First Hospital Visit
Except for when I was born in Peninsula General Hospital in 1943, I have only been there one time (until last year). That was in 1948 for an overnight stay to have my tonsils removed. Now, in 1948, there were no such things as “sleep-overs” so I had never been away from home overnight before. I thought of it as just a big adventure with all the attention and everything. Mom was worried I would be scared and made sure I had all my favorite and familiar things at the hospital with me. My favorite bear, Teddy, had been a constant companion since I got him for my first Christmas in 1943. My Dad even had to back-track 100 miles while we were on vacation because I had left Teddy in the diner where we had lunch. He wasn’t pleased but I was disconsolate and only the return of Teddy would solve the problem. He came along to the hospital as well as my favorite books and a couple of other toys.
The two charge nurses in the children’s ward were known to me as most everybody in Salisbury knew everybody in those days. One of them was Janie Ward. Her husband, Vernon, worked in the Engineering Lab at Martin & Schwartz where my father worked. I well remember visiting them where they first lived. It was the room at the very top of the Hotel Esther. Her father had offered to buy them a house, but Vernon told Janie that if she married him, she would have to make do with what he could provide. He was one of the smartest and hardest-working men I have ever known. He bought land in OceanCity and built four apartment buildings on them just working on them alone after work and on week-ends. He also started the Car Care business on the corner of Alexander Avenue and Route 13 while he was still working at (by now) Dresser.
The other nurse was Marie Waller. She went to St. Francis and I knew her from there. Her husband was Ed Waller and he ran Waller’s Confectionery across from the Court House. She just celebrated her 101st birthday on October 29th. She likes this story.
It seems that after assuring my mother that I would be all right, she told me that if I needed anything, I should just ask Miss Janie or Miss Marie. I was excited about this new adventure, but my excitement was apparently short-lived. As Mom was leaving and was a good ways down the hall, she heard my little voice above all else say, “Not my pants”. Apparently, the excitement was over for me and reality set in. I still joke with Mrs. Waller to this day that she was the first woman to get my pants off.