Wisconsin War Bride Diary I, Chapter 2

Dealing with the Home Front

Dora’s baby was well cared for by Mom and Dad. None of us know where babysitting Dora’s baby is going, but my parents are the very best for the care Dora’s baby requires. I don’t know what to think at times regarding the situation. My mother was apparently abandoned and adopted as a child. She doesn’t talk about it much, other than to mention there was a train that took her to Oklahoma as a child. Her childhood began in an Oklahoma foster home. Mom is extremely sensitive regarding the issues of adoption, babies and moms. Thus, there is not any issues with the baby receiving the best care and mothering from our family. It will be an issue when Dora takes the baby back. Mom has become quite attracted to this baby and now they are inseparable. The baby seemingly thinks Mom is the real Mom. However, Dora is quite good with the baby, and all parties will be fine.

Maybe some Moms were meant to have just one baby. Dora has lost her fertility and is fortunate to be alive. She can adopt; and there are plenty of babies everywhere to adopt these days. Green County has plenty of families with unplanned pregnancies with minimal means of support, abandonment of babies, and multiple requests from the hospital to adoption agencies. All the so called war brides (met and married during military active service or shortly thereafter) are now producing multiple children. There was some restraint regarding having responsible families that fit an income prior to WWII. Presently if a woman is not giving multiple births, people begin asking what is wrong with you. Since controversial breastfeeding may be the best birth control method of all time, the willingness of many women wanes with time due to the need to reproduce.. This results in a pregnancy weeks to months after the last child has arrived. We are a baby factory at the hospital. I love babies, however, there are many nights that I cannot imagine what portends many of these families with medical issues of addiction, poor finances and an eighth grade education. Life will be tough.

I’ve reunited at least acquaintance status with my old Monroe Cheesemaker and St. Victor friends. We don’t really get together like old times because they have children and are extremely busy toting kids around to everything from birthday parties to roller skating and school functions. There always was an issue in Monroe, Wi. between the Catholic and public schools regarding who was better, privileged and holier than thou. Many of the Catholic kids admittedly came from higher income homes; however, we had many not so fortunate kids in the parish present in our classes on need scholarships. It was a mix. The biggest deal was the daily mass requirement. At 0700 every day we attended mass, received communion, and then were allowed to eat a small portion of food. This was great training for Marquette University. daily mass because mass was required at Marquette my first two years; and highly recommended the last two years. We’ve studied the mass all through elementary and high school. When Catholic college occurs, we are supposed to know what all the Latin phrases mean. I honestly don’t know the actual meaning of some of the religious prayers and chants; but I’m learning. I’ve received a free pass at St. Victor’s parish because I’ve begun to play the organ at the 1030 mass. This a fun way to celebrate Christ through music. I love the interaction with my Brodhead, Wi. (still in Green County) aunts who periodically make a singing guest appearance at St. Victor’s parish in Monroe, my hometown. Generally, Bertha and Lydia Zuercher from old school Switzerland, yodel frequently on weekends in New Glarus, Wi. (still in Green County). Most of their fans are of Swiss descent; and they are extremely popular. I could never calculate why neither married. I guess Bertha has a boyfriend of many years. I’m just not getting all this under the table Zuercher family business. Eventually I’ll catch up on matters after being gone 4 long years. If I ask my Mom and Dad, they’ll reply that it is none of my business. I do know that there were two Zuercher sects which I’m the Green County cheese branch. The other branch is in Chicago (Frankie and Eleanor Zuercher) with a thriving cheese business.

The rigidity of small town life is ever present. My parents will never veer from this way of life. My immediate family attends mass daily. Daily mass attendees are also some people in the community I’ve known since I was a toddler. They all are so serious. Maybe I need to be more self righteous rather than my light hearted nature. Maybe I don’t fit in with the rigidity of Monroe, Wisconsin? I’m glad I’m home, but dealing with a home front that is so set in their ways is tough. It is obvious my parents want me to settle, marry a guy in the parish or a Catholic within the county, have five children and live one block away from them. And the right guy absolutely must come from a Catholic family. There are other Catholic parishes within Green County, Wi. including Belleville, Brodhead, Albany, Monticello, Brooklyn and New Glarus. My parents have seizures discussing “mixed” marriages (two separate religions). Mom and Dad always talked with disdain if there is a mixed marriage in Green County. Blending religions within a marriage in my parent’s minds is tantamount to pregnancy without a marriage! It was different in Milwaukee – where I trained.

