A Patchwork of Memories

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DORIS R. ROSENBERG

Cherokee, Kansas where I was born was a small farming and mining town in Crawford County. It was named for the Cherokee Indians who owned the land from 1836 to 1866. I was born, Doris Ruth Kimmel on November 10, 1909, the second child of Nellie F. and Jacob H. Kimmel. Each of the children were three years apart, Leslie the eldest brother, Doris and Kenneth the youngest.

I attended elementary school and high school in Cherokee. Later in Pittsburg, Kansas I entered Mt. Carmel Nursing School. Following graduation from Nursing I completed a Public Health course of study at the University of Minnesota. As a School Nurse and County Public Health Nurse, I worked in Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri until my marriage to Sidney Rosenberg in l945.

<complete - copy of a photo of Doris>

TRYING MY WINGS

By: Doris R. Rosenberg

Graduating from Mt. Carmel Hospital School of Nursing, I began my first job as a private duty nurse. This was a major source of employment for registered nurses. At the hospital a nurse's name was placed on the registry and she was called when her name was listed at the top. A private duty nurse was on duty 24 hours a day. Sometimes a doctor or patient made a special request for my services. When I was on duty a cot was placed in the patients hospital room where I could occasionally rest at night if the patient slept. During the afternoon nurses slept three or four hours in a small dormatory provided by the hospital. I was paid $6.00 a day for private duty nursing.

I remember when a young man was ill in his home with typhoid fever. An ambulance driver who was his neighbor, came in a private car to get me. I was shocked when he offered to refer work to me if I would do the same for him. I didn't consider it to be ethical, so I did not agree to such a plan. Upon arrival the condition of the patient's home surprised me. His father had a service station at the side of the house, and supplies were stored in one room, while chickens were raised in the back room. In fact their living quarters consisted of a living room which had been converted into a bedroom and a small kitchen. I remember while working there, I ate my meals at a restaurant and slept a few hours during the afternoon at the neighbor's home. I spent several days caring for the patient but I am not sure that I received the money that was due me.

The year was 1940, when I accepted the position of County Public Health Nurse in Clayton County, Iowa. Little did I know what near disaster awaited me. Calhoun County where I expected to travel to many homes, was in the northeast section of Iowa. The area was known as Little Switzerland.

The first major problem of my new job was to get a drivers license. My brother Leslie, brought a used Dodge Coupe from Kansas for me to drive. Since I had had little practice driving, it was remarkable that I passed the test, but I received a permit to drive. One question shocked me, when I was asked, who had brought me to take the test? I said, that my brother had, although it was a half-truth, for he had returned home the previous day.

The use of a car was a frightening experience for me from the start. I was shocked when I approached my first steep hill and found I couldn't drive up; likewise I didn't know how to back down. When I saw another car approaching, I was relieved, expecting to be rescued. Instead of offering assistance, the other driver just sat there for some time while I struggled to move my car. Finally, he helped me move to level ground. The trouble was the governor on the Dodge had been set in such a manner that I couldn't race the engine enough to get over the steep hill. Later I was surprised to find that I had rented a room in my rescuer's home.

The approach of spring made travel hazardous. While making house calls one day, I drove across an open field when I didn't find a road near a farm house. My Dodge began sinking into the ground. The farmer came to my rescue and had to use his tractor to pull my car back on solid ground. That was my only experience with an underground spring. Travel in the rugged rural areas was very difficult but it was the way of life for a pioneer health worker.

 

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