to Chattahoochee.
S: For your psychiatric experience?
P: Yes. We lived in the dorm Sunday night through Thursday. Then, we went back
to Tallahassee because we had classes on Saturday.
S: Some of those things sound like vestiges of the old diploma programs.
P: We had to take Physical Education and Humanities-the third humanities course.
That was on Saturday morning. We had a really good term at Chattahoochee
because it was right close to Bainbridge, Georgia, Air Force Base. Then, we
went to W.T. Edwards Tuberculosis Hospital in Tallahassee for our
communicable disease rotation. We spent three months there.
S: Was that a large facility?
P: Yes. That was really interesting. I do not know what they use it for now because
they only have one TB hospital, now, in Lantana [for the state of Florida].
S: Of all of your rotations, what one did you like the best?
P: Public Health.
S: I am looking at these pictures of you from the newspapers. [Copies are included.]
P: I was named for Virgie Wallace, my mother's best friend.
S: Her name was Virgie and not Virginia or something else?
P: No. She was named for her Daddy who was named Virgil. Here is my six-
month-old baby picture taken here in Gainesville.
S: You were born in Melbourne ... ?
P: I had relatives in Gainesville.
S: So, you liked Public Health best of all. What did you like as a student, about
P: Well, we lived in the YWCA, which was a very interesting experience. My
roommate, Joan Pearson, and I did a lot of teaching. She had a car. They
placed me in a housing project.
S: This is as a student?
P: Yes, as a student. We worked in the city clinics, the VD [venereal disease] clinic,
the maternity clinic and all of those different clinics that they had. Then I had
patients that lived in this project. I could ride the bus to the projects, visit my
patients and then ride back to the health department. OK, do you want to know
S: Oh, yes, I want to know the foundation for your successful career.
P: That is North Carolina, [reading]. Fall Semester: 1951, Written Communication,
Introduction to Sociology, Western Civilization, Grooming Clinic. That was in the
Home Demonstration Department. I think it was just a special class for us to
make sure we were well-groomed. I don't remember much of it. Basic Math,
General Education, Elements of Nutrition. That was the first semester. Then,
spring semester: Written Communication, Fundamentals of Speech, which I
about failed, Tennis, which I hated; General Psychology and Humanities, Drugs
and Solutions, Introduction to Nursing, and General Chemistry--which about
killed me. Then, Summer term of 1952 was Magazine reading.
S: Magazine reading?
P: That is where we were introduced to the New Yorker and various other
magazines like that.
S: .to broaden your scope?
P: Yeah. Not Cosmopolitan or
S: .. .or Ladies Home Journal.
P: Right. [Still reading] Intermediate Advanced Swimming and Badminton, History of
Nursing, and General Chemistry.
S: You sure can tell that the educators of that time were trying desperately to have
nursing become a well-rounded, fully educated profession.
P: As far as I am concerned, having to admit the students from junior college is
what ruined our nursing curriculum. We could start our professional identification
in the first year with Nursing 101 and study the role and history of nursing. You
built into it.
S: There was an introduction to professionalism and it took some time to assimilate
P: So, the legislature spoke. Then, fall semester [reading, again]: Nursing Arts,
clinical; Introduction to Nursing Arts.
S: Nursing Arts included bed-making, sheet-tucking, blood pressures?
P: Yes, injections and all of that. Human Anatomy.
S: Was anatomy taught by a nurse?
P: No, a doctor. A man--he was good, too. It was in physiology that the instructor's
English wasn't so red hot. It made it a little difficult. Human Anatomy, General
Organic Chemistry, Humanities, Elementary Physics for Nurses--that was taught
by a physicist. I remember he used to drop his ashes [from his cigarette] in his
coffee. I passed the junior examination in English composition. Isn't that nice?
Nursing Arts clinical experience, Pharmacology, General Bacteriology. Man, that
woman, Dr. Hood, she just went so fast that if you dropped your pencil, you failed
the course. You just couldn't catch up with her, again. We would have a break
at noon, I mean, between the two classes, and it would be right after lunch.
Then, we had to go all the way across campus to take Human Physiology. We
had Nursing Arts, Elementary Diet and Disease.
S: I think it is wonderful that you still have your transcript--just to have the names of
P: Summer term: Introduction to Medic Science (I made an A); Med-Surgical Diet;
Medical-Surgical Nursing. Wait a minute. We were in Miami, by then. We did
that in the summer. We had to have been in Miami by then. Fall semester was
Operating Room technique.
S: Did you like the Operating Room?
P: I hated it.
S: Do you think that is the opposite end of the continuum from Public Health?
P: Hated it. I think we had to do six weeks. I mean, I practically threw up. It was
S: The nice thing about nursing is that there are so many different places that you
can contribute. The people that grooved on the operating room experience
probably did not do really well out in the community.
P: Miss Smiley gave me an A. She said she gave me an A because I suffered so
and tried so hard.
S: Did you have to scrub in on cases? [The role of the scrub nurse is to pass
instruments to the surgeons and preferably anticipate what equipment they will
need next and have it ready for them.]
S: And circulate cases? And do the sponge counts? [The role of the circulating
nurse is responsible for the activities of the entire team. She is responsible for
the documentation of the activities in the permanent record and to anticipate the
instruments and equipment that any of the team will require.]
P: And counts.
S: Did you ever get to interact with the patients?
P: No. They were all knocked out by the time they rolled by me. And I don't know
where they went after surgery because I don't think they had Recovery Rooms.
S: No, I think that was before Recovery Rooms.
P: Then, I had another course in Pharmacology and got to really know drugs by
S: Now, in that era, did they teach you how to mix your own IV's?
P: I don't remember doing that. I remember when I went to North Carolina and
worked evenings, they had changed all of the names of the drugs back to generic
names. I had a hell of a time finding stuff.