I’ve actually listened to my parents during bridge discuss the mixed marriage topic.Deeply seeded in my parent’s’ mind there are endless mixed marriage issues including selection of a church, school, friends, number of kids to bear and home location. Catholics usually win at most of these parameters when a mixed marriage occurs. The Catholic church forbids birth control (excepting abstinence). Thus, a large house is required. I can’t fathom myself meeting “Mr. Right” within the Catholic Church in rural Monroe, Wisconsin. These guys with all these qualifications are already returning from the war and having babies with brides they met and impregnated within a month of returning home. It is just how it is.My parents would disown me if I experienced anything close to a pregnancy before marriage. I’ve seen enough in my short existence on the planet to know that life is quite unpredictable. A baby born within 9 months after a marriage is however, not a big deal. I observed it daily during RN training in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Marquette University nursing school. Everyone including myself is so very happy to be over the World War II experience. We don’t let social rigidity derail any happiness we feel after VE and VJ days. I’ll never forget the happiness everyone experienced throughout the world. I’m certain there were many babies created on those special war ending days within a mixed family context.

I witness around rural Monroe, Wisconsin some remnants of what I saw in Milwaukee, Wisconsin hospitals and Marquette Nursing School. There are amputations, wheelchairs, faces with large scars, and emotionally disturbed young guys (shock trauma syndrome). I have volunteered at the Monroe, Wisconsin VFW (Veterans of Foreign War). Mom and I cook meals, bake cookies and bring an occasional bottle of wine to these guys. Many young soldiers are obviously depressed. Dad (a World War I veteran) helps as much as he can. Dad also reminds these guys that assimilating into society is a needed realistic goal. This process, however, takes time. Many of the vets around Monroe served in both Europe and Asia recently. Some are highly decorated; but I feel they all deserve the very best. General Twining (head of the Pacific Air Force) is having a park named after him on the southside of Monroe. It will have amphitheatres, tennis courts, horseshoes, and walking/jogging trails. Monroe is becoming an upscale small city. This will complement Recreation Park where I played tennis, softball and swam in high school.

The nice thing about returning home to a small community is that there is no traffic, people are sincere and you cannot avoid knowing everyone. There are no racism issues with Asians now that Japanese internment is finished. Monroe has a sprinkling of all ethnicities including Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, Europeans and even a family of Eskimos. If you are Swiss like myself as a Zuercher, you incur many jokes in good fun. Many Swiss joke about themselves additionally. Everyone is accepting of everyone in Monroe, Wisconsin. It is a good place to move because virtually no one experiences discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity or age. The work ethic is superb because our family cheese factory in Brodhead has apprentices from Switzerland who work 6.5 days per week without pay. Our family pays all expenses through college or trade school for these hard workers. It is such an old school system that works wonderfully. I’ll never be as hardworking as these immigrant families from Austria and Switzerland. The love to work and are seemingly never unhappy. Our cheese business within the family works well for both parties. Green County is a superb place to live and raise a family. I just need to deal with a touch of pressure on the homefront regarding the marriage and guy thing.

Dora calls our house, and since we have a party line she is instructed by the neighbor to call later. Few families have a private phone line due to the high expense. I would love to have a private line, but don’t want to incur wasteful bills. My mother is always on the phone and is extremely social. Dad would be happy if we had no phone. Despite the phone being always used by our neighbors considerably, Dora finds a window and I answer. I have to tell 4 of the 5 line sharing neighbors to wait a few minutes so Dora and I can conduct business. One of the neighbor kids is always listening on line. My sensitive ears can hear anyone else on a party line breathe. Dora is now doing well and wants the baby to return home. We will gather up all the baby’s belongings and get the baby boy back to Dora later this afternoon. It will be a good reunion. Dora seems in great spirits and I did remind her that we are permanent babysitters. Thus, the temporary caretaking of Dora’s baby went well for both parties. I’ll see to it that the baby has a nice nap before returning home. Mom is already crying knowing that the baby must return home. I talk her into some sense and she is then okay with the situation. Mom will worry incessantly about Dora and the baby, but I’ll be around to mend the emotions.

