Down the Lane: Memories of the school nurse

Published 8:03 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

After church on Sunday, I was in a conversation with Harold Shimfessel, who mentioned a column I wrote about Larry Gabbard.

As we talked, our conversation got into when the school nurse came to visit when he had Larry’s grandmother for a teacher in the fifth grade.

Harold and I discovered we had the same fifth grade teacher at Pilot View School. He went into the fifth grade in the then new school building that replaced the old frame schoolhouse down the road.

At that time, Mrs. Mary Chaney was the new fifth-grade teacher. My memories of her and my fifth-grade year turned out to not be as memorable as his was.

I am pretty sure when she taught me in the fifth grade, it was her last year she taught there and she retired the next year. Guess my class was enough to make her decision clear.

I can still remember her tests to this day. One in particular, about history, stayed in my mind. For example, they were fill-in-the-blank tests. Here is an example.  ___________ discovered the Pacific. To this day, I still remember that it was Balboa.

In the same test was Eli Whitney discovered the cotton gin, etc. I could go on, but I think you got the gist. I mainly remembered her style of tests.

I also remembered she was a good teacher but so much different than her daughter, Rachel Gabbard, who I had in the sixth grade. I loved them both though because they were both strict.

Harold’s memory was nothing like that. The memory that  stayed in his mind involved the school nurse. I had a good laugh as he told me what he remembered.

He remembers someone saying one day the school nurse was there to give shots. The way the classroom was at Pilot View, you could look out the window and see who was going into town or anyone coming from town. Harold said he looked out the window and saw her old blue ‘49 or something car and knew it was true.

The way the shots were given was each room was lined up and you stood in a row and went down the line to get your shot. They would finish one room and then call for the next. It was not unusual to hear crying that day for fear of the shot. For myself, that was not a problem, not that I relished it, but I didn’t really fear it.

Harold was scared to death of a shot at the time and he told me by the time it came close for him to get his shot, he had worked himself up into being sick. He told me the fear was getting close to a panic attack.

He worked his way up to Mrs. Chaney’s desk and asked her “May I be excused?” I am not really clear whether he got all the words out or not before she was catching him as he fainted in front of her.

He said his momma helped him out by taking him into the health department to get his shots after that. I told him I was sure this would bring back memories for a lot of people.

We were given all the polio sugar cubes by the school nurse and took many shots. It was great since many kids would not have gotten inoculated and would have caught many diseases without this service.

I didn’t mention this to Harold, but it did seem like the girls did better on shot day than the guys did. Until he brought this subject up to me, I had nearly forgotten about the school shots. I do not know at what point that the school nurse quit going to the school to give kids shots, but I am sure it made some kids happy.

By the way, before I end this column, I want to let you know that my friends and I did zip line across Rupp arena and my fear of zip lining is now over. Another thing off my list.