S: I think, in that period of time, we used trade names, generic names and
sometimes a third name. We were setting up our medications from stock bottles
that were on each floor. So, you had to know all of those names if you were
going to find the patient's correct medications, to say nothing of knowing the
apothecary system and the metric system for figuring dosages.
P: It was just like when they tried to change our miles to kilometers. [Reading,
again] Then, I had Med-Surg Special Nursing; Med-Surg Specialties;
Organization and Administration in Nursing; Advanced Med-Surg Specialties.
Summer term of 1954 was Obstetrical Nursing and Obstetrical Nursing
S: What do you remember of Obstetrics?
P: I remember this woman being in labor and me hollering, somebody, get a nurse.
When I was teaching maternity at University of Florida, I did that a few times, too.
I opened the door and said, I said, baby coming. The students loved it; they just
loved it. We got in there and a doctor had just wired this baby's head up with a
whole bunch of wires [for fetal monitoring].
S: When was this?
P: This was at Shands. Whenever I had to teach maternity; when we went through
our 'a nurse is a nurse is a nurse' curriculum. Then, the patient started pushing
and I said, What are you doing that for? You are not supposed to do that, yet.
The little nursing student on the other side of the bed and I slapped up the
emergency pack and I said, I am getting out of here. Too many people are here
for me to stay. Then, I had Pediatric Nursing and Pediatric Nursing experience.
S: Did you like Peds?
P: No, I hated children. Then, I had three and that confirmed it. Then, I had Public
Health. That was fall semester. Spring semester we had Organization and
Administration of Nursing. Again, Humanities was our Saturday class.
Psychiatric Nursing experience, and Professional Adjustment.
S: Professional Adjustment covered what?
P: It meant that if you did not join the ANA [American Nurses Association], it was
heresy. If you did not support your professional organization, you were scum. I
still pay my dues.
S: We learned our lessons early?
P: They do not learn it like they are supposed to, anymore. I do not know what
Basic Activities was but I will bet it had something to do with Physical Education.
Then, we had Health and Communicable Disease and Communicable Disease
S: That was the tuberculosis experience?
P: I had a 130.50 semester hours earned. It seemed like a lot more than that. That
is how they spread out the curriculum. We had to stand up when the doctor
walked by the nurses' station.
S: They called it respect but it very close to servitude. You graduated in 1955. Was
it in August?
P: August 13, 1955.
S: Then what did you do?
P: I had a job with the Alachua County Health Department. I wanted to get a job in
Volusia County. Olive Seymour had been my school nurse and she was the
director of nurses but she did not have any vacancies. Why I wanted to go
home, was beyond me. Anyway, Louise Kincaid hired me at the Health
Department [in Alachua County] and I went to work September 6, 1955.
S: What was your job when you first started?
P: I was given a district [of the county to be responsible for]. I think it was
southwest Gainesville. Then, I had Micanopy, Archer--in fact, I set Archer on fire.
S: Do you want to tell me about that?
P: There was a big field behind the clinic. Dr. Byrnes, the health officer, and the
photographer from the State Board of Health were coming out to take pictures of
my clinic. I had lined up my prettiest patients. I was running around and
cleaning the clinic and getting it all set up. Archer would not give me a garbage
can and so I had a big old hole out behind the clinic. I would put stuff in the hole
and burn it. While I was dusting or something, I heard snapping, crackling and
popping and looked out the window and here this fire is going across the field. I
had to run over to the neighbors and grab a shovel and ask them to please call
the fire department. They came and it was a $500 fine or three months in jail.
Dr. Byrnes thought that was so funny. But they let me off.
S: When you had a district, you would run clinics in various places?
P: Yes, you have immunization clinics, maternity clinics and general clinics.
S: Did you make home visits?
P: Yes, I made home visits; I had a case load. I had a tickler file full of patients. I
kept everybody's immunizations up to date. In the summer, we had what we
called spot clinics. We would go out into a section that did not come into the
Health Department for immunizations. So, you would set up a card table and a
little ice chest and a scale. We weighed everybody and gave everybody a dose
of stomach worm medicine--whether they needed it or not--and got their
immunizations up to date. I think my first clinic experience was in High Springs.
Then, I got a district. But, we worked on Saturdays--Saturday mornings. We
gave immunizations and took x-rays.
S: You liked it from the very beginning?
P: Oh, I loved it. I ended up with my last district being the whole east side of the
county from Waldo to Hawthorne, Lockloosa, Cross Creek, Island Grove,
Rochelle. I had a clinic in Hawthorne once a week. It was an immunization clinic
and maternity clinic. The midwives-the granny midwives would work in the
maternity clinics so that they got to know their patients in a clinical way as well as
knowing them as persons. That was the time when you tested their urine for
albumin with the test tube and burner and shook it up-before we had little dip
S: Yes, I remember doing specific gravities in the utility room. How long did you
work in Gainesville at the Health Department?
P: From 1955 until 1959. I went to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, School of Public
Health on a Florida State Board of Health traineeship in 1956. Well, Dr. Byrnes
insisted I go to graduate school because I was going to come back and become
the assistant supervisor. In the meanwhile, I got engaged to Mr. Pafford who
was the Director of Environmental Health and Dr. Byrnes did not want two
Paffords in charge of everything.
S: So, that was part of the reason?
P: Yeah. In the meanwhile, Jennet Wilson was not ready to teach OB, yet, at UF.
And Dorothy [Smith, Dean of the College of Nursing] or Jen or someone decided
that Jen needed some Public Health experience because Shands was going to
take all of our maternity patients.
S: What year was this?