The hospital calls and needs me immediately on the OB ward. There are many women in labor and it is quite crazy with two Caesarean Sections (operative deliveries) planned. I’m now a young head nurse on OB; and though it is the weekend I’ll do my duty and help where needed. I shower and have Mom deliver me to the hospital. I arrive on the floor and everyone is getting a triple injection of Scopalamine, Demerol, and Phenergan. This places a woman in twilight anesthesia and makes the delivery easier. Occasionally we administer morphine IV or IM, and occasionally provide inhalation anesthesia with mask halothane and nitrous oxide. We provide everything we can possibly to avoid pain with labor, and most of the time we are successful. Some women undergo a saddle block (spinal anesthesia); however this can slow labor considerably with a dense block and it is forever attempting to get a young woman to push (second stage of labor after the 10 cm. dilation of the cervix). Obviously, I want all our women at 10 cm. (fully dilated) and at + 2 station (near the vaginal introitus ready to deliver). However it is not that easy. We do listen to fetal heart tones with a stethescope (akin to cardiac tones on a regular patient). Our obstetricians are very skilled with breech, forceps and sunny side up (occiput is posterior – baby upside down) baby presentations. Thus, our obstetric unit is quite skilled in all phases.

Immediately, upon my hospital arrival I’m called to the Caesarean Section room as the Mom is bleeding profusely. We provide methergine intramuscular, massage the Mom’s uterus and administer blood. If it doesn’t quit soon, she’ll undergo a Caesarean Hysterectomy. We provide O negative blood from the blood bank and the bleeding eventually stops. The uterus is placed back into the pelvis and we’re on our way home. Suddenly the Mom has no vital signs. We begin life support with chest compressions (new). This actually does restore her heart rhythm and vital signs. We provide more blood as the Mom has lost her entire blood volume (5 liters). This will be precarious. Our new ICU (extension of recovery room) will receive one of their first patients. I couldn’t be any more happier as a new graduate RN. I’m in the middle of the action and playing a large role. It’s nearly like a war zone with as many patients as St. Claire Hospital has within its doors. Many of our medical personnel were actually in World War II, and it shows with the immense proficient expedient skills in emergency medical situations. Our blood bank is superb because the pathologist was a WWII vet who actually participated in blood banking recoveries within tent hospitals located in Europe and Asia.

Suddenly out of the blue as I begin walking towards home the next morning thinking of nothing but sleep, a very nice guy walks up to me and introduces himself. He says he’s the brother of the sick Mom that nearly died in surgery while delivering a baby. He says he’s Catholic, has a large family and wants to go for ice cream. I ask him if this is a date and he says yes. I’m tired and not even thinking correctly. Therefore, I’ll chance this one because I don’t have time to review him and he’s nice. Nothing bad could happen over downtown ice cream. I’m confronted with old fashioned decency within a guy, and I like this. I need to move on from my sorrow over my lost boyfriend in the war. He’s not coming back; and neither am I if I don’t push on my social pedal. I wasn’t home much in college, and therefore missed much of what happened in Monroe, Wisconsin. Many St. Victor’s elementary and junior high students now attend Monroe public high school. Things and times change, and this is a radically changed paradigm. That is why I probably didn’t recognize this guy. He probably was from another grade and transferred to the Monroe Public High School after 8th grade. Maybe he came after me. I’m tired and can’t quite calculate his age. It doesn’t matter; nothing adverse could happen over ice cream.

