Niagara Gazette

Features

December 9, 2013

HAVE MERCY: Three local nurses share memories of nursing school

Niagara Gazette — They’ll never forget nursing school. They consider themselves lucky to have survived it.

But, they have always delighted in remembering the stories, such as one’s struggle to give a bed bath to an unresponsive patient who, it turned out, had unfortunately already died. Then there was the cadaver dropped by several young nurses-to-be as they tried to carry it down stairs during a power outage. Then there was the problem with the mislaid girdle ... .

Some funny, some personal, their collection of stories about nurse training under the strict watch of nuns at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo will live forever in a book three area women have written to share with their classmates and the world.

The book is called “Have Mercy,” and the trio of authors include Mary Herbst of Grand Island, Maureen Ott, formerly of Kenmore, now living in St. Catharines, Ont., and Maureen Weber, a Niagara Falls native now living in Lewiston. The book was born from the strict, rigorous training they received in the 1950s while living in the nurses residence during their hospital training.  

At a recent gathering with their mentor Bob Giannetti of Bob’s Olde Books in Lewiston, they described some of the stories that still make them laugh, 50 years later.

“We left our parents domain thinking it was going to be freedom,” said Ott, known to her classmates by a version of her maiden name, “Mummie.” “Instead, it was like entering the convent.”

“There were a lot of restrictions,” said Herbst, who recalled how one nun always checked to be sure they were studying between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and who revisited at bedtime. “She came back at 11 p.m. and shined flashlights at your bed,” she added of what they called a “boot-camp” environment.  

The book came because the ladies, each a writer of sorts, agreed “we should write a book.” So, five years ago, they sat down and each wrote their version of the stories. Giannetti wove them together.

The book and its authors won a nod of approval from another mentor, Lewiston author Norah Perez, who has written a variety of successful historical novels including “River Burning,” about the War of 1812.

“I really loved it,” said Perez, who purchased the book at a signing at the Lewiston Library and then read it straight through in one sitting.

“When I read how Maureen Weber gave her first patient a sponge bath — a lengthy, complicated procedure since the patient was annoyingly uncooperative — without realizing the patient was dead, it made me almost fall out of my chair laughing,” Perez said about “Have Mercy.”

It was Perez who had originally met Weber at a writing seminar and directed her and her fellow authors to Giannetti, who is also a poet and author. He guided the three women through the self-publication process.   

Giannetti said each woman brought something different to the work.

“Mary was good at setting the stage of what life was like in the 50s and 60s. Mo just had a photographic memory for all the incidents that occurred, and ‘Mummie’ (Ott) was the subject of many of the stories. She was the cut-up,” he said.

The resulting book, now for sale at Bob’s Books and on Amazon.com, was wrapped up and presented to each of their classmates at their recent reunion. As the classmates unwrapped the gift, “you could hear a pin drop,” recalled Weber. “Then you could hear the whispering, ‘oh, my God, they wrote a book.’ “

It was all there within the pages — tales of enduring friendships, life lessons and the fun shared between young women being deeply challenged to learn and grow. The authors hope their tales will enlighten young nurses preparing to go into the profession today, and plan to use any proceeds to fund a nursing scholarship.

Meantime, the book is a little piece of nursing history. “These are such wonderful stories,” Giannetti said.  

Weber will be holding a book signing from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at Bob’s Olde Books, 480 Center St., as one of the many events planned for the Lewiston Christmas Walk.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Features
  • SUN LIFE Opera intern 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Singing her heart out: Newfane woman wins prestigious apprenticeship twice. Rebecca Witty says she started singing in the womb. That might be an exaggeration, but the Newfane woman's love of music began at a very early age. "Music has always been in my life since I was a kid," she said. "My family is made up of musicians so that has played a big part of my love for music since the beginning."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE Chef cooking demos 2 072714.jpg [Duplicate] F-BITES: Celebrity chef Bobby Anderson wants kids to learn more than just cooking. As a loudspeaker played "Waiting for the World to Change," Chef Bobby Anderson was busy changing it, just the other day. For Anderson, the cooking lessons he's conducting with local students this summer on Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls are entertaining crowds and giving young chefs life-changing exposure to new foods, new flavors and new experiences.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • SUN LIFE fair story 6 072714.jpg [Duplicate] More than rides and food at the Niagara County Fair

    July 28, 2014 8 Photos

  • mug - stack, catherine RGB [Duplicate] [Duplicate] NATURAL HEALTH: Taking a closer look at migraine causes and treatments

    Headaches come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from a mild tension headache to a migraine that has you locked up in a dark room afraid to move. Migraine and cluster headaches are by far the worst. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE tattoo 3 072714.jpg [Duplicate] Behind the tattoo gun — Niagara Tatoo Expo coming up

    Tattoos can be a touchy subject. Of course, people have heard they shouldn’t judge a book by its cover; still, people continue to report being denied jobs and being judged harshly for proudly displaying their ink. 

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • mug - Jennings, Thom RGB [Duplicate] JENNINGS: It's the end of an era for fans of The Ramones

    Jeffrey Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin and Thomas Erdelyi formed one of the most influential bands in music history in 1974 — better known by their stage names Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone. The last surviving member, Tommy, passed away July 11.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUN LIFE TOPS woman 2 072714 .jpg [Duplicate] Local woman honored for weight-loss success

    After Carolyn Sherman’s husband passed away, she became depressed, and her weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds. Wheelchair-bound, she ended up at Odd Fellow & Rebekah Health Care Facility in Lockport.

     

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • NIA Biz logo 072814 IN BUSINESS: ReNU director named to '30 Under 30' list Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, has been named to the 2014 class of Buffalo Business First's 30 Under 30 honorees. The award recognizes 30 Western New Yorkers in the early stages of their careers who are achieving at high levels at work and in the community.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SUNLIFELexisPlace1072014jpg (1).jpg Lexi's Place: A safe haven for teens battling suicide, sexual abuse and depression

    In a perfect world, a 14-year-old wouldn’t know exactly how it feels to try suicide.
    An 11-year-old who reaches out to the unwanted kids at school would not be thrown against a locker and bullied by other teens trying to make her feel small.
    And surely no teen would have a father who, when she was small, would give her to his friends for sex.
    All those things happened to the teens at Lexi’s Place.

    July 22, 2014 8 Photos

  • SUN LIFE wine fest 3 072014.jpg [Duplicate] Sip the Niagara Wine Trail's best in one location The Niagara Wine Trail reveals it's sweetness slowly, and only to those dedicated enough to spend the time. There are 27 wineries and to sample a taste of each requires much driving through the backroads of the Niagara region, and far too much sipping to make driving a logical possibility. That's what makes the trail's 6th annual Wine and Culinary event such a good idea. Wine lovers who've always wanted to explore the new and unusual offerings of the 14-year-old wine trail, can do so next weekend, all in one place.

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page