P: 1956. We got married in 1957, so it was in 1956. I graduated from North
Carolina in 1958. Jen was with me in Hawthorne and the surrounding
communities, getting her public health experience. The clinic in Hawthorne was
right by the railroad tracks and when the southbound train came by going to
Miami, we sat there jiggling, waiting for the train to go by.
S: How long was she with you in the community?
P: It had to have been about nine months.
S: When Shands opened, it was with the designation that they would be taking all of
the obstetrical patients. That was decided somewhere above you?
S: Was the plan to have the students obtain some OB and some public health
experience out in the field?
P: No. I think they made home visits, just to see the family as a unit in the home.
But Jen needed the experience to see how everybody operated. [Showing me a
photo.] This is me as a hair model.
S: You were a hair model?
S: For whom? When?
P: When I was in college. Hairdressers used to be in competition and so I would be
a hair model. Cherokee Hairstylist Winners.
S: Did you earn money for it or was it just for kicks?
P: Just for kicks. This is my favorite picture and that is the only formal gown I had
for the whole time I was college. Every time I wore it, friends thought it was
brand new. Nothing cheap about me. Here are my state board scores [for RN
state license]. September 1957 is when I went to graduate school in North
Carolina. It was a one year program, 1957 to 1958. While I was there, Dorothy
Smith wrote me a letter and asked me if I would be interested in teaching Public
Health in 1959. I wrote back and said, sure. So, I came down for an interview. I
told her then, well, I am going to be pregnant. She said, well, that is all right. I
started July 1, 1959, and delivered August 8.
S: Do you remember your interview with Dorothy?
P: Not really.
S: Did you have any first impressions of her? Is that the first time you had met her?
S: Did you like what she said?
P: I have no idea what she said. Jen said she was OK and so, she was OK with
S: Do you think Jen probably had recommended you to Dorothy?
P: I had the terminal degree.
S: You joined the faculty in 1959. Who was on the faculty then?
P: The Public Health Section was June Remillet, Nancy Gaspard, Mildred Burns,
was the Chief, and me.
S: Had the graduate program started, yet?
S: When did the basic students have their community health experience?
P: They were in their senior year. Classes started September 19, 1959, their senior
S: What content do you remember teaching that may not be taught now?
P: I think we just did what we were practicing or what was taught to us. The first
week of classes (shows schedule): Tour of the environment at the Health
S: [Reading] On Wednesday, you covered job responsibilities which included the
use of forms and keeping track of immunizations. It says: formula demonstration.
P: That was back in the days when we had to use terminal sterilization. Baby
bottles had to be boiled and formula was thirteen ounces of evaporated milk,
seventeen ounces of water, one ounce of Karo Syrup. You put it in a clean bottle
with the nipple upside down with a little cap and then screwed the cap on, but not
tightly. You put it in a pot of water and boiled it for twenty minutes and then, let it
cool. You took the bottles out and screwed the lids on, tight and put them in the
refrigerator. If you did not have bottles, you could use Coca Cola bottles with a
S: And that worked?
P: That worked. But people did not like to use coca cola bottles. They wanted nice
bottles, Even-Flo. But it could be quite a complicated procedure, especially if
you didn't have a stove.
S: Then, what did they do?
P: You did one bottle at a time. You boiled the water--I can't remember now, what
the formula was, but it was so much water and so many ounces of milk, so that
you used little, bitty cans of the evaporated milk, not the thirteen ounce cans, and
a teaspoon full of Karo. You know, we tried to get people to breast feed but no,
they didn't want to breast feed.
S: That was an era when it was out of fashion, wasn't it?
S: [Reading, again, from the outline.] Bag and bath demonstration.
P: Oh, we demonstrated how to bathe babies. I used Suzanne, my daughter.
S: You taught students ...
P: ...using my baby.
S: This outline includes thermometer technique, weighing the baby, and umbilical
P: We used to have to make home visits twenty-four hours after a home delivery.
S: When this mentions "bag demonstration," is that the public health bag? What
would you be teaching the student?
P: Well, do you want me to get my bag down?
S: Do you still have your bag?
S: Well, of course you would, if you still have your cap.
P: Well, you kept newspaper folded up in thirds underneath the top lid and paper
bags that you made out of newspaper. So, when you went into a home, you tried
to find a dry place that was clear to set the bag and spread out your newspaper.
You set your bag up in the corner and then, you got out your little paper bag that
you made and put it out. Then, in the front flap is where your soap and paper
towels were. You put that in your arm pit and you went out on the back porch,
turned on the faucet and washed your hands--or you pumped the pitcher pump.
You washed your hands and when you came back in, you could open up your
flaps of the bag and get out your little basin, your thermometer, your cotton, your
alcohol, soap and whatever else you were going to need.
S: What else was in the bag? Did you have a stethoscope?
P: No, we did not have a stethoscope. We did that in the clinic. We did not do
physical assessment per se, like they do now but we did observe the baby all
over. And we had scales. We tied the baby up in a baby blanket and weighed
S: Can you remember anything else in the bag?
P: Tweezers, forceps if you had to sterilize something to pick it up with.
S: Cord dressings?
P: It had a little basin with a little lid that you could boil if you needed to do
something like that. I think I used my tweezers mostly for picking ticks off dogs.
S: Maybe off of the kids, as well.
P: Yeah. Back in those days, too, out in the country, people had pit privies. In fact,
the Health Department used to sell them for $50-outdoor toilets. They had to dig
their own hole and that cured up a lot of hook worm because hook worm was
bad, really bad out in the rural areas.
S: You saw that a lot in the clinics?
P: In the schools, we used to have "hook worm day" and everybody took home a
can [to return with a stool specimen]. Of course, we got all kinds of things back
in those cans. The post office hated us. We would ship that stuff to Jacksonville
and we would get back our reports. Then, we would go around and make home
visits. We treated the kids for hook worm with the same medicine that we used
to treat dogs. It was cheaper, but it worked.
