Edna Tansony (left)

Edna Tansony (left)

The years melt away for nursing graduates

Graduates share laughter, tears and plenty of fun at Grace Hospital reunion

Marie Kologie

Special to The Morning Star

On Jan. 4, 1953 16 new students arrived at the nurses’ residence of Grace Hospital on Arlington Street. Our rooms are on the top, fourth floor of the residence; it is the first meeting of each other, and we look forward to living together for the next three years. Most of us are from rural areas, quite green behind the ears but very eager to experience life in the city and in nursing. During the next three years we also go to two other places to get our full training, the Children’s Hospital for children’s nursing and the King George for communicable diseases.

Most of us graduated and are now scattered over the North American continent.

And so it is with great joy that five members of our class had our 60th anniversary and class reunion on the weekend of June 14, 15, and 16 in Vernon.

We enjoyed the memories of our long friendships of so many years. Several members have left us, but we who remain are in reasonable health and delightful spirit, and are enjoying life to the full.

Friday we spend visiting, playing Loreena McKennitt CDs in remembrance of Irene, Loreena’s mother, look at the old albums from previous reunions, and also the album Merle MacPherson’s mother made for her as a gift. Her mother added some of her poetic talent to the captions. We are quite impressed with all the good memories we’re pulling up, and the day is gone very quickly. After all, 60 years have gone by in a flash and there is so much we don’t even bring up. We’ve had about seven or eight reunions and we are quite close friends — it’s a beautiful friendship. There have been few disputes, some pranks, and much fun!

Most of us have a younger family member here, to help with driving, phoning, photo taking, and whatever we find to be helpful to us. The travelling has been good but we do tire easily, and a helping hand is great! My daughter Marjorie has sent a platter of cakes and goodies for our dessert and also for our picnic, which is planned for tomorrow when we go to the Kettle Valley Railway.

Saturday is a full day, and by 10 a.m. we are on the road, convoy style, with Marjorie in the lead, two more cars behind her, on the two-hour drive to Summerland. It’s turning out to be a great day with the sunshine and gentle breezes. Now off to the train station! A friend, John Garland, is already waiting to join us on the trip.

We’re in the Winslow car with the open windows. The train engine is #3714, smoke billowing, tooting the whistle, excitement is in the air! The wheels squeak and the cars jostle and bounce and we’re on our way. We pass a llama in the field, many flowers and baby’s breath gone wild on the hillsides, orchards, fields and gardens, many people waving to us as we pass by.

While on the train there is also entertainment, a man with a banjo, dressed the part in a red and white striped shirt wearing a straw boater hat, singing older songs. Marjorie and Isabel ask him to sing Tennessee Waltz, You are my sunshine, etc. He’s so willing to serenade us! Isabel is beside herself with joy and Marjorie is very happy too.

We have a reservation for supper at Mission Hill Family Estate winery. The place is built like a fortress, with thick cement walls and very tall doors. There is a lovely courtyard and the open dining area under a roof with substantial columns holding it up. The view of the hillside and Okanagan Lake is spectacular! It’s a very pleasant evening and just before we leave, the bells in the tower ring. It’s a nice finish to our feast even if the bells are not intended for us!

This our last day of the reunion. Isabel and daughter LaDona have left to go back to Los Angeles but the rest of us have another place to go: Sparkling Hill Resort for lunch. The place is decorated with many crystals, and in the lunch area where we eat there are many crystal balls. Very impressive!

Our stay at the Village Green Hotel has been wonderful. The court yard outside our patio was lovely and quiet, the pond and the water fountains bubbling happily, and the yellow pansies and mums and greenery are pleasant and restful.

It’s been a wonderful time together, it’s done our hearts good. I wish everyone bon voyage, see you again, good health and God bless. With love, Marie, Marjorie, Cliff and family.

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Marie Kologie’s daughter, Marjorie Harris, shares a few of her own memories and expands on some of her mother’s thoughts:

“One of the nurses who passed away recently was musician Loreena McKennitt’s mother Irene McKennitt. Mom refers to this as a first night activity, remembering those who had passed. I remember playing with Loreena as a child in the southern Manitoba hot dry summer — she played piano even then — but we liked jumping on the bed and running outside too!

“When Mom speaks about being from a rural community and being green behind the ears it includes never having seen indoor plumbing or using a bathtub — in those days you still had to share the bath water in taking turns — yikes!

“As well, nurses had to live at the hospital, working so many hours each day, learning on the job and doing so many hours of school. They had to live in a dormitory with a matron to supervise, to make sure there was no male contact! Times were quite different from going to university now.”