I arrive home and Mom says a Bernie Saddler called. I tell her that he introduced himself to me as family of a Mom that recently delivered and asked me for a date. I said yes to ice cream and now I’m going to bed. Mom wants details and actually does know this family. Her relationship with the family is just as mere parishioner friends. I’m off to bed and will call Bernie sometime after I awaken.My attempt to call Bernie Saddler back failed. I lifted the phone and the party line we share to our disadvantage was busy. I don’t have to be at the hospital until 11PM. I want to enjoy my day with a good sleep. The evening head RN obstetric nurse (me) has to sleep or make critical mistakes. Now I cannot sleep thinking of this guy. There really is no way to research him with yearbooks and friends that have known him. Most of my friends were from St. Victor’s and didn’t cross into the public school social climate. And I do understand that old practice is changing. Monroe was somewhat divided though not discriminatory in Catholic and non-Catholic ways when I attended school locally. Now that I’ve finished college, it is much easier to deal with mixed marriages, big bands and modern fashion with shorter skirts than it was before college and the war. Monroe has not completely adapted as Milwaukee; and thus dealing with the home front is always somewhat of a struggle. I love my parents, but there is some needed space between us coming in the future. I realize I’ll give up daily oatmeal from heaven, but at least I’ll have some privacy.

I awaken and there are flowers at our doorstep and my Dad has arrived home. He obviously knows something is happening and needs answers. Mom has told him to tune in and pay attention. Dad wants to meet Bernie before the date. Parent meetings before the first date is also a touch outdated after WWII; but I’ll comply with Dad’s wishes. Thus, I call Bernie and he is on his way over from his work as a carpenter. He is dirty from work; however says he’ll stop by just to say hi to my parents. He is a wonderful guy it seems; as well as very good looking. Mom readies the house as he’ll arrive in a few moments. Mom has some treats for Bernie also including homemade apple cider from our family farm next to the cheese factory. Usually we obtain apples from Ten Eyck’s Orchard in Brodhead, Wisconsin. However, we have some crab apples behind the cheese factory in Brodhead that are quite tasty for pies, cider, strudel and our favorite apple crisp. I hope to make a good impression upon Bernie Saddler; and know my parents will like him. I’m very fortunate to maybe have played a role in Bernie’s sister’s delivery, helped save her from future infertility and keep her alive. I’m doing it all at this rural hospital in southern Wisconsin. I couldn’t be happier. The only matter is a needed small touch of separation on the home front.

Bernie arrives and is all smiles. Dad and Bernie talk a ton of football, track and baseball. Bernie loves sports and was a star Cheesemaker at Monroe High School in many sports. I didn’t notice because he was a year behind me at St. Victor’s Catholic school and transferred to public high school after 8th grade. I vaguely may have remembered him. He is such a pleasure to be around, talks considerably and is extremely social with my parents. Mom and Dad are obviously dominating the conversation with Bernie and I’ve said very little. The spreading of conversation is not always evenly split amongst those present. I’m just so happy that my parents like this guy. It is pure hell when your parents don’t approve of the opposite sex partner. I don’t feel I’ll have this problem. Thus, I’m more than satisfied with the relationship that Bernie has created with my parents. I just hope everything works out between us as a couple. Bernie says good bye formally and extends the date this weekend to ice cream and a movie at the Goetz theater. This is serious and Bernie looks excellent despite his carpenter’s clothes dirtied. I’m living the dream of a real guy that cares for me, is Catholic, available and doesn’t seem to have baggage. I want it all; and apparently I have it right here in Green County, Wisconsin.

Mom and Dad are all smiles when Bernie leaves. They feel I’ve made a great impression at the hospital and elsewhere around the community. They are beginning to get that it is not so normal to return and live at home indefinitely. Surprisingly, Mom and Dad realize that it may be time for their daughter to move out of the family home. They will hover; however it’s not the same as living in the same house. We begin to talk and my parents mention that all preparations are completed for the wedding of my sister, Mary. I’m the maid of honor, and will be dressed in a formal gown picked by Mom and Mary. All preparations are a go, and it is a fairly large sized wedding. I want the very best for my sister who I’m certain will have children in a very short time period post wedding. I cannot wait to endure that I’m the next Zuercher girl to be married. However, it is the real bond between Mary and her beau, Rolly Coates, that matters. I’m certain this will work. If Rolly plowed through my parents vetting, he’ll be a long term winner. Therefore, we’re on our way to having more family members through Rolly and Mary. She is the very best sister I could ever hope to be in our family. I’ll be an aunt shortly I’m certain.