S: What else did you see in the kids?
P: Stomach worms, scabies, impetigo-like you wouldn't believe. [Scabies is a skin
eruption. Impetigo is an infectious skin rash.]
S: How did you treat that?
S: Did you use Gentian Violet [vivid purple antiseptic]?
P: Yeah, we did.
S: What were the concerns with the prenatal population?
P: Eclampsia [development of seizures in patients with high blood pressure or
protein in their urine due to pregnancy].
S: Did they know they should come in for prenatal care?
P: Yeah, they were good at that. Their granny midwives would make them come in
to get their urine tested, to be weighed and get their blood pressure taken. Once
a month, they saw a doctor.
S: Did you have a good relationship with the granny midwives?
P: Oh, yeah. We had a nurse midwife out of Jacksonville. I can see her but I can't
think of her name.
S: I interviewed lona Pettengill and she spoke about having some association with
the granny midwives. At one time, she was a consultant for the state of Florida
and supervised the granny midwives.
P: I think this was before her, even. It was a black woman.
S: Yes, I believe she mentioned her.
P: She was real sweet. Once a month, we had midwife meeting and they brought
their bags. Their bags were inspected to make sure everything was clean. They
got new sterile supplies from the Health Department. Then, they would have a
discussion about problems they had or would review some techniques.
S: Here on the outline for the UF students, it mentions 'cultural factors' presented by
Carol Taylor. When did you meet Carol? [Carol Taylor had a joint appointment
with the Colleges Anthropology and Nursing.] Did she give classes for you from
time to time?
P: I think we usually had her for one class. It was very broad and general. It wasn't
anything very specific.
S: You had nutrition as part of the instruction and School Health Program.
P: At that time, public health nurses went into the school. We did vision screening
and hearing screening. We saw teacher referrals for various absences or
illnesses. We spent at least one day a week in the school, or a half a day a
S: Panel of social workers, it says here.
P: Oh, that would be Central Welfare System.
S: How did that work?
P: They used to have AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Aid to the
Blind, Aid to the Elderly and Vocational Rehabilitation.
S: Those were government programs. Why were they part of the outline?
P: We just introduced the students to them-they probably had already utilized them.
Once a month we had a meeting at the Primrose Inn [restaurant near downtown
Gainesville] of all voluntary organizations and state social workers, so that
everybody got to know everybody that worked together. Lottie Schaeffer was in
charge of Central Welfare and that is like our social department, downtown, now,
that helps with medication, doctor appointments and stuff like that. It was called
Central Welfare. I do not know where they got their money. It was sort of like
United Way, now, I guess.
S: It sounds like that was a wonderful opportunity to network by getting to know
other people and other agencies.
P: Any time they had something new coming up, they would be prepared to present
it. Our students used to have projects in Public Health Nursing and one time, I
had two students explain, at the monthly meeting, the curriculum at the College
of Nursing and the role that the students played in Public Health Nursing.
S: I'll bet that was great.
P: It was. Then, in the schools we used to have programs. For example, we would
have VD Day [Venereal Disease Day]. This was at Lincoln High School, too.
The math class would do statistics on venereal diseases; English class had to
write something; even music had to do something that had to do with venereal
disease. People came down from the State Board of Health and helped. Mable
Dorsey and I used to teach mother and baby classes-the Red Cross Mother and
Baby Care Classes. We were not supposed to tell them how not to get pregnant
but we made sure they knew how they got pregnant.
S: What did you experience of the segregation issues in Gainesville while working in
P: Now, we had two black nurses, Rosa London and Flossie Maxey in the Health
Department. I do not think they took care of white patients.
S: They took care of only the black patients who came to the Health Department.
What about the white nurses?
P: We took care of everybody. The Health Department was just full of bathrooms;
we had to have so many for white men, black men, white women and black
women and fountains galore for drinking. It was all so silly.
S: What about the meetings such as the Primrose Inn? Was that segregated?
P: You know, I do not think so. I can not remember. I do not ever remember Rosa
or Flossie being excluded from anything, professionally. We even had black and
S: I had not heard that one.
P: I do not know if the rectal thermometers were black and white.
S: If you had meetings at the College of Nursing or wanted to eat with a black
colleague in the cafeteria, what happened?
P: There were not any.
S: No black colleagues?
P: No. Except for Faye Harris and she did not come on board until later. She was
out at Santa Fe and I saw her and said, why in the sam hill aren't you over here?
There just were not any.
S: Were patients at Shands segregated in different rooms?
P: And at Alachua General.
S: Do you remember where the black staff members at Shands ate their lunch?
P: They had a separate room, didn't they?
S: They had a basement cafeteria. On another topic, do you recall Dorothy Smith
hiring non-nursing consultants on the faculty?
P: Sid Jourard.
S: Did you know him?
P: I went to his little presentations.
S: Tell me your understanding of why Dorothy had hired him on the faculty.
P: He was a psychologist. I guess just to make us more attuned people-to make us
more people, people.
S: Did he do some programs for the faculty?
P: He had a seminar once a week or once a month or once every two weeks or
something like, that we attended.
S: Was it a presentation?
P: No, it was dialogue.
S: Who else do you remember who was a non-nurse?
P: There was a Dr. Kimbrough. He was in the college of Education . I just
remember him and that he was just for Public Health faculty, too.
S: He was an M.D. or a Ph.D.?
S: Did he teach the students or work with faculty?
P: I think he worked with the faculty. I vaguely remember him. You know, I had no
teaching skills other than teaching a patient.
S: Clinical nurses in various specialties were recruited by Dorothy because of her
belief in practice competence. Was that one of her philosophical beliefs-that you
had to know what you were doing with patients?
