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Nurses gather for homecoming

June 20, 2004|By JULIE E. GREENE

Dinner for the Washington County Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Homecoming was supposed to begin at 6:30 Saturday night.

But, that time came and went as the graduates continued to mill about the dining room at the Four Points Sheraton, hugging, taking pictures and remembering their nursing school years.

"I'm seeing faces that are wonderful and I think we still look pretty good," said Rosie Layman, 65, of Hagerstown.

The nursing school educated 932 graduates from 1906 to 1971 before it closed as nursing evolved into a profession taught in an academic setting rather than as part of a hospital, according to a history published by the school's alumnae association.

Attending Saturday's homecoming were about 340 people, including 220 graduates, said Fran Fox, president of the School of Nursing's Alumnae Association.

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Marsha Keller Massey, 58, of Hagerstown, and Pat Myers, 68, of Fairplay, perused a photo album of the school's graduating classes.

Massey said she had hoped to find her "little sister," but hadn't found her as the time dinner was to be served approached.

Big sisters showed little sisters the ropes during training so they wouldn't feel strange or lost, she said. Massey said her big sister had died.

Not all of the memories being shared Saturday were about work and school.

Layman and Mary Jo Embrey were doing their psychiatric evaluation stint at the affiliated Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Towson, Md., when they went to see the movie "South Pacific." They cried through the movie and swore they would be like Mitzi Gaynor's character, a happy, singing nurse.

But nursing wasn't always about happy moments, they said.

"It's a lot of stress, a lot of hard work and a lot of satisfaction," said Embrey, 66, of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Despite that, Layman said she wouldn't trade her nursing experience for anything.

Embrey said this was the first nursing school reunion she had attended.

"It's just wonderful, absolutely wonderful, and it makes me feel like I should have been here every five years," Embrey said.

Embrey asked Layman if she remembered the time Embrey sprayed her hair black because she had gotten tired of being a redhead.

She walked down Antietam Street to work at the hospital with her black hair and black eyebrows and her nurse's cape. She was working in the emergency room that day so she could cover her colored locks with a cap.

Then there was the time Embrey and eight other students wrapped their favorite surgeons' cars in toilet paper.

They ended up being grounded to their dormitory, Pangborn Hall, for four weeks, she said. They could only leave for work and classes. So they ordered Hartle's subs and asked the radio station to play "Four Walls," she said.

Staff writer Andrew Schotz contributed to this story.

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