Bernie calls after we settle into our evening pattern of reading and discourse. He is fairly distressed because he is on inactive duty with the military, has been activated and is potentially on his way to Asia or Europe as part of a peacekeeping force.He’ll be gone for nearly a year; and will be in some dangerous territory. Our date is hereby cancelled and he’ll be gone for quite a while. Bernie is realistic and says we’ll stay in contact after he “ships out” within 24 hours. I’m not certain of what to say or do. He was such a nice guy; however, he’ll essentially be gone for an extended period of at least one year. I inform Mom and Dad; and they are both somewhat distressed. My parents know that the ending of a war is not the end of turbulence. The United States is now the world force of intelligence, monitoring and essentially a world police force. The threats we endure are mostly quiet but perceptible. There are understandably Communist and other non- democratic groups who will always threaten our existence. Admittedly, I’m aghast at the forces emanating out of World War II. It’s not only the Communists in Asia, but the real world has forces on all the continents that threaten our freedom. I don’t really know if I’ll ever see Bernie Saddler again. I’ll call him back and inform him that we can go out for ice cream and a movie tomorrow if there is time. I don’t have to be at work until 11 PM (late graveyard shift at St. Claire Hospital).

I do find Bernie at his family farm home just outside of Monroe on Highway 69. And he’s packing ready to ship out tomorrow morning at 0430. I just had to see him because he was so thoughtful and nice. He mentioned he’d be on an expeditionary force just off the Korean peninsula. Tensions have been mounting in Korea for months since World War II ended. Bernie could be involved in an early conflict. The pressures between North and South Korea with a potential war looming is shocking. Most Americans not unlike myself are query about entering another war. South Korea is our ally; and without our protection they’ll be overrun by Communist North Korea and China. Thus, I’ll send considerable love through letters to Bernie. I still cannot believe this is happening. My parents cannot fathom another war, but will always support the United States actions and its military, Dad feels the US role in the world has massively expanded since WWII. It seems odd, however, that we need to solve all these conflicts worldwide. That is our new duty as a nation; and Bernie Saddler is now a strong part of this new post war safe-keeping force. I did receive the biggest good-bye smooch from a beautiful handsome Green County guy just before he left with a crying Mom standing nearby.

I arrive at work somewhat depressed and I’m met by an angry administrator. Apparently a family complained that the RN (me) delivered a Mom’s baby last weekend instead of the obstetrician. There were no issues with the breech delivery and I’ve performed many in my past experiences here at St. Claire Hospital and in nursing school. There were so many babies in nursing school and even with my present job that we don’t have much time to chart our required parameters. I can vaguely remember the delivery. It went smooth and the baby looked quite well upon being born. The baby’s physical examination by the pediatrician was also normal. Thus, I don’t understand what the issue really can be. The obstetrician (Dr. Smith) was delivering a baby on the other end of the ward. There was no choice other than to provide our triple twilight sleep medication (Scopalamine, Phenergan, and Demerol). Mom can vaguely remember what happened during the delivery process. The administrator was informed of these facts. He left somewhat wanting to find fault with our delivery ward; but came away despondent. We both acknowledged we cannot make everyone happy within a hospital setting. I feel the administration knew we did everything correctly with the breech delivery; though there is some mention of delivering all these babies surgically in the new literature. That phenomenon has not occurred yet at this time for many hospitals. My nursing colleagues informed me that no good deed essentially goes unpunished .

We are at a crossroads of expanding our OB unit. We need more nurses, techs, nursing assistants, general practitioners and obstetricians. The hospital is constantly recruiting; however younger people in medicine want a large city. If they are single (like me), then unfortunately the small community can be lonely. Many young spouses in their teens and twenties cannot adopt to Monroe, Wisconsin. Our community, however, is very quaint. We have many amenities that are inexpensive such as a pool, library, community center, expanded downtown, many restaurants, indoor and outdoor theatres, hospital and many qualified physicians and nurses, 2 golf courses, tennis courts and many baseball fields. Monroe is a great town for a young family due to the home building surge, very competitive consumer prices and the easy access to many larger cities nearby (Rockford, Ill. Chicago, Ill., Freeport, Ill., Dubuque, Ia., Madison, Wi., and Milwaukee, Wi.). I rationalized my return to home with these facts. I explained to my nursing student colleagues at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wi. that I had many advantages over them. Most of my nursing buddies stayed in the Milwaukee area. They scratched their heads as they explained to me that there were few guys in Monroe, Wi.. And your parents will be hovering over every move you perform. I replied it only took one guy and my parents will adapt. We left it at that. I’ll make it work here. I love my Mom and Dad so much that I can deal with their old school mannerisms and thoughts. I really had no place to go despite being offered a job at St. Joseph’s hospital on the medical floor in Milwaukee. I had a roommate I knew for social interaction and boarding; and it would have worked. Underneath, I just wanted to come home to Green County and cherish my roots, old friends and family. I really miss everyone and it feels so good to be home.