P: Yes, in order to teach it.
S: So, learning theory was secondary?
P: ... to being able practice.
S: Nursing, being the applied science that it was, has often suffered practitioners
who knew the material but did not do well applying the knowledge.
P: That is another thing that Dr. Young said, today in the Gainesville Sun-- people in
the College of Education--the students--should be taking more courses in what
they are going to teach rather than so many education courses. Do you
remember Joy Davis?
P: Do you know why she was hired?
P: Let's see. How did I get to know her? Gloria Chiras and I went to Blanche Urey
[Dean of the College of Nursing following Dorothy Smith's retirement] and said,
this woman, Joy Davis, is an excellent teacher. She has her doctorate in
education. She has taught education for many years. Let's hire her to teach us
how to teach. So Blanche said, okay. So, that was when we started that
modular [a self-study program].
S: Willamay Whitner taught statistics. Was she a nurse?
P: I think she was a nurse.
S: Then got her doctorate in math and statistics. How about Mary McCaulley?
P: Psychologist. Myers-Briggs [Personality Type Indicator].
S: I think she was a consultant. I do not think she was a faculty member. Did you
use the Personality Type Indicator of Myers-Briggs with your students?
P: No, we used it on the faculty. I took the test two or three times.
S: Were you on the faculty when Sam Martin was still there? [Sam Martin was the
first Dean of Medicine]
P: I knew who he was.
S: What do you remember of Dorothy Smith's philosophies and guiding principles?
P: Her belief that teachers should be skilled practitioners. I thought I was because I
told my students if they wanted to make an "A," they had to be better than me. I
operated pretty much under the umbrella of the Health Department and could do
just about anything I wanted to. For instance, in 1961, I took the community of
Newberry as a clinical site and ran the clinic with students, made home visits,
and school visits just like it was a mini-department. We did immunizations and all
of that stuff. I was pregnant. I remember the students were scared to death that I
was going to have that baby before they got through with the semester. We had
a good time. The city of Newberry gave us a banquet when it was all over.
S: How many students did you have?
P: At least, six.
S: And that would do it?
P: Yeah. They had a wonderful time. Knowing that they were responsible for this
little segment here. Going into the schools to find out which kids needed
immunizations and then getting them over there to the clinic for their
immunizations. Maintaining a population that was 70% immunized.
S: That was teaching them the real world.
P: Then, in 1969, Kennedy Homes was built. That summer, Ruth Stewart and I had
an immunization clinic. In fact, we had immunization fairs at the different housing
projects, later. Anyway, at Kennedy Homes, they had this community center with
three rooms in the front and a day care center back in the community center. I
asked Dr. Byrnes if I could open up an immunization clinic there. My students
were based at Kennedy Homes and I took the students who did not have cars or
bicycles-there were 172 apartments-and we had immunization clinics. We had
maternity clinics and pretty soon, we had a well-baby clinic. We had a family-
planning clinic. One time, Betty Hilliard brought a bunch of graduate students out
to do Pap smears, so we had a Pap smear clinic. The clinic room was probably
about twelve feet by twelve feet with a bathroom, a scale, an examining table.
It was in the front of the community center. Then, I had three rooms with a desk
and a refrigerator. The students had a place to work and keep their charts up to
S: How long did you do that?
P: About thirteen years. In the fall and spring semester, we would have just about
nursed everybody to death at Kennedy Homes. So, then we would go out into
the community around there. Carver Gardens was next door. We would go
through the bushes over there. And Lincoln Estates, I picked up patients out
there. We would have these immunization clinics at the various housing
projects. I gave that clinic up-in fact, Lois Knowles ran it for a year. I think I was
the third team to start the new curriculum: me, Virginia Strozier and Carol Hayes.
I think we were the third team. I was teaching maternity; Carol was teaching
Med-Surg, and Virginia was teaching Peds--whatever that year was. Then Lois
ran the Kennedy Homes clinic and had students out there.
S: There certainly is a lot of education with Public Health, isn't there? You are
teaching patients and families all of the time, aren't you?
P: Yeah. Constantly.
S: For many years, in hospital nursing, patients were not taught about their
condition and their treatment. It was as if we wanted them to blindly trust what
we had decided for them. It seems that Public Health always had to be in
concert with the patient and work as a team.
P: If patients did not know "why," then, they weren't going to do it.
S: You had to know how important it was or they would not come back for the next
P: Right. Patient education was the most important thing. The students out at
Kennedy Homes had patients with diabetes, maternity, schizophrenia-I called
you about a patient.
S: I remember it well.
P: It is a good thing I called you, too, because he would have lost his leg, I would
S: You called me twice. I was flattered out of my mind.
P: I knew something was wrong but I didn't know what.
S: I would have enjoyed a career in Public Health.
P: Well, it was fun, except when you got in trouble.
S: What do you mean?
P: Needing to know something you did not know. I, at least, had enough sense to
know, I needed to know.
S: That is a definition of the educated person. You know where your limits are and
you know where to go for help.
P: I knew a little bit about a lot of things.
S: Did you have LPNs in the health department?
P: Yes, we had a couple. They worked in the clinics, mostly. They did not do home
S: Because that required professional assessment?
S: Do you remember when the nurse practitioners began to come on the scene?
P: Yes, especially in Diabetes. Those were the first ones. Then, the Pediatric
S: Was that seen as positive by the public health nursing community?
P: Oh, yeah. We had physical therapists on our staff, too, and worked closely with
them. I can not remember how we did that. We had a patient with a
tracheotomy [an artificial opening into the windpipe who had been sent home].
We used a garden hose. The water was out in the back yard. I went down to the
hardware store and got something and screwed it on that faucet. A garden hose
was on one end-anyway, you turned on the garden hose and caused negative
pressure to create the suction [to remove the secretions from the tracheotomy,
when the home had no electricity to use a suction machine].
S: I remember that.
P: Today, I would go to an RV place and get one of those water hoses and not use
a garden hose.
S: Just think of the ingenuity. I would bet you can tell stories all day about problem-
solving in the community.
P: Yeah, but it was the physical therapist that taught me how to do it. But I will
never forget this patient. His wife was blind. He was elderly. He thought that
she was having an affair with the next door neighbor so he shot the neighbor.
They took him off to jail. So, Carole Patterson and I gathered up that garden
hose, screwed that thing off the faucet, got the catheter and prissed down there
to the jail on 6th Street. We said, we have got to irrigate Mr. So-and-so's
tracheotomy. They let him out of jail. We scared them to death.
S: What year was that?
P: Shoot, I don't know--whenever Carole Patterson was here.
S: She was teaching in the Medical Surgical Section, probably in 1966 or 1967.
P: Yeah, with Jane Kordana. I can not remember if she was teaching or was a
student at the time. I remember that I had to go down to Baird Hardware on
Homecoming--the Homecoming Parade has gone by and I am down there at
Baird Hardware buying a garden hose and that contraption.
S: Do you remember when you started to see female physicians?
P: I do not think we ever had any. We saw some in Maternity clinic at Shands.
S: How about when we had male nursing students coming into the program?
P: We had a few in the Health Department, employed. I did not know them very
well. But when we had male students come through, I did not see them any
differently. In fact, one of the first ones I had was Charles Temple. I just saw his
name on here, somewhere. I have his picture somewhere [reading] 1964.
S: Do you remember when you had the first black students?
P: Yes, I do. And I am still mad at one of them.
S: Why is that?
P: I was not mad at her at the time. One of the first black students. Several years
ago, she had the audacity to say that she had a hard time in the College of
Nursing. She was not treated fairly and I can not remember all she said but it
was not positive. I remember that we knocked ourselves out to make sure that
they got a good experience. It really burned me up. I mean, we did not treat her
any different than anybody else and made sure that she still had a good
S: You never know what people's expectations are.
P: Maybe she was treated badly in other rotations, I don't know. It was her
perception of it.
S: Do you remember being on the College of Nursing faculty when all of the
commotion came up with the Johns Committee?
P: That was before my time, I think. I remember we had to sign something that we
were not a communist when we were hired. Were they hunting for communists
S: Both. I think it expanded to anything determined to be deviant or radical behavior
that could be a threat to national security.
P: I remember the name but I do not think it affected me in any way that I knew of.
S: Over the course of your time at the College of Nursing, what changes have you
seen in the practice of nursing or the education of students?
P: Well, I am not sure what they are doing, now. I know that they are doing
community assessments. I have not talked to Joan Castleman to find out what
they are doing. When I left, we picked up patients through the Older American
Council, that fell through the cracks-their clients. That is where I got my patient
load. So, I was more or less practicing independently but under the policies of
the Health Department.
S: What kinds of patients did you have?
P: Mostly, they were elderly. Not all of them were elderly, but most of them. They
had health problems; they had social problems, mental health problems. That
was a lot of fun. Every time I drive out of Albertson's onto 23 rd. Blvd., there is
this cute little blue and white house. I don't know what is in there, now but I had
a patient there. He was a retired Episcopal minister. One of my requirements for
students was that all patients got foot care. It took three semesters to let a girl
wash his feet. But, we finally made it.
S: Was it too personal or symbolic?
P: He would never say.
S: It just was not acceptable.
P: I guess he thought it was Mary Magdalen down there, washing his feet. But I
think of him every time I pull out. That was amazing. And he needed foot care--
S: It was something that should not have waited that long. When you look back on
your years in community health in Gainesville, what are some of your fondest
memories--of either patients or students? Are there things that were major
contributions or funny experiences?
P: One Homecoming Parade, I got the students to make and carry a flag that said
"End Measles, now." And then, the Health Department had an immunization
campaign all over the county at the different Jiffy stores. They used that gun for
the immunizations and the students got to participate but I had gotten them in on
the ground floor--helping plan for the measles campaign for Alachua County.
That was a lot of fun. We used to write skits and put them on at Lincoln High
School to encourage them to consider nursing as a career. The students loved
that. Well, we got to cutting the fool and telling somebody .... Do you
remember Eileen Pearlman? We were cutting' the fool and we told Eileen
Pearlman that they were going to put on this skit. They were going to start out in
short, black shorts and little halter tops, straw hats. Well, she just got all upset.
She wanted to know if we were telling the truth. She went running into to June
Remillet. I got in more trouble. I said, I was kidding. I was kidding. We made
nurses' caps cut out of white paper like the University of Florida students
supposedly, had available to them. We gave every student a little nurse's cap
with little University of Florida insignia on it. They took turns coming up, for
example dressed in a scrub dress, holding a baby explaining what they did in the
nursery and the operating room, on the floor and presented nursing as a career.
S: Do you think it was successful?
P: Well, they got a big kick out of it and we have a lot of black nurses, now.
S: I think it is a good student experience because it makes them think about what it
is they do, to have to articulate it to an audience, any audience.
P: One time--June Remillet thought this up--we planned to have multi-phasic
screening at Lincoln High School. Man, we screened for Sickle Cell Anemia,
hearing, vision, weight, immunizations, iron deficiency, urine testing, and did the
S: That is the first time that had ever been tried?
P: Yeah. Then, when Head Start started, well, I developed the scheduling for all the
Head Start screening places. We screened all of these kids for Head Start. We
already had the good experience with the multi-phasic but we had better
equipment, of course. That was a lot of fun.