Bernie’s mother calls and thanks me for coming to their farm just prior to Bernie’s deployment. We talk for about 45 minutes despite numerous party line interruptions. She is so saddened and fears the worst with this new Asian conflict brewing. She probably knows more than I. Citizens within the United States feel the ravages of war; and being forced into another conflict is mostly hell repeated again. I cannot even think about more casualties and many wounded coming home with life-long disabilities. The VFW where we volunteer is busier every month. I want it all to end soon; but I know it will not. The immense pressure on our government and President Truman is so underestimated. All of us are viewing on highlight reels at movies the effects of the nuclear bombs in Japan. I can’t believe that a simple surrender couldn’t have occurred prior to avoid being forced to end this war in such dramatic deadly fashion. I shudder to think of all the men from Pearl Harbor to the present in a very short time who have given their life for our freedom. We can never pay these families back other than to acknowledge the bravery and perseverance of the soldiers who have given the ultimate gift of their life or a part of their body for people they don’t even know. I fear for Bernie Saddler and his family. All these thoughts occur while I’m on the phone with his Mom. We plan on getting together shortly; and maybe the ice cream date is with Bernie’s Mom.

I’m off to sleep and awaken to a fierce summer rainstorm. A tornado has been spotted in South Wayne, Wisconsin. This is a small town on the edge of Green County, Wisconsin that has much to lose if it passes through downtown. A smaller community nearby is Browntown, and now the radio is stating that the tornado did touch the ground and ravage a couple silos, fences, some cattle and damaged a few farms in the area. Thankfully, there were no deaths. The radio (WEKZ) has already arranged a fund drive to help the families who have incurred injuries. Most farmers don’t have insurance, but that is rapidly changing. I want to help so I send in $5 to the radio station and walked around the hospital knowing that my day’s wages were spent wisely. I’ll work some overtime to make some extra money since the hospital has finally just begun to pay 1.5 times for overtime work. There are endless shortages of nurses in our rural hospital. The issue is not so much not enough nurses, but many of the younger RNs have little babies and working husbands. The young registered nurses are restricted to weekend and some evenings (graveyard shifts). Mom drives me to the hospital after she picks up Dad from a downtown meeting at Turner Hall. Dad’s bank will apparently help fund a new wing on the hospital for the community. This is so needed for patients and the ability to attract more younger doctors to our hospital (St. Claire). Mom talks considerably about Mary’s wedding plans, the honeymoon and plans for a large family. Mom and Dad couldn’t be happier. It will be quite the occasion. I can’t wait as the next month will pull our family together for the very best of times.

I return to the hospital the very next day and am somewhat “bummed out.” Somehow I don’t feel I’ll see Bernie Saddler again. We’re not in a direct war conflict, but we’re close. Bernie will undoubtedly see some military fighting while being in the infantry. I dread what will happen. He’ll be scared, tired, and hungry. I never was provided the chance to fashion a meal for him. Maybe he’ll be home early? It is doubtful because they estimated the deployment to be one year. Thus, a considerable amount of letter writing is upon Bernie’s family and myself. I don’t know what to write since I actually don’t know him well. I’ll be so busy that I’ll find something to write about. He was quite interested in his sister’s near death during delivery. Thus, I’ll write some delivery stories that will make him pay attention. Many of my friends in Milwaukee nursing school and now Monroe, Wi. have been writing letters to guys for years. It pays off for many because upon arrival home the girl may receive a well deserved marriage proposal. Bernie and I potentially are on our way to a long term relationship without really knowing one another. I’m better than some gals who wrote to guys they had never met. This actually worked because many young vets arrived home with a purchased engagement ring sight unseen by both parties. We are in a fast paced romantic time around WWII. Nothing will stop anyone from marrying and becoming repeatedly pregnant. Everyone is so happy the war is over; and having babies is a good way to celebrate.