S: What a good service.
P: You know, the students were part of it. They were part of the planning. We just
did neat things, I think.
S: What were some of the obstacles you encountered or some of the
P: Just my brain. I do not know. I did not have any. I do not remember any. I did
whatever I wanted.
S: The autonomy is Public Health is one of the drawing cards, I would think, to
someone who does not work well under a lot of direction.
P: Well, when Marie Vischer wanted to open up that clinic over there behind the
Seagle Building .... I don't know how that came about. She said, how are we
going to get furniture for that? I said, well, I know where. She said, Where? I
said, we will go over to the storage unit on campus. There is a warehouse over
there with all kinds of stuff we can get. And she said, how did you find out about
that? I said, I don't know. So, we got all of the office equipment.
S: Is it excess furniture?
P: Unhum. The chair in my office, I picked up from the police station.
S: You were just resourceful and had to make do. I think that makes community
health nurses so creative.
P: See, that is what I wanted my award for. I was the first faculty to establish an
award at graduation. Everybody else wanted a rocking chair or a candle or
something. I wanted the Virgie M. Pafford Award for improvising. People at my
retirement, contributed toward that fund. It is about petered out, now. The Dean
changed it to clinical competence or something. The idea was that students
would use their own money to improvise something for a family. This would be a
small way to reimburse the money that they spent. But now, they get a plaque. I
tell them that they better have done something inventive because that what the
intent was. Creativity.
S: Do you remember when Dorothy retired? Were you there?
S: What do you remember about the response being sooner than was expected?
P: I hardly knew her. Really. I was way out yonder somewhere, doing my thing. I
think she retired because she just got fed up. After so many years, you can not
blame her. The reason I retired was because they took my parking place away.
S: Are you kidding?
P: No, I broke my neck but I tell people it was the parking place.
S: What happened?
P: My parking place was on the very first row where that little red brick building used
to be. I had my cement post right there. Well, they took that post away because
they were going to build that Brain Center. When I first came on the faculty, we
had four places reserved for Public Health faculty in the second row.
S: I do not think that people understand that for those folks like yourself that come
and go ...
P: ... and haul stuff.
S: ... and are not based at the Health Center, you can't find a place at some
arbitrary hour of the day.
P: Well, I punished my self for a while. I absolutely refused to pay for a decal and I
parked up there by the Reitz Union in that big parking lot up there and walked
down the hill. It is a wonder I did not drop dead, carrying all of these records and
stuff. And then, back up. I was a lot younger and stronger. But Arlene Nichols
went to Australia and she let me have her parking place. I started using it. I
thought, why in the world have I been punishing myself all these years. Then,
they took it away from me.
S: When Blanche Urey came, did that make any impact as far as the College was
run or how the students were educated? What changes did you notice?
P: No really, except that she wanted modular, team concept for teaching the
students which I called "a nurse is a nurse is a nurse."
S: How did it work? Someone from each discipline on each team?
P: I did maternity. Well, there was maternity, Peds and Med-Surg. And we taught
the whole shebang. And then they got Psych. We had the students for two
semesters and they went on to Psych, I guess. I knew how to function in
maternity clinic. I figured I could handle postpartum, except it was really a med-
surg floor because everybody had a Cesarean Section. I knew nothing about
labor and delivery except my own experiences. And so Audrey Herbert was
going to teach me all there is about labor in six weeks, with the students. So, I
am glued to her butt, practically. And the staff would say, Audrey, who is that
older woman? She would say, that is their teacher. There was this one nurse
there who happened to know my cousin in St. Augustine. My cousin was an aide
for years in labor and delivery and they knew each other. Man, I latched onto
that girl. In fact, I loved all of them. Talk about a little "a-k-ing." They got me out
of trouble all kinds of times.
S: Did Blanche's modular teaching concept last very long?
P: I do not have the foggiest idea. All I know is whenever I would have to have a
meeting with Amanda Baker [Assistant Dean at the time] and Blanche, I would
come in with a coca cola, rubbing it on my face. Amanda would say, we have got
to get her out of there. Then, I did the RNs for a while. [RNs from junior colleges
or hospital programs who came to UF for a BSN degree.]
S: Did you like that?
P: Oh yes. Those girls were wonderful. We were on a home visit out there in the
housing project on 4th Street. This little, bitty, ole lady is sitting by her rocking
chair and her spit can was right down here. The student and I were talking to the
mother about something and when we got ready to leave, the RN said, did you
see what that woman was spitting up in that can? I said, yes, it was just snuff.
S: When hospital nurses go out in the community, there is some education that can
P: On one visit with a student, you could not believe the roaches in this house. The
student said, I don't know what to do. The roaches are all over the place. What
would you do, Mrs. Pafford? I said, You just go [stepping on the imaginary bugs
with her shoe]. Well, I went on a home visit with her and we were sitting in the
living room on the bed. The roaches are going up the wall. All of a sudden, she
jumps up and starts stepping on them. I thought that was so funny.
S: What year did you leave the faculty?
P: 1985. My retirement date was January 1, 1986. I broke my neck in June.
S: How did you do that?
P: A friend of mine rolled my Broncho and it was just before I had fastened my seat
belt. He was ejected and had a severe head injury and I crawled out with a
compression fracture at C5 [5th cervical vertebra] was subluxed. Man, was I a
lucky girl. Anyway, I was crawling out and the Broncho was laying up on its side
and this car went by and said, we are calling for help. I got out of the car. I don't
know how I did that without hurting my neck more. I lay down on the side of the
road in the grass.
S: Was this out of town?
P: It was on Route 214, south of Keystone. So the ambulance came and took us to
Starke. They wanted to admit me in Starke! I said, no way. Take me to
Gainesville. Well, you are going to have to go in Archie Tanner's hearse
because the ambulance is not back. I do not care-just do not put me in a casket.