Everyone seemingly romanticizes WWII; however there is nothing romantic about the deaths and injuries I’ve seen at Marquette Nursing School and around Green County, Wi.. Many injuries are devastating with faces half removed, many amputees, large draining abdominal wounds (fistulas) and countless cases of shock trauma syndrome. Many soldiers and vets don’t really know what hit them, and they essentially cannot function. Some of these guys just stare into space and are mute. Other military personnel drink excessively to avoid the trauma. Many are heavy smokers with poor lung function. These are life-long problems that may never die. All we can do on the home front is pray and help as much as humanly possible. Some vets returned to discover their spouse gone or having a baby with another gentleman. That is a double crush after serving in the US military with such bravery and then finding no solace at home. Life brings us challenges we can never anticipate. Our lives appear predictable, but they are with some diversion of what one anticipates. Life is also short; and so very limited in time to not have fun. I’m dancing at Turner Hall tonight since I have a day away from the hospital. I want to meet more people and can walk there in 5 minutes from our home. Downtown Monroe is so close that I would love to stay at our family home forever to have such close amenities.

I plan on arriving early at Turner Hall, an old Swiss building with great food, music and dancing. I can’t wait since we danced, sang and drank some beer considerably in college. There were always sorority and fraternity gatherings weekly. The social milieu around Marquette University was fabulous. I’ll get in the stream of things within Monroe. We are the county seat of Green County, Wi.. Young people from all the county coalesce in Monroe on weekends due to the great fresh beer (Huber), bands and the chance of meeting someone eligible. Our beer is from the oldest brewery in the midwest. The Hubers live just across the street from Mom and Dad. They have been friends forever. It is not uncommon to see the Hubers in our house playing cards, talking with my parents or conversing on the phone. They are the best of people and will be friends for life. Behind their house is the public skating rink which is hosed every evening after Thanksgiving until April. It is a superb facility with a warming hut, goals for hockey and skate rentals. I grew up in Green County more spoiled than anyone. We had some money and were middle class; however I had more friends, relatives and activities than anyone I knew in nursing school. My manner of talking and a bit bragging about Green County made virtually all our dorm want to move here immediately after college.

Mom and Dad are closely watching what I wear. Mom is ensuring my skirt for tonight’s dance is not too short, my cleavage is high and I have only a small amount of perfume smell. I passed and walk out the door to enjoy Turner Hall. Suddenly a car goes through a stop sign on 17th Street, and a large crash occurs. I’m not certain what to do, but can hear screaming in both cars. Mom calls the hospital as the crash is one block from our house. A primitive old ambulance is on its way. I struggle with the victims as they lay there in their cars bleeding. Some are becoming quiet and this isn’t a good clinical sign. The ambulance team arrives and begins to pull out 6 people. Many are close to death it seems. One guy appeared nearly dead and I ran over to assist with breathing and it was my very best friend from St. Victor’s elementary and high school. I’m in shock as we try to resuscitate him on the spot; however, it appears that clinically he’s dying. He recognized me just before his death and tried to say something. He suddenly fell unconscious. I turn around and visibly notice my parents are also crying. They knew my friend (JIm Smothers) parents well. I’m in no mood to go to a social function so I slowly walk back to the house with my parents after everyone is placed side by side in the ambulance truck with volunteers of doctors and nurses from the hospital. What a night off from work!. It appears that one of the drivers was drunk (my former close childhood friend). I thought I smelled the fruity breath of alcohol on Jim Smothers! Mom and Dad won’t know what to tell his parents. I’ve got plenty of grief, but my Mom and Dad are in total shock. I’m the RN and will deal with the home front as best I can tonight. I’ll nurse my parents back to health. We walk back home one block with arms around each other. Life is unpredictable!