I was all restrained. [for possible neck and back injuries, routine restraint on a
back board is required.] I kept trying to ask the guys, tell me where we are. Are
you going to blow the siren when we come in? I was so happy. All I had was
here. This is the only damage I have. [Indicating some nerve damage in three
fingers on her left side.]
S: And are you right handed?
S: Very close.
P: God meant for me to do something more. I haven't found out what it is yet. I
thank my lucky stars.
S: How long were you in the hospital?
P: Well, I went to Alachua General-I think, it was a Friday night. They were going
to operate on me--Mauldin and Waters [surgeons in the community]--and they
decided to operate on me sooner than the original plan. I was in Intensive Care
singing, my neck bone is connected to my hip bone, my hip bone is connected to
my neck bone. Then, he tried to put a neck brace on me. I could not stand the
pain. So, I went into traction for three weeks. And I loved it. The Pink Lady said
that I was the happiest person they had ever seen in their lives. I had the
happiest room-cards everywhere, naked male pictures on the ceiling, ice chest
under the bed.
S: All the comforts of home.
P: Students came by to see me, all day and night. Sometimes I thought they would
never go home. Others came by: the dean, Koz [another nurse friend, Minera
Kozma]. It was wonderful. I was so pampered and taken care of. I was so
S: I was going to ask you what it was like, being a hospital patient, after all of the
teaching you had done.
P: Well, I was there for three weeks or more-maybe four weeks, I guess. I had a
different kind of bath every day. They were never the same. All they did was
help me take a bath and change the bed. My daughter came every day and fed
me-or somebody did. Carol Bonds brought me a milk shake. Man, that thing
was so good, and I was sucking that thing threw the straw. It was so good that
when I got down to the bottom, I just tipped it up. [forgetting that she was laying
flat in traction for her neck.] She had to clean me up.
S: There are so many things that have to be adjusted when you have to lay really
flat like you did.
P: Oh, yeah. The telephone, because of the thing here [part of the traction
apparatus around the head] I could not use the telephone so a friend of mine
who is in design, took the roll out of a roll of toilet paper and taped it onto the
telephone so that the roll would fit through.
S: Now, see. That is another creative award.
P: Then, they gave me these glasses ...
S: The prism glasses?
P: ... so I could watch television. Those things cost an arm and a leg. I still have
them, too. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was so damn happy I didn't know what ...
And then, my friend, he finally woke up. They were going to send him to a
rehabilitation hospital in Jacksonville. So, I decided I would go with him in the
ambulance because he was still combative and irrational. I was the only one
who could do anything with him. So, I stayed with my son in Jacksonville and
rode the bus to the hospital because he would not go to physical therapy. He
would not do a thing unless I went. And I am in my halo [traction for her neck].
S: Still in skeletal traction and taking care of somebody else.
P: Finally, they just admitted me into the Jacksonville facility. They didn't charge a
penny; they just admitted me.
S: Well, it facilitated things for him. They could not do their job if he was resisting.
P: We used to go to cognitive therapy. We had a new lady, one day. She asked us
something and she wanted to know what I thought about that. So, I responded
and she said, you are doing so well. I said, thank you. She was embarrassed
when she found out later. [that the therapy was only for my friend.] The first night
when Michael was admitted, I was leaving the hospital in my halo, and this aide
came running out, no, you can not leave. [thinking she was an inpatient in halo
traction.] I said, I most certainly can.
S: Were you still on the faculty when Lois Malasanos became dean?
S: What legacies will live on, do you think, of the College of Nursing or of Dorothy
Smith? What contributions have been made to the profession?
P: I think that we prepared some good nurses and nurse leaders. I do not know
what the leadership thing is at other universities but I think we have produced
some marvelous leaders. I think that is what Dorothy wanted. I think that is what
all of us wanted.
S: I think she recruited some spectacular faculty. She must have had some intuition
about the quality of a candidate; it just was not on your vita. When she would
talk to someone in person, like yourself-she must have recognized you knew
P: And besides that, my husband was the Director of Environmental Health, very
much involved in who was who. After he died, I really lost my enthusiasm
because it wasn't fun, anymore. I did not know what was going on in the
community. He was one of the movers and shakers.
S: How long were you married?
P: Twenty-five years and six months.
S: It sounds like a good match.
P: Yeah. We had fun. He was forever getting in trouble. Every time they got a new
health officer, they wanted to fire him because he knew too much. What the
heck would they expect? He and Dr. Byrnes used to go around and round about
things. But they respected each other.
S: I have come to the end of my prepared questions. What have I missed? What
stories have I overlooked that you would like to have included?
P: I do not know, really. I think the faculty caught on, to setting up clinical situations
for student learning. I helped with that. Because LaCrosse Clinic that you hear
so much about-what is it called, now-ACORN Clinic. Two faculty, Jenny Cain
and Pam Tober went out to Lacrosse to the Woman's Club, one summer, and
they developed a clinic for the migrant people. From that basis, ACORN was
born. A lot of people do not know that.
S: And it is now seen as ...
P: ... the epitome of care. Well, it was two public health nursing faculty and a
group a public health nursing students who did that. The first day of the clinic,
Jenny had gotten people from High Springs and Alachua to volunteered hot dogs
and cold drinks. They had a wonderful turnout. Both of them were pregnant-
bigger than barns. Those are the kinds of things that made a difference in our
clinical situations. The students were in on the ground floor in the development.
S: They participated side by side in things that really did help humanity.
P: Instead of doing something by rote ...
S: ... some exercise that was the same every time with every clinical rotation.
Virgie, I want to thank you so very much.
[End of the interview.]